open thread

OliveScissorpawsIt’s our biweekly open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

Pictured: For those of you who pointed out the similarities between Olive’s expression and Edward Scissorhands, I present Olive Scissorpaws.

{ 723 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG

    Aww, I love Olive! This is why I could never work in an animal shelter. I’d be that cazy lady on the news with 200 cats. Except I would take care of all them and feed them.

    1. CollegeAdmin

      I like having them every other week instead of once a month – it makes them less crowded and therefore easier to read/comment. Plus, I stand a better chance of remembering what I wanted to post in the open thread if I only have to wait for 2 weeks instead of 4.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. I agree. Also, if someone has something come up suddenly, they don’t have to wait long for the open thread to discuss it.

    2. Bryan

      I enjoy them as it seems many others do. I may be thinking big but maybe a separate discussion board page? But then it might be too big to moderate so we might lose to helpful, insightful comments we enjoy here that so many other comment sections seem to lack.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Oooh, very interesting — thanks for posting that.

          I’ve got my hands full with just our current set-up, but the LinkedIn group acts a bit as a discussion board (although anonymity isn’t possible over there, so it’s not quite the same).

          1. Anonymous and Stuff

            You can always take on a volunteer blog moderator :) I’m sure some folks here would step up if needed.

          2. VictoriaHR

            You can always hire on a volunteer blog moderator. I’m sure some of us would volunteer to help!

            If people don’t like the open threads, they don’t have to read ’em. My opinion.

            1. TheSnarkyB

              Are you kidding me? Do YOU want to try to write a cover letter FOR Alison as hiring manager? I’d be terrified!!
              Talk about pressure :)

    3. ChristineSW

      As I noted below, I enjoy the open threads, but I still find that comments take forrrreverrrrrr to upload still, probably because of all the traffic!

    4. Jesicka309

      I wish they were posted later on a Friday (by the time I wake up in my time zone, we’re at 500 posts!) but that’s my time zone being the issue. :)

      1. TheSnarkyB

        Yeah, I’d agree with that. I don’t know what time they’re posted but since a lot of us are posting/viewing from work, I think at least after lunch… preferably after 4 would be the coolest time for me personally

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I enjoy bi-weekly kitty threads.

        I am also loving the idea of so many reader updates! I am looking forward to them.

    1. ChristineSW

      NICE!!!

      Also, I enjoy the open threads, though they can be near-impossible to keep up with, particularly if I join the fun late in the day.

      LOVE Oliver Scissorpaws!!

      1. Confused

        I’d like updates sprinkled in every now and then too if possible. Tend not to read the open threads, way too many posts.
        Scissorpaws :)

    1. Chinook

      Is it wrong that I think he still is cute? Which is handy because DH has a thing for Helena Bonham Carter and we can both be equally happy with many of their films. We both giggle with glee when we watch”Sweeney Todd.”

      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        Not wrong at all! To each her own. I just can’t stand him (or HBC). He ruins every movie he’s in (for me).

      2. saro

        Not wrong, I love HBC but Mr. Depp is looking a touch scruffier than I like. How dare he change without my prior permission. :-)

            1. bobby

              Oh, wasn’t she? and Maggie Smith, and Rupert Graves, and Daniel Day-Lewis–was there anyone in it who wasn’t good? I love that movie, but it’s sad not to get to see it in a theater anymore!

    1. Ruffingit

      Yesterday, I saw a mother and daughter in matching Hello Kitty pajama pants. They were just collecting the mail at the apartment complex I live in. But I immediately thought of Jamie when I saw them. :)

    2. louise

      I’m embarrassed to say I was walking through a store the other day and saw something tech-ish that Hello Kitty (can’t even remember what now) and my first thought was “oh, Jamie would love that in office!” and then it was like my brain heard my thought and I realized…um, I don’t KNOW Jamie. She doesn’t know me. Heck, I’m mostly a lurker–not even a regular commenter. I cannot think of Jamie as a friend unless I’m a weirdo!!

      But at least Jamie is a real person as opposed to when I think of something I wish I could tell Sheldon and Leonard…

      1. Jamie

        Just mentioning me in the same sentence as Sheldon and Leonard makes us friends!

        And my son calls all of you guys my imaginary friends because I talk about people from here “like they’re real people…mom, that’s so sad.”

        Kids…what do they know. Imaginary friends are awesome.

        1. Chinook

          “And my son calls all of you guys my imaginary friends because I talk about people from here “like they’re real people…mom, that’s so sad.””

          You mean I am not real? *pokes arm and then leg* I feel real.

          If I’m not real, does that mean I don’t have to go to work?

            1. Chinook

              Well, I have been known to tell people, if I arrive earlier than usual, that I am not really there and that what they are seeing is merely a hologram.

              1. PuppyKat

                Ha! I do the same thing! Of course, I try to say it quickly before they faint from the shock of seeing me before 10:00 am. :-)

            2. Manda

              “Um, sorry… √(-1) can’t come in to work today.”

              (Louise, you can tell Sheldon and Leonard about that!)

        2. Rana

          Bah to your son! ;)

          No, seriously, I have a large percentage of friends whom I first met through our blogs and blog comments – and since we’ve actually done things like exchange cards, meet up for coffee, go on trips together, etc., I’d consider that pretty “real”. Conversely, I have an equally large number of friends that I met in person first, who I now only really interact with online. Friends are friends, whereever they may be located.

          1. Jessica (the celt)

            Heck, I met my husband through blog comments and blogging, and I’m pretty sure we’re both real. ;)

            Funny story, though: When I first went to meet him (just as friends, because we didn’t even start dating until we’d been friends for over a year IRL, but by that time he was my best friend), my good friend said, “What if he kills you and puts you in a box in the basement?” (He didn’t even have access to a basement, but I appreciated what she was saying.) She then started calling me “Pickles” for awhile, because I “could’ve been pickled!” ;)

        3. Windchime

          Love my “imaginary friends”. I have an email/chat friend that I have “known” for over 10 years. I sometimes forget that we’ve never met in person. I’ve had dreams that we went shopping together, etc. I consider her a very close friend, even though we’ve not met–yet!

      2. Ruffingit

        So someone upthread (and me too) were talking about how we see Hello Kitty stuff and it makes us think of Jamie even though we don’t know Jamie personally in life.

        I think there’s a connection we make with people online anyway, in forums like this and on others. It’s not a friendship exactly, but it’s slightly more than acquaintances since we all tend to share a lot about ourselves that acquaintances wouldn’t necessarily know. There should be a word for this – online people you don’t know who are not friends, but are more than acquaintances. Anyone want to take a shot at a word for that type of relationship?

        1. Camellia

          How about Zen Friends? They “provide enlightenment by the most direct means possible” – here.

          We don’t have to wait to get together, or try to find a convenient time to call. All we have to do is come to this site and interact all we want.

        2. Manda

          That’s a good observation. You start feeling like you kinda know people in forums, even if you’ve never had a one-on-one conversation with them. I really don’t know what you’d call it. I honestly have more of a social life online than in RL, by just posting in discussion boards. Yet, I don’t really feel like any of these people are friends (with one exception).

        3. Vicki

          I’ve been using e-friends. Not the best term, perhaps, but short. (I like Zen friends).

          People used to have pen-pals (except for Charlie Brown who had a pencil pal). I “knew a girl in HS only thorough letters.

          These days our “penpals” are keyboard pals, Internet friends, e-friends. I can chat with people in other countries or friends from College across the country or my sister in another state.

          To your son: You only have friends you’ve seen in person? That’s so sad…

  2. Eric

    So after applying for an internal position that would be a significant promotion, having my initial interview, and completing a candidate assignment, I have what looks to be my final interview with the VP of my department today at 3PM. I haven’t done much preparation since I feel like the past month has been preparation enough, and I’m really trying hard not to think about it, but not getting this out of the way until 3PM is really hanging over my head!

    1. Jamie

      Good luck – personally I’ve never been able to stop thinking about anything when I want to – so if you can do that it’s awesome.

      FWIW I’d give you the promotion based on the cuteness of your dog. :)

  3. Ali

    I like having the open thread every other Friday personally.

    So I have a question for you all: What is the best way for me to deal with an unorganized boss without losing my sanity? I admit I’m not perfect either, but my boss is terrible about time management, both by my observations and his own admission. He’ll schedule meetings with us, then constantly forget he had other obligations, gets wrapped up in something else and forgets to pull away, complain that something else came up, etc. When he does manage to meet with us, he is usually late, and not just five minutes late either. I mean he meant to sign on to talk to me the other night (I work remotely) and came on like three hours after he said he was going to.

    He’s also bad about scheduling requests. I’ll present a day off I want in a month or more from now and he’s always like “Follow up with me closer to the date.” None of us on our team have ever gotten told no we can’t have the day, but it’s frustrating that I can’t get time off on the calendar in a reasonable amount of time because he’s so scatterbrained.

    Other than this, my boss is fine. He’s a nice guy and he’s good at handling problems that come up from our team. He’s also a good communicator and he’s straightforward without being mean about areas where we need to improve. However, it IS his first management job and he’s younger than me, so maybe that’s where some of the disconnect is coming from?

    It’s not that I’m not going to stop listening to my manager, but a coworker and I feel it’s hard to put trust in him when he’s all over the place. Plus, he has some unprofessional habits that make it hard to take him seriously, and the time management thing is just annoying on top of it.

    I know there’s probably nothing I can actually DO because he is the boss and all, but what’s the best way to cope?

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Oh, that’s aggravating. My boss — who is by far the best boss I’ve ever had — does have a touch of ADD syndrome, which drives me nuts because I tend to be quite focused most of the time. Part of this is her personality, and part of it is the nature of her job, because she does have things flying at her from all different directions all day long. There is no way I could ever do her job.

      My only suggestion is to remind him about meetings and such, but do it in a non-confrontational way. Like the other night when you were waiting for him to sign on, did you consider sending him an email or text saying, “Do you still want to talk this evening, or should we reschedule?” You could also do the same thing when he’s late for a meeting — either call or email him asking if your meeting is still on, or if it needs to be re-scheduled.

      Maybe he’s continuing to do this because there’s no pushback. For example, in the case of waiting for him to log on and talk to you, I would have waited 20-30 minutes, sent the email, and waited another 20-30 minutes. If he still hadn’t shown up, I would have sent a follow-up email saying, “Hey, sorry I missed you but it was getting late and I had some things I needed to take care of. Here’s an update on [what was planned to be discussed] and I hope we can catch up tomorrow.” That way you’ve documented that you’ve given him plenty of time and leeway. Him expecting you to wait 3 hours for him to get around to talking to you is not only unreasonable but also incredibly inconsiderate. Perhaps this approach would subtly send the message that it’s not OK for him to be so inconsiderate of other people’s time.

      As far as the time off goes, I would respond with overkill emails…sending one each week saying, “Just wanted to remind you that I’m planning to take [date] off. Please let me know if that will be a problem.” Maybe he’ll get sick of all the email traffic and just start approving time off when it’s requested.

      Something else that might help is having a department calendar for everyone on your team to use. My group uses it to schedule time off, work from home days, time out of the office, and so on. It’s great because we can all see it, and see who is or is not available.

      1. Vicki

        I call this MADD (Manager’s ADD). I had one who was on the ball if you talked to him right now, on a meeting, but 5 minutes later he’d forgotten everything you talked about in that meeting. He made a lot of notes – his notebook had tabbed sections for each direct report – but if he wasn;t looking at the page he couldn’t recall what you were working on or what you needed from him.

        Nice guy. Honestly one of my better managers. But dragging him back to the current trajectory was so difficult.

    2. Ruffingit

      I had a boss like that once. We were working in a non-profit and her disorganization caused the loss of grants and/or working on grants at the very last minute (we’re talking two hours before they were due) that would take any normal person at least a month to compile the information and complete. She was just so scattered and her desk was an absolute mess. Forget putting anything there that you needed her to see.

      So I feel your pain. Unfortunately, there’s only a few possibilities and all have their drawbacks:

      1. Talk to him about what you need from him. Don’t make it into a “You suck” conversation, but more of a “I need this and this from you, here’s what I propose to help that happen…” This way, you’re communicating what you need, but also offering to help and bringing concrete solutions. Perhaps someone needs to take over managing his calendar. Can someone in the office act as a personal assistant to him and therefore he wouldn’t over or double booked?

      2. Three hours is a ridiculous amount of time to wait for someone for a scheduled meeting. Wait 30 minutes max, send an e-mail that tells him you’re sorry you missed him and ask that he reschedule with you. This will teach him that showing up three hours later is not appropriate and that you will not accommodate that. Even if you can accommodate it, don’t. That simply teaches him that it doesn’t matter when he shows up, you’ll still be there. Having more respect for your own time often helps others to do so as well.

      3. If no one on the team has ever been told no, they can’t have the day they request, then stop making this a problem. It’s not one. Request the day, follow-up closer as he suggests and move on. Put the day on your calendar and plan for it since history shows you will get the day off. If you don’t for some weird reason, then deal with that when it comes up, but for now you can be 99% assured you’ll get the day so don’t worry about this.

      4. Do what you can do and no more. Do your job to the best of your ability. If your boss can’t get his act together and that creates problems in your work, do what you can and document (with e-mails to the boss) why you can’t do the rest “I’m unable to complete Wakeen’s Report without your input. I’ve finished sections 1 – 3. Please send me your notes on section 4 -6.” This way, it becomes known that it’s not you who is the problem, it’s his lack of follow-up. CYA in other words.

      5. And finally, get another job. Start job searching now, seriously. Disorganization like this will eventually drive you to the brink. It’s not something that is likely to change enough for you to be able to handle it long-term. Do what you can (see suggestions above), but recognize it for what it is and leave as soon as possible if you find it’s dragging you down too much.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree with, you, Ruffingit.
        I would add a couple more ideas. Like Ruffingit is saying- we tend to try a bit harder with this type of boss because it is so hard to find a nice boss. Ali, you know your limits of how much you can do.
        “Lack of foresight and planning on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.” I go back to that one so many times.
        I would sit down with boss and say “We can fix this together. Do you want it to be fixed?”
        If the boss does not want the chaos fixed- that’s the end right there.
        Some people get their energy by hopping from one crisis to another. If there is no real crisis available, a synthetic crisis will be just fine. I have seen people that cannot work unless the pressure is high. They use the (self made) chaos around them to keep themselves pumped up and going along.
        The problem with this is the highs and lows. A big push then total fatigue then the next big push and later more fatigue. You can see the cycle. But if you work along at the a similar clip each day, using systems, the highs and lows are not as severe. Granted there are exceptions – stuff happens- but every day does not have to be an exception.

        My advice is figure out if the boss wants to change. Then see if he actually tries.

        1. Ruffingit

          Excellent point! There are people who thrive under this kind of chaos and refuse to make significant changes. Often, they don’t have to make any changes because people continue to allow them to get away with it (an example here is being available three hours late for a meeting he didn’t show up to on time). Your boss may never want to change, but minimize the chaos he causes in your own life as much as possible and get another job when you can if it becomes too much.

          1. Ali

            Thanks guys.

            I mostly like my job because it’s in my choice field. My other coworkers and my old manager (the one who supervised me before I got promoted and started working with Disorganized Boss) are great people as well. It makes it easier knowing that we’re all supportive of each other and just want to get the job done, even if we don’t always agree or are the best of friends or whatever. That said, I admit that from time to time, I have browsed the job boards to see what else might be out there because I work weird hours, which gets tiring after a while. I’ve been at my job three years and there is low turnover…there are several people at the company who have been there as long as I have or longer. So sometimes I worry about not being able to grow anymore and stuff, but alas that’s another topic. At any rate, right now I’m not super serious about leaving, but it’s something I think of from time to time.

            As far as the scheduling, I can live without making that an issue. But from time to time, I notice I’ll ask for a day off and he won’t even record it on the calendar. Or he will record it then delete it later without explaining anything to me. I mean, I end up getting the days anyway, like I said, but I thought that was a little weird is all.

            So I guess if anyone has anymore thoughts or suggestions based on what I said, I’ll hear it! The thing that sucks about leaving is that the job market is still competitive and I work in an industry that is pretty tight and saturated.

            1. Ruffingit

              I can see being upset that he deletes/doesn’t record the days off you schedule. The thing there though is that if you send e-mails requesting that day, you at least have back-up if he ever does say “I didn’t know about that” or “No, you didn’t ask soon enough” or whatever.

              I get not switching jobs right now if you like the career field and have good colleagues. I have so much sympathy for the disorganized boss, I know how maddening it can be when you can’t really count on someone to do the things they say they will/need to do. It can drive a person crazy. Do the best you can, keep browsing the ads, and in the meantime come here to complain. You have more than one sympathetic ear! :)

              1. Ruffingit

                I meant to say that I have so much sympathy for YOU having to deal with a disorganized boss, not that I have sympathy for the boss. :)

    1. Jamie

      Nothing designated as sick time – but I get 2 weeks vacation time.

      We’re on shutdown twice a year for about a week each, which I always work, so those are comp days which get added to my vacation bank.

      My husband though – 8.5 weeks a year between vacation and personal time not including sick time. I ask him what it feels like to work part time – the last half of the year he has to consciously burn days (use them or lose them and he refuses to lose them.)

      1. Lisa

        my bf works at university and I will never have enough time to match his. NEVER. His sick time and personal days = all of my PTO. He could use only personal days and sick time and no vacation time, and have 3 weeks left when I am out of my 4 weeks of PTO. Its horrible , because gets to go to argentina alone and I am stuck working. I need to work at university…

        1. Chinook

          I feel your pain. DH was able to transfer his 4 weeks of vacation benefit from the military to the national police force (he has as much now as someone with years more experience) plus he earns comp time in his new position for public speaking in the evening. His goal is to visit his family for 2 weeks at Christmas without using any of his vacation time.

          He is an example of why many companies force us to take our vacation or lose it – I think he has 3 months banked that would have to be paid out at his current salary (vs. what he was earning when he accrued it) and he sees it as his “carrer transition insurance” for when he quits being a cop. But, since they are understaffed (to the point has called him in on his scheduled vacation days because too many people were out sick or on course), they can’t really force him to take it without literally causing public safety issues.

        2. Michelle

          Hi Lisa,

          I work at a University and have 3 weeks of sick leave and 3 weeks of vacation time per year. But, like your bf, I never get close to using it all (well, vacation time at least). Budget cuts = major workload increases – I can never take off. One day here, another day there but not a real vacation. And I’m speaking for myself and my department of course. It is a good thing though, especially when you have children, but there could also be downfalls too :)

    2. badger_doc

      Unlimited sick time, two weeks of vacation–a significant cutback from my previous job: unlimited sick time, three weeks vacation, 6 personal days.

    3. Bryan

      We accrue two days per month giving employees 24 vacation days a year. Plus we get two personal days and 8 sick days. Also my employer will round holidays so like this year with December 25th being on a Wednesday we also get Thursday and Friday off. I am grateful for such a generous policy as well as a manager who encourages us to use it all up.

    4. CollegeAdmin

      I get 3 weeks of vacation time per year (1.25 days accruing per month) and 12 days of sick time per year (1 day accruing per month). Also, I get 3 personal days.

      Perhaps relevant – I’ve been at this job for 6 months, so this is the standard level for non-exempt employees. I think it increases after 10 years.

    5. -B-

      I work for a small PR firm and we get 12 PTO days the first 2 years, then 15 after that; we also get 9 holidays + 1 floating holiday.

    6. Sascha

      I accrue 9 hours vacation a month and 8 hours sick. The amount of vacation I carry over depends on my state service balance (I work for state govt, yay). So right now I have 5 weeks of vacation, and about 5 weeks of sick. Sick never expires. In a few months I will start earning 10 hours vacation a month.

      1. Tina

        At my University, vacation accrues at different rates depending on your level. I started at grade 11 – 3 weeks per year. Got promoted to 12 – 5 weeks a year. The school also shuts down between Christmas and New Year, and that is separate from our vacation time. I’m not even sure what the sick limit is because it’s quite generous and I never need anything even close to it, and can use 3 personal days from that sick day pool.

        We also have use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy and I frequently use days just for the sake of it. My husband works in food management and only gets 2 weeks, so I use a lot of that time on my own. We got married recently and someone asked us about coordinating all our vacation time together. I love him, but if I only ever took vacation with him, I’d be losing 3 weeks of vacation time. Not letting that happen.

        1. Sascha

          Same at my university, my carry-over balance increases with the state service balance. I’m trying to save up my PTO for maternity leave, but it’s getting to the point where I have to burn some of it…but really I should just take vacation time. I work too much. :)

          We have a sick leave pool where you can donate your unused sick time, which I think is a good idea, but again, saving up for the babies. Unless I get another job and don’t need it at all.

    7. Laura

      We build Time Bank based on how long we’ve been here, but there’s no separating sick or vacation time. We accrue 1 day/month our first year, 1.5 days/month years 2 – 6 and 2 days/month after that.

      Conceivably, you can bank up to 6 months (a few of the long-timers get close to that), but I’m lucky to have a week or so when I need it. We do close at Christmas, but the holidays don;t cover all the days we’re closed, so we need to use 2 days of Time Bank then (you can take it unpaid).

      My husband’s job has no sick time (doctor’s note after 3 days) and his bosses are really good about letting that sick time exemption be for anything – he’ll usually be the one taking our son to the dentist because his boss doesn’t care about the time he’s out of the office. And they just close for the holidays without any restrictions.

    8. Elizabeth

      It depends on how long you’ve been here. I am at the point of earning slightly more than 10 hours of PTO per biweekly pay period, after 19 years. Next year, my earn rate will jump again, although I can’t use everything I earn now.

    9. Calibrachoa

      I’m in Ireland and after 7 years at my company (contractor monkey with no benefits, hourly) I get 6 paid sick days a year, 2 of them “uncertified”, meaning I won’t need a doctor’s note to prove I was sick and… let me check actually… 24.65 days, with the option of taking time in lieu or working public holidays to add vacation days to my

      1. Chinook

        Ireland has awesome legally required benefits, Calibrachoa! In Canada, contract employees are only required to be paid vacation pay on each pay cheque (and then it is usually the min.) If I worked stat/public holidays, I would get holiday pay but no time in lieu.

        Luckily, though, I am not required to provide a sick note for (unpaid) sick days, but I could see it being required if a boss so desired.

        1. College Career Counselor

          22 vacation days/year at my university. Thanksgiving and the day after do not count as part of that, nor does the week between Christmas and New Years, Memorial Day, 4th of July. Labor Day has to be taken as a holiday, because the university is in session.

    10. Lillie Lane

      Zero (wage). I’m one of those annoying people that comes in sick and tries to work through it. But when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, that’s how it is. Sorry to everyone that I’ve given germs!

    11. Katie the Fed

      I get 6 hours of vacation earned every 2-week pay period, and 4 hours of sick leave. That translates to 19 days of leave and 13 days of sick leave a year. I’ve been at this job for 10 years.

      It’s a pretty good deal, not going to lie. I am actually one who uses my leave – lots of people forfeit leave which I think is silly. But then again I work to live, not the other way around.

      1. De Minimis

        Same as Katie….haven’t been there quite as long, but I had some prior federal service before getting this job. Feds who are newer get 4 hours of leave per pay period.

        You have to get 15 years in before you get the maximum rate of 8 hours per pay period. I still have a ways to go.

        Crazy for people to not use leave, but I’ve always known people who don’t.

        1. De Minimis

          Oh, and we actually get 4 weeks a year, the gov’t gives us an extra amount of leave during the last pay period of the year to even things out. Of course, I always use my leave so I’ve never really had more than 2-3 weeks accumulated at any one time anyway.

      2. Nerdling

        Same here. I’ve been in five and a half years now, so I still have another ten years before I bump to the 8 hours/pay period. But I rarely use all mine; I saved for two years to be able to use sick and annual leave instead of FMLA when I had a baby two and a half years ago, and I’m already back up to a point where I have a day or so I need to use or lose by the end of the year.

        Of course, if we’re furloughed or shut down, I should be able to get that day back next year since I won’t be able to take it. We’ll see…

    12. Liz in a library

      I get three weeks vacation and I think two weeks sick? I don’t use a lot of sick leave at the moment (knock on wood), so I am not positive.

    13. Leslie Yep

      80 hours of sick time (you can take it in increments of 4 hrs)
      5 days of personal time
      2-3 weeks of vacation based on tenure
      Plus a bunch of company holidays (including a 5-day-ish winter break around Christmas)

    14. AnonHR

      We have a single bank for general PTO, get 16 days (3 weeks & 1 day) per year to start, can roll over from year to year. After 4 years, it gets bumped to 21 days, after 10 years, it’s 26.

    15. Victoria Nonprofit

      Two weeks of vacation, one week of “personal time” (honestly, I don’t know what the difference is, except that the personal time evaporates at the beginning of the year and the vacation days can accumulate), and we’re closed the week between Christmas and New Years. I think we get 6 sick days.

    16. Chandra

      2.5 days per month (up to 25 per year)=5 weeks, based on my time with the company, you start out with 1 or 1.5. Plus four personal holidays+3
      and 6-7 paid holidays (plus the day after Thanksgiving). No sick bank, we have Flex time off, use it for whatever. And I can only carry over a certain amount, so I always lose time because my husband doesn’t get as much time off.

      Right now, I’m looking at 7.5 weeks available to me and can only carry over 4 weeks, so I need to fit in 3.5 weeks off before the end of the year.

    17. doreen

      8 days sick (which I can bank up to 40 weeks), 4 weeks vacation ( which I can bank as long as I am below 8 weeks on a specific date) , 5 days personal and 12 holidays. Unfortunately, my husband gets 3 vacation and 6 holidays so I end up taking a lot of time off alone since I am unwilling to lose any of the time

    18. AdAgencyChick

      I get 30 PTO days total — at my company you start with 20, but you get another 5 at your 3-year anniversary and 5 more if your title has “VP” in it. (Not as impressive as it sounds, but I will take the extra week of vacay.)

    19. Elizabeth West

      I get PTO–so much per pay period. It adds up but we can only roll 40 hours over. They want us to take it so we don’t burn out. At the end of the FY, there are a lot of people out!

    20. EA

      10 sick days, 3 weeks a year of vacation, 4 floating holidays, and 6 company holidays (which, if I work on that day, I get a comp day that I can use anytime within the next 365 days). Once I hit 15 years with this company (2 more to g0!), and I’ll earn 4 weeks of vacation a year (plus everything else)

      1. Lucy

        I always find it interesting when employers provide more sick time than vacation time. Seems strange to me, I’ve always received more vacation than sick.

    21. JMegan

      15 vacation days, plus 6 sick days at full pay. If we go over 6 sick days, we have the option of using vacation time or taking 75% pay for something like 125 days.

    22. Jen

      I get 10 sick days and then 10 vacation days right off the bat (and a personal day). After 5 years I think you get 5 more vacation days? Something like that.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        32 + a flexi day if hours have been accrued. A flexi day can be taken once per timesheet period (7 hrs). No keeping annual leave over in the next year. No local holidays (my boyfriend gets these and he works for the NHS) hut we do get Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years Day and the 2nd January plus Easter Monday.

    23. Jackie

      Our policy is kind of crappy. We get 2 weeks (10 days) of vacation time regardless of how long you’ve been here- no increase for time or seniority. We also have 5 sick days and 2 personal days. We’re only off for the big time holidays- Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. EVERYTHING is use it or lose it so it’s impossible to save up time things like maternity leave or other situations covered by FMLA. Definitely odd for office-based jobs that have no affiliation with retail or food service.
      Of course none of this applies to the CEO- he gets 6 weeks of vacation, 10 sick days, and 5 personal days. And of course he can bank/carry over everything. Last time I heard, he was sitting on more than a year of banked time. I guess there are perks to being in charge and making the rules!

    24. Brett

      No sick time. PTO is 160 hrs 1st year, 200 hrs year 1-10, 240 year 11-20, 280 years 21-25, and 320 hours at 26+ years.
      Carry over is capped at 1.5x your annual total. Hard part is actually using it. I lose 1-2 weeks every year because I was over the cap by the end of my third year.

    25. A Teacher

      16 Sick Days and 2 personal days a year–union contract, I’m a high school teacher. My sick days roll over and if I don’t use my personal days they become sick days for the following year. My mom did this for 30+ years as a teacher and retired with more than 370 sick days…

    26. Chinook

      At the moment, none because I am a temp to permanent contract with no benefits (beyond those legally required). My vacation pay is automatically added to each pay cheque and was included in the original salary quote when they said $16/hour (or whatever it is I make) and I still feel was a little underhanded.

      My boss had her eyes opened to my reality, though, when I took a sick dday off and marked it as such on my timesheet. She asked how it was handled and I said I didn’t get paid. the look on her face said it all and I hope this means she will look at making my position permanent once work slows down in October.

    27. N.J.

      Long time reader, first time commenting. I get 10 days, all total, to use for vacation or sick days. We do get standard holidays off, but it is the worst PTO package I’ve ever had for a job. We do work from home a good portion of the time, but I have 50 hours + work weeks, so not sure if it balances out.

    28. Y

      6 weeks of vacation, unlimited sick time (doctor’s note after day three required). This is the standard for my country (Germany)

        1. Y

          The legal minimum for people working a 5-day week is 20, for a 6-day week it’s 24. But since you are in IT; you’d likely get around 30 (I actually get 29, I just like to round up and have days off for working overtime anyway).

          A bit of trivia: In Germany, the government can’t give civil servants more days off because they have been there longer – that would be considered age discrimination. This order from the highest labor Court led to the younger employees getting 30 days off, just as their oldest coworkers had had previously.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        This isn’t meant to knock the vacation policies in Europe, but I have no idea what I’d do with 6 weeks of vacation. I can’t manage to get 4 taken… /jealous

        1. Y

          Seriously? I think of 4 as really, really low.

          So, this year is… 5 for the Christmas break. 5 for autumn holiday, 5 for a spring vacation (both trips to cities within Germany, nothing fancy). 8 days in summer because I put in my notice and thus had to take my vacation there – I really, really needed the time off. Just hanging around at home. The other 7 is for “a day here, a day there” when I want a long weekend.

    29. Beebs

      Academic setting–96 hours sick/year, accrue 15 hours vacation/month (=22 days/year). Sick accrues forever, vacation eventually hits a limit when it reaches 250 hours or something like that. (Why I accrue in hours when I’m exempt and only take in days is a mystery to me.) Also get various holidays and closure days, like between Christmas and New Year’s. Really, it’s a pretty good deal.

    30. fposte

      I had go to look this up; it used to be different and I never did learn the new rule. We get twelve cumulative days (can roll over) and thirteen non-cumulative days. I don’t know which get taken from first.

    31. Gjest

      30 vacation, unlimited sick, 14 paid holidays and an extremely flexible attitude towards coming in late/leaving early for drs appt, car repair, going to the bank, etc.

      I am in Europe. These benefits are amazing compared to my last job in the US.

      1. Nicole

        I’ve always envied the time off policies in Europe! My former company has an office in Spain and it seems like they have a holiday every other week and most of the office takes off the entire month of August. I was so jealous!

        1. Gjest

          It is amazing! I just started 6 months ago, so I didn’t take a vacation this summer, and everyone was so surprised. I had only been here a few weeks when the head of the organization asked me where I was taking my summer holiday. When I said nowhere, I was going to work all summer, she sounded horrified- apparently that was really weird of me! I was still in a US mindset, where I felt like I really shouldn’t take any time of for at least 6 months or more.

          From July through August, almost every email I sent got an out of office response, usually indicating they’d be gone for at least 4 weeks. My coworker was gone for 6 straight weeks, and it seemed to be normal to everyone else. I can’t wait for next summer!

    32. ES

      I work at a University, and the time off is pretty awesome – 15 vacation, 10 sick, 3 personal, plus we get extra holiday time (1-3 days depending on the calendar that year) for spring break because the campus closes.

      At my last job, it was similar, except 2 personal days, and vacation increased to 20 after three years.

      1. Anonymous

        I used to work at a university. After about 7 years there, I had 2 weeks sick, about 4 weeks vacation, plus 12 paid holidays a year. I gave it up for a new job with 3.5 week PTO (combined sick/vacation) and 6 paid holidays a year.

        Essentially, I cut my time off in half. However, I am getting paid more and they are quite good about working remotely (will be logging in for 1 day during my upcoming 2-week vacation) and I can also take time off without pay. It came in handy when I had a month-long trip to India scheduled for 5 months after I started.

    33. Claire MKE

      I work two part time jobs. At one I get no sick time and accrue .7 hours of vacation per period. At the other, I get nothing.

    34. anon

      I work at a university and get 3 weeks of sick time a year and 5 weeks of vacation time. I have to use half of my vacation time each year, but the rest carries over, and all my sick time carries over.

    35. Random

      Year 1: 10 days pro-rated from start date
      Year 2-4: 15 days within each year.
      Years 5-15: 20 days within each year.
      Over 15 years: 25 days within each year.
      Over 30 years: 30 days within each year.

      10 sick/personal leave days.

    36. MJ

      I’m in New Zealand – by law, we get:
      5 days sick leave
      4 weeks vacation leave
      3 days bereavement leave on the death of a close relative, or 1 day bereavement leave for any other death.

      My employer gives us 7 days sick leave a year and we also get “long service leave” – so when I’ve been with the company 10 years I get an extra two weeks leave on top of my normal 4 weeks, at 15 years I get another two weeks, etc etc.

      The concept of not being guaranteed leave is very strange to me!!!

    37. ExceptionToTheRule

      5 sick days & 2 personal days. Vacation: 1-5 years: 10 days ; 6-10 years: 15 days; 15-20 years: 20 days; 20+ years: 25 days.

      No guaranteed holidays unless you’re business office/sales staff because we’re a 24/7/365 business but full-time employees get double pay for working.

    38. Jubilance

      Only 2 weeks :-( I used to have 3 weeks at both of my previous jobs, and at my first job I also had the week between Christmas and New Years as holiday time off *sigh*

      My current job also has very few holidays. I think its only 6 – New Years Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. I don’t even get the day after Thanksgiving anymore *grrrr*

    39. Jen in RO

      Romania: 21 days of vacation (according to the law). Companies can offer more, if they want, but it’s not common. Three months (I think) of medical leave, with a doctor’s note. As far as I know, we don’t have a concept of calling in sick – if you wake up feeling crap, you either come to work, go to the doctor and get a note, or use a vacation day.

    40. Amber

      I work at a grocery store and I actually have no idea. I get like 10-15 hours a week right now and generally if I need a day off here or there I can just work another day, but I’m not sure what would happen if I were to take a week off.

  4. CollegeAdmin

    Car talk here! My beloved Grand Am is on its last legs, so I need to start car shopping (ugh). So far, I’m liking the Mazda3 hatchback, the Subaru Impreza hatchback, and the Scion tC.

    Two questions:
    1. If you own/have owned any of the three, did you like it or dislike it, and why?
    2. Any other recommendations – what do you drive and love?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Jamie

      Mustang. Blue with leather seats I highly recommend.

      Although I have been lusting in my heart over a black Challenger. Don’t tell my car – I’m not cheating on her…just lusting.

    2. MR

      I’ll give you a bit of unsolicited advice about the buying process. Do not, and I repeat, do not deal with a salesman (with the exception of a test drive – but don’t engage with them beyond that). Buy your car online. Solicit quotes from dealerships through their website. They will give you the best price (you should see that all of the prices are very close to each other for the exact same car – assuming you are buying new).

      If buying used, their best price will likely be already listed on their website. Just go with this.

      I did this and saved a minimum of $3,000 by cutting out the shady salesman on a new car.

      1. Steve

        The finance office is where they make tons of money too, by selling extended warranties, under coatings, etc. Even if you’ve arranged all of your financing in advance they’ll want you to listen to all their great deals (believe it or not, SOMETIMES you can get better deals using their financing since rebates are often tied to the manufacturer’s finance group). That’s also the office you generally spend the most time in and they try to wear you down to the point you’ll agree to anything just to finalize things and be on your way. It never hurts to take someone along to keep you company – plus you can use their own trick of “asking the manager” by excusing yourself to talk to your friend – whether you discuss anything relevant or not.

        And – they CAN and often WILL treat women differently. I personally think women can be tougher negotiators than men, but if you feel like you’re not up to dealing with this on your own, or you just feel like you’re not a strong negotiator, take someone that’s purchasing savvy with you. Doesn’t HAVE to be a man, just someone who won’t let them get away with the chauvinistic crap. When it comes to you spending $20K vs $25K, don’t be too proud to call in backups.

        1. Loose Seal

          When we bought our car, I got the price down another $3000 plus an extra 2 years of oil changes (they gave us 2 years to begin with) after my husband stopped bargaining.

          The trick to successful negotiation is your absolute willingness to walk away from the transaction.

        2. Chinook

          “And – they CAN and often WILL treat women differently.”

          I have noticed that with some salesmen, but not all. I have bought or leased 5 vehicles (always through dealerships) and it drove me nuts if I went with DH and they started answering my questions facing him (especially since I worked in car dealerships, do my research and know what I want). DH is great because he always pointed out that he was just the driver. But, every time a salesperson did that, I would immediately leave the dealership even if they had exactly what I wanted. I would also follow up with a letter to the dealership explaining why they lost my business and telling them how much I ended up spending at their competitor.

          If you know anyone who had a good experience with a salesman or dealership, get their recommendations. One salesman DH and I dealt with sold us 3 different vehicles in 5 years even after we looked elsewhere because he was teh only one who treated me with respect.

        3. Windchime

          Willingness to walk away is absolutely crucial. I also am looking at new cars, and I was very frank with the internet quote guy who called me. I told him, “I’m not going to do that ‘go talk to the manager’ thing. I don’t have any interest in dickering; I just want to know what your bottom line is on .” He was very responsive to that and I think that if I decide to take the plunge, I will go with him.

          I read an article once that explained all the tactics that car salespeople use to try to weaken your resolve. When the salesman goes to “talk to the manager”, they probably aren’t talking about your deal. They’re talking about the game or the upcoming weekend. And when they take your keys to your current car to see how much it’s worth? Yeah, that’s to keep you from leaving.

      2. EA

        Once you have your quote from the internet, take that to a competing dealer, and ask if they can beat it … Sometimes they can’t. But, sometimes, it could save you another $500-1000.

    3. Meghan

      My partner had an older model of the Mazda3 hatchback, and I loved it. Fun to drive, easy to park, good gas mileage.

    4. Chelsea B.

      I have a friend who owns a Mazda 3 – and it’s started falling apart after about 5 years. Just my 2 cents!

    5. -B-

      I’ve got a Mazda3 manual transmission and have been very pleased with it – 3 years and no service visits besides routine oil changes, etc.

    6. Colette

      I have a 13 year old Protege, which I believe turned into the Mazda 3. It’s been awesome – it’s only the last year that the ownership costs have gone up. I’m looking at the Mazda 5 now.

      1. Mela

        I have a Mazda5, and I love it. It’s also the only minivan-type vehicle you can get in a manual transmission, which is the difference for me between loving to drive and hating to drive. We have two teenagers and an elementary-school-aged kid, and were able to happily drive 4k miles this summer without anyone killing each other.

    7. Anonymous

      I have a Mazda3 and I like it better than my last car at least… but it seems to somehow go through tires very quickly.

    8. LMW

      I have a Honda Fit, which is in the same category as some of these. It’s great for hauling stuff and it’s got a wonderful inside layout, but the engine’s a little lacking (accelerating on a freeway on ramp with an incline means I’m really really hitting the gas and listening to my engine work — something to check for all cars in this class during the test drive!) and there’s a really poor design to the side mirrors. They become almost completely obscured by snow and even rain – total safety hazard. So I wouldn’t recommend the 2010 model for that reason. But I love having a little hatchback!

      1. LMW

        Oh, and my sister’s fiance has the Scion. It’s teeny tiny and the backseat is extremely uncomfortable. I’m not sure which year he has. I’d recommend checking out how you can arrange the seats and sitting in the back seat to check out those features.

      2. Brett

        I have a 2008 Fit. No side mirror issues, but rain falls straight if you crack the window at all (which has led to recalls of the power window switches).
        Fortunately I have the sport model with the paddle shifters. I just downshift into 3rd on freeway ramps and it chugs right up at 5k RPMs. The engine sounds crazy that way, but accelerates fine. The hauling ability is the awesome point though. We can fit just about anything in as long as it has no dimension over 7 feet.

    9. The IT Manager

      After 12 years with a beloved Ford Focus hatchback, I got a new car. I went for the Honda Civic which doesn’t come in the hatchback and I regret it a timy bit. I just don’t love the Honda like I did the Focus. My other two choices were another Ford Focus and the Mazda 3. I wish I had gone for the hatchback now.

      I think I got sucked in by the saleperson. I looked at the Honda first and the salesman was a nice, very young, man who had been in the Army. He managed to make a connection with me first. And I think that’s why the Honda won out. So my only advice would be to watch out for that because helping out that nice young man doesn’t make me love my car now.

      Hatchbacks are cool. They are very aerodynamic looking.

      1. COT

        Hatchback fan here, too. I’ve had two Focuses, one 5-door hatchback and one 4-door sedan. Both were great. Reliable, good gas mileage, inexpensive to repair (and repairs were rare). I’ve moved up to an Escape, but I’d happily own another Focus.

      2. TL

        Toyota Yaris hatchback! I love love love it :D Great gas mileage, I can park anywhere, fit into places I’m definitely not supposed to, and I used to be able to fit my entire dorm room in my car, so handily when I was changing residences 3 times a year in college. :)

          1. TL

            I always feel like it’s a drug dealer’s car – there’s so many compartments and little tricks about it; most of my friend can’t find the cupholders or figure out the headrests. :) It’s fun to see who can get it.

      3. Windchime

        My Mazda 6 is a hatchback. I never would have sought out a hatchback, but it turned out to be so handy! I can haul a full-size bicycle back there. Or a six foot ladder. All kinds of stuff, really……very handy!

    10. Victoria Nonprofit

      I don’t mean to be a jerk, and I realize that I don’t control the world (or this specific space)… but I’d really prefer if we stayed “on topic” here. It’s hard enough to scroll though all the comments on the open threads without adding some that aren’t related to work/job hunting/management/etc.

      Alison, what do you think?

        1. Liz in a library

          I thought that was the point, too. And honestly, I like having a forum where we can talk about non-work things like kittens, weddings, and cars–and I think it keeps the other threads more focused on the questions at hand. Just my opinion.

          1. Jamie

            Me too. I really do try not to go off topic in the actual posts (I do too try…I’m not always successful.)

            But I think of Open Threads as like our break room. We can talk about work, but we don’t have to.

            And I like you guys – it’s kind of nice to get to know people as people and not just their work opinions.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I liked the car talk.
        Being stuck in my car is a big part of my work day. (I hate it, but what can you do?) Anyway, anyone who wants to talk about a car that is reliable or a great snow tire they found- this person will have my undivided attention.
        My current thing is that stupid check engine light. I had to go back three times before the car would pass inspection. This has huge impact on my work day and on my finances. The shop manager was telling me about a person that went back for FOUR months before the check engine light went out and the car could pass inspection. I could lose my job if this happened to me.

        I like what someone said a couple open threads ago- “skim”. Pick the topics that are interesting and skip the others. That works.

        1. Anonymously Anonymous

          I like the mix. I try to skim but some days I don’t even get to read the open thread because they are too long for my attention span… esp after leaving work…lol.

          Anyway my Buick started overheating this January– 3 months before I was due to pay it off. I was hoping to get 1 year of no car payments before I started car shopping again. So I was stuck car shopping during snow season here! I had to go work late and leave early during those times, get rides, rent cars–because I couldn’t make it to the dealerships without it overheating. Now I have a used Acura and I have a slow leak in one tire oh the joy!! Other than that I love it!

      2. fposte

        I’m another who thought the point of open threads was to talk about anything, social included. I would hate to lose that. Maybe if people wanted a work-focused open thread we could alternate between work open and open open?

        1. Ellie H.

          I actually didn’t even realize that people did talk about nonwork topics here – when I look at the open threads I generally see only random work-related questions or posts (I don’t read all the open threads, only some). Now that I see that people do post about non-workplace topics, I’ll read them even more frequently.

      1. Chinook

        If we are tlaking about all time favorites, I am going to show my redneck tendencies. I had a cherry red GMC Sonoma sport truck with a black spray-coated bed liner. I cried when I had to hand back the keys because my lease was up the month after I was laid off and I couldn’t afford to buy out the contract.

        It did have one annoying quirk, though. The interior heater stopped working when the outside temperature dropped below
        -30. It took the dealership a while to figure out that it was a design flaw because it would work whenever they brought it intot he shop (cuz it was warmer in there). Turns out that vehicles are not always designed with Alberta winters in mind.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think I want to get a Subaru next. I tried the last time and there was only a couple available (far away)- seems after the economy crashed people held on to their Subarus.

        1. Nikki T

          There are TWO newish Outbacks in our parking lot. They are soo beautiful, I don’t want to get caught peeking into them, but I’m so very tempted every day.

    11. periwinkle

      I’m a Subaru fan, currently driving a 2003 Impreza WRX wagon that placed a 1993 Subaru Loyale that replaced a 1980 Subaru GL sedan. If you like longevity and reliability, you’ll like the Subaru. The regular Impreza isn’t as powerful as the WRX, but it’s sufficiently peppy. Fuel economy has been a weak point for the brand (my AWD turbo wagon averages around 22mpg and requires premium, $$$) but it’s getting better.

      I’ve driven the Mazda 3 and loved it – lots of spirit. Not as much fun as the Mazda MX-5 Miata we own, but infinitely more practical. :-)

      Our third car is a Honda Fit. Hugely practical, great commuter car, but not “fun” to drive like the others you’re considering. Add the Ford Focus to your list, or a Fusion if you want something a bit larger.

    12. Littlemoose

      I’ll chime in. I had a 2006 Scion tC that I really loved, and I only got rid of it earlier this year because I was in an accident (some fool pulled out in front of me) and it was totaled. It never had any serious mechanical problems and was fun to drive, and the hatchback was very practical. I was very sad to see it go. It did hold its value well; it was eight years old and had over 109K on it, and I still got well over half of what we paid new when the insurance company totaled it. That said, I don’t really have any experience with the remodeled tC (I think they redid it around 2011), but if you’re looking at the older models, they were great.

      When I was car shopping, I did seriously consider the Mazda 3. It wound up being my second choice, and I bought something else. The 3 was also fun to drive, and offered great fuel economy. For me, though, a major knock against it was the interior. I didn’t care for the styling, and the console was super-busy with a zillion buttons that just kind of felt like information overload. I realize that’s something you get used to after you’ve owned it for a while, but I just didn’t feel that comfortable with it when I was trying to use its functions. While it drove well, the interior styling was hard to overcome.

      What I bought was a 2013 Nissan Sentra, and I love it. Nissan redesigned the car for this year, and it looks a lot like the Altima now. It gets great gas mileage – I average around 32 mpg city. It’s very spacious inside, and I bought the SL with all the fun stuff like leather, navigation, backup camera, etc. Huge trunk space, so it hauls a ton. I also got a very good deal on it; it would up being cheaper than the 3 or the Civic EX-L I was considering, though the prices weren’t hugely different. It’s a smaller engine with a CVT, which is what gives you that great mileage, so it’s not as zippy as the 3 or the tC was. Still, a very comfortable and pleasant ride, and I’m very happy with the purchase. My first car was a ’98 Altima that lasted forever with no mechanical issues, so I was happy to get another Nissan. Lastly, if you do want a hatchback, I hear the 2014 Sentra will be available in a hatch.

      Sorry for the novel I wrote – just thought I would share, as I was shopping for very similar cars recently.

    13. Chinook

      I love my Kia Soul. I bought it the first year it came out and have never regretted it (well,e xcept for the fact that their so called “manual” transmission just lets you shift and doesn’t have a clutch).

      I call it my “compact SUV” because it is small like a compact car (I had a hatchback before) but gives me enough height on the roads to be above snow ruts in the road and to not feel like I am gonig to slip underneath a semi truck. I have hauled a lazy boy chair and a tea trolley in the back (at the same time), so it had great storage capacity.

      Lastly, it was cheap enough that I could go for the high end model and get the heated leather seats, push button entry and ignitiation and speakers that light up. Oh, and it is much quieter on the highway than my hatchback ever was.

        1. Chinook

          The added perk of owning my Kia Soul – at some point I am going to get to utter the phrase “I want to seel my Soul!”

    14. Anonymously Anonymous

      What about the Toyota Venza? I love the look of that car. I think it’s right in the same car type as the Impreza

    15. Windchime

      I haven’t owned a Mazda 3, but I have a Mazda 6 that’s 9 years old and it looks a lot like the new Mazda 3’s. It has been the most dependable car I have ever owned. I’m thinking of trading the old girl in, but everytime I go car shopping I realize that I still like my car better that the new ones!

      The Mazda 3’s are really nice little cars.

    16. life's a beach

      I used to be a Toyota fan all the way, then changed to Ford Mustang Convertible. I upgraded about 5 years ago to BMW. It was my Birthday present to myself. But all three of the Brands you listed are good. So I say test drive one of each, compare the options/std for what you are going to pay and look up the long term test drive info at Car & Drive. if you have time, do your research and go into the dealership armed with all the price knowledge you can. Also don’t agree to any extended warranty etc.

    17. Anonymous

      Subaru, but in Alaska the AWD is a big selling point. My family back east has been a Subaru family for years. My sister pushed a 1996 Impreza to almost 300K miles before it finally died.

  5. Brett

    Just have to vent.

    Went to register for a conference today, and found I was not a member of the association even though I have been participating as a member for years. I knew every year I budgeted for the membership, and sent in an invoice when my dues came up.

    Turns out my employer has been ignoring the invoices. For 5 years. No explanation of why it was not getting paid, but now I have the embarrassing situation of acting like an association member (I was on the conference committee for this conference) when I wasn’t!

    1. Kathy

      wow, why wouldn’t he just say “no”? Is it worth it for you to pay for the membership yourself? Associations like that are great for networking.

    2. Chocolate Teapot

      Ugh. Although how come nobody ever mentioned it before?

      I used to be Treasurer for a professional organisation, and sending out the annual membership invoices took so much time. The worst bit was trying to follow up non-payments and getting snotty comments about being on maternity leave or that the person had left that particular job and of course they were not going to pay this year’s membership. How was I supposed to know that?

    3. Brett

      I’ve done tons of volunteer work for the organization in the last four years. I guess everyone I was working with just assumed I was regularly paying my dues since I was helping them out.

      The money is budgeted for this year and under our credit card limits, so I am going to get the credit card later today and use it myself to pay the dues online. Nothing I can do about all the years I missed though.

  6. Waiting

    Hi, so I need a little advice on how to approach my boss. When I started, I was given two main areas of duty (essentially two distinct jobs for two different departments). I was promised that the workload would not be too onerous and if it did I could talk to my manager to get it reduced.
    After a few weeks on the job, it became very clear that the work load was going to be too much to do without going into overtime every week (my manager said a few hours of overtime a week is ok, 10 or more is not). I went to my manager with some ideas of what could be done, but as weeks turned into months and several conversations with my manager, with the heads of both departments, and with HR, nothing changed. Then a co-worker from one of the departments with whom I worked closely gave notice (two months notice). Her final day was the first day in August. My manager decided that when they hired the person’s replacement they would take some of my duties and give them to the new person to take some of the burden off me.

    My issue is, the previous person gave two months’ notice, and it has now been almost two months since her last day for a total of four months, and they haven’t even interviewed a single person for the position. When the time came for the previous person to leave, they promised me that I would not be expected to take on any of her duties. Not only have they been adding those duties to my already too full roster, I also have no back up or assistance on things she would normally assist me with.

    Since her departure, I’ve been averaging 50-60 hours per week, and had one 80 hour week where I was the sole planner and executor for a major project. My manager has begrudgingly allowed me the overtime, but I really don’t want overtime. I want my sanity back. I am leery to set up yet another meeting with my manager to discuss my workload. It feels like flogging a dead horse. How can I bring this up with my manager and possibly try to get a timeline of when they’re actually planning on filling the position?

    1. Coelura

      Approach your boss with the request to prioritize the work on your plate. Try to get her to force rank everything. Then communicate each week what items will not get done due to running out of time. Don’t request OT if you don’t want it, just communicate what will be completed.

    2. Brett

      If the other position is in another department, does your manager really have any control over it, whether it is hiring or assigning duties?
      Your manager may be more out of the loop on this position than you think unfortunately.

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      Your boss isn’t forcing you to work that much, but as long as you’re covering it, there isn’t a great priority to change things. Let your boss know that from now on, you won’t be working more than x hours of overtime, and ask for her guidance on which tasks she wants done. Then do what you can in that time and go home. It’s her job to worry about it, and if you aren’t doing it, then she’ll start doing something about it.

      1. Waiting

        That’s the trouble, it is my boss expecting me to work that much. When I say he begrudgingly accepts the overtime, that’s more about pay. We’ve gone over and over and over the list of duties to prioritize them. Basically, anything the department heads want, they get because they’re higher up on the totem pole. My boss is also convinced that some of the things simply don’t take any time at all (like organizing the logistics for a seminar). How hard can it be to order lunch? (and get the meeting information together, get space set up, get hotel rooms blocked, etc)

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Your boss is expecting that much, but you still aren’t being forced. You have to be willing to talk to him and set some limits. Tell him that you’re approaching burnout, and you simply can’t do more than 5 hours of overtime a week (or whatever you feel your reasonable limit is). And then keep to it. Work won’t get done, but that’s his problem, not yours. Do as much as you can, as well as you can, in the time you have. And then go home without guilt.

    4. Lisa

      We forget that doing the work means you are handling the workload. Stop doing it. That is the biggest red flag to management that they need to hire more people. If you keep doing that much overtime, they :
      #1 are getting a great deal since 1.5 the pay is less than paying 2 people.
      #2 don’t see a need to hire since you are still doing the work!

      You need to stop overtime, and one way is to say: I know its only Wednesday, but I’ve already reached my 40 hours, so I am going home, see you Monday. That will get your boss to realize that you need help and that you are adhering to no more overtime.

      Take a vacation – best way to realize that you do a lot is by not being there to do it. If they suddenly are in charge of the ridiculous workload, then you might get help.

    5. Pam

      Have a weekly Monday morning meeting (15mins). Get your list of priorities out. Come to the meeting prepared with a list like this:

      Project 1, Task A – 15 hours
      Project 1, Task B – 5 hours
      Project 2, Task A – 12 hours
      Project 3, Task X – 3 hours
      Project 4, Task Z – 5 hours
      TOTAL = 40 hours.

      The list should be made by PRIORITY, so that if Project 1 task A takes 20 hours instead of 15, you know that you won’t be doing Project 4, Task Z .

      You can also make a secondary list of things you can do if you complete those projects faster than the timeframe you’ve specified.

      Once you have the go-ahead, execute. If you are asked to do ANYTHING else ask which of those items your boss does not want completed.

      TLDR; I find that assigning time, not just priority, is much more helpful for managers to understand that you simply CAN’T take on more projects in a given week.

      1. Leslie Yep

        Yes, and practice these phrases over and over again:

        “I can only do X if I don’t do Y. Which should it be?”
        “I can either finish X or Y this week. Which should it be?”
        “If I do X, Y will have to wait until ___. Is that okay? No? Then I can’t do X this week.”

        I have had this conversation with managers so many times where I walked out with exactly the same amount of work (or some small item removed) because my manager would either insist that everything was a priority, or feel like she had accomplished something by taking an hour of work away (when she had just added 20).

        You need to force your boss to force rank. Do not give in. Do not be conciliatory. Do not overextend yourself to be a team player. Stand your ground, and repeat over and over again “To do X, I can’t do Y.” Make it clear that both is not an option.

        I feel for you because it takes so much energy and composure to do this! Good luck!

  7. Forrest

    Thank Bob, I was hoping it was open thread day.

    My new job will pay 80% of my masters if I get something related to my job (which I d0 – MPA.) I’ve been thinking about getting it even before I started here but couldn’t afford it. I was thinking of applying for next Fall (so I’d have been here a year.)

    Should I go for it? Smoothe my fears!

    1. -B-

      Will your company make you repay them if you quit before a certain a period of time? I’ve had several friends that had that offer for an MBA from their employer but weren’t sure if they were going to stay the additional years as required & wouldn’t be able to fork over the cash to pay them back if they left. It’s great if there’s no strings attached, or if you plan on staying with your company indefinitely.

      1. Forrest

        Kind of.

        If I complete two years and then quit my job before my third year is up, I only have to pay back the preceding 12 months of credits, not the whole thing.

        I also have to pay up front and will be reimbursed if I get a B or higher.

      2. Forrest

        I’m also a nonprofit fundraiser, so an MPA, with a concentration in nonprofit management seems like a good move to me career wise.

    2. Ann Furthermore

      Yes, go for it!! I got my MBA a few years ago, and did it with tuition assistance from my employer.

      What finally convinced me to start working on it was the realization that the amount of time I had spent thinking about doing it was almost equivalent to the time it would have taken to complete the program! So I finally got off my backside and did it.

      I’m not sure how much career advancement it’s gotten me, but I really enjoyed the program and I’m glad I completed it. I took a few months off when I got pregnant, but forced myself to finish after my daughter was born, because I only had 3 classes to go. And it was a good thing I did that, because not long after I finished my company pulled the plug on tuition assistance altogether.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Do you think you will stay with the company long enough to fill the time requirements?
      Is the remaining 20% doable in your current situation?
      Where are the classes? Are you going to be asleep while driving?
      How much time are you allowed for completion? I am wonder if once you start is there a timer that is ticking away? (I don’t have an MA- so am not familiar.)

      I like how you had previously thought about this- I think that gives you a good leg up on finding your answer. Since the degree is in alignment with you plans that is another point in favor.

      1. Forrest

        Thank you Not So New Reader – I’m really grateful for your questions. Its a lot to think about.

        I made a comminmtnet to myself to stay at my company for five years. My resume is a little job hopper-ish, so I need too. Plus there’s a 401k benefit if I do stay five years.

        The remaining 20% is doable for me – I plan on saving it up over the next year.

        I don’t know when I’d have to complete it by. I’d like to get it done in three years (going semi-part time) and thankfully the classes are in the same city as where I work.

    4. Dang

      I have an MPA, and I can’t say it has opened any doors for me, but I was only a year out of undergrad when I went for it. My classmates with more experience definitely got more use out of it. It sounds like you have at lest part of your career trajectory planned out and the employer pays for much of it, so I would definitely do it in your case!

  8. Calibrachoa

    Yay, open thread!

    I am gnashing my teeth because one of my coworkers is jsut such a know it all and an obstinate jonathandonkey all the bloody time. “This doesn’t make sense to me so it must be incorrect” with a side of “But but but so and so said this at one point so it could not have changed” et cetera. Ugh.

    This with a side of apparently me getting the blame for some dishes piling up on a shared desk because I am the one who sits there more often – when it’s my effing supervisor who’d left them there. Apparently due to me being the only woman in the team the automatic assumption was that I’d take care of them. *facepalm*

    … and apparently the obstinate one and another guy tried to get rid of the dishes by hiding them. and had the site exec walk in on them and laugh his ass off.

    /end rant

  9. Sascha

    I applied yesterday for an internal position that would be a great promotion for me, doing exactly what I want to do (database administration). I’m probably underqualified for it, but the hiring department is really good about training and development, and likes to hire internally. I’m just feeling guilty about it because my director in my current department said he was working on a promotion for me. However this promotion hinges on a certain project getting started up, and that keeps getting delayed. I’m not seeing a lot of hope for advancement in my own department, and it’s been over a year since my director first started talking to me about a promotion. Granted, I work for a state university so things move sloooooowly, but this seems ridiculous, even by their standards.

    So no real problem or question here, just needed to get some feelings out. I need to do what’s best for me.

    1. Jamie

      Don’t feel guilty – you can’t pin your hopes to something that is repeatedly getting delayed.

      And even if you’re feeling under-qualified, the worst they can say is no. For DBA I’d rather have someone who knows the basics, but needs to learn specifics as long as they have a drive and desire to do it (and ability to learn/short curve) than someone who may have more qualifications on paper but didn’t have the rest.

      Good luck – and DBA is awesome…my favorite part of IT.

      1. Sascha

        Thank you! I hope the hiring managers see it that way, because this job would double my pay. :) I think my guilt is stemming from a desire to be grateful and a sense of loyalty, but I think those qualities often turn me into a doormat.

        I updated my cover letter and resume based on Alison’s advice, and this is my first try with the new stuff. Fingers crossed!

    2. Anna

      If your boss lost the funding for the project you currently work on, you’d be fired. And your boss might feel guilty about it, and she might feel sympathetic about it, but she wouldn’t put her own job in jeopardy by refusing to fire you if the work weren’t there. You’re not doing anything even the least bit wrong by taking a better job, and you’re not being disloyal. Take the better job and write a really nice thank you note to your boss letting her know that you’ve learned so much and have appreciated working with her.

  10. Anne

    I work at a small tech company. I was originally hired basically as a receptionist, but now have a hand in with just about everything – sales, tech support, finance… and I use our product way more than anyone else in the office, so my knowledge of it, and how customers will be using it, is actually better than the developers’ in a lot of ways. I’ve also now been here longer than most of the other staff and am essentially acting as management.

    But I know that I’m still paid a lot less than even the most junior developers. I don’t think that’s totally out of line, but I do want a raise. So I guess what I’m asking is…

    Would it be too pushy to come right out and say “Look, at this point you’d have a lot harder time replacing me than one of the junior devs”?

    1. Sascha

      Eh, I probably wouldn’t frame it that way, since it sounds like comparing yourself to the developers. And while you sound like you definitely deserve a raise, I would take AAM’s advice about how to make your case by basing it on all you bring to the role, without comparison to anyone else. Read through her archives if you haven’t already.

      1. Jamie

        This. Present a case why you think you deserve more money ( do some market research, etc.) but comparing your self to a co-worker in another position just looks petty and doesn’t go over well.

        I would want to know why you should make $X more and I’d consider it. Why you’re work more than Wakeen would leave me with a bad taste.

      2. Anoners

        I know the general rule of thumb is to never talk about what other people are making when positioning for a raise, but I kind of had the reverse situation happen to me. I work in a pretty small office, and you need a Masters to do my job. I found out a coordinator with no degree/trade requirement is making more than me (like starting off with way more). I’ve been here for 5 years, she came in new. Since it’s such a small office, I found out about it and did bring it up when talking about a raise. Not in THIS PERSON IS MAKING WAY MORE THAN ME!! way, but in a “I know our positions are evaluated and put into a pay-bands, but I’m concerned that maybe mine needs to be re-evaluated based on xyz”, and I also through that little nugget about my coworker in there. I debated about it beforehand, but I knew going in that this whole job band thing would be brought up. Anyway, she was totally blown away by it in a “omg we need to re-valuate your position if this is happening” way. Sometimes I think it can be somewhat relevant if you know your boss well enough that they would be genuinely concerned about what’s happening. I also had some data from salary surveys/ other data to back me up. Anywhoo, just my experience with it. I would never really use that if I didn’t have a good relationship with my boss though…

        1. Anonymous

          I once brought up pay, and it worked. I’d been brought in as a PT temp hire, and they had some story about how they couldn’t pay me more than I was making at my other PT permanent job in the same university, even though the temp job was a higher grade. Eventually, I turned PT temp into a FT permanent job, but stayed at the same pay rate. (This time, it was because if they made the job FT and changed the pay grade, they’d have to advertise it instead of just keeping me in the role. Apparently, they can only change one thing at once.)

          One day my boss was talking about how we had a lot of work and maybe we should bring in a grad student employee for some cheap help. I said that we probably couldn’t afford it because grad students made more than I did. A few weeks later, I got a $3/hr raise.

    2. Brett

      The main problem with comparing you to the junior devs is that certain types of developers are in short supply and hard to recruit (java and mobile come to mind, but it depends on the city). They get value out of that high recruitment cost as well as their value to the company.

      So really, it is not that they would have a harder time replacing you. You probably are not harder to replace in terms of finding someone to fill your role at your salary. But you are more valuable to the company than the junior devs and a new person in your role will be significantly less valuable than you are. The junior devs are being retained to avoid the high recruitment cost. You need to be retained to prevent the loss of specialized skills and experience and hence value to the company.

      Is this a company where equity is a possibility in lieu of salary? Would you want equity? You have established that you are personally invested in the company and, especially considering your sales support, you can make a case that you deserve a stake in the company. (You also might have the information about finances and company trajectory necessary to negotiate for equity.

  11. PontoonPirate

    I sent this question in but I’m not sure if it will be addressed, so I’m throwing it out to the pond:

    In the last open thread I asked if I was crazy to be moving on from a crazy-making job with no opportunities for advancement or professional development, a boss who regularly makes comments about not being able to justify my position, and who is reactionary and has no sense of how to set expectations, create defined work opportunities, and etc. etc…

    So I accepted a job offer! Yay me! Now I just need to tell my boss on Monday. Here’s the thing: I provide a direct service via learning experiences/presentations to large groups of constituents, and the fall is my busiest time of year. Because I was expected to make myself “the expert” on the topic at hand, there’s nobody in the organization who could step into my role without causing major major disruption (we’re pretty small, and I’m the only staff member assigned full-time to my particular program). I know my boss; he’s not going to be able to hire someone in the time I have left (two weeks plus two days–I feared giving more, since I really think it’s going to be a Louis C.K.-sized “this is an ordeal now” ordeal).

    I’m struggling with guilt. I know in my head that if he didn’t have a contingency plan in place (what if I get hit by a sharknado tomorrow?) that’s not my fault, and I had no control over the new organization’s hiring timeline, but I still hate the thought of the program stalling and/or people thinking badly of me.

    I’m writing as thorough a transition plan as I can, but what I guess I need is to know is how to push back on a) the guilt and b) the people inside and outside the org. who might accuse me of leaving them in the lurch/creating more work. Thoughts?

    1. Sascha

      “I’m sorry, but this is the timeline for my new company.” No further explanation. I think it’s great you are coming up with a transition plan. I totally understand your feelings of guilt – I work at a university and I’m constantly reminded of how “necessary” I am for certain times of the year (and now it’s all the time!), but it’s really not your problem. Remind yourself it’s not your problem. When the guilt thoughts come in, stop them and say, I’ve done all I could do.

      I feel your pain, as I’m looking to leave my job for very similar reasons. I’m feeling some guilt as well (just posted about it), but you have to take care of yourself. Your company had chances to retain you, and they didn’t do it. It sucks to leave people you care about professionally in the lurch, but it’s not your problem to solve. If someone complains that you are “abandoning” them, instead of celebrating your professional growth, that’s a sure sign you are doing the right thing.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      Do you think management is feeling one whit of guilt about making your position one that is crazy-making and has no opportunity for advancement? Every time you feel guilty, remind yourself of that.

      1. Jane Doe

        Yep. This is really not your problem. People leave jobs and sometimes they have to leave them at inconvenient times. That’s the risk you take when you have jobs that don’t allow for advancement and make people crazy and then don’t have a contingency plan in place.

    3. IndieGir

      Your boss is not your mom. Your co-workers are not your dad. They don’t love you! They are going to try to make you feel bad for their convenience, but in real life, they would probably never put themselves out for you. They’d leave you in the lurch so fast it would make your head spin if it was to their advantage. You have NOTHING to feel guilty about.

      Just keep repeating this to yourself while they squawk on at you!

      1. PontoonPirate

        Thanks for offering this perspective. I am very much a people-pleaser, and things like this give me sleepless nights. I’ll keep these thoughts in my head and hopefully the next two weeks won’t be as painful as I fear.

        Although, Jamie, if you’re reading this–in case these next two weeks ARE as dramatic as I fear, I might need to borrow some of those “Cat Who…” books you have stockpiled. KoKo wouldn’t put up with this nonsense. :)

        1. Jamie

          Thanks for reminding me, this is why Down Below can’t be Chicago:

          1. Qwill is from Chicago (Cubs fan), which she mentions often…there would have been a reference to that equaling Down Below.
          2. In one of the books, I forget which, Polly went to Chicago with a lawyer on library business and within close proximity Down Below was also mentioned and it was clearly referencing another destination.
          3. Many people believe she based Pickaxe and Moose County on the Michigan Upper Peninsula near where she lived for years. Which would explain Down Below being Detroit.

          One thing that always bothered me? Why do we have to hear, in every book, that Polly has gray hair and is a size 14. Who cares? I guess to give Qwill a pat on the back for being in love with an age appropriate, average woman rather than Moose Counties Kardashian equivalent? Yay – I guess.

          I hope they never make a Cat Who movie because no way will it live up to the awesomeness in my head…but Qwill is totally Tom Selleck for me. To which I don’t know why Polly wasn’t getting busy (and not at the library) every chance she got.

          I adore my cats but none of them have learned to read, nor do they solve crime. Although I have far fewer murders happening in my neighborhood than super safe Moose County…where someone is always dropping dead.

          1. PontoonPirate

            Yes, Tom Selleck IS Qwill. Tom Selleck is everything. I was pretty young when Magnum, P. I. was airing and I used to tell people he was my dad.

            My cat is wonderful, but the closest she’ll ever come to playing the Dictionary Game is when she decides to maul a poor random book across the hardwood.

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            I put a sign on a bedroom door that said “cat stay out” and put it about 8 inches above the floor, so the cats could see. I’ve gotten several confused questions from visitors about whether my cats can read. I’ve pointed out that the cats haven’t unlatched the door and gone in, so apparently they can!

              1. Jessica (the celt)

                That explains a lot about the Siamese cats that I’ve had…except my last one. She was awesome and possibly (probably) bilingual. ;-)

            1. AgilePhalanges

              I know this thread is way old, but I just have to comment on this, because my mom has also made signs for the cat to read, and swears they work, and us kids make fun of her for it. Maybe she’s on to something. *starts scribbling “No peeing zone” signs*

              1. tcookson

                Cat signs I could use:

                In the hall to the bathroom: “No pouncing at me from here, ESPECIALLY with claws out!”

                Near the food bowls: “Share nicely — no hissing!”

                Near any box left in the house: “HAH!! Caught a cat!”

    4. Not So NewReader

      Tell yourself “This is a management problem.”
      You had problems during your work day that no one raced over to help you with. Why? Because that was your job to deal with those problems. Same holds for other people.
      Just because we can see a problem does not mean we HAVE TO fix it. So you may say “But I WANT to fix it.” And that is all it is- a want, not an obligation.
      As to how to push back- I think Sascha has the perfect reply. It allows you to express regret and lets people know you have other commitments.

  12. Katie the Fed

    OK you guys, I’m using this space to rant, and maybe ask for some advice, or whatever. How in the HELL am I supposed to succeed as a manager and keep my team productive and motivated when we’re dealing with the threat of YET another imminent government shutdown that will last god-knows-how long, then followed by a debt ceiling fight, and probably another threat of a shutdown with that.

    In the last three years we’ve dealt with: no pay increases, a threat of a shutdown in 2011, furloughs, and basically just constantly being treated like political pawns. Now we’re hearing rumors of lay-offs in the next year.

    And you can say that you think government workers are overpaid and lazy and whatnot, but my team is a bunch of hardworking, dedicated professionals who have worked nights, weekends, shifts, in combat zones, basically done whatever they were asked. And it’s such a morale killer to be treated this way.

    I don’t know how to manage a team in this environment. They’ll keep doing what we ask but we’re asked to do more with less and then there’s always the wondering when we’ll get shut down or furloughed again.

    I’m just tired.

    1. Kay

      I just wanted to say how much I empathize with your rant. It sucks. You’re expected to do your job with your hands tied behind your back.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Thank you. It does mean a lot. I will weather the storm just fine – i save a lot and live well below my means. But it’s the man hours wasted in preparations for this stuff, and the stress on everyone, and worrying about my team. Can’t they just leave us alone already?

    2. ChristineSW

      Thank you for sharing your perspective as a government employee. We’ve all heard of the stereotypes about government workers, but having been a volunteer with my county government for a year now, I have met some very hard-working employees who are greatly challenged with limited resources and–yes–bureaucracy. I have no doubt that federal employees are no different. The whole budget mess has been absolutely insane, and I cannot imagine how the morale has been.

    3. Elizabeth West

      :(

      I don’t have any advice; just sympathy. I wish they’d get their collective act together, but since we have the worst Congress ever (no, really) right now, I don’t foresee any changes anytime soon. And elections never seem to help.

      Perhaps we should send an army of kitties to the Capitol and while everybody is cooing and playing with them, we can sneak in and amend stuff.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        It isn’t that much better over here either :-(
        Just got a “pay increase” as fought by the Trade Unions = 1%. Which ain’t that much – certainly nothing close to the cost of living when everything (energy up 8%, bread up etc).

    4. Littlemoose

      Another federal employee here – I am so with you. I’m tired of my job being held hostage; it’s non-partisan and needs to be done regardless of who’s in charge. I just want to go to work and do my job. Unfortunately I think that, even if they work things out for Tuesday, we’ll be in a very similar position next month for the debt ceiling fight. Ugh.

      1. Nerdling

        Yeah, I’m pretty much planning on not getting paid until November at this point, because I have very little faith that they’re going to get things together. And I’m less likely to stress over it if I just assume it’s a done deal that we’ll be shut down. *shakes head*

        1. De Minimis

          Everyone is considered “essential” at my agency, but all that means is that we get the privilege of working for free during a shutdown, and will allegedly get back pay after a budget is passed.

          The CEO here has my eternal loyalty now…I had leave planned for the next couple of weeks to relocate cross country [moved for this job and have been living apart from my wife all this time–our house sold last week so we can finally reunite.] Technically, no leave is allowed now due to a possible shutdown, but he told me I needed to go and that he would have me do some kind of telework when I can over the next week in case we do shut down.

          The sequester hit our agency really hard, and it was bad because our Director I guess miscalculated and thought we would not be cut as much as we were, so we were not aware we would face a full cut until right before it happened. What’s worse is that we are healthcare so it’s the patients that are dealing with the consequences.

    5. periwinkle

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

      Wish I had some advice along with the sympathy, but what you’re dealing with illustrates why I decided against applying for federal positions. The more this goes on, the harder it will be to attract good employees who actually want to be paid market-rate without random furloughs, and maybe even get a raise once in a while.

    6. Loose Seal

      I just wrote a letter to my congresspeople (who are likely to try to throw a wrench in the works) and asked them to consider all the people who work for the government that would be affected by the shutdown. I specifically used littlemoose’s phrase “held hostage”. Um, then I later said something about “unpartisan, unnatural, and un-American shenanigans”. Probably over the top with that last bit but, darn it, I send those people to Washington to work, not to try to get soundbites for the evening news.

    7. Nerdling

      If your people are good (and they sound like they are), they know there’s nothing you can personally do about it. And because you sound like a great manager, they’re going to know that you’re frustrated and want to help them. I know that my boss knows just how badly this sucks for all of us, and I know that he wishes he could do more to help; just knowing that goes a long way.

      Encourage them to do stuff:

      Write to their congresspeople to complain. I plan to do it every day we’re either shut down or furloughed, not to mention every time something caused by the sequester makes our job a nightmare.

      Look for and get approval for an additional job or a volunteer position, if it’s possible, even if it’s only a hobby job. I like to make nail polish jewelry, so I’m going to get approval to set up an Etsy shop, if only so I can do it to relax and make enough to make more without ending up a hoarder.

      Kickboxing. I am so beyond tempted to tape a picture of Congress onto a punching bag and just go to town.

      Okay, so that last one probably won’t work for most people, but you get what I mean. Some days, the only reason I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone insane is because I haven’t let myself take the time to break down.

      And if some of them decide to leave to pursue opportunities elsewhere, just wish them well and give them great recommendations. We’re going to make it through all of this, but I do think there’s going to be fewer of us coming out the other side. I just hope we don’t lose all our best people along the way.

  13. Audiophile

    I’m seriously jealous of all of you with sick time, personal days, holidays. I get none of that.
    I wish more companies listed information about their benefits packages.

  14. Tina

    Just a vent. We have a shared refrigerator in our office that currently stinks to high heaven. I walked into the office this morning and the smell hit me in the face. A colleague has repeatedly tried to get the other offices to clean out their stuff, and they’ve just resisted, saying “it’s our fridge anyway.” Well, we’re done with that. It’s polluting our office, and we have employers sitting right next to that room, so it’s an embarrassment. It’s getting cleaned Monday, END OF STORY. And I am far from a cleaning or neat freak, I’m usually the least concerned about that than anyone, so that gives you some idea of how bad it must be if I’m on this mission!

    1. Katie the Fed

      We do purges every two weeks or so. Send out and post notices that anything left here after 3pm Friday will be tossed, tupperware and all. And do it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        At LastJob, different departments had to take turns cleaning the fridge, and if something had a name and date (and it was within reason), it didn’t get tossed. But no name AND date and it was gone, container and all. That really is a good system. Make sure you do warn people first, but then just get it done.

        1. Bryan

          We have the same policy, so what’s developed is just a ton of items with people’s name on them. One person has 3 bottles of salad dressing in the fridge.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            Salad dressing with a name and no date? – gone.
            Salad dressing with a name and a date a year ago? – gone.

      2. Sadsack

        This is how it is handled where I work. Snooze, ya lose. If you didn’t eat that yogurt that’s been sitting in there for the past 6 months, you are never going to.

        1. Sadsack

          Meant to say that our clean-outs are usually only a few times a year, maybe every quarter. At some point, doesn’t mold spores emanating from the fridge become a health risk to everyone in the environment?

          1. Chinook

            It’s not the spores that are a hazard so much as the sealed milk containers that will explode if left too long in the fridge. (On the plus side, that led to one of the best ever emails on cleaning up after ourselves from the partner who had the milk explode in his face).

    2. Jamie

      Good for you – that’s disgusting that people leave their stuff in there.

      Worst refrigerator story ever (at least of mine) is after one of the company cook-outs there was a bowl of onions. I mean one of those giant salad bowls that takes up an entire shelf in the fridge. So the then Office Manager puts some cling wrap which wasn’t clingy enough over the top to save them.

      For what?? All the onionless people in the world?

      Anyway, she leaves for shutdown and when I show up on Monday alone (because almost no one works over shutdown but me and my small team) my eyes tear up before my key is in the door. And I’m not even in the kitchen.

      Open the fridge and everything reeked to high heaven – holy crap it was a nightmare. All the ice had to be thrown out – ugh.

      I asked her, upon her return, what she was thinking and who she was saving those for. “I didn’t want to waste food! My bad!”

      Onions are only food when they are on other food. By themselves they are just little diced smell factories.

    3. tango

      Heck my company doesn’t even send out notices. Posted to the front of all the fridges is a note with the cleaning schedule. And then it’s cleaned out every Friday. They will toss anything expired or that looks funky. And the cleaning crew has been known to open lunch containers, throw away the food inside and put the empty containers (and lunch bag) on top of the fridge for the employee to see and get on Monday. They take it serious when they say no leaving food long term sitting in the fridge.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Mine does, and they say which fridge/freezer will be cleaned. That gives people a chance to take out stuff. This last time, the fridge was really empty when we came in on Monday–I can’t believe how much crap was in there!

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          We have Friday Fridge Clear Out too, although if you ask the cleaner nicely, she will leave stuff in.

          Which might explain why the bottom half of the fridge is stuffed to the brim with bottles of champagne for a forthcoming celebration (TBC),

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.

      We have had issues with this too. The way I finally dealt with it is the Tagging System. I send an email to everyone every so often to remind them of what’s up.

      We have tons of those little post-it flags around the office that nobody ever uses. So if I see something in the fridge that seems like it’s been somewhere forever, I put a flag on it. Once I’ve done a flagging, I give people a couple days to remove them. Everything still flagged after a couple days gets tossed.

      If people want to store stuff over a couple weeks, I’m fine with that, as long as they are aware it’s there and actively work to keep it (ie, remove the flag). It’s most useful for those items either from former employees, or that people don’t remember are theirs (which is shockingly common, and I discovered I was guilty of leaving a piece of salmon in the fridge for weeks and weeks).

      Maybe I’ll go do a flagging right now…

    5. Sabrina

      The last few places I’ve worked out have Friday clean outs. And it doesn’t matter if something is expired, if it’s your brand new designer lunch bag, or lunch from Monday, absolutely everything is tossed.

    6. Claire MKE

      Ughhh so gross. My work has a similar policy as those above…the departments in the general surrounding area of a fridge take turns cleaning it (I think it’s once a month? I just put my lunch bag in there and eat it each day so I’m not a fridge expert!). Office Services give you a cleaning kit, you email everyone and say “hey, cleaning is Thursday, anything not labeled is gone” and then you wreak havoc. Anything without a name & date or expired goes. Containers with no labels are left on the counter to be claimed. It seems to work well – the fridges are always really clean and relatively tidy.

      1. WWWONKA

        I titled ours fridge Friday. The rules were posted on the outside of the fridge and everything with the exception of condiments was thrown out on Friday. That included lunch bags/boxes, containers, drinks, etc.

  15. AnonForThis

    Warning: Loooooong.

    I could use some help in thinking through whether to apply for a job at an organization I used to work for. Here’s the situation:

    I am in my mid-thirties and am a senior-level nonprofit manager. I have been in my current job just over a year. There’s a lot to love about my job, but it’s not a good fit for me in a lot of ways. My employer has known all along that I may be moving (due to my spouse’s career) next spring; there are opportunities with my organization in other cities so it is possible that I could stay with them through that move.

    A job just opened up at the organization at which I started my career, in the city I’m currently living in. I loved my work there for several years, but ended up leaving out of frustration over problems that I now see as minor and fixable; I was young and inexperienced and frankly didn’t know how good I had it. My departure was friendly and well-planned and I am still actively involved with the organization and have very strong relationships with my former colleagues. I have daydreamed about going back to that organization for years.

    The open job itself is a very strong fit for my interests and abilities, and I already know and love the organization. Assuming I was offered the job, my concerns are these:

    1) I’d prefer to stay with my current organization for at least two years; this new job would have me leaving after 15 – 18 months.

    2) It’s possible that I would need to make a decision about accepting this job before we knew whether we were moving… which would obviously mean that I would have to turn it down. I’m not opposed to going through an interview process and determining that it’s not a good fit; I don’t like the idea of going through an interview process with an organization I care about, knowing that I might not be able to take the job.

    3) My current thinking on career goals are to work at a high level for the next five(ish) years, then pull back to work part-time to concentrate on my family. Around that time, my spouse and I would also like to move back to my hometown (if not sooner; that’s what the potential move next spring is about too). The potential job is definitely more life-friendly (better hours, etc.) but likely wouldn’t have opportunities for part-time work or work in my hometown going forward. My current job is a classic burnout factory, but because it’s a large, national organization there could be more flexibility in job-sharing and location going forward.

    4) My current role is with a well-known organization that offers a lot of networking opportunities and brand recognition. The potential job is with a locally-known organization that wouldn’t translate as particularly impressive in another region. My current job would likely provide me with a better leg up if I decide that I want to climb the ladder a while longer.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I think that if you figure out the moving thing first- everything else will fall into place behind it.

      Just my opinion, but if you want to move back home, why wait. Do it soon. I could be misreading but it sounds to me like you would just like to move home.

      I am not trying to blow by everything you said. What I see is so many variables. I would not be able to decide if it were me. And which variable seems to be the most important. Nail that one down first. Of Job A, Job B and moving home which one is the most important to you?

      1. AnonForThis

        The moving home thing is more complicated than it sounds – I simplified because it was already getting long. My spouse’s career is not location-flexible (and we are currently prioritizing it, having prioritized mine until now). We’ll find out in a couple of months whether we will be staying here or moving elsewhere (if we move, it will be to our hometown or somewhere near there). Wherever we end up, we will be for at least five years before we would want to move again.

    2. Mela

      How often do jobs that would fit your qualifications pop up at the potential place? It doesn’t sound like it happens too often, but if this is a once-a-year or once-every-six-months kind of opportunity, I’d hold back and wait for clarity on your husband’s potential move before starting that whole process.

  16. Jillyan

    What is the one piece of advice you would tell the less-experienced version of you?

    I’ll start: Don’t try to be superwoman. Listen, learn, and grow. If you try to do too much at once you *will* wear yourself out

    1. Sascha

      Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are unhappy with something. Don’t just take what’s given to you because you are young and new on the job. (Within reason, of course!)

      If you decide to go to college, think long and hard about it and the degree you want, and don’t just do what your parents tell you to do, even if they are helping with cost.

      1. Chinook

        “Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are unhappy with something.”

        I would recommend the opposite to my younger self. Knowing when to keep my mouth shut and my head down took a long time to learn.

        1. Sascha

          Yeah, I think I will edit my response to include “and know WHEN to speak up about something.” It’s a fine art to distinguish between what is worth bringing up and what is not.

    2. Steve

      Don’t get that worthless Poli Sci degree.
      Buy $1,000 of Home Depot stock when first issued and sell it all in 1999.
      When you finally get that desk job, add other physical activities to your day!
      Don’t get that worthless Poli Sci …. Oh …. Never mind.

      1. Leslie Yep

        See, mine is “Don’t let anyone tell you your BA in Political Science is worthless. You’ll use what you learned every day!” :)

    3. Jillyan

      You will meet a lot of weirdos in your career. Remember them: they will become anecdotes you can share on AAM’s open thread

    4. Erika

      You don’t have to be friends with everyone you work with. You can be friendLY, but you may not like all of them. They may not like you. That’s okay, as long as you can function together.

      They’re all people, too – don’t be scared of them.

    5. A Teacher

      Don’t be so afraid of the consequences that you never stand for what’s right and what’s ethical. I used to think I just had to do what my boss said, never question anything, never give any push back…I’ve learned.

    6. Jen in RO

      Ask questions. Most people won’t mind, and you’re not supposed to understand everything on the second day.
      (I still struggle with this, but I’m getting better!)

  17. Cruciatus

    I just want to bitch about some coworkers. I know they were never particularly fond of me, but we share a work friend and have eaten lunch together nearly every workday for the last 9 months. The 2 crabby ones are good friends but never really include me in conversation which is fine with me. I would just talk with our shared work friend. But I’ve always been polite to them and sometimes ask them questions about their lives to again, be polite. Well, one had a birthday last week and invited everyone at the lunch table but me out (and some extra people). One coworker told me about it so at least I’d be aware when everyone was missing. Then this week the 2 are off eating at another table. I have no effing clue why. And I’m not really offended. I just can’t understand! I’m a pleasant person (I think!) I can talk about anything but they just never took the interest and would disagree with me no matter what I said (I’m sure if I had said “the sky is blue” they would have said “well, it’s really more of a gray.”) Now the shared work friend is continuing to eat with me but I feel bad that she wants to be with the other people. I asked her about it but she claimed to not know anything. Just…so effing ridiculous! I can’t believe how Mean Girls it is! I keep being pleasant when I pass them in the hallway (though I’m actually thinking “you stupid sonova….” But anyway. Thanks for letting me rant. Can’t believe these ladies can’t be civil, or at least indifferent (as they always were) with me for just 30 minutes a day. I’m going to just try to be glad I don’t have to put up with their crabby selves anymore…though for a while I know I’m going to wonder WTF their problems are (maybe too numerous to count?). Anyone else the victim of unexplainable coworker behavior?

    1. Elizabeth West

      I would just try to find someone else to hang out with. They’re not worth getting upset over.

      At a former job, one of my coworkers was like this–she was very dismissive of me. I made a mistake when I was new and she acted like it was an Unforgivable Curse (heh, your screen name) and was just very snotty. One time she was horsing around with the salespeople and I said something joking about how that section was the lively one and she said, “Yep…we’re the cool kids.” :P Well meeee-oww.

      She left six months or so after I started, and I was so glad. For a while, I lived in fear that she would return, because people sometimes quit and then came back.

    2. Erika

      I used to work with a woman like this. There were three people in the department: me, this woman, and our supervisor. The two of them had worked together for several years and had bonded over the deaths of close relatives with cancer.

      When I found out my sister had ovarian cancer (something like a 10% survival rate past 5 years), I was a mess. I thought for sure that they would be sympathetic (and our supervisor was). This other woman just looked at me and said, “Well, it’s not like it’s your DAD.” Her dad had died of cancer the year before.

      I still hear that and cringe. What a jerk.

  18. Anonymous

    Wondering if this site will ever have a mobile version? Love reading it on the go but it would be so much easier if it was mobile friendly.

    Wondering if AAM would be open to a developer donating some time to make that happen?

  19. WWWONKA

    I am so tired of feeling discriminated against. I have a disability and am an older person. I have had interviews with top fortune 500 companies that profess equality. These jobs fall right into my expertise and can be done with my eyes closed. My interviewers have been minorities and women. I feel with that they may have some understanding and would overlook my challenges but I feel that is a fallacy. One of the companies was a world renown hospital, that during a phone interview and being told of a physical part of the job that I explained would be difficult, they added more physical needs that were not part of the job description. That feels better.

    1. Anonymous

      That has to be frustrating. With everything being “lean” this and “lean” that, it seems as though some companies want humans to function as robots. Just because the task may be a little difficult, doesn’t mean you cant do it.

      *If your, other employees or customer’s safety would be at risk then I could see them saying they need assurance that the job won’t be difficult.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. One thing to keep in mind is that it might not be discrimination — lots and lots of people aren’t getting jobs right now, even when they’ve been trying for a year or more. It absolutely could be discrimination, but it also might just be the job market.

        1. WWWONKA

          I have been getting interviews so I must look good on paper. The unemployment rate for the able bodied is bad enough. It is probably doubled for the older crowd and even more for the disabled.

          1. fposte

            Yes, unfortunately, the average duration of unemployment is highest for those 50 and over. While that doesn’t always translate to an individual worker (some of that involves people who lost jobs in fields that have disappeared or gone offshore, for instance), it’s definitely tough.

    3. Erika

      I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time. My husband is not legally disabled, but is disabled, and he had a VERY hard time finding a job in which he could function, let alone thrive. If there’s one piece of advice I could give you that I gave him, it’s to remember that you don’t want a job that is going to be difficult for you physically – it’s going to make things miserable for everyone if you can’t perform your job duties in an acceptable manner.

      Good luck.

        1. Erika

          It was just a thought. He has issues working on a computer, so jobs that most people think of as being easy on the body are very difficult for him. Other managers may be having the same thought for you.

          Still: very frustrating, I’m sure. :(

          1. WWWONKA

            While participating in this thread I just received another no thanks for a job that was way below my qualifications. The funny part was the hiring manager came late to the interview, was not prepared, and wasn’t appreciative as to what I could offer him for this under paying job. Just ready to toss in the towel.

            1. Jamie

              FWIW I never received a response when I was applying to jobs below my qualification level when I was on the market.

              And now that I’m on the other side of the desk I get it – I was trying to hedge my bets and get in at a lower level and move up. They know that and if they don’t want someone moving up and or out they don’t call back.

              Once I started applying for jobs in line with my qualifications I started getting results. Just something to keep in mind – it may have nothing to do with you personally but about applying for jobs below your skill level.

            2. Colette

              It could have been discrimination. Or it could have been that you were overqualified or that the manager had someone else in mind and your interview was a formality or that the manager is disorganized.

              Choosing to believe it’s discrimination affects your mindset and attitude. You’ll probably get better results from not taking it personally.

                1. Colette

                  I agree there is discrimination, and even that this could be discrimination. If you can prove it, you can take legal action, but … your goal is to get a job, right?

                  Someone with a disability can not get the job because of discrimination … or because of many, many other reasons that also apply to people who are not disabled.

                  If you dwell on it and convince yourself that it was discrimination, that affects your attitude – which impacts your ability to get a different job. There’s nothing in that for you.

    4. ChristineSW

      I definitely feel your pain. My disability isn’t readily obvious but can be under certain circumstances. Plus, I’m beginning to get worried because I’m almost 40 (10 days–eeek!!); most services for people with disabilities seemed to be focused on younger people just entering the workforce for the first time. After I was laid off, I tried in earnest to apply for jobs and network, but after awhile, it seems so easy to just throw your hands in the air. I’m not giving up yet, but man, it’s getting harder to stay positive :(

      1. ChristineSW

        Just to add: Part of my disability makes me ineligible for a drivers license. Thus, it makes me feel like the type of work I’d love to do is almost unattainable. I know that sounds defeatist and isn’t helpful to WWWonka–I just wanted to commiserate and share my story too.

  20. Katie the Fed

    Since I”m full of ranty energy today, here’s another:

    Over the last few years I’ve gotten a few requests from college seniors or recent grads through my alumni network, with questions about how to secure federal employment, getting security clearances, what living in DC is like, etc.

    Each time I’ve sent a long and thoughtful reply with lots of detailed information and advice.

    Only once have I even gotten a reply to thank me. The others just left it hanging out there in the ether.

    How obnoxious is that? I hate to be all “kids today!” but really, do kids today not have any basic concept of manners? Say thank you if someone took time out of their day to help you, you ungrateful little brats!

    1. BlondieSheep

      I’m a recent grad and I want to sincerely apologize that no one sent a thank you response. Honestly, sending thank you’s is not something that is emphasized at schools any more, at least that’s what it feels like. For instance, I had no idea that it was considered a standard practice to send a thank you following an interview.

      I think in your case, if you had taken time to help me answer some questions with no reason requiring you to do it, I would have sent a thank you. But, before reading this blog, it may not have happened. It’s just not a common thing addressed nowadays because I know I never heard it once at my college.

      1. Tina

        I read an advice column several months ago of a mother trying to convince her child to send thank you notes to people who had helped in similar types of situations. Her child accused her of being old-fashioned and out of date, and the mother wrote in to ask if she really were that far out of touch. The columnist supported the mother. I remember thinking even if it’s not required or automatically expected, when can it ever be a bad idea to thank someone for taking the time to give you help and advice, even if you thought it was “old fashioned”?

        I’m not suggesting all students/new grads are like this, just commenting on that story. I have been pleasantly surprised on many occasions to receive thank you cards or a small token of appreciation by the students I’ve worked with. Not surprised because I expected them to be ungrateful, but surprised because unlike Katie, it’s my job to help them and I wasn’t taking personal time to do them a favor. So it made me smile that much more to get their thank-you.

        1. College Career Counselor

          My $.02: if you ever want to follow up with that person again, having thanked her after the first encounter will help you get a 2nd response. Bonus $.01: I’ve found that most students don’t do this out of malice, but ignorance. It has helped the thank you response rate when I’ve said, “if you DON’T thank the person, you’re jeopardizing the chances of your classmates who ask in the future.”

          1. tcookson

            This isn’t quite the same situation, but our scholarship committee at my university department will not release donors’ scholarship money to the student recipients until the student turns in a thank you note, written to the donor, to the scholarship committee. Ours is a 5-year professional program, so there is 5 years worth of thank-you note training if a students receives a scholarship each year.

    2. COT

      I only graduated from college in 2008, but I have always been a huge believer in thank-you notes (my mom is really great about showing gratitude, both personally and professionally, so she raised us right). I’ve volunteered as an alumni mentor in two different programs at my university (programs I participated in as a student).

      One program is a months-long mentorship. In three years, only one of my three mentees has stuck with the program past one meeting. At the end, she wrote me a sweet note and even gave me a small gift. The other two went incommunicado within a month of the program starting.

      The other program is a one-time event where I take a student to lunch. I did it twice–BUYING a student a decent sit-down meal in addition to volunteering my time. I never got a thank-you from either of them. I think I even followed up with one of them to offer any ongoing support, and never got any reply back whatsoever.

      These experiences have gotten me so disillusioned with the program that I’ve stopped volunteering. I have other places to contribute my time.

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      Hah, that reminded me of the Bible story of Jesus healing 10 lepers, and only 1 coming back to thank him. Ingratitude is nothing new.

  21. Sarah

    I just had my bi annual review. It was pretty good so pretty excited about that. My supervisor told me she just copied and pasted it from my IDP that I am doing with the Operations Manager. I asked her if she had any observations as my supervisor and she said “I rarely work with you, so just keep doing what you are doing” A little frustrating but expected. Ah retail, a bit different than office environments.
    On another note, my poor dog has fleas. All the flea baths are causing her hair to come out. My otherwise slightly funny looking dog now looks like a hot doggy mess.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Hair falling out??? From the flea baths? yikes.
      The only time I have seen hair fall out was because of mites in the hair follicles. That is nasty. They scratch until they are raw. Painful.

      1. Sarah

        My dog is a breed that has hair instead of fur so she gets all types of skin issues. The poor thing. I do think she enjoys the nightly brushing and combing from her mamma though.

  22. NotANative

    I’ve been in my current job for just about 6 months. I started at an entry level position but was promoted to a more senior position when my boss resigned. I’ve been given a small bump in pay, but have been promised a significant raise for next year. However, when working on the budget, my boss hemmed and hawed and it looks pretty unlikely I’ll get the raise I was (verbally) promised due to a number of factors, but primarily because finances are pretty bad right now. In addition to this, my work environment is fairly unpleasant and I’m not feeling very challenged in my job. So, I’m considering looking for another job. The question is: will this make me look bad to potential employers (will they view me as a job hopper, how do I explain leaving so soon?) and how will it look to my boss? (Do I say that I feel I’m not being fairly compensated and that for financial reasons I need to move on if I find something?)

    1. College Career Counselor

      It might take you quite a while to find another job, so I’d start looking now. Leaving after a year or 18 months (depending on field/industry) isn’t horrible. I’d stay away from focusing primarily (solely?) on the financial aspect, because I think that could make you look overly-focused on salary. While it’s true that salary is important to you, the employer wants to hear why you want to work there. I’d say something to the effect that you’re pursuing organizations with better opportunities for advancement (including advancement of your salary). Even though you’ve been promoted, you say you’re not challenged, so think about what kind of challenges you would enjoy and what kind of work environment is important to you.

    2. Marina

      The financial reason is tough to use after being in a job for such a short amount of time, because if you didn’t like the salary why did you accept the job? It’s hard to convince someone that a salary that felt appropriate to you six months ago when you accepted the job became inappropriate only a few months later.

      1. NotANativie

        It’s not primarily financial, but the fact that I’m not being paid very much isn’t helping. When I accepted the job, there was no room for salary negotiation, and when I was promoted I did ask for a raise. I was told it had to be approved by the board before I could receive it, but now with the tenuous financial situation, it’s looking very unlikely that we will even be able to afford my raise. The bigger issue is that despite my efforts, I have been ostracized by my coworkers, which not only makes it socially unpleasant, it also makes it incredibly difficult for me to do my job. I’m keeping an eye out for other more interesting jobs, so we’ll see how it goes! Thanks!

  23. kdizzle

    Do you guys ever have IT people who don’t knock, don’t say a word, but come into your office and crawl under your desk (while you’re sitting there) to look at your cables? Because it just happened to me.

    1. Jamie

      I had a really NSFW response to that – but I’ll keep my dirty humor to myself.

      Tell them they are giving all of us a bad name and to give me a call. I’ll do a little pro-bono training on end-user relations.

      If you don’t say hello to people they don’t bake you brownies. They must be new to the field.

    2. Jessica (the celt)

      No, but I did just have the IT guy try to sneak past my door after I had left him a voicemail. I caught him and asked him if he had received it, and he said he had, but had already forgotten about it by the time he got to my door. I might have accused him of avoiding me. ;) (I like our go-to IT guy, so no hard feelings.)

  24. Erika

    I have a problem from the management side and am hoping someone out there can help me.

    We have a toxic employee. She’s constantly negative, bad-mouths everyone behind their back, and just sucks all the fun and positive energy out of the room. She was the assistant manager in my department (I’m her manager). An employee from another department (a friend of hers), came to me recently and informed me that this employee has been going around complaining about me and my management style…to everyone but me. It became clear that she and I would have to have a talk.

    I sat her down to talk about her attitude a couple weeks ago, and was very careful to state that while we couldn’t do anything about her attitude, I expected her behavior to change.

    She absolutely lost it. She yelled at me, she cried, she threw three other employees (including her friend) under the bus (accused them of being drunks and drug addicts), and just generally made it clear to me that we can’t work together long-term.

    She, my supervisor, and I all sat down in a meeting the next day. She agreed to take two weeks’ paid vacation, then return (next Thursday) as a part-time employee until her contract ends at the beginning of November. She will not be invited back next year, and we would end our relationship then (although if she cannot function normally, we will have to let her go). Here’s my question: after all this, how do I interact with this woman? She’s manipulative and charismatic and I have no idea how to talk to her after the way she hollered at me, let alone manage her. And I’m terrified of the impact her return may have on the rest of the staff. Anyone have any input???

    1. Elizabeth West

      I would just be as neutral as possible with her. Did you tell her in your meeting that she would be let go if she doesn’t function normally? Because that’s your way to protect your team. And if she doesn’t, out she goes.

      1. Erika

        Yes, my supervisor and I were very clear about the possible ramifications of her behavior. I also gave her a written PIP that detailed the behavioral changes we needed to see and when. When I handed it to her, she waved it at me and asked if I was trying to create a paper trail.

    2. Pam

      I am not a manager currently but we have a similar toxic employee in our workplace. As a co-worker, I have taken the position to completely ignore the toxic behavior and work with this person in the same way I would if they were non-toxic.

      As a manager, I think you can probably only address behavior when it happens in work-related instances (such as in meetings or when she works with other folks). Like Alison often says, you should set expectations with her and then if she does not follow through, you have another Talk.

      I guess I’m just not sure about how to handle the gossip aspect. If it’s not affecting your work then you have to let it go, I think. But I think you can also address that you’ve noticed she’s gone missing and you really need her to spend time on X project and that is a concern.

      1. Not So NewReader

        She can say gossiping is detrimental to the workflow and pulls the business down. Therefore, gossiping will not be tolerated.

        I bet this woman does not even come back. She knows she has made herself look foolish.

      2. Cassie

        Re: the gossiping aspect – if Erika was a coworker, then yes, just let it go. But Erika is the toxic employee’s boss, so she has every right to try to stop the gossiping. It has the potential of negatively affecting other employees in the office (if it hasn’t already).

    3. Trixie

      With two weeks out, you’re looking at her returning in mid-October or so and part-time at that. Between now and then, you’ll have time to outline a plan for delegating her responsibilities once she leaves. Ideally she would bring you up to speed on everything she handles but I wouldn’t hold my breath. For her last few weeks there, just encourage the staff to focus on the work. If she can’t function normally when she returns, why not just send her home? As long as she gets paid through the end of her contract.

    4. Seal

      At this point, you very much have the upper hand with this woman. You’ve already demonstrated to her and most likely everyone else in the office the consequences of tantrums and bad behavior. Your staff has had a couple of weeks to adjust to her not being there, and when she comes back it will only be part time for a few months and then she’s done. Undoubtedly she’ll be feeling awkward at this point. All you have to do is be matter of fact and straight-forward; not pretending that nothing happened, just tying up loose ends before she’s gone for good. And if she causes any more drama with you or your staff, she’s gone, as you said in your post.

  25. tango

    Ok, what is the opinion of emailing HR (or possibly calling but I hate to do that) to find out where a job is located in a city? I live in a Major US city and some jobs say “Major US City” but it could be SE Major US City or NW Major US City and the commute could be 10 minutes or 1 1/2 hours plus one way. So to not waste my or the employers time, I love to know where, either via an address or even a zip code, the job location is so I can figure out ahead of time if it’s a workable commute. Lots of times it’s just not posted with the ad. Just says “CITY”. So is it ok to email or contact the employer via their website or possibly call to find out this information?

    1. Jamie

      I’d try googling first but if you have no company name it’s totally okay to email to see which part of the city it’s in.

      I live in a burb of and work in Chicago – knowing a job is in Chicago means nothing to me because it could be anywhere from doable to a 4 hour commute.

      1. Sabrina

        This is what I do. I’m currently looking for a job in the Chicago area (from out of town) but a lot of ads will say “Chicago, IL” but really they are in the suburbs. So I’ve been Googling the company sometimes with Chicago to see where they are located. Sometimes it’s a bit harder since a company might have a sales office downtown and a different “support” type office in the suburbs though.

      2. Sabrina

        Is anyone else getting server errors when trying to leave comments? Not even sure this one will get posted. :\

        1. Jamie

          It happens with open threads because of the traffic. Even with the server errors all my stuff is posting anyway.

    2. Jane Doe

      If you can find the website, most of them have a physical contact address that you can plug into Google Maps. Most of the time I just Google the company name and it comes up with the address too.

      1. tango

        But that’s the problem. Some of these are major companies with multiple offices spread out across a city. So it’s no problem if only one location. But I’m speaking about when it says Major City and that company has 8 locations in that major city.

    3. thenoiseinspace

      What a bizarre thing to leave off a job posting. I would hope that, surely, they’d understand why applicants need to know that and would be tolerant of you contacting them about it. If not, they’re just wasting everyone’s time – after all, not everyone can relocate for a job if it turns out to be on the other side of the country.

      Actually, this reminds me of the Heineken “Departure Roulette” thing. I can just see the company hiring team standing at the interviews with one of those boards – or better yet, a Wheel of Fortune-style wheel. “Spin the wheel to find out where you’ll be working! *spin* Oh, it’s looking like Honolulu…no, maybe Chicago…oooohh, Anchorage. So close! Hope you like snow!”

    1. saro

      Forgot to add, I have tendency to surf the web and end up working longer hours as a result (trying to get the hang of working at home and on my own schedule)

      1. Spoiled AAM Reader

        I’ve used RescueTime for my niece, to track how much time she’s spending on school vs. sites like deviantart, and it’s worked well for me (free version). I think you can do more tracking in the paid version.

    2. fposte

      I use LeechBlock on Firefox and WasteNoTime on Safari–less broadly applicable, but might also work for you. I do slink around them sometimes but I still find them helpful. (I imagine there’s something for Chrome as well, but I don’t know what it is.)

    3. happypup

      I used RescueTime constantly when I was working at home and was having trouble keeping to my schedule. It works really well if you’re sort of competitive. There’s a thing each week that tells you you were more productive than X% of users, or something along those lines. (It was a while ago so I don’t remember exactly.) Also effective if you can be shamed into doing your work — seeing exactly how much time I was spending on Facebook and reading nonsense was sort of a wake-up call for me.

  26. BlondieSheep

    Do you guys think job fairs are still useful or more obsolete these days?

    I’m job searching while working part time. In this day and age, that means I spend most of the time on the computer where I can locate job postings, research companies, fill out applications, set up interviews, and the like. My parents know job searching has changed since their time (I’ve only just convinced them that I shouldn’t follow up an application with a phone call) but they keep encouraging me to be more pro-active.

    One of those ways is that they say I should go to job fairs. I’ve been to a couple and they always feel like a waste of time. Only a handful of companies take a hard copy of my resume (none of which has led anywhere even when I attempted to follow up after the fair). Most just say to go online and see what they have available. I end up spending several minutes talking to a company to either realize they’re not a good fit or they don’t have a position I’m looking for. None of the job fairs I’ve been to have taken me any further than submitting an application. I feel like my time would be better spent if someone just handed me a list of the companies at the fairs, because then I could blow through their employment section real fast to see if they have any openings that interest me.

    My friends also job searching are getting the same lectures from their parents but are also finding much of the same results at fairs.

    What do you guys think? Am I right that job fairs feel less helpful than they were in the past or am I just not doing it right?

    1. Jamie

      We go to every job fair every local college has looking to recruit for engineering positions.

      Just one data point – but we find people there and hire them.

      1. Emily

        My boyfriend recently took a UX class that had a “reverse job fair” at the end- the students presented their final class projects to employers looking to hire UX designers. I loved that idea! If anything, it’s a great opportunity for practice.

        1. tcookson

          We have been thinking about doing a reverse career fair for our students. We asked our professional advisory board (many of whom attend our annual career fairs and employee our graduates) for feedback on our typical event, and they said that they HATE being the ones on the spot, sitting at a table and waiting for students to approach them. They love the idea of being the consumer and the students being the ones on the spot to create an exhibit.

          We haven’t done it yet; this year will be the first time. Our career fairs used to attract at least 50 firms, but with the economy since 2008, we’ve had years with only 9 – 12 firms. We had to cancel last year because only 4 firms registered. We arranged Skype interviews for the ones who were still interested. Architecture has been hit hard the past few years as a profession; and landscape architecture even worse. One of our regular attendees said that his company didn’t even have any jobs to hire for, but he was just there to encourage the students because of how awful he thought it would feel for them to think no firms were interested in them. I LOVE that guy!

    2. Laufey

      I think they’re helpful for certain things. I have had a family member and several friends have great success at fair specifically for teachers, and they were useful when looking for high school summer jobs. In both these case, the job seekers have similar qualifications (ie, teaching certificate) and the job providers have many similar roles (ie, twenty science teacher jobs collectively or twenty retail/fast food jobs for no experience workers). In those cases, I think job fairs make sense.

    3. Elizabeth West

      I think it depends on the particular job fair. I’ve seen some that have loads of interesting companies and some that end up being all call centers. Although I never got a job that way, I ended up walking out with a boatload of freebies.

    4. The IT Manager

      I think they’re nearly obsolescence. At the first one I went to all the companies just took resumes, but told me/everyone to apply at their website. (Isuspect many of my resumes ended up in the trash.) I suppose that if perhaps I had that special skill the people manning the booth might have displayed more interest.

      That said my second job fair led to my current job, but it was the only company there that was any kind of a good fit for me. And normally they would have only taken online application too, but there was a special emergency hiring situation that allowed me to get in the door that way.

      I think you’re right. If you can get a list of companies in advance and check out their career websites (assuming they have one) you can know in advance if anything is worth your time and focus on only them at the fair.

    5. Felicia

      All the job fairs I’ve gone to have gone similarly, so it’s not just you. The best job fair I’ve ever been to was specific to the field I wanted to get into, so maybe you can find a specific one? Though with that one there really wasn’t much, and I was apparently underqualified for most even though it was a job fair for recent grads and Id just graduated

  27. So Very Anonymous

    I had a flyout interview this week for a job I was excited and hopeful about. I’d had to create a presentation based on an assigned topic, and I assumed that that topic was an integral part of the job (which was great, because that was exactly what I wanted to do). It ended up being a pretty harrowing interview because it turned out that that was only a very small component of the job, the job involved other things that would be a huge learning curve, and some things that would involve even more of the kind of work I’m trying to transition away from. I also knew from another source that I was competing with internalish candidates, and I came out of it feeling like a case was being made that an external candidate would have too steep of a learning curve (i.e. not necessarily personal about me, though it’s hard to keep that in mind).

    For various reasons, I don’t want to withdraw (I’ve been told by something in the field whose opinion I trust that it would hurt me professionally to get a reputation for withdrawing, and I’ve already withdrawn from a similar search after a very bait-and-switchy interview).

    My question is this: I’ve been stalling on writing thank-you notes for the interview because it felt like such a grim experience and it’s hard to imagine that they’d make an offer. How do I write thank-you notes without feeling like I’m being totally fake? Is it OK to keep them short, i.e. “It was a pleasure to meet with you on [date], and I appreciated learning more about XYZ aspect of the position. [extra sentence about something specific]. Thank you again for your time, Sincerely, SVA”?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit

      It might be helpful to think of the “thank you” not as more of a “follow up” note. You can emphasize what you’re excited about in the position, the skills you’d bring to it, your interest in the areas you have less experience in, etc.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Thanks for the input. I’ve written lots of thank-you notes just like that :) In this case the issue is that I do not expect an offer and I don’t really want the job, but I’ve been advised not to withdraw, so I feel like I have to write thank-you notes.

        I’m really having a hard time mustering up the energy to keep trying to match my skills to their needs when it felt pretty clear in the interview that they were not interested in the things that I was excited about doing. I really just need closure on the situation and feel like I need to get these notes written.

          1. So Very Anonymous

            I know. It’s really bothering me not to just withdraw. But I’ve been told that it will hurt me to get a reputation as someone who withdraws frequently, and I’ve already withdrawn from a similar search in the same area. It’s a small field. Additionally, there were people involved in this search that I need not to burn bridges with professionally. That’s why I’m feeling so stuck! I’m thinking of sending individual notes to those individual people and a more general note to the search committee. But I just cannot get myself to write these.

            1. Colette

              If you think it’s not a good fit and they agree, I don’t know that withdrawing would hurt you, but I don’t know your field – maybe it would. It just seems odd to me.

              1. So Very Anonymous

                Believe me, I feel the same way, but I trust the opinion of the person advising me, who has many years of experience in this field, and it’s a field I’m trying to transition into (I’m in the same general area, but this job– and my hoped-for direction–are in a much smaller, more specialized field). I really want to just move on. I’m hoping that if I can just get these sent, I’ll have closure and can get on with whatever’s next.

    2. COT

      I think your wording is just fine–it won’t make the hiring manager excited about you, but you don’t want them to be excited about you anyway.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Yes, that’s what I was wondering. There were clearly a lot of political things going on and also some things that felt like passive-aggressive “we’re not really interested in you” messages. I feel like if I write a glowing “I’m so excited about this job!” note I’ll sound like I’m someone who’s completely unable to read situations.

  28. Anonymouse

    Anyone have advice on / horror stories involving inviting coworkers to weddings? I have a small office (~30 people) and am on good terms with most of my coworkers. My direct team is 4 people, and we have an admin. I also used to work with 3 other coworkers in this office, and am fairly close with our office receptionist + 1 person not on my team.

    I don’t especially want to invite the admin, was thinking of cutting off my invites at my direct team and the one person not on my team, but don’t want to a) insult the admin b) insult all of the other people asking about wedding planning who I don’t intend to invite and c) have 1/2 my guestlist be coworkers. We have some flexibility in wedding size, but I’d rather invite a college friend than a coworker I feel indifferently towards.

    Thoughts?

    1. Lindsay

      IMO, invite who you want to invite. It’s social, not a work event.

      Just don’t talk about the wedding to people you aren’t going to invite, unless they ask how the planning is going, in which case keep it SHORT.

      I once had a coworker endlessly vent about her wedding issues to me, but didn’t invite me. Which is OK – but I could’ve done without listening to her for weeks on end.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      The advice I’ve heard is “everyone, less than half, or none.” So going by that advice, I think it would be fine to invite the people you’re closest with… but probably not your whole team minus the admin. (Unless I’m misunderstanding. It sounds to me like you have a team that includes an admin; I wouldn’t think it was ok to invite everyone but her.)

    3. straws

      I had a similar situation when I got married this past summer. The way I did it was to create a boundary and stick to it. Mine was to only invite coworkers that I’d interacted with outside of the workplace in the past 2 years. It did leave out a couple of people that were newer that I do like, but it made my life easier to just not have to worry about it. And for those who weren’t invited and asked about it, they were all understanding of the line I drew. I also made sure not to talk about the wedding at all inside of the office, and told the people who were invited to avoid that type of conversation as well.

      1. Jamie

        I think not talking about it is key. I have a friend/co-worker who is getting married in a couple of weeks and she also only invited people with whom she interacts outside of work. People she would still be friends with if either she or any of us left. I think that’s a fair way to do it.

        And she never discusses the wedding at work with those who aren’t invited – but some people who are do and it’s making her really uncomfortable. I try to shush them up when I hear it – because it’s just rude.

        But people get it – weddings are expensive and you can’t have everyone. And I’m of the camp that you shouldn’t have anyone there you don’t genuinely want there – so inviting only the people you’d invite no matter where they work makes sense to me.

        Reminds me – I still need to buy a dress.

  29. Katie the Fed

    I’m not feeling work today, so I’ll go for a third:

    I’ve toyed with the idea of leaving government, but I don’t have a freaking clue what I would/could do with myself. Where would I even begin? My background is in international relations and I work more or less in that general sphere. I don’t know that I have any marketable skills.

      1. De Minimis

        Maybe work for a global company, like some of the financial service firms? I’d think that even if you weren’t finance-oriented they would be interested in someone with a background in international work.

        I’m having to re-arrange my leave plans [which involve relocation after our house sale] due to the possible shutdown, so today I’m with you on the whole thinking about leaving government scenario.

      2. Katie the Fed

        This’ll sound stupid, but I honestly don’t know what consulting is. I mean, I get the concept, but what IS it from day-to-day? What does one do?

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s not stupid; I’ve wondered that myself.

          I would say it’s advisory–like at my job, the consultants go to the customers and review their processes and advise them of ways they can use the product more efficiently. So basically, they do an overview of the operations the customer uses the product for.

          As for skills, make lists. Put all your skills on one side and then put a column on the other and see if you have anything that is transferable to anything else. I don’t know exactly what you do in international relations, but I’m thinking any business with international customers would need someone who can:
          –communicate clearly with people who speak English as a second language
          –research and advise on customs for business trips and meetings
          –deal with international sales
          –something in travel, maybe
          –or security.

          You know it better than I do. But I’m sure you have LOADS of transferable skills.

          1. Anonymouse

            I work in a very niche field of consulting, so YMMV but Elizabeth’s general observations are pretty universal.

            I would say that the day-to-day of the job involves sales (working on existing client relationships, putting together proposals for prospective client relationships), some sort of analytics (finding a problem a client is having, working towards solutions, performing research and analyses to help inform the client), and presenting the findings to the client. What I love about it is that the soft skills are generally transferable between different types of consulting, while the subject matter may be in the same general field, each client has a unique situation that we are working to solve. What I don’t love about it is that it typically involves lots of travel at senior levels, sales & billable hour goals are annoying, and you can get pigeon-holed into one specialty within a firm/field. (E.g Ms. Mouse is THE expert on this extremely boring accounting rule-lets direct all future client work on this rule to her!)

        2. College Career Counselor

          NGOs? Depending on your background, skills and interests, research organizations or for-profit/nonprofit relief or humanitarian assistance organizations (e.g. Chemonics Int’l)? Do you have any interest in grant-making or other philanthropic organizations? If you’ve ever reviewed a proposal asking for money or other support in the government zone, I bet you could translate that to another area.

          Are there outside vendors or contractors that you currently work with where your expertise and knowledge of the government world is useful?

    1. Brett

      I can’t really talk since I am still trying to find my way out of county government.

      I started getting involved with tech startups after volunteering for the national day of civic hacking last June. It really opened my eyes to my own value to a company. I was actually told during the civic hack not to join a team because -every- team in the competition wanted to consult with me :)

      I still am very nervous about the idea of leaving for a startup (bonus: startups do not fall under our county’s ridiculous post-employment laws), but I have learned I have valuable skills that I did not know I have.

      My basically formula is to go onto meetup.com and start looking for well attended meetups that address entrepreneurship and/or areas you are interested in. You will meet people and find more groups to be involved with and before long you will have a clear idea of where you fit.

      Day to day of consulting: Someone has a problem to solve, but is not sure they can hire a full time person for that problem and is particularly not even sure they could hire and supervise the right person to solve it. You have the experience to solve the problem, or at least to hire the right person to solve it. They pay you to solve it and let you worry about how to solve it. Government people can actually make great consultants, because often the problems that the public sector deals with day to day are exactly the types of problems that private sector companies are ill-equipped to solve.

      Often you break into consulting by being that “right person to solve it” that the consulting firm hires on sub-contract.

    2. periwinkle

      You’re loaded with marketable skills, you just haven’t labeled them yet!

      Someone with extensive experience in international relations should be very attractive to NGOs and other non-profits that work internationally. Big consulting companies would most likely be intrigued as well – Accenture, PwC, Deloitte, Bain, Booz Allen Hamilton, McKinsey, etc – because they do a ton of work with multinationals.

      Depending on your specific type of expertise and security clearance status, you might also look at defense contractors of which there are several billion in the DC area. Remember, places like that prefer to have even their cafeteria workers at TS/SCI! If you have clearance and management experience, awesome.

    3. Nerdling

      I’ve been considering this, too, but we’re not in DC anymore, so that limits my options a lot further.

      I have friends who have left Uncle Sam to work for contractors instead. I am hesitant to recommend that, though, because I foresee a lot of contractor positions being cut in the next few years with the sequester and everything else.

      Several of my international relations classmates from college now work for NGOs. The pay may be a little lower (I’m honestly not sure), but they get to focus on using their degrees to work with and for people overseas.

      Definitely sit down and make a list of your soft skills. I can’t imagine that you got to be a manager without having any skills whatsoever.

      I’m considering teaching or training. I started getting into providing and developing training within our organization this year, and I realized I really enjoy it. I haven’t focused on either international relations or my particular regional study at work — it hasn’t been feasible or even really desirable — but I’ve been through a lot of training, good and bad, and I’ve recently acquired a new respect for how hard it is to develop a good course.

  30. Anon #42

    I have a frien-emy at work. Ever since I have been with this company she has always been unhappy with her job. She has been in two roles, both supporting other employees. She was given this job as a favor to another employee.

    Her first role was kind of general support. She was happy with the role but constantly complained about those she had to work with to support projects. She was a negative energy and always gossiped about those folks. Her role was to support projects, not to make decisions, but she would often make suggestions and would fight and argue if you did not agree with her.

    In her second role, she is unhappy with the role itself. She works in a department and a boss she doesn’t like. She is constantly “scheming” and by that I mean sitting in conference rooms with those in her group complaining, she complains to other employees who stop by her cube. It is clear she is unhappy.

    Amazingly- all of her supervisors have not addressed her behavior. She is so aggressive, that people are actually afraid to tell her “no”. That is another story.

    As a sometimes-friend, I would like to approach her and let her know that her negative attitude is really affecting her reputation. The quality of her work is above average and she could probably thrive if she just sucked it up and did her job. I have asked her before what kind of tasks she’d be interested in since she is not pleased in this role, and it sounds like she has an idea but has burned bridges with so many co-workers that entire departments are unappealing to her to work in. I would also like to tell her kindly that “if you don’t like your job, and don’t see an opportunity here you WOULD like, then move on!”. Does anyone have suggestions for wording this conversation ? Or should I have it at all?

    We don’t always work well together, so I’m not sure a conversation like this would go over great. I’m thinking of framing it in a lunch conversation somehow. I’m also not sure if it would help at all.

    1. Erika

      Wow – this is so frustrating. I would say that you have to say something, but understand that it may irreparably damage your relationship with her. I’d stay away from lunch, too, since that can be a bit constricting if things get uncomfortable – a drink or coffee may be less stressful.

      I’d recommend framing it from a place of concern: Hey, you seem really unhappy at work lately (even if she’s always been unhappy at work). If so, why do you think that is? What would you prefer to be doing? How do you think you should get there? Would it take more school or experience, and how do you make it happen?

      This can end up being a bad cycle for some people, and a lot of people don’t notice once they’re in it. Be prepared, though, that (a) she may not see the behavior, even after it’s pointed out to her or (b) she may not think it’s a problem. That’s why I said to be prepared that this convo may end your friendship. As a coworker though, I think you have to talk to her.

      1. Anon #42

        Thank you for your response! I can’t say we’re really friends so I’m not too worried about the relationship. Frankly I am more concerned about the morale of our team and the amount of time she is sucking from fellow employees and managers with her complaints. I am also a bit sad for her, too, because she does seem unhappy, but she is so difficult to work with it makes it hard to be sorry.

        Your point about her not recognizing her own behavior is a good one. It may not be worth the conversation.

    2. Rosalita

      There was an interesting thread on here about how focusing on the negative just makes you more negative. When I read it, it rang true when I remembered a work situation many years ago in which I was really unhappy. Though things weren’t ideal, I was too caught up in complaining about it and enjoyed talking with others about the negative. It felt good to vent, but we were too focused on the bad parts of the company. Anyway, I share this because I know someone who is always complaining about her job (and everything else, but that’s another story). Next time she complains about her job, I might say to her, “you know, it seems like your work is stressful, but you’re really focused on the negative aspects. What are the parts you like?” and then sharing this story about the thread I read and my own realization that my negativity was a self-perpetuating cycle.
      I think it’s a really tricky subject to broach though. Good for you for wanting to help your coworker.

    3. Sadsack

      You might consider waiting for her to start complaining about something, then say, “I am sorry that you are so frustrated. Have you thought at all about looking for a job at another company? Sometimes that’s the only way to find what you want.” Even if you use different wording, I think posing it as a question might give her something to think about without your telling her you wish she would just go!

  31. Poster formally known as Jane Doe

    Put in my two weeks notice this week. It went great. Thanks to all the AAM readers who helped me out when I was struggling with the decision!

  32. OfficeBullySituation

    Update:
    I’ve been actively working on this on several fronts.

    I finally got it through to my boss that he has no obligation to the bully’s office and he made the case to the higher ups that he needs me full time until the end of the year for a key project. I have not gone in there once in the last two weeks.

    More importantly, I went outside our department completely to the organization CIO (he ranks below department heads unfortunately, but has review authority on IT/IS projects). I am on very good terms with the CIO thanks to a ton of outreach work I have done in the last 3 months. The CIO is now using his review authority to scrutinize the bully’s projects. I recently had my first review meeting with him, his staff, me, and the bully’s bosses (no bully), and it went very well for disconnecting me from the bully’s plans that he attributed to me. (He also raked them over the coals about their unlicensed software.)

    1. Jamie

      How does your CIO rank below department heads? I’ve never seen an org chart like that.

      And I know that wasn’t the point …but there is a lesson in here. Don’t piss someone to whom people with auditing authority is indebted.

      1. OfficeBullySituation

        For several years we outsourced all IT, so the CIO was a single person with no reports placed under the admin department. As of about a year ago, a new CIO was hired and now actually has an IT unit, but the position still remains in the admin department and reporting to the admin department head. That makes him rank below all departments heads, since all department heads are equivalent.

  33. Steph

    On LinkedIn, how are invitations to connect generated? I do not use nor have a profile on LinkedIn. I receive invitations to connect with people, whom I do really know. Are these generated by each person or is LinkedIn mining their contacts and generating these requests without their knowledge? I don’t wish to participate. I would reach out to each person in an email and say I received their request but I do not use LinkedIn if I knew they actively generated the request to connect with me. If it is generated automatically by LinkedIn, I’ll just ignore it. I have chosen to “unsubscribe” from connect requests in the meantime.
    Thank you all,

    1. Pam

      Yep, you can have LinkedIn search your e-mail contacts for more connections. So it’s automatically generated.

    2. Jen in RO

      Linked In has been doing a funny thing lately: if (I assume) you ever allowed it access to your email, it will recommend you to connect with people you have emailed, but who *don’t* have LI profiles… except they are displayed in a manner that makes it seem they *do* have profiles. I only realized this when I added a friend and she told me that she had deleted her account.

      Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that it might have been intentional (the person did click Connect), but they might not realize that you don’t actually use LI. I don’t think you need to reply either way – I don’t think anyone would be upset over not connecting with someone.

    3. JJ

      From my experience, LinkedIn will show you a huge “People You May Know” section based on people you’ve emailed (if you’ve granted access to your account. Also it’s like what Jen said – it could even be for people who don’t have LinkedIn yet, but in this case it would say something like “Invite him/her to LinkedIn” instead of “Connect” but it looks similar to someone who is already on LinkedIn).

      However you can also directly request to connect with someone. (Imagine if you were browsing the “People You May Know” section and you saw someone you want to add, you click “connect” — this is what is happening to you.) If someone has actually sent you the request, it would show up in your inbox at the top right of the screen. Since you aren’t on LinkedIn, that’s why you get the email invites instead.

      Hope this helped to clarify things, sorry if anything I said was incorrect but this is how I’ve experienced LinkedIn to work!

    4. Claire MKE

      LinkedIn is pulling them from people’s address books, so it’s anyone a person may have emailed. I get a ton of invitations to connect on my work emails (when my account is connected, obviously, to a personal account) because I correspond with a lot of people once or twice in the course of my jobs.

    5. Steph

      This does seem quite similar to how facebook works, so I will feel fine to ignore and remain off and out of LI.
      Thanks for the posts.

      1. The gold digger

        I am pretty sure that LinkedIn has gone into my email (I do not recall ever giving it permission), as they suggested I connect with my mother in law. Which was not a suggestion I received happily.

  34. FD

    General philosophical question here, something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

    So, businesses clearly have an interest in hiring people who are honest and ethical. But society also has an interest in making sure people who have committed crimes in the past are employable, because if they can’t get any honest work, they’ll probably commit more crimes.

    For example, let’s say there’s a person who’s embezzled because of gambling problems. This is clearly a Very Bad Thing. And it’s understandable that employers would not want to hire her. And yet, if she can’t get any jobs to support herself after she gets out of prison, she’s likely to not have very many legal options. In an ideal world, of course, she wouldn’t have embezzled to begin with, but that’s not an option on the table.

    So, in your opinion, how does one reconcile the needs of businesses not to hire people with a history of dishonesty and the need of society to let people (after their prison time’s been served) to be gainfully employed?

    1. Jamie

      They can be employed in areas where it’s not a risk to the business. IMO an embezzler shouldn’t apply for positions where they will handle money.

      Where it gets complicated, and I don’t have the answers, is violent offenders. I understand the problem of people needing to earn a living…but businesses also weigh the safety of their current employees. I don’t want to work late nights alone in an office with a former rapist. Again – I don’t have the answers, but past actions do tell us something about potential future behavior – and if people have harmed others in the past do you just ignore that and pretend it didn’t happen because “the debt has been paid.”

      Weighing the fact that for the good of society as a whole former offenders need to be gainfully employed against a businesses right to safeguard their money and employees against risk…I don’t know the answers to this.

      1. Erika

        Ditto on not handling money. At least, not initially. This person also needs to truly understand the behavior that led to their crimes (in this case, embezzlement) and be willing/able to show employers (not just tell them) how they are working to keep themselves out of trouble.

        It’s hard. I did some dumb things when I was younger (and got caught), although nothing that strictly should have prevented me from getting and keeping jobs, but these things kept coming up in background checks and really made my life hell for a while. You just have to work through it, unfortunately, and may have to adjust your expectations of the type of job/career path you’ll have.

      2. FD

        In principle, I agree about the not handling money…but honestly, a lot of jobs do involve that at least a little–and almost any job involves a degree of trust between employer and employee.

        And yeah, the violent one is even more tricky.

        This is based on a situation a family friend is really in, so…I don’t know. It’s understandable from both sides.

        1. doreen

          Plenty of jobs don’t involve handling money. They may not be the jobs the offender is used to or wants but that’s life. I deal with this from the other side- I wouldn’t be the one hiring the offender, but rather deciding where an offender under supervision is permitted to work. It’s easier from my side. I usually have more information about the crime than a potential employer does.
          Strangely though, I haven’t found embezzlers to be less trustworthy about non-financial issues than other offenders. Con-men ( and women) are another story.

      3. Jess

        So, I’m a mere law student, but I’m doing a lot of criminal defense work (here’s hoping some public defenders start hiring!). The thing that can be tricky about “violent” offenses is that you can’t really know what a person DID based on their record- between plea deals, disproportionate representation of certain populations in the prison system, and overly scary sounding crimes (I’ve seen someone charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” because they kicked someone in the midst of a bar fight they didn’t start), it’s really hard to judge. I understand being wary about who to hire, but I think basing decisions on repeated behavior helps (ie, if they have 40 assault convictions, that’s a bigger red flag than 2) and really relying on good references.

  35. ChristineSW

    So I had the pleasure of applying for a job this week through one of those wonderful ATS systems we all b*tch about here. (it’s been awhile since I’ve applied for anything–long story). Warning: mini-rant ahead!

    I now completely get what you are all saying! Ack!! First of all, it wanted you to paste your resume (save it in plain text first!), PLUS fill out your employment history. There was an option to check a box if you didn’t have a resume or job history–if you check one box, you have to fill out the other section. I couldn’t tell if you absolutely had to do both if you didn’t check either of the boxes, so I filled out both to be safe.

    (On the plus side, I just went through the motions of applying for something else so I could get the verbiage of above-referenced questions, and all of my information was automatically filled in from the other day!! Resume and job history included!)

    I also can see how candidates can get screened out just based on their education. I was able to indicate that I have a Masters, but the position requires a Bachelors; for the question that asked “which best describes your education and experience”, the highest possible one was “bachelors degree and one year experience”.

    These employers have excellent community reputations, but their application systems are just not flexible! I have an inkling of who previously held the now-open position because I don’t see her name on the staff/faculty list, and she had a masters (I do not know her personally). So I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t get rejected before human eyes see my resume. In this day and age, I think employers should think about overlooking extra education as long as there’s room to grow within the position or organization.

    1. BlondieSheep

      You know, I didn’t know what you meant when you said an ATS system. Then I read through your post and I instantly knew exactly what you were talking about. So agree! The narrow answers can just be impossible to make them work for you.

  36. Amanda

    What should I expect when I apply internally?

    I had a seasonal job over the summer with an organization I really love working for. Although that job has ended, I am continuing to work for them on a part-time, as needed basis.

    I am planning to apply for full-time positions within the organization. I applied for my first one yesterday. I was not able to speak about the job with the hiring manager, but I did speak with another contact in the department. I do know that another internal applicant who had a similar job to mine already had a phone interview, but she applied earlier than I did.

    What should I expect now and with any future internal applications? Do you think I’ll hear back even if they don’t go with me? Is it common to do the radio silence thing with internal applicants? If I don’t hear anything, should I make an appointment to talk to the hiring manager and express my interest in working for the department and ask how I can be a stronger candidate in the future?

  37. Christine

    I would love to hear anyone else’s opinion on my boss. He is the plant manager, and is the boss of other managers as well as me and one other engineer (we do not manage anyone.) When he started about a year ago, he seemed to be communicating frequently with us. However, for the past 6 months or so, we barely have any contact with him. There are weekly team meetings that are cancelled 90% of the time, which is a little irritating, and important projects that he never asks us about. He has never asked me to keep him updated either. If he’s ever gone on vacation, we have to find out second hand, because he never tells us directly. We were supposed to have mid-year reviews over the past month, and although his other reports got them, the other engineer and I did not.

    I just discovered about the mid-year reviews, so I plan on asking him about that. But everything adds up and makes it seem as though he just doesn’t care about what we’re working on, or have much respect for us. I am not sure how to address this issue, or if I should even bother!

    1. COT

      Does your boss have a boss? If you can make a business case for how your boss’ lack of managing is harming your output, productivity, etc. you might be able to bring it up the ladder without looking whiny.

      Could you also do the same with your boss himself? “When team meetings are frequently cancelled, I can’t move forward with A and B. Is it possible for us to return to a weekly schedule to keep the team on track?”

      1. Christine

        Usually, projects aren’t held up, unless it’s a case where I need him to approve something and he’s out of town and I didn’t know about it. It’s more that it’s hard to stay motivated when I get no interaction or feedback on my work one way or another.

        But maybe I can just talk to him, as you suggest, and go at it from that angle. Something like, “It would be helpful for me to have more feedback so I can continue to improve” or along those lines.

        What worries me is that there’s SOMETHING going on behind the scenes at work – I don’t know what exactly, but some of us in the office theorize that they’re going to shut the plant down. If that’s the case I’m not likely to get useful information from him! :)

        1. fposte

          This sounds like it’s his MO and it just took him a few months to settle in. Sure, there could be something else going on, but since it came in with him, I’d guess it’s the way he is and not something behind the scenes.

    2. BCW

      Maybe he honestly feels like you are doing a good enough job so he can be hands off with you. I know in most jobs, the more I prove myself, the more leeway I get, and the less I talk to my manager, unless its something I go to him about.

  38. Jackie

    Hi, everyone! Long-time lurker here. I’m looking to do a career change, possibly court reporting. Have any of you had experience in this? I’d love to chat with you, thanks!

    1. Anon

      No experience but I’d be curious to hear about court reporting too. I’ve had several people recommend it to me but I know nothing about it.

    2. Anna

      You might want to look into trends in this area, specifically, the trend toward many courts moving to audio recording instead of using live court reporters. I suspect that court reporter is a job that won’t exist at all in 10-15 years, as soon as the voice recognition technology gets better. I’m not trying to be a killjoy, but I think that if you’re looking to make a career change, it’s really important to think about the long-term career prospects.

  39. Kay

    I was just wondering if other people who have worked at non-profits ever feel guilty about leaving the job? Even if it isn’t necessarily the right job for you, there seems to be a feeling of guilt because they expect me to stay forever. How do other people deal with it?

    1. Trixie

      Trust me, that’s across all spectrums. And no one is expecting an employee to stay forever, that’s just management. Plus we are all replaceable so they’ll get on fine!

    2. COT

      It’s really hard sometimes to put your own needs first in nonprofit work… but sometimes you just have to. Remember that the organization and its good work will carry on without you (and if it won’t, it wasn’t operating itself well to begin with). Don’t ruminate on your guilt or overthink it; just stay focused on the new opportunities ahead.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I left. And I will remain in the for-profit sector for the rest of my working life.
      Yeah, they expect you to stay forever and they expect you to do the work of three people, etc. Which is fine with some people. I burned out. It was a bottomless pit – there was always one more thing.
      Presuming you are not burned out- the next thought is that there will always be fresh faces joining the NPO. And that is what they need fresh faces and fresh eyes, bringing in new ideas to old problems. I think that working for an NPO is a good life experience. I think in some ways it made me a better worker in the for-profit sector. I learned a lot about people. I know I grew my resourcefulness by truckloads.
      If you chose to, at some point you can do some volunteer work for an NPO. You can also make donations or participate in fund raisers.
      Just as you filled in someone else’s gap, some one will come along and fill the gap you left. It’s kind of like “taking turns” at something.
      Final thought- there will always be a need somewhere. Arts, human service, animal rights- whatever field you can think of there will probably always be a need. Fortunately, we have many, many people who are willing to help in a huge variety of ways.

  40. Anonymous

    I have a question regarding when to take a pay cut. I was offered a job at a 9% pay cut. Everything other than the salary seems like it would be a great fit. The position is more in the line of the work that I am interested in than what I am doing now and there seems to be a lot of potential for growth. I got along really well with everyone I interviewed with and I think I would have a good working relationship with the potential manager. Really, the only thing I am struggling with is the salary. Recently I have had phone interviews for similar jobs and the salary has been much more in line with my expectation and in both instances has been more than what I am making now.

    Has anyone taken a job at a lower salary? How have you gotten comfortable with the idea that it is the right choice?

    1. Rosalita

      I work in a nonprofit and a number of our staff have taken salary cuts to join us. As you mentioned – it is about the fit, the work, the manager, etc. My advice – if you haven’t asked about growth potential, make sure you understand what it might look like – timing, basis, potential numbers, etc. That can often help you feel more comfortable with an initial cut, especially if there is potential for a raise after X amount of time. At my org, we have also occasionally done one-time signing bonuses to offset pay cuts.

    2. Trixie

      And what does 9% pay cut amount to per week take-home? Have they been upfront about salary, or is there still a window to negotiate at 4.5% cut. But again, depending on what the difference is in take home pay, you have to ask yourself if its worth it.

    3. periwinkle

      It depends so much on the situation you’re moving into vs the one you’re leaving. My husband took a 20% cut to take a position with more growth opportunity and a much less toxic environment. It worked out great in the long run. Does the company offering the lower salary offer significant advantages that the other companies don’t?

      1. COT

        My husband took a 20% pay cut last year for similar reasons. It was definitely worth it; he’s so much happier, less stressed, and has better resources and growth opportunities.

        The first question is if you can afford the cut. Can you still have a lifestyle you enjoy, or will you have to give up things that really impact your wellness/happiness/balance? For instance, if you treasure your gym membership, or restaurant dinners, or new car, will you be satisfied in your personal life with those sacrifices?

        Second, how picky are you about other aspects of the job besides salary, and how often do the right openings come along? Is this job a really rare perfect fit, or can you see yourself happy in other /companies as well?

        Third, what’s the tradeoff? What makes this position so uniquely appealing? What’s the potential for salary growth (if that’s important to you)? How quickly could you earn that 9% back, if at all? What other benefits (tangible and intangible are there)? Only you can decide if the trade-off is worth it.

        Also, make sure that you’re evaluating the entire compensation and benefits package. The job I moved to in the spring offered me about a 9% raise, but the slightly-worse benefits counteract some of the raise (for instance, more expensive dental, less of a retirement contribution, etc.).

    4. Colette

      I’ve taken 2 significant pay cuts – one 25%, the second one another 33%. Really, it comes down to:
      a) what are you comparing it to (In both cases, I was unemployed. The first time I was going from a salary left over from the peak of the high tech boom to a salary at current market rates. The second time I was moving out of software development into customer service.)
      b) can you adjust your lifestyle to make the lower salary work?

  41. InAFamilyWay

    When did you (or your partner) tell your employer that you were pregnant? I am newly pregnant with my first child and not planning to tell my employer until at least the end of my first trimester. I do plan on coming back to work after maternity leave. My company is very family-friendly, and I want to give them plenty of notice for planning purposes. Here is the tricky part: I think I will be up for promotion at the end of the year, and do not want my news to interfere with this. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hide the pregnancy (physically). Any advice for me?

    1. Lillie Lane

      My coworker is pregnant. She did not want our boss to know, but she told other people in the office. Our office manager slipped and said something tangential to the boss that made him suspicious…and then he started asking my pregnant coworker some creepy, probing questions. She felt forced into telling him.

      Long story short….if you want to keep it under wraps, don’t tell *anyone* at work. It will get out. Also, try not to wear form-fitting t-shirts to work (if your workplace is casual). You can buy a lot of time with the right clothing choices.

      1. Jamie

        This! More than once someone at work has been pregnant and told me months before they wanted tptb to know.

        Either in or out with the information – but if you’re going to be selective don’t tell me.

        Congrats on the baby!

    2. Tai

      I told my employer when I was 14 weeks (second trimester, although it depends how you count). Every woman’s body shows pregnancy differently, but you may be able to make it to the end of the year without showing too much. The key would be to dress well.

    3. Nerdling

      I told my boss about 8 weeks in and told the office in general at about 12 or 14 weeks. I was able to completely hide it from the people who saw me every day, even with a change in my eating habits and some changes in how I dressed (although I wasn’t showing too much at 14 weeks), and probably could have gone a bit longer before telling them.

      If you don’t have any major side effects and don’t start showing soon, you probably can make it through the end of the year without too much trouble. But if you do have side effects, like pretty severe nausea, you may have to tell someone earlier or accept that you’re likely to have people guessing that you’re pregnant. I think the biggest key is to be matter-of-fact about it. “I am X weeks pregnant, due around (whenever). I’m planning to be out about Y weeks on maternity leave after that, and then I’ll be back by Z date to get back to it!”

    4. KellyK

      Congratulations! I think after the first trimester is a good time to tell your employer. If they are really family friendly, then your being pregnant shouldn’t affect the promotion.

      1. InAFamilyWay

        Thanks all! This is good advice about not telling anyone else. I have a few friends in the office that I’d like to tell sooner than I tell the entire company, but I think I will just try to keep it under wraps for as long as I can.

  42. books

    How do you all go about searching for jobs? I find indeed is helpful but not terribly robust at searching and it never really turns up what I’m interested in.

    1. thenoiseinspace

      Use one job application to find others.Usually, online applications will ask you where you saw their posting so that they can analyze which sites are most effective, and will give you a list to choose from. Write down every site on that list and check them out. That’s how I found most of the things I applied for.

      Alternatively, contact an administrator or secretary for a company in your field and ask where they post their jobs. If you keep it quick and polite, in my experience, they don’t find it annoying. :)

    2. BlondieSheep

      I wasted so much time on Indeed after hearing good things about it. Now I’ve had a lot more success going straight to the source. Look up companies that you’d be interested in working with and you can use that to find similar companies you may not have heard of before. It maybe makes your field a littl more narrow than a large job search site like Indeed but, as I’ve said, I’ve had a lot more success with the direct approach.

    3. Felicia

      I happen to love charity village, which i think is a Canadian site because those are the kinds of companies I want to work for, and I happen to get sooo many interviews from there. I’ve also had luck with jobs i’ve found advertized on LinkedIn (and kind of love being told when my application has been viewed). I’ve heard idealist is also good if you want to work in non profits, but it’s mostly American, and I’m Canadian. I also look at some sites that are specific to the industry i want to get into – they are also Canadian sites, so the more specific the focus of the job board, the better. All in all, there are 6 boards I check regularly for jobs, and in terms of getting interviews, i’ve had the least luck on indeed. like if you want to be an accountant, for example, google accounting jobs in your city and then look through all the different job boards that come up.

    4. Jubilance

      I found Indeed to be really helpful, but not for generic things like “chemist” or “project management”. I had to be really specific with the search terms – specific software or laboratory equipment (ex. SAS or FTIR or XPS) and that gave me better results than just using generic terms.

  43. Lillie Lane

    Does anyone know what “ARM software” is? This is a requirement on a job I’m applying for, but I have no idea what it is. It’s a job in the agricultural products industry.

      1. OP

        Wow, Brett, thanks — I think you may be right. My husband and I have been doing ag research for 10-15 years each and neither of us had heard of it. Must be an industry thing. After looking at the site, I must say that I prefer SAS, R, and Excel :)

  44. thenoiseinspace

    Does anyone know of any classes (preferably online) on networking? I have no experience with it and am not a social person at all, so I really do need a class that breaks it down into steps. I’ve been looking for one that seems current, reliable and relevant, but so far I haven’t found anything – most of the classes I get when I search “networking” are computer systems networking, which isn’t helpful. :/

    1. BlondieSheep

      I just discovered my local government offers free career centers that also include free classes, one of which is about networking which I plan on attending when it comes up. So maybe check to see if you have any similar centers near you that offer similar classes.

    2. Ruffingit

      Search “How to Network” and it will come up with a lot better results. I just did that and there are several things you might find helpful.

  45. literateliz

    Something I’ve been idly wondering about lately… we’ve talked about gathering references for a first job out of college, I think, but what about for a second job? I’m not looking at the moment, but if/when I do decide to move on from my current company, is just listing my internship supervisors again (to avoid tipping my current manager off to my job search) my only choice, even though I will have had years more experience by then (and in a different area of my field from my internships–think teapot marketing vs teapot production)? I’m curious how others have handled it.

    1. Ruffingit

      Co-workers can be helpful in situations like this. I’ve listed co-workers as references before when I’ve not wanted to tip off current manager, but I’ve needed someone who could speak to my current work experience.

  46. Ruffingit

    What is the best job you’ve ever had and what made it that way? And what is the worst job you’ve ever had and what made it that way?

    1. Lillie Lane

      Best job: working the cutting machine at an overnight photo lab. You get to see everyone’s photos! Plus great coworkers.

      Worst job: current one, because of horrible boss, no bennies and zero upward mobility.

    2. Jamie

      Best job – current gig. Autonomy with varied and interesting work.

      Worst job – They know who they are. Micromanaging supercilious asshat of a boss who read my emails aloud to me. Couldn’t have said goodbye fast enough.

        1. Jamie

          We would both receive emails from overseas suppliers and it was our department’s job to get answers for their questions from engineering, QC, whatever and make sure they had answers.

          There would be several – between 10-12 pages long – so on his days off he’d call in and read them to me over the phone, word for word. When I explained they had sent them to me also, he said he wanted to read them aloud so “we’d be on the same page.”

          Also, when he would send me an email he’d walk out to my desk and lean over my shoulder and read it to me. Always with his hand on the back of my chair, often eating pistachios in the most slurpy, sucky, loudest way possible and then leaving the nasty shells from his mouth on my desk.

          HE LEFT THINGS THAT WERE IN HIS MOUTH ON MY DESK!!

          The fact that I just resigned and didn’t club him to death on my out shows a lot of restraint, I think.

          1. Esra

            I would probably have been fired from that job after I collected up the shells in a tissue, walked calmly into his office, and dumped them back on his desk.

    3. Calla

      The worst job I’ve ever had I quit after a month. It was a small law firm where three of the employees (two attorneys and their bookkeeper) were related. The managing partner would yell at and loudly complain about her daughter in the office. It was also a place where I got maybe 10 minutes of lunch because there were just leaving stuff on my desk while I ate (there was nowhere in or near the office to eat). Plus, it was a firm representing medical debt collectors which just didn’t make me feel good (I’d get to read cases where, say, a single mom of four with cancer was behind on her bills… not fun). So I guess to sum it up, it was just a very negative, antagonistic environment.

      Contrast that with my current job, which is my favorite so far. The work makes me feel good, my co-workers are great, my boss cares about my development… and I’m allowed to have my full lunch. I’m super lucky!

    4. Kim

      Best job = mundane office job with low pay, but supportive, fun, caring coworkers and an encouraging, competent boss.
      Worst job = current professional position making twice as much money, with petty, gossipy, bitchy coworkers and an incompetent, unethical boss.

    5. Elizabeth West

      Best: this one (work interesting, excellent benefits, great pay) and a job working in a materials lab (interesting, fun, small, great people–pay low and no benefits but I LOVED that job).

      Worst: a job supposedly scheduling carpet cleaning in the back office at a flooring store, but I ended up doing the receptionist’s job up front because she bailed all the time. Once I got up there, I found out why–the worst coworker I have ever had ever in my LIFE. Evil, mean, nasty woman. They kept her on because she was family and also a good salesperson. Someone told me she bullied one poor guy so badly he walked off the job after a few weeks. I finally quit, partly because of her and also because I never was doing the job I was hired for. Duration: three months. It did NOT go on my resume.

    6. Chinook

      Best job – any time I have been a historical interpreter at a historical site. I have done this as a volunteer and as paid staff and loved it. Not only did I get to teach and interact with people, but I often got to help with archiving and researching artificats, photos and documents. It gave a nice mix of work to do with the bonus of being able to have lunch sitting on a bench looking out on a farmer’s field or a river valley with no sounds of civilization other than highway traffic or a steam engine. The one down side was that I seem to be verys ensitive to visitors without corporal forms.

      Worst job – any job that had aboss that micromanaged me and second guessed any decision I made just so that she could be right.

    7. ChristineSW

      Best: Does volunteer work count? If so, then I’d say the times when I get to evaluate grant proposals and conduct site visits. I’m still very new to evaluating programs, but I feel so alive when I’m reading the proposals and visiting the agencies because it allows me to learn about all of the different community resources available to individuals and families as well as about the human service system in general. I also enjoy meeting the people behind the services–some of them are absolutely amazing people.

      Worst: 2.5 miserable weeks as a receptionist at a wholesale manufacturer. First of all, the job was misrepresented; I wasn’t expecting it to involve full-on receptionist work. My boss had an incredibly intense personality and the woman who trained me was really moody–she’d go from practically mothering me to getting ready to toss me out the door because she couldn’t handle my anxiety. Not to mention some of the abusive callers, including one retail manager (IIRC) who sounded absolutely psychotic. When they let me go by phone one day, it was like a weight had been lifted off of me. That was hell.

    8. Felicia

      The best job i’ve had so far was working in the disability services test centre at my university. Everyone I worked with was amazing, there was a lot of autonomy, it was never too busy or to slow, it was well paid for what it was, and I was good at it. Although I’m looking for jobs in a specific field now, i think those are things I’d like in any job.

      Worst was at a head office of a retail clothing company – they had no idea what my job was supposed to be, so i wasn’t really qualified for what they wanted, and they were known to do things at the last minute, and change their expectations just as frequently. I’d hate those things in any job too.

    9. Windchime

      Worst job–telemarketing storm windows. Split shift. I was desperate for a job and I think I lasted about 10 or 12 hours before I quit. Running a close second was the job I left 2 years ago — an IT department that was poorly managed, so bullies stepped in to try to manage.

      Best job–the one I’m in now. Still IT, but management is top-notch, as is the management for the organization as a whole. I hope to stay here for a long, long time.

  47. Wren

    I’m in my mid 40s and I still have no idea what I am really good at or what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve worked with a career coach, asked friends, and am now asking strangers. How do I know what I might actually be able to get someone to pay me for? I feel so pathetic.

    1. Elizabeth West

      I posted some links above (although my comment is in moderation at the mo) where you can search different kinds of jobs. It’s a place to start thinking about what you can do, what you want to do, what you’ll need to do it, etc. I used them extensively when I was trying to decide on a school program. They are O*Net and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

      And you are not pathetic!

    2. periwinkle

      Been there, done that, survived it! There’s a reason why “What Color is Your Parachute” remains a classic – read it if you haven’t already. Another excellent one is “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was” by Barbara Sher. Buy or borrow the most recent editions of each and spend some time doing the exercises.

      Or you can sit down at the computer and contemplate the jobs, volunteer assignments, classes, and hobbies you’ve been involved. For each situation, write down:
      1. The bits you really, really enjoyed doing
      2. Things in which you were considered the expert, go-to person, etc.
      3. The bits you really, really hated

      When you’re done, look for patterns. Are there common elements to all the different things you enjoyed doing? I did this exercise and realized that almost everything I loved doing involved collecting information and then making sense out of it, especially when it involved looking for connections and causal links. Finally figuring that out – in my mid 40s – helped me narrow down the types of careers in which I could excel. I picked the path that was somewhat related to what I was doing already because I could use existing skills/knowledge to move forward, where I’m discovering that the path is a bit more like an interstate and I’m approaching one of those spaghetti-like junctions with lots of options. And that’s an awesome discovery.

      Good luck!

        1. periwinkle

          I won’t get hugely specific because Your Mileage Can Vary, but I had a background in IT but had just started an entry-level HR after a prolonged absence from working. After sorting out my strengths and options, I made the sidestep into training & development (often considered an HR specialization) by completing a master’s in a related disciplined; my goal was to move into organizational development. But I’ve found that the analytical skills I developed in grad school translated beautifully into evaluation – and that’s a huge field with many possible directions. I’m working in instructional design right now but am keeping active with evaluation, and have the opportunity to move into primarily evaluation work (with a couple of different options, in very different but equally awesome directions).

          Once I got moving in the right general direction, it was easy to uncover more and more options. You just have to find that right general direction!

    3. ChristineSW

      Yup, I’ve been through this myself and I’m not much younger than you.

      I’ve used some of the resources Elizabeth and periwinkle listed. Another book I might try is called The Pathfinder. Can’t think of the author at the moment, but it’s very popular.

    4. fposte

      I’m still not entirely convinced about where I’m going to college, which I finished thirty years ago. So I get this.

      Is it because you’re not working, you’re not getting paid enough, you hate what you’re doing now, or because you think you should be more bonded with it than you are? I think there’s a romantic vocation myth akin to the romantic relationship myth, that you’ll find the One, the True, and be together forever, and that’s really not how it tends to work. Even the traditional phrase “what I want to be” makes me a little angsty, because it suggests that it’s not enough to *do* it, you have to *be* it. A life where you’re getting yourself fed, not screwing anybody over, and finding time to play with the cats/kids/game console is a pretty solid achievement to me–is it possible that you’re underselling that?

      1. Wren

        I am working, but I don’t enjoy it, it is honestly an entry level job that is beneath my skills, I’ve done it for 4 years and I hate the commute. I just know that another phone monkey job will pay worse and make me want to kill myself inside a year.

    5. Windchime

      I stumbled into my career by accident. When my kids were little, I got a job at the same place a relative worked (different department). It was basically doing medical billing and data entry. After 6 or 7 years, I went through a divorce and realized I couldn’t support my kids on the low wage, so I went to community college to be (I thought) a computer technician. One of the required classes was programming, and I fell in love and changed my program track. After I finished the program, I lucked into an entry-level programming job at my company’s IT department. There was a lot of luck and timing involved in the whole process.

      I never would have started out trying to be a programmer, though. I didn’t think I had the brains for it, but it turns out I do. Yay!

      1. Windchime

        Oh, and I meant to say–I got my first job as a programmer when I was 39. So I was kind of a late bloomer as well, but that’s OK because I do feel like I found the right type of job. Sometimes it just takes diving in to *something*, and then that will lead you to a career path that you love.

  48. Rob Bird

    I currently work for a Government agency. In previous jobs (outside of Government), I have had a stand up desk. There are all sorts of benefits to having one, but how do I present it in such as way that they are more likely (but not guaranteed to) grant my request?

  49. Elle

    Need advice on how to ask my job for reduced hours so I can sit for an exam. For a little bit of background, my company paid for me to get the credits I needed to sit for the exam, but I did all coursework outside of work. Technically, my workload has lessened since the last time I tried to take the exam. I only work about 55 hours a week now and travel is less frequent for me. However, I still don’t think this kind of schedule allows me enough time to study whereas the company sees it as better than before. How do I explain that even though things are more managable now, I need more time to study?

        1. Tai

          I don’t think it could hurt to lay out how much time you need to study for the exam. You’re getting closer to the exam, so it only makes more sense that you have to study more for it.

          1. De Minimis

            From your wording, I get the feeling you work in industry instead of public accounting, which is probably what makes it tough. I agree with Tai, present them with a structured plan on what you think you need and how long it will take. Most people take one section at a time, so you might do that….maybe take a month off between sections and go back to the regular schedule at that point.
            I believe you have a year an a half to finish after passing your first section.

            For me what worked was consistent shorter study sessions [like a couple of hours most days–and I was taking a course so I would usually plan sessions around certain chapters or topics.] I’d do a little more during days off, but I was never one for marathon study sessions. I worked in tax though, so we had fairly defined slower periods–or at least I did!

  50. Trixie

    Question regarding behavioral interview questions, “Tell me about a time when…” I understand the point of the questions but concerned that my responses or examples are too small in scale. Or they’re looking for more complicated situations and solutions. Maybe it depends on the job/field, or how comfortable and quickly you’re able to assess the situation?

    Talk about over-thinking something…

    1. Rob Bird

      The basic premise behind behavioral questioning is this: The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. By using behavior-based questions, the employer is seeking to understand how you handled situations in the past and compare your reactions to how they would want their employee to react.

      One way to make sure you answer the question completely is to use the STAR Method, which is well known world wide:
      Situation: Where did you work, when did you work there, and what you were doing?

      Task: What did you want to accomplish; your goal or responsibility.

      Action: What steps did you take? How did you know to take them. Why did you make those choices?

      Results: What happened in the end?

    2. periwinkle

      I had a behavioral interview earlier this week (fingers crossed, I would love to land this job!). To prepare, I reviewed the job description to see what competencies and experience were emphasized. Then I went through a list of common behavioral questions (easy to find many such lists online) and jotted down things I had done which linked the behaviors and the desired competencies/skills. When the interview panel asked me to talk about a time when I dealt with X, I was ready with an example that illustrated how I handled X in terms of competency Y using skill Z.

      I didn’t sense that they cared about the scale of the example as much as they did about what the example could tell them about how I operated. One example I used was something I did while collecting data; it was a small thing, but had a significant impact on my approach to the project in question and in turn a significant impact on what the client received.

    3. fposte

      Do you mean you have bigger examples that you’re passing up, or that you’re worried the only examples you can muster are too small? If it’s the former, then use the bigger examples. If it’s the latter, which is what I’m guessing, you have to work with what you’ve got anyway, so there’s not much point in overthinking something you can’t change.

      And if the scale is too small in that case, that’s not about the answer to the question, that’s about your experience, and you can’t really tweak the answer to change that. Unless you’re being really egregiously trivial (Q: “Tell us about a time you led your team”; A: “I’m in charge of the lunch destination every Friday”) you’re answering the question reasonably and in a way that reflects your current level of achievements, which is fair to both sides.

  51. Mints

    Ooh yes I hope I’m not too late to get some answers!
    Okay so at work I have to track the absences for the employees at our branch (I’m an admin). We’re a remote branch and I send the absences to hr in another state.
    The thing is, my manager is absent alot but also theoretically gets flex time. Hypothetically he could work Wed-Sat ten hour days. But I’d still have to mark him absent Monday and Tuesday.
    This is weird, right? I have a suspicion that he puts fake things on his calendar so that he can get a business travel day instead of just a plain absence. Also sometimes he comes in, then spends literally hours on the phone with family members. But I don’t really get the system that makes him do that. I mean HR should know if he’s been in Europe for three weeks, but he’s working at least 20 hours a week I’d guess, and broadly, the executives seem to be fine with his workload.
    There seems to be a disconnect between what they’re telling me administratively (he’s absent alot) but broadly nobody seems to care.
    I’m not going to do anything, I’m just curious if this seems normal to other people, or what is normal in other companies.

    1. Betsy

      I’ve definitely been in that place, where there’s an administrative system that wants to be satisfied and the administrative system doesn’t know about special arrangements individuals have.

      I think if you have concerns, you could let your contact at central HR know that you think the data for your manager might be misleading. But I’d say this kind of situation is not unusual.

  52. BCW

    So here is my question. Essentially the sale of my company will be finalized in the next month. Because of the uncertainty, there is no new business coming in, so its just essentially dealing with current customers. Now here is the problem. Most of our office doesn’t even bother to come in the office anymore. Between the sales team being told to not do anything, and everyone being able to work remotely, its just not really worth the commute. But my manager seems to be the only one trying to go on like its business as usual. It really is depressing to come in the office because there will literally at times be just me and her in here.

    Aside from this, my work load is super small right now, but she keeps coming up with a ton of meaningless tasks for us to do, that assuming we are bought out really soon (which is likely) will be just futile. Even if we don’t, they still aren’t tasks that are really necessary.

    So I want to talk to my manager about it, but can’t figure out a way to do it without sounding lazy. Its just so hard to do work when essentially the rest of the office is on paid vacation, and not even bothering to hide it. Literally today, someone who was working remotely mentioned how him and another guy are going paddle boarding today. Yet me and the other girl in our department are stuck here. I have no problem doing the necessary work, but the coming in everyday and doing stupid tasks just kills morale. Every other person here has come up to me and my co-worker saying how bad they feel for us that we are still having to do this when we ALL know that we are just waiting for the ax to fall. Any suggestions?

    1. Jamie

      I’d keep coming in and doing the meaningless tasks if it were me, because perception is everything and it may very well get you on the shortlist to stay when the new regime takes over.

      What’s the alternative – you have to do something if you’re still drawing a check – right?

    2. Betsy

      Can you think of any tasks you could be doing that would be more relevant? Could you suggest those to your manager?

      1. BCW

        Well, without going into a crazy amount of detail, there isn’t really anything that makes a ton of sense to be doing now. The main part of my job is dealing with new customers. We have had barely any new customers in 6 months. Other things would be more long term type projects which aren’t really logical to start at this point either because almost assuredly they wouldn’t be finished.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Start ’em anyway. It will give you something to focus on besides minutiae.

          I’ve been through a few takeovers; it doesn’t always mean a hatchet job. And like Jamie said, you’ll end up looking good in the end.

        2. Ruffingit

          That is a really tough spot to be in. Keep coming in and doing whatever your manager wants you to do because when the ax does fall, she will remember that you showed up every day and did what she told you to do, which will hopefully equal a good reference for you from her. Also, if you have to be in the office and you literally have nothing to do, bring your iPad or Kindle if you have one and surf the Internet (hello AAM) or read or whatever. That should only happen though if it’s a case if you have to be in the office, but there is literally nothing work-related you can be doing. I’m not suggesting you do this on company time if there are other tasks, however meaningless, you should be doing.

          Needless to say though, get your resume in order, get your network going for a new job, etc.

  53. Charlotte

    So, I was really surprised by the split between people who cared about stuff being left on their chair and people who absolutely thought it was acceptable. In that light, is anyone willing to share pet peeves, rational or otherwise, and the reasoning behind why it ticks you off? I’m asking specifically about work related pet peeves, but personal life ones could be interesting as well.

    1. Jamie

      If I list all of my pet peeves I’d crash Alison’s server. I liked the chair thread a lot, because I love when someone has a pet peeve that doesn’t bother me.

      It’s so rare.

      1. Elle

        People who are serious control freaks. I like things a certain way too, but when you start becoming painfully inefficent because you have to control EVERY LITTLE thing, I get annoyed.

    2. SilverMaple

      My biggest pet peeve is not having time for eating….I have had work conferences and just regular days in the office with meetings where they expect you to show up at 7 and work until 1 with nothing to eat. I just want a dang granola bar or something people!!

      When I have things my way i don’t eat a lunch at all, I just graze throughout the day.

      In my new job we sometimes have to do on-site things that last 12 hours or more without breaks…I stuff my pockets with food and just try not to feel guilty that the other people around me aren’t eating. I don’t know how they do it.

      1. Cat

        I don’t even think of that as a pet peeve! I am definitely someone who needs to eat regularly, or else I turn into Godzilla basically.

        1. Esra

          One of the juniors I worked with at my old job called that stage “hangry.” Which was completely appropriate for me because I am a cranky baby when I’m hungry.

      2. fposte

        Oh, me too! And I do have to classify it as a pet peeve, because it’s not related to whether or not I’m hungry–I just feel very indignant and hard done by if my feeding times aren’t observed.

    3. Lillie Lane

      This is a good question. One of mine is when people interrupt you at lunch/work breaks about work. Now, I don’t mind if it’s a true emergency or you apologize and acknowledge that it’s an imposition, but demanding that I leave the lunch table to deal with ridiculous non-urgent minutiae is a huge pet peeve.

    4. Chris

      Enforcing the “Rules” sporadically. The biggest offender for me personally is the dress code. Why is it a huge deal if I hem my shirt so I don’t have to tuck it in , but the girl in the deli can wear the skull and crossbones bandanna instead of her company issued hair net? That the dress code calls for khaki pants but that one guy who wears black pants gets to work, but the one that showed up in green pants has to leave to go home and change? Drives me bonkers sometimes with the sheer randomness

    5. Sascha

      When someone can see that I am talking on the phone, with my headset on, and motions furiously at me to get my attention, then whispers loudly, ARE YOU ON THE PHONE???

      Also, baby talking in the office. Or just as an adult in general, when it’s not directed at a baby or an animal. This one guy at my office does it constantly, and it disgusts me. (He’s also the offender in peeve #1.)

    6. Sascha

      When someone can see that I am talking on the phone, with my headset on, and motions furiously at me to get my attention, then whispers loudly, ARE YOU ON THE PHONE??? (I also put “on the phone” on my chat status that I know the person could have checked before coming to my office.)

      Also, baby talking in the office. Or just as an adult in general, when it’s not directed at a baby or an animal. This one guy at my office does it constantly, and it disgusts me. (He’s also the offender in peeve #1.)

  54. Anon

    I’m currently dealing with a coworker who is driving me nuts. He’s been working for the company 20 months (came on just a few weeks after I did), and is still just not capable of performing any of the job responsibilities in a reasonable timeframe, to the point where I spend more time in a day helping him than I would take to literally do all of his work (no exaggeration). If he would just stop showing up, the team would overnight get more efficient. My manager knows about the issue, and assures me he’s dealing with it, but the wheels turn slowly at this company.

    My problem is that I just can’t keep emotionally detached from the issue any more. Every time he asks me for help, I tense up. I’ve tried delaying him, to make him less reliant on me, but when I tell him I’ll need 30 minutes, he sits at his desk staring at me until the 30 minutes are up, and it makes my skin crawl. It’s bad enough that I’m thinking about leaving an otherwise good job to get away from him.

    Any advice on how to deal with this?

    1. Tai

      It might be worth it to approach your manager and explain that you cannot get your work done because of how often this co-worker is asking you for help. Perhaps it would be more wise to send the co-worker to your manager when help is needed. This will certainly underscore the severity of the issue.

    2. Colette

      Every time he asks you a question, ask him what steps he’s taken already. If he doesn’t have an answer, give him the first step – a document to read, a previous situation to refer back to, etc.

      Make it harder for him to ask you than to do it himself.

      1. Anon

        The problem here is that we don’t have individual tasks — it’s not my work and his work. It’s our work (for a larger team), and has to be finished by X date. I will pick up tasks and complete them from the top of the priority pile, and he will pick up tasks as well, and it will take him 5-6 days to work his way through something that would take me 3-4 hours. At a certain point, I get told, “You cannot start anything new until other people have finished their (higher-priority) tasks; help them, instead.” (The joys of Agile Software Development)

        This isn’t a laziness issue for him. He’s trying. He just cannot do the job, and it’s impacting me. My manager knows, and promises actions are being taken, but the conversation has been going on for 6 months now.

        1. Colette

          When I was a team lead, I had a developer like that on my team, and I ended up making sure he never had anything that was on the critical path. We couldn’t have everyone else sitting around waiting for him.

          (In my experience, developers like that get lost in the details – they try to understand everything, which is usually not possible.)

        2. AB

          Can’t you tell him to just pick up tasks of type A and B, and leave C and D to you? (Assuming he already learned something from what you taught him, and now can perform A and B on his own.).

          Unless there is a dependency and tasks need to be done in sequence, it looks that it would make the process much more efficient to have him skip things that will take him an week to do — even if you can only tackle them on the next day, you’ll still finish sooner than he would!

    3. Anna

      “I’m sorry, but I’m incredibly busy today, and I don’t have time to help you. I think you should ask your boss to help you with that.” The boss isn’t dealing with the issue because right now, it’s not his problem; it’s your problem. So, you need to make it the boss’s problem by redirecting your coworker to him. If the coworker is wasting boss’s time, boss has no choice but to deal with it. You just need to say no. Because you absolutely don’t have the time to do both jobs, and you have to prioritize your own job.

  55. At Work Going Anon

    Wow 365ish… I love open threads but I always get here late…

    I just got an informal job offer pending background check. The problem I’m having is that training is for a few days (4) out of state. What would be an acceptable “excuse” for needing time off work. I’m not sure how my current employer would view the request for that much time off as I don’t have vacation time, I have one day of PTO and 5 sick days. This would also be a part-time job for now so I won’t be leaving my current employer (yet)…

    1. Betsy

      I would be a bit leery of the idea that they want you to put in 4 days of training before an official offer has been made. Have you explained the situation to whoever made the job offer saying that you won’t be able to do training until after your notice is complete?

      It seems to me like this is a pretty common issue people would have.

      1. Sarah

        +1

        And then tell your coworker that you’re too busy to help. I think letting him rely on your for assistance/doing his job is just keeping him coming back to you.

      2. At Work Going Anon

        No, I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. The training wouldn’t be scheduled until after the background check and formal offer made. Everything is on the up and up. I just need an excuse to miss that many days of work. Of course this is all pending the formal offer.

    2. SilverMaple

      Yeah it seems very odd that they would spend any of their resources training you before they had extended an offer and you had accepted it. Seems like it would be a waste on their part.

      Unless you have already accepted the offer, but haven’t given notice to your current employer yet? In which case there is just a disconnect regarding your start date with the new company — clearly you cannot be employed in both jobs at once (well you could, but as AAM has already covered it’s probably a bad idea).

      1. At Work Going Anon

        This is for part time work, after my normal working hours and the training happens to be a few miles outside of my state at the parent company. The training, if I’m hired, would be doing my normal working hours. I’m pretty sure I will get a formal offer in the next 2 weeks..I’m just trying to prepare for the days I need off to train.

        1. fposte

          I think that’s a tough one–are you sure there’s no way to do training in batches on the weekend on your own time? Because otherwise it sounds like you’re talking about lying to your current job about doing other work on time you’re scheduled with them (and maybe even paid by them, if you’re exempt), and wow, that’s not going to go over well if it gets found out.

          Is it completely impossible for you to be honest with your supervisor on this?

            1. At Work Going Anon

              I really want to be honest. I don’t want it to backfire. Perhaps I should schedule a sit down with my supervisor once I have the offer in place…

          1. At Work Going Anon...

            I would love to be completely honest. I just don’t know how to approach them and assure them, I’m not going anywhere (yet). I don’t want to get pushed out before I have something more than part-time work lined up.
            The new place says they can be flexible with the training because they have classes that start every two weeks but the days of the week are pretty set in stone. I think when I get a formal offer, then I will ask about whether I can take the classes maybe in two sessions.

            OR
            Perhaps I can be a little less than honest with my employer and (lie by omission), since the new place is flexible I might try to push it back as far as I can then give my boss the request for time off. I’m more likely to get it approved it the dates are further out… I just want to give them enough notice about the days I need.

  56. Anony1234

    Seems like everyone wants to rant today so I will join the bandwagon.

    One of my coworkers at my retail job loves to take time off. We all have time off throughout the week, but she has an annoying habit of making plans for when she works, not for when she’s off. I understand that from time to time there might situations where you should request the day off. We all deal with that. But no, when it comes to seeing out-of-state family or going on a weekend date with the boyfriend, she doesn’t care if it is her turn to work. She takes the day off and the shift lands on my shoulders, whether or not I have plans (usually because I don’t always announce my plans on the calendar if it is supposed to be my day off).

    Finally the boss said something to her but only after they realized it bothered me that yet again – twice in one month- she pulled this stunt.

    It just bothers me that she assumes I must have no life and cover her for whenever her whims desire. I can’t bring myself to do the same and 9 out of 10 times make plans for when I’m off; otherwise I ask first.

    1. LV

      I had a coworker who would do something similar… on a regular basis she would say something like, “You have to take my Sunday morning shift because I’m going to a party on Saturday night so I’ll be too tired to come in.”

      It was so hard to keep from snapping, “I don’t have to do [redacted], thank you very much – how about you not go to the party if you have to work early the next day?” I just smiled and said I wouldn’t be able to help her with that.

    2. Mo

      I had a coworker like that! Our schedules did not change; it was the same shifts every week. And yet she’d always ask me to switch because she had a birthday/wedding/BBQ/Six Flags trip/whatever planned for Saturday even though Saturday was her day to work. Sunday was weekend day to work. How hard is it to schedule things for your days off? Drove me crazy.

      1. Anony1234

        We take turns working Saturdays. For example, tomorrow is my day. Next week is hers… technically. But guess who is working? Yours truly! Then I wait for when I need one of my shifts off instead of just picking a random Saturday to make a switch.

        And I have caught her in lies. I can see her social media. When she is telling the truth, I can see proof of the event she had tickets to. But then sometimes she either makes up events – recently she made up a concert a band was having out-of-state, but the band wasn’t going on tour until a few weeks later and wouldn’t be in that location until another month! – or she would call out sick only to post on social media where she was going with her friends.

        And the kicker in all of this – she wants as many hours as she can possibly get during the week! Only to take time off!

  57. Sarah

    I’m going to vent too. I started at an arts nonprofit two months ago. I have several years of experience in arts and cultural nonprofits, mostly in development, but I’m done education, evaluation, museum archives, etc. Especially as a grant writer, I know how important program evaluation is. Not only as a tool to improve the programs, but as a way to show funders you are using their investment wisely, reaching your outcomes, and having real impact. The organization has not been doing any (good) evaluation. My CEO is okay with me introducing some program evaluation, but the deputy director is totally against it – says she doesn’t need evaluations to tell her what’s working and what’s not. The funny thing is that I also handle all grantmaking for the organization and whenever I get in a grant application that doesn’t have program evaluation outlined – or states that it uses staff feedback – I just laugh. It’s not enough or good enough. I wouldn’t trust my dollars with them. And I don’t think any funder should trust their dollars with us without program evaluation. Anyway – I’ve started instituting some program evaluation (yay!). But the thing that gets me is that they have been lying on their grant applications and reports that they are doing program evaluation (participant surveys) and are achieving a 95% satisfactory rating. All a lie. Obviously I just have to write this off and know that I will only write in what we will actually do and follow through with the program managers to do the evaluation properly. But oh my! It’s so dishonest to be reporting things that never happened. I haven’t told my CEO what I’ve been finding (he’s new too – only been here 4 months). Do you think I should fill him in?

    1. COT

      Being that he’s new, I bet he’d be interested to know (since it’s not like it’s a reflection on his performance). As you know, falsifying grants is really serious. This is the kind of thing that could very easily come back to bite your organization, and if that happens I would guess he’d be very upset to find out that you knew and didn’t say anything. Also, if the people who made up this information are still on staff, that needs to be addressed.

      1. alfie

        Yes I would definitely bring it up to the CEO but you probably want to be careful how you do it and try not to alienate the program person (did you say education director?) who a) thinks evaluation is not necessary and b) is likely the one making up the “satisfaction survey” results. It sounds like she is resistant to change anyway and it could cause an office firestorm if you out her to the CEO. You are absolutely right — funders increasingly want to see evaluations and outcomes.

  58. LV

    I mentioned in the last open thread that my contract was ending soon, and TPTB wanted to keep someone on board in that position for a few more months, and because of the endless bureaucratic hoops public servants have to jump through, my position was reposted and I had to apply for it.

    Well, the good news is, I won the competition, so I get to stay until the end of March.

    The slightly less good news is, I can’t actually start the “new” job until I’ve taken mandatory language tests (even though everyone I work with can attest to my language skills). And there’s no telling when HR will be able to schedule the tests for me. So once my contract ends next week, I’ll have to work part-time (12 hours a week max!) until my tests are completed and scored.

    Fortunately, this won’t be a problem for me financially, so I’m looking at it as a stay-cation of sorts. A chance to catch up with friends, hang out with my cat more, finally get up to speed on some long-neglected housework…

    All in all, I’m pretty happy :)

  59. WWWONKA

    As part of my thread above, does anybody get a rejection e mail and want to send a big screw you back to the hiring manager and let him know his incompetence and he screwed up the interview? PS I change my original verbiage to “screw you” :)

      1. WWWONKA

        Nope, been trying for a bit now and I always have a good attitude @interview time. The last interviewer did not have my resume, did not read it if he had a copy in some lost place, did not have prepared questions. Had a big question mark above his head when I told him of my skills. Was 20 minutes late and would not have known my name if the receptionist did not tell him who I was and also did not know why I was there when I checked in.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Those things are frustrating, but they’re a really common part of the job searching experience. They’re probably going to happen again. You can be upset by them or you can take it in stride; the latter will make you a lot happier!

          1. WWWONKA

            But why is the interviewee expected to take this poor treatment? If it was me that was ill prepared I would pay the price and would be looked on as a poor candidate. Unfortunately we are at the mercy of incompetence. And, unfortunately companies do not read comments on Glassdoor and such

            1. Forrest

              But the company is at the mercy of employees too. No one’s required to take a job and they’re probably missing out on great candidates who are turning them down.

              Regardless, where does it get you to dwell about it?

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yep, it’s not fair. But it’s the reality, and your choices are to accept it and move on without getting upset about it, or to get upset about something that is widespread. Either way, employers are going to behave that way — so the part you get to control is how it makes you feel.

              I would choose the mental stance that gives you the higher quality of life … because you’re basically picking between being more happy or less happy. More happy should win.

    1. Not So NewReader

      We are entitled to have our feelings on matters.
      It’s when we act on those feelings that the problems start.

      I think you dodged a bullet. Some poor soul is going to end up working for that person.

  60. Jamie

    Totally non work related pet peeve, but something in the other thread reminded me to be annoyed at this.

    What is with people speaking either loudly or in normal tones of voice in waiting rooms? I’m sitting there, waiting for my appointment. If I’m with someone we speak softly as to not disturb other people waiting. Why are others talking as if they are around their kitchen table. I don’t care about the trouble you’re having with your adult child living at home not helping around the house, or that you need to buy new stuff for the lawn because some weed thingy isn’t responding to Scott’s, and for God’s sake I sure don’t want to hear about how your wound keeps oozing and what color the pus is.

    Save that treat for the nurses.

    I don’t ever remember being told to be quiet in public places, but I just am…and it totally shocks me when people treat the whole world like their front porch. And no, I’m not interested in the movie playing that shows Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen being Amish…but I’d rather hear that than Tales of the Infected Seeping Wound.

    1. Sascha

      That kind of voice is acceptable to me if the waiting room itself is very loud, like the one at my doctor’s office. But any other time…I try to respect the general tone of the room.

      Reminds me of when I was at the ICU the other day for a sick relative…the ICU waiting room is a very somber place, and most people respect that, but this one couple were letting the whole room know the sordid tale of a young woman who had some kids, ran off with another dude, did drugs, got arrested…it was very annoying. Especially when you are trying to compose yourself over the shock of your loved one being in the ICU.

      1. Tina

        This morning on the train, I heard a loud conversation about a young woman getting out of detox and about an ex-bf who made her feel guilty about getting drunk and kissing another guy at a party, even though she confessed it to him. Not the same as a waiting room, but the same trend – some people don’t seem to care how loud they’re being or how it’s impacting other people.

    2. fposte

      I will shake my cane alongside you to say that it all started when they put those damn TVs in the waiting rooms. People are probably just trying to be heard over them. (Seriously, what is up with that? If I wanted to play my music in the waiting room nobody would tolerate it. Do they really think more people want to hear household cleaner ads?)

      1. Jamie

        I was at the periodotist once and was struck by the dichotomy of the beautifully decorated waiting area with furniture much nicer than in my home and the screaming harpies on the tv – one of those talk shows where people shriek over each other about STDs while waiting for paternity results.

        (oh, and if the blonde woman on that show is reading this – when you’re pregnant and your husband brings you home herpes and cannot remember from whom he got it you don’t need to think about where to go from there. Where you go is to his closet, cut the crotches out of all of his pants, and toss them (neatly) on the front lawn. See, settled…no tv cameras and no yelling.)

      2. Not So NewReader

        What’s up with the tvs EVERY where, anyway?

        “Hey, there’s a blank wall, let’s put a tv on it!”

        I go to a fast food place to get quickly down a burger so I can get back to work. I sit down in the dining area. There are FOUR tvs, each on a different station. I guess someone figured out not to turn on the volume, every single one was video only. No one seemed to be paying any attention to the tvs. What a waste.

    3. Windchime

      These are the same people who use that same tone of voice for their personal conversations in the office. Or the people who can speak quietly to someone they can see, but must HOLLER into their cell phones.

      Hey! You kids get offa my lawn!!!

  61. Another English Major

    I’m always late to the open thread party. I have a question about legal assisting. It’s my current job & while I like what I do, I’m unhappy w/the environment.

    I hate sitting all day and am wondering if there are legal assistant jobs that require more movement (this is my first job at a firm; my past experience is in education and hospitality).

    Does anyone have advice on the types if organizations I should look at or is being sedentary just part of the job?

    1. Anna

      I realize that this isn’t a direct solution to your question, but is there any way you could get a standing desk at your current workstation? That has made a huge difference for me in terms of feeling less sedentary and sluggish.

  62. Kim

    My office is located in a building where the two main meeting rooms are located. There is only one other office in this building and the woman who works there has a flexible schedule and is often not in the office during the day. As such, I am generally the only person who works full time in this building. My office is located in the back of the computer lab that is designated for training. I am the sole member of the statewide training department; I am not an administrative assistant or receptionist.

    Because this is a relatively high traffic area, I am interrupted frequently with questions regarding everything. Needing assisting unlocking doors, assistance with using a copy machine, the bathroom paper towel dispenser is jammed, assistance finding window washing supplies, assistance working the coffee maker in the kitchenette (I don’t drink coffee nor do I know how to use it), requests for pens (and they insist they will bring them back but do not), needing directions to places on campus and off campus, needing to know where a certain meeting is being held, did they get the day right? I don’t mind helping people with training and using the computer lab for training related purposes, but I am interrupted by people wanting assistance printing their resumes, not knowing how to use a flash drive, not knowing how to enroll in health benefits and generally not using these computers for the training purposes they are intended for.

    I’ve closed the door to my office and included a sign “training department” and my name, but people literally barge into my office without knocking and begin asking me questions. Twice I was in the middle of a conference call and somebody walked right into my office and asked for something while I was talking on the phone. At least when my door is open I can see them coming toward me instead of being scared out of my skin when somebody bursts in. I’ve also started wearing headphones and that hasn’t made any change in the number of interruptions I get.

    As I am still pretty new to this organization, and in a relatively high profile role since I interact with literally everybody in this 800+ person organization I don’t want to develop a reputation as cranky, but enough is enough. How can I get the message across that I have work to do and I can’t be there to help everybody solve all their problems? Hiring a receptionist is not going to happen as we are a cash-strapped non-profit.

    (Currently there is a very rude woman who self-admitted that she is 45 minutes early for a meeting with a woman who doesn’t even work on this campus and rudely interrupted me to demand that I contact her. I don’t even know who this person is and I doubt she is nearby, more likely she is in a different part of town where other offices are located. She’s sitting in the computer lab conducting business on speakerphone very loudly and keeps asking me questions about various meetings and people that I do not know.)

    1. Kerr

      That has to be frustrating. This may be a dumb question, but do people in your organization know what the training department actually does? It sounds like they’re not just going to you because you’re in a high-traffic area; they seem to be conflating training and general information desk + admin support. Clarification about where to direct certain questions might be in order. Not sure how to deal with that one; anyone else?

      For anything that *is* related to your office’s placement: how’s the area set up for people who might expect a receptionist or admin to be sitting in the area? For instance, many offices without a receptionist will have a phone and a sign with written instructions, so guests can call an admin or the person they’re meeting with. Or have a sign with arrows directing visitors to the meeting rooms. Or whatever applies to your office’s situation. Anything to direct people to the right person/place, and deflect them from barging into your office.

    2. Elizabeth West

      They NEED a receptionist. Badly.

      Maybe ask your manager how you should handle these interruptions? If you were my employee and I knew you had that many interruptions while you were trying to get your work done, I’d be nagging somebody to get coverage for the damn desk.

      I don’t know; does anybody have anything better?

    3. Andrea

      Does your door have a lock? Also, estimate how much of your time is spent on these interruptions, and bring it up to your boss!

    4. fposte

      It’s really hard to fight proximity. I think it’s psychologically normal for reading to be our last resort–we’ll rely on habit and proximity before we read an instruction (we have a cranky door that functions weirdly, and nobody reads the sign telling them how to do it, because who reads a sign to open a door?).

      So what can you do to change your proximity? Can you, for a start, lock your door without turning off the people who legitimately need to see you, maybe with a sign directing them to whoever they should be talking to? Can you maybe make access to your door less direct by putting a table in front of it or something else that they’d have to go around (without breaching fire code, of course)?

      Ultimately, Elizabeth’s right, in that they need a receptionist, and they need one placed more accessibly than you. Absent that, mere training and instruction isn’t going to be enough to put them off, I suspect–you need to access-block them as best as you can.

    5. The IT Manager

      Since you’re the only permanent person in the building, who else are these visitors supposed to direct their questions to?

      The problem is not the people asking you questions, but that your company is not providing support for people attending meetings. Who is responsible for managing those meetings room. Their office should be in the building or you should post a sign with their phone number, but it’ll still be easier for people to ask you instead of making the call.

  63. TGIF

    “Curmudgeonly” rolled off my tongue today in conversation, and I have to say I was really proud (my coworker gave kudos). Does anybody else pat themselves on the back when they successfully break out awesome vocabulary words in everyday conversations?

    1. Laufey

      Glad to know I’m not the only one. I got to use “cavorting” and “surreptitiously” the other day. Not in the same sentence, though that would have been awesome.

  64. Audiophile

    What’s the general consensus on connecting with someone on LinkedIn and then applying for a job with their company?

    I’ve met this person a few times, and twice now applied for a role with the company. I connected with an employee of the company, who was unable to find out if my resume had ever been received. He was gracious enough to pass it on. The person I’m thinking of connecting with now is higher up in the company and thus it might be more appropriate to connect with him.

      1. AB

        Hmmm… My last two jobs were found via LinkedIn (both great). I don’t use Facebook so I can’t compare, but I definitely think that LinkedIn, when well used, is a valuable tool to getting a job.

        1. Felicia

          I like LinkedIn for the jobs they post – I apply to a lot of them and sometimes get interviews. It’s also a very easy way to keep in touch with former supervisors who’ve left the company. I’ve also had hiring managers of companies that didn’t even post the job on LinkedIn look at my LinkedIn profile. None of those things are done on Facebook.

  65. ES

    I am in charge of collecting the resumes for a position we have open…and ugh, people just cannot follow directions. Thankfully we’ve finally started getting some good candidates (probably not surprising that those didn’t show up right away, since they probably took the time to make sure their cover letters were good, etc.), but at first it was really bleak…people not sending all the requested materials, people with horrible spelling and grammar mistakes, and even one person who emailed me his resume and asked that I look at it and tell him what position I thought he was best suited for – then he’d write a cover letter. I told him I’m only accepting applications for only one position, and he’d have to go to our main jobs site and look at the listings to determine what else he’d be a good fit for (not that he was a good fit for this position, either…).

    Job searching is hard, and I wish these people realized how much they’re shooting themselves in the foot! These were not minor mistakes (I’m not one to quibble over a single typo or something) and showed a complete lack of attention. So frustrating!

  66. Texas

    I quit my previous job where I worked only 5 months because of an abusive manager. I was offered a new job contingent upon a background check; however during the interview process I let them assume I was still working there because I didn’t want to say anything negative about why I left without finding a new job first. Now I am afraid they will verify my employment days and find out I already quit a month ago. How should I handle this?

  67. JJ

    “Is there anything you’d like to tell me about yourself that’s not on your resume?”

    What have you used in the past? This question come up in a phone interview yesterday and I was already flustered after being given a scenario that didn’t have a specific conflict (so I wasn’t sure what needed to be “handled”). Anyway, I was already freaking out so I couldn’t think of an answer quickly enough, but didn’t want to say “no.” I won’t recap what my terrible response was, but if anyone wants to offer up what answers they’ve used for this question, I’d like to hear it!

  68. Anonymously Anonymous

    I just got my situation more stabilized. About a 2 weeks ago an email went out to everyone in the district about the need for substitute tutors for an hour a week at the middle school. It’s all perfect,the pay couple with the fact our program is housed in the same building. I stopped my the coordinator classroom and was pretty much given the job immediately.

    It’s only an hour after school a week but so far I have worked 2 days this week (for someone who was out sick), and I’m scheduled to work 2 days next week. My supervisor and director both approved a schedule change so I wouldn’t have an overlap. I pretty much clock out of my full-time job and then head up stairs for the next hour tutoring. The best part is I’m getting back almost double of my hours that were cut. Yay!

  69. Kerr

    Throwing this out there, on the off-chance that such a thing exists: Does anyone know of a free (or low-cost) way to do a mock interview and get feedback, even if it’s not in-depth? I’ve already tried my college’s career center (no luck), and the last time I tried the unemployment office for job-hunting help, it was a waste of time. (I’m not even sure they do mock interviews.) Friends or family aren’t much of an option for me.

    Any ideas?

    1. Ruffingit

      Check with local churches for job ministries. I know several in my area who do what they call “in-between job ministries” where they do exactly what you’re talking about. They hold it in the big parish hall and everyone who needs some help can show up and get it for resumes, cover letters, interviews, etc.

      Also, do a Google search for “unemployment support groups.” You can find some help there too. Good luck!

        1. Kerr

          Sorry, that was meant for Not So New Reader. The Craigslist thing sounds a bit scary, but thanks for the idea. :)

  70. Annonymous Intern Wannabe

    I work in the technology department of a big company, and I’m not very happy with my job. A tiny company in another industry has offered me a part-time, unpaid internship where I can completely set my own hours.

    I think if they like my work they’ll offer me a job, which I am interested in. I’m not unhappy enough to actively seek another job, but this opportunity came up and I want to test the waters. The main goal of this internship is for me to learn new skills and for them to get free labor.

    Would this be a conflict of interest? Our code of conduct says nothing about a second job, unless it’s with a competitor and/or you work your 2nd job on company time. The skills I would be learning/practicing are relevant in my current job.

  71. Le Sigh

    I’m one if the final candidates for a position and have been asked to provide references. Yay! The problem? They want a reference from my current employer, a company I have reported to the IRS after they failed to provide me a w-2 and misclassified me as a contractor, and an internship I held for 3 months many years ago. Any advice on how I should proceed?

    1. COT

      Can you explain the IRS issue and see if they’ll give you leeway on that one? Is there a former coworker from that job that you could contact, maybe someone else who also left?

      1. Le Sigh

        Yes, there is! I just find it odd that of all my work experiences, they seem to have deliberately chose the positions where I had the worst experiences.

  72. Jamie

    Why is it no one can walk by or enter my office for literally hours today – hours – but the one time I lean way back in my chair to try to crack my back and almost fall and have to use my feet to catch myself on my desk and try to get up with my hair now stuck in the wheels of my chair… I look up and someone is standing in my doorway.

    Laughing.

    Seriously – it’s been a ghost town here since noon…they pick NOW to hand deliver their numbers?

    I will have to find someway of reestablishing dignity after that. Maybe I’ll bring in donuts…they are a very dignified pastry.

    1. Couldbeworse

      Well, it could be worse so perhaps this will make you feel better. Or not….

      My mother has been having some serious health issues requiring medication for which diarrhea is a side effect. She has worked in the same office for the last 20+ years. Yesterday, she was in the office with two people who had stopped by (she knows them both socially as well, this is a small town) and mom got a stomach cramp. She stood up to go to the bathroom and before she could move, you guessed it – diarrhea everywhere. All down her legs, up her back…yeah.

      She went to the restroom to clean herself up with hand soap and towels. The people in her office had, thankfully, left. She then realized that she had an extra pair of pants, but they were in the office. She then prayed that her boss would not choose that moment to come into her office when she had nothing but the extra shirt she’d worn (it was cold, layers) around her waist. She was able to rescue the pants without being seen. But hopefully she won’t see the two people who were in her office again for at least a week or so. That kind of thing needs recovery time.

      1. OMG

        I decided to wear white pants to my daughter’s graduation ceremony right in the middle of my monthly. And I didn’t realize until I had gotten in the car that I left all my personal hygiene stuff at home. And I usually keep tons of this stuff in my car, purse etc…
        I thought it wouldn’t be ‘that’ bad…so against my better judgement I decided to go straight to the school (so I wouldn’t miss my daughter walk ) rather than stopping at a store. It was 9:00 in the morning when I left with all clean and the ceremony started at 10:00 so I figured my cycle wouldn’t be that bad as it had been pretty light….OMG was I wrong. I sat down in my chair, didn’t feel anything but when they asked us to stand –it was like the flood gates open. The front of my pants were covered. I quickly sat back down and waited for the processional to be over. Thankfully I had on a black jacket! After she walked, I wrapped the jacket around my waist and headed for the bathroom.
        #1 I was in a school gym so the bathroom had a shower–I thought great! (but it didn’t work)
        #2 Since it was the girls locker room there was no lock to the door.
        #3 the toilet paper in stalls were perforated! So I had to pull bits and pieces at a time.
        #4 Luckily 1 out 3 sinks worked!!! And there was soap.

        I had to rinse and throw out my undies. I had to rinse my pants. I was walking around the bathroom completely naked from the waist down frantically going from the bathroom stall to sink area trying to clean myself. Luckily I had on my spanks with my undies so I just washed, blotted, and dried it best as I could before making paper towel pads.. But most importantly I had to keep a watchful eye on the door knowing that anyone could just walk in and see me while I was at the sink washing my pants.

        My nice white pants were a shade of pink after and obviously “see through’ wet. As I headed back to the gym area for the ceremony, I wrapped my black jacket around my waist pulling it down as far as I could to cover the wet area in front of my pants….

        So embarrassing!!

  73. COT

    It might be a little late in the day to get your opinions, but what do y’all think about employee-giving campaigns at nonprofits? My organization is in the middle of its United Way campaign (we can direct our donations to a variety of orgs/causes, not just our own).

    I absolutely get the value of engaging employees in philanthropy and fundraising, but on the other hand, sometimes I just want to scream, “You pay me well below what I could be making elsewhere! Stop asking me to sacrifice more money on your behalf!”

    1. Ruffingit

      I dislike charitable campaigns at work in general. I think charitable giving is private and should be something employees do if they wish, outside of work.

      I remember my first job out of college at a non-profit where we were “asked (read forced) to participate in the United Way campaign. I made something like $9.50 an hour so I wasn’t raking it in by any means and yet, they wanted me to give money so they could say they had 100% participation in the UW campaign. They made mention of how we could direct our donation to the non-profit we were working for. Being the young, say what you feel person I was at the time, I said “Well, if I was going to do that, I would just donate it directly. Why would I go through United Way for that when they will take their cut before it trickles down to you?”

      Yeah, that wasn’t super popular, but I still feel that way today. In any case, I think it stinks to be pressured to donate to anything at work.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I said the same thing.
        I just quietly never gave any money. I stayed under the radar.
        And I told myself “They are not directing the question at ME, it is a general question.”

    2. Anon for this!

      I am working in retail right now while I pay off some bills and look for a job in my field. I am incredibly burned out right now. Recently, I got passed up for a promotion, and I also received the smallest raise I’ve ever seen with this company. I also applied for another position and was told by my boss that they would not be interviewing me because I applied for another position two months prior and they really want me to focus and put all of my energy on getting the promotion for the first position I applied for. The ironic thing is that they hadn’t done interviews for this position for nearly a year, so it’s not like they passed me up one time, but there will be another position opening up in a few months. I literally feel like there’s nowhere for me to move. The holidays are approaching (which is the busiest time of the year for us). It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m getting really depressed. Anyone have any suggestions?

    3. Felicia

      I dislike them because even when they’re optional it feels very much like there’s pressure to participate. I do prefer when you can choose the charity rather than the employer choosing it, but it’s still none of my employers business what I do charitably. Also hen you’re making barely above minimum wage, giving to charity may not be something you coudl currently do . I’d rather donate somewhere directly when I choose, and pressuring employees to donate their hard earned money when/how you say won’t make them more engaged in philanthropy, it will make them resentful to the company and less likely to donate to charity on their own.

  74. Hannah

    I have a question about career discussions.

    I’m in my first job after college, and have been here a few years now.

    My boss has asked me where I see myself in a few years and I didn’t know how to respond. The job that I want to be doing, as my career, doesn’t involve staying with the company I’m at now and I’m hopefully going to leave in the next 1-2 years.

    Is it okay to say what I really want to be doing even if it means leaving the company? I think I have a good relationship with my boss but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to be this open, however I don’t like lying either.

    I guess I’m just a bit worried they won’t be interested in spending time on money on any courses to help my career if I won’t be there long term.

    1. fposte

      You’re probably right–if you’re leaving in a year, they’re not going to want to spend money on you. Which doesn’t seem unfair to me unless the courses were key in the initial offer, and be aware that you may be obliged to pay them back for the tuition if you leave early.

      However, I would imagine your boss to be asking more about your career growth generally than where specifically you see yourself as being employed. Can you answer that without it translating obviously to working elsewhere? You can also identify a couple of areas you’re interested in rather than pinning it down to one if that means a dead giveaway of your departure. But I think it’s worth considering what kind of reputation you’ll leave if you take their money for courses and then take a job those courses enabled elsewhere a month later.

    2. Marina

      I’ve always considered that question to have an unspoken qualifier: “What would you like to be doing in a few years IF you’re still working at this company?” You can’t say for sure that you won’t be with the company in a few years, so you might as well consider what your best case scenario would be if you’re still there.

  75. JustMe

    Admittedly, there are probably at least 10 questions I would love to pick everyone’s brains about, but here’s where I’ll start: Has anyone left a review of a small company on Glassdoor?

    When I get a better job and leave my current company I would like to do that. In an objective way (although even being level headed and objective the interview would be negative). I have no intention of being unnecessarily critical, but at the same time, I want to give potential employees an idea of what to expect here. However, my position and tenure are a dead giveaway that it’s me.

    Should I still leave the review when the time comes or not to avoid potentially hurting my bosses’ feelings? How have you all dealt with similar situations?

    1. Ruffingit

      If it’s a dead giveaway that it’s you, I wouldn’t do it. No need to burn bridges. However, you can always change some details so as to disguise yourself – change the length of tenure, change the job title, etc. I’m for informing potential employees so if you can leave a fair review without burning bridges for yourself, then do so.

      1. JustMe

        I actually hadn’t even considered changing my info. I didn’t know that was okay?

        In 2 years, my company has had aprx. 20 turnovers (just off the top of my head). There have maybe been 5 people who stayed a full year. So most of the others haven’t been around long enough to get a real picture of things. That’s why I do feel a responsibility to let people know what they’re getting into, instead of leaving more lambs to head to the slaughter.

        1. Ruffingit

          I see no reason why changing your info is a bad thing. It doesn’t affect the review itself. It would be one thing if you changed your title to CEO and it looked as if you were speaking as the head of the company. But changing your info for purposes of anonymity is fine in my view.

          1. K Too

            Late to this post. I have left a review for a small employer. I’m in the league of letting the general public know what’s going on if a job environment is seriously toxic. If a job seeker gets an interview by said company, the pros/cons of former and current employee reviews will stay fresh in their minds. Reviews can help prospects frame questions to hiring managers about the office environment and their management styles.

            My former employer was very toxic and they usually post job ads every 3-6 months. It was worth writing a review especially after having 4 months of anxiety-filled work days.

            However, if you want to stay “anonymous” while writing your review, don’t post your former job title. I would also leave out ” very detailed” information related to your experience so that your former employer can’t guess who left the review.

            Make sure that your review is coherent and just state the facts of why working for the company had its pros and cons.

  76. Embarrassed

    Maybe it’s better that I am posting this late in the day; I know the answer already.

    I’m in my first job out of grad school. I was honestly told what the position was, what the company culture and workplace environment was like, what my responsibilities would, and warned fairly about the drawbacks of the job and the company (a former fellow graduate student “recruited” me for the position). I naively overlooked and/or wrote off much of what I was told, thinking management styles would be different or that they wouldn’t bother me or (more importantly) I could turn the position into something I really enjoyed, and accepted largely because I wanted to make a geographic change. I get it; this was dumb. I don’t feel great about it.

    I am about 2 months into the position, and I don’t hate it at all. It’s a frustrating company to come into, things are messy and confusing from a merger about 2 years ago where there was no due diligence done on the acquired company (“I want it, I’ll have it”); it’s not horrible. But I don’t feel committed to the company, I don’t see eye to eye with them ethically, the job is challenging but not in the field I want to be long term, and I view it as a stepping stone.

    I feel overwhelmingly guilty about this. Should I just move on now so they can find someone who is a better fit in the position and feels more connected to the company?

    1. COT

      Why would you feel guilty? They’re paying you to do a good job for a reasonable length of time. You don’t owe them any more than that. That’s especially true if the company doesn’t treat employees well (it’s not clear from your post if their culture is seriously bad or just not your ideal). It’s okay that they haven’t earned your loyalty if they don’t deserve it.

      Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about taking a job that isn’t your forever dream job. Nearly everyone has these stepping stones, and as long as you give it your best you don’t owe them your soul.

      It seems like your guilt and regret is oversized, since you’ve done nothing wrong here. That might be worth exploring: are you always this hard on yourself? Does your guilt have something to do with the stress of relocating?

      Do a good job while you’re there, gain what you can from it, keep your eyes on the future, and cut yourself some slack in the meantime. :)

      1. Ruffingit

        Totally agreed with all of that. Connected to the company vision isn’t required for most jobs. Sure, it’s nice if you can have that, but it’s not something that makes a huge difference for a lot of people. Stay in the job for at least a year and then start looking. If things aren’t that horrible and you can hack it, it will look better on your resume.

  77. Windchime

    So I’m scheduled to have surgery on my Achille’s tendon in a couple of weeks. My right foot, of course, so I won’t be able to drive for at least a month while I am non-weight-bearing. I’ll be on crutches and a knee scooter. Does anyone have any advice for working with a cast/huge boot/crutches? Fortunately, I have an office job and I also have a boss that is totally willing to let me have more work-at-home days if I need to. But for days when I need to go to the office, what advice do you have for me?

    1. WWWONKA

      If you can bend the right knee and your foot will be out of the way, you can drive left footed. With that I worked for a company that did not allow a girl to work that was in a cast on her leg.

      1. Windchime

        My company will let me work with a cast on my leg–it’s an office job and I can sit all day long.

        Driving left-footed–I worry a little about that. It seems like I should practice something like that for quite a bit before doing it!

    2. Chris

      Clothes that are lighter than usual. When my boyfriend had a cast on his arm he was constantly complaining about overheating at work.

  78. Bobby Digital

    Someone upthread mentioned that they would’ve been more vocal about work issues earlier in their careers. I’m throwing this out there to see how I could’ve handled it differently:

    For about four months, we’ve been getting office-wide emails from our boss’ boss about some (serious) mistakes being made by my department. These emails were always really vague and blanket-y: “The Teapot Department needs to be more careful.”

    All along, my department, my boss, and my boss’ boss knew exactly who was making the mistakes. (It was mainly one person and, to a lesser extent, two other people. This accounts for about half of our department).

    This was obviously annoying. But I bit my tongue and said nothing as the emails rolled in.

    A few weeks ago, one of the partners replied to these emails, specifically asking if, indeed, everyone was making the mistake, or if it boiled down to a few specific people. Boss’s boss answered back that everyone in my department needs to be more careful.

    Again, I debated this for a few days and decided not to say anything. So, my question: when, if at all, would you guys have spoken up? (To be clear, I am absolutely sure that I have not made this mistake; I was told as recently as two days ago by boss’ boss that she is relieved to see my name on documents, as they are always error-free.

    1. fposte

      Who are you thinking of speaking up to? You certainly don’t want to go over your boss’s head and your boss’s boss’s head to tell the partner that Jane’s the screwup, not you. Are you asking about talking to your boss because you’re concerned about Jane’s errors and the way it’s being couched as a department-wide mistake? What are you hoping to have happen there?

      1. Bobby Digital

        Yeah, I hear you and I think that’s why I didn’t say anything. And I think I wouldn’t have been tempted, were it not for the quantity of repetitious emails (maybe 15?) and the fact that the emails were being copied to all departments.

        And once a direct question was asked by the partner, to the effect of “Is this just a blanket accusation or is literally everyone messing up,” and the response suggested, “Literally everyone is messing up,” I guess my annoyance turned into defensiveness.

        But you’re right. In a really vague sense, I was wondering if there was a way to enlighten the partner, which, yeah, not a good move.

        1. fposte

          Your annoyance here is understandable–it’s no fun to be blamed for things that are demonstrably not your fault. But this would seem to be one of those “learn to shrug it off” times, not one of those “learn to speak up” times. Speaking up is for when you can see through to a desired outcome as a result of raising your point, and I’m afraid I’m not seeing that there. Or, if your issue is that you’re feeling like you wussed out by not saying anything, I agree with your decision and think you made a good call by letting this one go.

    2. Trixie

      This particular tactic drives me crazy. If an employee isn’t performing, its management’s job to bring it his/her attention. Its not to subject the entire department or company to blanket emails that may or may not pertain to them. Grr.

      I had a boss once who rather than single out a single employee over an issue specific to her would wait to bring up in a general setting. So folks who didn’t have anything to worry about become concerned, and the intended targeted audience member was never addressed personally.

    3. Ruffingit

      There’s no reason to speak up here. Your boss knows you’re not the problem. That is all that is important from your point of view. What exactly could you say here anyway if you did speak up? “Hey, it’s Jane over in Teapot Handle Design who needs to see these, she’s the one with the problem…” Clearly, that would do nothing, but burn some bridges and make you look bad. Don’t invite problems, say nothing.

  79. redvelvet cheesecake

    Drats! I always miss the Open thread. i’m not sure if at this point I’ll still get any answers or replies :(

    anyhoo, heres my shot….
    This might seem like a no-brainer, but I wanted to put this out there–is it ever too late to break into a new field or line of work/improve your life?

    So a little bit about myself–I’ve been trying to get into a particular field for quite some time now. It’s been a bit of a struggle for several reasons (mostly bc lack of degree and lack of direction/misdirected priorities the last few years etc)

    Not too long ago, I had a discussion with a “friend” who’s in the same field I’m trying to break into. They’ve repeatedly said that I should quit because I suck at it and do something else. I only know this person personally, we’ve never worked together. I’m not sure how they can tell I’d suck at it except when I told em about my bad interviews, or difficulties wiht coworkers. Another point they brought up was that they chose their career in college and have been training ever since….since I’m in my late 20s and well out of college with no plans to go back any time soon, I should quit and do something else.

    Personally, I have no plans or even the desire to quit trying and do something else. Given my experience and qualifications, I think my expectations are very reasonable, not delusional by any means.

    I posted this here cz I think yall, the readers, are pretty awesome at commenting and while I’ve vented enough about the emotional aspect of that discussion (there was more to the discussion that I’m not sure is relevant to post here)….I’d like to get the professional take on it.

    1. fposte

      I think some of this depends on information you haven’t shared here, in that there are some fields where you’re a baby at thirty and some where you’re over the hill at twenty. But I don’t see any reason why you need to listen to the opinion of people who don’t know your skills, and I don’t know why you’re wasting your valuable time in life generally with people keen to tell you how much you suck. It may be that this doesn’t end up being the field for you, but I doubt that this person knows any more about that than you do right now, so there’s no reason to let them put you off.

      1. redvelvet cheesecake

        “I don’t know why you’re wasting your valuable time in life generally with people keen to tell you how much you suck. ”

        Yep, very true!

    2. Ruffingit

      What field are you trying to break into? That makes a difference. In general though, I will say this – it’s never too late to do something you really want to do or are passionate about. I’ve made some changes in my line of work over the years and I’m now much happier for it. You’re in your late 20s, there’s plenty of time for you to get it together and do what you want to do.

      Thing is this though – if this is a field that requires a degree, then you need to think seriously about getting one. You can’t complain about not being able to break in to the career if you aren’t willing to do the basics of what the career requires.

      As for your friend saying you shouldn’t try to break into the career, that could be for a myriad of reasons ranging from they are right and you aren’t good at it to they are jealous and don’t want you as competition to anything in-between those. I’d suggest you do some informational interviews with others in your desired career field (who are not in any way affiliated with the friend) and get their assessment.

      Bottom line is that not every career is feasible for everyone, but if you really want to do it and you are qualified, go for it.

      1. redvelvet cheesecake

        I totally get what you’re saying. I’m not unwilling to do it, it’s just a matter of timing…and I think my expectations for what I can acheieve are reasonable…

        I’m really not sure how jealousy would factor into this–they’ve been in that field for over a decade.

        1. Ruffingit

          Yeah, it may not be jealousy at all, but I tossed that in there because I have seen some people who discourage others from getting into certain fields or working at certain places because they don’t want the competition and/or they’re afraid you’ll be better at the job than they are. Not always the case, but it does happen. I get the timing thing with the degree too. As I said before, if you’re qualified to work in the field and you feel passionate about it, do it. And, as fposte mentioned, stop hanging around people who make you feel bad about yourself! Hang out here with us instead :)

    3. Trixie

      I don’t think it’s ever too late to try a new career but some fields do require additional schooling or training. I’m thinking of something along the lines of law or medicine. Are you already in the field, or at interviewed for positions in the field? Other than that, do you have a lot of transferrable skills for the new field?

      I’m not sure your friend is in a position to see your professional side so its hard to much stock in his/her opinion.

  80. Anon this time.

    So a coworker form another office that hasn’t worked in my division in 2 years called me out of the blue today and started quizzing me about a bunch of semi-confidential occurences that involve compliance issues in my office that have been going on for the past six months. Apparently he knows every step I take, except he makes the stories sound 10X worse than they are, and he has been calling a former employee about them – in an industry where large penalties in the million dollar range get handed out. What the hell is this guy’s problem and who does he think he is helping by making up stories that we are having compliance issues, and then spreading them around the country? I was stunned.

    Not only did I realize he was a jerk, but someone close to me is gossiping about me behind my back, and I feel totally back-stabbed.

    1. MaryTerry

      I would talk to my compliance officer about this. At the least, they need to know about the confidentiality leak.

  81. TheNewRecruit

    So I’m really bummed out today, I had a phone interview scheduled for about an hour ago and I got stood up. The same thing happened to me last week with a different employer so I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s something I’m doing wrong.

    The thing is I’m currently on vacation, visiting family, so I’m not in the same country which I have listed on my CV. When the interviewers asked me for the phone interviews, I told them that I’m currently not in the country and gave them an alternative phone number to reach me at.

    Could this be the reason why they aren’t calling? If it is then what are the recommendations on how I can approach this instead? I’d really appreciate some insight on this.

    1. AB

      It’s terrible that they aren’t letting you know they won’t be calling, but I’m thinking that the issue may be a policy against international calls without prior approval in the hiring company (international numbers may be even blocked from dialing).

      I was once in the same situation, provided a number to call, and everything went fine. But I’m in a field with higher demand than offer of qualified candidates, so the company had an interest to call me even if it was less convenient (requiring written justification) and more expensive to make the call.

      If there are a lot of available candidates for the positions you are applying to, it’s possible that you’ll just have to accept that you’ll lose some opportunities during your vacation. Things should get back to normal when you are back to your original country. Good luck!

    2. fposte

      I’m agreeing with AB–if the alternative phone number is an international call for them, that’s quite likely to be an issue. It can be technical (in addition to the block AB notes, some countries–Britain, I’m looking at you–require numbers to be dialed differently from outside of the country) or it can be resistance on their part, but if it stops them getting to you it doesn’t really matter which one it is.

      Unfortunately, I think the best advice is “don’t leave the country if you’re expecting phone interviews.” Can you at least see if the phone interviews can be pushed back until your return?

      (When you followed up with these organizations after the call glitch, did they answer, and what did they say?)

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’d arrange to call them yourself at the scheduled time, explaining that it’s because it’s an international call. That way you’re not asking them to foot the bill (or in some cases the technical inconvenience).

      1. TheNewRecruit

        The thing is, its an international call for them either way. I live in Europe and the jobs I’m applying for aren’t in Europe, so they know that I’m an international candidate. This is why the interviews are over the phone. Most of the applicants for these jobs (hospitality) are international applicants.

        In the future, when I’m asked for a telephone interview, should I offer to call them instead? Or would that be weird?

    4. JJ

      Can you ask about doing a Skype call instead (the voice-only kind, not a video chat)? That way it’d be free for the both of you.

  82. The Other Dawn

    On Monday I had my first interview in 17 years and it went well. I was keeping in mind all the tips I’ve gained from this blog. I got the job offer, but they need someone immediately and with two surgeries going on (one was yesterday), I can’t start until December 1. So the CEO is going to being on his #2 choice temporarily until December when I’m available. The only caveat being that the temp may work out, but I’m fine with that. I’m a bit lukewarm on the position anyway. So anyway, he offered me 5k below my asking salary, with the reasoning being that “others have been there a long time and don’t make that much. That may cause problems.” That’s a BS reason to me. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? I thought it’s supposed to be based on your skills, experience (I have a considerable amount) and the market.

    1. fposte

      But it’s also based on their practice–if they’re paying people with your skills and experience $5k below what you’re asking, then that *is* the market for them.

      That doesn’t mean you have to cave–you can ask for more based on the larger market, you can negotiate for other perks–but it could be that it’s not BS.

      And congratulations on the offer, and hope you recover speedily from your surgeries!

  83. Ruffingit

    In case anyone is still around…

    What country are you from and what is one employment law you’d like to see changed or what one law should they have to begin with?

    1. CatB (in RO)

      I’m from Romania, and what I’d really, really love to see changed is the main employment law (Labor Code, as it is called). Now it’s favoring employees way too much (firing an underperformer is a PITA, to say at least), there is no “personal time” legislated (so if you have a one-day case of food poisoning you still need a doctor’s note, or you have to take a vacation day) and has no provision whatsoever for freelancing or contract-based employment (the alternative is a red-tape headache setup). And I wrote that without even beginning to think about the issues.

    1. Ruffingit

      I’d say one week. That gives me enough time to get some things done at home, stock up on groceries, get some extra sleep, etc. before starting the transition to a new job.

  84. Cassie

    Does anyone’s workplace have a 360 degree feedback/evaluation system? I noticed on the US Office of Personnel Mgmt has some info on 360 degree assessments and it’s intriguing. In some staff meetings, we’ve floated around the idea of 360 reviews and some staff have been adamantly opposed. They don’t like the idea of being evaluated by “everyone” (read: they feel like they’ll have to kiss up to everyone, rather than just their supervisor).

    A couple of supervisors were also hesitant – they don’t feel their subordinates have any right to evaluate them.

    I’m not saying a subordinate will write the formal evaluation that goes into their supervisor’s personnel file, but there’s got to be some way to gather feedback/data from different groups and then filter that data into a formal evaluation. But it has to be planned out well, or it’ll turn out to be a disaster…

  85. Dang

    Anyone still reading?

    I recently moved back home after a few years away. I have had no luck at all job searching. Recently I went to visit friends in a city about three hours away and briefly considered moving there. I applied for a few jobs there and got responses from almost all of them!!!

    Problem is I don’t reallllllly want to leave again. I mean it’s not that far away but I’ve on,y been back a few months; on the other hand, I’m not having any luck job hunting here. Should I interview for these jobs knowing I might not really be serious about moving? Is this some kind of sign that I need to expand my search? Would I be foolish to not at least find out more, especially since I haven’t had any local leads in 2+ months?

    1. Jazzy Red

      I think you should investigate each of these potential jobs, and go on the interviews. Talking to people is *not* a commitment! And interviews are all about trying to determine if the job would be compatible to you, if the people would be good co-workers, and if the benefits are adequate.

      Do the best you can on each of these interviews, and take it from there. Good jobs are hard to find, and you might end up actually wanting to make the move!

      1. Dang

        Thank you so much! I needed to hear that. My gut reaction was to just give it a shot, so it really helps to get that validated. It’s interesting because I had absolutely no luck long-distance job searching when I was trying to move back here, but I’ve gotten a few bites from another out-of-state search. I was a lot further away in my last job search from my target area, but I guess you just never know.

    2. A Bug!

      Jazzy Red had good words to share, and I just wanted to add in that three hours isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things. I’m assuming you’re North American, in which case three hours is close enough for a leisurely weekend trip, and even a day trip in a pinch.

      You wouldn’t really be permanently losing anything if you did take a job there, given that you don’t have a job now. If you find yourself still yearning for home, in a year or so you can start looking for jobs while you’re still employed. Your chances will be better and you won’t be desperate.

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