open thread


click to enlarge for cats

It’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.

{ 806 comments… read them below }

    1. Another English Major*

      Thanks for sharing with us! You look radiant, and I love your flaming red hair (jealous) :)

      1. Ellie the EA*

        Great picture. I also love your hair color! I might take that to my stylist for my “spring do”. :-)

        1. Windchime*

          I agree, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful hair. Mr. Supreme Blogger Green also has great hair, actually.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. That is the first thing that hit me- these two complete each other, they look so content.

        May your life together be rich and full.

    2. Jessa*

      OMG you are gorgeous, he is gorgeous, that dress is just as incredible as I thought it would be from the picture on the chair. WOW. Beautiful, beautiful. And you both look so happy. What kind of flower is he wearing and did you have those in your bouquet?

      Your photographer rocks. Amazing pic.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Good question. I know next to nothing about flowers, so we basically told the florist to use fire colors and then left it to her. That was one area where I was utterly hands-off.

    3. Iain Clarke*

      How can we be sure that’s really you? I can’t see a a teacup *anywhere*.

      From the other side of the aisle, people may do anything for the bride, but they keep asking the groom questions!


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It looks like it in that photo, but no! I wish it did.

      I figured I would need to carry things so I bought this awesome clutch from Etsy, which I then forgot all about it, but it turned out I didn’t need it anyway. People will fetch you anything you need when you are the bride.

      1. Bryan*

        There’s a joke from How I Met Your Mother about that. What’s your phone number, it’s for the bridge.

      2. LouG*

        I think my favorite part of the pockets is really just the pictures you can take with your hands in your pockets, which you achieved! I don’t think I will actually use the pockets, but who knows!

      3. MJ*

        I got married on the 5th of October, and I can confirm that people will do ANYTHING for the bride. The morning of my wedding, one of my bridesmaids went to reception and asked if they had a rubber band. When she said “it’s for the bride”, they sent her back with literally every rubber band in the hotel.

        I didn’t end up needing the rubber band and I feel kind of bad =|

    2. Sabrina*

      “I’m in my wedding dress; it doesn’t have pockets. Who has pockets? Have you ever seen a bride with pockets?”

      1. LovePockets/Hate purses*

        I had pockets in my wedding dress. My sister made the dress for me anad included pockets at my request. It was great.

        1. VintageLydia*

          Love your user name. Before I had a kid which requires traveling with all sorts of stuff I never ever had a purse.

        2. Anonymous*

          When I was my cousin’s MOH we had dresses made. Come the dress rehearsal, the minister is telling me when to hand over the ring and one of the bridesmaids and I look at each other and both exclaim “pockets!” We hadn’t thought to ask to have them added to the dresses. :(

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        +1 for a great Doctor Who reference! I dressed up as Donna for Halloween– not from that episode, though. :P

        1. Kelly L.*

          So I’m currently making a TARDIS costume out of an old blue bridesmaid dress. Amusingly, it does have pockets!

  1. Penny*

    Are job interviews on the weekends a common occurrence or are they more rare? Most of mine seem to be during the week but I finally got a weekend one. Just wondering if that was the same for other people.

    1. BausLady*

      I think it depends on the industry and the position. I recruit for a call center and we often have weekend interviews for our call center agent positions, particularly if the candidate will be working evening and weekend shifts.

    2. NewGirlinTown*

      Even with retail, I’ve never had one, but that doesn’t mean it’s a totally weird thing.

      I think it depends on schedules, too. Sometimes, people are crazed during the week, but can devote more time on the weekends!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen good bosses come in at strange times for interviews so the candidate does not have to take time off from their current job.

      I recently did an interview on Sunday but it was very clear that this was a “do it when you can” thing and the use of standard business hours were tossed to one side because of the nature of the job and the level of need for a new employee. But all this was very clear to me before the interview started.

    4. EngineerGirl*

      I had one at a company that was trying to beef up their staff with experienced systems engineers. They held the interviews on Saturday so that the senior engineers didn’t have to take time off from their regular job. Fly in Friday, interview Saturday, check out the area Saturday night and Sunday morning, fly out Sunday afternoon.

        1. Jessa*

          Olive is adorable as usual but then cats usually are. She is getting SO big really, how much does she weigh now? She was such a teensy thing when you got her.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think she’s between 4 and 5 pounds now. She looks as big as Lucy in that photo, but she’s really not. She does seem huge compared to a couple of months ago though!

        1. voluptuousfire*

          +1. I have a calico who’s almost identical to Olive and also had a large, red tabby like Lucy (but she was a he). They used to sleep together all the time, usually my calico on top of the red cat. I got a picture of them once and it looks like the calico has her arm around her husband (as I called him) with a look on her face that said “back off, b&^%$, he’s mine!”

  2. Anonymous*

    How can I make my check-ins better?

    I know Alison has written about check-in meetings between workers and managers, but what about check-ins between teams? I work for a small organization that has one client, a much larger organization. I manage our relationship with two regions and have weekly check-ins on the calendar with both of them. I have tended to treat these mostly as reporting-out on what I’ve been doing, which sometimes results in interesting and valuable conversations and sometimes results in my giving a quick report and then wrapping up the meeting after 5 minutes.

    I’ve been thinking about what my goals for these check-ins are. Primarily, I want my client liaisons to know that we’re doing good work for them and feel that they are getting what they want out of the relationship. I also want to have strong relationships with the client staff that I work with, so I don’t want to substitute email updates.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Leslie Yep*

      Can you ask them what would be the best use of your time, laying out your objectives similarly to how you’ve stated them here (but more targeted to your partners, i.e. want them to be up to date on the work you are doing for them)? It would be interesting to hear what they have to say and whether they might prefer email updates plus more irregular, more informal touchpoints.

      For the check ins themselves, do they also give an update on the latest in their organization? That could be a good thing to add, for your context and just to get more investment from them in the conversation so that you’re not having 5 minute updates that could have been done by email.

      Could you also ask for more input from them on your updates? I.e. “Our next step for this is X–does that sound right to you? Is there anything you would do differently/anyone I should talk to/anything this impacts down the line?”

      Many people love this kind of meeting but I get really irritated when someone uses some of my precious calendar space for something that I could’ve read much more quickly, so if your goal is to build good relationships, you’ll want to be really sure of what their priorities and needs are for their time.

  3. LouG*

    Has anyone else had experience with this type of person? I recently sat next to someone who would at random points in the day would be silently reading something on their computer or phone and yell out something like “oh yes! This is awesome. Wow. So great!” and then not follow up with any details. If I didn’t say anything, they would keep doing it as if talking to themselves until I finally asked “what happened?” It’s kind of like a humble brag. I don’t want to right out tell you that something just awesome happened to me, I want you to ask. It drives me nuts!! I’ve come across this type of person in two different offices I’ve worked.

    Just venting on the open thread.

    1. Another English Major*

      I’m sort of that person, minus the humble brag part. I’m just really reactive to what I see on T.V. and what I read. Like last night on Scandal. My brother thinks I’m crazy because I yell at the t.v. and the computer.

      1. ChristineSW*

        I am like this as well….my husband thinks I’m completely nuts. lol. Sometimes I’ll be talking at the computer, and he’ll sneak up on me and say, “Who you talking to?”.

      2. Manda*

        I hate it when people watch sports alone and yell and scream at the TV. It’s one thing if it’s a group of people because they’re likely talking to each other too. But it drives me nuts when someone is sitting alone, yelling at the game and I’m within earshot.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Scandal! A never-ending roller coaster ride!

        OMG, can you believe…. [spoiler]?!?

        Yeah, I yell out a lot also.

    2. Anoners*

      I’m actually encountering the same thing at my workplace. Someone beside me is constantly thinking out loud/talking to themselves. It’s fine in moderation, but all the time can get annoying. I’m working up the momentum to talk to them about it in a nice way, which is hard for me but you can only handle so much noise.

      1. Laufey*

        You may need to tell the person who does the talking aloud. I plead guilty as a think aloud person. I didn’t always notice when I’m doing it, but not that it’s pointed out to me, I’m working on getting better about it.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too. I’ve tried really hard to break myself of the habit, but it’s not easy. Maybe it’s because I live alone and am always talking through stuff as I think (especially when doing homework, or housework while parsing something else like a conversation / scene in my novel). There’s no one to say “Honey, shut up.”

          1. Gene*

            I have an occasional dive buddy who does that. She’s a fairly inexperienced diver, and not really confident in the water, so I’m sure that’s part of it. But all through the dive you can hear her mumbling to herself, things like “a little squeeze, add some air to suit”, “watch buoyancy”, etc. There are club members who won’t dive with her, I choose to find it amusing.

            1. MissDisplaced*

              Obviously this is her way of “reminding” herself in what could (but hopefully not) be a life threatening situation.

              I’m sure as she gets more confident it will cease. And though annoying, it’s a bit mean for other divers to shun her over this. I mean, this is how she learns and remembers things!

          1. Windchime*

            Ha! One time, decades ago, my then-husband and I went to see the new James Bond movie at a fancy iMax theater. It was opening day, so the theater was packed. I was seated between Hubby and some Random Guy. The movie was awesome and the audience was spellbound. Except RandomGuy. Every time James Bond would do something cool (which was often, because…..James Bond), Random Guy would pump his fists in the air and shout, “YES!!!!!!” or “YES, JAMES!!!! AWESOME!!!!!”.

            It was the oddest thing. I was really worried that people would think I was with him, so I had Hubby put his arm around me.

        2. Anoners*

          Yeah I totally need to just suck it up and have a conversation with them about it. It’s just very constant/loud at times, and sometimes a little whiney/unprofessional. I’m guilty of doing it once in awhile too, but it’s getting to me at this point.

      2. Karenb*

        I’m what I term a “narrator” – if I don’t pay attention, I will start talking my way through my tasks, muttering to myself. Is this what your neighbour is doing? Probably they know they do it, and they know it’s annoying to other people, they just don’t always notice when they are doing it themselves – I wouldn’t mind being made aware that I am muttering, and they most likely won’t, either. A polite “did you realise you’re talking to yourself?” may be all you need.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I will admit to talking to myself, but not for the purpose of soliciting questions from anyone. I’m an IT geek which means I work with software all day long trying to get it to do what I want.

      So that means when I’m successful I’ve been known call out, to no one in particular, “YES!!! OMG I’m awesome!!!”

      When I’m not successful I’ve been known to say, to no one in particular, “Oh, you f-ing piece of crap,” or something similar. These comments are muttered under my breath though.

      1. perpetual intern*

        I mutter at computers/programs too. Though I’m not in IT.

        I’m pretty sure my computer can hear me. Perhaps it’s slow because it’s offended and rebelling. =/

      2. Jamie*

        I’m IT too, and muttering is in the job description. As is swearing and/or self praise under one’s breath. It’s a good thing I have my own office.

        My husband and eldest son have learned to live with three TV commentators. If I’m paying attention I’m yammering at the TV – which makes him grateful for my selective and short attention span.

    4. perpetual intern*

      I have two relatives who will mention something worded in such a way that it grabs your attention and you’re expecting them to further explain what happened…but then they don’t unless you specifically ask. It annoys me, but I usually do end up asking what happened because it’s like getting a cliff-hanger at the end of a book: I MUST KNOW.

      I’ve been in work situations where someone will quietly exclaim (in celebration) while reading something on the computer without explaining. I usually just ignore that unless I’m right next to them.

      1. Windchime*

        Me too. The people who are doing the Humble Brag will just have to get someone else to ask, because I will refuse to ask just on principle. If you want me to know something, *tell* me. Don’ just throw out not-so-obtuse hints and expect me to drag it out of you.

    5. Jubilance*

      I do this a lot, along with stuff like “dang it!” when I did something I didn’t mean to do. I talk to myself when I’m concentrating and I get in the zone & totally forget other people can hear me.

      1. LouG*

        Talking aloud in itself wouldn’t really bother me. But this person so obviously wants me to ask “what happened?”. It would be like if you said “dang it!” then waited a few seconds, glanced my way, said “ohh no”….another wait….”shoot!”. You get the picture! I used to always give in and ask, and now I get so much pleasure out of remaining silent.

    6. ChristineSW*

      In reading all of the responses to this topic, I am SO glad I’m not the only person who talks to myself. As I said above, to the TV, to the computer, or even just a running commentary about something (this one I only do when the hubby isn’t home). I also talk myself through specific tasks. Not sure why, but for some reason, talking to myself helps me process things better. Been doing it pretty much my whole life. I know it’s completely bananas and I try not to do it around others, but it’s so hard not to.

      If it’s distracting to you at work, I’d just try to politely let him know. It’s a tough habit to break, but if I know it bothers someone, I’ll try to be conscious of that.

      1. LouG*

        I should say something. But it’s not just that they are talking to themselves. They are trying to get my or any one else in the room’s reaction. It’s hard to explain, but if you meet this type of person, you will know!

        1. rlm*

          This reminds me of the people who post vague statuses on Facebook in an obvious attempt to get people to ask…”what’s wrong?” or “what happened?” or whatever. Drives me nuts. I just ignore them. But that must be tough when it happens out loud at work!

      2. tcookson*

        I talk to myself (and my computer and appliances) all the time. If the computer isn’t doing what I want, I’ve been known to cry out, “What the hell, you crazy computer?!?” or some such.

        1. tcookson*

          Maybe I posted in the wrong part of the thread, because I’m not doing any of this to get anyone to respond to me (and if they did, I would probably be embarrassed).

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I so do this.

        Hey, I’m enthusiastic.

        Coincidentally, everybody on my direct report team wears earbuds.


    7. Jen in RO*

      My former coworker did something like this. She was browsing lolcat sites and laughed loudly until I asked her what it was about or looked at her monitor (we sat side by side). I love lolcats and I’m a patient person, but I couldn’t help but snapping from time to time if I was busy.

    8. EvilQueenRegina*

      I sit opposite someone who mutters to herself about what she’s doing – she’ll say something like about how someone has confused her and then she’ll wait for someone to ask about what that person’s done, for example, and doesn’t like it when no one does.

  4. AnonAvenger*

    I need a vent. I’m so angry about a situation at work that happened a few weeks ago and there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it.

    I work at a retail store, a well known craft store. I was recently promoted to the office, about a month and a half ago. While I was still a cashier, way back in August, we held a donation drive for school supplies to give to a local children’s charity. It was the kind of drive where us cashiers would ask if a customer wanted to donate a dollar to the cause; if they did, we ran up a dollar item on their transaction and added it to the box behind the register. The items were small items: pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, crayons, coloring books, erasers, that kind of stuff.

    August ended and the donation drive ended. The boxes of donations vanished, and all of us on the floor figured they were taken the to charity.

    Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, after my promotion. My assistant store manager (ASM) asks me to handle some charity donations. They’re items that have dropped to basically free in our computer system because corporate doesn’t want stores to sell them any more. Our head manager is well known for throwing these items away, despite the entire store asking him to let us donate the items instead. The ASM (who is new, just joined our store at the start of the summer) finally convinced him to let us do that, so she asks me to handle that with this batch of items. I agree and I put the donated items out of the way, where the head manager won’t see them and be tempted to throw them away. I was heading out of town that week so I wasn’t able to take them to get donated right when she asked me. The items sat for about a week and a half in their hiding spot before I finally had time to take them to my car and donate them.

    When I came to take them, the ASM asks me where the donations are. I show her the boxes but she said there were more, sitting outside the front office and she’s worried the head manager threw them away. I investigate and find that, yes, he did throw them away because they were right in his line of sight and had apparently been sitting there for too long. I tell the ASM, thinking that the boxes were just a few more freebies and it sucks they got tossed but isn’t that big a deal because at least I saved a few of them.

    She tells me that the boxes that got tossed were the school supply donations and she wanted to know why I didn’t move them with the others. I tell her I had no idea that they were still in the store because the school supply drive was months ago when I was still a cashier. She shrugs it off, seeming frustrated but not pissed off directly at me, just at the situation.

    However I’m absolutely furious with my head manager. He threw out hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars in donated merchandise because ‘they were in his way’. We might as well have taken a dollar from every customer who donated and lit it on fire in front of them. And he doesn’t even care! I tried to talk to him about it but he just said they should have been moved out of the store faster, which I totally agree with but it wasn’t my job at the time and he still shouldn’t throw away boxes that had ‘Donations’ written on them in huge letters (according to the ASM). And he’s not even a bad guy; he’s one of the nicest bosses I’ve ever had, he just doesn’t think some of his actions through.

    The worst thing is I can’t do anything about it. There’s an anonymous phone line to corporate where I could call and report the issue but I’m one of only three people in the store who know about it. The head manager won’t report himself and the ASM has just put it out of her mind. So they would know it was me and I know I’d get in trouble for it. The best I can do is keep a close eye on any other freebies we get so I can take them to be safely donated. We don’t do donation drives that often (just at the start of the school year) so hopefully I can do a better job next year at protecting the donations.

    I just needed this vent because I am so angry at the whole situation, I could barely focus on my work the rest of the day after I found out what had happened, I was that angry.

    1. Random*

      Wow. This is such a sad situation .. not just for the school children who would have gotten the supplies but, as you mentioned, for the customers who donated.

      If customers found out about this, they would be FURIOUS. Does your store manager realize how negatively his actions could affect the entire franchise/brand? I would maybe try approaching it from that angle.

      I’m sorry this happened to you and your store though!

    2. Just a Reader*

      Is that not fraud? I think you have to report it and let them know you’re afraid of retaliation.

      1. VintageLydia*


        Definitely fraud. I know at my old company my store manager would’ve been fired for something like this.

      2. Jessa*

        I’d call it theft. If I leave something for someone and someone throws it out they’re taking something that has value that is not theirs.

      3. dejavu2*


        I think you have no choice but to report. Otherwise, you’re complicit, and if someone else ever grows a conscience, you’ll be fired along with everyone else involved.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, that’s really frustrating. I confess that I suspect something like that of happening pretty frequently at store donation drives. So does the recipient know that they’re getting nothing after all this? (And other retail folks–do you know if there would be tax consequences for the store as a result?)

      1. AnonAvenger*

        As far as I know, the donation drive wasn’t something mandated by corporate (I visited a few other stores in our chain in the area and didn’t see them doing the a charity drive), so I think this was just something our store decided to do.

        And I don’t think they told the charity about the donations we were bringing them or care about tax consequences. When I was taking the other items to be donated, I asked the ASM if there was any paperwork I needed to do for a formal donation or let the charity know it was coming from us. She said no, just drop it off, no need to go into details.

        It’s been a few weeks since the items were tossed and neither of my managers have brought it up, or want to engage my conversation if I mention it. I think they just want to put it out of their minds and ignore it.

        1. fposte*

          Wow. Was this in response to a call from the charity, or were they just going to bring boatloads of stuff to a place without finding out if they had storage or even wanted it? And who initiated it if there’s now nobody here who cares about it–the former ASM, maybe?

          If you don’t decide to report this (and even if you do, I guess), you could certainly offer to handle the charity efforts in future to make them more effective and less problematic (ahem) for the store.

          1. AnonAvenger*

            I honestly have no idea. I’ll try to do some investigating into the origin of the last charity drive. And yes, depending on how long I stick around (I’ve been job searching for months, hoping to get out of retail), I’m going to take charge of the next charity drive. I’ve already done a pretty good job at protecting the seasonal stuff that’s become freebies and getting them donated so I’m definitely going to keep up with that at the very least.

    4. NewGirlinTown*

      I’m going to jump in here and say, while I understand why you’re upset (who wouldn’t be?), I don’t think there is anything you can do about the lost donations.

      However, I do think this is a great learning experience that you can use to create a new donations system that will help to avoid this from happening again in the future. Clearly, you know what your boss will do if the donations are kept somewhere he can easily access. Do you possibly have a spare closet or space in your store where you can keep things locked up? If so, I would consider making a “donation closet”.

      In addition, I suggest searching for additional donation options. Is there a way that customers can donate money to a locked box that the charity themselves picks up? Or, the items for donation get dropped in a locked bin and then that is picked up by the charity? That way, it’s out on the floor (and locked), and someone else removes it quickly.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Was going to suggest this. Clearly the process needs to be overhauled in some way. The items need to be kept where the manager can’t get to them or removed as promptly as possible. In addition, your store needs a process for tracking those charity requests so everyone knows what it’s for, who it came from, when it will be picked up / dropped off, etc. It seems like the communication broke down here.

      2. Ashley*

        I disagree. Most large retail chains like that have an anonymous number you can call to report problems like this to corporate. I would do that. It likely is fraud and if found out, the store could be held liable.

        1. NewGirlinTown*

          Fair enough.

          My only concern with that method (and why I don’t know if it’s the best decision in this situation), is that she believes she has reason to fear retaliation. While it’s unfortunate that it happens, it *does* happen. Is there another way that the employee could resolve this that won’t leave her fearing retaliation?

      3. AnonAvenger*

        Oh, I know there’s nothing that can be done for what happened. The items are long gone and, even if I reported the issue to corporate, it’s not like they’d cut a check for the charity to make up for the items. They probably wouldn’t do much more than give the head manager a lecture and he’d just roll his eyes (like he does whenever he’s stuck on a conference call in the office). It was a well learned lesson that I really hated had to be learned in this way.

        Any more of those freebie items we can’t sell that I find have been going into boxes and in a safe place he doesn’t venture very often until I get the chance to put them in my car (I have four boxes of items to donate at this point shoved into my back seat) so I’ve been able to protect those at least. After things settle down from our holiday rush, I’ll look into other charity methods. Thanks for the tips!

        1. fposte*

          I’m a little nervous about keeping the stuff in the car unless you have documentation that it’s kosher. It leaves you really vulnerable if somebody gets ticked off and makes the case that stuff was getting de-inventoried so you could obtain it.

          1. AnonAvenger*

            I got permission from the ASM to take it out of the store and went through a security check in front of our security cameras with the ASM so show I have her approval. Corporate’s policy with the items it doesn’t want stores to sell any more is to just get rid of it, they don’t care by trash or donation or letting the employees take it home. They just don’t want them sold any more and they don’t want them cluttering up the already cramped storage areas of the store.

            1. fposte*

              Excellent; well done you. I’d really hate for you to find yourself in trouble for doing the right thing here.

        2. NewGirlinTown*

          :( I’m sorry you’re the one who had to learn the lesson, especially since it wasn’t you that had something to learn.

          Good job! It sounds like you’ve really got a heart for charities, so it’s great that you’re there to protect the donations from here on out.

      1. AnonAvenger*

        The customers basically paid for a dollar item that they gave to the charity box (hence us ringing up a dollar item on their transaction and then dropping the item into the box). So our store got money for items that we were supposed to take to a charity, but those items ended up in the trash instead. My store’s not out anything because we still got the money for the items; it’s the charity that didn’t get anything and the money of the customers that went nowhere but into the trash.

        1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

          Oh goodness — when you put it that way, that is a HUGE issue. Those customers PAID MONEY for an item they thought would be going to charity… and by all accounts, your company was then MAKING MONEY off that item. This seems really really serious to me.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, that changes things for me. The company basically “sold” an item to a customer under a pretense of it being donated, and then threw the item away. The customer would not have purchased that item, except they believed it would be donated. Bad news. I would call the anonymous tip line if it were me.

        2. Aisling*

          Honestly, that sounds like fraud to me. Especially if your store was the only one doing it… I wonder if corporate even knew it was happening? I’d call the anonymous number. They shouldn’t tell your manager who reported it. For all your manager will know, it could have been a customer who wants to know where the items went, but no one was able to tell them.

        3. ExceptionToTheRule*

          This really is fraud and you should call whatever fraud hotline your company has. Your company received money for items that were not provided to the client. It wasn’t a charity donation on your stores part, it was a charity donation on the part of the customer.

        4. LabRatnomore*

          As far as I am concerned that is stealing from the customers! They gave that money with the understanding that it was going to charity, but then the store manager did as he pleased with it. Sure it was thrown out by mistake, but that was not the intended purpose. The customers gave money to the charity, not the store so I think the store needs to replace those donations to the charity!

          I have a lack of trust in stores to be responsible for my donations so that is why I never give to those campaigns. That and the fact that I can pick my own charities, I don’t need a company to pick for me.

        5. holly*

          yea, it could be interpreted as a scam to get customers to buy more doohickeys they wouldn’t otherwise purchase.

    5. Sadsack*

      Sorry, but the manager doesn’t seem like such a nice guy after all. If he were a “nice guy,” he would have said something to you about those donations that you didn’t know and asked you to get them delivered instead of just throwing them out. That is a sign of jerkdom of the highest order.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      To my understanding there are very strict rules about collecting donations. Even to the point that moneys collected HAVE to be used for what the advertisement says the money will be used for.

      Yeah. Your good guy boss could find himself in court and maybe facing jail time.

      If you can gather up some info from the laws in your state you could print it out and give it to your boss. I believe you that he is a good guy, but sometimes good people just do not realize how stuff works. You could say “Boss, I need to show you this so that you do not step in some doo-doo on this one.”

      I do some fund raising for small NPO projects. We make absolutely sure that we put every penny we raise into the project. This has worked well for us because it is getting easier and easier to ask for funds for new projects. People know that the money is going where we say it is going.

    7. Mena*

      Your customers paid for these items and donated them; your store did not do what it advertised to do, which was deliver the donated items. However can this manager think this is ok? And sadly, it reinforces why I don’t ‘fall’ for these pitches. Petco collects a dollar or five from customers and then gets a whopping tax-deduction for making a ‘donation’ which is actually my money and that of a lot of customers. Don’t be stupid people: donate your own money and take the tax deduction yourself.

    8. Windchime*

      Hmmmm. I’d be tempted to phone the anonymous line anyway but not confess to having done it. I had to do something similar in a family situation, and I have never/will never confess to having made that phone call. I don’t lie, but I also won’t confess.

    9. holly*

      aaand this is why i now don’t feel guilty about not doing in-store donation programs. donate direct.

    10. Anonymous*

      I’m sorry to sound cruel and cold, but this is why I do not put money in jars on a store’s counter, donate to any store when a cashier asks “Would you like to donate $1 to X Charity?” or give a dollar when they collect money in a movie theater. I don’t even give to the kids who stand outside supermarkets collecting money to obtain sports equipment and/or uniforms (in that situation, I think their parents should be the ones to foot those bills, but that’s besides the point here). I just don’t trust those who really need the money will see it. This just makes me feel more secure in my own belief, and I’m sorry I have to be like that.

    1. Elysian*

      I can’t even imagine a world where “Do you play sports” is an illegal interview question. Also, the soundtrack when this video came on made me turn my speakers off quickly so that my coworkers do think I’m watching… inappropriate videos… in my office.

  5. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m looking for advice on working with a very negative co-worker.

    I’m working on a project with someone from another department. Bob thinks poorly of his boss, upper management, the company in general, and the project that we’re both assigned to work on. It’s difficult to meet with him because he wants to spend most of the time venting. It’s gotten so bad that I dread meeting with Bob. When I tried talking to him about this issue, he refused to change (!) and even noted that his boss was already trying to coach him to be more positive, but he (Bob) just found the whole thing annoying. I’m assuming that the only reason Bob is still around is that he actually produces good work.

    Any advice?

    1. Stryker*

      That bites. I’ve got a bunch of debbie-downers in my office, too, but it sounds like this guy takes it to an extreme. If it’s *seriously* affecting your work beyond the venting, I’d mention something first to him, then to your own boss under the premise that it’s interfering with you doing your job and you’re looking for advice. For the venting during a meeting, calmly try to redirect him and keep doing so until he does.

      Seems like he’s a real pill. Be glad he’s not in your department all the time! :)

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        It’s not *seriously* affecting my work. But it is making meetings longer than they need to be, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to internalize some of the negativity. I usually feel exhausted and unhappy after being around him.

    2. Just a Reader*

      I have someone like this in my world. I deflect and move back to the agenda.

      “Janice really sucks at her job and I think she might get fired.”

      “Hmm, I’ve always had good experiences with her. What do you think of the proposed approach to the Bowman case?”

      If you keep deflecting it should eventually stop.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I have tried to deflect, but I certainly need more practice. He’s a master at coming up with a negative for Every. Single. Thing. Every idea, every strategy, every person…. Sometimes it helps to just sit quietly until he tires himself out with his venting and chooses to refocus – but that seems like a colossal waste of my time and emotional energy.

        1. Just a Reader*

          I don’t put up with it because even sitting quietly can be construed as agreement. You have to protect your own reputation too, not to mention your time.

          Deflecting is a way to make sure he doesn’t think you’re participating or fine with the behavior. You don’t want someone else’s gossiping/venting habits to come back to bite you.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I think the problem is that I can’t find a way to deflect that doesn’t lead to more negativity. Using your above example:

            What do you think of the proposed approach to the Bowman case?

            It’s not going to work, Ann. This project sucks and let me tell you why….

            Bob, we need to focus on finding a strategy to move forward.

            Good luck with that! Upper management doesn’t support us and let me tell you why….

            Bob, I don’t find this productive. Can we refocus on the agenda?

            Ann, I can’t focus! Everything sucks and let me tell you why….

            1. Not So NewReader*

              “Bob, I have 15 minutes. This means we need to get to the nitty gritty. Now what do you thing is a good option for this problem here? Shall we do A, B or C?”

              “Bob we are all in the same boat working for the same company. Until some thing else comes along we need to make the best of it. We all have things that we are struggling with. ALL of us.”

              “Yes, Bob. I understand that you are having a rough time of it now. When we meet I need us to focus on the tasks in front of us. I cannot fix any of the things you are talking about with the company/bosses/etc. You need to have that conversation with people who can fix these matters.”

              IF you reach the end of your rope, you could say:
              “Bob, I don’t want to hear it. Either you focus on these tasks or I am canceling our meeting right now.”
              Then go to you manager and tell him what just happened.

              Since you have already tried saying things, I would vote for speaking more directly- such as “ok, that is enough, Bob.” Say it firmly.
              If he is pulling you down you need to say so to your boss. Because he is probably pulling others down, too.

              1. LD*

                And maybe some other comebacks…
                In a kind and concerned voice with a worried look on your face:
                “Bob, have you thought about talking to the EAP? They have professional counselors who could help you deal with your stress and frustration. It sounds like this is really taking over your life and you need to get some help. Now let’s decide who does part A and who does part B of this project.”
                Or, “Bob, have you thought about talking with a minister/rabbi/doctor/psychiatrist/etc. about your frustration? I can tell you are really bothered and you need to get some help. Now let’s discuss whether you will do part a or part b of this project.”
                Or, (and this was suggested to me be a minister) “I’ve been concerned for you. Would you like to pray about it now?” (The minister says he typically gets one of two responses: 1. “No thank you” and the people stop talking about the issue. Or 2. “Yes.” And then he prays with them. He says either response works for him.

            2. Just a Reader*

              Yikes. Maybe talk to your boss? If he’s hijacking every conversation to the detriment of getting anything done, I think it’s worth elevating.

        2. Jessa*

          Then maybe the answer is to really deflect to the “proper place for this,” ie – “I’m sorry but if you’re having issues with x I am not the proper person for this, I suggest you take it to your manager.” If the boss is already working on him, then throw it back to the boss. Again and again and again, “I’m not the person to take this information…take it ‘Place that should be told.'” Sometimes beandip doesn’t work and you have to be specific.

          Even if you have to resort to specifically saying “I don’t want to talk about x at all, we need to meet on y.” He doesn’t seem to get subtle hints.

    3. Gail L*

      Personally, I would set up the meeting with the expectation that he will spend a portion of it venting. Some people really like to vent and complain. I know I do… when I’m done I feel better.

      I’d practice a couple of “turns,” ways that you can steer the conversation from a vent to something productive. The easiest one is to make a joke that makes him laugh. This breaks the tension of the vent immediately, and then allows you to change the subject to almost anything.

      You could also try, “Wow, I’m surprised you can’t get those reports from Dragon Coworker, I find I get them within a few days. Do you think she’s having trouble doing the ones you asked for, or is just prioritizing them too low?” His mind will turn from a vent to considering options about the problem. You’ll stray off topic, perhaps, but you can then say, “Ah, we should turn to Project X – let’s figure our Dragon Coworker in another meeting.”

      You will obviously have plenty of opportunities to try alternative approaches. You might find the conversations develop a kind of rhythm once you find a “turn” that works with this guy. The thing to keep in mind is that you should listen, but you should also hold in the back of your mind where you want the conversation to go. Then find the right ways to turn the guy onto the right conversation path.

      I also speak as someone who has maintained excellent relationships with coworkers who all vented to me about each other.

        1. Marina*

          That would actually be kind of awesome, depending on his personality. It would be a semi-humorous way to highlight how much time his venting is taking up, while also honoring his need to vent some negativity before getting things done.

          Of course, it could also totally backfire and piss him off. But what have you got to lose?

    4. Riki*

      Keep in mind that you can’t change Bob and Bob probably doesn’t want to change. If you’ve been hoping that he’ll come around, forget about it. It’s not going to happen. The best thing to do is adjust how you interact with him. Keep your meetings on track. Make a list of action items or topics you need to cover. When he gets going, steer him back to those topics. Do not engage him! Asking him why he feels the way he does or offering advice only opens the door for more venting. You don’t want that!

    5. rlm*

      I don’t know if I have great advice for you, but I feel your pain. I used to work with one of the most negative, judgmental, pot-stirring people I’ve ever met. He’d do this thing where he’d get me all riled up about something and then I’d find out he’d blown the situation completely out of proportion. I just got to the point where I’d just deflect and ignore. Deflect and Ignore. I know it’s hard, because Bob will try everything to get you to give in to his venting, and it takes a lot of energy to deal with a person like this.

    6. Mena*

      Ann, you sound annoyed that Bob has refused to follow your direction (he refused to change (!). He is a co-worker and not obligated to take your advice. You really need to take yourself out of the situation and let his boss deal with it.

  6. Sabrina*

    I know that Alison has written here that your current salary is none of a potential employer’s business, but something came up last week and I’m wondering about a better way to handle it.

    I had an interview and was asked what my current salary was. I wasn’t sure how to handle that, so I answered honestly, but qualified it with the type of work I’m doing, data entry. I recently finished school and am hoping to find something related to and requiring my degree. I’m also looking in a metro area with a higher cost of living than I currently am in now. However, after I answered him, he said “OK, yeah I think that’s within our range.” I really wanted to scream! I didn’t get the job, but I don’t know what I would have done if they had offered it to me at the same rate I make now. How should I have answered him?

    1. TL*

      I think maybe you should have qualified, “My current salary is X, but with the completion of my degree, I’ll be looking for Y.”

      1. Steve*

        I agree to some point – “My current salary is $X, but my understanding of this position and its responsibilities, I’m looking in the range of $Y.” Don’t make it about you and your education, make it about what the position should be worth on the open market.

    2. Kevin*

      Having completed a job search earlier this year it sucks. While I don’t know what you should have done in your situation when I have been asked for my salary expectations I gave a range and said depending on benefits. That way it was not immediately defaulting to them hearing the lower number and me sticking to the higher number. And it’s true, I took a job with more money, slightly worse insurance, but much better retirement contributions.

    3. MousyNon*

      “My compensation is in-line with current market trends for an ___your current position___ in my area, but given what a different position is I’m really more concerned at the moment with discovering whether we’re a mutual fit. _____Insert your pitch for why you’d be amazing here___”

      Rinse. Repeat. Never, ever give a number. Frankly, I’d rather walk (and have walked!) away from an interview than compromise my negotiating position–given how small raises are, the initial salary negotiation is your ONLY WAY of getting the salary you want. If you lose ground at negotiation, you’ve lost thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of dollars over the course of your career.

      I’m going to post a link below to my go-to blog posting on salary negotiation (not posting it in this one because it makes me antsy waiting on moderation, lol). Don’t be scared by the fact that it’s a tech/engineering blog–I’m not in that industry at ALL and I’ve still found his scripts helpful! Moreover, I’ve found replaying this from that post in my head over and over again helpful:

      Employer: “I really need a [salary] number to move the process forward.”

      What he’s actually saying: “I’m lying to you to attempt to get you to compromise your negotiating position.”

      Repeat that last bit over and over again in your head. Smile, stay positive, and keep redirecting the conversation to why you’re such a good fit for the new position, but never ever forget what they’re really doing when they’re trying to get your salary number, and let that knowledge and understanding give you the juice to plow through any “I don’t want to be difficult!” fears and concerns you may have.

      Professional Negotiator (no really, that’s my job ;)

      1. Gail L*

        I would feel that is a way of burning bridges. It’s a contentious conversation to have, especially as you point out, because you’ve had to walk out. I’d just reverse it. “I’m looking in Y-Z range.” (This anchors their thinking to the higher number and gets them to compare to their budget.)

        “I really need to know your current.”

        “It’s X. But after researching the market in this area and for my qualifications, I found the rate is Y-Z. Please do not expect to budget for my current salary level.”

        Then don’t accept anything less than Y.

        1. MousyNon*

          I’ve had to walk out once in my entire career, and that was after an hour-long-merry go round where the interviewer flat-out refused to let go of the salary question, no matter how politely I steered the question away from there. When I finally replied with: “Really, it’s negotiable, given overall benefits, cultural fit, that sort of thing. What range do you have budgeted for the position?”, his response: “I can’t tell you that. I need to know what your current salary is.”

          So I thanked him for his time and withdrew myself from consideration. Frankly, if that conversation didn’t say “RUN FAR FAR AWAY FROM THIS PLACE” I don’t know what would. An employer that insistent on knowing just how little they can justify paying you is a bad deal, but that’s ultimately my opinion.

          That being said, it’s certainly your choice to stay in the running in that kind of scenario. Just recognize that providing a salary range IS an anchor, and if that company had a substantially larger range budgeted for that position, they now know they can get you at a bargain.

          99% of the time, interviewers will fold on this question after the first or second round, provided it’s dealt with deftly, which people can easily practice at home (I certainly have)–no bridges burned. I’ve actually gotten complimented on it a couple of times–they consider it indicative of my soft skills as a negotiator.

        2. MousyNon*

          Woops, I totally skimmed where you wrote: “Please do not expect to budget for my current salary level” in your sample reply.

          Whoa, I would never, ever recommend someone say that. THAT’S really combative, and can immediately put a sour ‘why are you trying to tell me how to do my job’ thought into the interviewers head. As a hiring manager myself, I would immediately remove them from consideration for saying that, just because of the tone it implies.

          If you’re really willing to give them a range, try something like this:
          “What’s your current salary?”

          “I’m looking for anywhere between X and Y in terms of compensation, which is in keeping with market trends in this area for _X_ role, especially given my experience doing X, Y, and Z. I noticed Y was high up on your qualifications for this role. Let me talk about some examples where I worked on that!”

          1. Gail L*

            I just don’t think it’s avoidable. I don’t know any numbers, but most people I know who are job searching in the recent past are being asked this far, far in advance of any prospect of getting the job. Recruiters ask, the computerized application refuses to advance without a number, or HR asks on the first meeting… I mean, how is refusing to answer the question not seen as defensive, etc.? I just don’t see a way to phrase it that would keep you looking good, no matter the tone of voice. Especially if they say, “Sorry, I just can’t advance your application without this information.”

            In particular, this is often happening with HR, which responds to different incentives from the people you may actually work with daily. Just because HR has a bureaucratic dummy doesn’t mean the organization is bad. So you antagonize the gatekeeper and don’t make it further to find out they were just a dummy. Or they are responding to rules they didn’t create.

            And on my phrase… yeah, it’s firm and no-nonsense. I’m responding to their needs while making clear mine (as opposed to your tactic which does not respond to them) Apparently, they have missed out on the fact that a range has a minimum, because they think somewhere between your current salary and your minimum range is still on the table. And I’m emphasizing that it’s not. They are the ones choosing to ignore the range in favor of current salary, and they are the ones trying to get out of naming a range themselves in the hope of getting a better deal. Perhaps you could call it combative to remind them of their side of the deal – negotiate based on their position, not on their assumption of what mine should be. So maybe we are both combative in our own ways.

            But perhaps it comes down to personality. I hate question-dodgers. They remind me of politicians. Someone answers me with a blunt and firm answer? Perfect.

      2. LD*

        I wish it wouldn’t come across as snarky and be totally ineffective and inappropriate, but I’d be tempted to respond: “Oh no! I didn’t realize I was interviewing for my current job at “current employer!” I thought I was interviewing for “new, different, better, more responsibility, location, etc.” job with a different salary structure than “current/previous employer”. I have to get back to work!”” Then get up and leave.

        1. Gail L*

          I adore this. Hm. I wonder if it can be de-snarkified for actual use?

          Nuts. I can’t think of a way.

          I think the problem is that people accept jobs all the time below their “minimum.” I wish people would stop doing that.

    4. Marina*

      “Oh, my current job isn’t directly in this field. I’m looking for X-Y range.” Even if they press and say they need your current salary, you’ve made it clear that’s not an offer you’d accept.

    5. books*

      Augh, yes – was asked for current salary and expectations today – and am not quite sure how to handle the response.

      1. MousyNon*

        “My salary requirements? Negotiable of course. What’s most important to me is really discovering if we’re a good fit, and after discussing __XX___ with you in my last interview and how important that’s going to be for this role, I have some great ideas on how to resolve that!”

    6. thenoiseinspace*

      What about applications that ask for current salary and say that applications without that won’t be considered? I’ve seen that on tons of applications and I don’t want to take myself out of the running right from the get-go, but I don’t want to shortchange myself either.

      1. MousyNon*

        If it’s an application where you’re submitted a cover letter/resume to an email? Don’t address it. Ignore it. They are NOT going to ignore the application materials of a great candidate just because you don’t include a salary history.

        If it’s for one of those electronic applications that won’t let you proceed without a number, I always put “$1.00.” I’ve never had an application ignored having done that (and even once got an offer for a company that had one of these).

        Bottom line–they won’t ignore you if you’re a good candidate. So don’t give them that info.

      2. KellyK*

        If it’s an electronic form that won’t accept being left blank, I’d give a good faith estimate, only because the places that ask for this info sometimes also verify. But I’d definitely avoid giving it if you have an option. (And if I had six jobs to apply for this week and one wanted current salary, it’s going at the bottom of the pile.)

    7. MousyNon*

      Sorry, I know I keep adding to this thread but omg I’m really concerned about some of the answers here:

      You guys, NEVER give your current salary! When they say “What’s your current salary,” give them the “Here are my salary REQUIREMENTS” answer instead! Pretend like they’re speaking another language and answer a question that a) is really what they care about (how expensive are you?) and b) won’t hobble you straight off the bat.

      If you really really truly feel like you have to give them a number when they ask this (you don’t, though) and you’re comfortable enough at that stage about what you would feel is a fair salary RANGE like people have been suggesting (but you don’t have to do that either), just say this:

      “What is your current salary?”

      “I’m looking for anywhere between X and Y in terms of compensation, which is in keeping with market trends in this area for _X_ role, especially given my experience doing X, Y, and Z. I noticed Y was high up on your qualifications for this role. Let me talk about some examples where I worked on that!”

      Notice how the response fundamentally ignores the question of your current salary? Because that data isn’t important. Most people leave jobs for more money, so your current salary is completely irrelevant. What they want to know is how much you think you’re worth, and if you’re going to give them numbers, THAT’S what you should give them.

      1. Bananka*

        @MousyNon re: “What they want to know is how much you think you’re worth, and if you’re going to give them numbers, THAT’S what you should give them.”

        In my area (financial services) this statement is far from the truth. they DO want you current compensation because they will base their offer on it. Yes, this means that they are interested in low-balling the prospective employee at all costs. There are huge gaps between people’s compensation – depending on the year they start, the previous employer, etc. etc.

    8. AmyNYC*

      When employers ask for a current salary, they really just want to know what the lowest salary you’ll accept is. I tend to answer that question instead and it’s worked for me.

      1. dejavu2*

        That works well until they do a background check, discover you lied about your current salary, and withdraw their offer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, you don’t lie about your salary. You just reframe what they’re asking — you answer with “I’m seeking X” rather than “I’m making X.”

          Or you say that your salary is covered by your confidentiality agreement with your current employer, which it probably is (and it’s reasonable to assume that it is even if you’re not sure).

  7. Cat*

    What do you do in your first couple weeks/months at a new job to put yourself on the path to success? It’s not a management position but one that could result in a promotion to management.

    1. Another English Major*

      Ask for more responsibility if your workload allows it. Talk to successful people in the company, and find out what they did. Volunteer for projects.

    2. Colette*

      Be polite and friendly to everyone.
      If there’s a chance to do something where you’d meet more people (either a social event or a meeting with people you wouldn’t normally deal with), attend, and make a point of trying to figure out who is who.
      Take notes to help you remember what people have told you so that you don’t have to ask multiple times.
      Ask for help when you need it (but make sure you really need it first).

      1. Jamie*

        Yep. Make it a point to get to know people (in a work capacity) and know who does what…this is harder than it seems for some places.

        And be really, really good at what you were hired for…anything outside of your wheelhouse say you don’t know (if you don’t) and find out and get back to them.

        Under promise and over deliver. This is where your building your reputation – so establish your expertise early.

      2. pghadventurer*

        Also, if someone is showing you how to do something for the first time, take great notes. It shows you’re respectful of their time. And having to explain something twice is pretty annoying.

    3. Mike C.*

      Find out who the superstars are and learn everything you can from them. Once you advance, make sure you pass that knowledge on to others.

      Being a great at your own job is a nice thing to be known for. Helping other be great at their own jobs is an even better thing to be known for.

    4. Mena*

      Make people want to work with you. This means establishing credibility, always delivering on your commitments, over-delivering, and above all, caring about what you do and deliver and how it enables others to do their jobs.

  8. YAK*

    Happy Friday!

    Quick question – how do you all suggest you update your resume and LinkedIn when you receive a promotion, but your job responsibilities didn’t wildly change? Do you simply replace your old tittle or create a new position?

    1. Kevin*

      I saw someone once do this and I liked it:

      Senior teapot maker (promoted from teapot maker)

    2. RubyJackson*

      I just updated my profile after a promotion. Initially, I simple did what everyone suggested and put the new “Senior” title and “promoted from Z” in my original job listing. Then recently, I added my new title as new position with the start date, so the old position reflected how long I had been in that original position. Under the new “Senior” title, I put “Added Responsibilites include: xyz”.

      The weird thing is Linkedin sent out a blast notification that I had a ‘new job.” Funny thing is now I’m getting all sorts of congratulatory notes whereas when I changed the title of the original listing, nothing happened.

      So, if you want your contacts to see that you have been promoted, I suggest you create a new listing. I don’t know why Linkedin isn’t set up to send a “So-and-So got a promotion” blast, though.

      And, congratulations!

  9. Anonymous*

    I’m the anon from the last open thread who wanted advice on how to explain what I do. Well it turns out higher ups don’t know/don’t see my role as valuable because I got laid off this week.

    There is a role I can go for internally, which I fully intend to do but I’m stuck with my covering letter. I think I’d be good at the job but I wouldn’t have applied if I hadn’t been laid off because I wasn’t looking for a new role. I’ll say something along these lines if asked at interview but I don’t know what, if anything to put in the covering letter.

    1. Anon*

      Why do you want to say that you wouldn’t be applying for the job if you hadn’t been laid off? Personally, I don’t think you should say that because it sounds like you don’t really care about the position you’re applying for. You should just focus on what you like about the new job, not say you’re doing it because you got laid off.

      1. Another English Major*

        Agreed. What is it about this job that makes you want to apply for it as opposed to a different position. Focus on what attracts you to this position (aside from needing a job) – does it align with your experience, natural skills – and talk about that.

        1. Anonymous*

          That’s the route I’ve taken, just wondering if it looked weird not to mention the lay off at all.

          I’m also not sure where I’d stand on negotiating pay, I can’t find any salary information on Glass Door because it’s one of those jobs that different companies term as different things and without knowing the job description you can’t tell by the title (or what the heck to search under). It is advertised as two different levels (depending on experience and I’d be the lower level) but I have no idea how to gauge what market rate is. All in all I’m a bit adrift.

          1. Another English Major*

            I wouldn’t mention the layoff in the cover letter at all, but would if asked in the interview. The cover letter is show why you’re interested in the position and why you think it might be a good fit for both you and the potential employer.

            As far as salary info goes, what I’ve done before, is look at ads for similar jobs in the area and see what they pay (hopefully it’s mentioned in the ad). I’ve used Craigslist, Indeed, Career builder, and competitor’s job boards. That will usually give you an idea of the salary range. Good luck on your search!

            1. Anonymous*

              The problem is I have no idea what this job might be called at another organisation. Most companies around here advertise “Competitive Salary” which is no use when you’re researching.

      2. Anonymous*

        Sorry, missed this earlier. Because I haven’t been in my job long so I don’t want to look like a job hopper.

  10. blin*

    If you are 7 months into your first position out of grad school and it isn’t a good fit, should you forgo a position you find that IS a better fit because you are new to the workforce/inexperienced/should stay at least a year/the current job is “character building?”

    1. NewGirlinTown*

      In my opinion, absolutely not, especially as a relatively recent grad.

      You are going to have to find a position that works for you, and that might take a few jobs. You shouldn’t go changing jobs every few months on a whim, but if you’re making obvious career moves, I think that it will show on your resume.

      1. FD*

        I agree. There’s more forgiveness for new grads when it comes to changing jobs because you don’t have much experience in what is or isn’t a fit for you.

    2. fposte*

      How do you know the new position is a better fit and not greener grass? Have you received an actual offer for the new position? When would you start there, and are you able to commit to that position for a couple of years even if it turns out to suck?

      1. Jubilance*

        Great point. I got burned by the “greener grass” thing and found myself in a situation that I absolutely loathed. Sometimes it’s really hard to judge a new role until you’re in it, but try to be realistic in your expectations.

  11. H. Vane*

    Ugh. Coworker just got back from FMLA for breast cancer. A tactless coworker decides that it’s a great time to detail the story of her mother’s cancer battle and death – very graphically. Fortunately we were able to run interference, but she’ done this before to other people who have recently diagnosed family and such. She’s made people run crying. How would you handle this?

    1. Mike C.*

      This is one of those really rare times I think it’s justified to pull them into a room and yell at them for being a terrible human being. I’m not saying that’s the best thing to do mind you, but it think it’s justified.

    2. Aisling*

      I’d pull her aside afterwards and let her know that’s a rather tactless thing to do. I bet she’s just trying to say “Hey, I feel your pain, and here’s how!” but she needs to be told that it’s inappropriate to tell a story about someone who died to a coworker who’s trying to beat the same thing. You might also tell her to say something only if it’s positive. Since it’s happened before, or keeps happening after saying something to her, her manager may have to have a conversation about tact with her.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ask her what her point is in telling this story.
      Or point out to her that her story does not comfort people.

      Or you could go a softer path and suggest that perhaps grief counseling would be helpful to her. Preface your remarks by saying you have seen a few people break into tears about her story and you are concerned.

      It sounds to me like she is getting some value out of the shocked reactions. Which may mean she is stalled out in her grief process.

      Reducing people to tears is not an accomplishment. It’s an odd thing but sometimes seeing people cry can help us avoid our own tears. She needs to sit down and cry herself, no one can cry her tears for her.

    4. Jen in RO*

      This is horrible. I would probably stop her and tell her very pointedly that the story Is.Not.Appropriate and could she please shut up already.

    5. EngineerGirl*

      Sounds like she’s still grieving for her Mom and her method of coping is way off base.
      I’d ask her why she is doing it. Then tell her it isn’t helping the situation and please stop.

  12. j_e_tothe_double_n*

    So here’s my question:

    My building just recently went through some renovations and I was assigned an office. I have never had one to myself before, so it is very exciting. Here’s the problem though, the company did not do any generic decorating in the offices at all. I may be off-base, but this seems weird to me.

    Anyway, as I am still a lower-level hourly employee (not exactly entry-level, but not management either) I cannot afford to purchase any pictures/extra furniture to decorate it. All I have in here is my company purchased desk, my computer, computer chair, my guest chairs, and a couple lamps I brought from home.

    Every time the President of the company walks by, he comments on how blank it looks in here and insists I put some ‘pictures on the wall or something!’. Other people in my building have mentioned this too.

    It is getting a little annoying, and frankly I’m just sick of hearing people say it. How do I tell them that I don’t have any money to buy things? How do I say leave me alone without alienating myself from everyone? I am kind of embarrassed that I am too poor to buy extra things and I don’t really relish the thought of everyone knowing either…


    1. VintageLydia*

      I’d just tell them you’re still trying to decide in what direction you want to go in. Maybe also check places like thrift stores because sometimes you can find decor for a few bucks each.

      1. Colette*

        That’s a good response.

        You can also put up personal photos (of scenery, if you want – doesn’t have to be people) or add some knick knacks/promotional items to your desk to make it look like someone’s desk, not just a generic office.

      2. Jamie*

        Yep – thrift stores are great for this kind of thing.

        Although if you all could see my office you’d revoke my privileges to comment on decor – ever.

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      What if you said something like, “I’m settling into the space still – I want to get a feel for it before I start decorating.” I’ve done that with my last two spaces (cubicles, not offices, but still) and people seemed to understand.

      Alternative – print out some photos/sayings on standard paper and just tape them to the wall. My boss did that in her office to create a mini collage.

      1. Kerr*

        I like this wording!

        Prowl thrift stores for nice artwork and frames at cheap prices. Thrift stores might also have random and cheap items that you can use to personalize your desk, like a short decorative vase to hold pens. How about wall (or mini) calendars with pretty photos? Dollar and craft stores often have cheap ones.

        Is there anything practical that you can bring from home, meanwhile? A decorative coaster, personalized coffee mug, a few family photos in small frames? Vase with fake flowers? Tiny succulent plant? You can always switch things around later.

    3. BausLady*

      Is there an office manager or someone else at your company that led the renovations that you can talk to? Maybe there’s a ‘renovation’ budget that they can use to decorate your (and other’s) new offices?

    4. fposte*

      Academics may be different, but all our offices here are self-decorated. When I think of decorating on the company dime, I think of Wall Street CEOs. Even when I worked in Big Insurance, the company wasn’t paying to decorate offices of anybody at our branch.

      I think it’s likely that they’re just chatting and would say something about the art you had up if you had some. If you think it really is more directive than that, though, you might want to look at thrift stores–you can actually get some decent framed art quite inexpensively sometime. Additionally, fabric stretchers are pretty cheap, and you could put up any fabric or favorite scarves you have pretty easily.

      Or you could also smile calmly and say that you like an office that lets you focus on your work. Kind of hard to object to that.

      1. Cat*

        Yeah, I don’t know anyone who didn’t have to self-decorate their office unless they’re extremely high up. I don’t think that part is weird.

    5. Nerdling*

      Do you have anything you can bring in from home or print up/make at home to bring in? Just to break up the blankness of the walls a little bit for the time being. I’ve had my job for almost six years now, and I have two picture frames on my desk: One I got last Christmas as a gift and one I made for my husband back in college. Little things like that can help get everyone off your back until you can afford to get something nicer.

    6. Lillie Lane*

      A couple of plants (if you have enough light) also improve a space. I know some aren’t cheap, but you can probably find some in budget.

    7. Steven M*

      Back when I had an office, I used to tell people “I’m not a decorator” or “I like it spartan”. Helps that it’s true – my house doesn’t have much more than my office. :)

    8. Cat*

      Can you canvass family and friends? Lots of people have decorative items they don’t have room to display that they’d be happy to lend you. Just a few things would probably get rid of the comments.

    9. Brett*

      Many libraries and colleges have an art loan program where you borrow pieces from their existing collection.
      Not only is this cheap (or even free), but you can regularly change your decor!

      1. J*

        “If I ever decide to leave I could clean out my office in 5 seconds and no one would ever know I was here.” This is how you respond when asked why you don’t decorate.

        1. Anonymous*

          Not my top choice – OP does not need the President interpreting the lack of decor as a lack of interest in a career with that company.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      You can get posters pretty cheap online or at discount stores. Go to Staples and get some of those Velcro poster hangers. The fuzzy part sticks on the wall (it’s removable and won’t hurt the wall) and then the hooky part of the Velcro sticks on the back of the posters. The advantage to this is it’s cheap and non-permanent (no holes in the wall and you can change your mind later).

      For cube dwellers–you can get the replacement coins (just the hooky part) separately and use them to hang posters on cloth cubicle walls. I have three giant posters–Star Wars, the Enterprise, and the Griffyndor Quidditch banner–hung in my cube this way. Yes, my nerd flag is flying. :D

      1. j_e_tothedouble_n*

        Elizabeth, I love that you have those posters at work! The nerdiest I get in the office is my mug with a Ministry of Magic logo on it that I use every day.

          1. j_e_tothedouble_n*


            I got it at Universal Studios in Florida. They have them for sale on their website also.

    11. Sadsack*

      When you are approached, how about laughing it off and saying that you’ve been meaning to get around to that, but you are busy working.

      I don’t think you need a lot of things, one or two pictures hanging should be enough, shouldn’t it? Do you have a diploma you can hang? That’ll take up some space. Craft stores like Michaels or A.C. Moore often have prints and cheap frames, plus coupons and sales running all the time. You could probably get one or two decent prints without sending a lot of money. Maybe you could contact the office move coordinator for your company and ask if there are any furnishings sitting around in empty offices that you could use.

      Good luck!

    12. Jen*

      It stinks but there are ways to do it cheaply. Do you live near an Ikea? Ikea is great for little vases and pictures and other knick knack things.

      I love decorating my office and I’m very very cheap. Here’s what I have: 1) My degree in a cheap but nice frame from Michaels. 2) an initial on the wall that I got for $5 on the clearance rack from World Market. 3) Three etsy prints dealing with my job sort of (social media) that were about $7 each (bought them one at a time) and three plants on my windowsill. Then I have a few photos of my kids in cheap Target frames.

      To be honest, an undecorated office to me looks temporary. Like the person really doesn’t want to put down roots or something. I work with someone who has nothing in his office and I’ve heard people remark upon it. You kind of find out about a co-worker’s personality from their decorations and it humanizes people.

    13. Elysian*

      Yeah, when I moved into my current office my bosses were antsy to see me put things up. I think that part of it is if you’ve “moved in” it will take you longer to leave. You look settled and happy and whatever. (Whatever.) I was right out of school and had no money. I still have no money for art, frankly.

      I put up a $10 corkboard I got off Amazon and a plant. Print out a calendar/phone list on the office printer for the corkboard. Bam. I’m decorated.

      I eventually also got a lamp and one day might even get a painting or something if I find one I like. But I think they just wanted to see that I wasn’t ready to bolt out the door at the drop of a hat.

    14. Anoners*

      One of my Directors literally walked by my desk and commented on how I don’t have any personal belongings up, as I was reading this post. Weird! I’ve been here for 5 years, but I just… don’t want to put up personal pictures?

      1. Anonymous*

        “Personal” pictures don’t have to be all that personal – instead of family and friends, you could select beautiful landscapes, famous landmarks of places you have been or would like to go, inspirational leaders or sayings, etc.

        One of mine is a print of a building in my college which is also a historic landmark – something people can look at and ask about, but nothing that requires me to share more than I wish to at work.

    15. Mena*

      My employer doesn’t decorate offices either (really, I’ve never seen this). My a plant and a print for the wall – these are minimal investments.

    16. SD*

      I hear you. I’m in a temporary position and have never had a workspace that would be appropriate to decorate before. Honestly, at first I felt it would be weird and presumptuous (about the length of my employment) to decorate my cube, but most people in the organization have worked here for years and accumulated décor. A cube-neighbor who was hired at the same time as me put up cute postcards, family photos, etc. and I just… even besides the cost of buying extras, I keep forgetting to bring in little things to make it feel more lived-in. Someone stopped by yesterday to chat and was like “…is this your permanent workspace?” Ack.

      The thrift store suggestion is good, I think. My impression is that “generic decorating” on the company’s dime isn’t usual, for whatever that’s worth.

    17. j_e_tothedouble_n*

      All of these are great suggestions! I didn’t even think about the possibility of buying cheap posters and putting them into frames. I just ordered a van Gogh and Da Vinci print. (for like $5!!) I also bought a Dr. Who poster as well! (the one that looks like a van Gogh — the T.A.R.D.I.S. explode-y one)

      All I need now are the poster frames.

      Thanks, everyone!

      1. Jen*

        The TARDIS Van Gogh is an awesome idea. I don’t think most people will even notice it’s not a Van Gogh at first. Just personal enough to give something away about yourself without being overt/unprofessional.

    18. Jen M.*

      Do you have a facilities department or a building manager? Maybe check with him/her to see if they have a stash of art, etc. from people who have left. If not, what about a lost and found?

      If that’s not an option, then just be candid: “I don’t have room in my personal budget for decorating.”

      Really, I don’t feel this should be the employee’s job. It’s not your home.

      1. j_e_tothedouble_n*

        Jen M. , I agree with you that I really don’t think it should be MY job to make my office ‘pretty’. It’s just that everyone (I am the youngest in the building, so everyone feels like they have to ‘baby’ me and give suggestions) will NOT leave this alone. I get 3-5 people a day in my office asking what the deal is/are you leaving soon/how can you work in here with the walls so boring?

        The reason I found it so odd that they didn’t put some generic pictures anywhere is because we are a bank. Although my job doesn’t specifically deal with customers, the loan officers do and their offices didn’t have anything in them at first either.

        1. Jen M.*

          Frankly, I think it’s obnoxious of people to comment. You haven’t been there that long. LOL!

          I have a low tolerance for busybodies, though, so…

          Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

    19. dejavu2*

      I always put up postcards, and sometimes print out stuff at work and put that up. Or buy a small poster for like $5.

    20. MaryTerry*

      I’ve frequently considered framing my certificates of completion and hanging them on the wall with my high school and college diplomas. I could cover an entire wall with all my training certificates.

  13. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

    Does anyone else have a hard time thinking of something to comment on, since AAM’s answers are always so spot on?!

    1. Another English Major*

      Yes, I usually agree with her advice, and also by the time I can comment, it is already late and most of the commentators have already touched on what I would say.

      The comments on this blog have really spoiled me for other blogs. They are thoughtful, insightful, and for the most part civil. I love how we can disagree with each other and Alison without devolving into nastiness (and on the rare times it does, it is shut down quickly).

      1. Mike C.*

        Seriously, I love the fact that people engage with each other, even if they disagree. So often you just see people who run into the comments section, blurt some half developed idea, and then never show up again. I hate that so much!

        1. fposte*

          I just ran into a really interesting interview with Sarah Bunting of the blog Tomato Nation from back in 2009; it’s on the Meetinnovators site, and it’s focused on the fact that her blog has been a major leader in Donors Choose campaigns, outstripping even Stephen Colbert. I felt the interviewer had a tough time grasping the fact that a blog readership can have a particular identity and culture like any community, and that that has a lot to do with what happens at the blog and in connection with it. (He kept comparing based on traffic numbers and seemed genuinely surprised that Craigslisters were less activist than Sarah’s readers.)

  14. Pleiades*

    Has anyone had a career working with something that they suddenly become allergic to? How does one transition?

    A good friend of mine has build a (decade+ long) career in animal care, rising up from vet tech to research assistant to colony supervisor/breeder/geneticist to lab manager. But in doing so, has just recently developed an allergy so severe/serious that it doesn’t seem safe to continue on this field, even with all the precautions available.

    She’s crushed, of course, and has no idea what to do next. All education and experience and training/certifications have been in animal care. Does anyone have advice?

    1. Anonymous*

      Is there anyway to work in the same field but more of an office environment without the animals around?

    2. ES*

      This might be a basic question, but has she actually seen an allergist about this? Or is she trying to manage it on her own?

        1. Mena*

          Visiting the ER is not visiting an Allergist. A specialist can help manage this over the long-term and not just acture flare-ups. Been there – I became accutely allergic to a number items and animals at age 34. I still have cats, a dog and goats – I just manage the allergies.

    3. LF*

      I don’t use the sunlight simulator alarm, but I always turn on a full spectrum light as soon as I get up at 5am if it’s still dark out. I find it helps immensely with feeling awake in the morning.

    4. H.*

      Your friend might want to look into working for an IACUC (Institutional animal care and use committee)! That would allow for them to use their knowledge and understanding of animal care but put them in an office environment. Anywhere that uses animals in research will have a review committee and they are staffed by people with animal care experience.

    5. EngineerGirl*

      I’d see an immunologist. I’d been to several allergists, but they only treated the symptoms. The immunologist got it under total control in 3 years. Of course, it meant going to the Dr’s office twice a week to get shots, and then sitting there for 1/2 an hour to see if I was going to have a reaction. But the investment was worth it.
      Your friend should check his insurance. This is usually covered but the insurance company will try to deny it the first time around. The allergy shots/serum is incredibly expensive.

  15. Lillie Lane*

    Does anybody have any advice for getting up in the morning? Ever since the time change (and weather change, we keep our house freezing), I cannot get out of bed on time. Luckily (or unluckily) my job is very flexible, but I hate working late to make up the time.

    1. fposte*

      Urgh, I totally understand this. For me what helps is going to bed at a decent time and laying my clothes out the night before. Lights on timers can help (my downstairs lights turn off as a nudge to get me to bed), and a programmable thermostat would probably make a huge difference.

      1. Elkay*

        I have a portable heater on a plug in timer, it only comes on for five minutes but I have the benefit of not getting out of bed to a freezing cold room and also knowing from the sound when it clicks off that I have to get up.

      2. Nikki T*

        Yes, programmable thermostat! For me it’s hard getting out of a warm bed into a cold room. My thermostat is set to come on a half our or so before I get up, though this week I’ve been having some trouble, go figure.

        I also have lights that go off so I can get myself into shutdown mode. Maybe having your lights/tv or whatever come on in the morning will wake you up?

        1. Windchime*

          My furnace is on a programmable thermostat as well, so that the house isn’t freezing when I get out of bed. There is an added benefit that I hear the furnace when it kicks on, so that’s kind of my pre-wakeup call. But yeah, winter time is the worst as far as having to get up in the dark and cold. Bleah.

    2. Another English Major*

      I’m a super night owl, and I have one of those sunrise simulator alarm clocks. It brightens the room gradually to wake you up more gently than a sudden noise. It has helped tremendously! For the first time in my life I am regularly waking up at 7 am on my own, before the alarm clock goes off. Before I got this alarm clock, I wake up around 11 if left to my own devices.

      1. The IT Manager*


        I have one and like it a lot. It still keep a noisy alarm clock to ensure I get up, but the gradually increasing light starts to gently wake me up before the alarm does.

        Also simply getting to bed earlier in the evening. Very, very difficult I admit, but it really sounds like you are still tired when your alarm goes off in the mornings.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit*

      I second the sunrise simulator alarms. Love those.

      And this sounds counterproductive, but: Get up extra early. Only recently did I discover the pleasures of not always being late to everything. I’ve transformed into a person who leaves an abundance of time for everything I want to do (I get to the airport two hours early, leave for meetings with 15 minutes extra time, etc.). It’s delightful and worth giving up the little bits of extra sleep/etc.

      1. YAK*

        Yes, this! My sunrise simulator alarm changed my life. I usually gradually wake up before the sound (gentle birds chirping) goes off, go fun a run, make and eat breakfast, and get to work with no stress! All unheard of before I invested in one of these :)

    4. Kat*

      I found that having breakfast at the same time (or within a 30 minute window) helps me. I love eating and if I don’t get food within a similar time frame every day, I get hangry!

    5. Poster formally known as Jane Doe*

      Third to the sunrise alarms. Just got one and already notice a difference. Also, setting the thermostat so that its warm when you wake up. It’s still hard to get out of bed in the morning, even though I have a life and a career I love, but these help!

      1. fposte*

        It’s convinced me to do so too. It’s been reeeeally grey in the mornings here, and boy, it’s been hard to get up.

    6. themmases*

      I don’t use a sunrise alarm, but I do get up and turn on as many lights as possible right away, and keep the blinds closed so I can’t see how dark it is outside– that helps a lot. (I’ve been working 7 a.m. to 3:30 for the past 4-ish years) I also do as much as possible the night before, because it’s easier to convince myself to get up if I know I barely have to do anything but stagger to the bus.

      Oh, and I agree with trying to get to bed earlier. After all this time it still doesn’t feel quite right to me, but with practice I can do it. I try to get into bed as soon as possible after I first feel sleepy, no matter what time it is, then have a deadline where I will get into bed at that time whether I feel sleepy or not. Also limiting TV– every show is basically committing to stay up for the next 20-40 minutes, making it really likely you’ll get a second wind.

      1. Paige Turner*

        I used to get up at 4am to get to work at 5am, five days a week (yep, Starbucks!). This time of year is the worst…the only thing that motivated me to get to work on time was getting my free coffee when I got to the store ;) I now have a serious caffeine habit but that’s a story for another time.

    7. Anonymous*

      I used to have the same problem. To overcome it, I made sure to get everything ready the night before, so there wasn’t much to do. I also planned some snooze time – set my alarm half hour early deliberately, so I could wake up and not have to leap out of bed immediately. When the second alarm went at the normal time, I’d get up without much hassle.

    8. EJeanne*

      Try putting your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room. It forces you to get up and turn it off! This helps me out the most!

    9. Marina*

      Drink a lot of water before you go to bed, so you wake up needing to pee. Seriously, it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed.

      1. RJ*

        Sadly, I then get up to pee about 2/3 of the way through the night, so I’m even less likely to be motivated to get up again in another 2 hours after I fall back asleep.

      2. KLH*

        I have multiple alarms–a Clocky, the iPod and the cats. Putting the alarms in other parts of the house/apartment is only moderately successful. Seriously, getting enough sleep is the biggest thing. I am an am slowpoke.

    10. JW*

      Find something you LOVE and look forward to it in the morning. Is it coffee, a breakfast item, finishing a tv show? For me, I discovered the tasty combo of almond butter and a toasted english muffin. It’s part of my daily routine. I look forward to it every night when I’m falling asleep. It really is the smallest thing that can make the biggest difference. This is coming from someone who used to struggle big time to wake up.

    11. Rana*

      On the flip side, do what you can to make it easier to go to bed earlier (that’s the hardest part for me) so you’re at least well-rested when the alarm goes off.

      Things like turning down the lights, using f.lux if you’re on the computer, putting on your pajamas early, etc. can help with this.

  16. So I had to decline an interview...*

    I applied for the job 3 months ago and when I got an email that they had received my materials (which were sent via postal mail, they got it almost the next day, freaky) I tried to put it out of my mind. Then over the next few weeks, I decided I didn’t really want that job, it seemed like too much of a stretch, wasn’t sure they could afford me, the required Saturday schedule didn’t make it worth it….

    And then a phone call came this week to schedule an interview next week, please call her back to schedule or to decline.
    A friend told me to go in and check it out but I had already decided, plus I cannot take off next week, covering for a team member. He suggested to call in sick. I will not do that.

    Not sure I have a point, I would have loved the interview practice, to at least meet with them and see how they run things in case something else opens up but after having 3 months to think about it and not being able to take off, the stars aligned that declining was the best thing. Wish I had gotten to talk to the HR lady though, had to leave a message.

    But they like me! They really like me! Maybe I didn’t give myself enough credit…

    1. NewGirlinTown*

      Honestly, I would have asked if I could interview at a later date due to prior commitments.

      While I can see why you made the decision, I also think it is never a bad thing to see another company from an interview perspective!

    2. Gail L*

      I think you should have told them you aren’t available that week and ask if the following week would work. An interview isn’t all about the company’s convenience, it’s really more of a date. If they can’t give you a week of leeway after 3 months, they’re the ridiculous ones… You really don’t know anything about the company/job until you interview, so it seems quite premature to decide against it without that.

      1. So I had to decline an interview...*

        Well, after having so long to think it over…the required schedule sounded good at the time but now I really don’t want those hours. Other things have happened in the interim that now working every Saturday isn’t what I want anymore.

        I wasn’t that excited when I heard the message, my first thought was great, now I have to tell her I don’t want it. I was looking forward to having a chat with her though, sorry I couldn’t catch her.

        1. So I had to decline an interview...*

          Plus, I have nothing to wear! All my suits are two sizes ago…dah well..I feel no great sense of loss, still exploring the possibilities of openings at my current place, which is what I’d prefer.

        2. Gail L*

          Keep in mind, it’s always good to interview. In addition to the practice, you are making contacts in your field. You can make a good impression even if you aren’t their top candidate. You may even be something they think about for a new position as opposed to the current. You are also vetting them and deciding if you like them – not just for this job, but in the future.

          Plus, I always feel like I interview best when I’m not as stressed about the interview. Going in thinking, “I’m vetting them,” instead of the other way around, really helps me get interested in them, their business, and it tends to make a great impression. Then I try to recall the attitude when I interview somewhere more important…

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    Does your company have corporate posters you could put up? Otherwise, what about interesting pictures from newspapers or magazines? An old boss of mine had a giant comic book poster on his office wall, and I think that was the only extra decor he had.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Some of the summer students at our lab ripped apart some old nature calendars and taped all the pictures around the room. They also made little talk balloons for the animals and made hilarious things for them to say. Probably not work-appropriate for most situations, but it was cute.

      1. fposte*

        Though I would add the warning to check your walls before you start taping! Ours get ripped up by tape, even masking tape. (I’m guessing particularly fragile drywall skin.)

  18. TL*

    Waiting to hear back from a job interview and they’re having delays (it’s academia, so that’s pretty much expected) and the HR person is out of office until next week – I asked for an update via email.

    I am not patient and as much as I’m trying to find my Zen place, it’s not really helping.

    No question, just grouching.

    1. NewGirlinTown*

      I was just there! I waited, and waited (and fortunately, it was good to wait, as I got the job!), and it was nearly impossible.

      I suggest getting out of the house a bit, take a walk, and get a coffee or something. It helps when I just go walk around the mall or something!

      1. TL*

        Thanks for the advice. I have a current job, which is very nice and keeps me busy. :) And I’m busy and active and extroverted anyways; it’s not my nature to sit around and wait.

        It’s just that every time I think about it, I want to jump out of my skin and scream. Which would probably give my current coworkers a heart attack.

    2. ES*

      Yup, academia takes forever. I applied to my current job before Thanksgiving of 2011, and didn’t start until the end of February, 2012. But at least you know it’s not just you, right?

      1. TL*

        Yes! It helps me have a great attitude with any interactions – and they said they were trying to hurry so I know that means it’s going to take way longer than expected :P – but I’m still not good at waiting, unfortunately.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        Higher ed really does often move glacially. I once submitted an application in August, interviewed in Nov/Dec, they shut down for the winter break, then put the job on hold, then brought people back in MAY for additional interviews. I’d stayed in touch with them a couple of times during the spring semester (once when I had something substantive to report, related to my experience/qualifications for the job and once to ask where things stood).

        Ultimately, I got the job, but it was almost a year from the time that I applied to the time that I was presented with an offer. This is why Alison’s advice to mentally move on is so good. I had 3-4 finalist interviews in the meantime, and it would have been very difficult to commit to those if I was stuck pining after the job I applied for in August.

  19. Audiophile*

    I’ve had a doozy of a week. I’m so ready for a new gig to come along. Ugh.

    I got stuck in a situation between an admin and the person she supported. Basically she wanted me to play ref, not doing that.

    But I do have to questions, though they’re unrelated. I had a phone interview with a recruiter for a social media position. Her colleague called me back a few days later, asking me to call at the my “earliest convenience”, I followed up about 2hrs later and left a message. Also tried the next day, no answer. Then I emailed the original recruiter, who said her colleague works part time, but that she would pass on my message when she saw her on Tuesday. So far, no answer from either of them. Should I try calling one more time or should I just let it go?

    My second question: I have a Skype interview today with a well known, ivy league college. I’ve never done a Skype interview before. It was originally supposed to be yesterday, but I ran into some technological difficulties. I apologized by email and we rescheduled for today. Should I apologize again at the start or not bring it up at all? They’ve been very accommodating of my limited availability.

    1. pghadventurer*

      I would thank them for rescheduling, but not apologize again. It’s more important to show you respect their time than it is to be the person that over-apologizes.

  20. Amanda*

    Yay open thread!

    I have two questions this week. One, how do you keep your interview clothes fresh when you don’t have the time or money to get them dry-cleaned between interviews?

    Two, is it bad to arrive to an interview right on the dot? I aim to walk through the door five minutes early, but I got hung up getting visitors passes and going through security in the lobby and was checking in with the receptionist at 9:30 for a 9:30 interview. My interviewer wasn’t ready for another five minutes anyway so I think I’m fine, but gah I felt dumb.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        A true story.

        I know interview advice says you should do a recce before your interview, but the location was an office block I walk past every day to work, and I saw there was a front desk at the main entrance.

        So I arrived, presented myself at the ground floor reception, and was signed in. Then, I was escorted into the lift, as it only operated with an access card. Reaching the appointed floor, the lift door opened and there was a glass office door almost straight in front of me.

        So I tried to open the door and it was locked. I couldn’t see a bell or intercom and I swear I could hear sniggering on the other side before I was let in.

        I can only assume it was some sort of odd test.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I didn’t get the job.

            Plus I felt that the interview had got off to a bad start since the office obstacle course was interfering in my pre-interview pysch-yourself-up process.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Re: keeping clothes fresh. Two suggestions:

      1) Take them off as soon as possible – don’t wear them the rest of the day.

      2) Febreeze. Or vodka (seriously).

      3) The shower method for getting out wrinkles – hang them up while you’re showering and let the steam do its work.

      4) Dry-el (at home dry cleaning, still kindof expensive).

        1. Sascha*

          It kills bacteria so it’s great for pit stains or body odors. My belly dancing teacher swears by it for dance costumes that you can’t easily clean. She does a light vodka spritz and then lets it hang during her shower. Apparently it does not leave an odor because she never smells boozy. :)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m going to remember that for skating costumes. I don’t like washing them too much because all the bling comes off and now the new skating director has us doing two performances instead of just one.

            I was going to say hang them up right after you get home but someone already did.

            1. 22dncr*

              Houston Ballet uses Vodka on all their costumes. If it works for them I’d say it’ll work for you.

          2. Trixie*

            I’ve always wondered if a light vinegar spritz would work like this on workout gear. Maybe with some essential oils?

            1. fposte*

              You’re going to get some serious fragrance, though (and the oil and vinegar will mix like–well, oil and vinegar). The vodka advantage is that it doesn’t smell when dried.

                1. fposte*

                  Maybe it depends on the vinegar–I don’t mind the smell, but I sure can detect it in the places I use to clean with it.

              1. Natalie*

                I’ve used 1/2 white vinegar 1/2 water to very good effect on my mattress and pillows. (I know you can supposedly wash pillows, but I have never had it go well.) If it’s diluted with water and you don’t spray too much it doesn’t smell like vinegar afterwards, but it does help deodorize.

            2. Amy*

              Please, please don’t put essential oil or any other perfume on workout clothes you plan to wear indoors or around other people. The heat of your body will make you reek, which is both extremely irritating for your fellow exercisers and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Your sweat smells better than most perfumes, I promise. Just wash your clothes after each workout, and wash your body regularly, and you don’t need perfumes.

      1. Sascha*

        Yep, I love the shower method. I will usually do that when I go on business trips because my clothes get all wrinkled and gross inside my suitcase.

        Also, I often toss my clothes into the dryer for about 10 minutes, sometimes with a dryer sheet.

        1. TL*

          I do the shower thing! It’s not perfect if it’s heavily wrinkled, but it does tend to get things “nice enough.”

          Plus I have an excuse to take an extra-long hot shower and not feel so much guilt.

      2. Mints*

        I hand washed, with cold.water in the sink, with a tiny but of tide. It’s probably not the best, but it was the best cheapest thing

    2. Anon*

      The do your drying cleaning at home bags seem to work pretty well. When I’m being lazy/didn’t get anything on a suit, I’ll use that instead of sending things to the cleaner. Cheaper too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Keep in mind that all those do is freshen clothes–they don’t actually clean them. The Dryel kit comes with a bottle of stain remover and a blotting pad, but for heavily soiled items, you may have to suck it up and take it to a professional dry cleaner.

    3. some1*

      Lots of clothing labeled “dry clean only” can be either hand-washed or machine-washed in cold water in the gentle cycle in one of those mesh laundry bags with a gentle detergent.

      1. Sascha*

        Quite true. I’ve thrown so many things in the wash that were labeled dry and hand wash only. A few to their detriment. Most, they were fine. Just pay attention to the fiber content and its construction.

  21. Anonymous*

    I work for a small, national organization with on-the-ground field presence in about a dozen states. State Directors for these states were hired simultaneously, with varying levels of experience (purposefully – we wanted to experiment with what type of person best suited the role).

    We are expanding in four states, adding 3-5 staff members at a more junior level than the State Directors. This expansion is driven by factors not related to the performance of the State Directors in question. How should the organization handle promotions and management? There doesn’t seem to be a way out of this that is fair and treats each employee respectfully.

    It doesn’t seem reasonable to promote those four State Directors (who are not the most experienced, most successful, or most skilled at management – some are, some aren’t) to manage the new employees. It also doesn’t seem reasonable to demote them and add a new layer of management.


    1. fposte*

      Why would adding management to a director position make it a promotion? I can see an argument that they’d need more money, but managing seems to be a reasonable thing to expect a director to do. And if their state is expanding and others aren’t, that’s reason enough for it to happen there, same as it’s perfectly fair that state staffing will vary. Are you concerned that some of them won’t want to take it on or won’t be good at it? Can you give them some formal guidance or training?

      1. Jamie*

        Totally agreed – if you’re at the Director level this is something you should be able to manage (no pun intended.)

        If they need training, okay…if a raise due to radically changed job description, maybe…but management is within the Director wheelhouse so if they can’t then that’s something that need to be reevaluated.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yeah, I phrased this wrong. I’m not concerned about their ability to manage. I’m concerned about the State Directors who won’t get increased responsibility/salary/title/etc. because they aren’t in the states that are expanding.

          Let me try again: I’m interested in how this should be handled because none of the options seem right. If I was a State Director in a non-expansion state that outperformed a State Director in an expansion state, I’d be frustrated that I didn’t have the opportunity for promotion/salary increase/etc. If I was a State Director in an expansion state, I’d expect that adding management responsibility to my job description would come with a salary increase. If I was deciding how to staff the expansion states, I would want the best people in the newly envisioned roles, who may or may not be the people we have on staff right now.


          1. The IT Manager*

            I think the “State Director” title is throwing you off. What do they do? If they are not managing those new people, then they are not exactly the true director of operations in your state.

            I don’t know anything about non-profits but for example are they really the state outreach liason. And then the you may need a new State director who’s over your new operations office and the outreach director.

            I know you said you’re not the decision maker, but thats kind of my read on your situation.

          2. fposte*

            ” If I was a State Director in a non-expansion state that outperformed a State Director in an expansion state, I’d be frustrated that I didn’t have the opportunity for promotion/salary increase/etc.” Really? Isn’t it clear why those states would need bigger teams? I wouldn’t be frustrated if I were Rhode Island and California got a staff. Unless you’re being really random on the team thing, in which case that’s its own problem, this should come under “That’s that way it goes.”

            I suppose the organization could invite applications for states with managing directors from the others, so long as they’d be willing to move to the relevant state. But once you’re out of grade school not everything gets offered to everybody, and that’s the way it goes.

      2. Anonymous*

        I’m not the manager (or a strategic decision-maker) in this situation. I’m just observing what’s happening and curious about how it should be handled.

        Something I wasn’t clear about in my original post: Currently State Directors don’t manage anybody. They are the only staff in their states. So adding significant management responsibility to some of them dramatically changes their jobs (and should reasonably change their compensation).

        I don’t have any sense of whether they would want to take this on, and of course we would give them support and training. But they aren’t necessarily the people who would have been hired for a management job, and in a vacuum (that is, if they all worked in the same space) they aren’t necessarily the State Directors that would be chosen for promotion or salary increases.

        1. Jen in RO*

          I think this is a non-issue. State Directors with direct reports will naturally have more/different things to do than State Directors without direct reports, so it’s normal for them to have a different salary too.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Are you sure that those state directors are still the right people for the role, now that that role is expanding in their states? Because if they’re not, you could be wasting some serious resources (plus opportunity costs) by having them manage people if they’re not good at it. It’s not pleasant, but it might make sense to reevaluate who you need in the role.

  22. Lore*

    My partner’s company recently announced a major relocation within 18 months. He has a good relocation package offered, and also a good severance/buyout if he chooses not to relocate but continues working at the company until the move.

    Depending on who else in his department does and does not relocate, his job could be somewhat different at the other end, or it could be exactly the same. It’s a great job in some ways, and one that makes him deeply unhappy in others. He’s never done a major move like this for either professional or personal reasons in his life and career thus far.

    All of which is making it very difficult for him to assess and compare options, or even to know what questions to ask to help make the decision. Any advice? What are the big variables that one doesn’t even know to consider in a situation like this?

    1. Anonymous*

      Have you been to the city/state/country in question? Could you see yourself living there? How important is it to be around family or have friends be easily accessible? How significantly will your actual lifestyles change?

      How long would he stay with the company if they weren’t relocating? If it makes him deeply unhappy in some ways, perhaps taking the severance/buyout would be better in the long-run.

      1. Lore*

        Oh, I should have mentioned: one issue with the buyout is that you must work at the company up until the move date to qualify. So it is overwhelmingly likely that there will then be a period of unemployment, just because it seems improbable to be able to time getting a new job that precisely.

        1. Anonymous*

          Depending on how far out it is, he could start looking for other jobs now and hopefully find one that would have a start date after this job ends. How long would the buyout money last as a source of income?

        2. buyout*

          Why not take the buyout and start job searching now – if he gets an offer before his time is up, he can accept and return the buyout; if he doesn’t get an offer, he’ll have the buyout to hold him over through the gap. I think with an 18 months head start the employment gap should be short, but I guess it depends on the industry and how big the buyout is.

          1. Lore*

            Of course, that’s one of the possibilities, and definitely on the table. But we do also want to seriously consider the move, so–today at least!–I am more interested in getting perspective on how to think about that option, rather than advice on whether to turn it down, if that makes sense?

    2. Marina*

      That sounds like a great opportunity to take a long, hard look at the job. Things that make him “deeply unhappy” would worry me–all jobs have something to be dissatisfied about, but working at a job that makes you “deeply unhappy” is at some point going to affect your performance and possibly cause some career sabotage.

      How soon does he have to decide? Can he take a couple months to do some research about what his other options for jobs might be, do some informational interviews, etc?

      1. Lore*

        The time frame is pretty short–the move isn’t happening for eighteen months, but they’re asking people to pick option a or option b by the end of the year. And, strange though this seems, he’s actually been performing better and better at the job despite his issues with it. I think the real concern is that he’s reached a level where he’s quite well paid, and has a fear of taking a step backwards just to avoid the move–which may or may not turn out to be the case, of course.

        1. Anonymous*

          One thing you can do is look at the new location, on paper if not in person. Look at cost of living comparisons. Request info from the chamber of commerce, tourist info from city/state/region. Go online to find local papers & radio stations to track online. Does the community seem like a place you two would enjoy? Is there work for you available, too?
          Context can help.

  23. Windchime*

    I have four more full days of non-weight-bearing (still recovering from Achille’s surgery). Hopefully I will be able to start walking and DRIVING!!!!! on Tuesday of next week. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I have scale-y calluses on my knees from crawling up the stairs, and my poor sister is having to drive me everywhere.

    I cannot wait.

      1. Windchime*

        The pain has been nearly nonexistent. It hurt a lot more before surgery, but of course I haven’t put any weight on it for almost 6 weeks, so maybe that’s partially why it doesn’t hurt.

        Walking is going to be weird. In just a few short weeks, my injured leg has gotten significantly smaller (the calf is over 1 1/2 smaller than the good leg). So I may be walking in circles for a little while until the muscle gets built back up.

        How about you, Jamie? How is the recovery going?

  24. thenoiseinspace*

    I need a laugh today…anybody up for a funny story thread? Here are mine to start – both of them are cake decorating failures:

    -When I was in high school, my friend Heather was going on a long trip, and I volunteered to make the cake for the goodbye party. I wanted to make a big, tiered cake like the kind you see in Wilton magazines (or now on Pinterest). But I didn’t read up on how to do it, and thus didn’t know to put in structural supports. As such, the top tier (there were only 2 total) crushed the bottom one flat. I had no replacement cake so I just iced it anyway, but then my mother came in and burst out laughing, saying it looked like a wide-brimmed hat. To prove her point, she grabbed a feather from my craft pile and stuck it in the “brim.” I tried to pick it out but feathers have all those little wispy pieces and they stuck in the icing so I just kind of gave up and stuck it back in. And the real cherry on top of the whole mess was the piping on top. I had intended to write “Good Luck Heather.” I did “Heather” first, along the brim part, and then did the rest on top. Unfortunately, I hadn’t bought enough icing, and it ran out before I could finish the final part of the “K” in “luck,” making it a “Y” instead. So instead of my bon voyage message, the cake read “GOOD LUCY, HEATHER.” Heather never could figure out why I had made her this sugar hat or who the heck Lucy was, and I was too upset to explain. To this day, the Good Lucy Heather cake is the standard to which all culinary failures are measured in my house.

    -Story two: in college, my boyfriend and I had had a fight. I wanted to make it up to him, so I baked him a pan of brownies and piped an apology on top with blue icing. Well, turns out that hot brownies will melt icing, and that brownies are also really absorbent. I went downstairs to let him into my building and told him I had made him a surprise. We went back to my apartment to find a plate of toxic blue Smurf sponge on a plate. The brownies had melted and soaked up all the icing, leaving no trace of the message and dying the whole pan of them bright blue. Needless to say, he couldn’t quite figure out if it was meant as an apology or just a really odd passive-aggressive attack.

    Okay, your turn! Share some funny stories! :)

    1. TLT*

      I was put in charge of making my BFF’s birthday cake this year. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and it’s a really moist chocolate cake. It’s delish. But I had just moved to altitude and my high altitude baking skills were not yet up to snuff. The cake collapsed in the middle, burned around the edges and overflowed the pans. I had spent tons of time making it and the raspberry filling. Plus, I had no back up cake. I ended up picking up some ice cream, making cake crumbles, and pouring the raspberry filling over the whole mess. It was delicious, but sheesh, what an epic failure for this perfectionist!

    2. RubyJackson*

      Mmm, one of my favorite cakes is Texas Chocolate cake, where you spread the icing on while the cake is hot so it will absorb it. I turns fudgy. I think I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

    3. ChristineSW*

      Not sure if mine could beat your brownie story, but here goes… (FYI, going off of memory, so the details might be a bit off)

      My husband and I, who were newlyweds at the time, decided to try out the pizza baking stone we’d gotten as a wedding gift. I think it was meant for a homemade pizza, but we did a pre-packaged pizza. We cooked the pizza at 500 degrees because I think that’s what the directions on the stone said. Umm…bad idea!! This thing essentially turned into a giant hockey puck!! We took a picture and sent it to my family. It sure made for a good laugh!

        1. TL*

          What can I say? If I’m going to screw up, I’m going to screw up big.

          Another time, I got a cookbook that had a misprint in a pie recipe – it was supposed to be 1/2 tbs or tsp of salt in the crust, I think, but it clearly said 1/2 cup. So I put in a 1/2 cup of salt (I was 14 or 15, btw) and… well, the first day you could suck the filling out with a straw but by the second day even the dogs refused to eat it.

          1. AmyNYC*

            I misread the recipe for a Margarita Cheesecake – I read something like a 1/4 tablespoon of salt in the crust instead of a 1/4 teaspoon and thought “oh, I guess that’s for the salt on the rim” and made everyone at my mother’s birthday party pucker. The rest of the cake was delicious, though!

      1. Anne 3*

        Did you have a combination oven and use the microwave setting? That’s how I made a burned/raw cake once.

    4. evilintraining*

      Here are a couple. My mother always made “crazy cake” when we were kids, the one where you bake the cake, poke holes in it, pour in Jell-O in liquid form, and end up with cake with tasty stripes inside. My sister decided to make a two-toned, two-layer version. Problem: way too much Jell-O. One small box is enough for a whole cake; she made twice the amount needed. End result: one pile red mush, one pile green mush, not a nifty two-layer cake.

      The second is not a baking story, but I think you’ll enjoy it. I had my gall bladder removed a few years ago. Since then, if my stomach gets completely empty, I get terrible gut pain, so I have to make sure I eat when I’m hungry. I’m usually okay drinking coffee on my 40-minute commute, and I eat when I get to my office. One morning, I had no coffee in the car and hadn’t really thought about it; I was just in a hurry. On a packed highway, the gut pain started. The only thing I had with me that was ready to eat was a pudding cup–and, of course, I had no spoon. If anyone was looking at me on the road, they saw a woman creeping along the parkway digging pudding out of a cup and eating it with one finger.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      My grandad once boiled a lettuce in mistake for cabbage – the result could only be described as a green mess. 20 years on, it’s still a running joke in my family.

      1. IronMaiden*

        These are hilarious, more please. When we were kids my brother liked to help himself to anything he could find in the pantry. We once found an empty can of Christmas pudding that he had opened with a screwdriver, under his bed. We still laugh about that.

    6. Windchime*

      I once forgot to put tuna in the tuna noodle casserole when I was a newlywed. It was from a “Tuna Helper” box mix. I made the whole thing and we sat down to dinner. We realized something was missing….yeah, that would be the tuna.

      Another story: My sister-in-law made a very cute cake for her little son’s birthday. The guests were due to arrive in just a few minutes, so she left the cake on the counter and was tidying up. She returned to the kitchen to find that their Great Dane dog was licking the cake. She had to run to the grocery store to buy a new cake as the guests were arriving. :)

  25. Qwerty*

    Does anyone have career advice for someone looking to move into the accounting field? I graduated a few years ago with an economics degree and worked in a related field, but I went back to school to be able to qualify for the CPA exam. I’m now an exam candidate and I’m working a contract job that will end next summer. I’m wondering what kinds of jobs are best for someone who is entry level? What positions should I be looking for? And do you recommend that I do an internship? I don’t know if I could afford to live on that kind of salary, but I’d make it work if it was my best option.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      If you’re interested in tax work, this is a great time of year to be putting out feelers to smaller local firms, since tax season is getting ready to kick into high gear.

    2. Omne*

      It kind of depends on what you want to do. Accounting covers a pretty broad area. One path that seems to work, depending on your state and if you like taxes, is a job doing auditing with the taxation department. We hire a lot at entry level and after a few years they become very hirable in the private sector, especially in sales tax and corporate franchise tax. In the meantime usually the benefits are good and the wage is livable.

      1. Qwerty*

        I’m really more interested in a financial analyst or auditor positions. I’ve worked in tax administration before, and I’d like to do something different.

        1. Verde*

          Look into non-profit audits – non-profits that make over a certain number of $ in revenue annually have to have an audit by an outside CPA every year.

  26. Anonymous*

    I have a question about consulting. I’ve never done it before and I’m not seeking it out, but someone wants me to consult for them. I don’t want to turn down the opportunity because it’s something I excel at.

    How do the logistics of consulting work, assuming it will be only be for this one company? How do I make sure I get paid, how do I invoice them? How do I decide how much to charge?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve done consulting, but not as an independent contractor. For what to charge, don’t base it on what you’re used to taking home in a paycheck, because as an independent consultant you need to take care of paying all the payroll taxes, for both the employer and employee contributions.

      You could probably find a generic invoice template somewhere online, download it, maybe add a logo or something to personalize it. Keep meticulous records on what you’re spending your time on, and you’ll be able to use this as the basis for your invoices.

      And as for when to invoice them, payment terms, and so on, it’s probably best to have a contract with them so everything is spelled out in black and white.

  27. Amanda*

    A word of advice for women looking for suits, especially jackets–forget Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, etc and go to a department store. The stuff at the more “trendy” stores is crap. I’m under 30 and I’m appalled by how unprofessional it is. After two days of searching, I finally found a classy, two-button jacket at JC Penny.

      1. Anon*

        I would suggest the Kasper outlets. I’m short and they have a good petite selection and good prices. I usually get mine at Macy’s since they also have good petite selections. I wish Anne Klein had a retail store near me as those have the best fits and best petite selection.

        1. TLT*

          I’m in love with Ann Taylor Loft. They have nice quality, classic, preppy pieces that are very reasonably priced.

          1. Amanda*

            Yeah, maybe I was a little too harsh on Ann Taylor and Banana Republic. They do have nice everyday work clothes stuff. I was just beyond annoyed by the lack of two-button suit jackets and suit pants that didn’t require a massive heel to avoid dragging.

            1. fposte*

              I think even in petite lines, you may just have to get stuff hemmed. Some Banana Republics offer that as a service (though check where they outsource it to–mine used to be great and then last time was so terrible I got my money back).

              1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                Yeah, I don’t think that having long pant lengths for sale means the clothes are “unprofessional.” In fact, I would guess that many suitmakers make the pants intentionally long, as it is easier to get something hemmed to the right length than to add more fabric to make it longer!

                1. Amanda*

                  I guess what seems unprofessional is that some of the pants would only work with a very very tall heel. And I think super high heels look a little too seductive for interviews. But what you said about hemming makes sense.

              2. Kat*

                Little known secret too. If something breaks on your Banana Republic clothing beyond your control, BR will cover the cost of the tailor. The best example, is if a hem falls out or even a button falls off. Though when I worked there, I was always tempted to just sew the buttons on myself while the customer watched, because really? Everyone should be able to sew a button on!!

                I’m actually a little shocked at Banana Republic suits being considered unprofessional. Yes they usually have fashion pieces, but they always have grey and black standard suit pieces. Martin fit is what you need to look for, if my memory serves me correct!

                I don’t know much about the others she mentioned, as working a BR for so long made shopping so easy that I typically don’t go anywhere else. I hate trying on clothes.

            2. TL*

              I don’t like Ann Taylor (everything is square and I’m more hourglass.) But Banana Republic can have more figure-hugging stuff, which I love! I just bit the bullet and got all my pants hemmed after I bought them.

            3. TLT*

              To clarify, I like the Loft, not so much Ann Taylor. She’s a bit too fuddy duddy for my 31 year old self. :-)

      2. TL*

        I’ve had good luck with Banana Republic for suits, pants and shirts. Some of it depends on season and some of it depends on how you’re sized as well – there are a few of their outfits that look fantastic on me but some are clearly designed for people twice my height and half my weight.

    1. fposte*

      As a petite (and somebody who likes to sit down), I’m a big fan of online shopping. You do need to be able to receive packages reliably and unproblematically, of course, but I really would be stuck in these parts otherwise. (Anon, our Kasper outlet is pretty unprepossessing and almost entirely devoid of petites. Grr.)

      1. Amanda*

        I’m not overly conservative while in the job, but I do like to look extra conservative for interviews.

    2. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe*

      Ah, Thanks for the tip! I never go to JCP, but maybe I’ll have to try it because I simply can’t find any dress pants that fit worth a darn.

    3. Amanda*

      I didn’t mean to hate on Ann Taylor quite so much. I actually have some lovely dresses and tops from there. I was just frustrated with finding decent jackets. It seemed that everything rode up or made my chest look huge. Or maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy at heart.

    4. Sophia*

      I hate shopping at department stores for suit jackets. Sizes are all over the place and I feel like those are too trendy. I like JCrew schoolboy blazers, Loft (pants), Ann Taylor. Obviously YMMV!

  28. Sascha*

    How do you screen for reliability on the job during an interview?

    Last year, my team hired a woman who was very flaky during the 8 months she worked here. She took great liberties with her schedule, called in sick quite often, and sometimes would just leave during the middle of the day to attend to family things, even though they were not emergencies. While my manager is not a micromanager by any means, she was abusing the flexibility we allow so badly that he was close to firing her over this. And she didn’t wait to start flaking out until a few months before she left – it pretty started week 1 and continued the whole time.

    Anyway, me and my team want to avoid hiring another person like that. She seemed great during the interview – no red flags or gut feelings like she might be flaky. My manager said her reference checks revealed nothing worrisome. I would very much appreciate anyone’s advice on what to ask, and signs to look for, during an interview that will help us identify unreliability. Only my manager will be doing the reference checks, but I was hoping there were things my team can look during during an interview that will help us. Thanks!

    1. Jamie*

      I would say reference checks and if they didn’t ferret it out the first time maybe the right questions weren’t asked.

      A lot of reference questions are surprisingly superficial and more pointed questions to parse out information you really want to know could help.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Either that or they were so keen to get rid of this woman that they gave her a glowing reference? I’ve heard people speculate that before in similar situations.

        1. fposte*

          Aha. And if it’s like mine, people don’t get a lot of guidance on the hiring front. Would your manager be willing to try new reference questions? Could you maybe prepare some suggestions for her, if that would make it likelier?

          1. Sascha*

            I think he would, we were talking about this yesterday, and he is accepting suggestions for new interview questions in general. In response to your comment below, our standard set of interview questions does need a complete overhaul – the questions are probably 10 years or so old and hardly ever revised. But even that has an entire HR process that moves slowly, too. :) Thanks!

    2. fposte*

      One possibility: better reference checks. It’s unlikely that this person only developed the behavior at your company, so I suspect that the manager just didn’t ask the question that would have revealed this tendency. Do you know what your manager asks? I’ve been working on my reference questions and I’m tending to draw on the interview questions that focus on characteristics we value and allow people to answer in ways that don’t make them feel like they’re shooting the candidate in the foot.

      I’d recommend a general overhaul of the questions rather than just adding something, though; you don’t want to always be fighting the last battle, and you don’t want to drill down on punctuality only to find that your new hire didn’t actually do any spreadsheet work after all.

  29. Kat*

    Out of curiosity, do resume formats change over time, and if so, how do you stay up to date on these trends? I know they vary depending on industry, but I feel that there are certain do’s/don’ts of resume writing and I’m wondering if they change at all. In addition, how do you make sure they are coming from a good source? I honestly feel like a lot of career centers mean well, but they don’t have always have the best advice.

    The reason I ask is that I’ve been reading a lot of family members resumes lately and it’s made me curious about the history of resume writing. I also want to make sure that I’m giving them helpful advice.

  30. Yup*

    Thank you to Colette, Kate, kbeers0su, Runon, Lexy, Kaz, AP, and anonymii for answering my question (in an earlier open thread) about endless requests for informational interviews. I took your advice, particularly the FAQs and standard rules of engagement, and the results have been much better. The random asker seemed happier, my time was better used, and I was much less cranky. Result! Thanks a ton. :-)

  31. khilde*

    I have been waiting and waiting for an open thread but kept missing them. By now I think my problem is resolved but I’ll post anyway in case anyone has any other advice.

    So our cats were just puking all over the place. They weren’t sick. No one was sick. But each day we’d come home and there would be more barf somewhere. It was getting pretty unbearable. We could never figure out which one did it because I had seen both at separate times throw up.

    So we decided to cut WAY back on their food. I think we were overfeeding them. Or I should say, one was being overfed. We have a chunky cat that will eat anything and everything. Then we have a nice sleek kitty that self regulates. The problem is that we were still dropping food for two portions in the bowls: skinny cat would eat just his fill and then walk away. Chunky would stay there and continue to eat up everyone’s. She’d barf from overeating and Skinny would then later be starving so the whole thing would start all over again. Admittedly, the humans weren’t really on top of it. We would just keep food in the bowl all the time.

    So now we feed them small sprinkles throughout the day and that seems to have gotten rid of the puking. What else makes cats puke like that?

    1. fposte*

      Stress can also be a puke-causer, as well as a factor in the overeating. Maybe a young baby complicates their lives a little?

      A good cat behavior blog is (her universe is a little too felinecentric for me to emulate, but she’s a wise observer and a good writer). She’s not a big fan of free feeding, and I suspect that your situation may be an illustration of why.

      1. khilde*

        Seriously, you blow me away with your encyclopedia brain, fposte. :) I’ll definitely check out the website. Our poor cats really have become like 2nd class citizens (maybe 3rd or 4th?) since baby arrived. Very good observation about the stress puking. Totally didn’t occur to me (not that I’m aware of much of anything these days other than baby and demanding preschooler!). Our poor creatures (we have an 11-year old Shih Tzu, too) were kings for about 8 years before we had kids. Unfortuntely their golden years are not going to be very peaceful for them… :(

        1. fposte*

          Well, they may enjoy the attention, too; people can be awfully enjoyable for cats! But odds are good that if you’re frazzled these days it’s hitting them some too. (It’s very hard to explain to cats that you’d be less frazzled if you didn’t have to clean up cat puke :-).)

      2. ChristineSW*

        What’s meant by “free feeding”? Before one of our cats died (we had 2), she’d puke. A lot. We always put it down to “gorging” (hubby’s word), but we always fed them wet food once each afternoon, and would refresh their dry food a couple times a day (now we have a bistro feeder for the dry food).

        1. TL*

          Food out all the time.

          It’s how we’ve always fed our animals but my parents live on a ranch so they’re always on the move. I gather it’s not such a good idea for most living situations and definitely not for some pets.

      1. khilde*

        I know and that’s what I thought until I started looking at the puke. And there wasn’t hair. They hacked up a few hairballs recently and that looked like a hunk of hair. This other stuff was just….stomach puke. Idiots. {said lovingly of course}

      2. ChristineSW*

        Our one remaining cat has always tended to hack up hairballs, though I’d say it’s gotten a bit less recently.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      My cat pukes when I feed her anything from Walmart. Meow Mix, Friskies, etc. All the cheap food irritates her stomach. I had to stop buying that and go for the more expensive, grain-free stuff. Made it hard when I didn’t have a job.

      She also gobbles sometimes and that will make her puke. I try to feed her at the same times every day (when I get up and when I get home from work) but some nights I’m running late. She’s outside, so I can’t leave food out and let her nibble. Every cat/raccoon/possum/skunk in town would be in my backyard.

      1. khilde*

        Elizabeth – cats can be so independent, but then there’s those things that just require a lot of maintenance and planning, huh? I’ll have to check if what we have is grain free, but we have always tried to buy the PurinaOne. Somewhere a long time ago I heard that the first ingredient on the list should be meat, instead of corn or filler. But I bet even in the PurinaOne there is grain. Do you recommend any grain-free brands?

        1. ES*

          I use Weruva wet food, which has worked really well for me. I also like Before Grain.

          I’ve used a variety of high-end dry foods, but even the best dry food tends to make my boy cat have really, really smelly BMs. So now I just give them a little bit of dry food and mostly stick to the Weruva wet food.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I give her Taste of the Wild for kibble; she’s done really well on it. For wet food, she gets a can of Blue Buffalo brand once a week (when I was unemployed, she had to eat Fancy Feast). The Blue also makes dry food. You can buy it at Pet Warehouse (that’s where I get mine). It’s more economical to get the big bag and put it in a large plastic container.

          Pet Warehouse usually has a 10% discount on cases of canned cat food too. :)

        3. Jen M.*

          Purina ONE does have grain, but in all the years I fed it, I never had one issue with it. I think, for what it is, it’s a fairly decent food.

          I now feed wet only and only grain free, though. (Cats were developing crystals, so the vet recommended the switch.)

        4. Jen M.*

          For dry grain free, I really liked Orijen. For wet, I like Weruva a lot, but I also feed them Wellness. (Weruva doesn’t appear to make the large cans, and Wellness does. With six cats, the large cans are cheaper, overall.)

    3. Trixie*

      I’ve learned that as cats age, its much harder to digest the dry food. I’m a huge fan of Science Hill Prescription Diet T/d which does wonders for teeth, but eventually my cats can’t keep it down. I’m just now looking into adding more or mostly canned to his diet. Also at a certain point cats may need foods that are more kidney-friendly.

      1. khilde*

        Interesting on the dry cat food being hard on their stomachs. The cats are 9 & 10, so I think considered seniors. And two mentions of kidney issues makes me think I should probably keep my eye on that. Thanks!

    4. Sabrina*

      Could be the food. Could be illness. My cat has kidney disease which can sometimes cause him to puke, but certainly not every day. I’m glad they are better now!

      1. khilde*

        Thanks! Our carpet is, too :) I’ll have to be aware of kidney issues. I have always feared that the chunky kittty is going to have some sort of disease as she ages.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I had a puking kitty a while ago. When I went to the pet store they were very helpful about running through the latest brands and which brand is giving the best results for a given situation.

      With the older cats I have had here the puking was tied into kidney problems. I think your cats are roughly eight years old? It might not be too soon to start watching for other indicators that might require a vet’s attention.

      I would definitely go to one or two pet supply stores and chat with some folks there. It could be as simple as the food and you might have already fixed the problem.

      1. Jen M.*

        Cats are considered seniors at the age of 8 years. Individual cats, of course, will age differently, but 8 years is about when they should start having their blood panels done every year.

        (Not a vet–just a long time pet parent.)

    6. EngineerGirl*

      I hate to say this, but projectile vomiting is a sign of cancer. Many older cats get lymphoma in their intestines. Get it checked – early detection is important. If detected early the cat has a good chance with chemo pills and can live several years.

      1. KLH*

        I’m transitioning the puker to a feeder ball. I also have to feed them in 2 different locations–one by the bathroom and the other on a counter, so that fatty doesn’t steal Skinny Miss’s wet food.

    7. LPBB*

      My mom had a cat that had a very poor digestion and threw up a lot. She had been feeding the cats regular Iams brand soft food, so she switched them to some organic brand from the health food store. It really cut down on the throwing up, although it didn’t eliminate it entirely. That particular cat was a very anxious little guy, so I think he also had some nervous stomach issues.

    8. Jen M.*

      Have you had Chunky’s thyroid checked? That might be in order, as she doesn’t appear to self-regulate very well.

      Another issue might be that it’s hairballs. If there’s food in the stomach when a hairball hits, naturally, it will come up with the hairball.

      I have six cats. It can be gross at times. LOL!

    9. khilde*

      Thanks for all the great replies, everyone. Boo on the possible cancer and other diseases. Thyroid is a good idea. Our chunky one (Yoda’s actually her name; she was a emaciated stray when we got her. She had gigantic ears, hence Yoda :) doesn’t self regulate, but I thought it was tied to her being a stray early on and just gorging whenever she got the chance. Also, good to know on the blood panels to be done starting at age 8. I knew you guys would have something good to add! Thanks again.

    10. Windchime*

      Overeating and fast eating can do it, but they can also become nauseated from actually being ill and that can cause them to do a lot of puking. I had a cat who was a barfer for years; it turned out he was having kidney problems. As soon as I put him on a special canned food for cats with kidney trouble, the barfing improved by about 90%.

      1. Windchime*

        Oh, another thing–have the vet check for dental disease. At ages 9 and 10, your cats are definitely seniors. Mine lived till he was 18, but by then he had practically no teeth left. I had no idea how closely dental health is tied to general health in cats, but it really is.

    11. T*

      I used to catsit for a friend whose elderly cat threw up pretty much every day. She was feeding her measured portions of dry food and expensive canned food purchased from the veterinarian. The cat was pretty scraggly looking. My friend kept using the same dry food but switched to Fancy Feast for the canned. The kitty stopped throwing everything up, gained weight (in a good way), and got a better looking coat. You may have to experiment with food, so to speak, since it may depend more on your particular kitty than on whether or not it’s cheap v. “better” food.

      Regarding Yoda eating the skinny cat’s food, can you put skinny kitty’s food somewhere that Yoda can’t reach? That way you don’t have to spend so much of your day on cat feeding duty.

    12. Diane*

      I had a kitty who, over the course of several months, went from occasional hairballs to barfing a few times a day. It turned out to be a tumor pressing on his stomach. So, if it’s new, sudden behavior, get to a vet.

  32. TLT*

    Gorge dress Alison! I love open threads, they always seem to come when I most need camaraderie. It’s only 10am and already got some lame work news, boost me up AAM readers!

      1. TLT*

        Ugh, well there are SO many things wrong with this company. I’ve been interviewing for a new job and I’m just waiting to hear back for a second interview for a job I really want. So needless to say, I already sort of mentally have one foot out the door.

        For the past few weeks though, I’ve been working on a big project that is supposed to go into effect on Monday (this was approved by my manager and is supposed to coincide with another big project). Well, today he tells me that it can’t go into effect on Monday, nor by another important date, and maybe not even before the end of the year. So it was just super frustrating that I’d spent all this time and now it’s mucking up multiple other projects! It’s just indicative of the whole lack of support I get from all levels here. *Crosses fingers for news about the other job!*

  33. down*

    Before I vent, I just have a question, and I couldnt’ find any threads/topics on it.

    How does unemployment generally work on the employer’s side? do they have an incentive to do whatever they can so that a former employee can no longer receive UE, such as lie, offer them undesirable work hours/conditions, etc?

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t believe any employer should lie or employ any construct to interfere with UI, but to answer your question yes, UI costs employers money.

      Approved UI claims raise rates for employers and they stay up for years before they fall off and are reaveraged…which can result in tens or hundreds of thousands in additional costs over the years.

      That’s why a lot of employers have an issue with UI being awarded for firing for cause. In my state you need to be guilty of gross misconduct to be disqualified for UI if let go. So I could come in late everyday, slack off, add HK pics to the website, show complete disregard for my job and as long as I don’t embezzle or hit someone in the face I’d get UI if they let me go.

      I personally think UI should be given for layoffs, restructures, plant closings, and even for bad fit if they were honestly trying and it was a skill/expectation mismatch. I think gross misconduct is too high a bar, but that’s my opinion.

      But yes, UI costs a company money…but a decent company will not contest if it’s legitimately owed (and certainly no decent company would lie or engage in fraud) but there’s nothing wrong with contesting when firing for valid cause and letting the labor board make the call.

      1. down*

        In my case, I applied for UI because of lack of work at my current employer. This employer has a history of setting hours and promising shifts but then goes back on that, denying OT, etc…it’s happened to me on many occasions and with several others; I stuck with it, for other reasons. I had to turn down the most recent offer which stopped me from receiving UI…I firmly believe that this offer was intentional,

        I am actively searching and I had no intention of staying on it for very long, but this was a steady stream of income, however tiny it was stable and steady, which is a million x more than I can say for this employer, and they took that away. Not to sound like I’m trhowing a pity party-I’m not. It’s a bummer, but I’m over it and I’m putting all my energy into the job search so that I don’t ever have to be in this position again.

        1. down*

          AND, I think I’ve lost all hopes for a reference from here. Which really really sucks because I WAS a good worker, always on time and prompt and available….so all the last minute scrambling to fill shifts, being denied shifts, going in at weird times, late hours etc, were all for nothing. Again, not trying to be bitter, because I want to keep a good attitude so it doesn’t seep into interviews, but…..I’ve just been wanting to get this off my chest for a few weeks now.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I would go back and ask for an opportunity to speak with the folks at unemployment.

          Sometimes employers have a reeeeally bad reputation at the unemployment office. The workers there know that. They know the scams the employer plays etc. You might benefit from a face to face with a representative at the unemployment office. It’s a long shot, but barest minimum you will be able to say that you stood up for yourself.

          I have seen applications for unemployment pushed right through the process because everyone in the department know that the employer was just a bad-bad actor. You are saying your employer has a long history of bad faith deals. This is what makes me think you should try one more time. But go in person to unemployment. Do not use the phone or internet.

      2. NylaW*

        Totally agree. I think gross misconduct gets a very vague, and high bar. We had someone steal from a petty cash box, but because it was such a small amount it didn’t meet the state standard for gross misconduct and she got unemployment.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Ugh, that is awful! Frankly, I think any firing for cause should disqualify, as well as any kind of voluntary unemployment. The former employee is free to contest it, and there are certainly some claims that go through because the employer never bothers to fill out the paperwork or doesn’t want to attend an appeal hearing.

          But on the whole, if you got canned because you did something worth firing, you probably should not get UI.

  34. Jamie*

    RSS feeder. I am coming to you all for tech support. I’ve been trying to find a good RSS reader forever and I’m using Feedly for iPad now, which I don’t hate, but it’s weird in that a lot of feeds hit immediately but the comments for AAM don’t load automatically and even refreshing I get loads like once an hour. Desktop for PC loads them immediately.

    No settings in Feedly which are throwing this off, so do I need a new feeder or is my brain still foggy?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Uuuuuughh, yes. I hate Feedly. For whatever reason I cannot convince it to mark things I’ve read as read, so the same posts come through the top of the reader over and over again.

      So: Suggestions for a non-Feedly replacement?

    2. khilde*

      I am using The Old Reader and I’m happy with that as being a similar “look” from Google Reader. I tried a few others but they were visually different from Reader that I couldn’t do them. I’m pretty visual and just needed the same navigation and The Old Reader does that for me. It is slow and I don’t know that I get the updated posts in a timely manner. But that’s ok for my purposes, I guess. I miss Google Reader….

    3. Jen in RO*

      I use Feedly on my desktop (and I don’t really like it), but on my take and phone I read my feeds using greaser. They’re still feed through Feedly but the gReader app is much nicer. I’m considering switching to The Old Reader, since it’s also supported in gReader, but I haven’t made the jump yet.

    4. Sabrina*

      Overall I like Feedly, but it doesn’t work with older browsers and I have no choice but to use an older one at work.

    5. ADL*

      Digg has a reader now. It looks like the Google Reader and IMHO, works much better than Feedly. One caveat though: right now I’m having a hard time importing my feedly file into Digg. Sigh.

    6. Jubilance*

      I use Feedly & I didn’t even know the comments came through on that. I always click the link to go to the post & comment there.

      I still love & miss Google Reader tho :-(

      1. Jen in RO*

        For the record, I have no idea what people mean about comments in Feedly. Am I supposed to see comments without going to the original site, somehow?

        1. Nikki T*

          I think there’s a separate feed for the comments. I remember trying to use it once and I didn’t really like it. Everything was coming up in random order…..

          1. Jen in RO*

            Ohh I get it now, it’s not Feedly-related, it’s just an RSS thing. Comments should be coming in chronological order… (I subscribe to other blog comments, but not to AAM, due to the sheer number – I wouldn’t get anything done, ever!)

        2. Windchime*

          That’s my question. For instance….there were 450 comments when I started reading and commenting. I got booted off the wifi and had to reboot; now there are 711 comments but I have no way of finding those comments I haven’t read yet. Is there a way to do it with Feedly? I didn’t see how it even was helpful, because it just sent me right back to this site, which is where I read (and comment) from in the first place.

            1. Windchime*

              Thank you! I will give it another try, then. I’m hooked on your blog AND the comments, and I hate to miss out on any of it.

    7. Dang*

      I use feeddler .. The same one I used when google reader wasa round.. Now it uses aol reader which is surprisingly very good. I randomly googled it the other day and was so excited to find I could use it again.

    8. Jessica (the celt)*

      I’m a huge Netvibes fan. I moved over years ago when Google Reader started marking old things as “read” when I hadn’t actually read them. I went through at least five others before hitting on this one. I’m slowly converting all my coworkers and friends to it as well, especially the ones who moved to Feedly after they left Google. ;)

      (Not related to Netvibes in any way. It’s just a good reader that I like, especially since I can have different “tabs” with other feeds, so I have a “daily” reads and a “non-daily” reads feed. This is actually the best thing for my productivity, because now I don’t look at the thousands of posts I haven’t read and feel like I need to read all of the posts right now, now, now!)

  35. Melissa*

    My boss is moving me from full time to part time and I can’t afford to be part time. Can I apply for unemployment even though I’m not unemployed completely? I don’t know what to do. Please help. Also I’m looking for full time so if anyone knows of any jobs please let me know.

      1. Jamie*

        actually in some instances you can. Speaking for manufacturing if they have yearly shutdowns and you are non-exempt and haven’t yet accrued vacation time you can get UI. Also in some industries where there are downtimes where you’re still employed, but not going in due to lack of work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, the shared work programs do that–Exjob had to do it for a while during the recession. We had to cut back hours for our shop people and they got UI for the reduced time. When things picked back up, they went back to full-time.

          If the job has gone to part-time permanently, I’m afraid Melissa is out of luck.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think that’s necessarily true either–it’s not in my state and it’s not in Washington, which was the first Google hit I found.

            And mostly I’m a big advocate of always applying for UI, because the worst that happens is you don’t get it, and odds are quite good in general that you do.

      2. Lindsay J*

        This is not true in all states. In some you definitely can file if you are dropped from full-time to part time. You don’t get the full compensation amount you would get if you were completely unemployed, but a lesser amount that helps bridge the gap between your current and former income.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, you ABSOLUTELY can apply for unemployment. I don’t know the unemployment rules of every state, so I can’t guarantee you that you’re a place where you can get UI with a part-time job. However, it won’t hurt to apply, and you definitely won’t get UI if you don’t. Go file.

    2. Anonymous*

      I think you can file for unemployment if your hours or pay are cut as long as it’s by a certain percent. I’m not sure if this is true in all states though.

    3. Sydney*

      That is one of the qualifying reasons for getting unemployment compensation in Texas. If it’s a reason in Texas, it’s likely one in your state, too.

  36. Marissa*

    So I’m pretty sure that I’ve been inadvertently sabotaging my own job search. I keep discovering things I’m doing wrong — some little, some big — that are keeping me from getting hired. For example: I recently found out two of the references I’d been giving for some time now are no good. I prepare for interviews, but still stumble over questions that shouldn’t be difficult.

    Can anyone relate to this “shooting myself in the foot” feeling? How can I stop the self-sabotage?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, I totally can.

      It’s not uncommon to feel disconnected and apathetic about a job search (or a job), and that often translates into mistakes. You need to figure out why you’re self-sabotaging, but not everyone can take the time to veg out and think about it. They still need to search.

      The way I dealt with this was to regiment myself. Try making a task list to follow for each day’s job search activities. Use it to guide your steps. It stares you in the face and tells you what to do–so you don’t have to think.

      Make another one for interview preparation. Put both of them on your desktop so you can see them when you get on the computer.

      Use your digital calendar to set reminders–I have an interview tomorrow; today, do this, and this, and this. If you don’t have a calendar, download VueMinder Lite (free). It lets you make pop-up reminders for appointments like Outlook does.

      Make sure you set a specific time each day to STOP searching. Otherwise, your entire day will be about the job hunt and that can be overwhelming. So make it like “Okay, I’m going to do all these tasks and then stop at 3:00.” Then you can do whatever you want for the rest of the day and give yourself a break.

      I’m assuming you don’t have a job currently–if you do, the task scheduling will have to go around it. And talk to someone about how you’re feeling–a trusted friend, family member, etc.

      1. Marissa*

        Thanks, these are all excellent suggestions. I managed my job search with an Excel spreadsheet for a while, but I think these would be even more helpful in organizing my thoughts and staying productive. I actually am working right now, but the nice thing about this job is that it affords me plenty of flexibility to work on job search-related tasks.

        I think it’s mainly the burden of the seemingly-endless job search that’s starting to get to me. But I’m glad that I’m at least building the self-awareness needed to fix my mistakes and (hopefully) not repeat them in the future.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Really great advice, EW.

        I would add be kind to yourself. It is a learning curve. If you were going to be an accountant you would not expect to know everything TOMORROW. Same deal here. There’s lots of stuff to learn and you will constantly be learning. Actually that is a GOOD thing. Learning is growing.

        I enjoy reading this blog because it keeps me out of the stinkin’ thinkin’ and puts me in a positive frame of mind. It also prevents me from being “alone”. I can read about what others are going through and how they handled it. Don’t allow yourself to be “alone” too much.
        It is oh-so-easy to make a huge list of everything we have done wrong. I suggest that you go one situation at a time and ask yourself what you did RIGHT. Ask yourself when did you feel proud of you, when did you stand strong?

        Let me point out that if everyone job hunted perfectly, Alison would be out a job.

        In my younger days I had a bear of a time with job hunting. Reflecting back on that I now realize…. it was because I did not WANT the jobs I was applying for. Peach. I hated filling out applications/resumes combined with an end result that I disliked, too. What a lose-lose situation that was. No wonder I made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of difficulty.
        Try to aim for working environments that actually appeal to you on some level. Are you good at the work? Do you get a sense of accomplishment? Do you like the company/products?
        Find some angle that actually appeals to you.

  37. ThatShyGirl*

    Open thread, I need some advice!

    I’ve been at my job for 15 years now, but I started here when I was ridiculously young (like, uh, 14) and have moved through different departments and job roles as I graduated high school, attended community college, went away to state university and worked weekends and then attended online classes. What I have been noticing in recent job searching is that some interviewers are turned off/extremely questioning about the length of my primary employment.

    Is there any good way to approach this the next time I get the “Wow, you’ve been at -x- for so long…”? And any tips on what their concerns could be founded in?

    1. The IT Manager*

      Alison has touched on this before. They may be concerned that you are too set in your (old company’s) ways, would be unable to adapt to a new enviroment and learn their way of doing things.

      The solution to head off this concern is to show growth – you changed departments and hopefully had ever increasing responsibility. Point that out and perhaps something to show you are not too moribund and are adaptable.

    2. badger_doc*

      Why don’t you just list the years since college instead of the years in high school? That will make the employment look like it is 5 years or so instead. I’m just thinking, what did you really do there in high school that would make you more marketable for any other job? It’s worth a try! My first resume out of college had none of the jobs I had before I was 18.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      I’ve been at the same employer for a long time, because I like them.
      The key is to show different assignments within that time period. That shows that you haven’t been doing the same job for 14 years straight (you haven’t been, right?)

      In my resume I put my company name, and the entire time period.
      That’s followed by each of the jobs, and the time frame for each:

      Chocolate Teapots Jan 1990 – Present
      Teapot Director Feb 2005 – Present
      Teapot Manager Jan 2000 – Feb 2005
      Chocolatier – Feb 1995 – Jan 2000
      Teapot Assembler Jun 1990 – Feb 1995

  38. Just a Reader*

    I have a wonderful mentor who not only gives me amazing advice and guidance, but actively advocates for me in our organization. Our relationship has evolved to be personal as well as professional. She’s a senior exec at my company.

    I’d like to give her a small gift and card of thanks for the holidays, maybe a bottle of wine with a nice note thanking her for everything over the past year.

    Is this inappropriate?

    1. Leslie Yep*

      I have done this in the past (same situation–mentor who is an incredible advocate for me), but for my mentor, I think more valuable than any gift was a really heartfelt note I sent her sharing how valuable and important she is to me. Depends on the relationship of course. I don’t think giving a gift is inappropriate, in general.

      1. Sascha*

        Agreed, for a mentor, I don’t think a gift is inappropriate, but it just really depends on what she would like. I would love a heartfelt note more than anything else. I received one from a coworker I really admire the other day, and it just made my week (I still keep it in my desk).

  39. Leslie Yep*

    My man hates his job. Just, he really hates it. It’s kind of a necessary holding place right now while he pursues another career (i.e. if he left this career for another one his chances of getting to the good stuff would decrease), but there is little redeeming for him. Every night he comes home somewhere on the spectrum from deflated to despondent. He is also not a glass half full kind of guy, and he doesn’t see much point in improving his attitude.

    Any advice for how I can support him? I want to comfort him and help him deal, but I’m exhausted from long hours and dissatisfaction with my own job (where I spend most of my time helping people put out fires of their own making), and tired of having the same conversation every night with no movement on his part.

    Insight from people who have been in my guy’s position would be really helpful; what helped you deal with an unsatisfying work environment? How would you advise me to balance support with avoiding a spiral of sadness/getting caught in a rut?

    1. fposte*

      So how finite is this situation? It sounds like it’s not likely to change in the immediate future, anyway.

      I think it’s good to find a time when you’re both a little more rested (maybe next weekend, if you don’t have crazy family challenges and have gotten a little extra sleep) and talk about this. It can be helpful to have stuff out in the open and create a plan–like how much venting he can lean on you to listen to, how to make sure support can go both ways, some things that might be pleasant redirections (going for even a short walk can be freaking magical) or rewards. That way you’re not abandoning him when you leave the room after five minutes of venting and say “I’ll run you a bath,” you’re doing something you agreed was okay.

      Counseling might also play a role in this–it can help give him tools as well as giving him a purpose-built space to vent.

      1. Leslie Yep*

        A challenge is that the timeline isn’t clear. He is taking active steps toward his desired career, but we’re in this until at least next spring. This is good advice; I think it will help to set expectations for both of us and commit to a course of action. Counseling would probably be helpful for both of us as well; I’ll check out my EAP! Thank you.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      The big problem is that he doesn’t see much point in improving his attitude. That attitude will reduce his future significantly. People want to hire hopeful people, not resigned ones. He is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      As far as his job – he need to find small ways to improve it. Small achievements, one at a time, add up to bigger ones.

      I’d also challenge you a bit. It sounds like you are enabling the behavior. He needs to take ownership of his situation.

      1. Leslie Yep*

        To your last point, I think that’s absolutely true and I’m really trying to break the cycle and better balance being supportive to him with allowing him to wallow by not challenging him. I appreciate that reflection of my thinking!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This can be really tough.
      I would try saying what you said here. Then add, “What do you think we should do together to get us out of this rut?”

      Conversely, maybe the opposite technique is necessary. Ignore the attitude entirely and become his biggest cheerleader for his new career. What steps has he taken this week towards getting there?
      People without hope of reaching their goals are the saddest people. Instead of taking about current time, talk about goals and plans. Paint a picture of a better future.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good luck. Sometimes when we change what we are doing, something new bubbles to the surface. Something that is unforeseen. So even if the strategy does not exactly work- it might trigger different responses/insights and that unforeseen in turn triggers change. It’s weird how that works.

    4. Regular Poster going Anon*

      My boyfriend is doing this now too. He hates his job and wants to leave (he’s even hoping to be laid off to get unemployment) but is terrible at job hunting. He makes all kind of excuses – only wants to apply somewhere he’d really LOVE to work (this ends up with 2 applications a MONTH), has to redo his website, or his resume, or find better references…. I hate seeing him upset but at the same time… there’s only so many time I can offer to help and/or suggest this blog.
      Any suggestions?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Can lead a horse to water….

        It sounds like you, too, have exhausted the suggestion pile.

        I really don’t think that two apps a month is bad. Especially if he is working at job from hell. If you are being told all day that you are a jerk, it is reeeeally hard to come home and promote yourself on paper to a stranger.

        The good news is that some people only apply for jobs they love and they actually end up with one of those jobs.

        I would consider taking a step back from the whole dialogue. When you see him excited about an opportunity go into cheerleader mode.
        See what I am looking at is first and foremost you are his SO, not his employment counselor. It is hard not to get involved, I know this first hand. The core issue is that you are distressed by seeing him upset. Perhaps, you can say point blank- “I know you are really upset. What can I do to actually be of help to you?”

        My husband had job from hell. He was not good at changing jobs. He hated it. Fortunately, he was good on interviews and he had a highly valued skill set. It took years for him to move. Finally, the thing that made him move was something ridiculous that his employer did. He went on to NICE job.

        Some people just do not move until the ceiling caves in. BF might be one of these people. I tried everything with my husband. Finally I just landed on “you deserve better than this.” I must have said it five thousand times.

        I think my question would be what is BF willing to do so that he is less grouchy at home? Focus the conversation on what CAN be done, rather than what can’t be done.

    5. Anonymous*

      We all have our limits on how much of these we can take, and you need to set some that are healthy for both of you.

      Your first obligation is to take care of yourself – if you don’t do that, you’re of no help to either of you. Two depressed, exhausted, stressed-out people in a relationship at the same time is a recipe for disaster, and the longer it goes on the worse it will be. Figure out what you can – and are willing to – do on an ongoing basis that will leave your mental health intact. If you can listen to half an hour of whining per work night as long as it’s no more than that (and weekends are left alone), then say so. If you can’t take it during the week when you’re exhausted, but you can cope with a bit of venting on Saturday afternoon, say so (and stick to it).

      If you can’t take any more of it after hearing a lot of complaining with no action, then you have one final, “I’ve heard what you have to say, and given you the best advice I can. I think the decision at this point is up to you. I’ll support whatever you decide, but I don’t think there’s any value in further discussion between the two of us.” Repeat as needed, and do not be swayed by guilt.

      Don’t misunderstand this as my suggesting you should not be a supportive partner – you should – but part of that is being honest about your limits, whatever they are.

      Supportive does NOT include “fixing” him or fixing the situation for him. You need to be very clear in your own mind that he is responsible for his own career. You are neither his career counselor nor his therapist.

      Oddly enough, one of the most supportive things you can do is set a good example. Take care of yourself – proper amounts of sleep, food, exercise, and whatever recreation your schedule permits. Manage the challenges you face in a way that you would admire in someone else (probably cheerfully and kindly while still enforcing necessary boundaries).

      Modelling the type of behavior you would like to see is likely to be much more effective than any speech you can make.

      Good luck to both of you.

  40. Mints*

    So this isn’t a problem to solve, but something that I thought was weird, so I’m asking if this seems normal:
    I work as support staff for an industry with alot of specific certifications. When I asked about getting business cards, they said that they only give business cards to staff with a specific certification. This is so strange to me. Do accounfirms only give cards to CPAs? Or clinics to MDs?

    1. The IT Manager*

      I do not expect everyone in a company needs business cards. Certification does seem a bit of an odd way for them to differentiate who gets cards, but they might signify position. I wouldn’t be shocked to hear a clinic provided business cards only for their Doctors or only their doctors and nurses, but not the receptionist.

      1. Mints*

        I was being a little hyperbolic with the clinics example, since I know the answer, haha. It’s true that not everyone gets business cards, but there are plenty of administrative staff that do get them, who don’t have MDs or RNs. It doesn’t seem like it really does signify position in this industry either

    2. Jamie*

      I’ve never heard of certification being the criteria, but everywhere I’ve worked it’s been based on who needs them for business purposes.

      AA and reception would usually just use generic cards (company info – no name). Usually the people who get them automatically are upper management, anyone who deals directly with customers, anyone who deals directly with vendors (with contract signing authority.)

      1. Mints*

        Yeah I get that, and if they would have said I don’t interact with clients enough or whatever I would have thought that’s normal
        (For the record, I wasn’t sure if I was getting any, and didn’t ask until a coworker asked me if I had ordered them yet)
        I’m glad to see that the certifications requirement are as unusual as I expected

  41. Jodi*

    Yes! I have a question related to something that AAM mentioned in a post this Monday…we currently have a review process in my office, but many of the employees think that we could benefit from 360 reviews. These reviews would have come in handy with the exact situation that AAM suggested, “promoting someone to a key senior role.”

    A manager in the department was recently promoted to a new senior role, yet she is not regarded highly by any of the people that she manages namely because of her inability to prioritize (everything is urgent in her mind) and her excessive micromanaging. I’m not even in her chain of command, but she still tries to micromanage me (asks me to send her bulleted lists of what I’m working on – my manager has never even asked that of me), and I’ve come to see these faults that others have been complaining about. The “powers that be” that promoted her did not ask for any input on her management or interpersonal relations in the office, and this is leading to an air of hostility amongst lower-ranking employees, who are fed up with the politics of promotions. (“How did SHE get promoted before Jane?!”)

    Does anyone have any idea for how lower-ranking employees can suggest implementing 360 reviews? The lacking manager has already been promoted, but is there anyway we can still make her inefficiencies clear to those who promoted her?

  42. KB*

    I have a question about transitioning out of an admin role. I was hired as an executive assistant, but have recently been given a role in a department as a specialist. I work in a small satellite office that has limited administrative staff. They decided to combine my previous admin role with another admin, which means a lot of the people who I previously assisted (with expenses, travel, etc) no longer have that level of assistance, and that the admin team no longer has the back up that I provided.

    The team I now report to (including my new manager) is out of our corporate office, and I am the satellite office’s support for that department which includes a rather large work load. I am getting a lot of push back from people in my office to do the type of tasks I did previously including from the admin team. I don’t want to come off as not a team player and I don’t want to upset people (esp when I need to work with them in my new role), but at the same time I want people to respect the change in focus for me and the change in responsibility. I don’t want to get stuck in the rut of helping people with admin duties because it’s what I’ve always done because I have a limited capacity to do it now and because it would conflict with my new role’s priorities and goals. How do I turn down requests for admin assistance when there is no one I can direct them to to help them? Example: today I had a person come to me wanting help organizing a training class: booking the room, sending out the calendar invites, gathering the materials, ordering the food, etc. This person no longer has any admin support so I can’t tell him to go to someone else for help.

    1. kristinemc*

      You say that there is no one else they can go to – is the person who took over your tasks not able to do certain things at all?

      Are these people asking you to do these things for them, or do they just need help getting started? Would it be helpful to put together a how-to manual for common tasks, that showed the steps you used, who you called, etc? Then maybe you could say “I’m not able to set that up for you, but here is a list of the steps that I would follow and who I would call when I did it”, so you’re helping as you can, but you’re not actually doing the tasks that you don’t have time to do?

      1. KB*

        There used to be one person supporting each of the two executives and then assisting that executive’s teams as needed. Now there is one assistant supporting the two executives and she does not have the bandwidth to support the teams (which is completely understandable and a move decided by the execs). The things I’ve been asked to help with are not things that these people don’t know how to do. They know how to send a calendar invite, they know how to scan documents or send a fax. They know how to book a conference room. To be honest, the biggest problem is that most of the requests are small and would only take a few minutes. But if you give a mouse a cookie…

        There is some resentment that the position I left wasn’t filled and that the corporate office has a team of admins the support people of the same rank. But that is beside the point. I really cannot drop everything and scan and print a bunch of documents or send out 100 calendar invites. My new manager has told me in no uncertain terms NOT to handle administrative tasks because there needs to be the understanding and perception that I am no longer responsible for those tasks. However, my manager isn’t here to back me up on that in the day to day. I understand the need to change people’s perceptions so they recognize that I am no longer the go-to person, but am having trouble with the execution. How do you tell a senior manager that no, you are not going to do that task for them because it’s not your job without coming off sounding like a jerk?

        1. Marina*

          “I’m really sorry, but [new manager] has asked that I not do this kind of task anymore.” And if they press, “Would it be okay if you check in directly with [new manager] about scheduling this around my other tasks?”

          1. buyout*

            I agree with the above. Your manager supports you turning down this administrative work, so you absolutely should be firm! I don’t have much more to add, but I really encourage you to say no, because otherwise you’re not likely to keep up with and excel in your new position. You don’t owe them those administrative tasks – that’s on someone else – so don’t feel guilty, and be polite but firm. Throw yourself 100% into your new role so that you’re so busy, you don’t even have the option to say yes.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is one of those cases where you probably should go to your manager and tell him you need back up. Tell him what you said here, that you find it awkward to say NO to a senior manager. You don’t want to get in trouble for insubordination, so you are between a rock and a hard place.
          This to me sounds like a management issue- up to the big wigs to duke it out instead of requiring you to be the messenger.

          The solution could be as easy as your manager sending out an email. But I think that your manager needs to go to bat for you.

          1. buyout*

            I think this is a know your workplace issue. The manager has already given her the okay to turn down this work, so I think the OP should at least give it a solid try before going back to the manager again.

            It also sounds like the manager is on the same level as the other seniors pushing work on OP, so I’m not sure the manager has any authority over them. I think its worth going to bat anyway, but if it can be contained with a firm no, why make it into a bigger deal? It’s good practice to say no to other people. :)

    2. NewGirlinTown*

      I would think talking to your manager would be best in this situation. Explain what is happening, and how you are concerned that it will impact your work being done for your new team. Then, ask your manager how to proceed.

      1. IronMaiden*

        This. Perhaps after this discussion you could ask your manager to send an email outlining your new role and responsibilities, so everyone is aware.

  43. BCW*

    My company just was acquired by a larger company. Looks like there will be layoffs. Luckily, its looking good for me to get hired on with the new company, but it a different department. The new job has a bonus structure that is very good, but realistically the actual pay might be less than I’m making now. I’ve never been in a situation like this with my company being bought out. In these situations can you actually negotiate the salary, or is it more “Take it or leave it” type of thing. I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot (assuming I get an actual offer) but with my current expenses, it would be hard to take a pay cut.

    1. fposte*

      I haven’t been there, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt, but I think you can raise the question and ask if there’s a possibility of getting the salary level you’ve had, even with the new bonus structure. Whether there’s room to push if they say “Nope”–that I couldn’t say, and I suspect it’s dependent on the company and your position.

    2. Mena*

      I have been through two acquisitions; there is not re-negotiation of salary. The good news is that you’ll still have a job. And yes, it would be starting off on the wrong foot to think you can negotiate more money. Take it or leave it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me, this is what I am seeing around here.

        Definitely say nothing about a pay raise.

  44. Jamie*

    Just venting – but I so hate working from home. I’m not able to go back yet, but laying propped up in bed with my VPN is like ruining both things for me. It’s tainting my favorite place to relax and watch TV in comfy jammies with work, and it’s tainting work with the noise and interruptions of my house.

    I miss my line of demarkation – I miss my monitors and my office and yes, the chit chat with work friends which is spontaneous as emails and texts aren’t cutting it.

    Most of all though, I’m unnerved by not being there to read situations and tone in person. At the office a short one line email is just a short one line email…here…is everything okay, is this terseness or just brevity? Has everyone decided they didn’t need me so much after all and just don’t want to tell me I’m irrelevant until I get back? I miss working normal hours because I don’t sleep anymore so I’m working on and off 24 hours a day. It’s ridiculous.

    I am not a paranoid person, but I am getting there…I don’t have the temperament for work from home thing.

    And I miss my commute. I miss having some time alone during the day – I can’t blast music or do anything without someone coming in asking what I’m doing, what I’m listing to, or mocking my choice of entertainment. I love my family, little critics though they are, but I miss missing them. I miss being able to consistently take care of my own beverage needs, I miss doing my own laundry (they are doing it WRONG), and I miss cleaning my own house (they are doing it WRONG), I miss being totally ambulatory.

    I do like working with the cutest coworkers ever (fur babies) but I miss the office. I guess I need an office with pets and I’d be all set.

    Just a vent – I don’t know how people do this full time of their own volition. I know some love it, but if I were offered a perfect job for crazy money but I had to work from home 100% I’d have to pass. This is making me crazy.

    1. Colette*

      The lack of sleep might be feeding the paranoia.

      Can you set “business hours” and only work between, say, 8 – 10 am and 3 – 5 pm (or whatever makes sense and still lets you get the rest you need? (I’m not clear on whether you’re actually officially working or just trying to keep up with things for when you get back to work.)

      Everyone I know who has had surgery has found it frustrating to be so inactive for so long, and I hope you’re back to normal soon.

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah, I’ve tried setting limits but my problem is I’m a lousy employee when I try to manage myself…so I keep disobeying myself. I should write me up, but if know I’ll never really punish me…I like me too much…ha.

        I’m trying to work as full a schedule as possible while home for the remainder, but flexible as to work around how I feel…I was off completely the first week.

        I do think the lack of sleep is doing a number on my head. I’ve never gone through this before, but longish term sleep deprivation sucks.

        I know I’m lucky to even be able to work from home, I’m just whining. And I’ll whine when I go back because I’m heading back after 3 weeks and doctor recommended 4-8 weeks for recovery because of the sitting and fatigue thing. But December is my business period and I have things that just can’t be moved.

        1. Colette*

          Maybe do the “I can only work for an hour, and the I have to watch an episode of [show]” to make yourself take breaks

          Or only allow yourself to work if you’re sitting up (since you’re physically limited when it comes to that)?

    2. ChristineSW*

      When are you able to go back in the office?

      As for where you work (propped in bed at the moment) – I don’t know if you have any physical restrictions from your surgery, but would it be possible to instead work from a desk or table elsewhere in your house? Or perhaps even on a comfy couch or chair and just prop your feet?

      I can actually kinda relate. Because I can’t drive, I’m home all. the. time. Everyone suggests I get a work-from-home job, but 1) I don’t have the self-discipline to not get distracted and 2) I just like the idea of having an actual workplace to go to. So I’m with you….I could never work from home 100% of the time.

      1. Jamie*

        Without getting too descriptive for the squeamish, I’m only in pain if I sit or walk too long. I do sit upright as much as I can in a chair, then back to the laptop where I lay and pretend I’m cleopatra…lol.

        It’s just a matter of trying to get comfy without putting pressure on incisions that do not want pressure right now.

        I’ll be going back early December…and I keep reminding myself when that time comes I’ll miss this.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      The problem is that you are violating your sanctuary with work. Many work from home people have a room designated “work” that is separate from the rest of the house.

      Is there any way you can create a work room in another room from your sanctuary?

      1. Rana*

        That’s a very good point. Even something as small as working from the couch instead of your bed can be helpful.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You are definitely healing up, Jamie! Congrats.
      When people start getting itchy about their setting, they want to move to the next level that is a big indicator of healing on the move. So yeah, all this stuff that you are saying- that is what healing up looks like!

      My husband got banged up pretty good in an accident. Two months to heal. When he started talking about being bored and annoyed, I knew he was doing BETTER!

      And yeah, that lack of a sleep schedule is messing up your thoughts. The y love you, they want you back and they have a thousand things that need your immediate attention, simultaneously. They just don’t want to tell you right now.

    5. Windchime*

      I so, so hear you on this one, sister. We are in the same boat, it’s just that I’m a couple weeks ahead of you. The first couple of weeks, I was too tired and incapacitated to work at all, other than emailing my boss a couple of times. On week 3, I was feeling better and made it to the office a few times. I was getting cabin fever. On week 4, I went to the office 3 days but fell apart and had a crying jag when I had to work at home again one day because I couldn’t stand being here alone one. more. day.

      Now I’m just finishing up week 6. I went to the office 3 days this week and worked from home the other two. It’s tough to work on a laptop when you’re accustomed to multiple monitors. I live alone, so I started to get very lonely and despondent after too many days alone.

      It’ll get better. I so totally get where you are coming from. I hope to God I can drive next week, because I’m sure my sister is getting tired of hauling me and my knee roller around and I want to go to friggin’ Target by myself.

      A friend said that I am “Taking the ‘patient’ out of ‘patient'”.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Can’t wait!!!
      No specific plans, but I will watch at home.
      I wish I knew of a viewing party or something.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I found a fan meetup group someone had started here. We meet every two weeks and watch episodes and nerd out a little. We’re having a party tonight, with cake. :D I ordered some Jelly Babies through Amazon but they won’t be here until next month. Rats!

        I’ve seen all the newer ones but I’m lacking in the classic Who that isn’t on Netflix and have had to find an alternate source. To prepare, I’ve watched the 1996 movie, Terror of the Zygons, The Brain of Morbius (hilarious), and The Five Doctors.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      The special is airing at the same time as the BYU/Notre Dame game (go Cougars!) and my friend is a manager at a movie theater so has to work the morning shift for Catching Fire, so we’re holding a party at night. Planned food includes banana milkshakes, “fish fingers” and custard, Jelly Babies, Jammie Dodgers, and cupcakes with edible ball bearings.

      It’s going to be AWESOME.

    3. The IT Manager*

      So annoyed. I am flying “home” for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Obviously I bought my tickets severl months in advance. At the time I was forced to guess that yet unscheduled the LSU/Texas A&M game would probably be played at night and assumed that the “Day of the Doctor” would also air at night – obviously.

      No! I guessed wrong on both counts and will be in the air during both. So annoyed. My parents are already DVRing the game and once I reach their house I will have to set the DVR to record Doctor Who rerun that night.

      Gonna have to watch that late as my parents are not Doctor Who fans. I got a surpised, “You still watch that show?” during another visit to their house. To be fair, how many people can say they have have been watching new episodes of the same television show spanning 30+ years. Only Doctor Who fans and some soap opera fans. (I’ve been watching for about 30 years since I discovered Doctor Who on PBS as a child.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I remember seeing Tom Baker in passing on the TV, but there were three of us kids fighting over what to watch and I always lost. No one else in my family is even vaguely nerd-like, so I always have to do my own thing there. Had I been able to watch it, I’m certain I would have gotten hooked LONG before now.

      2. Becky B*

        Somehow I can’t wrap my head around the fact that seeing the show on PBS way back was 30-some years ago…but thank goodness I did, lifelong fan here!

    4. 22dncr*

      Can’t wait!! When I lived in SF the PBS station played ALL the series from day 1 on Saturday nights starting at 10 after Austin City Limits. They would go on till the complete story was told – how ever long that took. It was FAB! I’m stoked I get BBCAmerica in my cable package now.

        1. Becky B*

          We upgraded specifically to get BBCA too! Most of the other channels we’re forced to take are going to waste. :)

    5. Diane*

      A little late to the party, but I’m going to see it in a real theater tonight!

      p.s. I met Peter Davison once. He fixed my camera for me. Sigh.

  45. BG*

    I’m having my first annual review at this job (actually ever, at a full-time job) next week. I want to ask for a raise if I’m not given one and I know that is the time to do it. Other than reviewing my accomplishments, what should I do to prepare? I’m definitely nervous – and I know I’m already a bit overpaid as it is. When is the best time to bring it up? Help!!!

    1. fposte*

      In what sense are you overpaid now? That could be a problem, but it’s also possible that you’re not saying that from a company viewpoint.

      Identify your achievements in the context of what they do for the company (“My overhaul of the database increased overall productivity by 400%”; “Everybody’s happier since I smell proofed the fish-only kitchen”). Take a no gracefully but use it to raise the question of what kind of standards they’d like you to meet in order to merit a raise in future.

      1. BG*

        Good idea on asking what would merit a raise if I get a no.

        I negotiated really well when I started, and checking salary comparison websites and with others in the industry, it seems like I’m making a bit more than others at my level.

        I know I’ve been doing well and have achievements to prove it. Just nervous :)

        1. fposte*

          Understandably. But I think you’ll be fine regardless of the outcome. It sounds like you’re a good fit who’s doing well and looking forward to contributing more, and that’s a message that has a good impact with managers even if they can’t justify an increase at the moment.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You could tell them how much you like the job/company. Then slide into a conversation about progressing. “how do I make myself more of an asset to this company?”
      This could lead to talk about plans for the future.

  46. Anonymous*

    So I’m in the middle of the hiring process with a company. The current step is to take a critical thinking test and do a project based on their software. The job isn’t like coding or anything, but essentially it would be teaching others how to use the software and helping them use the results. Well, I was sent some help videos along with the questions I’m supposed to answer. Lets just say that the videos aren’t very good, and I don’t think the layout of the software is all that great. So this project is proving more difficult than I imagined. They even mentioned its a new process so there may be some “bugs” they need to still work out.

    So first question, with these things, are they looking for you to get everything right? If not, what would you say is an acceptable level of error. It seems a bit much since realistically, if the software was so easy that someone who hasn’t been really trained could use it fully, then the job would be pointless.

    Also, is there anyway of communicating my concerns to them without sounding like I’m not tech savvy or smart enough to do the job?

    1. Anonymous*

      I’m the anon from above. To clarify, its not just one help video to watch to try and figure out this project they gave me. There are about 20 videos averaging 8-10 minutes that I have to look through. The titles of each one isn’t very useful, so realistically, while I’m sure the answers are in there somewhere, it would probably take more than 2 hours just to watch them all

      1. Marina*

        If they sent you 20 videos, it sounds like they’re expecting you to watch them all. Sorry, that sounds like a serious time suck. :( But it would not sound good to say, “I couldn’t answer these questions because I didn’t want to spend two hours watching the videos you sent.”

    2. EngineerGirl*

      If there are truly problems with the material I would address it in a nice way. I’d mention that if I got this job, I would… then come up with a list of things you would do. If the video names are misleading, I’d come up with better names for them.

      Now, if your interviewer is the one that did this shoddy work, they may be thrilled that you found out what was “wrong” with them, and be happy to hire you. Or they may get all “how dare they!”, in which case you’ve escaped a bad situation.

  47. MissDisplaced*

    Question: I recently received a call about a job I had applied for. I responded as soon as possible, but unfortunately missed the person.

    This has now been going on for a week of “phone tags.”

    I have called back several times and left messages, and even suggested contact by email and/or scheduling a SPECIFIC phone appointment time, but have yet to hear anything back from the person.

    Is there anything else I can or should do at this point? I do not have the person’s email address, only the two phone numbers given me (one of which does not even go to a voicemail). I feel I’ve reached the limit for how many times I can call without seeming to be a job stalker.

    1. fposte*

      Ugh. Did they ever call back after that first call? It sounds like they didn’t, but “phone tag” makes me think that maybe they called again.

      If they didn’t even call back after that time, I think you just have to swear and let it go, at least for a while. Maybe they left early for the holiday (if you’re in the US), maybe they’ve gone with somebody else, but the problem isn’t that they don’t know how to reach you.

      If you are in the U.S. I might give them one more try the Monday after Thanksgiving just in case there was a travel thing, but then I’d let it go.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes… phone tag.

        1st call around 4pm on a Friday (I didn’t hear phone ring because I went outside for a minute to move the car)
        I called back about 4:15 or so and got voicemail so left message.

        2nd call at 8am Monday morning (was in the shower!). I called back office number promptly but no pickup and call didn’t even go to voicemail. I tried this office # several times during Monday, finally called the mobile phone # and left a message.

        I’ve tried calling Wednesday and today and left a message suggesting we schedule a time, but no response.

        SO FRUSTRATING! It sound like a really good job too, but I simply have no idea when or if this person ever intents to call back or if that was that and I missed it. It’s weird too.. I mean I usually carry my phone with me, but not into the shower/bathroom LOL! I suppose I could try TEXTING to their cell number, but it feels a little pushy/intrusive even though they did give me that number.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, dear, that does make it more frustratingly equivocal. I think you’ve still done everything sane you can do at this point, though, and unless you hear back from them the post-Thanksgiving followup call is the one remaining option.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            Thanks! I’ll give it one more go on Monday, and maybe even try the text contact, and then move on if no answer.

  48. Nyxalinth*

    No job related stuff from me. I wanted to say that the kitties are adorable. My cat is too, she’s a caico and white, and she’s loud and bossy! She also flees from everyone but me :( She hates it when I use the toaster and yells at me about it the whole time, and sometimes does this with the microwave, too.

    Also, for all the gamers here, I made it into the Beta for The Elder Scrolls Online. I don’t think it will be a WoW killer, but it will give them some competition!

    1. Jen in RO*

      Congratulations on the beta! I’m a bad gamer, I got into the friends and family beta for Cataclysm and I only logged in twice… I hope my neck aches go away in time for Warlords. :(

    2. Sascha*

      Let us know how it goes! I was in the Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta, and while I got excited about the game, I was very impatient with all the “beta-ness.” I am content to sit back and wait until they mostly finish it. Until then, I’m playing old Final Fantasy games on the PlayStation. :)

  49. Janet*

    So a quick and weird question. A co-worker of mine is getting laid off. He knows he is. He has 30 days before he leaves. It’s mainly performance based. He needs a lot of hand holding. Since he was told, he’s been hyper needy about me looking over his resume and his cover letters and then forwards e-mails from prospective jobs to me for help on crafting a response. I’ve told him that I’m too busy to help him out with this but it persists. Yesterday he called me 6 times and I let it go to voice mail each time.

    I kind of feel like I have to just say “You need to stop this and this is kind of why you’re leaving” but is that too mean? It will all be over in 30 days so should I maybe just wait it out until he’s gone?

    1. BCW*

      It depends on the nature of your relationship. Is he only a co-worker, or do you consider him a friend? If he is just a co-worker, I’d tell him that you just don’t have time to hold his hand through the process. However, if you consider him a friend, I’d try to figure something out. Like maybe tell him you can help with certain things.

      1. Janet*

        We were friends a long time ago and reconnected when he got hired. So it’s a weird relationship.

        I’ve tried to do limits – he mailed me a whole writing test he was assigned for a job application and the message said “Help!” and I wrote back “Fill it out and I’d be happy to look at it when you’re through and give it a second set of eyes but I’m pretty swamped today so I won’t be able to review while I’m at work.” and he seemed disappointed that I wasn’t going to do more than that.

        I feel bad about screening the calls but there are just SO many. Six calls in one day, some texts and an instant message are too much.

        1. Jen M.*

          You’re doing the right thing. Continuing to hand hold will only enable the behavior.

          I have a couple of people in my life who are similarly needy, and your approach of “finish the task, and I’ll look it over when you’re done” is perfect.

    2. Marina*

      I’d just wait it out. I don’t think it’s polite to ignore his calls, but it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I’m sorry, Bob, like I’ve told you before I’m not able to help you with this.”

    3. Colette*

      If you want to help, you can try setting limits – i.e. “If you want me to look over your resume, I’ll have it back to you with comments by the end of Friday” – and then if he follows up before then, just repeat that you’ll get back to him by your deadline.

      Another option would be to direct him to any local organizations that help with that kind of thing – I know the Ontario government has places that help with job hunting, can’t speak for other places.

      But if you don’t like him, don’t want to help, or are concerned that setting limits will be more drama than you want in your life, you don’t have to do anything.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could tell him he is allowed ONE job hunting question per day, then after that he has to ask others.

      But really, you are not an employment counselor. Can you just say that you are not up on the best way to handle a lot of this stuff and he should seek help from outside sources?

  50. Mary*

    Hi friends,

    Long-time listener, first-time caller. My question for all of you today is mostly just a request for commiseration.

    My job recently got reclassified and went from exempt to non-exempt. I went from having a flexible schedule, with the option to work at home pretty much any time I didn’t have a meeting, to having to be in the office, with my butt in a chair, for 40 hours per week. As far as I know, I’m the only person in the department who got reclassified in this way, and it sucks.

    I don’t think the reclassifying had anything to do with my work – I work for a research and development facility as part of a university and they reclassified all the jobs to align with campus’s job descriptions. But the people who did the reclassifying never talked to me, or my boss, or even my boss’s boss.

    I’ve had a difficult time in rearranging my life to conform to my new schedule. It is always jarring when you think that your life is going to be one way, and then suddenly it has to be another.

    Has anyone else navigated their way through a similar kind of transition, and if so, what did you do about it? I have chosen to deal with it through the following options:
    – Complaining to my friends and husband
    – Occasional evenings of dinner for one and wine for three
    – Jobhunting (with some notable successes, like two phone interviews today and another next week)

    Any advice and sympathy you may have is most welcome.

      1. Mary*

        Thank you; I appreciate it. *hug*

        Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was supposed to be payday today for all the non-exempt employees, but since I worked a single exempt day in November, I won’t get paid until Wednesday. I’m not in a situation where this causes undue hardship, but it is annoying and inconvenient. Not to mention somewhat disrespectful.

    1. TL*

      I had to do that! Except it wasn’t as drastic – I can’t work from home.

      I focused on the good things – i.e., I can only work 40 hrs a week – not allowed overtime – (sometimes I used to work 45-50 when things got busy with no extra pay) and it’s probable that you’re owed overtime if they are saying your position was misclassified beforehand and you worked overtime. (I got about 75% of a paycheck extra due to overtime.)

      I’m still flexible about when I go in and out of the office and sometimes I have to leave early on Fridays because I put in a longer day earlier (the way my job is, a longer day is sometimes necessary) and it’s nice to say, “Okay, I’d love to, but to stay longer means overtime.”

      I still don’t like it as much, but it’s not terrible. I complained a lot for a while but then I just got over it.

      The biggest benefit is that once I walk out the door, every time I think of work, I say to myself, “Are they paying you to work right now? No? Than don’t think about it.” So I’m much more off when I’m not at work. Same for lunch – well, lunch isn’t as successful but if someone bugs me during lunch, I take a break during my paid time and feel no. guilt.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The biggest benefit is that once I walk out the door, every time I think of work, I say to myself, “Are they paying you to work right now? No? Than don’t think about it.”

        Oh yes, this. This got me through the whole PIP and subsequent period at Exjob. I still do it now. The 5-9 is MY time, not theirs. I like my new job much better, but that doesn’t mean I want to think about it all night.

    2. JBeane*

      I’m sorry to hear about this! I also work for a university and went through the same thing last year. You’re right that it’s awful to go through such a jarring change. In a weird way it almost felt like it was a demotion.

      Is there any way you could talk to your boss about this? Even if you can’t work from home as much anymore, is he willing to treat you like a non-exempt worker with a flexible schedule? My boss is okay with me having a flexible schedule, as long as we’re sure it all adds up to 40 per week so that everything is legal. Even though I’ve got to come into the office I can leave early or come in late some days and make up the time during other days of the week. Your boss might similarly be willing to work with you to make this new classification as easy as possible on you.

      Sorry I don’t have much in the way of productive advice. Good luck!

  51. BN*

    I am starting to figure out that I have very little sense of what I want to “do” as a career. How did everyone here figure out what they wanted to do in terms of a career?

    1. Jen in RO*

      Luck and friends. A fried recommended/hired me in a job I had no idea about, buy it turned out to be a great fit. Then, when the pay was not good enough, my boyfriend recommended I apply for a different, but related job. I was hired and it’s pretty much perfect for me. Oh, and this all started with me having a blog and writing about my love of sci-fi books! (The first job was copy editing for a sci fi collection and I met the friend/senior editor because he read my blog.)

      1. BN*

        Thanks for replying. I feel like I’ve gotten by really well on luck… haphazardly chose a major I wasn’t sure was “for me” that took me through a graduate degree; I loved it wholeheartedly. Now, though, I’m in a job I got by luck through a friend’s recommendation… and I’m not happy. The culture is screwy and my boss manages by intimidation, but what am I even looking for instead? I don’t want to be here, but I can’t articulate where I’d rather be. I feel like all of a sudden I have no idea what I am looking for out of my career.

        If I’ve only been here for 7 months and it’s not looking great for the long term, should I forgo a potentially better opportunity because I’m new/haven’t been there a year/this is a ‘character building’ position?

    2. Frieda*

      Alison helped me out with that in this post:

      Basically, figure out what it is that you can’t not do, no matter what your job is, and then do that. For me it was being systematic in solving problems/using spreadsheets, so now I’m getting a master’s in Predictive Analytics and I love it, and the field is really expanding right now.

      Alison also unpacks the “do what you love” idea here:

      yay archives!

        1. Frieda*

          Northwestern University in Chicago, but the entire program is offered online (I’m in NYC). It is designed to be done part time while working, and it is very focused on practical/business applications. It’s sort of like a statistics degree combined with an MBA. (But, as one of my professors says, “Unlike with an MBA, here you’ll actually learn how to do things.”) It’s a relatively new program and I think they only had their first graduates last year.

          I’m a few courses in and so far I like it a lot. The distance learning format takes some getting used to, and I think there are places where they could improve. If given the option I’d probably prefer on-campus classes, but given that I need to keep my job (they provide some tuition reimbursement, not to mention health insurance) and I don’t want to move, this is working out pretty well. I’m planning on learning Python over winter break, and I’m super excited about it.

          Berkeley and NYU have started similar Master’s programs in the past year, too, so if you are interested in statistics/data science/analytics definitely look around. It’s hard work

    3. NewGirlinTown*

      Haha, I still sometimes feel a bit lost.

      I’ve been playing the “what do I want to be when I grow up” game for years. It’s hard sometimes, especially when there are so many options in the world today!

      I suggest interning/shadowing. Are you in college?

      1. BN*

        Unfortunately not. I am in my first position after going straight from undergrad to grad school. Can I just have a re-do? I would have been taking internships left and right if I’d known what I know now.

      2. ChristineSW*

        I’ve been playing the “what do I want to be when I grow up” game for years.

        Ugh me too! I was in “analysis paralysis” for a long time, especially after my layoff. I’m not obsessing as much as I was before, but I’m still lost. I’ve tried reaching out to people, but people are so busy these days, it’s pretty much impossible to get a hold of anyone. I really wish I could go back in time and get a “redo”, particularly with graduate school.

    4. Sascha*

      I started identifying patterns regarding tasks I enjoyed doing in each of my jobs. For example, I love implementing projects and improving processes. I also like research, and solving puzzles – if someone comes to me with a need for answers, I like to figure out the best method for something, or give her as much info as will be useful. I then started thinking about roles where these types of tasks are important. Project management is such a role. Now lots of businesses need project managers, so what type of projects would I like to implement? For me, it’s technology. And here I am today, with an English degree, serving as a project manager/system administrator/database reporter. :)

      I also noticed that I was always coming around to technology. I coded websites and fixed computers in my teens, and would become the go-to person for minor tech issues in my jobs during college, and this experience eventually led me to where I am today.

      I hope this is helpful – I definitely empathize, as I definitely chose my major haphazardly, and I spent several years trying to break into more liberal arts-focused fields (like marketing and graphic design) without much success. Part of the problem there was, I enjoyed graphic design and writing ad copy as hobbies and volunteer work, but the thought of doing that as a full time job drained me.

    5. Windchime*

      I kind of fell into it. Years ago, I got divorced and I knew I couldn’t support my kids on my clerical salary. I did medical billing and payment posting. My employer had recently formed an IT department, so I decided to go to community college to become a network/desktop support person. They had just started the program that year. I was required to take a programming class and I loved it, so I changed my focus to programming and that’s pretty much what I’ve done since them.

  52. SweetMisery*

    How do you list on your resume that you went from a temp through a temp agency to a full time perm employee with the same job description?

    1. NylaW*

      I have this situation on my resume and I listed the temp agency and job title (actual company I worked for in parenthesis) then the date range I was with the temp agency. Immediately after that I list the company I worked for after I was hired, same job title, and date range. You can do it in either order but I think putting the company name with the job title makes it obvious what happened.

      1. SweetMisery*

        It seems like it would take alot of space. Should I pick only one to put the bullets of accomplishments and whatnot?

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I would list it like this:

      Teapot Inspector, Chocolate Teapots, Inc. July 2013-Present
      Temporary Teapot Inspector, Chocolate Teapots, Inc., Jan. 2013-July 2013 (through Teapot Temps, LLC)

      Accomplishment 1
      Accomplishment 2

  53. AdAgencyChick*

    Related to the more recent post about giving down, not up:

    I just hired someone (yay!). This person will start most likely in the middle of December. I have one other direct report at this point, and I was planning to get my current direct report a small holiday gift as a thank-you for his work.

    Do I get the new employee a gift as well? On the one hand, he’ll have been an employee for only about a week by the time the holidays roll around, so it feels odd to say “Here you go, thanks for all your hard work!” On the other hand, I’d be giving something to one employee and not the other, and I suppose I could frame it as, “Happy holidays, welcome to the team!”

    What say you?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s weirder to leave somebody out than include them here (and in general). I like the “Welcome to the team!” framing, and there are plenty of nice gestures that wouldn’t be too burdensome–the mug with treats kind of thing, etc.

    2. kristinemc*

      I would say, yes, even if it’s just a Starbucks gift card in a small denomination.

      I wouldn’t want to chance them feeling left out and not a part of the team. They likely won’t expect anything, only having been there a week, but it will make them feel good.

    3. badger_doc*

      Definitely give both of them something if you were going to give one of them a gift anyway. Even if it is a $5-10 Starbucks gift card. He will feel alienated if you do not.

    4. Sydney*

      I’d definitely give the newbie a small gift. They don’t have to be the same necessarily, but something. With only two people, it’s better to be inclusive.

  54. Anonymous*

    Has anyone started a job and really felt like the work is not right? If you’ve felt this way what advice do you have? Were you right or did the job grow on you? I know I need give it time but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not a good fit. Id like to continue looking for the right job but I don’t know how you get away with that when you’re new…

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yes, when I was filling out the paperwork to start a new job, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that it wasn’t for me. Turned out it was a terribly abusive work environment. I quit on the spot six weeks later and just deleted it from my resume. Found another job shortly thereafter.

      What’s troubling you about your job specifically? What do you feel is not the right fit about it? Sometimes you do need to give it time and sometimes you just need to cut your losses, but that is dependent on a lot of factors so it would help to know specifically why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.

    2. Jen in RO*

      I hated my job (or rather the environment/lack of support) at first, but I grew to like it in the end. I was ready to quit on my first day and it took a month or two to adjust (somewhat), but I ended up staying for 3.5 years.

    3. BN*

      Just wanted to say I’ve been wrestling with this since I started 3.5 months ago. Can’t tell if I’m the problem (i.e., too idealistic about what the working world is like) but I’m pretty sure I’m a decent person and that this place is just screwy.

      1. Jen M.*

        Your gut rarely lies. Spend some time really looking at the job, the people, the environment, and see if you can figure out what seems off. If your inner alarms are going off this much, though, there’s probably something to it.

        Maybe keep your resume up to date and keep your feelers out?

        Good luck!

  55. Kara*

    I sent this to Alison a few weeks ago. It wasn’t selected for a post, so I’d like to throw this out to the readers, even though the situation doesn’t require immediate attention anymore:

    “I have a friend who works as a hairstylist in a salon in Texas that is terribly managed. The owners of the salon don’t care what goes on, and the manager they have put in charge, while a great stylist, is very young, immature, and doesn’t know how to manage people. She spends her days complaining about how many hours she has to work as a manager.

    Back to my friend. Last week she was in a car accident, and severely injured her neck. The driver had no insurance, and she is currently working with a lawyer on a suit against him for damages to her vehicle and the injuries she sustained. She has seen a doctor, gotten X-rays, has an MRI scheduled, and has seen a clinical massage therapist twice in the last week. She had to take time off from work because she was unable to perform the necessary duties of the job (she couldn’t turn her neck in any direction, and was unable to lift her arms – both are functions kind of necessary for a hair stylist).

    My friend was forced to come into work today after trying to call in and being refused. She was feeling okay in the morning, but as the day progressed she felt worse and needed to go home because she couldn’t take her pain medication while working. Her manager keeps refusing to let her go home, even though it could make her injury worse. My friend spoke with the salon owner, who told her he didn’t want to hear anything about it.

    Since my friend has only worked with this company for 10 months, she is ineligible for time off through FMLA. At this point she is wrestling with the decision whether to quit her job to deal with her injuries, or to let them fire her. Its a difficult situation because of her lawsuit against the other driver, and because she’s never been fired from any job and doesn’t really want to take that route. I’ve been reading your blog for several years now, and have told her that in this case she may be better off letting them fire her, because it will be an easy enough explanation for future employers to tell them that she was let go after being in a car accident and unable to perform necessary job functions. However, she’s also worried that they may decide not to fire her, but instead her spiteful manager might just make her life miserable until she’s forced to quit. Do you have any advice in this situation?”

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yes, I have some advice. She should ask the lawyer working on her case what to do in this situation. This situation stems from her accident so it may be that if she has to quit, she can include the income lost from that as part of her lawsuit. If she can’t come in and do the job, then she can’t do it and she shouldn’t injure herself trying. She needs to document when (day, time) she spoke to the manager and the owners, what was said, etc. and she needs to talk to her lawyer ASAP.

      1. Marina*


        Also, seriously, “I left because of injuries from a car accident” doesn’t in any way sound worse than “They let me go because of my injuries from a car accident.” She doesn’t benefit in any way from waiting to be fired.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          Not true. If fired, she can collect unemployment. And in this case, being fired for such a reason isn’t going to be a ding against her with any reasonable employer.

          1. KellyK*

            Good point.

            I think that if she refuses to work when she physically can’t, it will become a moot point because they will fire her. But I wouldn’t quit with nothing else lined up and legal fees to pay—forfeiting unemployment isn’t going to help her at all.

    2. Mena*

      She needs to resign and deal with her injuries. She cannot perform the job any longer because of this accident so she should quit. Also, those lost wages need to be added into the law suit.

      1. KellyK*

        Why should she be expected to quit, though? A half-decent employer would let her take the time off, even if unpaid. And an employer who won’t do that really *really* deserves to have to pay unemployment if they let her go.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Check with the lawyer, pronto.

      By working she may negate her claim of injury. Insurance adjusters are hired to do activity checks. If she is observed working that will go into the record for her lawsuit. The defense lawyer will say “it could not have been that bad an injury because she was seen working on X, Y and Z days.”

      And there goes her settlement.
      Tell her to call her lawyer immediately and ask him how to proceed.

      I was injured in the same accident my husband was- that i mentioned up thread. I had been on the job for a lot less time than your friend. I was a newbie. I was told that the company had to hold open A job for me. Did not have to be THE job I was in before the accident. I was out of work for over a month.

      She should keep her lawyer in the loop on things like this.

    4. Sydney*

      I would talk to the lawyer immediately and stay on at the job. Then I’d do what the lawyer says regarding getting fired/quitting and its impact on unemployment or other compensation. It would be best if your friend can quit and focus on her recovery, but finances might dictate otherwise.

      Based on my experience with Texas Workforce and unemployment claims, I would wait to get fired and then file for unemployment. If the manager is incompetent and the owners are not paying attention, she’s likely to win the unemployment claim.

      If the employer fights the claim, the employer must show that your friend was fired for misconduct. If the manager has not been documenting your friend’s mistakes, policy violations, etc. it will be easy for your friend to win.

  56. Shelley*

    Regular reader here. I’m working on an article about workplace PTSD. Basically, I’m looking for stories of abusive workplaces, bosses, co-workers, things that happened to you where, during or after, you suffered some emotional trauma or scarring. I know I certainly have such stories and I thought it would be interesting to write about the topic.

    If you’re interested in contributing to my article (which will be published on a website), please email me at

    Names and identifying details will be changed. Thanks so much!

  57. Peridot*

    After being laid off, I went through the exercise of evaluating what jobs I would be both good at and happy with, and want to push a career change. I came up with two fairly different paths: one that directly uses my very technical Master’s from 5 years ago (physical sciences), and one that more closely follows continuing education/industry experience that I’ve developed over 3 years (finance). However, after doing informational interviews, it seems that I’m not really qualified for either until I go back for an MBA or PhD, more for the affirmational stamp of the degree than a knowledge gap.

    For those of you that have been successful in career changes, have you needed further education? What was your breakthrough?

  58. Jen in RO*

    In a previous open thread I asked for advice about making my old cat get along with my new kitten. Thanks everyone for the advice – they are starting to be friends, they chase each other happily around the house, and big cat has started to understand that he can’t play rough with the little one. We’ve been keeping them separate during the night and when we’re at work, but tonight we’ll try to let the little one ‘free’ too. I’ll have to get used to having two cars sleeping on my head/back/legs…but they’re so cute!

    1. Anon for this*

      My cat’s name is Loki too! I’m so excited about this haha! His brother is Ares. We named them after a couple hours of watching them right after adoption, and thought god of mischief and god of war were fitting. Was that your thought too?

      1. Jen in RO*

        We spent a week brainstorming names and got nowhere. I really wanted a World of Warcraft name, but I just couldn’t find a fitting one for a male, then my boyfriend suggested Loki. (He likes the Thor/Avengers/whatever superhero movies ; I’m not a fan of the films, but I do think Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is the best thing in there.)
        I agreed with Loki for several reasons:
        – God of mischief – I’m sure Scartz will teach Loki all sorts of bad things and they’ll end up running across the bed at 3 AM.
        – I like fiction that’s based in mythology and Loki is a character in “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.
        – “Loki 7281” is a story by my favorite author, Roger Zelazny.
        – When we adopted him I was reading the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch, and the main character is called Locke.

        So yeah, a lot of things, plus it’s a short name so it’s easy to yell :P The only downside is that “Scartz* and Loki” sounds crap.

        (* The big cat’s name is actually Scârț – if you’re seeing funny symbols, those are supposed to be Romanian diacritics.)

  59. Frieda*

    Our CEO announced this week that the new office space we are moving to next fall will be all open plan. No offices, no cubicles. Apparently even executives will have the same workspace as everyone else.

    Does anyone else have experience working in an open plan office space? I’m generally one to accept things that I can’t change and just see how I adapt, but I’m certainly not thrilled about the announcement. Any advice, other than investing in noise-canceling headphones? Negatives I might not have thought of? Has anyone had any positive experiences?

    1. Just a Reader*

      It blows all around. I’m sorry.

      Earbuds and a backbone, because in an open plan, people are going to be hollering out questions at you. You need to establish your own process for taking in info so that you don’t lose productivity. So asking people to email or IM you, setting up meetings, etc. will all work. The key is boundaries.

    2. NewGirlinTown*

      My previous job was in an open plan office space.

      1.) Have a locking drawer in a file cabinet where you can store things like your purse/wallet. While I never had any issues, everyone can just walk next to your desk (especially people not from the office), and it was always a concern of mine that someone would just swipe something.

      2.) Definitely invest in headphones. They will save your sanity when someone else decides to talk on the phone for an hour, loudly!!

      Overall, I didn’t mind it, and in fact, enjoyed it. It encouraged a collaborative environment that worked really well for my team and our office in general. However, I can see spaces where it wouldn’t work well (and in fact, a portion of our office changed to cubicles because of it). It will really depend on your work environment!

    3. Yup*

      I’m in a quasi open plan space (group of ~10 ish people in a big room). Everyone’s very courteous, so it’s fine. Things that help:

      Using laptops instead of towers (so people can work from alternate parts of the building).
      Earbuds or noise cancelling headphones.
      Keeping phone ringers on low volume.
      Turning the volume on texts/computer alerts waaaaaay down.
      Taking all calls more than a few minutes long in a closed-door conference room or separate area.
      Nobody eats at their desk very much, to keep noise & odors down.
      People vary their schedules where possible, so everyone isn’t working side by side every minute of every day.
      Does the company allow occasional work-from-home, to accomplish the same as the above?

      As long as the new office has sufficient conference rooms or breakout areas, and your work isn’t all-phone-all-the-time, it’s definitely do-able. I’m a huge introvert and I’ve been able to manage it for more than a year.

    4. Jen in RO*

      The first time I worked in an actual office (as opposed to freelancing/working from home), it was an open space. I disliked it at first, but it grew on me… and now that I have an office (shared with one coworker) I find that I feel lonely! But it depends a lot on your coworkers. I sat in front of a very nice person, who I liked both professionally and personally, and it was great to just be able to lift my head and look at her. And it depends on culture – this office leaned towards “if you want to talk to someone on a different team, set up a meeting, don’t just walk up to their desk”, which I think was great.

      On the downside, focusing could be difficult sometimes (headphones are a must) and, if you’re the kind of person that has a proper with noises, it might be difficult. My boyfriend has misophonia (thanks AAM commenters for putting a name to this) and I would drive him nuts; I didn’t mind all the chewing and cracking and squeaking.

    5. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe*

      I’m in an open office and I don’t mind it at all. I’m in a collaborative profession though. But I get to know all of my coworkers, and it’s fun.

      1. Frieda*

        Thanks for all the replys, everyone! Since it is so far off (Oct 2014) and there are still decisions to be made, they did set up a venue to submit questions/suggestions about how the new plan will work. I do not know if they are taking this seriously or if it’s just to make people feel better, but I’ll definitely ask about some of these things (like more work-from-home time and laptops instead of desktops).

        The bummer for me is that my job is really about focused, individual work. I do collaborate with people as needed of course–no one is an island–but I also spend hours editing manuscripts by myself and I’m worried that it’s going to be distraction central.

        1. Lore*

          I have found even a semi-open (low cubicles) space to provide a lot of distraction. One thing that does help is flex-time; the distractions decrease dramatically after 5 (or before 9 if you’re a morning person). I often get as much done between 5 and 6:30 as I do between 10 and 3. Also, if you’re successful with the laptops, if there are any conference rooms, phone rooms, any sort of ancillary space where one can occasionally go as needed, a sensible policy for booking them makes a huge difference. Ours is really cumbersome and doesn’t allow you to look at what rooms are available other than by scheduling a meeting–and if what you really want is to find an hour when no one else has scheduled a meeting to work in private, but you don’t care which hour, it gets challenging.

        2. Jen in RO*

          My job involved editing (not full-time) and I didn’t have a problem focusing unless a coworker on my team interrupted me. It wasn’t the open space that was the problem, it was the fact that I was the troubleshooter and people found it easier to ask me than ask Google.

          Regarding what Lore said, my current office has an open space part and I think their desks are so much better than the ones I had. At old job they were just regular Ikea desks ( At new job they have half-walls between them and I like that they give some privacy while still letting you see the people (

          Oh, and if you can still make suggestions, make sure meeting rooms are on the list! If people can go in a meeting room for calls it will make the open space so much quieter.

    6. Anonymous*

      A positive experience? No, I haven’t, unless you count deciding to telecommute full time as a result so I could get some work done. This is one of those things that sounds better in theory than in practice.

      I once worked at a large company (McDonald’s HQ in Illinois) which had an “open” office plan for everyone – however the CEO’s “open” office was hidden in a maze that gave him most of a floor and about four assistants as a buffer to the openness. This was many years ago, so I’m not sure if it has changed at all, but I found it amusing.

      1. Windchime*

        I don’t know who thought up this open-office concept, but it just seems like it would be chaotic. I work in a room full of cubicles and there are already people whose jobs seem to consist of just walking around and shooting the breeze. Imagine how convenient it would be for them if there were no cubicles. They could just holler!

        I like the feeling of faux-privacy I get from being in a cubicle. At least I have a little wall to hang my calendar on, and I can scratch my armpit in privacy if I need to.

  60. Anonymous*

    I’ve been at my current employer for a year. Started well and when one of the managers was going on maternity leave six months later I was encouraged to apply and got the temporary job with a nice raise in pay to match. At my first post-promotion review, my new line manager said that I would be staying on the grade I am, even when the substantive post-holder came back. Since then I think I’ve been working well, my employer doesn’t do any scoring system but my reviews have been things like “produces work to a high standard”, “Always helpful and responsive”, “Needs to be applauded for being so pro-active”, “well-respected by people inside and outside the team” and “incredibly methodical and thorough”. The bad points are a willingness to take on work that the rest of the team could do leading to an imbalance of workload in the team and sometimes using technical jargon without making sure that the other person understands it. The overall feedback was “Outstanding” though.

    Today my line manager told me that there wouldn’t be any budget to keep me at my pay grade and I would be dropping back down at the end of the secondment – four months away. I’m a bit annoyed that my line manager promised something that he now cannot/will not deliver and a bit lost as to what I’ve done wrong and need to fix to make me worth the money I think I’m worth.

    Should I try and get a job that does play me what I think I’m worth now that I’ve tried the promotion and succeeded or is one year still too short a time?

    1. Marina*

      You haven’t done anything wrong. Budget stuff happens and isn’t your fault or your manager’s fault. It would certainly be reasonable to look for another job, workplaces are very well aware that’s what the potential consequences are when they do something like this.

      1. Anonymous*

        Thanks for saying that I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just that I can’t help feeling that I could have done something better. It’s just completely blind-sided me because all the feedback has been good. Added to that there was a similar post (but permanent and not line-managing) in another team in the organisation that I didn’t go for but the employee I beat in the interview (for the maternity leave cover) did go for and got. If I had known two weeks ago that I wasn’t going to keep the secondment then I would have applied and I assume stood a good chance. So I’m feeling stupid at myself for believing my line manager which isn’t a good thing for our working relationship going forward.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Give yourself a break. You had no reason not to believe him. And, if it makes you feel better, you can have a candid conversation (politely of course) asking about why the offer of better pay was reneged. He said the budget, but you can get more details. And, you know, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar – perhaps there simply isn’t the money available to keep two people at your current pay grade when only one would be doing the work. Sucks that you lost out on the second possible job, but here are the takeaways from this:

          1. Apply for the jobs you’re interested in within the company regardless of what you’ve been verbally promised by anyone because, you now know, that anything less than a written offer of the higher pay and/or it being reflected in your paycheck means nothing.

          2. Perhaps dust off your resume and use this new experience you have now to look for something else. It is crappy to be promised better pay and not receive it and if it’s going to ruin the relationship with your line manager, then keep your eyes open for something else.

          I think your story, unfortunately, reflects one of Alison’s basic tenets – an offer is not an offer until it’s in writing and there’s a start date. In your case, the verbal offer of being able to stay at your pay grade currently can’t be taken seriously until it’s in writing and/or reflected in your paycheck. It’s a shame that we have to be wary of verbal offers, but it’s just smart business sense to be wary these days.

          Hang in there!

    2. Ruffingit*

      For whatever comfort it may bring, I seriously doubt you did anything wrong. They are probably not going to keep you at the pay you are at now because they will have the original worker coming back from maternity leave and they will be paying her at her regular salary. It could be that they can’t afford to pay two people the same salary when only one has the higher responsibilities of the job. You are right that your line manager shouldn’t have promised to keep you at that pay grade and then reneged, but just wanted to say I doubt it’s your work that’s causing this. It’s probably the line manager’s manager saying “You promised what?? We cannot pay two people the same salary when only one is doing the higher pay grade work.”

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        There are also a million reasons why they really could have planned to keep OP at the higher rate, and then budgetary issues ended up preventing it.

  61. Anonymous*

    I work in customer service. Is there an etiquette for using a former company’s customer as a reference? I no longer work there. I worked with the customer directly. Would this put them in an uncomfortable position?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like to build in an “easy out” to my questions. So that would look like: “I don’t know if this is something you ordinarily do, so if you don’t that is fine. But I was wondering if you would be a reference for me? I totally understand if this is not something you ordinarily do.”

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thanks for that wording NSNR, I need to ask someone to be a reference who may not usually do so, so I appreciate the wording choice you posted.

  62. Daybyday*

    I have a holiday related question. I’m working out a the details for my job offer and it looks like things won’t get finalized until next week. I definitely won’t give my notice until I have something official with a fixed start date. So, I’m wondering what to expect when I give my notice. I’ll use actual dates so it’s less confusing.

    I plan to resign dec. 2, but I have a two day holiday dec. 5-6. I want to give at least two weeks notice, so I’ll tell them my last day will be dec. 17. Couples thing: I’m worried that tell actually make me leave before my holiday and even if I stay, the company is having a holiday party dec 13 (which takes the whole day), so maybe I should leave dec 18? Part of me also thinks I should just commit until Christmas holiday, but I know the new job would like me to start sooner rather than later. any advice?

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      See what the start date with the new company is. They may just say, “let’s start it on January 1st”.

      That being said, if your start date is before the holiday, you give your two weeks notice and don’t worry about parties at the old company. You’re starting fresh, you have new allegiances.

      1. Jen in RO*

        This. I accepted my last job around the second half of December and they said there’s no one to train me before January 5th, so there was no point in me starting earlier.

    2. Adam V*

      You could just say “I’ve accepted an offer and I’ll be starting a new job no later than [date]. I’m willing to work until [other date], but I understand if you’d rather I left before the holiday party. What date would work best for you?”

      (The only other thing would be not to let them push back your start date.)

  63. Anonymous*

    I just wanted to thank you all. I’m this anon from a few weeks back:

    and I I just wanted to let you know that I quit that very weekend. Not quite at a happy ending yet, as my employer’s still stalling on back pay, I don’t think I can get a reference out of him, and I stupidly offered him notice (I had two good reasons for it and one questionable one), which ended up being a dumb decision and a very frustrating two weeks. Plus now I’m mostly just freaking out instead of applying to new jobs, although I do have my first freelance client. However, I am so incredibly happy to be out of that situation and so very grateful to all of you for the perspective.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m glad to hear you were able to escape that situation because it’s ridiculous. As for references, what about this? You have a freelance client now and apparently you’re able to afford to go without a steady paycheck for awhile so why not build your freelance business up? That way, you can use your freelance clients as references if you need to when you get ready to apply to other jobs, if you do decide to do that at all. Who knows, maybe you’ll build a steady freelance business and you can work for yourself without bothering with someone else?

      Anyway, glad you’re out of there because that situation sounds outrageous. You may want to notify the department of labor or whomever deals with pay issues in your state. This guy owes you money, you don’t need to chase it down on your own. There are agencies who deeply care about it when businesses are not paying. Contact one of them, mark this guy off the list of people you will ever contact in any way again, and move forward. Good luck!

  64. Elizabeth West*

    Okay so, after last year’s layoff, I went to Vocational Rehab because I couldn’t find a job with my stupid learning disability. I chose to go back to school for a degree in tech writing, because writing is all I can really do. Unfortunately, because I am over the income threshold with my new job, VR can only contribute a tiny amount to help me. I can’t take out any loans and I don’t have any savings (what little I had was wiped out during the Time of Joblessness).

    Since the degree directly relates to my job, I’ll probably be eligible for tuition assistance even though the semester starts before my anniversary (it’s only a two week difference). Here’s the dilemma:

    –Their maximum is less than what two semesters cost (state college) and wouldn’t cover summer at all, which is on my degree plan.

    –It’s a reimbursement program (!), which means I would have to submit grades/bills at the end of the semester–assuming I pass my classes with higher than a C (they won’t reimburse below that–as long as there’s no math, I should be fine).

    –According to the school, I cannot register with any outstanding balance for the next semester; I would be put on hold and have no access to it. It would take at least two weeks to get the tuition assistance processed from receipt of the paperwork, which I couldn’t submit until the final grades are available at the end of the semester. My school has over 20,000 students–if I waited until the last minute to register for a class the following semester, the chances of me not getting a seat go way up.

    –Existential crisis: the Universe opened this door for me, but I wanted something else and I don’t really give a flying flap. I have my own writing to do and it is falling by the wayside because of all this damn homework. And I didn’t want to go back to school–I wanted to get married and have a family. Frankly, this tradeoff sucks. >:( So there’s not much motivation to fill out forms every semester, find a way to pay for the shortfall, etc. etc.

    –Also existentially, my mom said something about covering the shortfall and it could roll over until the end and then that last reimbursement goes to pay them back, but I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. My parents have done more than enough for me and the feeling of being a huge baby is more than I can bear.


    1. Colette*

      If everything else in your life was going the way you wanted it to (e.g. marriage & family), is this something that you would want to pursue (because everyone needs to be able to support herself)?

      Can your parents afford to float you a loan without it affecting their lifestyle (and, if they can, are there strings attached)?

      Are there shorter/cheaper programs that you can do that will get you similar jobs as the degree?

      It’s a tough place to be in, and I completely understand why you’re frustrating.

      However, I’d also go back and think about whether you have other options – I’d be very surprised if this were the only thing you could do.

      When I was last unemployed, I ended up taking a contract in executive customer service (i.e. people write to executives, executives send the issue to that group who figure out how to make the customer happy). I’m an e-mail person, so I ended up dealing with customers mostly by e-mail (with an occasional phone call if that made sense) – it was a lot of writing, as well as being able to figure out who internally can get an issue fixed, learning internal customer service processes & tools, etc. We were able to take as much time as we needed to fix the issue, so there wasn’t the sort of time pressure that call centers have. Is that sort of thing something you could do?

      What skills do you have other than writing? Are you good with people? Fantastic at organizing parties? Someone who always knows where to find whatever people are looking for? Are you the idea person, or someone who can make sure ideas are implemented?

      I’m confident there’s a way forward for you, and I don’t think it’s as straightforward as go to school/ don’t go to school.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If everything else in your life was going the way you wanted it to (e.g. marriage & family), is this something that you would want to pursue (because everyone needs to be able to support herself)?

        That’s hard to answer, because NOTHING is going the way I want it to. Unfortunately, the e.g. doesn’t depend only on me. It’s not something I can do by myself. Putting that aside, the degree would be extremely helpful, but I’m so worn out by all the e.g. bullsh*t that I just don’t know if I have the energy to do it.

        Can your parents afford to float you a loan without it affecting their lifestyle (and, if they can, are there strings attached)?

        That was the first thing my mom suggested (I didn’t ask). If I paid them back with the last reimbursement, then no, and they’ve been pretty good about no emotional strings–because I’m trying. (Oh boy, have I been trying. She offered to pay for my furnace repair but I refused. It’s paid.) I’m just cringing that I have to even think of it. If there were any other way, I would do that, but I have nothing I could sell that is worth that kind of money, unless I sold a book, but that’s not happening right now.

        Are there shorter/cheaper programs that you can do that will get you similar jobs as the degree?

        No. The only other thing to do is to self-educate and freelance to build a portfolio, but it would take way longer and I don’t think I would be as competitive.

        However, I’d also go back and think about whether you have other options – I’d be very surprised if this were the only thing you could do.

        I scoured the available academic resources when I was trying to get the VR assistance. I found nothing else that didn’t require huge amounts of math.

        Job-wise, unless I crank out a best-seller in the next six months, this is my best bet. I’m none of the things you suggested, but I got this job because I aced the editing test. I was the best one. And this was BEFORE I started school, and I had no clue what I was doing. I could literally do this job until I die–I told the Universe, “Hey, this is fine, if you want to take care of the e.g., I’ll give up the school thing and stay where I am.” I don’t mind being an admin. If I had someone else to share the load, I would be near-perfectly happy.

        To me, this tech writing stuff is a JOB. My novel-izing is what I would like to do as a CAREER. It’s pie in the sky, but if I had a decent job, my family, and could write books on the side, that is what I want. Most published writers I know have day jobs, anyway.

        For me, where I feel my life is most lacking is in the 5-9, not the 9-5. I guess I just resent having to bust my ass on something I don’t care about (work) as much as the other (my actual life).

        1. Colette*

          More thoughts.

          1. Things will get better – I’ve been where you are emotionally.
          2. Can you afford to live the life you want (including putting some money away) if you stay at your current job?

          It doesn’t sound to me like you want to go to school right now, but you think you should. Can you take a semester off to save some money and evaluate whether you want to continue?

          If your parents could easily afford to lend you the money, I’d say that route was the way to go, but if they can’t, it just adds stress to you and them.

          I do know that there are a lot of jobs that use little math (many of which don’t show up in career offices) so I wonder if networking would be a good choice.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            1. It doesn’t seem likely. :'(
            2. Yes,once I get caught up some. But the life I want has NOTHING to do with money.
            3. If I could trade school for a miracle I requested, I would. In a New York minute. But that’s not up to me.

            I don’t need to get a new job. I have the best job I’ve ever had ever. I like my job! The point of school was so I didn’t have to have crap jobs anymore. Then Newjob came along. I could stop going to school, but if I do, and something happened to Newjob, I would be right back where I started.

            1. Colette*

              Hmm. I still think it might be a good idea to take a semester off and network – not with the goal of finding a job, but to get a better view of what else might be available without school, since school is taking money and time away from what you do want.

              That doesn’t mean that school is a mistake – maybe after a semester you’ll realize it’s exactly right for you – but right now, it sounds like it’s just too much. (If I had tried to go back to school in 2002, I probably would have ended up a sobbing mess – more than I was the rest of that terrible year.)

              It’s ok to take a break if you need one.

              Maybe I’m out to lunch, but that’s my suggestion.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                If I stop, I can’t go back. It just wouldn’t be possible. It’s either / or right now. I just can’t see how it will make my future better when I can’t even see a future. It just looks like a great big black empty hole.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  A wise person told me that when we can’t see the future that is because we need to concentrate on what is right in front of us.
                  Once we take care of what is in front of us, then we will begin to see more in the future.
                  Take a second look around you. Put on fresh eyes as best you can. In the course of looking around you, do you see something you had not noticed before?
                  I love the story about the mountain climber. (Will try to be brief…) The guy climbs up the mountain. On his way down, a terrible storm kicks up. He cannot see his hand in front of his face- the weather is so intense. He clings to his rope, in total fear. He has lost all is reference points- he does not know how close he is to the the ground and safety. He cries. A voice says to him… “Let go of the rope.” So he clings even tighter. “Let go of the rope.”
                  Rescue crews found him the next day. Frozen solid and still holding the rope.
                  He was six feet from the ground.

                  Sometimes when I get stuck in life it is because the very thing I am clinging to is the very thing I need to let go of. This is what I call cruel irony. Real cruel.
                  I find that most of the time, making the decision to let go of my rope is way harder than what happens after I let go of the rope. The decision making process is that difficult.

                  But it letting go of my rope, I find something. I find my self-respect.
                  Any time in life when I have realized that I need to make a move right now or never do it- it has played out just that way. If I had not made the move that opportunity would have been lost forever.
                  Remember the old person in the nursing home? His one regret was that he did not take more risks, take more chances. He realized, too late in life that he took things way to seriously and always took the most cautious, careful road. I will never be a big risk taker but I try to take a few more logically thought-out chances. I don’t wanna be that old person loaded up with regrets.
                  Long read. sorry.

                2. Colette*

                  Can you decide to either do it for its own sake (even though it may never pay off) or make peace with not wanting it enough to do it?

                  I feel lik you’re rushing into making a decision because you don’t see any other options and time is passing, so you just want to figure it out, but life is a journey, not a destination. Either decision could work out wonderfully, or terribly. No one gets to see the future.

                  I mean, that’s all very normal, but it’s ok to admit (to yourself) that you don’t know the answers, and you’re doing the best you can. I suspect you’re your biggest critic, and it’s ok to give yourself a break.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I get not wanting to feel like a huge baby in regards to your parents helping you, but on that score I’d honestly say suck it up and deal because it’s really a short-term loan you’re looking at here. If they are not the type to attach strings to assistance, then take the help, pay them back ASAP and move on. And believe me, I get the feeling of wanting to do it on your own and feeling like shit on a stick because you’re nearing 40 (or over that age, I’m nearing it myself) and you still need your parents to help you. I’ve been there and it sucked, but it was also the only way out of a bad situation so I got a big glass of water, swallowed my pride and moved forward.

      The bigger issue here is how much is this degree going to be helpful to you? If not much at all, then drop out and move on because it doesn’t sound like you’re all that motivated to do it. Which, by the way, is totally OK. If that’s how you feel, own it.

      I feel for you as I’m in the same position – savings wiped out by “Time ‘O Joblessness,” had to get parental assistance, and now living hand to mouth. Not easy. At all. So hugs to you from someone in the same boat.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I get feeling of wanting to do it all on your own.
        In this plan, in order for it to work you must let go of something. What is the least hardest thing to let go of?

        The problem of wanting it all- sometimes we just can’t have it all. We have to suck that down.
        Am not saying this in a mean way. As a widow I still want to keep my house. That meant that I HAD to admit that I did not know how the tractor worked. (not good at this admitting stuff) When the faucet broke I almost cried. After about a dozen stories like this, I realize. If I want my house, I will have to ask for help sometimes.

        Sometimes on our way to reaching a bigger goal we have to let go of the littler things along the way.

        Here’s the surprise I got. People are willing to help. There are reasons for that. While I am perceiving myself as a mechanically declined person, they see more to me than that shortcoming. Likewise yourself- people see more to you than a checkbook balance.

        After some consideration I decided that our ability to accept help/advice/materials from others actually plays into our quality of life. We are supposed to be interdependent and interwoven. Your turn to be the giver will come. Right now is just a temporary thing.

        This will all change for you but it will take time. Decide what is important and what is not really that important. Set your goals and run at those goals with your best stuff.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Such good advice NSNR. I have been the giver and the receiver. It’s a cyclical thing in life and learning to accept help is as or more important than being able to give help. You are so right as well that people want to help. I started looking it at as giving the gift of feeling useful and needed to people. That allowed me to be able to let them help me because it wasn’t just about me, it was about giving something to them as well.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You make me smile. You nailed this one, Ruffingit. Yep, in order to be good givers we have to learn to be good recipients.
            I have said for quite a while the most obnoxious thing anyone can say to a recently widowed person is
            “No, you can’t help out here.” That is more obscene than any four letter word. Little did those people realize but you can heal some of your own pain/grief by turning and helping someone else. We just don’t know but a person might be healing themselves by helping us.

    3. Nikki T*

      Don’t feel like I a huge baby, I know how it feels to get help from parents when you’re trying to do it on your own, you’re an adult for heaven’s sake! (not saying this *at* you, just know the feeling). But, it may make BOTH of you feel better if you accept the help. You could get through school with one less thing to worry about and your mom would have one less worry as well. I’m sure she feels helpless while you are struggling.

      Also, if this is your first degree (BS/BA) swing by financial aid as there could be other options besides loans.

      Also, are bills due right when you register? Our students can register during registration and bills aren’t due for weeks (or months in case of summer & fall registration). They register and the bill is due the day before classes start, then there’s a late fee, then in about a week, schedules are dropped for non-payment. Check the academic calender or with the cashier about when bills are due. Bills aren’t even generated until a month after registration starts, you may have a little bit of room.

      Best to you, I really hope it works out.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The school said that you can’t register until the bill is paid, but the tuition reimbursement doesn’t come through until after you finish the previous semester and submit your bill and the grades. Then it pays you, not the school. So I would have to pay the bill before the next semester’s registration or I would be locked out until it is. And if I don’t register right when it opens, I risk not getting a seat. I’m pretty sure it’s due right away–I’ll have to ask. I need to call them back and see if I can talk to a financial aid counselor. Maybe that person will know.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Thanks you guys….you’ve given me some things to think about. I’m going to talk it over with my mom this weekend. I don’t really want to do this, but it looks like I have no choice (again with the never-having-a-choice thing. It’s getting kind of old.). If something happens to this job and I don’t get the degree, I’m right back where I started when I first went to VR.

      I think one of the reasons I’ve been so blah about it is that I’m just really tired of going it alone or doing stuff because “oh you have to take care of just you because no one else is around.” I guess if e.g. is going to happen, it will regardless of whether I’m in school or not, but I’m just really really tired and kind of done.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m older than you and I was married for awhile and had kids. But I’ve been single for many years now, and I know what you mean about just being tired of always having to go it alone. Much of the time, I feel strong and independent and proud of myself, but other times I just feel tired and discouraged and alone and just wish there was a man here to figure out where the hell to buy these weird light bulbs that are in my porch, or to kill a spider or to eat my lasagna.

          1. Ruffingit*

            It’s not easy to be single and go it alone. Many of us have been there Elizabeth. It’s hard. And then of course you have people giving you the unbelievably shitty advice of “Love will happen when you least expect it” or “Love comes when you’re not looking for it.” WTF?? That is such crappy trite bullshit. It gets old when people say dumb things like that. So just wanted to say that I get it. Being a party of one gets old after awhile and that is totally understandable that you’re tired of it.

  65. Lauren*

    I have a bit of a misunderstanding and am not sure how I should clear it up…

    I applied for a marketing agency yesterday, and my mom’s boss (a family friend who’s known me since I was little) knows the VP and President of the company. He kindly offered to send them an email to put in a good word. But, he misunderstood and thought I had an interview already set up. His email states that he heard they would be interviewing me shortly, followed by a great recommendation. I asked my mom if he was going to send a follow up email to clarify that I had only applied for the position, and she said he didn’t think it was a big deal and she doesn’t want to push him to do it because he’s her boss.

    He suggested to her that I send both the VP and President a handwritten letter, saying that he (my mom’s boss) said such wonderful things about the company and how excited I am by the work they’re doing there. When I expressed my reluctance at sending the letter, saying it might look “pushy”, she said they’re “old-school” and would appreciate the handwritten gesture. I know what AAM’s position on this would be (don’t send the letter!) but I feel obligated to do it as my mom’s boss specifically suggested it and I don’t want to slight him because of his willingness to help me.

    Now I’m freaking out about the misunderstanding, as I don’t want them to think I told him I already had an interview, or worse, assumed that I would be getting an interview. I am thinking about mentioning this in the handwritten note, just a short sentence to clarify. Is this a big deal, or am I only making it out to be one?

    To add to that, I had a great interview at a competing agency this past Wednesday (my first choice) and haven’t heard anything back yet, but I’m optimistic. It seemed like we were a great fit. I don’t want to jump through the hoops of sending handwritten notes if I am offered a position at their competitor, and will have to tell them that I am withdrawing my candidacy anyway. Should I hold off on sending the letter until next week, when I hear back from my first-choice agency, or send it now to clarify the misunderstanding as soon as possible?

    1. Sydney*

      If you really believe the guy KNOWS that the letter will be well-received, then send it. Some people truly are old-school, and it’s possible they would love a letter like that. But make sure you are 100% sure that it would be welcome. Otherwise, don’t do it.

      And no matter what, I would not worry about the interview/not interview mixup thing. Not a big deal and it will be weird if you bring it up.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I think you’re making too big a thing of this and I wouldn’t do anything at all to clear up the misunderstanding nor would I send a letter. I think I’d just sit on it to see if you even get an interview. Could be that the VP and Pres suggest you be interviewed based on the strong recommendation from their friend, could be they don’t actually have much to do with the hiring so they just forward the email on to HR and let them make the choice of interviewing you or not. Since you don’t even have an interview with these people yet, I’d just leave it and see if they follow up with you.

  66. MaryTerry*

    Office etiquette question: when someone comes into my cube, should I stand up to greet them? Does it make a difference if it’s a visitor/ someone from Corporate/ colleague to discuss something/ colleague just to say hi? With our corporate visitors, I usually also shake hands. Comments?

    1. Ruffingit*

      If it’s a colleague coming to discuss something or just to say hello, then no I don’t think you stand up to greet them. If it’s someone from corporate or a higher up, then yes you should do so.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe it is just me. I stand for visitors and senior officials that seldom come. I don’t stand for peers/supervisors that I work with daily.

      Sometimes I have to decide quickly- so my quick criteria is if the person is my elder or if I am really happy to see someone. The latter case might be a coworker who has returned from sick leave. I might stand up to greet them the first day. Or it could be the computer repair guy.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t stand up for coworkers, but a visitor I do. If it’s a coworker, I just gesture toward a chair (I have three; this cube is huge and used to be storage. I call it my officle.) and say “Sit! Sit!” like a babushka-wearing grandmother. ;)

      No execs visiting me–except when my boss was here, I wasn’t in my cube anyway because we all met in the conference room. But i would stand for her and then offer her the chair.

    4. Marina*

      I do for traveling staff, visitors… basically anybody I don’t see every day. If it’s a colleague I see every day I’ll stay sitting, but if it looks like they want to stay more than 5 seconds I’ll offer them a chair.

  67. Mephyle*

    I’d like to ask about the use of the word “comfortable.” As an example, it’s often suggested that if Sensible Worker questions Bad Manager, they use this wording; “I’m not comfortable doing [stupid/possibly unethical] Thing that you’re asking me to do.”

    On the other hand, Poorly Performing Worker asked by Good Manager to do Thing which is part of her duties (or to do Thing correctly instead of botching it), may push back “I’m not comfortable with Thing/System that I’m supposed to use to do Thing.” Examples abound.

    I’ve distinguished the cases clearly here, but in reality is it so clear? I might see myself as the Good Worker from the first case, but maybe my concern for my comfort is really the second case. Or not, but it sounds that way to the manager?

    Besides there are plenty of examples of Bad Managers who don’t care about comfort, they care that I get the Thing done. Even in the second case, there have been numerous stories told here of the other kind of Bad Manager who let duties go undone or push them onto someone else because doing the task makes a Poorly Performing Worker uncomfortable.

    So I’m questioning whether it is useful or prudent for us to ever phrase pushback in terms of our own comfort.

    1. buyout*

      I think the difference is in how each worker answers the question “Why aren’t you comfortable with it?” If the answer is, “I’m concerned about the legal ramifications,” or “We have a responsibility to our customers not to sell their private data,” these are not personal reasons, but professional reasons. But if the answer is, “I don’t know how to use that, and I don’t want to learn,” or “That sounds unpleasant (like dealing with a difficult customer, and I don’t like unpleasant,” those are personal reasons, and not good reasons.

      Basically, the “good” use of uncomfortable is not about being uncomfortable at all, its just a way of using an “I” statement so that the other person doesn’t get defensive. I personally would skip the “uncomfortable” phrasing and jump straight to “I’m concerned about XYZ.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I personally would skip the “uncomfortable” phrasing and jump straight to “I’m concerned about XYZ.”

        Me too. I’d probably say “I have reservations about X because Y.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think it is useful to gently open a difficult conversation. It is similar to saying “Heads up, I want to talk candidly now.”

      The word uncomfortable instantly brings me to the next question of “Okay why are you uncomfortable.”

      Some managers are just plain LAME. So are some subordinates.
      I think you are saying that “uncomfortable” is becoming a catch-all that blocks the exposure of the real problem.
      That could be.

      When was it? In the 80s? Every.single. problem. boiled down to a “failure to communicate”. That reason became lame when it became the solution to everything that went wrong. And people felt they were off the hook, “oh it was a failure to communicate somewhere inside the company.”
      “No, you are not off the hook. Yes, you still have to fix the problem.” The fix had very little to do with lines of communication.

      I guess I just go person by person. Is someone using their discomfort as a crutch? Or is this person telling me they need help with a problem, that they intend to work on themselves as soon as they have a plan?
      Depending on which type of person is asking, my answer might change. It’s important to look for patterns. I might be a little jaded if a person has a pattern of saying “I am not comfortable with….”
      I have used the expression. But I use it as a heads up that I need some specific instructions in order to proceed and handle current matter correctly. I think if I use the expression twice a year that would be the most.

      Now you have me curious. I will have to see if the expression is getting overused.

      1. Ruffingit*

        YES! The catch-all reason for avoiding something is so rampant sometimes. My mother used to do this a lot when I would ask her why she was allowing herself to be walked all over by people (she would call me complaining about it). “Oh well you know, I guess it’s just that Catholic guilt that makes me feel like I can’t say no…”

        I finally told her that Catholic guilt had outlived its usefullness as a reason and that she was either going to have to suck it up and get over it or continue to be used and abused by people walking all over her.

        It’s the same deal when people say “I know I need to do , but it’s just so hard to say/do…” Well sure, it’s hard. But that doesn’t mean you have an out for not doing it. Something being hard doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. And if you decide it’s too hard for you, then stop complaining about the underlying thing that is pissing you off because you refuse to do something about it because it’s just too hard.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          OH boy. You nailed this one, too.
          Yes, something like (insert group name) Guilt is a real handy crutch. It prevents us from learning new skills, taking chances, etc. We don’t stretch ourselves.
          My rebuttal to this statement includes:
          “And that helps you solve your problem, HOW?”
          “We were not created to become doormats for other people.”

          The moral of the story here is be careful of anyone who tells you that you are “less than” or that you “need to expect less”.
          A family member went to the doctor for her diabetes. He point blank said “Expect less out of life.”
          I said, “Get a new doctor, this guy can’t help you.”

          We don’t help people by disabling them.

          1. Ruffingit*

            NSNR, if we lived near each other, I’d totally be your friend! :) We seem to have a lot in common with the way we think about things. “And that helps you solve your problem, HOW?” is a very useful statement for a lot of things. So many people want to give themselves excuses for why they can’t solve the problems when in fact, they can, it’s just not an easy road. They don’t want to do the hard things they know they need to do to move past it. So the convenient excuses come to the surface.

            Also, “expect less out of life???” OH HELL NO! That is horrible and I’m really glad you were there to tell your relative to get a new doctor. It’s horrifying to think someone would say something like that to a diabetic. That is one disease that a lot of things can help change such as diet, exercise, and careful monitoring of insulin, etc. Unreal that someone would say something so crass and harmful to a patient.

  68. Anonymous*

    I do not want to go to work until winter is over.


    The heating unit broke and has to be replaced. There’s nothing they can do to temporary fix it. If they can get it to turn on at all, it sets off the fire alarms. I’m not an HVAC technician so I have no idea how that happens besides there being some form of electrical issue. Working in a food store, it will be colder than most places in the winter anyway, but now it has become absolutely freezing. The colder it gets outside, the colder it gets inside. The company is fighting the landlord on it which means inaction will be the status quo until they figure things out.

    The manager doesn’t listen to the employees anymore, and she doesn’t listen to the customers either. We’re freezing, and the customers are learning to not show up because they do not want to shop in the cold. I come home at night with a chill I can feel in my bones and go to sleep absolutely freezing. And yes, I wear multiple layers and gloves, but it eventually gets through to me.

    I know OSHA doesn’t have indoor temperature standards. Would they still put pressure on the company? How about the local board of health? I don’t get health insurance through the company. And I doubt they want to pay my gas and water bill for all of the hot showers I have to take when I get home. And I don’t see the union stepping in. What does an employee have to stand on in this sort of issue?

      1. Anonymous*

        The shop steward works there as well so he is fully aware of the problem. But since his job requires more moving around and heavy lifting than my job does, we actually see him going around in a t-shirt. Or, if it’s a light day, he’ll have a light jacket on.

    1. Anonymous*

      How cold is it? I work at a ski resort and wear my winter coat inside because they don’t bother heating the place. A scarf and fingerless gloves kind of help. So does finding another job, which would obviously be the ideal solution but I know its impossible.

  69. OfficeBullySituation*

    Since it is open thread, an update on OfficeBully.

    He has taken on a new project, this time working with the head of personnel (HoP) directly! HoP is less than pleased about this. He has been berating, belittling, and likes doing the “I will talk to you slowly and in small words like a child” thing to HoP. HoP already disliked OfficeBully, but now they completely hate him after dealing with his behavior so much in a short time.

    I have fortunately stayed out of his crosshairs by continuing to stay away from that work site unless ordered to. It steams me that he is wasting so much time and money, but at least he has not been able to direct much of his bullying at me and I am mostly disconnected from disastrous projects.

    On the negative side, when I have been there his bullying has been in full force. He is once again calling other peer employees into his cubicle and given them invective filled belittling shoutdowns about how crappy they are. He is picking out victims near retirement or on visas so that they are less likely to quit like the last couple of people did. I am glad some of the advice from here has gotten me out of the way, but I feel so bad for these other employees.

  70. Brittany*

    Ah, I’ve been waiting for this thread! Burning Q time:

    I have two days left working at my (terrible) office, and have had about a month to train the woman who is taking on some of my current roles. She is a few years older than me–mid to late 20s–and found out on Wednesday while at work that her younger brother had died suddenly.

    She is obviously not returning to work until after Thanksgiving, but…what should I/the rest of the office do? Is there anything we can do to help or make her feel better? We all feel awful about what she’s going through, but we’re stuck on the “so now what” question.

    Any advice?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Send a card? Get everyone to sign it. As far as when she comes to work, just be kind and friendly and be patient with her. If she needs to leave the room for a few minutes, let her. Keeping busy will help.

    2. Marina*

      Send a card. In my office the standard is sending flowers to her home along with the card, but you could also have flowers waiting for her when she returns.

  71. Mumbles*

    I could just use some cyber-support this afternoon. I’m about to go into a meeting with my manager, the head of my department and HR in which I expect to either be put on a PIP or perhaps fired. A few months ago they came to me and said I was seriously underperforming. I tried to stay objective and hear their criticisms. Some were accurate but ultimately it felt blown out of proportion. There was a 2-week period over the summer where I was just not as on top of things as usual and made some minor mistakes. Nothing that had serious or even minor consequences outside of me feeling kind of stupid. I recognized I was burned out and took a vacation. Almost 2 months later I was written up for the incident. I asked if they thought there was a trend and they said yes but couldn’t provide any details. So I asked what I could do and they said, “Just do better.” Well, it’s now been another month with no feedback and I was told we were all going to sit down and talk about my performance because it continues to be a “serious problem.”

    There is a history here of targeting people (there have been 3 others who quit and 1 who was fired in the last 2 years). There is a manager here who is very difficult to work with but the head of our department thinks the place couldn’t run without her. This summer she was doing parts of projects that I had been tasked with, giving me stuff to do but not giving me all the information so I would do it “wrong,” and other frustrating things. I went to my boss asking for help and he went to the head of the department who said that I just don’t like that manager so there’s nothing he could do. Shortly after that they suddenly had problems with my performance. For the record, in the 1 1/2 years before that, I had been considered a high performer and given positive feedback. I think this is an effort to push me out. I’ve been interviewing at other places and will hear about a great job in the next 2 weeks. I’ve come to terms with the situation and recognize that if they want me gone, that’s that. I’ve done the best I could do. But it still sucks and is incredibly stressful.

    Thanks for letting me vent! Wish me luck!

          1. Ruffingit*

            Doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not, you still do it and that still makes you awesome in my book! I pretty much glide about five inches before falling down on skates. That’s the extent of my ability. :)

    1. AVP*

      This is the second year in a row that I planned to take it as a vacation day and a big project popped up that will necessitate at least some amount of working.

      Last year, I was just at my parent’s house and my mom was very impressed with my business demeanor. This year, I’ll be laptopping from an apartment share in Edinburgh. That’s a step up, at least.

  72. Jake*

    Related to the post above this one, I am leaving my first job out of college in January.

    I have huge respect for my boss and (most of) my coworkers. I am forever indebted to them for teaching me so much. I’ve been there 2.5 years. Is it inappropriate to get my boss and 4 of my coworkers (who all served as incredible mentors) a gift? I know my boss loves bourbon, and the 4 mentors love Grey Goose Vodka. Is it inappropriate to grab a bottle for each and give it to them (off of company premises, of course)?

    1. The IT Manager*

      Normally you don’t gift up, but this seems like a one time special occasion. You know their preferences and feel particularly close and indebted to them. Also since you’re leaving it doesn’t seem like sucking up. That said, Alison often says a heartfelt note or letter might be more appreciated than a physical gift.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I feel that gifts of alcohol and baked goods are the general exception to the ‘no gifting up’ rule. Not always, of course, but if you’re gonna do it, do it with one of those two things.

  73. Cassie*

    What’s the best way to deal with gossip in the workplace?

    I don’t think gossip is a huge problem in our dept but there are incidents here and there that probably started out as simple misunderstandings which stewed and brewed until full-out crises.

    Is there a way to convey the following:
    1. If you have an issue with another staff member, it’s perfectly professional to go talk to them and work it out (if you need HR’s or management’s assistance, let them know).

    2. If you hear from someone that a third-person was gossiping about you, and it’s something that you feel should be cleared up, go talk to the third-person. (If it’s something that you can and want to just brush off, that’s fine too).

    3. If you hear gossip, think long and hard about the ramifications before repeating it.

    Bottom line : don’t gossip? And don’t believe everything you hear? And don’t repeat everything you hear? I feel like we’re in middle school.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      In situation #1: “You need to talk this over with this person, directly.” (I do make exceptions if I think the person is asking me for help with word choice. If I sense that the person asking is not telling ten other people, then yes, I will help them with finding words.)

      In situation #2: That is tough. I have tried things like “Gee, I am sorry to hear Jane feels that way. Please encourage her to come talk to me. I would like to smooth this situation out.” (The bonus here is that the third party quits telling me what everyone is saying. That is because the third party does not have the spine to say this to the original complainer.)

      Yeah, it does feel like middle school all over again. Sometimes the best you can do is just keep the gossip away from you.

  74. hcat*

    Our company has a written “no gossip” policy written as part of the code of conduct, If you are in violation of the policy, you will be fired. It’s refreshing not to gossip. Gossip is exhausting and distracting

  75. Restless*

    Yesterday I had a Skype interview and when we were going over my employment history I mentioned doing temp work in 2004. The company wanted to know the name of the agency and the names of the places I worked. I found this to be a little knit picky. It was almost ten years ago and for a couple months. Why would they be so interested and exhaustive in my work history?

    1. Jake*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it is just company policy. I’d also not be surprised if they were making sure you weren’t trying to fill an unemployment gap dishonestly.

      Not saying you would, just thati could see why they’d be curious.

  76. Ali*

    Is there anybody here knowledgeable about jobs in public relations? Doesn’t matter if it’s agency PR, corporate PR, etc., but I do have a personal question.

    For the last several years, I have been a bit on the heavier side, but in February, I decided to start losing weight and making healthier food choices. My scale has been stuck for a few months, but I am down 20 pounds so far. I don’t want to give out specific numbers as far as starting weight and current weight, but people have been noticing the difference as far as my appearance.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I want to work in sports and I’m hoping to have a role in media relations. My mom does not think I’d be good at this job because she doesn’t think I am pretty enough. She thinks I need to be constantly getting my nails and hair done and that I need to be thinner. Never mind that I have some of the skills required for the job (knowledge of the sport I want to work in, writing skills) even though I do need some more experience in the area. My mom thinks my looks alone will keep me from getting the position. The reality is, a lot of the people in the position I want to have are men. There’s not really a lot of women in my chosen role. Not saying they don’t exist or anything, but obviously I’m not going to go to a man who has the job I want to have and ask him about my appearance and how I need to look. I’m relatively uncomfortable with that haha.

    Now, I do understand how to dress professionally, even though I work from home right now and haven’t needed to for the last couple of years. So what I don’t need is a “here’s what you need to buy” answer. But my mom is convinced that my appearance will never get me a job when in my industry, it’s very experience-based in addition to being who you know. She has even told me to give up because I don’t have the perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, etc.

    So does appearance really play a massive part in PR jobs? I do wear makeup and things when I’m going out, but when I’m working at home, I’m not going to dress in a business suit and high heels when no one will see me. Of course for any in-person/Skype interviews I get and once I’m in an internship or job, I will dress appropriately. But really…since I’m not a single-digit size and have supermodel looks, is there honestly no future for me in PR?

    1. Felicia*

      PR jobs are really really hard to get (i’m doing a temp job in PR now, after 3 internships) but it has nothing to do with appearance. No one i’ve seen in PR has had drop dead gorgeous super model looks. Sure there have been some smaller women, and some cute women, but there are also larger women and women who wouldn’t be considered traditionally attractive. Not many men, but some, and none of them are all that pretty. So appearance is no more or less a big deal than other jobs in my experience. The director of PR at the company I temp at is a larger woman who is cute enough but not supermodel looks. So your mom is totally wrong. Maybe if it’s the person who does all the interviews on behalf of the company on tv, or if you wanted to be a broadcast journalist looks will matter, but if you dress apropriately it really doesnt.

      Though I would suggest not sticking to just working in sports adn just media relations at first – it’s so so hard to get a job in PR and IMO it’s impossible to get one without more than one internship so you don’t want to limit yourself. If you have trouble getting a job it won’t be because of your weight and experience, it will be because 200 other people have applied for the same job, and often in PR people who have 5 years experience will go for entry level jobs because there’s just not all that much up there.

      In none of the 4 offices I worked were any of the PR team super skinny or with super model looks. Perhaps your mom doesn’t understand what PR is and is confusing it with fashion or broadcast journalism?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Uh. I know she is your mom and all that, so due respect there.
      But does she talk this way often????

      I have done a little PR type stuff for the groups I belong to. Not once has a reporter asked me about my hair and nails. Working in these groups I have learned that getting a message out to the public is all about creativity, resources, connections to other people, etc.

      Maybe your mom is banking off of what she sees on TV- where everyone is so pretty. You could try asking her where she gets this idea from. Then listen carefully.
      Or you could just try closing down the conversation entirely and looking for different sources of inputs.

      Even if she were right, which I don’t believe, beauty might get a person a job, but it will not help them keep the job AT ALL. They have to have skills, good attitude, and knowledge. Bosses don’t give raises based on manicures.

      1. Ali*

        My mom knows I want to work in sports and sees some of the women (not all) who work for teams and how pretty they are. Most of these women she is referring to work in sales or have more client-facing jobs, whether with season tickets or with sponsorships. The media people spend a lot of time in the press box during the game itself, and like I said, a lot of PR people in sports are men. Most of their job deals with working with…well, media, and not all of them go on TV/otherwise on camera. So I highly doubt she is seeing the PR people walking around the arena/stadium during games. Therefore, she sees the women who work in sales and assumes I will have to look like them to get the job.

  77. nicolefromqueens*

    I’m about to interview for an entry-level data entry position. The reason I’m looking for a data entry position 11 years out of high school is mainly because of a back injury I’ve been dealing with for five years now. I was a self-employed house cleaner while I was in college and I also held down other part time jobs (the house cleaning offered a lot of flexibility.) Because of my back, I had to stop house cleaning, go on SSI, and a lack of money kept me out of school so I abandoned my education three courses short of my degree. In the past 2+ years since I stopped cleaning I have been to work a collective 8 weeks.

    I’m doing a lot better with pain management so as long as I’m not doing anything strenuous, I’ll be okay for the foreseeable future. But this back injury has me reconsidering my plans for the future, especially as it had very bad timing: right as the recession hit.

    I’m really thinking about what to say when the dreaded ”why do you want this position”, ”where do you see yourself in five years”, etc., etc. questions arise.Should I discuss my back injury at the interview, even if it doesn’t interfere with the duties of my prospective job?

  78. Amber*

    This is a late post, but I’m just wondering about this since I’m kinda freaked out.

    I’m in Grade 12, and in my first semester. I’d ideally like to go into engineering, with a university degree. However, my parents won’t pay for my education unless I go to this one university (or the college in my town) for one year, and then they can see if “I can handle it”.

    Which brings me to the reason: my grades. I hate my mom nagging me about it so I constantly put off my homework, which leads to it not getting done. My grades are all low 80’s and high 70’s, which I can bring up by the end of the semester, but my parents keep telling me that high school will dictate the rest of my life and that in like 40 years I’ll totally regret not having done better in high school.

    Is this true? I don’t know how much I can save my grades now, but I certainly don’t want something I did when I was 17 screwing up my future career.

    1. Felicia*

      It is not at all true, not even a little bit. Once you graduate from university, what you did in highschool won’t matter. In fact, after your second years of university or so,, you don’t need to include jobs you had in highschool on your resume. I’m a little embarassed about how much I worried about grades in highschool, because it really doesn’t matter at all for your future. No one like to tell you this, but the grades you get in university also don’t really matter in terms of getting a job. I got good grades in university,, but employers only care I got the degree…this is slightly less true in engineering, but they’ll still care more about coop/internship experience than your grades.

      I have no idea where your parents got this from (maybe they’re old and/or from another country) but it’s not true in Canada. Your highschool grades only determine what university you get into, but honestly that doesn’t matter all that much either in Canada – our universities aren’t ranked all that differently from each other no matter what anyone might tell you, which is a way Canada is different than the US, where IIRC schools are ranked differently. Some universities for engineering you won’t get into with your current grades, but some you will, and it doesn’t matter which one you go to. Nothing wrong with taking as much OSAP as youre given to help pay for it yourself! Wow that was long haha but i just find it weird that your parents believe that when it’s not even kind of true. .Once you get into university you don’t even need to thin about anything from highschool, because that’s when it all tops mattering. Do they seriously think in 40 years anyone will care or even ask how you did in highschool? they won’t even ask how you did in university.

      1. Anony*

        I agree with Felicia. During your college years, you will have other work experiences ie internships, club activities that you will emphasize more on your resume. High school won’t matter much IF you attend college.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No one will care about your high school grades once you’re in college. But your high school grades will impact what colleges you can get into. And the college that you go to will matter in some fields and not at all in others. I don’t know about engineering at all (hopefully someone in engineering can weigh in), but the school you go to does matter great for fields like law and consulting.

        Basically, your high school grades do matter if you care about where you go to college.

        More here:

    2. Jessica (the celt)*

      I don’t work in engineering, but I do work in a college counseling office at a high school, so I’m currently working with seniors to help them get into colleges, from small locals to the Ivies. (We have a wide range of skill levels, which is part of the fun of my job! :) ) While I’m not the resident expert in my office (our Director definitely is!), we try to impress upon students that their grades, activities, and community involvement are definitely important to help determine which college you get into (in the United States). Several years ago, the tides turned, and every year it’s more and more competitive to get into colleges. Most colleges will allow you to write a statement of explanation for your grades, if there are extenuating circumstances for a reason your grades slipped (they really want to see stability or, preferably, improvement from ninth to twelfth grade), but saying that your mom’s nagging you made you procrastinate to the point of not doing it is not going to garner much sympathy. I am not being rude in this statement, simply straight forward, so you know what is “out there” right now. Although they do understand that students face challenges that sometimes make getting things done difficult (parents’ divorcing, death in the family, etc.), which is why they will take an explanation of grades and actually encourage such a statement when needed, colleges are looking for mature students who will work hard to apply themselves.

      Depending on the college you’re looking at, the engineering school may be very competitive. We have one state university within a few hours that is highly competitive for the engineering school. A lot of students try to get in, but are denied admission to the engineering school. They are often admitted to the liberal arts school instead and invited to reapply to the engineering school at a later date, but it is still highly difficult to transfer into it. Because of this, even the local school’s engineering program is competitive. A lot of the people who are denied first- or second-round into the engineering school at the larger university end up taking up spots at the local one, sometimes pushing out local students who want an engineering degree.

      Just last year, we had one student who had some turmoil in the family. This student wrote an explanation for some low grades, including at least one F, on the transcript and ended up getting into an Ivy. They get it: life happens. We also had a student who just didn’t want to apply him/herself and was bucking against parental involvement. While trying to gain individual responsibility is important and I know some parents can be over-involved, trying to show that you deserve to be responsible for yourself by slacking off and not doing anything doesn’t really help the student at all. While trying to write his/her statement of explanation, s/he had a very difficult time explaining the reason for the low grades to his/her first-choice school and was denied admission. S/he ended up going to a local university and was able to improve his/her grades before being accepted to and transferring to the first-choice school for the second year.

      In the end, your parents do get to choose how to spend their money and can put whatever strings on it that they want (as long as they are up-front about it). Even if your grades were stellar, they could say that they’d only pay for a local school (which has happened to students I’ve worked with). I’d suggest looking around for scholarships to see if you can offset the gap of what you are expecting your parents to help with, which will help you better decide where you yourself can afford to go.

      So, no, your high school grades will not follow you around for the rest of your life, but they can and often do dictate the next two to four years (depending on if you transfer later or not) of it. Start now, today, to work hard to get those grades up, particularly your math and science grades. Engineering is competitive and requires grit, so they want to see that you can persevere even in the face of setbacks. Show them that you can! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot just to show someone that you don’t have to do what they expect of you. That’s not independence or maturity talking. Because you read here and are writing in, I know you care about this, so prove to yourself that you can do it (and just ignore the nagging as background static). You’re doing this for yourself, not your mom. :)

  79. hope i'm not too late*

    I’m interviewing for jobs and Im not sure how to explain this–there’s a good chance I may get an offer from one of the places I interviewed, but the main thing I’m worried about is salary.
    When I applied, I was asked my salary range and gave it…..but I honestly have no idea if they will hire me and if so, at the desired salary. I would accept a lower salary, lower than my lowest end, but I’m not sure how low I should go….I guess I’m being paranoid that they’ll offer minimum wage or somewhere in the $8-12 range (which is still pathetically low). Would that be an insult? I guess i’m just babbling and thinking out loud.

    1. Colette*

      You’re overthinking it. :) Try to relax, and wait to see what they come back with (if anything).

      As far as whether it would be an insult, it’s not. The salary they offer depends on what the position is and what the market rate is i your area, as well as how cheap the company is – but it’s not personal and, if it is, you don’t want to work there, right?

  80. Anonymous*

    I dont really care for my boss and the holiday part is coming up. do i have to go to the party? is it frowned upon for people not to go holiday parties?

  81. no longer temp?*

    I have a complicated “starting a new job” situation.
    I was working part-time job A since september. Around the same time I interviewed for job A, I also interviewed for temp job B. So after working job A for about 2 months, I got a call from temp job B, asking if I was still interested. I went in for more information, and paperwork, and finally formally offered the job (a slightly higher pay rate, and 40 hours a week). In the mean time, I also interviewed for “dream job” C. After interviewing for job C, I got a start date for job B and put in my notice and completed my final 2 weeks for job A. Then I got the word from job C that I got the job, and they would like me to start about a week and a half after temp job B’s start date.

    I am unsure when/how to notify temp job B that I won’t continue with them. Should I start job B, work there for a week and then quit? Job B, during paperwork/orientation, made it clear that it’s a temp position, and while they usually last 6 months, it may be only a month or two. Or should I let them know before I start that I have found a permanent position that is going to start in a couple weeks, and while I’d be happy to work up until that point, I understand if they want to put someone else on that assignment? The temp job is at an organization that I may someday want to work for, but I’m hoping that permanent/dream job C works out for 3-5+ years.

Comments are closed.