open thread

IMG_0117It’s the Friday open thread! (I’m experimenting with weekly open threads this month, to see if they make the number of comments more manageable.)

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.

{ 844 comments… read them below }

        1. Rayner*

          Aghast! I was correct the first time!

          Oh God, I should just shut myself up now, or this entire post will be me correcting/uncorrecting myself.

      1. A Jane*

        Hahaha, I typically read AAM around 9:30 AM in the morning. I was floored when I saw ~250 comments.

    1. Al Lo*

      I love the midnight open thread! I’m not overseas, but the first thread of the day posts at 10 PM for me, and since I’m a night owl and don’t work early (I don’t typically get in before 11 AM), the threads are already in full swing by the time I check in the morning.

          1. Rayner*

            I’m so happy to see big feet on that cat. Big feet are so cute!

            On cats.

            On people, they make buying a shoes a PITA. (Resident big foot speaking.)

              1. ElizabethWest*

                My kitty will let me play with her front feet when she’s sitting on my lap. I just hold the foot and pet the top, and she likes when I rub the pads too. But then she gets tired of being held and jumps off.

    2. Avid Reader*

      I’m curious if you’ve seen or will see an uptick in traffic and ad revenue to the site from the Gawker cross-post. AAM is a favorite and it definitely deserves more exposure (as does the crazy Operation Smile story itself.)

  1. Rayner*

    How do you get up the courage to something something that you know you have to do but you’re so damn scared to do?

    Case en point: Depression (diagnosed) hit hard this Christmas, I’m behind on set duties, (very behind) and now, I have to go and beg for mercy. How to do you find the courage to do that, when you’re feeling constantly like an inch close to crawling into bed and calling it a lifetime for a while?

    (In before massive dogpile of awesome comments).

    1. A Teacher*

      I’m sorry. I’ve battle depression for over 10 years (also diagnosed) and while right now is going well I’ve been there before. How? As to the how: understand that most people do have the ability to have compassion and understanding and that most people probably know something is going on, even if they’re not sure what. Be as straightforward about HOW you plan to catch up or get closer to caught up and come with an action plan. Don’t get defensive or make excuses–it is so easy to when you’re going through the cycle. For me, it is a very specific list that I can physically check off. For others it may be something else. Hang in there Rayner and good luck!

    2. Grace*

      Thanks for your candor about your medical condition (depression).
      I have found the following to be helpful:
      1. Make a list of the things I have to do/discuss;
      2. Meet with two wise, trusted friends together for coffee to
      discuss and brain-storm (“a cord of three or more strands is
      not easily broken” from Ecc 4:12);
      3. prayer;
      4. and then do it.

      Take care of yourself in the mean-time. Exercise (1-hour a day at a minimum to raise your endorphins), eat right, stay away from
      booze/drugs, get enough sleep.

    3. Grace*

      I don’t know where you are located, but in my state (California) depression is a disability under the California Fair Employment
      and Housing Act and it requires reasonable accommodation. You may need to find out your jurisdiction’s laws and what can be done for you in your work situation.
      Take care.

    4. FRRibs*

      I hate that slogan “Just Do It”, but it’s true. Think of the fear Woody Allen would have standing on a balance beam over a precipice; paralysis through analysis. It’s a tremendous waste of energy that will do nothing for you. Procrastination/avoidance is the enemy.

      Figure out what needs to be done, and step off. You’re going to fall off that beam if you worry about it all day or if you just walk across it, so might as well save the mental anguish and trust that if you are meant to survive, you will.

      Think about your portion of the conversation, but don’t worry about perfecting (perfectionism is just another avoidance tack) the pitch. How are you going to catch up, how fast. Be realistic and honest.

      I don’t know if this is your first big hiding under the covers event of if you’ve had them in the past, but you will live. Mentioning that you’re diagnosed; I hope you are taking steps to address your emotional state. Good luck!

      1. Anonymous*

        “waste of energy…save the mental anguish…”


        When you know you have to do something, and you know you’re going to do it eventually no matter how long you wait, you should just do it and get it over with. The sooner you do it, the less anguish and wasted energy. Just ask yourself, what’s the difference between doing it now or doing it later?

          1. FRRibs*

            Kids, I know you don’t like eating your Lima beans. I didn’t either when I was your age. Let me tell you what my mom used to do: I would have to eat 10 lima beans, and I was not allowed to leave the table until they were all swallowed. For every ten minutes all the beans were not eaten, five more beans were added to the plate. (Or something like that.)

    5. Anonymous*

      Anxiety and fear eat up what precious energy you have so making a decision to have a meeting with your supervisor and getting it out of the way should help a bit. If you haven’t met with your doctor yet, my suggestion is to have that appointment first. You need a doctor and/or therapist on your team to come up with a plan to take care of yourself during this time. FMLA leave might be needed and/or reduced hours. No job is more important than your health. I learned that in the hardest of ways. The longer you keep pushing yourself to work while battling major depression you risk a complete physical and emotional breakdown.If you are constantly planning ways to end your life, you might need in-patient care. (It was the best decision I ever made for myself) There is also such a thing as Day Hospital at some facilities where you go on a daily basis while adjusting to new meds or trying out new meds while attending a group. I know it is really hard to take time to heal and that you can feel very guilty for falling behind on tasks as well as leaving your work for someone else to do. It eats away your energy worrying about it, because you care. Yet, to do your best job, you need to take care of yourself and get healthy again. Be patient with yourself, be honest with your doctors and speak up if treatments you are trying are not working. I am so sorry your are struggling and wish you the best. The two things my doctors have told me that help are: “This is NOT a Race!” and “There’s always more we can do”.

      1. IronMaiden*

        I realise it’s probably a bit different with something like depression, but I find the best way to deal with difficult conversations/tasks is to get stuck in. Mostly, the reality is far less terrifying than we imagine. Sure it’s not always pleasant but I think the relief of having dealt with it otweighs that.

      2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

        “No job is more important than your health. I learned that in the hardest of ways.”

        Me toooooo.

    6. Anonymous*

      Instead of taking on the big pile of work you are looking at. Select one small task for you to do the next day. Then do that small task and be happy with your accomplishment for that day.

      Don’t worry about getting all the work done at once.

      Then for the next day you might want to set a more challenging, but still very (it must be very very very) do-able task. The feeling of getting kick-started and up and running might give you the confidence to handle larger chuncks of work.

    7. Anonymous*

      While it’s awesome to approach the problem with solutions, sometimes you don’t have solutions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m lucky in that I have an excellent manager. She’s very receptive to me going to her and saying “I have this problem and I don’t know how to fix it. How do you recommend I proceed?”

      While this may not have to do with depression exactly, it is good to keep in mind.

      Good luck.

      1. Natalie*

        In a similar vein, if you’re under the care of a mental health professional make sure you are talking to them about this! They can probably help with some aspects of it.

    8. smallbutmighty*

      Think back to a time when someone came to you, humble and apologetic, to ask for understanding and help. How did that make you feel? Did you feel judgmental (I’m guessing not), or did you feel privileged that they trusted you to be empathetic and helpful?

      It’s easier to find the courage to beg for mercy when you take a moment to remember that you’ll most likely get it, and that you’d certainly extend it to someone else in the same circumstances.

      I won’t address the mental health issues you’re facing, as I don’t have experience with those, only empathy for those who do experience them.

    9. BG*

      Hi Rayner,
      I was going through the same thing a few months ago – my medication had stopped working and I was miserable 24/7. I made a lot of mistakes at work and finally decided I had to tell my boss.

      I asked if I could talk to her one day and told her that I knew I had been making a lot of careless mistakes and been very distracted lately, but that I have depression and anxiety and my medication seemed to have stopped working. She was incredibly understanding and let me know that she also suffers from depression and anxiety. She said that she was very glad I told her, offered me time off, her therapist’s number, and urged me to make an appointment right away to switch prescriptions.

      As others said – just do it! The outcome will likely not be what you are dreading.

    10. Nonprofit Office Manager*

      I wish you could show them this diagram by Hyperbole & a Half (a hilarious artist) to explain what working with depression is like. The illustration is about daily life, but I think it applies to the workplace as well. At least, I suffer from depression/anxiety issues and the diagram shows what work often feels like for me. Anyway, I don’t have have any helpful suggestions about how to send your SOS, but I wanted to share the diagram nonetheless in case you find it validating :)

      (top diagram)

    11. Kacie*

      Beg for mercy before it’s too late. Have a frank conversation that you know you’re behind, and you need some temporary assistance. Most managers will be willing to work through it with you, instead of coming to a point where you’re on improvement plans and close to getting fired.

      I hope that you have or are planning on talking with your doctor. Meds and talk therapy will help. Best of luck to you, and please know that you’re not alone in this.

    12. Mephyle*

      Like others have said, don’t wait until you have the courage, do the first step anyway, without having the desire or willpower to act. One technique I heard about that might help is: act the part as though you were in a play. Play the part of a person who has it together enough at least to do [thing you need to do].

    13. life's a beach*

      Sorry to hear about your situation. When I started my job, I was in a major depression, but I was upfront with my new boss and they were very accommodating. I thinking being honest about your situation is the best way to go. I read this article the other day, and it was one of the best explanations of what someone with Depression and Anxiety disorder deal with. It is so hard to explain to someone that has not suffered from it.

  2. AnonForThis*

    I’m a mid/senior-level director at a national nonprofit. My organization is restructuring, and my role is disappearing. My bosses have told me that they plan on keeping me on staff and have asked me to reflect on what I need out of a role to be happy and fulfilled in my work, and we will start there to find or create a role that works for me. It’s a generous offer and a great opportunity.

    Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with, but I’d love to pick your brains for other suggestions:

    – Working closely with a team.
    – Honing my skills as a facilitator and trainer.
    – Engage with vision setting and strategy development.

    What would you say if your boss asked you the same question?

    1. Rayner*

      Do you want a job with lots of people under your command, or one with a set team, or a rotation of people, or one or two that you can cherry pick…?

      Do you want a job that’s the same every day, and gives you lots of chances to hone your specific skill, or do you want a job that’s full of surprises and requires going by the seat of your pants?

      Do you want a job that involves a lot of communication and go between different departments (so you wear many hats) or do you want a job where you wear one/two at most?

      1. AnonForThis*

        Ooh, interesting! Thank you.

        Love the last questions especially. That’s something I’ve struggle with in my current role, which is a nexus point for LOTS of departments and relationships. It was exhausting. I’d much rather work closely with a small team than have a “light touch” with a larger group of people.

        1. ADE*

          ” Honing my skills as a facilitator and trainer.”

          >> Would you be able to give your bosses distinct examples of a) how you have developed skills as a facilitator and trainer and b) how specifically you’d like to hone them more?

          “Engage with vision setting and strategy development.”

          >> Will you be able to be specific about what kinds of vision questions you’d like to ask, and what kinds of strategies you’d like to think about developing?

    2. Jubilance*

      Maybe try a technique I learned at my current company, its basically 3 columns: What you like to do, what you’re good at, and what you would like to learn. Once you figure out what all those things are, that can help you shape what elements your new role should include.

    3. AB Normal*

      The first thing I’d do is to think about the “critical path” of your organization, and how I could fill a “white space” related to it. Don’t suggest something just because you like it or it’s interesting to do; you want to be in that critical path so that you aren’t in the same position of having your role suddenly disappear in the future.

  3. Is.This.Legal*

    Why do some managers prefer to hire extroverts vs introvets? I’ve heard the previous manager say she will never hire a quiet person again. I get my job done, very well and it bothered me that someone will make the decison that they don’t like introvets. Any thoughts?

    1. A Teacher*

      Introvert does not mean quiet or shy. I’m what’s known as a Extroverted Introvert–aka the most complicated personality according to the psych tests you can take–go being difficult. So I come across as extroverted more than introverted but I really hate large crowds and it takes a lot for me to recharge and all of the other introvert characteristics that go with it describe me.

      I think that sometimes people don’t hire introverts because we can, at times (not always) keep to ourselves and we may come across as standoffish. We aren’t always the type to love the large group setting or even being a “go team” type of person. Sometimes I think it comes across as threatening, hard for me to say why but it does.

        1. A Teacher*

          My sister is the “ambivert” or right in the middle which suits her and what she does for a living. All of the “verts” have strengths and weaknesses and like posted below it’d be great if we could just look at each other that way!

        2. nyxalinth*

          I’m a shy introvert for sure. I can fake being outgoing as needed, but I really don’t like to.

        3. louise*

          I use the descriptor “gregarious introvert” for myself. People think I’m bubbly and energetic because I’m “on” anytime I’m around others. They don’t see how much recharging is required after that. (I learned the hard way, through dorm life in college, that being “on” 24/7 for 3 semesters then required 9 months of hibernation in the quiet home of an older couple who left me to myself to recover.)

      1. Noelle*

        My former boss seemed to think that since I was quiet, I must be hiding things from him. Nope, just not a big talker! I’m also an un-shy introvert too, and it doesn’t mean that I can’t manage people or run meetings or give speeches or go to receptions. I just need some recharging time afterwards.

      2. ElizabethWest*

        I’m like that too–outgoing and friendly, etc., but when I spend time around too many people, I get tired quickly. I have to plan stuff so I don’t get stuck or always have an out or a way to leave. Otherwise, I get drained really fast and either shut down or get irritated.

        1. ChristineSW*

          I’m totally the same way. I dread the times when I know I might get stuck because I depend on alternate transportation.

    2. Chinook*

      I think that extroverts prefer other extroverts because they understand how they work. To them, introverts must seem to not be excited about anything or like they are accomplishing much. But, in their defense, the same is also true for introverts – we tend to prefer our own kind because we keep to ourselves and do our work.

      The downside to this plan is that both types have strengths that the other lacks. If only we could all look together.

      1. TL*

        That’s interesting. A lot of my friends are more into- than extroverted and I’m the opposite; I always think we’re friends because they find it easy to socialize with me and I find myself going at a more reasonable pace around them.

      2. Sydney Bristow*

        The book Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain is great for understanding the internal workings of introverts. If this boss were willing to read it, it may be helpful. I think we could all do better to understand the opposite group. I’m introverted so I may be biased but I think it can be easier for people to understand the extroverted personality because it is more often viewed as the “ideal” or “model” personality type, at least in the US. I’m speaking completely in generalities and I’m sure everyone has different experiences with this though.

        1. Cat*

          I’m fairly introverted, but I feel like I’ve actually seen a lot of misunderstandings about extroverts floating around lately – namely that they’re totally socially confident and free of all social anxieties.

        2. Tamara*

          I was going to suggest this. I’m 100 pages in and it really is a terrific book. I’m an introvert who people make the mistake of labeling an extrovert. I’ve just learned how to fake the funk over the years but it really does cause some anxiety because people don’t tend to believe that I WOULD really like to stay home and read my book than go out and party or NO I don’t want to be in sales I want to hide behind my computer and do great work.

    3. Cassie*

      My sis was in a training class for supervisors and the instructor said that an introvert or someone who keeps to him/herself is not suited to be a supervisor. I was like “what?!” As long as the supervisor is communicating what needs to be communicated, it doesn’t matter, does it? A person who is painfully shy or has anxiety when talking to others – yes, that person may need to work on overcoming those issues in order to be a good supervisor, but otherwise, who cares?

      1. ADE*

        I’m an introvert who gets very confident on stage and in sales presentations but is painfully shy in talking to others — so I get this :)

        1. Noelle*

          I’m also an introvert with no stage fright. I think it’s all those years of music recitals! It takes a lot of energy and anxiety to meet new people though, so networking and work receptions are a nightmare.

          1. ADE*

            High five!

            For me, I get worried based on scale. Group of people where I have to be “on stage” = always easy. Group of people where I have to “network” superficially= depending on context, pretty easy. (I’m not chatty, but I have a very good memory for people and co-workers and the like, so I get away with asking very specific questions that make people feel like I’m chatting with them when really I’m just going through my mental rolodex.)

            What KILLS me are social gatherings for the pure sake of being social. Client dinners, client parties, sigh. I’ll be in the corner doing my best to smile and make nice.

            1. Noelle*

              I usually have no problem talking to people I’ve already met, even if it’s only once or twice. The worst for me is a big reception where I’m meeting new people all night long and making the same weird, unnatural small talk when really I just want to be home reading.

          2. louise*

            Yup! No stage fright here either — I’d rather give a speech in front of 100 people than go to a party. The only reason I tolerate wedding receptions is for the cake.

    4. FRRibs*

      What sort of job are you talking about? Are you facing the public or back office? What ist he office culture like? If one is shy/introvert, are they still giving the cues people need to work with them and know what they’re thinking?

          1. De Minimis*

            Back office, maybe….

            There can be a lot of communication required of an accountant, somewhat less in the back office depending on what you do. Of course, introversion doesn’t mean one can’t communicate. But one of my profs [in accounting] once said that “If you’re looking for a job where you can just sit in a quiet room and not talk to anyone, accounting is the wrong place for you.”

            Developing a network is way more important with bigger companies and is vital in public accounting, so introversion there would probably be more of a liability.
            You have to constantly be marketing yourself to be attached to projects, and extroverts have a huge advantage.

            The other issue is that the jobs that are more traditional and don’t require as much interaction/communication also tend to be lower paid and have less advancement possibilities.

    5. Kayli*

      Im an introverted, shy, private and quiet person as well. Which basically means I keep to myself, do my work, go home. I’ve got no desire to socalise with my colleagues after work hours either. I do sometimes feel like maybe they regret hiring me.
      I’ve been told I do a great job and get good feedback about my work but I also get feedback that I need to interact with colleagues more. I feel like my manager is asking me to change my personality, it’s really not that easy just to start being more outgoing and talkative and I kinda don’t feel like I should have to change to fit in more. Maybe someones got ideas on how to overcome this?

      1. S*

        “I’m an introverted, shy, private and quiet person as well. Which basically means I keep to myself, do my work, go home.”
        Kayli – I feel that you described me in this statement.
        Some ideas (I have done these in the past and they worked):
        – Take a class (I took them in the evenings or weekends) examples: Master the Fine Art of Small Talk, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Secrets to Better Workplace Communications
        – Hypnotherapy
        – Practice mindfulness (check out the website for: center for mindfulness – University of Massachusetts Medical School)
        I hope this is helpful! Good luck!

      2. Cat*

        I don’t know what role you’re in – and as we’ve seen here, there are lots of unreasonable managers; yours may be one of them and may be asking something silly, like that you go to after-work happy hours. If so, that’s wrong.

        However, I think it’s possible the manager is saying something somewhat more legitimate – assuming that interpretation, here’s my response. Someone has mentioned in comments here before that there are “task people” and “relationship people.” The former former focus on the task in hand without thinking about the social dynamics involved in getting it completed; the latter have a hard time doing that or don’t feel valued if they don’t have some sort of rapport built up with the person they’re working with it. While this sounds like a markedly inferior style from that summary, I don’t think it always is (though it can create problems): there can be real advantages to building up a relationship based on mutual respect with someone you are working with because, when the chips are down and you’re in a crunch, you’re more likely to have some trust and knowledge about the other person in place. You can rely on the shorthand you’ve already built up and work quite efficiently.

        So the first thing, I think, is to think “okay, some of my co-workers are more relationship oriented; that is not my style and takes some work upfront, but it’s not illegitimate. How can I make them comfortable while still not making myself uncomfortable?” And I think the easiest answer to that often involve minor steps – make sure you smile and say hi to people when you pass them in the hallway; ask if they had a nice weekend or holiday when you intersect with them in the coffee room; remember if they mention a kid or a pet or a hobby and ask a follow-up question about it later. None of those things have to cut into your personal time, and all of them can start building relationships that you can then bring into your work. The key, I think, is making it clear to co-workers that you do see and value them as people, not just as cogs in a machine, and with some thought, you can do that without a lot of extensive non-work social interaction.

        1. ADE*

          Yes! The smile and say hi part is huge. Good morning, good bye, “I’m getting coffee, would you like any?”

          You don’t need to be “social” to be thoughtful and caring.

          But I did work in a “let’s go out” atmosphere once, and I was left out in the cold because I wasn’t in the club. Though it was only a few months before I knew I was leaving that I realized there was an in club and that I wasn’t in it. Shows how much I care.

          1. De Minimis*

            The “let’s go out” atmosphere seems less prevalent in workplaces where most of the people are older and/or have families.

              1. De Minimis*

                Of course, I had the opposite issue when I was single and in my twenties, I worked in a predominantly older workplace with a lot of family people, and so had trouble making social connections. I think there is a big expectation among younger people that they will meet and socialize after work, maybe because work is still kind of seen as an extension of school.

          2. Allison*

            Are you me? I had a job where people didn’t just go out after work, my manager would host house parties and invite the team, then give people a hard time if they didn’t want to go. 1) I’m not a “party girl” and 2) I don’t think it’s appropriate to party at my boss’s apartment. But the people who did go would be on his good side, even get assigned special projects, and he got increasingly frustrated with me for not being bff’s with my teammates.

            After that job I wondered if not being a “party girl” would hurt my career going forward, and if 20-somethings were just expected to party with their other 20-something co-workers. Thankfully that’s not the case in my new job.

      3. Sue*

        I got the same feedback from my manager, and she recommended joining a Toastmasters club. It was terrifying at first, but it did the job. It hasn’t changed my personality – I’m still a quiet introvert – but now I’ve got the skills to do all that weird chatting that my colleagues seem to like so much.

      4. Heather*

        Ah yes. The dreaded interact with colleagues suggestion.

        I always counter it with “Am I getting my work done well and on time?” “Are people complaining that I’m not being friendly, helpful, and polite?” “So basically you *want* me to wander around the office and talk socially to people more but still get more work load done?”

        Problem solved. Unless you are blatantly ignoring people when they say hi to you or talk about the weather when they run into you in the kitchen or by the photocopier what higher level of interaction is required? My employer wants me to abandon my desk and visit every other employee and talk about what I did last night? Get real. I’m paid to work. My lunch hours are my alone time and I’m use them. Sometimes I do errands during them or go to appointments. I do occasionally go for lunch with other people if I feel like but it’s not happening every day and it won’t ever happen every day.

        I’m very quiet and keep to myself as well but I’m not going around the office purposely chatting to everyone so that I’m interacting more. Interacting will occur in the course of my job. If I don’t have any questions for anyone that week then I don’t need to go see them. If I see them in the hall or in the kitchen or whatever sure I’ll chat with them. But it’s ridiculous that I’m expected to interact any other way.

        1. Sharm*

          So agree. I had ONE work place where I liked being social, and ever since then, I’ve learned that place was unique. I’m paid to do my job, and that’s it. I don’t have high ambitions of a corner office (sorry Sheryl Sandberg, but I don’t care for your philosophy), and if that’s what it takes to get there, no thanks. I’ll use my free time to hang out with people in my actual life.

    6. Noelle*

      I think there are a lot of misconceptions people have about introverts that make them think we are automatically shy, uncommunicative, and won’t speak up about things. A few months ago I had a performance evaluation where I was told I wasn’t a “team player” because I spent too much time in my office alone, working. I thought it was ridiculous because I’d worked with teams on multiple occasions, and never had a problem working with other people. But since I didn’t seek them out, or make every project into a team project, I was told I didn’t have leadership skills and needed to work on being more outgoing. Since then, I’ve really focused on the people who have gotten promoted and why, and all of them were people who did hardly any work, but had huge “teams” working with/for them. In terms of actual work product, they weren’t doing a very good job, but I guess the socialization mattered more to my supervisors.

    7. Anonymous*

      One of the signs of a good manager is someone who can put together a diverse team, a mix of introverts and extroverts and all the verts in between. I also think it’s great when managers can recognize that they need to hire people that full gaps they don’t personally fulfil. One of our senior managers is a real numbers guy. He hired a people person to work on his team because he recognized the need. That’s mature management if I’ve ever seen it.

    8. Anon*

      Perhaps a misunderstanding of what it means to be an introvert? I am a strong introvert, in that I tend to recharge emotionally by spending time by myself rather than other people. At work, however, I manage a large staff and do a lot of direct customer service and have a reputation for communicating well. I may prefer that my personal time is quiet time, but it doesn’t interfere with my ability to get my job done at all.

    9. Laura*

      I can’t help it any more, I start rolling my eyes when people act like introversion and extroversion are the only two personality traits that exist. Your former manager is an idiot.

      I’m suspicious of people who make blanket statements about personality types and can’t get along with others who they don’t perceive as having the exact same personality type. I think the rise of easily-available “personality tests” has some real downsides, and one of them is that people think they know what these terms mean and how to identify them in themselves and others.

      1. Anonymous Techie*

        I agree. The DiSC profile, which divides people into four basic “types” seems to be the latest trend in the work place, at least in California. Companies are spending five figure amounts of money to send employees to DiSC training workshops where everyone takes a brief multiple choice test, is assigned a letter, and then is instructed that everything about a person is defined by this “profile”. You’re supposed to speak to D’s one way, speak to I’s another way, etc.

        At my job, DiSC testing and training is required during the first month of employment. I knew there was a possibility that my result could inform the type of work I was assigned so I kept this in mind and got a result I was happy with. That said, I don’t agree with the practice. If you’re going to require personality testing and make the results public, you should at least use a testing process that’s considered scientifically valid.

  4. Sandrine*

    Hi all!

    I am moving into my own place at the end of the month. I am getting scared as it’s getting more and more real every day. Everyone thinks it’s a mistake (one hour and a half commute) but I fell in love with the quiet area.

    Just hoping I can get everything in order for this new adventure.

    With that said, actual question. I am 30. Dad is 53. He just learnt about Mom’s new BF (divorced since 2007) and is heartbroken. Let’s just say there are many reasons why you wouldn’t exactly be calling him “dad” since he never acted as one. He has been claiming for a while that Mom is “the one” (but sure did not show it for a looong time) . He is now trying to use us kids as a support system. As if he was in the most.painful.state.ever.

    On the one hand, I feel sympathetic. On the other, I wish I could be meaner and more brutal to wake him up to the fact that acting this delusional will not help. He seems to acknowledge past mistakes while somehow separating them from his “actual” feelings for Mom. I already asked him to tone down the more intense messages, but am I some kind of heartless monster for wanting to set him straight?

    (By just learnt I mean over Christmas)

    1. Grace*


      Bonne année! Congratulations on your new place. Sorry to hear that you Dad is dumping on you children. It doesn’t seem too
      mature, perhaps some of the same things that got him into troubles with your Mom. Tell him to take up some new hobbies
      and get some exercise (1-hour every day), to see a counselor
      (perhaps a religious or secular one). And then tell him that
      while you love him, it’s not appropriate for him to be discussing
      these intense emotions with you, his daughter.

    2. Rayner*

      No, you’re not a heartless monster.

      Your father has woken up to the fact that he is not going to win your mother back, but it’s not clicked that it’s his fault/problem/issue, and not yours. My dad did this too – regret is a wonderful thing, too late after the fact.

      You need to tell him to kindly, politely, but firmly tell him you’re not interested in the discussion of your mother and his relationship, or your mother’s new BF, and it’s up to him to deal with them if he has a problem with anything.

      Give him the number to a councilor so he has a chance to talk it out with someone who’s paid to untangle that kind of mess, and then every time he brings it up, shut him down with a ‘etiquette hell’ patented polite spine. “That’s sad, Dad. Now, would you like beans or cabbage?” / “I’m actually not going to discuss that with you, Dad. It’s none of my business. Pass the coffee.” / “That’s nice. Did you see the traffic pile up on the road outside of town, today?”

      1. Marigold*

        I’ve tried to gently guide my mother towards seeing a therapist, but it’s clear she won’t. She also leans a bit too heavily on us kids as a support system. Honestly, the best thing I did was to go to therapy myself to learn how to enforce boundaries. You don’t need many sessions for some really solid advice. Ultimately, you can never make another person change, but you can control how you interact and react to that person.

        1. Rayner*

          Yeah, it’s definitely up to the person with the issue to change. You can’t make ’em do it, like you said, but you can change yourself and how you respond to them.

          However, since it is a parent, I do suggest giving that option, and using it when the parent keeps asking/commenting:

          “Dad, that’s not something I’m going to discuss. You have the number to the counselor if you want talk about that. Now, did you see the game on X?” Since redirection is important.

          And then it means there’s a fall back for the OP, and if the parent is inclined to change, there’s an opening for them.

          But at the end of the day, you’re right – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink :D

    3. FRRibs*

      Grats on the new place. That first sandwich when you can say “I own this kitchen” tastes very sweet.

      As for the Dad thing, I’d say that as his children, he feels he can expose his more intimate thoughts to you than he can to friends and co-workers, and since you obviously know his ex-wife/your mother, there is that bond too…and assuming you are still close to your mother, he sees you as a sort of conduit to her. There is also the holy grail effect, where all the good flowed from one person (your mother), and their not being together is the reason for all the bad in his life. A million more things as well.

      This is a terrible thing for a parent to do to their children, putting you in a very uncomfortable position. How do you normally deal with him talking about your mother?

      If I were you, I would have a conversation that puts everything on the table with no room for confusion. Acknowledge that you know how he feels, be very clear that Mom has moved on and good or bad, it’s time to move on. Figure what you did to screw up, and don’t do that anymore. Do better with the next relationship. Remember the good times, but realize that is the past, like high school sweethearts.

      It hurts, but it’s reality.

    4. Jen in RO*

      Congratulations on the apartment! It was a bit scary when I moved out, but I loved it – I hope it turns out to be a great experience for you too.

    5. ElizabethWest*

      Yay for your own place!!
      No, you’re not a monster. It’s not really appropriate for him to discuss this with the children. Some of the other commenters had good suggestions, especially re a counselor. That can be a huge help getting through something, because it’s a safe space where you can discuss all those feelings. It doesn’t have to be a years-long thing either.

      Tell him if he doesn’t find one he can work with right away, to keep trying. He needs to process these feelings, but he shouldn’t be doing it with you.

    6. happycat*

      Huzzah and congrats on the new place! Enjoy.

      As for ‘dad’.. I AM a heartless jerk. Don’t waste a moment feeling badly about how you feel about HIS acting badly.
      From my own experience, I would advise your NOT trying to reason with him. You don’t owe him an explanation as to why he cannot talk to you like this, however, if you yourself want to give him one, keep it short, keep it to the point and be FIRM above all else. Let him know you need a dad, and he should start acting like a dad. He can ask you how your day was, he can hope you meet a wonderful partner, he can miss you, he can tell you how his day went, but he cannot solicte advice from you on relashonships. He can ask you for fashion advice, but not dating advice. You should have not pass any messages, explain the situation, or feel that you owe him in any way.
      I wish you the very best. Allow yourself to feel what you need to, don’t enable your dad to continue to act as he always has, by feeling that you owe him, or that you are a bad person for having normal feelings.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Very well said.
        Even if you had a purrrrfect relationship with your father, it would STILL be totally inappropriate for you to get involved in their (past) marital issues.

        Matter of fact, I can think of very few times where it would be appropriate to talk to anyone about their marriage…

        Don’t allow some weird sense of guilty or torqued out sense of obligation to murky the waters here. You are not responsible for any two people’s relationship with each other- especially your parents. I know that because of being in the situation the boundary line flexes. And that is when stuff gets weird.

        You said he was not a dad-dad type of person. This is more of that. He is expecting you to bear the responsibility for his relationship. I suspect he expected your mom to bear the responsibility for his relationship with you. She said NO. And so can you.

        Grab up a book or two about setting boundaries in relationships. It will help you find your own voice and your own words to say NO. (This is not a waste of time- these books will give you great advice that you can use all through life.)

    7. GL*

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think this is really appropriate for this forum. This isn’t even remotely work-related.

      1. KellyK*

        It wouldn’t be an appropriate question to AAM, but it’s an open thread. Those are very specifically *for* off-topic conversations, or on-topic conversations that don’t fit the regular comments, but “talk about anything you want” is pretty clear.

          1. Sandrine*

            Thank you. I know how to read directions and I am sure my comment would have been deleted otherwise.

            Turns out I saw Dad yesterday cause I still owed him money from some time prior, so he came near my job when my shift was over and we went shopping and ate something.

            I ended up telling him that no one will take “his kids” (five daughters, I am the eldest and Number 2 just had her second son, number 3 is in Japan, Number 4 and 5 are minors and live with mom) from him and he can just focus on being “dad” if he wants to assume the role.
            Mom is almost 50 and may still have time for a 6th… somehow even *that* traumatizes Dad.

            He claims not to have money for a counsellor (but even in Paris you can fin solutions) but at least, a small victory: he understands semi-harassing Mom or us will do more harm than good.

            Good enough for now ;).

            As for the apartment, today I get to make the appointment for utilities… Can’t wait to deal with the ISP part since I work for the one I want service from and already know my apartment may have amazing service given the overall data I found >:D.

  5. business casual?*

    Any favorite websites or clothing or outfits from the women in business casual offices? I know about corporette, but it’s more formal than anything I ever need to wear. I dress fine, but I’m hoping for some ideas to introduce variety to my working wardrobe.

    1. De*

      Already Pretty? Some of what she wears might be too casual, but there’s lots of posts from a few years and she wears a wide variety of types of clothes.

      1. Sophia*

        I would not recommend Already Pretty – when bloggers leave the workforce, their advice for work appropriate items IMO tends to diminish. I also don’t think her recommendations are good (eg wearing the same color tights and shirts). I’m not sure who I’d recommend…probably academic chic even though they stopped blogging, their archives are still there. It’s by three different women with different styles

        1. KLH*

          Already Pretty is a terrible guide for clothing as 1) her personal style is based on owning tons of items that don’t fit and 2) she doesn’t have a day job to rein in her weirder ideas and 3) her entire shtick is based on the idea women hate their bodies, only want to look thin, and are constantly adopting personas. If you have a solid ego core construct and just like pretty clothes, there are better places to look for advice.

          Wardrobe Oxygen is good–she’s got a distinct style but looks works appropriate. InStyle (the print magazine) is the best for getting up to date on trends.

        2. Kerr*

          Agree that Already Pretty’s outfits usually aren’t appropriate for business or business casual. The general style/wardrobe advice and inspiration, on the other hand, is great and (mostly) universally applicable.

        3. JW*

          I second that, Sophia. Sally at Already Pretty is TERRIBLE, both in personal style and giving advice to others. It’s as if she makes up a new problem area women should be concerned with for each day of the week.

        1. A Teacher*

          I just got our animal rescue on there so all of the foster animals have their own board (I get my 24th foster dog next week!), I also have like over 1000 pins to my quotes board–that’s my obsession :), and quite a few to the fashion section. It is a time sucker but I love it anyway!

        2. Robyn*

          Pinterest is very useful for ideas. As a fabric and graphic designer I use it quite a lot.

          But so many things make my eyes roll.

          A friend and I are planning Pintownrest. A town made completely of corks, white washed boards and Mason jars. :D

          1. Robyn*

            Not a fabric designer. A fiber artist. I knit and design knitting patterns!

            It’s only 0730 here. I’ve had no coffee. ;)

    2. Rayner*

      I dress at Yours – little bit pricey (imo) but they have international shipping, and tend to last a while – using their Smart Range for business stuff, mostly. You can generally dig around and find other ‘business appropriate’ stuff in the other tabs too.

      Great for plus size women, who often struggle in brick and mortar stores, and they use real life plus size women to advertise their clothes, too :D

      Generally, if you make one thing one step down from business e.g. casual – jeans (smart, dark, no diamante on the backside, thanks) – the other thing needs to be one step up, so it balances it out. A nice shirt/cardigan+top combo, for example.

      It’s always my general rule.

      Also, always dress in daylight/good light, and ask yourself honestly, would this look okay in the company magazine/hand book if you had a surprise snap taken of you? The answer should always be “It would fly.”

      Not that anyone should be taking surprise pictures, that is.

    3. Grace*

      1) I never watch the tv show, but I do get really cute skirts, jackets and dresses from QVC and everybody at work thinks I paid a fortune for them and that I’m lovely. I just honestly hate clothes shopping and would rather have packages delivered to my doorstep.
      2) Lands End, LL Bean, Coldwater Creek, Zappos (the shoe/apparel people – their customer service rep Amber sent me a cool card with 15 stickers, handwritten and I can see why they
      make a billion dollars + a year in sales!),

      1. KLH*

        I second Land’s End for really cute dresses, especially in plus sizes. eShakti can be interesting (okay, you can buy stuff that looked totally cute and then try it on and it looks like ass) and is good if you are solidly realistic on both your measurements and what styles look good on your body. And I used to work there, so I love Nordstrom Rack. And Nordstrom now.

    4. Marigold*

      I love, but it may be a bit… Cutesy? for some offices. I’m not sure how to describe it… think Zooey Deshanel. It has a ton of cute casual skirts and some gorgeous cardigans. And the shoes are all pretty adorable.

      1. Al Lo*

        If I could, I’d do a majority of my clothing shopping at ModCloth and Anthropologie.

        On a side note, I had one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had with a ModCloth order — they sent me the wrong order (a single dress instead of a bunch of stocking stuffers/Christmas gifts/clothes for me that I’d actually ordered). When I called about the mixup (at something like 1 AM), they told me to keep the dress (which I’d been eyeing but hadn’t ordered), shipped the new order next day, and somehow managed to waive the customs fee (shipping to Canada) on my actual order, since I’d already paid duty on the mistaken order. So… free (cute!) dress for me!

      2. Anonicorn*

        As someone who is otherwise not gah-gah over clothes and things, I’m a ModCloth fiend! I check the new arrivals daily and have a wish list and everything.

      3. Lindsay*

        I have to stay off Modcloth because every time I go on that site, I find a dress I simply HAVE to buy. LOVE Modcloth!

      4. Mary*

        While I love the aesthetic of Modcloth, most of their dresses are so short! They added a “Longer Lengths” category a few years ago, which helps. I just can’t get away with wearing a mid-thigh dress to work.

        Now if only they would add a maternity section. Where do I find cute maternity clothes? And why are 97% of all maternity tops horizontal stripes?

      5. Allison*

        I LOVE ModCloth, and I do occasionally find a few work-appropriate dresses on that site. I absolutely love vintage clothing and like to adopt some of the earlier “Mad Men” aesthetics into my work wardrobe. There’s a dress on there now I really want, but I’m not sure I should be spending another $55 on a new dress after the holiday season.

    5. Sunflower*

      I love The Limited and Loft. Also, almost everything in the store will go on sale eventually so it’s very affordable!

      1. Elle D*

        These 2 + Banana Republic are my go-to stores for my business casual wardrobe. The pencil skirts and pants at Banana Republic happen to fit my body best, and then I mix and match with tops, sweaters and cardigans from any of these stores.

      2. Anon*

        Loft is my go-to store for work clothes, and I have gotten some good stuff from Macy’s everyday value collctions. I tend to mix those pieces with more casual/interesting shirts and tops from the Gap, Banana Republic, and J Crew Factory. It’s easier to vary your look when you’re not wearing one store from head to toe!

        (I am a manager at a fairly casual workplace, so while I could get away with wearing jeans every day, I generally resist the temptation.)

        1. ElizabethWest*

          I need to hit the mall for January sales–I don’t have any winter-type nice shirts or sweaters to speak of. Most of the business casual clothes I have are for summer weather; I don’t even have anything to layer with!

    6. themmases*

      Lately if I know I want something specific I just go on shopstyle, which basically searches a ton of clothing sites for whatever you want. I’m wearing a new cardigan today that I found on there, from a site I had never heard of. :)

      I was looking there last night, and they also have some good features rounding up their favorite work clothes, boots, or whatever. Some of it is very expensive, but if you sort by price a lot of it is reasonable to cheap, too.

      I’ve also had good luck on Amazon and too for shoes. Often if I’m in love with a pair of shoes and am trying to decide where to get them, I check Google or shopstyle and 6pm turns out to have the best price.

    7. AmyNYC*

      I like getting ideas from TV shows – Mindy on the Mindy project, it’s a bit too far some times, but she looks young and professional. I also have a new obsession with Veep and like how Amy dresses. Look at

      1. LucyVP*

        I am obsessed with Mindy’s coats! sometimes she wears two or three an episode and I want them all.

    8. Tamara*

      My office is casual…but I wear whatever I want. Today it’s a BCBG wrap dress, tights and ballet flats. As long I’m professional and happy my bosses don’t care. I don’t think I’d ever show up to work in jeans…it freaks me out.

    9. Chloe*

      Check out Capitol Hill Style. She errs on professional but also has business casual ideas. I love her blog.

    10. Hilary*

      I’ve wanted to start a business casual blog for a while now because there’s so much variety on that spectrum and my work outfits range from fairly businessy to pretty darn casual.

      Another ditto for Capitol Hill Style, plus I also take some inspiration from 9 to 5 Chic and Corporate Catwalk. They stopped updating but Boardroom Belles was also pretty good.

    11. Zelos*

      I’m piggybacking off this question to ask something similar: can anyone give me suggestions for styles of business casual/work appropriate shoes?

      Caveats: it cannot have a heel. (Bad joints + old knee injury makes heels a bad idea.)

      Tapered shoes makes my feet hurt. I’m not even talking about pointy toed shoes, but even something like this ( makes my toes pinch. I know, I know–the taper part is just decor and my feet are supposed to fit at the wide part, but tell that to my picky feet.

      I’d like to have support, so thin-as-paper flats are bad.

      My workplace is pretty casual, so I’ve been getting away with what essentially is a pair of loafers, but that really only goes with jeans (and less so with my black dress pants, although my bosses don’t really notice). But one of my goals this year is to dress better and loafers really don’t go with wrap dresses and skirts.

      Someone please tell me what kind of shoes I should be looking for? Flats of some sort? Help!

      1. Zelos*

        Addendum: I’m in Canada, so Zappos and other America-centric online shopping doesn’t really help me because I can’t take advantage of the free returns. Although if there’s a Canadian equivalent of Zappos with good pricing and good return policy, I’m all ears!

          1. Lore*

            Boots are my go-to work shoes–calf or knee height with a skirt; ankle with pants. I find both Clark’s and Born, while a little on the expensive side for my budget, to be super-comfortable, supportive, and sturdy enough that, for example, with one set of new rubber heel caps, I’ve been wearing a Born pair of mock boots for four or five years now. I tend to go with a low heel myself because I’m really short, but both make flats as well.

            1. FRRibs*

              I have a pair of Borns that are the most comfortable shoes I’ve had to date.

              Love their website; they used to have a video of Nordic models standing around in a forest glaring at…I guess all the dirt and pine needles and stuff.

  6. De*

    Good morning :-)

    I am, after 6 months in my new job finally starting to not feel completely overwhelmed. But still overwhelmed. Is that something other people experience? I thought it would be over by now…

    I work as a software developer, by the way.

    1. A Teacher*

      I’ve been at my present job for 4 years and there are still times I feel overwhelmed. Like this semester, I’m actually teaching the same thing for the second year in a row so I’m technically planned out but I like to polish up and make my presentations better and more interactive. I’m moving one class completely from PowerPoints to Prezi and its taking way more time. So to answer your question, yes, its normal!

      1. anon*

        It took me months in my current job not to feel totally swamped, and it was only at about 10 months in that I actually started to feel comfortable with what I’m doing. 18 months in, I still have the occasional day where I think, “What the hell am I doing?”

    2. Jen in RO*

      It took me about a year to start understanding what the hell I was doing. (And the next 2.5 years I was the go-to person \o/ )

      Hang in there!

    3. Anonymous*

      Totally normal. I’ve always thought (and validated with others) that it takes at least a year in a position to get your feet under you.

      But, don’t be passive about it. Try to identify what’s causing you the biggest trouble and work with your manager or a peer to put a plan together for improvement.

      Good luck!

    4. De*

      And a few hours after writing this, I am once again having a day where I feel completely overwhelmed. Oh my…

      But hey, I am learning a lot and I also really like this job despite this :)

    5. Colette*

      Overwhelmed by the concepts? The fact that you don’t (and probably won’t) understand the whole system? The number of things on your to-do list?

      It sounds like you’re moving in the right direction, but if you can narrow down what specifically overwhelms you, you can take specific steps to deal with that, which will help a lot.

    6. Windchime*

      I’m not at a new workplace, but a little over a year ago I joined a brand-new team (BI). Nobody in our organization had done BI before, so everyone on the team was new to it. I would say that we are just now starting to feel comfortable with the process and the job. So yeah, it can take awhile, especially if this is your first development job.

    7. Evan*

      I was just thinking exactly the same thing! I’m just two weeks short of six months myself into my first post-college job at Really Large Software Corp. I’m still feeling overwhelmed by the flood of things I still have to learn about procedures, code base (ooh that tremendously enormous code base!), ways to attack problems, et cetera, et cetera. Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly behind on things, other times I feel like I’m needing everything spelled out, and still other times I feel like I’m making no progress at all. It’s definitely gotten better, but it’s still there, and still there to a large degree.

      Everyone told me when I started that it’d be nine months to a year before I started feeling on top of things. I guess I figured that since I did so well in college, it’d be faster… it hasn’t been.

  7. A Teacher*

    I just want to say that after the crazy Operation Smile post from yesterday, I did contact the organization and express my disappointment. I also tweeted the link to AAM’s article and did the @to both operation smile and to one of their celebrity ambassadors. I also shared it on my FB feed. It made me feel better for some reason.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      I’ve been seriously debating sending it to a news station or two. There should be serious repercussions for treating people like that, and a news anchor might handle the situation with a little more aplomb (and get the actual point that this isn’t okay across) better than the random trolls lurking on Gawker.

      1. A Teacher*

        Operation Smile was the organization. Worthy cause but unfortunately their hiring practices leave a lot to be desired.

    2. nyxalinth*

      That was Operation Smile? I hate to say it, but now I know never to apply with them. I tend to think that my current interviews (what interviews?) are a dog and pony show sometimes, but damn that’s the Ringling Brothers Circus!

    3. Garrett*

      And if you read the Gawker story, they totally own up to it and act like it’s not a bad thing. That almost scares me more than if they were just ignorant of its awfulness.

      1. Felicia*

        Not only do they not think it’s a bad thing, they think it’s a good way to hire people, and “fun”

  8. Random Reader*

    Hi all! I’m pretty short (4’11”) and look young for my age (25). It doesn’t help that I think my voice sounds younger. Any suggestions for looking and sounding more mature as I’m starting out in my career?

    1. Rayner*

      Learn to dress in good business dress that’s both appropriate to the culture of your company/interview practice, and that looks good on you. It doesn’t have to be pricey, but it does have to look like it’s yours, and not your mother’s – too big, too long, too wide, wrong colours. If you can, visit a tailor, or ask a friend to help you with this. You should always look well put together, and when you’re short, it always shows up worse if you’re not. It’s unfair, but there we go.

      Stand up straight . Seriously. I only noticed it when I stopped doing it but I tend to shrink when I’m feeling nervous which makes me look even shorter, which makes me paranoid which makes me slouch even more. I’m never going to be six feet tall, but damnit, I’m not making myself shorter! Added bonus – your voice sounds better! Smooth flow of air, and uncompressed lungs are good for that.

      Start with the mentality that you’re a member of the work force, not a ‘girl’/someone new at this/stupid/less than other people, and be confident. Not overconfident, but “I may be new at this, but I’m willing to learn, and I have lots of skills to offer.” Ask questions when you’re stuck, try hard to aim high, and when you do it right, capitalise on it.

      Maturity is about how you present to the world, and that starts from inside. I’m five foot zero :D It’s a work in progress.

    2. TL*

      I hate to say this – but if you’re female, makeup can be used to effectively mature and professional-ize your face. Get some good stuff and go to a place where they’ll do a make-over; ask for a professional look.
      You can do that if you’re male, too, but you’ll probably pay a higher social cost.

      1. BadPlanning*

        I have a friend that wore makeup expressly to look older/more mature. She was working her way through the med school/Intern/extra programs things to be a doctor and felt wearing lipstick and mascara helped her patients see her as older (and made them more comfortable, for better or worse).

    3. Sascha*

      Glasses. I’m sort of joking. :) I noticed a difference in how people treated me when I started wearing glasses, even after looking more professional with the rest of my clothing.

      But anyway, that’s not always possible or desirable. I agree with Rayner that well-fitting clothes and a good attitude will go a long way. Something that worked for me was cultivating an attitude of “I’m MEANT to be here.” I thought about how I have a lot to offer.

      And this may not apply to you, but I used to say “I’m sorry” a lot for a variety of things…I was one of those constant apologizers. Once I stopped doing that, it really helped me forge a confident attitude and presentation.

    4. AmyNYC*

      The movie “In a World” had this as a minor subplot. It won’t solve your problem, but it’s good to know you’re not the only one with it!

    5. JMS*

      Extra Petite has done some great posts on this – focus on fit and classic pieces that telegraph the message you want to send.

      While I’m on the taller side, I also struggle with the voice issue, especially when I’m nervous or in a high intensity situation. The best advice I’ve been given is to take a deep breath and break my sentences up into manageable portions, as my voice seems to go higher as I pick up speed.

    6. R*

      How is your haircut? Do you have a stylist you trust? I’m short with a round face and am routinely told I look significantly younger than my age.

      I gave my stylist freedom to determine my hairstyle, saying that it needed to be short, stay out of my eyes and make me look older and professional. I keep it trimmed regularly.
      Pay attention to your language and avoid text-speak and excessive “like” “uhmm” verbal cues and upspeak (ending sentences with raised pitch).

      Once you develop confidence in your work that will shine through and help, even if you still look younger than your age.

      1. Paige Turner*

        I frequently have had people guess that I’m younger than I am too- I know people say “You’ll appreciate it when you’re older!” but it’s definitely an issue when it comes to having people take you seriously at work/when job-hunting, and especially if you’re a woman. I agree that your haircut/style matters- I went from long hair in a ponytail to pixie cut in my mid-twenties and now I really notice how long, loose hair tends to make you look younger. Anyway, good luck to you- if it makes you feel better, I have a friend your size who works at a children’s hospital and is frequently mistaken for a patient!

    7. Books*

      Second the professional dress. Also, heels (classy, not too high, try 3″) will make you feel taller and more professional. Try not pulling your hair into a ponytail etc. (Also, I magically assumed you are female. Apologies if we’re all wrong here!)
      Do Lean In-ny stuff (don’t a ct like a wilted flower! sit at the table withe the men,e tc).
      Agree on checking the extra petite blog.

    8. Sunflower*

      Hi I will say do not dramatically alter your appearance to look better. Like don’t get a haircut or change your hair color simply because you think it will make your look more mature. You still have a life and it won’t do you any favors going through life having hair you hate because someone MIGHT think you look more mature.

      Definitely agree with what everyone said. I am also on the shorter side 5’1) and see a lot of petite stuff geared towards older women which may do more harm than good. Try the Loft and Limited- both of their petite clothes fit me really well.

      Also what Rayner said. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. It gives off an assertive look and will help you more than anything else.

    9. Malissa*

      Get you a rocking pair of heels. For some reason added height makes you look older. Also I found that when my wardrobe was good I had more confidence.
      Also know that this will not be an issue in a few years. I was a short young looking person until about age 30. Now I’m just short and I still maintain a good wardrobe. :)

    10. Lindsay*

      UGGH I’m 30 and was rejected a few weeks ago from a job at least partly for being “too young.” I dress professionally, I don’t use “filler” words, I speak well and have good body language. I talk too fast when I get excited – but heaven forbid I be excited about what I do.

      Thanks for the make-up tips – I do a bare minimum, just foundation and blush, and I will definitely research what else I can do.

    11. Lamington*

      Structured, tailored clothes help. Nice pumps or flats. I love flats even though I am short. A nice haircut too to look more professional I don’t wear makeup even when I was on my 20’s.

    12. ChristineSW*

      I’m short as well (5 feet) and also look and sound younger than I am (40). These suggestions will be so helpful!

    13. KatieBear*

      I understand the challenges of being petite and looking young for your age! I’m only a little taller than you, and both of my younger sisters are close to your height. None of us look our age, and if we keep following in our parents’ genetic footprint, we likely won’t look our age ever. My dad is well over 50 and looks about late-30’s, early 40’s at most.

      My best advice is to use it to your advantage! You are 25, you’ve experienced and accomplished things already, I guarantee it. Be confident in your abilities, and stand up straight, physically and especially mentally. Your height does not determine your abilities and you deserve to be taken seriously.

      I don’t know if you watched Grey’s Anatomy, but the character of Miranda Bailey was specifically envisioned as a tiny 5 foot nothin’, petite, curly haired blonde little thing. Like, fairy princess tiny.

      They were so impressed with the acting of Chandra Wilson that they gave her the part, and were especially happy that the actress still fit the most important characteristic of the role–being petite/short. They liked the dichotomy of having a small person with a commanding set of skills and personality that demanded respect for her intimidating level of talent.

      And I do agree with other posters to dress professionally and get a tailor. My tailor is my best friend and makes me feel less like I’m playing dress up. Look into it

    14. Random Reader*

      Thanks for all the tips! I keep my hair short (shoulder length-ish) and pretty well polished. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions to be consistent in getting my hair done… seeing it as less of a money waster and more as an investment in myself. I’m also going through my wardrobe and pulling everything that seems young or just doesn’t fit well. I’m definitely going to be checking out Extra Petite!

      I have to say, it drives me crazy when people say, “It’ll be great when you’re older and don’t look your age!” I know they mean well, but it doesn’t help me now :)

    15. Mephyle*

      Get some tips from a speech therapist (two or three sessions might be enough). Speech therapy isn’t only for people who have problems; the therapist can help you practice specific strategies to make your voice and speech sound more mature.

  9. Ughh*

    Sent over 20 emails to all of the companies I would like to work/intern at and I’ve only heard from 3. Why is it so hard for people to respond to emails? So frustrating!

      1. Ughh*

        Both, more cold emails but the cold emails were sent to email addresses that accepted position opening inquiries. I don’t expect to hear back when I respond to a posting (although it would be nice).

    1. Anne 3*

      How long has it been? What type of message are you sending/is it personalized towards that specific company?

      1. Ughh*

        Started in September and sent out more over the holidays. Only 1 company responded in September and surprisingly the last 2 I sent (last week) already responded but nothing from the other 20 something that were sent over the past few months. Some I know I have to wait a bit longer to hear from but the others I know I won’t hear from as it’s been so long.

        I’m sending questions about internship opportunities and personalizing each email for each company. The first company thanked me for my kind words and interest so I’ve kept the same format, just changed it up a bit for each company.

        1. ADE*

          Dude, most people don’t respond to e-mails that they’re supposed to respond to. And anybody going through a flurry of inquiry e-mails is not going to be inspired to respond to all of the worthwhile ones.

          While you’re at it, if I were you, I’d consider making a “hit list” of companies that interest you, spending time on their website, and finding a publicly available e-mail address of somebody who looks they might be the kind of person you’d want to work for. You can send a brief introductory e-mail that demonstrates you really care about the organization and are appropriately matched skillwise for this person’s management area, along with a “I realized there aren’t any advertised openings on your website, but *would it be appropriate* for me to forward my resume to you in case there’s a future opening?”

          You might not get a high response rate on this, either, but this trick has worked for me before. There’s something very magical about asking permission to solicit.

    2. Sunflower*

      When are you looking to work/intern? A lot of company’s have just come out with their budget for the year so they probably have a better idea now than they did a couple months ago about open positions, especially if you’re trying for summer. Also, even now they may not even be thinking about staffing needs for the summer- it really depends on the way the company operates. I would just keep trying! It’s frustrating but the only alternative is to not try and end up with nothing!

      1. Ughh*

        Preferably as soon as possible but within the next few months. I definitely did not think about the budgeting and what not before though so that makes sense.

    3. happycat*

      I receive a fair amount of emails, for jobs, informational interviews, and interships etc.
      We actually have a web site, and a place to apply for work, interships, etc. I always reply to the email advising the sender of this, of course. The problem is that each workplace has a certain way they require people to apply.
      If you don’t hear back, try a bit more research, determine if in fact you did apply / inquire in the manner they requested.
      It is a hassle, and a lot of extra work, at the same time, it might help.
      I’m not saying you in fact did not do this, this is simply just a suggestion.
      I wish you success.

    4. Diane*

      I echo other posters who say not to ask questions you could easily answer by looking at the website (like how to apply). Also research the company/role and ask specific, substantial questions that will genuinely help you. (Good: How much experience in x is needed to be successful in an entry-level position doing y? OR I’ve taken several courses in teapot design, manufacture and care, and I volunteer at the Teapot Rehoming Society as Teapot Intake Coordinator. Would my experiences be a good fit for your advertised Teapot Polishing Intern?) I’m more likely to respond to an interesting question.

      1. Ughh*

        Thank you, I honestly didn’t think of asking interesting questions, I wish I had done that.

        My emails were personalized but mainly asked about current opportunities/a sentence or two about my experience and then why I love the company/want to work for them.

        Going forward I will use your technique, thank you!

  10. Al*

    Who would be the best person to get a letter of recommendation from when applying for a job.? I am currently employed at a company that I am very unhappy with (for many reasons) and I have started the search for a new job. My boss does not know that I am looking elsewhere for employment so for that reason I cannot get a letter from my employer. I have worked for them for over two years now and I am no longer in contact with previous employers so I have no idea who I can go to.

    1. Elise*

      In which country are you searching? If the US, letters of recommendation aren’t really expected or even desired in any field but education.

      1. Anonymous*

        It is in the US, on the application it says that the letter of recommendation, a CV, and a cover letter are required. I thought it was strange, it could be because the job is at a university. It is a business assisstant job for a front desk clerk in one of the departments.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yeah, universities do that sometimes. It’s silly for a position like this, but they get locked in their templates.

          Can you find previous employers on LinkedIn or elsewhere? Two years isn’t that long, and it wouldn’t surprise me to have somebody get back in touch for a recommendation. Since it sounds like they’d be coming from fields where they usually do written references, it might be good to be ready with help, too–send along your current resume and the job description, and see if they want any suggestions (in academia, the recommendee often provides more than that, but I suspect that would be off-putting to somebody out of the tradition).

  11. Lacey*

    So, picking up on some comments on the thread below about job descriptions.

    I’ve just been phone screened for a job I almost didn’t apply for because the JD called for a lot of people management experience. I have some, not tonnes. But I happened to be speaking to a recruiter (external to the company) after I applied, and he had some inside info on the role. Apparently they are not that concerned about that aspect. They want someone to grow into the role because the last person felt he was above a lot of aspects of it, got bored, so left.

    I asked him why include it if it’s not really important? He said, basically, they include additional stuff to give them an excuse to reject people. So, ask for 10 attributes when you only really need 6 and assuming no-one ever has 10 you’ve always got an excuse to reject someone.

    This is silly to me. You don’t need an excuse, you’re the employer. And why miss out on candidates who might be great but don’t apply because they don’t have a skill you’re not even concerned about.

    Can any hiring managers comment on whether this is common/accepted practice?

    1. Rayner*

      (Good) hiring managers don’t need an ‘excuse’ to reject people. They can simply close the posting if they don’t find what they need, or extend the deadline, or take an internal candidate who never applied through the normal channels.

      Like you said, basically.

      I have no idea if it’s common, but it’s terrible logic if it is.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      This is a good method to screen out people who read and follow directions. You never even have to talk to them.

      1. Soup Dragon*

        I’m an external recruiter, and if something isn’t a requirement then I wouldn’t ask for it on the job spec… however, I would mention it as a desirable skill or as something that will be involved in the role. If someone fits the required skills but would absolutely hate managing people further down the line, which is part of the big picture, I’d want to be upfront about it from the outset and avoid them potentially starting a role which would make them miserable in the long term.
        I tend to think that many job descriptions are overly detailed and are really a wishlist including everything that ‘might’ be useful though… particularly when recruitment is not a hiring managers key focus but something that ends up falling in their list of responsibilities. It’s the job of a good recruiter to question around the specification and work out what’s really important, so it sounds to me as if the recruiter you spoke to was doing a good job.
        You might want to earmark them for the future as a goo recruiter to work with… if you’d already applied, they won’t get a fee if you go there and most recruiters wouldn’t have given you information that would encourage you to go ahead when they could fill it with one of ‘their’ candidates. They’ve just shown that they’ll give you good market advice whether it benefits them or not.

    3. Jamie*

      Job descriptions are a pita for me lately.

      Someone recently revamped a job description for a very basic one step above entry level job…and sent it to me for approval (ISO mgt rep I need to approve all changes to controlled documents.)

      I sent it back with a note “per this I’m not qualified for job X…and the software you’re requiring they have 5 years experience for can be taught otj day one.”

      My boss bought me a joke stamp a long time ago that says WTF – sometimes I just want to stamp the heck out of everything that crosses my desk.

        1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

          I got “WTF” post-it notes in the office Secret Santa last year. They have little checkboxes at the bottom marked !, ?, and ?!. Best Secret Santa gift EVAH!

          1. Jamie*

            My stamp has those check boxes!

            Can I get in trouble for using it if my boss is the one who got it for me? Don’t answer…of course I can!

            1. FRRibs*

              One of my HS buddies’ father was an executive in the American branch of an Italian owned ice cream company. He had a “joke” rubber stamp with a stereotypical gangster with a Thompson submachinegun and some sort of “pay up or else” slogan underneath. When the home office heard about it, they actually flew in to talk to him about it.

  12. Amelia Subversion*

    How to I explain to colleagues and friends that I do not want to go on leave during a family emergency?

    My dad is in critical but stable condition. His doctor is completely confident that he will make a full recovery with time. I spend time at the hospital on my day off, and I communicate with the doctor and nursing staff by phone when I can’t be there. Dad is so heavily sedated that he cannot communicate and I don’t know if he even knows I’m there.

    But I’m getting a lot of questions about why I’m still going to work instead of taking extra time off to be with family. I’m not salaried, so taking unpaid time off will seriously hurt my paycheck. Also, to be honest, I enjoy spending some time at work where I can get my mind off worrying about my dad. Still, some of my coworkers have been vocal about how they don’t think I should be there. And yesterday, it really came to a head when a family friend gave me some unsolicited legal advice about my rights under FMLA.

    How do I strike a balance? How do I respond to the criticism that I’m putting my job first?

    1. Rayner*

      Just say that for you, it’s a relief to come to work, and do your job rather than worry and sit at home, doing nothing. Your dad is under the care of good doctors and nurses, and he’s not aware of you at the moment, so you would like to focus on what you can do.

      And if they get demanding, say that it’s your way of coping when times are tough for you, and you’d rather not talking about it.

      If they keep nagging, then go to your manager, and say you’re being pestered constantly about doing your job by some busybodies.

      1. IronMaiden*

        My brother was recently in ICU on the other side of the country. I also took the view that he was safe and cared for and that my haring over there would not help him one bit. My thought was that I would save the time in case my visiting him when he was out of hospital would be of more use to him.

        I think it’s perfectly reasonable to stay on at work until you do need to take the time, especially if the time you need to take will be unpaid.

        1. Ex-patient*

          Speaking from experience of having been in hospital for some significant experiences, I would say that having visitors when you’re conscious is of much greater value!! Not to denigrate the times that people have spent by my bedside when I was utterly unconscious, but it didn’t make that much difference to me and I suspect was rather hellish for them. I didn’t begrudge them one bit for leaving the hospital and going to do something, anything, other than watch my inert body on a bed.

          And just generally, where do people get off judging your situation? Honestly. They should really butt out, you have enough to deal with.

          1. ElizabethWest*

            Really! It’s none of their business. There are sometimes good reasons for not visiting. When my dad had bypass surgery, he was recovering at my mom’s house and was very weak, and his immune system was in the pits. I passed on a holiday visit *not Christmas* because at the time, I was deathly ill with some kind of flu. Believe me, he did NOT need me coughing and hacking all over him! I made sure I called and talked to him as much as I could.

        2. Chinook*

          I too have had to decide whether or not to fly home when a family,your member was rushed to hospital. DH and I talked about it and I came to the conclusion that it would be better to wait for definite news rather than spend hours on the plane not knowing. When people asked why I didn’t rush home, I told them the plane bit and that I couldn’t afford the lost wages. I also emphasized that I had thought about what was best for me and that my family/hospital were keeping me updated. I never got pressured beyond that. Maybe my friends and coworkers were just more polite and respectful?

    2. Jen in RO*

      Like Rayner said, just point out to them that being at work takes your mind off your dad’s problems and it makes you feel better. I hope you have coworkers with half a brain, who will understand why you feel this way and stop pestering you.

    3. Del*

      If you’re willing to admit it, I’ve tended to find that a very flat, very blunt, undetailed “I can’t afford to” will get people to butt out, usually out of shame if nothing else. Really work the tone, and you can convey volumes in those four words, especially along the lines of ‘you are being incredibly invasive and super rude.’

      However, that’s definitely a level of personal you may not want to get into! And in that case, it might be easier just to say “Work gets my mind off things, and there’s not much I can do for him right now.”

    4. Gjest*

      Also try giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to be nice. Obviously I can’t tell from your post what their tone of voice is, but maybe it’s their way of telling you they are aware that it might be a tough situation and they would understand if you don’t want to be there/need to leave. Maybe they think you need someone to tell you it’s OK to take time off?

      Often people just don’t know what to say to someone they know is going through a tough time.

      So still take the other commenter’s advice and tell them it’s OK, you want to be at work and/or can’t afford to take time off, but I would try to realize this might be their way of being nice.

    5. BadPlanning*

      You could point out that you are in close communication with the doctors and are prepared to leave if something significant changes. Otherwise, you are saving your time for when he is up and needs significant in person help (regardless if this is true). You wouldn’t want to cheat your dad out of help because you had to go back to work because you used up all your FMLA time or had to pay the rent. Then repeat the same thing until your coworkers get bored.

      People deal with these situations in different ways. We often try to force how we would deal onto others. Or have personal regrets about a past situation and try to get others to do something.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “Everyone’s situation is different. In my case, Dad is expected to make a full recovery. He does not need me there all day long. What he does need is to be left alone so he can rest.”

      “If my being there would make him heal up faster, I would have been out the door a while ago!”

      “He’s NOT dying, you know that right? He needs to rest. When he comes home, I may consider taking a little time to help out at home. Or not. Depends on how much help he needs.”

      “Nope. Don’t need time yet. But thanks for asking.”

      It ticks me off when people start getting judgy about this stuff. When my father was dying the doctor told me I was a rotten person because I was not at the hospital enough. (I went for hours every night after work and called three times during the day.) The doctor went on to explain (I guess he thought I was dense) that I was such a rotten person I did not deserve to have a father.

      Little did this idiot realize but I was gearing up to quit my job and take care of my father BY MYSELF at home. (My father was pretty much bedridden and non-verbal at that point.)

      Punchline: When people ask you respectfully then okay give them a respectful answer. But when they are judgy then just give them one or two sentences and change the topic.
      I told the doctor it was outside of his professional skill set to render an opinion on MY moral worth as a human being. And he needed to limit his comments to topics in his area of training.
      (Two sentences then I added my redirect to put the conversation back where it should be.)

      Try to match the level of the person coming at you.

  13. Going anon for this*

    So, I’m starting a new job and though it’s long hours and very stressful, I like it on the whole.

    But I’m in a situation that’s genuinely worrying me.

    I manage an employee who from the beginning has read to me like coiled spring of anger and frustration. I don’t feel comfortable with him. He has already blown up at me once regarding me enforcing a very basic policy.

    He is a contract employee, not an at-will one, so he has the right to a more lengthy disciplinary process.

    My problem is this: I genuinely don’t feel safe around him. I have to close up at night, and while I’m not the only person in the building with him, I’m the only one in the area with him. Especially since I had to go forward with a disciplinary action regarding his insubordination, I know he feels that I ‘have it in for him’. I’m worried about him acting out violently towards me.

    I’ve already gone to HR over this, but because of his contract, he still gets at least one more chance, especially since he hasn’t actually threatened me.

    What should I do? I have to work very late and then walk out into a parking ramp.

    I’m also not sure if I’m overreacting to this, since this is my first real management job. He just sets off every ‘danger’ sensor I have (and yes, I have read The Gift of Fear, which is why I’m taking this fairly seriously).

      1. Going anon for this*


        I don’t know yet, I haven’t met with them since they met with him. I know he was still at work that night afterwards though.

      2. Going anon for this*

        They didn’t say a lot, they just had me send in a statement. I feel I was fairly clear in it.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you’re feeling unsafe, it’s worth speaking up more assertively about it — to HR and/or to your manager. Their answer shouldn’t just be “he gets one more chance.”

        1. Going anon for this*

          Okay. I appreciate the perspective; it’s hard to tell if I’m overreacting and because I’m new and a relative unknown, I don’t want to be the girl who cried wolf as it were.

          It just gets into a sticky area because of the contract.

          1. Joey*

            It will be more effective if you can pinpoint exactly what behavior leads you to feel unsafe. And leave out the part about not being sure if you’re overreacting-that’s minimizing your concerns.

          2. fposte*

            The contract is relevant to his firing, but it’s not relevant to whether your organization can take steps to protect you.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, this. We have a small security team at work and they take these concerns seriously and will definitely walk us to our cars, or do a walk-through of a building if I’m there alone and feel creeped out.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Keep your phone on you.
      Can you call a friend and talk to the friend as you walk to your car? The agreement being that if you suddenly disconnect they will call 911.

      I think I would make a trip to the grocery store. Let’s see… am thinking a small bottle of hot cayenne pepper.
      I have never had to use anything. But there have been times where I have grabbed a nasal annoyance of some sort for my pocket.

      Even though these are little things, it made me feel like I was trying to help myself.

      Conversely maybe you could write a formal letter to HR saying “If any thing happens to me I want it to be known that: [fill in with facts and close with] “this letter has been given to several people around me.”

  14. Al Lo*

    Recently, I’ve had several conversations about what constitutes a “flexible” work schedule — one conversation revolved around a part-time employee who had flexibility for other appointments during what would be normal “working hours” in a full-time position; another was with a nurse who loves her profession because she can request specific shifts and while her schedule is set, she has more control over when it’s set; and another was with a freelancer who has complete control over her day-to-day activities and timeline, as long as the work is completed on time.

    All of these are different definitions of “flexible,” and I’d be interested to hear what AAM’s readers look for in a flexible position.

    For me, I don’t consider shift work (even if I choose the shifts) to be particularly flexible; my definition is that I can alter my schedule on a moment’s notice, if need be (and that I don’t have to be at work before 10 AM, since I’m very much a night owl and mornings are not my friend!). The most flexible my work life has ever been was when I was freelancing, but my current situation is also pretty flexible — I work in the performing arts, so there are certain rehearsal and performance times that are non-negotiable, but my office hours aren’t particularly set in stone.

    I’m in Canada, where time off in lieu of overtime is legal, and because of my industry, there are weeks (show weeks in particular) where it’s nearly impossible to not work overtime. However, I can take that lieu time pretty much whenever I want — whether banked as an extra week off somewhere, or a few hours here and there during a slow week. I track my own hours, and need to supply them on request, but I’ve never yet been asked to produce those hours — my office works pretty well on the honour system, primarily results oriented, with the addition of specific rehearsal and performance related dates that need to happen.

    So, just curious — what constitutes “flexible” to you?

    1. CLM*

      I work in a creative industry, and a lot of my work is (or could be) project based. I honestly prefer a set where I control my own time, as long as the work gets completed on-time.

      Unfortunately, I live in a Midwestern city where the majority of companies have a conservative corporate culture and they want you to sit in a office from 8-5 five days a week. This frustrates me a lot, because I am fast, skilled worker, and even when I ask for more work, I still end up messing around on the computer with nothing to do for a couple hours a day. I’d much rather work remotely, but those jobs are hard to find, as AAM keeps reminding us. I’ve done freelance as well, but it’s discouraging to me because my strong point is actually working on the creative work, and my weak point is being the account/salesperson who goes out and gets the work. But you have to be good at BOTH to be a successful freelancer.

    2. Kara*

      I consider my job ‘flexible.’ I’m a part-time consultant for a CPA firm, employee status, and I basically get to spend 75% of my time working from home at the schedule of my choosing. The only time I have to go into an office is when we’re meeting with clients face-to-face. My boss is very results oriented – as long as I’m doing my job well, get my work done in a reasonable amount of time, show up for client meetings, and act like a professional, there is zero restrictions on when I do my work. It’s actually pretty fantastic.

    3. Jen in RO*

      In my former work-life, I was a copy editor and my job was extremely flexible. I worked from home and I had a deadline – as long as the book was ready by then, I could spend my time however I saw fit.

      My current work-life is somewhat flexible as well, in the sense that I had deadlines, but no one told me “you have to work on THIS now”, I could pick and choose my projects as long as I was done by day X. I also like the fact that I don’t t have to be in the office at 9.00 and leave at 6.00, and I can leave during the day to sort out various problems (doctor’s appointment, cat mechanic) and not have to take PTO.

        1. fposte*

          One of my father’s favorite workplace stories–a client was in a Latin American country adopting a child, and the court proceedings were being interpreted between English (for the client) and Spanish (court’s language). She said that her husband worked as a rabbi in a veteran’s hospital. Apparently the interpreter got that slightly wrong, because the puzzled judge asked, “Why do cats and dogs need a rabbi?”

        2. Jen in RO*

          Haha, well, that too! I once took a WFH day because I had just neutered my tomcat and I was afraid something would happen to him if I left him alone :)

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I have a part-time office job that is extremely flexible in terms of working from home, being late, leaving early, etc… It’s the perfect compliment for my real life TV job that has set hours, have to have someone to cover for you if you need the day off (all the bad parts of shift work), but there is flexibility within the day there. If I need to take a long lunch or run an errand, that’s okay as long as I’m back when we need to be on the air.

    5. Judy*

      I’ve always worked in jobs that were certainly day shift, but had some flexibility. Most places have had two things:

      * Flex Time where there are core hours 9-3 or 8-3:30 usually, and you can set your start and end times based on that. Many places you had to post on your desk/wall your schedule. You could even flex more for “good reasons” – one co-worker was working on her masters and had an 8am class Tuesdays and Thursdays.

      * Some flexibility day to day. The ability to flex to make up time within a week window usually, if you had a doctor’s appointment, or other must-be-done during the day items. Usually that was not formal, and if it got out of hand, there might be discussion. But as long as you were getting things done, and putting in at least 40 hrs a week, it wasn’t a problem. (Not that I don’t put in on average 45+ and at times 50+ hours.) With 2 kids and parents and in-laws over 75, you never know when you need to help with something.

    6. COT*

      For my needs, “flexible” means that I can generally keep a set schedule, but have the freedom to vary it by a few hours when needed. For instance, right now my work hours are about 8-4:30. Some of that time is set appointments and events that I am obligated to attend, but I do get a fair degree of flexibility about the rest of the time. I probably deviate from my set schedule about once a week, whether to sleep in if I’m exhausted, accommodate a doctor’s appointment, leave a little early to volunteer somewhere or get some sunshine outdoors (days are short here in the winter!), leave town early for a weekend getaway, etc. Being able to balance my life needs without taking PTO for every little thing is a HUGE priority to me. Not having at least a little bit of flexibility would be a deal-breaker for future jobs.

      1. Jamie*

        This is it for me, too. I can work crazy late if in the zone and come in late the next day – schedule doctor appts whenever because the work can and will get done on schedule…that kind of thing.

        I do need to be in the office most work days for meetings and onsite issues – but I don’t need to put in a solid 8.5 of face time each day – it all washes out in the employers favor when they allow flex time like this…most of the time, anyway.

    7. Windchime*

      My current job is flexible on start times. Many people on my team come in at 7 and leave around 3 or 3:30. Others come in and do 8-5 (8-4 if they eat at their desk and work through lunch). Right now it’s 7:55 AM and I am still in my jammies, but I’ll go up and get dressed and today I will be in the office from about 9 – 4. I’m taking off early because I logged in for a couple of hours last night.

      We basically work on the honor system, but our boss likes us all to be in the office 4 days a week. If we have circumstances (snow, waiting for repairman, etc), then we can certainly work from home but for the most part, we are in the office Tuesday – Friday.

      1. Sophia*

        I’m a grad student so I set my own hours, but my husband works for the government and this is his schedule. People in his office come in anywhere from 6-9 and leave 3-7 (he does the 9-7 because he is not a morning person and can’t get up early without spending literally an hour to an hour and a half watching tv, drinking coffee and in general “waking up”)

    8. ElizabethWest*

      For me, flexible is not having to be butt-in-chair all the time. I get to work from home when weather is a concern or I have a service technician there, and sometimes I do it if I have an outside appointment so I can take off and then come back and go back to work. It’s easier than trying to figure in travel time.

      My boss lets me manage my own time, and I like that. I don’t feel as though someone is hovering over me. We have generous PTO and are encouraged to use it. I like being treated like an adult.

    9. Ann O'Nemity*

      My work defines flex time as setting a schedule in which your eight hour shift occurs sometime between 7 am and 7 pm, with manager approval.

      I just wish they would allow for teleworking in some cases. That would truly make it “flexible,” in my opinion.

  15. Kayli*

    People who work in HR…
    Just wondering what your usual procedures are with internal candidates?
    I recently applied for an internal role (for the first time) and decided I would just let my boss know at our next one on one (1-2 weeks away) as we are so busy at the moment I didn’t want to bother scheduling another meeting.
    When I applied it didn’t say on the application that I had to inform by boss first and it said all applications were confidential.
    Someone in HR must of advised my boss as she knew before told her. Is it usual for HR just to tell your boss without giving you a chance to do so first? It would have been good if they at least sent me an email to give me warning.

    1. Graciosa*

      Internal candidates at my employer are supposed to have informed their managers before hitting submit on the application. If a candidate has less than 18 months in role, he or she has to explicitly state that the current manager has given permission for the candidate to apply (not required after 18 months). I know of one individual who did this (under 18 months) without actually talking to his manager, and every hiring manager in the function is now aware of it. It is a serious breach of trust (lying about the permission, not just applying for another role, which would have been normal) and I am one of many who would not hire him on to my team as a result.

      I will add that for internal candidates, I can get performance ratings for all applicants without further discussion with either the applicant or the current manager. Also, it is perfectly normal to pick up the phone and talk to the current manager about the candidate and suitability for the new role even before deciding to interview.

      Other companies may have different practices, but I would never assume confidentiality on an internal job application – everyone has the same employer and therefore should have the same duty of loyalty. Applying outside the company is a completely different situation and you can reasonably expect some confidentiality and discretion which would not be the norm internally.

    2. Sunflower*

      It depends on your company. If there was a policy like Graciosa has, you would know about it(my old job had one and it was very clear on the contract I signed). I would just talk to the HR manager in the department and flat out ask if there a specific time you can inform your boss. They can tell you what to expect

    3. Jules*

      Common sense says, usually, it’s expected for you to talk to your boss before submitting the application. The reason for that is to make sure that everyone is on board with the potential move. Unless there are other circumstances. No point applying internally if your boss is going to say no on the get go. Depending on your company practice, some will not consider putting you on the candidate list until the boss is ok with it.

    4. Joey*

      It really shouldn’t be the default- there are too many managers that will proceed as though you have one foot out the door.

      1. J*

        I work in HR and this is the complete opposite of how we operate. All job applications are confidential and we would never inform an employee’s manager that they had applied elsewhere.

        I just needed to throw that out there to show that not all HR departments are incompetent.

        1. Graciosa*

          I don’t think I agree that any HR departments that share internal applications are necessarily incompetent. Some companies – like mine – have very reasonable policies intended to make sure we are making the best possible use of the talent pool. None of this is a secret to the people that work there. I’m not sure why this would make the HR team incompetent.

        2. HR Lady*

          I don’t agree that this means HR is incompetent. It’s not appropriate for HR to keep secret information that could affect the company (which is what’s happening when HR knows that an internal candidate applied for a job but HR doesn’t tell the person’s manager).

          We ask the employee if they’ve told their current boss. If they haven’t, we ask them to tell their boss within 3 days, and we tell them that if they don’t, we’ll tell the boss.

          The boss will appreciate it much more if the employee tells them.

    5. Judy*

      Here you need to discuss with your manager before you apply for a job opening. The process is supposed to involve you discussing your goals during your discussions with your manager, so it’s not supposed to be a surprise to her that you’re interested in the project manager position, for example.

    6. The IT Manager*

      I would have informed my boss before hitting submit for an internal job. All my previous boss’s have been supportive of growth for me.

      Currently I am in a matrixed organization and only speak with my boss every two weeks. I would have emailed before I hit submit to give her a heads up.

      I think that HR assumed you would have told your boss before submitting the application.

    7. Brett*

      You have to get permission of the chain of command here to apply internally. It is considered a request for transfer rather than an internal application (but you still go into the normal application process with external candidates, you just automatically get an interview if your application is signed off). Three to five signatures in all, including your immediate supervisor.

  16. Anonymous*

    I’m in negotiations for a new job that have been going since the end of October. The picture of the position has changed a few times over the months but seemingly always in my favor. Also the bosses met with me on the weekend for interviews (which didn’t really focus on asking me many questions – – more so just info about the companies). The boss has told me she is still definitely interested, but on the other hand, with things taking so long I’m starting to wonder if I’m being put off. It’s a small but established company and the other employees have been there forever, so maybe they’re just out of practice in hiring? Is this normal? What would you do? I should also add that it’s a field I’m quite interested in, which is why I’m trying so hard to be patient.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think she means what she says. Especially since it was at the end of the year, it’s possible the budget has gone through many changes and you never know what the people above her are saying. As long as they aren’t making ridiculous requests and the process isn’t having negative affects on your current job/life, stick with it- esp since it sounds like something you’d be super interested in.

    2. Anonymous*

      Thanks everyone. It’s been a complicated process…I haven’t been in the regular workforce too long yet (I’ll be 30 next week), so I haven’t gotten around enough yet to know much about what’s normal vs what’s not. (That’s why I’m glad AAM exists!) My friends are telling me give myself a cutoff date by which some decision must be made an acted upon (by the perspective employer). I’ll hang in there and keep everyone posted…

  17. Chocolate Teapot*

    Here’s one to throw out there.

    A new division head has been appointed who is currently making a tour of all the offices in her domain. Most of us have never met her before, and she has set up individual meetings with each team member.

    Apparently this is a “Get to know You” meeting, and currently I am stumped for ideas of what she might like to know. What have other people come up with in the same circumstances?

    1. Rayner*

      O.o That’s….weird.

      She’s meeting each individual team member? *baffled* How many of you is she meeting?

      1. Pepper*

        That seems pretty normal to me actually. She will just be wanting to get to know you, put a face to the name, see if there is any pressing issue you want to get out into the open that you might not be comfortable doing in a group setting. Seems like good practice, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just take it as it comes.

        1. Piper*

          Me, too. I think it’s great that she wants to get to know the people who will be working for her. I love it when new managers do this.

          1. LMW*

            Me too. It’s usually a good sign. I’ve had a few new division heads who have done this. In every case, I told them a very little bit about me and my background (I’m usually the odd bird in the department with a specialized expertise), described what I’ve been doing, and talked about any issues or opportunities I was seeing in my area. Of course, in all my instances, there was also a major reorg as part of their arrival. I’ve pleasantly surprised by how many of these people actually listened to all of us and managed accordingly. These leaders seem to be really invested in their employees.

      2. Judy*

        We ended up having those with our director about a year after he was named, mainly because we were hearing when he went to other locations (Europe, South America, Asia) he was doing that with them. “Why are you having one on one face to face meetings with all of them, but those of us who sit in your building don’t have that chance?”

        He has about 250 employees globally, but only around 90 in the US. We just sat and chatted, I had been on a project with him a couple of years before, so we know each other enough to chat about family, interests, etc.

    2. anon*

      Hmm, maybe things like a brief summary of what you do on a day-to-day basis at work, your professional background, your professional interests (obv without going into too much detail about previous jobs, more stuff like “I’ve been working in x field for 5 years, I have a great interest in y, in the future I would like to work towards z (i.e. greater knowledge of [work-related topic]/ better competence in [field/skill]”).

      You could also spice it up with a little bit about your hobbies or your personal background if it’s relevant or the conversation turns that way (and you’re willing to discuss your personal life at work), but personally I’d keep anything like that vague and fairly brief

      1. Jen in RO*

        What anos is suggesting sounds great to me. I also had a “get to know you” meeting with new management and I went over my background, my role in the company, what I hope to achieve… and the product manager’s cats :) (He had mentioned them in his introductory speech, I didn’t just talk about cats out of the blue.)

      2. Graciosa*

        I would also be prepared with answers about other items a new division head might ask about – things like “What is the biggest impediment to working more effectively?” or “What is one thing that, if changed, would make the biggest improvement in our performance?” Alison has commented in the past on the importance of managers looking for problems, and a new division head might well do a little digging to find the trouble spots while he or she is also getting to know the team.

        This is nothing to worry about, but some people fret about these types of questions when they hear them – particularly if they are not used to hearing them and didn’t feel prepared. If you prepare for them, it can be a good opportunity to demonstrate your own acumen (did you identify real issues in a professional manner) and put a real (fixable) problem on the radar.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      We have a new GM who is offering the same type of one on one get to know you meetings… Mine is this afternoon.

    4. Brett*

      What notable projects you are working on, and what projects you would really like to work on if you had time and budget. I have had some very interesting projects approved this way (ones that got me awards and publications).

    5. Jubilance*

      My company does these, they are KNOWN for “GTKY” statuses when a person first starts. They generally cover the following:

      *Your personal background – hometown, family, where you went to school, etc
      * Your professional background – what roles you’ve had interally/externally, degrees you’ve had, projects you’ve worked on before, etc.
      * Your current role/projects

      I wonder if your new dept head came from my company, cause it’s a very specific thing here, down to the name she gave it.

  18. Windchime*

    I was so excited to see the Open Thread, because it always coincides with payday, wool hooo! Then I saw Alison’s comment about the thread now being weekly instead of bi-weekly. No payday for me, but still–Open Thread!

  19. Robyn*

    I recently sent this to AAM, but she’s not had time to answer, or maybe she has no idea. So I thought I’d throw it out here!

    I recently submitted an application online that was very rigid, as we all hate, and it needed proof of English competency.

    I live in the UK but was educated in the US so I do not have a GCSE or other UK education system test result I could attach to the application, so I wrote a short paragraph, using Word, explaining this to them and saying I would be happy to take any English competency exam they wanted me to take, and uploaded that to this ‘required’ section of the application.

    I received a rejection email not long afterwards, that also said they didn’t give feedback as they had so many applications, so I can’t ask, but I am thinking it might have been an automatic rejection due to not having that one form.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I might get around this in the future? I can’t supply what I don’t have and I am very frustrated that a quick scan of the application would have shown I wasn’t educated here. I don’t have any desire to work for that particular company any more, as I think their apparent inflexibility says a lot about the company, even though they appear to still be hiring, but was just looking for a better work around for the future!

    1. Jen in RO*

      I have no idea how this works in either the UK or US, but do you have a physical proof of your education in the US? If possible, I would scan that and attach it.

      1. CeeBeeUK*

        For UK immigration purposes, a degree from an English speaking country (with the exception of Canada) serves as proof of English competency. Maybe this would do the trick?

        1. Robyn*

          That must be a new requirement, as I didn’t have to prove any English proficiency for my visas.

          Or maybe you have to for citizenship? I’m not a citizen, just a legal resident alien.

          Snerk at not Canada.

          1. CeeBeeUK*

            It was in my student visa application. I’m also applying for settlement as the partner of a British citizen and they require it as well. They seem to be cracking down all over.

            1. Robyn*

              I received my ILTR visa nearly 8 years ago, so I’m sure the rules have changed over and over again.

              I can prove English proficiency. I just never had to!

          2. Felicia*

            Why wouldn’t Canada count? We speak English! And what we speak is closer to British English than the US because of how we spell colour, neighbour, centre, flavour, and other words! We do have universities that are French speaking, but our English universities are entirely English. Plus we have the same queen, so we should count!

              1. fposte*

                If you go out of Montreal and farther north/less urban, English is a lot less certain.

                The only French my Anglophone Canadian friends and relatives know is the back of the cereal box :-).

              2. Felicia*

                I know plenty of Canadians who speak French and speak pretty much no English. My cousin is dating one, which is a little strange because his French is fairly poor. She lives halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, graduated from an exclusively French university in Quebec City and the extent of her English is basic pleasantries and she can count in English. There are also Canadians who speak English, and pretty much no French. I am only fluent in French because I was in French immersion through highschool, and have used French in every job I have ever had. I am from Toronto and most people around here speak minimal French if at all

                Though if you’ve graduated from an English university, I consider than sufficient proof that you speak English.

    2. Harriet*

      Most companies with requirements like that have them satisfied by you having been educated in an English-speaking country, so I doubt very much that you were rejected because you couldn’t prove your English skills.

      1. Robyn*

        Except they specifically ask for a copy of your GCSE or equivalent paperwork to be sent to them.

        And if it’s a computer scanning it and the computer doesn’t find the right file…that’s what I’m thinking.

          1. Robyn*

            If I can even find it or my university degree!

            I’m 45. High school was a loooong time ago.

            But it definitely an idea, thanks.

  20. N.J.*

    So I’ve read AAM for quite awhile now and really appreciate the insights Alison and the whole crew here give to readers and those who ask questions. I have a bit of an open-ended question. How do you know when it’s time to leave your current job? Not in the sense that you have no more room for growth or no chances to advance, I think my current position actually has that potential. However, I have worked with the company I am with for two years and I think I am burned out. They are a great group of people (dedicated, intelligent, very team oriented), but the culture is too gung ho/workaholic/crazy. It’s a small company in a tech heavy field and no matter how hard I work or how many hours I put in, it is never enough to get on top of all the work. The nature of my position adds to all this too, because I basically spend my day running around after other people making sure they are getting their work done and that clients are happy (which means I get to hear about it when they are not). I’m not even one of the employees who works the longest hours or on the hardest projects; I’m somewhere in the middle compared to the workloads and stress that my colleagues deal with. The pay is decent and the people are great, but this is creating such a sense of general anxiety, stress and always waiting for another problem to blow up that I’m starting to not just dislike my job, but hate it. This is probably more of a rant than a question I guess, but just felt like venting and seeing if I am the only one who feels this way about my job. Really feel like Sisyphus rolling a REALLY big boulder lately.

    1. Jen in RO*

      Start looking for a job. I was also sorta-kinda burned out of my job, so I started casually interviewing. For a while, it was just for practice or “maybe I get an amazing opportunity I can’t refuse”… and then, after a few months, I realized that I really *did* want to leave. It made the process easier, since I was already aware of the available jobs and I was used to interviewing.

      And the big plus is that, since you are already employed, you will be much more relaxed in interviews!

      1. COT*

        I had the same experience. I started very casually/selectively looking without really being committed to leaving my job. It was a very good job in most ways, so there wasn’t any pressing reason to get out. Eventually it became clear that I’d probably become quite unhappy if I stayed, and I was glad to have some options in the pipeline when I reached that conclusion. Had I waited until I was completely burned out to begin looking, I wouldn’t have been able to be as picky about what new role I accepted. And because I wasn’t completely fried on my old job quite yet, I was able to keep doing a good job there until my very last day. That earned me a lot of appreciation from my team there and helps my connections and references remain strong.

        I agree with the others–start looking now, if you have even an inkling that it’s time to move on. At the very least you’ll be able to see what’s out there and gain some better perspective on how your current job stacks up to your other options. Getting over that first mental block of “I may want to leave” was the hardest step for me.

      2. N.J.*

        Good point. I have done the casual job search thing for awhile now (usually just when I see a very specific sort if position that sounds like a good fit), no luck quite yet, but worth ramping up.

        1. Jen in RO*

          Aaaand a couple of hours after I replied to you, I found out that 15 people (out of 50) had been laid off for bogus reasons, in conditions forbidden by the law. So I’m going to take my own advice and start looking ASAP, because the new management in this company seems to be dead-set on killing it.

      3. Jess*

        I also did exactly this after two years at my last job. It took one job offer to realize I didn’t want to leave yet. (It was tempting: more money and better location.) I kept casually looking and then when it was clear to me that I wanted to seriously look after three years, I was able to easily ramp up to it. It took me six months after that point to land my current job. I’ve done the opposite and waited until I was so burned out that I quit with nothing lined up. I would not like to do that again.

    2. Sunflower*

      Start looking. Remember, just because you apply and even interview for jobs doesn’t mean you have to leave your current position. Like Jen said, once you interview and see what else is out there, it will give you a better idea of how you actually feel about your job. I think the only way you will know if you’re ready to leave is literally if you find(and are offered) a job that you want to leave your current position for. Job searching can be time consuming and exhausting so it’s always better to start looking sooner rather than later. Good luck!

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      I only realised it was time for me to leave one former job when the possibility of layoffs was announced and I’d secured something else – once I knew I was going I realised how much I didn’t want to be at Old Job any more.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Definitely let off some steam by looking at and seriously considering other jobs.

      But DO NOT think that the next job will be any better than this one. I have two part time jobs and both jobs have ridiculous work loads. And the stupidest things blow up- it’s mind bending.
      I am okay with it now and will be for a while. But I have no idea what the future holds.

      I think what is missing here is that you have no goals, no feeling of growth or of accomplishment. In short you don’t have any “wins” going on. Did you stall out or are the circumstances blocking you?
      Taking a new job is a “win” but only for a moment. Then it becomes another hamster wheel. If you decide to change jobs do it deliberately and have definite goals. (Yes, personal goals count here, too.)

  21. Anonymous*

    What should I say to customers who freak out at me for coming to work sick? Obviously I agree with them that I should be at home and not out infecting people but I get zero paid sick days and after calling out twice in the last year I’m already seen as a slacker.

    I wish they’d complain to my boss about it and not me!

    1. Robyn*

      I would say just that. ‘Thank you for your concern. Perhaps if you mentioned it to a manager, a policy change could be considered.’

        1. Robyn*

          Why would it backfire?

          It is a really stupid policy, as I’m sure you know, and the only way management would change it, if they are like most management, is if people complain about it long and loud.

          1. Anne 3*

            Yes, I think it’s stupid, and if the customers took it upon themselves to talk to management about this I wouldn’t see any issue with that. But if the customer goes to management and mentions that the employee suggested they do so…? I can’t imagine that will work out for the employee.

      1. FRRibs*

        Paid sick time is one of those things decent employers do.

        That said, how would you as a customer feel if the person cooking/handling your food was obviously sick? Of if you got sick and passed it on to your family because a co-worker wouldn’t go home?

    2. smallbutmighty*

      I think it kind of depends on what “sick” means, as well as what your job is.

      Do you work in food services or health care? If so, I think the customer has a legitimate point that you shouldn’t be there if you’re anyone’s definition of sick. If there’s really no way around being there, you could say something like, “I wish I had the option to stay home, but unfortunately I don’t” and leave it there. (And try to keep your tone neutral. There’s no need to be defensive. The customer doesn’t know or need to know the back story, and their concern isn’t unfounded.)

      If you’ve work in some other customer-facing role (say, retail) and you’ve got a minor case of the sniffles or something, just say something like, “I feel better than I sound, really!” and try to shift the conversation elsewhere. (If the time of year makes it plausible, you might even blame it on allergies to assuage any concerns about you being contagious. And yeah, I know this doesn’t address the concerns of parts of the population that are immune-deficient, so it’s not a perfect solution, but it does defuse the conversation a little bit.)

      If you’re visibly really ill, you shouldn’t be there, period. The customer’s right. I don’t know how you spin that in a good direction. I think in that case you should go to your boss with this question. “The customers are asking why I’m at work when I’m coughing up a lung/bleeding out my eyes/ducking out of the room periodically to vomit/etc. They’re obviously uncomfortable with my being here. How do you suggest I reassure them?”

      1. Anonymous*

        I know the customers are right, but at this job its like a competition to see who can come in the sickest. Not colds but actually really sick and contagious. I like your answer about wishing I had the option to stay home.

  22. Anon*

    I just graduated from college with a BS. In mid-December, a firm interviewed for two positions on campus, and I was asked to speak with the company. The reps who visited our campus were there for the other job, but passed my name along to the person in charge of the one I applied for. He emailed me a few days later and let me know that they’re looking for someone with a couple years of experience (I just have a summer of intern experience and am otherwise entry-level), but that I might be a good fit anyway and that he’d be check in with me after the holidays. Seeing as it’s January 10th, is it unreasonable to send him a quick follow-up email to see where they are in the hiring process and to reiterate my interest? I don’t want to be a pest, but I also don’t want to let this job slip past.

    1. Elise*

      Now would be a great time for a follow up. People should be back from the holidays and by now they probably caught up on work and things are going back to normal.

  23. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    We have a question about Young Love over here at Wakeen’s. This isn’t an actual problem, but a situation that has potential to go pear shaped any number of ways + something an idiot manager could muck up. I strive to not be that idiot manager.

    Young love has broken out on my direct report team between two singles. (I emphasize the singles part ’cause there’s no scandal or partner doesn’t know awkwardness to deal with.)

    This would be mostly only happy for me to smile about except that both people are on my direct report team of 12. We have an open work space (sorry Alison, I like open work spaces, although I see a downside here!). She and he sit about two feet from each other and about 8 feet away from me. 10 of my 12 people are all in this same room. You can’t help but feel 2 people “falling in love” in your midst!

    There was a lot of giggling from the female part of the duo the first month they were together but that has died down so whew to that. (The rest of my team are all married so this is mostly all just viewed as sweet, but we really needed that giggling to die down.)

    I had to run this through HR last month because a rumor went around the building, started by someone in another division, that something unseemly and unprofessional had happened between them in view of other people. Fortunately, we were able to track the rumor back and declare it unfounded, so I never had to say anything to the two of them about it. And we were able to tell people on the rumor train to cut it out.

    Additional facts:
    We have no HR policy about interoffice romance.
    She is one of my star performers, she’s been with me for years and I care very much about mentoring her career as a whole. He is new to the team in the last year.

    I have two major concerns:

    1) keeping their hands to themselves. They are in a giant fishbowl and I don’t think they realize that people see **everything** they do because everybody is watching. It’s like a Hugh Grant romance movie, so if we are in a meeting and they think nobody saw them decide to touch their legs together under the table, they are wrong, everybody did and talked about it afterward.

    2) what happens if they break up or have a bad disagreement. They have to work together and they practically work in my lap.

    Since they seem to have settled into an actual relationship (this has been a few months), I would like to have a friendly conversation with each one proactively, privately and individually but ????.

    Any perspective or experience with this sort of thing is appreciated.

    1. CeeBeeUK*

      I’ve been on the young love side and I think a casual chat wouldnt go amiss, ie. ‘we’re thrilled, I know you wouldn’t do this (name behaviours) but it is important to remember how things are perceived and what is and what isn’t ok in a professional environment’.

      I didn’t have to have a chat with my boss but my partner had to fill out a form saying that we had started a relationship! This was not be/c we worked together but because I was also a student (PhD, 28, nothing scandalous!)

      1. Anonymous*

        I remember a time where I worked in retail and several people were in relationships/gotten married and a “young love” type of relationship started up and all was well for months. & then they broke up. Oh boy, did we all know about it! they wouldn’t talk to each other, they wouldn’t be in the staff room together etc etc. Awful. Took a few months after the break up for things to settle back down again.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          ROFL, hello My Nightmare.

          This is, of course, the “worst case” playing out in my head. Chances are greater that the relationship won’t stick than I will be buying a silver plated toaster from their registry a few years from now.

          It’s not possible for them to their jobs and not talk to each other, it’s a collaborative environment, although I am getting a black humor chuckle out of imagining them talking through other people in the room,

          “Tell Fred that the blue teapot collection is ready for copy to be written.”

          “Tell Gwen that the copy will be done by tomorrow morning, and also to pick up that last damn box of her belongings or they are going on the lawn”.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I love your story.

        And also your hat! (even if it isn’t your hat, it’s your avatar’s hat and it is sporty!)

    2. Sydney Bristow*

      I used to work at an office that had numerous married couples working together. It took me a very long time to even realize that these couples were together because they either had super common last names or kept their separate last names. They never showed any indication during working hours that they were together. I realized it all at the holiday party. They all seemed to be completely capable of leaving their romantic relationship at the door when coming to work. I always thought that if I began a relationship with a coworker that they would be my model to try and follow. Maybe you can suggest that to the best of their abilities they should try to do the same.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yes, I worked with my fiance for several years, and I always enjoyed seeing how long it would be before new people caught on that we were a couple. Eventually some of my veteran employees would fill the new ones in, but it could go on several weeks before it came up because we tried our hardest to act professionally at all times.

    3. Piper*

      I was on the side of Young Love in the workplace many years ago. I married the guy and we’ve been together for nearly a decade now. But despite the fact that both of us were young, we also had the sense to not giggle and touch in meetings (or at all at work). In fact, we were so discrete that people were shocked when they found out that were dating. And they didn’t find out until after I had left the company and showed up with him at the company Christmas party a few months later. We kept it professional. Always.

      I think a little chat would be well worth your time. Remind these two lovebirds that they are, in fact, at work and that their behavior needs to reflect that. It’s great that they’ve found each other, but they also need to respect professional boundaries and behave accordingly.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        This is uplifting, thank you. :)

        They are honestly trying and they both care about the work they do and their career path . I am thinking that if I can perhaps paint a brief picture as to what a professional approach to this would look like, that will give them a map.

        I want to go positive and not all worrisome and warning and dire.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I feel like your kind of stuck with it now. Not that I am against young love, but if it goes bad I cannot imagine how bad things will be in your office and everyone will bear witness to their reactions, ackwardness, etc.

      That’s why I think dating such a co-worker on the same team is a bad idea.

      My two suggestions are to pray that it works out at least until one of them changes jobs and for you to start thinking of / contingency planning what you might be able to do if things to go bad or even good. Although it seems like they have stabilized on the good side.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ya, my first thought was “oh I am truly effed” and then my *second* thought was, “they are so cute together!”

        So I was happy for them kinda quickly directly after making it all about me.

        Contingency is my middle name. I’ve had a contingency plan since the first giggle, but it would remove both the guy and his boss out of my room. That would be sub optimal for teamwork and painfully transparent as to why the move was made so, mostly I am crossing my fingers and hoping for a long, happy dating period (before I have to deal with spats over wedding planning O.o)

        I HAVE to think that working 2 feet from your SO is going to get old. There is no other way to remap this room.

    5. Anonicorn*

      Can you rearrange the office where they don’t sit near one another?

      You could also talk to them and suggest not sitting beside each other in meetings, and mention how their behavior can damage their professionalism. If you truly don’t care that they’re together during their off-time, suggest they get the cutesy stuff out of their systems after work and during lunch away from the office.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Unfortunately, there is no real way to change seating. The room itself is full, and everybody is arranged loosely by work group/function. Moving one of them would unseat someone else who is working where they are because it’s the most optimal choice for them. So….that’s not fair either.

        And I truly don’t care that they are together on their off time, I’m happy for them, when I ‘m not trying to avoid blood spatter on myself.

  24. Mo'money*

    My company has overpaid me again. WTH? I’m tempted to not say anything. Not because of the money but laziness and annoyance. Also, I guess this means I should start tracking my hours.

    1. Anonymous*

      I had a boss in a small business I worked for overpay me several times. They also underpaid me a few times. Both were annoying (and frustrating after the first mistake), and I kind of felt awkward bringing it up. They appreciated the honestly though, and I figured it was good to be seen as a very honest employee.

      It *is* tempting not to say anything.

      1. Mo'money*

        First time was by a few thousand. 2nd and 3rd time, a few hundred. And they’ve also underpaid me (for a pay period. Overall, they’ve overpaid me). This is a large company.
        Yes, I did tell them they over paid the first time. And I’ll tell them they’re paying me almost 3 extra holidays. I’m just really annoyed about it.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Are you being overpaid a lot or a little? Definitely track your hours…plus set aside the amount overpaid so it’s available in case they do a claw back ( worst case scenario) or decide to adjust future pay checks so your budget doesn’t get blown to bits. Also pop an email off each time it happens to HR/accounting so they are aware of it and you have a paper trail. Yes, it’s a PIA and you shouldn’t have to do it but in the long run it will reflect badly on them instead of you if it continues.

      1. Mo'money*

        Whoops, my replies are off. I’m as bad my company’s payroll. Or ADP ;-)
        They’re overpaying me by a lot (see my above reply). And have underpaid me. Of course, I have to go back over my statements again bc I cannot recall if the underpaid was taken into account when the overpayment was corrected.
        Fortunately, I can handle it if they need to take a lump sum. Now, they’ll have to amend my W2s.

        1. Lacey*

          This is usually a sign that someone in your payroll department is absolutely terrible at their job, and the systems are not in palce to check their work properly. Sounds obvious, but happening once is understandable, more often is a systemic problem.

          I’d escalate it, personally, to well above the person actually processing the payroll. This kind of thing can really affect people, the person(s) responsible need better training, and processes generally need to be improved.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Ask your boss what the solution to this problem is because it seems to be taking up a lot of people’s time getting all these errors corrected.

  25. Anonymous*

    When I returned a voicemail about an interview for a job that I’m qualified to do skill-wise, but over-qualified for degree-wise, I was told I was over-qualified, but could still interview if I wanted. I haven’t interviewed for it yet, and I’m not sure what to do if the subject of pay comes up (or if I’m offered the job). The advertized pay was $12-$15. Since I’m over-qualified, does that mean I should expect $15? (Assuming that if they think I’m over-qualified that must also mean in the least that they think I’m well qualified?) How can I tell how much would be reasonable?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Does the degree make you more valuable to them?

      It might go like this:

      Teapot Polisher, no experience, $12/hr
      Teapot Polisher 2 years experience, $15 hr

      with a masters in Teapot History not adding any actual value to your ability to polish.

      OR they might be all like, woah, Teapot History $20 an hour! who knows….

      1. Anonymous*

        I don’t think the degrees makes me more valuable to them.

        It’s kind of weird. The job should not require a degree at all, but the job listing said they preferred someone who graduated college. So I guess to them, by having two degrees, I’m over-qualified by one degree.

        I don’t have direct experience in the job, but I’d basically be doing the same things I’ve done in non-profit internships in a for-profit context.

    2. thenoiseinspace*

      Being over-qualified frequently disqualifies you (it did with me for over a year). In future, take one of your degrees off your resume. That was some advice I got (I have three degrees, effectively taking me out of the running for most entry-level positions these days) and it’s really helped me. As Alison says, a resume is meant to be the highlights of your experience, not a comprehensive report. If it doesn’t help you, take it off.

      1. happyfeet*

        I’ve always nodded along with this advice in the past, but today, it is striking me differently.

        Yes, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get a job. But, from a manager’s perspective, I’d rather see a candidate who is straightforward about their work & education experience and fully explains why it fits with the job (or why it doesn’t fit & they’re making a change). We recently had a situation where someone really overstated their analytical skills, was hired, & it didn’t work out, so maybe that’s why I’ve changed my views. I feel like I can use someone best if I know their history. If you have an admin assistant who used to be an analyst, you might have different projects available for her than an admin assistant who has only done more traditional admin work.

        1. thenoiseinspace*

          But most of the time, I didn’t even get to the stage of meeting the manager. I spent over a year job-hunting, and with 3 degrees and only part-time work experience, I was a bad fit for entry level jobs – even though I WAS really entry level based on lack of experience, HR would automatically take me out of the running because my degrees made me overqualified. If it had only happened once or twice I would be inclined to overlook it, but after HR departments at multiple employers told me the same thing, I took one of my degrees off. I was very happy for the feedback – obviously, only a small minority gave me any feedback at all, but those that did all said the same thing. It’s a weird position to be in, being simultaneously over- and under-qualified for what should be entry-level positions.

          1. happyfeet*

            Yeah, I knew someone in a nearly identical situation, so I know what you mean & that’s why I’ve usually agreed with that advice. She was trying to fight back having 2 degrees and part-time irrelevant experience, as well. It’s going to be very specific to each person, what their degrees are in, their work experience, and the type of jobs they’re looking at.

            1. Anonymous*

              I would take one of my degrees off my resume, but all my internships are related to my second degree, so I feel like the second degree would need to be admitted to at some point, and then they’ll reject me for “lying.”

              1. Anonymous*

                Though, now that I think about it, even if they reject me for “lying,” at least I’d be getting more interviews, which would be good practice.

  26. Chriama*

    I have a question for soon to be university grads: a lot of companies have started hiring for positions that start after convocation in the spring I currently live in a different city for school and I want to go back home after graduation, but long distance job searching is a pain. If I get offered a position in a city other than my hometown with a start date 3-6 months down the line, what’s the etiquette around continuing to look for jobs? If I bail in a company a few months before I’m supposed to start will I burn that bridge? I’m at the point where I’m almost desperate enough to accept any job just so people will stop asking me where I’m working after graduation, but I obviously want to find as ideal (not “Dream”, I know better) a position as possible, which for me strongly relates to location.
    So what’s the professional norm here?

    1. fposte*

      If by “bailing” you mean accepting an offer and then not working for them, that’s a big, big no.You’d be screwing the people who thought they wanted you as well as other people who applied along with you, and you would get a rep you really don’t want and not just in that company–people would be seriously ticked and would not limit their venting to their offices. You might, depending on the timing, have a little leeway on how long you have to respond to an offer, but it’s unlikely to be enough to allow you to move towns, start a search, and get a competing offer.

      I think you need to suck it up and search long-distance if the other place is where you really want to work. Most of the early job-hunting phase is the same whether you’re there or not anyway, so it shouldn’t make much difference, and plenty of places do Skype interviews, etc. But you can’t use a committed acceptance as a stopgap to avoid long-distance job searching until it’s more convenient.

    2. ADE*

      If I get offered a position in a city other than my hometown with a start date 3-6 months down the line, what’s the etiquette around continuing to look for jobs?

      >> Don’t. No. Bad. It’s better to say, after getting the offer, “What’s your timeline looking like?” “When do you hope to have me begin?” “Can I have some time to think about this position?” and then you can get back to your other top choices to see if they’re at all interested. But do NOT back out after accepting a job.

      If I bail in a company a few months before I’m supposed to start will I burn that bridge?

      >>Yes, you will.

    3. The IT Manager*

      YES! That’s the epitomy of burning a bridge. I will grant you that if you burn a bridge at a company in a large industry a long distance away from where you eventually settle it might not ever hurt you because word never reaches companies in your hometown, but it is unprofessional and you never know if it won’t. It’s screwing over the company who hired you and the people you eat out for the job.

      Frankly accepting a job just so you tell people that you have one after graduation is the WORST reason I have ever heard. If you want to move hom; you have to do the long distance job search. If you accept a job in your college town you should plan to stay in it for a couple of years before job searching again barring unexpected emergencies.

      On the plus side, if you accept a job in your college town and then start long distance job searching after a year and a half you can be leasurely about the job hunt and not desperate.

    4. Felicia*

      Yes, you will burn a bridge. It is unprofessional and just not ok to accept an offer and then not work for them. Don’t ever do this.

    5. Sunflower*

      I’m a little confused- I am also in the US so things might be a little different here. If you are looking for jobs in your hometown, why are you applying for jobs not in your hometown? Because you are desperate for a job?

      I understand the immense amount of pressure to find a job after graduation. I felt like the only one who didn’t have an answer to what I was doing after graduation. FYI- Unless the people asking are your parents, they probably don’t care that much and are just asking because they think that’s what you should ask recent grads and obviously in the past few years that’s become the last question they want to hear. Now, 3 years later, I am seeing how many people a couple years younger than me are graduating in the same boat.

      I’m not exactly sure what your definition of ‘ideal as possible’ is. I don’t think there is an ideal right out of college job. I thought there was one and spent an entire year sitting around waiting for it. In that year I could have been working at a less than ideal job. I would have had a years experience under my belt, could begin looking for jobs I actually wanted and accept a job on my terms.

      If you are worried about accepting a job that you will want to leave if something better comes along, get a job with high-turnover- like waitress, retail- something where leaving after a couple months isn’t strange. I personally find serving to be the perfect job for someone who is looking for their first office job and it was what I did.

      1. Chriama*

        Let me add some more background: I’m doing recruiting through my college career centre. Companies typically hire a bunch of students with the same degree for the same entry level position. The problem is most of those companies are local (Montreal) or based in Toronto, whereas I’m from out west. I wouldn’t be the only person hired for the position and the start date is always sometime after the convocation ceremony and often next September. The problem is I can’t do any on-campus recruiting for companies hq’d in my hometown because I don’t attend the local university.
        Does that change things or is it still a no? My concern is waiting until I graduate will put me at a disadvantage to the local grads in my hometown who did the on-campus recruitment process.

        1. Sunflower*

          I would apply online for places near your hometown. I’m pretty positive larger companies with entry-level training programs make all applicants apply online. I don’t know much about the success rate of that but it seems like a much better use of your time and energy than applying to jobs in your current area. I don’t really see any use of you applying to these jobs near Montreal/Toronto since you really don’t want to be there. You can always talk to these companies that come to recruit and see if they have job placement opportunities available near your hometown.

          I would make a list of places near your hometown you are interested in and would have job availability- some companies require entry-level to start at the same location and it may not be their HQ. Then talk to your career center about getting in touch with their recruiters or see if there is something on their website where you can try to get in touch with a real person. Talk to your professors or career center about what else you can do. There are probably lots of other people at your university in the same position you are in and they probably have experience helping out

  27. Kate*

    Any advice on breaking into teaching after being in the tech world?
    I have degrees in physics and engineering and 10 years experience doing programming and analysis work in various fields. I’ve got a good job, with excellent pay, great benefits, low stress, etc. But I just don’t enjoy the work. At all. And I haven’t enjoyed it for a while.

    I’ve alway wanted to be a teacher (high school math or physics) but never pursued it because of the money aspect. My mom was a teacher for a few decades so I have seen a lot of the complaints about teaching up close. I’m going to start volunteering at 2 local schools to tutor high school students in math. And I plan on taking the MTEL exams this spring. Should I take some classes? Try to shadow a high school teacher? Are teachers only hired for Sept starts? How do I know which districts are better than others? Any advice would be great. Thanks!

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Is it easy to get a teaching cert in your state? Some states are way better than others. A few years ago, I considered taking some classes to get certified, but the university program said i would have to get another bachelor’s. (I have a PhD.). No thanks.

      1. Kate*

        Getting a teaching license is fairly easy. With a BS in any subject, all you have to do is pass a few tests (which I’m studying for now) and then you can teach for 5 years without taking any classes (and even then, I don’t ever need to get another BS).

        1. A Teacher*

          Um no, not in all states–in Illinois you would have to take classes, student teach, and pass tests–usually another bachelor’s or in my case a master’s with certification, unless you go the provisional teaching route. I have a standard certificate (Masters in Teaching with certification) and a provisional license because I have 2000+ hours in a specific field of study where you can get a provisional license. You can’t get a provisional to be a 2nd or 3rd grade teacher, a math teacher, etc…its only for specific fields of study (Health Sciences in my case).

          1. Kate*

            I am in MA. To get into teaching you do not need to get another BS in teaching, although to be fully license, I’d need to take some classes down the road.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Hmmm. This is a red flag for me. You should definitely check out the hiring outlook for teachers who are not fully licensed.

              I don’t know if it is the same, but when my sister (mentioned below) went to get her M.Ed. she also looked at another program that was supposed to place people with non-ed bachelor’s degrees in teaching positions. They would begin teaching immediately under a provisional license & then have to take night courses through the university program to get fully licensed (over several years). The problem was that as tight as the job market was, no schools were interested in teachers with provisional licenses, even the inner city ones, because there were plenty of teachers available with full licenses, education coursework, and student teaching experience.

              1. A Teacher*

                In my building, those of us with provisional teaching licenses (Illinois calls them licenses and not certificates as of January 1) all have standard teaching licenses too. I’m actually qualified to teach PE, Health, Social Sciences (thank you Sociology minor) and have a provisional that lets me teach Health Sciences. In order to even have a provisional I have to have my state medical license and enough hours of experience in the field. The other teachers with provisional licenses include an accountant that actually has a social sciences teaching license but had enough hours to also get a provisional license on top of it. A provisional certificate/license, at least in Illinois can only allow you to teach certain subjects.

          2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

            Same for Washington State. My husband went through a 2-year graduate program, did student teaching, passed several tests, and submitted a state-required portfolio. He could have completed a one-year certificate program instead of the 2-year grad program, but his starting salary would have been about 10K less. It was a no brainer for us.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      In many places in the US and Canada, it’s incredibly difficult to break into teaching right now. There are huge numbers of people competing for few jobs, and many of the jobs that are available are in failing schools or inner-city schools that have a hard time attracting truly excellent candidates.

      Additionally, teaching–especially at the high-school level–is HARD. There is a lot that’s not directly relevant to subject matter, and I would guess that at most if not all school boards, it would be next to impossible to be hired without any teaching experience.

      Do you know any teachers that you can discuss with? Especially in your field or area?

      1. The IT Manager*


        Plus, you obviously loved (or definately liked) physics and science. Sadly most students in your class won’t feel the same love as you.

        My brother became a teacher because he loved his subject. (He’d studied both it and education in collge.) After about 5 years he left teaching because of low pay, discipline problems, and the fact that many of his students (in this voluntary subject!) didn’t really give a damn about what he loved.

        He found a better paying job unrelated to his love that doesn’t even require a college degree and enjoys his job much more than he did teaching.

        My mother is a elementary teacher and loves it. But she loves teaching and is always talking her student’s improvement, but she rarely talks about the subjects. She does it for the love of teaching not the subject.

        1. Kate*

          I taught while an undergrad and grad student and enjoyed it very much. So I think I’d enjoy the teaching part in addition to teaching the subject. Who knows, maybe I’ll hate it, but I already know I hate what I currently do, so it can’t hurt to try something different.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            The teaching part can be a surprisingly small part. Lots and lots and lots of what teachers do is paperwork, bureaucracy, dealing with unsupportive administration, dealing with frustrated kids and parents, working for extracurriculars with the kids, etc. etc.

            And I wouldn’t write off teaching classes altogether. Classroom management is a big one. Learning about how kids learn is another one. Learning how to deal with school-specific bureaucracy (reporting to a principal and then a school board, public accountability, etc). There are lots and lots of aspects to teaching that aren’t covered with just knowing the subject material–I think we all had a teacher somewhere along the line who knew the subject material inside and out, but didn’t know **how to teach**, which is a different skill and has a huge impact on performance, results, and general enjoyment of the job.

          2. TL*

            Did you teach college or primary students? There’s a huge difference between the two – college students I have no problems with but the few times I’ve messed with younger ones it’s awful ( my friend is a high school teacher and her classroom experience has been very different from when I t.a.’ed.)

    3. EduStudent*

      Have you considered alternative certification programs like teacher residencies (Boston, Baltimore, DC, KIPP…), Teach for America, MATCH Corps (an Americorps program), etc? They provide varying degrees of training and require certain commitment times. You should also check out Math for America, which operates in a bunch of cities and emphasizes training STEM teachers.

      1. Kate*

        Yes, I’ve looked into those programs, but they are not what I want to do. Way too much commitment for me right now. Ideally would like to get some classroom experience first before I commit to a multi-year deal.

        1. ADE*

          Volunteer for afterschool STEM programs. There are a bunch of them out there to dip your toe in and see if this is something you could do long-term!

    4. AnotherAlison*

      One anecdote: My sister graduated with a degree in biology & worked in a medical office.

      She got an M.Ed. 3 yrs after getting her BS and passed all the Praxis tests for chem, bio, and physics and had a license in two states (KS and MO). She student-taught, subbed for a full year, and job-searched for two seasons (where we’re at most hiring is only for fall, unless something dramatic or traumatic happens). She also taught medical office technology courses at a for-profit college, so she had some additional classroom experience.

      She never got a secondary teaching job & went back to school this year for something else & plans to leave her pursuit of teaching behind. Granted, she only wanted to work in the good districts (but do you really want to work in the bad ones?). From what I’ve seen, it’s easiest to get a teaching job if you have close connections with some of the existing teachers or principals in the district.

      One suggestion I have: A lot of the high schools in my area have clubs or extracurricular programs in robotics, electric cars, engineering, etc. They look for industry volunteers to help out after school with their projects. You might find something like that, which would give you an “in” with a school and let you try-before-you-buy.

      (I come from an mech engineering background myself, and I would have a really hard time with the paycut. The teacher entry level salary today is less than I made as an entry level engineer 15 years ago. . .More power to you if that’s a step you’re willing to take!)

    5. Anonicorn*

      This isn’t a slam against your potential ability to teach, but some people know their subjects really well yet cannot explain it to others. At. All. So you’d want to objectively gauge whether you can do that.

      Another consideration is classroom management, and thinking about how you’d really feel going from a low-stress environment (presumably mostly at a desk) to standing in front of a classroom of kids and presenting and trying to make them behave every single day.

      You also have to consider that your job does not end after the kids go home. You have to grade papers, man the bus lines, get lunch duty, sign up to help at various sporting events, call and meet with parents about performance, etc. Seriously, teachers are some of the hardest working people for the lowest pays. (My husband is a teacher. /rant.)

      Anyway, to answer some of your questions:

      Because teachers are under contracts, most are hired during the summer before the school year begins. Very rarely you might find openings in December or other times during the year (usually someone did something bad enough to be let go abruptly).

      If you will already be in at a school tutoring, you could certainly use the opportunity to shadow a teacher. You might even ask to give a guest lecture. Classes sometimes have speakers from the community talk about how their education can translate to a career and that type of thing.

      I also suggest checking out Tyler DeWitt’s TED talk and YouTube channel:
      He was the reason I passed General Chemistry this past fall.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Yes, everything about this! Teaching is intense, and much more involved than just knowing the material. Teaching at a college or university level is also much different than a high-school level. It’s a skill set that is not always correlated with a strong knowledge of the material.

  28. Elkay*

    Any advice for someone looking for a data analytics role who doesn’t have a mathematical degree? I’m red hot with Excel, live happily in databases and delight in graphs but I’m not sure where to start looking for a job that would be interested in having me.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Marketing, internet sales, SEO type positions and companies? Those skills would be a giant plus for me, although I don’t have a full time data analyst position.

      We sell teapots to companies on the internet so we do a lot of analysis but it’s spread over multiple positions all under a marketing or SEO type of job title.

      SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) is a well paying field that someone who is lit up by what lights you up would likely do well in. You can self educate, get inexpensive certifications in it.

      1. A Jane*

        Second on this one. Advertising agencies are looking for people with data analytics skills. While having a math degree would help, many of these roles are about cleansing data and understanding the client needs.

    2. Jules*

      Sell your mad skills by adding them into resumes and LinkedIn. Make sure to list out what specifically that you can do in Excel other then the basics. A lot of jobs uses data analytics, you just have to know them. HR, Finance, Sales.

    3. Jamie*

      Manufacturing lets you wear a lot of hats and you can prove yourself without a specific degree easier than in some industries where you can’t get in the door.

      Not always – but often.

      And I think you sound awesome and I would give anything to have someone like you here – because more stats geeks (of which I’m only one of two) would make my life a lot easier. And I’m tired of people looking at me like I’m a dork because I love that stuff. :)

    4. Books*

      Look for meetup groups in your city or other analytic sorts that do free events. Go there and network! Just saw that edx (MIT) has a data analytics course starting in March. What are your other interests (environment, politics, education, social media)? That can help you narrow down what fields you want to search in.

    5. Jubilance*

      I work in that type of role, and I have a degree in Chemistry.

      There are actually a lot of data analyst type roles that don’t require or ask for a math degree. Have you been doing data analyst type work? I think emphasizing that experience on your resume would be more important than having a degree in math.

      Also keep in mind that analytics/Big Data right now is really big, but much more than just Excel. Do you have any experience in JMP/R/SAS/Tableau/Teradata/etc? Might be beneficial to start learning some of these programs as well if you’d like to focus on analytics.

      1. Elkay*

        Thanks for the feedback. I mainly use Excel now but I’ve used SPSS and SAS in the past (may be regional, I’m not in the US) and most of my jobs have involved pulling things out of custom databases. It’s nice to know that the lack of maths doesn’t automatically rule it out as an option.

  29. Is.This.Legal*

    Just curious non-work question; if you are send to prison for non-payment of child support, when you are released, is the debt forgiven since you would’ve paid by serving time?

    1. Graciosa*

      Your time in prison does nothing to provide food, clothing, or any other necessities for the child or children to whom the support is owed.

      I think you may be confusing the punishment due for failing to obey an order of the court (the prison time) for the underlying obligation to support your child.

      I will add that child support obligations are not discharged in bankruptcy either.

      The way to get rid of an obligation to pay child support is to actually pay the child support.

      1. De Minimis*

        I recall someone here who was in jail for that and was told each day was worth so much of the child support, but maybe they were misinformed…

        Of course, that smacks of debtor’s prison almost, which doesn’t seem like something we have here.

        1. fposte*

          Technically, you’re jailed for contempt of court rather than the arrears–there’s a hearing on the arrears (the payee usually has to request this) and you only go if the judge says “Pay up” and you fail to.

          And it’s generally reserved for people who’ve basically ignored their responsibility–they haven’t filed for modification if they lost their job, they haven’t sent small amounts that they could afford, etc.

    2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

      Maybe you are just wondering hypothetically, but if you are actually not paying child support, do you mind sharing why? I promise I won’t jump all over you. I am always curious about the rationales for not paying—my mom literally never received a dime from my father and I’ve always wondered what he told himself to make it okay. I’d ask him directly, but I haven’t seen him since I was 7…

      1. fposte*

        My guess is that it was being asked by or on behalf of the payee, but I dunno.

        Query for you, as long as you raised it–did she actually have court-ordered support that he didn’t pay? I’m always surprised by how many people never file with the court, but there’s no legal obligation to pay without a court order. Always file! No guarantee, but it’s the best protection for everybody.

        1. Nonprofit Office Manager*

          Yup. It was court ordered. The Office of Support Enforcement told my mom various things: that my dad was self-employed and was not garnishing his own wages; that my dad was homeless, etc. This was back in the 80s/90s (I’m 30 now), and I’m thinking enforcement is now more strict. At least, I know I have to report every new hire and contractor to the state for the explicit purpose of helping enforce child support collections. Still to this day, though, judgments of unpaid child support do expire after a period of time and after that they can no longer be enforced. At least in WA.

          1. fposte*

            Wow, that does suck. (And I didn’t know about expiration–that’s interesting.) Still, I’m glad to hear that your mother did the court thing, giving it the best possible shot and getting it all on the record.

            And I think even now people who are really determined not to pay child support will arrange their life around it–under the table pay, no travel abroad, that kind of thing. Some people are really devoted to being deadbeats :-(.

    3. Brett*

      You normally go to jail for non-payment of child support. The distinction is important because you often work in prison and earn wages that would go directly to child support.
      Child support continues to accrue while you are still in jail and you will owe even more when you come out. Of course, you go to jail for non-payment when you could pay, but refuse to. You rarely, if ever, go to jail because you would pay but cannot afford to.

  30. Anonymous*

    This is absolutely not management related at all, but my wife and I have an ongoing debate about the name “John” as a nickname for Jonathan. I think John is a standalone name, and that if someone is named Jonathan the nickname would be Jon. She claims that John is a very common nickname for Jonathan, but I can’t remember ever coming across that combination.

    So… what are people’s thoughts on this horribly mundane issue

    1. Elise*

      I’ve always seen it used as you. John is a stand alone and Jonathans who shorten their name use Jon.

      1. Jamie*

        I always assume if it’s John it’s standalone and Jon is usually short for Jonathan.

        But agree with Anon in that people should be called whatever they like – and there’s nothing wrong with being a little unconventional.

    2. Anon*

      I’ve seen it either way, and don’t think any one way of approaching it is correct.

      (Slightly off topic: I think every person has the right to decide what they’d like to be called and how they’d like that to be spelled, even if it’s not a common nickname or spelling. It’s their name. It’s easy and polite to honor their wishes, even if their decision seems strange to you.)

    3. PoohBear McGriddles*

      If Ned or Ted can be nicknames for Edward, then why not John for Jonathan.

      Still not as bad as Topher for Christopher, IMO.

          1. Jesusita*

            My dad’s name is Teddie, and his nickname is Ted. (He hates it when people call him Theodore!)

    4. Lia*

      My oldest is named Jonathan and goes by Jon. I’ve never seen John short for Jonathan, and he corrects the few who spell it that way — generally, if someone spells if “John” they just heard his nickname and weren’t aware his whole name is Jonathan.

    5. Garrett*

      Jack is also a nickname for Jonathan. And Peggy for Margaret. I think it’s interesting.

      Of coure some people are just the shortened versions of their names. The character Andy on Cougar Town said his name was not short for anything (had to throw in random TV reference – sorry).

  31. sss*

    Just curious, what’s everyone’s take on dating coworkers? Yay/nay/something somewhere in between? I know there are many differing opinions on this so I’m just curious.

    1. S*

      I think it’s great to date a co-worker!
      And I say this since I met my husband at work 11 years ago! He was the person who trained me when I started with this company (he was not my manager). I must add that we worked for a small family owned company and they did not have any policies regarding dating a co-worker. I know that many larger companies do in fact have policies and I recommend that you check the policy for your company.

    2. CeeBeeUK*

      I’m marrying my [former] co-worker in October. However, it was easier because we were in different fields / positions. He had been working there FT for several years and was well liked and well respected. I was there PT while I did my postgrad studies in an unrelated field. Had it gone wrong, we were both adults and I could have left without negative ramifications on my career.

      Our boss had also (drunkenly) given her blessing to my partner after we sat talking for hours at a holiday party:

      Boss: ‘do you fancy CeeBee?’
      Other half: ‘yep, but I figure it isn’t allowed’
      Boss: ‘no, go for it!’

      He asked me out that night.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Depends entirely on the situation.

      It is very bad if
      – One is in a position of power over the other (favoritism, revenge if things go wrong, or appearance of either of these things to the individuals involved or their co-workers)
      – they’re in the same department or have to work together regularly
      – it’s against company rules.

      I think it is okay in large comanies where you don’t work with the person you are dating on a daily basis so that the potential for work-place drama associated with a relationship’s sucess or failure is signifigantly reduced.

    4. Elle D*

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing as long as long as its a peer, not a subordinate/superior, and your work isn’t closely connected enough that it would be uncomfortable if you broke up.

      I briefly dated a co-worker and it ended on a very poor note, but he works in a completely different department so we didn’t have to interact for a few weeks after it went sour. That gave me time to cool down, and now when we run into each other I can just say a professional hello and move on. I’m relieved he wasn’t on my team – I would have done my absolute best to act professionally but it was nice to not have to interact with him immediately following an argument.

    5. ElizabethWest*

      No. I just won’t do it.

      1. As I said upthread, I can’t afford to lose a job over a man, no matter how hot he is. If he dumped me, it would be too painful. (Bad enough just having mutual friends–I’m dealing with that now.)

      2. Even if we got married, I wouldn’t want him in my face all day, especially if I got mad at him. Then I wouldn’t even want to be in the building with him.

      3. I like the variety having different jobs/careers brings to the relationship: work friends, conversational topics, etc. Plus, it’s more exciting if one drops by for lunch, missing each other during the workday, etc.

      4. If we’re at the same place and our benefits change for the worse, that could hurt both of us. If one person has better benefits and the other one’s change, then we can switch insurance, for example, without someone having to change jobs.

      Slightly off-topic, but my only requirement on an SO’s job (besides that he have one!) is that it be better than mine, because I don’t have the earning potential to carry us for long if it’s needed.

      1. Nonprofit Office Manager*

        “Slightly off-topic, but my only requirement on an SO’s job (besides that he have one!) is that it be better than mine, because I don’t have the earning potential to carry us for long if it’s needed.”

        Thank you for saying this. In my single days, a man’s job could absolutely be a deal-breaker for me and I got a lot of flack from friends over it. I didn’t exclusively date software engineers or executive types (I married a teacher!), but I was not open to dating “aspiring” musicians/artists/writers, etc.

        1. Mints*

          I don’t think it’s fair to ridicule women for taking into account financial stability, when it was not that long ago that that was the ONLY factor.
          (With the caveat that both partners are aware that it’s something important to the relationship)

          1. ElizabethWest*

            I agree, because we’re the ones who have to take time off from work to recover from childbirth. And the onus for childcare still falls on the woman, primarily. If I had a baby and my job didn’t pay enough to cover daycare or a babysitter, and there were no relatives who could help, I’d have to stay home.

    6. kimberly*

      Mostly nay.

      I think it can work — if you are both able to keep the relationship fairly quiet at work.

      But if you can’t keep it quiet (both of you), then it is a really bad idea. Like it or not, if coworkers know you are dating, the two of you will be under a microscope. They will “see” things in your interactions with each other that might not really be there. You run the risk of becoming entertainment for bored coworkers. Your relationship suddenly becomes their business.

  32. victopus*

    I have a freelance billing question:

    I have a client who is a big foodie and wants to take me to lunch (her treat) while we meet. She is also a friend and I’m sure we will spend part of the time socializing and chatting. Does it seem weird to charge her for the time we actually spend talking about business (since she is picking up the tab for lunch)? How do other people handle this?

    1. Chriama*

      I would discuss the line between work and socializing with her. If you will be doing work for her (including talking about the work you’ll be doing for her) at the meeting, you should charge for it. But make sure she knows it’s work and not 2 friends meeting for lunch, and maybe charge at a discount rate or for only part of the time?

      The most important thing is to clarify it with her ahead of time, imho, both to keep your friendship happy and your client relationship healthy.

    2. Cat*

      I think that a lot of this is a judgment about your relationship with the client and a lot of other factors. It’s completely legitimate to bill someone for time spent discussing work over a meal, and if a lot of your meetings about work happen to occur over meals, you may not have a choice. And I know some people who think it is actually kind of a good thing to have a time entry on the bill that specifically shows the amount of time you spent discussing work on the ground that it shows you’re being meticulous about keeping records of what is work and what isn’t.

      On the other hand, I know other people who have a blanket policy that they don’t bill clients for time spent over meals, period. They just think it sets the wrong type of atmosphere – that they want to be able to go out to lunch with the client and focus on building a relationship; they don’t want the client to be worried about how much this is costing them. But, of course, those people generally aren’t doing serious business over meals; in that case, it’s more fleeting conversations of the sort that just come up here and there when you’re around people you work with. So it’s a lot more practicable to have a blanket “no charging for work done over meals” policy in that case.

  33. Sunflower*

    How much time can I ask for between switching jobs? I’m looking for a new job and would like to take a month off to travel between the two. Given the next job isn’t one that needs to get filled ASAP, and once you factor in 2 weeks notice, is a 1 1/2 months an okay amount of time to ask for before you start?

    1. Graciosa*

      If you have a new job in mind and you have been clearly told that the start date is X date about that far away, then yes, it would be okay. However, if you’re just job searching and don’t know (not hope, know) that the position is not going to be filled promptly, then I would be very hesitant to ask for a start date six weeks away. It does not demonstrate the level of interest in the position or excitement to get started that I would be hoping for if I extended an offer to a candidate.

      If the candidate had another reason for the delay (need to relocate, for example) I would be more understanding – but six weeks delay for amorphous travel would be a turn off. I would be thinking about my second choice candidate who is now looking a lot more enthusiastic (and hence attractive) and who would let me fill the position promptly and get an extra month’s productivity.

      I will add that I have had a candidate who explained that they wanted to take significant time off to attend a family wedding out of the country the following year. Raising this issue was good, but the amount of time (two months, then maybe six weeks would be manageable!?!) was a major turn off. Seriously, you can’t manage with two or three weeks? I moved on.

      You can certainly ask to negotiate your start date (or anything else, for that matter) but think about the message you’re sending and make sure you’re willing to send it.

      This may be turning into another endorsement of Alison’s advice to wait until you have an accepted offer (and start date) before giving notice. If you can’t negotiate the time you want, you can keep your existing job until you find one that will accommodate you.

    2. Joey*

      It all depends on the position. For professional positions I’ve waited that long (although i would have preferred otherwise). For hourly jobs where there are tons of qualified candidates tht can start within two weeks that would be unreasonable to a lot of managers.

  34. Anon*

    Last night I dreamed I was interviewing candidates and they all showed up with bound resume portfolios with cardstock cover sheets and pictures and stories. I kept saying, who told you to do this? I finally grabbed on and said, WHO GAVE YOU THIS? WHAT IS IT FOR!? And sort of ran from the room.

    In real life I am going over applicants for an open position. One does have a color cover sheet with logos from all her prior employers, a headshot and a title like ‘my jubilant career’…

    1. S*

      I hope you didn’t wake up with your heart pounding as if it was going to jump out of your chest! That often happens to me (heart pounding) when I wake up from dreaming!
      I have never had an opportunity to use “jubilant” in a sentence or in conversation. :)
      I hope you are able to find some good candidates for your open position.

    2. anomnomnomimous*

      If you throw in some fun textured fabrics and a part where you pat a fireman on the head, you’d have all the makings of an excellent toddler’s book on your hands.

  35. Anon*

    I report to a direct supervisor and then we both report in to his manager, who works remotely from another state. She’s been with the company about 12 years. A few years ago, there was a restructuring of the department, and people who previously did work A under her (the remote manager) now reported to a different manager in the same department. This made more sense because those people were doing work that the new manager oversaw, not the old one. However, the old manager got all bent out of shape about “her people” being taken away, and she’s never gotten over it.

    I’ve been here a year now and there’s not enough work to keep me busy. I don’t like surfing the web or cleaning my desk multiple times a day. I’ve been asking for more work to do. The manager of work B said she had some ideas of ways our department could better utilize my skills, but unfortunately my manager won’t let me work for manager B in any way. It’s very frustrating as there’s tasks that I could take on that still fall under our department’s umbrella, but instead I’m twiddling my thumbs while everyone under manager B runs around like chickens with their heads cut off.

    Am I justified in being frustrated in the situation, or should I just accept that there’s politics involved and that my manager is just the way she is? Or should I push it above her?

    1. Graciosa*

      Have you tried addressing the issue with your manager? I mean the underlying issue (not enough work to occupy you) without emphasizing the solution your manager dislikes? She may be more open to other ideas to fill your time if they come from you or directly from her rather than the manager of work B.

      Pushing it above her is a no win scenario. You will be entering into the battle between her and the manager of work B on the side of the enemy. This is not something to be done while she has any ability to influence your future or performance at this company.

      You are certainly justified in being frustrated, but you need to think carefully about your response to that frustration. If you cannot work with your manager to ensure your skills are fully utilized in a way that satisfies you in this job, you need to find another one – however, the smart thing to do is to find one outside the company and go work for manager C.

      Good luck.

      1. Anon*

        Oh yes I’ve asked her and my direct supervisor for more work and they both say they’re “working on a list” of stuff for me to do. The VP of the department has also said he’s working on stuff for me to do. In the meantime I’m surfing AAM and Reddit :(

        I’m a very blunt and honest person and I hate politics. That’s probably where most of the frustrating is coming from.

        1. J*

          You should also consider the possibility since you’ve brought this to the attention of your manager(s), there’s a chance you could be laid off. They might decide that they don’t have any more to give you, and the work that you do have can be dispersed among various coworkers. Maybe start updating your resume. Food for thought.

  36. Loquaciousaych*

    Yay! It’s early enough I can give this a shot. My husband and I run a retail business, but I have a “day job” too.

    At my day job, I love my coworkers, the location could NOT be any more convenient (literally 5 minutes away), my bosses are fantastic. The work, as an overall, is fun, interesting and I am well suited to it. However, it is a sales related job, and I am BURNED OUT on sales. It’s absolutely soul crushing to spin my wheels every day to make numbers and I really want a break.

    Other than how much I dislike sales at the moment, I can’t come up with a compelling reason to leave this job because of all the positives I mentioned above. Any advice or words of comfort to a person like myself?

    1. EduStudent*

      Is there a way you can move into a different role with the company, one focused less on sales and more on x, y, or z that you do like?

    2. Graciosa*

      If your bosses are truly fantastic, you should consider having a frank discussion with them. You emphasize all the positives in the work environment and your continued desire to support this wonderful company – however, you are struggling with your role because of X. You can also point out that you are continuing to perform in the role in spite of this (kudos to you) but are concerned about whether or not this is sustainable indefinitely. This is absolutely information I, as a boss, would want to know.

      A good boss will explore with you what other options might be available (transition to other roles, for example) or be candid with you about the fact that they are not. In the latter case, you may need to make the decision whether to continue in this role knowing it is not going to change. Is this what you want to be doing five years from now? It doesn’t sound like it.

      If the role cannot change and you do decide to stay, you need to find a way to do so with a good attitude and continued good performance. You need to find coping techniques that will allow you to retain your sanity and be happy in this role, understanding that you cannot change it and can only change yourself.

      Otherwise, you need to move on.

      If you’re trying to “come up with a compelling reason to leave” you already have one. Disliking the work and needing to do something new is a sufficient reason regardless of the commute or the coworkers. The fact that you’re thinking this way is enough in and of itself. If your bosses really are fantastic, they will understand this.

      Good luck.

  37. Jessica*

    I have a terrible pain and soreness in my right shoulder. I’m positive this is because of my desk set-up because I didn’t have shoulder pain before starting this job and because it stopped recently when I was on a two week break for the holidays. Now that I’m back at work, it has flared up again. I’m at a computer all day and because of the nature of my work, that is not going to change. Any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      The fix could be as simple as changing the height or angle of your chair, or changing out your keyboard for one that’s split and ergonomic. Even a new mouse pad with a wrist rest might help.

    2. fposte*

      A few possibilities: monitor’s too high (head position pinching a nerve in the neck), chair’s too high (back kinetic chain overstretched), mouse/keyboard is too far (overreaching).

      Any of those seem possible?

      1. Jamie*

        For dual or multiple monitors they need to be all equally sized and at the same, proper, height. Otherwise you’re asking for neck pain, eye strain, and migraines.

    3. Kevin*

      Is it comfortable to grip your mouse? Some are better suited for your hand than others

      Is your monitor too low? Getting a monitor stand (cheap alternative, use some books) helped with my back pain.

      1. Jamie*

        Reams of paper – still packaged – work well in a pinch as well. And if you have multiple monitors they will all be the same size to keep it uniform.

    4. Jen in RO*

      No advice, just commiseration. For about a year, whenever I spend too much time at the computer (but only at home), I get this ache in my… back of the head, I guess? The point where the last muscles reach the skull, at the same level at the ears. This ache then turns to the headache from hell. Luckily, I’ve figured out how to make it go away (physical exercise and/or ketoprofen gel), but for the life of me I can’t understand what’s wrong. All this started when I moved and got a new desk, but is the desk too low, is the monitor too high, too low, is the chair set up wrong? Ugghhhh.

    5. Sadsack*

      Does your company have an ergonomics coordinator, or at least some ergo resources? I was once an ergo evaluator for my company and learned a few things due to that experience and my own ergo issues that also caused me shoulder pain and wrist pain.

      Your monitor should be within arms’ reach centered in front of you and the top of the monitor should be at or below eye level. Keyboard should be down close in front of you, within easy reach and centered as if it were your dinner plate. It should be low enough where your arms hang freely at your side and your forearms are near perpendicular with the floor and close to your body when you are in typing position. You shouldn’t be reaching up and outward to be able to type. If your chair has arm rests, they may be getting in the way of your arms hanging freely at your side and your being able to have the keyboard close to you.

      A few years ago when I was having the pain I mentioned above, the solution for me was to have the arms removed from my chair, get a keyboard tray installed so my keyboard would sit low and close enough to me that I wasn’t reaching for it, and I got a keyboard without the number pad attached – the full keyboard was just too long and caused me to have to reach for my mouse, even though it didn’t seem like a long reach, it made a big difference. Not having a number pad was an adjustment, but I noticed immediately after making these three changes that I no longer had pain, so it was worth it.

      Good luck and feel better!

      1. Sadsack*

        In addition – wrist rests on keyboards can actually contribute to discomfort by hindering easy and short reach to the keyboard and causing pressure under the wrist, especially of the mousing hand. The wrists should be hovering in front of the keyboard, not setting on any surface that will eventually cause pressure/pain. If one is needed for the mousing hand, that’s one thing, but keyboard trays with full wrist rests can cause problems.

        Ok, that’s enough of my display of ergonomic power!

      2. Lore*

        If you, like me, are a short person with a large monitor, how do you get the top of it at eye level without cranking the chair up so high your feet don’t touch the ground? (The monitor base is not of adjustable height.)

        1. Sadsack*

          Good question! I guess it depends on what resources you have at your disposal. Why is your monitor so large? Is it one of those crazy large ones? Do you need it that large? If you cannot adjust your desk height, you may need a smaller monitor.

          1. Lore*

            I need to be able to view multiple documents side by side. (In fact, most of my coworkers have larger monitors, and I envy them because mine isn’t quite large enough to do it with both documents at full size–and viewing at 75 percent definitely leads to either inaccurate proofreading or eyestrain, often both). So a smaller monitor is not an effective solution, and the desk is standard cubicle height, so not adjustable down.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve been waking up with mild dull pain in my right hand and some stiffness in the fingers. Early onset arthritis? Carpel tunnel? I’ve been putting off finding out about it. I do type all day long though.

      1. Sadsack*

        If it is your mousing hand, your keyboard may be too long and is causing you to reach for the mouse without realizing it. Doing that all day long will take its toll.

          1. Sadsack*

            Sorry, that sounds like it is the cause, but it is beyond my low level of expertise! Maybe consult an orthopedic who can suggest exercises, wearing a brace, or even just taking more ergo breaks during the day–or a combination of all three.

          2. Natalie*

            I noticed that when I used to play games on my laptop using a track pad. IMO it’s hard to keep your hand in a good position if your mousing with a trackpad a lot, so a peripheral mouse is probably a good idea.

          3. Anonymous*

            Another resource is lessons in The Alexander Technique. FM Alexander developped means to enhance efficiency & freedom in movement of all kinds. Lots of performers use it. Very useful tools to have.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I would really recommend both you and the poster look for a chiropractor before worrying about arthritis or carpel tunnel.

        But ask around, check with friends. And ask the friend WHY they recommend this doctor. Make sure the friend can give specific examples of how the doctor fixed something.

        The trick is to get to the chiro when the problem is young. You don’t want that festering and getting into bigger problems.

        Last spring I could not get lids off of jars. This is so not ME.
        One adjustment on my left wrist and two weeks with a wrap on my right wrist and it is like I went out and got new wrists.

        For the immediate term- increase your water intake. Body weight divided by 2 equals the number of ounces per day
        for water intake. That alone reduces my shoulder pain substantially. (It’s amazing how much pain can be gotten rid of just by getting adequate water.)

      3. littlemoose*

        Carpal tunnel usually presents as tingling in the hand and fingers, but I suppose it could be responsible for your symptoms. I have mild carpal tunnel in one wrist, and wearing a brace at night (bought OTC from Walgreens) helps a lot. That’s usually the first thing to try.

      4. Zelos*

        I’d also look at your typing posture. Cramped laptop keyboards makes my wrists bend laterally and easily makes my wrists, hands, and palms hurt. Also, a lot of people have their wrists bent upwards (wrist extension) slightly when they type. That also gives me wrist pain and elbow pain–it’ll radiate all the way down to my wrists.

        Changing to a full sized keyboard that’s slightly split has made a world of difference for me.

        I’d look into all the ergonomic possibilities (neck, eyes, wrists, sitting posture, et cetera ad nauseum) before thinking about anything more serious.

    7. Jubilance*

      Are you a huncher? Sounds like you are. I went through something similar & wound up fatiguing my trapezius muscle (the muscle that goes over your shoulderblade) on the left side. Muscle relaxants and pain meds helped the initial pain go away, but it still bothers me. When I have too much computer time, the pain in my shoulderblade/upper pain is my first sign that I’m overdoing it.

      Have an ergo evaluation if you can. Try to take breaks – my doctor recommended hourly stretch breaks. And Lifehacker had a post about a month ago about exercises to avoid that type of pain, that might be helpful as well.

    8. Nancypie*

      Do you carry a laptop and assorted other stuff on your right side? I ask because that sounds a lot like pain I had from carrying a ton of stuff in my laptop bag and heavy purse on my left side. I scaled down to a smaller purse and a smaller laptop – problem solved (luckily my manager was willing to pay for the laptop upgrade p).

  38. Wakeen*

    As I was up last night worrying and not sleeping, I was hoping there would be an open thread!

    Last year I had a very good year in my role. I broke a record of billable hours and everyone is very excited about our best year yet. However… I’m afraid there were extenuating circumstances that caused me to be able to do that, and I’m afraid they may not happen again. Our goals are bigger because of it, and I have a lot of attention on me. I’m just really afraid of letting everyone down.

    I’m a hard worker, and I’ll continue to do that of course, but has anyone else felt this way? I just need a way to let myself sleep at night instead of worrying about screwing something up and disappointing my leaders/coworkers.

    1. Graciosa*

      It seems as though you believe you are solely responsible for the performance of a team. You’re not. You need to remember that you are part of a team, and act like it.

      I think there can be a surprising amount of value in simply telling people what you’re thinking. Talk to the rest of your team. Say that you are concerned about meeting the team’s goal this year. Point out the circumstances that led to success last year and admit that you’re worried about them not happening again. Share that you feel responsible for the increase in the goal, and admit that you are afraid you won’t be able to do enough to achieve it. Ask for ideas on how you can – as a team – achieve the new goal this year. You are willing to work hard, but can’t do it alone.

      A team has power and value well beyond that of a collection of individuals. Finding a way to harness that power may begin with simply asking.

      And yes, many other people have felt this way.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Are you letting everyone down or are you giving someone else a chance to be a winner?
      You had a good year- congrats. Don’t turn it into a way to torture yourself. If you make it a habit to worry about coming in first, you will become a person no one wants to be around.

      Why not focus on cheering on everyone else? Or finding ways to help others boost their numbers?
      Take all the worry-energy and turn it into a positive-action energy.

      I used to “give” my sales to new hires. If they worked with me all the way through the sale they got the credit.

      I still had top sales. Basically because I had more hours than anyone else. sigh.
      But I felt good about myself and the job I was doing. And I slept at night. Because I knew that others were doing their best also.

  39. Erin*

    Speaking of crazy/awful interview practices, my best friend worked for teapot loans for four months (quit because all she did all day was make cold calls and it was mentally draining for her). Their interview process though was very questionable. She had referred a friend who showed up for an interview and got there at 9 AM. When she left, at 8 PM, the friend and all other candidates were still sitting there (no interview had taken place yet). Apparently this was a tactic they used to weed out the people who were going to be dedicated to the job.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Was she told the interview would be at 9AM and they didn’t meet with her until 6 or 7PM, or did her interview last all day? Either way, that’s pretty crazy.

      1. Erin*

        I believe they were told that it was a 9 AM interview and nothing else. When my bff was hired she never had to go through this process but told me that it was a “normal” interview practice they would implement whenever they felt like it.

  40. EduStudent*

    If you interview with a company (phone or in-person) and you’re sending a thank-you note, should you cc the person who set up the interview for you? For example, if you interview with Employee A in a company, maybe a mid-career employee, but Employee B, an executive assistant or HR person, set up the interview for you two, should Employee B be included on the thank-you note to Employee A? Or should B get her own thank-you note, or none at all?

    1. Ash*

      Just to the person who interviewed you. The admin plays no role in the hiring decision usually, so really no need.

      1. CorpRecruiter*

        I’m actually going to disagree with this.

        I’d send two thank you notes – one to the Admin/HR Rep, the other to your interviewer. Companies like seeing candidates that treat everyone with respect, and most people don’t send thank-yous to the people who coordinated or set up the interview (doing so is especially important if they set up travel for you). I think a note thanking that employee for scheduling the interviews, especially if everything went smoothly in the interview process, is very appropriate.

        1. Sunflower*

          I agree with this! It’s not a requirement but I think it’s a very nice gesture since admins roles can sometimes be overlooked. Plus it only takes a minute out of day to draft up an email.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I just went on an interview this past week and sent a follow-up email to the interviewer with a CC to the HR person who scheduled the interview. I’ve had some contact with her so I didn’t think it would be wrong to CC her. And my thank you email wasn’t really a “thank you”. It was, “I enjoyed meeting with you”, and confirmed my interest and fit for the job.

  41. AmyNYC*

    I’m looking for reader opinions (and to see if I’m normal!): I’ve been at my job for about 6 months and it’s… fine. My co-workers are friendly, my boss is good, the work is a little boring, but I don’t dread going to work (most days anyway). This isn’t a bad job, but just a meh job. I see some of my co-workers who are totally dedicated and regularly stay until 8 or 9 at night, and I just don’t have that passion or desire to stay past 7. Does anyone else feel this way? Is it ok for a job to just be a job?

    1. RetailManager*

      It’s fine and balanced for a job to just be a job! Just don’t let your super-enthused co-workers catch on. ;)

    2. COT*

      I’m increasingly learning to let my job just be my job (even though I like my job!). I’d rather derive my true happiness and identity from the non-job aspects of my life that are in some ways easier to control. Balance is a good thing!

    3. Sunflower*

      I think it is totally okay but it really depends on how it makes you feel. Do you WANT to be immersed in your work or do you simply think you SHOULD? There are some people who want their work to be their passion and some who just want it to be a job. You just have to decide what is right for you. If you decide you want your job to be just a job then you are probably in the right place. If you want to be in a place where you feel passionate about what you do, then maybe start looking around. Regardless, it never hurts to look at your other options and just because you look, it doesn’t mean you have to leave.

    4. Sharm*

      What it’s taken me long to realize is, a job can be just a job, but if you want promotions and more responsibility, you’ll have to be one of those people. The hard part for me was I was a good student and high achiever, but work to me has always seemed dreadfully boring and simply a means to pay the bills. I think I’m a great worker, and I do work well (and have gotten promotions/big raises to back it up), but quite frankly, I am more interested in pursuing life passions outside of work — dance, the arts, my family, friends, cooking. To me, THAT is life. To others (practically everyone I know, it seems, which makes me feel like the weirdo), work is life. I simply don’t get it, because at 4:59, I am itching to get out and start my real day.

      I will never be a millionaire or have a staff of 200 or a corner office, but I’ve been able to do so much with my time after work — happy hours, dinner, dance performances, taking classes, seeing friends — and I do not regret for a second that that was my choice.

      I am fortunate to not be destitute and have luckily always made enough money to pay my bills. Not enough to be rich, but I’m in a much better position than others. I have learned to really appreciate my position in life. It’s not like most, but Is till get my job done, and I think it’s completely okay.

      You do you!

  42. Anonymous*

    I was nominated by my company to take a class at a local university for management training, an investment in me by my company. My manager nominated me, the president approved it. I learned a lot – and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. The president asked me about it when it first started, and I expressed my gratitude. Since taking the class (it ended early last month) I’ve talked to my direct supervisor about what I’d like to put into practice from what I’ve learned, but I was wondering if it would be appropriate to email the president and thank him and give him a brief (a sentence or two) recap of what I learned and what we’re planning on doing with it? Or is it too late?

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s always delightful to receive a thank you.

      My inclination is to skip the “what I learned” recap and go straight to “I’m excited that it looks like it’ll benefit the company in this upcoming way.” Short and sweet, and if he wants to know more he can ask.

      Is this an ongoing program? If so, part of what you’re doing here is attesting to the value of this program, so it’s not just “Thank you” but also “This is really valuable, and I think the organization will benefit from its continuation.”

  43. the gold digger*

    I am really bothered by this and just want to vent.

    1. My company does not pay out unused PTO. My friend Amy gave her notice a week ago. She has 80 hours of unused PTO that she is just going to lose because she can’t wait to get out of here.

    2. The son of a c0-worker, Melissa, was murdered last week. He was working in a fast-food restaurant and tried to break up a fight among some customers. One of the customers left, returned with a gun, and shot this kid.

    Melissa’s manager asked people to donate PTO to supplement Melissa’s three-day funeral leave. Amy told the manager and the head of HR that Melissa could have Amy’s unused leave.

    HR said nope, not our policy. You lost your PTO when you resigned.

    I suggest that my company could write a new policy that says that any time an employee has a child shot to death that PTO that would be lost by a person who has resigned can be donated to the parent of the dead child.

      1. fposte*

        And it makes me feel all pedantic. Surely she didn’t lose PTO upon tendering her resignation–she would lose it upon actual separation, and she’s not separated yet.

        1. Kevin*

          I’ve known people who were allowed to take their vacation then have their last day. Although you’d have to have the world’s best boss.

    1. Kevin*

      I saw a public university that had a policy of you could donate any time you wanted to a general pool (or specific employee if you chose) for employees dealing with a family situation so that they would not have to use FMLA. If you continue to push for a revamped policy though please don’t say only if a child is shot to death. That takes it from providing compelling facts to emotionally arguing which will give the powers at be less reason to change.

    2. Brett*

      Melissa’s manager, Amy’s manager, and any manager above those two managers should be in HR ripping people’s heads off.
      Because if word of this gets out to other employees, they could be losing more than Amy.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My condolences to your coworker. How profoundly sad.

      Many companies do have “banks” where people can donate their time (or dollar equivalent) to a coworker who is having an extraordinary life event.

      Typically, one would expect to be paid at least their unused vacation time when leaving a company. I see no reason why that cannot be given to the grieving mom. (Actually, if Amy wants her to have it all then perhaps Mom should have it all.)


      This is going to make a lot of employees think, as people slowly realize “no, wait. That could be ME that the company is treating this way.”

  44. the gold digger*

    Gripe #2:

    I just started a new job in another division of my company. I thought being in a cubicle was bad, but then my new boss put me at a desk in the middle of the workspace. From three walls to no walls. He told me he could maybe get a cubicle built for me, but I might like it. At the desk. With no walls. Ten feet from the radio that plays all day long.

    NB My boss has an office with windows and a door.

    1. Natalie*

      I feel ya. We just moved to a sort of cubicle/open hybrid around Thanksgiving and I HATE IT. Doesn’t help that I am sitting next to the office dead weight, whose general incompetence has been bothering me long enough that he’s now in “jerk eating crackers” territory. I had to take a walk yesterday because the 4 conversations going on around my head were driving me batty and making it impossible to concentrate.

      Literally the only saving grace for my job is that it doesn’t require frequent interaction with our clients, so I can wear headphones at least.

      1. the gold digger*

        Yes. I am on a call right now in Spanish. I deal with customers around the world. It’s hard enough having a conversation in a foreign language face to face, it’s even harder on the phone. I don’t need to hear “Tusk” (which I hate anyhow) in the background.

    2. ElizabethWest*

      I saw that article yesterday. We have cube farms, and those are bad enough. If we switched to open office, I’d tell my boss I wanted to go remote. Exjob was open office, but I wouldn’t be able to do this job without walls of some kind, and my headphones.

    3. Jen in RO*

      Is it bad if I think the office in the header image look amazing compared to my ex-job where we only had desks, no separators? :)

  45. khilde*

    I think I need to change my screen name. I have referred hundreds of people to this blog in the last few years through the classes I teach. And when I first started out in this community I never really expected to become a semi-regular (ha, I feel like a schmuck for giving myself a status, but I do really feel part of the group here). So I wasn’t very clever when I originally did my name. But I’ve shared enough identifying information about myself over the years that a person could easily put it together. On the whole, I don’t really mind because I’m not saying anything I wouldn’t share in person to anyone. But still; it’s been weighing on my mind lately that I should try something less identifying.

    The question is – should I just drastically change it and keep the gravatar? I was thinking of keeping the gravatar and subtly changing my name.

    (and I hope no one mistakes this question for arrogance or me thinking I’m so important it requires a lot of discussion on what to do. I’m mostly just curious about how others would handle it; I like to get lots of opinions – which is why I love it here) :)

    1. fposte*

      A cita did a nice transition for similar reasons and kept part of her screen name. I definitely vote for keeping an avatar or something for a bit of continuity.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree – keep the avitar for a while during the transition.

        And if you want suggestions you can always use “Jamie’s Favorite Relationship Person” – but that might be a little specific!

        Seriously though – I cannot tell you how many times I refer to what you taught me about that when I’m aggravated with people and both lessens my annoyance and makes me actively work to relate in a way that works for them.

        I am actually better at my job because of one discussion we had ages ago – don’t tell me this place doesn’t make a difference.

        1. khilde*

          Thanks, Jamie! I’m SO happy to know it helped and so appreciative that you told me. That’s pretty much my life’s mission – to provide useful perspective to others. That concept has helped me immeasurably, too.

          So maybe I should become JFRP? :)

        2. HR Lady*

          Oooh, Jamie, now I’m dying to know what khilde taught you. Would you share it? (even if just in summary form?)

    2. themmases*

      I’ve done this before, although it was earlier in communities, when I started to feel I didn’t want to get too well known as a regular by an identifiable handle. If I were you, I’d change the name to something less identifiable and keep the image. I don’t know about others, but I glance at avatars first to identify a commenter and skim usernames next if they don’t have one. I’ve often been in communities where I don’t know everyone’s name, just because I recognize their username! I’d think that would keep you recognizable to people who know you here. As a bonus, it would keep you from having to make a Google-able “khilde is now anon123” announcement that would defeat the purpose.

      1. themmases*

        *Should be
        “I’ve often been in communities where I don’t know everyone’s name, just because I recognize their *avatar*!”
        Of course!

        1. khilde*

          I knew where you were going with that :) Thanks for the comment – what you said and the reasons you gave were my lines of thinking, too. Nice to have it confirmed.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      It’s odd that we feel like we have a relationship with a picture and a name, but if you change both at the same time, that relationship will have to start over. I agree to keep the gravatar for at least awhile.

      1. khilde*

        I agree! I’m happy I at least have this gravatar. And you know – I just realized that yours is a spider? I always thought it was a palm tree. hahah!!! Well, either way, Thursday – when I see that pic I know it’s you :)

        1. fposte*

          Randomly–there are some avatars that I’d love to see bigger, but they don’t enlarge with a click in my browser. Is there an enlargement trick I’m missing?

          1. hilde*

            I can’t get them to enlarge, either. Which is so odd in our digital world, isn’t it? It seems like a person can click on anything and everything to make it larger or to link to somewhere else.

    4. ChristineSW*

      I’ve changed my username here a few times for various reasons. I like being familiar to those in this community, but I also am a little nervous about others figuring out who I am. I am careful to not put too much identifying information in my comments, but I’ve talked enough about my career interests and challenges that it makes me wonder. And yes, I know I’m in the LinkedIn group, so regulars might recognize me. Oops.

      So long, babbling story short….I like the suggestion to keep the avatar for a bit so that regulars know it’s you.

  46. Decrepit*

    OK, I have a question for everyone. I am a regular reader and occasional commenter, but today I’m posting under an assumed name.
    I ‘ve been reading about the Great Office Gift Dilemna for some time and now have my experience (my husband’s, really) to add.
    Hubby is a senior editor at a regional newspaper, mid -level management, lots of experience and an old-timer in the news biz. The paper was acquired by a group of investors who are bleeding it dry and, that, combined with the general malaise of print publishing, has made the past several years miserable. No raises, no staff, etc.
    Hubby had to work Christmas Eve and of course the goal was to get the hell out ASAP. When he arrived at work, he found out that his name had been entered into the office raffle. I believe this raffle includes all employees- editorial, sales, support.
    You guessed it- he won a big prize. FTR, it was a largish flat-screen TV.
    It was suggested that he return the TV to the prize pool. He did not. He believes that the person who suggested that he return it is the same person who entered his name.
    His reasoning is that if they didn’t want him to win the raffle, they shouldn’t enter his name. Note that he wouldn’t have entered on his own unless he was nagged by upper management or HR. Since times have been tough and he has been one of the very few go-to people in the organization, he feels a bit entitled. I generally agree with him, but have no strong feelings either way unless it’s really egregious(like the manager’s wife winning the iPad.).
    Comments? Opinions?

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        But how senior? I think that’s the crux here.

        I’m director-level (in a world of ED/VP/Sr. Director/Director/Manager/Coordinator). If my organization had raffles (lol), could I accept? Could my boss (a Sr. Director)? Her boss (a VP)? Does it matter that it’s a nonprofit, so nobody is making a ton of money? How about a lead development person, who can easily make more than the ED (I have no idea if that’s the case in my organization; it is not uncommon)?


        1. fposte*

          It would certainly suck to refuse the prize only to have somebody else at your rank get it.

          But there’s a labyrinth here I’m not following. Who chose the names to put in the raffle? Did people know about it in advance and have a chance to opt out? Who is the person who “suggested” he demur, and how publicly was it suggested? I suspect I’m less concerned with that person than the junior staff, who’s probably pretty thoroughly sick of the whole thing if it took place publicly.

    1. Anonymous*

      If it was suggested that he return it in public and he chose not to then I suspect he may have harmed his internal reputation.

  47. Just a Reader*

    I came to a corporate job from a creative agency. It has been nothing short of blissful.

    HOWEVER I’m in a new role that requires me to deal with junior-level people in another organization within my company. We are partners; one does not service the other, nor is one senior to the other.

    One of the people I deal with in this other organization called me up this week to scream at me out of the clear blue sky. I’m making her look bad, my projects are taking too long, etc. etc. etc. I was gobsmacked but kept calm and defused the situation. She also has smeared me to the rest of her team, and her manager.

    Now I’m used to this in an agency setting. It’s not acceptable in this company. I let my manager know what happened and she’s not concerned, BUT–

    This person is now back to LET’S BE SUPER FRIENDLY TO EACH OTHER.

    I just don’t have it in me. I’ll be polite, professional and do great work with the resources her group is providing me. But I’m not going to be friendly. Just cool and polite. Because that’s the best I can muster.

    I tend to hold grudges until the end of time which is not a great personality trait.

    My question is whether, as a rule, there’s any value to clearing the air after something like this? She is very new in her career and may not realize that she just burned a bridge.

    1. RetailManager*

      I don’t think it’s up to you to tell her that behavior is unprofessional! I would let your supervisor know so HR can keep a record of behavior if there is one and then just stay coolly polite.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I already did let my supervisor know.

        This is a giant company and HR doesn’t get involved with something like this.

        I’m not suggesting sitting her down and telling her she was unprofessional. I’m wondering if there’s value to meeting with her and saying, “I know we hit a snag, and i’m hoping to clear the air. How can we make sure things don’t get to a boiling point next time?”

        1. fposte*

          That’s very maturely phrased and I think would be a good way to approach it (though I’d leave out “clear the air,” for the reasons a couple of us have mentioned). Just be ready for the answer to be all about your performance, and be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for out of the conversation–nice as “How can we make sure things don’t get that bad?” sounds, you’re clearly pretty ticked off at her (and legitimately so), and dealing with that may not be the same thing as solution-hunting.

    2. Graciosa*

      It depends a lot on what you mean by clearing the air. There is certainly value in letting her know that her behavior has consequences.

      Done correctly – not to service your grudge, because you’re too professional for that – this is a kindness. Relationships only increase in performance as you move up in an organization, and she obviously does not understand this.

      However, handled incorrectly, she will convince herself you’re making a big deal out of nothing and that she is stuck dealing with the problem (you) rather than being the problem herself.

      Only you can figure out what is more likely in this case. If you can help her, I believe that you should (right thing to do, what goes around, etc.) but you are not her manager and are not obligated to put yourself at further risk to help someone who has tried (fortunately unsuccessfully) to damage your reputation.

    3. fposte*

      Hmm. What do you want to have happen here?

      I’d say this is recent enough that you can still say something, but I’d limit it to a brief “The way you talked to me Tuesday was out of line, and it hurt our professional relationship” kind of comment. However, if you say that and she doesn’t apologize, or defends herself, will you be sorry you mentioned it? If she goes into drama or explanation will you be able to shut the discussion down or will you be drawn into it?

      I guess to me “clearing the air” could fit some exchanges that really won’t help the workplace, and I don’t know that acknowledging the problem will clear the air completely anyway, so I’m not sure that’s the goal.

      So I’m on board if you just want to say that that approach was inadvisable, FYI, get in and get out; I also think cool and polite is fine, and that you don’t have to say anything if you don’t feel like it. I just think you have to be clear-eyed about whether you’re raising the drama curtain and ready to bring that sucker down fast.

      1. Just a Reader*

        I want it not to happen again. The kicker is that the stuff she was so upset about was not late, it was not poorly done, etc. The people who matter were pleased with it and I didn’t miss any deadlines.

        The goal is to have her bring issues (or perceived issues) to me before lighting them on fire, running them up the flagpole and then calling to scream at me. There’s no reason for it to have gotten to a point that it needed a significant triage.

        I’m now bending over backwards to undo some of the damage she did by running her mouth to others instead of having a conversation with me.

        1. Just a Reader*

          Also, I’m 15 years into my career, and just don’t have a lot of patience for this BS. I changed jobs so I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.

          1. fposte*

            Hard to escape the human race, unfortunately.

            If you think you can have a conversation where you can calmly suggest a midpoint check-in to avoid the upset that caused you problems, that might be worth doing. If it would turn into you with arms akimbo saying “Next time, Jane, I would appreciate it if you check with me before shooting your mouth off,” that’s a no-go. So judge according to your own tendencies and what you know of hers whether this would get you farther away from the BS.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      That was similar to how tension between me and a coworker began. The coworker had failed to let our manager know she was taking a day off work for medical appointments (she thought she’d emailed her. Unfortunately, she typed out the email, thought she’d sent it but in fact deleted it by mistake.) Manager visited the site Coworker was meant to be working at that day and went looking for her, only to find her not there. So she rang our office to find out where Coworker was. Again unfortunately, Manager called the office while we had a situation kicking off in reception, and I was away from my desk trying to deal with it and didn’t know Manager had called, and the coworker she spoke to then got pulled into the situation and forgot to mention Manager’s call to me.

      When Coworker called in sick with something else on Monday and Manager asked her where she’d been on Friday, Coworker rang me screaming about why did Manager think she was missing, why didn’t I tell Manager where she was? (Which I would have done had I known, but it wouldn’t have got her out of trouble because Manager would have still wanted to know why she hadn’t been told by Coworker.)

      At the time I let it go, since the medical tests that Coworker took the time off for could well have been playing on her mind, and also since she genuinely believed she had told Manager, of course it was going to come as a shock to her to be confronted over supposedly being missing.

      This may have been a mistake. Coworker holds grudges, and never entirely forgave me for that. I did think afterwards I probably should have tried harded to clear the air, but by that time it seemed silly to bring up something that had happened months earlier.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Grudge vs watching your back. I am not sure where the line is.
      She has proven that she has a “loose cannon” aspect to her personality. I think it is human nature to steer clear of that.

      However, there is nothing wrong with saying “Regarding the events the other day: If you feel the need to be that upset you have waited too long to tell me you are having difficulty. I am not a person who is hard to get along with so there is no need to be upset. Most people here will agree that if they have concerns or issues with my work they can come talk with me in a calm manner and we will work toward a solution. Matter of fact, most of us here work this way. I expect that going forward this is how you and I will handle questions and concerns we may have with each other and there will be no repeats of what happened the other day.”

  48. RetailManager*

    How do you deal with nosy direct reports who think you are slacking off when in fact you are dealing with medical issues? I have hypothyroidism and have been on medication for about 9 months now, but some days I still feel draggy and unenthused. Some aspects of my position require more pep and activity than I am able to give on these days, so I spend my time getting caught up on operational duties and delegation than the ‘lead by example’ mantra my company espouses. My boss is aware of my constraints and backs me up from afar, but my young staff has a really hard time completing their duties if I am not (ugh) micromanaging them (um, and yes, I am looking for another position). They get disgruntled and feel like I’m not ‘pulling my weight,’ even though I’ve told them that my medical issues are not their concern! How can I get my staff to buck up and leave me alone?

    1. Just a Reader*

      Are they saying to you that you’re not pulling your weight?

      I think it’s pretty common for direct reports to not see that managers are doing anything. And you certainly don’t owe them a blow by blow of your day or your medical history.

      However, I think giving them a high-level look at your priorities on a weekly basis would help. There’s no reason not to be transparent about your workload.

    2. Mephyle*

      Can you set goals with them about their working more independently (getting their duties done without the micromanagement, or with less), and be explicit about it (in task terms, not in overall terms) so they know that it is happening? By “task terms” I mean not telling them “let’s have you do your job with less micromanagement”, but frame it in terms of being able to complete task X without having to check the same issues with you each time. It seems like their “concern” about your medical issues should be a separate thing from their needing micromanagement.

  49. CollegeAdmin*

    Does anyone here work in business intelligence and/or data warehousing?

    I’ve started doing a bit of work with Pyramid Analytics doing data analysis, graphs, and dashboards. The head of our research department and our Pyramid training staff apparently keep talking about me – they think I’m really good at it, and one of them is strongly encouraging me to get my master’s and make this a career (instead just a small side part of my admin job). If you work in this field, how did you get started? What is your day-to-day like? What kind of person do you think would be good in this role? What parts of your job do you enjoy, and what do you dislike?

    1. Just a Reader*

      I would actually be researching data scientist roles and qualifications. There are many, many paths to this type of role and many different educational levels and experiences.

      It’s not my role but I work with people who do and cater to these roles.

    2. Brett*

      Like Just a Reader said, many many paths. Of the ones that involve graduate studies, there is a lot of funding and it is very easy to get through grad school without any debt.
      But there is also a lot of writing, the time sink is enormous, and it is very difficult to finish a degree off campus.

    3. Jubilance*

      I work in Business Analytics. I totally came into this career by accident – a friend passed on my resume and the company called me for this role. In my case, I had experience as a lab chemist working in manufacturing, and I was well versed in programs like Access and JMP. I didn’t have a hard transition because I used so much math in my previous career as a chemist.

      What I enjoy: working with the data & learning new things. I do a lot of dashboards, trend reporting, control charting, defining KPIs, etc. I like putting together data sets and learning new things, and then using that data to predict the future (modeling/forecasting).

    4. Windchime*

      I work in BI as a SQL developer/architecht/ETL person (we are a small team). I kind of grew up in the company by first doing database programming and reporting, then SQL and C# programming, and finally joined the new Business Intelligence team when it formed. We are still in the process of building the data warehouse and have not really begun to do a lot of heavy analytics, although that will be coming soon.

      I love it. I have always liked data and love SQL programming, so it’s a good fit for me. The pay is good and the team is great, so for now I am about as happy as I can be.

  50. BN*

    Full disclosure: I am unhappy in my current position as it is not in line with my career goals, the culture is not great, management is not great, and the business has done things that, ethically, do not sit well with me. I am actively searching.

    Recently, employees on one floor in our office are not allowed to work from home, something that was a “once in a blue moon” privilege, because a co-worker complained about another working from home. Employees on other floors, by default as the policy was only made for my floor, are allowed to work from home pending approval from their manager.

    I am effectively wanting someone to tell me to grow up, you’re trying to leave anyways, and just drop it. My rational self knows that eventually I’ll get out of here and I should just let it go; my emotional self wants to stir the pot.

    1. fposte*

      I think you should drop it. You’re not invested enough in the organization to make a calm and thorough case for the value of the occasional work-from-home day, and it sounds like it didn’t happen enough to make a difference to your daily work experience–it just ticks you off because it’s dumb and morale-damaging. It’s a stupid policy, no argument about that, but I don’t think it’s worth your time and energy–turn it to looking elsewhere.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Straw meet camel.

        Yeah, it’s a symptom of the illness but not the illness itself. Probably little things will just keep popping up. I have been there. It’s time to move on.

  51. Tris Prior*

    Recently, sales became a small part of my overall job duties. It was not what I was hired to do originally, and I’m OK at it, but I’m having some, I guess, moral issues with it.

    We sell wants, not needs, and while I believe in our products, I am EXTREMELY frugal myself and feel like most people should probably be paying off their debt or saving for retirement rather than buying the sort of things we sell. This makes it really difficult for me to do things like upsell to customers – it makes me feel dirty and like I am doing them a disservice. I also personally HATE being sold to, and if a salesperson gave me the spiel that I am supposed to give customers, I would immediately leave.

    This is a small enough part of my job, which I otherwise really enjoy, that to me it’s not worth looking elsewhere. I am not commission based and we don’t have quotas or anything like that.

    I’ve read about sales techniques that say things like, you’re not selling, you’re solving a problem your customer has. And I get that intellectually…. but again, I’m frugal personally so I have a hard time seeing the “problem” as an actual problem – in my mind, not being able to afford food is a problem; not having the perfect accessory to wear to a party is not.

    Can someone help me reframe this in my head?

    1. ADE*

      Think of yourself as an educator and an informer and a listener. YOU are not the client and you are not responsible for his or her decision-making; you are responsible for making sure the client is informed about your product. You should see yourself as an expert in your product and a resource for the client to make an informed decision.

      Being “pushy” won’t work. Emphasize building relationships that last beyond the sale. And if the conversation doesn’t close in a sale, if you educate the person, you can at least come away feeling like you could get referrals from this person for future sales.

    2. Colette*

      Well, one thing to remember is that your clients’ budgets are not your problem, and if buying your product is within their means and it will bring them joy, that’s totally legitimate. So you don’t need to pressure them, but at the same time, it’s not your place to stop them from spending their money as they see fit.

    3. fposte*

      I would suck at sales myself. On the other hand, I have been the recipient of sales pitches, including upsells, that I truly did not mind. I have a glorious sheet wardrobe as a result of a truly delightful sales guy in a fancy sheet store, who hit just the right note of adding value to the experience. And you’re not cold-calling, right? These are people who have come to you with interest?

      So I’ll chide you slightly–unless you’re upselling houses, I can of course save for retirement and buy your product as well, and it’s presumptuous to assume your customers are making bad economic decisions and that their interest in your product is inappropriate. I don’t make a ton of money and I save like crazy, so the inessentials I spend money on are carefully chosen. Why would you think your judgment about those choices is better than mine? Unless you’re a total monk or Mustachian, you too have indulgences that other people feel you shouldn’t spend money on–should people stop selling you coffee, or restaurant meals, or iTunes?

      I do think the not-a-salesperson thing can be tough to resolve in its own right, and that may really be what’s at the bottom of this. But if you don’t have metrics or commissions, maybe you can deviate from the spiel and just honestly talk about what you like about the stuff, and even, if it’s true, what you like about the company; you can talk about what satisfied customers have enjoyed. Because if it’s a decent product, you have people who’ve been pleased with it and considered the purchase a good thing. That’s worth respecting, isn’t it?

      1. Tris Prior*

        I actually have recently started following the MMM blog/forums. :) That is probably driving a lot of my bad feelings about this.

        This is all really helpful, thanks! Thinking about this more…. I have absolutely no problem with the people who are, like you said, coming to us with interest and do have a specific “need” (in quotes because it’s not like it’s a life essential or anything.). That makes up a fair amount of our customers, and it’s easy for me to help them.

        I think the problem comes in when we get random walk-ins off the street. We recently opened a retail space and most people who walk in live in the neighborhood, just happened to be walking by, and have no idea who we are. Lately, I suspect they’re only coming in to get out of the weather. It’s even odds that they are not even our customer (not because of income but what we sell is a niche market… trying to keep this vague so that I am not identified)

        Yet I am supposed to sell them something. That’s what I’m finding difficult. I guess talking about what I like about the products is my best option with them; I’ll have to figure out a way to do that that isn’t too sales-y.

        1. fposte*

          If you can, I’d also say that being willing to do disrecommendations, downsells, etc. increases my respect for a salesperson considerably. It really can be a relationship thing and not a product-moving thing, even with people you don’t see again.

        2. BadPlanning*

          Several years ago when I was shopping for furniture, the salesman told me a story about working at a department store that still had an electronics area. A grubby looking older gentlemen in dirty overalls came in and started wandering around, since the staff worked on commission no one wanted him. The salesman drew the short straw and went to help him. He answered all of the customer’s questions, showed him around and in the end made a huge sale. The guy was a farmer, had a bunch of cash and wanted to upgrade his living room. He just couldn’t be bothered to “spruce” up to swing by the store.

          1. ElizabethWest*

            Yeah, you can’t always spot the flush people by what they are wearing!

            If I ever got really rich, I’d love to sashay in jeans into an upscale store that sells something I might want to buy and see who will and who won’t help me (kind of like in Pretty Woman, where she then went to the other store and spent bucks, ha ha).

            1. Tris Prior*

              oh, I totally don’t judge people for how they are dressed! (but yeah, I would love to do the Pretty Woman thing someday once I am a multibillionaire, hahahaha)

            2. TL*

              I’ve done that; I’ve been really grungy in some very nice stores that I couldn’t afford anyway and generally I get treated well, though I don’t buy. It helps that I’m white and young and that my accessories are nicer and my teeth are straight, I think.

    4. BadPlanning*

      Frugal isn’t as black and white as it sounds. Buying $1 flipflops instead of $150 sneakers sounds can sound frugal on paper. You saved $149!! But in reality, a quality pair of $150 sneakers can be a better deal than flipflops. Last longer, better for your feet, etc, etc.

      So your frugal, may not be another’s person frugal. And some people have a wider budget for fun stuff. Sure, they could save it, but maybe they have plenty saved. Then extra stuff they’re buying gives other people jobs and gives them enjoyment.

      Certainly, people make terrible decisions and buy TVs instead of eggs and milk for their kids, but that’s not everyone.

  52. Anne 3*

    Does anyone know of good sources for Sharepoint info? Basically I’m looking for “Sharepoint for Dummies” (now that I think about it, that probably exists)

    I ‘built’ a Sharepoint site for an old manager back in 2012. No coding or fancy development, I just figured out the basics like how to create separate pages, libraries, web elements, whatever.
    He’s recently moved to another location in the company and he’s asked me to explain our Sharepoint to 2 of his new subordinates. I’ll gladly do it, but I’m not exactly a Sharepoint genius or anything, I basically just figured the basics out by intuition/trial and error. So I’m looking for some sort of guide I can give them to back up my less-than-complete explanations. The stuff on the Microsoft site all seems waaaay too advanced.

    1. ChristineSW*

      Basically I’m looking for “Sharepoint for Dummies” (now that I think about it, that probably exists)

      There is a “Dummies” book for just about anything you can think of, so I’d definitely check their catalog first ;)

  53. JMS*

    Hi guys, Happy New Year!

    Quick one from me: I’ve been with my company [in publishing] for more than three years now. While the first two years were great for my career and I really enjoyed them, I’ve decided for a variety of reasons to move on after my contract expires.

    In short, the job I was pitched when I signed a contract [which includes a non-compete] isn’t the job I ended up being placed in. When I raised that issue with people in my hierarchy, they said they had no interest in the position I was promised and that I should just stick it out. I’ve done so for nearly 18 months, despite my disappointment, and the job’s just not one that I would have accepted, or one that’s in all in line with my career goals and trajectory. In fact, while it pays more than my last position, it actually looks like a demotion in terms of position stature and responsibilities.

    On top of that, I work remotely for a supervisor [who has never managed before] who’s routinely incommunicative, does not set clear expectations for success and is unwilling to engage with me about my short-term or long-term goals. No love lost and I’m thankful for the opportunities and achievements I’ve made, but it seems to be time to move on for a variety of reasons and I’m totally OK with that.

    My question’s really about timing. My contract expires in a little more than 100 days. Too early to start applying, or just right?

    1. LMW*

      If you are still looking to stay in publishing, I’d say, start now. It may take awhile, especially since it’s a competitive field.

  54. very anonymous for this*

    Venting about a nasty situation that’s got me skeeved out.
    My partner works for a local office of an international company. Supervisor is a convicted pedophile. He is good buddies with the local sales representative, who is also a convicted pedophile. Indeed, they became friends in court-mandated group counselling, and he may have gotten the job through that connection.
    The line of business has absolutely no contact with children or even a general public, and presumably both have served their sentences and are now behaving appropriately.
    But the story has gone around the small office and morale/ability to work with these people is in the negative numbers. More people are looking for new jobs than not.
    I can’t verify this account independently, but it seems to me that if it’s true, it’s a problem, and if it’s all lies, that’s a different but also major problem.
    If I worked for headquarters, I’d want to be aware of what was going on, and do something to address it. But I’d have no idea where to start.

    1. very anonymous for this*

      oh and to clarify, both men committed non-violent sexual abuse of young teenagers. If that makes it slightly less horrible than it could be, though still pretty horrible.

    2. PEBCAK*

      If both men have paid their debt to society (prison time?), and are complying with the terms of their release, it’s none of your business, and you should get over it.

    3. Sadsack*

      You haven’t provided any details of any bad behavior, other than the obvious history that they have, for which they have been punished and counseled. Is there something new going on there to complain about?

      1. fposte*

        I’m thinking very anon might be saying the problem is the office situation rather than the managers’ possible pasts. (It’s pretty easy to verify registered sex offenders.)

        very anon, before we leap to headquarters, has your partner talked to his supervisor about this?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Check the sex-offender registry first and foremost.

      I think that your partner needs someone outside your office to help out here. HR? Upper management?

      If it’s true, I would probably leave if it were me. But if the rumor is not true then other things need to happen.

  55. just "filling in"*

    Excellent timing for this thread because I’ve run into an issue at the office this morning! So I have been at this very small company (about 15 people in the office every day) for about 2.5 years. There are people who have been here for up to 23 years and there are 2 new hires under me. One has been here for 1.5 years, and the other only for about 3 months. Here’s the issue: the receptionist is out on maternity leave. Whenever the receptionist is out on vacation or sick or whatever, a woman named “patty” sits at the receptionist’s desk and answers the phone. I assumed this is because her office was closest to reception, which would mean minimal movement, aka the logical choice. A few months ago, patty switched offices to one a bit farther away, but is still the go-to person when the receptionist is out. Lately she has been making it blatantly obvious that she does not like to do this. And to be honest, she really isn’t great at it. I don’t know why answering the phone that barely rings is so hard of a concept for her to grasp, but it is. Anyway, another person, lets call him “john” is now in patty’s old office. My personal office is technically the 3rd closest to the reception desk. So it’s reception, john, 3 month person’s office, then mine. So this morning, patty called in sick. Because both her and the reception person are out, I was asked to cover reception. This really isn’t a huge deal… but of course no one enjoys sitting up front out in the open when they could be in the comforts of their own space. Also, the receptionist doesn’t have access to the joint email account that everyone shares (don’t even get me started on this, its WAYYY problematic), which means that I can’t access email, which I very much need to be doing today, so now every so often I have to go back into y office, check emails, respond if necessary, and then return to the reception desk. Anyway, my feeling is that john should be the one to cover reception because A. he is now in the closest office, B. his job does not require access to email and he does not have access to it in his own office, so it wouldn’t bother him to not have it here either. My issue also is that I feel like since he’s a male, and I’m a female, I become the first choice. This seems wrong and discriminatory to me (i know discrimination is a strong word, this is probably the lowest rung on the ladder so to speak…). I have raised these concerns to other people in the office and their response has been “well we (and the boss) don’t think he could handle it.” Excuse me? He can’t handle answering a phone? Why on earth would we be interested in employing someone that can’t even answer a phone? I just feel like it is gender discrimination, and that he’s being rewarded for being bad at his job (and life, if he cant handle answering a phone) by getting to stay in his office, while I’m being punished for being good at my job. Am I justified here? Should I just take the compliment and try to be a team player? Or is this something I should raise with my boss? Any input would be appreciated, thank you in advance!!!!

    1. just "filling in"*

      also, “john” is one of the two people under me and has been here for 1.5 years, so I feel like maybe some level of seniority should come into play here??

      1. Judy*

        Don’t you just log into her computer with your account information? Then wouldn’t you just be able to do at least some of your work from her computer?

        Also, you say that John is “under you” does that mean you supervise him?

    2. S*

      I agree with you regarding the gender thing. I have worked in many offices with the same issues as you mentioned in your office. For today, I recommend that you be a team player and cover the front desk.
      Moving forward, you could suggest that they bring in a temp employee to cover the front desk (if there is money for it) or another idea – Patty, you (or another co-worker) and someone else could take turns covering the front desk. You can all be trained and have a weekly/monthly schedule (maybe even 4 hours per person / day.

    3. Sadsack*

      Why don’t you bring it up to management and suggest a rotation for covering phones, that way everyone does a share of it? It doesn’t make sense to me that the person who sits closest always has to do it.

      1. just "filling in"*

        hanks everyone for your responses!

        A few things: I was a good sport today and just filled in without complaint. The phone barely rang so that was nice, but it was annoying to deal with email.
        And we don’t just log in to our email accounts/computers… we have one email account that everyone shares (yes, i know this is the dumbest thing ever) and you either have access to it or you dont.

        I do not supervise John, he has just been here less time than I have.
        And yes, someone a bit higher up suggested that we do a rotation, especially because this is the beginning of the receptionist’s maternity leave.
        And we don’t have enough work to hire a temp right now.

        Hopefully by Monday this will all be solved. If I’m asked to do it again when patty is gone and I’m the only one asked, I’ll suggest a rotation.

  56. COT*

    I’ve been at my job about 8 months and while I overall like the work and the organization (nonprofit) I’ve finally figured out what keeps me from really being 100% into this place: I’m lonely. My role is a very unique one that doesn’t necessary require much collaboration with others. Most of my time (whose jobs aren’t that related to mine) work offsite, and the other departments here in my building are very siloed. They do their work, I do mine, and despite making several efforts to advertise what I do and how I can be of help to their programs, they don’t really seem interested in working together. Getting to know other people, even on a casual “how’s your day going” basis has been very hard. When I’m not with my clients, I’m mostly working alone in my office. I pretty much fly solo.

    In my last job I worked for a much smaller organization, and while my role was a “lonely” one (not as integrated into a team as the other roles were) we still had a really strong sense of teamwork. I was much more connected to my boss and coworkers, both socially and when it came to collaborating on our work.

    Since I’ve been able to put my finger on the problem, I’ve made a few little steps towards feeling less lonely, like making an effort to chat with folks more at the microwave, copier, etc. But this just isn’t a culture where people put themselves out there by asking for “get to know you” meetings or things like that. And it’s not that I’m looking for friends, anyway. I’m just looking to feel more like part of a team. I get a lot of energy from working collaboratively, bouncing ideas off of other people, etc. If someone here even comes to ask me one question about something I can help with, it makes my week. That’s kind of sad.

    So, any creative suggestions for how I help my work feel a little less siloed and a little more collaborative here?

    1. COT*

      Sorry, this sentence should read, “Most of my TEAM (whose jobs aren’t that related to mine) works offsite, and the other departments here in my building are very siloed.”

      My typo definitely changed the meaning of the paragraph.

    2. LMW*

      I asked a somewhat similar question in last week’s open thread (mine was more “How can I form better relationships with people I can help but don’t work directly with”) – if you search my user name in that forum you might find some tips that can help you too. I haven’t had a chance to put any of them into practice yet. But I know how you feel. My job is very isolated too and it does make it a little lonely/hard to build collaborative relationships.

      1. COT*

        Ah, I missed your question last week. There were indeed some good suggestions in there–things I can put more effort into. Thanks!

    3. Lindsay*

      Aww. I think you just described me as well. It’s hard for me to pinpoint what I don’t like about my job. I work in an open office, with two coworkers and a boss, one coworker is a two-faced gossip, then other I don’t have much in common with (and she’s sometimes condescending bc she’s much older).

      I’m totally lonely too! I’ve got a couple of acquaintances elsewhere in the building that I drop by to chat with, but holy cow this desk job can get me down.

      My only suggestion – maybe try to make lunch dates with friends? I talk on the phone at lunch with my bf (who’s deployed overseas). I also happen to have Skype and Google Hangouts on my computer, so sometimes I chat with people. That helps.

      Sorry you’re lonely! It’s a real problem and it’s rough.

    4. Yup*

      Are there any notably social people in your office? Like ones who really stand out for being more social than the rest of more subdued crowd? If yes and they seem nice, befriend those people — they’ll be able to introduce you to even more like-minded types.

      Decorate your work area with reminders of the people you have in your life — photos of a group of loved ones, the little knickknack from your best friend, a funny card from your aunt. The little visual reminders will help you feel more connected during your workday. Also, if your schedule permits, make breakfast/lunch/afterwork plans with friends or former colleagues near your office. That way, on a bad day you can still pop out to see a friendly face.

      Investigate whether there are any cross-functional projects or teams you can join as part of your work. Even though the people themselves don’t appear very sociable, meeting more colleagues will reduce that feeling of being isolate. Five mini-conversations of low interaction might offset the two medium-level convos you’re currently missing.

  57. AdjunctForNow*

    So, I’m on the academic job market for full-time positions right now. Last month, I had an interview with my first choice university, and they said they really wanted me, but I probably wouldn’t have anything formal until after the semester break (which ends on Monday). In the meantime, two other universities want to fly me out for visits. Obviously I don’t want to act like the first job is a sure thing, but on the other hand, I really don’t want to do all this extra travel if I don’t have to. For now I’m doing my best to just stall, but ugh.

    Also, I don’t know if it’s common in the academic market, but all three places are really upfront about asking me where else I am interviewing and such.

    If anyone has been through this and has any comforting words, I’d appreciate them, even though this isn’t really a question.

    1. fposte*

      Urgh. I hate interview travel, but I think this is a classic example of a situation where you need to keep hunting and avoid considering the waiting job to be “the one.” Depending on how the hiring process there works, the semester break end may just mean that now they can start to schedule the hiring meeting, not that you’ll get an email on Monday.

      I don’t know if we outright ask people about where else they’re interviewing, but we always seem to know, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear you’re getting the question.

      Hang in there! Hopefully #1 will get back to you soon. I don’t suppose any of the other site interviews are in nice sunny places?

      1. AdjunctForNow*

        Yeah, if it were corporate, I would definitely continue on like the first job didn’t exist, but I feel like academia is a little different…like, I might be burning a bridge by taking a trip, knowing that I already have a verbal offer in hand. They’d be spending considerable time and money on me, and my field is small, and they are asking what else I have in the works. I’m not really sure, and being on break still, my adviser happens to be unreachable.

        (Also, on my end, it means missing classes that I teach, which I HATE doing.)

        1. fposte*

          I’m in academia. I don’t know the policies of the school that you’re waiting on, obviously, but department chair =/= guarantee, and it’s common for people to be doing site visits when they’re in consideration elsewhere. Unless you’re absolutely sure you wouldn’t work at the other schools, you’re not wasting their time; what you would be doing is risking your future by leaving yourself out of the running before your race has actually ended.

          Go, kick ass, make good contacts, and leave them eager to partner with you in future work.

    2. Sophia*

      Having interviews at other places – especially offers, benefits you in more ways than one. This is where academia is different than AAM type jobs. You absolutely negotiate and use other offers for leverage. Additionally, often it makes you even more attractive to, in your case, the place you already interviewed. Unless you absolutely wouldn’t take offers at either of the two schools, go on the interviews. Also, faculty have to agree on who is hired, so even if the Chair likes you that doesn’t mean you’ll get the most or an unanimous vote for your hire.

  58. Diet Coke Addict*

    I work for a very small company with 5 employees. Our “HR person” is the boss’s wife, who actually works for a different company entirely and only stops in here once a week or so. She is also quite rude and makes inappropriate remarks sometimes (like telling my pregnant coworker “Now, no more drugs, unless you want baby to be a crack addict!”).

    Is it wildly inappropriate to have this setup? When my coworker mentioned to our boss that she didn’t feel this was a particularly office-appropriate remark, our boss’s defensive response was “I know her really well! She wouldn’t do that!” and as a result, we don’t feel like we have any recourse with issues with the boss OR his wife. Is it just us, or is this very weird?

    1. JoAnna*

      Oh wow, that is eerily similar to the experience I had with one of my very first jobs. Same essential setup – very small company with less than 10 employees, boss’ wife was the office manager. When I told her and my boss I was pregnant with my first child, she asked, “Are you happy about it?” I was thinking, “Um, that’s really none of your business.”

      Plus she tried to stiff me on overtime pay. Her excuse was that her accountant said that since they were a small business, they didn’t have to pay overtime. When I asked her to give me the citation for the labor laws that said that, she didn’t say anything and I got a check for the overtime a few days later.

    2. fposte*

      It’s not weird for a small company to have an arrangement like this, or for a small family-dominated business to have somebody less than ept in a role. (I don’t know if most 5 people organizations even have HR.) Additionally, the organization size means that it’s not big enough to be covered by most federal employment protections, so it’s not like her screwups will get them an EEOC suit. So I’d say it’s counterproductive, but it’s still pretty common.

      Your boss’s wife, however, is weird and unpleasant.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        We’re in Canada, so the laws are slightly different here and the Ministry of Labour is a bit stricter. Still, there are weird things that come up (like we had a power outage in the building, and my boss left but forbade the rest of us to leave, and sent his wife by later that afternoon to check up and make sure we were still there–or last week when the pipes froze and the building had no running water and the boss was unreachable) that would normally be brought up with HR, which is becoming weird and strange and very difficult to deal with.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, labour law and labor law–two very different things :-).

          However, I still think that the weirdness is, unfortunately, not at all unusual for small family-dominated workplaces everywhere. Canada may just frown on it more.

        2. Colette*

          I’m not sure I’d go to HR if the pipes froze or the electricity went out for an extended period. In the first case, I’d be looking for the relevant government agency, and in both I’d be looking for a new job, because good companies don’t expect you to work in that environment.

  59. Elsajeni*

    What would you guys say to a student looking for work who’s conducting his job search badly?

    I work in a staff position at a university. In the last month or so, this student has come by three times, knocking on every door in my hallway to deliver his spiel and drop off copies of his resume. Then, yesterday, he sent another copy of his resume by email — I assume to every staff or faculty email address he could find. I’ve told him:
    — I don’t do any hiring
    — I don’t know of anyone who is hiring right now
    — this office does not hire for the kind of work you’re looking for
    — I cannot help you with this
    and I know other people on my hallway have done the same.

    I sympathize with him — looking for work sucks! — so I don’t just want to tell him to get lost. But he is getting on my nerves, and I’m also worried that he’s shooting himself in the foot — every time he drops by, he increases the likelihood that I’ll remember him as a guy who can’t take no for an answer, doesn’t have the skills or the savvy to target his job search, and is generally kind of a rude, pushy pain in the neck. I’m torn between wanting to give him some advice and just wanting to get rid of him.

    1. fposte*

      Can you split the difference? Email him back saying “As I’ve told you before, I don’t hire and shouldn’t be getting these from you. If you’d like some guidance on job-hunting, I highly recommend Ask a Manager–here are some good links.”

      Then you’ve done a noble deed, helped a man to fish, and put your foot in his rear all in one go.

    2. Kevin*

      I second send him here!

      Also tell him this is hurting his chances if any department were hiring as he’s going to ruin any opinion people have of him.

  60. ElizabethWest*

    Gah! 300 comments already. I’ll have to come back later and wade through everything.

    School starts next week and I already have homework. Blargh! My boss got them to approve my tuition reimbursement even though I’m shy of my anniversary date. Yay–or so I though, until I saw all the work I’m going to have to do. And my second online class hasn’t even been posted yet. >_<

    I made a schedule for a paper my first semester, so maybe I'll try that and see if it helps me stay on top of everything. As far as my life, I'm just trying to tell myself that the tuition stuff is a Yes, and maybe the Universe is on a Yes track so that other stuff may get a Yes soon too. *pleasepleasepleaseplease*

    Off-my-topic, but anyone watching US Nationals skating right now? My friend Gracie Gold is first after the short program–she could win! If she medals, and especially if she wins the championship, she's going to Sochi!!!

  61. Calla*

    I work full-time and am about to (next week! D:) go back to school full-time as well, though it’s not a huge load. I’ll be taking 3 hours of evening classes 3 days a week (6-9pm Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). I’m excited but also terrified of how exhausted I’m going to be. I’m sure other folks here have done this, so — any tips?

    1. LMW*

      Oh, I know someone has asked this before and there were some really great tips – but I can’t find it!

    2. Lindsay*

      That’s a lot! I would just say to keep careful track of what’s due, and have really low expectations for what you’re going to accomplish the days you have class. That is – let your house go to hell and run your errands on days you have more time. Be realistic about what you have time for and don’t overextend yourself! Good luck!

      1. Windchime*

        Yep, this. I worked full-time, had shared custody of my kids, and went to school (10 – 15 credits per semester) for several years. We ate a lot of crock-pot meals and I did homework into the week hours of the night many, many nights. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, career-wise, and I’m not sorry a bit.

        But yeah, the house looked bad. We had clean clothes and meals, and that was about it.

    3. ElizabethWest*

      Make a schedule sheet or something and put your assignment due dates in it. Keep it where you’ll see it and can access it regularly. When something gets assigned, put it right in there. You can use a spreadsheet, like mine, or get an academic planner if you like to write stuff on paper. The school bookstore should have those.

      I made a weekly schedule for a class project, but I’m going to use it now. It incorporates homework hours, writing/blogging/platform hours, and hours for any deadline-type work at certain times during the week. Since I will also have two novel critiques coming back soon, I’ll probably need to tweak it a bit.

      The only other advice I have is just stay on top of your assignments, especially reading. That can take up a lot of time and it’s easy to get behind. Good luck!!

    4. FRRibs*

      Did that for seven years. Two pots of coffee a day, and catch up on sleep on weekends.

      Also, the sound of your head hitting the cinderblock wall behind you is very amusing to your classmates.

  62. TT*

    Last week I followed up via email with a hiring manager who’d hoped to make a hiring decision by the end of the year. She called me Friday (the next day) to let me know there’d been a delay with HR and that she would contact me next week (this week) and that I was most definitely still being considered. She apologized for the delay and said we’d speak this week. On Monday I had an interview for another job. Yesterday I got an offer for a second interview with this new opportunity. I’m wondering if I should follow up with the hiring manager for job #1 to let her know and ask (again) about the timeline as I feel a bit bad about committing to a second interview if I receive an offer from job #1. Keep in mind that I’ve already had to contact job #1 about another offer (which I turned down) so I don’t know if it’s a good idea to play a similar card. Any advice? if I do contact job #1 today, if I don’t hear from her first, what would I say? Thanks!

    1. Colette*

      I wouldn’t contact her. The week isn’t up yet, and you don’t have another offer. Also, even if you get an offer from job #1 doesn’t mean you’ll accept it.

    2. fposte*

      Agreed with Colette. If you get an offer from #2 and are considering it against #1, that’s the time to contact #1. Until then, #2 isn’t worth talking to #1 about.

        1. fposte*

          Not this week. And if you’re in any weather-affected area I wouldn’t call until the end of next week. Actually, that’s probably true across the board.

  63. JoAnna*

    Happy news! With the help of AAM’s advice re: cover letters and interviewing, my husband landed a job as a software programmer. (He’s been doing tech support essentially his entire career, but has dreamed of being a programmer since he was twelve. He [finally] earned his B.S. in IT/software engineering in November 2012 and has been trying to find a software programmer position since then.) He starts on Monday! Thanks, Alison!

  64. thenoiseinspace*

    A bit late, but since I missed the earlier holiday threads, did everyone have a good holiday?

    Mine was very emotional: my grandmother died just before Christmas, so we spent most of the holiday arranging the funeral, etc, but on the bright side, my cousin adopted a little girl from China! She’s two years old, her favorite things are eating and smiling, and she’s adorable. :) I probably won’t meet her in person for several months so right now I’m relying on Instagram. Yay for cute new family members!

    1. khilde*

      Sorry to hear about your grandma. But wonderful news about the new baby!

      I know this isn’t exactly the same, but your story made me think of it (one family member passing; another one joining): A few days after we brought my firstborn home from the hospital, our family pet got sick and we had to decide to put him down. I was an emotional wreck from the hormones anyway, but I was just heartbroken over our dog. My brother told me something that was very comforting and that I have thought of often. He said that God took one angel and gave us another. Or something to that effect. For me, that worked. Your situation made me think of that again. Enjoy her – they are such treasures. :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I really think there is something to that. My cousin got a kitten after her father died. That cat was with her for years (17?). The cat died a week or so before her baby girl was born.

        Like the cat knew she had done her job here and all would be well.

        1. Windchime*

          Here is a little story about angels and cats. My mom had an old, old cat who was very feeble. Sadly, kitty strayed too far from the house and disappeared, never to be seen again (we suspect a nasty raccoon that was hanging around). Mom was heartbroken and felt so sad and guilty.

          4 weeks later, Mom saw a calico cat rolling around in the driveway, then it got up and ran off. She went outside to see what was going on, and found a tiny, tiny newborn kitten in the driveway. The calico had given birth to the kitten in the driveway, then ran off and left it. Mom rushed the infant to the vet, they cleaned it up and showed her how to bottle feed it, and she raised the newborn kitten into a big, sleek black tomcat that she still has today. We are all convinced that it was the universe’s way of letting Mom know that she wasn’t to blame for Old Kitty’s disappearance.

    2. Anon*

      I’m sorry for your loss, we suffered a family loss too. It was up and down for me for various reasons (I got engaged, no one seems to care, parents included…finally got to meet a childhood friend’s children, we had a blast!).

      Yay for bright spots in dark times. Hope the new year brings you good things.

    3. ElizabethWest*

      Aww, I’m so sorry you lost your grandmother. *hug* Yay for the baby, though.

      Mine was meh, but I got to spend time with family and see my great-niece (9 months old), whom I had not met yet. I’m just really glad it’s over, though.

    4. ChristineSW*

      So sorry for your family’s loss :( but yay for your cousin!

      My holidays were quiet and low-key, just the way I like it :) (Although Christmas Eve we were at an aunt’s new house, and there were about a thousand small kids running around…I thought I was either going to fall or knock one over!!)

  65. NBB*

    Accountants: What sort of JE backup is required at your workplace? I am currently at a small company and we don’t have any procedures for JE’s , the accountants just enter them as needed. We need to put some procedures into place to fix this. I propose that backup consists of the JE itself, and then the ledgers, emails, or whatever originating documents, as well as a short typed reason for the JE, like “To accrue for December Utility Bills.” All this would get scanned and saved in a shared drive for easy access to controllers and auditors.

    But I am wondering what JE procedures others have, and whether they find them helpful or cumbersome. Thanks!

    1. Jamie*

      Not an accountant – but part of my wheelhouse is cost accounting and I can tell you how we do it here.

      Our accounting is done in our ERP and I set it where you cannot make a JE without noting something in the reference field. Our procedure requires a brief description and initials in this field.

      I.e. if I were making one to correct inventory valuation: INV VAL JKM. (Of course even without initials I can trace who created the JE and batch, but this makes it easy for our accountants to see it without going through me.)

      And any JE out of the ordinary (an adjusting entry, etc.) we have to shoot an email to the accountants with an explanation. And if they have any questions I can generate any relevant audit trails out of the system.

      Our whole system is backed up nightly so we don’t do a separate back up for JEs – but you absolutely should have all your accounting transactions backed up and able to be recovered in case of a crash because as you know, auditors don’t care about your technical difficulties.

      Another thing that’s important for us is access is on a need to have basis. Very few people in our org even have access to make JEs and even fewer permissions to create adjusting JEs – some can only do automated entries through routine batch transactions.

      Transparency and backup – and you’re company is lucky to have someone like you thinking about these things. Some don’t worry until it’s too late.

      Not to mention lack of transparency makes things look questionable when they aren’t – so why annoy the auditors if everything is on the up and up?

  66. girasol*

    How do you guys handle the effects of insomnia at work, especially when it’s a longer phase of several sleepless (and very distressing!) nights?

    My job requires a lot of deadline-driven writing, which I have a very hard time doing with the insomnia “hangover”/brain fog. So on nights after a spell of insomnia, I get extra anxious about sleeping because I know I need to get a good chunk of quality, thoughtful writing done the next day – yet I don’t know if I’ll sleep!

    1. CorpRecruiter*

      I also have chronic insomnia, and it’s awful.

      I’d give your manager a heads up. I’d just mention it and let him/her know that you’re working to resolve it. That way, if your manager sees changes in your work or you look like you’re in a fog, they know why.

      Also – and I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times – give melatonin a try. People have been giving me that advice for years and I’d always brushed it off since it’s not scientifically proven to help sleep. That being said, after trying prescriptions that leave me groggy, relaxation techniques that don’t work, limiting screen time, etc., I gave melatonin a try last week. I’ve slept well every night since I started taking it. I don’t care if it’s the placebo effect – it seems to work for me!

      1. ElizabethWest*

        Hmm, I may have to try that. The placebo effect doesn’t always work on me; I tried the glucosamine/chondroitin crap, and it did NOTHING, even though I expected it to. And Unisom makes me hung over.

        1. fposte*

          Which Unisom product? Apparently they make both doxylamine and diphenhydramine sleep aids. Diphenhydramine (which you may know as Benadryl) has a somewhat shorter action; I also find that despite the “take two” recommendation, one works just fine for me.

          So you might try that again if you went with the doxylamine.

          1. ElizabethWest*

            Diphenhydramine, the Walmart generic, actually. I can’t take two and function the next day; it’s like a hangover. One will get me to sleep. But I only take it when I can sleep for at least six hours (preferably seven). Otherwise, I’m still a little groggy.

        2. Headachey*

          Melatonin alone isn’t enough for me, but with trazodone (an ancient antidepressent that’s almost exclusively prescribed as a sleep-aid nowadays) 30-60 minutes before bedtime I usually fall asleep with no trouble, and it seems to help with falling back to sleep when I wake during the night. I also noticed that starting thyroid replacement for subclinical hypothyroidism reduced the number of times I wake up, so worth checking if there are any other thyroid symptoms.

      2. Windchime*

        I take melatonin regularly, as well. I heard something interesting this week but I have no idea how accurate it is. Melatonin helps you fall asleep, but Valerian root will help you *stay* asleep. I used to take valerian root years ago but I totally forgot about it, so I think I will give it a try. I’m frequently up until 1 or 2 AM. Tonight might be one of those nights, because I drank a GIANT diet coke at 1 PM.

    2. Malissa*

      Seriously, insomnia is nothing to mess with. Get a prescription, try melatonin, don’t drink caffeine after work, try something! Make sleep a priority.
      And nothing ruins sleep worse than worrying that you’ll not get enough. That ride is no fun. I got off of it by taking ambien.

      1. Girasol*

        Thanks everyone! I’ve tried Ambien before with so-so results, but I could definitely try it again. I remember even having it on hand was psychologically reassuring. And thanks for the melatonin reminder – that’s good for insomnia when I’m less intensely anxious about sleeping. I’ll revisit that for sure.

  67. OfficeBullyUpdate*

    Guess who doesn’t have to work (directly) with the Office Bully for four weeks? Oh, and karma apparently does work.

    Earlier this week, we had a pipe burst in our main building where the bully works in the basement (and I work when I am in that office). The ceiling above the bully’s desk collapsed and dropped a ton of water all over his workspace. Books, computer, notes, everything. He is going to be working from home for a while until environmental gives the clear for that space to be occupied again.

    Meanwhile my desk and computer at that location? Untouched :)
    As extra karma, he found out about two days that the solution he claimed I supported (when I objected to it) is not going to work and he has to rework everything… on his own working from home now.

      1. OfficeBullyUpdate*

        Unfortunately no. The first big leak happened in a different part of the building so everyone was out of that area already. Believe me, there would be pictures from every other employee in that office if it had actually broken open over his head.

        1. fposte*

          I totally get the joy of comeuppance, but my logical brain has difficulty with this interpretation of “karma.” If that bad thing happened to him because he was mean, wouldn’t that mean that the bad things he did to somebody else were also because they deserved it as a result of their karma, and that we’ve earned everything we suffer? (Which I know some people do believe, even if it’s that we earned it in a past life, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm.)

          1. ElizabethWest*

            Maybe. Hmm. Perhaps.

            However, I also see it as when someone gets something in the only way they can–when it happens to them. There are just some things you can’t understand until you are in that person’s shoes and feeling their feels. That may not be entirely accurate as to its true meaning, though.

          2. NoIt So NewReader*

            Karma is handy because it’s a Great Equalizer. The playing field gets leveled.

            I am not so sure about this boomerang called karma.

            But I do believe that our actions have far greater impact than we understand. Other people’s mistakes, errors in judgment, ignorance, whatever goes out in a ripple effect somehow. We are more interconnected that we realize.
            Used to be everyone in the world was seven degrees of relationship apart? Now we are down to six degrees?

            Bad things happen to good people all the time.

            What is the saying in the East? A butterfly flaps its wings in China and an earthquake occurs in the Western Hemisphere. (Very badly quoted, sorry.) Just because we fail to see the connection does not mean the connection does not exist.

            Somebody could have done a shoddy job on that pipe and after some time it finally burst. Bully Dude just happens to have his desk there.

            And, of course, it makes a great story.

            1. OfficeBullyUpdate*

              I was actually thinking about this…
              If Office Bully was not such a massive jerk to everyone who deigns to interrupt his important work, maybe the person who first spotted the leak might have come over there to tell people about it. Maybe someone would have helped him move his books and equipment out of the way immediately. Or, maybe I would have been working there that day; when I am working there, I walk back and forth through the area where the first leak developed.
              Being the Office Bully does mean that when bad things start happening that need cooperation for mitigation, no one cooperates with you. The frozen pipe busting was bad. His lost time on the project that is in danger of failing but he won’t listen to anyone could be much worse.

  68. Nonprofit Office Manager*

    Our directors recently scheduled an all-team meeting to tell everyone that “if we don’t like a decision that has been made, or if we don’t understand why an action has been taken” it’s because there are other factors in play that we don’t know about and that we should just “trust them”. I get the feeling that this meeting was called because our board recently conducted an anonymous staff survey about the directors and the directors didn’t like what was said. While I don’t expect to be kept in the loop about all the ins and outs of director decision-making, it feels insulting to be so explicitly told to blindly trust them. I try to form assessments of my coworkers based on their actions more than their words. As they say, talk is cheap. Am I overreacting here?

    1. fposte*

      Depends. (Isn’t that helpful?) I agree with what seems to be their point–that decisions will be made based on information that you won’t necessarily have, and that you should accept that these are good decisions that you don’t entirely have the backstory on rather than assuming they’re a mistake.

      On the other hand, I think that nobody in history has ever trusted anybody because of being told to, and it sounds like they did not convey their point very well. Your actions vs. words point seems legitimate to me, and the generalness of their comment is very “some people seem to think”-ish.

      So I’d say you’re right that it wasn’t handled great, but I also think you should take the underlying point and apply it here by saying “Okay, I get what they meant, and I’ll let the impaired delivery go.”

      1. Nonprofit Office Manager*

        “Okay, I get what they meant, and I’ll let the impaired delivery go.”

        This was soothing—thanks :) I admit I sometimes have trouble letting things go …

    2. Graciosa*

      I’d be a little ticked off about this one myself. This was a stupid thing to say. Sometimes there are other factors in play that cannot be shared, but not always. Sometimes management exercises their right to overrule someone lower in the chain of command with no secrets involved.

      A good manager is making these decisions clear as they happen. If I’m overruling someone, I will usually try to give a little guidance along the lines of “I’ve heard what you had to say, but I think we need to give more weight to factor X so this is what we’re going to do.” I have also done the “You may not be aware of factor Y which means that we need to proceed in this way.” This gives your subordinates some insight into your decision making, which should be a good thing.

      Hopefully, the senior person has better judgment or information that the more junior team members want to acquire. Even if they don’t agree, knowing what I’m thinking, worried about, and looking for will help all of us in the long run.

      If you’ve built up a good store house of these experiences, people will accept an occasional flat directive without explanation. These should be reserved for real situations when you honestly can’t share confidential details. I will add that I have been known to provide retroactive explanations when the need for confidentiality has passed – again, managers need to communicate.

      It sounds like yours want to do the equivalent of parenting by “Because I said so” as a general rule, which I too would regard as insulting. It also demonstrates a glaring lack of maturity in dealing with the underlying problem, which seems to be that employees are concerned about certain decisions that they don’t understand. I think this calls for more communication rather than less.

      I hesitated to post this after fposte got you settled down – and I actually agree that letting it go is the right thing to do here because there’s no point in stressing too much over this – but I think I had trouble letting it go without at least telling you that I agree that you have cause for your reaction. ;-)

  69. Anon for this*

    I would love someone to explain to me the mindset of a no-call, no show in middle management.

    Someone seen as valuable to the company, a manager, a very specific and important wheelhouse, but twice gets written up for no-call no show within months. Once with no excuse except wasn’t feeling well and forgot to call in, the second time told one member of management that he was sick and another that it was car trouble and just forgot to call in.. Couldn’t even be bothered to maintain the same lie.

    Who forgets to call in or notify someone? You’re expected, people have to cover for you and manage your department, wtf?

    I get the no-call no shows for temps, entry level, etc. Maybe they don’t know how big a deal that is, maybe they don’t care about the job – but a long time employee who is in a position of responsibility and being groomed for more, which is now in question because clearly responsibility is an issue?

    Has anyone ever figured out why people do this? If you’re going to blow off work why not just call in sick because it wouldn’t have even been questioned.

    1. Colette*

      I can see it if you’re sick to the point where you don’t know what time it is / are unable to call in. Yes, you should still make the effort if you can, but there’s a wide variation in short-term illnesses that can keep you from working.

      But in this case, it seems like she just doesn’t care enough to call in.

      1. fposte*

        Or has other problems going on that she doesn’t want to state–depression, substance abuse, relative with similar problems, etc. Not saying that they get her off the hook at all, but I think the multiple excuses thing is pretty common when somebody’s trying to avoid saying something scary and true.

        1. Anon for this*

          I should have mentioned he told enough people the real reasons when he got back that it got back to management – once was to take a personal day because kid was home from school and another he was out of town visiting long distance partner.

          And he admitted his flight wasn’t even due back until he’d missed two days the second time so he knew when he booked the tickets he’d be missing work unexcused – and still didn’t call in sick.

          It’s just weird because he had a couple very high ranking people in his corner mentoring him and his trajectory was something you don’t see everyday and the people who were in his corner are not taking this well. It’s just like self-sabotage for no reason.

          I’m not advocating lying or calling in sick when you’re booking flights out of town, but if he’d done that and kept his mouth shut he’d have been clear.

          I don’t get it.

          1. ElizabethWest*

            It’s just like self-sabotage for no reason.

            No, there has to be a reason. Maybe he doesn’t really want the trajectory and isn’t brave enough to say so, leave, etc.

          2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

            Maybe he doesn’t want to be being groomed? After about a year of working at a PR firm as an admin assistant, people started giving me project work. For a while, I thought “Huh. We must be understaffed.” As I kept getting handed more and more client work, though, I asked my boss if my job description had changed. I was informed that senior management “saw something in me” and wanted to slowly transition me to project work. I was like “What? No! I don’t want to work with clients!” Like ElizabethWest said, I think he is too scared to quit and is consciously or unconsciously hoping to get fired.

        2. Colette*

          That’s a good point.

          In my mind, I was picturing one of the people we sometimes see here who see their manager/company as an adversary, and who’d “show them” by not calling in, but there are many other possibilities.

    2. JoAnna*

      My guess is a substance abuse and/or mental illness issue that’s gotten bad to the point that it’s affecting his attendance.

    3. Mephyle*

      There’s a whole subset of people who believe (or maybe life has taught them) “I tell the truth” = “I get into trouble”. It’s so ingrained that they avoid telling the truth even when it’s the path that would get them into no trouble or the least trouble. It’s like they have a mindblock against telling the truth, not just at work, but with relationships and anything else in their life.

    4. Windchime*

      One of my coworkers was sick last week. We knew on Tuesday that she wasn’t feeling well. Wednesday comes and “Susie” didn’t show up, and no email. Hmmmm. But we knew she was sick, and decided that she just told the boss and not us. On Thursday, Susie forwarded the email that she sent to the team (but somehow none of us received) and said she was taking another sick day.

      Because I know Susie and her work ethic, I believe this was a simple email glitch and I know she was truly sick. I don’t know if I have ever experienced a coworker just plain ditching work and not telling anyone, though.

  70. TRB*

    Anyone have suggestions of jobs in the advertising/marketing/pr world where you can work from home or freelance that are not creative type jobs? I’m on the project management and planning side not the graphic designer or development side.

    1. Mephyle*

      A freelance agent who can call on a list of freelance creative people in the field. Clients don’t have to bother with finding the creative team or managing the project, you do all that.

  71. Eric*

    No one will probably read this, but…

    I have a last name that is pronounced non-intuitively, and worse, it’s the type of last name that has an obvious (but wrong) pronunciation. My boss always mispronounces it when she introduces me. It wasn’t a big deal before, but now that I’m a higher level position, I’m being included in more meetings and generally just meeting more people. So… any way to politely tell her she’s pronouncing my name wrong? I can’t do it in the moment because there are always other people around.

    1. fposte*

      Two possibilities–focus on informing the other people rather than correcting her (when shaking their hands, say “Hi, Jane Donahee” after your boss has said “Jane Donagee”), or touch base with her either when you’re prepping for a meeting or just before the meeting.

      Another possibility is letting it go. If it’s hugely confusing on a Luxuryyacht/Throatwarblermangrove way that’s not as good an option, but if it really is more like Donagee/Donahee people aren’t going reliably to get it the way you want even if you are introduced correctly, and it won’t preclude people from knowing who you are.

      1. Jamie*

        I’m in the let it go camp, myself, although I know this is more important to some people.

        My maiden name is ethnic has an unintuitive pronunciation which varies a little even amongst my siblings and myself – so if people were close I didn’t care.

        My married name does have an intuitive pronunciation since my husband’s family dropped an extra Z a few years ago that trips everyone up – but people still get it wrong. My own husband juxtaposes the 2nd and 3rd letter so he’s technically saying it wrong, but he doesn’t hear it and thinks he says it like I do…but he’d wrong.

        I did have someone once tell me it was both spelled and pronounced in correctly, because it should have the dropped Z still in there and in Polish that combo is pronounced wildly differently than we do.

        Thing is I wasn’t alive when my husband’s great-grandparents changed the spelling, it’s not the name of my family of origin, and I don’t speak Polish so the pronunciation that is “proper” I am incapable of saying correctly even if I wanted to.

        I just told said critic to call my husband and lodge a complaint…and he laughed and said I was cute. Scathing sarcasm scoots right over the top of the heads of some people.

        But I learned a long time ago that no matter how intuitive a name is pronounced if it’s slavic, ends in ski or other suffix indicative of YIKES look at all those consonants, and has more than 5 letters people will consider it unpronounceable and give up.

        As long as it’s close enough to know they mean me I don’t care.

        1. athek*

          I’m a +1 here.
          I grew up with a long, hard to pronounce Polish name and traded it for a long, hard to pronounce German name. My maiden name has multiple pronounciations (I knew another family with the same surname that pronounced it differently). It just doesn’t bother me. Some people ask me if they got it right, and since they never do, I always tell them so and correct them. I realize that it’s harder when it’s a manager that should know how to pronounce my name, especially when introducing me, but I’ve just also met people who will never get it right. I’ve known people who just screw up every name but Smith or Jones.
          I think it’s ok to mention privately (“I noticed you’ve been introducing me as ____, but it’s actually ____. Just thought you might like to know!”), but other than that, I don’t know that you’ll really be able to inflict much change.

      2. Eric*

        I might just let it go–I work for a radio station and sometimes they do a staff weekend segment, which I was on once. The host asked me three times how I pronounced my last name AND repeated it back to me–when I heard the segment on air the next day… he said my last name wrong.

        1. Jen in RO*

          I tried to figure out your name from the signature on your website and for the life of me I can’t tell what it is! Gah!

          On topic, I would hate that too. I would introduce myself like fposte suggested. I don’t know if it will work, but who knows. I used to be in conference calls with coworkers from other countries and it went something like:
          CW: Hi, who joined? Is that you, Jane?
          Me: Yes, this is Jen.
          CW: Oh, OK Jane, thanks for joining.
          Me: /facepalm
          At least they had the excuse of a mother tongue that was wildly different from mine :)

          1. Eric*

            “I tried to figure out your name from the signature on your website and for the life of me I can’t tell what it is! Gah!”

            My plan is working! Mwahahahaha! :)

          2. Jamie*

            First name I would totally correct.

            I wouldn’t let someone call me Janie, or Amy….perfectly fine names, but not mine. That would get a correction every time.

    2. 80% Normal*

      In person, tell her “Just to be clear my last name looks like it should be pronounced COL-BERT but it’s really pronounced COLL-BERR.
      I have a long Italian last name that is constantly spoken wrong and I correct it for people I meet for the first time EVERY DAY, for my own sanity.

        1. Windchime*

          I have a first name that is commonly spelled and pronounced slightly different (think “Susan” vs “Suzanne”) and a German last name that is short, but can be spelled 4 or 5 different ways with D’s and T’s intermingled. I’m constantly spelling my name for people. But it could be worse; I used to know a girl whose last name was Schachtschneider.

  72. Ann O'Nemity*

    My group got a new boss this year, and unfortunately she’s a micromanager and a bottleneck. She requires that we seek pre-approval for almost every decision. This is a big change – our previous manager expected us to be autonomous, and we were encouraged to take ownership and initiative. Since the change, our numbers have nosedived and we’re doing far worse.

    The boss’s boss (big boss) told all of us – including our boss – that the micromanagement has to stop because we cannot afford these delays. He also praised us for our track record of being high-performers.

    Despite this, our direct boss really hasn’t changed. She still requests pre-approval, and now she asked that we don’t attribute any delays to her. Meanwhile, the big boss has started assigning us work directly and asked us *not* to loop in our boss at all. Needless to say, we feel like we’re stuck in the middle.

    Any advice for navigating this minefield?

    1. LV*

      My former job was like that and we weren’t able to do anything about it – luckily I was only there on a year-long contract.

      I remember one particularly bad incident. Bob from another department asked Jake in my group to do XYZ because it would really help Bob’s team streamline their work process. Jake was happy to do it and didn’t think it would take more than an afternoon’s work. When he ran it past Bottleneck Boss, she said he would have to submit a detailed work plan including a timeline, budget, etc and that after she reviewed the work plan, she would submit it to the head of Corporate Services (her boss’ boss) to get final approval.

      Never mind that the work in question would take 3-4 hours at most and that the head of CS is the one who had suggested to Bob in the first place that Jake could help him with this…

      So Jake submitted the work plan and Bottleneck Boss sat on it for weeks because she just “didn’t have the time” to look at it. She would have had the time if she didn’t waste so much of it being a crazy micromanager… In the end the project only got done because the head of CS stepped in and told Jake to just do it and never mind Bottleneck Boss.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks for sharing the story. The situation sounds really similar. Glad you were able to escape!

    2. Yup*

      Oy. I don’t like the sound of the power battle that’s brewing. The big boss shouldn’t being doing an end run around your supervisor, and the supervisor should NOT be instructing people to she’s not the delay when she is.

      But in any case, your question about the actual work — is there any value in your team sitting down with the boss and going through the standard op procedures? I’m wondering if her micromanaging ways are worsened because she’s new and doesn’t have a great handle on the ground-level details. If that’s the case, then walking through the most common work stream scenarios (and maybe even creating a process map or an FAQs for everyone’s reference) would empower her to back off a little.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks, this is good. It seems like the Bottleneck Boss gets really anxious when she doesn’t understand something, and she’ll want to take control but delay making any decisions.

        1. Yup*

          Yeah, if that’s the case, you can present it as, “Hey Boss, I’ve been thinking we should refresh our procedures. Can we (3 key ppl plus boss) meet for an hour on Wed to go over the teapot glazing protocol?” And then you show up at the meeting with a sketch of the current process, go through it together, and create a short list of “high impact + most likely to happen” problems and their preferred resolution or escalation. Rinse and repeat.

          Good luck!

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Oops. I said, “got a new boss this year.” It was actually *last* year. So it’s been going on for months now.

    4. Diane*

      Ug. I’m sorry. I have a new boss too; she and her (newish) boss are both micromanagers who insist all communications to directors/vps go through them now (but don’t seem to actually communicate with them), insist they’re here to help us be more effective but punish us for bringing problems forward, discipline people for not meeting their expectations (which they never communicated), and the list goes on. My advice is know your work culture and address the ongoing issue with boss’ boss (if it is safe to do so), document the hell out of everything, and consider a transfer or new job.

    5. NoIt So NewReader*

      Tell upper boss that “yeah. okay. I will do what you are asking but please be aware that it is super awkward doing this. It is causing stress in our department.”

      Tell the supervisor that you cannot lie/misrepresent to any boss. Then ask her if you can help her in any manner to accomplish this quicker. (Don’t worry, she will say no. And you will have made your point.)

  73. 80% Normal*

    I am lucky enough to have been offered not only a promotion, but a choice between 2 positions – we’re a small start-up, I’m coming from our sales team. The compensation is the same for both roles. Won’t start for 2 months.

    Role #1 = A brand manager position to handle the added work coming into our growing business. I’d be part of upper management, with all the perks. The hours are more 9-6, at a desk 30 hrs a week. A good gig, learn the plumbing of the business, with lots of support from the GM, sales manager, and other brand managers. Not too much travel, results would be immediate.

    Role #2 = National account sales. We have sales reps calling on some of these accounts, but not all. I would centralize it and essentially create the role. Same perks, but no real support from the management team, I’d be on an island. And get questioned constantly about progress. More room to fail, I’m not being negative. But I could be the hero. Lots of travel, results may take 12 months.

    Has anybody ever been in either roles like these? I appreciate any help in deciding what’s best for the company and myself.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I think it depends on your work personality and only you can really know what that is. Are you the type who thrives under pressure, likes a lot of autonomy, and is not in need of immediate gratification in terms of work results? If so, job 2 sounds best. If you’re the type on the other hand who likes a lot of management support, needs more immediate gratification in your work, and would enjoy the upper management perks, then job 1 is best.

      The two jobs sound dissimilar enough in certain aspects that I think you can choose based on what you need in a job. If you truly could go either way, then flip a coin.

      1. 80% Normal*

        Well, my GM spent more time speaking about #1, but that may be because he’s already familiar with the parameters and expectations.

        But if I take #2, and succeed, that’s job security down the line…

        Thanks for the reply.

  74. NBB*

    About a month ago, one of my co-workers gave me a book he wrote, a Christian book about his “salvation” experience. Weird! But, whatever. He mentioned that he felt God called him to give me this book.

    Fast forward to this week, and he is asking me what I thought of the book. I mentioned I was raised in a religious household and so the subject wasn’t really anything new to me, but then he starts pushing and asking if I am saved! And he says that “God told him to talk to me.” Ummm, what?

    So, pretty much, this co-worker got it into his head that I am not “saved,” and he felt he need to fix that. And now I wonder why on earth would he make that assumption? Because I am grumpy until I drink my coffee?

    I find that really presumptuous and intrusive. I have many friends and family who are super religious, and have no problems with them or that at all, but this just totally crossed a line for me.

    Just wanted to share on open thread day!

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Eh, that’s annoying. One of my co-workers is similar. I was able to politely shut her down with, “You know, my spirituality is a personal thing for me. But I appreciate your concern, and God bless ya.”
      After that, she stopped trying to talk about religion with me and we’re still cordial.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Always fun to have Vacation Bible School every day of the week at work. It’s totally OK to shut this person down and tell them you appreciate their concern, but religion is a private thing for you. If they persist after that, take it to management. This can easily turn into harassment. And if they bother you about taking it to management, tell them God told you to do it. ;)

    3. Anon*

      Ugh. I would not be pleased with this. What’s with people pushing their beleifs on others at work? Not only is it just awkward, but if this person is getting into a seriously questionable human rights mess if they live in an area with that kind of protection in place (especially if they’re managing you).

    4. KellyK*

      Wow, that’s bizarre and intrusive. If you find his proselytizing uncomfortable, definitely tell him to stop. (Everybody has a different threshold for that sort of thing, and if he grew up in a fundamentalist bubble, he might not realize he’s stepping way outside of appropriate workplace behavior.)

    5. ElizabethWest*

      Not appropriate at work at ALL. He could be written up for this behavior. I would ask him to stop. Maybe frame it as you don’t want him to get in trouble, because of legal issues with proselytizing at work.

    6. Mephyle*

      – Let him know that God has been talking to you, too (about him). Give details.
      – Tell him you will pray for him.

    7. Windchime*

      I had someone do something similar to me several times at an old job. She was a wonderful person and a good friend, so I overlooked it as something that she did out of love. She just wrote a couple of heartfelt letters, telling me that it worried her that I wasn’t saved. I thought long and hard about how to reply, but finally opted to just respond with warm gratitude, telling her that she was a good friend and I appreciated her love and concern. She accepted that in good grace, luckily, so I didn’t have to get firm about it.

  75. Books*

    Any advice for the newly remote employee? How do you manage the work from home day to day? Especially in the beginning, how do you make things feel routine and also, feel useful?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Lucky you! Mainly… continue to work and do your job and be available.
      But there are a few other things to consider that may help.

      Have a schedule. Make sure everyone knows it. It’s probably a good idea to have “regular office hours” even though you work remote. Be available during those times for calls, meetings, etc. just as you would while at the office. You may have to let this be known via email or message at first, as in “Morning I’m in” and “Signing off for the day,” type messages the first few weeks.

      Communicate. Let your boss *especially* know what projects you’re working on and communicate regular updates to your boss and your team (daily if necessary). This is even MORE important when you work remote. You may even want to keep a log at first of how you spend your daily time and share it with your boss.

      Stay in the Loop. Having your regular team meeting calls and updates will help with this, but you may also want to go to the office on-site once in while (if possible) to meet with co-workers, bosses and staff so that your face stays on the radar. Remember that “out of site is often out of mind,” so plan to be seen occasionally!

      Do the Work. Duh! Right? But I can’t stress how important it is to continue to do ALL your work, and even ask if you can help out with other things on your team. Try to think of any useful tasks (typing up minutes, making calls, research, whatever applies to your position) you could help out with remotely and volunteer yourself for them. The very worst thing is to appear as though you’re slacking.

      Since you’re new to the remote thing, it might we wise to keep a log of your daily workload/activities and such at first. This is not only for your boss to “track” you, but to help you be the most productive you can be from home as you might block out time for certain tasks. Plus, it will help you be accountable until you get into a regular routine.

    2. littlemoose*

      This might sound silly or obvious, but: get dressed. Have the same or similar morning routine that you would when going to the office. Doing that helps me get into work mode, even when I’m only commuting across the house. I know some people say they love working in their pajamas, but to me, that just makes it feel too much like lounge time, and then I’m less focused on work.

    3. Graciosa*

      You got some really good advice already on this one. I will add that your response times need to improve. Do not ever let anyone think you might not be working when you’re supposed to be working.

      To give you a specific example, if I saw that my boss was calling while I was on another call at home, I would immediately email or IM him with “I saw that you called a moment ago. I am currently on the line with Client X discussing New Project. The call is expected to last for another 45 minutes. Can I ring you then, or do you need me to excuse myself early?” The answer was invariably that the issue was not urgent and later was fine – but I never left him wondering why I didn’t pick up.

      I never did this in the office – the light is on, people know you’re in the building and assume you just stepped away or you’re in a meeting or whatever. If you’re newly remote, you need to make sure no one ever starts wondering about you. I played it safe by being consistently more responsive out of the office than in it.

  76. DepressionAnx*

    One of the first comments in this thread got me to thinking. How many people here have diagnosed mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety? I have both and handling them is hard, really hard some days. I thought perhaps this could be an open thread within the open thread about mental illness and how you’re handling it, what challenges you have with it and so forth.

    1. Calla*

      I have depression that sometimes manifests with anxiety (big crowds will make me panic, I am terrified of responding to the simplest emails, etc). The biggest help for me was getting in to see a psych and get on the right meds, and getting a job I liked, as well as getting counseling for any issues not related to the depression. That stuff can ALL compound each other SO MUCH. My life was a disaster before I did all of that. I still have rough days though, of course — and I’m a very peppy person normally so I have to be careful not to let it show too much since the difference can be very obvious.

    2. Random*

      I have been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. I also have an eating disorder (but not the “typical” kind ..) EDNOS.

    3. Malissa*

      The best thing I’ve found for mental health issues is to get help find causes and triggers. Once you know those, management becomes easier. But the only way to do that is with professional help.
      I moved 1400 miles south to help with my issues. I have SADD–which is a form of depression that is triggered by lack of sunlight. Just having the sun up during my commute has been a huge help. With having a way to control one of my triggers, the rest of the issues aren’t quite as bad.
      So if you can find control with medicine, therapy, or as I did, with relocation that’s a huge step.

    4. Sophia*

      I have depression, and meds and talk therapy helps. Marriage counseling once a month has also helped in terms of communicating with my husband. Having a routine and getting out of the house are how I cope, though being pregnant has not helped with either of those things.

    5. Elle D*

      I have been diagnosed with dysthymia (mild chronic depression) and anxiety and also have struggled with anorexia and subsequent disordered eating behaviors since adolescence.

      Having all of these conditions definitely makes things harder, but like others have said I am doing MUCH better now that I am taking appropriate medication. For the past 8 years I’ve been seeing a therapist on and off, and even when I’ve really liked my therapist I was never able to truly feel better from counseling alone. I had a breakdown this summer that finally prompted my therapist and medical doctor to refer me to a psychiatrist and it made all the difference in the world. Sure, I still have bad days and I definitely interpret life differently than someone without these conditions would, but I feel more “normal” now than I ever have in my life. That said, my biggest struggles tend to be with motivation. I’m great at coming up with plans and ideas, but finding the confidence and energy to follow through (whether it be something at work, in my personal life or otherwise) is still a challenge for me.

    6. ChristineSW*

      Anxiety and a little depression here. Meds, counseling and a wonderful husband are what keep me going.

    7. Anon for this*

      I’ve had some low-lying depression for years, but meds have been very helpful for me. Sometimes just being mindful about things helps too – recognizing and identifying that I feel sad for no reason or am overreacting helps me step back and handle the situation a bit better.
      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope it helps to hear that so many other folks have experienced it too.

      1. DepressionAnx*

        Thank you Anon for this, it does help to know that others deal with it too. I’ve been on meds, had to go off due to side effects, but am strongly considering going back on them since the meds helped so much that I think I can contend with the side effects. I have a wonderful husband who is very supportive and I’ve sought out a message board online for anxiety, which has also been quite helpful.

        I so appreciate everyone sharing in this little mini-thread as it were because I think it helps to hear from others. Mental illness is still in the closet, in the dark, and I find that sad. We need to share, we need to talk, we need to be there for each other. So I’m glad we’re doing that here.

    8. FRRibs*

      I’ve suffered depression all my life (I had my mid-life crisis in grade school!), and after my divorce discovered I had ADHD, which looking back on my life explains a lot of the dumb ways of interacting with the world I had/have.

      I guess the divorce helped in that now I have absolutely no people in the world to enable me or shelter me; and it has helped me to be a much better father to my children.

      As for dealing with it? Medication. Changing habits and being more conscious of time. Knowing that I am responsible for my children so no matter how bad I feel, I have a reason to be here and I need to help and nurture them…it certainly has made us closer. I’ve seen paid friends a few times over the years, but I come from a background where they look down on people who can’t “man it out” so I feel a lot of guilt and only go in periods where there is an urgent need.

      Seriously…you’re gonna want to put your head under a blanket some days, but when you have people who depend solely on you…yourself included…you either sink or swim.

    9. Lindsay J*

      Both here. I’m higher functioning now that I ever have been before – most days getting up and out of bed and going to work or hang out with friends is not a problem for me, and I even actively look forward to going to work, going out, etc.

      However, with the depression combined with ADHD I still can’t get a handle on doing all my housework (or much of anything besides going to work and seeing friends every once in awhile). My place is a mess, laundry is in perpetual need of getting done, I eat frozen food more often than not because making something from scratch seems to be too much effort.

      No meds right now, but now that I have health insurance again I might try to get back on them.

      I’ve found having a planner/to-do list (and one that has both work and home responsibilities on it rather than splitting them) has helped tremendously. Having a to-do list makes it easy for me to see what I need to do and realize that it’s not really all that much, and I get satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment from checking stuff off. I’ll also put easy stuff on there so I can check it off and feel like I did get something done for the day no matter what.

  77. Joseph Poche*

    I am volunteering at the _. I have been volunteering for almost two years. The person that I contacted would like to follow me on Facebook as well as Instagram. I have her listed as a reference on my resume. She has been very happy with the work that I have done. I do not post anything controversial, post about politics or religion, nor post any inappropriate photographs. In other words, I do not post anything that I would not want my grandma or my mother to read or see. I think allowing her to follow my would be mixing my personnel life with my professional life.

    1. Is it a good idea to allow coworkers to follow you on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram?
    2. Is there any risk to allowing coworkers to follow you?
    3. Do you feel that allowing coworkers to follow you would be mixing your personnel life and your professional life?

    1. Just a Reader*

      I keep all professional contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter and don’t engage with them elsewhere. I’m extremely private though so YMMV.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I have contemplated these issues myself quite often and have found that it depends on who they are and also how you use Facebook. I use it as a way to keep in touch with friends. Some people use it as a professional vehicle (that is, they maintain a Facebook page for freelance work or whatever). If you’re the type who uses it mainly for friends, then again it depends on the relationships you have with people. I never friend management or superiors at work. Ever.

      I do friend some co-workers, but not all. Again, depends on the level of friendship I have with people. If the co-workers are also people I regularly have lunch with, have been invited to their home for baby shower, etc., then yes I would friend them.

      Risk of allowing co-workers to follow you – again, very dependent on your Facebook. If you share personal things you wouldn’t want someone in the office to know, then clearly that is an issue, but if you don’t, I’m not seeing any real risk. There are people who share things like “Got a job interview today, wish me luck” and they forget that co-workers are on their friends list. So you have to be careful about things like that if you wouldn’t want co-workers to know you’re looking.

    3. Calla*

      I would add peers I knew well enough (not just anyone), but not my boss or someone I supervised.

      There’s always a risk, I guess, but personally I don’t think a co-worker-friend is likely to tell my boss, like, “Did you know Calla posts a lot about lesbians and cats on her facebook” and that my boss would care, any more than some random internet person with a vendetta is likely to dig up my real identity and report even more scandalous stuff.

    4. ElizabethWest*

      Professional on LinkedIn, personal on Facebook. And never the twain shall meet. :)

      Twitter is a mixed bag for me; it’s personal because I follow people I’m friends with and tweet very informally, but also professional as my blog posts publish there, and I follow writers I like and/or would like to network with/already do network with. But nobody I actually work with in my day job gets on Facebook or Twitter. I have friended people from Exjob; however, that was after I left.

    5. Jen in RO*

      I don’t have any problem with adding coworkers (unless I hate them or something) on Facebook and the like. I don’t know about my boss -I’m new in the job so I’ve been putting it off for now.

    6. Al Lo*

      My Facebook is very mixed. I have old co-workers from when I worked at Starbucks years ago, current co-workers, former bosses that I’ve worked on contract for, the FB pages of organizations that I work with/for, and so on.

      I work in the arts, where the line between colleagues, peers, and friends is very grey, so YMMV, but it works for me.

    7. ChristineSW*

      My personal life is pretty dull, save for any trips or family gatherings, and I try to keep a clean persona (e.g. not engaging in any political or otherwise controversial discussions) so I have no problem having professional and personal mixed in on my Facebook.

      LinkedIn, however, is a different story. Yes I’ll admit I have a couple of family members as connections, but I really try to keep that to a minimum.

    8. littlemoose*

      I have a couple current coworkers as facebook friends, but never any supervisors (I don’t manage anybody). I only use facebook in a personal capacity, but I never post anything that I wouldn’t want my bosses or my parents to read. It’s a good general rule for me.

  78. AJ*

    I work in marketing and graphic design, and would love to gain additional experience volunteering or doing pro bono work for non profits. Does anyone have experience with this? I’m not sure where to start, or how to find these opportunities.

    I’ve done a little bit of research online, and have discovered organizations like Taproot, but the foundation isn’t located in my city.

    1. Calla*

      This may be something you’d already checked out, but have you looked at Idealist? On my area at least, you’ll definitely see stuff like volunteer designers.

      It also seems like this kind of thing would be appropriate for cold emailing. Find an org in your city you would like to work with, and then shoot a message saying “Hey, do you have any need for volunteer/free graphic design or marketing?”

      1. COT*

        Oh, your skills would be so welcomed at a lot of nonprofits! I agree that it’s fine to just “cold call” organizations that you’re really interested in. Otherwise, see if your local volunteer clearinghouse (like in the Points of Light network) can point you the right way. and might help too.

        Also, see if your local professional designers’ association has some connections. They probably get pro-bono requests all the time.

    2. AJ*

      Thanks for these suggestions! I haven’t checked any of these out yet. While I wouldn’t mind doing small design projects if that is what’s needed, I’d really like to do longer term ‘consulting’ work. Projects like: assisting with the marketing of an event, helping an organization shape their social media strategy, branding, etc.
      I also don’t know if working full-time would be a hindrance to this kind of volunteering.

      1. Elle D*

        I’ve been wondering about this as well! I focused on social media, promotions and brand management at my last job, but accidentally (…long story) took what is essentially an entry level graphic design job in order to move to a new city. I’m not thrilled with the work but really love my company and co-workers, so I’m using this as an opportunity to grow my graphic design skills before I move on to other opportunities. That said, I really miss the marketing work and would love to support a non-profit organization through some combination of my marketing/graphic design skills.

        I was concerned about my full time job being a hindrance as well, but I’m open to short term projects at least for now. I feel like my marketing skills are growing stale at my current position! I guess you can always start off with a short term project, and if they like what you’re doing you can offer a long term arrangement?

        1. AJ*

          That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. If an organization really needs assistance with this kind of work they will probably be willing to work around a full-time schedule, or allow me to do the work remotely.

    3. NoIt So NewReader*

      Years ago I was doing some volunteer work for United Nations Online Volunteers.
      The need is huge.
      It’s a bit of a drill to get signed in and then to find a job. But I bet you can find stuff there.

  79. khilde*

    Question about: Hiring manager contacting current employer during reference check

    I am about to do some training on a process/tool my organization developed. Here is a paragraph from the manual about contacting the current employer. I know that is discussed often here from the applicants perspective. But how does this advice square with the general wisdom around here? In agreement or contradictory? Thanks

    “If an applicant indicated on their application that they do not wish to have their most recent or current employer contacted, you should discuss the reason for this request. If the applicant is among your top candidates, contact them again and ask. Candidates tend to change their mind if they know they are a serious contender. If they still refuse and provide a legitimate reason, do not contact the current or most recent employer and inform your HR Manager and/or supervisor if you wish to offer the position to this candidate.”

    1. Bryan*

      That sounds pretty good. Do you only contact references for the final candidate? Maybe something along the lines of you can make an offer contingent upon current employer reference.

  80. LV*

    One of my friends is a few months away from a major life change. She’s getting married this summer and after the wedding, she and her husband are moving from the US to Thailand for a year. After the year is up they plan to just keep on roaming the world for as long as they enjoy the nomadic lifestyle. (They’ll be doing freelance work to support themselves.)

    I am SO JEALOUS! Travel is my biggest passion in life and I’ve always dreamed of doing something like that. Unfortunately my husband and I wouldn’t be able to deal with that kind of financial instability and we’re not big risk-takers so the odds of us quitting our jobs and taking off are non-existent.


    1. hilde*

      I hear you. My husband and I have watched some our friends take yearly trips, buy new homes, and generally do cool stuff. He and I are in good jobs, own a very modest home, and don’t take cool vacations. We just travel locally, if anything.

      It’s so, so hard to watch people in our same station in life do things that we would love to do, but we make the conscious decision not to do it because we are actively saving money so that we can pay cash for our future endeavors (larger home; grander vacations).

      I generally don’t struggle with comparing myself to others and when the green-eyed monster flares up in me, I contintually remind myself that it’s all a tradeoff. And achoice naturally has consequences – you just have to think through the consequences of the choices and decide what you’re willing to live with and let the rest go.

      My husband and I sacrifice a lot of stuff that other normal people have (e.g. we don’t have smartphones; only just got a flat screen TV – when the old tube took a dump and we had to; we drive old vehicles that are paid for; etc.), but it’s because we have prioritized our values and are willing to live with the consequences of that.

      ^^Ugh. this just sounds preachy and anal, and I’m sorry. I just wanted to say that I understand how it feels to make a decision not to do something fun that others in your circle of friends are doing.

      1. AnonymousByChoice*

        I understand where you’re coming from, LV. I’m in a very similar position myself. Most of my friends are married (or getting married soon) and buying homes. Though I’m happy with my current relationship, I don’t know how close we are to taking that next step. And I would give anything to be able to buy a home right now, because I’m so tired of renting and “temporary living” as I can it.

        By that aside, I agree with what Hilde said above. I’ve made different choices than my friends and I’m really okay with it for the most part. For example, a lot of my friends are in credit card and school loan debt. I paid off all of my debt a few years ago and I have so much peace in my life now because of it.

        This took me a long time to really understand, but I finally came to terms that I didn’t want to live like everyone else – that I wanted to live according to my own timeline, my own rules so to speak. Once I shifted my mindset, it really helped.

        And, as dumb as it probably sounds, I deactivated my Facebook account, which helped tremendously. It was so easy to compare myself to others and feel bad that my life wasn’t as “perfect” as theirs appeared to be.

        Hang in there…it gets better! :)

      2. Nonnymouse*

        Yeah, it’s all a matter of perspective for the most part.

        The only time the green-eyed monster really hits me is when I see good things happen to a person I don’t feel “deserves” it. Case in point: an ex-friend who dumped me in a very cruel way has, according to the grapevine, been doing just fine: gotten married (her boyfriend-now-husband was also a friend of mine, but has cut off contact because of his wife even though he has nothing against me), got a really cushy job, bought a house, bought a car, month-long vacations in various countries…her husband is moving into politics or something…

        In comparison, my life is good but nowhere near that nice. And while I know the ex-friend isn’t a “bad” person and she admitted she was in the wrong at the time of dumping me (although she still won’t speak to me or about me ever again), it’s hard to not feel like “man, she treated me like crap, she doesn’t deserve to have life this good.”

    2. pgh_adventurer*

      I’m so glad I randomly scrolled to this post. I struggle so much with this: I met my partner young and have pretty much settled down with her, bought a house together, etc. while a lot of my friends were teaching English abroad, hiking the Appalachian Trail, learning jewelry making in NYC, and so on.

      I get mad jealous every time I hear of someone moving abroad or having some sort of crazy travel adventure. BUT, I’m not in student loan or credit card debt, am going to grad school for almost-free, feel good about my career prospects, and live in a great city. I guess I might never get that open-ended, living-by-the-seat-of-your-pants travel experience but I can plan to see it in short bursts!

  81. A Noun*

    I want to make it AAM official (because then it feels more official than just in my head) – I have decided to start looking for a new job. I’ve only been in the position for ~9 months but there are many reasons to start looking at new opportunities. I am going to write AAM about those reasons and seek advice (as soon as I have time to sit down and write up all of the issues) but wanted to let you great commenters know.

    Phew! I feel better already.

  82. Anon Today*

    Does anyone have experience with rules for getting unemployment? I got laid off at the end of the year, and actually got a fairly nice severance. It was in one lump sum. The problem with that is that it raised my tax bracket, so it didn’t really end up being the same amount it would have been for that many weeks. Anyhow, I recently filed for unemployment online. Surprisingly, it didn’t ask about severance pay, but I’m sure that they will ask when they call my former employer. Anyhow, my question is when my unemployment benefits will start. If I got, say, 6 weeks of severance (pre tax) does that mean that my benefits won’t start until then? Or do they start immediately? Thanks

    1. ElizabethWest*

      I’m not sure, because it varies from state to state. My severance was paid out over six weeks like a regular paycheck, so my unemployment didn’t start until it was done. But I filed the same day I got laid off, because those things are sometimes really slow and I wanted to make sure it would transition over.

      As far as a lump sum, you’ll probably have to ask them. Do they require a face-to-face meeting with someone? If so, you could ask then. If not, they usually have a helpline for questions, although be prepared to wait on hold for a while.

    2. fposte*

      Seconding the state-by-state answer–I looked, and in California severance doesn’t affect unemployment, for instance, whereas in others it looks like lump sum wouldn’t but ongoing would.

      Did it actually get taxed at a higher rate or was there 25% flat-rate withholding on it? If it’s the latter, at least you might get that 10% back when you file.

      1. Anon Today*

        I’m in Illinois if anyone has knowledge with that. Well, I’m usually taxed about 25%, but the actual severance pay was only about 70% of the number I was told.

      2. De Minimis*

        It’s been a long time since I had to deal with it, but I was in California and they asked about severance but only to determine if you’d earned enough to collect benefits.

        I waited to file, although I may have miscalculated to where I probably did not need to wait. It can get tricky depending on how long you worked before losing your job.

  83. Anon for this*

    Don’t really need advice – just venting.

    I love what I do, and for the most part I like my company, but I’m bored. We had some things on the horizon for expansion which was supposed to shake things up and make this a whole different ballgame, but it’s not happening as fast as planned and it’s beginning to feel like I’m in a holding pattern.

    If they are going to expand I want to be here for that as it will be a huge challenge and I so want to be a part of that. And I don’t really want to leave because I’m comfortable and I know how to get to work, and I like the private bathroom, and my desk is just how I like it. And I really do personally like a lot of the people with whom I work including my employers.

    But I can’t help but itch for major changes. New challenges, the fear of wondering if I can do something and the feeling of victory when I master something that scares me. I have projects that would have really excited me 3-4 years ago, but I know exactly how to do them now, not exactly exploring new frontiers.

    I get like this every so often and then it kinda passes, but comes back.

    And there is risk with looking since my skills are most valuable in my industry which is mid-sized but really incestuous when it comes to personnel.

    I guess it’s how do you know when bored is too bored – when to look and when to just stay put because I’m lucky to have a good job. Just like money, I am glad I make a decent living but I’d like to know if I could be making more – what’s the number for which I’d jump, and you can’t get the number without interviews and that leads me right back to risk.

    I guess I’d just like to satisfy my curiosity that there’s nothing better out there so I’d be more content, but that’s not the kind of thing tptb would understand.

    Yeah – just bored, tired, and overworked. Just ended my busiest time of year and I always get a little cranky when I hit the wall.

    1. Malissa*

      Can you volunteer to cross train in another area? This might relieve your boredom, give you a chance for a new challenge, lead to a better understanding of the company and might look impressive to the boss as well.

    2. Windchime*

      I usually last 2-3 years in a position before I start feeling this vaguely bored, unsatisfied feeling. Fortunately, I’ve been able to move around in the company for the most part but I totally understand the feeling.

  84. Becca*

    So this one is for people who’ve started their own businesses. What is some advice you can give out to people who want to start their own business?

    1. littlemoose*

      I haven’t started my own business, but I recommend consulting a lawyer and hiring an accountant when you do take the plunge. It’s important for avoiding personal liability and avoiding tax surprises/penalties. Just one thing to consider.

    1. Calla*

      “In 2009, a sampling done by the American Pet Products Association found that out of 463 cat owners, 80 percent were female.”

      I have a pet theory (pun intended) that this is because men can’t deal with someone that doesn’t absolutely adore them. and that it’s no coincidence the pet historically associated with women gets this kind of character assassination.

      but that’s a story for another time! I know I’m being manipulated by my girlfriend’s cats and I’m okay with that. They’re my furry little princesses anyway.

    2. Mints*

      Haha really interesting! One cat ((Siamese-ish) responds to his name like 90% of the time. Oh and if you rub your fingers together (like a money symbol) he will walk over for pets, and if you do it while standing, he will jump up on his back legs for pets.
      The other one only responds to name at night / while we’re in bed.
      I guess they’re pretty affectionate of it’s only 10%!

  85. Brett*

    I have a funny theoretical for all of you…
    My employer actually does sponsor an amateur MMA/boxing event for charity where employees take on employees from other organizations.

    Assuming you had the skill and ability to do it, would you fight in an amateur MMA fight or boxing match for charity representing your company?

    1. Brett*

      After reading Rebecca’s post about the office health nut below….
      what if you got to pick your opponent? :) (Oh, if only I could pick my opponent.)

  86. annie*

    I wouldn’t because I’m not a boxer, but there’s a well known boxing match every year here in Chicago that’s between the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department. It benefits the police and fire department charities and is very popular even outside of people who are employed by either department. (Let’s just say a lot of young ladies are in the audience for the view!) It’s fun to go to, especially if you have friends who are on both sides.

  87. Rebecca*

    Friday Open Thread Rant!

    Our resident health nut is at it again, criticizing coworker’s food choices. Our coffee creamer has too many fake ingredients, Jane doesn’t eat vegetables (you know all she eats is junk, pizza, and hoagies), you shouldn’t eat this, that, and the next thing, and oh, Dr Oz and kale…I want to slap her out of her chair.

    Just because you are a size 4 does not make you the right to tell anyone in this office what they should or should not eat or drink. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!

    1. fposte*

      [concerned face] “I worry about the kind of focus you have on what everybody eats. It doesn’t seem healthy. Are you okay? Do you need to talk to somebody?”

      1. Colette*

        I love that answer.

        A deadpan face and a noncommittal reply (“That’s good information.”, “Oh”, or simply silence and moving on to the next topic) discourage further comments.

        Or create fake studies talking about how dangerous vegetables are to your health to hand out when she starts in on it.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I like that. Or play her like a fish. “Jane? Is she the one who was wearing the leaf pin? No, it was gold, I think, or maybe brass. On Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday?” “Kale. Is that the long green stuff or the short green stuff? What’s the difference between that and parsley? What’s the difference between that and *Italian* parsley?”

          Yeah, not worth the energy, but boy, those people bug.

  88. ChristineSW*

    Hmm…not sure your experiment is working, AAM! ;) Maybe with everyone back from Christmas vacation and snow days, there’s more interest?

    Anyway….the poster above who asked about looking and sounding younger than she (?) really is gave me an idea for a question I had:

    In addition to sounding younger, I’m convinced that I come across much more intelligent in writing than in person or over the phone. I think it’s worse when I’m nervous and many people tell me that I am well-spoken. However, it gets embarrassing during meetings when I try to express an idea or question, the words don’t quite come out right; I’ve had some instances where hardly anything comes out at all!

    Aside from paying out the nose for Toastmasters or a public speaking course, any suggestions on how to overcome this and convey more self-confidence (and thus, coming across more professional!)?

    1. Sadsack*

      Does your company provide any related courses, such as courses in negotiating, presentation skills, or crucial conversations? Any of these may be helpful for you to get more comfortable expressing yourself to others.

    2. Zelos*

      I’m the same way–and what’s worse, I often know how to use “big” words in writing, but butcher it when it comes to pronunciation. I’m definitely a better writer than speaker!

      More to the point, a couple of tips (from my Toastmasters courses, even): a lot of confidence in speaking is body language.

      -Speak slower. Even if you’re thinking it sounds like molasses, it’s usually quite acceptable…and much easier to understand from an auditory perspective. Slower, slower, slower–and this also has the benefit of looking “thoughtful” instead of “rambly/mile-a-minute”.

      -Look people in the eye. (I have problems doing this, so I cheat by looking at the bridge of their nose, which is close enough.) Don’t stare–you can flick your gaze away at documents or other pertinent things. But eye contact is good.

      -In presentations, you can use the stage/your hands a little bit so you look more relaxed and not stiff. Saunter around the stage, add a few hand gestures to emphasize your point…but I’m getting the impression that you’re asking mostly for face-to-face conversations.

      -If you’re a woman, drop your vocal register a little bit. I’m not thinking baritone, but try to avoid the question-like rise in pitch at the end of sentences if you’re prone to doing that. You want your voice to sound “measured” and purposeful (and that also ties into speaking slower). This usually also has the added effect of speaking a little softer than before (I speak loudly when I’m excited, which is also another bad habit I have). No need to monotone or anything, though.

      -Did I mention speaking slower? ;) But as someone who speaks a mile a minute if you let me (in two languages!)…it helps. My friends have learned to interpret my light-speed chatter, but my family actually still has problems keeping up.

      -Practice is good if you’re delivering an actual speech. But for casual conversation that’d seem kind of odd…

      You’ll notice that none of these tips have anything to do with the content of what you’re saying…because a lot of times it has to do more with the body language and vocal delivery than it is the actual words you’re saying. (Although, sure, if your vocab tends towards “like, OMG!” a lot it’d be prudent to change, but I really doubt that’s the case–for most people, it’s the delivery.)

      Good luck!

      1. ChristineSW*

        Wow, this was really helpful, thank you Zelos! A couple of comments:

        Re speaking slower: That’s something I do sometimes try to do. I have some slight processing problems, so it takes my brain a bit longer to put thoughts together. So talking slower does help a bit in letting my brain catch up. I do feel like it’s worse in professional settings, and I think it’s likely just me being self-conscious when a thought or word doesn’t come to me right away. Yes, I know….gotta learn to relax, take a deep breath, etc. I just need to actually let those techniques work! lol.

        but I’m getting the impression that you’re asking mostly for face-to-face conversations.

        Yes, plus small group meetings (I sit on a couple of committees).

        -If you’re a woman, drop your vocal register a little bit. … This usually also has the added effect of speaking a little softer than before (I speak loudly when I’m excited, which is also another bad habit I have).

        I like this. I’m the same way, also especially when excited, so I’ll certainly try that. Also, I recently got new hearing aids (awesome digital ones that “talk” to each other!), and my husband noticed right away that I don’t talk as loud.

        Sadsack: Unfortunately, I’m not currently employed, but as I mentioned above, I am on a couple of committees; it can feel like a job at peak periods though!

      2. Porenne*

        Dropping the vocal register is a good point, especially for women, but also for men. I majored in music and voice (opera) as my fun second major in college, and a fun fact I learned is that the majority of people actually speak in a higher tone than what they should be. I myself do the same and always have to remind myself not to.

        Thanks for the good advice!

        1. Zelos*

          Ha, I have to remind myself all the time too! My Toastmasters experience taught me to be able to present on stage, but when I’m not presenting an “official” speech all those good speech habits go out the window. I’m still struggling to change my daily habits too, even though I’m reasonably confident I can deliver a decent presentation XD

          Thank you!

  89. Seattle Writer Girl*

    I just wanted to thank everyone who offered negotiating advice to me on the open thread a couple of weeks ago prior to my performance review.

    My boss agreed that I am underpaid ($30k), but gave me the expected song and dance about how the company has no money, blah, blah and then had me sign the official paper giving me a $1500 raise. He did, however, agree to re-assess my compensation in 6 months. We’ll see if it goes anywhere.

  90. Mints*

    Damn, I’m in wayyyy late, but I’ll ask anyway:
    Is anyone else the lone hippie in the office, trying to recycle?
    I have zero power to make others recycle/be less wasteful but I did a couple things secretly:
    -There used to be plastic cups next to the water cooler on the counter. I put them in the cupboard instead, right above the water, but also next to the normal glasses. Then when they ran out I never replaced them so they need to use glasses.
    -There was a trash can and recycling bin next to the copier, but another trash only bin across the room that people always threw paper in. I moved the other trash can so now the only trash is also next to recycling. There is slightly more recycling now
    -I offer to send back the ink things to recycle when someone replaced it.

    Am I the only one to do this? Has anyone else done sneaky eco-friendly things?