open thread

IMG_0126_2It’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.

{ 876 comments… read them below }

  1. Andrea*

    We just completed performance reviews at my company. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and still hate-hate-HATE performance review time! Talking about myself is really hard. I keep a “kudos” folder, I try and keep track of notable moments throughout the year, but when it comes time to summarize my performance, I just struggle. How do your companies handle performance reviews, and do you have any tips or tricks that would be useful for next year?

    1. LMW*

      Do you have to set goals as part of your annual process? We start my having goals and then compare our performance against those specific goals. Since most of our goals are cascaded from up on high, sometimes it’s a struggle to figure out how the specific goals of our role align with the overall company goal, but in general, I like this approach because it means I’m evaluating myself by measuring against something specific and I’m sure my work aligns with the overall company strategy.
      If you don’t have specific goals as part your formal process, I’d recommend thinking about how can create them on your own based on this year’s evaluation, write them down, and them pull them out once a quarter to see how you are measuring up.

      1. Andrea*

        Yes, we set goals for next year as soon as we finish the previous year’s review. The goals can also be adjusted or revisited throughout the year. It’s a good process, it’s just intimidating to have to self-examine I think.
        I’m just glad to be done for another year.

    2. anony*

      I hear you! It’s awkward and feels self-congratulatory sometimes. Any chance you have a workplan or set of goals that you could measure yourself against, which might feel much more objective?

    3. ChandraNH*

      One way to think about the review (and I think I got this from here or my boss) is that this is your time to advocate for a raise for yourself, because while performance discussions shouldn’t be tied to money, they are in many, many organizations.

      Also, monthly I send a rollup of my activities to my manager, then when it’s time for my review, I have handy reference to return to (I keep a copy each month).

      One of my direct reports has taken this a step further and sends me her monthly report formatted to align with the objectives we discussed earlier in the year.

      1. Andrea*

        That’s a good idea to have the report to your boss to turn to. I should start doing a monthly report on my activities just for my own reference.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Why shouldn’t performance discussions be tied to money? I’m struggling to understand what money should be tied to, if not performance.

        1. ChandraNH*

          I think it’s because many times, your performance and what is available for you to receive as a raise, don’t correspond.

          You may have done a great job and I want to discuss that with you at the end of the year, but don’t want you to have an expectation that this will mean you get a larger (or smaller) raise . And we treat raises as an incentive for you to stay here, not as a reward for what you’ve done in the past.

        2. SarahBot*

          At my company, the way they frame it is: performance reviews should be given every year, regardless of whether the company is able to financially provide people with salary increases.

          If the company can give salary increases, their performance review is definitely taken into account, but since the company’s financial performance isn’t necessarily in each employee’s control, our company tries to separate the two things out.

    4. Labratnomore*

      I have to complete mine by Monday, and I hate it. Not only do we have to talk about how we fit with each of our company values we have to give ourselves a rating in each area. Then we need to give an overall rating and list our accomplishments. The accomplishments list is really hard for me because my boss hates to delegate and as hard as I try I rarely get the opportunity to learn something new. For some reason “I did a lot of regular work” just doesn’t seem like an accomplishment worth bragging about to me! I also wonder about the rating. I don’t want to rate myself lower than the manager and change their mind so they give me a lower rating than they planned. At the same time I don’t want to rate myself artificially high and appear like I think I am perfect and have no areas to improve upon. I know some people that always give themselves the highest rating, but that just seems arrogant and out of touch to me. Does anyone else have to rate themselves, and what is your strategy?

    5. Aimee*

      One year my boss set up my goals for me and did it like this:
      Goal – Enforce chocolate tea pot advertising standards.
      Meets = average 30 day turn around on resolving violations of chocolate tea pot advertising standards.
      Exceeds = consistently able to resolve violations of chocolate tea pot advertising standards in under 30 days.

      That made it really easy to know throughout the year how I was doing against my goals, and then when it came time to complete my review, it was easy for me to go back and look at the average resolution time and talk about what I’d done in comparision to what meets and exceeds looks like with specific metrics.

    6. Rebecca*

      My company just doesn’t do them.

      The employee manual states they’re to be done yearly, and reviews are the basis for merit increases, but no reviews mean no increases…so I guess the company saves money by not doing them.


    7. Anonymous*

      To piggy back on LMW’s comment about self assessments in the performance review process, does anyone have tips for filling out peer evaluations? Ours are only seen by the manager, but managers often include portions of peer comments in their final evaluations. I always try to make a couple of positive comments before I mention anything negative. I have a couple of issues I want to point out to my boss about a couple of coworkers, but every method I come up with of talking about them seems petty to me. These are legitimately things that sometimes cause issues in my work or with our departments projects.

      1. Finally Friday*

        Don’t compare one person to another; compare the person to what they are suppose to achieve (goals), and what they have achieved (accomplishments). Talk about what has gone wrong and right in specifics, but use those specifics to show a pattern. “Susie learns fast, as shown when she conquered the new method for teapot distribution in only two hours. However, she sometimes skips quality control steps in her enthusiasm, such as when…” Offer suggestions for how he/she can improve with those specific issues and overall, if that is one of the parts of your eval form. (It is in ours.)

      2. Windchime*

        When I have something negative to say, I phrase it like this: “I would encourage Alison to be more proactive in her role; if would let me know right away when her chocolate is tempered, that would allow us to get a jump on spout production.” Or “I would encourage Jamie to respond more quickly to emails; sometimes it takes several reminders before she answers important questions.” Somehow that sounds nicer than, “Alison forgets to tell us when the chocolate is ready, so we are all sitting around waiting for her ” or “Jamie stinks at replying to email”.

    8. Amanda*

      I hate them not because I don’t feel confident talking about my work – I’m generally proud of it, and am always trying to do a better job, I thrive on goals, etc. – but rather because I’ve been ambushed in them before. I have yet to attend one that feels like a really good conversation or even good constructive criticism or feedback. I have yet to have one that feels like a good capstone on a year of working together to get results.

      I had one a few years ago in which a senior manager in the organization informed my manager and I that she would be sitting in on it a week in advance, and didn’t tell my direct manager why. The time for the review came and the senior manager read me the riot act about some very vague “poor communication” that had happened 6 months previously and had been said directly to her by someone in another department. The other person had never said anything to me or my direct manager. When I asked, there were no examples of the problems: not general examples, not specific examples, nothing, just a shrug and a “you communicated poorly about six months ago.” My direct manager rolled over immediately and – even though she said to me later she had never observed a single instance of any similar type of problem – came down on me hard through the rest of my evaluation. I was miserable for weeks afterwards and didn’t even have anything I could work on because I hadn’t been given any examples or even a description of what I’d done wrong – not to mention it had been six months previously!

      So the general idea of them doesn’t bother me – in fact, I wish my current job did them – but too often they turn into traps.

    9. Penny*

      I have a hard time too, I feel like I’m bragging when I say things I feel I did well or I feel things my boss considers accomplishments are nothing special and just what’s expected as part of my job. Maybe I just have really high expectations of myself. My next quarterly review will also be my annual and thus an opportunity to get a pay increase and I’m dreading being asked if or why I deserve an increase for those reasons. This is my first year here so I’m not sure how that’s handled.

    10. Vicki*

      I don’t try to keep track of “notable moments”. I keep track of _everything_.

      When I first started working, I would take 10 minutes at the end of the day to jot down what I did that day. At the time I used a paper page-a-day datebook/calendar.

      Over time, I moved to making a quick note whenever I worked on a project for a substantial period of time or finished a project. I save all requests as well as all feedback. I do a weekly rollup status report (for me if my manager doesn’t want one). By the end of the year, I have a record of everything I did, every request I responded to, every meeting I had, and how my time was spent every week.

  2. anony*

    Wow, first comment?!

    Question for anyone in nonprofit development (now or in a past life!): Do you know of any development-specific blogs on the topic that are as awesome as AAM? Tall order, I know.

      1. A Fundraiser*

        I have not found any with the advice-style of AAM. However, for industry trends, thought-provoking analysis and sometimes just uplifting commentary, I like:

        Future Fundraising Now
        Jason’s Blog (
        Tom Ahern’s blog

    1. Anonsie*

      Not exactly what you’re asking for, but David J. Neff has a bit of a web presence here and there (like Twitter and etc) with sort of current events type of talks about some topics that might be of interest to you.

      He also wrote a book but I haven’t read it so I don’t know if it would be at all interesting or not, but he’s done some TEDx talks and things like that you can find pretty easily.

      1. Meghan*

        It’s an open thread.

        “The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. ”

        I think this qualifies as anything :)

  3. Random Reader*

    I need to vent for two seconds about something… I’m in a wedding and the bridesmaid’s dresses are awful. Like, very few people would look good in the color and style that she’s thinking. Poufy and a really weird length (tea length). For ladies who are vertically challenge, I hate this length with a burning passion of a thousand suns. I just can’t.

    1. Donna*

      I love tea length, but then again I am 5’8″, so it’s a good length. Maybe you could talk to the Maid of Honor about trying to subtly influence the bride to go in another direction, like letting the laddies wear the same color in different styles that work for their own body type, this is what I did for my wedding party.

    2. anony*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry! Every time I hear about horrible bridesmaids dresses I think it has to be a joke. I mean, people should know better by know, right? But then… Etiquette is probably to let the bride have her day, but since you said that she’s “thinking” about this, is it possible to tell her your concerns (very kindly and gently? and depending on her personality with a healthy dose of humor)?

      1. ann*

        I think this can be summarized as, suck it up, buttercup. It’s her day, not yours. If you hate the dress so bad you can’t compromise, don’t be a bridesmaid. On a different note, I have a firm belief that brides ought to pay for their bridesmaid’s dresses. It irks me that that bridesmaid are expected to pay to wear something they didn’t pick out and probably won’t wear again.

    3. LMW*

      My sister was in a wedding a few years ago where she had to shell out $350 dollars for a custom-made and designed dress in bright goldy-orange linen. With a very awkwardly placed rolled collar. Even the seamstress was like “um…linen is probably not the fabric you want for this design. And you know it wrinkles, right?” But the bride had a vision! So they went with it! And weren’t allowed to sit down for the first 5 hours of the day because they might wrinkle their dresses before the pictures and ceremony.
      So, hopefully yours isn’t that bad. :)

      1. Kit M.*

        I have never spent $350 on an item of clothing in my life and I wouldn’t start with something that someone else chose.

        I think the rule should be that the bride can only pick the dress if she’s paying for it.

      2. Catherine*

        My (now) daughter-in-law had some kind of weird brain blip while planning her wedding. She’s normally a very level headed sensible girl, but she (and her maid of honour) wanted a certain designer’s black lace dresses for the bride’s maids. No discussion, no compromise, no changes. They were quite adamant about it.
        There were only two bride’s maids, the bride’s childhood friend and one of the groom’s sisters (my daughter.) Now, bride and maid of honour are 5’5″ and well filled out, shall we say. My daughter is 6′ and curvy.
        Honest to gosh, she looked like a hooker in that $300 dress. She had to buy black biking shorts to wear under it, it was that short, and that weird bra tape stuff for the top, it was that low.
        She brings it out now to show friends and they are all horrified. She won’t wear it even for Hallowe’en, it’s that bad.

    4. Nikki T*

      I’m sorry. What color is it?

      Perhaps it’s because there’s very little overlap in my friends/family and no one I knew would really see me anyway, I’ve always felt that my job is just to help the bride (within reason). If she said put on this potato sack, I’d put it on and march down the aisle ahead of her.

      I’ve only been a bridesmaid twice though. I did have to wear a tea-length dress the first time, at just over five feet tall, it may not have looked good but I never really noticed. I was just background decoration, pretty sure nobody paid much attention to me either time, even the time I was the only black girl at the reception.

    5. class factotum*

      I don’t think I have ever worn a bridesmaid dress that I wore again. I have worn a few that were not so bad, but mostly, they were not pretty and they were lavender, which is a horrible color for me.

      My sympathies.

      PS One friend told me it was a deliberate strategy – make the bridesmaids look bad so the bride will look better in comparison.

      1. Jamie*

        That is usually the case, and considering how much they tend to cost it stinks they aren’t rewearable.

        However, a friend had a gorgeous silk mint green bridesmaid gown that was so pretty – it looked like a dress you’d wear to the Oscars.

        Fortunately she handed it down to my daughter for her Senior Prom and she was stunning in it. One overlooked benefit of the workplace is making young friends who happen to be the same size and height as one’s daughter can save several hundy come prom time!

        1. class factotum*

          Actually, I did wear a bridesmaid dress to a Halloween party once. I said my costume was “Bridesmaid dress that was actually worn again.”

          (And one year, I wore a blue dress with a Q-tip pinned to it. I was a White House intern.)

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

            Heh, one of my cousins and her single friends go out on a pub crawl every Valentines Day wearing the most hideous bridesmaid dresses their married friends have ever subjected them to. They’re on something like their 16th year now. The photos are priceless

      2. VintageLydia*

        My SIL was able to wear her dress again at her prom. It was a really flowy silver dress. Gorgeous. My MOH didn’t have anything else to wear hers to, though.

    6. Ash*

      This is why I picked a wearable color (navy) and then my bridesmaids picked their style from Dessy (so hundreds of different styles). They were all very happy with that.

    7. Anoners*

      I think you need to take a play from good ol SJP ( from Sex and the City), and send the bride a post-it note stating “I’m sorry… I can’t… Don’t hate me”.

    8. Random Reader*

      It’s a pinky coral color with royal purple shoes. I’ve seen the pink coral color done well, but this shade is just… weird? I don’t know how to explain it.

      1. Nikki T*

        Don’t care too much for coral, though it probably doesn’t look bad on me…

        I think the shoes would worry me more than any dress. I don’t do heels and being made to wear them, no matter how beautiful, would probably end badly.

        Wish I could rock heels though, I’d like to wear some spunky ones for my wedding…

      1. some1*

        I had been friends with the groom for years…years before, more than platonic friends. The bride didn’t have any female friends in the area or willing to travel to be in the wedding and she asked me (the 2nd time we met) and the groom’s sister to stand up.

        Everyone in the wedding party knew about the history except for her. I didn’t feel comfortable with that, but the groom didn’t want her to know & I didn’t feel like it was my place to say anything.

      2. Noelle*

        Mine was probably when I was in an outdoor wedding, with a beer keg and tons of very drunk people (and water balloons. WHY!?!?!). The groomsman I was stuck with was a jerk even when he was sober, but he clearly got tanked between the ceremony and the reception and ended up spending most of the night yelling at me for being too “stuck up” to make out with him. I should mention that he was married, and his wife and kid were at the wedding. The evening culminated with him throwing a pitcher of beer on me.

      3. Sascha*

        I’ve only been a bridesmaid once, and the bride chose these chiffon sheath dresses in light green. Except the original color she wanted wasn’t available, so we got the next lightest. Which was see through. And it was an outdoor wedding on the edge of a canyon at sunset, and we were all backlit. Got to see lots of pretty underwear that day.

        My own wedding included lots of dress drama from my sister, who was going through a really bad time in her life, and taking it out on the rest of us. There was dress flinging, storming out of the house, constant criticisms…if I did my wedding over, I’d have NO bridesmaids.

        1. Rana*

          That’s what happened at our wedding. We each had our respective brothers be our best men, and all of our parents walked up with us and stood with us at the altar. It was nice. :)

      4. Apollo Warbucks*

        A few years a go I was at my friends wedding and sat on a dinner table with one of the bridesmaids, her boyfriend and a few others. All the way though dinner the bridesmaid was dropping all these really unsubtle hints about them getting married next, half way through dinner he turns to her and says. “For f***s sake Becky, I’ve already told you well get married and have kids when I’ve lost the will to live. It was fairly awkward for the rest of the meal.

    9. Betsy*

      After being in 32 weddings in various capacities, I told my friends to wear what they wanted and come as guests. No bridesmaids! In the interest of future bridesmaids everywhere, I tried to start a trend.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        I’m getting married this year and we are doing the same. No wedding party at all. I wonder if my friends and sisters are relieved.

        1. class factotum*

          I would be. Especially as it seems that bridesmaid responsibilities have gone from “Wear an ugly dress for an evening” to “spend a ton of money hosting different events and be at the beck and the call of the bride.”

      2. Queen Victoria*

        I think that no bridal party, low-key weddings are going to get more and more popular. The wedding advice I always hear from those around me basically amounts to “Keep things as simple as possible. In fact, just get eloped.”

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. I was in a wedding years ago and asked the bride to please not make me wear anything strapless. I’ve got alot going on in the chest area and going strapless just seems like tempting fate.

      So then she sent me a picture of the dress — which was strapless. Ugh. I spent the entire wedding and reception worried that I was going to have a wardrobe malfunction.

      1. Tina*

        I’ve only been in 1 wedding (thank goodness from the stories I’ve heard), and the bride also picked a strapless dress as her preference, which I can’t wear. However, she understood and was very easygoing and said if that doesn’t work, just pick something in the same color and length, and go with it. It was a little odd cause 3 of the women, including the maid of honor, had the same dress, and I was odd man out, but I didn’t have to stress during the entire wedding!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I did something similar with my wedding. I picked the color of the dresses, and then told everyone to pick their own dress. I’m under no illusions that any of the ladies ever wore their dress again, but I wanted them each to wear something that they’d be comfortable in.

      2. Noelle*

        Was it one of those strapless dresses that also makes it impossible to wear a real strapless bra under it too? I had a dress like that, complete with tons of boning and this elastic band on the inside that was supposed to act like a bra but instead just made it even more painful and awkward looking. Strapless bridesmaid dresses are the worst.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Well, it was taffeta, and had zero support. I wore this extremely utilitarian, grandma-ish one-piece thing under it to suck things in and smooth out the lumps. Lovely.

          Got tanked at the reception, and my boyfriend, who had come with me after only 3 months of dating (wedding was out of state) was my baby sitter for the evening. I wanted to change before we left, and so I told him I had to go into the ladies room because I couldn’t have him see me in the most unglamourous piece of underwear anyone has ever worn in the history of the world. So I went in and changed, and according to him I came wandering out of the ladies room in jeans and a top that was supposed to button up the front, but I had forgotten that step. So there I was meandering around half dressed. He got me put together, and we left. I still had my wedding updo, which he took out for me, and from that moment on that evening was known as The Night Of A Thousand Hairpins.

          Can you believe he didn’t dump me after that? Or that we’ve been married now for almost 10 years? Sometimes I still can’t believe it.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Urp! My sister wanted me to be maid of honor at her wedding, and she picked a designer dress in a silvery lavender (horrible color on me) that I could only find a size too big. We thought it could be altered, but the seamstress said there was no way she could do it without remaking the whole thing because of the design. So I ended up just doing the guest book in my own outfit and her BFF was the matron of honor. She looked fantastic in the dress, and everyone was happy.

      1. QK*

        Having her first choice of dress stand up with her was more important than having her first choice of person? :/

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No, I told her we couldn’t get the dress to fit; she wanted both of us to be in the wedding, and the dress fit her BFF just fine, so she just went with the one attendant. (BFF has bigger boobs than I do, LOL.) I didn’t care that much and she was fine with it. She didn’t have anyone at the guest book, so it worked out.

    12. Tagg*

      Ugh, I feel your pain. I’ve only ever been a bridesmaid once, but once was enough! I am not a girly-girl – I am a tomboy in the truest sense of the word. And so when my cousin wanted me in her wedding as her bridesmaid, I was hesitant, but basically was told by my family that yeah, you’re gonna do it.

      And then the dress.

      Dear lord, the dress.

      Bright, bubblegum pink. /Bubblegum/ pink. Strapless. Poofy. Horrible. Strapless does NOT look good on me – I’m a big girl and have very rounded shoulders.

      Needless to say, I felt awkward and horrible the whole day, had to shell out the $200 for the damn thing when I was extremely cash-strapped, and I never wore it again. My mother only just recently gave it to goodwill.

      Now my other cousin (that cousin’s sister) is getting married in the fall. I really hope I’m not asked to be a bridesmaid again, although luckily, this cousin is very fashion conscious (and indeed majored in fashion design) so whatever she chooses hopefully won’t be as ghastly.

          1. class factotum*

            My brother tried to convince the pastor to say “mawwiage” during the vows. The pastor wouldn’t, so my brother mouthed it to Jen while she was at the altar – which was when Jenny burst into uncontrollable giggles.

    13. Ann O'Nemity*

      My bridesmaids wore black dresses of their choosing. Groomsmen wore black suits. Everyone was gushing gratitude. And the photos were amazing.

      The last time I was a bridesmaid, the dress and shoes ended up costing over $300. Although the dress was navy and fairly classic in design, I knew I’d never wear it again. It just wasn’t flattering enough for how uncomfortable it was. That dress went to the cleaners, then straight to Goodwill.

    14. AnonHR*

      When you get it altered, could you take it up a bit, and bring the pouf a little? I’d be willing to bet the bride will never notice and you might feel a lot more comfortable.

        1. Beth Anne*

          I’m the maid of honor for my sister and I stressed that I wanted a non-strapless/modest dress oh the wars that went on she finally ended up picking a dress with straps and I already told her I’m having a jacket made b/c with our luck even though it’s Florida and end of March it’ll be that fluke 50 degree day … at an outdoor wedding.

    15. TL*

      The first time I was a bridesmaid, I wore an ivory (ivory!) strapless corset top and petticoat. (They made it from a pattern marketed as underclothing. It was awful and my chest was just saying hello to the world; I wore a shawl for modesty in the churh.) And I got chocolate cake on the skirt during the reception. A lot of chocolate cake.

      And the bride’s mother, I swear to god, told me how lucky I was because I could wear it again to prom or something. (I was 17; the bride was 20.)

    16. Zelos*

      I’m thankful that I’m not yet at the age where people are getting married in droves, because I’m scared of all the wedding stories. I’m built small, pretty much uniformly uncomfortable in dresses (physically and/or mentally), and cannot wear any sort of heels. No stiletto, chunk, wedge, and whatever else variation women’s shoes have. I don’t have much luck on the formalwear front.

      The thought of trying to go along with a poufy coral pink dress for the bride gives me the shivers.

    17. monologue*

      can I ask what tea length is? I still have a lot to learn when it comes to women’s fashion lol.

      I’m in a wedding party later this year on the groom’s side and luckily they’re letting me wear a suit (I’m a woman but not very feminine one), but I have to go to a spa day for the bachlorette party tomorrow. It’s going to be pretty awkward. I feel your pain.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Mid calf. Think classic 4o’s and 50’s dresses. I love that length but it’s easy to do very wrong. You can’t take a shape meant to be floor length and make it tea length. It’s almost always awful. I personally think they look best as A-line skirts, though I’ve seen other shapes that look OK too.

        1. Kerr*

          Yep, I like the length, but it can be a difficult one. Protip: often these look better with a soft petticoat underneath, to fluff out the skirt. Not super-poofy Gone With the Wind widths, just some fluff. The petticoat should be 1-2″ shorter than the hem – much more, and you get a weird break where the petticoat ends. Maybe you could suggest this to the bride?

    18. Julie*

      When my brother got married, I noticed that one of the bridesmaids had shortened her dress, so it was noticeably shorter than the other women’s dresses. It didn’t look bad, just noticeable.

    19. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      Ugh, why do people do this?

      My sister and I made a pact when we were kids (after being forced to wear lavender coloured, floral print monstrosities for our cousin’s wedding) that we would be each other’s only bridesmaid, and that the bridesmaid could pick her own dress. So when I got married, I sent her fabric samples from my dress, my wrap, and my husband’s kilt and said “pick anything that goes with these colours”.

      I wore pale green with a pale green/dusky blue wrap, my husband wore a dark green/navy blue kilt, and my sister wore a dark green dress. Everyone was happy, except two of our nephews, who were dismayed to see their favourite uncle in a “skirt” (he appeased them by showing them the sgian-dubh in his sock – they thought that was pretty cool).

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        My step brother got a really long lecture from two solders outside Edinburgh castle , when he asked them why they were wearing skirts.

      2. tcookson*

        I had my sister as my only bridesmaid, and she wore a dress totally of her own choosing. Ditto with my husband’s brother, the best man (not on wearing a dress, but of it being an outfit of his own choosing). My sister wore a lovely floral number that she already owned, and my husband’s brother wore a suit (not a tux, just a suit).

        1. Beth Anne*

          YES I keep telling people when I get married it is going to be super simple and I WILL not get crazy about anything and I won’t care about who wears what (as long as it isn’t trashy looking)…blah blah blah and ppl are all no way all brides get crazy it’s a rule! Nope I refuse to get insane over a wedding! LOL

    20. Anonymous*

      Oh, I feel you. I just came back from a bridesmaid’s dress fitting and am so bummed. I’m fat, very tall, and have giant boobs, and the bride (my sister) picked out strapless dresses, which would be bad enough even before factoring in that the dresses don’t even come in my size. A seamstress will be making a frankendress out of two dresses for me, which was a fun dose of humiliation.

      The worst part is the length–I have nice legs so I don’t mind going short normally, but the dress will be knee-length on all the other bridesmaids and hit around mid- to upper thigh on me. Plus, the wedding is on the beach and it will be windy, so the wedding guests will be getting quite an eyeful when the skirt blows up and I bust out of the top.

      It took actual crying and begging just to convince her to let me wear a shawl or a cardigan, but she still won’t budge on stockings. I am honestly thinking I should just bow out of the wedding altogether :\

      1. Windchime*

        Oh my goodness, this sounds awful. I actually bowed out of a wedding because I’m also tall and very busty, and I could tell that the dress would be a horrible, horrible thing for me. I don’t understand why brides do this to people.

      2. Jen in RO*

        I would be thinking that too! Why would a bride want her bridesmaid to be miserable? I thought weddings were supposed to be happy events. For everyone, not just bridezilla.

      3. Rana*

        Yeah, I think I’d bow out at this point. When the outfit becomes more important than your relationship with the person wearing it, it’s a sign to quit.

    21. Miranda Jane*

      I’m feeling like such a nice person right now. When I got married, I chose my bridesmaids’ dresses after lots of consulting with them, gave them ones that had detachable straps and let them choose one of two colours. And paid for them. It wouldn’t ever have occurred to me to make them pay for a dress I chose!

    1. fposte*

      They actually did it within a few hours–it got posted in the thread. Google “gawker” and “Operation Smile” and it should take you right there (I suspect Alison isn’t right on the computer today so I’m skipping the URL step).

    2. A Teacher*

      I didn’t see one, I did email them and got the same generic reply that AAM got (I sent mine to her)…basically saying that this process is a part of their vision to find good employees in a different environment.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — they sent me the same statement they sent Gawker and asked me to print it. I wrote back and told them I’d print it if they want but I thought that it would just cause round 2 of the same criticism and they’d be better off just saying that they appreciate the input and they’ll take a new look at their hiring practices, if that was true. They said that they appreciated hearing that and asked me to hold off on posting the statement. I haven’t heard back from them since.

    3. Sadsack*

      Yes, they did. They interviewed one or two interviewees, They also got comments from someone at the org, who said that the interview process is fun and everyone really enjoys it. So there you go.

      1. Jaimie*

        “Everyone” being the people already hired at $23K a year who are relieved to get some free food. Not including the 15 people who went thru a really stressful day for no reason.

      1. majigail*

        Transparentish or not, that’s a terrible way to treat potential applicants for a job that pays $12 an hour. Organizations like this give nonprofits, and nonprofit payscales, a bad name.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Me too! I wondered why everyone was talking about Operation Smile in the comments yesterday for the person who asked about the site that was posting all the candidates’ application information. How do people keep up with the comments on this site!? I tried having all follow-up comments emailed to me but it was too much email! I see there is an RSS feed link but I don’t have that. Is that the way to do it?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s an easy way to do it. You don’t even need to use RSS for other stuff; you could just bookmark the RSS feed for AAM comments and keep checking that page.

        2. Jen in RO*

          I just regularly check back on yesterday’s posts… I have a job where I can do that during the day. (And I also read AAM first thing in the morning, before I go to work.)

      3. Vicki*

        `”For the job candidates, the surprise of being told to cook a huge meal is “one of the most fun things they enjoy about the interview process,” according to OS PR director Sabrina Zimring. “It’s really fun.”‘


        Mind boggled.

  4. Ash*

    I’ve been waiting for this all week!

    I posted last week that I was still waiting to hear on a job I had 4 interviews for, a writing test, and was supposed to hear before Christmas. I had heard last week it was down to me and one other person, but it’s been radio silence since then. I saw earlier this week that the posting disappeared from the website (which this organization only does when the position is filled) so I guess I’m jumping to conclusions that they hired the other person and that person accepted the offer. But I still haven’t heard anything. My friend thinks that likely they’re waiting for that person to actually start to let me know. If that’s true, I don’t want to jump the gun and follow-up (and maybe I’m just dreading the inevitable rejection). I last reached out a week ago Wednesday. At what point should I check in again?

    Also, I really want to work for this organization. This job was a really good fit, but they have other positions I’d like to be considered for (both currently posted and those that will come later). How do I express this interest? Do I simply apply again and go through all of the rigamaroll? I got to the last round of this position, that should count for something, right?

    1. RG*

      Don’t reach out again. They’ll let you know when they know. Asking isn’t going to speed up the process.

      When they finally do get back to you, thank them, and tell them that you are still interested in working for them if any other suitable openings happen. And then apply and go through the process again.

    2. VictoriaHR*

      Before you re-apply, I’d follow up. Did they give you a timeline for when you’d hear back? If so, I’d go by that and then follow up once the deadline passes. If not, it’s been a week, I’d say it’s fine to follow up now.

      If they say that they gave it to the other person, you can thank them and then say that you’d be interested in X and Y positions that they also have available, should they have any interest, yadda yadda.

      Good luck!

      1. Ash*

        The original timeline was “we want someone to start Jan 1.” Ha. I asked for a timeline the last I followed up and the response was basically “I want to wrap this up, too, but I don’t have a timeline for you.”

    3. Sunflower*

      It depends on the organization. I had an interview that went really well and I was not offered the job. They sent my resume to a different department and set up and interview for a different position. This was also at a university with no real HR department and the hiring managers did all parts of the hiring. So you could apply for 6 different position and they application would go to 6 totally different people.

      It all depends on the organization. They might ask if you are interested in other positions, you might need to tell them, they might tell you to just apply online again. I wouldn’t follow up until the next timeline deadline passes. If they didn’t give you a timeline, don’t say anything. They probably have a good idea of their top choices so if you’re not on the list, following up again isn’t going to change anything.

      Whatever the decision, just be courteous and let them know you are still interested in the organization and other positions.

      1. Ash*

        It’s just especially hard since they did tell me last week it was down to me and another person. It’s truly disappointing and I’m now 99% sure it isn’t me, but there’s this glimmer of hope that I want wrapped up so I can move on.

  5. Temp in Limbo*

    What’s the longest anyone has been a Temp Worker when the company is telling you that they plan to hire you, and did you actually get hired at some point? Were you able to negotiate a higher salary after being hired, or at least stay the same, as I have been told that Contract workers are paid more… even though I am a W-2 Contract employee, not a 1099.

    1. LMW*

      Three years. They never hired me (despite stellar reviews) and I left. I worked with some people who were W-2 contract employees for 7 years or more (some of them were IT and liked it that way). The longest I know of someone in a “temp-to-hire” role was 5 years. I posted on one of the questions earlier this week — it seemed to be that if they had the budget to hire you at the initial term of your contract, they would, but if there was a hiring freeze at that time you were pretty much eternally screwed.

      1. LMW*

        You don’t happen to be temping at a staffing company HQ are you? Because I was fed that same line about contract W2 being paid more and it was only true for the IT programmers, not for any one in a marketing, communications or admin role. I was also told by someone who did get hired (after three years of being a “temp”) that she was discouraged from negotiating…but my boss, who was actively trying to get me hired but couldn’t get the personnel budget approved, told me she’d try to get me more money at that point (and raised my hourly rate to try to keep me).

        1. Temp in Limbo*

          No, I am through a contract company based up north, and my placment is in a Large Telecom company. They have hired other temps in the company, at various lengths of time, but my department is fairly new to the company, and they are seeing where it goes, before they approve a permanent headcount.

    2. Anonymous*

      I worked at a company as a temp through an agency for 2 years. Was finally hired and got a $1 raise. When they hired a new set of temps, the temps made more money than me when I was a temp and when I was a full time worker. I quit, obviously.

    3. Temp in Limbo*

      I did get a generous raise from the company that my contracting company matched… not as good as being hired, but it was something.

    4. Allison*

      I’m sort of in that boat as a contractor, 7 months by now. My boss told me I’ll be hired soon, that is was in process in December and would go through “in the new year,” and I don’t want to nag him but I’d also like to stay up-to-date on that process because I’d really like to start enjoying benefits people take for granted, like sick days and not having to pay a 45% tax rate.

      1. Temp in Limbo*

        Ouch, I would hate if I had to pay that much in taxes, luckily the contracting firm has me as a W-2 employee, so I pay the same taxes as I would working directly for a company. It’s the lack of Holiday pay, no PTO, and no benefits that makes me a sad panda.

    5. Magda*

      I’ve been on the temp merry-go-round twice. The first time it took roughly two years. I was temping at a MegaCorp type company and their salary/benefits were unbelievable – even taking their minimum package was a huge leap from where I’d been as a temp.

      Alas, that job got cut in a mass layoff and I went back to temping. I went through a couple of different temp jobs, the longest lasting two years. In all the places I worked, there were the eternal promises of “We’d love to bring you on, you’re such an asset, we love you…” and it never happened. I finally quit for something better, and I regret not doing it sooner. I feel like I wasted a lot of time, waiting for the offer that never materialized.

      My experience with temp-to-hire positions has been that they’re a crapshoot. Even moreso at small businesses (although that may just be a reflection of the ones I happened to work for). I spent a year at one small company where my supervisors were very enthusiastic about my performance, but come to find out there was major financial mismanagement by one of the senior partners, and half my department (including me) came in for surprise layoffs.

      If you’re in a position you enjoy and you can live on the salary/benefits, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out to see if you get the offer. But if I had to do it again, I would’ve been a lot more aggressive about getting out of temping, one way or another. Until it’s in writing you have no guarantees.

      1. Temp in Limbo*

        I have been applying to permanent positions, both with the current company I am at, and other companies. Mainly, ones that would be awesome to work at, as I am in no real hurry to leave, and sitting in Limbo isn’t unbearable right now, and I still have faith in the company hiring me, but I also want options.

    6. Former Temp*

      When I started at my current company as a temp, the agency told me that “everyone” gets hired after 90 days. As long as your attendance is OK and you’re getting the job, you get hired on. This was a lie because there was people there already who had been there longer than 90 days. Average was 7 months. I was there just under 6 months and got laid off due to budget issues. Four months later I got brought back as a temp in another department, a couple of months later I was finally hired on full time, two days after one year anniversary of starting there as a temp. As for more money, depends on what industry you’re in. I’ve heard that in IT the contractors get paid more because they have no benefits and have to submit their own taxes. Since you’re a W2, the tax part doesn’t apply to you even if you don’t get any benefits through your agency.

    7. Chinook*

      I am currently on month 10 of a 6 month temp-to hire position. The paperwork for creating a staff position is in the works and I they are also trying to figure out how to get me a raise. I am not holding my breath but I appreciate the thought.

  6. class factotum*

    My brother has a job interview next week! He’s only sent out six applications. I helped him with his resume and cover letter with what I have learned from Alison and Kimberlee Steins and I think that’s what’s made all the difference. Please cross your fingers, everyone – he’s been unemployed since June and if he doesn’t get a job, I might have to let him move in with me!

      1. AB*

        My cat is like that. He likes to fetch foil balls, plastic soda caps and beaded necklaces. He will follow you around with his “toy”, meowing until you throw it for him.
        He also does that with things he has caught and killed. He brings me dead wolf spiders because he wants me to throw them and make them work again. He did it once with a dead mouse as well.

        1. cecilhungry*

          My cat does that! Specifically with hair ties and balls of paper. In fact, if you start tearing the label off your beer (we drink a lot of beer), and the cat will come RUNNING and want to play. He’s a weirdo, and there are hair ties and balls of paper all over my house (because sometimes he gets distracted and/or drops the object partway through).

          1. Vicki*

            Ours does pieces of paper. Her favorites are postcards, 3×5 cards, and business cards. I take them back to my desk and she brings them again.

        2. Vicki*

          Yes on the balls and the soda caps (be cautious that he doesn’t eat the foil. It’s dangerous if it gets into the tummy).

          No on the dead spiders (ewwwww).

      2. AVP*

        Aww, my friend used to have a cat like that. But if you threw the toy too far and it hit the wall, he would go face-first into the wall trying to follow it. I think it messed with his head a little…

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        I didn’t realize until recently how easy it is to teach some cats to fetch. They love it, and throwing toy mice to cats on a wood floor can be very entertaining for the humans too. However, when one cat caught a real mouse, I could see him looking at it and asking me to throw it because it had quit moving on its own. Ooogh, no.

    1. Anna (and lay off the bananas!)*

      And she looks like she’s playing hide-and-seek with you, too. And not just the feline version (tail sticking out from under the coffee table), but bona fide hide-and-seek.

  7. Jubilance*

    How much stock do you put into reviews of a company on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor?

    I submitted my resume to a company and had a phone screen yesterday that went really well. The reviews of the company speak to things like favoritism amongst the management, and seemingly low performers being promoted over more productive people. However those reviews seem to come from those who worked in the call centers for this company, and my role would be very far from that. I did reach out to an acquaintance who had worked there previously who gave me some insight, but I wonder how much stock should I put into these other reviews.

    1. Ash*

      Like all review sites, most people only post if they have an axe to grind. If you move on, ask to talk to some of the actual employees to get a sense of the climate.

    2. Jen*

      It’s good to read and be aware of but I don’t base decisions on it. In my experience, a job is largely as good as your direct management. I worked at a place where they frequently win “Best Places to Work” awards and their GlassDoor reviews were glowing. But I was miserable because my boss was a micromanaging condescending jerk. I worked at another job where the glassdoor reviews were pretty dire but it was because a new CEO came in and cleaned house. I never had any problems there at all.

    3. VictoriaHR*

      I work for a company that also has a call center, and I did look at Glassdoor before I accepted the position. The reality is that it’s a great company, and the callers are mostly high school and college students, some of whom have inflated senses of what they deserve. In other words, they think they should have 30 minute breaks every 2 hours, and they always have issues with their supervisors “playing favorites,” etc. So I definitely took caller reviews with a grain of salt.

    4. MelG*

      Hmmm… I know when I posted my resume on Indeed the site kept propmting me to leave feedback on my old company, so a lot of people are probably doing that after they have left the place where you had the phone screen after leaving of being let go.

      I tend to look at all online reviews through a filter of my own needs, if that makes sense. If I need a hotel for a business trip, then I don’t care about the bad review from a woman whose bachelorette weekend was RUINED(!) by this hotel, you know? I just want free WiFi and no bed bugs. Same with your situation, I’d put more stock into what your acquaintance says than what anonymous people in the call center said since you wouldn’t be working in the call center and it could be structured very differently. Maybe google to see if there are any other articles about the company and the way it is run?

    5. AnonToday*

      Honestly, it depends.

      I did a Glassdoor search on a previous organization with whichh I worked. Some of what was said was true–organized chaos, traditional, little room for advancement, LONG hours, etc. However, some of it was hyperbolic statements from people I knew were disgruntled.

      So I guess Im saying I take Glassdoor into account, but I don’t let it stop me from applying for jobs. If anything, it just gives me an idea of what questions to ask in the interview process.

    6. some1*

      When I learned about Glassdoor through this site, I looked up a former toxic company where I worked. There was one review, and it was dead-on about what it was like there.

    7. Audiophile*

      So glad you asked this, as I’ve been wondering the same thing.
      Personally, I did turn down an invitation to interview with a company based partly on Glassdoor reviews. Also, it was not close to my house at all.

    8. Mike C.*

      I found that Glassdoor has a really bad tendency for “truth is in the middle” type garbage. If a workplace is really bad and the reviews show it, they go to a lot of effort to promote the other side, and make other reviews go away.

      1. Sunflower*

        I also applied for a job with a company that does online reputation management. It’s all legal but since I wasn’t hired there, I don’t know exactly what their practices are. The basis is they generate enough good content to push the bad content out as opposed to other company’s going the illegal route and posting fake reviews. So it’s possible Glassdoor could be a site they use?

    9. Sunflower*

      I was also wondering this. I’d also be wary of somewhere with ALL glowing reviews as they are probably fake. My old company was listed as one of the Best Places to Work and it was far from it on my side. It definitely depends on the person’s position who is posting. If you apply and get an interview, look at what your main concerns are from the sites then tailor some questions around them.

      I also think your acquaintance is 1000x more reliable than anything on those websites.

      1. DeMinimis*

        I think they’re more useful for big companies with a large number of reviews, you can at least get a good cross section of positives and negatives. However, I’ve seen some for smaller companies where you have maybe 4-5 reviews but all point to the same issues to where I’d say it’s still useful. My current employer doesn’t have very many on there, but after working here a while I can say most of the reviews seem valid, both good and bad. I’d guess the least useful would be cases where you just have maybe 1-2 reviews, so you have no idea if it’s just one disgruntled person or someone who is trying to cover things up.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I read them with an open mind and an eye on the subtext, same as I do any review. For example, there was one bad review for my company but it was mostly about a particular office, not the company as a whole, so I was able to dismiss it as possibly someone who wasn’t getting along with their manager. If there had been several and they talked about broader problems, they might have given me pause. But if I had taken that one bad review as gospel, I would not have applied and it would have been my loss.

    11. themmases*

      I am waiting to post something until after I leave (if ever), but I can confirm that the Glassdoor reviews of my employer are true. I had even thought that the situation in my department for people with my role was unusual, but lots of people with my role have reviewed my employer saying the same thing. To the extent I can evaluate, the reviews from other areas ring true to me as well.

      That said, I work for a large non-profit with a high-ish profile in my city. Most people love their work and the larger institution even if they’re not happy with their situation, and lots of people leave to advance and then come back. I don’t think most people can bring themselves to slam our organization even if they are writing because they’re disgruntled. I’d guess that people feel more comfortable writing an unbalanced review in anger about other types of organizations.

      In general, the larger the place the more I’d feel comfortable disregarding reviews from a totally different department. You can also browse the reported salaries for people in the whole organization– that should give you an idea how many people from your role were browsing around on Glassdoor, wondering if their situation is reasonable.

    12. Anonymous*

      I’ve looked at the reviews for companies I have worked for in the past and bsed on that I would say that it’s pretty good at highlighting an organization’s weak and strong points, in a macro way.

    13. SevenSixOne*

      I got fired from one OldJob and wrote a truly venomous review (full of RAGE CAPS and exclamation points!!!) of the company and its practices a few days later. Even though I still believe the company was a terrible place to work, I wish I’d waited until my anger and bitterness had subsided.

      A lot of the negative reviews on sites like that are probably written by disgruntled employees who are reeling from some fresh slight

    14. VintageLydia*

      I wrote a review on Glassdoor of my last employer but I tried to be even handed. I didn’t leave on bad terms or anything but there were/are some definite problems with it, or at least the way our particular district was managed (Mostly they used to send all the bad managers who were on their way out the door to our store for 1-3 years before firing them. As a result, our store never did as well as it could’ve and we rarely got any of the incentives some of the better run stores got which did hell on morale which perpetuated the cycle. We had really good workers who knew their stuff and genuinely liked their jobs and their customers, but we’d get stupid road blocks like being forbidden to replace a copier/printer we used literally daily when it bit the dust. One of the employees “donated” their old home printer but as you can imagine, it didn’t even stand up to the abuse of commercial printers. Then we’d get dinged because our printed stuff looked like shit.)

    15. Jaimie*

      Uh, is the company name two words, each beginning with C? If so, the poor reviews are true, I’m afraid (at least they are true from my perspective).

    16. Felicia*

      if there’s one review or only one type of job, I don’t put much stock in it. But for my previous company, there were 25 reviews, all different positions/departments, saying the organization was understaffed and over worked , while not treating their employees as human, those ended up being 100% accurate and I should have believed them. I think things that point to an individual problem might not be as valid as those that point to an organization wide problem, especially if the same kind of reviews persist across time and departments.

    17. Riki*

      I treat Glassdoor reviews like I treat Yelp reviews–I tend to ignore the ones that are over the top good or bad. Paying attention to the the type of positions the reviewers held/hold is a smart move. The reviews for my former employer are pretty swell, and it was/is a swell place to work for certain division. Not so much for my division, though.

      Also, content! If a reviewer just writes something like “THIS IS THE WORST COMPANY EVERRRR!!!!1” that’s not very helpful and possibly a fake post. However, if someone provides some explanation as to why their experience was good or bad (e.g. “sloppy management”, “great training program”, etc.), then I am more likely to take the review seriously…and believe that the reviewer actually worked there.

  8. Betsy*

    I’ve been waiting for the open thread! I posted anon two weeks ago about having a job interview and feeling weird about it because of scheduled travel the next week. Well, I did the interview, and it went AMAZINGLY, and by midday the next day I had a verbal offer, which I accepted. They overnighted me the paperwork, which was scheduled to arrive at approximately the same minute I was scheduled to board a plane.

    Since the situation was so weird, I broke my rule and talked to my manager immediately instead of waiting for the written, signed offer. I apologized for the timing and asked him how he wanted to handle it: should I go ahead with the trip, or stay here? Since I had some flexibility about my start date, I offered to give more notice if he felt they really needed me on the trip but didn’t want to sacrifice the transition time.

    I did not end up going on the trip, and am in the process of serving out another 2 weeks here before taking some time off and starting my new position. I have received some really flattering counteroffers, including opportunities to transition into other departments: if I had been offered those a month ago, I probably would never have accepted this interview. However, the new position is, at least on paper, a near-ideal fit for my personality, skills, and future hopes, and once I had seen the offer, there was literally nothing my current company could do to keep me.

    The paperwork is all filled out, I start Feb. 10, and there is much joy in Mudville.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that’s great news! Isn’t it nice to feel like a hot property? And I’m so glad that you’re in a situation where candor with your current employer was possible and well received–it’s so much better for everybody when that can happen.

  9. So Sad*

    Have you ever had a job where your employer tried to “mold” you? Where you weren’t seen as a great hire, a resource, an asset for the organization, but just a cog? A peg to be fitted in a hole?

    I think this type of management is fine for entry-level jobs, for people new to a field . . . but I’m 30. I’ve been working since I graduated college at 20.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      Yeah, I did, at an insurance company in the licensing department. They definitely wanted everyone to drink the same Kool-Aid. They’d dangle a carrot in front of me at every monthly one-on-one, if I’d only change one more thing about myself or my personality, then the next month it’d be just one more thing. It’s spirit-breaking. I finally quit without having another job lined up.

    2. LMW*

      I think it depends. There are times when being molded means that they see potential in you and will work with you to help you achieve being a great fit for a role, even if you weren’t when hired. That’s a wonderful position to be in.
      But it sounds like this might not be a great cultural fit, and they’re trying to mold you into a corporate drone of some type that’s not a good fit for your goals or personality.

    3. Donna*

      I am currently being molded, and I too am in my 30’s, but each company has its own atmosphere, and I want to fit in, without losing myself, which is exactly what my mentor is helping me with, how to be in the fishbowl, without getting lost in it, and still seeing myself in the mirrow every morning. If they are things that you don’t want to change, maybe you are with the wrong company. It’s fine to keep the ‘I’m great the way I am attitude’, until you find a company that is awesome, and you realize, ‘Okay, I could use improvement on certain things if I want to fit in.’

      1. KLH*

        YES. It was in performance auditing for a state agency, and there were multiple cultural factors in how they approached the idea that people didn’t have individual strengths and weaknesses they brought to the work, that they were interchangeable.

  10. Evilduck*

    Hooray! I was just thinking this morning that I had an issue I’d like to get some advice on and an open thread would be perfect. Luckily, it’s open thread day!

    Anyway, I’m looking for advice on how to deal with a territorial issue without a lot of authority. I split my time 50/50 between two programs in our organization to help them with marketing and communications. One of the programs desperately needs some help with their social media strategy. However, the people who are currently heading up social media think they’re doing ok.

    So far, logic hasn’t worked (e.g. this is the kind of thing I’m here to help you do!), nor has flattery (e.g. you’re upper management, you have better things to spend your time on!). I’m trying to be sensitive to their feelings of ownership; I know I hate it when someone comes in and says, “You’re doing this all wrong. Here, let me fix it!” But at the same time, they’re doing it all wrong and I can help them fix it if they’d just let me! (Ok, it’s not ALL wrong, but it could be better, by a lot.)

    To make it all worse, the way jobs are structured around here, I’m pretty much the low person on the totem pole, so I don’t have a lot of authority. The two people managing the social media accounts are upper management (and, fwiw, they have a tendency to think that because they’re scientists and experts in one subject, they’re experts in all).

    Any suggestions as to how to approach this without making everyone mad?

    1. Betsy*

      That really stinks. If it were me, I would try to talk to the people who are holding the process up, not about what you want to do, but about their current plan. Try to approach it not with the attitude of convincing them, but of gathering data. Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answers.

      Some possible questions:
      1. How are you judging the success of the current strategy?
      2. What are the three most important goals of our social media strategy?
      3. What one area would you most like to see improvements in?

      It may be that your suggestions, while good and valid, don’t meet their current needs. It may be that they do, but the department has been burned by people who swoop in to “fix” things that aren’t broken before. It may just be that they’re stubborn. Any way, keeping up an open-ended dialog should help with any if those.

    2. Colette*

      Does it need to be approached?

      In other words:
      – is it a business priority?
      – is there something they’re doing that could cause problems (vs. just not being the best way to do it)?
      – does it fall under your jurisdiction (it sounds like the answer is no)?

      I understand wanting to fix something that could be done better, but it may not be worth offending influential people.

      1. Evilduck*

        Well, yes and no. To put a wrench in everything, the Big Boss (who supervises the two managers currently handling social media) tasked me and one other person to tackle this….without telling the managers. Also, my position was basically created for me to do things like this – but no one has ever written an official position description for me, hence the not-having-authority part. And of course, there’s the higher mission of building our community of users.

        But, I am job searching right now (for many other reasons), so my threshold for battles I’m willing to fight is pretty low. I’d have a hard time living with myself if I just let this slip away without attempting SOMETHING. If it becomes too much of a Big Deal, though, I’m pretty quick to give up on things like this.

        1. Colette*

          So the Big Boss supervises the two people doing social media, but doesn’t want to tell them that you’ll be doing some or all of it? That’s disturbing.

          I guess I’d probably draw up a proposal for how you think things should be done and run it by the Big Boss. If she agrees to it, ask for her support in doing it (and for her to tell the people currently doing it that it will be done this way).

          1. Evilduck*

            Not exactly “doesn’t want to” but more just “didn’t.” When I first wrote this, I didn’t think I’d end up talking about reasons I want to leave, but it seems like the systemic issues are showing themselves :) Thanks for the feedback!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              That is the problem right there. Explain to the boss that the people see no need for a change. You could give him a written plan (as mentioned here), tell him, but barring a directive from him the change probably will not happen. Then ask him how he would like you to proceed.

              I think one thing I would do is make sure I have a clear understanding of what the change is that the boss wants.
              Statements such as “Beef it up” are not descriptive to me. So I would restate the question as “What do you think is lacking here or coming up short?”
              Of course if he does not provide answers there is not a lot you can do. And you may have to simply say “I don’t think I am going to be of much help here.”

        2. Gene*

          “Also, my position was basically created for me to do things like this – but no one has ever written an official position description for me, hence the not-having-authority part. ”

          So take some time and write the position description as you see it. Give it to the Big Boss and work with him to get an agreement on it, then have him sign off on it.

  11. MelG*

    I just got a new job (totally thanks to AAM!) and was looking on this site to see if she has any articles about how to have a successful first day/week at a new company. Does anyone know of any articles about that? Or do any of you have any tips or tricks that you find helpful on a first day? I tend to find the first week pretty exhausting since there is so much to learn and keep track of, so going in with a few things in mind should be helpful.

    1. some1*

      One tip is to introduce yourself to people, and ask what they do, especially if the org does a lot of new hiring, to combat that New Kid in School Who Nobody Will Talk To feeling.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Congrats on your new job! Presumably on your first day, you’ll be spending some time with your boss, so you should ask questions like what are the expectations for the first 30 days, and 90 days, and also ask specifically what you should dive into first. At many companies you do a lot of administrative stuff on your first day, like getting your badge, finishing up your HR paperwork, maybe doing some kind of new employee orientation, which can take up a lot of time.

      If you find yourself with down time at your desk, spend some time on the companies intranet site, just familiarizing yourself with it. There are so many questions that can be answered here, and if you can get a good sense of how the site is organized, you can refer back to it later. The added benefit is that if you do have to ask a question you can say, “I looked around on the website, but didn’t find anything about this,” which sends the message that you aren’t a person that needs a lot of hand-holding. Managers like that. Co-workers do too.

    3. Jen in RO*

      If you smoke, go out on the balcony/etc with your new coworkers. Actually, go out with the smokers even if you don’t smoke (get a coffee or soda if you feel weird). In my experience, smoking breaks are the best way to meet new people and learn about the company.

      1. Tina*

        I can appreciate the sentiment, but as a non-smoker, I can’t bring myself to hang out with a group of smokers for even a few minutes, and go home with smoke in my hair and clothes. It makes me queasy. I vote for ask them for coffee or a few minutes to chat, or have lunch with them.

        1. some1*

          As a smoker, I agree with Jen that it’s a good way to talk to people you normally wouldn’t get a chance to, but there are so many smokers who have a bias against smokers in the workplace that I probably wouldn’t suggest this at most places.

          1. Jen in RO*

            Probably works better in a country where smoking is allowed almost everywhere, so there is not much of a stigma on smoking.

    4. SA*

      Spend a lot of time listening and try to avoid making any judgments about the way they do things, or at least keep them to yourself for a while. It can be frustrating to an established team to have someone new come in and immediately talk about how they did something at their last job and why it’s better.

      In a few weeks / months when you have settled in more is a great time to share your thoughts. I always tell new employees that I am looking for their feedback since they are coming in with a fresh perspective. In my experience it’s better received if the feedback is thoughtful and developed over a period of time and not immediate.

  12. Sunflower*

    Does anyone have any advice for how to stay motivated during a job search when you’re employed? Or finding a job search group for employed people? I am having a hard time staying motivated to apply to jobs even though I’m very dissatisfied with my current position. Most tips I’ve googled relate to people who aren’t employed. I’d really like to find someone I can just sit at a coffee shop with a couple hours a day and we can maybe encourage each other? I’m trying to stay away from unemployed people only because when I was unemployed, the last thing I wanted to hear was about employed people’s trouble with job searching.

    1. Jubilance*

      I went through this during my last search – my job would go through cycles where it was dreadful, and then get better. During the dreadful times, it was easy to hunt because I wanted to get out of there, but during the good times I’d get lulled into complacency.

      Maybe you can try setting up a job alert to email you weekly with new positions? That way you can see what’s new and you have that weekly reminder to take a look and apply for things.

      1. themmases*

        This is a really good idea. Some sites I applied for jobs on send me daily updates, and if you take the time to set up a good default search the emails can be really relevant. I’ve definitely found positions in those emails that drew me back to the site to apply, even on days I wasn’t planning on spending time job searching.

        For people in the Chicago area (although some jobs on this site are outside that area so it might be worth a look for others), Association Forum of Chicagoland sends me particularly relevant daily emails as long as I log in and save my last search. Maybe it’s just my field that doesn’t seem to do much hiring on LinkedIn, but the job emails I get from them are way off-base even with my profile completely filled out.

        1. themmases*

          And I just got an email from Association Forum as I submitted that comment! With five association jobs just posted today.

    2. Sadsack*

      Every single conversation I have with my manager motivates me to keep searching for a job.

      A couple of hours a day to sit at a coffee shop and talk?

      1. Sunflower*

        Sorry, I should have been more clear. I meant someone to sit with while applying to jobs! I’ll tell myself I’m going to dedicate 3 hours to applying and then I’ll give up after 1. It would be nice if someone was there to keep me sitting and working and I could do the same for them.

        I will agree that every conversation I have with my manager also encourages me. I usually feel so drained when I get home all I want to do is sit on the couch and forget the day happened.

        1. Sunflower*

          Also I should have noted that by a couple hours a day really means a couple hours on a Sunday. I was so excited I got here early that I wanted to post asap!

        2. Elsajeni*

          3 hours straight is a long time to try to dedicate only to applying for jobs! (Really, it’s a long time to dedicate entirely to any one activity.) You might find that it helps to build breaks into your plan, or to shoot for a shorter time period more often (say, “half an hour every day” or “one completed application every day” rather than “three hours on Sunday”). I know that, for me, sitting down and saying, “Right, for the next three hours I will be ONLY PRODUCTIVE” would be a recipe for getting bored and annoyed after 20 minutes; I’d find it much easier to say, “Right, I’m going to finish this application, and after that I’ll goof off for ten minutes before starting on the next one.”

          1. Sunflower*

            Those are great ideas! I’ve been doing back reading on the site about applying to jobs and realized I think my issue trying to do it in long time periods as opposed to a little time everyday. This is also the first time I’ve applied for a job where I wasn’t desperate and had to take any job I got so it’s a very different experience for me!

        3. Anon Accountant*

          This was recommended to me years ago by a college career counselor.

          Take 30 minutes to an hour each day and job search. Set aside that on Monday you are searching for jobs in the area of this city, Tuesday another city nearby, or if you live in a large city decide that you will focus on jobs in the science industry on Monday. Tuesday you search IT companies for available positions in your field.

          And to start out you make a master list of your prior experience and talents. What were your duties in each of your recent jobs? What did you excel at doing? Did you do something that was great and helped the company? Did something to receive client compliments? Document that on your master list of talents and you will use this later for your resumes.

          Breaking your search into smaller segments makes it seem less daunting and overwhelming.

        4. Wren*

          I’m the same way. I’m such an extrovert that not having company or a deadline means that I find it really, really hard to concentrate.

    3. BN*

      I could have asked this question. I am struggling very much with a case of “applicant timeline.” I feel like things are moving at such a glacial pace that I’ll never get out of this position, and I’ve lost the motivation to apply to jobs at larger companies when I can imagine there’s potentially hundreds of applicants.

      1. Sunflower*

        I applied for a job on LinkedIn last week that I feel extremely confident about and my application hasn’t been viewed yet! Usually I get a notification that it’s been viewed the next day. Also everyday I just see the number of applicants growing and growing. When I think about the hundreds of applicants, I try to remember how many clueless applicants there are. A reader just commented how they’ve received 300 resumes for a job and all of them are terrible(grammar mistakes, inappropriate email addresses). Stay confident!

        1. Ughh*

          LinkedIn lets you know when your application has been viewed??

          I’ve applied to jobs through LinkedIn and I’ve never received a notification, is there something I should have turned on or have my applications been ignored?

          1. Sunflower*

            Unless things have changed in the past couple months, yes. The last job I applied to before this one was in August and I don’t think things have changed since then. I usually get both a notification and email as well. This only works if the job is actually posted on LinkedIn. If you see the job on LinkedIn and it sends you to a third-party site than it won’t notify you.

  13. Anonymous*

    I’ve just realised that I’ve got some sort of weird behavioral trigger following on from a really unhealthy work environment I left over a year ago. Mostly I’ve been thinking “Oh thank God I’m not there any more” but this week in a brand new job I encountered a hint of the same sort of environment and it sent me off the deep end and has affected me far more than I think it should have. I told someone about it and told them I couldn’t work in that environment again,they said “You can’t just leave a job every time you encounter people with a bad attitude”. How long does it take to get over this sort of thing? It’s like I’m on high alert because I was in a really bad way after the last place (didn’t realise how bad until I moved to a job I enjoyed).

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I have a theory about workplace dynamics/politics, which I tell myself and tell other people when we’re frustrated with something that has happened, or a decision that management has made:

      If we weren’t putting up with this big bunch of BS here, we’d be putting up with some other big bunch of BS someplace else.

    2. cc*

      Sorry to hear you’re going through that :( I went through a similar situation about a year and a half ago. I was a contract employee at a large company and about six months in, it went really sour (manager showed her true colours and started bullying me for whatever reason, a lot of unethical things happening around me, etc). I finally left after 10 months being there, but not before it took a toll on me, mentally and physically. We’re talking almost daily crying fits, my IBS worsened, and I gained a lot of weight due to stress eating.

      I’ve been at my job now for over a year and it took me about 5-6 months to really get comfortable here. I was really guarded and cautious the first few months and I would be paranoid if there was even the slightest tinge of the previous toxic workplace feeling… like an awful cloud of dread coming over me and I would think, “oh no, not again!”

      Eventually that feeling went away. I just had to keep telling myself that it’s not fair to judge the people at my new workplace by my previous experience. I also had to accept that no workplace is perfect and to focus on all the good things, which honestly outweighs any negatives I’ve encountered so far.

      I don’t know if that helps at all. I hope that feeling goes away for you soon.

      1. Elkay*

        Sorry forgot to sign in for my original comment.

        It really is the “Oh no not this again” and it’s the attitude of co-workers rather than a management style. I can rationalise that not everyone loves management decisions and management will do weird things but it’s a real sense of negativity that my knee jerk reaction to is “if you hate it so much then leave”. I can’t cope with the whining. I’m worried about the affect the negative whining will have on my mental health.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think that the flashbacks are fairly normal. And it takes seeing stuff a few times to realize it is not going to escalate as badly as it did at the old job.
      A few random thoughts:
      When you start feeling the weight of your old job worries DO NOT tell yourself “oh nooooo.” Tell yourself it is okay to feel anger/hurt/upset about what happened at your old job. It’s okay to have feelings and emotions. (I find that this takes practice because what I really want to do is keep repeating variations of “OH this is just like my old job.” which may or may not be true. Instead force yourself to focus on the core issue which is the abuse suffered at the old job. You don’t have a proof of abuse yet at the new job.)

      Next thing I encourage myself that I want people to give me the benefit of the doubt if I make a misstep. So that means I have to give others the same thing, I have to give others the benefit of the doubt if they make a misstep.

      And lastly, be good to yourself. Give yourself rest, good meals, take walks- in other words do things to build yourself back up physically, mentally, and emotionally. The more you put into you, the easier and easier it will be to get out of “fight or flee” mode. (From someone who knows too much about this topic- IBS will drain you of vitamins and minerals which in turn increases worry/fear. A fortified body is better able to cope.)

  14. Jubilance*

    Oh! And I totally encountered an application system that I actually liked! I registered, uploaded my documents and had to do a quick questionnaire (ability to work for any employer, EEOC, stuff like that) and that was it! No having to go through multiple screens filing out information pulled from my resume. No asking for references or salary requirements. It took about 5 mins and was the easiest application process I’ve ever been through. I told the recruiter during the phone screen and she said the company had revamped their application portal specifically to make it easier for applicants. I wish more companies did this! And also, death to Taleo…because the Internet.

  15. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The design of this site: A bit stale and ready for a redesign, or just fine? I’ve been playing with the idea of hiring someone to revamp it, but I’m not sure if it actually needs it or if this is similar to randomly deciding to buy all new bedding just because it’s fun.

    1. Ash*

      I usually read via Feedly, so only visit the site to read comments. I like how your comments are laid out (easier to follow) unlike some sites (like corporette which is annoying with its levels for comments).

      1. angie*

        I’m a clone of Ash. One thing that would be nice if no one’s mentioned it already AND it’s technically feasible, is if there’s a way to visually differentiate new questions from responses. Sometimes, I just want to scan what people are asking, but I have to read through to figure out when the next question appears. Agree that I’m not a fan of nested comments, but it’d be nice to have a little visual cue to ID question vs comment.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      I have to say that I really like the very clean-and-clear no-nonsense feeling to the site. I like the straightforwardness because I feel like it reflects a no-nonsense straightforward attitude towards employment, actually. So I like it!

        1. tcookson*

          My thoughts exactly. The content is the important thing to me, and the design of this site is good in that it lets the content be the main focus.

    3. VictoriaHR*

      I don’t mind the format/design of the site. It’s clean, uncluttered, and doesn’t have fancy fonts or colors. So I can surf it without having people walking behind me be aware that I’m slacking off :) I wish more blogs/websites would keep office slackers in mind.

      1. Calla*

        Have you tried f.lux? It’s an amazing program that makes your screen “warmer” and also dims/warms it more according to the natural light outside, so it’s not super-bright at 8pm. It’s been a huge help for me.

        1. themmases*

          I second the recommendation of f.lux– it’s really helped me a lot.

          I also recommend just turning the brightness and contrast on your monitor way down, and playing with the color settings (as long as you don’t do color sensitive work). I did this a few months ago when I was constantly getting headaches and eyestrain at work, and the difference was not noticeable to me for more than a day but my headaches are gone. I’ve read that a good rule of thumb is that, when you look at your monitor and the wall behind it, your monitor should not look obviously like a light source.

    4. Calla*

      I like the design. If you wanted to tweak it a bit I don’t think that could go wrong, but I like the clean design and the format of the comments.

    5. MelG*

      I love the current site design because (full disclosure) it looks like it could be work-related, so when I check it at work it doesn’t scream out “I’M CHECKING A BLOG OVER HERE!” It’s very clean.

      The only thing I have noticed is that the search function doesn’t differentiate between articles and comments. If possible, it might be nice to have a check box to include comments in search criteria that one can uncheck if only looking for articles. I’m not sure how involved that is, though.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s a great question. Anyone know if that’s possible? (When I want to do that, I have to search the back-end of WordPress, so I totally get how useful it is.)

    6. hilde*

      I agree with the above. The look is very much a part of the overall signature of this site. If anything, update the cute “you” at the top. I love her winter look, but you could do lots with that (summer, generic holidays, etc.) Then again, I don’t know how tough that is to actually accomplish so that suggestion might be moot.

    7. Mike C.*

      The only thing I would say is maybe a better way to organize longer discussions. I’m not sure how, but for the more contentious (and lets be honest, more interesting :) ) conversations, they become harder to read when they get squished and eventually you’re unable to reply directly.

      But as to the site itself, I think the clean look is good as is but if you have some interesting ideas go for it!

      1. Steve*

        I would like something that would remember what I’ve already read (especially in these more interesting longer threads). Something so that if I come back an hour later, new comments would be marked or highlighted so that I could easily find them and not necessarily read the existing comments over again. AAM’s posts are always on a blue background; it would be nice if comments I haven’t aready read were on a pink or green background, etc.

        Other than that, I have no suggestions since I think the clean neat layout makes it easy to read and enjoy.

        1. Karen*

          This is what I was going to suggest: a way to tell if there are new comments on a previously read thread. And I agree that the site looks good as is.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I would love this, too.

          My thought was for collapsing or expanding threads. For example: I have times where I am working a lot and I speed read through posts here. I would like to be able to collapse a thread that does not pertain to my main interests.

          But this idea is similar to color-coding in that it makes the bi-weekly threads more manageable and sounds good to me.

        3. Jessica (tc)*

          I’m for this as well. Perhaps we could have logins that would track our own accounts and where we left off? I dislike using cookies for this kind of thing, because I’m a fairly regular cookie-cleaner (weekly, in general).

    8. De*

      I like the design, but I think the tags could be organised better – organised into a structure, more tags, etc.

    9. FatBigot*

      A threaded commenting system would be nice. Pam Jones had/has a good one on It would mean that the short answers posts could each have a thread for each question.

    10. Jubilance*

      I like the overall design, but have you considered going to a new commenting system like Disqus? I love it because I can use the same login across different sites and it will email me when someone replies to my comment. With the Open Threads especially, I find myself having to stop by several times to see if anyone has replied to my comment, it would be nice to not have to check & see if anyone has replied.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I actually used to use Disqus long ago, but got rid of it for a few reasons — including that it would sometimes go down and all comments would disappear with it, and that I didn’t love the idea of them “owning” the comments (i.e., if they shut down one day, potentially all the comments here could disappear with them). But I agree that their functionality is great!

      2. Kit M.*

        I actually don’t comment on places that use Disqus. For privacy & paranoia reasons, I like to be able to compartmentalize my online identity and I don’t like the information to be aggregated, or to tie into my personal email accounts, etc. I know sites can allow guest commenting with Disqus, but one time I created an account after having previously commented as a guest, and it tied my earlier guest comments to my new account.

        Also, I sometimes have trouble with loading Disqus comments, and I really appreciate how fast AAM loads.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I’ve always had issues with loading Disqus, and I can’t trace it to an extension/add-on or anything. It’s across browsers. At first, I know it was Ghostery, but I got that figured out and a few weeks later it started again and it hasn’t gotten better (even with all add-ons turned off for diagnostic purposes). I don’t like logging into something that tracks across sites anyway, though, so I probably wouldn’t comment with Disqus.

      3. Victoria Nonprofit*

        I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate Disqus. So much so that I won’t participate in comment sections that require it. So, selfishly, please please don’t switch over to that (or anything like that; I’m not interested in having my commenter identity here tied to my commenter identity anywhere else) .

        1. Kerr*

          +1. Do not like Disqus. As others have said, I love the clean feel of the site. It doesn’t look dated to me, the comments are easy to read, and finding things in the sidebar is not a problem.

      4. Nonprofit Office Manager*

        I, too, would love it if I could receive alerts only when someone replies to my specific comment . I almost never choose to receive follow-up comments via email because receiving a flood of alerts stresses me out like whoa. But then I feel the need to keep checking back on specific blog posts to make sure I’m not ignoring someone who replied to me. And that gets time consuming. I’d probably actually comment way more if there was a way for me to receive alerts just when someone replies to me.

          1. hamster*

            Hire a back-end dev from elance or something like that. Eons ago i used to create such a functionality for a php based comments section.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, I’m sure it could be done, but because it’s not easy or straightforward to integrate it with the other back-end elements on the site, it would take significant time/money, more than I can justify spending.

              1. Jessica (tc)*

                Have you looked into Patreon? I already back one content creator (a webcomic artist), and I’d definitely be willing to do something like this for AAM. It’s an ongoing project, and the webcomic artist that we back is using it to get rid of ads on his site (which I’m all for helping out with!) I don’t know if you’d be interested, and I know it’d be something else to keep track of, but I wanted to mention it in case it were something you might want to look into.

                As I said, I’d be in for paying something monthly, because I certainly get a lot out of this blog pretty much daily!

                1. Jessica (tc)*

                  Oh, and another thing. This is kind of a “pay if you’re interested thing,” and the content isn’t hidden only for paying “backers” of the site. It’s just a way to let people who are willing pay a little bit per month to help with whatever you need it for (getting rid of ads, doing more back-end stuff that is helpful to us users, etc.)

    11. Betsy*

      For the most part I really love the site design, which I find clean and easy to read. The only thing I don’t like as much is the fixed width of the text area, which is only around a third of my monitor width at most and forces an uncomfortably small font when I’m reading on a handheld device.

      Unfortunately, I think this is a staple part of almost every wordpress layout ever, so I don’t know how easy/hard that is to change.

      1. ChristineSW*

        It’s actually perfect for me–because of my vision impairment, I use Firefox’s Zoom feature (many web browsers have that), and I have it to where Alison’s posts and the comments are just about the width of my screen. lol.

        1. Betsy*

          Oh, I definitely think if it’s going to be fixed width, small is better than big. I just wish it would grow and shrink dynamically to fit the screen size.

          1. Zelos*

            Yeah, I agree. I have widescreen monitors at work and home, and I’d much rather it being set up as taking up 60% (or whatever) of the screen width than a fixed with. I wanna take advantage of my widescreen!

            Other than that…I’m happy with the layout and wouldn’t change a thing. (I wouldn’t be opposed to minor colour changes for lowering the contrast glare, even though it doesn’t bother me, but I love the cleanness of the layout otherwise.)

    12. esra*

      I think the site is serviceable as is, but that there is a lot of potential for a more cohesive brand that you could also apply to your ebooks etc. I think if you redesign the site, you should consider having your designer put together a proposal for branding and other collateral.

      Disclosure: I’m a graphic designer, so probably very biased.

    13. Ann Furthermore*

      I love the site, and my only wish is that I’d like to be able to edit my comments if I notice a spelling error or a missed word.

      1. Zelos*

        Okay, I take back what I said above–I’d love to have this too. I have so many typos when I type quickly, sigh.

      2. Loose Seal*

        I’d like that too, if the editing features was only active for a limited time (another site that I comment on allows edits for 15 minutes). That way, we could correct typos right away but someone couldn’t come back and delete or change a comment after others have commented on it (which I also experience on other sites and I hate it because it causes confusion reading the threads later)

    14. Del*

      Colorwise, go for a bit more gentle contrast (very very dark grey text on a very pale grey background is easier on the eyes than stark black and white). But in terms of overall design, I think the site is excellent – it’s very clear and uncluttered, easy to read. A more threaded commenting system that goes more than 4 deep would be nice, perhaps.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I don’t find the search engine very helpful as it also picks up comments with the word/phrase in it and sometimes it’s impossible to find that particular comment!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Interesting thought on the dark grey and that wouldn’t be hard to do within the existing design.

        The reason we don’t go more than four deep on threading is that if we do, the width of the comment column gets very, very narrow.

        1. Jamie*

          I’ve been to sites where the columns get so narrow with deep threading that it’s not even worth trying to read the comment.

          I like it the way it is – but then I’ll like whatever changes you make…I’m easy. This is why with my work site my rule is tell me what you want and I’ll do it, but never ask me to decide what it looks like or come up with something fun and different because that part of my brain doesn’t engage.

            1. Jamie*

              As important as the creative types are, and the world would be a colorless place without them – the world needs us, too.

              Visionary’s need detail people behind them dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

    15. Chuchundra*

      Oooh Oooh Ohh. Me! Hire me!

      I like the site a lot, but may it is getting to be time for a refresh. I do a lot of WordPress work and it’s nice to have a new theme from time to time. WordPress themes have a lot of function as well as design elements and newer, more up to date ones let you take better advantage of the latest bells and whistles in the WordPress core.

    16. Jean*

      I like it just fine the way it is. However, I’m very much a plain-old-design type of person. Just give me something neat and tidy, with enough design features that I can tell where I am (e.g.. horizontal lines to indicate a subject change, successive indentation to indicate which comments introduce a new topic and which comments are responses). No need for fancy wallpaper, animation, or screening a graphic under the text.
      TLDR: It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. :-)

      1. Windchime*

        Agree; I have absolutely zero complaints about the site. Clean, easy to navigate, and good content. Don’t change anything on account of me! There are some sites who do the whole “Magazine layout” thing and I find them very difficult to navigate. But if you do change it, I will probably still come here because I love this site. There, I said it.

    17. Joey*

      It would be great if you could minimize the responses to comments and default to showing the initial comment only if that makes sense

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’d love that too — expandable/collapsible comment threads, to keep it all neater. I talked to my WordPress person and it sounds like it would be a major undertaking though (to make it work seamlessly with the current theme and cache system.)

        1. fposte*

          Would that have to be manually toggled each subthread or could you just toggle it across the board? I’d hate to have to click every subthread open.

          1. Kelly L.*

            The blog I use that has this, everything starts out open and you can opt to close things. So the default is you see everything, and if two people get into a non sequitur discussion of paint drying or something, you can hide it.

      2. CT*

        I second this – though I understand it looks like it can’t happen. :( It just sucks to come only a few hours late to an open thread and it already has ~500 comments.

        This is usually the reason why I don’t post my own questions in any open threads. (The weekly open thread thing is a great idea! But it doesn’t look like it’s really done that much to take the edge off.) Of course this is technically a GOOD problem to have, because it means the site is so active!

        Aesthetics-wise, I think the simple white w/ black font is professional-looking and suited for the subject matter of the site. Adding too many colors would start to take away from that, IMO. I like it the way it is.

    18. Jen in RO*

      I like the design in general. Like hilde said, it would be nice to have more seasonal AAM avatars. Also, but I’d like a like/upvote system for the comments (that wouldn’t alter the order). I don’t think that’s possible with stock WordPress comments, though.

      1. fposte*

        I kind of like *not* having comment votes, though; it means people need to commit to their opinion of the statement in a way that they don’t have to for just an up or down vote.

        1. Jen in RO*

          It would be useful to me because I don’t like posting “+100!” type comments, I feel they don’t add anything and they act essentially as “like” buttons. (But I know that most people dislike Facebook-type stuff.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            We need a button that says “I really like this statement but have nothing else to add.”

        2. CT*

          I agree. Also, while a minority of people will still post “+1!” comments, I think NOT having a voting system forces more people to elaborate and explain why they support or don’t support a comment, hence adding to more (and better) discussion.

      2. VintageLydia*

        I like an upvote/like only thing (and like you, where it doesn’t change the order of appearance.) Downvotes can inspire the nastiest of discussions. It’s so bad at one of my favorite blogs that half the negative comments seem to be centered around that. As a result I just never downvote anything.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      I’m happy with it as is. Especially since comments don’t nest; I hate that because then I have to keep clicking to see them all. But of course, it’s your site; if you have something you think might work better, by all means go for it!

      1. Ella*

        I would not change a thing! I absolutely love the way I easily find what I am looking for and more.
        Kudos to you and your proactive readers for all your efforts.
        Thank you for being here for us, with us.

    20. Mints*

      I really like the site. It looks “normal” and the simplicity keeps it from getting buggy.
      Have you had any progress on mobile, though?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I really want to use WPtouch Pro, but when I tried it a few months ago, it didn’t include support for threaded comments and you couldn’t reply to a comment. They told me they’re adding that soon, and when they do, I’ll try again!

        (Or if anyone has a different recommendation for what to use, please share it!)

    21. ChristineSW*

      I’m happy with the site the way it is–simple and fairly easy to navigate. The only thing I wish we had was the ability to edit comments, but I understand if that’s too big an undertaking.

      However, I won’t be too mad if you decide to change anything :)

      1. Confused*

        I like not having to “sign in” to comment and that you don’t use Disqus. I love the current simple and clean design and how quickly the site loads bc it’s not loaded with gifs and tons of java etc. Easy to load and easy to read!
        +1 to improving search engine to exclude comments
        I suggested changing the color of OPs’ replies in comment section but you said it would have to be done manually. Is it possible to have a little OP box to check, under the current “notify me…”? So, when an OP responds she checks the box and her comments are automatically highlighted in a different color? Honor system?

    22. CAA*

      Would you consider a forum system for discussions? I think the traffic here has really outgrown the open threads, and in fact the only reason I’m reading this one is because I’m fighting the flu and too sick to do anything else. :-(

      I know people are using Linked-In for some discussions, but I would love to have a place to talk that’s accessible right on the AAM site. I think it would really help to enhance the sense of community that’s developed here. Plus, when comment threads stray too far off topic, you can say “take it to the forums” and you can also mine the forums for new blog posts should you ever run low on emailed questions.

      It’s been a couple of years since I really looked at WordPress plug-ins, but bbPress and BuddyPress would be good things to look at. You’ll probably need some professional help to get either one setup properly and working well with the site. The downside of this is that it’s one more thing to manage, and you might need a couple of volunteer moderators.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I definitely hear that. For now, at least, I’m staying away from forums because they’re a little outside the mission I have for the site. (And they’re definitely more work, as you note!)

    23. Worker Bee*

      I do like the clean look of the site. But what I would really love is a mobile version of the site. I love to read the articles and comments on my train ride to work. But it is a bit of work to scroll and resize the comments (they get smaller and bigger depending on the level of response, if that makes sense) I admit I don’t have a clue how difficult this is on the tech end.

  16. Diet Coke Addict*


    Has anyone had one of those Kong-style wobbly food-dispenser toys for cats before? The kind where you fill it with kibble or treats and the cats play with it all insane-like until the little bites fall out? I’ve been wondering about them ever since seeing them at the pet store, and although my cats burn off most of their energy playing with (well, fighting with) each other, I wonder if it would give them some mental stimulation as well.

    1. Sascha*

      I haven’t tried that with cats, but then again the cats I’ve had would probably just sniff it, leave it alone, then throw me side-eye for even thinking they might enjoy it.

      1. Windchime*

        Mine would definitely do this. He’s picky about what kind of a dish his food is in, I could see him being downright annoyed if I tried to put it in a kong toy.

    2. BN*

      My dog loves it and knocks it all around the living room for her breakfast.

      My cat was offended. Shortly after she dropped a dead mouse on my pillow. Coincidence, I just can’t believe it.

    3. esra*

      I bought one and the only time it gets used is when someone visits with their dog. My cat looks at it and then looks at me like: “Yea, right. We both know you’ll just give me treats if I stare long enough.”

    4. Mints*

      My cats like it! They’re really curious though so I think it was like “Let’s look in here this looks fun….food!” Food was a surprise

    5. themmases*

      My cat likes hers. She doesn’t get a ton of exercise playing with it, though. Mostly it reduces begging for food before meal times. If she’s hungry she’ll go see if there are treats left in the toy rather than being a brat.

      Ours is the size and shape of an egg, with a weighted bottom and a top with a hole, and screws off so you can fill it with treats. If I had to make one change to it, I’d get a clear one so I can see if it needs to be refilled. Otherwise, the cat and I are very happy with it.

      1. KLH*

        I use it to portion out extra food for the diabetic cat when I’ll be home late. He doesn’t like it, but he’ll use it.

    6. Chrissi*

      My cat never figured it out. Either that or she’s smarter than I am and has trained me to fix it for her eventually.

      However, she’s nuts about the Kong that you fill with salmon paste (comes w/ the salmon paste)!

    7. Sorcha*

      I use a feeding ball for my cat’s dry food – he was not amused at first, but quickly learned how it worked. I can adjust the size of the holes to make it easier/harder for him to get the food out, and he seems fine with it now. It does make him work a bit more for his food, and he goes back to it over and over.

  17. Anonymous*

    I’m trying to shop for more professional clothes and I don’t know where to start looking. I’m 5’4 & 115lbs. Everything is just TOO big. Where do short-ish and thin-ish women shop for business casual?

    1. Ash*

      Start reading stylishpetite and extra petite. They have really good suggestions. And tailor, tailor, tailor.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Have you tried the Petites sections at places like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic? I’ve had much luck there. And try reading Extra Petite, the blog, for good suggestions.

      And find a tailor! Nothing fixes fit issues like a good seamstress.

      1. some1*

        “And find a tailor! Nothing fixes fit issues like a good seamstress.”

        Totally. I find many dress pants need to be hemmed (since I prefer to wear flats to work).

      2. MelG*

        I second Banana Republic petites. I’m also 5’4″ and have had good luck with their petite blazers and tops. They also tend to have multiple pant lengths available.

      1. Lore*

        Big department stores often have petites sections. I’ve had great luck with the one at Macy’s. I hate shopping at department stores–information overload–but I needed a suit for a job interview that was business formal and I didn’t have time for tailoring. First time in my life I’ve ever found pants and sleeves the right length off the rack!

        The Gap and Express both make pants in three different leg lengths; the short length can be difficult to find in stores but can be ordered from the website. And a lot of stores that don’t have petite sections in the store sell petite sizes on line–the Gap, I think; definitely Express and J. Crew. If you try something on and it’s close, but too long or cut for someone too tall (I have this with dress shirts), the closest equivalent petite size will probably do nicely.

        1. fposte*

          I know it’s not to everybody’s taste, but shopping online will totally open up your world if you’re a petite or other “extended sizes.” All the Gap stores–Old Navy, Banana Republic, Gap–have petites online (at least in my smallish town, the stores don’t), and the range is much, much broader. Both Ann Taylor and Loft have petites online, too.

          I’ve kind of given up on b&m clothing stores, but I know Loft was always willing to hunt for stuff at other locations if they didn’t have it there, too; that and the fact that they actually have petites in-store kept me going there after I’d quit everywhere else.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Amen to shopping online. With the exception of pants (which are harder to judge for fit without trying them on), I can’t think of the last time I bought a clothing item in person instead of online (or maybe any item, really, other than groceries).

            1. Jen*

              Have you heard of that new site Stitch Fix? I am also an online shopper (other than pants) and this site apparently asks a whole bunch of style questions and then you get a personally selected box of outfits with photos of how you can make them dressy or casual. You try them on, keep and pay for the ones you want and send back the ones that you don’t want.
              I’m considering it because I tend to dress in a uniform of my own creation during the winter. Black dress pants + colored solid sweater or black skirt + colored solid sweater.
              I blame my years of Catholic school uniforms. I am now unable to dress myself in any sort of interesting way.

              1. Donnatella Moss*

                I used StitchFix for the first time in December – kept two shirts, got a bunch of compliments when I wore them over Christmas, and referred some other people to the site. I’m getting a second shipment next month. I like that it’s expanded my horizons a bit, liked 4/5 things they sent (returned a dress only because it didn’t fit!! otherwise it was perfect), and they send a card with ideas on how to style each piece.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I wish big department stores had Tall sections. You have to hunt for stuff, if they even carry it at all. And there are big and tall stores for men, but for women, it’s only big. The big clothes are too big for me and everything is too short!

          1. fposte*

            See above re: shopping online. Basically, extended sizes just don’t make enough income to earn their floor space in brick and mortar.

          2. HR Lady*

            Elizabeth, Eddie Bauer has women’s tall sizes (not sure if that’s only online, though). I think several women’s stores sell pants in tall/long sizes — Limited, maybe Gap, etc. But I’d check more stores online, and/or just google women’s tall clothes.

          3. Windchime*

            Yep. And I don’t really need “tall” (even though I am 5’11”); I need *long*. Tall sizes mean that the waistband comes up to my armpits. I just need them to be a liitttttle bit longer!

    3. JessA*

      I will second Ann Taylor Loft. I used to shop there all the time. You might also want to check out Nordstroms. They may be a little more expensive but I once had a doctor who was under 5 feet and her clothes looked really professional, so I asked her where she shopped and she mentioned Nordstroms.

    4. Sadsack*

      The Limited is nice, and a bit less expensive than Ann Taylor. There clothes seem to be made for skinny people, I have a suit from there and had to get a size up and have it Taylored to fit.

    5. Sascha*

      I’ve had a lot of success at Loft, and they put stuff on sale quite often. I am about your size and that’s where I usually get my business professional clothing. Banana Republic has some good pants and blazers, but dresses never fit me right, as they were always too big in the chest if I wanted it to fit in the hips. Just keep an eye on the sales. :)

      1. AB*

        If like dresses and skirts, there is a site I buy from (eShakti) that when you order you order based on height and then size. You can also have it tailored exactly to your measurements (for a $7 fee). I love, love, love it because I’m tall and dresses and skirts off the rack are always too short.
        I get a lot of compliments when I wear stuff from there. So much so, that there are now 4 other people in my office who order clothes there. (Yes, I have become a walking, talking advert for them) The only downfall is they don’t carry pants.

        1. themmases*

          Oooh, I second the eShakti recommendation. I’ve gotten some really cute clothes from them, and you can customize almost everything about them (including changing a sleeve type, where the dress should hit you on your leg, etc.). If you’re an existing customer, they also send you gift cards all the time and have sales where customization is free or discounted.

          1. Confused*

            I’ve checked out their site but never ordered. Were you happy with the items you ordered? Quality of material, items packed and shipped nicely?

            1. Rach*

              I’ve ordered from them a couple times, both for dresses to wear to weddings, as a guest (one my sister-in-laws, and one my best friend from high school, both relatively casual weddings). I was impressed! Their communication is good. The fabric and seams were very good for the price. Fit was fantastic. I’m funny shaped, and they nailed it. And both my dresses had pockets! Pockets! It’s enough to want to buy more and more and more from them!

              However, they are based, I believe, in India, and each item is made/tailored for you, so it can take 4-6 weeks to get your clothes. Not so great for the last minute shoppers (which is why I don’t have more clothes from them, I’m more of a “that thing is on Saturday? Oops…go to the mall, or wear something I have already?” kind of shopper, unless I’m really excited about the event), but if you can plan ahead (I envy you) or it’s not a time sensitive purchase, I think they’re worth it.

        2. Sascha*

          I have admired many a dress from eShakti, I want to give it a try. I just haven’t found the right dress to buy yet. :)

    6. Mike C.*

      A tailor is awesome no matter what size, shape or gender you are. Even if you find it a bit of a splurge, I would still suggest doing it for interview clothes.

      I know it’s mostly head games, but there are few other things that inspire confidence like a well fitting suit.

    7. Liz R.*

      I’m also petite, and have been able to find lots of great outfits at J. Crew/Banana Republic outlets. They both have lots of options for petites, and at an affordable price! For online shopping, I’ve had lots of luck on

    8. CollegeAdmin*

      I’m 5’6″ and float between a size 0 and size 00. I’d recommend White House Black Market. I sometimes find their stuff just a tad short for me, so at a couple inches shorter, you should be fine. It can be a little pricey, but everything I’ve purchased from them has been of great quality.

      1. ann*

        I find almost everything at that store overpriced and of poor quality, but thats just my personal experience. I recommend Talbots and Ann Taylor.

    9. themmases*

      I’m 5’3″, and surprisingly most Target stuff fits me fine– although it’s more casual. My nicer work pants all come from Express and then I get them tailored, and I’ve had good luck with jackets at both Express and the Limited.

      I also buy a fair amount of stuff online at Gap, etc. and Amazon, because they have both petite size and a lot of people who come back to review the items. You can almost always find a short lady of about your dimensions in the reviews at those sites, commenting on the fit.

    10. angie*

      Might not be to your taste or the look for your culture, but I have had petite coworker friends who swear by eshakti. The site offers both ready to wear and customizable, so there are options and prices are not dissimilar from Banana Republic and the like. Might be worth a look if you haven’t already.

    11. CT*

      Are there any suggestions for more economical (aka, cheaper) options?

      I’m 5’2″, 95 lbs, so I am definitely in need of this comment thread. But I’m also in a less-than-ideal financial situation. I know & accept that I will eventually have to fork out the expense for professional clothing, but anyone who knows of any cheaper resources would be greatly appreciated.

      1. Kerr*

        Eshakti often has significant discounts available, and I think you get free customization on your first item. Caveat: I haven’t used them before, though I’ve heard positive reviews. And of course, other

        I’ve been in the “budget” boat for most of my working life, and shop in the petites section almost exclusively for tops. Unfortunately, a lot of the nice stuff for petite sizes is at nice, expensive stores. But I’ve had success shopping at Macy’s, Kohls, and JCPenney (I don’t care if they get a bad rap; I haven’t been in very recently, but they often have good, classic options for petites on a budget, especially their East 5th line). I’m not a 0/00, but I’ve heard good things about H&M from my petite & small friend who shops there.

        Also, thrift stores. Find the one where wealthy people donate stuff.

        1. Kerr*

          Arg. Meant to say, of course other stores like Ann Taylor Loft, etc. have frequently sales and coupons. Time it right, and you can hit good clearance sales.

        2. tcookson*

          +1 on the thrift stores. I don’t wear petite clothes, but it seems like at the thrift stores I frequent, the petites section always has the nicest stuff and more frequent donations of new stuff. It makes me pretty jealous sometimes.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I do a lot with thrift stores and consignment shops. I don’t know why I used to ignore those places. I have better clothes now than I did before. And the beautiful thing is if I get tired of something it does not bother me to give it away and get something else. I started with things that were almost classic styles or a staple like a black turtle neck. After a bit I got hooked. I found a pair of LLBean lined jeans for $3. Perfect for shoveling, it was like finding gold.

          1. Jennifer*

            +1 for Consignment stores. I get great stuff from the stores in my area–major city suburb. I also consign clothes I no longer wear. Another avenue is ebay. However, I only use it for better brands whose sizing can be depended on to be consistent and quality I trust. I live in TX so I don’t want to spend a lot on coats. I’ve gotten several J. Crew coats for 30% of retail or less. I wear nice clothes that there is no way I could afford at their retail price. Plus, since they’re better quality, they last longer. I’m spending far less than I used to and have a much nicer and better quality wardrobe.

    12. ChandraNH*

      Land’s End does petite length/proportion in a range of sizes and you can get some great deals. some of my favorite dresses and basic shirts/cardigans are from there (I’m five feet) and I just got two pair of ankle length thin corduroys that I’m loving (despite everyone saying that short people shouldnt’ wear ankle length).

  18. AVP*

    Just wanted to say thank you to fposte and De Minimis for giving me good advice last week (I was the person feeling guilty about giving a bad reference to a former fired employee.) By the time I signed back in it was like, more than a day after the thread dropped off. But thanks!

    1. fposte*

      I’m glad it helped. I kind of like dropping back into the open threads when the momentum dies down, and it looks like De Minimis might as well.

  19. hilde*

    Is this a safe place to talk Downton Abbey? Or should we not since we have such a large number of overseas folks that may have seen the whole season already? I’m in the US and have only seen episode 2…but whoa.

    I really want to talk about it, but don’t if we all have to continually preface everything with SPOILER. That’s just not fun.

      1. hilde*

        I know, Colette. It’s so sucky how the US airs it 4 months later. I am *very* careful when I do any reading/looking online about DA this time of year. Maybe we should just wait until it’s over in the US in a few months and then hit it up on the open thread.

        1. Colette*

          It was lucky for me, actually, since I just started watching it in December. :) This is the first season I’m watching at the same time for anyone else.

          But yeah, maybe we should wait.

          Or *cough* you can find my e-mail address through the blog my name is linked to.

    1. Sabrina*

      OMG episode 2, I kept thinking “Someone has to come down and interrupt this. This cannot happen.” Ugh.

      1. hilde*

        I KNOW! I had a coworker after episode 1 say, “they’re just too happy. Something bad will happen to them.” Well, there you go.

  20. Elizabeth West*

    Open thread! Adorable Olive picture!

    I don’t have a lot to say right now–as usual, there’s nothing going on. School started and I’m so unmotivated. I’m just waiting for my novel critiques to come back. I still have not gotten Old Work back from KindaFamousHorrorAuthor, who says he’ll be done with all manuscript reviews by the end of February.

    I know he’s sent some back, but apparently mine isn’t one. I have no clue if it’s taken so long because:
    a. I’m one of the ones he said he was talking to someone about/writing recommendations for.
    b. He hated it so much he put it off until the very end. (Waah! Although when I met him, I told him what it was about and he was intrigued and promised me a blurb, so maybe he liked it.)
    c. He sent it back already and it’s lost in the mail.

    Current WIP is with a first reader, who has a novel out and is/was a screenwriter for a while. First Reader thinks Current WIP may be saleable (!!!!!!!), but we’ll see–he wasn’t even halfway through it when he said that.

    I can’t really work on them until I get them back. There’s no point in rewriting until I know what their recommendations are, and if Old Work is a bust, there’s not much point in writing Sequel. So I guess I’ll just suck it up, do my Sequel outline, and oh yeah, do my homework (uuuuuuuuugggghhhhh).

  21. Calla*

    Bringing back the wedding questions from a few open threads ago :)

    I got engaged on Christmas Eve – we’re planning for May 2015 and we found the dream venue. The website said (on the online booking form) that max days in advance you could book was 365. I thought, okay, that means I have to wait until this May to book, not a huge deal. Well earlier this week I called just to ask if that was really the max and they said actually you can only book for the same calendar year — so… I have to wait until close to the end of January 2015 to book for May.

    Since everyone else is facing the same restriction, I think the likelihood of someone calling the day reservations open for the day I want is extremely low, but it still makes me nervous.

    Anyone dealt with this kind of thing before? (If you’re in Boston, it’s Larz Anderson Park.) I’m debating whether to just assume I have a 99.9% chance of getting the date I want, or if we should give up on the perfect venue and find something else to be safe.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What a horrible policy. If it were me, I’d find a different venue because I wouldn’t want the stress of the uncertainty (especially because you’ll have to book the other vendors well before that), but it probably depends on how much you dislike that kind of uncertainty and how upset you’d be if you had to rebook everything else / find another vendor five months out (which would be pretty hard to do but not impossible).

      1. Calla*

        I know – I don’t get the purpose of that policy.

        That’s what I’m leaning towards because even the small percentage of uncertainty makes me really nervous. But it’s so beautiful and inexpensive I’m having such a hard time parting from it!

        1. fposte*

          “I don’t get the purpose of that policy.”

          My guess is that it was driven by a calendaring system (possibly an actual wall calendar) at one point and they’ve never seen the need to change. It’s absolutely bizarre, though.

        2. J*

          I also have a wedding set for May of 2015. I’ve already booked the venue. My fiance recently went to a bridal extravaganza (I believe that’s what they’re called…?) and met a lot of future brides with similar wedding dates. Obviously I don’t know where you live, but for what it’s worth, I wouldn’t want the added stress of waiting to book the venue with less than 6 months until the wedding. With so many other plans centering around it I’d want that to be one of the first things checked off the list. And congratulations on your engagement!

    2. Sunflower*

      What that’s crazy and makes absolutely no sense! I’m not from Boston so not familiar with the space or policy. Is it possible this is a form for a smaller event or meeting? If that is their policy than I can’t imagine how their operations run.

      Since it was on a website, definitely call the venue and double check. Usually if you are willing to sign a contract, they will let you book however far in advance you want

      1. Calla*

        No, I did call and that was when they said you can only book the same year (on the website it said 365 days max so I thought there was some more leeway). Maybe I’ll call back and mention it’s specifically for a wedding, though — versus like a family social or game, since it’s a park I’m sure they get a long of that casual stuff too. I don’t know how they can expect people to do that on such short notice!

        1. Sunflower*

          Oh just realized I missed that part! I just looked at the website and realized it’s a public park. Does that mean there is no fee to get married there? I work in event planning but we don’t use public spaces so I don’t know much about contracts there and how they work. Or even if there is a contract for it. I would call back and mention it is for a wedding and ask if there is a contract you can sign. If not then go with Allison’s advice and see if that is something you are really willing to risk.

          I’m sure you aren’t the first person to get married there so there has got to be some way around this. Good luck! My sister is getting married(also May 2015) and also had a bit of a panic when she found the perfect venue and found out she would have to wait 2 months before officially booking the space.

          1. Calla*

            There is a very, very small fee for use of both the ceremony and reception space (the picnic shelter). And as far as I can tell they don’t have any anti-decoration rules, which most Boston parks do, so that’s a bonus!

            I’ve emailed to mention it’s a wedding specifically and how waiting until 4 months before to book makes it really hard — so hopefully they get back to me with good news!

      1. Calla*

        Maybe! The Boston parks have some strict rules too, but nothing about only being able to book only a few months in advance.

        Thanks for the link – I’ve looked at some of those but they’re out of my budget though.

    3. Mike C.*

      That’s incredibly dumb of them.

      “No, no, I don’t want to earn free interest on your deposit, instead I want to stress out families trying to prepare for a wedding instead. Good luck getting through on the phone!”

    4. books*

      Darn. My comment is in moderation (maybe because of the link?). So:
      I looked at several places in Boston and did not encounter anything like that. Maybe because it’s owned/operated by the town? If you are looking for other spaces that do outdoor weddings check Historic New England. Rates are surprisingly low. Pierce House in Lincoln is also a good spot.

  22. Amy*

    I have a question about USAJobs postings. If the opening is simultaneously advertised as open to the public (DEU) as well as merit promotion and only open for about a week, does it usually mean they have someone in mind and are promoting from within? I’ve heard that if the department is really casting a wide net, postings would be open for more than a week or 10 days and there wouldn’t be two separate postings…Just trying to manage my expectations. Thanks, AAM readers!

    1. Ash*

      It really depends on the hiring department. Remember that current employees, veterans, and those with disabilities get preference points… but if they score lower on the rest of the app, an outside person can still top the cert list. 10 days is a reasonable time. I’ve seen postings for 2 days… that’s when something is fishy.

    2. Another Cat*

      I’ve heard this as well – that short timeline may mean merit – plus they may write the description exactly to that person’s resume. I think they are just required to make the position available to all.

      1. DeMinimis*

        They also sometimes have shorter hiring periods when they know they are going to get a ton of responses.

        Federal hiring is all about persistence….just keep applying, and eventually you can get in, especially if you’re flexible about location. The worst thing to do is to assume you won’t be considered and not even apply.

        We had a position in my department last year where we did have a candidate in mind, but they still interviewed other people along with the internal person, and I’m close enough to the people involved to know that even though the internal person had an advantage, an external candidate could have very well gotten the job if they’d outperformed the internal candidate on the interview. The internal candidate did get the job in the end, but she had to work and prepare for the interview the same way as the others.

  23. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Two site announcements:

    1. We now have a “random post” button (at the very top of the page, in the top navigation menu). Click it and you’ll be taken to a random post. Click it again to be taken to another. And so forth. It’s a new way to navigate through the site, suggested by a reader.

    2. I’ve added a note to the “how to comment” page ( absolving you of having to correct your own grammatical/spelling mistakes. (Feel free to continue to correct mine, though.)

      1. Joey*

        Just my opinion, but its kinda strange. At first click I wondered if you selected the random post for some reason.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Interesting. If you weren’t familiar with the feature, I could see that happening. (I know it from a bunch of other sites so know what to expect.) Would different wording help — “surprise me!” or something like that?

          1. hilde*

            Is that what Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” thing is all about? I have never understood that on Google.

            “Surprise me!” might be a little more descriptive and engaging if someone was just randomly wanting to read posts…?

            1. Anonymous #13*

              “I’m feeling lucky” on Google will take you straight to the first result of your search. So instead of searching and then browsing through results, I’m feeling lucky directs you to result #1. It’s useful for definitions, historical data/info, etc. where you are certain that the first result will be just fine.

    1. CT*

      I know it’s hard for some people to resist correcting their own grammatical mistakes, but I like that you’re encouraging them to just let it go. People are such thoughtful commenters here that they like to correct their typos, but it just adds unnecessary comments to the already-long threads. Unless it really changes the meaning of the comment… just let it go! We don’t even know who you are. We’re not going to judge.

      1. Jamie*

        I like this – I do it myself, sometimes, but I like the idea of group permission to be flawed and that’s okay.

        But there are still people who will judge – they’re everywhere.

        FWIW I don’t – I think I have a pretty good feel writing that has an error or typo or someone who truly lacks basics in written communication.

      1. Windchime*

        Nice! I used to read The Daily WTF, and they have a “random post” feature that was kinda fun.

    2. GH*

      You took my suggestion! I’m so excited! To those who are confused about its purpose, it’s something I’ve seen on other sites and I love it as a new or occasional reader — the site has such a motherlode of posts that are new to me, that being able to hit random (or “surprise me”) is a fun way to read some of them, rather than paging through chronologically.

  24. Another Cat*

    Hypothetical: You are in a meeting with your boss to discuss goals for this year. You try to explain that you are overwhelmed with your current workload. Your boss replies that this is just too bad, but this year you will be expected to do even more work. You’re looking for a new job, but how do you manage in the meantime?

    1. Ash*

      What I’m trying to do — keep your head down, get what you can done, and focus. It’s really hard though. I know. I’ve already mentally moved on from my job so its hard to start new projects at this point.

    2. fposte*

      You also might create your own internal priorities, so that even if your boss says “Everything is a priority!” you can decide for yourself if you’ve been achieving what you really should be. That can help you avoid buying into really unreasonable expectations and considering yourself a failure for not meeting them.

    3. MaryMary*

      Can you ask your boss for suggestions on how to prioritize or triage your workload? You’ve already told her that you feel overwhelmed, I think it’s fair to reach out to her for direction on how to manage what’s on your plate.

  25. KJR*

    Looking for some input on vacation time, particularly from smaller (under 30 employees). Wondering how much vacation time is given after how much time at the company. For example, 3 weeks after 5 years, etc. We are having an animated discussion about this currently, and want to see what others are doing. Thanks!

    1. AnonHR*

      We’re a little bigger, but we’ve had about the same allowance of hours since we were about 45 employees (once we got larger, we did combine vacay/sick/personal leave in a PTO bank and grant it at the beginning of each year instead of accruing, which is so much easier)

      Employees with 1-4 years of service get 3 weeks, 5-9 get 4 weeks, and 10+ get 5 weeks. No one with more than 5 years of service ever use the full amount (most of them barely use 3 weeks a year unless they’re on medical leave). I only have a handful of people in the first tier who use their whole allowance, and honestly, those 5-10 people out of 200 are the only reason I can think of that even having unlimited time off would cause a problem. Especially if you’re a small company with a workforce you trust, I truly see much more benefit than risk in being generous!

        1. AnonHR*

          Nothing wrong with it at all, it’s theirs to take. That was just meant as some framework for KJR that just because you have a generous time off policy, for us at least, doesn’t necessarily mean every person in the company is going call in sick every other Friday or take off the whole month of December just because they can.

      1. Rebecca*

        Wow, that’s awesome! My current company is 10 vacation days up to 10 years, 15 vacation days at 15 years, and that’s it. There are also 5 PTO days, but people are encouraged not to take them unless you’re just too sick to go to work.

        1. AnonHR*

          Well, with our sick time rolled in there, it’s not too very different for the first 4 years anyway :)

    2. Laufey*

      I work for a company about that size. Under three years get two weeks, under five years gets three weeks, under ten years gets four weeks. We do have one of the unlimited sick time policies, so that’s nice. They recently made it so that the third week of time kicks in after three years rather than after five.

      I will disclaim that I am relatively new to the workforce, so getting any vacation time was cool, but the overall policy seems to be very unpopular with my coworkers. Everyone’s always wishing we had more time off, and to be fair, it seems that most people in our industry do have more favorable policies.

      I think a clever part is that vacation expires on your anniversary date, so people aren’t burning their vacation time at the same time. It’s easier for everyone to get time off if people aren’t trying to take three weeks or whatever over the holiday so they don’t loose their benefits. I bet it’s a pain for our accounting team though.

    3. Anonymous #13*

      My company is not as small as yours, but we get 2 weeks until you hit 5 years, 3 weeks from 5-10years, 4 weeks after that. I’m not sure if it increases to 5 or beyond ever, but we do have “use it or lose it” rules.

      1. KJR*

        I appreciate the feedback. Our issue is the 4 weeks. We cap out at 3, and a couple of the longer term employees are starting to suggest that we should go up to 4. I understand larger companies have much more generous vacation policies, but management’s concern is that we are just too small to go up to four weeks, and have adequate coverage. We will be discussing it this week, so I wanted to get feedback from people of similar sized companies. Glad to see some of you do offer four weeks.

  26. kdizzle*

    I’m traveling to a city I used to work in and I’d like to stop by and see the people I used to work with.

    Normally, we’d go to lunch, but I’m afraid there won’t be time. They’ve done so much for me professionally that I will always feel like I’m trying to compensate for their kindness. Would it be weird to just pop in and bring a gift (food related)? If so, what would you want someone to bring in?

    1. class factotum*

      If it’s not too hard to carry it on the plane, I would bring a food specialty from my new city. Ie, cheese from Milwaukee, kolaches from Cedar Rapids, pecan pie from Texas, chocolate from – where does good chocolate come from? I think chocolate from anywhere would be acceptable.

      1. kdizzle*

        Thanks, class factotum! That was my immediate thought…but I’m coming from DC. The only culinary tradition I can think of is the half-smoke (like a smoked sausage). And while I’d LOVE to receive an unexpected half-smoke, I may be the exception to the rule.

        Chocolate is always good!

        1. class factotum*

          Aren’t there some cool black and white cookies from Baltimore? (Which I know is not the same as DC but for a former Texan, cities that are less than 100 miles apart are practically next door.)

          PS Or you could take some Washington pork. :)

        2. Noelle*

          In that case, maybe forgo the food related gifts and buy them a small souvenir instead? I am also in DC and I got small gifts for my college professors who wrote awesome recommendations for me when I applied to grad school here. A small ornament or gift from the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, or one of the monuments is nice and pretty portable if you’re flying.

          1. Noelle*

            Just realized you would need to buy gifts for a WHOLE office. Sorry! In that case, I’d go to a local bakery instead. I wouldn’t worry too much about something DC related, people always love free food!

          1. Laufey*

            Cupcakes on a plane might be tricky though.

            Maybe some sort of Washington-themed chocolate box/mix or something?

    2. Nikki T*

      I’m not sure it would be weird, but I could be biased at the thought of free food.

      What to bring? Doughnuts, muffins, bagels? Was there every any food brought in while you were there? Something you know they’d like?

      1. kdizzle*

        You’re right. It may be a dunkin donuts munchkin kind of occasion.

        It was the kind of office where the cubicle wolves would circle the kitchen and devour any morsel of food placed on the table, so I may be overthinking this.

  27. RLS*

    So I’m applying to (yet another) better job, and they request salary requirements in the cover letter. I know the general no-number line to use; however, this would be my first salaried position. The job ad mentions “a competitive salary and benefits package” and also offers relocation compensation, so I’m sure they’re not planning to skimp. Should I mention a range or keep to the “my salary requirements are flexible…” line?

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure how badly you want the job- you mention it would be your first salaried position so I’ll take that to mean you are pretty interested. It really depends on your situation. For my current situation, I can not afford to shoot myself in the foot and give a salary that is too low. I would rather them not call me than offer me a lower salary than they intended. I’m really focused on finding a job that believes in paying me a fair and equal wage. I would say my salary is flexible depending on the package and benefits. Before I had this job though, I would have named a salary range because I would have accepted any job with a salary that allowed me to support myself aka that range. Don’t put a range and say it’s flexible if it isn’t though. If you can do a good amount of research and feel confident in the range you give and you would take the job if they offered you any of those numbers then do that. You just need to asses what is the most important thing here.

    2. Donna*

      “The job ad mentions “a competitive salary and benefits package” and also offers relocation compensation, so I’m sure they’re not planning to skimp.”

      I have seen companies use this as a ploy to get applicants in for interviews and then offer them well below industry average. I interviewed for a company that said this, and the range I gave them was exactly what I would accept, and they still offered me less than my upfront figures…. even after stating they offer competitive wages.

  28. Sascha*

    Rant: communication is SO important. I’m bothered and angered by how often bad communication flourishes at workplaces. If you want to make your workplace a million times better, COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY – up, down, side to side. I’m ranting because because several things have happened at my job this week where my team has been negatively affected by bad communication on the part of others, and I’m just tired of it. End rant.

    1. RLS*

      THANK YOU. People do not get this: Teams do not read minds!!!

      Will not rant details will not rant details will not rant details will not rant details…

      This is my rule of thumb: if you think “Oh, they should know this,” THEN THEY DON’T. Train them, or double-check that they DO know!

      1. Sascha*

        YES!!! And keep lists or notes if you know you don’t remember things well! I work at a university, and we keep having trouble with department heads telling my team to do something, but then not communicating that request to their professors, so then my team gets angry emails and late night phone calls from professors who think we’re interfering with them, when it was their department heads who asked us to do these particular tasks, but never told their professors. YEESH!

    2. Zelos*

      Ahaha. This reminds me of OldJob. A colleague on another team sent an irate reply-all to my team’s nightly status report going “I’ve noticed that X team doesn’t do A task anymore blah blah annoyed.”

      My supervisor wrote back with a pointed “Try reading the status reports, we indicate when/why A didn’t get done and where the items are stored. (By the way, we didn’t do A task because your supervisor made the request.)” Phrased more nicely, of course.

      Even when you communicate, it doesn’t always get through.

      1. Sascha*

        That is definitely true. I know I can mess up on communication (and reading) from time to time…no one is immune to that…but when it’s a persistent problem and no one seems to care, that really grates on me.

    3. Anonymous #13*

      My company is having trouble with this right now. You would think a simple e-mail would get the job done, but it seems like a lot of people need a little extra help. So, I suggested we host regular meetings cross-department meetings (once a month) to encourage effective communication. And I know that even in meetings, communication can be unclear (“I’m working on X project” leaves so many questions unanswered! What IS X project? When is the deadline? What phase of the project are you in??).

      I agree that we all need to communicate more, but does anyone have communication strategies that have worked?

      1. Sascha*

        I think the most effective strategy is top-level buy in. The VP of my department is all for cross-team meetings and better communication, but he doesn’t appear to value it himself and doesn’t practice is, so no one else does. I think it takes a really strong lead from the top to be effective, because it’s really a culture change.

        1. Sascha*

          *That was vague and not communicated very well! :) When I say my VP is in support of better communication, it means when we (managers and team leads) ask to implement better communication strategies, the VP readily agrees to it and says “Yes, communication is key,” but then he does not practice good communication strategies himself, and does not back us up when we try to implement better strategies.

      2. Graciosa*

        This is easier said than done. The only thing I can offer is that I will often try to step up the type of communication if it one method is not working. I tend to resort to a more personal method (adding audio and visual as needed to reduce misunderstandings) and I’ve always found the investment to be worth it.

        I haven’t always gotten the same value out of regular status / cross-function meetings, but they can help if you find the right balance between healthy open sharing (which requires occasional probing questions and candid discussion) and avoiding wasting the time of a large group of attendees.

  29. Anonymous*

    I’m having a bit of trouble putting together a “profile” or “summary page”. Any advice on phrasing it in a way that is not using the stereotypical subjective phrases?

    1. Jubilance*

      Mine focuses on specifics – my Black Belt certification, software i’m proficient in, analytical equipment/techniques I’m proficient in, etc. Can you do something similar?

  30. Beth Anne*

    I’m taking a Business Communications class this semester and every week we have a discussion topic. This weeks topic was Office Gossip. Interesting stories were shared and I made sure to send everyone to this blog and how when I searched “Office Gossip” I got over 10 pages of results!

  31. just me*

    Hi everyone! I just got a job doing some freelance writing for a website. However, the writing is focused heavily in digital marketing– a subject that I know nothing about. How would you recommend beginning my research in such a topic? Help! Thanks so much.

    1. LMW*

      Digital marketing is a pretty broad topic – is there a specific area they focus on (pay per click advertising, content marketing, social media, video, analytics, etc.) or is it really broad?

      1. just me*

        I’ll be marketing to digital marketers about branding and brand engagement. I have found some good articles on and Forbes. I kind of think I need some Online Marketing 101 stuff. :)

        1. LMW*

          MarketingProfs is a good general place to start – they have a lot on a lot of different topics.
          Most of the other resources I know are a little more niche (content marketing, social, etc.).

  32. littlemoose*

    I found myself thinking about this today, and figure the open thread was a good time to ask. One of the first few comments on the Operation Smile post suspected the OP’s letter to be fake. Subsequent info, including the organization’s confirmation of this interviewing practice, clearly confirmed its veracity. So, Alison, have you received letters that you believe to be fabricated? What made you think so? I’m just curious.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think I have a weirdly good BS detector. In person, I can nearly always tell if someone is lying to me, and often can’t explain how I know — but then it’ll later turn out I was right. It’s not quite as strong in email, but I think it’s still there. All of which is to say, I feel like I’m pretty good at spotting fakes, but I’ve only had a few that I thought qualified — usually the way it’s written just screams “not genuine” to me. That’s not very illuminating, I realize.

      That said, I thought that that this one might be a fake when the OP started weighing in with comments:
      Something about it didn’t feel authentic to me. I think I’m probably wrong, but it still doesn’t sit right with me for some reason.

      1. fposte*

        She couldn’t seem to decide which side she was on–“I love my friend and people are misunderstanding her” or “Can you believe what this woman is up to?”

  33. Diet Coke Addict*

    Also, my job is hiring a new part-time person and we have received a FLOOD of resumes. Unfortunately, they are all terrible. Including one that was only a name, phone number, and awful MoMmIeSAnGeLs-type email, plus her two job titles (no dates, no locations), the high school she graduated from, and her list of skills was “Imvemtory, management.” No formatting, no nothing.

    Also up there was the woman who bypassed the email in the job ad to search for our company, landed on my email address, and sent a nearly-incomprehensible email asking me….where she could email her resume. And the guy who had two part-time jobs and his resume was 3 pages long.

    1. Sunflower*

      Wow- I honestly thought people like this were an illusion. Crazy how one basic google search of ‘resume writing tips’ can completely transform your resume.

    2. Sascha*

      I empathize, I’m hiring right now for my team and some of the resumes and cover letters I have received just make me shake my head. I really, really want to email them with links to AAM. I got one cover letter that said, “I can do the work you listed.” That’s it.

    3. athek*

      I see a lot of crazy/sad/terrible things in job applications when I have an opening as well. I feel for you.

    4. AVP*

      A few years ago, I posted a job listing on a very-incredibly-niche job board which was picked up by But because I had only meant it for the niche site, once it got into the general public I got the most insane flood of strange applications. (I had left some of the particulars about the job and the requirements unsaid because they would have been blatantly obvious to anyone who was looking at the targeted site, but it read as “EVERYONE IN AMERICA SHOULD APPY TO THIS JOB” on Indeed.) My favorites were the people in other parts of the country who somehow looked up my fax number (I didn’t even know we still had a fax…), sent their resume with no cover letter 15 times in a row, then called up to yell at my receptionist about how I had not responded yet.

      1. AVP*

        One quick thing in case the Indeed scenario happens to anyone here – I emailed them using a regular contact form on their site, and they were incredibly helpful and quick to take down the posting when I asked. Great (non)customer service!

    5. Felicia*

      Is it bad that stories like this make me feel better about my job searching chances? I’m not perfect, but at least I do much better than that!

  34. I like turtles*

    So, I started a new job a year ago. But I ended us being miserable. While the job wasn’t exactly toxic, it wasn’t a very good environment. The boss has a really poor management style, was really uncommunicative, indecisive and had a habit of telling people what they want to hear (and letting them go off and work on something only to change it all at the last minute because someone else came up and wanted to change it, and then would get made when it was late). He was terrible to work for. Luckily, I was able to transfer into another department four months ago. At the beginning of the week, the person in my old role turned in a two week notice (citing many of the same problems as I found in the role). I just found out today that she’s not coming back in. The role is such that they really can’t just leave it open for more than a day or two. Someone has to cover it. To make matters worse, the role that would normally be the backup is also open.

    While no one has talked to me about filling in yet, I did notice that I have suddenly been copied on e-mails pertinent to that role and that access was replaced for files and servers for that role.

    I am only four months into my new role and have several large projects underway that really can’t be just left (and that would make it impossible for me to do both roles). I alerted my new boss when the person quit, and he talked to HR but they said they hadn’t discussed who would cover the role yet. I do NOT want to go back to that role, even for a day. In general I love the company, I love my new job and the team I work with and my new boss is awesome. However, last time it took them 3 months to fill the role. The longest anyone has been in oldjob since my old boss started is 7 months. I would rather quit than work in my old job for 3 months. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I don’t want to have to deal with the stress and frustration again. Any advice?

    1. Sunflower*

      As for now, I would ignore being copied on the emails. Unless someone in the email or in person has explicitly asked you to do something, pretend they don’t exist. Once someone does- which it sounds like could be happening- talk to your boss again. Your new boss should be sticking up for you especially if you are as busy as you say. They may be considering displacing the job responsibilities out among a couple employees until they fill the role. If you really don’t want any parts of the old job, tell your boss the workload will be too much and ask if there is someone else who can handle the duties of oldjob. Be prepared to possibly be met with ‘you have to do this or you’re fired’. Since oldjob seems to have such a high-turnover, it’s possible that training/taking over the responsibilities interim of oldjob could become part of newjob. And then you’ll have to consider if that’s something you really want to deal with

      Also, I feel bad for you. Sounds like you were trying to make the right move and it’s backfiring a bit. Good luck, I really hope your boss sticks up for you and it works out.

      1. I like turtles*

        My new boss would/ has definitely gone to bat for me. He spoke with HR already to see if there was any way to protect me from getting sucked back in.
        So far, a couple of the e-mails I’ve gotten have asked me to take care of tasks and I responded that I don’t handle them anymore. Oldboss hates confrontation so it would be just like him to just have accesses change and start telling people to e-mail me without ever talking to me or to my new boss. (the oldboss is higher up the food chain than the new boss. He wouldn’t see a problem with not consulting my new boss)

  35. Jen in RO*

    Due to management being crappy, doing layoffs in a crappy way and everyone being pissed off, applying to other jobs etc, I have spent the last 2 days playing poker with my coworkers. It’s been great and I will be sad to leave my awesome coworkers. (That being said – companies I applied to, please call me!)

    1. Jen in RO*

      P.S. Thanks, management, for killing all the enthusiasm this new hire had for a job that could’ve been very interesting and full of new things to learn!

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Oh I’m sorry that it hasn’t worked out for you – it sounded like you were very happy at your new workplace =(

      1. Jen in RO*

        On the bright side, all this deal (I was one of the letters in yesterday’s short answer post, there are some more details there) led to a lot of ‘bonding’ among coworkers, I feel very good for scoring many of them interviews (I happen to know a lot of people who are hiring in this industry), and I hope I get to work with them again in the future! I love the feeling that I’m networking and maybe in 5 years they will recommend for something great!

    3. Jamie*

      I’m sorry Jen – that sucks. And you were so excited when you had started not long ago. Hope you get something great soon.

      1. Jen in RO*

        Yeah, everything looked great until a week ago, sadly! At least I got to learn *some* new things, good stuff to have on the resume… next to my 5-months-in-a-job-and-searching-again. And I might get to learn more new stuff, I have a meeting next week about documenting something techy – at least it sounds like something I’ll enjoy.

      1. Jen in RO*

        Oh, I’m safe (I think the people who decided this actually love me o.O) but they handled it poorly and destroyed the morale of the people left. I just don’t want to work for people who pull stunts like these (they wanted to do something illegal, but backed off).

      1. Jen in RO*

        The phones have been ringing non-stop, many of my coworkers have gone to interviews/have scheduled interviews, so I’m sure everyone will be fine in the end. We are just very bummed out to be losing a great work environment.

  36. Cautionary Tale*

    It’s me of the kitty avatar – just don’t want this comment searchable.

    I want to give a little unsolicited advice to hiring managers – when you find a candidate with a later start date do not build them up to such a degree that no mortal person could hope to live up to the hype.

    We have a new person starting Monday. Rumor is he’s not the messiah…but almost. So many people have been told all the ways his awesomeness is going to improve all kinds of things, in a remarkably short period of time. If he isn’t capable of feats of magic within the first couple of days people will be very let down.

    And a lot of people are already forming a jaded view of him because it’s not possible for anyone to be all things to all people and the pre-loaded hype is making everyone really curious…and wondering how far he’ll fall short of the mark.

    Also, he’s being brought in to revamp a department which had problems managing effectively so this guy that department hasn’t yet met is being lauded as a hard-ass take no prisoners kind of manager who is going to get everyone in shape – no excuses.

    I agree they need some structure back there, but the people who will be reporting to him hate him already.

    If he can do half of what they say he can, awesome, and it will make part of my job easier. But I am just shaking my head at the way he’s being rolled out before he even starts – because this isn’t good. And they’ve never done this before with any new hire, so I think it’s a combination of they disappointment at current practices in this department, excitement of turning that around, and him being an impressive candidate.

    All I know is I would hate to come into a new job with so much hyperbolic build-up…talk about pressure.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I had a prior colleague (whom I liked a lot) do that about her successor. I think she was trying to cushion the blow of the departure, but it was exactly the wrong thing to do for the new person.

    2. Yup*

      Yep, I worked in a place that did this all time. The management team was dysfunctional, creating all these ongoing business issues because the leaders couldn’t work stuff out amongst themselves. Their response was to (regularly) create a new position in charge of Broken Thing and then make that position into the Holy Grail that would solve all our problems.

      It was lousy for the business because they kept shifting things around to new people who had no frame of reference all the time. And it was really lousy for the person who was the unwitting recipient of all the expectations – I know because I was one. I walked in the door and management practically hoisted me onto their shoulders for a victory lap, while half my colleagues were incredibly rude to me for no apparent reason (actual reason = sick of me before I arrived).

    3. Sascha*

      That is unfortunate. My department had a similar situation a few years ago when my new director was brought in – he was hyped up to sound like he would clean up shop and make our department so much better. The sad thing is, he really wanted to do just that, and tried to implement a lot of good changes, but the VP shot him down (as the VP does not like confrontation or change – see comments above about communication). So the reason this guy didn’t live up to his hype was because of others.

  37. Rayner*

    Just wanted to say thank you for everybody who gave me advice in the last open thread re: depression and talking to my bosses straight up about it. I’m going to do that today.

    *deep breath*

  38. RunningForIt*

    I am in an interesting position at work. We hired a senior for our department about 5 months ago. In the beginning he really only worked on side projects but about 3 months ago he started really filling the senior position and leading the main projects our group is a part of. These are pretty intense projects that last around 4 weeks in the field and then writing reports and planning the next project once we are back in our home base. The problem is that our manager is not satisfied with his work and has asked me and another coworker to step in and pick up his slack.

    At the same time we have been forwarded email conversation from our manager in which it shows the tense conversations and attempts to communicate but both parties end up frustrated. My coworker and I have informed my manager of our concerns about being put between him and our senior but nothing has really changed aside from our manager has asked us to respect the seniors position and his authority. His actions don’t follow his words as half of the time he leaves the senior out of important meetings. The senior has felt this if not seen it and is constantly criticizing our manager to us and other coworkers. He blatantly ignores direction and asks us to do the same.

    My coworker and I have been told we will be evaluated as if we were seniors. I feel like I am suppose to take on the role of senior but I still have to answer the senior. I am asked to lead but at the same time handle my normal project work load.

    I don’t want to blow my chance at a possible promotion but I also want to be sure I am handling this as delicately as possible. Any advice?

    1. fposte*

      I hate lone queries on the open thread, but I think people are quiet because there’s no easy answer. Both your manager and the senior are filling me with unease from here, so I can only imagine how you feel (was the email forwarded to you just to show how bad the communication was, or was there a legitimate reason?). This is not being handled well or fairly for anybody.

      In some situations, I’d say you can go back to the manager and say “Help us solve this problem that’s still hurting productivity.” I’m not sure your manager is likely to help with this, though. Is there anybody else that you could check in with–any relevant HR, for instance?

      If there’s not, I think you’re in a similar position to Another Cat upthread–the unreasonable people are not going to start being reasonable, so you just have to find a way that makes you feel as stable as possible when negotiating the turbulent waters. Keep your manager in the loop about the priorities you identify or perceive, redirect mutual bitching as much as possible with “That’s between you guys. Is Friday okay for the James report?” style responses.

      And see if you can be part of the next round of hiring so this doesn’t happen again.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      wth. Okay so it sounds like you will be evaluated as if you are bad senior’s peers. This still means that you are not a boss and cannot tell him what to do.
      The one thing that I see you boss has been clear about is that you two are to pick up on bad senior’s work and carry on. I would try as best I could to do that.
      After this point in your post, it really is not clear what the boss wants from you. In cases like that I would become very task oriented. That is my go-to response when I have no read on the boss’ issue.
      So this plays out similarly to what fposte is saying:
      Boss: “Do you know what bad senior did THIS morning…”
      You: “That’s too bad. Oh BTW, on the Jones account I wanted to ask you about [x,y,z]…”

      Boss: Did you see that ridiculous email I forwarded you this morning?
      You: “I scanned it quickly, but I was not clear on what you wanted me to move forward on. I am willing to help with whatever projects our department needs me to help with.”

  39. drop-out*

    I left school when I lost my financial aid package more than a decade ago and also the ability to deal with anxiety problems that have since abated, and I still haven’t gone back. After getting laid off mid-2012 I’ve been working as a contractor (placed at the same company the whole time) and looking for permanent work. I’ve had a lot of great interviews that don’t turn into job offers–and a phone call this morning to say “we want you but we can’t offer it because you don’t have a degree”. (That particular job was advertised as requiring “Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience” which is apparently not the actual case because I have that equivalent experience. I work as a designer and developer and have been continuously and full-time since before I left school, with promotions upward at a steady clip until the layoff and jumps up in responsibility as a contractor since, and continuous training in new skill sets to stay ahead of the curve.)

    It sure feels like I’m never going to get in anywhere again without the degree–which is at least a year off for me once I can get money together to re-enroll. Sorry, I thought I had a question but it turns out I’m just upset and wanted to vent.

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t have advice – but I totally understand.

      The cost accounting part of my job is fairly high level, but that’s because it morphed into that at my current employer and my boss brought me into that. And also I did have all my accounting courses done (and took some higher level accounting while here) so the credits I lack for my degree wouldn’t have mattered.

      But I know I couldn’t get in cold at any accounting department (at this level) without going back and finishing my degree. I wouldn’t even apply to those jobs, even those I knew I had the experience to do. IME in accounting a degree requirement isn’t something they tend to waive.

      But for IT? I know there are hard degree requirements for some companies, but for many companies in my corner of the world they are a lot more flexible on that. Heck, the job I have now wanted a Masters preferred…but they hired me a handful of credits shy of a bachelors.

      When I saw the ad I just assumed, and I was right, that it was written by someone non-technical. Because it wasn’t entry level so if I had a masters in cs from when I was in school it still wouldn’t have been worth a thing if I didn’t have recent, relevant, practical experience.

      So it really depends on what line of work – also what industry. I think the big companies especially like health care and insurance tend to me more sticklers for the degree requirements and manufacturing and other SMB can be a little more flexible and are less likely to toss your resume immediately if you have the experience.

    2. Anoners*

      Keep your chin up! You never know, you may very well come across a job that isn’t going to hold you to a degree requirement.

      Also, do you know what caused your anxiety to decrease? I’m mostly just curious because it’s something that’s plagued me for awhile now.

      1. drop-out*

        Drugs, to be blunt. I got health insurance and a GP who didn’t roll her eyes when I talked about being able to get myself out of the house and into the car but not out of the car and into public spaces. It took a while to find the right anti-anxiety med and dosage but it’s finally under control.

    3. Brett*

      3 years into undergrad, one of my parents deciding to stop sending in tax info for fafsa. I was kicked out of school (with a massive drop in my GPA from all the Fs and Ws I took), my loans were made immediately payable (and defaulted), and I literally had 3 days to find somewhere to live when I barely had bus fare.
      It took me 8 years of fast food jobs and temp work to return to school, and that is only because I convinced some relatives to loan me the last $5k I owed.

      I had to pay off my loans, transfer to a lower tier school, and change majors (and get treated for depression along the way too). And I was really only to pull all of that off because the women who would be my future wife helped me every step of the way and insisted I had to finish school for us to keep dating. It was not easy, but I was able to eventually get to that point. From first day to graduation day, my BS took 13 years. I ended up pulling a 4.0 at my new school, scored a really high GRE, and got a full fellowship at a top tier grad program, which led directly to the job I have held for over six years now (the latter was not the best choice, but it has worked out okay). Now I can honestly say I am a nationally recognized expert in my subfield too.

      Life will get better. But you need to create a specific plan and follow it. Make changes in that plan when you have to (like when I transferred instead of returning to my old school), but do not stop working on it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The frog choking the pelican: “never,ever give up.”

        Successful people often have as many failure as “average people”. The only difference is the response to their failure. I have come to believe that a consistent half-baked attempt will cause a person to gain at least some ground over time. No attempt of course means no gain.

        I have no clue any more but do colleges give credit for work experience? How about leveraging advanced placement testing?
        At one time, I considered moping floors for a college just to be considered an employee and get a free education. Try to find schools that seem to cater to returning adults. I found that going back as an adult I had entered an entirely different world than what I experience right out of high school.

        1. Rana*

          Try to find schools that seem to cater to returning adults.

          This is excellent advice. A lot of community colleges and extension campuses are used to dealing with “adult learners” and there’s a lot of support you might not get at an institution more aimed at so-called traditional students – things like more night classes, work-study options, online courses, etc.

  40. Melissa*

    Hi there!

    So today is the last day that I have an intern under my management. It was a learning process for the both of us. This was the first time I managed ANYONE. I just started my job a little more than six months ago. My manager resigned about a month ago, and at the moment I am manager-less. I report directly to our VP. We brought on an intern while she was on winter break in college.

    With my increased work load from my previous manager’s job (I’m basically doing two jobs atm), I feel like I wasn’t able to give her too many interesting or helpful tasks, especially because after assigning her a writing task once, I realized this poor girl is NOT a writer, though she bills herself as one.

    I feel bad that I wasn’t able to give her more direction, but with my work load, I just couldn’t spend the time I wanted to with her.

    Anyway, do I get her a small token of thanks for her work with us for the past month? She IS getting paid for the internship, but I would like to let her know I do appreciate her work. Thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      A month is pretty short, so I don’t think you have to by any means. However, if you have the funds to do a coffee gift card with a thank you note, that’s a nice thing. (If despite the writing you’d be willing to recommend her, mention your willingness.)

    2. Felicia*

      I’ve done 3 internships, and the best thing I got from any of them was a sincere thank you card with the promise of acting as a positive reference.

    3. Frances*

      I once had a student worker who got hired late in the year and only worked for us for about eight weeks before the summer. Because I couldn’t think of anything else appropriate, on his last day I stopped by a popular cupcake bakery and bought a few fancy cupcakes. He was delighted (way more than I would have expected), so even just something small like that could work.

  41. Anonymous*

    I’m hoping some people have advise on how I should have handled this situation and what I can do now.

    I am a young woman in a male dominated field. I was away on business with another young woman (who recently started and has less experience than me) in an area where I don’t speak the prominent language. Out for dinner with colleagues, distributors and customers, one customer started aggressively hitting on my colleague. His English was broken and people were half heartedly translating. It got worse as the night went on and I am so ashamed to say I did nothing. One of our (male) sales reps was laughing at this guy and he was just feeding off the attention.

    If this happens again, I’ll make up an excuse to remove my colleague from the situation (invite her to the other end of the table to talk business or just leave). I’m also planning on speaking with the sales rep that was egging the guy on. I’m going to tell him we both failed her and next time we need to do a better job discouraging the behaviour and helping get her out of the situation.

    Other than this, does anyone else have any other feedback or ideas on how to handle it? I feel so terrible and am so ashamed I didn’t help more.

    1. Anonymous*

      Same poster; I don’t think I clearly conveyed how aggressive it was. He was calling her beautiful and talking about how young and amazing he was. He told her that his house was only 20 mins away and how she should come home with him. At one point is tried to slip a piece of paper in her shirt.

      She handled herself really well (not that it should actually matter). She was polite but did little to encourage his outrageous behaviour.

      1. fposte*

        It’s nice to have an ally in that situation, it’s true, and I like your idea of calling her to the other end of the table; I totally agree that the sales rep needs to realize that egging this on was not appropriate (are you in the US or anyplace where there are sexual harassment laws? Because sales rep is asking for trouble if so).

        But I don’t think you need to overreact out of guilt, either; we’ve all–I bet including your female colleague–been in situations where we were too flabbergasted to do what we later realized we should have done, and the fact that she was handling herself well does matter as far as how much help she actually needed. Between that and the fact that you’re not his supervisor, I’d therefore stay away from a reproof to the sales rep and frame it more as a “Whoa, now that I think about it, we were way out of line–can we team up to do better when we meet with Client in future?”

        1. Claire*

          Excellent points. I was going to frame the convo with the sales rep as “we both screwed up; how can we make it different next time?”

          I’m in Canada and we were in Quebec where the prominent language is French so the language barrier added to the problem.


          1. CT*

            I would also ask the other woman how you could be more helpful next time. If she’s the subject of this behavior, she should get some say in how she wants it addressed. She’s not completely powerless. Apologize for what happened and ask if she’d like to to intervene if it happens again.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I think that’s a good way to handle it. Especially since you are making sure it doesn’t happen again, or that you will step in if it does (more so with the sales rep than the colleague, since it sounds like she dealt with it well).

    3. Joie de Vivre*

      In my almost 20 years experience of working in Quebec, in a male dominated field, unfortunately, I have found these types of situations are not that uncommon.

      That being said, I would start with a conversation with your female co-worker who was the subject of the advances. She may prefer to handle the situation on her own, in her own way. Personally, I would not want a colleague, however well intentioned, fighting this battle for me.

  42. athek*

    How do ladies with longer hair wear it for a job interview? I have hair about two to three inches past my shoulders. I only know how to wear it down, up in a ponytail, and half-back, none of which really seem appropriate for a high-level position interview. I’m trying to stay away from a bun, as well.

    1. Claire*

      As long as it’s tidy and out of your face, I think you’re fine. I have long, curly hair that is naturally a bit wild. For interviews in the past I went with half up. It was pulled out of my face but not a serious bun

      1. Felicia*

        Half up tends to always look best with my long , curly, naturally wild hair. Sometimes my sister does a simple French twist for me that I really like, but it’s never the same when I do it myself.

    2. Calla*

      I have shorter hair, but 2-3 inches past the shoulders is not that “long” to me and IMO, it would be totally appropriate to wear it any of those ways, even down. If you had like thick butt-length hair maybe you’d need some different options, but you’re definitely not there yet!

      1. Jamie*

        I didn’t see the length noted – yes, that’s still short enough that it looks totally professional down.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I either pull it into a low ponytail and make sure it’s sleek and not flyaway (almost impossible with my hair–it has a mind of its own), or pull the sides and top back but let the rest hang loose. The goal is to keep it out of my face or from getting caught in my purse strap when it goes over my shoulder.

    4. Jamie*

      Ooooh – good question! I’m not interviewing but I’m all about revamping my hair lately.

      I really want a change – right now it’s too long (mid-back – too lazy to get it cut) and it’s fine and straight so I need something that will look professional, but give me more voulme and body. Every time I see a cute hairstyle I love it’s always on a woman with handfuls of thick gorgeous hair…mine is Marcia Brady, not Valerie Bertinelli. :(

      To answer your interview question – I think pulling it back in a low, wide barrette looks very professional. It’s not a pony tail and keeps everything nice and sleek. If you have the length a neat chignon (not the sexy messy kind) looks super professional and so pretty. I’ve never been able to do it myself, it always falls so I’m not clipping right, but if I could I totally would.

      1. athek*

        Jamie, I think we are hair twins. :)
        Thanks to everyone for your help! I typically just wear my hair down in day to day proceedings, and I like it that way, but I have a nervous habit of playing with my hair, so I try and keep it up for interviews. I might try practicing chignons or french twists — I had all brothers growing up so I’m hair clueless. :)

        1. Jamie*

          When I started working I had to train myself to keep my hands out of my hair. I touch my hair when I’m nervous, and when I’m thinking and deeply focused I bury my hands deep in my hair – if I wore it short (which I would never) I would definitely look like a mad scientist most of the time! I do this weird hair push when I’m feeling confident…Seriously, I am always touching my hair (unless I consciously stop) and if I played poker I’d always lose as it’s a huge tell.

          I will always have a pen, pencil (silent, not click-able) to fiddle with to keep my hands busy. At work I love smart putty, but in interviews I’d grasp the edge of my jacket sleeve between my thumb and finger to keep my hands from traveling to my hair.

          When I was a kid my mom made me sit on whichever hand I wasn’t using to eat to train me to keep the other one out of my hair. In meetings sometimes I’ll still kind of grip the bottom of my chair under the table just as a signal to keep my hands down.

          It’s so weird how little quirks stick with us through life and the ways we comfort ourselves and process stress or show emotion without thinking about it.

          1. athek*

            I am definitely going to keep in mind the idea to grasp my jacket sleeves…

            and thanks to everyone, again! I’m so glad I asked — I know it sounds dumb, but I’ve been stressing about it. You all are so smart.

        2. 22dncr*

          athek – the way I learned hair styles (I have very fine but thick hair and nothing will stick!) was to do it while it was wet or damp. Especially for buns and french twists (see name (; ). Now I just keep it permed as the curl helps stuff stay in. Finding a hair stylist that gets your hair is gold!

    5. Del*

      I’ll echo what Claire said. The style is rather less important than the overall put-togetherness of it — my personal bane is all the little wisps of shorter hair that like to stick out around my ears!

      I’d avoid a ponytail or just leaving it down, but half-back has served me well in the past as being simple, uncomplicated, not prone to grabbing attention (I want them paying attention to what I’m saying, not my hair!), and easy to keep professional.

      1. Alicia*

        I have long hair (1/3 way down the back) and I don’t want to cut it for my personal life, but I find it looks juvenile in my professional life (Director level). Add in that I am fairly young, I’ve gone to having my hair in updo’s most of the time.

        The Gibson tuck is one of my favourite go-to hair styles. I also wear buns a lot as well (I have a donut mesh rat that I use for those much hated “sock buns”, but honestly it works).

      2. Sascha*

        I love the Gibson tuck! I like that for interviews or any time I need to look really professional. Also I’m in Texas so my hair is either in that style or a ponytail during the summer.

    6. Kelly L.*

      I usually use a Giant Claw Clip, also known to me as “hair jail.” I’m lower level so I don’t know if that would be formal enough for what you’re thinking, though a French twist is close to what I do with the claw. Mostly I just want it as far “up” as possible so I have no opportunity to play with it by accident.

    7. Trudy*

      My hair varies in length from waist-length to the middle of my back, and it’s wavy. (I just cut it last week, so it’s currently in the middle of my back.)

      My go-to interview hairdo is to put it in two braids and then pin them up on my head. It keeps my hair out of my face and doesn’t look as matronly as a bun. (Depending on your age, geographic location, and industry, this hairdo may not work, though.)

      I also second the responses of a French twist or clipping it back with a barrette.

    8. Leslie Yep*

      I think the ponytail only looks too casual when it’s just pulled straight back. If you part on the side and leave the part in, or pin back your bangs (no matter the length) with bobby pins or a braid, it just looks a little more put together.

    9. Mia E*

      I sit on interviews and personally would not care about someone’s well kept hair at all, as far as length, down or up, etc. Just look polished.

    10. MaryMary*

      My hair is the same length as yours or a little longer, and I can’t manage anything beyond what you described or a topknot. I usually wear it down for interviews, but make a conscious effort not to touch it or fuss with it while I’m interviewing. I did wear a ponytail once when it was raining sideways the day of my interview. I did a side part/low pony and used a ponytail holder that had a metal detail on it to avoid looking too casual.

  43. EntirelyOutThere*

    How would you handle a company that expects 100% on evaluations and 90% pass rate for an intense evaluation for an entry level job? Additionally, they have a high turn over rate and are constantly looking for people and extremely disorganized to begin with and lack training.

      1. EntirelyOutThere*

        Getting there. It is quite absurd for an entry level track for an on campus part-time job.

  44. Ana Countant*

    We just had a junior staff peer group meeting where we were given the change to anonymously vent about good and bad things about our jobs,
    Nothing will be done about our minor whinging one way or another but gosh it was good to vent,
    Everyone has come out more positive now we all know we feel similar about certain issues in our office and that someone from up high has listened to our constructive comments

  45. Michele*

    Sort of professional development rant: I’m enrolled in a master’s degree program for communications at a private university, focusing on PR/Corp Communications. Was sold on the degree due to it being quick (done in a year), not needing a media degree, being able to learn video and other current technologies and having a PR professional in the program.

    The Reality:
    – the professional teaching the PR courses does not have a PR background and her only published work has been studies on TV and pop culture. She literally has only been teaching from books and resources she has found online and talks to us (a class ranging in age from early 20s up to maybe 40-50s) like we are freshmen.
    – We were given a free one month pass to learn from Lynda about a software video editing program that our professors were given a weekend workshop to learn. Note: I complained about this to the head of the program and he defended it, saying how good this web source was.
    – Some of us have never worked with a high grade video camera before and have been trying to get better at filming but have been given video projects (conducting interviews with people/assignments) to complete. This has been a mix of trial and error. V. little instruction was given on using the cameras.
    – Having to read books on communication that date about 40-30 years ago and having to write term papers on them.

    It makes me sad because I have found other non-academic courses through SkillShare and Mediabistro taught by people who do this for a living at a fraction of the cost of my college courses. I have been debating about writing a complaint letter to the dean of the college but I don’t know at this point that good it may do. Some of my classmates have had similar issues, but I don’t know if it’s risky to do so.

    What do you think?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      How do they expect you to get a decent education if the materials are outdated and the professors know nothing about the subject? I think you should look into the other courses–with the cost of college these days, especially at a private institution, you’re wasting your money.

      If it were me, I’d probably leave and write a letter saying exactly why in a calm, straightforward, concise manner. It probably won’t change anything, but at least you will have voiced your concerns. But it’s not worth staying in a program that isn’t meeting your needs.

      1. Michele*

        Thanks Elizabeth. I do have to admit I started in the first year of the program, and of course, there will be kinks. My family and friends say I should just finish it (I’m two classes away) but I also think the degree is lessening my chances of getting a job in media (higher degree=more pay expected or more qualified).

        Not to be chicken, but is it worth writing a letter? I am not stressed about a backlash but also just getting a response from think-minded people.

        1. Michele*

          The program has given us all MacBook Pros loaded with Adobe CS, which probably has encouraged many to register.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Hmm…well, if you’re only two classes away, then quitting now probably won’t do you much good.

          I don’t know if you’ll get a response, but it can’t hurt to politely point out some of the issues. Of course, I don’t know how open they are to that, but from what you said about the department head, maybe you’ll have to address it to a higher power. I would wait until I am leaving, however.

    2. Anoners*

      I didn’t take the same program, but I did a LIS Masters program and ran into a lot of the same problems you describe. We did have some really famous instructors, but others were just obviously not quite as polished as one would hope. We also had classes with over 300 people in it. 300 PEOPLE IN A GRADUATE LEVEL CLASS! People complained, a few changes were made, but ultimately nothing major happened.

      For me, it was more so just having the degree so I could break into the field, so I just kept my head down and did my work. It sounds like you were more so actually hoping to learn something (what a concept!). Best of luck!

      1. Michele*

        Yes, I recommend SkillShare, Mediabistro and General Assembly for learning tech/media skills. I am debating about now to not even list the degree in my resume anymore unless it’s for a high-ranking job.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I will say that Lynda is a fantastic resource for learning to edit video and other aspects of the Adobe CS suite. When we migrated from Avid to Adobe, that’s the course our station got for our professional photographers & editors to use.

      Creative Cow is another great website to use in conjunction with Lynda. Creative Cow has a forum that allows for users to ask questions & interact with their experts.

      That all said, what you’re describing doesn’t sound like a masters program, it sounds like stuff you could easily get through courses at a community college.

      1. Michele*

        I agree with your comment about Lynda, but to told to go onto the site to learn a software program that is part of our program is strange.

    4. Rayner*

      I would definitely complete the course – like Alison always says, you don’t have to put it down on your resume if you don’t think it’ll help/it’s irrelevant etc but it’s another feather in your cap if you so require it. It’s also good because then they cannot retaliate against you – so I’d wait until final marks are given.

      If you have an option to give feedback after those marks are issued – say, on a course conclusion form, then you can write your points down.

      Also, write the letter. Write the letter. Write. The. Letter.

      You/your company pays for this kind of teaching, and when it’s bitterly failing to deliver the objectives – teach people relevant skills, prepare them for real work in the field with good knowledge of equipment and skills to use it, teach up to date and supported facts by lecturers who understand their core subject – you need to point it out to them.

      Frame the biggest concerns you have – pick, say, the five most important ones that you feel really made the course fail, and write it to your head of school, and to the head of the University, expressing how disappointed and unhappy you are with the education you received. If possible, ask other people on the course to do so as well. The squeaky wheel and all that.

      Also, the tone of your letter needs to be professional and mature, and not nitpicky or as though you have a personal problem with a teacher on the course. I’m not saying you will/or do sound like that but you absolutely need to home in on the facts and how it can affect you in a professional sphere, not on “it made me feel bad/it’s not fair!” That’s the best way to get a solution.

    5. CS*

      I would also see if there are any websites similar to yelp or glassdoor for universities so you can post a review and help other prospective students steer clear of this program.

  46. Beth Anne*

    The other day on twitter I saw this tweet about some program with Operation Smile…and about died laughing after we had the post on here with their INSANE hiring practices….sad that their hiring practices now makes the company look badly when they are probably doing good for the world (maybe).

  47. Jen in RO*

    Very much unrelated to work, but I’ve been rereading/relistening to the Dark Tower audiobooks, as read by Frank Muller, and I am once again both transported and sad that Muller was not able to finish the series (or any other readings). (He had an accident and died a few years later.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My first thought when he had that accident was “Oh no, I hope he’ll be okay!” But my second thought was, “Don’t let him die until he finishes The Dark Tower!” (I know, I know!)

      1. Jen in RO*

        I love King in general, but The Dark Tower books (and The Stand) are my favorites. I’m only up to Drawing of the Three, but it makes me look forward to my commute. The best thing is that I get to actually hear the accents for once, because I am not good at imagining them in my head. To me, all books in English use a standard American accent, regardless of where the characters are actually supposed to be from. Eddie’s NY accent as done by Frank Muller is<3

        1. Laufey*

          It only gets better from there.

          I think my favorite part of King in general is seeing characters, places, themes, and ideas continually popping up. The more you read, the more you get sort of thing.

          1. Jen in RO*

            This is my second listen and fourth read overall – it definitely gets better… and then worse (I’m not a fan of Wizard and Glass)… and then better… and then very sad. I’m also one of those people who like the ending (except for Susannah’s).

            And yes, getting all the references in King’s work is half the fun! I might have squeed when the ka-tet finds the newspaper with Captain Trips. There used to be an amazing site that listed all the connections, but I haven’t been able to find it again.

            1. Laufey*

              I think I know what site you’re talking about! I haven’t looked for it in a while; it’d be sad it they took it down.

              Susannah’s ending was a cop-out. I am also okay with the overall ending of the story, though I could have done without the preachy bit when King want on about endings, etc. He would have made the point just as well with out that part.

              My only regret was that I read the entirety of the Dark Tower very early in my King experience, and then I had to read ‘Salem’s Lot knowing what happens in the climax. It was a little depressing.

              1. Jen in RO*

                I think it was and wow, it’s been down for *years*. The last usable version in the Wayback Machine seems to be from 2007:

                I actually read Salem’s Lot very early in my SK-reading-days, back when I had no idea that all his works were connected… I never liked it much, so I forgot it pretty fast. Maybe it would be a good idea to re-read it before I get to Wolves of the Calla…

                (Cop-out! That was the word I couldn’t find :D It felt to me like the character got a brainwashing so she could be “happy” with replacements that were not the people she loved.)

    1. cecilhungry*

      I am attempting to read every piece of King fiction, more or less in the order he wrote them. (I’m also trying to map the US places he uses/mentions, which is what started me on this). I thought I was a King aficionado who owned almost everything he’s ever written, but it turns out I’ve read MAYBE 75% of his stuff and own less than half! Shameful! I’ve only read the first two DT books, so I’m really looking forward to getting to those.

      It’s not exactly my goal for 2014, because some of the books are really, really long, but it’s a goal in general. I have so far finished CARRIE, RAGE, THE LONG WALK, and THE DEAD ZONE, and am in the middle of ‘SALEM’S LOT, THE SHINING, NIGHT SHIFT, THE STAND and SKELETON CREW.

      THE STAND alone has over separate 200 places (cities/states, along with a few mountains and beaches–not being totally scientific about this) mentioned, and I’m only 1/2 way through.

      1. Laufey*

        That would be such a cool project! I’d love to see what the map looks like by the time you’re finished (or as you go along).

        It’s amazing how much stuff King has churned out, especially when you take into account all his short stories (many of which I think are better than some of his full length stories!).

  48. Reg Reader Anon for Question*

    Hi, all. The cat is so cute!

    My company merged into another one 5 months ago but I was job searching before then due to behavior the company tolerated from several staff members. The bosses from the company that bought us out are great- clear expectations, expect the job to be done, etc.

    However, my old boss is still our supervisor and any issues with us are directed back to him. He’s planning to retire in 5 years unless something compels him to retire before then. So we’re stuck with him for another 5 years basically.

    I’m stuck between trying to stick it out for a while or considering job searching again. Here’s a background overview- my old boss “John” has over 40 years experience but told a client there was no reason I wouldn’t prepare his 2013 taxes on 2012 forms and mark them as 2013. You can’t do that and it’d cause problems for them and us. So the client was angry and we had a very long discussion of problems this would cause.

    He schedules client appointments for me and then waits until the morning of and says “Berry Industries is coming at 4:00 this afternoon” and then if I have something else scheduled or have to leave at 5:00pm, he gets upset. I’ve asked him to please check with me to ensure that I don’t have something else scheduled such as an out of the office visit with another client but he won’t do that.

    His old secretary is still with us and she bullied other staff at the old office. At the new company, I was told to train her in payroll items but we had an October 15th tax deadline and we agreed training could begin after that. She went back to the bosses and said I’d “refused to train her” and I clarified that they’d agreed the Oct 15 deadline was a higher priority. This is just an example of some behaviors that the new bosses are aware of. Her bullying has ceased thankfully.

    I live in a small town and the nearest larger city is 50+ miles away so job opportunities are limited. (I won’t just walk out without another job since the income is needed). Advice is appreciated and to summarize my ramblings- I’m trying to decide whether to try to deal with it or prepare to leave.

    1. evilintraining*

      Do you really want to put up with this for another (possibly) five years? And if you’re opportunities are limited, it could take a long time to find something else. I’d start looking. JMHO.

      1. Sadsack*

        Also consider that Old Boss may eventually decide to extend his retirement beyond five years. Ugh.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Start looking and consider moving to the larger town. Unless you have an incredibly compelling (and I mean seriously compelling) reason to stay in your geographic area, consider expanding the search to the larger town. Just isn’t worth putting up with stupid crap like that for another five years, not to mention possibly illegal garbage like using last year’s tax forms to do this year’s taxes. That’s ridiculous.

  49. Noelle*

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the advice you gave me at the Jan. 3 open thread (on whether or not to trust your gut), especially fposte and Not So New Reader. I think I just needed to hear that your gut should not be the be-all-end-all in deciding to take a new job. I actually ended up accepting a new job a few days after that post, and I am starting next week! One thing I am excited about is that almost everyone on staff has been there for a very long time, so it will be a much more stable environment. The work itself will be very different from what I’ve been doing, but I am excited about that too and I think that down the line it will be extremely helpful for my career. I will let you all know h0w the job is going when I start next week!

      1. Noelle*

        Thank you! One thing that helped a lot is that I know someone in that office very well, so I was able to talk to him about the culture and the people there. This is also one of the few people who gave me good advice about the last (terrible) place I worked, so I trust him.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yipppee! Congrats. Sounds like this is very well thought out and a very good move for you. Am looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  50. Christy*

    I’d like to know what other readers think about some employers’ practice of asking applicants to apply with a particular subject line so they know the applicants “read everything” or “pay attention to details.” It makes sense, I suppose, but it still rubs me the wrong way. Anyone else feel this way?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It might help them screen out the worst applicants, but it’s insulting to everyone else. There are better, less condescending ways to test for attention to detail.

      1. Joey*

        I don’t think they’re testing. I always thought it was so they could sort their email by subject line.

        1. Noelle*

          That’s what I always thought too. Of course, most of the ones I see are like, “Apply with ‘[title of the position]’ in the subject line.” If it were something a lot more complex or clearly didn’t make sense except as a test, I might be annoyed. The worst one of these I saw though was in a job that said something like, “Don’t bother applying if you’re too stupid to know not to send your resume in a Word document.” Not sure if that was a test or just rudeness though.

          1. nicole*

            Wow, that’s harsh. And how is sending a resume in Word incorrect? I’ve actually had companies reject my PDF resume and request I re-send it in Word. I’m not sure why it matters, since a PDF Reader is free, but I complied without comment.

          2. Anonymous*

            I’ve seen one job posting that said not to bother applying if you were “in it for the money,” and it didn’t mention the pay rate. I thought it was a good warning.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I thought the same thing; maybe all the applications for different positions are going to one inbox, and they want to sort them out by title so they can forward them or something.

    2. Felicia*

      I don’t mind it, especially if the subject line is something similar to the job title. It’s not that hard to do, and they get hundreds of applicants on top of their regular email, if they don’t have a dedicate email address for job applications or they’re hiring for multiple jobs, so it helps keep track. Also I think it’s important to read the whole job application , and not a hardship if they askk that you do so there’s nothing wrong with it.

      1. Felicia*

        Though if they say that it’s for testing “attention to detail” or that you “read everything” then t hat’s condescending. Usually i’ve seen this where they just ask for a particular subject line and don’t say why, and I figured it was for practical reasons.

        1. Christy*

          Yeah, it’s the condescending tone that bothers me, not the actual task. I see these a lot on freelance writing gig sites where the pay is usually some horrifying rate like $2 per 1,000 words. I’d like to put a subject like of “Bite Me” :-)

    3. Sabrina*

      I agree that it’s condescending. You could say to put that in the subject line to make sure it doesn’t hit the spam folder just as easily. The person getting the resumes might have a rule set up to funnel them into a specific folder.

    4. Leslie Yep*

      For the purpose you describe: pretty condescending. But I can see hiring managers saying that instead of saying “please do this so that I can super quickly collect all of these messages in my inbox later”. Just lights a little more of a fire under you when you think it’s for your own evaluation rather than just the convenience of the HM!

    5. Brett*

      That’s not the purpose of the specific subject line.

      They use that to weed out the sometimes hundreds of malicious spam mails they get. Job boards are a big target because people regularly open attachments from job application emails, on computers that already contain a treasure trove of personal information.

      1. fposte*

        I think when they say that’s the purpose, though, that that’s the purpose. It’s pretty easy to say “Use this subject to avoid spam filters” if that’s what’s going on.

    6. Rachel*

      My assumption (based on how we do things at my org) is that it’s because all applications for all open positions go to the same email address, and it allows us to set up filters so that all the applications for one position end up in a single folder. The purpose is to make things easier for us – and yes, it does confirm that people can follow instructions at the same time, but that’s not why we’re doing it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      All I could think of is “that teacher” in school that said “Read the test all the way through before you start.” And the last sentence of the test said. “Put your name at the top of the page and hand in this test without answering the questions.”


  51. Felicia*

    So I posted in a previous open thread that I was applying to a job at an organization where I did an interview 1.5 years ago, and where I knew most people who work there. I reached out directly to the people I know there, and I’ve got an interview on Monday!

    The person interviewing me wasn’t a former supervisor, but I had worked with him on a project previously, one that I’d be involved in again if I got the position. Has anyone interviewed with someone they already know, but hasn’t seen in a while? Is it different than a regular interview? Would it make sense to use my internship there as an example, or is more recent, slightly more relevant experience better.

    I’m probably over worrying, but I loved working there and would love to again! And i’ve never interviewed with someone I already knew before.

    1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I interviewed at a place I’d been laid off from a year before, with my former boss and her boss and the head of the company, all of which knew me very well. It was interesting. I tried to strike a balance between responding as if they didn’t know me and reminding them of what I’d already done. Like when they asked what I would do in a particular situation, I could say “this actually happened when I was here before” and remind them of the incident, but I also talked about what I’d been doing since my layoff and the new skills I’d learned that I could bring to the table.

      I didn’t end up getting the job (because I’d been laid off, I didn’t have enough experience– if I’d actually been working in the job they’d laid me off from for that year, I’d have been a perfect fit, sigh) but I walked out of the interview feeling like it had gone as well as it could have.

  52. TLT*

    Totally off-topic, but does anyone have any experience with a non-sleeping 21 month old? This has been ongoing for 17 months now and I’m considering bringing in a sleep consultant for an overnight observation.

    1. just laura*

      Non-sleeping in what way? Going to sleep okay but waking, or not going to sleep, etc.? More details might help.

      1. TLT*

        Oh, man. All of the above. We were out of town for the holidays so now he won’t even fall asleep by himself. I have to sit in his room until he’s out. We’ve been working with a sleep consultant since June and the latest plan is when he wakes up, which he does every night, we’re to sit with him until he falls back to sleep. If he cries or tries to get out of bed, we’re supposed to tell him we’re leaving the room. We give him a second chance if necessary. Last night I was in his room for at least an hour and he wouldn’t go back to sleep so I finally brought him into our bed. If he wakes a second time, which he always does, we bring him into our bed. We’ve tried CIO, we’ve switched him to a Montessori floor bed in the hopes that he would be comfortable exploring his space if he didn’t want to sleep. We’ve tried so many things at this point, I’m at a loss. He has a sound machine and sleeps with a humidifier and a dim nightlight. He also has a lovie. Oh, and he also occasionally has night terrors. Besides this, he’s a very laid back, precocious toddler who doesn’t seem affected by his wacky sleep during the day. It’s just me and his father who are!

        1. Manda*

          I think you shouldn’t go and sit with him or take him into your bed; I did have very long routines with two of my three children but once they were left for the night I returned if they cried but only briefly to reassure them without engaging. If I did feel they needed a drink or to be changed or whatever, I just acted like I was sleep-walking through it – no real engagement – deadly dull!
          Yes for night terrors attention is warranted but still no need to remove him from his room. Taking him into bed is worth the reward to him and so I don’t blame him for keeping up the disruption. You will have to toughen up to see a real change but it would be worth it surely – you’d all become happier. Wait long enough and something happens with their brains at some point and he’ll sleep through eventually!

        2. Lindsay J*

          I never slept well when I was a child. I still don’t, honestly – it’s currently 5AM my time and I still haven’t managed to go to sleep yet.

          What my parents were encouraged to do was to engage with me the minimal amount possible. If I got up, they were to lead me back to bed and that’s it. If I tried to get in bed with them, they were to lead me back to bed and that’s it. I eventually learned that I wasn’t going to get attention/stimulation from them, and though I never really slept any better I did stay in my room and in my bed so they were able to sleep and have their bed to themselves.

          My little brother, on the other hand, wound up sleeping in bed with them until he was 12, which always seemed awkward and undesirable to me.

    2. Evan*

      My parents tell me that I never slept through the night when I was a baby, though I don’t know how long it went on. Apparently, they gave up on getting me to sleep in my own room and brought me into a cradle in their room or into their bed… and eventually I grew out of it without any consultants or special devices.

    3. Betsy*

      I don’t want to be alarmist, but I had this problem with my son until he was nearly 3. It came up when we were going through the process of getting him diagnosed with autism and they asked about his sleeping. It was almost a relief to know that the hours of screaming and refusing to sleep has a reason.

      It may be that he has sensory issues or other things going on in his head; I wouldn’t just ignore it.

      As a culture, we have this way of saying, “Oh, that’s just babies,” because all babies have that problem to some extent. This sounds more serious (17 months: almost his whole life!), and I’d say if your pediatrician doesn’t have any advice other than “let him cry”, seek a second opinion from a sleep expert or a child psychiatrist.

      1. TLT*

        Betsy, thanks for your words of support. I don’t think we need to be worried about autism, he hasn’t demonstrated any signs of it and is hitting all of his developmental milestones spot on. I am beginning to wonder if it could be a food allergy though and I’m considering an elimination diet to see if that helps. We have been working with a sleep specialist and now I’m considering taking the next step. I agree with you that this isn’t just an “oh that’s just babies” issue. I can count the number of times he’s slept through the night and at 21 months I shouldn’t be able to anymore, which indicates to me that it’s not just a temporary, situational issue. Thanks again!

      2. Katherine*

        Wow, I had the exact opposite reaction! My daughter is almost 22 months and she does not go to sleep on her own and still wakes several times at night. However, we cosleep, so this does not present a problem. We cuddle her off to sleep and then usually stay up later doing other things. She typically wakes around 3 times during the night and nurses, then falls back asleep. I honestly see it as pretty unnatural to expect a child that young to be able to put themselves to sleep by themselves and stay asleep all night. You say he is fine when he sleeps with you, why not make that the norm (as long as you are able to do it safely)?

        1. TLT*

          He doesn’t sleep fine. He kicks us both in the face, sits up and talks, it’s not ideal. I’m fine helping him get back to sleep and do not expect that he knows how to do so on his own. He is night-weaned though and does not nurse until after 4am. However, the fact that nothing is working, despite several different sleep plans, is worrisome. We bring him to bed with us because it’s easier than popping up and down like a jack in the box all night long, but I’d like to help him learn how to put himself back to sleep. While co-sleeping works for some families, it doesn’t work for all families. I’m a proponent of doing what you need to do until it’s not working anymore. It’s not working anymore.

  53. Mints*

    Silly clothes question: Do colored jeans look more or less professional than regular blue denim jeans? My instinct is that bright colors look more casual but darker and neutral colors look more dressy/businessy. Would they be on the same level as khakis? Or just jeans?
    (My current job is not that casual, but I see women on the street wearing it and hopefully my next office is more casual)
    I can post a link if people want an example

    1. Ana Countant*

      you should check out corporette dot com, theyve just written an article on coloured trousers in the work place, though they recommended keeping it to a dress down friday

      1. Mints*

        Oh thanks! I tend to avoid Corporette because it makes me want to buy ALL THE THINGS
        And now I want to buy colored khakis

            1. Jamie*

              On Mad About You Paul and Jamie had an argument about this.

              “You’re thinking of Chinos. Chino’s can be black, gray, blue, or khaki – but khakis can only be khaki in which case they’re Khakis.

              So Chinos can be Khakis? Yes. But Khakis can’t be Chinos?

              Sometimes. When they’re khaki.”

              I haven’t seen it in years so I shouldn’t have put it in quotes, but I think I’m close.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Why do we park on a drive way and drive on a park way…..
                So many questions so little time…

    2. Anonsie*

      Oddly enough the consensus I’ve seen is colored jeans count as casual pants, a step up from jeans. At my work they even expressly say no blue jeans but any colored ones are ok.

  54. wesgerrr*

    How does one, kindly and delicately, ask an independent sales rep. to correct how they fill out certain P.O. forms? It gets a tad confusing for me when this happens. I really like this person who is doing this, however I don’t want to make an expensive mistake. BTW- boss has already given me the OK to approach her about this, I just haven’t yet, because I don’t know how!

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t see why you’d need to be delicate about this – just pleasant and polite.

      “When you send in your PO forms we need them to be completed like X. (and give example of how it should be) and if it still continues refer back to that conversation or email (I’d do it in email – but that’s just me).

      If she balks just politely explain that everyone needs to use the same procedure to avoid problems.

    2. just laura*

      Forgive the directness, but it sounds like you want to apologize for something that you have no reason to apologize for. It seems perfectly appropriate to ask for accuracy. It doesn’t have anything to do with liking them or not, and your boss is already in agreement. Just be direct and kind.

      1. wesgerrr*

        just laura & Jamie- you are both correct, thank you. I feel much better about asking her about this. Honestly, I think my fear came mostly coming from her seniority working with our company. I hate the idea of her thinking that I am trying exert some sort of weird authority over her as the young data entry goon. But I see now, that it’s a reasonable request.

        1. Jamie*

          I see this a lot actually, with my internal audit team.

          I have some people just starting their careers who are new auditors and it’s the first thing I go over with them is when you audit the COO or owners of the company you’re not criticizing if you find an issue, you’re doing your job. As long as you’re polite and professional you can correct anyone within the scope of your job.

          I have a fairly recent example from my own experience. I cut POs for my purchases. When I purchased from Newegg or Amazon I’d cut one PO – I didn’t know this was a pita for AP because of different credit card line items (from the individual vendors within Newegg or amazon billing separately.) So the person who processes POs and invoices went to the head of AP and said it was hard keeping track, blah blah…so she said – did you tell Jamie to cut separate POS per how they are billed? No.

          She told me, I said okay, no problem and now I cut separate POs. But this had been a hassle for her for a while and she didn’t want to bother me. I was only irritated she didn’t speak up immediately – people generally want to do things correctly.

          But what you’re feeling is totally normal, especially if there is a big seniority gap, but unless she’s actively crazy in other ways this kind of thing should never be an issue.

          1. wesgerrr*

            Jamie- Thank you so much- I had not even thought about this from her perspective. Yours really shined a light on the situation.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      Liking them is not relevant. A correction is a correction.

      “Sorry, but we need you to fill out the PO forms with [this FOB/these net terms/this box checked/whatever] every time. I’ve noticed you’ve been [not checking the box/putting stuff in the wrong space/whatever] and it gets confusing. For future POs, could you double-check to make sure you’ve [fixed the problem]? Thanks so much.”

  55. Anonymous*

    Just a venting post. I just moved back to the US after an extended stint abroad. I am in the running for a job I really, really want with a company that I think is pretty great. The job isn’t anything special, but the company culture and atmosphere seemed too good to pass up. The interview went great (I think) and it is a place I think I would like to stay in for a long time if I got the job.

    All they had left was to check a few references and they were supposed to let me know today. I gave my references a heads up about the specific job, even though they know I am job searching at the moment. Come today and they tell me they haven’t been able to get in touch with some of my references from abroad and they won’t be able to let me know anything until next week. I know that on any given day my references might be busy and have better things to do, but still a little pissed that they are holding up the hiring process and a little embarrassed that I had to apologize for them.

    I sent the HR guy an email saying I would try to get in touch with them over the weekend and make sure they are aware of the company’s timeline and hurry them along a bit (which I already did, in the most polite, ingratiating way possible), but what else can I do? (Other than go crazy waiting, which I’m already on top of.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think you handled it perfectly.
      Hang on to what Alison says- apply for a job then forget about it. Move on.

      I had to find a reference for a job once that had moved twice. I only knew the first location. By luck, I found him again. But the HR rep had found him before I did. Be prepared that your second head’s up message crosses with HR’s message and you find out everything is going smoothly.

  56. Del*

    When it comes to job hunting/resume building, how does it look to have multiple unrelated/demi-related roles within the same company? The corporate culture where I currently work is big on internal transfers – it’s rare that we hire outside the company for any but the lowest level positions, but people tend to move laterally between departments as much or more than they do straight upward in a single role. (Example: a former manager of mine started in tech support, went to research, from there to quality assurance, and then customer service manager.)

    HR just posted an opening I’m interested in; it’d be a lateral move for me, level I to level I, but it’s in a department that I’m hoping would further my education and experience in some areas of finance. This would be my third position in the company, and I’m wondering if 18 months at entry-level, 2 years at current, and then however long in the next position would look unfocused or odd to people who aren’t familiar with how we do things? (Or am I overthinking this and it’ll just look normal?)

    1. Sascha*

      I think it will look normal if you can demonstrate that the positions increased in responsibility and expertise. What you described seems perfectly fine to me. If I saw someone jump around several times in what looked like the same level of positions every time, I might be concerned, but for you, it sounds like you are progressing.

  57. Duck Rover*

    So I’m thinking I need to take AAM’s advice and move my education section further down on my resume. I suspect my PhD might be off-putting to some of the non-profit jobs I’m applying for that only require a BA so I’d like to not highlight it by putting it right at the top above all my awesome non-profit experience.

    Here’s the question: How far down should the education section go? I have my work experience at the top, but I have some service work, committee work, and continuing ed/professional development/training stuff that is relevant to some of the jobs I’m applying for so I want to include it. Should the education section go between my work experience and all of that information? Or should it go waaaay at the bottom?

    1. Trudy*

      Unless you’re applying for a job in academia, it’s pretty standard to have education at the very bottom.

    2. Felicia*

      I put education at the very bottom. In my experience, in the jobs i’m applying for, employers don’t care too much about your education as long as you have whatever degree they say is required

    3. Sascha*

      I work in academia, and I think education should go at the bottom. And I’ll admit, when I’m hiring for positions on my team, which are generally entry level or 1-3 years exp for a tech support job, seeing a PhD right there at the top turns me off. I get the feeling that some people think in academia (and it might be true for some places) that the bigger the degree, the better, no matter what job you’re applying to. However a good cover letter that explains why you want THIS job goes a long way in convincing me to interview you.

  58. Jen in RO*

    I’d like to thank the poster who recommended Misfits to me in a previous open thread. I enjoyed the first 2 seasons a lot! I lost a bit of interest after Nathan was gone, he was such an interesting character, but I was happy to discover some more British TV.

    1. Anoners*

      Yes!! I love Misfits, and I actually gave up on it after Nathan left. If you love all things Britain, you should check out Celeb Big Brother, there’s a Youtube uploader who is very dedicated. It just started and it’s so good!

    2. brightstar*

      Oh yay! I’m so glad you liked the show! I was really sad when Nathan left, but I ended up loving Rudy more than Nathan. And Joe Gilgun is phenomenal in “This Is England”, turns out he does drama as well as comedy.

      I hated Season 4, and like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  59. ChristineSW*

    First of all, cuuuuuuuute picture of Olive!!

    Second, thanks to Zelos for the advice last week about speaking with confidence.

    Okay, here’s my question for the week:

    For several years now, I’ve been contemplating starting a blog. Even some members of family have been pushing me to do it. I’ve just never been able to bring myself to do it!

    1. What’s the best blogging site to use? WordPress seems to be one of the more popular ones, along with Blogger.

    2. I assume you can tailor how much of an audience you want, right? I love posting a witty thought on Facebook, but I’m just not ready for an audience of millions, lol.

    3. Should I stick to just one topic/theme? I have this vision of my blog being sort of like an online diary with thoughts & observations around 2 or 3 general themes, but I don’t want to appear TOO scattered.

    1. Jen in RO*

      1. In my opinion, self-hosted WordPress > > Blogger. Since you’re just starting out and probably don’t want to pay for a domain name and hosting, I’d recommend

      2. Unless you get linked somewhere super popular, it’s unlikely that many people will start reading your blog at once (or ever). I worked briefly in online marketing and it’s hard as hell to get an audience.

      3. What is the purpose of the blog? If you just feel like writing something for the sake of it, online diary style is great – that’s what it *would* be. If you want it to be more professional (to put on a resume, to build a reputation in your field), then I would stick to a couple of topics, maybe with a few personal posts from time to time.

      1. Felicia*

        1. is better than Blogger, if you don’t want to pay anything.
        2. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever get an audience of millions, and if you do that generally takes most people a while. At first for sure, only people you tell about it will see it.
        3. Depends what you want it for….if you do want to develop an audience something moderately specific is usually better. If it’s just for fun, and for the love of writing, then it can be anything.

    2. LMW*

      1) Personally, I find WordPress easier to use and navigate, and I like the standard templates a bit more.
      2) I wouldn’t worry about having too big an audience right away. It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a blog. If you really want a private blog, you can password protect it, so only people with the password can actually access and read it. But, in most cases, only people you tell about your blog will read (and WordPress does a decent job of promoting blogs to others within the WordPress community, so you can get new readers that way). When you want to start putting effort into growing your audience, you can think of ways to target the audience you want by picking where you promote the blog. But the important thing to remember is: Unless you password protect, once it’s out there, it is out there. You can’t really pick and choose who reads it or how they react to it or share it. If it’s public, it’s public.
      3) Most times, I’d recommend sticking to a general topic or theme, but your theme could just be “online diary.” There’s nothing wrong with that. It sounds like you’re not trying to turn the blog into a full time career or anything. The problem with focusing exclusively on topic is that, after you build an audience, if you want to become more general you tend to aggravate your audience. So in your case, you can start broad and then narrow it down if you find you really like writing on one particular topic. It takes time and practice to figure it all out!

    3. Mints*

      Tumblr is good for combing one liners and long form articles. Though there’s more of a community with the reblogging that’s similar to twitter

    4. Alicia*

      If you think you might ever want to really amp up your blogging, don’t start on Blogger. Start with WordPress. It avoids the transfer and sometimes mess-up that comes up when you try to transfer from Blogger to WordPress (trust me, I know – I’ve done it). Then if you want to make the jump to self-hosted WordPress, you’ll at least be used to the platform.

      Honestly, unless you work your butt off building links to get traffic, no one is going to just find your blog. Lots of people call it “blogging in the dark” where essentially no one sees your posts unless you send them links. It takes a long time to really get things going.

      My blog is focused around one thing really, but it sprawls out a bit. For example, it’s mostly Personal Finance, but it also delves into developing work stuff (kind of inspired by AAM here!) – the more professional side of things. As long as the couple things can be somewhat linked, I don’t see it being a big deal. I just wouldn’t go from “Sports Enthusiast post” and talking about all your favourite football games and then jump to “crocheting tea cozies”. You need to have a bit of a niche.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      These are all good recommendations, especially for WordPress. I find commenting on Blogger a huge PITA, and people hate jumping through hoops if they want to comment. Controlling them on WordPress is easy too. And they have easy-to-use themes that look great.

      I will add some things about audience. If you want to establish and keep an audience, you have to blog regularly. Just once in a blue moon won’t do it. This is my bugbear, since I’m not actively publishing and I sometimes really have to reach for topics.

      For best results, it should be one main topic, although it’s okay to have a couple of categories. Think about who will read your posts and what you want readers to get from them. Are your thoughts just musings, or are you offering advice? Critiquing a TV show? What kinds of things are you most passionate about? Don’t pick a topic you are meh on; then you won’t want to write much about it.

      A couple of things I do, also:

      1. I participate in a blogging challenge every April, where we post once a day going through the alphabet (except Sundays). You can find info about it here Last time I did it, over 700 people signed up and I got a couple of followers from the experience. If you’re going to do that, I suggest picking a theme for the event so your posts are cohesive.

      2. Link your blog to publish automatically to Facebook and Twitter. A link will pop up to your latest post and your friends and followers can click on it. Make it easy for them to follow you with buttons and links on the blog itself. And use tags if you can; when people search for similar topics, that will help.

      3. Engage other bloggers when you can; read their blogs, follow them, comment. Talk to them on Twitter. You never know where someone reblogging or retweeting you will lead. I’ve gotten followers on Twitter from yapping with other people who liked what I said (I’m not usually sarcastic enough for Twitter).

      That’s all I have. I don’t have many followers, and I’m going to have to bust my butt to hustle more once I actually have something to sell (I should be doing it now!). The writers I follow spend a bit of time every day on social media marketing, but that’s their livelihood.

      Of course, you can ignore everything we say if you just want to write whatever and you don’t care who does or doesn’t read it. Just remember–you should do this because YOU want to do it, not because other people tell you that you should. It’s a lot of work for very little return and the internet is full of abandoned blogs.

      If you do come up with something, post a link for us! Happy blogging!

    6. Zelos*

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad it was useful :) (And hey, it’s a mental reminder for myself that I need to remember those points, too.)

    7. Rana*

      Typepad is another good site – more customizable than Blogger, less fiddly thsn WordPress. I’ve been with them for almost ten years!

  60. ExceptionToTheRule*

    I just wanted to thank Alison & everyone else for their helpful & thoughtful comments on dealing with my “argumentative” employee. You guys gave me some very valuable insight so that when I sat down and talked with her today, it was very positive and productive.

    I decided to have the conversation in our department’s lounge area to make it feel more of an advice session than a “you’re in trouble” session. I was able to reinforce for her that I think very highly of her and that I feel she’s a very smart young woman who has a lot of potential while at the same talking about when is a good time to talk about the whys of certain things and to encourage her to bring me her ideas. I also took the opportunity to ask for her opinion on a couple of changes I’m considering.

    We had a very good talk about how people’s perceptions of you don’t always match reality and some strategies for successfully combating those perceptions before they have a negative impact on your reputation.

    So, again, thanks to everyone!

  61. Mia E*

    I have been given the chance to “pick” my job title..but I have no idea what to pick. I was hired as a Secretary, but since I perform work outside of that scope in an HR office, I was told I could change the title to better represent that I perform work aside from just clerical work, as Secretary suggests. Any suggestions? Assistant Director is a position already taken. Does Assistant to the Director sound better on a resume, than something like administrative assistant? Appreciate any help.

    1. Trudy*

      If you’re looking to move up in HR, I recommend suggesting “Human Resources Administrator”. That’s the title for the junior most position in HR. It involves a combination of HR and administrative duties and is a good starting point for moving up.

      If you’re more of a career administrative assistant and want to position yourself for higher level administrative roles, I would recommend “Executive Assistant”, which conveys being a high-level admin to a director or c-level employee.

      I got my start as the assistant to the VP of HR. Either title that I mentioned was appropriate, but the one I negotiated for was “HR Administrator”. It positioned me well for moving up.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Human Resources Assistant would be another good one. When I was both the front desk receptionist and in charge of employee benefits, my title was HR Administrative Assistant, and I found that leaving the “Administrative” in there didn’t fully convey the level of what I was actually doing when I tried (and failed, sadly) to get another HR job.

  62. Road Rage*

    This isn’t a work issue but a commute issue. I’m generally not an angry driver, I get annoyed with people bur rarely honk unless someone is doing something dangerous or blatantly disregarding the rules of the road, like the idiots that drive the wrong way down this one-way street in my neighborhood out of sheer laziness and entitlement. BUT if someone honks at me, it puts me on edge and I usually end up honking at someone else when I probably shouldn’t, because it’ll just make them stressed out. I had an incident two days ago where I – admittedly – made a mistake and pissed someone off, and rather than just honk to let me know I messed up, they followed behind me and kept honking – we were approaching a red light, and I turned into the parking lot of a hospital to avoid what could’ve been a nasty confrontation. It really shook me up and the incident stayed with me way longer than it should have, and today I ended up going bananas on someone who pulled out in front of me (not in a dangerous way either). I’m gonna get in real legal trouble someday if I’m not careful.

    Does anyone else deal with road rage on their commute, either from others or within themselves? How do you deal with it?

    1. Jen in RO*

      I don’t get road-rage-angry, but I do get angry during my commute. The traffic is horrible and a lot of drivers think they’re alone on the street. To stop myself from thinking about/getting angry at the idiots, I started listening to audiobooks. The world is a much better place.

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t get angry at all and I sit in horrible traffic for 1.5 hours each way. Which is weird because I am very easily irritated in general – I think it’s because it’s literally my only time alone.

        Me and my music and I can think about whatever is rattling around inside my head without someone wanting to talk, or asking me what I’m thinking about.

        1. Road Rage*

          Traffic doesn’t piss me off. I mean, it’s annoying, but of all the things that do irritate me, traffic isn’t one of them, but I am aware that others might be more on-edge and I take care not to do anything that might piss someone off.

          1. Windchime*

            Same here. I listen to NPR in the car and usually just try to relax. My commute is pretty short (about 20 minutes normally), but there is a mile long section of freeway where people are trying to merge in and out of the “Exit Only” lane and traffic creeeeeeeeeps along through there. I just try to chill out and realize that it’s gonna take about 5 minutes to do that mile and it doesn’t do any good to get upset about it. So when people blink, I let them in. We’ll all get home eventually.

            And I try not to worry about people honking at me. Obviously I do my best to be a courteous driver, but someone else’s pissy attitude isn’t my problem and I do my best to just not worry about it. Maybe they will have a better day tomorrow.

    2. Mints*

      I think giving yourself extra time is good general. I trend to get Nascar-mode when I’m running late. Also, paying less attention to drivers. I mean, pay attention to what you’re doing, but don’t, like track a sports car coming up behind you and weaving in and out. So listen to music that you pay attention to (Pandora, definitely), or maybe audiobooks? I try to copy my mom, who never gets road rage. She’s pretty oblivious. She’s a really safe driver, but doesn’t pay attention to what anybody else is doing. Oh and, don’t retaliate. If someone honks, just call them an asshole to yourself and move on. Retaliation just amps me up worse and then I feel more aggressive

      1. Jen in RO*

        That sounds relaxing. In this city, if you don’t pay attention to everyone else and anticipate they’re gonna cut you off, you might end up at the garage getting your car fixed. What more experienced drivers have taught me if that it’s less hassle to just let the aggressive idiots get their way, but keep my car intact.

    3. Amy B.*

      When we see or experience something in life, we immediately tell ourselves a story. For example, when a guy on his cell phone cuts me off in traffic, I may immediately say to myself, “This jerk thinks he is more important than any of us and he is trying to show his dominance by cutting me off!” This is just a story I am telling myself. I don’t really have any clue as to what the guy was thinking.

      Once I realized this, I started making up a different story every time someone did something I did not think appropriate in traffic. “Oh wow, this guy had Taco Bell for lunch and is just trying to get to a bathroom before the unimaginable happens. I’ve been there. I understand.” or “This guy is on the phone with his daughter’s school and she has been hurt. He is trying to get the information he needs and get to her as soon as possible.” For those that blow their horns and tailgate me: “Oh, his wife just chewed him out for the third time this week for forgetting about his anniversary and he is just taking his anger out on me. I’ll let him go ahead and pass me so he can concentrate on how he is going to make it up to her.”

      My once terrible road rage stopped and I laugh a lot more because of the stories I come up with. I don’t let someone else’s mistake or gross conduct get me riled up and am a much happier person.

      1. fposte*

        I like this. I think a lot of road rage stems from the notion that “That other person is picking a fight with me! I’m just responding!” Most of the time they’re really not, though, and even if they are, finding a way to drop the rope is a heck of a lot more useful.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like this too. This would be a good exercise to stimulate my creativity. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a good scene for a book.

        I tend to yell and cuss, but I bob my head around and do it in a sing-song voice like I’m listening to music. So if anyone sees me, they don’t know I’m yelling–they think I’m rocking out. ;)

    4. nicole*

      I tend to get easily annoyed by idiot drivers so I feel for you. What makes me feel better is giving them the bird, but in a way where they can’t see it. In other words, when they go to pass me, as most angry/impatient drivers tend to do, I flip them the bird but low against the inside of my car door. They can’t see I’m doing it but it makes me feel better. I never make eye contact with them EVER because if they are jerks that’s exactly what they are looking for from you – acknowledgement – so that they can yell, flip the bird at you, etc. So don’t give them the satisfaction. Sure, it’s passive aggressive, but it works for me, while at the same time avoiding the opportunity for the situation to escalate.

    5. Ughh*

      I am definitely an angry driver and I hate it.

      Slow drivers get my blood boiling and I have to deal with them 5 days a week to and from work. The main road I take has a speed limit of 80 but it’s like I’m the only one that reads the signs because I’m always stuck behind people going 50 or 60. If someone cuts me off or does something crazy I tend to change lanes, slow down and stare at them, something I clearly picked up from my mom because she always does it – I do it without even thinking now.

      Taking very deep breaths and telling myself to calm down works for me.

  63. mina*

    I just started an etsy shop for the crafts I’m making now. I make medieval style castles & beds for action figure sizes (4-6 inches. I LOVE medieval/fantasy anything), and embellish wooden boxes of all shapes and purposes. I think it’s really cute stuff. I’m going for the whimsically inclined buyers. But since I’m new to all this – how do I get the word out for advertising? How else can I sell these crafts? I’ve got a table reserved for my church’s yard sale fundraiser, and I’m very much in need of other ideas. Thanks!

    1. Sascha*

      I would start a Facebook page and start connecting with people there – not in a spammy way but just list it on your Etsy store or mention it to friends who use FB. Also I can’t stress enough how important good photos of your work is – I’ve been on tons of Etsy stores and the ones that really catch my eye and make me want to buy stuff have quality photos where you can see all the details of the product. My mom just got an Ebay photo studio for Christmas – small lightbox and two lamps, and a nice little point and shoot camera – probably didn’t spend more than a couple hundred dollars – and that helps a lot.

      1. Rana*

        I agree about the photographs. They don’t have to be glossy mag quality, but they should be in focus and shouldn’t distract your customers with extraneous details. You can easily rig up a light box for pretty cheap – google DIY lightboxes, or look some up on Instructibles.

        Also, speaking as a former Etsyan – do not rely on Etsy to promote you, and don’t promote Etsy – promote yourself. There’s a lot of competition there (though it sounds like you’ve found a nice niche, rather than trying to compete in, say, the jewelry area) and they don’t really care which stores do well, because they win either way. You want people to come to Etsy for you and your store, rather than because it’s Etsy.

        The other thing is to take yourself seriously as a business. Keep track of your costs, look out for your taxes, that sort of thing. If you treat this like a hobby, you run the risk of sinking money into something that’s not viable; if you treat it like a business, it’ll be easier to make decisions like making a lot of that one boring item because it always sells well, even though you’d rather be doing something more interesting but less profitable. Let the boring things subsidize the one-offs, not the other way around.

        Good luck!

        1. Rana*

          Also, think about the likely customers for your stuff. I’d guess people who are in the SCA, or who are geeky gamer types, would love your stuff, as would dollhouse and fairy collectors. Go where your customer base is, and see if there’s a community that you can join, or a Facebook group, etc. You don’t want to spam the group so much as get a sense of what they’re interested in, and to network with them.

          1. Sascha*

            I second that, I’m really big into the live action role play community and I know people who would enjoy these types of miniatures. Meet Up is a great place to find groups like this.

            Also re: photos, I put a frosted plastic cup on top of my standard, built-in flash once and it worked BEAUTIFULLY for softening my flash. You can definitely take good quality photos using DIY tools and tricks – no need to spend a lot of money. Most of the point-and-shoot digital cameras now are perfect for this type of thing.

    2. Anon mouse*

      Build your social media presence – Facebook, Twitter, tumblr etc. make sure to link to your Etsy store everywhere. But try to avoid being spammy – make interesting posts that show off your stuff well, post about the process not just the product etc. And try to connect to others who do good quality stuff, and build a network.

      That’s what’s worked for my friend who runs an Etsy store, anyway.

    3. Michael Bauser*

      My fiancée started selling doll clothes on Etsy last year, so I can give one piece of advice:

      Find and join all the Facebook groups for collectors of the toys you make stuff for, and figure out which ones are OK with Etsy sellers promoting their stores. A lot of groups are OK with “Hey, new stuff in my store!” type posts, within reason.

      (If that works, create a Facebook page for your Etsy store, so people who really like your stuff can follow a page where you post everything new.)

  64. Brett*

    So, update on my secondary employment consulting gig with a startup company…
    This turned out to be a great idea, even if I might be the oldest person in the company by a decade. I’m working with some extremely talented people who have taught me quite a bit about several new areas. And yet, I have been able to solve a few roadblock issues for them and even been called a genius :)

    But what is really cool is that they are paying my way to send me to an expensive major industry conference. Since my day job is government, I never get to go to this conference and this will be exciting to finally go. I even have colleagues in other companies who are excited that I am going finally! I am required to take a ton of vacation time to go, but it will be worth it.

  65. Audiophile*

    400+ comments already.

    I have an interview scheduled next week.

    I’m excited it’s a media agency, so it’s right up my alley.

    However, I have a few concerns. One being salary. It’s considered an entry level role, which leaves me worried about pay and other benefits packages. It’s in NYC, which means travel by Metro North and the subway. Plus paying to park my car at the train station. Basically, I’ve calculated that if the salary is only 30-35k, there’s no way I can accept an offer if one should come. But I’m not sure, I have much if any negotiating power, as I’ve never worked for an agency before and haven’t held any type of communications position post-graduation. Any advice?

    1. AVP*

      Hmm…unfortunately I would say that you won’t have a lot of room to negotiate – there are so many people willing to work for almost nothing to get their foot in the door at a place like that. On the other hand, what type of media agency? Depending on what your angle is, many do start people out more in the 35-40k range. If it’s anything on the technical end, or any type of buying or sales, there’s less competition for reasonably skilled people or quick learners.

      1. Audiophile*

        Yeah I figured I wouldn’t have much negotiating pull. It’s not a technical role, unfortunately.
        Could I feasibly ask about salary then, during this interview, without it being marked against me?
        I make about 30k now, so there’s no point in jumping ship for the same pay, regardless of how much I want to work for an agency.

        1. AVP*

          I would totally ask, although I am a huge believer in transparency when it comes to pay and I know not everyone is, so I might not be the best advice giver here!

          1. Audiophile*

            What’s the best way to phrase it then? I can see them responding with “why do you ask?” And I can’t say because I’m concerned about traveling to work lol.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Since their answer won’t affect whether you go to the interview (you’re already planning on going), do you really need to ask? I mean, if they offer you the job, you’ll find out then, obviously.

          I don’t condone the idea that you can’t ask about salary, but so many employers judge people for it that I wonder if there’s really enough benefit here to asking in the interview that it makes sense to open all that up.

          1. Audiophile*

            Ok fair enough. I always got criticized by a patental unit for not asking about salary, especially for jobs where I traveled to the city.

            I imagine they’ll inquire about a range anyway, so I was hoping I could ask if they didn’t.

  66. Anonsie*

    Does anyone have recommendations of sites (or books or whathaveyou) that talk about issues professional women face that *aren’t* primarily concerned with balancing kids and work? Especially from women who work in the sciences, but anyone is great.

    While I appreciate that it’s an issue, it seems like that’s the main discussion when adversity comes up and there are a lot of other ones I’d also like to hear about from women who’ve already been through them enough to have some insight. I’m young and I’m still getting established in my nicely male-dominated scientific research field and I guess I just wanna know where I can hear from successful women about what they’ve faced and how they deal with the subtle (or, really, mostly overt) BS that gets angled at female scientists by their peers.

    1. Jamie*

      TED has had a lot of talks on women.

      I’m not saying there aren’t issues in some workplaces, but as you mention you are you and still getting established please keep in mind that many women do work in male dominated industries and fields and don’t deal with issues regarding gender.

      Some do, some don’t – but please keep in mind that just because one gender is in the minority doesn’t mean it’s a sexist culture.

      I am a woman in upper management in an industry the EEOC deemed least likely of all industries to employ women as officers or managers (manufacturing). I am IT where women make up less than 25% of director level or above. I work mostly with men and while I’ve met some dinosaurs in the course of my career who have an issue with a “girl” in my position I can honestly say I can count them on one hand with fingers left over. It’s not pervasive and those guys aren’t taken seriously by the other men, because almost every guy with whom I work has a wife with a career of her own.

      If something discriminatory happens to you because you’re a woman, then that’s a problem. But be careful that you aren’t anticipating problems that may never come up – assumptions can be harmful.

      1. Anonsie*

        Yeah I’m… Not assuming things will happen because I’ve heard scary stories somewhere, I do see it happen. And it’s often small things, but often bigger, and it’s so, so disheartening to be seeing so much of it at the point where you’re busting ass trying to make this your life. I gotta say I’m a little miffed that the first assumption would be that someone with this concern is just huffing and puffing, as if this isn’t a real problem.

        I want to hear the experiences of more established women so I can remind myself that I can do it and this ISN’T going to hold me down. Like I said, it’s disheartening, and right now I need some damn motivation.

      2. Colette*

        Totally agree. I spent many years in software development, which is still male-dominated, and I have had very few issues.

        Occasionally, I’ve run into someone who has a problem with women, but it’s usually subtle and it has never been someone … important, for lack of a better word (i.e. not someone in a position of power).

    2. Alicia*

      I’m a woman working in a VERY male-dominated industry (physical science research). Sometimes it matters, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think my visible “young-ness” (late-twenties with a PhD) sometimes makes people question whether I know anything moreso than my gender. Especially since I work with men that are all 45+. I will have to revisit that comment in 25 – 20 years to see if my age makes a difference as well.

      If you’re in Academia, a blog that is an interesting resource is “Female Science Professor”. Even if you’re not interested in her blog, there is a wealth of information and links in her “Blogroll”. I also like the “Wandering Scientist”, though her blog does border on the side of “balancing motherhood and a career in science”.

      1. Anonsie*

        The youth thing is definitely the biggest thing in my experience. I’m young but I’m also pretty small so people often assume I’m *very* young. I actually found out recently that a guy who had been flat out refusing to interact with me had been doing so under the assumption that I was an undergrad here for credit. I’m actually older than him, with several years more experience to boot. I thought he was just antisocial, but he’s been super friendly ever since someone told him my age. I find that doesn’t get under my skin like the gender stuff does, though, since that one isn’t going to change.

        Thank you for the recs, I’ll definitely check them out. I’m not averse to the balancing parenthood stuff, I’ve just already seen tons of it and less of everything else.

  67. R*

    Okay, this might be a silly question for you guys, but I would love your input.

    I’m a recent college graduate and I started working for my company this past summer. I work in what’s considered to be finance – more specifically accounts payable. My question is: what should I put as my headline on LinkedIn?

    My official title with the company is just “Analyst” but I’ve been told by people outside of the company that I should think about using Financial Analyst on LinkedIn to be more accurate. However, I don’t know if this is very honest, because I really don’t do financial analysis. I’ve tried looking at the titles that peers in the company use, but most of them actually have specific job titles like “Auditor” or “Tax Analyst.” Does it look weird if my headline on LinkedIn just says “Analyst at XYZ Company”? Or should I consider using something like “Payables Analyst at..” even though it is not my official job title?

    1. Trudy*

      Your LinkedIn headline doesn’t have to be your exact job title. It’s more of a brief one-liner description of what you actually do. So, something like “Payables Analyst at XYZ Corp.” is fine because it describes your job function.

      When you’re doing your resume (and when you’re listing your actual job on LinkedIn), don’t change your title. That will come back to bite you later.

      If you need more description on your resume, you could go something like this:
      Analyst (Accounts Payable), XYZ Corp.

  68. Ask a Manager* Post author

    1. I have just discovered that Pinkberry now delivers to my house.

    2. I have vertigo! I actually had it a few years ago, caused by a virus, but now I’ve had it since Monday and it’s constant, not intermittent. I feel dizzy all the time, which is unpleasant. I went to urgent care a few nights ago and they said it’s most likely caused by a virus or an inner ear infection, which will take 7-10 days to leave me. Meanwhile, it sucks. Has anyone had this before, and if so, any advice for mitigating it?

    1. Trudy*

      If it’s an inner ear infection, the best home remedy I’ve found is to use a heating pad.

      Lie down with the affected ear on the heating pad, and let it work its magic for about 15 minutes. It will cause some drainage, so put a washcloth on the heating pad for ease of cleanup. Repeat a few times per day as necessary.

      I get 2-3 ear infections per year, and I only rarely need antibiotics if I start the home treatments early enough.

    2. fposte*

      I have, but an easier case–I’ve had intermittent bouts of benign positional vertigo (otoliths slid out of place, basically) for about a year now. I don’t think that’s the same as the kind of labyrinthitis it sounds like you have, though there’s obviously some overlap. It looks like there might actually be some medications that could help ease the symptoms, so you might want to follow up with your own doctor or see if you can get to an ENT.

      It creeped me the hell out at first, but then I adjusted; since it’s positional and thus intermittent and, I’m pretty sure, unilateral it didn’t really impair balance or nauseate me or anything, so once I relaxed into it I could just be amused by it. If it was nonstop I would be a lot more bothered by it, though, and would definitely be looking into medications.

      1. Zelos*

        I have positional vertigo too! It manifested in my teens and freaked me out, and then I got used to it until last year, when a friend who got diagnosed with epilepsy started saying that sounded worrisome and told me to go to the doctor. The doctor said it’s just neurons misfiring and that it’s nothing to worry about, and then I looked up the wikipedia article and went “wow, that’s me!” I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant by “neural misfire”, although he didn’t go into specifics. I get more affected when I lack sleep though, or shark week, sigh.

        Have you had personal experience with Epley or Semont maneuvers? I keep wanting to try it but haven’t gotten around to it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The urgent care doctor did that maneuver on me! It was kind of soothing, but didn’t have an impact. You should try it though; it was very gentle and easy.

        2. fposte*

          There are some YouTube videos for the Epley maneuver (and probably Semont, too). I tried to Epley myself but it didn’t take, and since mine subsides pretty quickly I didn’t go back to it.

      2. Colette*

        I had that back in March – I woke up and the numbers on my alarm clock started moving on me. Very freaky.

        I actually cleared it myself with one of the maneuvers – not Epley, the other one (lie on your side with your head at a 45 degree angle for 2 minutes, then flip over quickly to the other side for 2 minutes, if I remember correctly). I had to try a couple of times before it worked. It hasn’t been back, but it was a problem for about a week.

    3. Sadsack*

      I had vertigo for many months last year. I went to my general doctor, an ENT and had a hearing test, and my eye doctor. The diagnosis was that it must be either labrynthitis (yeah, that’s a real thing) or one of my inner ear crystals got dislodged and was causing it. I attempted the Epley maneuvers a bunch of times, but ultimately it just went away on its own. It was much worse if I was overtired or doing a lot of back and forth work from my computer screen to a document on my desk. Getting a document holder helped with that. The vertigo occasionally made me nauseous and I would get terrible headaches.
      I don’t have vertigo on a regular basis any more, but I get flashes of it during real fast paced movie scenes, going down spiral staircases, and when I occasionally turn my head too quickly, like working at my desk or when doing housework.
      Good luck, I know how debilitating it can be.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! For the first few days I kept getting nauseous, and then realized that wasn’t its own symptom; it was being caused by the dizziness. Fortunately that part has mostly gone away.

        I read about labrynthitis (best disease name ever?) and it sounds exactly like that.

    4. Jamie*

      Vaporizer, hot showers…steam, steam, steam. Helps drain the equation tubs behind the ear and restore balance.

      Try not to pop your ears – I’ve ruptured an ear drum that way. Not how you want to clear an infection.

    5. nicole*

      I have had something similar since October. It came on suddenly while I was walking around outside. I suddenly felt like I was going to lose my balance and I had to sit down for awhile and drink water. Ever since then I feel like I’m unbalanced – like I want to tip over to the right, even though I never actually lose my balance. It’s been driving me crazy because I can feel it whether I’m walking, sitting, or lying down.

      I recently decided to stop taking my daily probiotic and vitamin D and stopped using my electric blanket in case any of these things were contributing to it. I can tell it’s going away but very slowly over the past two weeks.

      I did see my doctor when this initially started and she wasn’t too concerned about it. She didn’t think it was a virus or an ear infection, either. Her only suggestion was to see a neurologist if it persisted, but now that it appears to be going away I probably won’t bother unless it gets worse again.

    6. ChristineSW*

      I’ve had occasional bouts of vertigo but they usually subside in the same day on its own.

      However, I do have a problem where my eustachian tube gets clogged and stays that way for a good week or so. And it’s always in the right ear. I’m in the middle of a bout of it now :( The weird part is, it doesn’t really cause vertigo (except for the other day…not fun!), just ear fullness, low-tone tinnitus, and decreased hearing. My husband has similar issues, and his ENT once suggested Mucinex-D, and it helped him, so now I’m going to try it. The theory was that when you blow your nose, you can get mucus into the eustachian tube.

      TL;DR – Maybe try Mucinex-D or something similar with pseudoephedrine, which thins mucus in the sinus passages, which I imagine could help drain the ears.

    7. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I was prescribed meclizine and Sudafed when I got a bad case of vertigo from an inner ear infection. Sudafed helps with the congestion that is pushing on your inner ear, and meclizine (which is the generic name for Bonine, Antivert, or Dramamine II, the motion sickness pills) is an antihistamine that also works as an anti-emetic. I was supposed to take 10 mg of meclizine every 4 hours, but you can take 25 mg twice a day as well (that’s the dosage it usually comes in when you buy it over the counter). It won’t totally get rid of the dizziness, but it will hopefully take the edge off, and might lessen the time it takes to clear it all away.

    8. Dr Lemur*

      I’ve had bouts of vertigo that lasted weeks at a time too. No fun! No doctor has been able to suggest how to treat it successfully, even the ENT. I still suspect my inner ear is wonky because I also get severe motion and altitude sickness. I guess that’s unhelpful, but I do agree with others that it should go away in time.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Way too much experience with this.
      There is so much you can do to help yourself.
      Stay away from foods/beverages that cause mucus- milk, oj.. with me it was soda also.
      Try some willow bark. This is the natural equivalent of aspirin and it reeeally helps to drain the crap caught in the ears,nose, and throat.
      Check with a chiropractor to see if anything can be done that way.
      The quickest way to get out of a vertigo attack is to make yourself look up and around. I suggest remaining seated while doing this. But look up and look around the room. The first time I did this it was incredibly hard. The second time was only very hard. By the third time the vertigo just died. My bouts of vertigo have been way less and when they do occur they are very tame. (Am trying to reduce a ten year story down to one paragraph–sorry.)

      I had to sit in chairs that had arms because if I sat in a regular chair I was totally convinced I would fall out of it. That vertigo crap is nasty-nasty.

    10. Windchime*

      1. What’s Pinkberry? I guess I could google it, but I’m lazy tonight.

      2. Vertigo–yes, I have had this. The first time, I don’t know what caused it but it came with a migraine–what fun! I was on medication for the vertigo for several weeks and it went away. It made me nauseated for a couple of days, and was really just pesky after that. I recently had another bout after starting some medication for GERD (reflux, basically) and turns out it was the medication that caused the vertigo. As soon as I stopped the medication, the dizziness went away.

    11. Rana*

      I don’t have specific advice for the vertigo, but a suggestion that you follow up with an actual ENT. I say this because my husband had been dealing with a “clogged ear” for a while before he finally agreed to have a specialist look at it… and he ended up needing surgery to remove a tumor! And the signs of it had been completely missed by people who weren’t trained specifically in diagnosing ear troubles. (He’s fine now, btw, though some of the hearing loss that came with it is permanent.)

  69. Rebecca*

    Working on moving things forward and making changes in 2014.

    I took a pretty big pay cut (no raise + big increase in health insurance premiums + all overtime cut), so I’m both looking for another job and a part time job. My municipality needs a 3rd auditor for their books, and I was asked! If I get the job, it will mean $600-$800/year, not a lot, but I look at it as an opportunity to get some experience doing something different and making connections that could lead to a better job.

    I have 3 of 4 references lined up, so when I apply for a job, that part is done. None are in my current organization, so if HR verifies my employment and doesn’t tip off my volatile manager, I’ll be OK.

    I’m sort of pleased with myself. I was able to link 2 old desktops and a new laptop together on a home network, and they can print to a shared printer plugged into one of the desktops. I know this is probably a simple thing for many people, but it took a lot of reading and trial & error on my part to make it work. I am an Admin!!

    I’d like to sell my homemade soap, but I haven’t gotten up the courage to try yet. I hope to make that happen too!

    So for now, I come to work, push the buttons, smile, and think of other things I’d rather be doing. It’s better than being sad all the time.

    1. fposte*

      Sounds like a promising possibility! I will also note that there’s at least one other person around here who does homemade soap, and I think she does sell (VictoriaHR, isn’t that you?), so maybe she’ll have some ideas.

  70. Kimberly Alison*

    Wondering if anyone has any advice-

    My mother was laid off after 19 years at the same hospital as a medical records clerk. It took her forever to land a job when I was a child because she is hearing impaired and not a lot of places had openings where being deaf wasn’t an undue hardship on performing job duties.

    She received several months severance, so she’ll be fine for the immediate future. However, I can’t help but feel that her disability, combined with the fact that she is now in her mid-50s will pretty much prevent her from getting a job anywhere else.

    I debated telling her to get in touch with her state’s Dept of Vocational Rehabilitation. In my state, they work with re-training and job placement for those with disabilities. Does anyone have any other advice? She’s in Florida, if it matters.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      VR is an option. They will give you two choices: work with a job developer who will help find an accommodating employer, or retrain/go to school. (I chose school because if I found an employer and something happened to that job, I would be right back where I started.) But it will depend on whether she wants to put in the time/energy/money. They don’t pay living expenses, so she’ll have to find an interim job if she goes to school. And if you’re over a certain income (in my state it’s $21K), their assistance is limited, so she’ll have to find alternate means of funding it to make up the difference.

  71. Ali*

    So I am on the job market, and right now my resume has landed me some phone interviews. (I am interviewing in sports, which means minor leagues are a good entry point and those teams generally do not have budgets to have candidates travel down. Having one interview over phone only is not unusual.) Anyway, since I know my industry decently well, my question is about general interviewing advice:

    I find that much like I was last on the market about 2-3 years ago, I still get nervous interviewing, and I find it almost harder over the phone. I tend to stumble on my answers and not sound confident, even though I have generally looked up the employer ahead of time and am aware of what I bring to the table. Sometimes when the interviewer is asking questions I know I have questions for him/her, but I forget what I wanted to ask and it’s so embarrassing when I have to say oh I know I wanted to ask you something but it’s escaped me! I’m sure they think I’m an idiot…

    Anyone have any advice on how to combat this and sound more confident? Should I write down my questions on a pad in front of me, or does that sound too scripted? Is there something else I can do. I have had several interviews but no offers (although one was because they found a local candidate who was on par with me), and since my resume and cover letter must be OK if I’m getting interviews…I just want to get over the hump!

    1. fposte*

      Have you looked at Alison’s interviewing guide–free, over in the sidebar to the right? I confess I haven’t, but a lot of people have said good things about it, and you can’t beat the price.

      Additionally (and possibly redundantly)–practice interviews. Preferably with a friend who is patient but not overly indulgent and can push you a little on questions. Optimally, do that several times, and not always in the same place, so you’re used to adjusting to surroundings while you present yourself.

    2. Jen in RO*

      If you have a phone interview, can you write short notes to yourself so you can better remember what questions you want to ask?

    3. MaryMary*

      I think notes are a great idea, whether it’s an in person interview or over the phone. I would bring notes and take notes in any other professional meeting I attend, so I do it in interviews too. If you’re afraid of being too scripted, don’t write out complete sentences. I always have notes with me for the questions I want to ask an interviewer. I also jot down important points during the interview, so I can remember the size of the department or what the director’s name is.

      Other than that, I think that fposte’s advice is great. Some organizations offer interview coaching, check out programs offered by your local library or community center if you don’t want to ask your friends and family.

    4. Felicia*

      I know that when I write my questions down ahead of time, I don’t actually read them off the paper, so it doesn’t sound scripted. I mostly do point form of what I want to know and it’s more a reminder than a script.

      I too find phone interviews much harder for me to get over nerves and sound confident. I don’t know why it’s hard than in person, I think because I get irrationally nervous when I can’t see body language and facial expressions.

    5. German Chick*

      For my phone interviews, I prepared notes with answers to all sorts of questions I could think of (see Alison’s interview guide for inspiration). I did not write down complete sentences but bullet points to remind me of everything I had thought of ahead off time. My HR department later on told me that came off as very well prepared, confident and convincing. Good luck to you!

  72. TLT*

    I had my performance review this past week, and while generally my supervisor is pleased with my work, he says I need to work on relationship building. I agree with this, however, the staff hates me because they wanted to hire someone else, someone who was more similar to them culturally. I’ve written about this here before, so I won’t go into too much depth. The primary problem is that none of them will talk to me despite my friendly overtures. This has been a problem since day 1. Obviously, this hinders my ability to do my job effectively. So my supervisor is tasking me with coming up with an action plan to improve my relationship with the staff. I’m kind of at a loss for what to say since I’ve tried so many different things to build relationships with them. He is also not making it easy as he continuously excludes me from things and I am in the dark on many aspects of this organization….inconvenient since I’m the development department. Any suggestions for building relationships with an unresponsive staff?

    1. athek*

      There’s a guy named George Kohlreiser who used to be a hostage negotiator that applies his tactics to business. He generally gives management tips, but he does talk quite a bit about relationships and how you can relate to people (even criminals). His book is called Hostage at the Table — it might help.

    2. E*

      I think that it has to be recognized that a problem like this exists on two sides. People in a workplace need to make a good faith effort to get along with their peers, at least in order to be able to be able to work with them. If you have genuinely made overtures, acted friendly, reached out, etc – the staff does in my opinion have to be held accountable as well. You can’t just decide not to speak to your supervisor and expect for your employment to continue as if that was not an issue.

      1. TLT*

        I fully intend to present a plan, I just was curious if anyone had any experience with something similar. I do have a second interview with another employer next week, as I am incredibly unhappy in this position for the reasons outlined above. Thanks!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your boss is sabotaging your job.

      I suspect that the problem is the people do not hate you rather they hate the boss. It’s just more acceptable to show dislike for you than for the boss.

      In my opinion, it is up to the boss to instruct the people to work together. If he won’t do that then you might be out of luck.

      You could try cornering one of the employees and saying you’re sorry that the other person did not get hired, but you are here now and “can we please work together?”
      You may have no other recourse than to just bluntly address the problem.

  73. adiposehysteria*

    I apologize in advance for how long this is.

    My husband is in a very tough employment situation right now and I am hoping for some advice on what to do.

    He took a long-term temp position doing sales at a place we knew wouldn’t be so great, mainly because we were desperate. This place ends up being even worse than we ever thought, to the point where it almost seems like they are trying to come up with ways to torture employees just because they can. (i.e. Employees have to bring their garbage home with them every day, they can only have drinks and snacks at their desks if they bought them at the work cafeteria or vending machines, writing a pregnant woman up for not tucking in her shirt because it broke the dress code, among many other garbage rules with no purpose.)

    The problem is this: for obvious reasons, he desperately wants out of this job. But – employees are not allowed to take time off for any reason without a doctor’s note and even then two weeks warning has to be given, otherwise they face disciplinary action or dismissal. This pretty much destroys any chance of interviewing with anyone. He got one interview and we managed to manipulate it so that it was on the same day as a doctor’s appointment which was already scheduled, but how can he possibly get out for any other interviews? We can’t come up for a reason to see the doctor every time and can’t afford the co-pays.

    Yes, I know that what they are doing is legal. This is also the type of place that keeps temps on for years so they don’t have to pay benefits, meaning that we can’t just wait until the contract is done for him to look. Also, we can’t even come close to affording to live on my salary if he leaves and can’t get unemployment. Finally, he works normal business hours and don’t think he can get an interview outside of when he has to work.

    1. PoohBear McGriddles*

      Good lord what kind of sweat shop are they running? Even Operation Smile and Satan himself aren’t that bad!
      Any chance you guys could cut expenses to bare bones for a while so you can afford for him to leave this “employer” and find something – anything – else?
      It sounds like if he doesn’t get out of there soon he will be spending those doctor visits on therapy, stress tests, etc.

      1. adiposehysteria*

        I’ve been working pretty hard at coming up with a couple more freelance clients so that I can make up the income, but finding a good, long-term client can take time.

        I’ve worked some pretty horrible temp jobs before, but this one is especially bad. Even the cheapest places I’ve worked for would provide basic things like garbage cans. (They will only provide the bare minimum that they have to by law, nothing more.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Is he going through a temp agency? Maybe he needs to have a talk with the person who sent him on this assignment. At most of the places I temped, you could leave or turn down assignments if you had a compelling reason. This place sounds really awful, and I’m not sure they would want to keep sending people there (unless the fee is awesome and they’re jerks). If he can’t get interviews at all while working there, he may have to leave just to find a better job.

      I would also talk to everyone you know. They may have a line on something, even short-term, that is better than this hell.

      1. adiposehysteria*

        Well, the agent he was working with left the agency suddenly and no one there seems to be in charge of this project anymore. It is a new client for them and they seem to be hiring a lot of people because of the heavy turnover. (Out of the training group of 7 he started with there are only 2 left.) It is a pretty large company here, so the agency seem more interested in keeping them happy.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know; it still might be worth letting them know. Sooner or later, they’ll start wondering why everyone keeps leaving there all the time. Some clients aren’t worth having if they jack you or your people over.

    3. AVP*

      “Taking your garbage home with you” is blowing my mind. Has anyone else heard of this happening elsewhere? Is this a real thing?

      1. Jamie*

        I did it once, only once, when I was leaving for the weekend and the cleaning people had skipped my office before leaving…and there was a half eaten gyro from lunch.

        My locked office would not have smelled good come Monday morning – so I took the bag home.

        But no, what they are talking about is completely crazy. Who does that?

      2. adiposehysteria*

        The excuse for it is that they apparently had a mouse infestation a while back. My gut tells me that is true, but most likely because they didn’t want to pay to empty the cans out every day. I think they decided it would be the perfect cost-savings measure to just get rid of all the cans so that they don’t have to pay anyone to do it, even rarely.

        1. PoohBear McGriddles*

          I’m just glad they’re not trying to save on the water bill by making employees take home their bathroom waste as well.

          1. adiposehysteria*

            They do limit them to 10 minutes of personal time a day, including bathroom time. But they counteract that by not having a water cooler or filter, just a water fountain like you find in an elementary school. So even though it is next to impossible to pee on company time, you are so dehydrated from not wanting to drink tap water that you don’t care.

            I so wish this wasn’t true.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      The best thing I can suggest is that he try to schedule interviews before hours (7 am or 8 am) or after hours (after 5 pm) where he could then perhaps come in a bit late or leave an hour early for some plausible “emergency.” It may also be possible to manage an appointment for a Saturday morning, though rarer. If he explains the situation, a potential employer may be willing to do so. There is also Skype, so perhaps an early morning via Skype call? Sitting in the car with his smartphone via Skype? Hopefully he can try to get the 1st round interviews done this way.

      The only other thing is to call in sick, and then then go to a minute-clinic type of place for the doctor note. Expensive, but if the interview is worth it, so be it.

  74. Strawberry Shortcake*

    Have any of you made a big leap in title and pay when applying to a new company? I’m especially interested in hearing from those who’ve been successful in the past 2-3 years. What do you think were you big success factors?

    The economy has erased all of the pathways up in my current position. I have taken on new responsibilities, but my title has remained the same (think “analyst”). I work in government IT and am very interested in moving to a management role. I have a knack for and really enjoy project management and translating technical jargon to non-technical people. I’m working my network and have used the cover letter tips from AAM and others but have not been able to secure an interview for management roles. Will I be stuck being an analyst forever?


    1. LMW*

      I did the big leap last year. I’d changed industries (from publishing to marketing/communications) and kind of took a step back (though a pay increase) and had a few different titles in my two different roles as a temp. I was having a lot of trouble finding a permanent position that was a lateral move, and since I’d just made a big career change, I didn’t think I was qualified for more. The few times I actually got far along in the interview process the pay was actually a decrease, even though they were looking for someone with my level of experience and I wasn’t being paid very well to begin with.
      After about 5 months of that, I started looking at higher-level jobs instead. Suddenly I got a bunch more interviews for jobs that would definitely be a little bit of a stretch, but I had a good background for. When I applied for my current position, I asked my sister for a referral and she actually never filled it out because she thought I didn’t stand a chance based on the other positions I’d been applying for. When I interviewed, my now-manager even asked me if I thought this job would be a stretch and if I was ready for it. I was convinced I didn’t get the job, but I got the call the very next day. Manager level (not a people manager though) and a 55% pay raise, which means in the 4 years since I left publishing I increased my salary by 2.5. So it can happen!

      1. Strawberry Shortcake*

        Thanks for your response! I do think the specific position I’m planning to apply to is a stretch, but a reasonable and interesting one (at least as far as my skills go).

        It is a *big* stretch in terms of title, so time will tell.

  75. WDG*

    Hi all! I just applied for a tenure-track FT position at a college. A few days later, a term appointment position for the same dept. was posted. I suspect the tenure-track will be filled internally, and I think I have a better chance at the term appointment as an outsider.

    My question is whether to submit a new application. Should I apply again and make a note that I’m aware there are two different positions? Do I just simply apply? I won’t assume they’ll consider me for both with one application, but it also don’t want them to think a second application is an error. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      I think a second application with an awareness indicator is the way to go. You’re probably not going to be the only person doing this, and they may well dual-purpose some of the interviewing unless there’s a big difference in the stated specialty.

  76. Anonymous*

    Speaking of performance evals, any advice for someone who is stuck at the top of their pay grade and hasn’t actually been able to receive a raise? I’ve been in this state for the past 2 years and since the pay grade didn’t magically change, it looks to stay that way for a 3rd. I get a bonus of a few hundred bucks, based on my review score, that is paid out in quarterly installments, but that really doesn’t replace an actual pay rate change and all the things that come with it like increase in available life insurance benefit, retirement plan contribution, etc.

    I want to approach this with my boss, but I’m not sure how. Yes, I’m paid decently, and I’m getting something extra which is more than most people, but I end up with more taxes taken out on those quarterly checks, and I feel like I’m losing out on other benefits.

    1. Jamie*

      Can you talk to your boss about what you’d need to do to move into the next paygrade?

      Or are you at the top for your type pf position?

      1. Anonymous*

        Top for my position. There are other positions in my department that have significantly higher pay grades, and it’s not out of the question that at some point the pay range for this job might be adjusted. It’s been changed at least 3 times since I’ve been there, just not while I’ve been in the position. I do, on frequent occasion, do some of the same work that the other, higher paid, positions do, and I am considering asking for an increase based on that.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Can you talk to your boss about moving up to the next level in the job family? So for example if you’re a Teapot Specialist 3, could you move up to be a Teapot Specialist 4?

      1. Anonymous*

        I really wish we had levels in this position. That would likely solve everything, but we don’t, even though nationally most organizations of our size do have them.

    3. MaryMary*

      Do you feel your position’s pay range doesn’t match what it would be at other employers? You could research to see what the range is in the market (either nationally or in your region). If the range goes higher than what you’re being paid now, bring that research with you when you ask for a raise. They may adjust the entire pay grade.

      If your research shows that you’re within or above the normal range, then you might be out of luck unless you move to another role.

      1. Anonymous*

        The range goes higher if we had levels. A lot of companies of our size have 2-3, or 2 levels and then a different position for the 3rd level. Since we just have one level our pay range covers like levels 1 – not quite 2. In terms of responsibilities and knowledge, I’d be a level 3 at other places and almost took a job at a different company at that level two years ago.

        I may bring this research to my boss though as a basis for increasing the range so we can encompass all the responsibilities this position has. Thanks. :)

  77. Ann Furthermore*

    I’m on day 3 of using the nicotine patch, and so far, so good. The e-cigarette worked for my husband, but not that well for me. So now I’m on the patch. My company changed the rules this year, so now, if you’re a tobacco user, you have to pay another $50 for health insurance. The one way around it was to enroll in the Quit For Life program, and since it was sponsored by my employer I got the patches and the gum for free.

    The instructions for the patch say that if you have vivid dreams, you can remove it at bedtime. I left it on the first night, and had this very intense dream about inviting a couple friends over for dinner, and about 50 people showed up. LOL!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Good luck!! Quitting smoking is hard but doable. I used Chantix, which worked well for me (it’s not for everyone). I’m glad I quit, since the price of cigs has gone up so much. Blah!

    2. Jamie*

      Good luck – it’s been just over a year for me since I had my last one and I’m so glad I quit.

      I don’t want one anymore, I haven’t had a craving in a good 9 months (well – the odd one but super rare)…but I miss having something. When I smoked that was the something I did when I was stressed…I need a replacement habit. I miss Blow-Pops, too…maybe if I get to the point I no longer care about keeping my teeth I’ll take that up.

      I know it’s so hard, but I think it’s awesome you quit.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I still think about it sometimes, but only when I’m EXTREMELY stressed. Or, you know, if there were an asteroid the size of Texas shooting straight at us. Then I’d go raid the convenience store for some Doral Menthol Light 100s and sit out back and smoke them until the asteroid smoked me.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Thanks. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. We’ll see how it goes when I have to go down to the next patch level!

    3. Jazzy Red*

      Good luck with kicking the tobacco habit! It’s great that your company provides help free-of-charge to you for this.

      My sister used the patch to quit, and it worked very well for her. I just used plain old fear to quit – I had a cough that never went away, and it scared the living daylights out of me. Even when I cut down to 6 smokes a day, I still had the cough. So I went cold turkey (see that movie – it was hilarious!) and eventually the cough stopped. This was back in the 80’s and I’m still glad every day that I quit, especially when I see how much a pack of butts costs now. Who can even afford to smoke these days?

  78. Laura*

    I just had an interview with a firm that I am really excited about, and I think it went well. Woohoo!

    My problem: They wanted references, and I literally have none. I only have two years experience in my field, all with my current employer. Before that I had a brief internship and some retail experience while in college. The firm I interned at has been overhauled and expanded, and NONE of the people I worked at were there. My college professors were even gone. I even tried for retail – three guesses how that worked out (and it wouldn’t be relevant anyway).

    I explained this to my interviewers and did three things: gave them a detailed performance evaluation from my internship, my college transcript, and some e-mails from my current employer’s clients praising my work. I also offered to allow them to contact my current employer contingent on a job offer. They said they understood someone with that little experience probably wouldn’t have references, and that they wouldn’t contact my current employer at all so as not to risk my job. I felt good after that, but ack! I’d love opinions if anyone has any…

      1. CTO*

        Are there any co-workers or clients that you could trust to serve as a reference? It may not be ideal, but then at least the hiring manager could speak with a live person who knows you. It sounds like this new employer is understanding.

      2. fposte*

        Yes, it sounds like you’ve gotten past the problem. However, you could also check to see if your college professors are teaching somewhere else–it’s unlikely that they all just keeled over :-). They’re the least useful, and you won’t even want them in any other round, but that’s one possibility if they push further.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Can you get a hold of any of those people at your internship or any of your professors. It doesn’t matter if they no longer work there, the point is they worked there when you did.

      1. Laura*

        I tried my best to look for them, but I have no way of knowing where they went or how to find that out. The college wouldn’t tell me, and they have common names that aren’t Google friendly. They aren’t on Linkedin either. Same goes for the people at my internship.

        Note to self: keep in touch with people! Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

  79. Rach*

    I read often, but rarely comment, but something happened this week I need a bit of perspective on.

    About a month ago, I started a job that is nowhere close to my dream job, but is putting food on the table and paying the rent. It’s an hourly position, more or less in retail (inventory services). I’ve never had a job like this before, all my previous work experience has been as an administrative assistant, but was laid off in November and have been struggling to find a new job, so I need this job.

    On Monday, I found out that my grandmother is dying (cancer is not responding to treatment, body is not healing from the surgery that attempted to remove the cancer, doctors estimate two weeks). We have been very close my entire life, and while I’m trying to be positive and know that she’ll no longer be in pain, and I know that she doesn’t want her life artificially prolonged, I’m devestated. I’m also in another stat., halfway across the country, away from all of my family and most of my friends. I have a four day weekend coming up that I’m using to go say goodbye (hopefully I make it in time, because I’ll be pushing the two weeks), but when I told my manager about the situation, mostly as a heads up that this is what’s going on, and I may be distracted, but I’m doing my best to fulfill my work assignments, she got very caustic, criticized me for letting my personal life interfere with my work, and said “you know you have to be here six months before you can take any days off, even for a funeral.” I haven’t asked for any days off, or any adjustments to my schedule, and don’t even know when the funeral will be scheduled, so I was taken aback. I know that people don’t like to talk about death, but I guess I expected a little sympathy? I don’t think my performance this week had been affected, but it can be hard to self evaluate that.

    This is my first family crisis since I started working at all, so I don’t know how I should be handling this I the first place. Was it inappropriate to tell my manager that my grandmother is dying? Should I address this with my manager? HR is located in another state and I’ve actually had no direct contact with them (all paperwork, etc, has been online and/or handled by my local manager). but would it be appropriate for me to contact HR to clarify the bereavement leave policy?

    1. Jen in RO*

      Your manager is an insensitive ass. Your grandmother is dying, of course you want to travel to see her! I think you should contact HR and clarify the policy, because it seems like you’ll need all the support you can get to deal with this manager.

      1. Colette*

        Agreed. It would be good to know whether you can take paid leave, but it would also be good for you to know whether they will allow you unpaid leave if you haven’t hit the six month mark.

        I’m sorry about your grandmother.

    2. Jamie*

      I have no words – I just do not understand people like your manager.

      I am so very sorry for what you and your family are going through. My thoughts are with your grandmother.

    3. AVP*

      Wow, some people are just terrible.

      My manager’s father-in-law died unexpectedly this week, and we happen to be having a slow period. He was discussing travel plans with the CEO, talking about which days he would be out, etc. And our CEO said “Well, better make hay while the sun shines!”

      We still can’t figure out whether the death/funeral was supposed to be the hay, or the sun. Ugh.

      1. Rach*

        Thanks, everyone, for your sympathy and advice.

        I’ve sent an email to the HR contact listed in my new hire packet, so hopefully I’ll hear back by Monday, and if not, I’ll track down the phone number and TALK to a real person.

        The upside to all this is me renewing my commitment to searching for a more permanent job that better fits my skills, where hopefully I’ll be valued as an individual and not just a machine. I had been searching for three months before I applied for/accepted this one out of desperation, so I kind of took a few weeks and went “Yay! Rent money!” and really slacked off on applications. I know all companies have leave policies and time constraints before use, which it totally reasonable, but family deaths aren’t usually scheduled six months out…maybe next time I’ll have a more sympathetic manager.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Pretty normal stuff for the retail world. I would expect that. It’s not personal, it’s a way of life in retail. I have seen a lot of this.

          I am so sorry you experienced this hostility and I am sorry about your grandma.

  80. CS*

    I applied to a university position that requires me to work with international students and even to travel abroad to foreign universities and recruit students to this US univ. I do not have any work experience related to this though in my personal life I do (have traveled and studied abroad twice independently after college, and before coming across this position, I have been active online talking to foreign students and answering their questions about studying in the US which I did mention in my cover letter). Since this is a career change for me (previous experience was random: retail, nonprofit, restaurant), I need advice on how to prepare for the interview. What do I need to know? What should I expect? I’m afraid of not having the answers to some of the interview questions.

    1. Colette*

      Well, there’s no right answer – they’ll be looking to understand your experience and what you bring to the role, and the best thing you can do is be thoughtful and honest. If they decide to interview you, it will be because they think you’re a good candidate, and it sounds like you have a lot of relevant non-work experience that will help.

  81. Anoninterview*

    Interviewed for a job on Monday, realized on Tuesday that I flubbed one of the questions big time. It was a “What would you do in this situation” kind of question and I realized the next day what they were looking for exactly. UGH. Not sure if I should have sent an email correcting my answer or what. I decided not to do that as I wasn’t sure of the proper protocol there. Should hear something today or early next week about the outcome.

  82. Anoninterview*

    Anyone want to share annoying things that happen during interviews when you’re the candidate? I’ll start:

    1. Interviewed on Monday and mentioned experience that I had at a certain place that was relevant. The interviewer said “Oh, it’s great you have that kind of experience, I didn’t see that…” It’s on my resume and mentioned in my cover letter. Seriously? How about glancing over the resume before the interview?

    2. Interviewers that tell you all about their personal problems. This didn’t happen to me recently, but has before and it makes me really wonder. An interview is not a therapy session!

    1. glg*

      Today I had an inteviewer flat out refuse to give me a job description. The job post had only been only a paragraph, most of which was spent describing the company — which seemed like an interesting place, which was why I applied — so I assumed that he would be able to describe the responsibilities of the job in more depth. He said: “We want to bring people back and we’ll flesh out the role more then. We need to see what you can do first.” I … what … no ….

      1. Anoninterview*

        Well that’s just weird. They want to see what you can do first…in relation to what exactly?? The job description would be quite helpful to see what you can do. If they’re trying to tailor a new role, they would still have some clue what the role requires (typing skills, project management, etc.). I can totally see how that would be irritating.

        1. Sascha*

          In the situation I described below, that is how the hiring manager hired at this college. You just applied in general, and he decided where he thought you would fit.

          1. Anoninterview*

            That makes sense, but in the case glg describes, it seems like they are tailoring the role to the person, rather than the person to the role, which is fine, but they should at least be able to narrow it down somewhat in that case and say “We’re looking for someone with at least these basic skills.” Not being able to give any kind of job description at all and just saying “We’re making the role fit the person” is a little odd. You’d think the company would know what they need a little better than that.

    2. Sascha*

      While I’m no longer interviewing, I do participate in hiring for my team, and my manager is terrible at interviewing, and I’m sure bothers all the candidates. He asks leading questions, and sometimes even gives the answer to the person that he wants to hear. If the candidate then gives him the answer he wants to hear, he later says they sounded fake and disingenuous. If they are honest and give their own answer, he says they are “too blunt/don’t have good people skills.” He also asks terrible questions to begin with that are no-win situations. It really makes me want to email the candidates and say, I’m so so sorry…

      An annoying thing that happened to me in one interview was when I was interviewing at a college and the hiring manager kept telling me he wanted me to teach X subject. I told him I didn’t have a degree in that subject and did not want to teach, and I did not apply for any kind of teaching position to begin with, so I don’t know why he kept bringing it up. The interview was fairly decent and I ended up getting a tech job at this college, but the whole time he kept saying, let’s get you on board to teach some of X classes! and then was surprised when I reminded him, each time, that I didn’t want to teach or have that degree.

    3. Felicia*

      I’ve had 1. happen to me before.

      Interviewers that answer the phone when you’re in the middle of answering a question, talk for over 5 minutes (i’d glanced at the clock so it was that long) and then don’t apologize. Only happened once, but annoying.

      Also interviewers that keep you waiting after you agreed interview time for 10-15 minutes and don’t acknowledge it. Ok shit happens, whatever but if it does you acknowledge you’re late and say sorry.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Being asked if I was married or planning to have kids.
      Being asked in a phone interview what church I went to (“We have prayer meetings in the office every Wednesday.”). Nope nope nope nope.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh wait, I forgot some!

        Two different interviews–giant groups, stupid questions. One had a group in an auditorium, meeting for a chance to do an entry-level office job. There were at least a hundred people there. I left.

        The other one led to a second interview, but was a stupid HR game thing with questions like “What flavor ice cream would you be?” I didn’t get that job and I’m kind of glad, because it was a front desk thing and my job now is way better.

        1. Anoninterview*

          I had one of those hundred people in an auditorium type things once. It was such a waste of time. They had people waiting for hours because they had one person for each department who was interviewing at least 50 people per department. It was ridiculous. I ended up in a group interview with two other people, one of whom had brought her toddler child with her who proceeded to play around the desk and make noise the whole time.

        2. E*

          I had a really stupid group interview once. It was on the day of my college graduation, but they didn’t have alternative times – either you went then or you lost out. They paired us up and had us discuss social issues while they walked around and took notes. And had us ask about the position and introduce ourselves while in a big circle.

          It was for an executive assistant position. Nothing about the interview premise would have given them any indication of skills that would be good for that sort of position.

  83. Sharm*

    I live in the second to last time zone in the world, so I am always late to these, but I just want to put out in the ether  I really hope I can make some positive changes in 2014.  I have been reading this blog a lot, but still feel like I’m a worthless candidate without much to offer.  Where I live, I always hear that they are looking for talent and that I qualify, but I don’t even get phone calls for positions that were tailor-made to my skills and background.  So then I think I need school, but then I hear I’ll be overqualified and in debt.  But everyone I know has a professional or post-grade degree, so I feel like a slacker.

    Basically, I hope to make more peace with my life in 2014, and that I find SOME opportunity to turn my career trajectory that way.  Hoping for some luck from the universe!

    1. Colette*

      That’s so discouraging.

      All I can say is keep working on your cover letter & resume, and talk to people you know about what you’re looking for.

      Good luck.

      1. Sharm*

        Thanks for the advice. A lot of it is me and my attitude, and it’s so easy to get in that negative spiral. I’m working on it, but there’s still much to be done!

    2. AVP*

      Have you read through all of Allison’s cover-letter and resume overhaul advice? Particularly making sure you’re not sending out generic or unhelpful cover letters? Many people on here have said that that helped them get out of the situation that you’re describing.

      1. Sharm*

        Definitely. There was a lot I could do to improve. All that being said, sometimes I do get discouraged coming here, because I’m like, “Wow, these folks are so much more accomplished than me and THEY’RE having trouble? I at least have a job now, I should shut up.”

        But I also feel like I’m not doing what I should be doing. I just don’t know how to get there in this economy…

        I won’t give up though. I’m feeling good about the other aspects of my life, so I want to focus on this one for now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Comparisons don’t work. That is not going to help you move upward.

          I think the real thing is to realize that everyone struggles with something. And it really does not matter what their job title is.

          Instead of reading “oh this manager is struggling therefore how will I ever make it?” read it as “here is an opportunity to get inside the head of a manager and find out what their concerns are and how they view a given work situation.” Then you move on to see the rainbow of responses- people agreeing and disagreeing with what is said. This means more insight into what people in the work place are thinking and never saying during their work day.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It’s not just anyone’s skills or lack thereof–the market is REALLY BAD still. Alison’s cover letter/resume/interviewing stuff is a big help, but it’s not just down to that when there are no jobs or the only ones suck. You just have to keep trying. It was the only way I found my job. Believe me, I wanted to quit and just run away and join the circus or something.

          Make a list of the skills you do have and how they could be transferable to other jobs. I bet there are way more than you think.

  84. glg*

    Just got back from two back to back interviews. Exhusting! How do the rest of you handle interviewing for jobs while also having a job? One of the jobs I interviewed for wants me to come back for a (paid) trial day, meaning I have to take another day off work — I’m just not really sure how I can keep taking time off! (I’m sure that AAM has written about this before and I will go into the archives to look; it’s just something I have been thinking about quite a bit today because of the interview and upcoming trial day.)

    Anyway, a more minor question but annoying never-the-less: I do bookkeeping at my current job and that means mailing out invoices to clients and mailing checks to vendors. Are there any stamps that are unprofessional to use? I tend to order stamps (in the US so from USPS) that I think are fun or pretty and in the last batch of stamps I included a sheet of Pixar stamps and the book of Harry Potter stamps. My boss made a comment about how the Harry Potter and Pixar stamps weren’t appropriate.

    I always tend towards using the nicest/prettiest/most innocuous stamps (like the cherry blossom centennial stamps or the Modern Art stamps) for sending out client invoices, but the idea that some stamps are flat out inappropriate seems bizzare to me. Vendors don’t care what stamps I use as long as they get their money. Thoughts? I find this especially galling because I think it’s just that my boss doesn’t respect those particular things (i.e. children’s movies, animated movies, and genre movies, and, honestly, movies in general). He LOVED the Johnny Cash stamps and the Miles Davis/Edith Piaf stamps and the Ray Charles stamps so it’s not like pop culture is out.

    Anyyyyyyway. I’m still using the Pixar and Harry Potter stamps; we paid for them, we will use them! But I’m making sure that they only go on things I send to vendors. Also they are pretty and cute and make stuffing envelopes more enjoyable, so there!

    1. Jamie*

      I honestly hope I get fired the day I give a rats behind about what kind of stamps anyone uses at work – so I’m with you, I think it’s silly.

      Okay – if you are a funeral home or some other DEEPLY SERIOUS business, or a church that would have an issue with Harry Potter – okay but other than that – I can’t see why they’d care.

      And Pixar stuff is way cuter than Johnny Cash – they aren’t singing stamps so cuteness trumps musical talent. :)

      1. glg*

        Definitely not a funeral home! We’re a factory that sells our products wholesale.

        I should say, he also liked the muscle car stamps. I never showed him the “Go Green” stamps I got a few rounds back, but considering those verge on the political I only sent them to vendors.

        (Ordering stamps is one of the best parts of my job ok?! I have a very boring job and there are so many interesting types of stamps.)

    2. Beth Anne*

      HA at my last job they made this HUGE todo about how we use and regular stamps vs metered stamps because there are “studies” that say people are more likely to open letters with real stamps on it vs the metered stamps…I rarely look at the stamps on envelopes…but I open 99% of my mail just to be sure.

      Really that doesn’t surprise me but I love the disney and harry potter stamps they are fun…and if you can’t use them you shouldn’t be using any celebrity ones imo.

    3. Ruffingit*

      I would love to receive letters with cute stamps, but then I’m not one of these people who thinks everything has to be uber professional. I enjoy a bit of whimsy and fun in life. That said, go with basic stamps if that is what your boss prefers, but for what it’s worth, I think you’re in the right about this.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I used to love it when we got cute/cool stamps or stickers on mail at Exjob. I would give over the invoice and keep the stamp!


    5. Rana*

      Honestly? I’d be a bit taken aback to receive something like an invoice with a “cute” stamp on it – it’d be like getting my tax rebate in a pastel envelope with flowers on it, on a Minnie Mouse check, and would make me doubt the maturity and seriousness of the company. That goes for the ones your boss likes too, not just the cute ones, but the “kiddie” ones seem particularly inappropriate. Personally, I’d just order a bunch of Forever stamp rolls and have done with it.

      (And I say this as a person who appreciates both the fun of interesting stamps and who’s worked jobs where you seize any little bit of stuff that makes it more bearable.)

  85. huzzah*

    Currently looking for a job, trying to stay positive.

    My question is- can we get some sort of “Undercover Boss” TV show where they reveal all the crappy hiring and/or management practices? Pointing out all the discriminatory crap people do? I can’t know if I’m dealing with this in my current interviews and apps, but for sure I have dealt and seen it in previous jobs. “We can’t hire her, she’ll just have a baby!” “Hmmm, that’s a strange name, probably needs a visa, next!” Screw you crappy companies!