open thread

It’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.

And as promised in the last open thread, here is a video of Olive fetching things, in a most un-catlike way:

{ 1,098 comments… read them below }

      1. Sascha*

        I don’t think I can handle this level of cute. Her fluffy tail!!!!!

        My husband used to have a tabby that fetched, it was a lot of fun. I thought we could get our cats too, but nope. The dogs won’t even fetch. They just let the ball fly past them or hit them in the face, then look at me like I’m crazy. (And don’t worry, not throwing hard…they just see no value to this game lol)

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I have a video of my cat fetching too. But he only would fetch two types of toys: mouse or bird. Actually, those are the only two toys he liked, so I guess that makes sense. Olive likes more toys.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Did you know when they crook the end of their tail like that it means they recognize you (and maybe accept you as part of their family, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part!)? It always warms my heart when my cats see my and they run up, crooking their tails.

      1. Mints*

        My fetching cat will sometimes bring HUGE things to play fetch with. Like a men’s L tshirt. Or a bikini top with metal fasteners. Or a stocking when he was a kitten
        (yeah, we’re messy)

    2. Julie*

      I especially like how she skids to a stop near the toy. I noticed that after she dropped off the third toy, she looked back to see if you had thrown the fourth one yet. What an adorable smarty pants!

      1. Anonymous*

        This is so cute. This cat is definitely loved and given lots of attention. Are you sure she is not part dog? I have never seen one fetch like this. She is definitely a loved little sweetie.

  1. BrittaBot*

    I’m graduating soon and hoping to apply at an ex-job location. However, my ex-boss left under suspicious circumstances, and was not erribly good-in 2.5 years I never had an annual review. Should I be concerned this will pop up in my HR file or address this issue?

    1. Joey*

      I doubt it. If anything they’ll look at what’s in your file (not what’s not in it) and may ask around to see if anyone remembers you.

    2. Mike C.*

      I think your best bet is to connect with other folks you worked with.

      But it’s not your fault that you worked under a bad boss. You won’t be blamed or flagged in any way. I mean heck, imagine what would happen if you worked for a company where the CEO was kicked out for similar reasons!

  2. Sunflower*

    Can anyone recommend any good company’s or sites to get promo/event/trade show gigs through? I’m looking to make some extra money on the side and this seems like it would be good. Also if anyone has other recommendations for good ways to make side money besides committing to a part-time job.

    Also I just checked out task rabbit. Has anyone used it? good or bad?

    1. Anon*

      My full time job is promo, so this question is 100% me!

      Craigslist works to start. I don’t know if you facebook, but there probably is a “Brand Ambassador of (your area)” group among others – use those. Once you get in with companies, you’ll get emails and stuff about jobs.

      I believe also,, StuckForStaff…

      On the company route, there are SO MANY. I believe it’s on “The Promo Network” on fb, there’s a huge list. There’s so much out there and it’s a great way to make extra money!!!

      1. Sunflower*

        Thanks so much!! I see a lot of people on FB doing promotions for liquor/beer companies and while I’m not 100% opposed to it (not to toot my own horn, but I have the look they are looking for (-; ), I’m 25 and feel a little too old to be handling out liquor samples to college kids while dressed in a tight LBD.

        But if any other suggestions pop up please let me know!

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          It’s just my opinion, I have no experience with this industry (other than leering), but I’d say if you have the look, you’re not too old. If anything, they might be more apt to hire you being a tiny bit outside that age bracket (the implication that you’d be a more responsible employee than younger ones).

    2. OrderSkinnyWraps*

      I have a full-time job, and am an It Works! Global rep (have you heard of that crazy wrap thing – skinny wraps) in my spare time.

      My goal was a couple hundred extra a month; and I make more money now (I’ve been at it less than 2 years) than I do at my “real” job. Yes, it’s legit. Yes, it really works. Yes, it’s network marketing. I have a very large team under me, but you can see how quick it grows!

      For me, it was a great way to take my passion for health and wellness (I’m in healthcare marketing) and extend it. The money is amazing, but is really wonderful is helping someone get healthy and get their life back.

      I’d love to share more about it if you’re interested:

  3. POF*

    ( Olive’s voice ) Excuse me … Mommy ….. your mouse got away AGAIN…… let me get it for you …. this time …. hold on to it !

    I had a cat that would do that , she was indoor outdoor and would bring me lice mice and put them on my lap if I was outside … I htink she was trying to teach me to hunt.

    1. Rachel*

      I work somewhere that is VERY trendy. What I have learned is to accessorize. Fashion statement jewelry, scarves and shoes go a long way. All you can find on the cheap. Also- a lot is in how I style my hair and makeup. All the younger ladies here take the time and bust out the curling iron, etc. Some people can look cool/fashionable without trying. Sadly, I have to try. Good luck!

  4. thenoiseinspace*

    Yay for kitty videos!

    A question for the young ladies of the group (millenials especially): In my industry, it’s considered just as important to look fashionable/on trend as it is to look professional. Does anybody have any good (affordable) suggestions for clothes that tick both boxes? I don’t have much money to spend on really nice clothes, but a lot of the cheaper stuff (like some of Forever 21’s micro-mini short skirts) I don’t always feel comfortable wearing in the office. Bonus points if they have fashionable suits – I need one, but all the ones I’ve found are either mock suits for 15-year-olds (can anybody really get away with wearing a suit that has shorts?) or bulkier, older-style ones. Thanks!

    1. Donna*

      Try to hit the Clearance rack and sales at Kohl’s. They have lots of sales, typically an extra 10-20% off, and you earn Kohl’s cash for use on future purchases. I love them for work cloths, my favorite is their Lauren Conrad line for the office.

      1. Kelly L.*

        So, so much of my stuff is from Kohl’s, or Kohl’s by way of Goodwill. Or Cato by way of Goodwill.

    2. Malissa*

      Actually Sam’s club had some really nice jackets that aren’t too formal. And they are a good place to look for business clothes.

    3. Lynette*

      Modcloth! Inexpensive, huge variety, hip. It’s easy to make a style with their pieces (get some great dresses, add a cardigan or little jacket, and you are good!).

      1. Felicia*

        I love ModCloth!

        My only suggestion for that would be Reitmans, which if i’m remembering right is exclusively Canadian, but might help out some Canadian readers with the same question

    4. Nicole*

      I’m not sure what your budget is but I’m a big sale hunter. Like right now Jcrew has 40% of final sale items. I’ve gotten 20 dollar tops during these sales and they last longer than the Forever 21 H&M stuff.

      My approach might not be for everyone as you have to be more aggressive in searching stuff out. I also have done well at outlet malls during the big shopping weekends and the discount places of nicer department stores (Nordstrom Rack, Off Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call).

      1. themmases*

        I do sales, too. Basically I sign up for the mailing list of any store I like, and maybe once a season or whenever I know I’m looking for something specific, like a new suit, I look through the whole website to get an idea of what they have and whether I want any of it.

        Next time the chosen store sends me a good sale (and you’ll know what counts as good, from getting all the emails even if you don’t open them all), I pounce.

        Plus I like getting a bunch of emails of outfit ideas, basically. If I like a store enough to let them email me all the time, I generally own enough stuff already to put together some of the looks they suggest.

      1. themmases*

        I second both of those– most of my work pants are from Target or Express.

        Also, for short ladies (5’3″) I can vouch that Target pants are often an appropriate length– I have three pairs of the narrow ankle-length trousers they’re selling right now. And the Express… Designer? cut of pant– whichever recurring cut is the narrowest– looks good hemmed up, the leg line doesn’t look funny that way at all.

      2. JessA*

        I love express and target. Have you tried Ann Taylor Loft? They have a lot of fashionable professional wear that won’t break the bank.

    5. Ash*

      Shop sales at the more quality stores — a lot of the time can come down to the same prices as F21 but a lot better quality and more professional. Look at the sales/clearance for The Limited, Banana Republic, Loft. Also I advise following Corporette — she always posts when there are great sales happening and clothes in a variety of price ranges. Also Capital Hill Style always posts similar items each day in an “intern” price range, “staffer” price range, and “member” price range and ways to wear them to work.

      1. MelG*

        I second the Banana Republic idea – sign up for their email list right now. They send out a 40% off coupon about once a week. Those typically don’t work on blazers (unfortunately) but I’ve picked up some great work-appropriate stylish dresses, tops, sweaters, and pants with those coupons.

      2. Chloe*

        I second this entire post – I love Capitol Hill Style and Corporette and shop pretty exclusively at The Limited and Banana Republic (used to work there so heavily used my discount and now wait for sales). Also don’t discount TJ Maxx and Marshalls … it takes digging, but it pays off for great work-appropriate and unusual dresses. H&M is all right, but not my favorite. POor Little It Girl is a good follow, as well as I think her blog is called Budget Babe (I follow her on Instagram).

        1. Elle D*

          I’m a huge fan of the dress section at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I frequently find business appropriate and fashionable dresses (my personal favorites tend to be Calvin Klein). It’s hit or miss, but the dresses I’ve found there are staples in my work wardrobe.

          1. Julie*

            Ditto also for Banana Republic, The Limited, and I will add Talbots. You can get things on sale, but also I have found that higher quality items look better and last longer. It’s hard to pay the higher price in the first place, but it can end up costing less in the long run. Just be sure to get “classic” pieces if you’re planning to wear them over time. Obviously something that’s on trend now isn’t going to be for very long.

            1. LV*

              Talbots has these great “50% off everything that’s already marked down” sales every now and then. I love it.

            2. Turanga Leela*

              I’m adding Ann Taylor and Boden–both range from staid to trendy (especially if you accessorize), their stuff is high-quality and appropriate for work, and they always have sales. Especially Ann Taylor. They seem to have at least 30% off almost all the time, and occasionally they have amazing sales with 50-60% off. Just make sure you don’t order things that are on final sale if you might need to return them.

     occasionally has great sales on work-appropriate clothes. I have an Anne Klein dress from Amazon that I now own in four colors, because I love it and I keep ordering new ones every time there’s a good sale.

        1. books*

          Capitol Hill Style usually does posts at different price points, so that should help a lot! TJ Maxx does tend to have good stuff, and try pants from the Limited (get on their email list, they have sales all the time).

    6. KitKat*

      Target will occasionally have some nice, “classier” pieces, but it’s really hit or miss. Since it’s winter here, their sweater/cardigan selection is pretty nice. As far as suit pieces go, I would also love to hear some suggestions.

    7. Amy*

      Not sure what your price range is (or if they would have suits), but I have found a fair amount of clothes that are both professional and cute in tj maxx/Marshalls/Ross :)

    8. AB*

      Are you looking for an interview suit? I’d go with Ann Taylor of Banana Republic (they both have outlets, that’s where I get my interview suits). If you’re looking for an every-day blazer, Target has some nice ones on clearance right now.

      Online retailers Modcloth and eShakti both carry trendy clothes at reasonable prices. Modcloth is trendier with a more variety, but their dresses tend to be very short and the clothes trend more towards hipster. eShakti is more retro (think 50’s and 60’s style), but I cannot tell you how much I love them. Their stuff is so well made (almost all the dresses come with pockets for a bonus), and I get compliments whenever I wear one of their pieces.

      1. Beebs*

        I just checked out eShakti and their clothing is adorable–I’m way past the “young careerist” stage but there are a few things in there even I could wear. And my 12-year-old daughter will LOVE them. (Yes, she’s weird. She’s been sleeping in curlers recently to get 50s hair.) I just have to learn to live with paying that much for clothing she’ll outgrow.

        1. AB*

          They always have good sales and coupons, so I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $25 for a dress there. I used to put curlers in my hair when I was 14, but unfortunately the curls never took.

        2. Julie*

          I’ve never seen the eShakti site before – the clothes are nice, and the best part is you can customize the sleeve length and dress length! Thanks for mentioning it.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            Not just sleeve and dress length– you can customize to your own exact measurements! I always had the hardest time buying dresses because I was bigger on the bottom than on the top, but I have 8 dresses from them, and they all fit to perfection. It’s AWESOME.

    9. Sascha*

      I like Target and H&M for trendy things that are work appropriate, and Loft for stuff like suit separates and pants. All of those stores you can score things on good sales. I recommend getting on the email list for Loft so you can keep up with the sales, which happen pretty much every week. I have two pairs of nice trousers that I didn’t pay more than $25 for each (normally about $60-70). Target has some cute blazers and separates, though I find their trousers to be kind of thin. Target does have good work dresses though. H&M has some good stuff, though I don’t shop there as often since there is not one really close to me, and I don’t do much online clothes shopping.

    10. Anon*

      If you’re based in the US (I’m guessing?) there’s a UK store called Next which has an online store for US shopping (don’t know if it has stores over there?)

      Anyhows, I get all my trendy work clothes from there. It tends to be market mid-price here in the UK, but I’ve still got clothes from there that I bought ten years ago, so it’s a good investment. And they definitely do a good line in suits!

    11. The Barb*

      I second the outlet malls. I got great work dresses and sweaters from Loft and Banana Republic outlet stores. I also have great luck with thrift stores. It takes some digging but is worth it.

      1. AB*

        Yes! I love thrift store shopping. I have found so many awesome blazers and skirts that way. It does take digging, and knowing which thrift stores are the best.

        1. Kelly L.*

          And going on a day when you’re in a good mood and feeling patient. Try on everything that looks like it might fit, and ignore the tags. And don’t wear something that’s a PITA to get in and out of–I lived to regret thrift shopping in a complicated pair of boots.

        2. DeMinimis*

          We’ve found a lot of great stuff at the Goodwill stores here. I think it’s because they have a lot of donation centers in the more affluent parts of town.

          It’s just Goodwill, though…there’s a big Salvation Army store here that isn’t nearly as good for whatever reason.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, the Salvation Army here is all…floral print church dresses from the nineties. I liked those, back in the nineties where they belonged, but they’re not so useful for work in the present day. I wonder why it shakes out that way.

          2. adiposehysteria*

            I was about to make the same general suggestion. A thrift store in a pricey neighborhood will usually have great stuff that would normally cost much more. It is well worth driving a while to get to one.

            We have a Goodwill near me next to a Mercedes dealership in one of the “rich” neighborhoods. It is about a hour away from where I live, but they have some awesome stuff and I usually save hundreds of dollars. Some of the stuff is even new with the tags, especially shoes and handbags.

            1. The Barb*

              They just built a walmart next to my favorite hidden treasure thrift store and I am scared people will find my deals! :-)

          3. Elle D*

            Ditto on affluent parts of town. Also look for thrift stores and consignment shops that benefit churches or schools in affluent areas. My mother manages a consignment shop where proceeds benefit private preparatory school. They constantly get consignments and donations from mothers of the students – I’ve gotten new with tags items from Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and White House Black Market at this consignment store.

          4. tcookson*

            Our Goodwill store recently had a whole slew of work trouser pants from New York & Co., all just exactly the style I was looking for, brand new with the tags still on. It made me freaking crazy that they were all size 6 tall — and I’m . . . not.

      2. Natalie*

        I hate the digging, but I’ve found (in my city, at least) that there are a lot of thrift shops that are more intensely curated and still fairly cheap. Some of them are single shops and there’s one chain that only takes fairly on-trend items. I got a great Calvin Klein sheath dress for $15. It’s not quite a cheap as it might have been at Goodwill, but I figure the combination of time and money saved was worth it.

    12. the_scientist*

      I’ve got no idea on suits but I will second the suggestion to check Target (hit and miss, but worth the effort), Winner’s/Marshall’s (takes some time to dig through the racks but you can occasionally find good stuff) and LOFT. I love LOFT because I am petite and it’s like the only store that makes pants that fit me, but also because I never pay full price for things there. Their stuff isn’t wildly trendy, but it’s not frumpy.

      I suggest sticking to dresses and skirts over pants. For some reason, they feel more put together/fashionable and you have more shoe options!

      Lastly, some people swear by consignment/thrift shopping. I’m afraid of bedbugs so I haven’t really tried it, but if you’re into that type of thing you can apparently find good stuff…again, you have to really work at it.

      1. Julie*

        Regarding “sticking to dresses and skirts over pants” – I like wearing dresses and skirts, but the nice thing about pants is that you can wear the same black pants over and over with different tops, and most people won’t notice.

          1. tcookson*

            Me too! I recently discovered the Dana Buchman brand trouser pants at Kohls, and they are so much my exact style that I’ve been wearing the two pairs I bought to the exclusion of anything else in my wardrobe. They fit Stacy London’s description of how trouser’s should fit and I’m ruined on any other pants.

    13. BostonKate*

      NY and Company! Keep your eye out for sales. Last February they were doing a “buy a pair of pants, get one for free”. Ended up with four pairs haha

      Also, Nordstrom Rack is like a pricier Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, but with better brands. It’d be worth it to invest in a few key pieces. I got a great Michael Kors shirt and always get a lot of compliments on it. They also have suits from Calvin Klein, etc.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oh yeah, forgot about NY&Co. I used to score so much great stuff off their clearance rack when I was about 20 pounds thinner. That’s probably the thing I miss most about being in straight sizes–NY&Co sales. ;)

      2. AmyNYC*

        I used to LOVE them, but I’ve been disappointed in the quality the past few years, it all looks very cheap to me.

    14. anon*

      Loft is a good place to look and they always have sales. I’d recomend not paying full price there because it will always go on sale at some point

    15. WFBP*

      We have a Ross’ here and it is awesome. You can get items like Calvin Klein stuff for $20.

      I hear Marshall’s and TJMaxx are also good.

    16. A Teacher*

      Goodwill. Seriously. I lost 50+ lbs over the past year and needed to redo my wardrobe on a limited budget. You have to be willing to wade through a lot of crap but I’ve found some awesome New York and Company, Anne Taylor, Gap, Limited, and other decent brands for cheap. I also garage sale when the weather gets nicer and have picked up some nicer stuff.

      Next to that, Kohls–especially on sale or with 30% off, Maurices sometimes, and Limited when they have a sale or if I want a nice staple/pair of pants that will last.

      1. Julie*

        I have gotten some really nice tops and jeans at Goodwill. Some of it looks like it was never worn.

      2. evilduck*

        I live in New York and Company for work. If you have it in your budget to shop at the actual store, they ALWAYS have sales. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for anything.

    17. r*

      I’ve had good luck with getting reasonably priced suits at Macy’s and The Limited. They might not be the most on-trend or the highest quality, but they’re decent basics. Also, if you have outlets near you, try the Banana Republic outlet. They usually have awesome discounts.

      1. Sunflower*

        The Limited has skinny suit pants now! I could never wear them as a professional suit but they’re great if you’re in the fashion industry

    18. CollegeAdmin*

      I go for Express and H&M, or if there’s an outlet mall near you, Banana Republic and White House Black Market.

      In particular, I recommend H&M for a nice suit – mine fits so well it looks tailored. (Obviously, YMMV, because women’s sizing is a crapshoot.)

    19. AS*

      I have to wear business professional four days a week and I’m only about 18 months out of college. Having to have that amount of professional clothing was a tough transition. So I bought everything on sale and stuff that can be used multiple times. I buy in bulk the Calvin Klein shift dresses from nordstrom rack or tj maxx. Then I change it with cheap jewelry, scarves, and different jackets. Not super fashionable but I get a lot of variety.

    20. NWanalyst*

      Happy Friday! I’m pretty sure I’ve faced some of the same challenges. In my industry (financial services) age group (I’m 26) and location, looking on-trend seems to be almost more important than a professional appearance. As someone who refuses to sacrifice professionalism for fashion, but doesn’t want to look matronly, I’ve had to learn a few things.
      My number one rule is to never compromise on quality. That means I buy fewer, more expensive pieces. I buy more slowly, watching to see how an item from a given brand performs before investing more in that brand. Before entering the corporate world, I wasn’t as conscious of wear on clothing…. now, I’ve learned the hard way that you basically get what you pay for. That first black blazer I picked up from TJMaxx pilled so badly that it’s been relegated to the weekend wardrobe. Not that there aren’t bargains, but I’ve never been more disappointed in an item’s longevity than when I’ve shopped primarily on price. Which brings me to the next habit… I shop mostly for neutrals, and I buy pieces with color only when they sweep me off my feet. A high-quality neutral can be reworn in a variety of ways since it’s not as memorable, and will be versatile if other coordinating separates wear out. If you’re careful, you can mix-and-match separates that are difficult to buy at lower prices–like jackets–with lower-end basics like trousers.
      For actual store and brand recommendations, I highly recommend Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. Their house brands, like Halogen, can be quite affordable (especially if you shop the sales). Other higher-end discount shops like Last Call and Saks Off Fifth have worked really well for me, too. These places aren’t *cheap*, which means I can’t buy mindlessly, but the brands are recognizable and I have learned how to optimize on quality. I’ve had some luck buying basics from H&M, Express, and The Limited… things like button-down shirts. But keep in mind that the construction and longevity will be substantially worse (stray threads, burst seams, poor sleeve fitting)… I’ve actually been moving away from these brands for that reason. I’m willing to pay slightly more for an on-sale shirt from Banana Republic and get something that looks better and will last. There are also online sites like… blogs like Corporette and YouLookFab have laundry lists of resources.
      As for fashionable suits… well, I have a well-fitting black Calvin Klein suit from the Rack that I dress up in all kinds of different ways, and it’s been great. I have a grey check Roberto Cavalli suit that I picked up on clearance… very on-trend and extremely versatile. I’ve done well with separates from White House Black Market (quality a bit so-so, but they occasionally have fantastic-looking trendy pieces). Same goes for The Limited. I found a fabulous black menswear-styled vest at bebe… can’t wear any of their other pieces, but I now watch them for vests. Eileen Fisher goes the other way… they don’t do fitted much, but when they do it can be fabulous! If you’re having trouble finding skirts that are long enough to make you comfortable, you might try what I did and shop more conservative brands for skirts, then mix in a trendy jacket from somewhere like The Limited.
      Anyway, sorry for the novel… not sure if I’ve answered your question, but I’d be happy to talk more if you like.

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        Yay! No need to apologize, that was exactly what I was looking for! I’m going to have to come back to this thread on my home computer and bookmark all of these sites – this whole thread has been a gold mine.

      2. Tamara*

        Designers to look out for when they go on sale for work appropriate and quality attire:

        BCBG MaxAzria (I worked for them and had a clothing allowance so I fell in love quite quickly. Most dept. stores without lease space will put them on sale faster than stores who have leased space to BCBG (e.g.: Dilliards is leased, Nordstrom, Belk – isn’t)

        French Connection (European designer so fit runs small but dont be discouraged. They have awesome dresses, cardigans and sweaters that I keep going back to)

        Nannette Lapore (just bought my first blouse by her that was $250. Got it for $45)

        Trina Turk (love her pencil skirts and she’s conservative they have enough length for the office).

      3. Turanga Leela*

        I second Eileen Fisher. I don’t like the aesthetic in their advertisements, but I have a colorblocked pencil skirt from them that is maybe the most essential thing I own. I would run into a burning building to save that skirt.

    21. AnonHR*

      Ann Taylor Loft clearance sales online are kind of my life :). If you can handle picking through racks, I have great luck with TJ Maxx (I’ve built a half a wardrobe of Calvin Klein and Express from there)

      Also, I feel like JC Penny has a bad rap, but I just got a black and white striped blazer there that fits like a dream for $6.37 on clearance. No, that’s not a typo.

    22. A Jane*

      Some of the Joe Fresh pieces at JC Penney are pretty good. If you’re in New York City or Canada, the price point may fit your needs.

    23. QK*

      I’m a devoted fan of the Banana Republic and J. Crew factory stores. Also their sales racks in their regular retail stores!

    24. athek*

      I love TJMaxx and Marshall’s as well — it does take digging and sometimes you have to keep an eye on brands, but you can get really good deals. I get a lot of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein from there.

      Also, I am a regular checker of websites — someone else mentioned Banana Republic sales and I also watch Calvin Klein — when they have an extra discount (especially on Clearance items), you can get some really nice stuff for cheap. I regularly find sweaters, blouses, dresses, etc. for under 30 dollars.

    25. foam chick*

      Just discovered white house black market and Ann Taylor but only shop clearance. I love the timeless styles and quality of the clothes. Seems like everything I ever buy from forever 21 falls apart in months.

    26. Ash #1*

      Christopher Banks/CJ Banks have really good “classic” pieces, e.g. sleeveless tops, cardigans, etc. They can be expensive, but their sales are AMAZING. I only buy their stuff if it’s on sale, and when they mark down their clearance, you get even better deals. I’ve also always had good luck in Younker’s at their clearance section.

    27. Sunflower*

      H&M blazers are great. Sizing is way different though. Like a 4 blazer at Loft is probably an 8 at H&M. There is also a store called Love Culture that is the same thing as Forever 21. I’ve gotten some cute fitted blazers there for about $22 a pop. Again, not greatest quality but for my lower quality stuff, I try to not wash them super often and I hand wash them so the washer/dryer doesn’t rip them apart.

      Francesca’s has some cute stuff that can be work to night. Getting stuff on super sale there is harder than at places like Loft and Limited but they always have 30% off sales. The Limited now has skinny professional suit pants which might be perfect for you.

    28. Cara Carroll*

      I like Ross, Target, Ann Taylor Loft (outlet), and Express (online). I like to have a few solid bottoms (pants) in black, brown, and gray the staple colors. And then buy nice tanks and wear cardigans over them. The tanks can be cheaper than a blouse and then you can make it office ready with a nice shell. I also buy my shoes the same way, one black, one gray , one brown. Try your local thrift shop as I have a friend who has gotten all her Express pants from stores like that and as others have mentioned Goodwill. I love Express pants and find them very durable and they last years!

    29. Kou*

      This is a really good time of year for needing clothes, you get the beeest deals in January/Feb. I stock up on work clothes this time of year when everything gets discounted.

      If you need a little dressier clothes, do what I do and shop clearance. It’s a little bit of a learned skill to know when and where to find deep discounts, but vigilance has something to do with it. I’ll run through clearance on the sites of brands I like/know fit me every few days sometimes, and you make some great catches. I’ll just filter down to my size and look at everything. If you have an outlet mall anywhere around you, it can be worth a day trip.

      I’m usually looking at Ann Taylor/Loft, Banana Republic, and (since basics are important) Eddie Bauer and Land’s End. A big part of it is knowing what brands are shaped for you– for example, nothing at Zara has ever fit me right, it’s always too long in the torso. Clothing companies intentionally stick to their “fits” because they know it creates brand loyalty (the jerks), so keep that in mind. Once you know where works for you, it’s easier to hound their shops/sites for deals.

    30. Rachel*

      Things have been well-covered, but I’d recommend signing yourself up for the email list for every single retailer you like, because they all send out coupons. I have mine set up with filters so that they never show up in my inbox, but when I know I need something I can go check that folder and see what current coupons I’ve got. I just checked, and right now I have active coupon codes for Macy’s, Piperlime, the Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Banana Republic.

      And consider whether it’s worthwhile to open a store credit card that gives you rewards at your absolute favorite. Obviously, if you open a store card you need to pay it off in full every month, but a lot of them get you decent discounts – I have a GAP card, and for every $100 I spend at GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, or Piperlime, I can get $10 off at any of those stores. You also get extra coupons as a card holder. If you’re good at handling credit, then it’s a great way to get discounts.

    31. Anonie*

      Ann Taylor Loft has great sales at the end of the year. A cowoker got a killer dress for $8 because of a 50% off sale and she had a 20% off coupon for her birthday. So they gave her 1/2 off the dress and then another 20% off with the coupon.

    32. LMW*

      I have a hard time finding stuff that fits and doesn’t look either dowdy or slutty. There are a few stores that work really well for me, but they tend to be pricier, so I buy a LOT on clearance and wait for sales. I have a suit I bought at Ann Taylor 10 years ago that still looks great on me because it fits so well and the style is classic enough that it doesn’t look outdated (I had some other suits from Express or the Limited that didn’t stand the test of time as well)

    33. Kit M.*

      If you’re willing to spend $200 to $300 on a suit, I would recommend J. Crew Factory for suits, esp. if you can get them on sale. I went to a J. Crew, tried on some blazers to figure out my size, and then ordered from J. Crew Factory. It’s the best deal I found on wool suiting, which is what I wanted, and IIRC it wasn’t much more expensive than The Limited’s synthetic suiting. J.C. Penney’s has pretty good inexpensive suiting, too.

      I’ve had good luck with Asos for dresses. There’s a lot of very work-inappropriate stuff, but if you wade past that you can find very tasteful things. And free shipping and returns, so you don’t have too much to lose.

      1. Sloop*

        J. Crew Factory suits are really hit or miss when it comes to quality (most of their regular factory clothes are awesome though, check the website for some fantastic deals) – I’d recommend waiting until there’s a 30% or 40% (rare) sale at the regular J. Crew for a suit.

    34. Tamara*

      I used to work high end retail and am in my first “office” job with a tech start up in Atlanta. What I used to stress to my clients is that you can have designer clothing at a low cost. Be vigilant of sales. At old employer we did markdowns at the beginning of the month and then progressively they would get an additional discount. I have tons of blouses and dresses that would normally range from $250 – $400 for under $50. I even bought a Pippa (by French Connection) suit for $60 which total retail would have been pants (178) and jacket (248). French Connection or BCBG suiting is geared towards the 20+ crowd (I’m a millenial too!)

      Also, the suit shorts look will not work in any office. It’s more for like looking chic on the street or date night at the museum.

      And most importantly: Build a healthy relationship with the sales personnel. I had tons of clients who I would call if I still had a blouse in stock in their size and it went on sale. I treated them just as well as my full price clients because they were honest and upfront about their budget, what they were looking for and patient enough to realize that since they’re waiting for designer to go on sale their choices may be limited.

    35. ella*

      I found some decent stuff at New York & Co. If you join their frequent club thing (which I think is free), you get coupons in the mail all the damn time. On the other hand, change their entire inventory every 6 months or so, and I tend to either really like their current collection or really don’t.

    36. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I recommend Alloy, they are awesome, and have an entire section of career-wear that is designed to be young and fashion-forward. Plus, great prices.

      If you want to get a little pricier, Victoria’s Secret has some really nice, well-made and fashionable suits and careerwear.

      1. Dang*

        Omg, Alloy!! I didn’t know they were still in existence. I remember thumbing through the catalog eagerly when I was in high school.

      2. CollegeAdmin*

        Oh, I forgot Victoria’s Secret! I second the recommendation – I have a pair of gorgeous pinstripe slacks from them that I bought in high school that still look amazing. (Plus, if you order something and it doesn’t work, you don’t have to pay return shipping; you can just drop the package off in-store, even though they don’t sell the clothing there.)

    37. Lee*

      TJ Max or Marshalls.
      I go to straight to clearance section and usually you kind find tons of “fashionable” clothes, albeit last season’s trends. They have great mark downs, though sometimes the quality is questionable.

      Target will typically due in a pinch, but I find their clothes/shoes are either “plain jane” or ostentatious, usually attached with a fishy price tag.

    38. L*

      Loehmanns is also great- it’s similar to Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. They’re going out of business unfortunately (I think in March) so a lot of their stuff is discounted.

    39. Liz*

      I have scored a few great pieces from Dots. Seems like their stores are few and far between, but they have low prices. They change their stuff often, so its worth checking in different seasons.

    40. AVP*

      I don’t have any suggestions for suits…but for blouses, cardigans, skirts, and tights I LOVE Madewell. They are way too expensive at regular retail, but they mark almost everything down eventually, sometimes by 50%, which makes it way more reasonable. And because it was initially expensive, the quality is really good and you don’t get that cheap/stretchy/shiny F21 look. I usually try to avoid buying work clothes from Target or H&M because they warp in the wash and it drives me nuts.

    41. Claire MKE*

      Love for tons of the retailers mentioned above, but my big secret that I didn’t see mentioned is Dress Barn. It definitely has some “old lady clothes” which is what I always think of when I heard it, but there’s some really cute stuff too. My full summer wardrobe of work dresses was from there, plus a lot of my fall blouses/sweaters, a great blazer and some trousers, and these are by far the pieces I get the most compliments on. Some of the pieces can be pricey, but they’ve held up beautifully for me, and as a HUGE bonus, you seldom see yourself coming and going (which is my main problem with Kohl’s and Target…am I a little bit of a peacock? Perhaps…) The other major bonus for me is that they have both straight and plus sizes in the same store, and a lot of the time the same PIECES in both sizeways which is a godsend for an inbetweenie like myself who can shop both sides.

    42. Confused*

      You can always try clearance sections of stores you like. A lot of stores let you use coupons on items already on clearance, ask if you’re not sure.
      Also (momentary vent) we work in the same industry and I find it annoying that guys get away with jeans + t-shirts most of the time but we still have to look fashionable and on trend. I know this topic has been discussed here a lot but in some industries acceptable attire for men vs women varies…a lot.

    43. Ashley*

      Kohls! And as weird as it sounds, I always have great luck at Target. They have some nice, reasonably priced suits, and really cute fashionable tops.

    44. sidra*

      I am 27 (if that helps- not 100% millennial) and I find that Nordstrom Rack is great for this. Loft is another great store. Professional without looking frumpy or childish.

      Oh, and longer sweater\shirt dresses with opaque tights from anywhere… Gap is good for that.

    45. Jennifer*

      I vote for consignment and ebay. On ebay I only buy higher end brands where the sizing is consistent. I’ve scored amazing deals this way. An ebay trick for the patient is to buy things off season. I got two pairs of designer boots for 1/4 of their retail price because I bought them in the summer. The same boots are selling for at least 75% of their retail price now.

    46. KatieBell*

      Two websites that have really helped me are Retailmenot (a great source of coupons and sales) and Penny Pincher Fashion. The woman who writes Penny Pincher Fashion makes weekly sale lists and posts on trend outfit ideas. I absolutely adore her blog.

    47. Anne 3*

      H&M, J-crew sales, Uniqlo, Zara, Madewell sales

      These are some of the more affordable chains I look for work clothes at, but you have to watch for the quality of the garment (these can vary a LOT at places like H&M and Zara especially). I try to avoid polyester (and rayon! rayon is a total pain in the ass to wash) in favor of natural fabrics & I always look at stuff like the stitching and the washing instructions.

  5. businesslady*

    oh man, I’m not even a cat person (because I’m allergic to them) but that is great. her little slides!!!

    also, is that one of those draft-blocker things that I spy under one of the doors Olive’s running past? if so, can I ask where you got it? our new apartment building has a big space under the front door that messes with our AC/heat, but when we asked at the hardware store for a “door sausage” (what else would you call it??) they looked at us like we were crazy. we’ve been using a rolled-up towel, but I wouldn’t mind something that looked a little classier.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! We’re not even using it for drafts though — we’re using it to stop that door from constantly swinging open.

      I bought it from Etsy — they have a ton of great ones. You fill them up with beans when they arrive (I assume because it’s cheaper to ship them empty). Search there for “door snake” or “draft stopper.”

    2. Rayner*

      Draft excluder, we called it.

      You can find them on etsy or a good department store with a house department should have one – they’re really easy to make too. You just need some dried beans as AAM says, or sand works too. Must be dry sand, or it’ll stink everything out.

    3. Chris*

      Draft dodger is the term here. You can also make really cute ones from long knit socks- just fill with rice and tie them off (or sew shut, if your needle handy). Just put the rice in a pantyhose liner before putting in the sock.

    4. Jessica (tc)*

      My mom used to make ones out of men’s ties. Just sew up the bigger end (if it isn’t already), add beans or rice, sew up the smaller end (or re-sew it if you had to tear it out), and put it in front of your door! It does double-duty of being a door stop in the summer, if you leave a door open. My mom would sew a cute, felt forked tongue and eyes on it, but you don’t to go that far. ;)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That was all my husband’s doing. He will be pleased. (I had told him “no music unless it’s Chariots of Fire and she’s running in slow motion,” but he was right.)

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        What music is it? I know I know it from somewhere, but I’ve been racking my brain and can’t figure out where!

  6. Ash*

    So if you remember my post from last week, I officially didn’t get the job I was hoping for, so onwards. My question this week is this — I have a Ph.D. (social sciences), but have never wanted to go academic mostly because I don’t want to rely on soft money. A lot of the positions that are available are at research institutes that are still soft money. I don’t want to feel like I got my Ph.D. for nothing but can’t seem to find other options. I think the PhD also scares off employers for more stable positions Are there other non-academe, non-soft money Ph.D.s here? Any advice on where to look?

    1. Kevin*

      I have a coworker who is similar to you. I work at a university and my coworker had a professor email the hiring manager and give a very strong recommendation. The hiring manager took a chance and he’s one of the top performing people in the office. It’s also non-soft money.

      Unfortunately I also think the PhD scares people off, they think you will leave for a teaching or research position at any time. The hiring manager of my coworker went “I like him and maybe we’ll get a year out of him.” I would suggest specifically addressing it in your cover letter but avoid stating the soft money aspect of your choice.

    2. Cajun2core*

      I am not sure about your statement that all universities rely on soft money. I know many professors that are paid by the university using state money, not soft money. Once you get tenure, it is extremely difficult to fire you. To clarify: my definition of “soft money” is money that is tied to a certain grant and once the grant runs out either someone has to get another grant or you lose your job. From what I have seen most professors are not paid with soft-money.

      There are some other options: Have you looked into teaching high-school? With a PhD you can probably get a job at an excellent high school with an advanced program. Have you looked into teaching colleges/universities (as opposed to research based colleges/universities)? Since they don’t have large research funds, I can’t imagine their professors are paid with grant funds.

      1. Ash*

        I should add, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to teach. That’s also why I don’t want to be a professor.

        1. Cajun2core*

          Ah. That changes everything. In your case you are right, purely research positions at universities are usually soft-money.

        2. fposte*

          Are you interested in other academic staff positions? We have plenty of hard money non-teaching positions.

            1. Diane*

              It depends on your field, but I’ve known social science PhDs on hard money who work in grant development, international programs, programs that coordinate with business/industry or economic development groups in the region, legislative affairs/government relations, etc. Outside of academia, my friend with a poly sci doctorate served as an executive director of various nonprofits that did advocacy/regulatory work with the feds.

              1. ADE*

                + grantwriting

                + consulting (depends on where and what, but there are a lot of places that look kindly on ss PhD’s who are used to kicking out reports)

                + student affairs, alumni relations, corp/found relations, undergraduate admissions at universities

            2. fposte*

              Student services, advancement (the new name for fund-raising), diversity coordination, recruiting, communications, continuing ed, IT…and that’s without getting into our civil services positions. Since we’re mostly a terminal professional master’s, we draw a lot on people with master’s and no PhD (I’m putting that in mostly for you, Christine, since I believe that’s pretty much where you are as well), though a few have doctorates.

              I do think that it’s pretty variable by study area and institution, but it might be interesting for you to browse the staff lists of the department or school (“school” as in Engineering or Life Sciences, not as in Wassamatta U) to see what kinds of positions might be possible that would draw on your field knowledge. I can’t say they’re highly paid, but then, that’s academia.

          1. ChristineSW*

            Sorry to butt in, but I too am curious about academic staff positions (I assume you’re referring to positions specific to academic departments?). I only have a Masters though, and not in anything related to higher ed.

            1. Dang*

              I worked in academic research with a master’s for a few years, but unfortunately I felt (and still feel, as I job hunt) pigeon holed. It’s been hard to transition into another field, and I don’t want to stay in academia because I don’t want to get a PhD and there’s really not a lot of growth in research positions without one, in my experience.

    3. happypup*

      I have a PhD and I work in an academic library – there are a couple others here who have PhDs as well. We all have library degrees as well, but there are more and more postings for positions that don’t strictly require an MLS. You might be interested in data librarian / data management specialist / research informatics type positions, and those are often looking for PhD-level expertise in working with data, with less emphasis on library experience (though if you’ve got any library experience that’s a big plus). This position is an example, though I’m sure there are others that have a more social science bent:

      If your particular social science area gave you a background in quantitative work, especially statistics and software like R/Stata/SAS/SPSS, you might be in a good position to apply for analyst type positions.

    4. happypup*

      Oh, also! Look into positions with an IRB if you’re at all interested in regulatory stuff. If you’re willing to stray even farther from doing research, academic advising is another route to consider.

      If you haven’t already, look into the Versatile PhD forums. Inside Higher Ed also seems to feature ‘alt-ac’ essays, advice, etc. fairly regularly.

    5. thenoiseinspace*

      I don’t have experience in this area so this might be terrible advice, but thinking out loud: if you want a job practicing in your field (as opposed to academia or research) and you’re worried your degrees will scare employers off, I’d be looking for a way to indicate your intentions on your resume right next to listing your degree to mitigate the damage. Is there a way that you could list the degree to communicate that to potential employers? For example, “PhD, Chocolate Teapot Making (Practicing), ” “(Business Focus)” or some other way to signal that your focus throughout the program was to practice, not research/teach? Like if you had done any major projects or internships to that end, could you list them? I making a muddle of the wording but hopefully someone will get what I mean.

      Of course, this is assuming that you really DID have that kind of focus during your degree. Since you mentioned you never wanted to go into soft money, I’m assuming you did, though I could be wrong.

    6. athek*

      Without knowing exactly what social science your Ph.D. is in, I would suggest looking into government work? That has it’s own challenges, but it’s one place I can think of that would hire people like you.

    7. ChristineSW*

      This has been part of my quandary as to whether to pursue the PhD…I don’t want to be a professor either; yet, that seems to be the most common route. There are other options, such as higher education administration, consulting or research institutes. However, I haven’t delved deeply enough into this to offer any useful advise. I guess the main question boils down to what you want to do with your PhD.

      By the way, what is meant by “soft money”?

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        In this context, “soft money” comes from external sources, usually grants. In some cases, a soft money position may be eliminated when the funding source runs dry. Therefore, a big part of the job becomes continually chasing funding opportunities.

    8. Anonymous*

      I have a PhD and am currently looking at Student Affairs jobs. That said, that is still a competitive field and they want people with Student Affairs experience but it’s worth checking out some postings. The hiring season for the field really picks up at the end of February so lots of folks will be posting jobs soon.

      Also, what about non-academic jobs in higher ed, like working in diversity offices, faculty development, academic advising, scholarship offices, veterans affairs, disability services, admissions, Deans offices, alumni relations and development, institutional review/assessment departments, etc? Many of those jobs prefer folks with PhDs (especially those that deal with faculty) and can be well-paid and stable with opportunities for career advancement,

      1. fposte*

        Heh. Around here we call those academic jobs, which are distinct from faculty, which are distinct from staff (civil service). Academic terminology makes slang look stable and consistent.

    9. Anonsie*

      I’m not an expert, but my immediate feeling is that there aren’t a lot of things that a social science PhD leads into naturally that don’t involve soft money.

      One thing that does come to mind is that there are some nonprofits that value a strong social science background for a variety of roles. It depends more on the individual culture of the org than their mission from what I’ve seen, though the global health orgs I like seem to really encourage it often enough that you might look that way. I do know of some others of rather different missions that for some reason love all their staff to have advanced degrees. Most notably is one that makes educational tools– every employee I know there has at least one PhD, usually in a social science, no matter their job.

    10. Jeanne*

      Depending on your area of study, I’d check research/project management positions at think tanks or operational NGOs. A lot rely on soft money, but many have endowments or fundraising departments that are responsible for bringing in foundation/corporate/individual donations. That frees up the research/management team to focus on the studies and other products. Many times these positions are relatively stable. I’ve worked in think tanks most of my career and although I have fundraising responsibilities, there are positions that don’t have that expectation and aren’t at risk of being eliminated each year.

      Another option is to look at foundations that do grant making in your field of study. Those positions are much harder to get, but it’s worth exploring.

      Trade associations or advocacy groups may be a good place to look, again, depending on your area of study.

      I think you’re smart to avoid anything that is funded by the government. Regrettably, its contracting right now at all levels and state funding for education in most places is also on the decline.

      1. anon attorney*

        I have a social science PhD and I used to work in the voluntary sector then in government research. Didn’t want to be an academic either. Those were all permanent staff posts.

        Of course, then I went to law school…

    11. Acanon*

      Hey, don’t knock soft-money positions – they’re the best entry into employment you can ask for. A lot of research positions (data collection/field staff, project managers, analysts) are opened due to new funding for 3-to-5 year grants; if you get one of those, you’ll have a job for at least that long plus any no-cost extension time. It’s certainly long enough to a) decide if you like the field, b) generate new soft-money funding, or c) network like hell and line up a hard-money (or combination of soft-money sources) job within the same institution after the first grant ends.

  7. Littlemoose*

    So I encountered a weird situation and thought I would seek input from the thoughtful commenters here. I’ve been going to the same hair salon for about a year, though I go infrequently. The same woman, Jane, cuts my hair. On Monday I called and made an appointment for next week with Jane. Yesterday morning I got a call from the salon informing me that Jane no longer works there, and did I want to see another stylist at that time? I said sure, and they schedule me with Wakeen. However, about half an hour later, I got a call (which I let go to voicemail) from Jane. When I listene to the message after work yesterday, Jane said that she had moved to a new place in the same strip mall as the old salon, and that she had me scheduled for the appointment next week. I have no idea what happened between Jane and the salon, but it sounds weird and unpleasant, and I don’t want to be in the middle of any silly drama. My hair is simple and fairly easy to cut, so finding a new place probably wouldn’t be a big deal. I’m considering either keeping the appointment with Jane at the new place (just to see how it goes), or canceling both appointments and just walking away from this silly situation. I know it’s not a big deal, but I loathe confrontation and really don’t want to make these phone calls. Any suggestions?

    1. Ash*

      I am loyal to my hairstylist, not the salon. Mine has jumped from a salon, to a new one, and back to the original and I follow her. Most people I think do the same…

    2. Lynette*

      In my experience, it’s normal and expected for stylists to take their regular clients with them. I even received a postcard via snail mail with my stylist’s new salon info. I wouldn’t sweat it. If you like Jane, cancel the appointment with Wakeen. No explanation necessary.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love this kind of question. I’d keep the appointment with Jane, but if she badmouths the old place, I’d probably find a new stylist after that (just because that’s unprofessional and not really conducive to you having a relaxing experience, which is part of the gig).

    4. Sabrina*

      If you’re not devoted to either and aren’t picky about who cuts your hair, I might walk away and find some place new. I used to have a gal who cut my hair for years, and I told her if she ever left I’d follow her. Well I moved away but I found out the other day that she did move to a new salon (after 15 years!) so if I move back to the area, I’m definitely going back to her. I am less loyal to my current stylist who I like, but not as much. I would just call and cancel and lie about why, like you have an unexpected chocolate teapot meeting that day and you’re not sure when you can reschedule, but you’ll let them know.

    5. Yup*

      Doesn’t sound all that weird to me. Stylists typically take their client book with them when they leave a salon, so it’s normal that Jane would call you to keep the relationship and also normal that the salon would want to honor your existing appointment with them.

      Just pick whichever service provider you prefer, and call both parties to confirm/cancel the existing appt. Neither will be offended if you choose the other.

    6. Sascha*

      I would probably go with Jane, because when I find a stylist I like, I hold onto that person for dear life. If you cancel the appointment with Wakeen, that’s perfectly normal. You don’t even have to say why, just that you need to cancel. If they ask, just say something came up. And if Jane starts the drama…well just disappear from Jane’s radar.

      1. Bryan*

        And if they ask if you want to reschedule say you don’t have your calendar set yet and you’ll call them back.

    7. Bryan*

      I find looking for someone to cut your hair is one of the hardest things to do. Like where do you start? I say go with Jane. I’ve followed people to 3 or 4 different places.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I know that was rhetorical, but I’m going to answer it: Yelp. I’ve found two amazing hair people through Yelp reviews. (Although I think you have to live in an area large enough to have a lot of Yelp reviews to sift through.)

        1. DeMinimis*

          Yes, either that or be lucky to find an area with at least a few good reviewers. I found my most recent hair person on Yelp, she didn’t have many reviews, but the ones she did have were positive and detailed.

          We’ve since moved, but I had some errands we have to run in my previous location, so I’m getting my hair cut by her one last time.

          Very hard to find a good stylist especially if they have reasonable prices. I’m a guy so it’s at least a little less complicated, but I still haven’t had an easy time.

        2. Anonymous*

          I have SUCH a hard time with Yelp reviews (especially for hair salons, it seems) because they’re always (in my experience) a mixed bag. There are always rave reviews then reviews saying it is the WORST PLACE EVER. The best haircut I ever got was actually at a place that has mostly awful reviews on Yelp. :(

        3. MelG*

          Just ask someone who has similar hair to yours (that happens to look great). Granted, I am part of the Sisterhood of Curly Hair, so we’re all big sharers of info, but I have a feeling that “Your hair always looks so nice. I’m looking for a stylist; would you recommend yours?” probably works for everyone.

          1. Natalie*

            That’s how I found my awesome hairstylist, and I’ve since referred her to a bajillion people. I’m also in the Curly Club, though, so I think it comes up more with us.

            1. MelG*

              Right? We can’t help it – we need to share! I know what you mean, I have to take more business cards every time I see my stylist because I pass them out like Halloween candy. We curly girls have to look out for each other.

          2. ADE*

            sisterhood of curly hair? devachan! their products and salons.

            Not cheap, but I actually save money because I get my hair cut less frequently, as it grows out so nicely.

            1. MelG*

              ADE, I tried Deva Chan but found I prefer Ouidad! Same thing – cuts and products for curly hair specifically (and expensive). I’ve found most of us who try both systems usually prefer one over the other, though neither is bad.

            2. AVP*

              Oh I love Ouidad but there’s a Devachan salon right near my office and I’ve been thinking about checking it out.

              I found my awesome stylist because she was mentioned in a magazine article as “the West Village curl expert.” I immediately checked out the salons website and, to my surprise, she wasn’t very much more expensive than I was already paying for a lesser haircut, and only half the price of what the Ouidad salon charges!

          3. Anon*

            For curly hair I love the DevaCurl method. It’s a dry cut and the stylist cuts Every. Single. Curl. Individually. It’s awesome! Their website has a curly stylist finder which is how I’ve found my last two stylists. Unfortunately my current stylist (in large East Coast city) is twice as much as my previous stylist (in mid-sized Midwestern city), but it’s still worth it.

            1. LPBB*

              I’ve never gone the whole hog and done the DevaCurl dry cut, but I loooove the shampoo, even though it is $20 a bottle. I was very skeptical, because I have fine hair with a gentle curl that’s very easily weighed down, but I don’t think my hair has ever looked so good!

              Totally agree about the Curly Hair Sisterhood, even though I feel like a junior member because my hair isn’t too troublesome. Not only to cling to a good stylist for dear life once I find one, but I’m always happy to share details with anyone who asks.

              1. ADE*

                But like the OP, it depends on the stylist, too. Deva Chan does train people at other salons, but I have not liked the cuts I’ve gotten from people who went to a training once and do not specialize in curly hair.

                I agree that if you’re looking to scale something cheap, try one of their products and see if you get hooked.

                As a professional with crazy curls, I always think of my haircut as part of my professional budget — if I don’t do it, I feel I won’t be respected as much.

          4. Cath@VWXYNot?*

            Ha! Yes, I will walk up to a stranger with great-looking curly hair and ask them who cuts it. My friends with straight hair can’t believe I do it, but I’ve never once had one of the Sisterhood not give me great info :D

            1. Natalie*

              When I was in college I used to get my hair cut by my favorite stylists on breaks when I was back home. One day in Ohio I disappointed a woman when she asked me where I got my hair cut and I said “Minnesota”.

              My hairstylist did enjoy telling people that one of her clients flew in quarterly, though.

          5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            I have the opposite issue… I live in DC, where there are definitely many stylists who are great with curly hair. I have very fine, straight hair, and I have been having a devil of a time!

          6. Jennifer*

            Sorta similar to this, but I’ve just asked someone whose hair I liked where they got it done. Also, I have followed my current hairstylist through a few moves.

        4. Bryan*

          I found mine through yelp as well. I just had four salons all within 2 miles of me that all charged the same price and all had the same number of stars with the same number of reviews.

      2. ella*

        I found my Favorite Hairstylist through a friend, and when FH moved away after like 7 years (and I was way more sad than I thought I’d be; I’m not a person who cares overly much about my appearance but I’ve discovered it’s worth the cost to be picky about my hair), I asked her for leads on good people. When none of them worked out, I went back to the salon where FH used to work and happened upon a good one (though I think that has to do with the fact that the salon does a fair amount of continuing training with its stylists, so I at least found a stylist who was familiar with the sort of cut that FH did, which I was bad at describing to the other stylists).


      3. Mints*

        I’ve also done LivingSocial/Groupons. I get to try it out for a cheaper price, then if I like them, I’m willing to pay full price.
        Once you buy the coupon, you can look at the website (and yelp) to see which stylist would probably match your hair best.
        Finding a hair stylist is so damn hard

    8. The IT Manager*

      This happens often I think. It happened to me twice at a fairly upscale salon (the only “upscale” salon I have been to in my life). Both time I stuck with the salon (now on my third stylist) which I originally picked because of proximity to my house, and because I didn’t have a strong preference for the stylist. I’m not that picky about my hair, but both of my old stylist had called me to let me know about their new location.

      If you prefer Jane, stick with Jane, no harm no foul. Hopefully she won’t be bad mouthing her old salon to the customers making you uncomfortable.

    9. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I followed one stylist to about 8 different locations over 12 years until she moved out of town.

    10. Anonymous*

      That’s very common in the beauty industry. If you like Jane, keep going to her and cancel your appointment with the salon. It’s not a big deal at all and salons expect this.

    11. Sunflower*

      I oddly enough go the other way and LOVE my salon more than my stylist. I have been going to my hair salon since I was 13 so I have been through a few different stylists. I would trust anyone in the salon with my hair. That being said, stylists do move frequently for better opportunities so I wouldn’t fret just because she moved.

      Don’t know what you spend but a haircut with my stylist is about $70. My salon makes anyone out of styling school be assistants/wash hair for almost a year after receiving their license so I feel super confident going to any of the stylists there.

      1. Loose Seal*

        $70!!! My haircuts are $20. I can get a full head of color plus a cut and style for what you pay for a haircut!

        1. Windchime*

          I think it depends on location and complexity. I pay around $110-120 for root color, a few bright red foils (panels in the middle layer of my hair, so the color just peeks out the bottom–so cute!) and a layered cut. I go about every 6 weeks. It’s expensive, but I like having funky, cute hair so I just try not to think about the money.

          I found my current stylist by asking a co-worker who cut her hair, which looked amazing. She gave me the name, but the gal was booked out for a couple of months, so they directed me to another girl in the shop who I LOVE and have followed to her new salon.

    12. Littlemoose*

      Thanks for the input, everyone. I agree that it’s pretty normal to follow a stylist to a new salon; I’ve certainly heard of it being done. My hesitation arose largely due to te abruptness – I made the appointment on Monday specifically with Jane, and suddenly three days later she doesn’t work there anymore. That’s what made me think it was a sticky situation. I agree with the consensus, I’ll keep the appointment with Jane, but won’t see her in the future if she badmouths the old place or if it is otherwise uncomfortable. I already dislike the hour of forced small talk that comes with things like hair appointments, so I don’t need any additional awkwardness.
      Also, the second stylist was not a man but I really wanted to call her Wakeen anyway, because I love that story.

      1. MaryTerry*

        I wouldn’t worry: stylists move for all sorts of reasons: better chair rental rate at the new place, or getting a higher commission there. If Jane does a good job with your hair, and her rates don’t go up much or at all, then I would move with Jane.

      2. Natalie*

        It’s fairly typical for this kind of thing to happen all of the sudden. I knew my hairstylist was moving, but that is because I’ve gone to her for years and we’re also casual friends outside of the salon. She told me months ahead of time but it was not something she wanted getting around. The official announcement (by email) only came on her first day at the new salon.

      3. Anonymous*

        Usually when a stylist (or anyone working at a day spa or salon) quits, they don’t get to work out any notice period, because the salon is concerned they’ll “steal” clientele. It’s almost always an abrupt thing.

      4. Loose Seal*

        My hair stylist gives me the best cuts I’ve ever had in my life but the primary reason I love her is that she is comfortable with us not talking. I just want to zone out and I especially want my stylist to concentrate on the cutting (well, more specifically, the hair she’s leaving on my head) more than an inane conversation.

      5. monologue*

        I wouldn’t worry too much about the abruptness or the weirdness about the double appointment. Sometimes stylists quit and the old place refuses to refer clients to the new place. Instead the salon tried to keep you and so did Jane. You should do whatever you want, guilt free.

    13. LMW*

      If my hairdresser ever leaves her current salon I hope she calls me. The last hairdresser I had left her salon rather suddenly and it took me years to find a new one that I like as much.

    14. OrderSkinnyWraps*

      If you love Jane, stick with her! I have bounced around and have found that it’s really not worth it – building a relationship is just as important as their work quality. It’s nice when you trust them enough to trust their ideas and suggestions.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      It’s fine to follow Jane to the new salon. That’s kind of normal if people are loyal to their stylist (and not everyone is comfortable using someone else). I did that when I found a stylist I liked at Aveda and she moved. I’ve since lost track of her, darn it.

    16. Morgan*

      Ooooh, I don’t want to hijack your thread, but I have another salon etiquette question. I go to a chain salon, and when they ask me if I have a preferred stylist, I say no, because I am pretty easy-going, am not too picky about my hair, and because I want to schedule my appointment around my own schedule. Last time I went, I had a different stylist, but the stylist who previously did my hair, Paul, was there. He didn’t acknowledge me, but I dye my hair an orangey-red colour so it usually stands out so I know he recognized me. Also, the salon has an esthetician who does nails while people are getting their hair coloured and she asked me “Does Paul usually do your hair?”. I replied “oh, well he did it once”, so now I know he for sure that he recognized me. My question is, should I be sticking with the same stylist? I get my hair dyed and it ranges from red to orange and for example, last time the stylist suggested I put lowlights in so she did and it turned out great. I like the fact that my hair is a slightly different colour all the time, which is why I don’t mind switching stylists, but maybe this is a salon no-no? I don’t want to offend anyone.

      1. Bonnie*

        Is it possible that the stylist is concerned that because you came back but didn’t come back to him that you didn’t like the job that he did and it made him uncomfortable? The salon probably doesn’t care as long as you are coming back but the stylists probably do. Remember that if the salon is employing the stylists they don’t like to pay them to just stand around not cut hair and can pressure them to build up a book of business. If they are independent, if they don’t cut hair they don’t make money. Many young stylists are trying to build a book of regular business and hope that every customer that they work with will become a regular.

        1. Morgan*

          Thanks for the reply! That’s what concerned me and I didn’t acknowledge him at the time, but maybe I should have? I just wouldn’t know what to say, I’m a little socially awkward in situations like this, haha. And like I said, it wasn’t like I didn’t like him, I just like trying new people.

    17. Windchime*

      My hairstylist gave her notice (she wanted to move to another salon), and she was dismissed immediately. Pack up your tools and go, right now. Apparently this is not unusual in the hair salon world, so she had made a list of her clients and their contact information before she gave her notice. I got a call from her on a random Saturday, letting me know that she was at a new salon. Of course I booked with her immediately.

      I am also loyal to my stylist. Love her and get a ton of compliments on my hair, so I followed her to her new salon. No drama. I think this is a normal way for things to go down when a stylist moves.

  8. Sabrina*

    So here’s my Open Thread Friday Question:

    BLOT: Would you leave a full time job for a contract to hire (CtH) job?

    – CtH is in a different city, would require a move, but one I want to make and would for any new job anyway
    – CtH pays less that what I’d like, but a little more than what I make now
    – CtH is a career change to the field I want to work in and just finished my degree in, current job is not
    – CtH is a W2 position, I’d be an employee of the recruiter’s firm
    – Recruiter says company would likely hire FT w/in 3-6 months
    – Company is a large Fortune 500, lots of opportunity for growth
    – I’d be losing insurance (though I can get that through my husband), PTO, and paid holidays.
    – Husband’s job is not transferable, he’d likely follow me once our lease is up, we’re on a 3 month lease ATM
    – When we moved to current city we did so without jobs or knowing anyone, this move would be going back home
    – When I came to my current company I left a FT job I hated (call center) for this job which was temp to perm, was told I would be hired w/in 3 months, after 6 I was laid off due to budget reasons, brought back on a different team, and got hired 2 days after my 1 year anniversary. So I’m a little gun shy on this issue.
    – All of this might be moot b/c I haven’t heard from the recruiter in a week.

    1. H.*

      It sounds like there are a lot of potential issues with this contract to hire opportunity. What is the real draw here that makes this opportunity really attractive? Or, can you wait for something that would be more permanent from the start?

      I don’t think I would leave something existing for a contract to perm opportunity unless it was really an opportunity that wouldn’t appear again and I couldn’t pass it up.

      Additionally, almost everyone I know who has done temp to perm has waited much longer for the perm part to go through, so I would keep that in mind that the timeline might extend out further than you anticipate.

      1. Sabrina*

        The attractive part is that it’s in the field I want to go in to which I am otherwise having a very hard time breaking in to. Everything, even internships and volunteer work, want experience, which I don’t have.

    2. Colette*

      Generally, no, but in your case it might make sense.

      1) It’s a move that will get you to the location you want to move to
      2) It will get you experience in your new field, which will help you get future jobs in your field
      3) It’s a small raise – this might be a con if the cost of living is higher in the new location, but if it’s similar that’s also a bonus

      Assume that you knew they wouldn’t hire you (but that you could stay there for 1 – 2 years) – is what you’d get out of it worth what you’d give up?

      1. Sabrina*

        The COL is higher in the new place, it would likely be a wash, if even be less money. But state income tax would be lower and we wouldn’t be traveling back/forth for holidays and family events.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      That’s a tough one. Normally, especially given how hard it is to find a job right now, I wouldn’t leave a sure thing for a maybe long-term thing, even if the recruiter is saying it’s very likely to be a perm position eventually. But in this case you’d be getting two hard-to-get things — a move to the city you want and a change to the field you want to be in.

      How likely is it that your husband will be able to find a job in hometown? If he has good prospects, that would push even cautious me to say go for it, but if not, I’d be worried about getting stuck in two cities if he can’t find something.

      1. Sabrina*

        His prospects would be pretty good. I don’t think he’d have a problem finding a job at all and likely would make a lot more money. If it came to it, we could live with family until he found a job.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I would be leery of contract to hire just because of non-permanence, but it sounds like CtH has all the pros except for the fact that it is CtH. So can you saving handle you being out of work for a bit if you aren’t hired permanently? Could your husband and his insurance carry you if it doesn’t work out? If the answers to those or yes it definately sounds like you would prefer that one.

      1. Sabrina*

        Yes, we’ve got some cash in savings. And yes, as long as my husband keeps his job, which he would until he moved/found a job here, I can be on his insurance.

      1. Sabrina*

        Yeah, and that’s what makes me nervous. The recruiter said 3-6 months to hire and they want people to commit to 18 months in this role (presumably before moving on within the company). I’m fine with 18 months, but not as a temp, if they don’t want to commit to me, I don’t want to commit to them.

        1. LMW*

          Yeah…I’ve said this before: 3 years I waited.
          Do you have the option of your husband keeping his job until they do hire you perm? I realize that might be a long time to be apart.

    5. Labratnomore*

      Sounds like the CtH is the way to go. If it gets you to where you want to be both in location and in your career it think that is a big win. I know CtH timelines are not the best, we have had people at my job that have been CtH for over 2 years and then not hired or left right before they would have been. We have also had some that were here only a couple of months, then hired. It mostly depends on the departments need and their budget.

  9. Nail Biter*

    I am looking to get artifical nails, for those of you that have had them, do you prefer Acrylics or Gels, and why? I am trying to grow my nails out, and have a tendancy to chew them, and want to break myself of the habit. I had Acrylics in the past, and was able to not chew on them, so I am hoping I can do it again, but my nails were so thin when I removed the Acrylics. Do they file your nail down thin for Gels also?

    1. Jubilance*

      Either one will thin your natural nails underneath the overlay, but I think gel is less thinning.

      I was a nail biter for years but I broke myself of the habit by learning to take care of my nails. If they were filed and painted I was less likely to bite; but I also have to keep them trimmed or else I’ll start chewing when I break/crack a nail. I also rubbed Vitamin E oil on my nails each night to stimulate growth which also helped.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Does Vitamin E help with splitting? I have one nail that splits down into the quick and it always breaks before I can get them polished. Grrr.

        I have brittle nails due to thyroid disease, but I can’t figure out why this one keeps doing that.

        1. Jubilance*

          I’m not sure if it strengthens but it couldn’t hurt to try. You can also use Vitamin E oil on your face/body so its a good thing to have in your medicine cabinet.

        2. Windchime*

          I have found that, when a nail keeps splitting, I have to cut it off short, past the point where the split is if that makes sense. Sometimes this results in one nail being cut incredibly short while the others are of a normal length, but that’s the only way I’ve found to stop the splitting from continuing.

          Caveat: I have generally healthy nails that grow fast. Which is a nice thing, until you hit it wrong on something and the whole nail snaps off at the quick.

        3. 22dncr*

          Elizabeth – 2 things you can try (I have 1 nail that splits and/or peels). 1 is using white or clear iodine on it every night – strengthens the nail. 2 (for when it splits) put some super glue on the split / peel. Holds it together till it grows out.

    2. Audiophile*

      Hey a fellow nail biter. Hi. *waves *
      I started using stuff I found in CVS, that tastes awful. And that’s stopped me. I have to put it back on again, because I started biting them again, when I trimmed them down a bit.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’ve had some problems with it, truth be told. In fact looking at my hands, I have more bitten nails than actual nails. I’ve stopped before, without the stuff but fell back into the habit.

          Out of curiosity, when do you bite your nails? I tend to do it when I’m feeling stressed or bored. So if I’m in a time crunch and get stuck in traffic, I find myself biting them.

          1. Nail Biter*

            Mostly when bored, or thinking, like you, in traffic, or when I’m watching TV. It’s something I do when my mind wanders.

            1. Audiophile*

              Did you notice yourself doing other things, other bad habits, when you sstopped?

              When I stopped last time, I found myself doing weird things with my mouth, like teeth grinding. Which I never did before this, even when I stopped previously.

    3. evilintraining*

      They have to thin your natural nails before applying either one. What I don’t like about getting gels is cooking my hands like Kentucky Fried Chicken under that UV lamp.

    4. Jen in RO*

      Thanks for asking this. I have ‘peely’ nails and I was considering getting acrylics/gel so I could have the pretty square tips I envy so much. Reading the replies, it sounds like a bad idea for me – thinning my already crap nails sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      Anyway, I’m curious and I haven’t found a good explanation with a fast search: what’s the difference between acrylics and gel?

    5. GDRhapsody*

      First, are you asking about gel nails, or gel polish?

      Gel nails will definitely thin your nails with the sanding needed, filling, etc. Gel POLISH, however, is a gift from the gods for those of us with terrible nails. It is simply a different kind of nail polish, one that is cured under a UV or LED light. I can’t keep regular polish on my nails for more than a day without chipping – my gel polish lasts 2+ weeks and I only get it redone because of the regrowth at the back. It wears like iron provided that it has been applied correctly. I do my own, and invested in a LED light and roughly 30 polishes. It is FANTASTIC. Seriously. Go to your favorite salon and give it a try. You can even put standard nail polish over the top of it for a change of pace, and remove it with non-acetone remover without harming the gel polish underneath.

      The downsides: takes a long time to put on/take off if you do it yourself. Also, you remove it by scratching the polish with some sandpaper and then soaking in acetone (NEVER use a rotary nail sander, it will destroy your nails). The acetone can be harsh depending on your skin type. It stays on forever, and there is a definite learning curve to applying it yourself. If you use a UV light it isn’t the best for your skin (though you can mitigate this somewhat by using sunscreen before curing or using an LED light).

      On a final note, biotin (5,000+ mcg per day) has helped my nail and hair health immensely. It’s what’s in those “hair and skin” vitamins.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I starting taking biotin for my hair (grows SO slowly) and noticed that my nails were also growing much faster and stronger. Yay!

      2. Loose Seal*

        Have you seen manicure gloves? They are fingerless gloves that repel the UV waves. You put them on and the only part getting exposed to the light is just at the very end of your fingers.

        Disclaimer: I don’t use them so I really can’t recommend them, per se. I don’t worry about the UV light. I figure (no science here — just my own noggin!) that 10 minutes of UV once every couple of weeks can’t be increasing my risk of cancer that much.

      3. Al Lo*

        I love gel nail polish. I have it at home and my nails are way more frequently done than they’ve ever been in my life.

    6. Jeanne*

      I love the no-chip manicures (which I think are gels). They do thin your nails a bit, but they look very professional and classy and the manicure lasts at least 1.5 weeks!

    7. hilde*

      I so understand your pain. I have never had nice nails, but never liked the feel of fake nails.

      When I was in the throes of being hugely pregnant and tired and blah last summer, I went to have a pedicure. It was relaxing and wonderful until the guy asked me if I wanted to have my nails done. I agreed for a few reasons, (1) I couldn’t entirely understand what he was saying for such a strong accent, (2) I was blissed out having such pretty feet I would have agreed to most anything, and (3) for some stupid reason I didn’t think it would be that much extra. I told him I just wanted something clear (no color) so I was figuring it would be just a soothing hand massage, clean up of my nails.

      Somehow I ended up getting a $30 treatment that involved UV lights. Being the horrible naive newbie that I am at these things, I sat there like a dolt under the UV dryer until the nice man looked over at me and told me that I was done and could go – like 20 min ago. haha.

      All of this to say that I don’t know what the hell the thing was called, but my nails had never looked better. Those babies grew and grew until a few months later you could tell I needed a new coat–and I actually couldn’t handle the long nails and chewed them all off again. Eh.

      But if those are the things called gels – I highly recommend them.

    8. monologue*

      idk anything about artificial nails but I’m a serious nail biter and I just got my first ever pro manicure and I haven’t bitten my nails all week. They feel really thick so I feel like if I tried to bite them I wouldn’t be able to or something. Might be worth trying if you decide artificial options aren’t for you.

    9. Vee*

      I’m a nail-biter too, and what I love are the glue on nails that you find at CVS. They have improved soooo much since the old “Lee Press on nails”. Seriously, give them a try. Kiss is a good brand, as is Broadway nails. Don’t use the glue that comes with it…get a bottle of nail glue that paints on like nail polish…the nails will stay more secure than with the glue that you have to squeeze out of a tube.
      What I love about them is that they stay on a few days, they come off easily when you want them too, and you can get them in shorter lengths. My own nails don’t have to be sanded down, and I don’t have to go to salons for fills.
      Google “glue on nails” and you’ll find lots of videos. Really, these things have been such a boost to my self confidence.

    10. sidra*

      Why not just natural nails? I think fake nails give a bad impression and are not professional. I work in publishing, so maybe it’s just my industry but I’d suggest steering clear of both and just having clean, healthy hands to keep up a timeless vibe.

    11. Jennifer*

      I’m a fellow biter, but have not been able to break the habit. I wear acrylic over my nails and gel polish on them when I want to wear polish. I wash my hands constantly and type a lot, so regular polish didn’t last very long. I tried wearing acrylic nails for a year and then stopping, but it didn’t work for me. I guess that I’m lucky that my nails are still in ok shape underneath. I usually take them off in August and January to give my real nails a break. I found a great salon where my nails look natural when they’re done.

      People see my hands a lot when I do training as part of my job, so just showing my chewed up nails wasn’t an option.

  10. Toast*

    I was finally offered a full time job! It’s somewhat related to my PhD training so that’s a plus. I feel lousy though. I just spoke with my boss at my part time job to give him my two weeks notice and he basically told me that I lied to him. Ugh, I did no such thing! I never committed to staying at the part time job. Anyhow, I feel horrible about leaving and not that excited about the new job, even though I should be thrilled.

    1. Ash*

      Are you not that excited about the job because it’s not really what you want to be doing? There’s a delicate balance between needing the full time job for the money, but also being truly unhappy. I knew from day 1 I didn’t want my current job, but needed out of my previous one. Now I’m even more miserable…can you keep looking?

      1. Toast*

        I’m trying to be more excited about this new gig and hopefully I will actually be excited when I do start. It’s just that I was hoping that my boss would have been happy for me…or that I would be able to use him as a reference in the future. I dunno. I’m feeling weird about this whole situation and probably making more out of it than I need to.

        1. VintageLydia*

          It sounds like he’s trying to gaslight you and make you feel guilty for doing what any reasonable person would do–seeking FT work.

        2. Gjest*

          Don’t let your boss from your PT job tarnish your new FT job! Some people just can’t look past their own feelings about something (your boss not wanting to lose you) and be happy for you.

      2. evilintraining*

        I think she’s saying she’s not that excited only because of the reaction from her current boss.

    2. Zillah*

      Did you have those feelings before, or have they been brought out by your boss’s uncomfortable accusations? Were you excited about the FT position initially?

      Regardless: it sounds like your boss is doing major guilt tripping, which is nasty and inappropriate. Can you try to shrug it off?

    3. Sunflower*

      What did you tell the boss when you were hired part-time? People take part-time work for lots of different reasons. Some people work part-time because they don’t need full-time and plan to stay part-time forever. Others do it as a stepping stone. As long as you didn’t go in saying ‘Oh I don’t need to work full-time so this part-time gig is perfect and I don’t really plan on ever transitioning to full-time’ then you can leave guilt-free.

      I’m not a manager but I would expect most part-time employees to be job searching and quit if they were offered full-time. Maybe just because I’ve felt the wrath of the economy and know many people take part-time jobs because it’s all they can find.

    4. Lynette*

      I wouldn’t feel bad. Well, I would, because I have a guilt complex, but I would urge others in that situation not to. You have to take care of yourself, and full time employment is probably going to be a big part of that. It would be nice to be able to use him as a reference. Maybe in a day or so, you can ask to talk with him. Say something along the lines of: you are getting the impression that he didn’t expect you to move on, but that you do need full-time work. You’re grateful for your experience there, you’d be happy to refer good people to him (if true), etc. etc., and that you’d like to use him as a reference in the future. Does he think he can do that for you?

      If he is really holding it against you or actively making you feel bad, then the Carolyn Hax advice would be to be thankful you are moving on and cut your losses.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Don’t worry about your boss. Did he really expect a part-timer to stay forever? PT jobs have way more turnover than FT jobs. He’s just whining. Don’t let him get to you. Enjoy your new job! And congratulations!

    6. Dang*

      Congratulations! do NOT feel guilty. If you need a full time job, you need a full time job, and your current job isn’t offering that to you, so you have to move on.

  11. Anonybod*

    How do you get over “the fear” when a manager wants to talk to you?

    In jobs I’ve had before my current position, managers only contacted you when they wanted to moan about something – which was a lot of the time. As a result, I dreaded every time my manager called or emailed, knowing that I’d be in the wrong about something. Even procedural changes we would have had no other way of knowing about were expressed as “you’re doing procedure X the wrong way, it needs to be done this way now” rather than “there’s been an update to procedure X – you should now be doing Y then Z, rather than A and B as before”.

    When I left there I was incredibly relieved, but 4 months into my new job and I still can’t shake the feeling that every time a manager wants to talk to me, it’s to give me a dressing down about something. As a result, I enter into these conversations with an automatic “what I have I done wrong?” fear. Thing is – there’s no reason for me to be so defensive. I’m 4 months into my current job and not once have I been taken to task about anything. I’ve made some mistakes, but these have been gently pointed out to me for me to fix with no malice or anger. But I just can’t seem to get out of the habit/attitude/fear that anytime a manager speaks to me it’s because I’m in trouble. Anyone have any practical tips on how to stop feeling like this, or will it just come with time?

        1. Anon*

          Um, weird jumping from my post to Alison’s reply! Please disregard and pardon the fact that I need a weekend haha!

    1. Sascha*

      I know just how you feel, my previous job was a very anxious, fearful environment, so I brought a lot of distrust and anxiety to my new job. First, it does go away with time. Second, when someone does say to you, “I need to talk,” just take a moment to think about all the previous times they have talked to you and were nice about it. Remind yourself this is a new place, and they have not shown evidence they will berate you.

      Also don’t be hard on yourself if it takes a long time. I’ve been at my new job for 4 years now, and once in a while I’ll have that twinge of anxiety about something. However I’m just naturally sort of anxious and distrustful, so it make take less time for you. :) Either way, though it may take a while to unlearn those responses, they will go away eventually.

      1. Anonymous*

        Me too! My last job created a culture of paranoia, mistrust, apathy and fear. I’m 7 months into a new job and still sometimes feel intensely anxious about things. I hope it doesn’t take 4 years to go away — I’m also naturally anxious and distrustful.

        I keep telling myself “This isn’t X job. This is a new place,” but I still sometimes mentally freak out. It’s like workplace PTSD..

    2. Joey*

      You’ll never get over it until you find a manager that calls you with good news. They are out there. And when you find one it will take time for the fear to diminish.

      1. Anonymous*

        You should still post it, even if you don’t remove the comment! I rarely check out the open threads because there are SO many comments but always read your posts.

          1. Ms Enthusiasm*

            I’d still love to hear your specfic feedback which I’m sure would work better if you moved it to its own post.

        1. Magda*

          +1 I would love to see this get its own post. I’m kind of amazed because I was actually gearing up to write in a question about recovering from toxic workplaces. I *know* I am still carrying too much anxiety, paranoia and resentment from previous toxic workplaces — I try to be self-aware and to not to let it get the better of me at my current awesome workplace, but it’s hard.

    3. VictoriaHR*

      I have this same problem. I was at a very toxic job for a long time and it was constant criticism, even though I knew deep down that I was doing a good job. At my current job, they love me, but every time I get called in to talk to a higher-up I panic a little inside.

      1. Anonymous*

        While I feel bad for everyone going through this, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one and others can relate. Even though I did a good job at my last workplace, it was extremely toxic and everyone was passive-aggressive and critical, etc. Sometimes tiny things will remind me of my old job and I’ll panic, even though new job has been nothing but supportive, kind, and normal.

    4. Grace*


      I’m 9 months at my new job, and I still get the fear. Even sometimes when an email comes through from my boss, I hold my breath a little :-)

      I’m trying to relax about it, but I was at Old Job for 7 years and it was a very toxic environment. So glad to be out of there.

  12. Windchime*

    That’s pretty amazing! My cat loves to carry things around in his mouth but he doesn’t fetch and bring them back to me. I can’t believe how grown up and pretty Olive is already.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, really. That cat grew up in a heart beat.
      Beeeautiful animal though. You can tell she’s very grateful for the home she has.

      Alison, does your husband feel that cats will fetch if you act like you expect them to fetch? Or is she just doing this on her own?
      My husband believed that if you expected a cat to come when you said “Come here.” that was his key to getting her to come over. It worked. I wondered if he was on to something.

      PS: Some of my favorite women in life feel that it speaks very well of a man if he likes cats ;).

  13. Lynette*

    I make great money in my current career and I like what I do, but the location is tough (bad weather, horrible traffic, very expensive, high stress). It’s taking a toll on my family, especially my children. We know where we want to live and why it would make life better (in fact, we already own a house there), but I’ll have to take a huge pay cut and probably change industries to make it happen. I don’t mind the latter; there are many things I’m interested in doing. In theory, I don’t even mind the former, as long as the pay cut makes strategic sense (e.g. it’s enough to cover my end of our bills and it gets me into a new industry with growth potential).

    All that said, it’s a scary prospect to leave a sure thing in favor of something new and less lucrative (but in favor of a great neighborhood, fabulous city, reasonable COL, good school, enviable weather, and a healthy sense of balance). Given the nature of my current career, there is no re-entry; once you are out, you’re out. How do others approach the work-life balance, and what are some things to think about that I haven’t mentioned here? Anyone regret choosing one over the other? Anyone love their choice?

    1. Toast*

      I also left a career that you can’t re-enter once you leave (academia) and I am so much happier and have more time to spend with my family. However, the financial strain has been enormous and I haven’t found a new career path until very recently (see my post above). I hate uncertainty myself, but what you describe as properties of the second location sounds wonderful for raising a family and being able to spend quality time with them. Of course, I grew up very poor but loved.

    2. PJ*

      I did this — I returned to my (small) home town after living in Big City for decades. I figured it would take about 5 years for me to get my feet under me, and although I had jobs for most of the time, it did take 5 years for me to feel solid.

      I was prepared for that, though, because I planned ahead. I got rid of all my debt, and saved like crazy, so that I had a pretty solid financial foundation going in. At the 3-year mark I got laid off, and because of my frugality I came out of it in OK shape.

      If this is what you want to do, plan. Decide what you can do without, and then do without it. Save the extra money. Make it your “what-for.” You already own a house in the new location, so you’re ahead of the game there. Rent it out so that it doesn’t cost you anything, and/or sell it and buy something cheaper. Look at all your options. Take trips to the new location so that when you do make the move you and your kids will be familiar.

      This is doable, and since you already know why you want to make the move, you’re half way there — all you need to do now is make it happen. Let it take as long as it needs to take, but go for it! For me, I can honestly say it was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Part of this decision is committing to pulling out all the stops to make it work.
      Make sure you have a back up plan for anything of consequence- jobs/cars/kids/etc.
      It’s a commitment. That means when the going gets tough – you are willing to work even harder to take care of what needs to be taken care of.
      The problem, of course, is unforeseens. But if you stay where you are you STILL have unforeseens.
      Stuff that we cannot factor is the cost savings on aspirin, Pepto, heart surgery, depression treatment and even worse stuff.
      You think this new place will give you a better quality of life- sounds logical. Now, do you have the determination to stick to it?
      (I made a big change to a more rural life. And yeah, less money and some stuff is more difficult. I feel safe — as one can expect in our world. I know all my neighbors by name. People help each other. Best choice I ever made. It was work to change and it is still work now. No regrets.)

  14. Bryan*

    Wedding question (these tend to be a staple in the open thread)

    I’m having a small wedding (~30 people) at a restaurant. I have a couple of friends I would like to invite and they have all been dating people for over a year but I have not met the significant other. One couple is living together and one is not. Is it rude to not invite the SO and would it be acceptable to then explain we have a very tight budget?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      if they’ve been together over a year, you should invite the SO. They’re a package deal at that point.

    2. Ash*

      So if you go by the wedding etiquette rules, the living together couple should be invited together. They have the same address, they are a social unit. You cannot separate social units. It becomes more iffy for the other couple, but I’d say you don’t want to cause hurt feelings (whole point of etiquette is making guests comfortable) I’d invite both. See if you can cut costs elsewhere.

    3. the_scientist*

      I am of the opinion that it is extremely tacky to not give adults a plus one, and it’s doubly tacky to not invite 1/2 of a long-term couple. I get that budget constraints are very real (lord knows I’ll never be able to afford a big wedding) but really, I don’t think you can invite them and leave their partners off. If you have never met their significant others, are you really good friends? Like maybe they don’t need to be invited?

      Having said that, whatever you do, people will find a way to be mad about something, so you just have to accept it and decide whatever works best for you.

      1. Zillah*

        I totally disagree – I think it’s actually pretty tacky to expect a plus one. I agree that long term couples should generally be treated as a social unit and invited, but outside of that, I think that people who get offended or feel slighted over not getting a plus one are pretty obnoxious and insensitive. You’re there to celebrate your friend/family member’s wedding, not have a drinking buddy – especially when it’s a small wedding, I totally understand wanting an intimate gathering that’s as inexpensive as possible. Including a plus one basically cuts down on your ability to include people you actually care about.

          1. Anonymous*

            We’ll have to agree to disagree, then. I personally think it’s tacky because it veers quickly into the territory of judging the seriousness/quality of other people’s relationships, and that’s not something I’m okay with. I get that it’s your day, not your guest’s day, but if you’re going to be that miserable to your guests, just elope. You don’t want your guests, they probably don’t want to go to your wedding= win win!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Wait, what? I can’t agree that this is being miserable toward your guests or that you don’t want them at your wedding — and what Zillah wrote is such a common, mainstream viewpoint that I can’t see how anyone could take it that way.

                1. Anonymous*

                  If you’re nickel-and-diming guests to the point of making value judgements on their relationships or their ability to choose a suitable date for your wedding, I think you need to re-evaluate. Being a good host means making your guests comfortable within reason, and offering the option of a plus one is one of the easiest ways to do make them comfortable. And I actually don’t think the restricted plus-ones/ “no ring no bring” view is a commonly held one- my experience on etiquette and advice websites says otherwise.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s been the guidance in every etiquette source I’ve read, and I’m an etiquette advice junkie! Not that the host shouldn’t invite those people, but that there’s not an obligation to do so (and people shouldn’t expect it).

                3. fposte*

                  The term “date” is a giveaway right there, though. “Dates” isn’t what people traditionally have at weddings, any more than they’re what people traditionally have at funerals. (Why don’t people ever ask this about funerals, anyway?) And I think the funeral thing is a good guide–are you a couple committed to each other through postal address, legal papers, or habit of going about together so that you’re now salt-and-pepper rather than bay leaves and nutmeg, so that if one were attending a funeral the other would be joining her? Great. But +1 is “Can I bring a date?” not “Is there room for my partner, whom you might not have previously known about?” And no, you can’t bring a date.

                4. Zillah*

                  Along with what Alison and fposte said, which I agree with – I don’t think that “nickel-and-diming” is the right term at all. Adding a third-again (estimate) as many people to your wedding is not “nickel-and-diming” – it can add a pretty serious amount of money very quickly. More importantly, there are other reasons to want a small ceremony – it isn’t “nickel-and-diming” to want an intimate group of people you know well and care deeply about, and giving everyone a plus one defeats that.

        1. Felicia*

          You definitely have no obligation to have a plus 1 – it generally means your guest is bringing someone you’ve never met, and it’s totally ok not to want peopel you’ve never met at your wedding. If I have met both people in a couple, then of course I will invite them, using the actual name of the boyfriend/girlfriend on my invitation. But if I were getting married I would limit invitations to people my fiancee or I had met and know the name of, and I think that’s reasonable.

        2. Jeanne*

          Completely agree!! Social etiquette dictates if a couple is engaged or living together you should invite the SO, but otherwise, it’s fine to just invite your friend.

          Now, if you do just invite your friend, and they assume they can bring a date (soooo tacky), and RSVP with their SO, then you have a whole other issue on your hands.

          We didn’t invite kids to our wedding because we had an open bar and wanted to keep our numbers under 150…and one of our guests brought his five…yes five…kids. And he didn’t even RSVP for them. So tacky.

      2. Diet Coke Addict*

        Yeah, those are separate issues. A long-term couple is a cohesive social unit. However, adults do not automatically require a guest invitation. The reasoning behind inviting couples-as-couples is that married couples are treated as a single social unit, not that all adults get to bring a buddy to every event.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’d allow a plus one if the adult guest wasn’t part of another social group that was there. Like one person I know from a class I once took who wouldn’t know anyone else there – I’d give them a plus one. But otherwise it’s limited to significant others.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        I am of the opinion that weddings are just an ettiquette minefield and someone will always find something tacky.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes. It’s stuff like this that is making my son and his girlfriend strongly consider eloping; no matter what they do, someone is going to be pissed off and/or offended.

      4. Natalie*

        It seems to me that this really depends on the circumstances. If it’s someone that isn’t really familiar with any of your other guests, they might like having a companion (friend or otherwise). But if it’s a friend of a lot of your other guests, I don’t really see that they need a date. Then again, I’ve never understood the appeal of attending a stranger’s wedding with someone I haven’t been dating for a long time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t either. (When!) I get married, I’ll probably do plus ones anyway, especially if I were having a big wedding or something that I expected to go on for a few hours, like the Halloween masquerade wedding I was invited to a few years ago (alas, I couldn’t go!).

          But it’s up to the person invited to choose their date, if they’re allowed one. If I had a new bf and we weren’t even exclusive yet, I’d just go by myself.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        people will find a way to be mad about something

        So true. Long ago, when I was living with a guy, my boss got married and she invited both of us to her wedding, which turned out to be on a Saturday when he had his daughter. She did not invite the daughter (she knew the child existed but had no way of knowing that we would have her that weekend). My bf was mad and refused to go. He also refused to let the neighbor sit with her for two or three hours because it was supposed to be their time together. He wanted me to call her and see if she would let the kid come, otherwise he wasn’t going. I told him that was rude and I wouldn’t do it. So I ended up going alone and had a very nice time. :)

    4. Rin*

      People will take that very harshly, and you could potentially lose friends over that. I know about tight budgets, but is money more important than keeping a friendship intact?

    5. fposte*

      And whatever you do, *don’t* “explain we have a very tight budget”–it’s straight up saying “You weren’t worth the money.”

    6. Sunflower*

      I agree it’s rather tacky to not invite the S.O- especially when it sounds like it would just be an additional 2 people.

      That said my sister, who is engaged, was not invited to a wedding that her fiancee was invited to by his high school friend. She thought it was strange but figured the friend didn’t know they were engaged. She wasn’t necessarily mad but she was confused. She also didn’t really want to go to the wedding since it was the same night as her high school reunion so even if she was invited, she wasn’t going to go.

      Your best bet is inviting the S.O. but noting that it’s a very small dinner. The S.O. might back out because they feel uncomfortable that they won’t know anyone at such a small event.

      I agree don’t mention the tight budget.

    7. lola*

      Related question. How do people feel about inviting plus 1s when there is a significant other, but not inviting plus 1s when there is not? I’d rather not have random guests, especially given that several of the non-plus-1-receiving guests would know each other and thus wouldn’t be alone if they didn’t bring a guest.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        That pretty much sounds like my wedding. Significant others (long-term couples, couples living together, married couples), yes. Guests who knew many other guests at the wedding did not receive +1s. Guests who didn’t know anyone else (or maybe one other person), we gave a +1 to, on the idea that if they did show up they’d want to have someone to sit with.

        1. Bryan*

          I agree. I have two single guests and they aren’t going to get a +1 but they know everyone else.

      2. Elle D*

        My friend recently did this, and I was one of the guests without a plus one. It didn’t bother me because I was very close friends with other guests who also did not have a plus one. I still had a wonderful time.

        That said, this is sort of a calculated risk. If you invite 5 friends without plus ones and 4 of them genuinely can’t make it, there’s a chance the 5th friend might not show up because she doesn’t want to be alone. I’m declining the invitation to another friend’s wedding for this reason. The other non-plus ones aren’t able to come and money is tight for me, so not being able to share a hotel room makes traveling to this wedding out of my price range.

        1. vvondervvoman*

          Well, I would hope that you’d be comfortable enough sharing that with the couple. If there are 4 declines, then surely there’s room for your +1 now. You just need to talk to people!

      3. MelG*

        I think it’s a number game. If you have 20 friends who will know people at the wedding and all of them are single, then I think it’s OK to skip the plus 1. If you have 3 friends who are single, and everyone else will be coupled up, I think it’s a kindness to let those 3 friends bring a plus one.

    8. Bryan*


      Thank you all for your comments, it’s really helped me get through this. Luckily, I just heard from one of the places we are considering and the price they gave is significantly lower than we expected. Problem solved (although doesn’t settle the dispute).

      I’m also now looking at it as a chance to meet the SO instead of just seeing them as a cost.

    9. Bryan*

      I’d also like to ask, one person has a spouse who I specifically do not want to invite, I think they have the potential to ruin the day and I just don’t like them. The person who we are friends with is at an invite level with about six others so it’s all or nothing and we really want them all to attend. I just can’t stand the spouse and there’s no option of telling our friend “can you make sure he’s on good behavior.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        What I would do is appoint a family member or separate friend you can trust to be discreet as sort of a security person. Let them know to keep an eye on the potential problem guest. That person can then deal with any crap that happens if they get crazy (ask them to calm down, leave, etc.). I’ve seen people do this when they have guests they know will drink too much or whatever, but who they have to invite (tosspot Uncle Fred, etc.).

      2. TL*

        No, you cannot invite the friend and not their spouse. And if you don’t invite the friend, you risk damaging the friendship.

        My advice would be to sic someone else on the bad spouse – someone who’s not terribly important to the wedding party but sociable and good at charming people into behaving. Just tell them to be on watch and step in to cool things off/change subject if needed.

        1. Bryan*

          Ugh, weddings are such etiquette minefields. This is going to be a tough one, I just don’t feel I should risk ruining my and my fiancee’s day to make sure someone else is not upset. My fear is that the spouse could easily say something in one sentence and our friend would not be able to stop it. A warning ahead of time is not going to work with this spouse. I was fired about a year ago and he said to me a week after it happened, “oh what’d you do they probably had a good reason.” I’m worried about a similar lack of restraint.

            1. JM*

              If they’re part of a group of 6, and you’re all friends; you could try mentioning to one of the others that you don’t want that spouse coming and they can all decide not to bring their spouses?

          1. fposte*

            I say this with gentleness and kindness, I promise, but it’s everybody’s day, not just you and your bride’s, and those every bodies are going to be human and unpredictable and say weird things even if you didn’t expect it. The example you’ve given really doesn’t seem like a wedding-ruiner to me; it seems like an eyeroll and a “Switch Bob to soda, would you?” moment.

            What do you want for your life, and not just for the day?

              1. Victoria Nonprofit*

                Yes and yes! I had a marvelous wedding with many touching, lovely, and charming details. And the stories we tell are: how we lost a family heirloom; forgot to, um, actually get married (la la la, where’s the marriage certificate?); had the world’s ugliest bridesmaid dresses (by mistake); etc. etc. etc.

              2. Bryan*

                I would literally pay for somebody to do this at my wedding. Although as I already have cited budget concerns, I don’t think we can afford to have somebody cut off their testicles.

    10. Labratnomore*

      I have always heard that it is approriate to have a +1 for anyone over 18. Personally if I was invited to a small wedding where I didn’t know many people, I wouldn’t show up if my SO was not coming with me whether not invited or any other reason. Some more outgoing/extrover types may have no problem with that but I don’t like being surounded by strangers and forced to socialize with them.

      1. Loose Seal*

        This leads me to ask if anyone actually brings a plus-1 that they aren’t pretty serious about. On TV (well, mostly just on Friends), they always seem to bring some random person they met that week as their plus-1. I can’t imagine asking someone I barely know to come to a wedding and I can’t imagine someone agreeing to come to a wedding of someone they don’t know with someone they’ve just met!

        Anyone done this in real life? (Also, can we get anymore use of the word “someone” in one sentence?)

        1. Zillah*

          I don’t do it in real life, but I certainly know people who have or have wanted to bring a friend or casual date to a wedding to hang out and have someone to drink with. (Basically.)

          My boyfriend is currently feeling annoyed that he was told for his cousin’s wedding that he did not get a plus one unless the plus one was Zillah, because if I can’t go he wanted his friend to come. I rolled my eyes at him and was Not Impressed.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    Ugh, I am struggling with one of my employees. She’s newer to the team, but is fairly senior in grade and has been at my employer for several years. She’s just not performing up to standards, and I think she’s just lazy and unmotivated. She comes up with all kinds of ridiculous excuses for why things haven’t gotten done, and I’ve been calling her out on each and every one of them. I had given her a bit of free rein to learn the account for a couple months because she was new, but it’s gone on long enough. That and she showed up in jeans today, comes in late, etc.
    Monday we’re having a come-to-Jesus meeting to make my expectations and concerns explicitly clear.
    Not looking forward to it :(

    1. Yup*

      Sympathies. Those conversations are never fun. You never know, though — maybe it will be the splash of cold water she needs to get back on track, or (if she’s burned out) to evaluate her job.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Part of my annoyance is that she pulls the single mom card a LOT. Like “Oh, yeah I know I’ve been late a lot but I’m a single mom.”

      I’m sympathetic and don’t make an issue if it’s occasional, but you’ve got to get your house in order. And if tardiness was the only issue, I would probably be less concerned. But it’s a pattern.

      1. Kaz*

        Well, you could always adapt one of Alison’s lines – “Knowing you’re a single mom, is this a job you can do?” She will probably then sputter that being a single mom doesn’t affect her work, and you can bring up how she’s said that it does several times.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d adapt that a little — you don’t want to tie her parental or marital status into it — I’d say, “Knowing that this job does require being here reliably and on time — meaning being late no more than once a month (or fill in whatever you’d allow from other people) — is that something you think you can commit to in the future?”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I dunno if I would say “in the future”. Either leave time frame off entirely or say “now”.
              I fear if you say “in the future” she will decide “oh,that means down the road from now, at some undefined point in time. Sure I can do that.”

              When I started with a group, I had folks that moseyed in whenever. I explained that punctuality was part of their evaluation and things started changing. This statement also worked for dress code violations, failure to meet deadlines, etc.
              I am wondering if you go over an evaluation with her–NOT give her an evaluation but simply show her all the points that are considered when completing an evaluation form– that might inspire her to get her act together.
              As to the single mom card, maybe there are other single moms in your department that would be happy to share tips with her or maybe share resources? I had a group of many single moms, I was very sympathetic. But I knew I could not let things slide so much that they got fired. At some point I had to jump in and encourage them not to do x, y or z because it could cost them their job. It wasn’t easy to deliver these messages. (I pretty much said this to their faces also.) But it is UNkind not to tell people what they need to know to be a good worker. And that thought helped me through.
              Some responded well and others did not respond well. Can’t make a horse drink the water. If they persisted in their behaviors and kept coming up with excuses they did not last. I’d document this conversation, just in case.

          1. DeMinimis*

            It sounds like the big issue though is overall lack of work performance.

            Hopefully if you spell out what needs to be improved that will help, but it sounds like she’s a big excuse-maker so it’s doubtful it’s going to be an easy conversation.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              I’m trying to focus it on moving forward, not going over things that have already happened. Like “I expect X, Y and Z and this type of project is something I expect you to be able to complete in 2 days. Is that something you think you can handle?” or something along those lines. I think focusing on the past in these discussions can make people really defensive and not be as productive. But I havent’ had too many of these issues either.

              1. HRAnon*

                While I agree you want this conversation focused on moving forward, you should also be prepared with some specific examples of the behaviors that are unacceptabe or problematic. If you keep it on too high a level focused only on future expectations, you run the risk of either her not getting the message that she needs to change what she is doing, and/or going into denial. Either to you or just in her head “I already do that” or “I don’t have a problem with that.”

                So I would think in terms of an example of the problem behavior, with a clear expectation for the future: “Jane, ABC project took you 4 days to complete. In this position we need to move more quickly. I need you to be able to complete the similar XYZ Project in 2 days. Are you able to do that?”
                Similar for tardiness or attendence: “Jane you were late 9 times last month. Punctuality is important in this position and I need you to commit to following the expected schedule from now on. If you are late more than twice in a month (or whatever your standard is) we will need to revisit this discussion and it will impact your future here (or insert consequence if applicable; write up, etc.)

                TL/DR- yes, focus forward, but be specific and give examples of what is unacceptable.

    3. evilintraining*

      Maybe not necessarily lazy and unmotivated, but perhaps she’s disengaging? If she’s new to your team, maybe the change isn’t what she expected. You said she’s a senior employee. What was her performance like in the past?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Not good – she’s bounced around 4 jobs in 2 years. But yeah, she might be disengaged. I’ll work with her to get her back on track, hopefully.

        1. ADE*

          Just remind her, if she gets testy, that you’re invested in her success and you want to work WITH her to make a plan that works, not AGAINST her. Management is win-win or lose-lose in most situations.

          I wish I could have given myself that advice when oldboss throughly chewed me out over something I wrote…. I interpreted it as, “She hates my guts and wants the opportunity to tell it to my face,” but instead she really meant, “I am going to help you and me look good to the Big Boss by showing you what I want you to do next time.”

  16. Heeeeeeelp*

    I have a really weird issue. It just started this month ..

    Any time ANY man talks to me I start to blush, it’s very noticeable and two people have commented on it. It’s not voluntary and it has nothing to do with being embarrassed but I don’t want everyone in my office to think I’m attracted to them/embarrassed/having a moment any time a man so much as looks at me. :( HELP.

    1. VintageLydia*

      Captain Awkward just answer a question similar to this in the last week. The advice may apply to you, too.

    2. Kaz*

      Honestly I would get yourself some cognitive behavioral therapy. This is going to seriously hold you back if you intend to work in fields that have any men in them.

    3. brightstar*

      Do you have any idea what’s causing it? Have you been to the doctor to make sure it’s not a health issue?

      1. Heeeeeeelp*

        Nothing that I can pinpoint. I’m in the same office, on the same floor, dealing with the same men as I have for the past year. I haven’t had any negative experiences at work with anyone and my personal life is exactly the same.

        I did lose some weight (45 pounds in a year) and I blush/get flustered in my personal life when someone points it out but no one in my office has mentioned it all. I guess it could be the insecurity from that rubbing into other aspects .. I think I may look into therapy for this. It’s causing me a lot of stress because I know it’s going to happen any time my boss says more than “good morning”

        1. Anonsie*

          Some people flush more with they eat niacin-enriched foods and things like that– any diet changes, med changes, anything?

        2. Elle D*

          I definitely think the weight loss is related. I would look into therapy. A good therapist will help you learn to feel more comfortable in your new skin.

          I empathize. I have dealt with disordered eating all my life and my body has changed drastically many times. There is a noticeable difference in the way people treat me depending on what size I am. This is especially true with members of the opposite sex, and has definitely affected the way I interact with men. It isn’t much of a problem in the workplace for me, but I do see a therapist to help me deal with these issues in my social life. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve already come a long way!

          If therapy isn’t helpful, since this is a physiological response I’d also suggest consulting with a medical doctor. There may be something going on that you don’t realize.

        3. James M*

          I’m not medically trained at all, but this sounds suspiciously like a nutrition/chemical thing. I’ve heard about a number of bodily oddities following a change in diet. If you think this sounds likely, the next step is to talk to a professional.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree. I think I would start by taking control of how much water I am drinking each day. It’s amazing how much even hydration can help this stuff.
            It could be as simple as a mineral deficiency. Having lost a similar amount of weight myself I know that the body goes through all kinds of strange stuff. Where it seems like it might be something that needs talk therapy, in reality what it really needs is a vitamin or mineral. I am saying this because I had many things pop up- like this just popped up with you.
            Is there a nutritionist near you? Or even cheaper- a health food store. Sometimes they can give you ideas. Frame the question as “hey have you ever seen anyone who is having a problem with random blushing for no apparent reason?”

            While you are digging around for answers definitely work on drinking water. I always drink less water in the winter and then have weird stuff happen. You’d think I would learn….sigh.

        4. TL*

          I just want to say, if the weight loss was unintentional or can’t be pinpointed to a lifestyle change, you would want to see a medical doctor. (It sounds intentional, but just in case!)

        5. hilde*

          “It’s causing me a lot of stress because I know it’s going to happen any time my boss says more than “good morning””

          I wonder if it’s one of those nasty cycles where it happened a few times, people pointed it out to you and embarassed you, and now it’s a learned response. Or Pavlov. Or some damn thing like that (sheesh, I have a degree in psychology; think I’d know this today). Or a self-fulfilling prophecy. I give up – you know what I mean!

          I echo the counselor idea. Because if it’s not a medical thing (which I wonder how her diet/birth control/etc would know that a man is standing in front of her? Not to be snotty but I’m in a weird frame of mind today and that’s what I thought reading the medical comments). So if it’s not medical then a counselor could help you walk through a new way of thinking about the situation so your brain is essentially retraining itself to react differently when you’re in a situation that triggers that response.

    4. ella*

      I blush really easily, though not at work. I’d say that in addition to pinpointing any physical/medical changes that have taken place, when it happens, try to not freak out or get embarrassed, or you’ll be adding a self-fullfilling prophecy element on top of whatever physical thing is going on. If you’re afraid of blushing, you’ll blush more. Take a deep breath, act casual/like it’s not happening, if the guy comments on it try to brush off the comment and reply as briefly and casually as possible. Remind yourself that it’s fine and will go away, or tell yourself that even though your face feels hot, nothing visible is happening and the guy doesn’t see it, which is possible if the guy is discreet and doesn’t call attention to it (I also blush really easily, and I really with that people would just not comment on it and let it go away). Anything to make it seem, in your head, that it’s an insignificant thing that doesn’t need worrying about.

      1. ella*

        Also: If your coworkers ARE commenting on it, I think a white lie of the sort of “It might be a side effect of some medication I’m taking” (if you are taking any/or if you don’t mind people thinking you’re taking some) would get people to stop commenting on it or ignoring it, which might in turn help you ignore it yourself.

  17. HolidayLunch*

    Our team holiday lunch got postponed again today. We originally had it scheduled in December, but it got moved for a business emergency. Today, we get an email in the morning that the lunch has to be moved again.

    I’m definitely understanding of business issues that come up, especially with clients, but I can’t help shake the feeling of being bummed. Our team has worked so hard this past year to bring change to the company and we’ve stepped up to help police/lead the organization. But it just feels like we don’t get the opportunity to take a break and be happy for what we’ve done.

    1. MelG*

      That’s unfotunate. It’s strange because on the surface the company holiday party is such a minor event, but when you think about it these small things really can demonstrate a lot about how the company values their employees. It’s their way of saying thank you for your hard work, we appreciate you! So when it’s postponed (twice!) it’s easy to ignore everything else (great benefits, nice managers, whatever) and feel like, “Wow, they can’t even get it together long enough to order some food and thank us.”

      1. A Jane*

        Yeah, it’s hard since we know that other teams were able to get together. I’m feeling like our team has to fix all of the company problems and take the brunt of it, while others can continue doing what they need to do.

        1. Yup*

          My dept had this problem once, where a recognition lunch kept getting scuttled — we solved it by holding a team breakfast instead. If the lunch keeps getting putting off, any chance you could all meet at 8.30 am and have a leisurely fancy breakfast together somewhere nice near the office? (We just held ours at the office, and had gourmet coffee + eggs benedict + freshly baked whatevers catered.)

  18. Anon*

    I have been struggling with finding a process for job searching. Can anyone share theirs? Do you set aside specific times?

    I’m struggling with anxiety with making sure everything is perfect and that I won’t get any callbacks so I think that holds me back. Any advice is appreciated!

    1. brightstar*

      I’ve been job searching for over a year now. I think working on not worrying about whether or not you get callbacks will help you in the process. I feel like job searching is a shot in the dark, and there will be quite a few jobs that you never hear from. It’s an unfortunate part of today’s job search.

    2. r*

      I’m in this situation right now. I still have yet to work out an ideal schedule, but I generally take every other day “off.” This means that on my “off” day, I don’t apply to jobs, don’t search for jobs, and most importantly, don’t let myself freak out that I still haven’t found something. I’ve found that it keeps me busier and more focused on my “on” days, when I could have several positions to apply to, some networking emails to send, etc. Of course I do break my schedule when prospective employers reach out to schedule something!

    3. Jubilance*

      I find that I have to schedule at least a couple of days for me to look and see what’s new. I have alerts set up on LinkedIn/Indeed and I have to at least review those. I also put it as a “to do” item on my list app (I use and that also helps, because it’s something I can cross off as done that day/week.

    4. Yup*

      I didn’t have a process so much as a series of things I did to stay alert and motivated:

      I ‘followed’ several companies on LinkedIn so I’d get notifications about their open postings. I also set up searches on the 2-3 job boards that are specific to my field, and had the results pushed to to my email daily. I’d check it in the morning, note any that were promising, and apply by the next evening. Sometimes a month would go by with nothing exciting, sometimes there would be 2 in one day.

      I created a computer folder for my search. Every application got it’s own sub-folder labeled with the Company Name, Position Title, and Application Date. Into the folder went the cover letter and resume version I sent to that job, plus a screenshot or pdf of the job description. And once I applied for a job, I mentally moved on to the next one.

      I stayed mentally present in my current day, but started prepping for an eventual departure — tidying up files, documenting procedures, keeping things tight so I’d be able to hand them off in 3-6 months.

    5. AmyNYC*

      I was trying to get out of a job ASAP, so I blocked off 2-3 hours a night 3 days a week and made a goal to apply to at least 2 jobs per day. I made a playlist that I listened to which sort of clicked on “job hunting” and turned off my phone, which helped a lot.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I always did everything in the morning. That way, I could do whatever I wanted in the afternoon. I had searches programmed into all the job sites that I visited regularly, and if I found something, I’d apply, write the cover letter, and record it in my spreadsheet. Then the rest of the day was mine.

    7. Elsajeni*

      Here is a very thorough description of a friend’s job-search process — he’s a very systematic and detail-oriented kind of person, and was also really focused on creating a system that would minimize the “thinking/obsessing/developing anxiety” parts of the search, so it sounds like it might be something that would work for you.

    8. kas*

      I don’t set aside specific times but I mostly apply to jobs on the weekend. I’m way too lazy to do so in the week, I might work on my resume and cover letter but I usually don’t apply until the weekend. If it’s a job I really want I usually apply the day I saw the job posting or I give myself a second day to review everything.

      I have four web pages that stay open on my phone and I usually refresh them every evening to see what’s new and then email the positions to myself. I also check LinkedIn about three times a week.

      Good luck with your job search!

    9. Anonniemouse*

      I also struggle with anxiety and the making sure everything is perfect part, and a whole host of other aspects of applying to jobs. I just recently started medication for the worst days of it, so that’s an option you could look into for the time being. Therapy to compliment that would also be an option, if its covered by your insurance. I also find having someone nearby (an SO, my mom) to ask question to/bounce ideas off of makes it easier for me to respond to the millions of questions on those online job forms.

      The job application process is a really tough one, laden with rejection. Don’t be so hard on yourself and good luck!

  19. Brett*

    So last week I mentioned my new consulting side job.
    Well, I put it up on LinkedIn, and got well over a dozen people congratulating me on finally moving on from my current.

    Um, no, still there too. But I think maybe I need to take this as a sign of what people think of my current position.

    1. Elysian*

      Linkedin sends out annoying “Congrats Brett on his new job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!” emails pretty much any time you make a change to your profile. I would just guess that people didn’t read that much into it and just posted an ‘obligatory’ congrats.

      1. DeMinimis*

        I’ve been faked out by that a lot, any time my former boss takes on a new volunteer gig LinkedIn sends a thing making it look like she’s left.

      2. CC*

        LinkedIn also tries to get me to congratulate people on “work anniversaries”. It makes no sense to me. Do people actually celebrate “work anniversaries”? (I mean, other than gaining benefits that kick in after a certain number of months/years.)

        1. DeMinimis*

          In current and former workplaces I’ve seen people recognized generally for every 5 years of service.

          Guess it could be a sign of the new economy…1 year is equivalent to 5….sort of like dog years.

        2. MaryMary*

          I had a manager who liked to make a fuss over work anniversaries instead of birthdays. She was sensitive about her own birthday and felt for other people who didn’t like to talk about birthdays (or their age), so she brought in treats and would send an email out to the team whenever one of us had a work anniversary. We still got regular treats and recognition, but avoided the awkwardness of Wakeen no longer celebrating birthdays after turning 30.

          1. CC*

            Ok that makes sense to do in an office. I still don’t understand why LinkedIn is promoting it, but good to know that it is an actual thing that real people sometimes like to do.

        3. Jubilance*

          My team’s admin sent our calendar invites for everyone’s work anniversary and their birthday. All on the same day. I got about 100 calendar invites and I declined every single one. I’m sure my coworkers care about their work anniversary, but I don’t and I definitely don’t need it on my calendar.

        4. Evan*

          At my job, it’s apparently traditional for people to bring in a bag of candy or something on their “work anniversaries.” It’s fun and simple, and we’re a big enough department that I don’t think anyone notices if one person doesn’t follow it.

      3. Brett*

        I know that is where they got the idea I had changed jobs.
        It was the number who congratulated me on _leaving_ my current job rather than starting a new job. That’s what got me.

        1. Brett*

          Oh, and these were not LinkedIn congratulations sent through LinkedIn’s messaging system. These were emails (and a couple of phone calls) sent directly to me.

      4. kas*

        I know! It really shows how much people know about you as well.

        The amount of “congrats!” I’ve seen when all the person did was re-word their job title or something. This one woman has owned her own company for years and I got an email saying to congratulate her but she just changed the “founder/ceo” wording. I kept seeing people comment saying things like “I knew you had it in you! Congrats on starting your own company!” .. she started it years ago.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      There was a recent article on Forbes about this. The author had just updated her title description and LinkedIn automatically sent out notices about her “new job,” which particularly sucked because she was stil looking for a new job. She detailed going through customer service and turns out you can’t turn off those broadcasts (or having the broadcast to have your network ‘congratulate you on your new position’). All you can do is turn off ALL your activity broadcasts. I think LinkedIn was looking into it further, but who knows.

    3. Susan*

      I found out about my boss’ promotion by a LinkedIn announcement. Pretty important promotion (to VP), not unsurprising because he’s been working the job even without the title, but it surprised me that it wasn’t even announced internally.

    4. hilde*

      My coworker that does computer training for our agency just sent out a tip to us on how to change the settings so those updates don’t push out! (I think that’s what you guys are talking about here?). Here’s what she sent us:

      I learned a tip in LinkedIn that I want to share with you. We have all seen notifications that say “Congratulate Tom on a new position” or so and so updated their profile. If you do not want those types of notifications to appear on your connections news feed, then do the following before you edit your profile.
      1. Open your profile.
      2. In the upper right hand corner click on your picture.
      3. Select Privacy & Settings.
      4. Under Privacy Controls select Turn on/off your activity broadcasts to turn off your broadcast.
      5. Edit and save your profile.
      6. Return to Privacy Controls and turn on your activity broadcasts.

  20. ThursdaysGeek*

    We have updates from people who write in, but I’d like some Open Thead updates too. Make sure you link to your original posting. And not just for this Open Thread — when you have an update, post it on the next Open Thread!

  21. brightstar*

    I’ve been waiting all week for the open thread, and glad I’m off of work to ask my question.

    I have an article due to come out that details how I reported sexual harassment and as a consequence, was forced out of my job by the owner of the company. As I’m trying to build a portfolio, it’s coming out under my name. I was careful to not portray the company as evil, or cast judgement but to say “this happened and this is how I felt “. As I’m actively looking for a good job, can I expect this to have an effect on my job search?

    I’m also a little nervous about opening myself up to internet comments.

        1. Ash*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about it then. I think the main concern would be if it appeared you were libeling your former employer.

    1. fposte*

      I’d be prepared with an answer if I were asked about it, but otherwise I think the chips fall where they fall.

      Don’t read the comments. You can block them in some places with AdBlock–try that.

  22. Katie the Fed*

    Another wedding question!

    I really want a small, intimate wedding with people we’re both close to.

    But I come from a large extended Irish Catholic family who is used to big celebrations. It’s already gotten a little awkward when cousins start asking my mom about the wedding and she doesn’t have the heart to tell them that it’s small and they’re not invited.

    I was thinking of doing a second reception/party in my hometown with the extended family. Nothing formal – just a get together at a local restaurant with lots of food and booze. It would be casual and fun.

    Is that weird? Is it tacky?

    1. Ash*

      It comes across as a bit gift-grabby in my opinion. “You can’t come to the actual wedding, but come to another reception, and oh yea etiquette says you should buy me a gift.” If you make clear that 1) this is not the wedding, you will already be married at the time of that reception; and 2) you do not expect gifts, then I think its okay, but only then. There are strong feelings about these types of things on the wedding boards…

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Well, the wedding is in the DC area and I’m from the midwest, so even if I invited most of these people they probably couldn’t make it.

        I don’t think I’d call it a reception. Probably something like “a celebration of our marriage” – and it would happen a couple months later.

        1. Ash*

          You’d be surprised how many people will come to a DC wedding. I just had mine last October in DC and people made a trip out of it (sucky for them, it was during the shutdown so nothing was open).

          I think its fine as long as its super clear there are no expectations for gifts. Some people might still be turned off/disappointed since they weren’t important enough to invite to the wedding, but I definitely understand the budget constraints and wanting a more intimate affair.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            OK, I guess I can specify, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to. I find mentioning gifts at all in an invitation kind of gauche – I’m hosting a party. Gifts are NEVER expected.

            1. Ash*

              Yea, the etiquette here is touchy — you should never mention gifts (which is why you should never include registry info in invites) but on the guest side, you should never show up empty handed. At the same time, etiquette says you should only invite people to wedding-related events who are invited to the wedding (so anyone to showers, bachelorette, etc). Which is why a second reception falls in an uncomfortable grey area… it’s better than what some people do (get married and then throw a wedding later on where they don’t tell their guests they’re already married, tres gauche), but it still falls in that somewhat uncomfortable area. I tend to think if you really want to do it, since its already technically breaking etiquette, I’d make clear gifts aren’t expected.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                What if I frame it as “We had a small wedding in virginia, but we’ll be visiting [hometown] in december and would love to take you all to dinner to celebrate”

                1. Natalie*

                  Also, make sure your parents know that gifts aren’t expected. Traditionally the moms pass along gift information, so your family may very well reach out to your mom or dad and, say, ask where you’re registered.

                2. Colette*

                  Could you frame it as “We’ll be visiting [hometown] in December, and we’d love to get together with all of you so you can meet Spouse”? I mean, assuming they haven’t already – you’re still hosting a party, but it removes the wedding/gift link.

                3. Mints*

                  Yeah, I think this is best. Have your mom host it, and say it’s for [hometown] or the Smiths clan to meet Mr and Mrs Katie. Not specifically tied to the wedding

            2. Claire*

              I agree, the invitation should never say anything about gifts. Enlist close family and friends to spread the word that it’s a no gift event and make sure the invitations are appropriately informal to support that message.

          2. TK*

            If you’re getting married in a tourist destination, don’t you sort of assume that far-off guests will make a trip out of it? That’s exactly what my parents (from the Midwest) did when one of my mom’s cousins got married in Las Vegas, where she was living at the time– they had never been to Vegas but had always wanted to go and the wedding was sort of an excuse to make the trip.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              Well, it’s an hour outside of DC and on a Sunday, so I’m not sure. But yeah I suppose that’s a consideration. Gargh this stuff is hard!

        2. Rin*

          Then it’s acceptable and understandable. “Hey, we’re having a small ceremony out here, and we’re having a ‘reception’ back home. We hope you can make it to the reception (with reception totally bolded and underlined and italicized).

        3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Around here it’s extremely common to have a reception where you’re getting married and an open house a couple of days or weeks (or even months) later in another location. I think it’s mainly because so many people get married to people they met at college, so people are from different states. My brother had a reception here the day of the wedding, then an open house several months later in Buffalo, NY, where his wife is from.

    2. Kaz*

      My mom threw me one of those for all the people I wouldn’t let her invite. It worked out great, particularly for those people who I actually do not even know. When she has a party my mom invites everyone she runs into between setting the date and having the party, which led to some unhappy conversations when we set the guest list, and this made her feel like she could still reciprocate socially to people who’d invited her to their kids’ weddings.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you have someone else throw it for you? If an aunt or family friend hosts it, instead of you hosting it yourselves, I think that can ease some of those concerns. (Obviously it should be someone who you know would be delighted to do it; otherwise, bad idea.)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, I could have my mom take credit for it. She’s really happy about the idea – she was getting antsy not knowing what to say to all the relatives.

        1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

          We did this – we got married in Vancouver, and my parents hosted a second reception back in my home town in the UK a few weeks later. (Even though we’re both British citizens, getting a license to get married there as non-residents would have been a complete nightmare). All family members were invited to both, but my extended family in Florida came to the Canadian event and my extended family back home went to the British one (my parents, sister, and MIL came to both). Close friends were invited to both, but only two made it to both; other friends were told about both events and asked to pick just one.

          The bonus was that my parents had a whole event of their own to plan, and therefore stayed out of the planning of the actual wedding, which we paid for ourselves \o/

    4. Littlemoose*

      You can definitely cut down on the potential for tackiness if you specify no gifts on the family reception invites. Then people should know that it’s about getting together and celebrating, not trying to squeeze gifts out of people you didn’t invite to the wedding. Of course, some people will give you gifts anyway; that’s just how it goes.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I hate the idea of mentioning gifts at all – even to say “no gifts please.” I feel like it should be assumed that this is a party that we’re hosting, and gifts are NEVER required.

        1. happypup*

          We had a tiny wedding then a second reception type thing in my husband’s hometown. Since it was largely people my mother-in-law wanted to invite, it just came up in her conversations with folks that it was a casual thing, BBQ, no gifts, etc. Since she’s pretty social, she was just generally in touch with everyone and it came up naturally, so it wasn’t like a weird ‘hello, I’m calling you to warn you not to bring a gift’ thing. If you’ve got someone or a couple someones who are chatty (and reliable) you could ask them to spread the ‘no-gifts’ word.

        2. Jeanne*

          I completely hear you on this! We got married this summer and didn’t invite cousins (for the same reasons you all aren’t) and our moms hosted a bbq a few months later for the extended family on each respective side. We weren’t going to mention gifts on the invite (we didn’t want them too), but after our wedding, we had gifts galore from people who weren’t even invited to the wedding! Everyone seemed to feel pressure to gift us something, so for the family celebration/open house our moms did say something like “Your presence is the only present needed.” Thankfully that reduced the gift-giving attendees to only 15-20% of each group.

    5. Sutemi*

      My mother had a BBQ a couple months after our wedding and invited everyone she knew, plus some of my spouse’s family that was nearby, to celebrate our wedding. It wasn’t awkward and we got some cards but not gifts. We kept it very casual and didn’t call it a reception, just a party.

    6. Bryan*

      I’m considering the same thing. We have 19 aunt or uncles plus spouse’s plus kids plus grand kids. It’s a group of about 75 to 100 all out of town. While some are disappointed I think they understand and someone is considering throwing us another party there. I think the key is someone has to do it for you.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’ve known of several people who noted that they were having two receptions, one in one city right after the wedding, and one in another city later on. I don’t think it’s tacky at all.

      If you have a wedding website (and it seems like everyone does, and I kinda like it), you can be very direct and honest there: Due to our desire to have a small wedding, as well as travel concerns, we will be having two receptions, one here on this day, and one there on that day (with links to pages for each reception).

      I think that would be fine.

    8. JM*

      I think having a party in your hometown for your family there would help some of them as well who want to go to the wedding but don’t have the time/money to come out for the real deal. Anyone who feels like you’re just trying to get a gift out of it but not pay for them at the wedding is silly because you’re still paying for this second party.

    9. kas*

      I hope it’s not tacky because this is exactly what I want to do. I come from a big, close family as well and although I love them all I really don’t care to have 300+ people at my wedding.

      I would have a get together, something to say “I didn’t forget about you.” Like others mentioned, I think it would be a good idea to have maybe your mom throw it.

    10. vvondervvoman*

      Not weird or tacky or gift-grabby. I’m doing the same thing. It’s also extremely cultural. Some people (including my extended family–nearing 100 people) can’t wait for an opportunity to throw huge gifts at you. So they get their own party where they can have fun in a much more casual, relaxed way. If I had a huge wedding in NY (instead of tiny west coast wedding), they would definitely not be bringing their 10-15 kids. So even though they don’t know it, they actually prefer it this way haha

    11. Jeanne*

      We also didn’t invite our cousins to our wedding this past summer (because we too come from a very large family). Each of our mothers hosted a bbq a few months later for our respective sides so our cousins and their kids could get together to celebrate. Our moms actually asked people not to bring gifts – they put something like the following in the invite – “Your presence is the only present needed. Jeanne and Mark have everything they need – each other.” Corny, but it got the job done.

  23. X*

    Any burnt out architects out there? Looking to switch fields and/or industries but I’m not sure how to transition and what types of positions to go after….

    (Note – already went for an MBA several years ago with an eye towards real estate development, but with the economy had to take what I could get….which is back to architecture.)

    1. Lizabeth*

      How burned out?? My SO has arch/engineering degrees and usually ends up the Architect office person-on-site fixing construction problems as they come up for the firm he works for. He has talked about doing strictly project management and or working on the other side with a contractor (depends on how slimy the contractor is; there are very good ones out there but far and few between!). I also have a new neighbor that works for a startup that reviews contractor bids for architects and helps weed out the low ball problems.

    2. RegGoingAnnon*

      YES! I’ve bounced around some due to the economy and now that I’m settled somewhere it’s… fine. I’m sick of the corporate “I stayed later so I’m better” mentality and I’m not sure I want to jump ship (I just started my ARE’s…) but I’m really curious what outside architecture suggestions people have.

    3. JM*

      What about teaching? I know lots of architects are adjuncts along with working at a firm. Or what about changing your specific projects? Like if you ordinarily do residential, try commercial or corporate.

      1. ADE*

        What would city planning/municipal work look like? I know nothing about the field, but I am sure towns who want to build/add extensions to schools have to take into account both architecture and business considerations. I don’t know anything about how City Planning relates to architecture, but hey, it’s worth a shot.

        Another idea would be working in the business/CFO side of an organization that thinks a lot about buildings (e.g. a school district, a university, a hospital)

        1. JM*

          Even most governmental organizations (schools, offices, airports) hire an outside architect. But what about going into the business side of an A/E/C company? Business Decelopment, Marketing, HR? It’s a different type of job but they probably would prefer someone who knew what was actually going on instead of learning as they go along. I know an RA who works in the Marketing department and they love it because he can answer things that a trtionally schooled marketing person wouldn’t.

          1. tytto*

            Even though most municipal and other governments hire external architects for individual projects, many larger government organizations will still have an urban design or similar department where a project manager with a background in architecture could be a great asset. Even if the architecture work is contracted out, they will still have staff who can develop design guidelines and critique/provide informed feedback on work submitted by external consultants.

  24. Mama needs to vent*

    Not using my usual handle for this one.

    My department used to be headed up by a super-smart, super-nice individual. We worked hard and played hard. But upper management decided we needed to up our game in a particular way, so they pushed the nice guy out in favor of a royal jerk. This person thinks nothing of calling in the entire department over a holiday weekend (when the work could easily have been done by just the one team that was responsible). He has also made nasty comments about people who take preplanned vacations if the workl

    1. Mama needs to vent*

      Dammit…this is what happens when I post from my phone.

      …if the workload suddenly gets crazy. Several people have been let go, and rumor has it at least one of them was let go because he didn’t want to come in on a preplanned vacation day between Christmas and New Year’s and “who wants to work with someone like that?”

      I did insist on taking my preplanned vacation around the MLK holiday weekend, and it seems like this guy didn’t even notice. I’m not sorry I did it, because we visited my in-laws and there ended up being a death in my husband’ family while we were there. But I hate that I had to spend the whole trip worrying about whether I’d have a job when I got back, and I also didn’t feel safe returning to in-laws’ location for the funeral.

      I hate this!

  25. Kaz*

    Long time lurker and need some advice.. On Monday I was told that the medical practice I work in doesn’t want me to work there anymore and I should start looking for another job, and that my coworker who I thought I was very close with was complaining to my supervisor that I was rude and bossy to her, and created an uncomfortable work environment. The whole thing has just been handled very badly (the coworker won’t even directly communicate with me now) and I’m working out of someone’s lobby down the hall until I find another job. (They did say that if after a ‘reasonable period’ I didn’t have one yet, they would fire me, but I have a job for a couple weeks at least.) I was kicked out of my own office at the time of the meeting on Monday and only got to collect my stuff under someone else’s watch.

    My question is, what do I owe these people? I’m incredibly angry at the sheer amount of deception involved – everyone has been very nice to my face for the last few weeks, probably so I would finish up a very important project – and just want to go home and never talk to them again. I have gotten a couple requests for me to do something, via email, and it just makes me angrier because they’re asking me to do things that would be quite simple – if I were still in my own office with all my papers and my computer. They have alternated between treating me like I’m petty and vindictive, and treating me like I’m still working here. What do I do??

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! On a practical level, they can and probably will have you leave earlier than planned if you don’t respond to work requests or if you seem sullen/hostile, so I wouldn’t go that route unless you’re prepared for that consequence.

      If you think they’re having you stay these few weeks because they need you to finish a project, you’re in a decent position to negotiate a few things — like the type of reference you’ll get and possibly severance. But I’d make a point of being pleasant to everyone, even if you’re seething on the inside, just because that’s going to serve you better.

    2. Donna*

      They want you to quit to avoid paying Unemployement, or any other benefits possibly, stick it out. Or quit under the assumption of a hostile workplace… I think that would still qualify you for unemployment, although maybe Allison can elaborate on that portion. This is a common tactic that companies use when they don’t want all the paperwork associated with actually firing someone… they make you miserable so you leave.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think this would qualify as constructive discharge (where things were so awful that any reasonable person would quit) or hostile workplace (requires it to be based on race, sex, religion, or other protected class). And it actually does sound like they’re firing Kaz — just a slow, drawn-out firing as opposed to “today is your last day” — so I don’t think it’s to avoid paying unemployment.

        This actually isn’t totally uncommon; it’s just not very pleasant for the person who now has to spend a few weeks in an office knowing that they’ve been let go.

      2. Kaz*

        They are being assholes, but not hostile in a legally actionable way.

        My former coworker just emailed me (and four other people cc’ed on it) to say that I need to have x thing done by 2PM, when x thing is actually not something I was supposed to be doing anyway per my boss, and there is no reason it needs to be done at 2PM.

        1. fposte*

          What about being proactive? Could you say to them “I appreciate your willingness to work out a transition time, and I’d like to make sure that I focus on completing the projects that are the highest priority before I leave. Would that be A, B, or C?”

          1. Kaz*

            It’s just a couple tasks, my time is definitely not filled.

            However this is rather complicated by the fact that apparently I don’t have access to any files on the shared drive anymore (ie the files I need to work on).. I think they may have acted hastily on that because it does not seem to have occurred to them that in order to put in those edits to that file, I need to be able to open that file.

            1. fposte*

              I think it’s helpful to remove emotion from the picture as much as possible here. This is your calm robot period. If it’s not a problem to get the work done, then shrug and get the work done, even if there’s no particular reason for the deadline they set. If there’s something keeping you from getting the work done, mention the block to the person who can clear it, and then get the work done. If it’s work that your actual boss wouldn’t want you to do, respond to the query by asking if Boss has cleared it–if so, you’d be happy to do it.

              But use your increasing disinvestment to your advantage here and don’t judge things as reasonable or unreasonable. Just Do Thing.

  26. Michelle*

    Question about flights for you all — I’m planning on visiting a friend in Paris in the fall (probably October, around Columbus Day weekend but I’m flexible and more concerned about price than anything).

    When would be the cheapest time to visit, and how soon before should I try to book my flights? Looking now there are a few options under $1000 but not many. Am I just being naive about how much flying to Paris costs? Never been to Europe before!

    1. Kaz*

      It is expensive. That is going to happen.

      That being said, I would play with for a while – they have a tool that lets you do 3+ days in either direction so you can try a bunch of different combinations. Midweek is generally cheapest, and it’s usually cheaper to fly to JFK or another huge east coastal airport than to try to fly direct from anywhere in the middle or west coast.

      1. Michelle*

        Oof yeah, I guess that’s just what it costs. I live in DC so at least I’m near a hub — been watching Kayak and Google Flights for a while trying to pin down a good time but it might be too far out to plan for this kind of thing.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I just recently discovered google flights – LOVE it!

          If you’re going in October you might want to wait a while to book – United and British Airways and others might have some good deals as the summer tourist season ends.

          I love Paris! How exciting!

        2. LMW*

          I had really good luck with Kayak and Fly for my trip to Paris in November. I watched for a couple weeks. Tickets were hovering around 900 bucks roundtrip from Milwaukee or Chicago, then Bam! Down to $700 with only one connection.
          Just keep an eye on it. You have a lot of time to find a great deal.

    2. Anonymous*

      Where are you flying from? $1000 sounds fairly reasonable. Winter is the cheapest time to visit, generally.

    3. KitKat*

      Wherever you do decide to buy from, clear your browser’s cookies before buying. The travel websites track if you’ve looked around, and will actually charge more for the same flights. You can get cheaper rates by clearing the cookies first!

    4. another anonymous*

      another vote for hipmunk, although I’ve heard it isn’t as good for international flights.

      not sure what your plans are for lodging, but I highly recommend It varies from “here’s a spare couch” to “rent my entire villa” with everything in between.

    5. Aisling*

      I second kayak or any of the other websites that will look plus or minus a few days around your travel dates, to see if you can get a better deal. Flying mid-week is generally cheaper, and it’s also generally cheaper if you include a Saturday night in your stay.

    6. Liz*

      I’ve heard that the ticket price is lowest about 8 weeks in advance of when you want to go (for international travel). I know that’s a long way away right now, but I just wanted to put a bug in your ear not to wait past that point in time. As a frequent flyer, I can assure you that prices will only go up after that. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between 8 months out and 8 weeks out though. Also try Bing’s fare predictor. Its weirdly good.

    7. Anonymous*

      Early October will be one of the most expensive times to visit.
      Fashion week is normally in early October, so you can count on everything being super booked up. Been to Paris many times for Biz around that time – never saw any evidence of what was going on for fashion week.

      Make sure your flight includes a Saturday night. That will have the biggest impact on the cost.

    8. CS*

      Best time to go is between now and end of April. I’ve seen fares drop in April (maybe it has something to do with Spring Break…) The airfare doesn’t get that cheap for Paris though. Depending on where you are flying from $1000 seems about right for other times of the year. And that’s starting price.

      1. Michelle*

        April would be wonderful — I started a new job recently though, and it seems best to wait till I’ve been here longer than a few months before I take a week off for travel.

    9. lifes a beach*

      prices to France usually go down after August. Fall is a nice time to go, but be prepared for cool weather and rain. another plus is that tourist travel is lighter too, so many places are not as crowded. Where are you flying out of , east coast of course is generally cheaper than flying out of west coast. For me on the West coast, if I saw a flight for $1000.00 or less, I might snap it up. We were planning to go this last Sept, but the best price I could find was 1400.00, Last time we went was in 2010 and our flight was 1100.00. There are all kinds of theories on when to book for the best price, I would sign up with the travel sites price alerts.

    10. Anne 3*

      Check if flying to Brussels + taking the Thalys to Paris comes out cheaper (Thalys train takes less than two hours between the two cities, iirc). I flew Brussels-DC a couple years ago and it wasn’t anywhere near $ 1000.

  27. ThursdaysGeek*

    Can being culturally illiterate hurt you professionally? I don’t watch TV at all, and only see a few movies. I do read a lot, so I kind of know what is going on in the fake world and recognize the names of a few celebrities. But I know I miss out on a lot of references, and don’t even recognize the names of most of the newer shows. Does that just make me quirky, or can it hurt?

    1. anon*

      I had a similar situation when I started one of my first jobs. Everyone I worked with LOVED to talk about the news. I never watched the news. It didnt really bother me at first, I just sat and listened to them talk about what was going on in the world. Over time I learned they thought I was a little snobby and never had anything to say… so I started to watch the news just so I could add to the conversation. Being social is a huge part of your job (in SOME places, I’m sure this doesnt apply everywhere). You spend 40 hours a week with your coworkers, sometimes its better to just bite the bullet and read up on celebrities just so you can join the conversation. After a while you can probably steer conversations to other topics that interest you.

    2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

      I hope this makes you quirky because I am 30 year old who hates all things social media to an unreasonable degree. I tell myself that my colleagues find me “quirky” but it’s possible they think I’m out of touch or irrelevant!

      But no, unless you work for Buzzfeed, I don’t think your pop culture deficiency will hurt you. That is, as long as you are able to find other ways to shoot the breeze with your coworkers, and aren’t the kind of person that brags about not having cable TV :)

      1. Felicia*

        +1. There are millions of other things you can talk about with your coworkers! The only way your pop culture deficiency could hurt you is if you act like you’re superior to people who know about pop culture. I knew someone like that, and everyone hated her. Not because she had no knowledge of pop culture – but because she acted like we were inferior beings for knowing the name of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby

    3. MelG*

      I think it depends on a lot of factors. Clearly, as we’ve seen from the myriad tales of insanity on here, people will decide that you’re not likeable or a team player for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. A reasonable manager won’t be like, “Thursday, you need to work on your Scandal-watching skills,” in your annual review. But if you feel like you struggle to connect with your wo-workers, or you don’t have things to talk about, or you feel left out or excluded it’s something to think about. Also if that is the case, think about what you say to people. If they’re chatting about a TV show do you just work and not participate? Do you chime in and act kind of snarky/comment on something being frivolous? Are you one of those people who just can’t WAIT to let everyone know that you don’t own a television? Or do you let them talk about the show and then talk to them about other things? You can still talk about a new museum exhibit, a restaurant or bar you went to that you really enjoyed, a local sports team, or ask them for new book recommendations since you like to read. A lot of people enjoy both books and TV/movies.

      1. Felicia*

        A lot of the shows and movies I like have also been based on books:) I was recently talking about Orange is the New Black with a friend who watches it, as well as having just seen the movie the Book Thief, both originally based on books. I watch a lot of TV and read a lot of books. When people are talking about tv, t hey’re just talking about something they do in their spare time. “That sounds really cool, I read a book that was also just as scary/exciting/whatever it was here’s why that was awesome!” is appropriate. I did that when people talked about Game of Thrones because I don’t watch the show but I do love the books

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          True, I will read some of the books, so I’m able to converse on some subjects. And listen or ask questions on the others.

          1. Jubilance*

            I read the book before the show came out and I loved it. I gave the show 3 episodes before I quit, I just couldn’t get into it. The book is strictly from Piper’s perspective and goes a lot into “the rules” of prison life & how you make it through. The show is totally different and I couldn’t get into.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I had exactly the opposite reaction: the first episode had me saying, “Ehhh…not.” I watched two more just to give it a shot, and by the third episode, I was hooked.

            2. Windchime*

              The show was too explicit for me, so I was done after one episode. I hear good things about the book, though, so I might give that a try.

          2. Felicia*

            The Orange is the New Black show is very very different. I promise none of it spoils the book at all. The way season 1 ended already diverged widely from what happened to real Piper. The book doesn’t get into teh stories of the other prisoners, which is personally my favourite part of the show. Piper isn’t likeable to me in either format, but I liked her less in the book. In this very rare case, I actually liked the show better

            1. Felicia*

              I mean reading the book Orange is the New Black won’t spoil the show for you at all, because they’re so so different:) So you s hould read the book!

      2. Cat*

        Yeah, I think the key here is not to be That Coworker who can only talk about X, whether X is your kids; your dog; your hatred of pop-culture or anything else.

      3. another anonymous*

        I think a new requirement for my future dream job* will be that I’m required to watch Scandal.

        At a former job I had a really great discussion about Scandal with a co-worker I didn’t regularly work with. I then realized it was the best conversation I’d had at work in months. Not a good sign!

        And seriously, anyone out there who hasn’t watched Scandal, give it a chance. I was surprised when I realized the same woman who wrote Crossroads (Britney Spears movie) and Grey’s Anatomy (meh) was doing Scandal! Did not see that coming.

        *doesn’t really exist

    4. FWIW*

      Personally, I don’t think it will hurt you unless you make a big deal out of it. I know some people who constantly brag about not owning a TV, not keeping up with pop culture, etc. It does become annoying when coworkers are discussing a show and that one guy always feels the need to chime in with “I don’t watch TV.” I think as long as you are not obnoxious about it, people don’t care. And if you do mention it, I would be careful how you frame it – sometimes people will think you’re implying that they are less intelligent because they watch TV.

      1. CC*

        I stick to “heard of it, haven’t seen it” or “heard of it, don’t follow it” *if asked* if I know a show which I don’t watch but have heard discussed before, and “not familiar with it” if I haven’t heard of it.

        I don’t get why some people like feeling superior for being unfamiliar with something.

    5. Lizabeth*

      I try to limit my TV watching because there is so much more I want to do! BUT I usually look at the Yahoo news feed (my personal email server) daily and try to catch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is usually hitting some good stuff and between that and the Colbert Report I find some interesting books to read :)

      It doesn’t hurt you unless your job needs you to be on top of that kind of stuff.

    6. Claire*

      It’s totally your prerogative to spend your spare time as you want. I do follow pop culture but it’s certainly not the biggest part of my social interactions with colleagues so hopefully you can find other common ground.

      My only watch out is to work really hard not to be condescending to people who do enjoy what most might consider “trashy” TV, movies, etc. Your use of the term “fake world” makes me a little concerned you may be coming off that way even if it’s unintentionally.

  28. Amanda*

    I work on a college campus where I share an office with a women that has the same job role as me, but we work under different deans/departments. Our job involves student support, so we either book appointments with students or they “drop in”.

    My co-worker is always late, always takes long lunches, and always leave early. This has affected my work many times as there are students waiting for her/looking for her. The students often expect me to play her “assistant” by knowing her schedule/calling her to attend her appointment/etc. when in reality we have nothing to do with each other – we just share a space.

    I’ve talked to her about this several times, but her habits haven’t changed. I really want to report her to our mutual supervisor but people have advised me to “mind my own business”.

    I’m wondering if anyone here has any other thoughts or suggestions?

    Thank you :)

    1. Cajun2core*

      Since it is affecting your job and you have the same supervisor, I would bring it up to the supervisor because the supervisor may not be aware of what is going on. Of course you will have to do it delicately. However, if you know the supervisor would not take it well, then I would hold off until the supervisor finds out some other way.

    2. Joey*

      You gave her a chance to fix it and she didn’t. Go to your boss and ask for advice on how she wants you to handle your work being interrupted by her absence

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Alison has addressed situations like this. Because it is affecting your job, it’s ok to go to your supervisor and ask about it. Not telling on her, but just asking for the best way to handle it. “When Jane has left early but she has an appointment with a student, they ask me to contact her. And often there are students waiting around for her and interrupting my work. How would you like me to handle that?”

    4. CS*

      What does the office look like? Is it out in the open where students can approach either of you or do you sit in an enclosed room where students have to talk to a receptionist to get you?

      My first thought is to print a sign that says their “their advisor is out of the office, if they need to speak to her, please come back in an hour.” Also, if you can find a way to say it politely and not get in trouble for it, to also have on the sign “Please, do not disturb other personnel.”

      1. Anonymous*

        This. It’s hard to add the “do not disturb other personnel” part, but putting a sign at her desk when she’s not there would be helpful.

        Also – do you have name plates that are labelled so students can easily see which department you are with? That coupled with a sign when she is absent may help deal with things until your dean can talk to her dean.

  29. Cajun2core*

    This is concerning office atmosphere:

    I have worked in two different types of offices. Consider the following situation:

    You are at your desk doing your work. Two co-workers are standing in the hall outside your door. They are discussing a serious problem they are having that is costing the company money. You know the answer to the problem they are having.

    Company Type #1:
    You speak up, provide the solution, money is saved.

    Company Type #2:
    The conversation is between those two people. It is none of your business. Keep your thoughts to yourself.

    Obviously, there is mixture of the two where you catch one of the people later in the day and tell them privately, “Sorry but I couldn’t help but overhearing your conversation with Susan. I may have a few thoughts on the issue if you are interested.”

    I very much preferred working for company #1. However, I know that there are people who prefer working for company #2. I am just wondering what other people think.

    1. A Jane*

      Is it something that they’re going to reach out to you to help resolve? If so, why not just step up now and help get it resolved.

      1. Anonymous*

        A Jane, I agree with you completely, however, you would be surprised at how many people are offended by you “butting your nose into their business”. Some people have the attitude, “Hey, we weren’t talking to you. You were not part of the conversation. Keep your nose out of our business.”

        I have gotten negative comments on performance reviews for doing such things.

        1. Cajun2core*

          I just re-read your comment. No, they would not normally reach out to you for assistance on this.

          1. A Jane*

            Ahh, gotta love that. I approached the question as if it were my boss and someone else talking. I had a good relationship where I felt comfortable jumping in if I heard something specifically related to my work.

        2. fposte*

          I think this is a workplace culture/relationships thing. We do a *lot* of incidental hallway communicating around here, and chiming in on something like this would be absolutely expected. That’s presuming you literally know the answer to the question, which I think is different from “having some thoughts.” The latter would be a much greyer area, and I might do a fake bathroom trip past them to say “Hey, if you ever want to know how we dealt with that on the Warbucks account, let me know.”

          1. Cajun2core*

            Yes, you are right it is very related to the culture of the company. One place I worked, it really had to be the situation you described where you *knew* the answer.

            Another place I worked, chiming in with “would this work” would have been fine.

            I presented this situation to my brother (engineering manager) and he said, “You were not part of the conversation; don’t speak up.”

            1. Colette*

              I’m definitely a person who would speak up – but I have had a coworker tell me I should mind my own business. (I talked with my manager about it and asked what she would do, because it feels very isolating and foolish to me to only speak up about a work problem if someone specifically asks my opinion.)

              1. Windchime*

                My thought is that people shouldn’t be having a conversation right outside my door that is loud enough for me to hear with an expectation of privacy. You want a private conversation, go someplace private. Or just stand in a cube and whisper and giggle, like they do in my office. Either one works.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’m a #1 person. Conversations in hallways aren’t private and you should expect them to be overheard.

      1. Cajun2core*

        That is how I think but as I said, I have gotten negative comments on performance reviews because of stuff like that.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s good to be aware of one’s own personal tendencies in that situation, too, though. I’m somebody who gets very interested in conversations that don’t include me, and I could definitely become the pest that makes people take the other stairway if I didn’t shut myself up sometimes. Not saying that’s you, just saying sometimes it’s an overall thing rather than a one-off thing.

          1. IronMaiden*

            I used to be a #1 person but years of having very sound advice ignored or worse, taken without giving me any credit has seen me keep my mouth shut these days.

    3. Just another Reader*

      Personally I never speak up unless spoken to. I like your compromise of mixing the two because sometimes people are just talking so they can figure out the solution themselves, but it takes some speaking out.

      I think what can be annoying is if someone speaks up and offers a solution, but that person doesn’t have the background knowledge or expertise regarding the issue at hand.

      1. OP aka Cajun2Core*

        Thanks for the compliment. I agree with you that it is annoying for someone to always speak out.

        However, in my case, there is more than one person involved so it is not just someone “thinking out loud.”

        1. Just another Reader*

          I hope I didn’t offend, I wasn’t meaning you were out of line by speaking up, I was thinking of an example closer to home.

  30. Gene*

    Just a quick note: I’m going to have a video on America’s Funniest Home Videos on Sunday (ABC, 7 PM/6 Central). I didn’t get invited to be in the studio audience, so I’m not in line for any money, but I get a free t-shirt out of the deal!

    When you see the left hand and a red rock crab (should be a hint as to the content of the video), that’s me.

    I’m going to be famous! Time to start shopping for my Bentley.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Haha! I like that show. I’ll try to remember to watch. Usually I forget, because it’s on at six here and I fail to change over until Once Upon a Time is ready to come on at seven.

  31. r*

    Any tips for networking in a new city where you don’t have many (or any!) existing contacts? I’ve recently relocated and am feeling a bit lost without my old network, where networking was much, much easier.

    1. Ash*

      Meetup groups. I knew almost no one when I first moved where I am and met friends and career contact through Meetup and other such orgs.

      1. AnonHR*

        I second Meetup. It always sounds weird, even to me, but I found a great book club for young professional women on Craigslist. I’m still in it and have made some great friends through it.

      2. Jubilance*

        Third suggestion for Meetup. I run a Meetup group and we have lots of members who are new to the area and trying to build their network. Join some groups and don’t be afraid to attend a Meetup and introduce yourself to people.

        1. Cara Carroll*

          Some Meetups are beginning to charge now. I was part of one and got an email that to continue to be part of the group I would be charged, it wasn’t a lot of money or anything but some have started charging to cover the new fees to run them.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            My Doctor Who meetup group has asked for contributions for quiz prizes, but other than that, we don’t pay unless we’re doing something outside the group (and the venue where we meet is also free). Example: last Friday, we went to the second-run theater to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and we all just paid our own way. But I used to belong to one that asked for $5.00 to join. I quit that one because it was very boring and every other meetup was at a bar. :P

          2. Jubilance*

            That’s because Meetup charges a fee to use their site – I pay $180 a year to host my group on the Meetup site. I don’t charge dues for my group but many do in order to offset the cost. Luckily I and my leadership team rotate who pays the quarterly fee ($45) and we all feel it’s worth it.

    2. A Teacher*

      Chamber of Commerce off-shoot type groups. In my city they have a young professionals group that’s actually pretty decent.

  32. BCW*

    Lets say you see a job posting for something you think you’d like, but have a feeling the pay isn’t what you want. Is it best to put your salary requirements in your cover letter to save time?

    1. Ash*

      Why would you give them the upper hand? AAM says never to tell a potential employer your salary requirements. Apply, get an initial interview, and perhaps bring it up then if you really need to.

    2. Joey*

      Why not wait until you get the call to get a better idea of the pay? Telling them in a cover letter is a little early to discuss salary.

      1. Seattle Writer Girl*

        I’ve included salary requirements in my cover letter before. Not sure it ever helped me get a job, but I did have one employer say how much he liked that I put it all out there right up front so that we weren’t wasting time. Being that this particular employer didn’t end up offering me a job, I say don’t do it.

  33. Nonprofit Office Manager*

    I don’t know how I got it in my head that Olive was your daughter, but the cat video was a funny surprise!

  34. Canadamber*

    So I found an article on Workopolis not too long ago, basically stating that women are better off wearing skirts in the workplace for a number of strange reasons.

    Personally, I think that I look better in pants (I’m 17 but look about 14-15 according to a LOT of people that I talk to), and that they also make me look a little bit older. Also, they’re just more comfortable! But Idk this article just kind of bothered me for some reason. Anyone else?

      1. Canadamber*

        Yes that was me actually :) I did want to post it in an open thread though to see what others thought of it haha

      2. Elizabeth*

        I’m now snickering. Our web monitoring software just blocked it as a “Career Development” site. Yet, I can read & comment here, which is much better.

        1. JamieG*

          One time in high school, I remember the software blocked a website as “Educational”. I lol-ed.

      1. Canadamber*

        Okay, good to know that I’m not the only one!!! Some of their other advice confused me as well; also they really emphasize having a resume objective, and I’m fairly sure that Alison says that you don’t need one… and I don’t have one, haha.

    1. A Bug!*

      Yes, it’s a bothersome article that nobody should be relying on. Skirts don’t signal “support, empathy, [or] sensitivity.” They signal “Today I am wearing a skirt suit.”

      Wear what you want, within reason. Pants and pant suits are fine and you shouldn’t feel pressured to switch to skirts, especially not by some bunk article someone pulled out their butt to draw clicks and make a buck.

    2. MaryMary*

      Wear what you are most comfortable and confident in (within the appropriate dress code). If you’re happier in pants, wear pants. If you love the way you look in a skirt, wear a skirt. When you wear clothes you love, you’ll feel more confident and positive, and that’s what really matters.

      1. Windchime*

        I don’t wear skirts, either. I decided one morning as I was struggling to pull on yet another pair of expensive, fragile, binding panty hose that I was sick of this sh*t and I wasn’t going to do it anymore! Now pantyhose are out of fashion, but I’m middle aged and I have chubby white legs, so I don’t want to go around with bare legs. It’s pants for this girl.

    3. hilde*

      So I’m not nearly as good as dissecting things as some around here, but this paragraph from the article tripped me up:

      “The research, done at the department of psychology at the University of Herfordshire, also found that opinions are formed within seconds of first meeting. When 300 people were shown eight images of women in pants suits or skirts and asked to give their first impressions, they preferred the women in skirts. The women were rated on the following five criteria: success, trustworthiness, confidence, flexibility and salary.”

      I would want to know that if the reason they preferred the women was BECAUSE of the skirts or if there were other factors about the photographs of the women that people preferred and those women all just happened to be wearing skirts. There could be a handful of other things – the way the women were standing, the color of their hair, were the women in skirts smiling and the women in pants frowning? Things like that make a difference and that’s what we actually prefer, but we attribute it to a different characteristic that is only a coincidence.

      So yeah – agreed with the others.

      1. fposte*

        The thing that tripped me up (and I’ve checked and it was Workopolis and not you, hilde :-)) is that there is no University of Herfordshire.

        There’s Hertfordshire and there’s Herefordshire (which there is no U of), but no Herfordshire.

    4. Anonymous*

      Wow – this quote – “Women generally have a wider choice of dress style for work than men, but still have to maintain an identity that balances professionalism with attractiveness.” – I so often forget that women still have to balance professionalism with attractiveness when dressing (sarcasm).

  35. Cereal Killer*

    I’ve been trying to make a bit of a career change for a while now- right now I do X, Y, and Z and I’m looking to just do X. It’s kind of a niche industry. Last year I had three interviews in this field. One went radio silent after asking me to schedule an in person interview. The other two rejected me with “we found someone with more experience”. This could be a gentle let down, but it’s also plausible given my work has been more broad and some people really do nothing but X. So I worked hard at brushing up my resume/portfolio and tailoring my answers to show more about the outcome and my part in it. Recently had another interview and I thought it went pretty well. But I got a call from HR saying they weren’t going to more forward because they thought I had TOO MUCH experience and they were looking for someone more junior. Sigh. I’d really like to reach out two people on the team, who I spent the whole day interviewing with (many other people came and went during the day), for further feedback. I totally respect their decision, but I’d just like to know what I can work on for the next time.

    Is it overkill? They did mention that HR being involved in the interview process was new for them. HR sits at a different location and usually the hiring manager just organized details of the interview. So I’m not sure if contact them will make them think- “HR already gave her feedback, what more does she want?” But I really would like more advice for gaining entry into this field.

    1. Jen in RO*

      As a regular employee, I wouldn’t have a problem answering questions from a rejected candidate, as long as they were phrased right (‘how do I break into this field’ as opposed to ‘why was I rejected’).

  36. Anonymous*

    Anyone have advice for apartment hunting in a new city with a limited time frame? (Say a 2-3 day trip to the new city, for example) Particularly when your budget is tight and you can’t afford much.

    Also, a second question: I applied for a job recently that I’m perfectly qualified for – degree in the exact field, the right amount of directly relevant experience, etc. They emailed me an exercise to do and send back, which I did within 36 hours. 3 hours after they confirmed receipt of the exercise, I got an automated email from the online application system (not the person who sent me the exercise) saying is been rejected because other people fit the qualifications better. This seems odd to me because 1) the automated reply doesn’t seem right, since I am so qualified and 2) it came so fast. The exercise was partly to evaluate writing skills, so it’s not like a test where you can score it quickly.
    Your thoughts? Am I overthinking this?

    1. Jubilance*

      Can you do lots of research online beforehand? Craigslist, For Rent, Apartment Guide, etc? That way you can see what’s in your price range and set up viewing appts.

      1. Anonymous*

        That’s what I was thinking, but didn’t know where to start. I’ll definitely look at those sites.

        1. AVP*

          I love For me it’s better than Craigslist because it plots everything onto a map, and you can see what else is available in that area and compare prices and space.

          Craigslist always ends up costing me a ton of time because people label their locations wrong, or try to make them seem better than they are.

    2. Del*

      You can learn a lot online. There are plenty of apartment guide sites out there which will give you policies, square footage, rent ranges, and floor plans. I did ~4mos of research before my most recent move but only did 2 days of actually looking at apartments physically. Everything else was done remotely from home.

    3. just laura*

      For apartment-hunting, you could book a realtor. They get something like a $500 commission for you signing a lease, paid for by the apartment. They would have a good handle on what’s available and fits your needs.

      1. AmyNYC*

        What realtor are you using?! I was charged about a month and a half broker fee and all the guy did was open the door.

        1. TL*

          Depends on where you live. No realtor in Texas would ever charge (and there are people who only do apartment hunting; it’s all free.)

          In the NE, though, they want your money bad.

        2. Leslie Yep*

          I’ve done this in two cities and in both cases have paid between 75% and 100% of one month’s rent. It’s not unheard of that the apartment building pays the fee, but it just didn’t happen that way with me. Both my guys were great and gave me the option of only visiting places where the leasing office would pay up, but we had the financial flexibility to pay a bit more to have more options.

          I would absolutely do this again in the situation the OP is in–very limited time, and especially if you have limited knowledge of the rental market and landscape of the city. The realtor can give you so much useful information about how public transit serves the area, whether that grocery store you saw on google maps is any good, etc.

      2. vvondervvoman*

        Keep in mind that this isn’t available anywhere. When moving from NY to CA, we asked all over for a rental realtor and no one knew what we were talking about. Genuinely confused, and left us with lots of legwork that we were otherwise willing to hire out.

    4. brightstar*

      I’d also recommend looking at Reddit. A lot of the city subreddits will have a FAQ about moving there if it’s a larger city. Otherwise, there will be plenty of posts asking for recommendations.

    5. Marilla*

      Research online in advance (padmapper dot com is the BEST, it aggregates a bunch of listings on a google map) and set up appointments to view places when you’re in town. Also check out neighbourhoods, just walk up and down main streets to get a feel for the neighbourhoods you’re interested in. (If you have friends in the new city, ask them to recommend neighbourhoods or give you an overview.)

    6. MaryMary*

      Narrow down the area/neighborhood for your apartment hunt as much as possible. Not just, “I want to live in the city,” or “I want to live on the North side,” but “I want to live in Lincoln Square or Ravenswood.” It will help you narrow your search, so you’re not overwhelmed with possibilities, and make it so much easier to look at multiple places in your 2-3 day trip. If you’re not familiar with the new city, ask a friend or research the city.

    7. Rachel*

      A lot of this really depends on how tight the housing market is in that city. In NYC, for example, you need to be ready to write a check for the deposit + first month’s ren + maybe last month’s rent IMMEDIATELY. So be prepared for that possibility in certain tighter markets. If that means you need to borrow money from someone, figure that out now.

    8. Kit M.*

      I’ve done this for Chicago and New York — 24 hours in Chicago, 3 days in New York. I had appointments lined up going to Chicago, but none for New York (things gets scooped up quickly enough that it we couldn’t really make appointments more than a day in advance). For New York: have an assload of money with you (see above comment about up-front costs) and take the FIRST PLACE YOU SEE THAT YOU LIKE.

      I’ve used Craigslist to find my last three apartments and had good luck, but I really like Padmapper, too. Before I do anything else, I research neighborhoods to narrow down my focus – whatever city you’re moving to, there are a million people online who have already asked for advice about what neighborhood to move to, and you can find those discussions. I agree Reddit is a good place to do research. Then just book as many apartment viewings in the neighborhoods you like as possible.

      Paperwork can be the biggest problem on a tight schedule. Some people will take your application and you won’t know if you’ve gotten the apartment for a while. With my three days in New York, they had to rush the lease signing because I wouldn’t be back in New York for three weeks and they couldn’t just hold the apartment for me. Just something to take into account. I’ve found individual and family landlords more willing to work with me on tight schedules than management companies.

    9. Anonymous*

      In some cities there are apartment placement services (landlords that have high turnover in their properties let the services know their property is available and then the service keeps the first month’s rent. There are no costs to the renter). So, you figure out generally where you want to live in the city and pick out a well-reviewed service online (yelp has good reviews). Set up an appointment with them before traveling and give them all of your particulars – price, move-in date, location, pets/no pets, parking etc. Then, on the day of, they will show you lots of apartments. I flew in to Chicago for one day before I moved here for a job and saw 10 apartments (using two different apartment finding services – one in the morning, one in the afternoon). Found a great one – I was there for six years.

      1. Anonymous*

        Oh yeah, and echo to KitM above. Have lots of money ready so you can get a cashier’s check/money order for the first month’s rent + security deposit (usually the same amount) + a move-in fee (sometimes).

        Craig’s list is great if you are moving within the city. When you are coming from out of town and don’t have much time, the apartment finding services are the way to do it. Some will even get you pre-cleared, so you can have your background check, credit check, and everything ready to go when you start looking. My service did that for me, so when I found an apartment I wanted to rent, the representative emailed the owner my documents and then called him. The owner accepted my offer right then. I signed the paper work and got the checks and was back on a plane to DC that night.

  37. The Other Dawn*

    Olive is quite awesome and she’s gorgeous! My cats like to fetch, although they don’t always bring the toy back to me. They drop it halfway and decide to play or they run off with it.

  38. Anonymous*

    As a student taking some night classes, the next class in my program is Project Management. An excerpt of said class by my current instructor included some exercises in which a group of us gathered, assigned our relative roles (e.g. supporter, initiator, feeling accomodator–I’m butchering the phrase, but yes, someone whose specific talent in the group is to make sure everyone’s emotions and feelings are taken into account and no one feels steamrolled), and conjure up a “plan of attack” that was less to do with the actual task (“you research A, I’ll write up B…”) and more about how to get along (“how often do we check in with each other? How do you resolve disputes?”). Needless to say, we were all gobsmacked and rolling our eyes at least a little. I mean, we’re grown ups here!

    So I turn to you, professionals. In an academic setting, this seems ridiculously fluffy and silly. But maybe it might have value in a real workplace where everyone is in different roles with different talents AND, perhaps most importantly, have the authority to back it up? So if Bob says “Jane, do X, Y, and Z” and Bob is the manager, he’d have the clout to do it? I can’t imagine a feeling accomodator (or whatever the real term is) is an actual label in the workplace (I can’t imagine any of the other labels being applied either), but is it like…a role someone just falls into, without the label?

    I’m having a hard time taking this portion of the class seriously. Please reassure me that this is actually a real thing, that this is not just ridiculously fluffy feel-good BS. Or give me a run down on what the heck project management actually is.

      1. AdjunctForNow*

        I teach project management! And used to manage large projects for industry!

        Okay, so, on a small team, it’s pretty normal for the PM just to check in and see how things are going with everyone, and having a separate person (we’ll call them the ombudsman, or OB) who can address team conflicts/concerns isn’t really that necessary.

        When a project has a very large team or many stakeholders, this role allows more two-way communication, especially if the PM has a formal role of authority within the organization. The OB can serve a sort as a sort of “open door” for concerns from those on the team AND those not on the team, but affected by the project (stakeholders). For example, if your project is led by management, but has many team members from the production floor, it is useful to have someone on the production floor in this role.

        So how do you know if you need an OB? Typically, in the project initiation stage, you should be identifying ALL stakeholders and developing a communications plan. The OB is one of several tools you might use to make sure you are getting the stakeholder input you need (either to actually complete the project, or to make them feel they’ve been “heard,” thus getting them to support the project).

        I get that it’s hokey when you are just doing projects with a team of peers or direct reports, but if there are people who can throw up significant road blocks, this is one strategy for managing that. It’s akin to holding a community meeting before knocking down those old row homes on Third St. to put up a shopping mall.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, okay, that framing cools my outrage a bit. Anonymous, I’m still interested in hearing from you with the exact wording but this input makes me think perhaps I’m envisioning the wrong thing.

          1. AdjunctForNow*

            Yeah, the theory is that you have a dedicated person who is responsible for the change management aspects, as opposed to the PM who is more task-oriented, but I see how this could very quickly be taken to a ridiculous extreme, and I really hope the OP tells you what textbook this is.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Probably stems from a couple reason:

              1) to get a read on the group and to get a read on the individuals in the group. Basically the prof is showing cause and effect. If you yell at your people they will shut down on you. However it is up to this designated person to follow the details of that event.

              2) Project managers have to go across department lines and basically are not authorized to tell any body to do anything really. So diplomacy is the order of the day.

              3) College courses (depending on the school) can get involved in “huggy” stuff from time to time. Since it is not consistent (intensity of the huggy stuff or duration of the huggy stuff) it tends to feel fake/forced. Token huggy stuff. “There. We have done our part to remind you that you are dealing with fellow human beings. Done. Now go out there and don’t be another insensitive boss/coworker in the workplace. We just taught you not to do that.”

    1. Ash*

      I don’t really get Project Management courses or certificates, honestly. I haven’t taken one necessarily, but I’ve been a project manager for several years without having to take a specific course on how to do it…

      1. The IT Manager*

        I’ll sort of agree. * I have a technical degree but no recent coding experieince so I have a basic understanding of the software side of things. Project Management training seems pretty simple to me because the things you can teach are basic and simple; it’s getting a team to do them in reality and accomidating the reality limitted budget, schedules, and risks that are hard. I say that as someone who has had years of leadership training from the military and apparently I am pretty good at this PM-stuff so maybe it just seems easier to me than other people.

        *A PM should have a good understanding of scheduling norms which can be taught. The same goes for budgeting of projects.

    2. Jubilance*

      I’m studying for my PMP now, after taking the required course & doing project management for the past couple of years, and I’ve NEVER heard of this feeling accomodator role. Sounds like something your professor/program made up. And really, it’s stupid. You need someone to consider everyone’s feelings & make sure everyone is happy and pleased? Not gonna happen.

      Now certainly you can use a facilitator in things like brainstorming sessions, if there are people with strong personalities in the group and others get left out. But a feelings director sounds so very touchy feely & I don’t see the need in the workplace.

    3. MaryTerry*

      Hey! I want a “feeling accommodator” to accommodate MY feelings! How do I get one of these!

    4. The IT Manager*

      OMG – so timely for me! I am a Project Manager, and I never heard of this until last week. It was in a leadership program at my larger organization. It is not run by “real” Project Managers, but people who are LEAN green belts and Covey leadership program grads. (I think this may have come from one of those training organizations.) They called the role a facilitator and they assists leader with team dynamics including disrupting disagreements.

      It kind of sort of works on my leadership program project team (this is a process improvement project) because we are equals coming together. IMO it is unneeded as a designated role in my regular projects (software development) because people has roles assigned by their job description. A team/meeting leader or assistant can and should faciliate when needed to calm particpants down, but anyone should do that. Designating it as a role just screams training/academic enviroment and not real world to me.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit*

      My husband is an a top-tier MBA program, and they do something like this when they create teams for projects. The purpose isn’t feel-goodishness; it’s expectation-setting and accountability: We will check in weekly. If we disagree about how to do something, we will use this process to make a decision. If we do not do these things, we have committed to holding each other accountable (including looping in the professor/advisor/etc.)

  39. Anonymous*

    Is it a required to fill out a new W4 every year even if you have no changes? My company seems to think so and I’ve never seen this at any other job.

    1. AnonHR*

      That’s an internal policy then, not an IRS one. The IRS does suggest employers remind employees to review their withholdings annually (P. 4 here, but they don’t even need to do that, much less get a new form.

      Technically, you can refuse to fill one out at all ever, and they just have to consider you single with one exemption, but that just seems silly to do. (Q. 13 at

      To be fair though, we have a seasonal workforce at one of our companies and we overkill the I-9 forms in a similar way. Maybe they’ve been burned in the past in an audit and would rather be safe than sorry?

      1. AnonHR*

        Also, if you don’t fill a new one out for the year, they need to use your most recent one. That S/0 rule is for people who never fill one out.

        1. A Bug!*

          They’re either confused about the law or misleading you because they know “because we are asking you to” is not a very good reason.

    2. RG*

      If you claim “Exempt” status on your W-4, then yes, you are required to file a new one every year, otherwise you’ll revert back to the Single, zero allowances status.

      Otherwise, no – your employer uses the same information as from previous years.

  40. Disgruntled*

    Does anyone have any advice for continuing to work (happily) at your company after they’ve turned you down for a raise?

    I just got shot down last month (actually, my proposal wasn’t even considered) and now I’m trying (and failing) to not be bitter and resentful.

      1. Disgruntled*

        Thanks for answering so quickly, Alison!

        My boss pretty much said “we don’t have the money right now. Maybe in 6 months when the business is better and we can tie it to performance goals.”

        This sounds totally reasonable except that 1) I know for a fact that other people got raises this year (so clearly, there is some money) and 2) I haven’t been given any performance goals in the 3.5 years I’ve worked here.

        1. PEBCAK*

          Is there anything else you can ask for? Flextime, more vacation, telecommuting, etc.? I was successful in getting some “no-cost” perks when my company froze wages for a few years.

          1. Rebecca*

            I asked to work from home a few days a month. That was shot down too, as “since I can’t trust everyone to work from home, NO ONE will work from home”. It’s just like being in kindergarten.

    1. Rebecca*

      I’d like to know this too. After 3 years of no increases, merit or otherwise, no reviews, nothing but taking on more and more work, I asked my manager “what can I do to earn more money?” Her answer? “Nothing”.

      I know where I stand. I’m looking for another job. But I have a hard time not telling her to kiss my butt when she wants me to solve yet another problem for her. I’m back to pre 2008 wages after the big health insurance premium increases, and she’s stopped all overtime.

      Actually, I don’t go out of my way to do anything, suggest anything, or do much past pushing the buttons I’m supposed to push. If I were valued as an employee, I’d get at least some reward past “you should be glad you have a job”.

      1. Disgruntled*

        @Rebecca – Our experiences are eerily similar, right down to making 2008 wages. The real kicker was the employee satisfaction survey I got this week that asked me “How Valued Do You Feel By the Organization?” on a scale of 1 to 10. Um, 1?

        1. Rebecca*

          :) At least you got a survey!

          I’m both yearning to give a 2 week notice, and terrified at the same time. I’ve already made up my mind: if I get a new job, and my manager throws a screaming fit when I hand in my notice, I’m walking away. A while back she found out I had an interview, and she had such a tantrum I was afraid she would hit me or throw something.

      2. Anonymous*

        I feel for you both! You could be working for a company that is just doing badly financially. If that’s the case, get a new job – because if they don’t have money for raises in your department, and it’s been happening for several years, it’s better to get into a company that is growing than stay in one that is contracting. And if others got raises, it doesn’t mean that there is money, it just means that there was money in that person’s department budget to designate raises.

    2. Graciosa*

      Reading the additional information in the comments, it doesn’t sound like you’re going to get a raise, so you need to make a choice about whether to stay with a company that clearly doesn’t value you or find another job.

      If you do stay, I wanted to offer some advice about how to do so happily. It is a choice you must make repeatedly, which is hard (but not impossible) to do under these circumstances. Every time you think about the unfairness of your situation, you feed your anger. This is perfectly understandable, and I would even encourage it if you want to find another job and need to use this as an incentive. But if you do decide you want to stay, feeding your anger is not going to help you. You need to learn to stop yourself.

      Think of this as mental discipline that will get easier with practice. Make a list of the things you do like about your job, and turn to it every time you start to think about this injustice. Try to add to the list of positives regularly.

      You may need some time to complain about your mistreatment (even if it’s only inwardly to yourself). If that is the case, schedule it and put a time limit on it. For example, the first week, you are allowed 10 minutes of complaining each work night as you set the table; the second week cut back to 5 minutes, or only MWF, etc. Be as vicious as you wish during your allotted time, but do not exceed it. If you find yourself thinking about this at other times, you will need to stop and catch yourself to get back on schedule.

      You cannot do this at work; you will only hurt your own reputation and it’s not worth it.

      Every moment you spend dwelling on this is a moment of your life you are wasting being miserable. The company is not hurt by your unhappiness. You are. Even if you don’t choose to find another job, you need to choose not to allow your employer to rob you of joy every day.

      Good luck.

  41. Anonymous #13*

    What is the best advice you’ve read on AAM?

    Lately someone posted that if you have one of those people in the office who makes it their job to make you absolutely miserable, do your best to refrain from complaining about this person to coworkers. They will respect you more. When I read that, I had a total “aha” moment. That commenter is 100% right.

    1. Loose Seal*

      The advice about writing your cover letter in your own voice instead of “formal voice.” I used to use a really stuffy, over-the-top, formal voice for my letters and probably sounded horrible. Since I’ve change to my regular voice, it’s been a world of difference and, frankly, they are easier to write!

      1. Kelly L.*

        This might be mine too! I started letting myself shine through in my cover letters, and I think it really made a difference.

    2. hilde*

      I missed that, but it’s really sound advice. I’m a very transparent person by nature and very self-disclosing. But I have learned over the years that there’s a lot of power (not the icky, power-hungry kind) in being someone that doesn’t yakk of your opinions everywhere. I have become way less forthcoming with all of my initial knee-jerk reactions and I think it helps. I admire those people in the workplace that can still show human emotion when appropriate, but always take the high road in a professional way. Not bagging on (obviously) toxic coworkers is a really good way to start.

  42. Marquis*

    Does my company suck at hiring?

    I’m on a three-person team, and one position has been vacant going on five months. It’s not a small role – it’s the website manager! We are in a large metro area and I know there’s no shortage of qualified people – I’ve seen the resumes. We interviewed four people already, and the best candidate dropped out because it’s taken so long. Now we’re going to interview more.

    I feel like this basically shows higher management that this position is not even necessary, which isn’t true at all. I’m cross-trained somewhat but if the website crashed, all I’d be able to do is shrug my shoulders. I know my boss has other priorities but this seems like it should be a big one. At my last job, they replaced me within two weeks!

    What the hell is taking so long?

    1. fposte*

      Sounds like the answer is yes, they suck at hiring. Are you on the hiring committee or are you just a bystander? I’m wondering why the runner-up didn’t just get offered the job.

      Do you know what takes so long for them? Is there a clear hiring manager or chair of the hiring committee? Four people are easy to discuss in a single meeting–did they only have one, and if so, how quickly did they get to it after the interviews? We slot a post-interview discussion in once the interview slots are taken, so we know before we even finish interviewing when we’ll need to have our decisions.

      My guess is that this is sucky process in the hands of somebody who isn’t up to organizing the admin part of it. If there’s somebody more organized, maybe they can take over the scheduling/admin details?

    2. Diane*

      I bet the hiring managers don’t fully grasp what the website manager does, so they have fuzzy or unrealistic expectations for candidates.

      1. Windchime*

        Diane, I think our cats may be related. Mine looks very similar to yours….except mine doesn’t have an awesome little Santa hat.

  43. Natalie*

    Headshots and piercings question.

    My office is getting headshots done in a couple of weeks (hurray! as I don’t have one). I have 2 visible facial piercings that I typically only take out for job interviews and visits from corporate bigwigs. Initially I figured I should take them out for my headshot since it will be used internally and thus seen by corporate bigwigs, but it also seems very strange to me to not look like myself in my headshot. Would it be totally weird to take one with piercings in and one with piercings out? I wouldn’t use the “piercings in” one at work at all.

    1. fposte*

      I think it seems logical. If this is a professional photographer, you might also check with them to see if they have any suggestions, since I’m sure they’ve encountered this before (and who knows, maybe there’s an issue with reflections from some piercings).

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not going to use it at my current company, but who knows where or what I’ll be doing in a couple of years?

    2. The IT Manager*

      Would it be totally weird to take one with piercings in and one with piercings out? I wouldn’t use the “piercings in” one at work at all.

      I kind of think so. Since presumably your company is paying for this, why would they pay for headshot you’re not going to use at work? Saying this, though, it is no doubt a digital photo and unlikely to take signifigant time to pull out two piercings and take a second photo, but it still seems odd to me although I don’t think it would really impact the cost of this for your company. (It could maybe be paying per individual photo, though, and your company would have to pay for two for you.)

      It’s just that feeling that the intent of the photo is for the company’s use and you taking a photo you don’t plan to use there is you getting something that has monetary value out of them even if the cost to them is very, very low.

  44. update #2 from yesterday*

    Well, the boss informed me this morning that the printer went to someone else in the department because she prints more than I do and therefore “needs it more.”

    Do I keep pushing on the boss or is it time to get all my paperwork in order and have a chat with HR?

    1. PJ*

      Honestly, this is not about “that printer.” This is about your needing help with your disability, which you should document through your medical care provider. If your doctor says you need accommodation, bring it to HR and let your company work with you to figure out how to make that happen. It may not look like what you imagine — they may decide that moving you closer to the existing printer will accommodate your disability. But start with the documentation, and use that to launch the conversation.

  45. Elizabeth*


    Dear vendor: I just told you I’m not the right person to have on the conference call and that the person you need was here all night dealing with a flooded department. I told you what day he would be available next week to arrange a conference call. Keeping me on the phone for another 30 minutes to describe the implementation process that you changed and now has nothing to do with me isn’t a good use of my time, when I’ve already told your boss that I might have to drop off the call at any time because of other problems we’re having.

    Don’t. Do. That. Your customers will hate you.

    1. Dulcinea*

      Just curious – if you are the customer, I would think you have nothing to lose by ending the call at any time? I like to say, “Look, I am sorry to cut you off, but as I said, you need to speak to Joe and he’s not available until [time]. He’ll call you when he can talk. I have to hang up now, thank you, good bye.”

      I even do this to my *clients* (because otherwise I would spend all day listening to their troubles but not actually being able to do any work to resolve those troubles).

      It was hard to get used to doing it but it really has been for the best.

  46. AnotherAlison*

    This one is for all the nonprofit folks out there.

    I’ve responded to a couple volunteermatch postings for some social media management and/or blogging positions. I’ve gotten into doing this for my spouse’s business & was interested in doing it for causes that I care about. The organizations I’ve sent my info to are small, start-up type groups.

    What’s an acceptable time frame to hear back or move on? There are other groups I would also offer my time to, but I had assumed I would get responses more quickly. I can’t work with more than 1-2 groups, but I’m not sure if volunteering is like job hunting, where it’s normal to send 10 apps at once with the expectation that you won’t hear back from everyone and you might have to turn down some companies after you take on other work.

    1. CTO*

      A lot of orgs, especially small start-ups, just don’t work very well with volunteers. They don’t necessarily have the time and resources to welcome and onboard volunteers, even if they really need the help and have posted openings.

      If you haven’t heard back within a couple of weeks, it’s quite likely that the lack of contact/support would continue if you volunteered there. If that’s not what you want, then don’t feel guilty about moving on to other orgs. It’s definitely like job searching–it’s okay to have your own preferences about work/style/etc. and to say no when the organization isn’t a good fit in one of those areas. Don’t feel guilty about that. Organizations want volunteers who are happy to be there, have the time to devote, etc. so fit is important in both directions. Good luck finding a position!

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I sent it through the contact button on volunteermatch, which did give me pause. The ORGANIZATION listings on VM have a contact name with email, but the POSITION listings do not have that info, so it seems like you should use the button.

        One group had an elaborate volunteer application form on their website, so I decided to go through VM instead. The group used adult volunteers to work with kids, so a lot of the questions on the form didn’t apply to a social media position. They also asked for references, and it seemed to be more work than I wanted to go through for something like this. I can see it for an 18 year old, but as someone with 15 years professional experience, I’m not gathering all that info up just to start the process. With VM, you just basically say “Hi, I’m interested” and they follow up with you.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          And that was supposed to be under “just laura”. Maybe they followed me on AAM and decided I was internet-incapable.

    2. just laura*

      Did you send info directly or through VolunteerMatch’s website? I wonder if that makes a difference on the receiving end.

      1. CTO*

        When you express interest in a position on VM, it sends an email to the org saying “So and so has expressed interest” and gives the person’s contact info so the org can follow up. Unless these VM emails are being routed to some generic inbox no one is checking, contacting the org directly probably won’t make a difference. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to try emailing them directly or calling them if you’re really eager to volunteer there. Just be prepared that the lack of follow-up might continue.

        At some orgs, there’s a volunteer coordinator (sometimes a volunteer themselves) who handles intake, but the volunteer actually reports to someone else on a daily basis. That’s more likely in larger organizations, but the structures can vary a lot. If you think there might be a different supervisor, then it might be worthwhile to try contacting that person directly and/or seeing if their follow-through is better than your initial experience has been.

  47. D*

    Any advice to help me get motivated? I am a lawyer and I have a lot of responsibility on a huge case (working w other firms from across the country). I also have other smaller cases. I have been rocking it for the past couple of years but recently I’ve felt much less motivated and just skating by. I don’t think I’m burned out, just kind of bored. Any tips on getting my motivation to be a Rockstar back?

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      Charting my Circadian rhythm really helped me! I experimented with waking up at slightly different times, working out at night vs. in the morning, when I drank caffeine, etc. As a result, I now know 1) I’m more productive in the mornings, 2) that if I get some work done before 8 the whole rest of the day will be productive, and if not it’s a crapshoot, 3) I am not very productive between 3 and 5, so I try to do most of my work before then and use that time to run errands or take a short walk around the block, etc. Also, when I’m productive in one area of my life, it bleeds over into the rest of it. For example, if I finish a major project at work, I’m more likely to come home and get a jump start on my laundry or something. I’ve used this to sort of reverse-hack my productivity – if I need to be productive, I work on something small, like a craft project or maybe something around the house that needs to be fixed/cleaned, the night before. The creativity boost carries me through the next day.

      1. Anon*

        Do you have any advice about how to track these experiments? I have trouble sleeping and am trying all kinds of things to fix it but it’s hard to sort out all the variables. Did you use a worksheet or something to help yourself keep track?

    2. Ms Enthusiasm*

      Do you feel like you need a change or are ready to be doing something else? This could possibly also apply to your personal life. Do you just feel like you should be someplace else? Maybe it is time to look at your long-term goals / aspirations and decide if what you are doing now is leading you on the right path. Or perhaps your goals and/or path have changed since you first started and it is time to reevaluate? I know this has happened to me.

      1. D*

        Good point. I love novel tasks but get bored when I start doing the same thing over and over again. This big case has been a long slog doing similar stuff throughout the whole process. I definitely feel ready to do something else. BUT what I’m doing now is definitely getting me toward my long term goals. Maybe I need more focus on that.

        Also great point about my circadian rhythms! I’m the same as you. If I come in and do something rather than play around on the Internet for my first 30 mins or so, I always get more done.

    3. Dulcinea*

      Not sur if this helps, but I read recently that in order to accomplish goals, you don’t need motivation, you need *discipline.*

      Changing my persepctive on that has been helpful to me (also a lawyer) in getting me to accomplish more of my tasks and goals.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, crap, that is so true, and I hadn’t thought about it that way. It’s exponentially true on a cold Friday.

    4. Slowyer*

      I am absolutely in the same boat as you. I waste way too much time each day reading blogs and screwing around, then I rush to finish things before the deadline. The bad part is, the work I do gets praised so I never feel the need to change.

      Not really a helpful comment in terms of tips, but just wanted to say what you’re feeling is pretty common.

    5. Anonymous*

      Ugh, this is me too. I’ve been trying to identify what about my job makes me excited and energized and it’s being out doing prospecting with potential clients and organizations we want to engage. The other thing is going to networking events with people in my field. So I was able to re-arrange my work load and focus on doing those at least once or twice a month. I feel more engaged in my work, and the work of our team and get much more done.

  48. Peridot*

    How does one tactfully explain a good-reference-turned-sour when you’re trying to negotiate offers? Or, for that matter, what to expect when contacting former managers with illegal business practices?

    I (finally) have 2 job offers on the table, although only after switching my job search to a new industry. I have a suspicion that my formerly stellar reference, who now out of the blue has done a 180-degree turn and does not want me to use him as a contact, has shut me out of positions in my former niche industry as I haven’t been able to get callbacks to anything related in 10 months. Furthermore, according to the reference checker I hired the company who illegally classified me as a contractor (and retaliated by ending my contract when I found out they had no intention of paying anyone as an employee), is giving out back-handed compliments by stating I was “brilliant, but we agreed to part ways, as she did not want to move cross-country.” Um, no, not even close- I made it clear I wanted to move. Both of the above are very volatile personalities, and can snap into yelling at a moment’s notice, so I’m not sure how to broach the conversation with either.

    One of the offers is -extremely- low (over 15K off) from what I had discussed with the hiring manager, and the other is tolerable, but not great. I have to take one as I need a paycheck at this time, but I’m still internally pissed that both are almost 40% pay cuts as I seem to be shut out of my industry. Ugh. Since I think part of the low offer is coming from the mixed references, does anyone have suggestions for salary negotiations?

    1. Graciosa*

      While references are key to deciding whether to make an offer, I have never had good or bad references come up in negotiating salary, so I’m a little puzzled as to how to help you. Most salary negotiations are focused on the market value of the position and the candidate’s relative position within that range (well, assuming they’re not focused on previous salary, which still happens although it’s another issue).

      You cannot expect a company to pay you $X salary that goes with X position when you are being hired for Y position in a different industry. If this is coloring your thinking, you need to set it aside.

      I am not sure I agree with your conclusion that your references are damaging you that much while you have two offers on the table.

      If your references are not a factor, you need to handle these salary negotiations the way you would in any other case. Alison has lots of good material on this, so I won’t repeat it.

      Of course you know additional details that I don’t, so maybe your references are having an impact on salary even though you’re receiving multiple offers.

      If your references are a factor, you still need to handle these salary negotiations the way you would in any other case. If you raise this issue at all (rather than responding to a query from a prospective new employer) you will sound paranoid, and you will introduce all sorts of other issues into this discussion in a way that cannot help you.

      In either case, you need to negotiate the best salary you can in a normal fashion, and then do what every other good employee does (knock your company’s socks off with your stellar performance) to increase your value. Whether these companies have heard anything negative about you or not, this is the best way to address those concerns (and make more money).

      I am sorry that this happened to you – but you can’t expect a new employer to redress the wrongs you suffered under a previous one. Your new employer is just running a business.

  49. Jenn-X*

    I’m asking for input on behalf of my husband. He’s a director of a division of a small non-profit (about 20 people or so total in the organization). They have one person who handles the accounting and HR departments, including benefits. She changed their medical insurance provider and gave everyone the info on this (new cards, info on the new plan, etc.). However, she neglected to also tell them that she changed the company’s dental provider. So my husband went to the dentist for routine cleaning/checkup and then about a week or so later gets a bill from his dentist because his dental insurance was no longer in place. He talked to the accountant/HR rep to find out why their dental insurance provider wasn’t going to pay for a routine cleaning and she just said “Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to email everyone about the changes to dental, sorry.” In the meantime, because he already received the service from his dentist–who is no longer a provider covered under the company dental insurance and therefore cannot get payment from the new dental insurance plan–he has a $115 bill that we had to pay out of pocket. Is this something that the company can/should reimburse him for? Or do we just sigh and suck it up? It’s a small bill and we can cover it, but my husband is really annoyed that this happened. Had he known before going to the appointment he would’ve canceled it/found a new dentist on the new plan. Any thoughts?

    1. CTO*

      That sucks. I think a company *should* pay for that, but it’s probably not too likely and not worth the battle. At some places I’ve worked they would reimburse me right away if they made a mistake like that and some that would never consider it.

      Maybe he can try casually running it by his boss to get their advice on what the org is likely to do.

      1. Jenn-X*

        Thank you; that’s kind of what I thought. We’ll just roll our eyes and suck it up. I don’t think my husband will bother asking the CEO (his boss) about it but I’ll encourage him to at least check to see if it’s possible to be reimbursed. Can’t hurt to inquire…

  50. RQSCanuck*

    I have a question about listing achievements/accomplishments on a resume. All of the examples that I have found relate to listing what I refer to as “hard numbers”, like increasing sales, saving a company money, things like that. My field has none of this. Some of the things I do include providing counselling and support to individuals, monitor a person’s progress through documentation and reports, assess a person’s suitability for the services offered and make referrals when necessary. To me, these come across more as describing the job, rather describing achievements/accomplishments. Any suggestions on how I can shape what I see as “tasks” into achievements? I know that I am narrowly defining “achievements/accomplishments” because I am thinking of it in a very concrete manner, so any suggestions on how I can expand my definition would be helpful too.

    1. athek*

      Is there any element to these tasks that wouldn’t get done by someone else in the same position? Did you find a new, better way of doing the tasks? Does doing the tasks well prevent problems or issues for other people? Do you get good comment/feedback about the way you do the tasks? Hopefully that helps to get you in the right direction :)

    2. Jenn-X*

      This is something I use to help my students with their resumes to turn duties into accomplishments. Since a lot of people don’t have concrete figures they can point to, this helps to at least show how well they executed their responsibilities in their work history:

      Excerpt from

      Make a List
      Get started by compiling a list of all the things that set you apart. For each of the positions on your resume, ask yourself the following:

      What did I do that was above and beyond my normal job duties?
      How did I stand out among other employees?
      Was I ever recognized by a supervisor for a job well done? When and why?
      Did I win any awards or accolades?
      What new processes did I implement to improve things?
      What problems did I solve?
      Did I ever consistently meet or exceed goals or quotas?
      Did I save the company money?
      What made me really great at my job?

    3. RQSCanuck*

      Thanks for the suggestions. I think that part of my block, is that I am a recent grad (within the last year) and most of my experience comes from being completing my internships and practicum as part of my program. I found as a intern there was a lot of learning just how to be a counsellor and work with clients to reach their goals, not a lot of opportunity to change process or implement/improve processes. My internships were mainly with government organizations. So, my struggle is to apply these questions (which I think are great) to my situation. I also, in general, struggle with the idea of “selling myself”, so it is difficult to think that I did a task “better” than another person may have done it.

      @athek – I have definitely received feedback, primarily from supervisor, but I have received feedback from clients, about my tasks. Client feedback is more the time we spent together was helpful, or that they have experienced a noticeable change in how they approach the issue we are working on. Some of the things I do ensure that clients receive the proper resources as soon as possible, even if that simply means they are put on a waitlist for services.

      As I write this comment I am reminded of a time (well actually two times, now that I think about it) where I jumped in last minute to assist. Once, it was to assist with couples counselling and take on an unexpected client. The second time was that I filled in last minute (like same day last minute) in an internship position, when the previous person had to drop out last minute. Are these the types of things that I could include on my resume?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Admins have this problem too, when we have to do typically mundane and repetitive tasks. Maybe you could say that you went above and beyond to take on unexpected projects so that everything could continue to run smoothly (I’m not saying that very well). With the clients, you could say you have prioritized getting clients connected with much-needed resources.

        1. RQSCanuck*

          Thanks for the suggestion Elizabeth West. I completely understand what you are trying to say re: going above and beyond. Your comment about prioritizing makes sense to me to0. In fact, that is exactly what I accomplish when I complete certain interviews. The whole purpose of these interviews is to either a) prioritize clients onto our wait list or b) refer clients to other resources because they don’t meet our mandate.

    4. Anonymous*

      There was a really good example of a resume for people in jobs without numbers based achievements. That person with the hotel resume? Link?

  51. Anon for this one*

    Not really asking for advice, but I just want to rant for a second:

    We’re hiring for a certain position. We recently interviewed a good candidate. My boss was telling me all of the reasons why she thinks he’ll be a good choice…and one of her major reasons was that she has a friend that she wants to set him up with.

    What the h3ll?! That really pisses me off. I mean, I really like the guy and I’m glad it’s looking good for him, but why on Earth would that ever even be a consideration to give someone a job? And if she does actually approach him about it after (if) he does get the job, what can he do? It would be really difficult to say no right off the bat to a brand new boss. Poor guy…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure… isn’t that harassment if she follows through on her plan? I am picturing the reverse-male boss hires female employee because she will be a great catch for his buddy.

      In your situation, what if they don’t like each other? Is he out a job? hmmmm.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Get a mouse with real fur, or a toy with real feathers. I’ve had more success with toys that are closer to real prey: many cats like them more, play with them more, and thus are more likely to accidentally drop them near you. Once they’ve done that and you’ve picked it up and thrown it, they often catch on and realize it will continue to move if they bring it to you. Call them when the toy is in their mouth, and sometimes they won’t drop it when they come.

  52. just laura*

    How do you use LinkedIn? I have finally caved and signed up after I started a freelance writing gig. Now my friends and family want to connect. Should I be restrictive in my network, or does it matter?

    1. Ash*

      I have friends and family on there. I draw the line at, if I’ve never met you or talked to you, I’m not connecting with you. This is a pretty low bar — if I met you once at a conference, I’ll add you. But I don’t like the random folks who are out of the blue trying to connect.

    2. MaryMary*

      If your family doesn’t quite understand the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn, I might be a little wary of linking to them. It doesn’t look great if your mom endorses your project planning skills or writes a recommendation for you (although I’m sure you really did do a great job planning the family reunion last summer).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I connected my sister, but she only uses it for professional purposes and is pretty good about not pinging me with crap. She doesn’t use facebook much either; she’s far more apt to just text me.

      Pretty much what Ash said; I don’t like connecting people I don’t know or haven’t spoken with extensively (including online).

    4. Claire MKE*

      I’ll connect to pretty much everybody, but I’m entry level/newish grad, so I’m happy to add whoever to my network! I don’t accept invites from random people outside my field or area, but I connect to friends, family, and anyone who connects with me from my general field/area (I just send requests to coworkers and friends)

  53. Anon-ExStudentWorker*

    For those of you with student workers in your office, what would you do if you saw them napping at their desk? Since this person is not under my supervision, I’m not going to say anything – especially since I’m not 100% clear what the student’s hours are. It’s possible that sometimes she’s not actually “working” per se, just hanging out in between classes and work.

    I just wish her supervisor would evaluate the amount of work that there is, and adjust her hours accordingly. I know this type of entry-level, student worker position is basically just a sit-and-wait type job – I used to be in the same position years ago, but I would never just put my head down and nap if I didn’t have any work to do. We sometimes have outside visitors passed through and it gives off the impression that we are paying students to sleep. It also discourages others to give her tasks to do (she has a direct supervisor, but other employees can give her light tasks to do if needed).

    1. fposte*

      I have no problems with my student staff napping in our work area in their off time, but they can’t do it at their desks. (Not that I’ve had to create that as a rule–they seem pretty clear on that automatically.) Is it that the supervisor doesn’t know this person is napping, or the supervisor has approved it and you wish she hadn’t? I would want to know if I were the supervisor.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and if you have a task for her to do, shake her shoulder gently and say “Are you okay?” And then give her the task.

      2. Anon-ExStudentWorker*

        I don’t know if the supervisor knows she’s napping – the supervisor doesn’t walk by this way unless she’s specifically coming to talk to someone over here. And it doesn’t really seem like something someone would ask permission to do – is it?

        1. fposte*

          Maybe (I grant napping permission to people in our space all the time). Who knows for sure? Not you or me. Since you haven’t heard that it’s okay, ask the supervisor.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I would totally wake up a sleeping co-worker! Depending on the person, I’d ask if they were okay or tease them lightly, and then warn them that sleeping on the job will likely result in a PIP.

      I should note, my work does not allow sleeping. I can’t think of any situation in which it would be acceptable.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My work doesn’t either, but maybe she was up late studying and fell asleep? I would just gently wake her. If it happened a lot, though, I might say something.

        1. Anon-ExStudentWorker*

          If it was a regular coworker, I think napping would definitely be frowned upon. With student workers, it’s a little more relaxed.

          I really think it’s because she doesn’t have any work to do – paperwork is filed away, spreadsheets have been updated, etc. She naps at least once a week. Other times, she’s studying, on Facebook, or looking at her phone.

          I just was curious to see what AAM readers would think. I’m not sure there’s any legitimate work-related reason I should say something either to her or her boss.

          1. looking forward*

            I supervise student workers and was one myself at one time
            Part of the benefit for the student is learning what is acceptable at work. Sleeping is not. However, I also think it is important to not have them sitting around waiting for work. To avoid that, I assign repetitive work, solicit coworkers to give them assignments and usually have one long term research or other type of assignment. Quite frequently I check to ensure they are not over or under worked. That said if your work is okay with them not having enough to do then maybe it is okay with them sleeping.

      2. suomynona*

        my sister’s former employer actually distributed cots to everyone’s office and strongly encouraged employees to nap. but she worked for a university funded research project that was health related, headed up by a sort of cooky doctor, so i doubt this is standard procedure.

  54. Lindsay*

    Does anyone on here keep a regular journal/blog? I’ve been feeling stuck/bored/frustrated in my current job situation and I was thinking about starting a blog about my experience. I thought it might be therapeutic-ish to write about the crap that goes through my head. And also to document the good stuff in my life. Any thoughts?

    1. ChristineSW*

      I asked a similar question in last week’s open thread and got several good responses. I haven’t acted on them yet, but it was very helpful. I’ll get the link in a sec…

    2. Jubilance*

      I started a personal blog when I was in my PhD program, then when I graduated a started a new one to vent/chronicle my life as a young professional. I think if you click on my name it will send you to my blog.

      The biggest difference between a journal and a blog is the public factor. other people will find it and read it. If you write regularly, you will have people that will begin to think they know you, and they will comment on your life & how you choose to live it. I don’t really care about stuff like that, but other people can be very hurt by comments from strangers. I also self-censor a lot and there are certain topics I won’t discuss on my blog because I know family/close friends will see it. If you want to put everything out there, a journal that’s private may be a better idea.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a good point. Most people read blogs for either entertainment value, or because it tells them something they need/want to know. If it’s just personal musings, you’re not going to get much traffic. If that’s what you’re after, you really have to hustle to get it.

      2. Lindsay*

        Thanks, Jubilance!! Your blog is exactly what I was thinking of. I think I’ll just go with a journal. I think I’m having the urge to just write more than anything, I don’t really need/want a readership.

  55. LenaA*

    I can take two free courses at the university I work for. I finished a graduate program a few years ago and don’t really want to get another degree. But since I have the time, I would like to take a few classes and learn some new skills, skills that would help me out in a future job search. Are there any courses or skills people would recommend (apart from the obvious one of computer science/coding)? What do you wish you had spent more time on in school or wish you had learned more about before starting your career?

    1. Lizabeth*

      It depends on your majors and what you do in your job now really…I was an advertising art major and I wished I had taken some marketing and writing (creative and business) classes. After being out for a looongggg time now I’d really love to take an in-depth Facebook and other social media marketing class. I inherited the company’s Facebook page and other than “Facebook Marketing for Dummies” I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. A class in Google Analytics. Information Architecture for websites. And a practical writing class focusing on Facebook and blog writing – which is sort of a creative and marketing hybrid style.

    2. Lindsay*

      I had a Master of Library Science and didn’t want another degree, either. But I also got a job at a university and am now close to finishing a Master of Educational Technology.

      I thought a lot about what I wanted to do, and what marketable skills I needed to get there. I also asked a LOT of people what they thought I should pursue.

      So it depends on your career goals. Or your hobbies! Do you want to learn another language? I thought about taking acting classes – I hear it can help you become a better public speaker. You can take an art class! My university has some really neat ones.

      Make a list of what you might be interested in while perusing the class catalog. Maybe don’t go back to school at all unless you’re sure you want to. I wish I wasn’t getting another degree, but I’m excited to have expanded career options when I’m done.

    3. LenaA*

      Thanks for the suggestions! Taking marketing, theater, and language classes are options I’ve been considering.

    4. ella*

      For me, it’d be either computer coding or learning to speak Spanish (I work with the public and my city has a large Spanish-speaking population, so speaking better Spanish would open up my opportunities considerably).

    5. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I’d take a technical writing class. Being able to write clear instructions on how to use technology or how to perform certain tasks is an in-demand skill right now.

    6. MaryMary*

      If you plan to get into management at some point, a finance class would be helpful. Actually, it’s helpful on a personal level too, if you’re in a position to move beyond a savings account and 401k.

    7. Ann O'Nemity*

      Communications, stats, design, basic programming, intro to BI / data analysis. And I love Ella’s suggestion of a Spanish class.

      (I have to admit, when I had access to free uni classes I ended up taking yoga. Not once but twice. It was awesome.)

    8. The IT Manager*

      Statistics or possibly something in sociology if I could find something that helped me learn to navigate group dynamics better rather than entry level overview of the subject.

      Personally I’d like to take a history or pschycology class just for fun, but that’t not exactly a work skill per se. Every so often I think that if I actually looked at it again and spent time on it, I could learn calculus rather than just passing the classes, but that’s not a useful job skill either.

    9. AnonHR*

      I had some time in my schedule at the end of my undergrad, and I ended filling it with philosophy classes after I loved the first one I took so much… I would probably do that like a nerd :)

      But, I think language classes, software development, organizational development, or some kind of musical instrument would also me on my list.

    10. kas*

      I plan on taking evening classes “just ’cause” to take career-related or random courses on things I would like to learn. I would like to sign-up for French classes, learn how to use Adobe Illustrator while touching up on my InDesign and Photoshop skills, learn how to sew, learn more about investing/finances etc so I’ve been researching programs.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      If you have not taken an accounting course- take one. Every place you will work has “books” and balance sheets and income statements.
      Even if you do not do well with accounting- you will learn some of the things that upper management thinks about and is concerned about. It will only benefit you to have this insight.

    12. Felicia*

      I just started taking Mandarin and I really love it! I love learning languages, frequently encounter people who speak Mandarin as a first language and it’s the most spoken language in the world. Here in Canada, for a lot of jobs, especially with national non-profits speaking French is an asset – if I wasn’t already fluent that would probably be the most useful for me. It depends what you want to do, really.

  56. MR*

    Well, at least Olive didn’t go sliding head first into the door at the end of the hallway. Like our cat does.

  57. CC*

    Company time, not candidate time, right?

    I had a phone interview with HR a week ago. It went very well, HR was enthusiastic about scheduling me for an in-person interview with the hiring manager and said the hiring manager was also enthusiastic about meeting me due to a certain set of skills and experience I have which isn’t terribly common. HR said I would get information on scheduling an interview by Monday, for an interview possibly late this week. (It is now Friday.)

    Company time, not candidate time.


    At least wallpaper-picking is a productive use of my time right now – what better time to do the time-consuming but cheap parts of renovation than when unemployed? :)

  58. Ali*

    OK, so does anyone but me hate interviews where they ask off the wall questions rather than keeping the task on your experience and the job you’ll be doing? I know, I know, employers want to see how creative you are and if you can think on your feet and all that, but I never seem to do well with these kinds of questions. I had an interview the other day where the woman talking to me said the focus at the employer was very much on “entertainment” and a little less about their industry segment (sports team), and some of the questions she asked were:

    -What is a wacky thing you have done in front of a crowd?
    -What is a hidden talent you have?
    -If you had one day and unlimited resources to do anything, what would you do?

    I was also asked to make up a mock project for them (first time I’d ever gotten homework at a job interview!) and submit it by this weekend. But that didn’t get under me as much as the questions did.

    I understand wanting to have fun at work, but when I’m on an interview, I do so much better when the interviewer doesn’t put me through all these BS questions and we have more of a conversation about the job, my past experience and what I can bring to the table. I don’t even mind one or two “fun” questions, but it seemed like “fun” and “wacky” took over this interview in a hurry. After the interview the other day, I had pretty much made up my mind that this wasn’t the place for me.

    I guess part of the reason why I’ve been at Current Company for almost four years is because when they hired me, they cut to the chase in the interview and kept the questions focused on my background and asked for a writing sample (and they accepted something I already had written; I wasn’t expected to make up a new project just for them). That was the same deal when I was promoted internally a year ago. No BS; just details of the new position and asking if I wanted it.

    So…does anyone else hate BS interview questions like this? Not to mention my answers were completely lame b/c “wacky” doesn’t really describe me at all. I like to have fun and let loose (in fact, one of my coworkers said I have a way of building rapport with them), but I’m mostly more on the quiet, business-like side. And my answers to these goofy questions sound like I’m not much fun or clever or anything. Am I better off just staying away from these kinds of workplaces when I interview and get this vibe?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Yes. These questions do nothing to predict how well you’d do in the role, unless you are interviewing for SNL or something.

      More importantly, when companies overemphasize hiring for “fit” or “culture” (as these types of questions do), the halo effect takes over, and they end up with a very homogenous group. This perpetuates heteropatriarcy and white supremacy in the workplace.

    2. Jen in RO*

      I hate creative interview questions, and I also hate the typical ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’ things.

      However, writing assignments are very typical in my industry, to the extent that I’d be apprehensive if a company didn’t give me a test.

      1. Ali*

        Writing samples are common in mine too, but this company wanted a whole new project made. I couldn’t submit something I had already done. I would do it if I felt the job were a better fit, but I have opted to pull out of the process.

        1. Jen in RO*

          Most assignments I’ve done had a limit of 1-2 pages. More than that would be weird to me. My latest one includes a 2-minute video and I’m not so sure I want the job of it involves a lot of video tutorials (I’ve never done video and it’s not something I’m interested in), but I’ll give it a shot I guess.

          1. Harriet*

            My current job involved doing that for the interview! Truthfully, I don’t think it was that useful a skills test – I do very little video editing on a day to day basis – but it was nice to be able to do something to express a genuine interest and desire to pass on information about a favourite personal topic.

    3. Aisling*

      I hate those questions too, and I’d chalk it up to learning about their workplace culture, and evaluating whether or not you want to work for a company who thinks creative questions are good to ask in an interview.

  59. AdjunctForNow*

    I mentioned a week or two ago that I was waiting on a written offer in academia. I finally got it on Tuesday, but there are a lot of details to be hashed out. In the meantime, I got a verbal offer from another school, so the first school, by being slow, gave me ample time to improve my negotiating position.

    Anyway, a few questions: the second school did three phone interviews, but I haven’t met them in person yet. This is weird, right? Can I say to them, “I can’t accept until I come visit”?

    The written offer came from HR, and I feel like most of the questions I have are for the department chairman (things like teaching load). Do I just communicate with HR and assume that he finds the answers for me? I don’t want to go around HR, but stuff about job roles really needs to be answered by the “hiring manager.”

    Does the fact that it took them over a month to get back to me give me the right to delay my decision? I would really like to see the written offer from school #2 before I commit.

    1. Diane*

      Contratulations on the offer!

      Is this for a FT tenure-track position or a one-year contract? They may be taking shortcuts for a one-year position.

      In any case, it’s weird that you’ve gotten a verbal offer without having met them first. If you already talked to the chair/hiring manager, it’s completely fine to direct follow up questions to her. You can certainly cc your HR contact if you like (and sometimes that helps speed up the process).

      You can tell #2 that you have an offer on the table but would really prefer to work for #2 (if that’s true); they may speed up the process.

      1. AdjunctForNow*

        Thanks. Both are full time, TT.

        I am pretty sure my top choice is the offer I have in hand, so I don’t want to be like “hey, can you hurry up?” and then be like “j/k, I don’t want your job anyway!”

    2. fposte*

      I have to say I think it’s weird that you’re at the offer letter stage and still haven’t gotten information on teaching load–did you ask at any point? I’m not familiar with the HR-as-contact model, so that colors my response a little, but I would be more inclined to contact the department chair directly about departmental issues, noting that you’ve responded elsewhere to HR about the organizational queries. I suspect that the time involved in getting the information you want may take until you get a written offer from place #2 right there, but there’s no “right” earned for time for response–the question is whether the time you’d like would work for them or not, and the way to find out is to ask them.

      The message your second school is giving you is that they don’t want to foot the bill for a visit. If you ask for a visit, you may have to pay for it, and they may wait for the written offer until after you’ve visited. (I would definitely avoid the “I can’t come unless you do this for me” locution, but I’m presuming you just said that for blog shorthand here.)

      It’s been sounding like school #2 is more a bargaining chip for you than a real consideration, so I’d encourage you to avoid making demands on them just so you can present a stronger case to #1.

      1. AdjunctForNow*

        We have discussed my teaching load, during the interview, but it’s not in the offer I got. There are a couple of other things that seem a bit strange/incomplete, so I’ve drafted up a list of questions, and I’ll chat with my adviser this afternoon.

        The really weird part about school #2 is that I’m *almost* local. A visit would easily be a day trip, and if they reimbursed mileage, it would be $150, TOPS. I feel like not inviting me there almost conveys “we are broke.”

        1. fposte*

          I’m wondering about that “we are broke” thing myself. Have you checked the school/department out, budgetarily speaking? I don’t think your proximity is necessarily the issue–it’s that if it’s forbidden across the board, they’re not going to make an exception.

          I’m not directly involved with faculty offer letters, so I’ll be interested to hear what your advisor says. I personally would have been surprised if teaching load had been in an offer letter, because the ones I am involved with aren’t contracts setting out duties but are basic HR organizational stuff.

          1. AdjunctForNow*

            Okay, got it. There are still some questions that I have, like when medical/dental starts, for the HR person, but maybe there are other things that don’t need to be there and I’m just projecting anxiety.

            As for #2: They actually do have money. I really think it’s weird to make someone an offer without a visit. I’ve never even been to the city in question. I’m not going to ask them for anything if everything goes smoothly with #1, but it’s just a weird red flag for me.

  60. TLT*

    OMG, you guys, I finally got a new job with a salary within my desired range, thanks in large part to AAM! The offer is contingent on a background check (which I have NO concerns about), but since I don’t have an official offer, I haven’t given my notice yet, which is killing me. Here’s the question: I HATE this place (current job). It’s toxic and is sucking the life out of me. In the handbook, exempt employees are requested to give 4 weeks, but this is at will employment and I need to get out of dodge as soon as I can. I’m the only one in my department, but I’ve been preparing to leave for a while, so all work coming due until April is completed or almost complete. Can I give just the two weeks or do I need to give 4? Thoughts? Opinions?

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agreed. 2 and done. In my view, they forfeit being able to ask for 4 weeks when they allow a toxic environment.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      A differing opinion:

      Consider the size of your industry, how well-connected your boss/team are, what your relationship with your boss is now (already a lousy reference?), and what it would be if you left early (sympathetic to the situation or not)?

    2. A Jane*

      I went through the same thing where our HR book said 4 weeks for exempt employees, but I gave only 2 weeks. No one, including HR, pushed back on it.

    3. TLT*

      Another question: I have to take an already scheduled trip 3 weeks after the start date, but I haven’t mentioned this yet because I think I read somewhere on here that you should wait until you have the offer to begin discussing such matters. When do I bring this up? Also, I won’t be eligible to use vacation for 6 months, do I ask if there’s room on this?

      1. Jen in RO*

        How long is the trip? I think most companies will be OK with 2 -3 days in this scenario, but perhaps not more.

          1. Jen in RO*

            I’d wait for the official offer and bring it up then. I was in a similar situation and I accepted without mentioning upcoming travel. After I started, I asked if it’s OK to take 3 days off and no one objected (the planned holiday was 5 weeks after I started). I wouldn’t recommend this if your trip cannot be canceled.

          2. AdAgencyChick*

            Yes, I think you can, since you already have the offer. I can’t imagine a manager balking over two days.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              Also, to their request that you give 4 weeks’ notice, I say: “Whatever.” That’s something a company earns by treating its employees well and generating goodwill.

  61. Elizabeth West*


    I love how she runs and slides to a stop, just like Maru. She’s all poofy like he is too. And musical accompaniment!

    Thank you, Alison!!!

  62. Frustrated Job Seeker*

    Has anyone seen this?,34.htm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=ODDBL14&utm_content=list

    It hit a nerve a bit because I had a “group interview” last year for an admin assistant position at a PR agency (which it turns out they were interviewing for multiple positions, including sales, interns, etc.) and the questions were ALL like this (including the old favorite “what kind of animal are you?” and “if we asked, what would your ex say about you?”) So, yes, I find “oddball” interview questions very irritating.

    1. loxthebox*

      My favorite was: Why are tennis balls fuzzy?

      hehe still makes me giggle.

      I don’t mind if one, maybe two of the questions are like this at interview time, but if they were all this way I would find it a waste of time.

    2. AVP*

      “What would your ex say about you?”

      Well, he doesn’t exist, so it would be a very boring and quiet phone call. Lotttts of silence.

    3. Felicia*

      I hate those questions so much! The worst one I ever got was probably a tie between “What superpower do you have an why?” and “If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?”

      That list is all that crazy! I’m not sure how one would answer “what is the colour of money?” one. I know in teh US it’s green…here it can be blue, purple, green, red, orangeybrown. You shouldn’t ask questions in interviews that make annoy most reasonable people.

      The animal i’m most like is honestly a cat but i’m not sure employers would like that.

      1. Windchime*

        Agreed! Old Kitty was from a shelter and was the best cat ever. He passed away at the age of 18, and now I have New Kitty (also from the shelter), who is so beautiful that I can’t stop looking at him and people at work use his picture as their desktop. He’s very smart, but not as smart as Olive because he won’t fetch.

  63. ChristineSW*

    Time for another one of ChristineSW’s questions she’s been dying to ask in the Open Threads, but was afraid to. lol.

    So I have not had a paying job in over 3 years (long story, but probably mostly self-imposed). However, for the past two-plus years, I’ve been doing a lot of volunteering as a way to gain new skills and make new connections, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. All while trying to figure out a career path in which I’ll be successful given my strengths and, unfortunately, my disabilities. I’m really starting to gain a good reputation–a council I’m on recently asked me to chair one of their subcommittees, which I accepted (after much hesitation!). Also, I’m waiting to see whether I’ll be appointed to a state-level council in my area of interest (another colleague recommended me). I am crossing every crossable body part that the latter comes through, and soon.

    I’m still hoping to eventually get back to paid work, hopefully using much of the skills and knowledge I’ve learned in the past two years of volunteering. I’m just afraid that being unemployed for so long will hurt me, even if I’ve been volunteering for a good percentage of the time since 2010. Also, I wonder if some volunteers end up getting pigeon-holed as such. Finally, I have such a hard time constructing a resume that isn’t full of red flags.

    Help! lol.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      GET ALISON’S BOOOOOOK! There’s lots of posts on here about resumes, too.

      It sounds like people are aware of your skills, and that is really good experience if you get to be a committee chair. Not only that, but you have references!

    2. the gold digger*

      I was out of work for six years when I got a new job. My employer is quite willing to hire from the ranks of the unemployed because they find some really good people really cheap that way.

  64. M*

    So I’ve been struggling with health problems for the past few months but it has been an ongoing issue for the past few years. Pretty much I have bipolar which had been misdiagnosed and as a result not properly treated. I also have a whole bag of physical illnesses as well. I’ve applied for disability, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be denied.

    My roommate is my best friend, and we have a very close relationship that makes people question what the nature of the relationship between us is. It’s a cross between siblings and nonphysical amorous (?). So we take care of each other. He is offering me the chance to stop working and has offered to pretty much take care of me. He’s willing to pay my bills, my half of the rent, and so on. I would have to continue my therapies and actively carve out social time. The benefit would be that I’d be able to focus on getting better at my pace and the pace set by my doctors.

    I don’t know what to do. It’s pretty clear that I can’t continue to work. I’m only part time but I can’t work my part time hours. Advice? Thoughts?

    1. KellyK*

      First thing to do is thank him for offering that and (if it’s appropriate to the relationship) give him a hug. Because whether it’s something you decide to do or not, it’s a really generous thing to offer.

      Second thing is to think about the possible pros and cons. Having a chance to recover is a fantastic thing, but I’d be worried about it changing or putting strain on your relationship. Is there a limited time he’s willing to do this for, or is it undefined? What will you do if the arrangement isn’t working for one or both of you? What happens if you don’t get well enough to work as soon as expected, or ever? Or if you can’t find another job once you are doing better? And, what happens if you two have a major falling-out?

      Quitting your job to have a friend support you financially has all the risks of being a stay-at-home spouse, without the financial and legal protections of being married to the person. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it, especially if working is inhibiting your recovery and your employer isn’t willing/able to make accommodations that would help with that. I would just recommend a lot of planning and forethought, and a lot of straightforward discussion with your roommate.

      1. KellyK*

        Also, if you’re not able to do your job, or to do it well, quitting for health reasons will be easier to explain to a potential employer later on than being fired.

        1. Peridot*

          +1 I was in the same situation this last year (i.e. borderline filing for disability, and no further options for accommodations), and I’ve found most employers to be very understanding of my choice to take time out of the work force to aggressively address health issues. Not surprisingly, I found that I recovered much faster once I removed myself from the stress of potentially being fired every morning. In truth, though, it’s been an uphill battle convincing employers that I’m -truly- well enough to be fully employed now. So, I’d vote that you take the time that you need now but actively plan how you can prove that you’re ready when you do decide to jump back into the workforce.

          If not being reliable enough to make it to volunteering dates could be an issue due to health flare-ups, I’d highly suggest looking at online courses. I took a few MOOCs through Stanford and MIT (Open EdX) while unemployed because they’re a) online, so you can work when you are able to work, and b) not a walk in the park from what I’ve seen, so I’ve been able to talk about how much I’m learning in interviews.

      2. M*

        I’ve asked about what happens if I can’t go back to work. He said we’d find something creative for me to do. I asked about what if this is a long term thing. He said it can be for as long as I need. I asked what would happen if he got tired of me, and he said he didn’t think that would happen. We’ve talked and talked and talked.

        And my current employer has pretty much made all accommodations that they are willing to make. It’s a coverage issue and I understand their position.

        This is what frustrates me. I’m pretty much his wife without any benefits, although he provides lots of emotional support there just isn’t anything physical. I handle the finances, he gives me all of his money (and I’m allowed to do what I want with it). I run the household. He has a few small businesses that I help with from time to time. I’m just so unsure of this and I just need other perspectives I guess. Thank you!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          What if you did it for a specific period of time — like six months? I think leaving it open-ended introduces more possibilities for problems.

          For instance, what if his money situation changes? What if his relationship status changes and he wants to move in with someone? What if in a year he’s wondering why you seem a bit better but aren’t making moves to find a job (even if you know that you’re not better enough for that)? These are all tensions that could impact your relationship.

          But if it weren’t open-ended, most of these would go better.

          1. fposte*

            Also identify what, if anything, this means for domestic expectations–I think this is a big one in any pairing where one person is no longer working outside the home.

            1. Anonymous*

              +1!!!!! If he’s working and you’re home, prepare to clean constantly and have it never be enough because you’re always home, what else are you doing.

    2. fposte*

      I’m a pragmatist and a pessimist, so that colors my response: who’s on the lease/title, and how solid is Roommate’s income? If there are genuinely no other options, then I guess “should I do this?
      is not really a question. I just get nervous if all the eggs are in a single basket, because you might have to walk on eggshells.

      You know your health much better than I do, but it sounds in the first paragraph like you’ve finally gotten a correct diagnosis, and that even without it you’ve managed to hold down a part-time job–is it possible things will get better rather than worse? Certainly I’d encourage you to appeal any SSDI appeal. Even if you don’t have enough money to support yourself, having something coming in that gives you options could make a big difference in your level of agency.

      And if his offer is conditional on your having no money coming in, then that’s something to flee, not embrace.

      1. M*

        My name is on the lease, and the roommate’s income is contracted so that he gets paid every month, its close to five figures a month. Way more than I bring in. We also have two other roommates that will be moving in shortly.

        He would like for me to be bringing in some money for my own spending, because he knows I hate feeling dependent on someone. He says if I don’t work then maybe I can volunteer somewhere or take classes if I feel well enough.

        I’m planning on appealing if I don’t get approved, one of my current coworkers has the name of a lawyer that will help out. I don’t have any family so it is hard to find people that can weigh in on this to help me. Thanks!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Your roommate sounds really wonderful. However, I would get the financial details in writing before you make any changes. Make sure it’s hashed out and you both agree on it before you do ANYTHING. Too much Judge Judy, I guess, but this could be problematic for you if things change abruptly.

          It’s good that you are taking time to take care of yourself. I hope you are feeling better soon. *HUG*

    3. ella*

      I did something similar last year. I was in a situation that was financially and emotionally untenable, and two of my best friends (who are married) invited me to live with them while I got myself into a better situation. My mental health was also pretty bad, but for me that was more situational, and changing my situation helped better than drugs did (thanks for nothing, psychiatrist). Things that I did that helped, or that I wish I’d done, that helped my situation:
      -If you don’t do this already, do chores around the house. My friends made it clear that they didn’t expect this of me, but it helped me to feel like I was earning my keep somehow. I tried to make dinner once a week, do dishes, sweep, etc.
      -Put on clothes. Every day, unless you just can’t face it. Don’t wear your pajamas 24/7. And leave the house, even if it’s just to walk around the block. I was doing a lot of job searching (and so also a lot of just wasting time on the internet), but I found that putting on clothes and leaving the house helped me to feel like an alert person.
      -Try to keep yourself in some semblance of routine/schedule, even if you have just one thing a day to schedule around. Wake up at the same time, or take a walk at lunch, or decide to surf the internet at the library instead of at your house. I had church on Sundays and a meditation group on Fridays. For me, having something regular is easier than just vague “I will be sociable” (because I’m an introvert and vague intentions to be sociable just don’t stick, I need a schedule, or someone to invite me somewhere).
      -I’ve heard that something like 60% of people get denied disability the first time they apply. Talk with your doctors and see about appealing the decision. (I think there’s also disability lawyers or something who help with this.)
      -Is there anywhere you’d consider volunteering, while you recuperate?

      For me and my friends, the time period was undefined, but my friends did charge me nominal rent–though while I was job searching, they didn’t expect me to pay it. Since I’ve been employed, and gotten a place of my own, I’ve been paying them backrent in stages, as I can afford it. I think having things spelled out is good. I also think anything that makes you feel like an independent adult, rather than a dependent, is good.

      I think if your current job is not helping your mental health at all, or if the stress of it is causing detriment, it does you no good to stay. You can tread water in the situation you’re in, or you can swim sideways, and get out of the riptide. Then you hopefully find yourself in calm water, and able to build up strength to swim towards a current that’s going in a direction you want to be traveling in.

      Obviously you’re not me, so it’s possible that none of the above applies to you, and you should disregard it. ;) But I know that what my friends did for me, while scary and stressful in its own way, was also HUGELY relieving because it got me away from other things that were much worse.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Every single sentence is excellent advice. Elle really wrote a how-to manual here.

        I would like to add do not allow this guy to burn out he is an angel in your life and you have true meaning in his- protect that.

        a) Vow to do your own self care and make your own medical decisions. If you do these two things you will find that your friend refers to you as heroic.
        b) Build your network of support people. Start small and include only those that you seriously trust. This could be a favorite nurse, a minister, the nice old lady next door. Does not matter. Build a support group. The idea is that these people pinch hit here and there AND allow you to have interactions with others. Which brings me to:
        c) Do not allow yourself to fall into isolation. That is when the wheels fall off for most people. If the best you can do is hop online and read AAM- then get there. Make that happen.

        Protect your relationship with your friend by taking steps similar to these. And happily they are also healing steps.

        Let us know how you are doing.

    4. AnonForThis*

      Maybe this is crazy, but if you decide to go ahead with this I might consider getting married (if you’re both open to such an arrangement).

      One of my aunts actually did something similar. Later in life, she married an old friend whose health was failing. They were both wealthy, so they financial aspect was only a minor part of the decisions they made together. They moved in together (with no romantic or physical relationship; just a friendship). They worked together to run the businesses they each owned and to manage their investments. When his health declined, she cared for his physical and medical needs. When he died, she was the primary recipient of his estate (he did have a previous wife, who also had an inheritance).

    5. Anonymous*

      I am so sorry you are struggling with this but glad you finally got a diagnosis. What do your doctors say about how your job is hindering/helping your recovery? If you don’t know, ask, and then I would take their advice. If that means taking your friend up on his offer, do it. Nothing is more important than your health. We live in a great time when bipolar disorder can be manged well…but it takes time to treat it so I would make it your full-time job, if that what your doctor recommends. Once you are feeling better, everything else will start to make sense again and you’ll know what you can and can’t push yourself to do and make plans based on that.

  65. SillyPerson*

    So…I have accidentally sent an application for another job through my current work e-mail (was trying to attach a PDF to an e-mail, and it automatically did Outlook and my work e-mail). Help! I don’t even really want the job truthfully; I had applied ages ago and was just re-submitting the forms because they wanted them for their records. What do I do now? I immediately deleted them from my “sent folder” as soon as I realized what had happened. Is there anything else I can do?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Don’t worry about it. The vast, vast majority of organizations don’t look at employee’s email, other than scanning for viruses/porn/illegal material.

      1. SillyPerson*

        Thanks! I figured as long as I deleted it from my sent folder and it was not spam looking they wouldn’t be too concerned, but I get anxious about these things. Got to love goofy PDF applications…

        1. Guest*

          Almost all companies have the capability to read your email off the server, though not as many use it. Deleting it from your sent items may not matter if they’re really looking. But yeah, if your boss is on your computer or something, it’d help.

          I worked for a company that scanned emails sent to direct competitors for certain key words, so I got busted for jobhunting, and was let go. Thankfully the other job hired me. But lesson learned.

  66. nyxalinth*


    My carly ftches, too. this is not limited to toys, and in the past has brought me:

    Cough Drops (once the entire bag)
    And my all time favorite, a book of matches. Those were very quickly taken away!

  67. Elysian*

    I wish I could make this cat video my screensaver or something. Does anyone know if that can be done? I use Windows 7.

      1. Windchime*

        Alison, do you have an iPad? There is a little game for cats that Old Kitty used to love. I wonder if yours would like it? I thought it was a silly idea, but it was kind of fun! <–I think this is the one.

  68. Tim*

    I haven’t figured out how to formulate this nearly well enough to be a full question for AAM, but thought the open thread might be a good enough place for it: How do I word it to employers that they should want to hire me over others in an entry-level field where we’re all realistically somewhat interchangeable because of general competence rather than any specific skill? (Not that I don’t have specific skills or accomplishments — they’re all there and flaunted prominently on the resume, etc. But it feels tone deaf to say I should be hired because I took a lot of classes in X, Y, or Z compared with someone else who took classes in A, B, and C when these jobs are basically going to be the synthesis of all of that.)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      The problem with this question is that people always ask it after they have already spent 4 years of college (or whatever) not doing anything that sets them apart. : )

      Do you have any leadership experience? Even in a job as an entry-level grunt, employers like knowing they’re hiring go-getters.

      A unique hobby? Most things are probably irrelevant to the job, but it can set you apart and might connect with a manager’s interest. It also shows dedication to something.

      Otherwise, try to position what you do have as best as possible. Even if a focus of 4-course sequence WXYZ is no better than ABCD, if you can talk about it in a way to show HOW it helped you and what you got from it, sell it. You have to think your experience was a little better than the other guys.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      What are you doing while you job hunt?
      I think that employers like it if the candidate keeps busy with something.Take a course/ teach an informal course. Volunteer work. Design a project and do it on your own.
      Chose these things strategically. Pick things that are similar or tangent to the type of work you are looking for. Family member wanted a technical position. He pointed to a tv he built and his massive train layout. The interviewer’s eyes got real wide and round.
      A friend wanted admin type work. She did volunteer work that involved similar tasks. When she sat down for an interview she was enthusiastically telling the interviewer about her latest efforts on behalf of her group.

      Find ways to keep moving and keep doing things.

      1. Windchime*

        Yes, this. At a previous job, we were looking for a C# programmer and got a lead on a young guy. We brought him in for an interview and he was doing some part-time work, but what cinched the deal was his side job of volunteer programming for some kind of an online game (in a different language, but that’s not so important). When we asked him a question about meeting deadlines, he replied that he was tasked with creating a new monster for Halloween and that was a hard deadline that he met–nobody would be interested in his monster after Halloween! We loved the answer, and he turned out to be a really, really good hire.

  69. A.E.*

    Is it appropriate to refer two people for the same position? I recently referred a friend to a position at my company and he has been moving along in the interview process. I was recently emailed by an acquaintance about the same position. I normally wouldn’t have a problem referring this person except I’ve already referred someone and it feels disingenuous to refer both for the same position. I don’t know how many people have applied for this position and would feel awful if they turned out to be the only two. My position is made a bit more difficult by the fact that my company provides a financial incentive for referrals and even gives a bonus if your referral gets hired. I feel like I’ll just come across as being greedy for referring two people for the same position. Any suggestions on how to handle this situation and what I can say to the acquaintance? Am I being reasonable in being a bit wary about the matter?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, you can totally do that. I have people do that all the time. You can’t assume the first one will end up being the right fit. It’s really helpful to the hiring manager to have multiple candidates who are recommended.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Plus, if there’s another opening you don’t know about yet, in-house recruiting is going to love you!

        You can never have too many referrals from good people. Hiring is so hard that anything that makes it easier — especially someone who’s worked with a candidate and can personally vouch for her awesomeness — is welcomed. I guarantee the hiring manager won’t think, “You’re greedy.” She’ll think, “THANK YOU!!!!”

        1. B.O.*

          Thank you for the replies! I’m more concerned about the response from my friend (that I’ve already referred) then from the hiring manager. He’s been searching for a job for a long time and I’d feel like I cheated him out of the position on the off chance that my acquaintance (the person I’m thinking about referring) got the position. I know it’s silly to think that way since he may not end up being the right fit, but I can’t seem to help it. At the same time I don’t think it’s fair to the the acquaintance to refuse a referral on these grounds so I really appreciate the advice and perspective!

    2. Jen in RO*

      I am referring a lot of people informally nowadays. My company is going to hell and everyone is job searching, and I happen to know a lot of people who are hiring people with my coworkers’ skills. All the hiring managers love me for the recommendations, and I have referred more than one person. In most cases, it turned out that multiple positions were available!

  70. nyxalinth*

    On a more serious note, guys, I need your help, cheerleading, well-wishes, prayers, whatever!

    there’s no such thing as a ‘dream job’, but I found a call center job that I really really really really want. It’s only a half hour by bus, it’s with a non-profit cause in which I very strongly believe and support, the pay is fair enough, and I would love being a part of their work.

    Here’s the rub: most of my call center work has been with the big in-house corporate call centers, or call centers that are outside their offices but contract with them. This is a smaller, in house call center of a national, progressive non-profit.

    I really need some good advice about targeting my cover letter to them, and answering interview questions, especially in regards to showing that I would be a good fit despite mostly having worked for big companies, with all their associated stuff like handle time, talk time, stats, call monitoring, and all the other stuff that goes with big call centers.

    I’m super passionate about the cause, so no problems there. I just need to figure out how to convey “I’m worked mostly in big corporate call centers, but this is something I’m passionate about, and I’ve been wanting to move into non-profits and I’d be a good fit despite only working for big ones.”

    Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, nyx, that is excellent news–it’s certainly your turn for a good development!

      People with more experience in the field will know better than I do, but it seems to me that you’re pretty much laying out your case right there. My guess is that it’s easier to move from big to small in call centers, provided your soul hasn’t totally been killed. I don’t think yours has :-).

      1. nyxalinth*

        Not yet! Friends have called me resilient, and even if I don’t see it at times, I have to agree. I’m like one of those Weebles toys lol.

        I would think it would be easy to move from big to small, but so far I’ve had no luck getting past the interview stage, so I wanted to hedge my bets and make sure that I present myself as someone not stuck in the corporate rut who would be ill at ease and flounder in a smaller call center.

        1. fposte*

          Do you know anybody who has small call center experience? What I’d be on the lookout for are key differences that it would be good to be aware of, so that you can basically bring the professional efficiency of the large call center with an awareness of the extra personal touch (or whatever) that a small call center would pride itself on. I don’t know that anything like this actually exists, but it would be useful to know.

          1. nyxalinth*

            I don’t unfortunately, but I suppose a bit of research on Google might turn something up. Thanks!

        2. Colette*

          I’d suggest talking about the rewarding parts of the job – presumably things like helping people would carry through in both environments, and (I’d assume) would be critical in a smaller environment.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Thank you1 If i make it in for an interview, I’ll be sure to update.

        Rest assured, it isn’t with Project Smile or whatever they’re called :D

    2. Not So NewReader*

      What are they doing at the call center? Calling for donations? Answering incoming calls with all kinds of questions from all different types of people?

      Figure out what the workers do in this call center. You sound super excited so take a deep breath and picture “what is it like in this call center?”

      KNOW the CAUSE- like breathing. Let your words flow,show them how you are just a natural.

      Don’t forget that a really good way to show interest/excitement is by ASKING them questions. Thinking person’s questions. They can tell more about you by what you think of to ask them.

      If you have been a long supporter of this cause – speak up with clear examples. Sometimes a person that can describe how a group evolved over the years really catches an interviewers attention. “I remember in 2005 when you guys added X to your services, I was so happy for you, I volunteered at Z event. And again in 2007 you added Y and I could really see your growth as an organization.”

      1. nyxalinth*

        This is great. Thank you!

        I’ve done lots of picturing what it would be like there. due to the nature of what they’d do, I’d be dealing with setting up appointments and in some cases handling people who were very emotional. One of my strengths in call center work is a great sense of empathy without letting things get under my skin, so I’ll be sure to convey that, too.

    3. BausLady*

      I worked for a small non-profit call center for about 4 1/2 years. The one thing to be prepared for (which is a total difference from many of the larger for profit centers) is that you’ll be wearing multiple hats. Where in larger call centers you have different departments doing separate tasks, so you’re only responsible for one thing, in non profit and other smaller centers chances are you’ll be responsible for a lot more than just taking calls.

      For instance, in the non-profit call center I worked in, I was taking inbound calls, making outbound calls, answering emails, doing web support for one of our products, and responsible for ensuring our materials got to a series of 65 events every summer.
      Just something to keep in mind.

  71. Ash*

    Okay another question —

    Can you/when can you follow up after a phone interview? I had an interview about 2 weeks ago, sent a thank you email that evening. I have a feeling I didn’t make it to the next round but I haven’t heard anything. She said that they were phone interviewing 15 people, inviting 5-8 for a first in-person interview after that. Should I follow up or let that one go?

    1. fposte*

      Did they give you a timeline? You can contact them to inquire about the timeline, which in my murky brain is slightly different from “following up.”

      1. Ash*

        The only timeline they gave was they were hoping to complete the process by March…but didn’t say when I would hear next.

    2. Anonymous*

      How quickly did they contact you for the phone interview after receiving your application? That might give you a sense of their ‘company speed’ compared to real time. So if they took a month to contact you after the initial application, maybe wait a week; if they contacted you after 2 days, go for it?

  72. LMW*

    Ok, kind of a non-work question, but some of the politics are the same:
    I’m on the leadership team for a large social organization in my city (we have 140+ members, 5 people on the lead team). The group’s about 4 years old and the leadership team has changed a bit over the years — the founder stepped down to concentrate on her family and another woman stepped up to run things. The current leader and I have been in the group just about the longest out of all the members and have always had a pleasant relationship. I’d even go so far as to say we’re friends, even though we are really very different (she’s a party girl, I’m more of the quiet bookworm type).
    Over the last year, as personal situations have come up in the current leader’s life, her judgement has just gotten terrible. There were some personal things (that she shares widely within the social group) like a DUI and fights with siblings, but I’ve also been seeing an increase in things like gossiping about members, making pointed comments about “unacceptable” behavior that’s definitely directed at someone even if they aren’t mentioned by name, making fun of people when they aren’t there, etc. It’s totally middle school and it’s ruining the group for a lot of people (several people have contacted me to tell me they are quitting but would love to see me outside the group). The last time someone tried talking to the leader about her behavior, it ended up with her drunkenly storming out wandering the neighborhood until the police found her and called her a cab. She hasn’t spoken to the person who called her out since and has said several times that she thinks she planned the whole thing.
    I HATE drama. I’ve really enjoyed this group for the past four years, and I liked being on the leadership team because it let me meet a bunch of new people and plan fun activities. But it’s getting increasingly stressful. I shut down things like the gossip when they happen in front of me, but I’m not sure what else I can do. I’m contemplating resigning my position and just walking away, but it’s hard after four years. It’s not like there’s someone above her I can talk to — she’s the top dog.
    I have a feeling this is a “Your group sucks and is unlikely to change. Get out now” situation, but could use some outside perspective.
    Any advice on dealing with someone who has gone off the rails?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Where are your bylaws?
      There should be a section on what to do when members show inappropriate behavior OR if leadership seems to be failing the .group. How do the other leaders in the group feel?

      I think I would say yes to the offers from people who want to see you outside of the group. Your solution might be forming a new group with these people. Or maybe you can raise up a cavalry and salvage this group.

  73. Anonymous*

    Do you have a preference in terms of job hunting sites? I have been looking on Linkedin and Indeed. I realize it probably depends on industry. Any others?

    1. Littlemoose*

      When I was job-searching, I liked checking the jobs section of our local business journal online. (I’m in a mid-sized city.) I used to see some quality jobs there that I didn’t see elsewhere. If you’re in any kind of professional organization, or if there’s a newsletter or anything publishe in your field, there might be openings posted there as well. Good luck!

    2. Felicia*

      I like Charity Village, which is for non-profits , although that’s exclusively Canadian. I’m sure there’s an American equivalent, but I’m not sure what it’s called.

    3. Fiona*

      I stalk LinkedIn, the job section of my local metro newspaper, and the jobs pages for my industry associations. I’ve dabbled in Indeed, but not to the extent of the other three.

      Also, I’ve stumbled on a surprising number of leads on Twitter.

  74. Cath@VWXYNot?*

    I have a 5:30 am teleconference on Monday, and a 6 am teleconference on Friday. Then next week, another 6 am teleconference on Tuesday.

    And I am soooo not a morning person.

    I can take the calls from home, but still, it’s miserable.

    I’m in three different working groups for an international research consortium, and because of the timezones of the participants (Central and East Coast of US and Canada, all over Europe, South Korea, Japan. I’m the only West-Coaster), this is the only time that comes close to being reasonable for everyone – it’s very late at night for the Asian participants. Usually the calls are quite well spaced out, but right now they’re clustering like this every couple of weeks.

    Just venting here, no action required – I will suck it up and do it. But I won’t enjoy it :)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Uuuuughhhh. I don’t do mornings either!

      Get up a bit early and make yourself a special coffee. Make it treat-worthy so you get your caffeine and have something to look forward to at the same time. Or, if you don’t drink coffee, a special breakfast treat.

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

        Oh, yeah, it aint happening without me finishing at least one ginormous cup of tea first, even if that means getting up at 5 on Monday. I’m barely coherent at that time even when I’m caffeinated; doing it while uncaffeinated is unthinkable

    2. Ashley*

      When I have really early mornings, I take Tylenol Simply Sleep the night before (it’s like Tylenol PM, but without the medication), and go to bed early. I’m asleep within an hour! It helps to get enough sleep the night before to make it more bearable, and since I can’t make myself go to sleep at 7pm, it works wonders. I’ve also found it to be non-habit forming as well. I know they make generic brands, too.

  75. Anonsie*

    I am just dying to go to the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark but I’ve never been to Europe without someone else who knew better organizing things. So I guess I wanna know:

    -Tips from people who’ve been there/live there
    -Stuff to do that might not be obvious, or the obvious ones that aren’t actually worth it
    -Ways to save money. I don’t have a lot of time or money but I don’t like sharing rooms in with strangers in hostels, either.

    I also really wanna do some shopping in Amsterdam, especially for perfume and clothes. I have a utilitarian type style, hoping to find some cool stuff. And if anyone knows of some amazing yarn shop somewhere, that’d be great.