my hostile manager won’t invite me to the staff party at her house, my grandfather is waking me up too early, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Is it okay to volunteer at a nonprofit that I’m also applying to work at?

I applied for a job at a nonprofit I really want to work for 2 weeks ago. I am perfectly qualified for this position. I received an email right away saying they have just started the search process and will be in contact when they start interviewing. I have applied to multiple other positions at this organization, and had a few interviews over the past few years, but no job offers. I also know some people on the inside – and therefore I know that they tend to be slow in their hiring process. I have no idea what the timeline for this position is, but it could be awhile before they start interviewing.

Would it be acceptable to volunteer at this nonprofit while I wait to hear about the job? They have advertised on their website that they are looking for volunteers – to do essentially the same thing as the paid position (but as aides, not the leader). I am wondering if offering to volunteer could help my application, since they would see me doing the work, or if it might hurt it because if they already have me doing the work for free, why would they bother hiring me? Also would it look suspicious to volunteer while i’m trying to get the job – do you think that is too eager? If you think I should volunteer there, do I mention I’ve applied for the job when I sign up to volunteer?

Volunteering can help you quite a bit when you’re hoping to get a job at a nonprofit — because it makes you more of a known quantity and allows you to demonstrate that you’re responsible, reliable, professional, and sane … qualities that count for a fair amount in hiring. Moreover, if you can build relationships with people there, that can get you an in as well. That said, don’t volunteer with the expectation that you’ll get the job; it can help, but it’s far from a guarantee. If you know you’ll feel resentful if you don’t get hired, don’t go the volunteer route. But it’s a good way to build your network and presumably do good in the world, even if it doesn’t lead to this particular job.

Update: Some commenters pointed out that I got this one wrong. I’m going to quote commenters Majigail and Artemesia here, because they got it right. From Majigail: “To me, it almost feels like the applicants that just show up and ask for a tour to ‘get to know the organization,’ when what they really want is an unscheduled interview and a foot in the door. I honestly feel like it could do you more harm than good.” From Artemesia: “This is how I would feel — a bit bullied by the applicant. It might influence me to reject the candidate. Of course, if they were already a long term volunteer then that would be different. But to volunteer during the search process just shouts ‘suck up’ and ‘trying to game the hiring process.’ Not everyone is going to find that comfortable.”

2. Employer seemed enthusiastic, but are they now losing interest?

I had an interview earlier in the week which went very well! It was a great relaxed tone, we laughed, shares some jokes and I got a tour of the facility and was even introduced to 5 or 6 people. When we were finishing up the tour, I was asked if the job was something I’d be interested in, I said yes, but tried to contain my excitement. On the way out the director the woman (who is also the director) shook my hand, have me a pat on the shoulder and said HR will be contacting me.

That evening, I emailed the three people I met with, thanking them — the administrative director, the medical director, and the HR recruiter. The director and medical director both responded to my email within 30 minutes, saying that it was a pleasure meeting me and they really enjoyed our time together. HR responded the next day, saying that if they choose to move forward with me, she will be in touch by the end of this week, but if I had any questions I can email her. I had a question today and her response was very vague, which is leading me to believe that after all of the positive vibes I’ve received from the decision makers that now I might be passed by for the position.

None of this means anything. The tour and the interviewer asking you if you’d be interested in the job didn’t mean you were likely to get the job, and the HR person’s vague response to your email didn’t mean that you’re not likely to get the job. None of this means anything at all. You are reading into all sorts of signs that don’t actually mean anything. You will know if you are likely to be offered the job if they tell you that they’re offering you the job.

3. My hostile manager won’t invite me to the staff party at her house

About 2 years ago, my boss fired me. I brought a grievance and won. She has been hostile ever since, and is becoming more and more hostile. Her latest antic was to “disinvite” me from the staff Christmas party, which is help at her house during off hours. She invited everyone on the staff but me. And, when I asked, she told me it was a “private event.”

I also have not had a performance evaluation since my 3 month review, right after I was hired. Other members of our staff have. The grievance 4 months after that, and I’ve been at this position for a total of 2.5 years. Any thoughts on this?

Your boss is behaving like an ass, but … well, when you file a grievance against your manager who fired you and end up forcing your reinstatement, it’s not surprising that she’s not embracing you. You could take this stuff up with someone above her, but even if you’re successful in doing that, it’s not going to magically turn her into a manager who’s fair to you and on your side. And a manager who wants you gone can make your life unpleasant and do a lot of damage to your career, even while the toeing the line to people above her.

I would think seriously about looking for a position working for someone who doesn’t have it in for you.

4. My grandfather, who I work with, wants me to wake up at 6:30 every morning

I work with my grandfather in his pest control company. I also live with him. We work by appointments, so sometimes we have early appointments, sometimes we don’t. He wants me to be up at 6:30 every morning (unless we need to be up earlier (which I am perfectly fine with). My problem is that when we don’t have an appointment till later, he still wants me to wake up at 6:30, which is fine if I need to leave at 7:15 (it takes me 45 minutes from alarm to walking out the door), which not all the time I have to. I like to sleep all the time I possibly can sleep, and I don’t want to have to sit around the house doing nothing in the morning when I could be sleeping. His only reasoning for anything I have an issue with is “because I said so.”

Are there any rules or regulations that allow him to or prohibit him from requiring me to wake up at a certain time? And where can I find the official rules so I can prove to him that he can’t (if that’s the case)?

The only rules that apply here are the rules of Working For Your Grandfather While Also Living With Him.

In general, if your employer wants to engage in particular activities outside of your normal work hours, they need to pay you for your time (assuming you’re non-exempt, which it sounds like you are). But this isn’t about labor law; this is about you and your grandfather needing to work out what’s reasonable for him to expect of you and whether you want to comply with those expectations (and what the trade-off will be if you decide not to).

5. Does my resume need to list my jobs chronologically?

Does my current job have to be listed first on my resume? Or can you list jobs based on relevance to the job you are applying to?

You should list your jobs in reverse chronological order (most recent first) because that’s how employers expect your work history to be presented. However, you can certainly have one section for Relevant Experience and another for Other Experience.

{ 215 comments… read them below }

  1. V.V.*

    Does anyone have any insight about origins of the saying: “Towing/toeing the line”?

    I always thought it was “Toeing the line,” ie. you meet the line but do not cross it, but now that I have seen “towing the line” I am not sure which it is – or if both will do. Not trying to be *knitpicky* just curious…

    Happy Saturday!

    1. en pointe*

      Yeah, I think that might have been a mistake. It also means “toeing the line”, as in following the rules and staying in line with everybody else.

      Ironically, I also think the term that you meant to use is “nitpicky” – as in being finicky about nits; in this case, details of little consequence. (Not “knitpicky”.)

      Disclaimer: No snark intended.

      1. V.V.*

        Not offended. The “K” was intentional, hence the dual astericks. I was in turn attempting a play on words…

        Early morning fun with Homonyms!

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I thought it might be a Jackspeak term (aks Naval Slang).

            Or it might be something to do with the lines in the carpet in the House of Commons, in front of each party front bench. As an MP, you are supposed to stand behind the line when speaking in the Commons.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Actually, “knitpicking” works here for me. As in, those stitches are wrong, so I have to pick them out and do them over.

          I don’t knit, but I’d rather do that than pick actual nits.

    2. Daisy*

      toe, v.
      2. To touch or reach with the toes; chiefly in to toe a or the line, mark, scratch, crack, trig (trig n.2), to stand with the tips of one’s toes exactly touching a line; to stand in a row; hence fig. to present oneself in readiness for a race, contest, or undertaking; also, to conform, esp. to the defined standard or platform of a party.

      1813 ‘H. Bull-Us’ Diverting Hist. John Bull & Brother Jonathan (ed. 2) xii. 62 He began to think it was high time to toe the mark.
      1817 Deb. Congress U.S. 30 Jan. (1854) 792 The necessity appeared..of toeing the trig, and standing there at all hazards.
      1826 W. N. Glascock Naval Sketch-bk. (ed. 2) I. 271 The brigades of seamen embodied to act with our troops in America, as well as in the north coast of Spain, contrived to ‘ship a bagnet’ on a pinch, and to ‘toe’ (for that was the phrase) ‘a tolerable line’.
      1834 F. Marryat Peter Simple I. ix. 119 He desired us to ‘toe a line’, which means to stand in a row.
      1840 R. H. Dana Two Years before Mast xxvii, The chief mate..marked a line on the deck, brought the two boys up to it, making them ‘toe the mark’.
      1854 ‘C. Bede’ Further Adventures Mr. Verdant Green (ed. 2) iv. 37 Toeing the scratch for business.
      1862 A. Maclaren Milit. Syst. Gymnastic Exerc. 37 There should be..a permanent mark to ‘toe’ at starting.
      1895 Westm. Gaz. 15 Jan. 8/1 The phrase ‘toeing the line’ is very much in favour with some Liberals.
      1905 Eng. Dial. Dict. VI. 235/2 The player may ‘toe the trig’, but may not overstep it.
      1910 Daily News 30 Mar. 7 To-day they had decided to toe the line with the progressive workers of the country.

    3. ClaireS*

      Wow! I always thought it was “tow” as in you’re helping pull the weight and I has never thought of the other way at all. Thanks for sharing. I love words and language!

    4. ETF*

      Towing the line- a tow truck dragging a line behind it. Toeing the line- standing poised at the starting line without crossing it.

      1. Lizard*

        I always thought it was “tow the line” and that it meant going along with the program. Ouch ego bruise for someone who prides themselves on knowing about idioms.

        And I know that nitpicky means overly concerned about inconsequential details, but honestly I don’t find real life picking of nits to be nitpicky at all!

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    #3: Oh my gosh, I could not imagine working for someone who was forced to rehire me. I can’t see that being anything other than stupendously awkward and uncomfortable. Not to mention worrisome and stressful! I’m surprised that the OP has lasted in this position for so long.

    Alison is right. Working for a manager with whom there has been open and documented hostility is not going to be beneficial for your career in the long run — or the short one, for that matter. The sooner the OP can get out of what must be a toxic situation, the better off s/he will be. It’s possible that things with the OP’s job have been so bad for so long, that the situation now feels normal, for lack of a better word. But it sure doesn’t have to be that way.

    I had a boss once that I just did not get along with at all. We clashed from the start, and I think we just brought out the worst in each other. I worked for him for 6 miserable months, and then was able to transfer to another department. As soon as I did that, my entire outlook, attitude, demeanor, mood, you name it, changed for the better. My husband noticed it on about day 3 of my new position in the other group.

    1. Confused*

      A former boss disliked me/my personality. In addition to snarky comments behind my back I was intentionally kept off projects, though it was always chalked up to various vague things, and my work was constantly being picked apart. Like Ann, it had a deep impact on me and I didn’t fully realize how much it impacted my self confidence until I left + time.
      OP, I think the Christmas party is the least of your problems. You said you filed a grievance which makes me wonder if this is a union job. You might have job security but you have to decide if it’s worth it to stay in a toxic work environment.

      1. en pointe*

        “The Christmas party is the least of your problems.”


        OP, if I were in your place, I would be more concerned about the lack of performance reviews, and potential for damage to your reputation and well-being, as well as impacts on your career trajectory, in terms of promotions, raises etc., that could come of this. Someone less tired than me could probably come up with a much longer list. Seconding Alison and the commenters who suggest you look elsewhere.

        1. tcookson*

          I’d be worried about both the lack of performance reviews and the possibility of what a performance review from this boss would be like.

    2. Fucshia*

      I agree. I would have gone back to work, so I wasn’t unemployed. But then I would have immmediately started applying for a new one. It is the only way to win in that situation. You aren’t proving anything by making them put up with you. You would do better to move on, be able to say that you quit and did not get fired, and you’d find a new environment with opportunities for advancement.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agreed!! I cannot imagine why the OP thought winning a grievance was a victory. It’s not. At all. Sure, it lets you keep your job, but it makes it so toxic to work there that all positives of the win are pretty much cancelled out. I can’t understand why OP didn’t start applying for new jobs IMMEDIATELY. Whatever the case, do it now. Job search like you are unemployed because this situation is damaging psychologically.

        1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

          Nope, don’t think it’s a victory….other than I did feel vindicated over all the nasty things said about me….

          I started to apply for other jobs, but was advised not to by those very close to the situation (again, my apologies for the vagueness, I’m protecting my privacy). I was told that in this situation, it was highly unlikely I would be separated from employment anytime soon. Our organization has had other staff to sue, win and remain here. One such individual has been with us for 20 years now, after winning the lawsuit. (Of course, if I did something really stupid (like slap a coworker) then that would be entirely another issue.)

          My psychological health – yeah, I’ve taken a beating. Oddly enough, this experience has been a growing experience. I thought for sure everyone would think this of me after the grievance. And, oddly enough, I received a good bit of support, inside and outside of my organization.

          Thanks for your comments!

          1. Us, Too*

            I’m unclear on why you wouldn’t want to start looking for employment. Even if you can’t be fired under current circumstances, it still sounds like an awful work situation. Why would you want to remain?

            1. Anonymous*

              I said I was I had posted my last comment, but see there are some other questions.

              Us, Too – because it would mean relocating. I just can’t do it at this time for several reasons.

      2. The Clerk*

        I don’t know…if the OP didn’t have any better options (and I’m sure it occurred to her to leave, I doubt she’s just staying to be stubborn) staying can be a good strategy. It’s uncomfortable, but sometimes managers quit or get promoted in a very short (in hindsight) time. The new manager might be great, but even if you end up leaving, you never have to mention the bad one’s name on your applications.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I get what you’re saying, but a couple of things here lead me to believe the OP is in the camp of thinking “Well, I won the grievance so everything should be great now!” First, the fact that she thinks she would be invited to the party at her “enemy’s” home. I use the word enemy here loosely to indicate a person that she has hostile relations with, which certainly applies in this case. Had I won a grievance against the manager, I certainly would not be thinking she’d ever invite me to her home, even for a company party.

          Second, the OP has been there for 2.5 years total now and has not had a performance evaluation since her 3 month review. So for over two years now she’s gone without an evaluation and she doesn’t indicate doing anything about that.

          Those two things, for me anyway, lend a tone of “Well, what isn’t this manager being fair to meeeee?” Because you filed a grievance against her. Should she be retaliating? No, of course not. Is it likely she’s going to and that you’re going to have a hard time with that? Yup.

          I get thinking the manager will leave, etc., but this person has been there for 2.5 years and that hasn’t happened. Personally, I’d have filed the grievance to keep myself employed, but I’d probably have started looking hard immediately after the outcome was known because there is no way this situation is going to work out well. There’s a reason specific performance is a broken contract remedy in rare circumstances.

          Anyway, whatever the case, I would strongly suggest the OP look for a new job ASAP.

          1. Confused*

            I don’t think the evaluation really matters here. There may be specifics the OP could improve upon but the OP was let go and the manager is being petty so even if the evaluations start happening again, they’re not likely to be positive/helpful.

            1. Ruffingit*

              What the evaluations actually say isn’t the point, it’s more that having them done is the norm and the OP hasn’t bothered to press that point with her manager. She’s apparently let it go for a couple of years now and that doesn’t look good on her. It lends an air of “But the manager should be doing this” to the situation for me and this manager is not going to do that or anything else that is fair for the OP. My point was that it speaks to a sense of naivety to think so. The OP is going to have to make an issue of the basic things here by asking that things be done that should be done. Shame, but true.

              If the OP has to go above the manager’s head and say “She didn’t do evaluations of me” then one basic question will be “Did you ask for it?” Even if the manager is supposed to do them, what has the OP done to make it happen? That question will likely be asked and she should be prepared to answer it “I requested it via email, via her secretary, via carrier pigeon on X date at X time…”

          2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            Nah, Ruffingit – I actually WAS invited to her Christmas party for the last two years, one of which was AFTER the grievance. For a long while we both tried to slap a happy face on things. But, she just kept doing things to me and I kept complaining to HR, which meant, most likely, more meetings/chewing outs/whatever with the guys upstairs for her. I really can’t know – but I know she was taken to the woodshed more than once over me.

            This open hostility has come about in probably the last few months. It is not like before.

            I knew things would never be OK – this manager has a long track record of acting badly towards her staff. I know she hates me.

            I realize this is a very hostile situation, and if I had the resources to support my current lifestyle, without any hardship, I would leave. I just don’t have them right now.

            But, I do have a good bit of support, including those not employed but associated with the organization – and they have influence.

            It’s more a matter of “Just how long can I keep doing this?” I need to stay here anywhere from 1.5 to another 4.5 years, depending on what I want to do next.

            Her good reference would be nice, but not having it will not be a total deal breaker. I have a lot of experience, and hence several other previous supervisors to provide me with good references. It’s the time in the job that matters for me.

            Any tips of what to do in the meantime? I understand that one of the reasons to withhold the performance review could be due to legal considerations. From what I am reading, a poor performance review, coming on the heals of filing a grievance, can be fodder for a retaliation claim in some situations.

            My manager actually told me I had “three years”. So, she probably is waiting on the time clock to expire before she tries something else. But, she may not. Higher ups have plenty of documentation on her, too.

            Our higher ups know she’s been making things hard on me because of what happened…..and our organization gets sued a lot for various reasons. HR may not be allowing her to give the review to me for this reason alone. But, who knows. It could be out of nothing more than pure meanness.

            Either way, it’s good to consider all my options. Right now, leaving is just not one of them. I plan on returning to school in the next year to get an advanced degree. All of this will be worth it if this job can support me while I’m getting this next degree.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Hmmm. It sounds like a difficult situation, all the way around, and I’m sorry you have to deal with that. As far as advice goes, I don’t know if this will be good or not, but it’s all I’ve got:

              – First, ask your manager (via email, so you have it documented) about the performance evaluation. Be as neutral as you can in the email. Make it something like, “Hi Jane, I was just wondering if we could talk about my performance evaluation. I realized that I haven’t had one in a couple years, and I’m wondering why that is. Is there something I need to do on my end to get this started?” Then, if you get an unsatisfactory response or no response at all, forward that email to HR. But give her the chance to respond first, so she can’t accuse you of going behind her back.

              Next, if you haven’t already done so, document, document, document. Keep a thorough record of everything you’ve done, your accomplishments, and so on. Keep all the emails you get where someone thanks you for something you’ve done, helped them out, whatever. You might even forward those to your own personal account so you can be sure they won’t disappear. Then, if you do get an evaluation, if your manager fills it up with negative things, you’ll have a something to use to refute her claims. Also, keep just as thorough records about errors you’ve made, deadlines you might have missed, and so on, and how you handled the issue and resolved it. Because hey, it happens to the best of us, and since your relationship with your manager is so contentious, this is probably what she’ll focus on. So then, if she jumps on you for something, you have something to refer back to, and you’ll be able to tell her something like, “Yes, you’re right. I dropped the ball there. But here’s what I did to fix it: I reached out to Bob and Mary as soon as I realized there was a problem, and asked what I could do to help fix it. I also emailed Bob’s manager to let him know that this was on me, and not Bob.” And so on…you get the idea.

              Good luck.

              1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

                Thanks, Ann. Done, done and done. I actually contacted an attorney when I was originally fired. He showed me the ropes on how to keep good documentation, journaling, etc.

                My attorney also had some equally as nasty tricks I could have played on my boss and our organization, but I did not feel right about proceeding with them. After all, the system worked for me like it should have. It would not have been right to sue or play dirty tricks at the point I won the grievance. My job and everything else was restored, and I was made as whole as the system could make me.

                Call me stupid, but I just let it all hang out with HR. They are WELL aware of my documentation, my attitude, how I feel, and what my long term plans are.

                After the time limits are up (to sue), however, I will have to come up with more creative ways of handling all of this. It really won’t be hard, truthfully. I’ll have to work my ass off, but I should be OK even if I have weak moments where I need assurance. I’ll still get bullied and beat up from time to time. But, heck, I’ve learned I’m stronger than I realized.

                Our HR Dept made a mistake, too. They let a disciplinary action get past them without reviewing it. My boss put “see attached” on all the forms, and HR failed to ask for the “see attached” forms. Got all that documented. In the end, I gave HR a copy of the “see attached” pages. Once they had a copy….VIOLA…the disciplinary action was retracted the next day. There wasn’t a single viable infraction to warrant it. And, most of the document was basically written with lots of tone – it was one long rant. (My boss rants a lot. At me, at other staff, at everyone.) I’m willing to bet good money they don’t want that getting out.

                I don’t mean to sound so cheeky and certainly not disrespectful. Truly. But, my boss really needs to go to HR University, or at least obtain some more HR training. She’s like a bull in a china shop. She breaks things (relationships) just trying to turn around.

                Thanks for allowing me to air this here, Anne, Ask A Manager, and the rest of you.

                I’ve learned a great deal, gotten support and kind of walked through what I need to do. You helped!

                I’ve also learned a few things I need to adjust (such as how I talk about this – example: the cojones comment – it’s just better to forget about that one).

                And, I think I’m learning to grow compassion for my boss. Heaven knows she probably has some issues there I don’t know about. She’s still a human being.

                And, I’m a firm believer in Karma. We all reap what we sow, good or bad.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Seriously. Based on the timing in the post, OP’s boss fired her less than a year after she started, was forced to rehire her, and OP has now been working for her for even longer than the original period that got her fired? I see two possibilities here — 1) OP’s manager is a tyrant, and that’s why OP was fired, or 2) OP’s manager is actually a reasonable person, OP wasn’t doing the job that was required, and now OP’s boss is stuck with a person who is not only not doing the work to expectations, but who *forced* her to continue the working relationship. Of course she’s not going to be Sweet Sally about this state of affairs. I know I as a manager would not be, if this happened to me — because I’d probably have to divide the extra work caused by managing someone incompatible among myself and my other staff.

      OP, get the hell out of this situation. No matter who is “at fault” here, it’s never going to be a good working relationship, and although your manager can’t fire you, she probably can make sure you don’t advance either. (She might push you off to another team if she can — but don’t bet on it.)

      1. De Minimis*

        For me it depends on the type of job this is, and whether it’s something the OP could do somewhere else. Some union jobs aren’t, and you have to either stay there and deal with it or take the risk of not being able to find as good a job elsewhere.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I can see that, but honestly staying in this hostile situation for a long time is a bit much. The OP cannot have thought that winning a grievance was going to magically make it all better. If she did, she’s naive to the ways of the world entirely. Staying in the job just doesn’t seem the smartest route. She needs to start looking now and get out. This situation will not otherwise improve.

      2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        I love you guys – everyone here commenting. I’m getting great feed back.

        Yes, I’ve been working here longer than I had before the grievance. Can you believe it? My orignial intention was to leave as soon as I found another job.

        I’d love to go into more details, but am afraid to do so.

    4. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*


      I totally understand the ramifications behind the psychological impact of working in this situation / environment. But, I’m a tough old bird. I’ll find a good shrink if I have to do so.

      What good is a new job if I can’t build up enough years for retirement? The worst advice, collectively, here, is to leave. It’s just going to make things worse on the other staff here, I’ll have to fork over the money to move (which I don’t have), leave my friends, my life and start another life in another city. There is a lot for me to lose if I leave this job.

      1. Zillah*

        I can totally understand all of that, especially if you’re in a situation where you have to relocate to find equivalent work.


        What good is a new job if I can’t build up enough years for retirement?

        I’d get this if you’d been there for fifteen years, but it’s been less than three. Are those three years really going to make a difference in the long run, and do they outweigh a long positive work experience elsewhere? I’m a bit skeptical.

        It’s just going to make things worse on the other staff here

        Not even remotely your problem. You don’t stay in a job because it would make it hard on the rest of the staff if you leave – that’s the company’s issue, not yours.

        I’ll have to fork over the money to move (which I don’t have)

        Is it really impossible to find a similar job nearby, even if you have to have a longer commute? (I get that it might be, I’m just asking.) Alternatively, is it possible to save up so that relocating is less of a burden?

        leave my friends, my life and start another life in another city.

        Sure – but people do this all the time, and most of the time, it turns out okay. It’s the twenty-first century. You can stay in touch with these friends! You don’t have to lose them just because you move. And, you can make new friends. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is doable.

        There is a lot for me to lose if I leave this job.

        But it sounds like there’s a lot for you to lose if you stay, too. It seems to me that the longer you stay, the harder it will be to find a job elsewhere, which isn’t good, especially with a manager who clearly doesn’t like you. And, even if she doesn’t find a different way to get rid of you, will you be happy if your current manager remains your manager for another twenty years?

        1. ScaredyCat*

          There is a lot for me to lose if I leave this job.

          I’m not from the US, so I’m unsure what the normal amount of hours/week is. For me, it’s 40 (so basically 8 hours/day), but depending on my tasks can end up being more, because I hate to leave my tasks in a “non-finished” state.
          This means that I spend over 50% of my waking hours at work.

          So, I really would suck it up, and get out of there ASAP, when the most important person at my work actively hates me.

      2. Confused*

        I totally understand feeling like you can’t leave this job. But if that is the case, and I really don’t mean this harshly, you may just have to put aside certain expectations of what it means to work there. You will have to learn or put up with being excluded from after works functions. Your manager may continue to be hostile and even give you a hard time about other things like change of schedule, time off, etc. Again, I say this in a gentle way, but your choices are to leave or stay and hope your manager moves up or moves on.

  3. Nina*

    #3, I also think she’s being hostile to you because she’s hoping you’ll quit. The worse she behaves, the more likely you are to leave on your own. I don’t see this working out well, at least not in the long run. It’s a lot to suffer through. But whether you’re there or not, her childish behavior reflects more on her than it does on you.

    I wonder what her supervisors think, because from what it sounds like, she didn’t have just cause to fire you. That doesn’t look good for the company or on her. Does she treat your coworkers poorly, or does she have a history of being difficult?

    She doesn’t have to invite you to the parties, or even be friendly, but if she’s refusing certain tasks (your performance review) that she’s supposed to be doing, then her behavior is officially affecting your ability to do your job. Maybe you can send her an email, (professional, carefully thought out and worded) requesting to speak to her about your performance review. I think the party stuff would be a wash, because even though it’s childish, it’s not illegal. But if she ignores your email or writes a bunch of angry mess, either way, you have something to take to her boss: either that she’s ignoring her employees, or that she’s being overly hostile, with a copy of the email as proof. They might be able to sit her down basically tell her to back off.

    But as Allison said, the risk of going to over her head is that she gets even angrier and more hostile as a result. I don’t know if the job or dealing with her every day is worth it, but I would consider looking elsewhere.

    1. Graciosa*

      I would think more than twice about demanding a performance review from a manager this hostile. There is no way that the documentation she creates is going to help the OP.

      I side with the majority here – get out immediately, if not sooner. The boss clearly wants the OP gone. It would be nice if the OP could talk to her reasonably to make the remaining time there less unpleasant (“If you agree to treat me professionally while I’m still here and give me a decent reference, I will look for another job and leave as soon as possible”) but I don’t know how likely that is to work here.

      At any rate, the OP must get out – but preferably without creating any more negative performance documentation first.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s also possible the manager did have just cause to fire the OP but didn’t do the reams of documentation required by the types of places that let you file grievances to be reinstated.

      Either way, I wouldn’t push for a performance review — both the pushing and the contents of the review are likely to hurt, not help.

    3. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Nina, yes. My boss has a long history of treating other employees badly. There’s been another grievance and lots of other staff have left for other jobs, at least over the past few years.

      1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        And, yes, other staff have told me that my boss has bragged that she was known for running people off. So, yes, I know what she is doing.

        I’ve been doing this for so long, yelling, brow beating, etc. just rolls off my back. I don’t even feel it any longer.

        There’s an old Mexican proverb: What cannot be remedied must be endured.

        1. Zillah*

          But I’m not sure why this can’t be remedied. People leave shitty jobs all the time, you know?

          1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            I know that. But, I can’t just pick up and leave right now for both personal and professional reasons.

            My boss is unlikely to change, and most people who have had to interact with her at any great length, in this town, recognize her short comings. And I am thankful.

            1. Jerry*

              Then the only solution you are leaving yourself is to suck it up and do your job to the best of your abilities. Don’t count on being invited to parties, and don’t count on a (positive) performance review. Put in your time and try not to let it get to you. Good luck.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I would start putting money back, if you haven’t already, against the time when you will have to leave or are forced out. Because this is not going to get any better.

            3. Anonymous*

              In the end, proving that you are tougher than your manager by putting up with her crap won’t get you a promotion, more money, more stability, a better retirement. Are you sure your personal and professional life is really best served by sticking it out? Or is this more about pride?

              1. Ethyl*

                Yeah I am just not sure what is to be gained by sticking around. If other people have left, it sounds like not only are there other jobs in your industry in your area, but that you actually have some contacts or at least people sympathetic to your plight at other companies. You aren’t going to get a prize for being the toughest employee there, and your rationalizations as to why you “can’t” leave are pretty weak sauce.

                So if you’re determined to stick it out, I guess I don’t understand what is it you wanted to hear when you asked your question?

    4. kelly*

      I would be very concerned about the absolute lack of the performance reviews. I work in a state role that still has some remnants of the former union rules. We have to have annual performance reviews. It’s a necessary rule, to keep everyone up to date of what their job actually is and if they are meeting all the expectations. It’s also the only time that supervisors can gather evidence of why John or Sally are exceptional performers and deserve a raise from a fund set aside to reward them.

      I wonder if because her first attempt at firing the OP didn’t work and it sounds like it was shortly after the last documented performance review, if she’s compiling more negative information to use against them. I can’t imagine that most work places would be okay with a supervisor not doing performance reviews on a person for multiple years in a row. That would come up in their own review, when their boss asks why haven’t you given Sally Jones her annual review for 2012 or 2013.

      I think the advice to look for another position is a good, especially if it helps the OP’s morale and mental health. Another option, especially if the OP is in an union workplace, is to see what available positions are available in other departments that are similar to the current position and try to transfer. They wouldn’t lose their time vested for retirement, which it sounds like something the OP is very concerned about. They may have to do another probationary period.

      I know that many union jobs, especially public unions, have very specialized skill sets that depending on your location don’t have similar positions in the private sector. In my current role, I don’t have too many options were I live now if I were to leave for better compensation or to get out of a hostile work environment. I’d have to move out of state to find a similar job.

  4. EngineerGirl*

    #4 – His house, his rules. You want to get up on your own timeline, find another place to live. Really – that’s how it works. The only way to have complete independence is to live on your own and to work for someone that isn’t related to you.

    1. OmarF*

      I think he’s trying to teach the keys to success based on what he knew from his life. People who sleep in just waiting for work don’t improve their lot in life. It may be true, it might not be, but a whole lot of people believe it.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        Probably. It is also true that regular sleep hours (going to bed and getting up at the same time) are healthier for the body. Grandpa could also be wanting to instill the discipline of good habits.

        It sounds to me like this is a young person on their first job. And they have a job! So really, if OP wants to be treated fully like an adult then they have to take on all the responsibilities that go with it. But I suspect that OP is getting a break on rent (or maybe even free?) and a chance to learn a trade. OP probably doesn’t understand the gift that’s been given.

    2. QualityControlFreak*

      There’s that. I wondered if perhaps Grandfather is hoping for some help with the household workload, since OP lives with him.

      I too like to sleep all the time I possibly can. Five days a week, I’m gone 12 hours out of the day. And it takes me a bit longer than OP to get ready to go in the morning. I get up before 0500. If I want to get, oh, say six or seven hours of sleep, I have between four and five hours a day to do EVERYTHING ELSE that needs to be done. Like cooking, cleaning, laundry, household maintenance … oh, and maybe I’d like to watch the news?

      I’m lucky – my partner is retired and helps with most of the household logistics. But it sounds like Grandfather is still working the same hours OP is, and I’d bet he’s looking for a little help on the home front.

    3. Ethyl*

      I strongly disagree. That only works if the OP is not legally an adult. Adults can set their own schedules and sleep times if they are meeting their other responsibilities. Even if they live with their parents. Even if they live with other relatives who remember when they were in diapers. Indeed, one of the best ways to make living with your parents tolerable as an adult is to treat it like a roommate situation. If you rented a room in someone’s house, would you tolerate them telling you what time to wake up regardless of your job schedule? Of course not!

      OP4 — you might find some really good info on setting boundaries and navigating living “at home” as an adult over at Captain Awkward. Good luck!

      1. KellyK*

        I think you’re right about the boundary-setting, but a lot of parents and grandparents aren’t going to be receptive to that. It’s a reasonable discussion for the OP to have with his grandfather before he starts looking at apartments, but he should be prepared for a “My house, my rules,” response.

  5. Grace*

    #3: What country are you in? If you brought a grievance against your boss after she fired you, you won and you were re-instated, was
    it because you’re in any kind of legally protected class or participated in a legally-protected activity? If you’re in the U.S. there are expansive laws (including many U.S. Supreme Court rulings) protecting employees from retaliation who engaged in a legally-protected activity. Document, document, document. If you’re in the U.S., consider posting your question for free legal advice from an employment attorney at www dot avvo dot net.

    1. rando*

      This sounds more than a union environment than a legally protected activity/class issue. If a court found that a plaintiff was fired in retaliation for a protected activity or because of discrimination, the more common award is money damages. Forcing people into a relationship (e.g. rehire) is disfavored for the very reason we see in this letter.

      1. Grace*

        I agree with your speculations, but until we have the rest of the facts from the OP we don’t know. We don’t even know if it was a court case. (Courts and administrative agencies can order back-pay, front-pay, re-instatement, punitive damages, etc.)

        1. Fucshia*

          I’ve never heard a court case referred to as a grievance. OP would have more likely said that they sued. Disputes filed through unions are called grievances.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, I think it’s a union issue, not a legal one, because of the term “grievance.” (Moreover, courts often award damages rather than reinstatement, precisely for the reasons we’re seeing here — a forced reinstatement rarely goes well.)

        The OP just needs to get out, not go into documenting mode. She needs to move away from fighting this manager and into a job where the manager wants her to be there — for the sake of her own career.

        1. De Minimis*

          It could be either, I know of people at my workplace who fought terminations in court. They didn’t get their specific job back, but got an equivalent job in a different department, and also back pay. We also have a union, and they might have played a role in it as well.

            1. De Minimis*

              I’m sure in this case it probably was, just saying that I personally know of cases where courts have been involved in giving someone their job back [or at least a job at the same employer] after a termination–I had to adjust our budget and records for it!

                1. Elysian*

                  Can you get a transfer to a different government department? That might alleviate some of your retirement concerns and, if it requires a move, the gov’t may pick up some of the relocation expenses. And then you’d get a new boss and a fresh start.

                  Something to look into, perhaps.

      1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        P.S., Grace – thanks for the link to the free legal advice. I’m going to totally check it out.

        And, P.S.S., I’ve already consulted a lawyer. So, I’m well aware that my boss can be an ass to me, legally. One of the main topics of discussion when I go to HR are “retaliation”, “hostility” and “bullying behavior”. They’ve agreed my concerns are valid.

        Incidentally, my boss isn’t supervised by my organization’s civil service rules. She has a Board who supervises her. That Board has nothing to do with the supervision of the employees. The employees are under civil service rules set by the government. Odd, odd situation.

        This gets very political, hence my need to remain mum about a lot of facts, here.

        1. Grace*

          Welcome OP for the link. Sorry that you and your team have to be subjected to a Jerk for a boss, who acts with impunity because she can.

          1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            Thanks. And, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that, either. There is a wide consensus on our staff that this is exactly the case.

    2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*


      I do not believe I “won” the grievance because I am in a legally protected class – though I fit into two of them. “Winning” the grievance came about in two ways. First, my boss did not follow proper termination procedures. She generated no paperwork (at least I never received any) before rendering her decision to me, either. Secondly, once we got into the grievance proceedings, it became clearer that my boss’s claims about my performance were unfounded. It became clear, at least to our adjudicator, that the problems started with my boss. She has a very peculiar personality and management style that tends to cause a lot of conflict on her staff.

  6. Ollie*


    “Because I said so.” Ugg. I hate this kind of response to questions. It’s so dismissive and frustrating. I still live with my parents and still get this from them sometimes, so I can sympathize.

    If you have a good relationship with your grandfather and he doesn’t go into a rage every time you question anything he says, you might be able to sway him with logic. If you haven’t already, approach him and tell him the logical reasons why sleeping later works better for you and why you’re going to start getting up later. If he says, “No. Get up at 6:30, because I said so,” then say you can do that, but only if you know why he wants you to get up at 6:30 everyday. If he repeats “because I said so,” say you just want him to explain so you can understand where he’s coming from. If he explains, then you’ll know what his concerns/expectations are, which will make it easier to come to a compromise or to give arguments for why getting up early still doesn’t make sense.

    1. Graciosa*

      Are there any other family members who might have insight into this situation, or be able to help resolve it? It may be leftover training from his childhood that he no longer even remembers as the source of this. I have a relative who was obsessive about eating all the food put on your plate at a meal. I never understood this or got a decent explanation until some siblings explained that they were severely punished for failing to clean their plates.

    2. Artemesia*

      I think the demand to get up at 6:30 and otherwise micromanage your life suggests it is time to reflect on your career trajectory? Are you very young and is this a job you are doing temporarily until you get further schooling? Or do you see yourself making a career with your grandfather’s company? If it is the later then think about what that future will be like and when it will be reasonable for your grandfather to treat you like any other employee i.e. paying you adequately and expecting you to live independently.

      If it is temporary and you are young — then suck it up; the habit of not slunging around in the morning will do you well as you move on in life to other jobs.

      If this is a long term plan, then you should have a general time line for moving out and having a full time ‘adult’ working contract with his company.

    3. ETF*

      How old are you, OP? Can you move out? If you are an adult, just say no and deal with the consequences, don’t live with him, or suck it up, buttercup.

      1. Ollie*

        Maybe the OP could tell his grandfather that “because I said so,” is the type of thing you say to children, and he’d rather be treated like an adult and get an explanation and a chance to talk about it.

  7. Andrea*

    #3. There is no upside to staying. You may have won the victory, but it’s a Pyrrhic one at that. She will make your life miserable as long as you are there in ways that are not grievable. Why stay where you are not wanted?

    1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Andrea – because I have lot to loose if I leave, at least right now. I love the word “Pyrrhic”. I’ll use that one tonight when I talk to my family about this.

  8. ExceptionToTheRule*

    #3 – The use of the term grievance implies a union environment and I’m going to chime in based on that assumption.

    We have a union department in our company with a manager who tried to fire someone without going through the appropriate disciplinary process. The union filed a grievance and the fired employee won.

    Here’s what everybody learned. First, the manager was an idiot. One of our shift supervisors had been collecting the appropriate documentation to fire the employee within the process laid out by the union contract, but the manager refused to do anything until he got summarily pissed off one day and fired the kid. Had he been a *manager* and done things right, the termination would have stuck.

    Second, the kid realized he needed to clean up his act & he has. He keeps his head down & his mouth (mostly) shut and does his job well.

    It’s been about 18 months and there haven’t been any problems since. The manager and the employee aren’t friendly by any means, but they are professional with each other.

    My advice is to keep your head down, be professional, and don’t be any kind of a problem at work. Also, have a discrete conversation with your union rep about what the contract says about retaliation. Let the social stuff go and focus solely on if what your manager is doing that has a negative impact on your work and pay. Your contract probably has mandated cost of living adjustments built in, but are there performance increases you’re missing out on because of the lack of evaluations?

    If not, let it all go and decide whether this is an environment you want to continue working in or not. That she hasn’t managed to fire you since the grievance indicates either 1) she’s not willing to put the work in to manage you out of the company or 2) you aren’t giving her anything to fire you for.

    The other thing I’d wonder is if you really like this company, is there another department or team you could transfer to? A fresh start, so to speak?

    1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Dear ExceptionToTheRule,

      You are probably getting closest to what happened in my case, here. And, no, I haven’t really given my boss any reason to fire me.

      If I have a performance problem, it’s energy. Early in my employment here I was absolutely stressed out, tired (I have a medical condition that makes me tired a lot of the time) a good bit of the time and it showed. After the grievance, I got medical treatment and extra rest and try my best to do everything. But, my boss keeps piling work on me (a bullying tactic, I’m sure). So far, I’ve been able to keep up.

      All my “arguments” (voiced to HR, not my boss) have paid off, too. And, I know just about all the essence of what I say to HR makes it to my boss.

      Incidentally, I do my best to segway any negative interaction with my boss. If she brow beats me, calls me names, tries to pick an argument, I go to HR and vent to them. I know they are there to keep me from suing, but the lead decision maker in our organization is a GOOD MAN. And, he knows what my boss is up to. I’ve left it in God’s hands to work out.

      1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        And, no, there is no transferring. If I leave this job, it will entail, most likely, a move out of state.

    2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Incidentally, no one in our organization got a COLA last year. Tough economic times, you know. This year, we’re due for another COLA. So, it will be interesting to see how she handles reviews this year. I also have to consider how not giving me one and give the the rest of the staff theirs factors into a retaliation claim. I wonder if I can claim retaliation based on the simple fact IF 1) she gives the rest of the staff a performance review and 2) she fails to give me one. Of course, I wonder if I’d have a retaliation claim, anyway. I’ve been complaining to HR all along about her treatment towards me – this includes being called bad names, changes in my duties. It also includes a bad, bad try at disciplining me with a formal, written, disciplanary action. She gave it to me and didn’t even consult with HR about it. When I contacted HR, they had not seen the paperwork. After that, the action was immediately retracted.

      It just goes on and on…..

      1. Jerry*

        If you do get a performance review, don’t be surprised if it is both negative and very well documented. Your boss can simply cherry pick any negative feedback she can find, and include it in your review. The only quotes in the review will likely put you in a bad light. As I said above, you simply need to suck it up and not let it get to you.

  9. Anonymous*

    Maybe your grandfather makes you wake up at 6:30 so you guys can have breakfast and spend time together?

    1. en pointe*

      Or to teach you discipline, which certainly isn’t a boss’ prerogative, but you could argue it’s a grandfather’s.

      1. The Clerk*

        I get up at 3 a.m. for work now, but I used to work until midnight and slept from about 2 to 10. There’s no magic time to get up that makes someone disciplined versus slothful; you have to base it on the day ahead and the one you just finished.

        1. en pointe*


          I was speaking to discipline more generally, as in the benefits of learning self-control, the ability to stick to a routine etc. – whether that be through waking time, chore schedule, following a healthy eating or exercise plan, whatever.

        2. tcookson*

          There’s no magic time to get up that makes someone disciplined versus slothful . . .

          You and I know that’s true, but that’s probably not what OP’s grandfather believes. Let me offer some of my grandparents’ firm beliefs as examples:

          — People who are not lazy bums get up no later than 7am

          — If you want to find a job, you have to show that you are not a lazy, slothful bum (LSB) by applying for it in the morning, because if you apply in the afternoon, the boss will write you off as a no good LSB

          — Off topic but still a belief (courtesy of my grandmother): curly hair is a sign of beauty, while straight hair is a stringy, disheveled statement that you just don’t care how you look (and are therefore probably a LSB)

          1. Fucshia*

            My grandma has that thought about sleeping in, too. She considers her brother lazy because he sleeps in until 11am. Even though his business requires he work from noon until 9 or 10 at night. She would prefer he then go immediately to bed after work, so he can get up early in the morning.

          2. ETF*

            IMO, society greatly overvalues waking up early. But we night owls are stuck with it, unless we work the night shift.

  10. majigail*

    #1- I wouldn’t volunteer until the decision on the job has been made. I’d feel really weird if an applicant showed up as a volunteer… so much so that I would ask my volunteer manager not to set up times for them until after a decision is made. To me, it almost feels like the applicants that just show up and ask for a tour to, “Get to know the organization,” when what they really want is an unscheduled interview and a foot in the door.
    I honestly feel like it could do you more harm than good, however if you still feel the same about the organization after the decision is made and it’s not you, I’d say go for it. THAT would make you look good for any future job openings. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a volunteer job is not a promise of a paid job. In my time at a small nonprofit, I’ve hired ONE volunteer to be on staff but had many more apply.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is how I would feel — a bit bullied by the applicant. It might influence me to reject the candidate. Of course, if they were already a long term volunteer then that would be different. But to volunteer during the search process just shouts ‘suck up’ and ‘trying to game the hiring process.’ Not everyone is going to find that comfortable.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s a really good point. I was stuck in thinking about someone already volunteering who applied for a job, but you’re right that it’s can come across differently if you do it during an application process. I called this one wrong, and I’ll put a correction in the post.

      1. majigail*

        I would totally think about a CURRENT volunteer applying for a job and continuing to volunteer through the process as totally normal… just slightly uncomfortable.
        As Rachel says below, if you’re thinking about applying for a job, you’ve got to be your best as a volunteer. I’ll never forget the guy that was 30 minutes late to interview for a volunteer position (not explanation or apologies) and then on the way out asked if there were any job openings. Um, not for you.

      2. Fiona*

        I’m a little surprised that the OP isn’t already volunteering for this organization, if they’re interested enough that they’ve applied there several times over a span of years.

        1. OP from Non-Profit Volunteer*

          Thanks for the feedback everyone. I’ve been wrestling with this in my head.

          The reason I have not started volunteering before now is childcare, plain and simple. I recently worked it out so I have affordable childcare even if I am not working, before it would have broken my bank to put my child in care to volunteer for a day. The idea of volunteering entered my mind because I have a now have free time during the week. I didn’t get the childcare arranged until after I had applied for the job.

          What the first two posters said was my struggle, I don’t want to seem too eager or like I’m trying to suck up. I actually do want to volunteer regardless of if I get the job, I love this organization and would like to do some work there in some capacity. I think I will wait until I hear about the job before offering to volunteer though, because I don’t want to hurt my chances by seeming pushy.

          1. Fiona*

            I think this is the best course of action. And if you don’t get the job, I would present the idea of volunteering just like you have here – that it’s a change in availability that has you interested in volunteering, so that you don’t give the impression that you’re only trying to back door your way into a job. ;)

      3. louise*

        This is why I enjoy your blog so much! I really appreciate that you’re always willing to revisit your opinion and either stand by it or revise as necessary. Pretty sure that’s one of the biggest factors that makes a good manager a great one.

  11. Rachel*

    For the person who wants to volunteer at the nonprofit, I would emphasize that you have to do your absolute best work as a volunteer. If they are considering hiring you, they will look at your track record as a volunteer to determine your suitability for the job.

    When I was a manager at a nonprofit I had a volunteer who was still in university. She was extremely busy and did not give her full effort to volunteering when she was committed to certain things. When she graduated and applied to our organization, she was immediately rejected by the executive director. I wanted to let her candidacy continue as I imagined that she would be more committed if it was a paying gig. However the ED said that he would never consider a candidate who was a flaky volunteer.

  12. CC*

    OP#4: This may have nothing at all to do with your grandfather’s reasons, but my experience has taught me that keeping a consistent sleep schedule (both bedtime and waking time) makes a lot of things in life easier. Including, but not limited to, Monday mornings after a weekend off, and those unusual extra-early days.

    So, if getting up at 6:30 is reasonable for work most days, then those days that I don’t need to, I’ll still get up at the same time and do something else. Read a book, write a blog post, or whatever. Do something you find interesting.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Consistent sleep times were one of the big things my doctor preached when I was struggling with insomnia. Along with several other sleep hygiene issues like: use your bed only for sleeping (or adult activities), cut off your screen time 1 hour before going to bed, don’t watch TV in bed, etc…

      OP, a lot of people intuitively link things together: like going to bed/getting up at the same time & work performance, but they aren’t capable of articulating the reasoning behind their insistence that it’s a good thing in their minds. Maybe that’s what’s going on with your Grandpa.

    2. Jen RO*

      I get up (without an alarm) around 7.30 AM every day for work. I would hate it if someone felt the need to wake me up at 7.30 AM on weekends too! I don’t sleep in a lot, only until 9ish, but part of being an adult means that I get to make my own schedule.

      OP, I don’t think I’d be able to stand this situation – I’d try to either move out, change jobs, or both.

  13. OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

    Thank you everyone for your candid advice and comments. It is much appreciated and has not fallen on deaf ears. Most of the people in my life have told me to get out of here, and long ago. At this point, I simply do not have the option of leaving my present position for various reasons – money, geography, ties to the community, and, of course, the lack of finding suitable employment elsewhere. I have been keeping my eyes pealed for something I’d be interested in doing elsewhere, but at my level that will take time.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to know that I am a government employee. (I heard you groan.) And in at least this instance, the adjudicator of the grievance made a good call. I would not have remained in my position had it been perceived that I was the root problem.

    My manager has a history of treating staff badly, and has lost at least one other grievance. Another fact is that we have lost many staff due to existing conditions of our workplace environment. It is generally recognized by those “in the know” that there is an issue.

    I cannot go into the details about the grievance, but the decision named my manager as the root cause of the issue and I am almost certain she got into a good bit of trouble as a result.

    Yes, this feels like “normal” now. But, I have a very thick hide. My coworkers have also told me I have huge cojones, ones I never knew I had until now.

    Yes, my manager is doing all of the things those of you who responded to this post mentioned. I’ve been called bad names, kept off projects, been told I was “not very bright”, been told numerous times I was not to be trusted, liked and that I lied all the time, etc. None of which are true, both in this case or in my general character, I assure you.

    I am not sure what damage has been done to my reputation. My guess is that those who know my manager well enough will still be able to make their own judgement about me. As for those who believe what my manager has to say, well, I would not wish to work for them anyway.

    I am not sure why I have not gotten another performance review, but I am beginning to think it is because I also have a case to file a retaliation claim. I have collected a TON of documentation.

    As long as I get a raise like the rest of my organization’s employees get (next time we get raises), and no future adverse actions are taken, not getting a performance review will not be an issue with me. I know from a long work history and experience that at least in my field the lack of having performance reviews will not necessarily impede my career should I decide to go elsewhere.

    In any case, I am here indefinitely. In the meantime, my knowledge of HR law and procedures is growing, I am actually managing to grow as an employee and I love my coworkers. We have a great staff, and a good many of them recognize the conditions I work under. They also recognize what is going on with our boss.

    What future employer could not see the value in having an employee who can operate in adverse conditions? Now, I just need to find my niche, here.

    Any more thoughts?

    -The “OP”.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author


      This is a not a good situation for you to be in. It doesn’t matter if your manager is the problem. The reality is that you’re working for someone who dislikes you and probably wants to see you fail. This is bad for you; it’s in no way a safe place to be professionally.

      Managers have an enormous amount of control over your career – from what projects you get to what growth opportunities and recognition you’re given. A boss who dislikes you can hold you back, thwart you in all sorts of ways, and have a long-term impact on your career.

      Keeping your eyes peeled for other jobs isn’t enough! You need to be actively looking, and planning on getting out as soon as you can.

      It doesn’t matter that she’s wrong and you’re right. This is about what’s practical for you.

      1. OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        But what if what is practical for me is to stay where I am for a while? Jobs are hard to find, and I simply cannot afford (monetarily and otherwise) to move right now.

        What if I have a ton of support to stay, including from people who supervise my boss? I probably have 25 years left on my career, and I already have 25 years under my belt (people in my profession have a long work life span). I am probably as high as I want to go in my career right now, so career potential is not something high on my list right now.

        I have dozens of reasons to stay in this job, and only one reason to leave.

        More thoughts?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          What would you do if you hadn’t been reinstated? Or if you were fired or laid off tomorrow? You’d have to find something new — so it is possible. That’s what you should be doing now.

          I hear from a lot of people who feel like they don’t have options and so have to stay in bad jobs. But the reality is generally that if they had to, they’d find a new job. It feels hard, which turns into “it’s not possible.” But it’s possible when you really have to.

          (And then when people do it, they usually end up feeling like they should have done it long before.)

          1. Colleen*

            I think the mentality of sticking around in pretty dire environments is more common in government jobs, where it is very hard to fire people and there are mandated pay raises, pension plans, etc. that give incentive to put your head down and tough it out. I remember a former post office employee, whose environment/boss were so terrible he had to take multiple doses of anti-anxiety meds EVERY DAY for his last few years, who toughed it out so that he’d make it to retirement. He probably took a year off his life from the stress but to him the 20 years of peaceful retirement made it a worthy tradeoff.

          2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            AskAManager, I hear ya sister. I am working on this – but upon my exit, I plan to switch careers. It will take me about 2 to 3 years to re-tool. Another big incentive for remaining in this position.

        2. Graciosa*

          The one reason to leave is a huge one, and one that trumps everything else.

          This is kind of like saying you have a lot of reasons to get married to X (community and family support, second income will allow you to buy a house, X is a good cook, want to have a family, etc.) and the *only* reason not to is that you can’t stand the person and loathe every minute in X’s company.

          That one’s a deal breaker.

          A boss who hates you is a deal breaker.

          It doesn’t matter how right you are and how wrong she is. It doesn’t matter how many years you worked in the past or want to work in the future – and the only relevance of the support of your boss’s supervisor is whether he will give you a good reference (or other assistance in finding a new job).

            1. Grace*

              Welcome, OP. I am a praying woman and have already started praying for you, your hard-hearted boss, and your team. Hang in there and be good to yourself!

        3. jeez*

          Have you actually *tried* to find a new job?

          No offense, but it sounds like you’ve got an arsenal of rationalizations for staying miserable where you are. And 99.99% of the time, I am sympathetic to people who have reasons for their behaviour that most people would dismiss as “excuses”.

          You said: “. I’ve been called bad names, kept off projects, been told I was “not very bright”, been told numerous times I was not to be trusted, liked and that I lied all the time, etc. ” This is abusive!

          Do you *like* complaining to HR on the regular? Does any of this stress help with your medical condition?

          I don’t understand why anyone would stay in this scenario, particularly if ” I know from a long work history and experience that at least in my field the lack of having performance reviews will not necessarily impede my career should I decide to go elsewhere” is also true.

          So you’re not bothered about career progression. You can also decide not to progress in a place that is not abusive.

          At least try to get transferred.

          1. The OP*


            I just hate leaving unanswered questions, even if I said I would stop posting (I felt like I was pissing off a few of you).

            Answers – Actually, I’ve applied for a few jobs, went on a few interviews – this was around the time of the grievance, and before or right after I knew I would be reinstated.

            Afterwards, people associated with my organization just kept telling me that I should stay – the boss won’t change, but the staff (and others) like you and you are a good fit. Not every one around here wants to see me leave…..just the most important person to my career at the moment.

            No, I hate going to HR. I feel like I’m sitting on top of a very tall flag pole with a very short skirt on – they can see everything.

            But, I do like our HR rep very much, and I have immense respect for their higher ups – they are great and saw right through what was going on here.

            I tell HR I am tired of visiting them – I am. It eats up my time, their time and pisses off my boss. Though, I certainly am by no means trying to accomplish that by going to HR.

            Little by little, I’ve seen small but important changes to our work environment. Compared to two years ago, there is MUCH LESS conflict all around and there is much more awareness of how we treat each other.

            If there is one thing I demand – whether I am your supervisor, your coworker or your subordinate – it is civility. No one should have to tolerate being mistreated at work.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Stop going to HR, seriously (unless there’s something illegal going on). It’s not going to fix the situation and while they might appear sympathetic, you’re going to become the person who’s always complaining to HR. That will affect the way you’re seen, even by those who are on your side of this.

              1. The OP*

                Alison, I am aware of this…..I know they are probably tired of seeing me, and I’m tired of going. I’ve started curtailing my visits, but I’ll still go if there are significant incidents or issues going on.

                Thanks for your comments. I’m trying to stop, but I don’t want to leave you thinking I’m this complete, unfortunate worker. I really am trying to get them to change this environment….without it costing me my job.


    2. Graciosa*

      Re-reading your comment here, I think you’re placing a lot of value on having successfully stood up to your boss, learned a lot, and continued to function under adverse circumstances. Co-workers admire that, and you admire it in yourself.

      These are not bad qualities – don’t misunderstand – but I also look for judgment when I hire, particularly in someone who should be a seasoned professional. Obstinately clinging to a position under a boss who hates you does not demonstrate that kind of judgment.

      You fought the good fight and won. I respect that. I admire it. The world needs it.

      Having made your point, I would have expected you to retire victorious from the field (aka find another job as soon as possible). The fact that you didn’t is a red flag for me – and I would not overlook it just because you’ve learned a lot and grown as an employee.

      I would be impressed by someone who did what you have done – stood up to the bully, won your grievance, etc. – then put it in the past and looked to the future. A future in which you are successful cannot include this boss.

      1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        Grandiosa – many good, excellent points, here. I just don’t have the option of leaving right now (for both personal and professional reasons).

        I am looking to my future, but that includes staying in this job for a set number of years.

        The biggest value I place, here, is standing up for myself. Saying I stood up to this boss is like saying I stood up to a lesser, compromised person. I see no joy nor victory in that.

        But, I stood up for myself. Yay! That is the victory.

        1. Ethyl*

          But look — your boss has also probably learned from this and has been collecting all the proper documentation to fire you and get it to stick. You are not safe, you have zero job security right now, on top of being miserable all the time. So you really should be planning as though you were losing your job tomorrow, because frankly you may well be.

    3. Fucshia*

      Those who are telling you that you have huge cajones for staying are doing you a disservice. I don’t know if they are saying it for their own benefit or because that is clearly what you want to here. It is easy to stay. It is scary to start something new.

      There is an old adage about “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. The brave risk the new devil.

      1. The Clerk*

        The OP has stated repeatedly that leaving would not put them in a better place. S/he is the only one who knows the situation. The brave who risk the new devil sometimes end up unemployed with a short-term stint (or a gap if they try to hide it) to explain.

      2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        I’ve already braved far too many new devils. I have worked with 7 different organizations. What is sad, is that this behavior is pretty typical of managers/administrators in my profession. It almost feel safer to stay here – and I know how sick that sounds.

    4. Anonymous*

      I work for government as well in a union environment where you have to stay a certain length of time to get vested in the pension etc. I know what you are talking about. And at least for our governmental agency there isn’t a cost of living difference for people in expensive areas vs cheap areas so if you live in (for me) a rural community a government job may be the best one and the only one in that type of work in the area and finding another job would mean potentially a hundred miles or more of travel. (I know you think you’re the only one in this situation but you aren’t.)

      You have two real choices:
      Find a new job which is what everyone is encouraging.

      Accept the situation. You may never get a performance review. Yours may be the spillage that HR allows from your department. You may never get another raise that isn’t giving to every single person in the entire agency/state/city/ect. You may never get feedback. You may become persona non grata. We have this person at my agency. He never has a performance review, he never is required to attend trainings, he never gets coaching, and if it was allowed (which at my governmental agency it isn’t encouraged thankfully) he’d never be invited to a supervisors house for a party. He is certain that people like him, that he does a good job, that upper level leadership likes him, etc. They don’t. They consider him a problem to be isolated until he retires, which unfortunately will be like 25 years from now. The good news for him, is he’ll never be fired, he’ll never be disciplined, he’ll never be told he isn’t doing a good job. You think your boss’s boss is on your side, but if they were they’d have talked to your boss and told them to knock it off and do your performance review. You are not being supported really. Just superficially. If this is all acceptable to you, then accept it. Don’t complain, relish the upsides, enjoy it, embrace it. I know that seems counter intuitive, but the environment won’t change. You need to change, your change can be acceptance.

    5. Bea W*

      all that work and energy being put into dealing with this boss who willmot change and will prevent you from advancing in your field and career long term could be put into getting out instead. BTDT.

  14. Anonymous*

    You’ve got to start looking into a new job – not just waiting for one to come by. This is a very bad situation for your career. There is a lot to talk about, but I’d like to point this out:

    “As for those who believe what my manager has to say, well, I would not wish to work for them anyway.”

    That’s untrue and unfair, but I think it’s coming from an understandable response to your situation. But try to clear your head and approach this rationally. Interviews shouldn’t turn into a trial situation. I’m not hiring to decide who was right! If I’ve never met your manager, why would I not believe them? Alison has several columns on how to handle a bad reference – check them out, and just treat the situation that way, no more, no less.

    1. De Minimis*

      I have to disagree a bit here, just up and leaving a government position [depending on where it is] is not something to be done lightly, and it is not the same as deciding to leave a job in the private sector.

      A lot depends on what type of governmental job this is, some have better transfer opportunities than others—I’d look into that if possible, but I would not look to leave unless I had a job waiting that had equivalent pay and benefits–and even then, I would not rush into it, there are lot of things you can give up by leaving government–often once you leave it can be hard to come back, depending on your position, and if you’ve put that much time into it already, I’d be even less willing to leave.

      Government can be different to where a lot of the things that would normally be good advice here don’t really apply or don’t apply in exactly the same way. This sounds like it may be one of those situations to me. I’d see if a transfer were possible, but if you’ve got the support of the people above your manager, I’d probably try to stay and make the best of it, because it sounds like the manager does not really have others on her side.

      1. doreen*

        + 1. Government jobs are different in a lot of ways – and often managers don’t have as much influence over your career as they might in the private sector. I could only hold one of my employees back if I myself was respected by whoever was doing the hiring – if that person doesn’t respect me, they’re not going to give any weight to my recommendations and that’s the only influence I have, Not to mention the “golden handcuffs” (pensions and other benefits), the fact that many jobs only exist in the public sector and that leaving one government entity for another often means returning to the entry level for that job.

        If I were the OP , I’d probably try to transfer if that was possible. I might file a new grievance * every time the manager’s behavior warranted it, but I wouldn’t plan on leaving altogether unless I was crying on my way to work every morning. I’ve got 25 years in and can collect my pension in 5 – it would have to be a lot worse than what the OP described to get me to leave and take a huge pay cut (around 50% in pay alone, not counting benefits)

        * yes, I can file a grievance even though I’m a manager and not a union member- yet another difference from the private sector.

        1. GovEmployee*

          I agree with this. I’m a government employee, but not a supervisor. I have been looking for a new job since October, mainly due to Alison’s mantra that if you can’t change something, you have to decide if you can live with it, or leave. And I’m leaving. I can’t change a 40-year government culture. And I don’t have so much time in that I would lose a lot by leaving, at this point.

          I’m actually a very high performing employee. I get very high marks on my evaluations, received an incentive from our director last year, etc., but I’m surrounded by a lot of low performing employees who have been there for 20+ years and know they can’t ever get fired. The grievance process in my agency is one of the most ridiculous things I have encountered in my career.

          I’ve been peripherally involved in two direct coworkers discipline processes, due to the nature of our jobs and how intertwined our roles are, and the write ups were absolutely on point and done fairly. But there are also politics involved, and the higher-ups in the government gave my coworker another chance because it was an election year and media exposure would have been bad, or they felt bad for my coworker who worked there 30+ years, etc.

          At least in my agency, this is a common pattern. The good employees get so frustrated and burned out by having to cover for their coworkers, that they end up leaving, and the bad employees stay around forever.

          1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            GovEmployee – I’ve worked in situations just like you have described before. I feel pretty confident in telling you that the decision to keep me wasn’t a political one. In fact, the politics fell against me. The grievance adjudicator stood up against the politics. He’s a good man and wanted to see that the right thing was done. I just happen to be working for a boss who treats employees badly and believes she is above the rules.

      2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

        De Minimis – Yes! You totally get my situation. I will be giving up A LOT by leaving here. If I were in the private sector, I would have already been gone. A private sector 401(k) is easy to transfer. A pension plan is not.

        1. Left a Good Job in the City*

          Late to the party but this is simply not true. All you have to do is take your paperwork from the pension fund, bring it to a financial planner, and they can roll it into an IRA and you’ll incur no tax penalties, assuming you don’t withdraw the money yet. The only thing instance I would recommend doing this is if you are only a few years away from collecting the pension.

          1. Stella*

            This depends on the state and the pension rules. I was only able to take my contributions (50%) of the total amount when I left a state government job.

  15. Is This Legal*


    You have to move, it might not be your fault but it’s just uncomfortable.

    One more thing, I can understand evaluations but why in the world would you want to go to her house for Xmas party?

    1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Is This Legal:

      LOLOLOL. Yes, you are right. As horrible as it is to not be “dis-invited” to the staff Christmas party, I have to tell you, several of my coworkers are jealous, telling me, “Don’t feel bad. Now you have a good reason for not going to her party.”

      I equate this to a horrible divorce. What my boss may not know is that though I’ve never been divorced myself, I come from a long line of divorces in my family. I have watched many types of divorces, here, and also with friends. Divorces can be amicable, and they can be nasty. I see my boss headed in the direction, much like a desparate spouse who does not want to loose all of his/her financial assets. They sometimes turn vicious and can resort to blows below the beltline, so to speak.

      At least I have this experience in my back ground to draw upon. It’s one thing I have that keeps me from becoming more damaged psychologically – on some levels I know what to expect.

      I probably do need some counseling, though. Everything in my life is about keeping this job. I know it’s not going to get better, but I absolutely don’t have a choice right now to leave.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you’re absolutely not willing to even consider leaving, I guess I’m not quite getting the situation or why you wrote in for advice. What were you hoping to hear?

        1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

          Ask a Manager –

          No, this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. I needed this dose of reality.

          I would LOVE to leave. I am just not quite sure how at this point. I need to plan my exit, but that is going to take time (we are talking a 2 to 4 year time frame).

          I am totally impressed with your commenters. Great advice, and great way to have my thoughts mirrored. It’s just that my hands are tied. I need to be in this job about 2 more years, then I’ll have more flexibility to leave.

          I thank you ever so much for posting my question!

          1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

            I suppose if there was anything else I was wanting to hear is that “this will get better”. Obviously, it’s not.

            Fortunately, I have a family as a safety net if the worst happens.

            Right now, I am just going to have to endure this for a while, but you’ve helped me see that being here long term is just not going to work out well unless my boss retires, leaves or gets hit by a bus.

            Yes, I hate to admit, I day dream about that morse thought on occasion.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Well, even just accepting “this is the way it is and will be as long as I’m here” can be pretty helpful, mentally. It can bring you a certain amount of peace with the situation, which can be better for your quality of life than continuing to hope/agitate for a change that isn’t likely to come. So maybe that will help while you’re stuck there. Good luck!

            1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

              Thanks, Ask a Manager, I appreciate the exposure and time you and the rest of your followers gave me!

              You are exactly right. If an employee decides to stay in this type of situation, that is exactly what they have to do to survive.

              I am pretty confident in telling everything that psychologically, I am normal and pretty well adjusted, wth a few quirks. I absolutely detest bullies. If I leave, it will mean that my boss will find a new target. I already know one staff member who will very likely be targeted. So, my being here actually serves a purpose – I am protecting those less able or not in a position to tolerate this. There is some method to my madness here. :)

              Thanks, again. I definitely will be following your blog from now on. Great advice everyone! Thanks for your comments. I’ll watch this post over the next week for additional comments. So, I will still be around to provide comments from me, if you would like to hear them.

              1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

                Sorry about the typos. Thank goodness I’m not required to type perfectly on the first try at work. :)

              2. Ruffingit*

                I’m curious as to why you have to stay in this job for the next 2 to 4 years. That is a long time frame for staying in such a situation unless you’re close to retirement and leaving would cause some sort of major benefit loss.

                1. Anonymous*

                  OP said she’s 25 years into a career, and alluded to the fact that a government pension plan isn’t really transferable. My bet is that OP will reach some minimal age or service time in 3 years that’ll have her qualify for a pension.

                2. Ruffingit*

                  That’s basically what I was thinking with my comment of major benefit loss being the only reason to stay because otherwise this sort of hostile situation would not be worth it to me psychologically. I don’t care how strong or tough a skin someone has, this crap takes a huge toll over time.

                3. Melissa*

                  A lot of government pension plans require the employee to stay in the job 5 years to be fully vested. I hope the OP can make it to that point, then leave.

          3. RLS*

            If you know you can/will leave in a couple of years, still start planning now. Network, learn, develop, hob-knob, whatever. Even if you’re not applying for jobs, set yourself up to be visible and well-known when you start doing so.

  16. Kethryvis*

    Just a question on having a “Relevant Experience” vs. “Other Experience” division on a resume (#5)… this is how i have my resume formatted. However, i’ve had situations where the interviewer says “i see a pretty big gap in your resume here…” and i have to explain that yes, there is a gap between my 2000-2001 job at Awesome Teapots and then my 2009 contract at Teapot Associates, but between 2001 and 2008 i worked at DVD, Inc., Typesetters R Us, and a host of other companies that are on my resume and are in a separate section, not to mention accomplishing all the stuff in that education section up above.

    i don’t know if this is totally a format thing (my education and Relevant experience + formatting is the bulk of page 1, Other Experience kind of just naturally falls to page 2), or just a symptom of a really inattentive interviewer (the first time i had this problem was with my now-CEO who… well, better left unsaid to be honest. He’s part of the reason i’m out on the market again), but it is something i’ve run into more than once.

    1. Kethryvis*

      s/question/comment i guess :)

      My question would be if anyone else has run into this issue and how you handled it? i do point out that there’s a whole other page with a ton of other stuff on it, but i also find that i don’t get questioned on that other experience, and what it contributes to my overall candidacy.

      How do you know when the time is right to stop doing the split format and go back into a regular chronological line?

      1. Anon mouse*

        I think that if that experience contributed things that are relevant to the post you’re applying for, and you’d expect to be discussing it at interview, it belongs in Relevant Experience not a separate section.

  17. Laura*

    For #1, I’d wait, and if you don’t get the position and can do it without resentment, then volunteer for one of those positions or another position – if you love the organization that much. Then keep job searching, external and internal, but also keep up your volunteering. Long-term it might show that you really, really love what they do and want to be involved – and if you do it after the position is filled, but not while you’re applying for another one, it would send a very different message than doing it while applying for the lead position for the volunteer role.

    Don’t do it – at least, not for those roles – if you are going to be at all uncomfortable in the volunteer-only role or with the person who will be leading the team, in the position you were hoping to get, though. Either go for a different volunteer role, or forego it altogether, in that case.

  18. Brett*

    #3 For those totally confused by why OP would have to move…
    My guess is this is a restraint of trade situation. Trade restraints that would never stand in the private sector are completely legal in the public sector as long as they are passed by ordinance. Private sector trade restraints are overturned because they go against the public interest. Ethics ordinances, by their nature, are supportive of the public interest (normally preventing the appearance of corruption).

    1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

      Brett, there is usually only of these organizations in every city, town or county. For example, there generally is only one police department for a given locality. Same thing with my organization. If I want to switch organizations, that is jobs, I have to move.

      1. Brett*

        You might find more crossover than you think.
        I work for a police department, in a specific aspect. Turns out the airport, most utilities, many security companies, as well as software development firms all use my skill set.

        Even for police officers, they can work for universities, private schools, private security firms (in management roles), companies with their own security firms, and there are actually over 100 different departments within a 1 hour drive.

        Sometimes you can even create a job. I used to live in Iowa, where only the county did my type of work. Turns out, the city I lived in was thinking of adding a position to do my type of work and I got pretty far along on lobbying them to add such a position before I headed off to grad school. They were encouraged by the idea of having a candidate readily available to add the position.

        I can understand wanting your 5 year vest. But work on exit plans too. Otherwise it will turn into, “Well, I have 5 years, but now I want that x% per year.”

  19. Elsajeni*

    OP#4, you’re in a tricky situation, because you have three relationships with your grandfather — family, housemates (or landlord/tenant, whatever your situation is), and employer/employee — and different rules apply to each of them, especially in terms of what he can tell you to do and what power he actually has to enforce those instructions. As your grandfather, he has the right to give you advice like “You ought to get up bright and early every morning!”, but he doesn’t really have the power to enforce it; as your boss, he doesn’t so much have that right, but he does have enforcement power. And as your housemate, he can easily see whether you’re taking that advice or not. If you haven’t already done this, you might want to sit down with him and talk about this — not just the issue of “I don’t want to wake up at 6:30 every day,” but the general question of, where are the boundaries between these multiple relationships? When should he treat you as an employee and when should he treat you as a grandchild? It’s tricky to negotiate, but hopefully he can understand the issue, especially if he expects you to treat him differently when you’re at work than you would at, say, your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

    1. KellyK*

      I think this is a really good point. It would be good to sit down with your grandfather and talk about how those roles intersect.

      Also, I got the impression from the OP that his grandfather is more of a parental figure. If he raised you, or if you’ve lived with him as a kid/teenager, I can totally see him still being “parental” toward you, particularly while you live with him, even if you’re an adult now.

    2. Celeste*

      A talk would be good. It may be as simple as he doesn’t want to have to tiptoe in his house while you sleep, so you need to be up for his comfort. Or, he may just really like that time together.

      You were bound to disagree about something in this arrangement, so it’s good to get things out in the open. You should probably talk about what his expectations are for the future to make sure you are aware. Good luck!

  20. Eden*

    #1: Hm. I’m applying to positions at the place I am going to volunteer. Does timing count?

    I started the process to volunteer in November, if you can believe it, and will be oriented next week (it’s a volunteer position that requires you to jump through a lot of hoops first, but for legit safety reasons). In the interim, I have applied to several positions within the organization.

    My volunteer coordinator (who has a permanent position there) was very enthusiastic about me helping out, and suggested I have a copy of my resume on me in case I meet hiring managers. This is a HUGE place, so I can’t imagine anyone even knows I’m volunteering, yet.

    Does this still look bad, or like I’m trying to suck up? I am legitimately interested in the volunteer opportunity, and plan to continue it once I find a job (if I EVER find a job–feeling discouraged today).

    1. majigail*

      I think this is totally ok. I’d include the training in your cover letter or in your interview, kind of like you would if you are being considered for two positions at one organization. There is a possibility that you or the hiring manager might feel a little awkward through the process, or at least I would!

    2. Fiona*

      I think having the endorsement of your volunteer coordinator goes a long way in legitimizing the parallel volunteer/job search paths. :)

  21. Eden*

    Here is a totally off-topic observation!

    You know what this site could really use, IMHO? One of those ‘back to top’ links at the bottom like they have on Pinterest and Tumblr, so when you’re done reading one of these monster threads, you can quickly get back to the archives listing, or if you’ve forgotten an OP’s wording, you can easily pop up there and look. Pretty sure most WordPress themes include something like this.

    Anyone else think this would be useful?

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yes, I do. A back to top button, an ability to edit your own posts, and collapsible threads would be great. Hard to implement some of that, I know, but since we’re talking things we’d like to see, those would be nice.

      1. Fucshia*

        Collapsible threads is my biggest wish for the site. It’s nice that some posts generate so much discussion, but if you aren’t interested then it would be nice to collapse that line.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Nooo! I hate collapsible threads… :( I hate clicking all the time to see stuff. And then when I refresh I have to click again and the pages jump around and then I have to scroll anyway.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I’m thinking something can be done to deal with that problem as in other boards I’ve seen where there is a button to collapse or expand all threads. And, if you refresh, it brings you back to the spot you were leaving the threads expanded or collapsed, whatever you had chosen before. These things can be handled to make it user friendly.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Potentially! The question, as always with these types of changes, is how much it will cost to do it in a way that will play nice with the other back-end pieces of the site. It’s on my list to check into, but I want people to be aware that costs (both initial and for ongoing maintenance) are potentially higher than you might think for stuff like this, when you’re adding it to a site with existing back-end architecture.

            (To be clear, I don’t know if this one will fall in that category or not.)

            1. Ruffingit*

              I totally get that. I was speaking in generalities to Elizabeth’s concern and saying that these things can be done. Whether this particular site can afford that is another matter altogether. Having once run a free website where people requested things that I simply couldn’t afford to implement, I get that you may not be able to do it and I don’t harbor any ill will because of it :)

    2. Jen RO*

      Yep, back to top would be really nice!

      There are plugins that let you edit your post for a certain length of time. Then again, I also heard that they’re all crap…

    3. Cassie*

      I use the keystroke Ctrl-Home to get back to the top (I’m using Chrome, not sure if the other browsers have similar functionality). I just have to remember to move the cursor out of the comment box for the keystroke to work.

  22. RQSCanuck*

    I have a question related to #5. I am currently editing my resume. As a recent grad I have experience from internships and practicums. Since I don’t have a lot of actual work experience I have been using headings like “Relevant Work Experience”, “Internship Experience” an “Practicum Experience”. I was wondering if this might be too many headings. The reason I opted to do it like this is because I don’t want to appear deceptive and have employers think that all of my experience is paid experience when it isn’t. Internship/practicum experience is very different. I was wondering what others think, is it advisable to keep these headings or are there other, more effective ways of relaying this information?

    1. Therapist*

      I had practicum experience for my master’s degree in counseling and just listed it as though it was a job, but used the title “Student Therapist.” It was experience that was exactly like a job, but done as a practicum and I gained skills I can use in the real world. I’ve never had a problem with that. Everyone I’ve interviewed with knows it’s a practicum by virtue of my saying “Student” and the length of it.

      Basically, I think you should remove the headers and list your relevant work experience all under one heading such as “Experience” (that is what I use) and then just make clear it was a practicum by the use of a student title. That has worked for me with no issues for several years now.

      1. RQSCanuck*

        @ Therapist – Thanks for the suggestion. I also have a master’s degree in counselling and gained skills that I can use in the real world. I am definitely working on streamlining my resume and I was totally leaning towards doing something similar to your advice. Thanks for confirming that my instinct was right! I worked at a number of different internships and they each had different titles so I was thinking of identifying that it was an internship in a similar way that you might list a contract position ( for example – Mental Health Counsellor …………. October 2010 – March 2011 (Internship)) and use a single heading like “Experience”. I always felt that I had to be *very* clear in the way that I presented my resume, but that has led to an overly crowded resume. I am learning that I have to assume that there are some things that an experienced hiring manager will understand when they read a resume.

        1. Fiona*

          I used to screen a LOT of MH Therapist resumes, and @Therapist has it just right. I don’t see the need for a separate Internship/Practicum section (much less two sections), as long as you clearly identify the internships as such. (And put the identifier after the job title, not after the dates, please.)

  23. Allycat25*

    To #4 – Grandfather – I suppose it depends on why your grandfather wants you to get up at 6:30am when you don’t necessarily “need to”. Studies have recently shown that successful people (in a work sense) get up earlier and/or have a consistent schedule. He may just be looking out for you as a person. However, I realize not everyone is a morning person. I agree with what some people have already said – that you and your Grandfather just need to work it out. But my personal opinion would say that getting up earlier and starting to have a more consistent sleep schedule can only do you more good.

  24. Allycat25*

    To # 1 – Non-Profit – Only volunteer if you absolutely KNOW you can and would do as good as a job as you would do if you were paid. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend it. Volunteer managers will report your work quality and how you’re doing to the Executive Director.

    Otherwise, volunteering may hurt you. It also depends on the type of non-profit (sector, how many staff, how many volunteers do they have, etc.).

  25. Cassie*

    #4: The grandfather can’t force the OP to wake up at 6:30am each morning (as a boss, as a “roommate”, as a landlord), but he can keep nagging the OP until the OP gets fed up and moves out.

    The OP can try talking to the grandfather and provide his rationales, but have you ever tried changing an older relative that his/her opinion is wrong? It’s an uphill battle…

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, I’d skip the argument phase altogether and just move out. Find an apartment with some roommates or something. Living with and working with grandpa sounds like it’s got a lot of downsides. Change one or both of those things and move forward.

      1. Editor*

        Can the OP living with grandpa get up at the (awful early hour — did grandpa grow up on a farm?) and please grandpa but then disappear back into the bedroom to read or watch tv or get on the computer and do stuff that would normally be done later at night?

        The bad news here is, if the OP is keeping certain hours because of an online gaming group, there’s no hope grandpa will understand the scheduling conflict. Online gaming can wreak havoc with work sleep schedules, and while I don’t have anything against computer games, online game demands can be one of the most difficult hobbies to manage in a healthy way (as in getting-enough-sleep healthy, although the avoiding-addictive-behavior healthy can be a concurrent issue). Try talking to grandpa about what he did when he was growing up and first started working to try to get an idea of how he spent his time — he probably doesn’t value leisure time as much and he probably doesn’t think a young person needs as much leisure time, and he may equate time spent with a book or in front of a screen as “laziness” whereas time spent hunting or fishing or woodworking is productive — even if his activities and the OP’s activities are both hobbies.

        If grandpa wants to pass the business on to OP and OP wants the business, then complying with grandpa is necessary and it could be years ahead OP will have to go along with grandpa. If it is a family business, OP needs to go along with the wake-up time, but also ask about the succession plan, because OP’s grandfather may never want to let his plan for OP’s life devolve into OP’s plan for OP’s life. (Ask stuff like “what’s your timeline for…” and “what do you picture a typical day like two years or five years or ten year from now for me?”) OP might consider getting some outside experience in the same field and then coming back to grandpa’s company later in order to live separately and also learn more about the product niche. OP shouldn’t just focus on wake-up calls, but on short-term and long-term career and life plans. There are colleges with centers that focus on family businesses — look online and read about the programs and seminars they offer and maybe get some outside perspective.

  26. Andrea*

    Can we call BS on #3 now? Doesn’t want to do anything other than what she is currently doing. If she wants to put up, then at least she should shut up at this point. People like drama, in many venues. If you’ve worked for an abusive boss, you don’t expect to be asked to a party at their house. You either get to play naive or a aggrieved, not both.

    1. Gilby*

      I agree. Regardless of who is right or wrong , why does the OP feel she should be invited to her party. It is obvious they do not like each other .

      If the OP had written in and said only that the manager was hostile and about the problems at work with work stuff and so on that would be one issue.

      But the OP is complaining that she wasn’t invited to a party given by a manager that she doesn’t even like…. I just don’t get that.

      If there is a major falling out between people, neighbors, co-workers, bosses and so on the likelihood of being social is pretty much gone. I think that should be a given.

      Specifically OP, why do you even want to go to a party given by someone, whom you do not like, who treats people poorly and who fired you?

      Seriously, what is your goal here?

      1. Anon*

        I get the impression that the OP feels that because the OP is in the “right” that means everything should go back to normal. The OP should be treated the same as everyone else as if the original grievance never happened, which is true in an idealistic world. In reality, winning a grievance and being reinstated means living in a hostile environment.

        Granted, the OP’s attitude may help make the hostility worse if the OP is constantly bringing challenges. It is an escalating situation to which there is no nice ending.

        1. Gilby*

          Yep… I see what you are saying.

          I can’t help but wonder if the OP is kinda doing a ” in your face” kind of attitude. The OP knows the manager can’t fire her now. She is protected.
          Is the OP taking a bit of an advantage? Who knows.

          The OP referring to the managers actions as ” antics” kind of bothers me. The OP doesn’t at all see the manager as anything. While I can understand that in her mind, if the managers percieves the OP as mocking her ( or whatever) the OP is going to be pretty miserable for the rest of her time in the job.

          1. Ethyl*

            “The OP knows the manager can’t fire her now. She is protected.”

            Is that really true, though? The OP keeps talking about staying at this job for 2-4 years more, and I keep wondering why they think that’s entirely up to them. It certainly to me seems extremely likely that they will be fired again, this time with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, and will be in an even worse situation than they are now, and will have to find a new job and move anyway.

            1. Anonymous*

              The OP is in a government union shop. There is no way they’ll get fired now that they’ve won a grievance. I’ve seen people literally dealing drugs at work and still not get fired after this.

              Potentially there are other more functional government/union shops but I doubt it.

            2. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

              Nah, I neither know I’m protected nor that my boss “can’t” fire me. I’m sure she could if she could find a viable reason.

    2. Hooptie*

      Ha you beat me to it. The more comments I read on this, the more I am seeing self-justification. Like the OP is expecting congratulations for beating the system, perhaps?

      I think it is important to note that there are two sides to every story and the manager isn’t here to defend herself. Even if she is an outright psychotic monster, my gut feel is that there is more to the story. I have the feeling that the OP ‘got away’ with getting fired and instead of letting it go and focusing on her performance she is looking for any opportunity to make the manager either look bad or get her stirred up. Certainly the running to HR with every perceived slight would not make me, as a manager, any more comfortable with working with the OP. A relationship is a two way street and no matter how unprofessional the manager behaves the OP still has a responsibility to behave professionally herself and respect her manager’s position.

      Based on the OP’s comments I would not want her working for me and I certainly would not want her in my home. If she’s really that miserable, she would find a way to either work it out or do whatever is necessary to get another job. Instead, she seems to be promoting an adversarial relationship and thriving on the drama.

      1. Celeste*

        Having worked someplace like the OP’s, I know that the grievance process itself is adversarial. In a perfect world, the two of them would have separation. Either the OP would report to a different staff member, or the OP would not have been brought back in.

        I think that the documenting process itself tends to feed the fire, and the OP was asking if the holiday snub was more hostility that she can document. I say why dwell on it, because it wasn’t in the workplace. The OP can go around and around about unequal treatment and protected classes, BUT. Once you are reinstated when somebody has tried to fire you, you are not going to be on equal footing with the people that he or she did not try to fire. Accept it and move on.

        I think it’s worth saying that unless one person decides to lay down her sword, this is just the way it’s going to be for the forseeable. The manager is surely just as invested in doing her time as the OP is, and for every one of the same reasons.

        1. The OP from "My Hostile Manager"*

          Right, Celeste. Some of my friends have wondered that too – if the holiday snub is actionable.

          I’d tried to lay down my sword 100 times. I’ve even tried offering “olive branches” of peace.

          Sympathy is nice, but it’s not what I’m looking for – Justice would be nice, but I know I’m not going to get it. I suppose listening to all your responses gives me a host of ways to think about this, and how to talk about it. As well as how to shape up my own attitude towards all this.

          I recognize that some of you would not touch me with a 10 foot pole – as a new hire – should you know who I am. Allison/Ask A Manager – I hope you keep your word that my identity is 100% confidential!

          In any case, the one thing I haven’t heard much about was the topic of venting. This whole process has been devastating to me. I basically made a cross country move to work for boss that fired me. There I was, stuck, with no money working for a hostile boss. I’ve tried to move on – but my boss bullied me for months and months. My only defense was to go to HR and complain.

          OK. My last post on this subject. Thank you for your time.

          1. Ethyl*

            Take a look back at that recent AAM post on whether HR has to keep your stuff confidential — “venting” to them is REALLY REALLY not what they are for.

            OP, it sounds like you’re really in a tough situation but I don’t see you doing much to make it better, and I certainly don’t find your justifications for staying there convincing, so this will also be my last post on this subject. You seem bound and determined to make this as awful as it possibly can be (actionable to not invite you to a party? venting to HR every day? refusing to even consider whether moving to a different city might actually be worth it?).

          2. Celeste*

            You got justice when you got your job back. But, nothing can make the manager be anyone but who she is.

            When I said lay down your sword, I meant just stop. Stop looking for actionable behaviors. Stop ruminating on how you made the move for a bad job. Come to work, take it as it comes, and just do your time.

            But it wouldn’t hurt anything to job search. You found this spot, and you just never know what might come open. I also don’t think your idea of seeing a therapist is a bad one at all. They won’t change your current situation, but might help you look at some ways you can change your own behavior going forward.

            Best of luck to you no matter what you decide.

  27. MJ*

    To OP#1 I agree with Alison’s ORIGINAL answer. I am a director for a non-profit and we often hire from within our volunteer ranks. Not only do we get an employee whose work habits we know, we get an employee who is quick to train since he/she knows our practices, our software, our culture, etc. Since you have applied in the past, you obviously have a real interest in this organization, so you may really enjoy volunteering there. As Alison said, don’t go in with expectations to be hired though.

  28. RQSCanuck*

    Hi Alison, I couldn’t help but notice that these short answers were archived in “Resumes” and not “Short Answers”, was just wondering about this, if it was perhaps a mistake or if there was a reason.

  29. Bea W*

    #3 – If a boss that hated me and was hostile to me did not invite me to a holiday party at her house my reaction would be….”YAAAAYY!!” Seriously, there are better things to do over the holidays than spend it at a party at the home someone who is openly hostile to you. I agree with AAM here too, it’s time to look for a job where your manager doesn’t have it in for you.

  30. Meghanp*

    #4 I had literally the same problem- my grandfather owns the company I work for, and I lived with him for a few years. He’s one of those people who shows love and takes care of you by telling you what to do and insisting that you do everything his way. Is it fair? Not necessarily, but I understood it. It was rocky at times especially at first when I wasn’t paying any rent. Once I started paying him to live there, it was a bit lower than market rent. I explained my expectations and he explained his (with a mediator because he tends to be explosive), and we met a medium that worked. When the medium wasn’t working as well anymore, I moved. I broke the news in a non-confrontational way without creating a massive problem, and explained my reasons. End of story. We’re fine and I still work there. There are sacrifices that need to be made if you want the cheap or non-existent rent that results from living with family. If you want absolute freedom to do as you please, you pay the price.

    I also find that family businesses can be difficult because not all family members involved know how to separate work and family interactions. If they’re used to telling you what to do from 9 to 5, it can be easy for them to blur the lines and do it outside of work. My family is terrible for this (but slowly getting better). At the beginning of my time here my grandfather would sometimes threaten to fire me if I wanted to move out or go away for the weekend. That stopped a couple of years ago when I admitted to my mom that I was looking for other opportunities because of it, but for a while I was constantly walking on eggshells. If the OP has similar problems, he has to look at his situation and re-assess whether he should look for work elsewhere. Some people can’t handle the dynamics involved, and that’s okay.

  31. giginyc*

    RE: #5: I had someone (mentor/business owner) look over my resume and they suggested I list the larger, well known company first and list my freelance gig 2nd. (I left the larger co, so chronologically, freelance is present and larger co is 2nd). Previously, I had always done it chronologically, but the way she explained the ‘larger co is more recognized/reputation, etc’ made sense. I’ve been sending out my resume that way (and honestly haven’t received replies at all) and I’m wondering if people think I don’t know how to present the info. What say you on this?

  32. anonymous*

    So let me get this correct…..hiring managers want people to have experience, but if it’s volunteer experience at the same place or in the same field, the job seeker is “bullying” them? How else can someone get experience if they haven’t worked there? Nobody’s training employees anymore. It seems to me like hiring managers are resentful of job seekers, and I know for a fact that job seekers are resentful of hiring managers. I personally have been unemployed for two and a half years. I have a college degree, but I’m “not qualified” enough for jobs in the field I got a degree for, and I’m “overqualified” for jobs that don’t require my degree. Seems like hiring managers are setting people up for failure. What do they expect people to do???

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