open thread

Olive on blanketsIt’s the weekly Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

{ 871 comments… read them below }

  1. BW*

    When you guys get an assignment through email, do you always reply with “OK” or “got it” or “will do” or something like that? I’ve been doing that but I’m wondering if this is annoying, or maybe bosses like the acknowledgment and that outweighs the annoyance?

    1. A Teacher*

      It depends…sorry not the most helpful answer, but sometimes I do just to acknowledge to my boss that I got the message

      1. KLH*

        Yes, I shoot a quick email back. My second job out of college I was told to acknowledge an assignment, and I’ve just kept doing it.

    2. Chriama*

      As your boss!
      “I generally send you an email to acknowledge I’ve received your message, but I was wondering if that clogs up your inbox or inconveniences you. Would you prefer I do something differently?”

        1. the gold digger*

          That’s what I did when I started my new job – I asked my boss, “Would you just like to assume that if you ask me to do something, I will do it? Or do you want me to answer every email?”

          He told me of course he just assumes if he asks, I will take care of it. He is very blunt.

        2. Laura*

          Definitely ask! in one job, I didn’t send those confirmation emails and my boss told me I should, so now I ask. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they say no don’t bother, sometimes they say they don’t care either way.

    3. Mike C.*

      I do, my managers would rather see the email and know that I’m working on what it is they needed than wait around wondering what’s going on.

    4. NylaW*

      Usually I have a question or two so I end up replying not only to acknowledge but also clarify. Rarely do I get everything I need upfront for an assignment, but if I do, I will send a message back to acknowledge the task and possibly indicate a timeline to completion or to ask timeline expectations.

    5. Anonymous*

      I get way to many ‘thank yous’ for every OK i send. I easily get 5-8 thank you emails from my director in a given day. I would prefer thank yous for significant work rather a thank you for taking on a task that is part of my job.

        1. Anonymous*

          I know it sounds ridiculous, but after so many thank yous over minor things they tend to feel watered down when the thank you for lending a pen and thank you for awesome work are given in the same manner.

          1. veggie*

            That is so true. It’s one thing to give a quick “thanks” for a pen and then a sincere explanation of why I’m great when I do a good job on a project, but if you gush over them both as if it took the same amount of brain power, etc. to hand you a pen as to complete months of work, it gets old fast.

          2. Jazzy Red*

            I used to get “Awesome!!” when I did simple basic admin assistant things (which was my job). It was overdone and completely worthless. I guess this boss just wanted to make me feel appreciated, which was nice.

            Counting down: 22 days until retirement.

            AWESOME!!

            1. danr*

              AWESOME… and take some time for yourself now. And visit the doctor after a month or two. Any medications that you are taking were calculated with work stress in mind…

    6. Fiona*

      Depends entirely on your office culture. Mine is really big on “closing the loop” and that means acknowledging every request and also acknowledging when said task has been completed. This has been something I’ve had to adapt to, as my previous employer was much more hands off – if they asked me to do something, they assumed it got done unless they heard otherwise from me.

    7. Calla*

      I answer in two scenarios:
      1) There’s a specific question about if I can do it – not just “Calla, please do thing?”
      2) It might take a while, and I want them to know I saw their email and it’s on my to-do list.

      Otherwise, I assume they do not want their inbox filled with “Will do” emails when they assume I’m going to do it. But you can always ask your boss!

      1. The IT Manager*

        I am in total agreement with Calla. Only reply if you have an immedaiate question or answer or if it will take a while and in that case you provide a timeline.

        If its easy and not critical, I would prefer to just assume my employees will do requested and only alert me if there are problems.

      2. AdminAnon*

        +1

        That’s what I do and it seems to work for my boss, who is a recovering micromanager (well, she still micromanages other people, but she is starting to realize–after almost a year–that if she asks me to do something it WILL get done).

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      I do, just so my boss knows that I’ve gotten the email and added it to my to-do list, and that said email has not gotten lost in the sea of other emails I get each day.

      1. Anonymiss*

        As someone in a quasi-admin job, where I need to make sure people got my stuff while also keeping my sanity and inbox mostly clean, I use read receipts a LOT.

        It’s a simple setting in Outlook, but you get a notification when they have read the e-mail. Saves headaches on both ends.

        1. kT*

          As a manager I hate read receipts, as do all of the senior staff I work with. It feels like I’m being checked up on and therefore not a little rude. I routinely refuse to send a receipt (Outlook always gives you the option), as do most people. I find very few people use them. However I do save all of my sent mail – if I need to chase someone I forward the email I sent them previously asking about progress, which has the effect of reminding them without explicitly having to say that I’ve been waiting for them to get on with it.

          1. Windchime*

            I also decline to send read receipts. I’m a middle-aged professional with several decades of experience; read-receipts feel like I’m being treated like a child who can’t be trusted to read email and prioritize work.

            1. Anonymiss*

              “I’m a middle-aged professional with several decades of experience; read-receipts feel like I’m being treated like a child who can’t be trusted to read email and prioritize work.”

              I think the problem here is your attitude towards it. I treat it not as a method of surveillance, but as a simple way to ensure the message arrived and got read – whether it’s me sending the e-mail, or receiving it.

              In fact, I think you are being childish by putting it into this context/framing.

              1. fposte*

                Maybe, but it’s a pretty common response (as is toggling them off and viewing emails in the preview pane that doesn’t generate a receipt), so you might want to factor that in to your sending protocols. Sometimes it’s more important to get people the message than to get people to conform.

              2. Windchime*

                Email in my office is very reliable. I don’t recall any instances in recent history (in my office) of an email being sent and just somehow mysteriously not arriving.

                I take care of my work, and my boss (who is a director) doesn’t find it necessary to ask for read-receipts on any emails that he sends. Usually when it’s used by people in my office, it’s done either by a micro-manager or as a passive-agressive technique to make a statement of “I am checking up on you”. So my passive-agressive way of resisting this is to refuse to send the receipt.

        2. Anon*

          I dislike read receipts, as I find them invasive. There are many people who view email as a form of instant communication…. it is extremely annoying to get additional emails from the sender saying “you read my email 10 minutes ago / half an hour ago / etc.” but I haven’t seen a response yet. And even if I have read an email, it doesn’t mean I have understood it, agree with it or am prepared to act on it.

          Others may disagree, but each of us is entitled to our own opinion.

      2. Ms Enthusiasm*

        I like to give people the benefit of the doubt – if they don’t respond to my email then I’m hoping they saw it and will follow my directions. That will happen until it comes to my attention that you missed an email and something didn’t get done. From then on out when I send an email with a request I will most likely ask for a response back letting me know you received it. If you don’t respond after I explicitly asked you to then I will ask you in person. Seems like lot of extra work when someone could have just sent off a quick reply – yep saw your email and am working on it.

    9. NK*

      Ask your boss. I had one boss who got irritated with me for sending those acknowledgements, and one who got irritated because I didn’t. It’s entirely personal preference/office culture. No harm in asking, and in fact by asking it shows that you are considerate of such things.

    10. Adam V*

      I would reply “I’ll work on this right after X” – that gives them the opportunity to respond and say “no, this is more important than X, I need you to work on it now” or even “no, go ahead and do Y and Z before it too, this is low priority”.

    11. Jubilance*

      Depends. With my manager now I do, because that’s just what he wants. In the past I’ve only replied if I needed clarification on something related to the request.

    12. [anon]*

      Previous bosses I’ve had would get upset if I didn’t acknowledge in some way. My current boss doesn’t care… but we’re a dispersed team and we all work with a common tool (i.e. WordPress) where it’s really easy to see who’s working on what at any given moment. So boss can see if I’m doing the work without me having to say, “yes, I’m doing the work.”

      When I’ve worked in other environments, where workflow is more opaque, I think an “ok” is a helpful virtual nod.

    13. wesgerrr*

      I thought this was why my boss has the “read receipt” going on. But we sit right next to each other, so he can always just ask. LOL.

    14. Kerry*

      I always send a “Thanks!” to let people know I’ve received something I need to work on. Things have been missed before (my colleagues and I get around 1000 emails a day) and sending an acknowledgement of receipt means people know I’ve got it.

    15. Anonymous*

      If it’s something that will take longer than 24-48 hours, definitely. If it’s something I can feasibly do before then, I’ll usually just respond when it’s completed.

    16. AnonAthon*

      As a manager, I certainly prefer the confirmation unless the assignment is one that you can finish in the next couple hours. In other words, no need to say that you’re on the case if you’re going to send me the final product shortly anyway. For my boss, I tend to reply when it’s something that is either going to take awhile or that he’s never going to see (ie: he wants me to handle something quickly that doesn’t require his review).

    17. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      if it’s particularly urgent, I reply “on it!” so they don’t fret about whether it’s been read or not. If not, I don’t bother – I just add it to my to-do list

    18. Laura*

      Ask your boss. Doing this would drive my current manager round the bend. (He is known for asking us to stop productive email chains because he is getting too many emails…even though they are working better for us than a meeting would…which is a good reminder to copy him with the result, not the process!)

    19. Windchime*

      I do. Most of the work I do is assigned to me at the beginning of a sprint, so if there is something that my boss wants me to do outside of that, it’s usually something that’s time-sensitive so I reply to let him know I’m on it or have a question.

    20. Cassie*

      I don’t – my desk is about 10 feet from my boss’s desk and it’s not uncommon for him to come ask if I received his email about 2 seconds after he sends it. I think I know how to prioritize the tasks based on due dates, although I appreciate when he says “this is not urgent” so I know not to drop everything for something whose unofficial deadline is a couple of months away. I say “I think” because he hasn’t given me any feedback to the contrary.

      I wish there was some way to have an ongoing shared task list so that he can check and confirm that “yes, Cassie got the request and will take care of it.” He gets a ton of emails so I don’t want to overload his inbox. Even a physical whiteboard list would work except I sit in a cubicle where there is no privacy and I wouldn’t want everyone to be able to see what tasks I am working on.

    21. FD*

      I usually do. I work in a large place where a lot of e-mail is sent. That kind of response helps make sure people know that you did read it and are on it.

      Probably depends on the culture though.

  2. ChristineSW*

    Yay, first one in!

    How do you guys handle long meetings? I attended my first state council meeting yesterday and–holy smokes–it went on and on and on and on. It was scheduled for 2.5 hours and thought I could handle it as there were a lot of items on the agenda. I’ve been in other super-long meetings too and you just lose patience and focus, especially when you’re hungry! (Bonus: They effed up on lunch…long story, not even sure what happened).

    So, aside from accepting that this is probably how it’s going to be, what strategies are there to maintain focus and patience?

    1. the gold digger*

      There is nothing that can tick me off more than a meeting that runs over time. It is so inconsiderate to the participants.

      I used to write letters to my grandmothers, but they are dead, so now I say the rosary in my head.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have found having bacon and eggs for breakfast seems to help. Since the Full English Breakfast was originally supposed to keep manual workers going until lunchtime (which could have been ages away), I do the same when I know I have a long meeting. (Other breakfast options are available. Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon Bagels, or Eggs Benedict are also good in these situations)

        1. Fiona*

          I agree that if you know you have a long meeting that day, eating a heartier breakfast (balanced protein/fat/carb, not just a bigger-than-usual bowl of Lucky Charms) helps.

          I currently have a FIVE hour stretch of meetings on Mondays – 9-11, 11-1 and 1-2 – and I make a point of packing portable snacks I can quickly snarf down as I’m moving from meeting 2 to meeting 3, or while I’m waiting for meeting 3 to come to order.

          You could also try planting a bug in the meeting organizer’s ear ahead of time about possibly calling for a 5-minute break at the midpoint of the meeting – it doesn’t have to go on the agenda because who knows whether Item X will actually wrap up when you think it will – but if the organizer can keep an eye on the clock and take a break at a good pausing point between items, that helps, too. I also have a 3.5-hour class on Monday evenings (Mondays suck right now) and that 7th-inning stretch is the only thing that keeps me going for that last hour (although sometimes not even that helps).

          1. ChristineSW*

            I was actually thinking about that–I’m like “why don’t they call for a short break??” knowing the meetings are normally scheduled for 2+ hours, and that many discussions will likely go off on looooong tangents. But as a newbie, I don’t want to rock the boat just yet :)

      1. MaryMary*

        I have totally gotten busted for making a grocery list in a very boring meeting. My coworkers couldn’t figure out what on earth I was taking notes on, until someone leaned over and saw my “notes” said:
        Milk
        Coffee
        Apples
        Cheese

    2. Nonniemouse*

      If possible I try to excuse myself and go to the bathroom just to walk around for a minute. If I’m so hungry my stomach is gnawing at me I either chew a piece of gum or drink a glass of water.

      1. Lizard*

        Chewing gum will actually make you hungrier. I go for mints in this situation. Or water should help. Actually, I sneak out to the snack machine, because I’ve been known to get hangry.

    3. Christine*

      Ooh, I hate when they screw up lunch. Or when lunch is brought in and everyone sits there, continuing with the meeting… aren’t you people hungry?? I’m usually the first to get food because I just can’t concentrate when there’s food sitting in front of me and I’m hungry!

      Anyway, if it’s a meeting where you can bring your laptop, I’d do that and try to get some work done if they’re talking about something that doesn’t impact you. Otherwise, if you must pay attention, I’d take notes, even writing unimportant stuff down. This was my strategy in college to stay awake through class and it still works in meetings.

      1. ChristineSW*

        Great ideas so far, thank you!!

        Food: Yeah, that was my first mistake. For the next meeting, I’m going to try to bring a small, indiscreet snack to tide me over when things get long or I get hungry. I tend to get very cranky when I’m hungry and I feel trapped. I also like the bathroom break idea–also good to eat my snack!

        Taking notes: That was my plan because it does help. However, my right ear has not been playing nice with me lately, so between that and the acoustics in the room, I don’t think I heard even half of what was being said (I already have a slight hearing impairment).

        It’s just a lot to get used to, but I’ve been able to grasp these things before–it takes time, so I think it’ll all work out in the end. I haven’t gotten officially appointed yet (I mentioned this in previous Open Threads), but I am permitted to get involved, so YAY!!

        1. Camellia*

          It may not be applicable in this situation if everyone is not on their laptops but my daughter, who is more devious than I will ever be, says that in long boring meetings she waits until, well, everyone starts getting bored and/or frustrated, then she starts IMing people like, “Hey, what’s up in your world,” or “Whatcha heard lately?”. She says people will tell her the most astonishing things, things that they probably wouldn’t say anything about in a face to face conversation but are so bored and frustrated that they start venting, so she is usually one of the first to know the latest company rumors, etc. Genius!

          1. fposte*

            We’re a big laptop place in meetings, and I really like it, which surprises the heck out of me. We don’t do your daughter’s thing, though, which sounds more fun–just a lot of work email going back and forth across the table.

      2. the gold digger*

        It’s so mean to have food and not let people have it. It’s the human equivalent of my reaching up to the cupboard over the refrigerator, where we keep the cat food now that the cats have learned to open cupboards, knock down the cat food container so the top pops off, and eat until they throw us, but not opening it. Shirley sits on the counter and watches, just waiting for my hand to touch the handle. As soon as I open the door, she jumps down and runs to the bowl.

        If I just move my hand to the cupboard but don’t open it, it’s torturing the cats. Which is mean. Which is why I (almost) never do it.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I don’t pretend I’m going to throw the ball for my dog, and not do it (or even say it because she understands a lot of words). There’s nothing on earth she loves more than catching a tennis b-a-l-l, and I won’t fake her out or let anyone else do that. I agree, it’s mean.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            I know! Just wait until the dog figures out that b-a-l-l = ball. That’s what happened to us with the frisbee, which we’re now calling the discus.

            1. Jessa*

              Exactly. And I was dumb and put the cat brush in my home desk drawer. Now I open that drawer and she’s in my face “Want brush NOW.”

      3. Kelly L.*

        Uggggh, when no one will be the first to attack the food, it drives me nuts. I’m usually willing to take one for the team and accept the mantle of “glutton.” ;)

          1. Jazzy Red*

            It shows leadership and concern for your fellow co-workers. Admirable traits for which you should be commended.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          We don’t have this problem at my workplace. Never, ever stand between TV people & food. It’s a good way to lose an eye.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          We don’t have this problem at my workplace. Never, ever stand between TV people & food. It’s a good way to lose an eye.

    4. ChristineSW*

      I figured making lists or writing letters would be an option, but I’m really trying to learn and observe; I’d be afraid I’d miss something. One thing I’ve thought about trying was doodling–I saw a story on how that actually helps you keep focus during a lecture or meeting.

      1. Laura*

        I know that doodling for a while helps me focus! For other people it’s distracting ,, so it depends. I’ve also done the getting up for a bathroom break when I didn’t particularly have to go, and used that for a little bit of a walk down teh hall. I find just leaving the room refreshes me.

        1. Camellia*

          This! I am an inveterate doodler. Just be cautious though, and kind of keep a lookout for people’s reactions. Some people think doodling means you are not paying attention and get upset about it.

    5. pgh_adventurer*

      All my grad school classes are 3 hours long. When I find myself drifting off, I try asking questions or adding a comment/observation. Helps me wake up a little.

      If that’s not possible, I doodle, vacation plan, or visit AAM and read the comments.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      I calculate my hourly wage, then I sit there and remind myself “I’m making XXX dollars per hour to sit here and pretend to listen to this drivel” and then I imagine how I’ll spend that money, and that makes me happy.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Sometimes that can backfire, depending on how bad the meeting is! I know there’s been times when I’d have paid my hourly wage to NOT be in the meeting. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often.

    7. AmyNYC*

      I think up elaborate ways I could kill myself (or the client, depending on the meeting) using only things in the room. Morbid, but helps the time pass

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like to do something similar, but it usually involves killing masked intruders, zombies, or creatures that burst in and try to take hostage/eat everyone in the meeting.
        I do that in the line at the post office, too. :)

    8. AnonAthon*

      Nerdy suggestion: I speak a second language, but I’m not a native speaker … so I take notes in that language b/c it forces a higher degree of focus, plus I get the added benefit of practicing while working! I’ll also periodically do this when I’m going to veer way off topic in said notes and would rather the person sitting next to me not know :)

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve taken notes in cursive before, since I’m rusty (and it forces me to practice my cursive).

  3. the gold digger*

    Yesterday, my brother, who has been unemployed since June, got a job! I had helped him with his resume and cover letter with what I have learned here and the gracious Kimberlee Steins helped him with his resume as well. And Joey chimed in with some comments on what he wants to see on an architect’s resume.

    He actually got the job because a friend took his resume to the friend’s employer – but I am the one who told him to network shamelessly!

    I have been so worried that he wouldn’t be able to find anything and that his health would get worse (which was why he had to quit in the first place last summer). But it’s a really good job paying decent money with benefits and things are looking up!

    Again, thank you Alison and Kimberlee for all that you teach us.

  4. kas*

    Waited all week for this! Question for you lovely AAM readers: I’ve really been thinking about working abroad, temporarily (max. 1 year) and I was wondering if anyone could share their experience or tips.

    I’m 22, graduated last year and compared to the people I went to school with, I feel like I haven’t experienced much. Most of my friends are still finishing up their 4 year programs because they took breaks to travel Europe and volunteer in Africa whereas I didn’t and finished my 4 years of college on time.

    I would like to work in Europe (marketing/pr) and would appreciate any comments!

    1. Artemesia*

      If you don’t hold an EU passport you will have a very difficult time being allowed to work in Europe. A company would have to bring you in and they are unlikely to be able to get a waiver to bring in a foreign worker for a PR/marketing type job that someone local could do even if they were inclined to do so.

      Americans can travel in Europe for up to 90 days without difficult to obtain extended visas, but this does not allow work.

    2. Cb*

      I hate to be discouraging, but working in Europe is a tough one if you don’t have work authorisation (dual citizenship, etc). Maybe something stateside like Americorps would give you good experience / a bit of an adventure?

    3. Stephanie*

      From my understanding, Europe’s hard because they’re way stricter with visa requirements than the US (at least for jobs that aren’t au pairs or English teachers).

      Have you thought about internships? My college friend did an internship with an engineering company in Paris one summer. She went to an engineering conference and found every company that had a Paris office and gave them a spiel about why she’d be an asset. She said all the company had to do was to provide a letter to immigration saying she was interning there for three months.

      1. kas*

        I know what I will be doing this weekend .. definitely open to internships so I will do my research, thank you!

    4. Stephanie*

      Also, PeaceCorps? I’ve heard if you do your service in Eastern Europe, it’s a little less of a living-in-a-hut experience and you’re a train ride away from all the big Western European cities.

      Another way friends have worked abroad is working at a large company (that has an international presence) stateside and then lobby for a foreign transfer. That way, you can get Giant MegaCorp to sponsor your visa.

      1. Jen in RO*

        You are a *long* train ride away from all the big W European cities, and flying is probably cheaper anyway. (At least if you’re in the EU part of Eastern Europe.) But you do get the Peace Corps experience with less huts!

      2. TL*

        PeaceCorps might be a better option than teaching English abroad, depending on the financial situation. Federal student loans get deferred (no payments, no interest) during PC terms; teaching abroad you still have to pay them and it might be difficult on your salary – depending on where you work – plus it’s around $1000 for a TOEFL certification.

        1. Emma*

          Be careful, however, because PC does NOT defer loans that your parents took out *for your education.* So ParentsPLUS, DirectLoans in your parent’s name, etc. are ineligible (source: I called up these loan companies when I was looking at PC back in 2009).

      3. Anonymiss*

        I second the Eastern Europe idea… I’m originally from Hungary, and by American standards, even with the current price hikes, it’s dirt cheap to live there. The job market, however, blows… so you would need something like Americorps or Peace Corps to get you there. The visa situation is a little more lax than other countries, but it’s also damn near impossible to get a job without either 2-3 major European languages (English + fluent German, French, and/or Spanish) or a decent grasp of Hungarian.

        Before I moved to the States, we were planning to try and get my husband a job in Hungary… we couldn’t. (But he didn’t have a degree.)

    5. Keli*

      My daughter went to Shanghai to teach English for a year. She traveled all over Asia. She loved it so much that she taught for another year in Seoul. She has also been to South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea, Viet Nam, Thailand, India, Nepal . . . and I’m probably missing some countries! She’s not rich — she spent lots of her travel time in hostels and in people’s homes and camping. She didn’t make a lot of money teaching, but enough to do all that traveling. Her experiences were amazing and she wouldn’t trade any of it. While in India, she met her soon-to-be husband, who happens to live 2 hours from us. (They both did the Korean teaching gig together) and when they got back from Seoul, they rode their bicycles from Boston to San Francisco before returning to their previous jobs in California! It all started because my daughter got the travel bug after her second year as an elementary teacher. She is turning 29 next week . . . she did this all in the last three years! I say go for it! You never know what’s waiting for you out there!

      1. Fiona*

        This sounds astonishingly like my cousin’s ESL teaching experience, right down to meeting her now-husband (except after returning stateside they bounced from Seattle (his hometown) to Colorado (just because) before recently relocating back near her family.

      2. Windchime*

        I used to work with a young man who has spent the past three years teaching ESL in South and Central America and now in Seoul. He seems to be having a wonderful time travelling about and teaching.

    6. Anon*

      You can also look into work-holiday visas – I know Canada offers a bunch to various countries. They’re for young people to travel and work in foreign countries, and then you don’t need a formal work visa, which are much harder to get in the EU, from what I understand.

        1. Un - O*

          Doubt you were looking for an answer but…

          Here is my crack pot theory. The US doesn’t believe in them. And I don’t think they have the man – power to process these visas, especially if they don’t philosphically support the idea. It isn’t tradition to go on Walk – About (or what have you), like other countries.

          1950’s model. Go to college, graduate, get a job, house, and family, think about traveling after retirement if you live that long.

          Work and tax contributions to the US first!

          My family never understood why I decided to study abroad. I was interrogated. Why leave the US? Why go to school in another country when you can just finish here?

          “When you graduate and get a good paying job, and your own place, have your student loan paid off, and a decent car [a spouse and two kids you can take your family on ‘vacation’ for a three day weekend to California then]. Once you meet you other obligations then you can have a break.”

          Of course it will take working at least a decade to afford it. And you will probably be faced with an ultimatum at work, because now that you are making “top dollar”, the company cannot possibly spare you for any length of time. And your loyalty is to them… or you are not American.

          Yeah, it’s just not done here.

          1. fposte*

            I think there’s something to that in why people don’t miss the absence that much (though study abroad is certainly popular), but I also think Apollo Warbucks called it–these programs depend on reciprocity, and the U.S. refuses to let other countries in.

    7. Rebecca Too*

      If you’ve graduated in the last 12 months (and are a US citizen) you can get a visa to work in Ireland for up to a year. Obviously there are some restrictions, but it might be worth checking out.

      There are also working holiday visas which a number of EU countries have, but with them I believe you are limited in how much time you can work.

      Also keep in mind there is currently massive unemployment in lots of the EU right now, so finding a job might be difficult, and there can even be lots of competition for internships (and they tend not to be paid).

      But as someone who has lived and worked abroad a lot, and who currently lives in a different continent to the one I’m from, if you can at all, Go For It! It can be a fantastic experience, and I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunities to travel as much as I have. I also think having international experience, and showing you can cope with moving abroad, can be great for your CV, especially if you want to work for larger international companies.

        1. Rebecca Too*

          It’s very new I think, possibly in the last 6 months to a year. Definitely wasn’t available when I graduated.

    8. Apollo Warbucks*

      The only reason it is hard for Americans to come and work in Europe is because you don’t let us come and work in the US, I’m from the UK and could get visas 12 – 24 month working visas for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. I loved the time I spent in Australia and would still be there now but they threatened to deport me, the rules were simple enough you had to have a little money saved, be under 30, not have had a working visa before and only work for the same employee for a maximum of three months.

      this link might be useful

      http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier5/youthmobilityscheme

    9. Chriama*

      It may be hard to get a professional job like PR in Europe with no experience, especially if you only want to be there for a year, but there are definitely a lot of options to see the world and make a (very) little money.

      There are many programs (governments and private companies) that will send recent grads overseas to teach English for a year and you definitely don’t need TOEFL certification. I know of 2 government programs in Canada that will send you to Japan or Korea for a year, but I’m not sure what there is in the US. Do your research carefully and compare what various companies are offering (e.g. do they pay for housing? airfare?).

      If you’re set on Europe, look into being an au pair. Again, lots of programs will send young people away to be live-in childcare for families for the summer. I’d do extra research into these positions just because a young naive woman overseas by herself for the first time is how every kidnap news story begins. Definitely possible, but do your due diligence.

      Finally, there are lots of programs that will send you overseas to volunteer. You probably won’t see much of the big trendy cities, but it will still be life-changing.

      Take your pick!

    10. Anonymous*

      If you have enough money saved up for it, or are interested in a country where tuition is cheap, you could enroll in a university – many countries allow you to get a work permit if you’re a student. The downside is that it’s often for part-time work only.

      If you speak French at all, I highly recommend France for this – when I was there a decade ago, it was actually really common for both French and international students to enroll in public universities with no intention of actually studying, but rather just to be able to say they were doing something, to get student perks and/or to get work permits. And obviously if your French is good enough, you could take the student part seriously and go for a program in marketing or communications or whatever. The entrance requirements are easy to meet, the fees are hilariously low (I paid around 500 euros per year) and include health insurance, and your student ID + being under 26 will get you insane discounts on things like public transport, rail tickets, and tons of other things, as well as the right to very cheap student housing and meals.

    11. kas*

      Thanks everyone for the advice!

      I definitely should’ve mentioned that I’m in Canada. I was considering teaching as I know two people that are teaching in Dubai and Korea. I will look into it again though as it would be a great experience.

      I am also open to working/interning elsewhere.

    12. cali_to_carolina*

      Check out BUNAC – this is how I got a work visa for the UK in 2001 right after finishing University. Worked in Edinburgh Scotland for a summer legally this way. Not clue if the program still works the same way but worth chcking into

    13. College Career Counselor*

      Depending on WHERE in Europe you would like to be, you could consider going with a program that has full-time temporary work opportunities (ie, they will help you with visa issues, work permits, and possibly even placement). bunac.org, ciee.org, mountbatten.org to name a few. Now, doing marketing/pr is going to be harder because that’s a professional position that is going to go to an EU citizen first. But there may well be some options–check out transitionsabroad.com for articles, short and longterm work opportunities, etc. Good Luck!

    14. Anonymous*

      Your race and gender is a bigger deal in Europe than in the US. If you are a woman, it won’t be like your male friend’s experiences, and the severity varies dramatically by country. If you are a minority, it probably will be difficult no matter where you go.

      I worked in Germany for a summer (I am a white female). Overall, it was very interesting, but I would absolutely have gone crazy if I had been there for a year. Their gender BS is pervasive and I have very low tolerance for being treated like that. Europe has a lot more internal variation among countries than the US does among its states.

      Anyway, the real gist of the advice is that you should get a little info about the local expectations and behavioral norms, regardless of your race/gender/religion/etc. It can be wonderful, it can be tedious, it can be enlightening, it can be a trainwreck. You’ll be better positioned to have a good time if you know what you’re getting into.

    15. JC*

      Check out AIESEC – it’s a student-run organization that organizes international work or volunteer exchanges. I used to volunteer for my local committee when I was in university. We’re in over 100 countries and realize over 10,000 exchanges every year.

      https://aiesecus.org/students/

  5. Ashley*

    After 8 years in the finance industry, I have decided on a career change and will be going back to graduate school to get my teaching certificate. I’ve found a mostly online program (except student teaching), but I’m struggling with the financial aspect of not being able to work during student teaching (3 months) and potentially afterwards. I’d have to quit my job when student teaching begins, and then still have a few classes after student teaching ends to finish before getting certified. So, potentially I’ll have no income for 6+ months, and that’s assuming I find a job immediately (my plan is to substitute teach until I find a full time position, so at least some income will be coming in there).

    Has anybody been in this situation before of making a career change to teaching, and if so, how did you handle the money aspect? I am single, so no spouse to help support me during this period, and can’t move back in with my parents to save money. I know student loans are a necessary evil and I could use them, but I’m just curious about others experiences. Does anybody know of any resources for career changing aspiring teachers? Discussion groups, forums, blogs, anything?

    1. Tai*

      I know that in Virginia, there is a program for professionals looking to teach as a second career. They offer classes on the weekends. I forgot how student teaching works, but a friend of mine was able to do it without going 6 months without pay. Maybe there is a similar program in your state?

      1. Stephanie*

        I know KIPP has a fellowship for career changers.

        The one friend I had who switched to teaching basically just saved up for the unpaid summer. =/

    2. AnonymousIdeaSquasher*

      Ack, no! There was a discussion about going into teaching as a second career in one of the open threads a few weeks back.

      My sister did what you’re talking about. She worked all through an M.Ed. program, and because her job was flexible, she was able to hang on to it during student teaching without ever actually working, and was able to go back to it after student teaching. She also worked nights at a for-profit school and tutored for a tutoring company to make ends meet.

      She was certified in chem, physics, and biology, and didn’t get an offer for 2 school years before she decided to make a 3rd career change into something else where she could actually find a job. She also subbed for those two years and still didn’t get an offer from the districts she was working in (6 districts).

      YMMV, for sure, but I’m not certain there’s a huge demand for teachers anywhere right now. I hate seeing people invest a lot of time and money into getting certified if the prospects are poor. I’d be sure to talk to some people in the job market now and find out what they’re experiencing.

      1. Anonymous*

        I wonder where you are? I’m in Northern California and I work for a university teaching credential program that specializes in math and science. Every one of our graduates has had multiple job offers.

        1. AnonIdeaSquasher*

          We’re in the midwest. It could be so many things. . .crappy timing, for one. She finished the M.Ed. in May 2011. 2011 and 2012 weren’t great hiring years. Maybe 2013 and 2014 are better. Who knows? Even if every district she subbed in had 2 science openings, that’s only 12 openings for so many more candidates. And, she might not be that great of a candidate. On paper she was great and did get interviews. She was reviewed well on her student teaching. But, as her sister, I can say she doesn’t have a great presence and I don’t see it as her “passion.” (My son had a 1st year bio teacher one of the years she was applying, in one of the districts, and he was so passionate about biology and had been in a teaching fellowship program.)

      2. Ashley*

        I appreciate the candidness! I know there’s no guarantee of getting a job offer after finishing the program, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve waited to do this for so long…fear. But, it’s something I really want, and I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve decided that I can’t let fear rule my life. I hate my job now, and it’s time to focus on something different. There are never any guarantees in life, and I’d rather take the chance now than look back later and regret not doing it because I was too scared.

        Obviously it’s a major life decision, but I have other skills I can fall back on if needed, and I’m prepared for it to be difficult. It’s just the thought of having to leave a job and guaranteed income for something that’s so unsure that is still grating at me!

        1. TL*

          Look at the job placement rate of any master’s program! The one at my university had 100% job placement rate and the admins worked their butts off to keep it that way. (They were also super selective and not shy about suggesting that people needed to quit, which enabled them to keep it that way.)

        2. Nonprofit Office Manager*

          Just chiming in to say that my husband was able to find a job as as a first year English teacher before even graduating from his Master in Teaching program. For us, the key was to be flexible in terms of location. Most of the other future English teachers in his program were set on working in Seattle or Bellingham (where the university is located). I think only one was able to find a permanent, full-time job in Bellingham (where she did her student teaching). Some of them were “lucky” enough to find temporary or part-time teaching jobs in their desired areas, but most of them are substituting sporadically but paying their bills by waitressing, bartending, etc. This is just to say that your chances of getting a job will be a LOT greater if you are willing to relocate after graduating from your program. Good luck!

    3. Anon*

      I’d say this would be a good time to start saving as much money as possible so you have a good 8-month savings buffer if you don’t already. Not sure if you’re willing to postpone school while building up your funds, but this is what I’d do in your situation. I too am in finance and thinking about a career change but haven’t decided what I’d like to do instead so congrats on having that part already figured out!

      1. Ashley*

        Yeah, that would be ideal…but I can’t put this off any longer, and with having to pay for school itself, it’s going to be difficult to save up anything extra. If only I had made this decision a year or two ago, I could have prepared a little better!

    4. Anonymous*

      Look for a program that offers intern teaching. Intern teaching basically allows you to get a job right away and start earning a salary while you are taking your classes. Not every school will hire an intern, but some will. There are also lots of charter programs that will hire career changers like Stephanie mentioned, although I’ve heard that working for a charter school can mean less regulated job responsibilities – really depends on the charter school.

      Also, if you’re willing to work in a high-needs school district, there are lots of scholarships that will pay for your education, so no loans needed.

      1. Ashley*

        Interesting, I haven’t heard of this before! I’ll have to look into it a little bit more. Thanks!

        1. Nikki T*

          Hi Ashley, some places call it “lateral entry”. The state or local board of education may have pathways to teacher licensure listed on their website. Some have ‘teach while pursuing coursework’ options, depending on what your first degree is in and what you want to teach.

          1. ADE*

            Also, check with your state about its ways to get certified. If you were in New York State you might be able to get a transitional B or C certificate.

            Or you could start teaching at a private school and then go back for your certification in another route.

    5. A Teacher*

      Yes. I did this about 4 years ago to move from athletic training full time at a high school/clinic to become a high school teacher. I did the masters route with certification (now licensure in my state). I took out student loans and managed to work it out with my employer to still be employed at 32 hours a week while student teaching (I student taught where I was the athletic trainer), so that I could have insurance. It is possible to work part time while you student teach–lots of friends and co-workers did and student loans are a necessary evil. Make sure that you are highly qualified in multiple areas if possible (so for me PE, Health, Social Sciences–yeah sociology minor in undergrad!, and I’ve since added a provisional certificate because I teach career tech). You probably would have enough hours for a provisional certificate in business if you worked at least 5 years fulltime in the industry according to many states and federal guidelines–or in my state you would.

      Good luck and hang in there!

    6. Dana*

      If you’re in Ontario, Canada, I’d think twice before trying to get into teaching – I have friends who would make great teachers stuck on the substitute list going on 6 years now!

      To echo AnonymousIdeaSquasher, make sure that your area actually is hiring teachers before quitting your finance job – talk to teachers and see how long they spent on the substitute list before making any big moves.

    7. JM*

      You could go through alternate route or you could get a flexible part time job while you’re student teaching that has night and weekend options.

      1. Ashley*

        This is definitely an option, and one I’ve been seriously thinking about. I’m still worried about timing, because there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to even find a part-time job at the right time, but still something to consider.

        1. Mints*

          A friend of mine waitressed while she was in that grey area of assistant teaching. The hours complimented teaching nicely (afternoons/evenings/weekends)
          She does have like super human stamina though and I’m not sure I would be able to do that

    8. Elysian*

      The New Teacher Project operates some fellowships for people seeking an alternative route to certification, if you want to look into that. They usually come with a guaranteed job at the end, and do most of the certification in a short amount of time so you can work as much as possible. But they usually place in high-risk, hard to fill schools/districts/and subjects. It really has to be your cup of tea, but its an option.

  6. Newbie*

    First-time commenter, occasional reader here. I’m a graduate student (hence the occasional reading), and applied for a competitive summer internship last year, made it to the interview stage, but was ultimately passed over. I’m reapplying this year, though to a slightly different position. Should I mention that I applied last year and was interviewed, or just trust that my application (and my accomplishments since last year) reflects that I’m someone worth interviewing? The application doesn’t have a field to disclose if I’ve previously applied to a position with this institution, though I suppose they could have a record of my previous application in their system.

    1. Chriama*

      I would mention that you applied before and how far you got. Talk about the things you heard in the interview that made you like the company and talk about how you’ve grown as a candidate since the last time you spoke to them. Would you be able to reach out to your previous interviewer at all?

    2. Anonymous*

      Don’t bother mentioning the other application.

      The only exception to this would be if you are planning to work with the same research group.

      The best way to get these internships is still through the old boys’ network, so talk to your adviser and his buddies to try to get a hook-up with an internship. You can get them on merit, but it’s harder.

  7. Stephanie*

    Two questions, both related to job searching:

    1. I’m struggling to keep myself motivated. I know despite the better job numbers, it’s still rough out there. Compounding the motivation issues, I’m one of those millennials searching while living at home. So I get a lot of well-meaning, but terrible, advice (“Home Depot would totally think it’s a plus that you have an engineering degree!”). How would you suggest staying motivated? I’m just really burnt out on searching.

    2. Related to #1, I suppose one (very small) plus is that the search forced me out a dead-end role and field I disliked (granted, I miss having a paycheck and health insurance). Issue is that everything sounds interesting. Building on my past experience and education, lots of things from Teapot Design Researcher to Teapot Sales Data Analyst to Teapot Competitive Intelligence Analyst to Teapot Engineering Consultant sound interesting and applicable. So I’ve been applying and seeing what sticks. Question is, I wonder if this hurts me? Like does it look a bit flaky if I’m like “Well, the Teapot Engineering Consultant role sounded interesting and here’s how my past skill set would lend itself. And sure, I’ll relocate to LA!” Would it help if I had a more narrow focus, like Teapot Engineer I roles in Phoenix?

    1. KLH*

      Actually, since learning you were in Phoenix, I’ve wondered if you want to meet for lunch or happy hour some time. I would be happy to be your cheering section.

      It’s not like there’s a conglomerate of people who are all getting together to gossip about the applications you send out, and if you can legitimately cast a wide net, why not? I would concentrate on one region or area though, just because they might toss your application just because of the relocating possibility if they have lots of good options locally.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I’ve been casting a wide net. I’m completely open to relocation, since I figure I have the most flexibility right now (single, childless, no mortgage).

        Sure, I’d love to! Send me an email at stephanie dot m dot jennings at gmail dot com. I wonder who else here is in the Valley?

        1. Grace*

          I have several friends who were laid off in fields as varied as Electrical Engineering who have been hired as supervisors at Target Stores and like the work.

            1. Stephanie*

              I am! Looking forward to a potential meetup! I’ve always been a bit jealous of the Twin Cities’ meetups.

    2. Dang*

      How many teapot engineer I roles ARE there in Phoenix? I think if you find it interesting, apply. It’s not like they can see all your applications (unless it’s within th same organization, in which case I would focus on one or two roles that you think fit best). As far as relocation goes, just explain in your cover letter than you are targeting the area.

      As far as search burnout, take a few days off sometimes. Then when you look again it seems like there are more jobs to apply to. I get frustrated when I look every day and see nothing, or at best one job I can apply for, so it feels good when I can apply for a few at a time!

    3. Izzy LeighGal*

      Hi Stephanie –

      For number 1 – I know this is extremely difficult. Looking for a job is a job in itself. A few years ago, I was also a millennial living at home while searching. A few tips – don’t beat yourself up too much. Devote four hours a day to searching, and let yourself rest and rejuvenate the remainder of the day. Also, set daily and weekly goals. i.e., “Today, I’m going to finalize my resume and cover letter for X job” and “This week, I’m going to send out Y number of applications.” And, if you can sneak away to a Starbucks or a quiet part of the house to work, that may alleviate some the parental snooping – the “What are you doing” or “Which one is this for?” I know it’s rough, but keep at it.

      For number 2 – it sounds like you’re in engineering, a field which which I’m unfamiliar. But, if you’re qualified for the position and think you’d be a good fit, go for it! If it’s not right, I wouldn’t apply just to apply.

      Good luck to you!

    4. Sunflower*

      1. I feel you on the burn out. So many days I’ve questioned if searching is even worth it- it never feels like anything is going to work out. I think your best bet is to try to avoid parents/house members as much as possible (eek i know!). When I was living at home and searching, I would stay home during the day then go to a coffee shop when my parents came home from work. AAM has great archived advice on what to say when people ask about your job search. The other thing is it’s important to still have time for yourself and the things you enjoy. When i was unemployed, I felt guilty every time I was doing anything except applying or looking or networking. Even if it feels strange, let yourself lay in bed for a couple hours and watch a movie or get drinks with friends. Try to get into a work-out routine if you don’t already have one. One perk to living at home is copious amounts of food so maybe take this time to start eating better.

      I don’t think focusing on one location is going to do you any good. As far as titles, I think if you construct a good cover letter for each, you’ll be fine. It sounds like you know what industry you want to be in and as a millennial, you’re kind of expected to not really know what you want to do. Your skills and knowledge are still growing and jumping to different roles is much easier and makes more sense now than it would later on in life.

      Good luck! I feel you on all these things!

    5. RQSCanuck*

      Hi Stephanie…I don’t have a ton of advice. But I wanted to post something because I totally understand about feeling like you are losing motivation. I am in a similar situation, unemployed and living at home and ongoing job hunting. These last couple of months I have really struggled with being motivated. One thing that I am doing is actually leaving my house to do my job search. I go to my local library because I have found that the change of scene for me has been helpful and it gets me out of my home. I have noticed a change in my motivation since doing that. The other thing that I am trying to incorporate into my routine is that I dedicate a day to getting other things done other than job hunting. Just to give my brain a bit of a rest.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Outting myself here, but you should check out Kiewit. We have an office with openings in your area.

      (Hope this will be buried in the 9000 comments and everyone will forget.)

    7. Anon*

      I’m also a millennial doing a job search (recently graduated, whee), though luckily not living at home! I found that I got super burnt out after applying to at least one job a day + searching for a bunch more, every day for a month, compounded with regular calls from my mom with job search advice. She went as far as “finding” me a position with my aunt as a part-time minimum-wage receptionist… but it was a 45 minute drive away and I don’t have a car, and it’s also not accessible by public transit. (also, my degree’s in engineering).

      I ended up taking two weeks “off” and just lazed around doing things I enjoyed, like baking and knitting and playing video games. Now that I’m back on the “hunt,” I find I have more enthusiasm and I’m less pessimistic about the whole thing! So that’s something to consider. Doing that while living at home might be tough, but even just getting out of the house for an hour to go on a walk would be nice.

    8. RMJ*

      On 1, I’d suggest getting lots of exercise, eating a good diet, and taking up a relaxing hobby, like playing a musical instrument. These little things helped me through a year of unemployment. There isn’t a great answer here. That year was the most depressing, monotonous year of my life. No one understands that burnt out feeling until they have experienced it.

      During my period of unemployment in my field, I did some office work through a temp agency. The work was actually somewhat related to my field, and it ended up helping me land a full time job.

      For 2, I’d suggest applying to any job you are interested in that you are qualified to perform and capable of handling. Let everything else go. Quality over quantity. This might help your burnt out feeling as well. It might feel like you are doing nothing some days. Be ok with that feeling.

      Don’t give up, you will get through this!

    9. Joey*

      You will do much better if you can narrow down the job outlook for each specific discipline. Id start looking at the job posting trends and focus on the specialties that are advertised most in your target region.

      Personally I’m not a fan of the wide net because it can be overwhelming which I think lends itself to a less effective application/ résumé.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hmmm, my background’s kind of varied. I have my BS in Mechanical Engineering (along with my EIT certification).

        After I graduated, I worked in a couple of roles in intellectual property–one at the USPTO and another at a smaller company that did more client-side consulting. I thought I wanted to do IP law, but found I didn’t like the nitty-gritty aspects of it (so good thing I didn’t go to law school…). I still find the big picture ideas in IP interesting.

        Aside from that, I have volunteer work in technical education outreach. I was a mentor for a couple of HS robotics teams through FIRST Robotics and am a docent at the local science museum. I also help out with orders at the warehouse at the public library’s online store (people donate some strange books) and give tours at the one the local historic sites.

        It’s kind of a hodgepodge. I’ve had the best luck with jobs that want a technical background, but need additional soft skills outside the engineering knowledge. For example, I interviewed for role at a large consulting firm in their engineering/construction group. Another interview was for a competitive intelligence researcher for an automaker (focusing on specific engine components).

        It’s just seeing what sticks in terms of who wants engineering knowledge (but someone who hasn’t practiced).

        1. Anonymous*

          I do HR in the A/E/C industry, have you ever though about architectural engineering? I only say this because I spent the whole day at a career fair yesterday and we had really limited candidacy options because most want to go into robotics or electronics. Is the large consulting firm you interviewed at something like this?

          1. Stephanie*

            Thanks! I’ll consider this.

            It was sort of related. The role and practice were more focused on the economic side and focused on things like cost segregation, asset valuation, tax code, etc. But the company wanted you to have the engineering background to understand blueprints, wiring diagrams, machinery, etc.

        2. CC*

          I’m not in your region or in your specific field of engineering, or even a millennial, but a thought for you:

          I haven’t yet landed a job after graduation that started from a job posting. Both full time jobs and the short contracts between were all from cold applications. (Obviously, for a cold application it’s even more important to have an awesome cover letter!)

          The first of the two full time jobs was a company I found by searching my professional association’s member database for chemical engineers (because that’s my field), and making a list of the companies that came up, then sending my resume and cover letter to those, regardless of whether they had a posted opening or not. (Not to the member in the database, but to the company.) I got lots of rejections obviously, but one of the companies called me for an interview some 4 months after I sent in my resume, when they did finally have an opening.

          The second one I was doing the same, plus reaching out to the suppliers I’d worked with in my first job, asking if they had any customers or knew of any companies who could use somebody with my skills. One of the suppliers mentioned a company I’d never heard of before; I looked them up, applied, and had an interview a couple of weeks later, then hired a month or so after that. I especially want to draw your attention to this one, because they were interested in a slightly unusual intersection of three different skillsets that I had. They had holes in all three, but not enough work to hire a whole separate person for each one, therefore no job postings for any of them. My resume landed on the hiring manager’s desk while they were discussing how to handle this.

          Now I make sure to draw attention to some of my less usual skill combinations and experiences in cold applications. You never know where there’s an unadvertised gap of two or three half-jobs that your skills will fit, and it sounds like you have a few seemingly unrelated skills.

          I’m currently doing a combination of applying to job postings (when there’s one that’s appropriate; I check the boards about once a week) and cold applications (when I find an interesting company). So far, more cold apps than job postings.

          1. ADE*

            I’m in another field entirely, but I just wanted to give a thumbs up to the “thoughtful cold application” as described. I landed two internships “cold” this way, because I knew what I was doing, knew where I could be a good candidate, and asked the right kind of generous people to consider my resume.

            I’m in the process of finishing up a grad program and applying for jobs in an exceptionally competitive market for my field. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Alison’s advice about using your company contacts — instead of asking for a referral from them, I told them I applied for the position. They’ve referred me on without my asking for it. It’s nice.

        3. AB Normal*

          “Issue is that everything sounds interesting. Building on my past experience and education, lots of things from Teapot Design Researcher to Teapot Sales Data Analyst to Teapot Competitive Intelligence Analyst to Teapot Engineering Consultant sound interesting and applicable.”

          Stephanie, I’m also an engineer, and I think that it may be very difficult for you to land on a job in Data Analysis / Competitive Intelligence Analysis unless you have a lot of experience in techniques / tools these fields normally use. An engineer degree provides a technical foundation to learn, but since the economy is still in recovery, I know tons of people with this sort of experience (who can hit the ground running using Tableau and other software, for example), so if you keep applying to this type of job, it’s very unlikely you’d land on something.

          Of course, I’m assuming you are looking the requirements and seeing you meet most of them before applying, but I’d narrow down your search, for now, to jobs that actually describe things you’ve done in the past for significant amounts of time to become an “expert” on them. For example, if you do have a lot of experience with statistics, sampling, Monte Carlo simulations, etc., then of course continue to apply to analytics jobs, this is a hot right now and you should be able to find something soon. Good luck!

          1. Stephanie*

            Hi! Thanks for the pointers.

            That particular competitive intelligence role really wanted someone who knew how search technical databases and create landscape studies (which from my patent work…I actually do). But you’re right in that most positions with that title want someone who is a data whiz. I definitely regret not taking more programming and stats classes in college. I’m considering taking a stats class at the local university to diversify my skills (er, once I qualify for in-state tuition…it costs a little too much at the moment).

            What’s hard is balancing what I reasonably can do with figuring out what are transferrable skills. I know with the economy, employers want “have done” versus “can do.” I don’t want to get too literal with requirements because that would basically limit me to more patent work.

            Thanks again for the pointers and I’ll keep all that in mind.

            1. AB Normal*

              You know, there are tons of free courses (check Coursera and MIT, among others) — I took one with Coursera in statistics and it was great. The notion that you need to go back to College to learn this type of skill is a thing of the past! One thing you can do is find an area you really think you’d like (potentially data analyst), look at job descriptions at indeed.com, and find a free course to study that topic. That’s going to make a huge difference in how soon you can land a job in a technical field. Good luck!

    10. Tamara*

      I was in your shoes 2 months ago. Graduated in 2011, still living with parents, finally nailed a job 60 days ago after 2.5 years of searching.

      What got me through was 1) good wine and 2) accepting my feelings and dealing with them. If I was upset about not hearing back I cried in my room, bought a new (albeit inexpensive) dress or had a nice large glass of wine. My family got to a point where they stopped asking me how that interview went or have you heard back from anyone yet (Thank Goddess!)

      But most importantly I followed ALL of AAM’s advice on here through the application phase and interview process.

      I know how much the un/underemployed millennial position sucks but owning my feelings and reminding myself that I’m intelligent and talented despite the job market helped a lot.

      Oh, and I’m a serious reader so I upped my reading which made me feel even smarter and kept my mind off the process as well.

      Good luck to you!

      1. Stephanie*

        If I was upset about not hearing back I cried in my room, bought a new (albeit inexpensive) dress or had a nice large glass of wine.

        I’m now realizing a lot of my favorite dresses are from consignment store shopping during a previous job hunt.

        1. Eden*

          I have to chime in to say, yes to wine and thrift store shopping!

          I’ve moved and have been looking unsuccessfully for a job for 3 1/2 months now. I’m used to having an income, and one of my ‘cheer-up’ activities has always been shopping. Well, with no income on the horizon for the foreseeable future, shopping (and I’m not talking crazy shopping, but a pair of shoes here, a cute top there) has gone by the wayside. And then! I discovered the thrift store! Ooodles of clothes, all $2.99! I can stop in, waste a lot of time looking at tons of mostly very sad merchandise, and feel a sense of accomplishment (hard to come by these days, if you know what I mean) by finding an awesome sweater or great broken-in jeans. I actually tried on a pair of jeans that had $11 in the pocket. I bought them. They’re great, and they paid for themselves.

          And I’m with Tamara, nothing beats a good glass of wine, allowing yourself to feel what you feel, and then moving on.

      2. Courtney*

        This was really comforting. All of the comments to Stephanie were, actually, because I can really relate. I’m in this situation now and the days can be quite gloomy sometimes but I try to get by as best as I can.

    11. Audiophile*

      I’m in the same boat as you are, well, almost. I’m a millennial living at home, trying to stay motivated and ignore the well-meaning but detrimental advice from family.

      A few open threads back, several commenters enlightened me about using spreadsheets to track job apps. This was a huge motivating factor for me, in the first month that I started my spreadsheet, I applied to 80+ jobs. While I’ve slowed down a little in recent weeks, it’s works as a good kick in the butt. I definitely find it difficult to keep motivated, because a lot of friends have found decent jobs, and it makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong. Add to that, I helped several with their resumes and cover letters, because I was “always” getting interviews, it doesn’t exactly boost ones confidence.

      I don’t think it hurts to be open to relocation, just make sure it’s something you really want, both job and location. I’m located in NY, but have applied to positions on the west coast, and applied for positions a few states over from NY. I applied for, a few positions in the Boston area. One resulted in a phone interview, the other an almost interview. The almost interview was a good learning experience, it made me focus my job search in the communications/marketing area. And it almost made me more prepared for reality of incurring those expenses.

      It’s hard to be interested in “everything” and it can be hard to narrow that down. What’s your degree in? I’ve seen quite a few engineering jobs out here, it can take some looking, but they’re definitely here.

      1. Stephanie*

        My degree’s in mechanical engineering. I think the awkward thing (for jobs, I mean) is that I’m too far out from undergrad for entry-level roles and not experienced enough (at least in the “right” thing) for non entry-level roles. My thinking was to try smaller places that might be a little more lenient than Fortune 50 MegaCorp. I usually take it as a good sign if I saw the company just wants a cover letter/resume (versus a profile).

        I go back and forth on relocation. I interviewed for a role in NYC and realized relocating there would be a huge cost. Granted, that’s an extreme example, but even relocating to somewhere with a more reasonable COL still has costs associated (getting the stuff there, housing deposits, car registration, etc). But then I think the market in Phoenix still isn’t great (lots of construction and aerospace), so I don’t want to limit myself too much.

        I did a spreadsheet while I was still collecting UI (which ended abruptly after all the Congressional wrangling.. =/). It was a little bleak when I realized my low response rate, but it definitely helped to keep me organized.

        I probably didn’t phrase being interested in “everything” super well. I think it can feel a bit overwhelming, because a ton of different roles sound interesting and like they could build on my skills. My question was if maybe I was making the search harder on myself by not having some laser-focus on a specific job (and possibly geographic area).

        1. Audiophile*

          I always saw mech. engineering as a strong field. It’s those damned Yahoo articles! ;)

          It’s funny, I applied for a job in the Phoenix area, and was pretty much immediately contacted and told “thanks, but no thanks. Good experience, but we’re looking locally.”

          I’ve gone back and forth on relocation too. I found a good, core group of friends via a meetup group and part of me is terrified of moving away from that, so for now I’ve stopped looking outside of the NY/CT area.

          And I understand that weird middle period, where it feels odd to apply for entry level jobs, but you also feel under-qualified for mid-level or non-entry level jobs. I’ve just started sucking it up and creating, what I feel, is a nice balance. I’m comfortable applying for jobs with 0 years experience (though those are very few and far between) and jobs looking for 3-5 years experience.

          Out of curiosity, what year did you graduate?

          It’s definitely overwhelming, to be interested in a lot of things, I completely agree. I’ve applied for help desk (I was working on a Masters in CS), marketing, admin, and other things in between. It helps to have a little bit of focus, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll completely ignore something outside that.

          As far as relocating goes, NYC is definitely expensive, but the boroughs and Westchester are a little less pricey and the further up you go (Putnam, Dutchess) the less expensive it can be. But only you know if you’d really want to move out this way. If you like Phoenix, and it feels like the best fit stay.

          I’d say, maybe pick up the spreadsheet again. Or start a new one. I enjoy going back to it and adding more jobs. I don’t do it every day, because it would overwhelm me, since it’s more than 100 now, but once a week I’ll add a bunch of jobs. I also commiserate with friends that are still job hunting, it helps to sort of compare notes about what sites we’re using, call-backs etc.

          1. Stephanie*

            I graduated in 2008, worked at one place for two years (and it was a terrible fit) and then worked my next role (which was still kind of a terrible fit, but less so).

            Mechanical, depends on the field. Mechanical in oil and gas=good (for now). Mechanical in aerospace=a little more stagnant.

            The job I interviewed in NYC actually sounded really cool, so I would have definitely relocated for that. And friends reassured me that as long as I wasn’t hoping for a Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle (and didn’t object to outer boroughs or living way uptown, NYC was doable.

            1. Audiophile*

              I graduated in 2008, as well. I had such a hard time finding anything (I equate this more with my lack of focus) that I wound up working with kids for almost 2 years. Then I had such a hard time getting out of that field, that I took a job with a staffing company, working as a receptionist in a school. That was nice job, but budget cuts meant that I was going to get cut, so I pushed the company to let me interview with a corporate financial company they have, which is where I work now. I’m hoping with enough persistence I will find my way back to marketing/communications field.

              I would definitely give NYC or even jobs in Westchester another look-see. I’m sure there’s companies looking for people with engineering backgrounds.

          2. ADE*

            I keep a spreadsheet because it helps me see patterns in response rates and analyze my own trends. I make notes about what I put in the cover letter, whether I need to follow up with a transcript, etc.

            Have you thought about narrowing your search down a little bit and investing in PD or attending conferences in your field or sub-field?

  8. DB5*

    Had a job interview last week to do PR for a tv station in my city. As I was walking, some guy kept trying to get me to answer questions about various events around the city. I was feeling nervous and trying to go over my talking points in my head so I tried to politely decline to speak but he kept at it so I just ignored him and kept going. As I was being introduced to the person I’d be interviewing with, in walks the guy. He was out doing on the street sort of reporting for the station.

    How worried should I be about the fact that I had just brushed him off and the impression it may have left on him/if he would have talked to my interviewer about it?

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Reporters out getting MOS interviews get brushed off all the time. Occupational hazard.

      Our reporters have a hard time finding the Creatives Services/Promotions/Public Relations offices. It’s just not part of their day.

    2. Goofy Posture*

      A reasonable interviewer would account for the fact that you were nervous and trying to focus. If you came across in the interview as personable and helpful, that should mitigate any concerns.

      Also, in one of those “l’esprit d’escalier” things, you could have made a casual comment about it at the end of the interview – “Oh I hope I didn’t offend your colleague when I wasn’t responsive to his reporting on the street! I was trying to keep my nerves at bay.” Just something to keep in mind for future awkward situations.

    3. DB5*

      Thanks to the both of you! Goofy, that is a good idea I will keep that in mind for next time. I just didn’t acknowledge it and have been feeling awkward ever since.

      The interview in general threw me for a loop, one of those “can’t tell if you are just really uninterested in talking to me or today’s an off day for you or you’re new to interviewing” kind of deals, whole thing felt really rushed. Interviews are usually my strong point in the job process and this one has me questioning EVERYTHING because it was one of the most unreadable situations I think I’ve ever been in.

  9. Machiamellie*

    So I work in a 4-person cubicle pod. The gal I sit next to is great, no issues. Across the pod though are 2 men who constantly fidget and “jiggle” their legs up and down. So I’ll be working away and I start to hear tictictictictictictictictictictictictic. Once you start hearing it, you can’t ignore it. And it goes on all day long.

    I did say something to the worst offender once, along the lines of “oh you must have lots of energy today, you’re jiggling a super lot!” and he just smiled and was like “yeah lol”

    I am friends with his manager and mentioned it in passing to her in a joking manner, and she said “yeah he drinks Red Bull all day, he has way too much excess energy.” So she’s aware of it but doesn’t think it’s something to talk to him about.

    So my questions are: 1.) is it reasonable to be annoyed by the constant tictictictictictictic, or am I overreacting and should just wear my earphones all day every day, and 2.) if I’m not overreacting, should I bother trying again with his manager?

    1. Ash*

      Why is it that guys can’t seem to keep their legs still?

      Can you wear earplugs or listen to music to try to block it out?

    2. Tai*

      I used to work in a four-person cubicle pod. One of my co-workers had all sorts of ridiculous tics. Some of them, like slapping the desk repeatedly, I was able to get him to stop doing. Others, like leg jiggling, are one of those things that you may not be able to stop. I was able to tune out some of his audible quirks over time. If it has been a while and you can’t focus, pop on those headphones as long as that is OK with your manager.

    3. AB*

      Oh my goodness, my husband does that and it drives me insane, esp in the car. With him I can usually put a hand on his leg and say “stop it or it’s coming off!” But that would probably a massive no-no at work.

      I did have a co worker who used to pace when he was thinking. He would back and forth right next to my cube just in the corner of my eyesight and it would break my concentration. One day I just politely pointed out that I found it distracting and asked if he could refrain from doing it. He did his best to curb it. He would forget sometimes, and I would just catch his eye and give him a pleading smile and he would remember and stop again.

    4. Molly*

      I think it’s more something you need to talk to him about. It’s not a job-related behavior, more like a social one. You might look petty or unable to solve your own problems if you go to the manager about this. I haaaate multiple-person cubes for this reason. I have a coworker that drives me crazy, but at least I don’t have to sit next to him.

    5. Chriama*

      Whether or not I speak up would depend on my relationship with them. If you’re mostly friendly with them and they wouldn’t take it badly, just tell them “I know it’s an unconscious habit for you but it’s one of my weird pet peeves. Could you try holing your legs still? Thanks.”
      If they would take that personally or you’re not close enough to ask them to tolerate your quirks, I think you’re unfortunately SOL. Maybe try jiggling your own leg in response?

    6. fposte*

      I think it’s understandable to be irritated, but I don’t think that means he’s required to stop it. I also think that you feel like you asked him to stop it, but you actually didn’t. Try asking him directly–he may be willing to work on reining it in.

      But even if he can’t, I wouldn’t bring in a manager–it’s not wrongdoing, and it’s pretty petty. Find a way to focus past it.

      1. A Bug!*

        I agree that simply commenting on the fact that the guy’s leg is jiggling is not the same thing as letting him know that it’s irritating and you would like him to stop.

        Since he’s not jiggling his leg at you, it’s not really on him to be watching for nonverbal cues about your comfort. Being more direct will either solve the problem or give you more information to use when deciding your next step, if any.

        As a leg-jiggler, I do try to notice whether or not my jiggling is noticeable, but I don’t always realize I’m doing it and I really don’t mind someone asking me to cut it out.

      2. Anon scientist*

        I am a leg-jiggler (sorry!). I have an excess of energy and although I sort of shake things out on my frequent water/pee breaks, it can be almost impossible to stop moving if I’m deep into work -if I’m still because I’m concentrating, that energy has to go somewhere. I can, however, make sure that I’m not causing anything else to vibrate. But if I’m being annoying, you need to speak up. It’s unconscious.

    7. thenoiseinspace*

      Heck yes it’s reasonable to be annoyed!

      My former roommate had cargo pants with tons of snaps that she never actually snapped. She bounced her leg all the time, and the metal would rattle together. To this day, I still call her Jinglepants.

    8. ChristineSW*

      No advice, just my complete empathy. That would drive. me. bananas.

      Although I do agree with fposte – that is not something the manager needs to be involved with.

    9. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Ugh. My sympathies. I work with someone who is a leg-jiggler & a finger-tapper. We share a long counter space during newscasts & the tapping vibrates the whole counter.

      I had to have elbow surgery for a pinched nerve and the way I sit to reach everything, my elbows rest on the counter. She did the finger-tapping thing once after I got back and I had to tell her if she kept it up, I would have to saw her arms off with a plastic knife because it hurt my elbow so damn badly.

    10. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      Ugh, we have a few leg-bouncers at work. Luckily I don’t have to work closely with any of them, although being in a small meeting room with one sitting next to me on each side for a couple of hours one week was a bit much. My sympathies…

    11. LauraG*

      Please understand that I’m not discounting your discomfort, but I don’t think there’s anything else you can do.

      I’ve noticed, ever since I went through a really stressful time and dealt with a depression/anxiety period, that when my anxiety starts coming back, my leg will start jiggling. I really can’t do anything to control it. Thinking about making it stop makes it worse because now I’m anxious about the fact that my leg is jiggling.

      So, while you were told it’s a Red Bull thing, it could be something else and he’s already dealing with it the best he can.

    12. Anonymous*

      It is reasonable to be annoyed, but this is the kind of tic that is very hard to control.

      I wouldn’t consider it unreasonable to ask for some accommodation – if the noise comes from hitting a desk or floor or something, then try a floor mat or pad-under-the-desk solution. You can try asking him to stop, but it’s probably so unconscious of a behavior that he will have difficulty accommodating you.

      If he can’t stop this behavior or quiet it down, then you should start doing what you can to ameliorate its effects on you, starting with headphones and earplugs. Move on to asking politely for a cube shuffle if you can’t find a workaround.

      It is completely ridiculous to expect his manager to weigh in on this, though. Talk to the actual person who is annoying you. Reserve your complaints to management for more serious issues. If one of my underlings took this kind of thing to me, I would think she was passive-aggressive and childish not to resolve it on her own. Management is not your mother, settling quarrels between you and your co-workers. Management is there to provide work direction, and when needed to settle major personnel disputes or productivity issues.

    13. kas*

      I’m a leg “jiggler” and I don’t realize I’m doing it until someone points it out to me. I don’t make any noise but if you’re sitting next to me, I’m sure seeing my leg shake constantly can be annoying. I can take a hint though so if someone mentions it I’ll stop.

    14. Windchime*

      I don’t know what to tell you. I used to work with a guy who constantly cleared his throat and make a sound like “pkew”, kind of like you’d make if you were pretending to shoot a gun with your fingers. It was such a nervous habit that I truly wondered if he had a form of Tourette’s Syndrome. I did my best to tune it out but boy, it was sure annoying.

  10. Juli G.*

    I just started a new role at my company. My boss’s boss had some concerns about my fit for the role (around experience and valid) but ultimately supported my hiring.

    He wants to meet with me on a quarterly basis – extremely normal and I look forward to it. The problem is that he asked me to reach out to the dept admin (who officially reports to his boss) to schedule our meetings. It’s not abnormal in my org for a dept admin to do this but when I made the request, she told me she didn’t have time.

    I CAN schedule the meeting and honestly have no issue doing do but I feel like it will somehow look bad to ignore what boss’s boss said especially when I haven’t impressed him yet. Any advice? Do I tell him it’s bc she was busy and I wanted to get on his calendar ASAP (in our type of job, back to back meetings are a way of life)? Am I overthinking?

    1. Donna*

      I would reach out to him, and CC her (his admin), and say something along the lines of, how would you like to handle scheduling our meetings as ‘so and so’ does not have the bandwith to schedule them at this time. Then offer that he share his calendar with you, or if he prefers, that you send the meeting requests directly to him. There is a scheduling assistant within Microsoft Outlook that will show you when an attendee is free or busy. This will show that you did not firget, and that you are trying to resolve his request. He can choose to tell her she needs to find the time, restructure her workload, or allow you to schedule directly with him.

    2. Artemesia*

      Did you tell the AA that Boss requested that you schedule appointments with him through her? Does she in general keep his calendar and schedule his appointments?

      If so and she still resists then schedule directly and remark that the AA indicated that she was too busy to schedule you. But if not, raise this with her first as in “I know you are busy, but Boss specifically asked me to schedule through you; how do you want me to handle this?”

      1. some1*

        This. I’m an admin and if she used being as an excuse because she doesn’t want set a precedent for scheduling your meetings because it’s outside her duties, she should have said something like, “As a general rule, I only provide that level of support for BigBoss”

        1. Juli G.*

          An easy resolution presented itself – a belated announcement that the admin is changing roles came out and is in a half/half situation. That explains why she’s too busy and gives an easy way to explain why I’m scheduling myself.

    3. Chriama*

      Try telling the admin that the boss explicitly asked you to schedule it through her, and ask what she’d rather you do. As a new person I think you have to tread lightly until you’ve sussed out the organizational politics, so I wouldn’t speak to the boss without clearing it with her for fear of seeming like you’re “tattling”. If she says you should do it yourself, then you let the boss know she asked you to do it yourself (as an aside, not in a way that makes it seem like you’re calling out the admin).

    4. Anonymous*

      I think the boss just wants to meet with you regularly, thought the admin might be able to help, and threw the admin’s name out for scheduling things. I don’t believe for a minute that he cares who schedules the meetings as long as they happen and don’t impact his schedule negatively.

      Just schedule the meetings yourself.

      If this is part of a bigger struggle with the admin over her role, pick a different issue to complain about to management.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. Very unlikely that the boss cares who is doing the scheduling and just gave the initial instruction because he figured that would get it done easily.

  11. Sunflower*

    How influential are Personality Index Tests employers give before hiring? I’m doing one today for a job I really want. I’ve interviewed and was given the test which I’m told by my contact at the company is a very good sign as not everyone is asked to do it after the interview. I know there is no way to ‘pass’ it but all the questions are so left and right. And I’m only allowed to choose ‘in between’ for 9 out of 76 questions. Confession: I applied for a job at Chili’s in college and was not hired because I did not pass the test. So I’m really nervous! Any help!

    1. Donna*

      Do not fret about this, the traits they look for in Service may not be the same triats they will look for in this position, I too failed one for Food Service, but aced the ones for my professional careers. Be honest, or honest enough without sounding like a nut job, as you want to work for a place that fits your personality traits. The only issue would be if you are taking one for Hospitality, as this one will be much closer to the one you prevoiusly took, but also, you are older now, and its possible your answers might have chnaged to reflect the new you post-college.

      1. She*

        I know a little something about these, and one of the main things they ‘measure’ is consistency. They are looking for honesty and strightforwardness, especially in hospitality, where employee fraud is so common. If you’re paying close attention, you will notice that some questions are repeated later on in the test, using different wording but asking basically the same thing, so just make sure your answers are consistent throughout and you should be fine.

        1. She*

          Sorry, I shoudl add that I’m not implying dishonesty or anything, given that you didn’t ace the test before, but sometimes we get nervous and second guess ourselves and give inconsistent answers. Be confident and truthful, and keep in mind that you’re not likely to answer ‘wrong’ and it’ll be fine. :)

  12. Feeling Blue*

    Nothing work related here. Just still feeling sad because my brother suddenly passed away last week, after struggling with addiction almost all his life. We had not been close in recent years, due to things he did and choices that he made that made me very angry, because of what they did to my parents. And now he’s gone, along with any chance we might have had to heal the rift.

    So I’m sad…sad that he wasted his life, sad that my mom has to know the pain of losing a child, and sad that I have very few happy memories of my brother. Someone told me to focus on the good times I had with him, but there really aren’t that many.

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m so sorry. Sudden loss is very difficult to deal with, especially in a situation where someone you love is struggling with addiction. It never hurts to talk to a professional, even if you aren’t sure it will help. There are also lots of support groups for those who’s loved ones are struggling/have lost loved ones to addiction. Just because you go once doesn’t mean you have to go all the time either. Do what feels right. Once again, so sorry. I can’t imagine.

    2. Steve*

      So sorry to hear about your loss.

      One thing I learned when my sister passed away a few years ago was that everyone always asked how other members of my family were doing. “How’s your mom?” “How’s your niece?” “How’s your brother-in-law?” At first it really made ME feel bad, I mean, these were MY friends who were never inquiring as to how I was doing.

      But I was wrong. Please keep in mind that you most certainly do have friends who care about you during this time even if they don’t have the right way of showing their concern for you. Sometimes they think that by asking how you’re doing you’re going to really tell them how you are and they’re not prepared for that.

      There aren’t a lot of resources for people who lose siblings as adults. It’s a situation that can really get you down and make you feel alone; many people you encounter don’t understand that – either because they’re only children or they have yet dealt with that kind of loss. I hope you can find the things you need to bring you some peace.

      1. Feeling Blue*

        I’ve gotten quite a bit of that too, mostly people asking about my mom. She is a very strong person, but this is such a difficult thing for her.

        I’ve actually been OK with people asking me that, because that’s been my main focus as well. And I think that because, as terrible as it sounds to say, what happened to my brother was not a huge surprise, although it was a shock that it was so sudden. I always feared that something like this would happen to him, but I hoped that my mother would not have to be here to witness and go through it.

    3. Feeling Blue*

      Thank you everyone. What’s really sad is that he’d met a very nice woman a couple years ago, and they were planning to get married in a couple months. She was really good to him, and made him quite happy. I think happier than he’d been in a very long time, and happier than he’d ever expected to be again. So I’ll always be thankful for that, but I wish he would have known that peace and contentment for longer than he did.

      He was very troubled, and his addiction was triggered (at least in part) from his time in combat when he was in the military. So I tried very hard to remember that, and have empathy for that, but I was not always successful.

      1. Goofy Posture*

        It’s ok to have complicated grief. To be angry with him, to be sad for all the things you’re sad for. It’s also ok to ignore well meaning outsiders. I had a good relationship with my mom, but when she died people told me all kinds of things that irritated me.

        Everyone’s different, but it took almost 3 years to really feel normal again, and her death wasn’t a shock (terminally ill.) Give yourself permission to be human, to be emotional, to say all the wrong things, and screw up.

        If you’re having trouble coping, or feeling isolated, PLEASE look into counseling. Therapy is my favorite thing in the world (behind a regular cleaning service) for helping me feel competent and able to face my challenges.

        1. TL*

          Seconding the therapy – I did something really out of character, went to a counselor, and he was like, “you’re surprisingly normal/mentally healthy and there’s not a lot I can see that you need to work on; what are your goals?” and it turned out all I really needed was to talk.

          but just talking about life to a professional helped me really clarify and deal with some things.

          I’m so sorry for your loss.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Complicated grief. Well said. Yes, it is okay to have many emotions all at once. It’s okay to flip from one emotion to another to another… that is the mind processing all that you see.
          Nothing is ever a straight line. There is always more to the story.
          Grief is kind of like this: You have a book. Someone takes your book, tears all the pages out and throws them all over. Now you have to pick the pages up and put them back. But you decide that you need to put them back in a different order because that would be more useful to you now. You kind of figure out which chapters are more important to you than other chapters. (yes, on top of everything else this can be an annoying process.)
          And it takes a bit of doing. Some people will be very kind and some people will be totally thoughtless. The most important thing is that you be kind to you. You cannot control how others behave, you can only control how you treat yourself.
          There are some great books out there on grief. The best are the very short ones- just my opinion. And yeah, you lost him twice. So you have several griefs running concurrently.
          I wish you and yours comfort and peace.

          1. Feeling Blue*

            Lost him twice — that is rather profound, and so very true. Like everyone has said (and thank you all again for all your kind words), I did what I thought was right at the time. It stemmed partly from anger at him, I must admit, but mostly I was trying to do what was necessary to protect my parents and make sure they didn’t experience any blow-back because of the choices he made.

            His fiance really is a lovely person. I don’t know her that well, but I emailed her to invite her to a little birthday get-together we’re having for my daughter’s 5th birthday this weekend. This is for those who want to celebrate, but not at the gathering with 20 hyper kids jumping on trampolines! Anyway — she emailed me to ask what my daughter’s favorite colors are, so that she could crochet her a scarf.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              B-day party. Perfect. And she said yes. Perfect.

              You are doing quite well. That is how tough-tough-tough this stuff is. It’s probably one of the harder experiences you will face in life.
              And good people question themselves, their actions/words/etc. Cold people never once wonder if they should have done something different or wish the situation could have been better. You do have a heart and you do have compassion.

    4. Anon, good nurse*

      So sorry for your loss, and I empathize. I lost my father about a year ago, after many many years of a similar situation as your brother. My dad had really turned it around in the last few years of his life, but it took me too long to realize he really had changed, so I missed out on enjoying him as a happy, mentally healthy person.

      It’s tough. I still get really sad thinking about the lost opportunities. I don’t have any advice except that it helps to find someone you can talk to. Good luck.

      1. Feeling Blue*

        Yes, I’m having some of those same feelings too. I had kind of dismissed him, just because of everything he put the family through, especially my parents. About 12 years ago he did something that made me have to be the b*itch and prove to my parents that he’d been lying to and manipulating them, and they were both just crushed. I was so angry at him for putting me in that position that I never fully got past it.

        Now, after spending some time with his fiance and talking more with other members of my family, I’ve found out that he had gotten to a point which for him, was pretty OK. Everyone really liked his fiance and he’d started being decent company again. So I just wish I hadn’t been so harsh and judgmental.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          *hug* You are human. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have reacted the same in your situation.

          I really, truly believe that when we pass over, we get a chance to see things from all points of view. Your brother will understand your feelings. Going by what you said about him being OK, I’m sure he already knew that you loved him and you did what you felt was right.

          1. 22dncr*

            You got it Elizabeth – truly believe that and it helped me deal with an alcoholic and disappearing father once he died. Not worth it to hold on to any angst as it all evens out in the end.

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            I hope so. I know that he was aware of how hard his addiction was on the whole family, but he was not strong enough to overcome it. I hope he’s at peace now, wherever he is.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            This. I believe we all play a particular role in people’s lives. And it could be that your role was to be a constant reminder of where the right road is. This, of course, freed up other people to play other roles.

            We just don’t know- we can’t prove these things. Maybe he had a few good years because of you. There is no way to know. You did the best you knew how at the time. Always remember that.

        2. Grace*

          Sorry to hear of your loss. Al-Anon meetings can be a good place to get help with the losses around a loved one’s addiction. (His fiancée may benefit from going as well.)

        3. Anon, good nurse*

          I totally understand your feelings about wishing you had not been harsh or judgemental, after talking with people who were in his life. I knew that my dad had turned things around, and was lucky to have had a few visits with my father after his life was put back together. But the visits were understandably awkward, after 20+ years of not speaking. It was really hard for me to forgive him, and enjoy the time. Luckily my last visit was pretty good, but in a weird way that almost made me sadder when he died- like I got a glimpse of what I had been missing, and now would never have a chance to get more of. It almost would have been easier not having enjoyed my last visit…maybe I would have been less attached that way? I don’t know, maybe that is a really f-ed up way to look at it.

          And then when I went to his funeral, and talked with so many people about what a great person he really was, how strong he had been to fight his addictions, and what an inspiration he was to other people, it made me really happy for him, but so so sad that I had not made more of an effort to spend more time with him. I also felt weirdly jealous of these people, who had known someone that I really didn’t even know. It’s so hard not to feeling guilt, and sadness about it. But whenever I do feel those overwhelming feelings, I think about how happy he was, and I am so glad that he was able to find happiness. Maybe it will be a comfort to you knowing that your brother had been happy.

          All of this is just to say, I think your feelings and actions, both during his life and now after his death, are normal. And I hope you can find some peace with his knowing he had some peace before he died.

    5. A Teacher*

      Very sorry for your loss. I think every family has a certain level of dysfunction and when something tragic happens it makes us rethink what we’ve said and done and maybe value the bit of good we could see or did see at one time in the person. I will keep you in my thoughts.

  13. KarmaKicks*

    I’m curious whether anyone else has been hit by increased flood insurance.

    We bought a house last March that is across the street from a river. It’s older, and the cutest little cape cod. It was our first house buying experience and we were more concerned about whether the house had ever flooded than looking into what had been going on with flood insurance (naive, I know). Thankfully, the house has never been flooded and flood insurance came in fairly reasonable meaning our mortgage was right where we wanted to be. Now we find out that subsidies ended (which we didn’t even know existed) and our flood insurance went up over $2k a year! That knocks our budget for a loop. I look around the internet and see some people have had increases of 8k-9k, so, thankfully, we weren’t hit as hard. It’s too expensive to raise the house and I’m not sure flood vents will help the cost, so at this point all we can really do is pay it. But I have a fear that the insurance will continue to rise and we won’t be able to stay in our house, let alone sell it! This comes at a point where I’m trying to decide whether to stay in my current job or go to one that may not pay as much, but is much closer to home. I’m just so frustrated by this!

    1. 22dncr*

      Yep – I am 1 – read that 1 – inch into the Flood Zone and it doubled my insurance! Also learned that if you ever have to re-build remember to raise your house up enough to get out of it (if you can). Worked with a guy that flooded and re-built. After he was about finished his neighbor came over and said: “So how much did you raise your house?” The guy had NO IDEA he could even do that!

  14. NylaW*

    I just need to rant a minute.

    I know we talked about performance reviews a week or two ago, but UGH now I have to write my 2014 goals and my manager is being no help. He sent out the department “scorecard” which has our general department goals and scores based on organizational metrics, but it’s really difficult to align goals to one sentence filled with management buzzwords. I feel like he’s trying to get out of sitting down with us one on one (yes, scheduling 20 individual meetings might be a pain, but come on! it’s part of your job!).

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Ugh, I feel your pain. I started a brand-new job a couple of weeks ago and was told that I needed to come up with my 2014 goals by the end of my second week. My position is entirely unique, I actually have no job description at this point, and had to come up with initiatives that reflected 3 different departmental goals and the organization’s goals as well. (I do not even know what the departmental or organizational goals *are* yet.)

      I panicked. Then I just forced myself to come up with something. My manager told me I was too ambitious. Oh, well.

      1. NylaW*

        (I do not even know what the departmental or organizational goals *are* yet.)

        Yes exactly! An organization wide message was sent out that the goal plan portion of our PM system was ready for 2014 goals to be entered. I waited a week and a half to see if my boss would say something and after he didn’t, I sent him a message asking what the department goals were and if we would be scheduling individual meetings. He replied to that message, cc’d the whole department, and attached our department scorecard for 2014 and basically didn’t answer anything.

    2. Graciosa*

      Okay, this may be a slightly radical idea, but is it possible for the department (or portions of it) to work on goals as a team? We have done our goals this way very effectively at multiple levels, meaning my peers and I worked out our goals with our boss in one big meeting, as did the team that reports to me.

      We looked at the scorecard and goals from higher levels of management and talked about how we were going to meet them, and who wanted which projects. We did this in a meeting room with spreadsheets projected up on the screen. This did not finalize all the goals (we each have a personal development goal which was not shared) but it covered most of them, and was a great experience.

      As a manager, I loved the fact that I had one session with my team and we knocked out everyone’s goals in under two hours. This is much less time than would have been required for individual meetings, but I have to say part of the success was the fact that I have a great team – very open and collaborative.

      As an employee, I loved the camaraderie, and I didn’t have to go through multiple rounds of discussion with my manager, who had to make sure that a certain span of work was covered. When it’s done in individual meetings, it’s a lot harder. I suppose this could be avoided by having the manager dictate, but we all prefer the participation.

      Even if your manager is not likely to initiate this, you could get together for a “brainstorming and collaboration” session on goals with an appropriate group of your peers. This wouldn’t work in some cultures – or if your boss is resistant to it – but he or she might not care how the goals are finished as long as the manager’s needs are met.

  15. Anon for this one*

    So, how’s this for dysfunctional?

    I work for a small-ish nonprofit (about 40 people on staff). “Director” was the senior level position for each department, plus a CFO, ED and President.

    Yesterday we get an email from the CFO that two Directors are in essence being demoted, but instead of losing their titles as “Directors” they’re just adding another layer of seniority (Chief Officers). They were told about this before Christmas and the rumor mill was started in the office but many didn’t find out until finding the job postings online prompting a very vague and ambiguous email from the CFO saying something like “we’ll be adding staff at all levels” and then “please know [the two people being demoted] are still valued assets to the team.” He didn’t actually say that they are being demoted or that specifically these new positions are being added.

    So now, our titles mean even less with this new layer of seniority so I asked for a title change this morning. We’ll see what happens with that one…

    1. Yup*

      The cynic is me is so amused by displacement management activities in small offices. My old NPO used to get reeeeeeeeally angsty about senior titles and reporting structures, and would move everything around in a giant dust cloud of confusion every eighteen months that left all the staff… having the same meetings, with the same people, about the same problems. I remember thinking, “You do know that we can see you, right? You’re not invisible, or doing all this behind a secret curtain that we can’t open?”

      1. smallbutmighty*

        Hahahaha! YES. Same meetings, same people, same problems, but . . . LOOK AT THE SHINY NEW ORG CHART!

  16. Anon, a mouse!*

    So… I prepare this monthly report. It’s a high-level report that pulls contributions from around 20 people and goes out to the top executives in a large company. Since I started working on it a year ago, I have had nothing but problems. The report used to be this massive 25 page behemoth (that no one read and was riddled with errors) that I’ve pared down to an interactive, user-friendly, easy to read format.

    The problem is, I have no end of trouble getting people to contribute. Each of the contributors has a very simple job: they need to give me a short update on the specific part they oversee. 2-3 sentences. It shouldn’t take them more than 10-15 minutes to write and e-mail to me. But I have the worst trouble getting people to contribute. I have set up reminders on each of their calendars. I send out a monthly reminder e-mail. I usually either have to call or stop by their offices in person, and even after all that there are still several who get me the information up to a week late. There are literally only 2 people who get this info to me on time. Because of this, the report is always sent out late, and the executive who is in charge of the department is constantly upset with me about it. I have brought to his attention, on several occasions in several different ways, the fact that I am having trouble getting his team to contribute on time, but he always throws back that it is my responsibility to get them to do so. I am at my wits end with this stupid report. Any creative suggestions for how to get people to contribute on time, and/or to get the executive to support me (AKA: take his team to task)?

      1. Anon, a mouse!*

        Unfortunately, the deadlines are set by the executive and were discussed in a meeting with his team so I can’t get away with that.

        1. Gjest*

          They may know the ultimate deadline, but you could start giving them your deadline. As in “in order to meet the deadline of X, I need your information to me by Y at the latest.”

          Might not help much, but it’s something.

    1. some1*

      I have to do something similar, but with only half a dozen people. I give them a deadline of two-business days before I literally need it, and if I don’t have it that morning I email them and CC the person’s supervisor.

    2. Judy*

      Probably not a good idea, but send the report on time with the information you have, and “UPDATE NOT AVAILABLE FROM JANE” (in red if you use colors) in all the other sections.

      Maybe you could send out a draft the day before the due date like that, and say if you don’t have updates by 2pm tomorrow, this is what the report is?

      1. Anon, a mouse!*

        The report has to be reviewed by the executive, and I have, in the past, sent him the report on time but full of holes with the names of the responsible parties highlighted in each section. However, the exec said I was wasting his time and not to send him the report unless it was complete.

        1. Chriama*

          I think you should call people and get them to tell you the report over the phone. You write it down and compile the report. It isn’t fair, but it seems like the most practical solution. You could also ask your manager how you should meet the exec’s needs when you can’t get cooperation from the rest of the department.

          1. Mephyle*

            I vote for this one, too. Since it’s only 2 or 3 sentences, I think you can get them to tell you and write it down yourself. It seems it would be easier than the present tooth-pulling process.

          2. Jazzy Red*

            I was going to suggest that you go into each person’s office or cubicle with a notepad and pen, and ask them to tell you what their update is. You can write it down and go on to the next one.

            Since your executive has to OK this, it’s not acceptable to be late. Do what you have to do to get the info you need.

            1. smallbutmighty*

              This. Walk around to their cubes with an actual notebook and pen, ask the questions, and write down the answers. Bring candy!

            2. Not So NewReader*

              And plead…beg…barter….
              I guess if push came to shove, I would tell them one of two things:
              The Big Boss said this is not an option.
              OR
              I’ll just write something/anything for you.

    3. Chriama*

      Propose a couple solutions to the exec who demands the report from you. Clearly explain
      1)what you’ve tried so far (e.g. I send monthly reminders, have a calendar notification and call or stop by people’s offices)
      2)why it hasn’t worked (they ignore the email, when I talk to them in person they tell me they’ll do it but it seems they forget it again) 3) what you propose (e.g. I will call everyone and get them to give it to me verbally, then compile the report myself)

    4. fposte*

      Can you directly ask the people who find it hard to get to this what you could do to help them produce the info for you? Can you reach out to support staff who probably do the actual preparation to see if you can get info from them instead?

      Ultimately, the problem is that this isn’t the priority for the other people that it is for you. Absent support from the exec or the ability to offer incentives there’s not much you can really do to change that.

    5. Sadsack*

      How about you start copying the executive when you send the second reminder for someone on his team? Just doing that may motivate the procrastinators. I’d ask the executive if he would mind if you do that.

    6. Brett*

      This will sound so stupid, but it works so well and requires the exec to budget about $25-$30/month towards the report and takes up some of your time (but will probably save you time).

      Get a list of all of your contributors favorite candies. Get a couple from each person so you can hopefully narrow down your shopping list :) Or an appropriate candy substitute if they will not take candy even once a month.

      Each month 1-2 days before the report is due (but not on a Friday) go by each person’s office and drop off their candy with a post-it that says, “The monthly report is due. Thank you for your contribution this month!”

      Sincere thanks plus guilt plus sweets. So effective.

      We do this with embarrassingly critical stuff, like getting people to update dispatching boundaries so 911 will continue to function (and since we are public, we pay for the candy out of our own pockets). It works extremely well.

      1. KAS*

        This totally works BTW. Last time I had to source big project help from peers–I brought in jam/goat cheese thumbprints. One person actually remarked, “geez, now I REALLY have to do a good job.”

        Reciprocity = Magic

    7. Labratnomore*

      Send them all an e-mail that cleary states that the executive has stated the he needs this report by X day and to complete it they are required to submit their information to you by Y day. Make it clear that the executive is asking for this information, not you. If they still don’t respond bring the issue to their supervisor and let the supervisor know that they are not completing a task that the executive requires that they do. It really is the executive that wants this info not you, you just put it in a different format to make the executive’s life easier.

    8. Anonymous*

      We have a weekly report like this at our office. One staff person spends about 6 hours going to each person’s office (he gets information from about 30 people…) and they tell him what’s happening and he writes it all up. Some do an email ahead of time, but most just wait for him to show up and talk to him. The most efficient? No, but it does get done on time every week.

    9. smallbutmighty*

      There’s a question I just HAVE to ask, and apologies in advance if this comes off the wrong way.

      Where did you pick up the habit of using ellipses that way?

      I have several colleagues who use them the same way (word dot dot dot space word), so I feel like this must be something that is taught in schools somewhere. But it’s contrary to all I’ve ever been taught about ellipses. I was taught to use word space dot dot dot space word or word space dot space dot space dot space word (depending on whether you’re using the AP or Chicago style).

      It’s a constant point of curiosity for me why so many people punctuate ellipses in the particular way that you do, since to the best of my knowledge it’s not correct. It’s so widespread that it seems to me it must be getting taught that way somewhere.

      Apologies for being a pedant and for not addressing the substance of your post. If I can get this particular point of curiosity satisfied, I can a) quit being bewildered and annoyed with my colleagues whenever I see this and b) find something better to be curious about.

      1. Anne*

        I believe it’s a US/North America versus Europe and/or competing style manuals thing. I learnt it as [word… new] for trailing thought, and [word … new] for omitted information in quotations, in the UK many moons ago.

  17. ThursdaysGeek*

    Elizabeth West, we’ll be looking at your friend, Gracie Gold, to win at the Olympics. She’s now a friend of a friend, right?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I hope she wins! But she has some stiff competition. It’s her first Olympics, and she’s wanted this since she was a kid, so even if she doesn’t medal, she will never ever forget it.

      I just wish her first experience didn’t have to be in Sochi. :P

      1. VintageLydia*

        I was thinking about this earlier today. She seems like such a nice girl but ugh! Sochi! It’s been such a mess!

      2. GoodGirl*

        Hey Elizabeth – another skating fan/skater here. :) Do you participate in competitions by any chance? I’m toying with the idea and would love some insight.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          SKATER BUDDIES

          I’ve only done one, and it was held at my home rink. I skated against the book, since there were no other adults, and I won gold! But that was because I had a sit spin at Pre-Bronze level, and I skated a clean program so I got good marks. :)

          It was really fun. I am trying now to pass my Bronze freeskate test so I can skate at State Games this year (we had it at my rink in November and hopefully will again). Plus, I want to do Silver moves and Silver freeskate because Bronze freeskate only allows 1:50 for time and with Silver, you get 2:10. I can cut better music at 2:10. Right now, my Bronze test program is “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from The Hobbit. I have “I See Fire” from Desolation of Smaug cut for Silver. And I’ll do the song from the third one (I skated to all three songs from LOTR too). We can do vocal music now–yay!!!

          I assume you are on the Adult track? It’s less pressure than the regular competitive track, I think. One of my friends went to Adult Nationals, and she said it was awesome. Talk to your coach about it; he/she can help you find competitions in your area if you can’t travel far, get you prepared, etc. That is the best person to help you figure out what you want to do, what you need to work on, etc. It does cost extra money for competition fees. But a good coach will know all about that.

          Good luck!!

          1. GoodGirl*

            Thanks for this info. Yes – definitely on the Adult track (I’m in my early 30s…have been skating for 20 years now, off and on). The cost is really the only thing that’s stopped me, because I know from skating in my younger days it can be quite expensive.

            Without sounding like a total nerd, it’s so inspiring that you’re an Adult skater. Skating is a tough sport, and most people don’t appreciate how truly athletic it is. :)

  18. Chriama*

    I looked away for 5 minutes and when I returned the thread had exploded! Here’s a question for you techy folks — What’s a good resource for learning VBA? I want to create some excel macros. I have limited programming experience (java, html/css, php, sql) but I’m having a hard time just grasping the syntax of programming in VBA.

    Help?

    1. Anne*

      The best book every: Power Programming with VBA written by Mr. Excel. It’s a big book, but after you get through the first few chapters, you can skip around to find what you need. It isn’t overly dense, but provides highly technical skills in an easy to read manner. Can’t recommend it enough!

    2. athek*

      If you look downthread for Learn4Life courses from your local library, they offer VB and other programming courses for free.

    3. Lizard*

      I just googled “VBA course in [my city]”

      This was after I learned quite a bit trying to edit someone else’s macros to do what I wanted them to do. I really, really enjoy using macros to automate everything.

  19. El Chupacabra*

    I know it was mentioned at one point on here, but I don’t remember when and the search didn’t come up with it. Anyone have any good resources for free online classes. I’m out of work (but luckily still have a severance coming in) so I’d like to be doing something productive besides looking for jobs all day every day. I’m really interested in HTML ones. Thanks!

    1. NylaW*

      If you already have some familiarity with web programming, HTML5, .NET, etc., you might try the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

      Also w3schools.com has simple, step by step tutorials and little quizzes to get you the basics of a lot of languages.

    2. Chriama*

      Check your local library. I recently discovered that my library subscribes to Learn 4 Life, which offers a bunch of online instructor-led courses. I can take 5 courses in a calendar year with my library card — for free!

      1. athek*

        Big news with Learn4Life just a couple of hours ago – the 5 course limit was cancelled effective immediately!!

    3. Stephanie*

      If you do need the structured environment and can spare the money, community college classes are cheeeeeap. My local community college charges like $300/class (and a lot of the programming classes don’t require books).

      Also, have you tried your county/state workforce development center? They can be kind of useless and give obvious advice, but my local one did have grants for additional training for LEED certification.

    4. Brett*

      Check on meetup.com for tech groups in your area.
      Normally they are too high level for someone just starting to learn a skill, but many groups run basic skills bootcamps (or you could encourage them to run one) for beginners.

      Bonus: The network is unbelievable useful for job hunting.

    5. Jamie*

      OOH – yes, online classes. I need advanced Crystal Reports.

      Anyone take an online class they were happy with? I’ve love a recommendation.

    6. Cassy*

      Creative LIVE (dot) com
      They are great for creatives, marketing, html, photography, design, etc and even have a few personal growth classes (like reaching goals, financial info, yoga, etc).

  20. Gilby*

    What do people think of some placement/temp companies having you take an Excel and Word test?

    I get why that information would be needed to the extent that if the job duties are based around those programs. I mean the daily/hourly work itself involves the use of those programs. Things like for example, accounting, making tables and graphs or major formula use is what I am talking about.

    Or it would be needed because the job is an executive assistant where the high usage and higher end knowledge of the programs is more likely needed.

    Do those tests actually give a good indication of a person’s ability to do the job? Some people may use only the mouse or some people like the keyboard for functions. People cut and paste differently. I have shown my own managers stuff they didn’t know as well creating more efficient work forms for daily tasks.

    But you can’t show any of that stuff in a standardized test. Now if the test had the ability to let the user cut and paste their own way, or create a formula and so on I can see them being useful.

    And dependent on the job are they necessary?

    Just throwing this out to you all…….

    1. Calla*

      Yeah, I agree. I mean I think it’s useful to know how much someone actually knows – someone can say “Yeah, I’m good with Excel” and have no clue how to do a pivot table. But I’ve taken one before at a temp agency and there was only one acceptable way to do everything the test wanted. Like, I had to go to file > paste instead of ctrl+v. How does that make sense?

      1. Windchime*

        It doesn’t make sense. There are so many ways to cut/paste, but using the menu has to be about the longest way. Unless you’re actually cutting and pasting with scissors and glue.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      It always bugged me that I didn’t get to use the program the way I use it. Other than that, I think testing people is a good idea. We’ve heard stories on here before from readers whose employers hired someone who was completely unable to do even the most basic tasks.

    3. fposte*

      Huh. I didn’t even know there were standardized tests for this. I agree–as somebody doing direct hiring, I’d ask somebody to create a Word document with the following formatting, or turn this data into an Excel sheet with the following calculation. I wouldn’t care if you keyboarded or menu-clicked. I suspect that this is more a box for a placement agency to check via automation than genuinely useful info.

    4. Chriama*

      It depends on the test. The idea is a good one but if implemented poorly obviously it’s not useful information. A temp agency that uses a poorly structured test is a warning to me that they’re not at the top of their game or that they listen to buzzwords without stopping to think about the meaning. Not a dealbreaker, but a data point.

    5. AB*

      I’ve done these before and hate them. I am very proficient with the Office products, but use the short cuts… that’s what they’re there for. Plus, there are so many different versions of Office, and the biggest differences between them is they keep moving where all the things are in the menus (but the short cuts stay the sames). The worst are the timed ones. I use the newest version of Office at home, and currently use 2010 at work, but some offices still use 97 and my time ends up being much longer because I am used to where everything is in 10/13, not 97. It doesn’t mean I’m not proficient or can’t quickly bring myself up to speed in 97 again…
      To get around this, the office I worked for previously just did their own skills test. You would be sat down at a computer and given 30 minutes to do several outlined tasks… like make a spreadsheet with a table. Use mail merge to insert an address field in a form letter, put together a presentation with specific perimeters, etc. How you did it wasn’t important, the end result was. If you’re looking for an EA, and that EA needs to be at a certain level with those programs, it is important to test those skills, but it is also important to make the test actually useful in measuring the skills. I’m sure the boss doesn’t give a d@mn if his assistant saves a doc with ctrl S or File- Save As, just so long as it gets done.

  21. Sabrina*

    I finished my BS in August. I was an eMarketing major and have been looking for something in that field since the end of last spring, with very little luck. Recently I’ve read that to get into the Marketing field you need sales experience. I’m a failed Mary Kay lady because I’m not good at sales. I couldn’t sell candy to a child. So, now what? What else can I do? I have nearly 15 years work experience, but it’s all in office support type roles, and I really don’t want to go back to that.

    1. Tai*

      Can your school help you out?

      I don’t know much about marketing, but if it truly requires sales experience and talent, then what about the marketing field attracted you? What are your strong points? I’d focus on selling yourself in the cover letter.

      1. Sabrina*

        My schools “career development” center is useless. I was attracted to the “e” marketing part of the degree. Managing social media, forums, that sort of thing. I started out as an IT major, but I wasn’t good at programming. My problem is that everything wants YEARS of professional experience. Not part time volunteer work or an internship, actual real, work related experience. Which I don’t have and don’t know how to get. So I’ve been looking at entry level marketing jobs to get some experience and my foot in the door, and they want real experience too. I’m just exasperated.

    2. Lucy*

      Have you thought about project management? I think that could be a good option for you to at least get your foot in the door. If you have office support experience, you’re probably organized and on top of things, and you know how to handle different personalities. That’s key in marketing project management.

      It’s not helpful if you’re looking for something directly creative, but consider looking at small companies that outsource the creative portion of their marketing and need someone to manage that, or an agency type of setting where your roles would be mostly delegation.

        1. Kara Ayako*

          I was a Project Manager, and now I’m in upstream Marketing with some project responsibilities. My PM experience made for a pretty smooth transition to upstream marketing, but I don’t know how well it would translate to downstream marketing.

          I’m surprised the companies you’re looking at don’t have real entry-level marketing positions. We do, and no experience is required. We’re just looking for the right personality and drive and figure we’ll teach the rest.

    3. Izzy LeighGal*

      Hi Sabrina –

      Congrats on earning your BS! I’m sorry to hear about your search troubles. I work in marketing and have never heard the sales experience thing. In fact, no one in my (large) marketing department has a sales background. Some IT, some agency, but no sales. So, I would recommend taking the sales experience advice with a grain of margarita salt. :)

      Have you tried expanding your purview a bit? For example, have you looked into product development/R&D? A lot of larger companies now have product development or R&D departments, to focus on technology. However, once those products are complete, some one has to bring them to market. Also, what about expanding the search to communications/PR, editing, etc?

      1. Sabrina*

        Hmm, no I haven’t. I’ll look in to that. And I’ll have a margarita, strawberry, frozen, thanks. ;)

      2. Laura*

        i am in an entry level marketing role, which admittedly was very hard to get, but I’ve never heard of anyone needing to have sales experience. I don’t have any and neither does anyone else in the department. But even though it’s called marketing, it’s really more communications/PR, and I too suggest looking at things like that, where an e-marketing degree would be fine and it seems more in line with what you’re looking for.

    4. Goofy Posture*

      You really *don’t* need sales experience. You just need to land that first job in communications and grow from there. I spent a good part of my first year in marketing updating our mailing list database, and pulling addresses for targeted campaigns. Your office support experience has likely taught you a more efficient way to manage that kind of data flow than I was doing …

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Okay, we’re in my wheelhouse here.

      While sales experience would be cool, if that was your thing, it’s certainly not necessary.

      If you are serious about internet marketing, you should be a proficient in one or all of these below. Google used to offer a free certification program. It’s a bit different now, it’s called “Google Partners” and I’m not sure exactly how it works.

      * Google Analytics
      * SEO (Search engine optimization)
      * SEM (Search engine marketing a/k/a google adwords, microsoft advertising)
      * remarketing

      These are hard skills. Serious internet marketing is data analysis driven so hopefully you’ve taken statistics in the course of getting your degree and you liked math, because internet marketing is a math thing as well as a creative thing.

      Also, be highly Excel literate if not proficient.

      These skills are in demand. I know, ’cause I hire for this and it took me over a year to fill one of the positions.

      There’s a lot of “E” out there but not a lot of people who have the analytical chops to back it up. (Outside of, I’d guess, Silcon Valley and NYC, neither of which places I’m located, sadly.)

      SEO and SEM is a lucrative field for people who have the whole package. It’s an art and a science.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        p.s. be wary of the social media field. Matt Cutts put out a pretty definitive statement within the last few weeks that Google does not use social media presence within its algorithm. That sucked a lot of budget away from social media (from the people who were spending only because it was previously thought to help in Google ranking).

        There’s always going to be social media for consumer facing brands but a lot of the agency work for social media is drying up. It’s a competitive field.

        If you can attack the other angles, there’s a lot of room.

  22. Kai*

    How much attention do hiring managers really pay attention to your job titles when they first look at your resume? My work has changed a lot since I got hired, and it’s taking forever for my manager and HR to adjust my job title to reflect this (we’ve seriously been in talks about it for over a year now).

    That annoyance aside–when I’m applying to new positions, is this going to hurt how I look on paper? Of course I list my official title (customer service associate) with a description of the actual work I do (office management/communications), but when I’m applying for other communications jobs, I wonder if hiring managers will just glance at my title and not read beyond that.

    1. Tai*

      I think it depends on the field. It might be a bit jarring to see someone go from, say, manager to customer service associate. But I would focus on a really excellent cover letter.

    2. Judy*

      At least in engineering, titles don’t mean much. I know two companies where at one “staff engineer” is a 5-15 year experienced engineer and “principle engineer” is a very very senior (maybe 1% of engineers get there), while another “project engineer” is the 5-15 year engineer and “staff engineer” is the very very senior engineer.

      Here a “director” might have 70-100 people working for them, and managers have 10-20 people working for them. I know non-profits that have fewer than 20 employees with 4 or 5 directors. I know another company where directors have 500+ people working for them, and managers have 70-100, and supervisors have 10-20.

      This is why you need to describe and quantify your duties.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        This has been my experience as well. I’ve even heard of “directors” having no direct reports.

        1. Labratnomore*

          We just recently had some of the HR people promoted to “HR Manager”, but they have not reports (actually there is a VP, a director, 4 managers and 4 non managers in that group). We also have very different meanings for very similar titles in different groups that work in the same area of the company. This has been a major issue here because people often wonder “Why is a chemist in group A two pay grades higher than a chemist in group B.” We also have different titles for the same job function in different groups. We have Supervisors, Group Leaders, and Section Heads all for the same role; we have Associate Managers and Senior Supervisors and in both cases Manager is the next step. If titles mean nothing within a company, I don’t think they realy matter much outside the company.

    3. Elle D*

      I’ve often wondered this as well. My title at my last job was Marketing Administrator, but administrative work was only about 10% of my total job – I was mostly focused on coordination/project management. I had a list of what I felt were awesome accomplishments, but I did feel like my applications may have been tossed by those who read the title and assumed I was an admin applying for a job that required more marketing experience.

      1. Laura*

        Titles applies to marketing are so interchangeable that they’ve started to not mean anything. I’ve heard Marketing Assistant, Marketing Specialist, Marketing Administrator, Marketing Coordinator and Marketing Manager all used to describe very similar jobs with similar requirements all at the same level. Though better than the dreaded Marketing Ninja which I’ve seen once or twice

  23. ExceptionToTheRule*

    Did anyone else see the article online yesterday about the woman who was fired from a Whole Foods store in Chicago for excessive absenteeism after the last snow storm?

    The story is obviously more complicated than that, but I thought it was an interesting read after the thread about the OP who called in every time it snowed.

    1. Sabrina*

      I just read it. It looks like she missed a lot of days and the last one was her last chance. Most other employees made it in fine. It seems like she may be using the fact that she has a special needs son to garner sympathy.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Grrr. I just hate it when people do this, because it diminishes everyone else in the same situation who does need some latitude once in awhile, but is still professional and committed to doing their jobs.

    2. ChristineSW*

      Haven’t seen the article, but this made me think of a friend of mine. She works part-time, and relies on alternate transportation to get there; it’s about 20 minutes from her house. Well, just about all of the snow storms this year happened to fall on days she works (her schedule is variable, depending on whether HS/college students are available to work). Anyway, the transportation provider cancels all trips on snowy days, which has prevented her from getting to work. So far, her employer has seemed understanding, but I’m crossing my fingers this doesn’t end up biting her later. I think she also missed a lot of time due to Superstorm Sandy.

  24. Calla*

    I’ve been in my job close to a year and half now and recently, a handful of people have left (and one in particular to a really fantastic company). It’s making me feel kind of restless! I like my job, but all that’s kind of making me curious about what else is out there… I’m not thinking of actively job-searching, but more like, what if there is the perfect job at the amazing company co-worker is leaving for. How often do y’all check out other jobs even if you’re content where you are?

    1. CTO*

      I tend to look at least a little bit every few months. You never know what may come up. And since I work in a relatively small field, it’s helpful to have an idea of who’s switching jobs, which places are growing, what compensation is like at different places, etc.

      (There’s also one job at another workplace I know I’d apply for in a heartbeat if it ever opened, so I keep an eye on their job board more frequently just in case.)

    2. 22dncr*

      All the friggin’ time – been laidoff 12 times (ex-Silicon Valley worker here) so I always try to stay prepared.

    3. Emily*

      I get a daily email alert from Indeed with job listings in my field- as other commenters have said, it’s helpful to see what’s out there even if you are not actively looking!

    4. Goofy Posture*

      I get daily alerts for jobs in my field. It’s always good to see what opportunities there are out there but ALSO – good to forward along something that someone else might want. It’s the easiest way to maintain your professional network among people you wouldn’t ordinarily interact with frequently.

      I just did this today:

      “Hi Josie, I saw that XYZ is hiring a publicist. It made me think of you, not just because that’s your specialty, but also because you were such an asset to our communications team and I miss having you around. Anyway, thought you might know someone who would be interested!”

  25. Cb*

    A bit out there but can someone gutcheck my wardrobe choices? I’m meeting politicians for research interviews in a Western European capital. Pencil skirt, blouse, non-matching blazer or dress + blazer okay? Both with a low heel and tights.

      1. Gjest*

        I’m pretty fashion inept and have a question about skirt length. I’m pretty short so it’s hard to get the skirt length correct. I’d rather err on the side of too long, but does it look weird if it’s a couple of inches below the knee?

        I don’t sew, and don’t feel like spending my time on finding a tailor but I guess I’ll suck it up if it really is weird if it’s too long.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’m like 5’4″ and often times have skirts that are just slightly too long. My trick to fight the dowdiness for that length is usually some sort of heel.

          1. Gjest*

            Hmm, I think I should probably stop being lazy and find a tailor. I’m only 5’0″ so they probably are looking dowdy, and if I wear heels I’m likely to fall down :)

            Ugh. I’m in a relatively new job and have to dress up more for certain meetings. It’s a long way off from my old job where dressing up was shaking the dog & cat hair off the sweatshirt before wearing it to work…

            1. Kara Ayako*

              Tailors are so key to looking polished. I’m 5’3″ and get most of my work clothes altered to fit right. (Luckily, I found a super inexpensive tailor.)

        2. Diane*

          Hemming tape fixes everything. It’s double-sided and activated with an iron, so as long as you can line it up and fold over the excess evenly, it looks great.

    1. Sascha*

      Both sound fine to me as long as they are conservative colors and like Tai said, the length of the skirts is no higher than the knee. I’m probably a bad person to give advice on this lol. I’m a Texan who works in IT in higher education, where work clothes are generally the nice t-shirt and jeans that don’t have holes.

      1. Cb*

        Yep, they hit the knee, conservative cuts and colors. It’s also a pretty color friendly country.

        My first name is often interpreted as a male name in this language so I’m anticipating some funny reactions.

        1. 22dncr*

          Whatever you do wear make sure you own the look so that you don’t feel uncomfortable in any way, shape or form. The last thing you want to be doing is worrying about what happens if… If you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing it makes you feel more confident and able to take on the world!

  26. Kitty*

    I have a second interview next week where I’ve been asked to give a 15 minute presentation on what I’d do in my first thirty days in the job (as a supply chain planner).

    I’ve never had to do anything like this and my ideas at the moment are all pretty generic i.e. learn the computer systems, learn process, get to know the people in my department + other departments and suppliers.

    Does anyone have any other ideas or advice?

    1. Kai*

      I’m not sure if this is a management position, but if so you could talk about learning from other people in the department what isn’t working, what processes need improvement or updating, that kind of thing, and describe your action plan for implementing some positive change if it’s needed.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      If it’s related to the supply chain, then I would suggest talking with the relevant people about the supplier/vendor relationships, what’s working, what’s not, and what could be improved.

      Or, try to ascertain if there’s a supplier that was previously reliable, but has recently had trouble meeting deadlines, issues with product quality, and so on, to identify opportunities for improvement.

      With regard to learning the systems, maybe you could throw in looking for ways to streamline things — like using hand-held barcode scanners to receive things into inventory, etc. But they already might be doing that, so that could be a dead end.

    3. Brett*

      If it is not too much of a burden to learn in this time frame, try out prezi.com.
      It will let you download your presentation to a self-contained flash presentation too, so you do not have to rely on a network connection or anyone else’s software. (Put the presentation on a flash drive and on dropbox.)

      Prezi is great for non-linear presentations. Start at a central point, e.g. “My first 30 days” and follow one chain of frames out (frames are like slides), such as “learning systems” with details. Have that chain of loop back to your start frame, and then move forward from there on a different chain of frames on another theme such as “Introducing myself”.

      It will show the parallelism of the different tasks to tackle while leading back to the unity of the 30 days theme.

    4. Joey*

      This might be longer than 30 days for you, but

      Clarify goals and important metrics.
      Understand processes and limitations.
      Start building relationships.
      Solicit feedback on what works and what can be done better.
      Fix what’s not working.
      Prioritize what is working, but can be improved and provide recommendations.

    5. ThatOneRedhead*

      I’d consider (or talk about investigating) what kind of problems the company is facing and how you’d prioritize those or leverage previous experience to meet those needs.

    6. smallbutmighty*

      I think you have the right approach by keeping the focus on learning and gathering feedback. At my company, we’re all too well acquainted with the stereotypical guns-a-blazin’ noob who’s going to march in and solve all the problems on the first day. We’ve all BEEN this person, and we all cringe when we encounter this person. If you want to make changes or improvements, tread really carefully in your early days.

  27. CTO*

    I’m currently a social worker, and my background primarily consists of nonprofit jobs (both direct service and other work like volunteer management, communications, advocacy, etc.). While I enjoy my current work and am passionate about my field, I’m also beginning to see that I have other goals and priorities in life that would require me to make more money. I know that in the private or government sectors I could make 30-40% more than I do now.

    The thought of transitioning to a job/field that may be less fulfilling is a little daunting. But I’m open to trying that tradeoff, at least for a while, to pursue more satisfaction in other areas of my life.

    I have a bachelor’s in sociology; I’d say my main “transferrable” skills include customer service, writing, program design and management, leadership, public speaking, training, etc. I have a great track record of success in jobs that require creativity, flexibility, designing new programs/initiatives, being resourceful, and working with a very diverse audience.

    There are some nonprofit jobs out there that would pay a good deal more, but not many that I’d be qualified for. I don’t want to go back to school at this time. I’m open to government and private jobs if I can find one that I’d enjoy well enough and be good at. I just don’t quite know where to start. Can y’all help me brainstorm about what kinds of jobs I might want to seek out?
    Thanks!

    1. Joey*

      Parks and Rec community service type jobs
      Health department outreach type jobs
      Literacy outreach
      Local government social work such as senior centers, low income assistance,

    2. looking forward*

      Many corporationh have community relations folks whocoordinate volunteers and fundraising for local ofits. There are about 20 such folks in my company that has less than 10,000. This would match your skill set and hopefully be aligned with your values.

  28. Anon4this*

    So I interviewed for a job on Monday, Jan. 13th. The interviewer told me that she would be making a decision that week. I sent the customary thank you email the next day. On the 20th, I received an email telling me that she was sorry she didn’t get back to me last week, but they were still in the process of interviewing and I should hear by the end of that week. I replied that I understood and thanked her for contacting me.

    And then…nothing. I heard nothing from them at all. A friend of mine works for this same state agency (in a different department) and last night she asked who I interviewed with and if I’d heard anything. I said No, I hadn’t and that I had mentally moved on. Friend told me she was shadowing my interviewer this morning as part of her training and she’d put in a good word for me.

    This morning, Friend sends me a text saying the position was filled by an internal applicant. No big thing, as I said I had mentally moved on so I wasn’t upset about not getting the job, but I do have a feeling that they knew they were going to fill it with an internal applicant before they even interviewed. State agency with requirements to open the job up to all applicants. Been there before so I just kind of knew that was the case.

    So anyway, THIS MORNING right after my friend’s text, I get an email from the interviewer letting me know they filled the position. Really interviewer, REALLY?? You filled the position a couple of weeks ago and you’re sending me an email now to let me know, conveniently RIGHT AFTER my friend mentioned me to you. How about not being a jerk and actually getting back to me when you said you would two weeks ago??

    We’ve all complained about this same stuff before, but it still rankles. And frankly, the email from the interviewer this morning was so clearly prompted by my friend mentioning me to her that it just makes me wish she hadn’t bothered at all.

    Just venting. Yeah yeah, I know there are other possible scenarios here, but the likelihood is that my friend talking to her “shamed her” (not really, but you know what I mean) into sending a rejection email FINALLY.

    1. Dang*

      Ugh, that is SO frustrating. Just saw your post below and came back to read the whole story- very transparent. And so rude. As an aside, I’ve interviewed for state jobs also, and they have all been filled by internal candidates. The whole process is so frustrating. I know that isn’t what always happens, but it sure can feel like it!

      I mean- they interview 3-5 candidates, right? How hard is it to send a rejection email?! The anxiety after an interview is so awful and it hurts to be rejected, sure, but not nearly as much as stressing about it for DAYS until you finally figure out you’re not under consideration anymore!!

      I hope something comes through for you soon! I always feel like the right role is around the corner, it’s just finding that darn corner that’s rough..

      1. Anon4this*

        Dang,

        Thanks for the commiseration, I’m sorry this happened to you too, but it helps to know we’re not alone. I’m sure something better is around the corner for us both.

        You said The anxiety after an interview is so awful and it hurts to be rejected, sure, but not nearly as much as stressing about it for DAYS until you finally figure out you’re not under consideration anymore!!

        That is SO SO true! After the interview, I had such hope for about two weeks, but then I gave up. Now, looking back and realizing that it’s 99% likely that I wasn’t even going to be considered before the interview since they already had an internal candidate, it just irritates me. I’m glad that it only took me two weeks to mentally move on as opposed to waiting around longer, but still.

        Keeping my fingers crossed for a successful corner for you soon! :)

  29. BB*

    Does anyone work at a large company and LOVE it? I work at a small company but am looking to get into a larger one and I just hear people complain about procedures and red-tape? Does anyone really like the large company they work at?

    1. Sascha*

      I work at a large state university, and while we do have lots of red tape, I feel like that’s a good thing (most of the time lol). I came from working at a small private university, where rules were routinely broken by the higher ups in order to do favors for friends and employees on the A-list. That still happens to some degree at my current workplace but not as much, and we have a lot of state compliance laws. I think my current university will at least do what’s legal, even if it’s not fair or good for morale, whereas the last place didn’t give a flying frack about anything.

    2. Izzy LeighGal*

      Hi BB –

      About four years ago, I jumped from a small company to a large company. It was an adjustment. So, if you decide to make the leap as well, just allow yourself time to get used to it.

      Yes, there are more procedures, red-tape and office politics. However, being at a large company does open the doors for more resources and opportunities – i.e., professional development, travel, etc. Also, I think large companies tend to be more financially stable than the smaller counterparts in their industry, so there may be less likely of a chance that your company would be acquired.

      You should weigh the options and think about WHY you’d want to leave a small company for a larger one. If you’re happy at the small one, I might stay if I were you.

    3. CTO*

      My husband moved from two back-to-back jobs at small companies (think 10 employees) to a Fortune 50 company (and actually took a major pay cut to do so). He likes that there are so many more opportunities for promotion, development, and internal transfers. There’s a lot of networking, ability to connect with other teams (this is highly encouraged at his company) and “support groups” for people who may otherwise feel lonely or marginalized (GLBT, racial minorities, etc.). Yes, there are politics, red tape, and drama, but he had just as much of that at his small companies. If you can let that stuff roll off your back, you might like the opportunities a big company can offer.

      1. CTO*

        I should note that bigger companies don’t always equal better benefits. My husband’s benefits have been better in some ways at small companies, and in in some ways his benefits are better now at his big company. And my core benefits have ALWAYS been better than his (better insurance, more PTO, easier work-from-home, etc.) even though I’ve worked at several smallish nonprofits.

    4. Laura*

      I have worked at 2 large companies (about equal size). The first one was great – easy to call people and work problems out, get help when you needed it, knew the first names of everyone you worked with. The second was terrible. The bureaucracy is ridiculous. If we need to call computer support, we have to transfer fees from our account to theirs for every half-hour they support us. When I call HR or financial services, which are both off-site, I have to navigate a phone-tree menu, then leave a voice mail, which only half the time gets returned. It took me 4 emails and 2 phone calls to 2 different people to get an incorrect parking charge on my account fixed (oh yeah, we have to pay to park in our own office).

      But to answer your question, yes, I really loved the first one. It’s possible for a large company to not be a bureaucracy.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I work for a subsidiary of a HUGE company. My company was acquired by the behemoth about 13 years ago. On the whole, I really like it. One of the best advantages is that the benefits through a large company are often much better than what smaller companies are able to offer. And that is certainly the case for me. I’m able to cover my husband, kids, and myself for a fraction of what it would cost my husband, who works for a very small company.

      But like Izzy LeighGal said, working for a large company means more red tape, hoops to jump through, and so on. In my dealings with my parent company, it often feels like dealing with the IRS.

      Now, that’s not a knock to the IRS — not for the red tape and hoops. Yes, many of these procedures seem time consuming, tedious, and pointless, but they’re there for a reason — to prevent people from just charging off and doing whatever they want, which would be absolute chaos.

      My company had a real problem with random people (project managers, department managers, etc) just picking up the phone and calling contract firms, asking them to send out temps. There was no process at all, and HR was completely left out of the loop. So people would just show up in Reception one morning, and no one would have any idea who they were. No workspace, no computer to use, and so on. And while everyone was scrambling to get this person set up to start working, they were idle — but still on the clock. Plus the contract firms were charging us outrageous amounts of money because they knew there was no one negotiating the fees.

      After much pain and turmoil, we finally got a process in place where the manager routes their requests through a single point in HR, HR reaches out to a firm that we retained to manage all these relationships, and the firm sends resumes, an interview is done, and so on. When the manager finds a candidate they like, they go through the new-hire process, so when the person shows up on their first day, they can get right to work after getting a badge and finding out where the bathroom is.

      So yeah, more hoops to jump through, more red tape, and so on, but overall it’s a good thing because now we have better control over the costs and who is accessing our facilities.

      So the thing to keep in mind is that all the policies and procedures are usually there to keep control over things. And sure, sometimes the business evolves to the point where those processes and regulations don’t make sense anymore, but hopefully someone will eventually see that, and then the rules will be updated.

    6. Gwen Soul*

      My company is around 50,000 world wide and I love it. I like how much opportunity there is, all the new people you can meet, and that you can network into almost anything. Plus it is stable with benefits.

    7. Joey*

      I’ve done both. You trade the flexibility, small environment and wear many hats at a small company for the structure, specializing, advancement opportunities, beauracratic and sometimes lost in the mass feeling at large company.

      I loved both but long term a larger company works better for me because benefits (for me), salary, and advancement opportunities have been better for me at large companies. Oh, but I do miss the entrepreneurial environment of a small company.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, this.

        I’m currently at a smaller company, and my last company was huge. I was glad to leave the bureaucratic delays for a more nimble and entrepreneurial environment, but I’m starting to really miss the concrete advancement opportunities and the ability to specialize.

      2. fposte*

        So at a large university, I encounter a ton of bureaucracy, but I’m in a small unit within it that operates more like a small company. Do big corporations have the same little subcultures, or are they more homogeneous?

        1. Colette*

          Absolutely there are smaller subgroups.

          As others have said, benefits are often better (health, tuition, charitable donations, flexibility), including things like “I want to move from city D to city E, can I keep my job?”

          I’ve only worked for one small business, but it was very dependant on the owner. (He had written the original code I was hired to move from one system to another, and he didn’t like people messing with his baby.) You get stuff like that at an individual level in a large company, but it’s not as systemic.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I work for a very large goverment organzation. In general I am amused by the absurdity and bureaucracy, and I work closely with great people. I believe in the overall mission and my own part of the mission.

      However there are occassionally some thing they do that make me angry. It’s just something about mishandling one particular field (that I used to work in) that triggers me. So it depends on your personal tolerence for red tape because big companies probably have a good more than a small business does.

    9. MaryMary*

      I currently work at a small company but have worked at a Fortune 500 in the past. Sometimes those processes and procedures are a pain, but a lot of time they can really benefit you. Onboarding and training tend to be more organized and detailed. Benefits are often better, and you may have access to some of the less standard ones (tuition reimbursement, pet insurance, matching charitable contributions). Some of the other posters feel that large companies are less flexible, but I actually had more flexibility to work from home, have a flex schedule, or move to a part time schedule if I wanted.

  30. Dani*

    Is working for years with the same company just not done anymore? I have been employed by the same company for about 15 years now. I have had different positions in the company and have moved departments. I am happy here and wouldn’t mind having my entire career here. But if I retire after 30 years I will only be in my early 50s and I don’t want to retire that early. SO I am wondering if I should start looking at different companies because working too long at this one might mean I will have a hard time getting to an age I actually want to retire at.

    1. Ruffingit*

      The problem with it is usually that when you go to look for another job, the companies you’re looking at may see the longevity as a problem because people who work a long time at once place can have a harder time letting go of “the way things are done” at the old place thus making it harder to acclimate to the new place. There’s also the idea that you’re entrenched in the general culture of the old company and thus may have a hard time with a new culture.

      But hey, if you are happy where you are and you can retire from that job, then that is something to be considered as well. If, when you retire from this company, you’re financially comfortable enough to be able to make it without an income from a job, then you have more options. You’d be in your 50s, so you could take your time getting another job if that’s what you wanted or maybe you’ll find you want to volunteer or something.

      Short answer to your question though is that yes, longevity at companies can be a problem so it’s definitely something to consider in terms of looking for other positions. Make sure you’re learning new skills and doing different things and you can show that in your resume for new positions.

      1. Dani*

        Financially secure is an issue. I made some bad choices so I would need to work for at least about 20 years – preferably more then that (unless I win the lottery). I am in the IT industry and am in the north east right now. I really enjoy my job and wouldn’t mind retiring from here, but I am wondering if I need to move on so that I will be secure financially in the future.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          First thing is to get with a financial person. They can build a chart to show you where you will be in years to come if you make no changes.
          They can run what-if scenarios to answer some of your questions.
          They may be able to offer you some tweaks so that you are better off in the long run.

          Second step. Acquaint yourself with your company’s annual financial statements. I am not saying become a finance wiz. But take last year’s statement and hold it up to this year’s statement. Where do you see changes? Where should you see changes but there are none?

          Third step. Find ways to grow yourself that makes you more and more valuable to not only your employer but more marketable.

          Collect up all this info and then see how you feel.

    2. 22dncr*

      I think it depends on the area of the country you’re in and the industry. Where I am (Houston) it’s mixed but starting to change to 5 years max. But even there it still depends on the industry – Government they stay forever but Private Companies no. Where I used to work (Silicon Valley) you were looked down on if you stayed longer that 2-3 years. Your skills would be too far behind others because most companies do not invest in the types of software updates and training you need for you – they only care about the bottomline and their Company goals which is understandable.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      This is something I struggle with too. I am an IT geek, supporting the ERP system doing implementations and support. This is my 10th year with this company.

      I know I could probably go somewhere and make a lot more money than I do now, but my salary is pretty generous as it is. Plus since I work for a subsidiary of a huge company, the benefits are outstanding, and my length of service means I’ve accrue a nice chunk of PTO each year. And it’s one of the few companies out there that still offers an honest-to-God pension, which grows the longer I say there. Now that retirement is only 15-20 years off, that’s becoming more significant with each passing day.

      I also have an great manager, and the company in general is supportive of work/life balance, flexing hours, and so on. Last week I had a death in the family, which I found out about while I was in Europe leading some training. When I called my project manager and my boss, their responses were both, “Don’t worry about us. Get your butt on a plane and get home to be with your family.” That was huge — alot of companies aren’t that supportive. There is one company in the city where I live that pays very well, but expects you to be on call 24/7 and penalizes you when you’re not. One guy I know who worked there told me he got his hand slapped for not being online and working while his wife was giving birth to their child!

      So I’ve got a pretty good deal where I am. And, more importantly, I have a job where I am constantly challenged and learning new things. So I don’t feel like my skill set is getting stale, or that I’m falling behind in my field because my current employer is so old and moldy.

      But…on the other hand, if things change and I find myself out in the job market again, the 10 years (or 11, 12, 15, whatever) could be a strike against me. But should I leave for something else that may not be as good as what I’ve got going on now, because of something that may or may not happen? For now, the answer is no, I guess, since I’m happy where I am and I’m not looking.

      1. Dani*

        I know – that is where I am! I am happy here, but am thinking if I get laid off in 10 years will I be screwed? And should I then move on to be safe?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I don’t think that is a strong enough reason alone to move on. But I don’t know all the details of your setting. You could jump from the frying pan into the fire. I think that collecting up more facts will help you with this a lot.

          I am not a big financial/accounting person. However, one company I worked for after reviewing their financial statements, I knew. Get out. Turned out to be a good move.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            Yep, that happened to me too. I am a financial/accounting person, and I was an accounting manager at a dot-com. Like so many other dot-coms, the IPO was a huge success, and then the money ran out when people started behaving like they’d won the lottery.

            After I saw negative equity on the balance sheet to the tune of half a billion dollars, my resume was updated and circulating pretty darn quickly!

      2. Graciosa*

        There are still companies that view longevity as a positive factor. Mine is one of them – my long tenure at a previous employer was specifically mentioned as a positive factor in hiring me, and I know we just screened out a candidate who had too many jobs on his resume and presented as not likely to stick around.

        I think lack of up-to-date skills or on-the-job accomplishments are the real red flags. If you can continue to demonstrate these, the fact that you did so at the same employer can be a positive rather than a negative.

    4. LMW*

      My future brother in law has said that unless things change drastically at the company or in his life, he’d be happy to spend the rest of the career with his current company, which recruited him out of college. Obviously, we will never look to him for resume or interviewing advice since he only did it that one time.

    5. SA*

      I struggle with this question myself. I’ve been at my company for 10 years and have ~ 25 more years to work. Like you I love my current job and have steadily moved up while I’ve been here. 35 years at one company seems unlikely so when is the right time to leave?

      I worry about looking for a new job after turning 50 (7 more years) and think I should make a move before then, or earlier if I stop progressing or enjoying my current job. But I don’t want to leave a job I enjoy and where I make really good money for no reason.

      For the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about this in the past couple of years I wish I had a better response!

    6. Sharm*

      It’s so funny (not ha-ha, just interesting) to hear you voice this concern, because all you ever hear is how bad it is to job-hop. Which I realize is totally different, and if you have a new job every month, that’s obviously a problem. But I have had fit issues a few times now, and I want to move on, but all the advice I get is that I look like a bad candidate for wanting to move after a year at one place. I was at one place for 5 years, and it was sheer dumb luck that the fit was so great. I am so worried I’ll never find that again — I would love to work at one place for the rest of my life. I love that concept of stability. But it seems my peers are all obsessed with moving on to the bigger and better and that I’m a loser for not wanting that… I’m fine with the idea of staying put! I feel so out of the norm sometimes.

      Would your job allow opportunities to work with clients or on special projects? Just thinking you might want to start developing contacts now so if you did retire in your 50s, you could have projects developing that you could step right into. That’s basically what my dad is doing now.

  31. Anonymous*

    So, here’s my doozy of a story. Apologies in advance for the length.

    I manage educational programming (think tours, etc.) for a small museum. About a year ago, I was contacted by a man who said he was traveling through town and was interested in getting a tour; however, the only time he was available was after hours. I told him that it wouldn’t be possible, but that we hoped he could find a time to visit in the future.

    However, instead of accepting that answer, he pushed back a way that came off to me, as a woman, as creepy. The encounter was uncomfortable enough that I Googled him and found that he leads a white supremacist group (his contact number matched the one listed on the website I found). For obvious reasons, I was freaked out and not entirely sure how to handle this information—he hadn’t offered it, but it could have an impact should he visit (we have several non-white staff members and currently have exhibitions highlighting artists/historical figures of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Jewish descent). So I relayed the entire incident to my manager at the time (Manager A), who was something of a mentor to me. She was just as concerned and instructed me (and our front line staff) to alert her if he ever made contact/identified himself. As far as I know, he never visited.

    He again made contact this past fall inquiring about a tour. This time, he raised a fuss about our student rate policy, claiming that he was a student but did not have a student ID to prove it. He eventually demanded an appeal to our board, at which point I went back to Manager B (Manager A had since left to take another position) and let her know what was going on. She said to forward his e-mail to her and that she would handle it. I did so, and never heard how it was resolved. Again, if he ended up visiting, I’m not aware of it. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from him, again to our general account, addressed to “Beloved,” and again wanting a tour. I again forwarded it to both supervisors. Manager B says that we cannot discriminate against who we give tours to, so I’m basically forced to give this tour to a person who, quite frankly, makes my skin crawl.

    After two previous, difficult encounters with this person, I’m increasingly concerned about engaging with him. After this most recent contact, I communicated this to Manager B, but she brushed it off (“Oh, he’s just an idiot.”). After this novella of a story (cookies for you if you made it this far), I guess I’d just like some advice on how to deal with an unexpected situation that is professionally part of your job but personally makes you feel sick, worried, and unsafe.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Wow, well first of all Manager B is putting you in an unsafe situation. This guy has addressed you as “Beloved” in an email, is a known white supremacist and has had a couple of confrontations with the museum. I think this is a question for Alison myself because having to give this guy a tour, alone? No way, I cannot see how that is acceptable. I think you should send this question to Alison so you can get some help on pushing back on this or at least having someone accompany you with this guy on the tour, having security stationed at various points or SOMETHING that will help your peace of mind here.

      1. Chriama*

        I can see a manager hearing each of these events separately and not seeing a huge deal. It’s not like he offered up the supremacist information. Lots of people are racist but manage to interact in public. They come off as jerks, but they don’t kill anyone. Try having a ‘big picture’ convo with your manager to point out how all these little details add up to an overall pattern that concerns you.

      2. fposte*

        I was thinking that these weren’t physical encounters but phone or email. I guess I’m coming at this from a librarian perspective–pushy patrons with unacceptable views are part of the landscape.

        1. Anonymous*

          OP here. Yes, the encounters have been by phone (initially) and e-mail since. During the first encounter (by phone), when I told him we were closed, he demanded to know why we couldn’t open for him, why I couldn’t meet him there after hours, etc., which is what led to the Googling. Since then, I’ve tried to keep communications to e-mail for a couple reasons: 1) so I have time to consider my answers and keep them professional and 2) so I have a paper trail should anything happen.

          Thanks for the advice, everyone. We have a related organization nearby which has a large male staff (we’re essentially all-female over here). My manager has offered to have one of those guys come over during this guy’s visit, but hasn’t said anything about notifying our security company. I’ll take what I can get.

          1. TL*

            Do you have security? Talk to them and arrange for them to do walk-bys consistently throughout the tour if you can.

            During public hours, you’re probably okay, but a visible reminder of security (and having someone on the lookout for you) can’t hurt any.

            1. Anonymous*

              Thanks. We have a security company that works with us on certain events, especially for evening/night events, but they aren’t on-site on a regular basis. Would it be out of line to request/suggest to my boss that they be on hand that day?

              1. TL*

                If you’re that uncomfortable, I don’t think so- and if I felt truly uncomfortable, I would definitely go ahead and ask – but maybe someone with more career experience than me should chime in.

                You can also say you want a witness, as his behavior is indicative of someone who is setting you up for a scam, as mentioned below.

              2. fposte*

                Have you talked to the police about your concerns to see what they advise?

                I honestly would be unlikely to spend money on an additional security guard from the situation you currently describe, but the police may have a better perspective.

                1. Anonymous*

                  I haven’t contacted the police. I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate in this situation, or if I would be overstepping professional boundaries with my manager, especially since she doesn’t seem that concerned.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Trying to respond to Anonymous above but there is no reply button:

                  Please call the police- or stop down to the station for a visit. They would rather hear about this stuff before it happens as opposed to after it happens.

                  If your boss won’t do it, go on your own.

                  If you can get male cohorts in your building at the time of the visit please do so.

            2. Mephyle*

              Only walk-bys? Beloved, I think that if this tour takes place (which I hope it doesn’t), it should be with a security person dedicated to accompanying Anonymous. Or is it possible for one of the male staff to be pulled in to give the tour? The situation is stinking of Gift of Fear vibes.

          2. athek*

            I’m glad you took that step. There’s strength in numbers; see if anyone can be on the tour with you. Good luck, and sorry that you have to deal with this in the first place.

            1. Anonymous*

              Thanks. I’m hoping I’m just letting my imagination get the best of me and that he’s cowardly enough to just keep his mouth shut and not say/try anything.

          3. LCL*

            Given the white supremacist ties, and the nature of your museum’s current (Jewish and others) exhibit, and trying to meet without witnesses, I think he is trying to create an incident for the low press. “See what they are showing at this tax funded museum,et al”. Or perhaps he wants to set something on fire.

            Have one of the guys accompany you, or better, have someone from the local press who knows the game accompany you. Or someone from one of the local civil rights groups, they have people who keep an eye out for such trouble. Or all of the above.

            And if you can find a picture of him online, download it and share it with your management and security.

    2. Chriama*

      Explicitly tell your manager that you feel unsafe and offer solutions (e.g. a security guard accompanies you as you give the tour). Your manager is wrong that you can’t discriminate. Aside from the white supremacist thing, he has acted in a way that makes you feel unsafe as a woman. Every establishment I’ve ever walked into (bank, airport, post office) has said they reserve the right to refuse service if you misbehave (to paraphrase).

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think being pushy rises to the level of misbehavior, though, and his behavior with Anon isn’t the only–or perhaps even the main–thing that concerns her.

      2. Anonsie*

        I like the idea of the “big picture conversation,” lay out how this guy has repeatedly been making contact with you and behaving in an erratic way that makes your very nervous on an instinctual level. This non-discrimination thing is absolutely silly– you’re not concerned because you happen to know something about him, but because of how he’s behaved toward you.

        Addressing you as “beloved” is a big fat shiny red flag that something is weird here all by itself.

        1. Anonymous*

          Thanks for the reassurance. This is is my first professional job, and I’m less than three years into it, so when my boss seemed to brush it off I wondered if I was taking it too seriously. But being addressed as “beloved” just sent a chill down my spine. When I pointed that out to Manager B, she just grinned and shrugged and give me the “He’s just an idiot” line.

    3. fposte*

      I think he’s a creep, but I think you’ve toured creepier people than that and never known it. Assuming this is going to be a standard in-hours tour and that your museum has other people around, I don’t think the safety thing is really an issue unless he has a history of violence that you haven’t mentioned.

      So go for “all business,” and if he boundary pushes be ready to shut it down, send him to your bosses, call security, etc., as appropriate. Remember that you don’t have to engage and that inappropriate questions don’t require answers.

      1. CTO*

        This is good advice. He creeps you out, so what can you do to feel safer while giving him a tour? Can you have someone else with you (another visitor, another staff member, maybe an intern in training)? Can you ask security or the maintenance staff to keep a close eye on you as you move thoughout the building? Can you start with the less-controversial exhibits so that you have a better read on him by the time you get to the exhibits highlighting minority artists?

        At best, he’s an awkward guy who doesn’t communicate well by e-mail and holds some reprehensible beliefs that he’ll keep to himself during the tour. Sometimes people who get hung up on rules and use weird language are just… quirky, but not dangerous. At worst, he’s a jerk who’s will spout his awful views, push your boundaries, and make you feel unsafe. What’s your intuition telling you about where he falls within these extremes?

        Also, as is recommended on here all the time, check out The Gift of Fear.

        1. Anonymous*

          Thanks for the advice. I replied above with a bit more info.

          His website certainly espouses violence, but my manager asked if he had a record and I couldn’t find any charges against him (this wasn’t a formal background check, however, just me Googling the state he lives in, where records are incomplete anyway).

          Unfortunately, being a small museum, we only have two exhibitions up at the moment. One involves the Asian, Middle Eastern, and other minority artists, the other is about a Jewish woman whose experience as a WWII refugee is a major part of her story, so starting out with an exhibit that likely wouldn’t touch a nerve with him isn’t really an option.

          In all of my interactions with him, he’s just seemed contentious and antagonistic aside from the racism. From his initial phone call, when he got audibly annoyed and demanding when I told him I was not able to come in after hours to give him a tour. When we had the run-in about the student ID, he escalated it to the point of appealing to the board (our student policy is a simple “Show your student ID, get a discount”). In the e-mail this week, he referenced the earlier incident: “I am a student at [XXX] so of course I expect a student discount.”

          I’m probably hyping this out of proportion, but I just keep getting scenarios in my head of everything that could go wrong. I feel pretty comfortable dealing firmly and assertively with combative language should it come up, but even the possibility of anything beyond that (and anything involving our other staff) worries me.

          1. Goofy Posture*

            I’d be worried he’s trying to scam or sue or otherwise make a big issue for the institution. Being unreasonably demanding and putting the employee on the defensive is a common (and effective) technique to scam people.

      2. Anonsie*

        I think there’s a hell of a lot to be said for trusting that when you get a very bad feeling about a weird situation, you should pay attention to it.

        As for safety, depending on the situation, I’d be worried about this person knowing what I look like.

    4. Littlemoose*

      I say safety in numbers and trust your gut. If you can get anybody to accompany you on the tour – preferably male – I think you’ll feel and be safer. I’m a cautious person by nature, so I’m coming from that perspective, but I feel like his past behavior and his easily found bigoted perspective toward the subject matter of your exhibits is reasonable cause for apprehension. Does your boss have all of these facts as you’ve presented them here, or does she just know part of the backstory?

      1. Anonymous*

        Thanks for the support! She knows everything, as far back to the first phone call a year ago before she got here. I made it a point to drop every detail I could, in the (apparently vain) hope that she’d take further steps, or at least alert our security company.

        1. fposte*

          Did you have the same exhibits when he first contacted you, or is the theme of your museum something he might have found provocative aside from your current exhibits?

          1. Anonymous*

            Both exhibition spaces change about twice a year, so they’re different now from what they were this time last year.

            We’re a niche/special interest museum with a fairly specific focus (let’s just say teapots), and I suppose that he is a teapot fan/collector/aficionado–I honestly don’t think the subject of the museum on its face would be the cause of his offense. That said, many of our exhibitions interpret teapots in a fairly broad way–how various artists’ work have been inspired by teapots, how teapots been utilized in popular culture, etc., teapots as art pieces from other cultures–because let’s face it a museum just about teapots probably isn’t going to attract a lot of visitors on its own.

            We devote one floor to more “traditional” teapot exhibitions that would appeal to the diehard teapot fans/experts. However, the exhibition that fits in that category at the moment is the about a woman who was a big fan/collector of teapots–however, a big part of that story is that she was Jewish and escaped France days before the Nazis invaded.

            So, long story short, I think he probably has a genuine interest in the subject matter of our museum, but may have (either currently or when he visits) a problem with the way we broadly explore/interpret it.

            1. fposte*

              Then that makes me think that he probably isn’t coming to the museum to deliberately destroy stuff or make a point, since his interest doesn’t seem to be dependent on exhibits that he might find controversial.

              Have you asked if somebody less bothered by the guy can do the tour?

              1. Anonymous*

                I’ve considered that–we have a number of part-timers who are trained to give tours. I guess I’m not sure if it seems like I’m foisting him off on someone else. I’m sort of of the attitude that if someone is going to give this creep a tour, it should be me–I’m the FT education person and god forbid should something go awry, I don’t want our poor part-timers (most of whom are college kids or grad students) taking the brunt of it.

                I guess I could approach some of them and ask how they feel about it; I guess I just assumed they’d be as all freaked out as me, which is just that, an assumption.

                1. Vancouver Reader*

                  Would it be possible to have one of your part-timers accompany you on the tour? Someone who’d like to get into the same line of work as you and that way they learn from you how to give a tour and provide some safety in numbers at the same time.

        2. Anonsie*

          You might emphasize how you feel than the facts alone, because the gut reaction is a big part of what makes it concerning rather than just annoying.

          1. Anonymous*

            I actually did try that approach yesterday, flat out telling her, “I don’t feel comfortable being around this person” and pointing out the use of “beloved,” etc. Which, as a people pleaser and not one to make waves, was really difficult for me.

            She said he was “just an idiot,” reiterated the discrimination thing and asked if he had a criminal record. I came up empty on the latter point, but the state he lives in only releases info on a county-by-county basis and apparently he travels pretty frequently, so I really don’t know for sure.

              1. Anonymous*

                No state, but a large metropolitan police department. I guess I would just be worried that i would be bothering them, that they wouldn’t be able to do much since, as hateful as his views are, he hasn’t made any specific, direct threat.

                1. fposte*

                  You’re not asking them to arrest him. You’re asking if you think this sounds like someone you should take steps to protect yourself from.

                  They may not be able to tell you, but it’s not like they’re going to charge you for the call.

                2. coconutwater*

                  I would contact the police with all the information you currently have. The guy is probably on their radar in some ways. The police would also be the ones to assess the threat level by running his name through their data base. It’s not bothering them. They seriously want to keep tabs on those types of folks.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  I hope you see this and I am not too late. Police have access to records that you do not see online. Police also know if there is something in the pipeline that they need to be watchful of.

                  I am not trying to be disrespectful of your research abilities. The police have access to confidential records there is no way to know what is in those records. What if you walked in, told your story and the officer said “How odd. We had a similar complaint from X over on North Main Street regarding this same individual! We need to check into this.”

                  It is fine to tell the officer that you realize you could be wasting his time but you just wanted to touch base. The is the post WTC era. We are supposed to report abandoned packages to the police and all kinds of crazy stuff that we never used to do.

  32. Ash*

    Resume question!
    I may be getting a “promotion” soon. The key is, it’s really just a change in title — the work I was and am doing would remain completely, 100% the same (the title would just better cover what I do). Can I simply change the title on my resume or do I need to do:

    Teapot Manager XX/XX -XX/XX
    Teapot Director XX/XX – present?

    I’m still applying for a new job regardless and the title change will help that, but I want to be clear about what the title change actually means…

    1. Sunflower*

      I would list it like this

      Teapot Director XX/XX – Present
      Teapot Manager XX/XX -XX/XX

      The newer position up top and no question mark after present. Undernearth just list any relevant traits/duties/accomplishments

    2. Laura*

      Yes, I have a similar question! I was promoted twice within a position. Most of my job duties remained the same, but I did take on some new responsibilities with each promotion. Can I still just list it as one job and have the title be my most recent title? Should I list all titles (it’s really just Teapot Designer I, Teapot Designer II, etc.)? Should I try to make it clear which accomplishments pertained to which stage of my career? If I focus on listing the highest-level things, will that make it sound like I was doing those things the entire time I was in that job?

      1. fposte*

        Teapot Designer Spectacular, 2013-present
        Added handle curve and spout permeability responsibilities

        Teapot Designer Ordinary, 2010-12
        Designed teapots

  33. Kay*

    So this is a little random but does anyone know how to find the pictures AAM posted of her wedding flowers? My friend is trying to plan her wedding and wants to use orange as her color and I seem to remember (perhaps? maybe I imagined it) the flowers having a really pretty orange theme to them.

    Also, I made the mistake of clicking on the “notify me of follow-up comments by email” button on that massive thread about how much you make….ya, that was a mistake.

    1. Jen in RO*

      They were in the comments for a post (another open thread, I think), but I don’t feel up to looking for them, sorry :(

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Here they are:

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails001.jpg

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails024.jpg

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails025.jpg

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails029.jpg

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails022.jpg

      https://www.askamanager.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/AMdetails010.jpg

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Also, there should be a link in the comment emails to unsubscribe yourself, but if you ever have trouble doing it, email me and I’ll fix it for you.

  34. Diet Coke Addict*

    Who has new stories about weird interview candidates?

    We had someone come in to interview this week for a part-time data entry job that will eventually lead to a full-time sales contract position for my coworker who’s going on mat leave. To start, it’s 10-12 hours a week and very basic.

    The first interviewer requested $45 per hour and a guaranteed $1500 a month in commission.

    He left.

    1. Seattle Writer Girl*

      LOL, this totally happened to me when I was interviewing temps to cover my maternity leave. We put out an add for a PT (20-30 hours/week), temp contract (4 months) and asked for 1-2 years of experience. I spent a lot of time on the phone having people flat out laugh or snort when I told them the pay was $15/hr (low but not unreasonable). People were demanding like $45-$60/hr.

      I also laugh when I get queries from freelance writers wanting $1.00/word. Uh, yeah, I work for a website–and not a very famous one either. We pay more like $0.10/word…

      1. D*

        The freelance and contract rates haven’t budged in ages, and people who were there for the dot.com days still think they should be paid what they were then, if not more.

        15 years later there’s new blood willing to be paid less (and with less experience), and a lot of the ‘seasoned’ folks haven’t done much to pump up their skills. I know of people that grouse about the crummy freelance wages they’re making, but haven’t done anything to make themselves more marketable either.

  35. Jen in RO*

    For those following my work-drama, since the layoffs 7 more people have quit, and most everyone else is job searching, with about 5 people (that I know of) in the last stages of interviewing. I had a second interview with a company this week, and they will schedule a third soon.

    In other news, I just spent 5 days in Vienna (hauling boxes and assembling Ikea furniture for a friend, extremely tiring, but fun!) and my German classes start again tomorrow! I have to brag about my new words: Accuschrauber (electrical screwdriver), Schlussel (wrench) and zum mitnehmen (food to go – I ate a lot of McDonalds…).

    1. Mints*

      Jen, this is off topic, but for there was a period of time when I recognized you as a regular commenter, and didn’t know what RO meant. I thought it was a department or industry like PR, IT, HR. And then I learned you were in Romamia and it still didn’t click for much longer than it should have taken, haha

      Good luck with the job hunt!

      1. Jen RO*

        Haha, well that’s good to know actually, because I was trying to be somewhat anonymous :D (Jen is my usual nickname in the Romanian blogosphere and a lot of people from my professional life know it. I’m thinking of changing my nickname to just Jen RO to make it even more anon, but I comment from a lot of devices and I haven’t changed it on all of them.)

  36. Dang*

    I am SO SICK of employers who interview you and keep you hanging. More than half haven’t had the decency to send a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email.

    Employer #1 in another city: interviewed in October, they said it would be ‘a few weeks’ before I heard from them. Required by company policy to interview at least 2 more candidates (they interviewed me within days of the posting). I emailed them a few weeks ago to ask the status and ask about promised travel expenses; they sent the check and said they hadn’t resumed the search yet. JUST REJECT ME. IT HAS BEEN FOUR MONTHS.

    Employer #2, interviewed last week- HR person was gung ho, “oh, everyone really wants to meet you! they were so impressed with your phone interview!” Then the day of the interview: I met different people than I was told, and I was supposed to meet another person but then they told me I was all finished. One was turned off by my ’employment gap’ (please, 7 months of job searching is not unheard of). No one acknowledged the changes. I emailed thank yous and HR- said he would have feedback for me that day (last Tuesday). OH LOOK, it’s now Friday of the next week and I haven’t heard a word.

    I”m so tired of investing hours of research, prep, and multiple interviews to be treated like this. SO OVER IT.

    1. Sunflower*

      SAME. I’ll frequently get rejection emails and scratch my head because I didn’t remember applying to that job. Then I think oh yes I did, it was 8 months ago!

      I will say some companies have INCREDIBLY LONG hiring processes and it’s really annoying.

    2. Anon4this*

      I am with you big time! Just posted my own story about this above. I finally received a rejection email today after a friend who works for the same company put in a good word for me with the woman who interviewed me. Friend was training with that woman today so mentioned me to the interviewer. I received a rejection moments after friend texted to say the position had been filled by an internal candidate.

      Interviewers need to have the decency to send rejection emails when they’ve filled the position. The position I mention has been filled for at least two weeks and the interviewer had promised to get back to me. UGH. SO EFFING IRRITATING. So yeah, you have my sympathy.

    3. Anon*

      Word. I’m currently waiting to hear back from a “dream job.” I have a sinking suspicion that a) I didn’t get it b) I will never hear that for sure from them. I was left hanging about an interview for nearly six weeks when I applied to a job at this company a few years ago before finally getting a “dear applicant” rejection e-mail.

  37. A Jane*

    Any suggestions on how to get an due date or end date from a request?

    I manage all incoming project requests and often times, I’ll get a request that needs to be completed soon, but doesn’t have an actual due date. The reason they can’t provide an end date is that their client hasn’t gotten back to them. Also, sometimes, the sales people will submit requests just to see if things are feasible.

    1. fposte*

      Make up your own and ask if it’s okay. “I see getting to this by March 31–does that work for you?”

      1. Elle D*

        I feel your pain, A Jane! This happens to me all the time. I second fposte’s suggestion – I typically send a clarification email like that and see how they respond.

        The other thing that annoys me is when someone puts in a due date of the following day, and when I call them to confirm that this is an urgent project they say something like “Not really, that’s just the date I put in. Get to it when you can.” Ugh!

    2. MaryMary*

      Can you set standard response times? A request of this nature will be complete in three weeks. This kind of project can be completed in four weeks. Any requests outside of the standard timing need to be clearly documented with the business reason that is driving the urgency.

  38. Elizabeth West*

    Alert Olive picture!

    Nothing new to report bookwise, except that I started the first hard copy edit on Current Work. Poor Critiquer is dealing with the PA ice storm, so there won’t be any word coming from there anytime soon (although I hope he sends back the manuscript as soon as he’s able so I can see what he edited). They got hit hard. :(

    Once the edit is done on Current Work, I’ll farm it out to a reader again and see what they say. First Reader liked it. I’m shooting to begin querying by summer at the latest–and I plan to NOT take a summer class because I need to get started on the sequel for the one Critiquer has.

    Speaking of school, I’m trying very hard to keep up with and not stress so much about it. I keep having this feeling that something major is going to happen, and it doesn’t seem related to that at all, but perhaps what I’m doing will be helpful in the future nonetheless.

  39. Sunflower*

    How much affect do personality index test have on the hiring decision? I’m filling out one day for a job I really want and am super nervous. All the question’s are black and white and I’m only allowed to pick in between for 9 out of 76 questions. I know you can’t really pass or fail but EEEEK. Confession: I had to take one in college to become a waitress at a chain restaurant and wasn’t hired because I failed. So yeah I’m more than a little nervous…

    1. Dang*

      I hate those with a passion because ,like you said, they’re SO black/white and I mostly fall in a gray area. I always want to add a comment box that says ‘depends on the day!’

      Wish I had some wisdom to add here, but I definitely feel your pain!

    2. Donna*

      Do not fret about this, the traits they look for in Service may not be the same triats they will look for in this position, I too failed one for Food Service, but aced the ones for my professional careers. Be honest, or honest enough without sounding like a nut job, as you want to work for a place that fits your personality traits. The only issue would be if you are taking one for Hospitality, as this one will be much closer to the one you prevoiusly took, but also, you are older now, and its possible your answers might have chnaged to reflect the new you post-college.

      1. E.R*

        I’ve had to take them for sales jobs. People tend to fill these out the way they think they “should” respond, which makes them kind of pointless. They tend to be used as a screening tool, and then you go on to to the interviews and can find out if there is an actual fit there. I cant think of a profession with one acceptable personality type, there are stereotypes (especially in sales) but the reality of successful salespeople is much more diverse.

  40. TheExchequer*

    Does anybody have suggestions for how to make friends with coworkers that you have nothing in common with? (They’re dog people, I’m owned by a cat; they like to drink, I don’t; they’re extroverts, I’m an introvert; they’re sunny day people, I love the rain; I’m a little bit country, they’re a little bit rock n’ roll – I could go on). I’d like to do a little bit better than just getting along, but so far, no dice.

    1. Anonymous*

      I don’t really expect to make friends with co-workers. It’s nice if you can manage to do it, but I think that getting along and being able to do your work is more important.

    2. fposte*

      What does “friends” mean? Are you looking for people to eat lunch with or people to spend weekend time with?

    3. Parfait*

      Why do you want to be their friends? It’s hard enough to make friends with people that you DO have things in common with.

    4. John*

      I think just showing an interest in them goes a long way. Sure, you can’t tell them about what your dog did last night, but you can ask them how their dog is doing. Just little things like that. “How did the party go last weekend?” They won’t care that you opted to stay home with a good book.

      1. LAI*

        Totally agree with this. I love my dog and would be happy to talk about him for hours to anyone who seems interested in listening. Of course, this may mean that you are spending a lot of time feigning interest in things that you’re really not interested in, so you’d have to decide whether that’s worth it to be better friends with these people, or if the type of relationship you have now is enough.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Could you perhaps bond over sports, or favorite TV shows or movies?

      Bonding over sports can come in many forms. I live deep in the heart of Broncos country, and we are all still bonding over the crushing disappointment of the Super Bowl. Sigh.

      1. AnonHR*

        I volunteer with a group of people, as friendly as we are, I have very little in common with the one other person my age. Total of jock/nerd dynamic (guess which one I am!). We recently bonded over BBC’s Sherlock in a big way :). Sometimes it’s just a lot of asking questions!

    6. Ann O'Nemity*

      If you can’t find anything in common at all, pick a few of their passions in which you have the most interest and engage them on those subjects.

      For example, I regularly have friendly conversations about cooking with a co-worker with whom I have little in common. She’s an excellent cook and really passionate about it. I’m not a good cook, but I’m not against it. I actually enjoy hearing about her cooking tips and tricks, and it’s made me a better cook. Recently, she’s started asking more about one of my passions (skiing), because she wants to get her kids involved in it.

    7. LMW*

      I think this is one of those cases where you might need to bond over how you are different. I always love being friends with people who are really different from me because they make me think in new ways. I mean, a lot of the time you need something to bond over…like working in the same place or liking food or having been to South America or something, but I’ve had great relationships with people I have very little in common with. It also makes me appreciate hanging out with people I do have things in common with even more.

    8. GoodGirl*

      I’m in a very similar position. If you haven’t already, try to ask them a lot of questions about themselves – people love to talk about themselves.

      Something else I learned at a young age was to try to find some common ground with everyone I encounter. It doesn’t have to be anything major – just showing a little effort really makes an impression on people. I used to be a very shy person (probably had a little social anxiety honestly) and this really helped me to overcome this.

      “Oh, you watch Cupcake Wars, too? I love that show!”

      “Oh, you’re originally from Omaha? My college roommate was from there. Do you know Susie Skater?”

      “Oh, you just tried that new hipster BBQ restaurant? I love that place. Did you order…”

      You get the idea. :)

    9. MaryMary*

      Do you want to be friends, or be friendly with your coworkers? Being friendly can entail chatting about the weather and asking about their weekend. You can do that even if you have nothing in common. You don’t have to be besties with your coworkers.

    10. Grace*

      I have always found that bringing in some food is always a way to make friends at work and break the ice. People rotate what they bring: store-bought bagels (a manager) and me (home-made coffee cakes).

  41. The 3m Cloud Library is down!*

    and I left my magazine’s home in an effort to be less of a hapless bag lady…now I have nothing to read during lunch.

    I don’t care to sit in restaurants and people watch..oh well. Nothing Earth shattering, but now it changes my lunch plans

    1. Graciosa*

      Just wanted to offer a little sympathy – I think being stranded somewhere with nothing to read is awful.

  42. Perspective*

    Four of us in a department of seven people (company total of 24) recently left our jobs due to an incredibly abusive supervisor (a liar who just trumped up charges against all of us as a hobby and bullied employees publicly and privately) as well as due to the company having problems meeting payroll.

    I was formally disciplined by the bully supervisor for supposedly leaving work early (I never once have left before 5 pm and usually worked until 5:30 pm or 6pm) and for serving a customer a cup of black coffee that she asked for (she flew in from Europe to meet with us). According to the bully supervisor it was my job to “refuse” to serve her black coffee and I was wrong to have served her coffee from our coffee pot and I should have made her walk two blocks over to buy a cup of black coffee. Whattttt?? The European customer paid us tens of thousands of dollars and we were supposed to begrudge her a cup of black coffee?

    How have you moved on from bullies? How do you assess the workplace culture?

    1. Diane*

      I’m so sorry you’re in that situation. I’m also in the middle of dealing with a bully supervisor. She’s my fifth supervisor in six years, and is by far the worst. I’ve had excellent evaluations up until now. Five months into her job, she put me on a six-month PIP for things that allegedly occurred before she started, for a miscommunication that she interpreted the same way I did, and for the way I format my reports to her–though she’d never talked to me about any of these previously.

      My advice is to know your worth and if it’s safe to do so, stand up for yourself respectfully. Know your allies at work. And get out. If management is not dealing with your bully supervisor, either they are unaware or weak–and neither is good for you or your career.

      It’s been very difficult for me to distance myself from my work. I do a good job and still go over and above, but at work I surround myself with people who appreciate what I do–and who give honest feedback so that I can improve. I’ve had to be ultra-aware of my other relationships, because my negativity about work was affecting everything else. I’ve also looked hard at my career and my employer, and I’ve decided to make a major changes. I’m taking steps to go back to school for a completely different career in health care. It’s terrifying and empowering.

      Best of luck!

      1. Perspective*

        Hi Diane,
        Thank you so much for your good advice! I’m sorry you’re in a bullying situation too. I’m out of the company now, but it’s sad
        because I liked my job and the rest of my team. But the owner
        of the company is weak, and ultimately he’s to blame for her being a bully. And she’s harming the bottom line of his business:
        morale problems, productivity problems, turn-over, hiring, training, and the incredible stress level put on the remaining employees and supervisors to get the work done (and it was already crazy busy with a full crew!).

  43. A Rant*

    I’m sick of getting lowballed by employers who want to offer a crappy salary even when you have an advanced degree. I don’t expect six figures, but I do expect a semi-decent wage, especially since I live in an area with a high cost of living. UGH!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is the advanced degree necessary for the jobs you’re applying for? If not, it makes sense that employers aren’t paying a premium for it. Aside from fields where an advanced degree is required, employers typically care more about work experience and track record of achievement.

    2. Graciosa*

      There is typically a market rate for different jobs in an area. Have you evaluated that rate for the jobs you’re being offered? While there are certainly employers who try to pay less, the fact that you’re sick of this happening implies that it is a pattern. In that case, it makes sense to do some investigation to determine whether your sense of your worth in these positions is consistent with that of the market.

      You do need to keep in mind that your advanced degree by itself is not necessarily a factor (although it could be if the job requires it) and the cost of living in the area may have much less to do with salaries than you would think. If you want to avoid repeated disappointments, you may need to adjust your expectations.

  44. Anonymous*

    About 9 months ago I left a job I LOVED to relocate for my family. I was fortunate enough to find a new job in my field but it’s not working out. People are all nice but my boss is absentee, I have no support for any of the things I need to do, the job duties are not what I expected and the office priorities don’t align with mine. There’s really only one company doing what I do in this region so I’ll be applying internally. I’m afraid 9 months is too soon to leave a job though. Should I stick it out longer? I know my current boss is expecting me to stay for years, although I have never given her any reason to think this. I’m also worried that if I start applying for internal jobs and it takes a while, word will get around to my boss – does this happen? Finally, what if I make a bad choice for my next job – will I be stuck there for years even if it isn’t any better? How would I explain 2 back-to-back short tenures?

    1. Dang*

      Start applying now. It could very well take 3+ months to find something else, and you can be pickier than you would be if you were unemployed. Chances are you will be there a year even if you start looking now- and I think even 9 months is acceptable to leave if it’s not right for you. I think you’re right, though, that you probably should stay in your next role longer- the ‘free pass’ of a wrong fit doesn’t seem to extend past once or twice in the minds of hiring managers.

      1. Dang*

        Sorry, I missed the internal part. That changes things a bit. Does the company have a policy on how soon you can start applying? My former employer had one year for the first role and 6 months for subsequent roles.

        1. Anonymous*

          No, there’s no policy about it. It’s a large government organization so there are thousands of employees here. However, the specific field I work in is a smaller community within the organization.

    2. Graciosa*

      9 months before an internal transfer definitely seems short to me, although I’m certain that is not what you wanted to hear. We expect at least twice that at my company, with 12 months being the minimum IF the manager gives permission.

      One line in your post bothers me – your boss expects you to stay for years even though you have “never given her any reason to think this.” This is a normal expectation, and it is not an unreasonable assumption when there are no indications otherwise. If you didn’t tell her during the interview that you were looking for a job for less than a year, do not put this off on her.

      Having accepted the job, you are now responsible for talking to your boss about issues and concerns you have with the position or your ability to succeed in the role. Assuming everything will be sunshine and roses (or at least as good as the job you LOVED and had to leave), not telling your boss about problems, and then falling back on not having “given her any reason” to think you would stay is not a mature and professional approach to the situation. It seems like a justification for you to avoid having a conversation with your boss that you fear will be difficult.

      Dealing with difficult issues directly is a skill that will serve you well in your career, and you should start developing it sooner rather than later. The other area that is important is forming reasonable judgments about your work situation.

      Here’s what I’ve gleaned from your post:

      1. People are nice but your boss is absentee. I assume the first isn’t an issue (unless you are expecting to have the same wonderful relationships you had at your former job, which would be unrealistic). The second may or may not be. What is the impact that the absence of the boss is having, and how could it be addressed?

      If you’re not getting timely answers to critical questions, this is something to be discussed with your boss, in a “What can I do to enable this” way. It could be as simple as adding “ACTION REQUIRED BY THURSDAY 2/13” message in the subject line of an email. Think through what you reasonably need to do your job, presume your boss wants you to succeed in it, and initiate a discussion of the issue (coming prepared with some possible solutions).

      If you’re just used to an environment where the boss is in the building at all times, that may not be a reasonable request. If you didn’t know the boss could be out of the office before taking the job and this is a real deal-breaker for you, being honest about it will both give your boss some warning that this is not a good fit and give you insight into what you want in your next job. Just be prepared for some bosses to perceive this as a sign of immaturity where it is not coupled with a real business issue (meaning I wouldn’t understand why you needed me in the building if I’m getting you answers in a timely fashion).

      2. You have no support for any of the things that you need to do. This is prime material for a discussion with the boss. What do you need to do your job that you are not getting? If you haven’t had this conversation in nine months, shame on you. If you have had this conversation and your boss is refusing to provide what you reasonably need to do you job, shame on the boss and you will need to get out.

      I stress reasonably need to do your job because your boss may be expecting higher levels of skill, judgment, and independence than you are capable of offering – but not more than others can provide. In that case, you will need to part ways.

      3. The job duties are not what I expected. Okay, now you know. I realize I am skipping over the communication failures pre-hire, but you are in the situation and you may as well think of it as if your boss changed your duties to what they are currently. Are you ready, willing, and able to do this job?

      4. The office priorities don’t align with yours. How? This may be related to #3. If you thought the team, which handles teapot design and quality inspection, would be 80:20 in favor of design turns out to be the opposite, that could be a misalignment of your priorities with the employer’s or a case of job duties not being what you expected.

      Again, are you ready, willing, and able to do what the employer needs done? This is not quite the same thing as having significant moral objections to a job, but I assume you would have left immediately if you encountered children stolen for medical research imprisoned in a secret lab, so I’m assuming normal misalignment until I hear otherwise.

      3 and 4 are reasonable items to discuss with your boss, although I would approach the discussion assuming 4 is not going to change. Could you be successful in your current job, or are there enough design projects you could add to your portfolio (maybe Charlie Coworker hates his allocation and would love to trade) to make it work?

      The answer may be that none of this is going to change – boss hired you for the job she needed done, and is not planning to restructure it to suit you. That’s good information to have, and it’s fair for you to have raised the question (and given her a little advance notice that your heart belongs in teapot design).

      After you have these conversations, you need to evaluate the job and see if you are willing to do it. If not, you can certainly look for another one. I would urge you to put in enough of an effort and enough time so that it is clear you make a good faith effort in role before moving.

      To answer your next question, government may be very, very different, but I would not assume your applications are secret within the company under normal (private employer) circumstances. This is just another reason not to blindside your boss. If a prospective new boss calls for an informal evaluation and it is clear your boss had no idea you were looking, this could backfire on you. “But she never said a thing!” is going to reflect on your maturity and professionalism in the workplace. A new boss is not going to want to be put in the same position as your existing one.

      On a final note (if you’re still reading – wow, this was long – sorry) please make sure you are not expecting any other job to replace the one you gave up. It sounds like it was extraordinarily good for you, but work can be – well – just work. If you have a fairly good environment working with nice people for decent compensation, that’s not a bad deal. If you compare every new job to the one you loved, none will ever measure up and you will be constantly unhappy as a result. Don’t do this to yourself. There may be legitimate reasons for you to move on, but please make sure you’re only taking action because of the legitimate reasons (after trying to address them) and not because all other jobs fall short in comparison.

      Good luck.

  45. Laura*

    When filling out online applications that ask for references and their titles, what do you do about people who are no longer in the roles you knew them in? Do you list their current role, even though it’s then unclear how they were related to you? Or do you list their role at the time you worked for them? There’s not enough character spaces for both.

    1. Jen*

      I list their current roles and numbers and assume that the questioning and follow-up will illustrate how we’d worked together.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I list their role as it was when they supervised me (or worked with me). I figure the reference checker will ask how they know me and the person will say “Well, I supervised her at Teapots Inc. for 4 years and…”

    3. LNS*

      Thank you for asking this! And, to the rest of you, for the answers. Just this week, I was filling out an application and realized I had no idea which to put.

  46. BCW*

    So, I just figured I’d throw this out there, because, you know its a job related website.

    I know there are quite a few Chicagoans on here. I was recently laid off, so I’m in the market for a new position. If any of you have any leads, work at a company that is hiring, or know any good recruiters in the area, I’d love any info. As for my very short background: I’m a former teacher, have an MBA, and my last job was training and account management for a software company.

    Also, just to put this out there, I know I often have opinions that are in the minority on here, but I can assure you (as can any of my former managers and co-workers) that I am nothing but professional in the workplace and a hard worker. Thanks in advance for any help.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I don’t live in or anywhere near your area, but I just wanted to say sorry about the layoff and I hope great things are in your future job wise very soon! I know how hard layoffs are, having been through them myself.

      1. BCW*

        Thanks. Luckily I got a decent severance AND I’m getting unemployment, so I’m ok financially. Honestly its the emotional aspect right now. If this was summer, it would be much easier, but being winter (and a BAD winter) its just hard because I’m in the house alone all day long.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I hear you. When I was laid off, one of the things that helped me a lot was making it a priority to get out of the house a couple of times a week. It’s hard when it’s winter and ice is on the road and snow and such, but I would take my laptop down to a nearby Starbucks and do my job searching there just so I’d have the change of scenery and because it felt more like an actual job in that I had to get dressed and leave the house.

        2. Anon*

          So sorry to hear about your lay-off. :(

          Is your severance being paid out biweekly or was it one lump sum? My husband is being laid off later this year and is getting severance, and we’re wondering if he can also collect unemployment at the same time if the severance is being paid out for several months as if he was still getting a regular paycheck. We’re in the Chicago area as well so I figured I’d ask someone who has already gone through this.

          1. BCW*

            Mine was in a lump sum, so it was different. But I’m not sure if it makes a difference or not. Either way though, what I’ve learned is that he should just apply right away anyway, and what will happen is in a week or so, he’ll get a letter telling him when his benefits start and when he needs to certify for the first time

            1. Anon*

              That’s what it seemed to indicate on the site I found online, but it’s good to have someone confirm that as well, so thank you!

      1. BCW*

        Ideally the loop, but I’m willing to go to the somewhat close suburbs (I live on the northside). My last job was in Deerfield, and I’d prefer closer than that.

        1. Sabrina*

          Have you looked at Groupon? They are on the northside. I’m not sure what they have available, just thought I’d throw it out there.

          1. BCW*

            I have looked there. They have a ton of jobs available, but they are all either entry level or don’t fit my profile.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oh no, sorry to hear that!

      Are you in the LinkedIn group? Might help to repost it there. There’s also a local networking subgroup as well.

        1. Stephanie*

          Go to the “connect” tab at the top of this page and there’s a link at the bottom. You have to get approved (I think Jamie runs it) first–just say you’re an AAM reader and your username.

    3. Brett*

      Check out the startup companies in your region. I know Chicago has several tech incubators and many of them could use someone with your skills.
      To do that, though, you might have to split part-time between 2-4 companies, which is doable if they are all based in the same building. (They often are.)

    4. Joey*

      Sorry in not in your area but don’t worry. your comments make you sound thoughtful, straightforward, opinionated, and not afraid to speak your mind. Those are all positive qualities in my book.

      1. Stephanie*

        I agree with Joey. I don’t always agree with your opinions, but they’re always very thoughtful and intelligent. I’d totally appreciate that in an employee. If only I had a business in Chicago that needed your skills!

    5. Random Reader*

      I would check out Adler School of Professional Psychology. They have good benefits and a pretty good workplace culture. Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for, but check out http://www.adler.edu.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m sorry — being laid off is no fun at all. From what you’ve posted here, I’d be happy to work with you (but you’d have to move to WA state).

    7. D*

      I work in Chicago and develop training, mostly eLearning.

      Health related companies might be looking due to ACA. HCSC (BCBSIL) has an recent full-time opening (already filled) and may have a contract opening.

      You may want to check in with CARA. They focus on training consulting/contracting.

  47. Mike C.*

    So here’s something that keeps coming up at work and it’s driving me nuts.

    I’ll be assigned to help out a group with some data analysis/generate metrics/etc. Sometimes I’m doing new stuff, other times I’m picking up where someone else left off. Note, these are datasets with millions of items here, so we’re talking big stuff here, but at first glance it seems to be fairly straight forward stuff.

    This shouldn’t be a big deal, but this almost always leads to time consuming complications.

    The complications range from deliverables not being well defined (or changing!) to data methodology on previous analyses being unclear or unconventional to simple things like links between databases being dead. Most of the time I find these issues out after a lengthy troubleshooting session.

    When I go and say “Hey, you need to fix X, Y and Z”, maybe X will be half fixed after three emails, a phone call that wasn’t returned and a face to face meeting. Then there will be more time-consuming back and forth, and after way too long things are either finalized, the scope increases or it’s just cancelled.

    I’m getting really tired of the baby sitting, so what can I do to better manage these sorts of projects? How can I get people to give me what I need to do what they want me to do without having to constantly nag?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I will be following this closely because that’s a huge problem I had in a previous position. I finally gave up and was happy to be laid off because I couldn’t get anything I needed to get things done so the job became worthless in terms of the effort expended after awhile.

    2. Yup*

      Is your frustration more about the actual problems within the work (the broken links) or about the level of pushing that you have to do to get it fixed (the phone calls, emails, meetings to get ONE thing accomplished)?

      1. Mike C.*

        The latter. I hate the feeling that I’m “asking for help again” and being handed something that should be trivial but it isn’t because I wasn’t given the whole story.

        1. TL*

          Maybe you can make the requirements for help more stringent? I know we had a lot of problems like that at our old job and they tightened up requirements for submitting data a lot – your experimental design, methods, and statistical analysis all had to approved before we’d take samples and do the analysis. This was because we’d take samples for much less expensive projects and find all sorts of problems with them and have to run around fixing their mistakes. Not a big deal when it’s $12/run but a huge deal when it’s $10000/run.

          And I don’t know how much independence you have in your job, but I used to withhold results (nasty but effective) or just make the first contact really long so I could cover everything. The first time they meet you, they’re going to be the most willing to help, generally.

        2. Yup*

          Yeah, I know that feeling – where each deeper layer reveals some hideous thing that NO ONE mentioned previously.

          One thing is to just assume going in that there’s stuff you haven’t been told yet. Mentally, you can treat it as a discovery phase of each project. When you develop your initial plan, treat it as a hypothesis or a work in progress, so that you can build in future checkpoints to revisit & revise.

          Is the group you’re helping a bit dysfunctional or otherwise messy? If yes, it’s worth it to sit down with the right person in their group and really hammer out what’s acceptable and expected in terms of your needs to get their stuff done. If you’re used to a high-performing team and they’re sort of dragging along, you’ll want to get really explicit with their leader (maybe with some help from your boss) that you can’t accomplish X by Y if people don’t get on board. One tactic might be a weekly 15 minute punch list meeting with the leader and the key people, to run though what’s still outstanding.

          Also, there’s usually one really excellent linchpin per group who can tell you the history of stuff and the secret to getting lazy Chris to do anything and where the original documentation is stored. If you haven’t met that person yet, try to find out who they are and build that relationship. Once hatched, you can go right to that person for a ton of stuff instead of dealing with 8 different individuals all moving at various speeds.

          1. smallbutmighty*

            My team refers to these as “matryoshka problems,” because each problem has ANOTHER problem lurking inside. So we’ll say something like, “I’m working on the Chocolate Teapot 3.0 specs this morning, but I’ve run into a matryoshka problem with the conversion chart on the Japanese lang_locale, so I may not get to the real stuff until this afternoon.”

    3. Joey*

      Well there’s two ways to do this.

      1. Schmooze them into doing it. That is, make them like you so much they’ll want to do it because you’re a nice guy.

      2. Get help from your boss.

  48. First time poster*

    I wanted to see if anybody else has been in similar situation and how did they handle it. I interviewed 2 months ago for a small consulting company (60 people). They have 1 HR and she is been coordinating all the interviews.

    I had 3 phone interviews, went on site, interviewed with 4 more people, everybody loved me and I really liked them and the company. Then there were do holidays (Christmas – New Years) and when I followed up, was told that the head of the practice need to interview me and he was out of the country. This was beginning of January. I had one more phone interview with them (not with the head) and this also went well. Since then I’m trying to schedule interview with the head (4 weeks have passed already), was invited one week but canceled the day before since the head didn’t confirm the interview.

    Should I processed to ask for this interview, or just give up and marked as it wasn’t meant to be?

    I have a good job so I’m not really looking for a job but this was a specific company that I liked to work for.

    1. fposte*

      Hard to know for sure–it sounds like they have a lot of moving parts, which makes me raise an eyebrow, and you haven’t stated what part of the country we’re talking about, so I don’t know if weather’s a factor. I’d contact them two weeks after the last contact and say that you’re still interested in the position and open to scheduling something, but I’d definitely keep searching in the meantime.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Agreed. There comes a point where you have to put the contact on them and mentally move on. If they want you, they will make that happen. I’m all for following up of course, but there is a point where you have to stop even doing that because it’s a waste of your time. They are in control of the process here and it sounds like it’s a slow moving one. fposte is absolutely right that you need to keep on looking and I also agree with her that the number of moving parts in the job you’re looking at now is a bit concerning. Canceling the day before the interview was scheduled because the head hadn’t confirmed? That’s a bit weird, I wouldn’t have scheduled the interview with you prior to the head confirming. So there are things to look out for here culture wise. They seem to have a long and involved hiring process and internal communication appears to be somewhat troubled. Maybe not red flags for you personally, but something to keep in mind as you assess culture and fit.

  49. Goofy Posture*

    Does anyone here have trouble accepting compliments from their bosses?

    I just was showered with significant praise for the first time last week, and didn’t really know how to react. I think I responded just fine (“Thank you, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here”) but was a bit surprised by how awkward I felt.

    Most of my career up to this point has involved putting out fires, so my successes have been largely relative to the obstacles I was up against, and conversations with management were all about handling whatever the crisis-of-the-day was. The only formal performance review I’ve had was at a previous employer, and inaccurate about my weaknesses (partly because my boss had no idea, partly because he could only give out x number of 4s and 5s.)

    Just interested in hearing others’ experiences and funny stories if you have them!

    1. ChristineSW*

      I’m the same way–a staff member that supports the county committee I’m one was gushing to me the other day, and I just sat there and blushed.

      Something along the lines of what you said seems adequate. I usually just say “Thank you” and maybe add something like, “I’m enjoying the work” or “I’m looking forward to taking on this role.”

    2. Anonymous*

      I agree. I feel super awkward about getting effusive praise, from anyone but especially from a boss and especially in front of other people. I’d much prefer a simple “thanks, you’re doing a great job” combined with increased autonomy and responsibility to keep doing a great job.

  50. Worried*

    I’m concerned that one of my employees is depressed. She’s been coming in late lately (say, 9:30 or 10 instead of 8), barely eats a lunch (a soda and a bag of chips) and seems withdrawn and quiet, when she’s usually very outgoing and talkative.

    I pulled her aside and noted that I’ve noticed she’s not herself lately, and she admitted to a ‘health issue’ that she is working through. She also indicated that she’s stressed out by her current manager (who reports to me). The current manager is new to managing people and is learning the ropes. I’m not in a spot to remove said manager from her supervisory position, and admit she is difficult to get along with. However, what can I do for the depressed employee to help alleviate her stress?

    1. Nikki T*

      I’m not sure about the depression part, but maybe talk about how her manager is stressing her out? Perhaps you can make suggestions on how to work with her better and also talk to the manager if their management skills are lacking?

      Is she’s difficult to get along with…might want to keep watch on that for the sake of her employees….

    2. ella*

      I think that you could address the current manager’s effect on her team’s morale, particularly if you notice she’s having a deleterious affect on other members of the team. And I think acknowledging the possibly-depressed employee’s efforts and accomplishments is important (if she is depressed, she may be feeling invisible or fearing for her job, whether or not either of those two things are true). If your job has access to mental health resources, you might find a way to discreetly remind her of their existence.

      But I think mostly, just be friendly and compassionate and direct, and let her ask for what she needs. Often, when I’m depressed, what I want from employers is to just leave me alone and let me get on with work, because I have the energy to work, but not to articulate my emotional state to others, particularly not coworkers. But I’m me. She might feel entirely different.

    3. Yup*

      Well, it sounds like there’s two parts to what you’re describing. One is a workplace problem (her boss is new and maybe difficult) that you’ve observed and can directly work on. For that piece, I’d say commit to having periodic skip-level meetings with *all * of the new manager’s direct reports, as a form getting direct feedback on what’s up. The more you can help the new boss be a great boss, the better for all the employees and the organization as a whole.

      The second problem is that the employee might be going through something personal. You think it’s depression, but you can’t really know whether she’s experiencing depression as a medical situation, or is going through something else that’s causing her to be different than usual, unless she wants to tell you that. (Maybe she received an upsetting diagnosis, is getting divorced, her house is in foreclosure, etc.?) One approach to kindly ask how she’s doing and just offer a sympathetic ear, saying something like, “I really value having you as part of our team, and I’m always here if there’s anything you’d like to talk about.” If your company has an employee assistance program, make sure that info is available to all your employees and be open about encouraging people to avail themselves of it as a confidential already-paid-for benefit.

    4. Sadsack*

      The others who have posted here have given good advice regarding dealing with your employee’s depression. Now I feel I must ask about the other part of this:

      “The current manager is new to managing people and is learning the ropes. I’m not in a spot to remove said manager from her supervisory position, and admit she is difficult to get along with.”

      What does this mean exactly? Does the manager micromanage? Does she not give clear instructions? Does she not address valid work questions or issues brought to her by her direct reports? Does she curse at people? What is her deal? You write that she is new to managing. Are there resources for new managers at your organization? Training or mentoring provided?

      I have never been a manager. That said, if you know that someone who reports to you is a “bad manager,” you probably should get more closely involved before you start experiencing high turn over rates in her department. Letting things like this go is a sure way to cause employees to feel resentful and move on, and rightly so. I wonder if the bad managers I have had the misfortune to work for had higher ups who figured they’d figure the whole managing thing out for themselves. Not that this is what you are doing, but I am curious what a manager in your position would/can do if you are aware of this type of situation.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — and there is a ton of room between removing her from her job and just letting her proceed as she has been. You should be coaching her! Talk to her about how she’s managing, probe beneath the surface, sit in and observe some of her interactions with her team, and give her feedback!

        Think of it this way: If a non-manager who reported to you was struggling in her job, you’d give her feedback, right? You’d talk to her about where she needs to improve and what the bar for good performance looks like. Well, that’s what you have to do here — part of her job is managing others, and if she’s floundering at it, you have to intervene just like if she were floundering at any other part of her job.

    5. Us, Too*

      YIkes! My spidey senses are going off big time with this! I’d be very concerned that this “depressed” employee is only the tip of the iceberg. NOBODY likes to work for someone who is “difficult to get along with”. That’s a morale vampire right there and attrition just looking to happen.

      I second the suggestion to do immediate 1:1’s with everyone under this manager. And I’d be managing him/her OUT asap if there wasn’t immediate turnaround in any behaviors that I uncovered that were ruining the team under him/her. Even if that meant doubling my own workload until I can restaff the role.

      In terms of the depressed employee, I’d just leave the communication lines open and go from there.

    6. Dee*

      Kudos to you, Worried, for recognizing these possible symptoms of depression in your employee and wanting to help. I agree with the other commenters that the bad manager is a separate issue to deal with. But just approaching your employee and asking how you can help could go a long way.

      I recently went through a similar situation. I didn’t want to disclose any mental health issues to my boss, but I was coming in late every day, crying in the bathroom, unable to focus, etc. The head of HR was constantly running to my boss to chew me out for these behaviors, so instead of receiving any sort of compassion or inquiry into what was going on, I felt very vulnerable. I ended up taking FMLA leave and then the company fired me by mail when they received my medical paperwork a day late. Yeah, I’m still a little bitter.

  51. ella*

    I just have a rant–I have two part time jobs, one near my house, the other much farther away (a bit over an hour by bus or by bike). I’ve been trying to get a second job nearer my house so I can quit my farther-away job, and since my nearer-job is in a library district, I’ve been searching for jobs in the library (I could hold two part-time jobs at different branches within the same district).

    The branch nearest my house has indirectly declined me three times now–once after an interview, once while trying to schedule an interview, and once in the job description itself–by stating that they don’t want to hire someone who already works elsewhere in the district, because they don’t want to accommodate the other branch’s schedule. These are for entry-level jobs, not promotion-type positions, and 20 hours a week. I just wonder how this is a remotely logical standard. Okay, so you have to accommodate a schedule, but you get an employee that you know is already performing adequately in a similar but different setting. And do they really think that not hiring people who are already library employees saves them from having to accommodate a schedule? Do they also not hire people who have non-library second jobs? Do they not hire people with children or other family members that affect availability? Do they truly expect to find somebody with no schedule conflicts who can support themselves solely on a 20-hr per week entry level job?

    Argh. Not really a question. Just grinds my gears because I’m so, so tired of my long commute and have been trying to get out of it for months.

    1. athek*

      I’m sorry for your struggle — it sounds really challenging and frustrating. I hope you find something new soon.
      I’m curious if there is something going on at the back end that you don’t know about… a lot of libraries have needs that can’t flex to personal or other schedules very easily. Are they concerned that they need someone for the same hours that you are already working at the other branch? Are they concerned that if you work shifts back to back they would have to account for transit time? Another issue is working two shifts in the same day… since both of your jobs are in the same institution, are they going to take a hit to account for breaks and lunches?
      Also, I would be concerned that if you are working 40 hours in the same institution (20 hours at one branch and 20 hours at another branch), is there a benefits issue here?

      1. CTO*

        Great point about benefits. I would assume that you’d have to be treated as a FT employee of the library system even if you’re PT at two different branches. That might be why they don’t allow it. Could you ask the supervisor or HR at your current branch for information about that policy?

      2. ella*

        I think in this case, the manager just doesn’t want to go through the effort. I understand the difficulty of accommodating schedules, the thing that befuddles me is specifically not wanting to accommodate another branch’s schedule. With a 20-hr entry-level position, accommodating an employee’s other obligations seems inevitable. Maybe when the listing goes to the public (listings are open for a week on the intranet and then they go to public postings), other aspects come into play that I’m not seeing, but this particular manager just seems to not want anyone who’s already working at another branch, regardless of whether schedules actually clash.

        Working at two separate branches isn’t a problem, benefits- or breaks-wise–I’m not sure how they work it out, but I did check on that aspect of it before I started applying to other jobs in the district. I don’t even have to have the same job in both places–I could be a shelver in one and a circulation clerk in another (a pay difference of about $4/hr) and it’d be fine. Library employees go into the gigantic pool of city/county employees as a whole when it comes to benefits, so I think that’s part of the system, but I don’t know details about the calculation that they actually make.

    2. Aisling*

      Usually in a case like that, they already have a number of employees who have specific availability, and they need to have someone else who has open availability to fill in all the holes. If everyone is a college student, that means no one can work during the day – only nights and weekends. So they hire for someone who has open availability during the day.

      I speak as a former library supervisor who worked with such a schedule. It was difficult to juggle everyone’s schedules and still get a good schedule that didn’t abuse the one person who had open availability.

      I’d keep trying, though. You never know what exactly they’re looking for when the job opens up.

      1. ella*

        Right. And I’d absolutely understand if it became clear at some point in the process that they needed someone to work on Sundays, when I’m not available. But they seem to have a blanket preference to not hiring anyone from another branch, regardless of whether schedule needs actually clash. (This past week, when I had to decline an interview, it was because the woman scheduling it said that the hiring manager didn’t want to accommodate a second schedule, even though I had looked at the scheduling needs published in the job description to make sure they’d fit before I’d applied for the job.)

  52. Ali*

    I just want to vent this week.

    Like an idiot, I made a mistake on a cover letter. I was applying for two jobs with similar duties and once I had sent the second application, I realized I had left the title of the first job in the opening paragraph of my cover letter. I feel so dumb for such a basic mistake.

    Then yesterday I was supposed to have a phone interview for a position I really wanted. However I had applied about two months ago and had changed my phone number since applying. I informed my interviewer of the change and to contact at my new number, but he called my old one anyway and I missed the call.

    So even though this wasn’t entirely my fault, the interviewer still hasn’t emailed or called about rescheduling and I am guessing I blew the opportunity. :(

    Yeah…not the best week on the job hunt!

    1. TL*

      Email or call the interviewer! Just apologize for missing the call, mention he called the wrong number, and indicate you’re available to reschedule.

      1. Ali*

        I did that already and he has yet to respond to me. When I called him back yesterday, he was on another line and I left a voice mail. No return call or e-mail.

    2. athek*

      I get your pain!
      When I was job hunting a few years ago, someone very prominent in my industry invited me for coffee to go over my resume and talk about opportunities.
      I went to the coffee shop that she mentioned in her invitation, and she went to another one. I double checked, and I was correct, but she never said anything about it later and I still wonder if she thinks it was my fault and thinks less of me.

      1. quiet*

        Booo. My story is similar: meeting for coffee to chat with someone in my field. Looking for career advice, a possible mentor. They arrived before me, and went to the bathroom when I entered, a few minutes early. I walked through the whole cafe looking for him, but he was not there (in the bathroom instead). So I took a seat and waited for him, figuring he was running late. Finally after he was about 15 minutes late I called him. He was annoyed at ME for being late. What an asshole. He didn’t apologize, and of course because of his power I had to be “oh I’m so sorry.” Apparently when he returned to his seat from the bathroom he didn’t think to look for anyone matching my description. *sigh*

  53. Dan Crawford*

    Do any people have experience with pulling the plug on a project? I have become de facto project manager (not my title, has never been explicity stated to me, but nobody else performs the role and I’ve just been doing what needs to be done). This project is about 6 months over due and I don’t see it being complete for another 3. I have expressed concerns to my boss but she had more of a wait and see attitude. Does anyone have any advice as to how I might revisit the topic? It really sucks and I’m disappointed because this is a really cool project that’s failing due to lack of tech support- I’ve begged our programmer for more hours but just don’t get them.

    1. John*

      I would suggest you schedule a sitdown with your boss to discuss the hurdles to completing the project. She needs to understand that the ability to complete it is outside your control. As you see it, there are three options: 1) proceed as you have been, recognizing that it may be another 3 mos if not longer before it’s done; 2) get a dedicated resource assigned, in which case it will be done by X; or 3) cut your losses now. Your recommendation would be [option 2] but need her input because the only way that would work is with some help getting the tech resources.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Pulling the plug on a project usually ruffles some feathers, so you need to have concrete reasons why you think it’s the right thing to do. Vague generalities normally won’t get you anywhere.

      So in talking with your boss, you can say that deliverable A is X weeks or months overdue, and to complete the work will require some number of hours from one or more resources. Otherwise, the project will continue to linger and suck up Y amount money per month, quarter, etc.

      Also suggest to your manager to talk to the programmer (or the programmer’s manager) to find out why he or she is not working on the project. It could be that the programmer has competing priorities, and your project is lower down on the list.

      Also do a cost/benefit analysis of cancelling the project vs finishing it. Yes, cancelling it will help with costs, but if it could be finished (at an estimated cost of X) it would be something that would add a lot of value.

      People usually respond better to things with dollar signs attached to them.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Lots of good advice already.

      I’d like to add that a good project plan will have criteria indicating when a project should be terminated. (Overdue by X days, exceeded budget by X amount, etc). If your project plan doesn’t already have something like this, I’d suggest working with your boss to get it added now. Ann F’s suggestion of a cost/benefit plan will help too.

    4. Us, Too*

      Why should you pull the plug on it just because it’s late and you’re having staffing issues? Those are manageable issues. Generally, the only reason I would cancel a project entirely is if you could show it had no projected ROI.

    5. Dan Crawford*

      Thank you all for the good advice. I guess I’m just feeling discouraged because this is the first time I’ve been the lead of something (de facto or otherwise) and am having trouble dealing with the idea of failure.

  54. r*

    I’m working to set up a phone screen with a company, and every single email I’ve received from their in-house recruiter has been sent after 8pm. Normally I wouldn’t give it much of a thought — after all, I used to work fairly regular hours but would deal with some emails before bed — but some of the language the recruiter used made me think s/he was working a bit of a hectic schedule. How concerned would you be?

    1. LAI*

      Not too concerned. Some people answer emails at night because they have a flexible schedule and work less during the day, some people are workaholics and can’t stop themselves from checking email at night even though they don’t have to, some people have a reasonable workload but are disorganized and can’t do it efficiently in 40 hours per week, etc. It could be worth noting if you see other signs that the company has unrealistic work expectations of its employees but I wouldn’t base any assumptions on this one fact.

  55. H. Vane*

    Ladies and Gents, specifically those with work experience in the UK, I have a question for you.

    My sister, a lovely, intelligent and talented young lady, is living in Essex for at least the next year. She has a visa which enables her to work in the UK. She has two very small children, and would prefer to work from home. Does anyone know of any companies in the UK who would possibly be willing to work with her? She’s got a degree, plenty of work experience, and lots of free time. The issue is that she’s kind of going out of her head with boredom since she doesn’t know many people over there, and her husband’s still in school so they’re basically living off loans. Any thoughts?

    1. pgh_adventurer*

      I’ve worked for Global Water Intel at both office- and home-based roles. You can do project tracking, which is basically internet research and calling people up in the water industry to ask about infrastructure projects.

      From their careers page:

      Are you a bright graduate who’d like to start a career in publishing or in the water industry? Or do you need flexible part time work to help you through their degree? Often students who help us out in part time admin or telesales jobs end up staying on in the sales and marketing department as full time members of staff once they’ve graduated.

      For sales and marketing roles, please send your CV to Emma Welsh, Sales and Marketing Director, ewelsh@globalwaterintel.com

      We’re also happy to receive speculative applications from graduates. For editorial roles, please send your CV to Christopher Gasson, Managing Director, cg@globalwaterintel.com.

  56. TL*

    Any lab rats out there? My friend is having problems in her new job in a lab, and it’s due to almost exactly the same reasons I had problems in my first job – lack of support and lack of training. To top it off, her postdoc does not know very much about the techniques she’s using and there’s no one else in the lab to help her.

    I get why you might through a grad student in the deep end ( don’t agree, but I understand), but she’s just a research tech, fresh out of college. Why is this so pervasive in labs?

    1. Gjest*

      In know this is not ideal, but I actually learned a lot of lab techniques while I was in grad school by googling…even silly simple things such as pipetting. I googled “pipette technique” and read through a bunch of random information. I seriously owe my MS to google. I acknowledged google in my thesis :)

      Also, if there’s no one else in her lab, is there another lab she can go to for help? I also spent lots of time in other labs figuring out proper techniques from them.

      1. TL*

        Yeah, she googles and I’m definitely helping her as much as she can – but she’s also dealing with some lab-specific stuff and some really bad advice. (The tech before her ordered mistakenly ordered primers several bases short and her postdoc said it was no big deal. O.o)

        The information is out there, if you dig enough, but honestly, you shouldn’t have to put in that many hours to train yourself on the basics of your job.

        1. Gjest*

          Yikes, yeah that sucks, and is not a fun situation to be in. Is the post-doc her direct supervisor? Are there lab meetings with the PI where she can mention her troubles (in a diplomatic way, of course)?

          Other than that, if her supervisors are OK with her spending/wasting so much time on figuring out the basics, then she just might have to spend that time doing it. But she should make sure the supervisors realize how much time is being wasted by not having the proper training. I wasted a bunch of time in one lab I worked in trying to figure stuff out on my own, then finally went to my advisor and told her we would save so much money (in wasted chemicals) and time if she could send me to another lab to work with someone for a few weeks. She finally did, and it was great.

          1. TL*

            Yup, post doc is direct supervisor, PI is not very helpful – I’ll mention it to her about going to another lab for more training.
            But her PI is really upset with her for not figuring fairly advanced troubleshooting methods out (without realizing the postdoc’s bad advice, I’m sure) and it’s just completely unreasonable to expect that of your techs.

      2. Anhinga*

        I agree with this. I was in a similar boat starting at the job I have now. Asked to do something I had never done in the lab and my boss wasn’t going to show me how to do it. Maybe I was lucky b/c I knew another lab that was doing similar work who gave some helpful advice. The other helpful thing was emailing someone who was doing this same lab work. He may have been willing to help just b/c he advised my boss when he was a master’s student. I’m not sure. Anyway, I second the internet research. Unless it’s a really obscure lab technique, I would think that your friend could find written methods in textbooks, journal articles, a reference book (something like Standard Methods for water quality analysis), and/or somewhere on the internet. But I will agree that it does kind-of suck not having coworkers or a boss who can help you figure that kind of stuff out. Though, it does maybe build character (I’m hoping!).

        1. Anhinga*

          Should clarify I work as a tech under a PI, though, no post-docs or PhD/MS students around here.

        2. TL*

          It’s not so much the technique as the troubleshooting. Troubleshooting, even for really common techniques, is fairly difficult to find on the Internet once you get out of the most common 3 problems. And a lot of them, you only learn from experience or really in-depth knowledge of the technique (which generally comes from experience).

          And I would definitely expect a postdoc or Ph.D in the field to be able to troubleshoot the stuff she’s dealing with, but not a new tech. It’s just really frustrating to watch it happen to her.

  57. Rebecca*

    Advice – how do you just suck it up, and deal with a bad workplace situation day after day? It’s been over 3 years since the company I worked for was gobbled up by a large company, and quite frankly, it’s awful. I’ve tried to make positive changes, suggestions, but I’ve been reduced to a glorified data entry clerk, and I hate it. I dread coming to work, and my crazy manager is no help. It’s to the point where I grind my teeth when I hear her voice in the hallway.

    Decent paying jobs with benefits are few and far between here, but I look every day. Sadly, the ones that seem like a good fit pay half of what I make now.

    I guess I know the real answer – just deal with it until I can make a change – but somehow it feels better to type it out. Hopefully no one else is in this situation.

    1. John*

      OP, you need to make your peace with it. Your feelings toward the situation were helpful in terms of inspiring an all-out job search. In the meantime, it sounds like you may be in this position for a while.

      That being so, you need to let go of the anger you’re feeling. It’s not constructive. You need to reframe it: for all its issues, this is a very good job from a compensatio perspective. Hold onto that. And focus on doing the mental work of rolling with your crazy boss and the rest of it. Find the humor in her insanity! Manage your own expectations — if, for example, you always find you’re damned if you do or don’t, then know that so you take the emotion out of it…when your manager screams at you, inside your head you are going “la la la la la” because you know this is part of the routine.

      I’ve been in situations where I’ve found myself reduced from a strategic contributor to an order taker, and, after working through the emotions, I just accept that I’m going to be the best order taker I can because, in the bigger scheme of things, the math still makes staying my best option. I’m not going to let the personalities and change in responsibilities steal all the joy from my days.

      Sounds like your job has become boring. If so, perhaps there are things you can get involved with outside work that will help occupy your brain when you’re there.

      It’s not easy. And I’m the first to say I ultimately had a leave a situation like yours. But remind yourself that the only thing you can control is how you reaction to your situation. Daily misery is not a great option.

      Best of luck to you.

      1. Rebecca*

        Thanks for this. You’re right – it’s crushingly boring, and I have been reduced to basically an order entry clerk. I’m just so disappointed in myself. And no, daily misery is not a good option. I’m learning to just come to work, push the buttons, and use the mental downtime for planning other things in my life.

        1. Anon*

          I don’t envy your situation. I’ve been there before and it’s awful.

          It sounds like your boss is maybe trying to run you out of there. Maybe because you’re part of the old guard? Maybe your boss is one of those that wants you to get along with her? Admire her? Being intimidated by her? And, you aren’t giving her that? Are there other parts of the organization you can work with? If your boss is awful, maybe his or her days are numbered?

        2. Cat Mechanic*

          I’m dealing with this same situation but in a job I’ve had for less than a year. I severely downgraded my responsibilities from the job I left but significantly upgraded my salary. I am of the mindset that money can buy happiness (not that it definitely will but that it can), so I’m slowly realizing that I can spend the money on something I want, like a vacation or house renovation — both things I couldn’t do on my previous salary.

          John’s reply is the very thing I’m struggling to learn how to do, so I’m glad to know other people relate.

        3. Area51*

          Is it a crushingly boring job but no more than 40 hours a week (or less) of work? Any training or education reimbursement programs you can take advantage of? Or activities/interests that you can attend and network with people?
          Boring jobs can be a launchpad for your next big thing.

        4. Grace*

          I saw an article about a woman who used her river rafting experience to deal with an abusive work environment:
          if you get tossed over the side of the boat, keep your feet pointing down stream and push off the rocks. That’s the technique she used with abusive executives in her company.

          I would also add to up the self-care if you’re in a tough work situation: get a massage, beauty treatment, take a fun class, exercise, mini-vacation.

  58. bored*

    How do you stay motivated in a job you really don’t like?

    I am not doing what I was hired to do and am bored out of my mind with what I’m being asked to do. Yes, I’ve tried talking with them about the issues but ultimately it has become clear I must move on. So I’m actively seeking a new job but need to find ways to stay engaged and motivated at my current job.

    1. Rebecca*

      Oh, I hear you. I’m having the same problem. I loathe my job now. I had a great job, lots of responsibility, and what I did had a direct effect on the company’s bottom line. I consistently received high evaluation scores, raises, etc.

      Then another company gobbled us up. In over 3 years, no raises, no evaluations, nothing, and 90% of my former job responsibilities have been stripped away. I am bored to tears every single day. I tried to give it time, but like you, it’s obvious I need to move on. But to where? That’s the problem. I don’t know where all these jobs are that are allegedly being created.

    2. Lindsay*

      I wonder this EVERY DAY.

      Set goals for yourself to make it through each day. Like today – I’ll paint ten tea pots. Tomorrow I’ll write up my stats on my tea pot making.

      Write a list of things that are good about your job. Like, mine is deadly boring, but I have full benefits and the world’s easiest commute.

      I feel like I’m just doing time until I’ve been here two years so it looks a little better on my resume!

      1. bored*

        That’s a good idea. I’ve been trying to use the 45-15 rule. Work for 45 minutes, read AAM (something) for 15 minutes. But I still dread every day.

        I’ve been here less than a year but am looking anyways. I think (hope) I have a compelling enough story to tell in my cover letter that it will be okay. Basically I was hired to be a Sr. Teapot Designer but am, instead a Teapot Data Analyzer and Chief Phone Answerer. All because they don’t actually want to design any more teapots, they want to keep making the same ones. Which is fine, but don’t hire someone to design teapots if there are none to be designed so instead turn them into an admin. I didn’t leave ex-job to go back to things I did straight out of college.

    3. A Jane*

      Similar boat — I was hired to Teapot Process Management, but now I’m Teapot Timecard Checker. I’ve started to write up documentation on things I work on — a lot of administrative guides, etc. I also try to make sure I get focused the first hour of work. Otherwise, I end up surfing the web for the majority of the day.

    4. Anon for this*

      I know how you feel. I’m doing what I was hired to do and I’m finding myself constantly frustrated and bored. I was also supposed to move on two years ago to a new position, but that position never happened. My boss has brought it up since as something he still wants to create and move me into, and it’s definitely what I’d rather be doing, but at this point I don’t believe it’s going to happen.

    5. Yup*

      Start prepping for your future departure by writing up procedures, tidying up files, finishing lingering projects, and generally getting your (work)house in tiptop shape. It looks exactly like doing your regular job, but you’ll know that you’re secretly preparing for a smooth exit for when you get to leave. I don’t know why but it feels different (and more energizing) to tackle hated tasks with the mindset that you’re getting things in good order for the next person, rather than just filing those reports that you hate.

  59. Lindsay*

    My resume looks like I’ve had a TON of jobs in the past six years, but three are short (three-month) internships and several others were seasonal. I’ve conflated the season jobs, but can I conflate the internships? They are all super similar: Academic library internships with nearly identical duties.

    Could I leave off the descriptions? Put them under an “internship” section? I think I need to leave them on to explain gaps and to count towards experience requirements on future library applications…

    1. Fiona*

      I would. Alison has said before, no one expects a long tenure at a position clearly identified as an internship. I’d list it like:

      Library Intern
      –BSU , Sept-Dec 2012
      –UofM, May-August 2013
      –St. Mary’s U, January – April 2014
      Job duties/accomplishments blah blah blah…

  60. Chriama*

    Suggestions for recent grads looking for work? I see a lot of “entry level” positions that want 3-5 years of experience and a lot of admin assistant positions that want a high school diploma. I feel underqualified for the first group and overqualified for the second. Where do the majority of new grads find work? If it helps I have a bcomm (business degree)

    1. Elle D*

      I would recommend looking for job ads that require anywhere from 0-3 years of experience and request you to email a resume/cover letter rather than filling out an online application form. These will be small companies or start ups, where the hiring manager may be more willing to take a chance on an unknown quantity provided you have a good resume and compelling cover letter. I think with the online application form, there’s more of a chance that your application will be filtered our due to not having the exact requirements. I noticed that every company I interviewed with right out of school was one I applied to via email with a custom written cover letter, and I really think having a hiring manager or recruiter review my materials in their intended form made all the difference.

      In the meantime, make sure you’re getting involved in your community whether that be joining a networking group, volunteering, getting involved at church – whatever appeals to you. You may end up networking your way into the perfect job!

      1. Chriama*

        Thanks for the advice! On the subject of networking, how would you suggest I reach out to my parents’ contacts? I know a couple people through church, etc. who have offered to talk to me about my job search but I’m not really sure how to approach them. Do I write a cover letter for the kind of job I want to have, even if it may not be what they’re looking for? Also, how do I reach out to people who haven’t offered but are doing the kind of work I’m interested in?

      2. Chriama*

        Another follow-up question — how do you hear about jobs at smaller companies? Right now I’m looking on the typical job boards (indeed, simply-hired, linkedIn, glassdoor) and if I see a position that’s almost a fit I’ll check out the company website to see if they have anything similar — but usually they don’t. How can I find out about smaller companies that may not pay to post jobs on those aggregator websites?

        1. Fiona*

          I would add:
          –your metropolitan-area daily newspaper (e.g. Minneapolis Star Tribune) and local weekly newspaper websites
          –local industry association websites
          –Craigslist (yes, really).

          I also have a mental list of companies I think it would be cool to work for, and check their Careers pages regularly.

        2. kas*

          I’m a recent grad as well and agree with the smaller company idea. I’ve found plenty of openings through the social media pages of companies in my industry. I have a list of places I would like to work and I check their Twitter pages every day or every other day and I’ve been able to schedule interviews from applying to their position openings they tweeted. These positions are not found on job boards so they are really easy to miss.

          Even if you know who the manager is or anyone for that matter. Sometimes they even tweet out that they’re hiring in their department ..

    2. Anon*

      I work in development at a non-profit and graduated in 2010. To get past the “3-5 years of experience” trap, I emphasized relevant successes I had achieved in college – fundraisers I’d planned or helped organize, funding I’d secured (even if it was only $100 from student senate), volunteer work I’d done for different student groups, etc.

      Just because you’re a recent grad doesn’t mean you don’t have any years of experience, even if you’ve never had a “traditional” job!

    3. AmyNYC*

      My first job out of college was retail. Not exactly what I was looking for, but it gave me a little cushion to take a part-time internship (found through networking! (old college professor)) which lead to a full time job.
      I also saw a few people move up from retail to management to corporate.
      In short, take what you can right now. You don’t know where it might lead.

  61. glg*

    The current owner of my company is going to sell the company to his second in command; the date they are aiming for is March 1st. This has been in the works for a long time and I’ve been dreading it and job hunting incredibly hard because his second in command is a horrible person and, quite frankly, incompetent. (I have mentioned her here before: she’s the one that likes to call clients pedophiles and c*nts behind their back.) (Beyond which there is no growth potential at this company and the work itself with a few scant exceptions has yet to really grab my interest or challenge me.)

    The current owner is not perfect, but he shows up and does his job; she doesn’t show up until the afternoon many days. He is technophobic (he tells me to fax his handwritten replies to e-mails and/or to scan them and e-mail the scanned version … I type them up and send them back) but he still attempts to keep up with communication and attempts to keep organized with his clients’ orders; she does none of this. He generally pays respect the talents of the people who work for him; she derides them behind their back and accuses them of messing up almost daily, not to mention the fact that she makes sexual comments about them behind their back. He tries to keep the big picture of the company in mind; she gets caught up on little details and lets huge projects fall by the wayside. He’s good at maintaining client loyalty; I field angry client calls for her clients daily. The only reason I’ve lasted as long as I have (9 months) is because the current owner is actually competent. He’s frustrating to work with (see: technophobia) at times, but he actually makes a legit attempt to get his work done and done properly.

    The current owner is doing this because he wants to retire and she is his best bet. He’s told me that he’d have to fire her if he was planning on continuing the business and when I’ve mentioned that I think there are certain ways that she is cheating him he’s basically said, yeah, I know.

    I am going to quit. Right now the only question is when and under what circumstances. When the deal was lagging I was fine waiting until I could find another job, but right now I am sorely tempted to quit without one lined up. I have over 6 months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund as well as parents who would give me money if I quit (they have been urging me to quit even without a job lined up for a long time).

    I am sure that no matter when I quit or why I quit I am sure that I will get a terrible recommendation from the second in command/new owner because she is a very vindictive person and I fully expect she will be furious when I leave and want to lash out. I think that if I frame leaving in the right way (i.e. not saying what I am typing here and being generally respectful, which I plan to be) the current owner will give me a decent recommendation. He also holds grudges, but I don’t think he would go out of his way to be vindictive, which the second in command/new owner would. I should say that I think my work here has been excellent and both of them have told me how much they appreciate me/my work. I have also had clients gush to me about how much they love that I work here. Granted, I think everyone’s bar is incredibly low because the person who worked here before me was, by all accounts, terrible and because the second-in-command/new owner is so horrible at getting back to people/doing her job, but. I am good at what I do, despite the many barriers that this company puts up (one! shared! e-mail address!)

    Leaving so soon from a job and with probable tenuous recommendations following is what has made me stick it out for so long. But working at this place and with this person has really taken a toll on my life and health. I can’t remember a day in the last three months when I haven’t cried or had work related suicidal ideation. (I should say: I don’t plan on killing myself, rather I daydream about how dying would mean not having to go into work in the morning.) When she takes over the company I can only imagine that all of this will get measurably worse.

    Besides which quitting would mean actually having the time and energy to send out more than one application a day and it would mean I wouldn’t have to twist myself in knots every time I tried to get time off for an interview. The location of the company means that I can’t just “duck out” for an hour; I essentially have to take an entire day off of work to interview. I’ve been lucky so far with scheduling multiple interviews on one day, but I only have so many days and so many reasons to be out. My anxiety about lying to take time off for interviews hurts my performance in the interviews and it really eats me up; the crying/suicidal ideation has really kicked up when I’ve had to ask for time off.

    One thing I have considered is moving cities; this would give me a great excuse to quit without a job lined up. I really love the city I am in and the life I have here (apart from the job) but it can be expensive and my father has been ill and there has been parental pressure to move back to be closer to him.

    I should say: I’m not new to the workforce and I really want to work at a place where I will thrive for many years. I didn’t expect that with this job; I expected a job that would last for a few years. I took it because the company I worked at previously (which I loved and miss to this day) went under and I needed something to pay the bills. I wasn’t expecting … this. It’s toxic and I just need to get out. I’m just not sure anymore what the best exit strategy is. I thought it was staying here until I had a new job. Now I’m not so sure.

    Anyway, this isn’t even a call for advice, it’s just … I needed to get it out.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      No advice, since you didn’t ask for it and I don’t have it. But sympathy. I quit a job with no job lined up, and for much less than this. (I had a spouse and we could live on one income.) What’s the worst than can happen if you go without a job? What’s the worst that can happen if you stay? Can you live with one worst better than the other?

      1. glg*

        Thanks. I’ve definitely been trying to figure out which choice I can live with more. One thing I’ve been thinking of: a friend of mine was recently switching jobs and he had to pick between two job offers and as he was agonizing over which would end up being more money (he is a barista so it was a matter of which would garner more tips) another friend said: “well you’ll never actually know how much you would have made at the job you don’t take, so either way you can just assume that you made the right choice and are making more money than you otherwise would have.” I just have to make a choice and believe that things will work out better than they would have. …and I thought choosing what to eat at a restaurant was hard.

    2. TL*

      That sounds terrible and I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re able to get out and will keep my fingers crossed for a better job!

    3. 22dncr*

      Quit while you’re still under the old owner – then you won’t have to give the new owner as a reference! Just make sure you get contact info for the old owner. Been there, done that! It will be totally understandable since you didn’t “work” for the new one. Just a good way to spin this in your favor.

      1. glg*

        I hadn’t thought of it quite like that — good point. Though I think if I quit without a job lined up I would offer to stay for longer than two weeks to help with the transition both with my leaving and with the company changeover, but putting my resignation in before the contracts are signed is a really good idea. I had thought of that in terms of preferring to tell the current owner rather than the new one, but this is a more long-term reason.

        This weekend: moment of truth for deciding wtf to do.

    4. JM*

      Is where you live now really far from your parents? Could you say you need to quit to help take care of your father so you can’t devote as much time to your job?

      Good luck with whatever you decide!

  62. Dang*

    Anyone have experience with long-term temp/contract assignments? I’m looking at one that’s 10 months. I’m hesitant because it would lock me into almost a year with no guarantees of employment afterward- but since I have nothing else really going on, I feel like I should really consider it.

    1. Zillah*

      That’s actually exactly what I’m hoping to find, but part of that is that I’d like to go abroad for a year after I work for a bit, and it would be perfect for me if I could leave with no hard feelings.

      Personally, even if I wasn’t, I’d probably take it if it was in my field, paid decently, and looked like it would help further my career. Maybe there’d be long term employment at the end and maybe there wouldn’t be, but I’d be building connections and have time to keep looking without the worry of “Oh my god, I don’t have a job” looming over me.

      Just my $.02.

    2. Lucy*

      I would just make sure that you are able to set aside money for taxes/insurance/retirement/costs that would normally be paid for by an employer!

    3. Anon*

      I honestly like doing this sort of work. I like to mix it up, and learn more things than I would if I was at one job for a long period of time. I like that it pays better than a salaried position, and I don’t have to deal with politics too much (though there usually isn’t much in the way of benefits). It can also lead to full-time employment. Plus you get to know new people who can be professional contacts or personal friends.

  63. Kaitlyn*

    This may be a loaded question but I’m interested in reading other reader’s thoughts. Currently I work for a manager who is friends with an employee “Joe” who doesn’t always show up to work, rarely completes assignments, and will take off for up to 2 weeks at a time without letting anyone know about pending assignments.

    I’m looking for another job but in the meantime, I feel like I’m sinking into the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mindset. Our manager sticks up for him when presented with the issues or asked for his advice in handling a situation, he defends Joe’s behavior. “Joe’s a good guy but he just doesn’t complete his work”. Our manager has stood us for Joe to the point of throwing other employees under the bus- those that haven’t done something wrong but the incorrect actions were Joe’s doing.

    I’ve found myself sinking into wanting to do the bare minimum and wanting to slack off also but don’t feel that’s right to do. What advice can you offer until another job offer comes through?

    1. Sascha*

      Ugh, I empathize. One of my former coworkers, “Ed,” was a lot like Joe, and my manager just loved him. Ed would spend the majority of his day talking to everyone on the floor about non-work things, he wouldn’t work on tickets (we’re a tech support team), and when he did, he’d dilly dally and spend way too much time on them. And our manager just thought he was awesome, and he even had a higher salary than me the whole time he was with us – even though I had more skills, knowledge, and years of experience than him, my work was of much higher quality and quantity, and I was just generally operating at a higher level than him. My manager often referred to me as the “team lead,” but gave Ed the higher salary, time off whenever he wanted, and would just let him wander the halls all day long. Ed finally got another job at a different help desk.

      So I understand the feeling…I wanted to give up many times, not just because of Ed, but for other reasons, because I was burned out and felt like I was underappreciated, and hampered by a bad manager. I have a good director, but he’s sandwiched in between a bad manager and a bad VP (who never wants to rock the boat or deal with problems, so bad employees get to hang around). What keeps me going is 1) I work hard for my good coworkers, so they won’t have to pick up both my slack and Ed’s slack (when he was here), 2) I am getting a promotion soon and I am working on an awesome long-term project, and if I had just let it all go, I probably wouldn’t have gotten that chance.

      Regarding #2, that won’t always happen, but it’s nice. I think #1 is more important. I didn’t want my good coworkers to suffer, partly for selfish reasons, and partly for unselfish reasons. Selfish: if they suffer, they will leave, and I’m stuck with only bad coworkers. Unselfish: they are great people and I want them to enjoy their jobs as much as they can and have good morale. So I would find a reason similar to that to do the right thing…also just “doing the right thing” is a good reason, but sometime’s it’s hard to find that inner motivation with just that. What worked for me was reminding myself I was doing this to make our team better, and make the work environment more bearable for us.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It takes strength to remain true to yourself and your values. Think of this as strength training. Seriously- think of it as building up your resilience. When you get to New Job you will be amazed at how easy it is because you will have built up muscle and endurance at the previous job.

      We don’t leave our skills behind when we leave a job. Sometimes the best we can get is just to build our coping tools. So use that. At your next job, you will be amazed at how far you have progressed.

  64. Zillah*

    I know there are a fair number of librarians/archivists here, and I’m hoping a few might chime in to help me. (Or others, of course!)

    I’m finishing up my MLS in May, assuming all goes to plan. I have a concentration in archiving, and would ideally like to find a job as an archivist (or doing something similar) to start in the late summer/fall. (I’ve pushed through the degree in a year – if possible, I want a little time to relax, because I’m honestly a bit burned out.)

    However, I’m struggling a lot with the mechanics of that.

    1. I’m not sure where to look – I’ve been checking ALA’s job listings and stuff, but I feel like there must be somewhere else I can look.

    2. I’m not sure about my resume, because I’m having trouble framing things as achievements. I’ve actually done a fair amount of processing/organizing/describing collections in work/internships, and I’ve written a finding aid for one of the archives I worked in (which is linked to on my linkedin profile). But… saying that feels like talking about job duties, which I know I shouldn’t do.

    3. I’m not sure whether to include a job I had at a school or not. It was unrelated to the field, and I was only there part time for six months, and because I was a sub, I don’t think I made enough of an impression on anyone for them to be useful as a reference (and I have several other good references as well, so there’s no need). I was also in school part-time at the same time, so it doesn’t necessarily look like there’s a gap.

    On the other hand, though, I did get a lot out of the experience, and without it, it doesn’t look like I’ve had much paid work experience in the last few years, which I don’t think looks great. So I’m not sure.

    4. I’m not sure what skills I should be emphasizing or what skills I should be trying to acquire as I finish up. I have a little flexibility on that front, since I’m doing an independent study… but yeah, I’m not really sure. :/

    1. athek*

      There are a bunch of LIS job listservs out there, so I would recommend signing up for those. Start with your school if it has one, and then the ALA, SLA, etc. There is also an LIS Job Twitter handle to follow (I think from ALA).
      Also look at the Society of American Archivists. The have a job board on there website, and a number of listservs, although I’m not sure if any are job specific.
      In terms of what skills to highlight, I would look at archiving job descriptions and find the common threads. Software, databases, records management, metadata, standards, etc. You will probably also see a lot of “works well independently, organized, written and oral communication skills, etc. ”
      Also, the LIS field can be a small world, so be sure to network and get involved with local and national organizations.
      Also, one caveat: archiving is probably the hardest bit of LIS to get into. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you might have to start at the bottom (i.e. scanning clerk). Keep an eye out for other LIS and records management jobs as well.
      Good luck, and congratulations!

    2. Anon*

      Another vote for listservs. University of Toronto iSchool (yes that’s waht it’s called) has a job board as well that’s free. It’s mostly Canadian but also has some American jobs.

    3. Aisling*

      I’d also check your state agencies employment site. States tend to hire archivists, at least from what I’ve seen.

  65. Ash*

    I’m heading to a conference next week. I’m considering printing my own business cards so that when I network I’m not entirely tied to my current position (trying to make connections to find a new job). Yea or Nay?

      1. Ash*

        Yes, but I was invited not because of the org but because of my experience/expertise. It just happens that I’m currently where I am.

        1. Gjest*

          But is your company paying for you to go? I think if they are paying your travel and/or salary, then it’s kind of sketchy to be giving out business cards without their name on them. Sure, you can network, but I wouldn’t feel right about cards without their info.

          Now, if you are paying for yourself, and are taking vacation time, sure- no problem.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I agree, that was my reason for asking the question. You’re going as a rep for your current company. Handing out cards to other people there in an effort to secure a new job just looks bad. I know that if I were a person who received a card in that situation, I’d wonder if that is how the person would behave if I hired them – go to a conference on my dime so you can find another job. No thanks.

            I just wouldn’t do it. Give out your cards with your current employer on them, make connections. Nothing says you can’t connect with those people at a later time letting them know you’re in the market for a new gig, but the way you’re proposing to do this just doesn’t sit well with me.

        2. Anon scientist*

          People change jobs all the time. If you make a good impression, people will remember YOU, not “some random person from firm x”.

          Use your current firm’s cards – you’ll look like a mercenary if you hand out personal cards and let slip that you’re working for someone else. And especially if your firm is paying for you to be there! Not a good impression to leave.

    1. anon58*

      I think you should use your current business cards, but you could perhaps add people on LinkedIn if you want a way to communicate outside of your work-provided options (email, business phone). Another option would be to hand write your home phone/email/cell/whatever on the business card for people you are especially interested in connecting with.

  66. Anon*

    Hi all,

    Just a quick question here. Performance reviews are coming up, and we have to assess ourselves beforehand using a typical review sheet. I have a few questions.

    I am worried about “getting noticed” at work for my achievements. I’ve asked my manager in the past what I can do performance wise to get a bigger raise and mentioned I was not certain if my work on my projects and other projects were being noticed, and what I could do about that (like write ups or whatnot). He said that he simply figures that everyone helps out on any project and did not give me a response on the performance-raise factor.

    Since I am worried about “getting noticed at work”, should I bring a list of achievements with me to my performance review? Also, I work a lot of 12 hour days though I am salaried – do I need to mention that as well? And if I receive a lousy raise again this year, should I ask what to do again or just let it go?

    Maybe I am worrying a bit too much as well.

    1. Ashley*

      You should absolutely bring a list of your achievements and include them in your self evaluation! This is your chance to toot your own horn.

      As an exempt employee, I wouldn’t necessarily bring up the working long hours, since it should bee visibility that’s important, but getting the work done. But you should mention that you consistently work extra hours when needed to complete projects and that you’re always flexible with your schedule.

      Good luck!

      1. Anon*

        Two different responses! I will have to think about this a bit. But I think I’ll try mentioning briefly what you say in your second paragraph (and maybe throw in something small about the workload and performance).

        Thank you for the response!

    2. Graciosa*

      Invest effort in putting together the review sheet – and don’t bother bringing additional achievements to your actual review where you receive your evaluation. At that point, it’s probably too late, which is why you need to make sure you communicate them earlier in the process when you have the opportunity to provide input.

      12-hour days don’t impress me from an exempt employee. I care about accomplishments. An employee who goes home at 5:30-6 every day after producing excellent work during normal business hours is much more valuable to me than someone who can’t get it together enough to complete work during the business day and thinks late-night martyrdom is an appropriate substitute.

      It isn’t.

      Your focus should be on your real accomplishments, your contributions to the company, and the impact these have had on the bottom line (preferably supported by metrics).

      1. Anon*

        Thanks for the response! As an addendum, I don’t feel as if I am someone who thinks late night martyrdom is appropriate in this case (obviously though, I might be biased since it is myself); rather, I feel I am assigned a ton of projects as compared to coworkers (and often complete their project), but I feel this goes under the radar to my boss who actually did say he’d rather not have our achievements conveyed to him since he figures we all help each other out. Thus, the dilemma. It would be silly to think if I was not producing work to be credited with long hours.

        On the other hand, there is the option of telling the boss you have too much work, but mentioning it to him offhandedly did not work sadly.

        Thanks for the reply!

        1. Graciosa*

          A boss who doesn’t want to know about your achievements strikes me as more of a cause for concern than your original question! He is assuming all accomplishments are attributed to “the team” and therefore does not need to hear about them? This is not good management.

          I would still share a lot of detail about your achievements – it may be a second chance to make him aware of how busy you are – but you might want to frame it slightly differently. Maybe group them into projects you handled alone (or for which you had “primary responsibility” which is slightly softer) and projects where you provided support? You could still list your accomplishments or contributions for each while still appearing to acknowledge his overall “team” approach.

          In this case, I would bring notes about others’ contributions to the review – just a few key ones to show that you are a team player who knows how to recognize great work in others. Oddly, this should increase your credibility when describing your own great work.

          Good luck!

  67. Brett*

    So a celebratory note…
    I did a big hack-a-thon event last weekend. Hack-a-thons are like a product competition rolled up into a programming competition where you have to start from scratch and deliver as a team in 48 hours.

    This particular event was -big-. The biggest in people and prize money we have ever had in the midwest region and big enough that it got press out in Silicon Valley. (We actually had people travel from LA and SF too participate.)

    My team took second place! (And I think we deserved first, as did many others.) We did so well, that the sponsors bought our intellectual property from the competition on the spot for five figures. Everyone on our team is getting flooded with recruiters now too.

    And best part… there is another event in the series in 3 months and we are going to enter again!

  68. CeeBee*

    I’m a job hunter who lives about 40 minutes away from a large university who periodically has openings for positions in my field (graphic design). I’ve had one job interview with this uni, at a branch of the school that was nearly three hours away. Not counting the position I interviewed for, I’ve applied to two or three other similar openings in the past couple of months.

    Does there come a point when I should simply stop applying at this particular school? I’d hate to NOT send in my application for a job I could be a good fit for, but I also don’t want to make myself appear delusional by repeatedly applying and getting rejected. What do you all think?

    1. Lindsay*

      I actually applied for north of 35 jobs at the Uni where I finally got hired. Unless it’s the same department you’re applying to over and over again, I think you’re fine to keep right on applying. University jobs are really competitive, at least where I am, and there are a billion applicants for every job.

      Keep at it, IMO!

      1. Stephanie*

        If you work where I think you do, that was another potential employer my parents suggested.

        “Why do you work at [university]?”
        “Yup, only me and 500,000 other people in the area had that same idea.”

          1. Lindsay*

            Everyone probably has the same thought I did: It’s a big employer! They hire so many people! I’m SURE to get a job there!

            Also, the application system is (was?) really easy, you just had to upload a single PDF with your cover letter/resume. SUPER easy-peasy. Soooo many applicants.

    2. Stephanie*

      If it’s truly that big of a university, I doubt HR’ll pay much attention short of applying to 200 positions there or something.

      I applied to the same position (twice) at the same university department and got a call the second time. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

  69. Anonymous*

    My manager bought all of his direct reports a Clifton Strengths Finder book and asked us to read it and take the test. He also wants us to share the results with him. I can see where this may be a good idea but doesn’t this also point out your “weaknesses”. I dont like the idea of him assuming I’m not good at something based on this test. I’m just looking for opinions here. What do you think, good or not so good?

    1. Colette*

      My team did that a few months ago. The theory behind it is that you get better payoffs from working on your strengths than you do if you spend the same amount of effort on your weaknesses.

      It was interesting for me personally, and it was interesting to see where my coworkers fall, but I can’t say I use it daily or anything.

    2. Fiona*

      Have no fear, StrengthsFinder is AWESOME. The only result you get is your top 5 strengths, and unless your workplace is completely dysfunctional, it’s really interesting comparing your strengths with your coworkers.

      1. ChristineSW*

        I’ve always wanted to do this, but it’s probably not cheap. Is it hard? I tend to struggle with assessments that ask you to write up stories from your life, and come up with themes and whatnot about your interests, strengths, etc. I’m terrible at coming up with stories!!

        1. Anonymous*

          I think you just buy the book and it gives you the directions and access code for the website. I think the book is about $15. Then you answer 100 or so questions about yourself. No need to write stories. Then it gives you your top 5 strengths based on the answers you gave.

        2. Windchime*

          I’m not familiar with this test, but I always feel like I’m terrible at the personality tests where you get assigned a bunch of letters (ENSF and such). They ask ambiguous questions such as, “Would you rather read a book or go to a party?” I dunno….what’s the book? Where is the party? Who will be at the party? Can I go home and change first, or do I have to wear my work clothes? Will there be alcohol?

          It depends on so many things!

  70. Mephyle*

    A comic illustrating the well-known AaM mantra, “There is no such thing as a dream job.”
    P.S. I am making a valiant effort to insert the link. If it didn’t work, visit the blog “Incidental Comics” and see the post from this past Mon. Feb. 3.

  71. Anonymous*

    I’ve been struggling with finding the energy to job hunt. I’m burned out with my job and all I want to do on the weekends and evenings is not think about work. Any advice? What are some tips for finding the energy to do this (at least I have the motivation!)?

    1. Sunflower*

      This right here is my life. I’m struggling with it but am really trying. I’m trying to look at it as more of a ‘what do I want my next step to be’ as opposed to a ‘job search’. In addition to just applying, I’m reading books and articles and trying to figure out what kind of place I want to work at next and what direction I want to head in. Especially when you’re burned out at your current job, it’s important to make sure your next job really is the right step. That makes the job hunt feel like less work and more about figuring out what makes me happy.

      For what it’s worth, the most motivating thing to me is every time I don’t want to do it, I look at my Excel budget. I realize I’m way too underpaid and that kicks my butt into gear pretty quick :)

      – Try to go to a coffee shop or library after work. If you can keep yourself out of your home when you’re it, it can help you keep at it. Also early in the morning Saturday/Sunday. I wake up early one of those mornings and do stuff til about noon. It doesn’t feel like it’s taking up as much of your day if you do it as soon as you get up.
      – I also suggest upping your networking activity. That can lead to lots of jobs and isn’t as draining as sitting at a computer and applying.
      – I subscribe to job alerts. Most large companies have them available on their job site and its way less draining to look at an email rather than work through a search engine.
      – If you have any other friends job hunting, talk to them and set-up a time for you guys to sit at a coffee shop and tackle it. That can help you keep at it when you want to stop
      – Set goals for yourself- like you will apply to x amount of jobs this week, get in contact with x people. And reward yourself when you meet those goals

      I’m still trying a lot of different things.

    2. Graciosa*

      I think Sunflower’s suggestions are very good. I would just add, that you don’t have to take all of them at once – give yourself a break. Budget a certain amount of work on your job search into your week (it could be one designated evening a week or two applications a week or whatever) and then allow yourself to stop.

      Everyone needs some free mental space, and you need to make sure you can take it without guilt. If you have met your requirements for the week, it will be easier to relax with a clear conscience.

  72. TinyAnon*

    Hello everyone. :) I’m a fairly new reader here, but I did search through some of the posts and didn’t find any answer to this question about handshakes.

    I’ve been trying to get a job and have been finding it awkward to shake hands at interviews because my hands are so small. Even when I shake hands with women, their hand typically dwarfs mine. So I end up with this weird, pseudo-handshake thing going on and I wonder if it leaves a bad impression? Any suggestions on what I can do to make it less awkward?

    1. CTO*

      I think you’re overthinking it. Shake hands confidently and firmly, and then move on. The shakee probably didn’t even notice, and if they did… so what? I doubt anyone reasonable would ever judge you for having small hands. They’re more likely to judge you for giving a wimpy handshake or no handshake.

      1. Sadsack*

        Like fposte, I have never noticed someone’s hand size, but have noticed overly aggressive and wimpy handshakes. Shake firmly, but not too firmly!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I applied for a job where one of the people I would be working with had lost all his fingers on his right hand. I don’t recall when we shook hands whether he offered a left handed shake or a shake with nothing to grasp with. But he was confident, and that made me more comfortable. If you’re confident, they may notice the small hands, but it won’t be a big deal. If you’re awkward, it makes it awkward for them too.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Try to get the web (ie, the part between your thumb and first finger) of your hand matched up with the web of THEIR hand. That will help make for a better fit and decrease the potential for awkwardness due to hand-size differential. Practice with friends so that you feel more comfortable shaking hands in general.

    4. Sascha*

      It’s all about the confidence. I’ve shook hands with plenty of people who have small hands, and those that did a brief, firm shake, I didn’t notice the size of their hands at all. What I notice is if someone, of any hand size, does a limp shake, or holds on too long.

      Does this color my impression of them? Eh…I’d be lying if I said not at all. It does just a tiny bit at first, but then they start talking and I pay way more attention to that.

  73. wesgerrr*

    APICS CPIM certification: Has anyone gotten it? If so, what are your thoughts on it? I’m in Supply Chain & Logistics (specifically Planning/Purchasing/ Inty. Control), and thinking about getting certified. But before I drop multiple k’s I’d like to see if it really was useful for you fine commenters here.

      1. wesgerrr*

        Glad it’s not just me, Anonymous! You hear a lot of this in our field… “you’ll never make more than X per year/get X position if you don’t have APICS!.” Just wondering if it’s true.

        1. Anonymous*

          Do you have any other degree? I don’t, but it hasn’t affected me at small companies at all. I do occasionally see Purchasing/Supply Chain/Logistics jobs ask for this type of certification but it doesn’t seem to usually be required.

          1. wesgerrr*

            I just have a bachelor’s degree in Business Admin. I wasn’t required to have this cert. in the two jobs I have had, but I see a lot of my LinkedIn connections have it. Are you in a big city/manufacturing town? I was curious if this is a regional thing.

  74. Katie the Fed*

    Does anyone else have a desk lurker who annoys them?

    A colleague of mine will drop by my desk at least once a day, stand there awkwardly, and wait for me to turn around. We’re not friends, either. THen I’ll say “hey – did you need something?” and he says “no, just wanted to say hi.”

    It’s freaking weird, and I don’t like it, and it annoys me. Especially in the mornings when I’m scrambling to get ready for the day. I usually have to say “Hi. I’m pretty busy!” and then turn back around to my computer and wait for him to shuffle off.

    Urgh. Office weirdos.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I have a guy who doesn’t know how to end a conversation. He’ll come to my office doorway to ask me something, I’ll answer him & then he’ll keep standing there, biting his bottom lip. He never asks anything else, like a followup… he just stands there.

      1. Elle D*

        I have this guy too! It’s especially awkward because I sit in a cubicle. When most people come to ask me a question, they’ll stand in the “entrance” to my cube, which is a safe foot away from me. My lurker will actually enter my very small cube area, so he is essentially on top of me. We’ll have a brief exchange about whatever he needed, then he will continue to stand IN my cube and look at my computer screen, papers, or just stare blankly for a minute or 2. I actually have to say “Alright, I need to get back to work! Glad I could help!” so he’ll leave.

      2. Windchime*

        Yep, I am in IT so I have a couple of these guys. One guy just wanders around all afternoon, looking for people to chat with (where the definition of “chat” is to ask random questions out of the blue). My cube is arranged so that my back is to the entrance, so I have a mirror arranged so I can see when people approach. I will often seen him strolling past slowly but I keep typing and don’t turn around.

    2. Sascha*

      Blerg, I had one of those, and then he got another job. When he first started, he told me if he’s ever talking too much or I need to get back to work, just let him know, and he’d be happy to leave. LIES. He’d come by my office all the time and when I said I had work to do and couldn’t talk, he’d just stand there and stare, or keep trying to initiate non-work conversations. Then he got the idea that it was funny to shake my office chair while I was sitting in it, and he did that once and I snapped. Told him to get out of my office and don’t do that again. He left me alone after that for the most part, and but would say I “wasn’t any fun anymore.” Well, not here to amuse you. It’s WORK. I’m trying to WORK.

      I’m soooo glad he’s gone. (This is “Ed” from one of my previous comments on today’s open thread, for anyone who cares to know.)

    3. Anonymous*

      I used to have one of those, too. I would talk to the lurker for a couple of minutes and then I would say, “Hey, excuse me, I need to run to the restroom.” That usually got them to leave pretty quickly. Sometimes the lurker would continue to hang out at my desk, even if I wasn’t there. So, I started going to the restroom and would follow it up with a stroll around the building/coffee break, whatever. It also helped that others started noticing her behavior and would ask her, “Hey, why are you in Jackie’s office when she’s not here?”

      I have to say, when I read your post, my first thought was that the lurker might be interested in you, if you catch my drift. My coworker had one of those for months – he would visit her on a daily basis to get his “Judy fix” (yeah, he really said that). It stopped when he moved on to another job…and she repeatedly turned down dates with him.

      1. Sascha*

        I sort of thought that about my lurker, because he would IM me with messages like “I missed you while you were gone, I wish you were here today [I telecommute most of the time], Can’t wait to see you again.” If I didn’t respond to him over IM for a period of time, he’d send me sad faces and say things like, “Oh Sascha doesn’t like me anymore, I’m sad.” Then I found out he did that to everyone. Still creepy, though.

      2. Anon*

        I currently work with a guy who’s a peer and he has to be in everyone’s business, most likely to get one up on everyone and be perceived s a leader by management. He butts in on people’s conference calls to “correct” them–since he’s such an authority on everything. He’ll look at what’s on your monitor and ask you about it. He’d even ask me what I’m doing for his self-initiated “daily report” to the boss (which my boss told me about). I got in his face a few times and grew tired of it (which resulted in the move with my boss’s blessing).

        He’ll also do weird things like say I’m going to get something, and I should check in with the boss. But, this isn’t the case at all. Luckily, I have a good relationship with the boss and, if anything, it reflects negatively on Mr. Nosey.

        He says to the 20-something woman in our group “oh, how’d you get that, with your smile?” and similar smarmy comments. Luckily, I’m too old to get this sh!t.

        He also doesn’t think he needs to play by the rules, then gets busted for it. Like choosing when he’s going to work at home, when it wasn’t authorized, etc.

        I’m sure that he was able to do this in the past, and I’ve seen others get away with this behavior but he’s not currying favor with anyone here (which is refreshing, since a lot of times I’ve seen it where a manager loves this suck-up type).

        1. Judy*

          One place I worked had a “janitor that knew everything”. He gathered the trash during the day, and if he found you at your desk, and saw you were working on designing a part, he’d give his opinion on what you were doing.

          If you noticed he had cornered someone, after a few minutes, you would call their desk and say, “Hey didn’t you need to come see me for that important urgent stuff you needed to talk to me about?”

          1. Dee*

            Ew, creepy desk lurkers. I once had a colleague who knew that I usually had headphones in during the day while I worked. Even knowing this, she would stand behind me and lurk and wait for me to turn around. When I eventually noticed and did turn around, I would say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were there. What’s up?” and take my headphones out. But she kept doing this and getting more and more huffy about it until one day, I said “[X], normally I wear headphones during the day, so if you need me, feel free to tap me on the shoulder or knock to get my attention. Or IM me or email me if that’s more convenient.” Her reaction? “Well, I’m right across the aisle here, I shouldn’t HAVE to do any of that!” So maybe I was being inconsiderate, but the whole thing felt very creepy and weird to me.

  75. Another English Major*

    Question about interview attire:

    Is it ok to wear separates, such as a vest and skirt with a button down? Or does it have to be a jacket? I’ve gained some weight recently and none of my suits fit right now.

    1. Ash*

      Go to Goodwill and get a suit. For most industries (with the exception of tech and arts), you really should wear a tailored, black or blue suit to at least the first interview (you can vary once you get a sense of the office culture — casual? Then what you describe should be fine, but only second interview)

    2. Sascha*

      Depends on lot on the industry, but I think suit type separates are fine, if you don’t have a full suit. Target has a lot of blazers in black and gray that you can pair with stuff.

    3. Anonymous*

      I’m in the midwest and I always wear separates to interviews. Last time I wore a suit was 2004. I’ve gotten job offers and/or second interviews wearing this attire.

  76. BCW*

    Just a rant that I’m sure people in big cities can understand. I HATE when companies list their job as in Chicago, then later you find out its 45 minutes away. I’ve started trying to find the office for every job I apply to now, because its just ridiculous. There are plenty of people that if you say “Naperville” would love that as opposed to being listed in Chicago. Its so misleading. Some of them are a bit better by saying “Greater Chicago Area”. But still, list the actual city!

    1. 22dncr*

      Gods – I just had this! Listed the job as in the NW area of town and it so IS NOT! It was almost all the way over to the NE area! When I called her on it she was “Well, I think it is!” THEN she forgot I’d called and backed out due to location and called me again 3 weeks later (turned out the one they wanted took a counter-offer). When I asked her to remind me where they were (lousy memory) she said NE. Guess I wasn’t the only one that called her on it! (;

    2. Sascha*

      I’m in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex and that is definitely frustrating! When I was searching for graphic design jobs, I would find lots of things listed as “Dallas,” then google the address, only to find out the drive would be 1 to 1.5 hours one way for me, if I got lucky and there was no traffic.

      1. BCW*

        Exactly! Cities like Chicago and DFW are big enough to where just another side of town could take a while, so when its 20+ miles outside of town, its just absurd

    3. Stephanie*

      I just saw a posting at my friend’s company where it’s listed as “Washington, DC” when I know for a fact that the company’s based out of Fairfax.

      1. Elysian*

        Drives me nuts. All the time. Especially when I was living in Silver Spring, my thinking was – I could definitely commute to downtown DC. I would die if I had to commute to Alexandria.

        And a ton of places in like, McLean, VA still list DC – public transit barely goes out there! I can’t take the metro to that!! (Though hopefully soon…)

        1. Ash*

          I am open to anything in the DCMA so appreciate seeing all postings, but yea… they should at least say “DC Metro Area” if not actually in DC! And that should be defined, to me as beltway + metro.

    4. Sunflower*

      THIS DRIVES ME NUTS!!!!! Literally the FIRST thing I do after I read a job description is the Google the company and find the office. I live in Philadelphia and the office can sometimes be in Delaware or New Jersey. I used to live about 30 mins south west of the city and lots of offices were located north east which is over an hour away.

      How hard is it to write Greater City Area- Office Town???

    5. Sunflower*

      Also I found a job that was listed in Philadelphia. After reading through the long description, I discovered the job was actually located in DC with occasional travel to Philadelphia. Why would you do that?

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve repeatedly seen a job posting that lists “Phoenix”, but it’s really an unpaid research position based out Honduras.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Blargh!
      This is why I always googled the address–before I got a better car, I had a piece of crap Buick. I would never have even applied to my current job because it’s all the way on the other side of town from where I live, and I have to take the highway to work. That car never would have made it on a regular basis.

    7. Gene*

      Even just listing Phoenix isn’t a whole lot better, it’s >500 square miles and ~45 miles from north to south.

      1. Stephanie*

        *nods*

        I live out by Queen Creek. I saw a job listed as being in “Phoenix”, only to discover it was in the North Valley and about a 50-mi drive one way. It’s always helpful when postings list specific neighborhoods or areas of town.

        Of course, I’m unemployed at the moment and not super picky. I definitely did cringe at the thought of the commute when I saw the “623” area code on my phone.

    8. Laura*

      I hate that! It happens with Toronto too! They say Toronto , and then they mean Markham or Woodbridge, which are both 30-40 minutes away. Toronto is such a spread out city though that two jobs that are both technically in Toronto can also be 40 minutes apart.

    9. Mints*

      Oh yes! There are some job listings posted in San Francisco, but are actually not on the peninsula at all. I feel like if you need to drive over the ocean to get there, you’re not in the same place. Also “silicon valley” isn’t a real place. That’s essentially meaningless

    10. Audiophile*

      I see this a lot for postings on LinkedIn. Being close to the NYC area and in the NY Metro area, makes it all the more common. I see companies post all the time, that their job is in the NYC area and meanwhile the office the job is based in, is in NJ. That’s fine, but I’m more than an hour away from NJ by car, so it’s not really commutable to me. I know people make the reverse commute all the time, to the city and to Westchester County. Same with positions in Nassau, Suffolk Counties. I definitely appreciate those companies that are upfront about it. It saves time for everyone. I interviewed for a job that was listed on Idealist, that said it was in NYC, when we spoke on the phone I found out it was in NJ at their other office. I was not thrilled.

    11. Stephanie*

      I’m wondering if it’s because companies assume people won’t recognize, say “Carrollton, TX” as being in the DFW area. That, or maybe companies are worried that applicants will self-select out if they find out the job’s located in a suburb instead of the city (or vice versa).

      Still seems goofy to me. People know how to use Google Maps!

  77. Meredith*

    Has (or does) anyone worked remotely for a US-based company while living overseas? If so, what do you do? Do you like it? How did you find the job – are there any good resources out there?

    1. Jen RO*

      Hi there… I did, but I’m not sure that I did what you are asking :) Are you talking about being employed by an US company, but working from home in Europe? Or being employed in the European branch of the American company? I did the latter, and there was nothing special about it – I found the job on a local job board, applied, and got it.

    2. Anne 3*

      I’m not quite understanding the phrasing of the question – do you mean you live outside the U.S. and you’d like to apply for a job with a U.S. company and do it remotely? I think in that case, they’re more likely to go with a U.S.-based candidate (even if working remotely full-time is an option), because the tax situation would be a big headache. Not that it’s impossible, of course.

      1. Meredith*

        In this scenario, I am American citizen who has moved with an American partner to Europe for their job with the US military. Since I don’t speak the language of this new country, I’m looking for something that would help pay the bills. My thoughts turned to working via online methods. Basically I need something that only requires English-language skills – I do not speak any other languages.

        I have no firm idea of what the tax implications are, but I think that I would be responsible for paying taxes in my European country of current residence, where I’m actually doing the work.

  78. Anonymous*

    Has anyone ever been asked what their favorite restaurant is in a job interview? (In a non-restaurant/hospitality type of job interview). If so, any ideas why they might ask something like this, other than making small talk?

    1. Ash*

      Sly way of seeing your style of living (for instance if you say Applebees that might imply one thing as opposed to, say, Le Bernardind)

      1. Anonymous*

        That is exactly what I thought! I thought the interviewer was trying to see how “chic” I was. FWIW, he gave off the impression he was entitled and snobby.

  79. Kara*

    I am one of the few recent college grads who was lucky enough to get a job in my field after only a few months of unemployment. Now I have been in my job (a direct-services/social work-esque type of job) for about 6 months and for the most part, I enjoy it. My company is small but supportive and I have a decent work-life balance which is a luxury in my field (the rate of burn out/compassion fatigue is very high).

    The problem is, I am bored and restless. I’m not sure if I’m unsatisfied because I’m not able to do more in-depth work (which would require a graduate degree and years of supervision before I could get licensed and start practicing), or if it’s a sign that this job isn’t the right fit for me and I need to change my focus to some other field, or if I’m just having a hard time adjusting to the reality of the workplace and I miss the freedom I had in school. I’m feeling stuck and unsure about what to do next.

    Does anyone have any advice on what makes the transition from school to work easier? Any advice on how to truly figure out what type of work you are best suited for? Or how to balance the need for income with the need to feel fulfilled?

    1. CTO*

      I’d give it a little more time. Transitioning out of school can be tough. It’s entirely possible that it’s not the right job for you, but it’s also entirely possible that any job would feel tough right now.

      I’m a social worker, too, and a lot of entry-level jobs in direct service are hard. You want the ability to help people more (I’m eager for my graduate degree too!). You often work hard, but sometimes the work is repetitive, and the pay isn’t usually very good. Even workplaces with great balance can be stressful.

      It can help to try pinpointing exactly what you don’t like about the work, culture, etc. Comparing and contrasting to past jobs is helpful. Then evaluate what you can do about those things you don’t like. Is any of it within your control? (For instance, I recently realized that I felt isolated at work, and it was a key reason why I didn’t like my current job as much as my past job. So I’ve made an effort to chat more, collaborate more, ask for help more, etc.)

      You can also try exploring other interests in your non-work time. Volunteer, take a community ed class, pursue a hobby, etc. That’s a great way to not only feel fulfilled and energized, but you might even uncover some new direction for your career.

      Hang in there! If you jump ship without figuring out why you’re unhappy, you risk jumping into another job that isn’t any more fulfilling. You might even be giving up a job that would be great if given a little more time to settle in.

    2. Sunflower*

      It’s probably a little bit of everything.

      1. Don’t go to grad school this minute. I really wanted to go to grad school right after I graduated because I was feeling a little lost and I am not SO happy I didn’t. That being said, I definitely still want to go to grad school at some point but I want to work for a few years to figure out what I really want to do and gain some financial stability.

      2. I think you should look at what your bosses are doing and see if you would enjoy that. You’re actually in a great position. You are able to see what a job would be like if you did have a graduate degree. I would spend some more time with others at your organization and ask them about their jobs, how they like it, if you can help them with tasks related to their jobs so you can further decide if that’s what you want to do.

      3. You are probably also just dealing with the college to real world transition. I graduated 3 years ago(yikes) and I’m still struggling. Friendships are not the same as they used to be, you might be back to living at home, you start thinking more in depth about what you really want to do, the list goes on and on. I think the years right after college have been my toughest yet as I always imagined I would find a career I loved, work really hard at it and succeed. And a lot of that mixes in with income vs fulfilling work. Keep in mind that your experience increases, so will your titles and salary.

      I think it never hurts to put your resume out there and see if anything else looks more desirable. Do you have any ideas about what other things you might be interested in? You mention balancing income with need to feel fulfilled. I know social work doesn’t pay a whole lot so maybe look into non-profits with missions you care/are passionate about? That could help.

      Regardless I think it’s TOTALLY normal to be having all these feelings and it doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path or you need to make a decision right away. When it comes to work, a lot of it is just trying different things on. Focus on using your job now to give you information on if this is really your desired field. If you find it’s not, try something else you might be interested in.

  80. MaryMary*

    Does anyone have advice on how to improve a poisonous workplace culture? I work in a department where there is a strong “us v. them” mentality between teams. Even within team, people feel like they have to watch their backs and CYA, because they will be thrown under the bus. It’s not just paranoia, there are some people who will blame a scapegoat if they can find one. There is also a lot of petty crap, like complaining about minor dress code violations.

    I’m in charge of department operations, but not the people management. I’m doing my best to ignore the petty stuff and not put up with blaming or slacking. Getting rid of the worst offenders is not an option, my managers are terrified of turnover. Any ideas on how to bring the department together as a team?

    1. Us, Too*

      Why are your managers terrified of turnover? The best course of action may depend on the basis of their concern.

        1. Windchime*

          Unfortunately, I think it would be really difficult to change the culture of a place where upper management is reluctant to have any turnover and where the whole “we’re a family” thing is in place. That kind of disfunction is really hard to combat, because it’s kind of like wanting change without allowing any change to happen. It sounds like you are in the process of trying to at least improve the culture of your own team, and that is a good thing. But it seems like it would be tough to change the whole culture of the organization when upper management seems to be against it.

    2. BadPlanning*

      You could start small — do you work with individual members of the others teams enough that you could start complimenting them in your conversations with your team? “I finally fixed this bug, Jane did a great job describing the problem, it really made my job easier.”

      Or including them more in every day conversations? Especially if people are locally — “Let’s check with Jane on this, I know she’s worked on it in the past.”

      Otherwise, you can try and organize an activity that mixes people up. We once did a multi team bowling trip and the teams for each lane were random — so you couldn’t just pick your team/department members. Bowling is a bit cheesy, but it has the advantage of making you get up and do something every few minutes. Plus it’s pretty easy to cheer on your teammates/comment on the bowling itself if you run out of weather topics. Bowling is fairly low impact…even if you’re terrible at it.

      1. MaryMary*

        Thanks! I’ve started to do some things like this: getting opinions from a wide range of people and championing anyone who has a good idea.

        Social outings have not been successful. At the Christmas party, people grouped into cliques. We got (free) tickets to a baseball game in the fall, and half the department didn’t come because they don’t like the person who planned the outing (well, and the usual assortment of commitments that make it difficult to attend evening activities, like kids, school, and long commutes).

    3. Grace*

      I would also read Christine Porath and Christine Pearson’s book
      The Cost of Bad Behavior and check out Chris Pearson’s videos on youtube.

  81. Anonymous*

    I went on a job interview yesterday, and the interviewer mentioned pay. I thought her approach to it was quite odd/off, and because of her approach, I’m reconsidering the position. I work retail jobs to supplement my income, and it is looking as a time for a change (yet staying in the same form of retail). She made it sound like it would be low, but then she turned around and asked me straight out what I was getting at my current job. I told her, and while I don’t remember how she exactly said it, it almost sounded like she was thinking of making it the same amount or in the same ballpark. I was a little put off by that and didn’t start negotiating – after all the job hadn’t been offered yet. There have been a couple of other signs that don’t sit well with me, but am I reading too much into this?

    1. Ash*

      I would’ve declined to give your current salary per AAM’s advice — she’d recommend “I keep my salary information confidential.” At this point, there’s not much you can do since they have your “number”

  82. Joey*

    I know there’s a lot of advice out there than you shouldn’t try to close a hiring manager, even for sales. Well, my wife is casually testing the market and every single headhunter and recruiter that she’s spoken to have told her that she absolutely needs to close the hiring manager. That every person who was offered a job (medical/surgical/pharma sales) closed the hiring manager. I thought maybe it was a random HM, but so far the results are good. So at least in some of the healthcare industry it seems to be the norm.

  83. Frieda*

    So I love Alison’s advice to actually test candidate’s skills when interviewing for a position, and/or to ask about a specific time when they used that skill, but does anyone have any advice on how to determine if someone is capable of learning a skill? Specifically, how do you tell if someone is “tech-savvy”? And not in an “I am on Facebook and Twitter a lot” kind of way?

    Basically, what questions can you ask or exercises can you have someone do to determine not that they know how to use a specific program, but rather that they can pick up a new program easily?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “Tell me about a time in the past when you’ve had to learn a new technology. How did you go about it? What was most challenging? How did you end up using it? Do you still use it today? For what kinds of things?”

      This is less about specific answers and more about HOW they talk about it.

        1. Frieda*

          Thanks! That’s really helpful. I’m not in charge of making the hiring decision in this case, but I’m giving input. One of our more recent hires is competent in our core responsibilities, but training them (which is my job) on some of the programs we use has really been difficult. It took me weeks to discover that the reason this person was having so much trouble with a specific task was because they were using a completely different program than the one that our training and documentation explicitly says to use, with screenshots and everything. And it wasn’t a preference issue–they didn’t realize that they were using the wrong program, even though the two programs have different names, interfaces, features, etc. It’s not required to use this program for the job, because we’ll train and allow for a learning curve, but this situation I don’t even know how to deal with. (Unfortunately I’m not this person’s manager.)

    2. Stephanie*

      OldJob asked this (as the position required using lots of different archival databases, each with their own syntax).

      The interviewer asked my comfort with learning new programs and how I tackled learning a new software program.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The one tweak I’d make there is to not just ask about comfort, but to probe in to how they’ve actually done it in the past. It’s easier to BS the former, harder with the latter.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, when we were looking for someone to head up our quality department (they would be QA’ing database stuff), we would just ask some very simple, basic SQL questions. That weeded out a couple of people right off the bat. One because he didn’t know (but was at least honest about it) and another because he tried to BS us. Guess what…when we ask you a question in an interview, we already know the answer. Don’t try to BS a technical question in an interview; it’s much better to just honestly say you don’t know.

  84. SadLittleMonkey*

    Just have to vent.

    Recruiter asked me “So, how much did you make at (previous) job?”

    Now, I never discuss my salary history because I consider it as personal and confidential as my medical history. It’s also irrelevant to the current salary discussion. What the company has budgeted for the position is what they’ve budgeted.

    I’ve gotten this question before. But there was something in this recruiter’s tone that was just so… judgmental. Tacky. Crass. It felt like those awkward conversations when someone is badgering you for how much you paid for something. Ugh.

    Like I’d really ever ask the recruiter or any coworker what he/she made at a previous job.
    Like I’d pester my coworkers about their salary history–it’s not exactly how to make friends and gain their respect.
    Like after a potential coworker runs the interview more like a hazing instead of a respectful discussion, I really want to work for that company.

    Sigh.

  85. Jazzy Red*

    I’m so glad the Walking Dead is coming back on! I might be their oldest fan, but really, it’s a soap opera with zombies, and As The World Turns is gone. Where is everyone now that the prison has been destroyed? Will they find each other? Who won’t make it? Who will be coming back from the dead (or be played by a different actor)? Will Maggie and Glen ever get together again, or will the walkers/crazy @ss survivors keep them apart?

    This Gray Haired Chick wants to know!

    1. Windchime*

      My 20-something year old son loves this show and tried to get me to watch. It’s too scary for me!

  86. Anonymous*

    Going along with the conference-related post earlier this week – what’s your weirdest conference experience?

    Ironically enough, I just got back from a conference in Vegas and it was surprisingly very tame and normal. :)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Not weird per se, but a little bit crazy:

      The non-profit job had a conference that we hosted and we had to move all these boxes of stuff up from a lower level in the conference center. We piled them all into the freight elevator (it was huge), and then the four of us got in. We pressed the button and

      **GROOOOOOAAAAAAANNN**

      Waaaay too much stuff in there. Way too much. We shot out of that elevator like our pants were on fire. I still laugh when I think about the look on my coworker’s face. It was all 0_0 and I’m sure I had the same expression on mine.

    2. Sascha*

      Not really weird, but it was surreal for me – watching the account manager for the major web app I support drunkenly singing Backstreet Boys karaoke with about 5 other guys during the “client appreciation party” at one conference. Every time I see him now, I think of that night, and snicker. He probably thinks I’m crazy lol.

      At a different conference, a very large one in Vegas, the hosting company thought it would be hip to provide bean bag chairs in the big lobby area. It was awkward seeing people in suits and dresses, first, collapse into a bean bag, and then second, struggle to get out of it in a dignified manner. They looked like sea lions struggling on a beach.

    3. Kevin*

      My boss and co-worker (both females) gave a presentation and later they heard at the hotel bar a man comment to another man that the presentation would have been better if their boobs would have been bigger.

      My boss walked over and said, “Oh I’m sorry, would you like to give some feedback on my presentation. The comment cards only help so much and I would love to discuss further how I may improve.”

    4. fposte*

      Not me, but a friend hit a Mean Spot: at a conference early in her career, she met two senior folks in the field in her hotel bar. She called it a night, they stayed up drinking, and then had the hotel bill her for it.

      The hotel took it off when she complained, and she is now more famous than they are, so there.

    5. Windchime*

      Mine was a SQL PASS convention about a year and a half ago. It was my first PASS convention, so I didn’t know that Kilt Day was somewhat of a tradition. I saw one guy in a kilt and thought, hey,well, it’s Seattle, whatever. Then I saw another guy, then another, and I was like….what is with all the kilts!?? I finally saw something in the printed literature about it. I had no clue that kilts were so popular among the database crowd.

    6. Graciosa*

      I went to one business conference in Vegas that had one of those weird-entrance things (executives at a sales conference riding in to the ballroom on motorcycles with wildly moving spotlights, balloons and ticker tape, to overly-loud accompaniment blaring from the speakers). Probably normal for the time and the audience, but I thought it was all pretty silly.

      I have also been upgraded at a Vegas hotel to a very nice suite (baby grand piano included) while my very tall boss received a room with only a Murphy bed which was much too small for him.

      Lesson learned – what you’re wearing when you check in can definitely make a difference.

  87. Anonymous*

    I know this all depends on industry/position but when you job search, how many resumes do you aim to send out per day/week? Is there a good rule of thumb?

    1. AMD*

      When I was job searching (though there were a dearth of openings on my field at the time,) I sent out two or three resumes a week, which I think is a little low. Looking back, I wish I had spent a lot more time on my cover letters, which I could have done without applying to fewer jobs. I feel like taking the time to research companies and jobs to make sure they are a good match and writing a great cover letter is more important than spamming a bunch if companies with applications – but as you recognize, numbers will vary by industry!

  88. Sascha*

    Hair color question. I’ve been dying (pun…sort of intended lol) to partially dye my hair purple. My goal is the overall color will be black, and then about mid shaft start a dark purple and fade down to a lighter purple (still dark, not like a lavender) at the ends. So ombre black to purple. I have long hair that is about 5 inches past my shoulders.

    I work at a large state university that has a pretty lax dress code. I’m in IT, which is even more lax, although I like to look nice. I usually wear nice jeans, trousers, and blouses or sweaters. So here’s the question – if you encountered me with said hair, what would your impression be? Do you think that belongs in the work place? I know it will greatly depend on my own department and office culture, but I’d like other people’s thoughts.

    Further info: I’m a 30 year old woman who looks younger than I am, but I’d like to think I dress nicely and act professionally, and I wear glasses.

    1. Us, Too*

      I hate to cop out on this, but it really DOES depend on your local culture and work environment and random folks on this blog telling you our opinions isn’t going to be particularly relevant. For example, you say you work at a large state university. But there is probably a difference between a state university in a conservative state like Texas and a more liberal one like Vermont. Likewise, even within Texas there is a world of difference between Austin (super liberal) and San Antonio (conservative).

      So my opinion (even though it doesn’t matter): For context, I’m in Austin which is pretty liberal as Texas cities go. And I work in technology which can be reasonably tolerable to expressing yourself creatively. Just the same, NOBODY at the software startup I work at has hair that is purple, red, orange, etc. If you already worked here and came in with “unusual” hair, we’d all laugh it off in good humor. However, if you were a candidate, I’d conclude you either hadn’t done your research or didn’t care enough about working for us to conform to our cultural norms. Or that expressing yourself was more important to you than working for us. Or maybe you were such a badass that your appearance didn’t matter – but you’d definitely have to demonstrate that during the interview. :)

      I’d probably talk to my manager about this before I did it, to be honest, especially in a presumably customer-facing role. You don’t want any unhappy surprises when your paycheck is on the line.

      Now that I’ve given you the curmudgeon perspective, I’ll tell you the happy one. I worked with a badass developer at a previous job. Her haircolor spanned the rainbow and changed frequently. We went out to visit a client and she came with us because the project needed her badassery. She wore a conservative suit, but her hair was, coincidentally, the color of the client’s brand logo at the time. They assumed that she’d done it in honor of our visit to them! We didn’t bother to correct them. ;) It was a huge hit with them despite the fact that they were fairly socially conservative and probably otherwise would have looked askance at her hair. Also, she did wear a suit so it was otherwise visually obvious she took her role with the client seriously. They may have had a very different reaction if she’d worn her usual goth attire with the crazy hair color. So if you’re an absolute badass with a reputation to match, you may be able to pull it off in the right context.

      1. Sascha*

        Thank you, I do appreciate your opinion, it gave me some things to think about! I’m in DFW, and I think I’m at one of the less conservative universities. I don’t have a lot of customer interaction, I mostly work from home, and when I’m on campus, the people I see are from my department. Of course, there’s always that odd visit from the president every now and then…which is one reason I’m hesitant, and also considering partial purple so I could wrap my hair up in a bun or something and mostly hide it. I’ve brought this topic up with my manager, director, and soon to be manager. Current Manager just laughs nervously and then starts talking about hair colors his wife has done, and never gives me an answer. Future Manager is 100% in favor of it and keeps asking me when I’ll do it. Director (probably the most important person here) said “Yeah that might be okay” and made a joke once about how if he didn’t like it, he might not give me a promotion.

        So yeah, I am definitely going to wait on it…I will probably revisit this with my director once I am officially working for Future Manager (hopefully in the next few months).

    2. Jazzy Red*

      A few months ago, I had a checker at Target who had rainbow colored hair with an unusual cut and some hair ornaments, and I told her I thought her hair was wonderful.

      I see hair all the time that’s colored differently, and I think it looks really cool. I’m very tempted to put some colored streaks in my gray/white hair and wear it to church, where I sing in the choir, just for a change of pace.

      If you’re willing to possibly be told that it’s not acceptable by your boss or HR, then go for it. From your description, it sounds lovely to me.

    3. Windchime*

      Your hair would be considered cool and funky here in the PNW, although I’m not sure that you’d be hirable in a front-line position (the dress code says something about hair colors that appear in nature). I’m quite a bit older than you and I have plain old brown hair, but there is a “panel” of red in a middle layer so it shows through on the ends. I like it. I feel like it kind of says, I’m old enough to be your mom but young enough to still be a little bit unconventional. :)

    4. looking forward*

      As long as you wouldn’t be mistaken for a student, it would be great. Of course, wardrobe can help with that.

  89. Kou*

    I’m going to a medical association conference’s spring meeting. I’m just a researcher but one of my PIs is supporting me to go see some of our work on display (we have several posters and podiums from our department!), which is really great and I’m so glad for the opportunity.

    But I’m kind of nervous about what to wear and how to present myself when 99% of everyone else there is a physician, and mostly men as well. So they’ll all be in suits. I don’t have a suit that fits anymore and my budget is very small– and no, second hand is not an option because I’m very short and anything structured needs to be tailored for me. I’m not sure how to fit in.

    The women I work with wear sharp slacks, sweaters/button downs, and loafers or oxfords a lot and they all look great but I tend to look pretty frumpy when I try to copy it (see: very short). Last meeting we had I wore slacks, a blouse & sweater, pearls, and oxfords and every time I see the photo I feel like I stand out like a big sore thumb.

    1. CS*

      If you don’t want to shop second hand, have you tried Macy’s, Kohl’s or Target? You can find something in the Jr Misses department for suit separates. I am a petite size and have found good separates especially at Kohl’s and Target but usually the pants have to be taken in.

      I feel like from what you wore to the last meeting, it might be the sweater and oxfords that make you look frumpy. The sweater will make you look heavier. I would just wear black pants, a button up shirt, and a black suit jacket. Maybe find a shirt with vertical stripes. About the shoes, avoid flats. Find black heels (mid-high). The heels will help elongate your legs and the all black will help elongate your whole body. Oh and what about skirts? How are those on you?

      If you really can’t afford the tailoring now, I would say find pants that run on the skinny side and that way you can your pants even if it’s temporarily with fashion tape. As for the suit jacket, if you can’t find anything that fits off the rack, perhaps try a black cardigan. This conference isn’t in your field so I wouldn’t worry too much.

      1. fposte*

        Heels would be great ordinarily–I’m totally with CS in what they can do for an outfit–but I would shy away from serious heels for a conference, since you will be on your feet a lot. Slightly dressier flats or lower-heeled Mary Janes might be a good way to brighten things up a little without killing your feet. Also, look to other accessories for cheap enhancement, like a scarf (exhibit halls are drafty anyway) and/or a belt–a belt around a cardigan can make it look more finished and give it some shape if it didn’t come with any.

        I also suspect that if the other women really do look a lot better than you (which I’m not convinced they actually did), it may be because their stuff was better quality, so you may not be able to get the same effect just by using the same category of clothing.

        And whatever you wear, own yourself. Don’t stand like you’re apologizing for being there, being short, being female, being not in a suit. Rock what you’ve got, and people will buy it.

        1. Kou*

          “it may be because their stuff was better quality, so you may not be able to get the same effect just by using the same category of clothing.”

          This is what I suspect is the big culprit, although the height is the other factor for sure. Slacks and a button down don’t look near so nice when your waist is 4″ beneath your bust.

          1. Windchime*

            I’m tall but still very busty and I can’t do the button-down thing at all. I look like I’m all boob and shirt. I wonder if a light-weight sweater that skims your curves might work well with your figure? This usually works better for me than a structured shirt with buttons.

            I don’t wear suits, but I have heard of lots of people having luck buying affordable pieces at Target or Kohl’s.

        2. CS*

          If you decide to wear heels at all to the conference, I would bring a pair of flats or other comfortable pair of shoes and leave it in the car so you can change into them after the event. :)

      2. Kou*

        I never have luck at Target or Kohl’s, I tried again just recently. I haven’t tried Macy’s recently, though. I’ll see if I can find a deal now that it’s clearance season.

        And I mean, this is my field. Part of why I’m bugging out a little bit about this is because this is likely to be an important networking opportunity for me, and I’m representing my institute. Last time we had a small meeting at my institution (where I look out of place in the photos) I felt like I was being very intentionally ignored by the visiting physicians and it was very uncomfortable for me. I was pretty grouchy by the end of it and wished I hadn’t gone. It’s very hierarchical and if I look like “support staff” I’m afraid I’ll have a crummy time at the conference as well.

        1. CS*

          What fposte said, “And whatever you wear, own yourself. Don’t stand like you’re apologizing for being there, being short, being female, being not in a suit. Rock what you’ve got, and people will buy it,” is exactly what you need to do. If you do not want to feel like support staff then you have to be confident in yourself at the convention. To me support staff personnel sounds like someone who would fall into the background and not have much face time with attendees. If that sounds like how you were in the past you will need to come up and talk to the physicians confidently.

          I hope you find something that fits well. Even though you have a small budget, is paying for a tailor with a credit card an option? Or borrowing some money from a friend or family member? You could look for the best suit at a second hand store and use yelp or other review site to find a good inexpensive tailor. It will be worth the investment for your career and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable wearing these pieces – especially if you are having trouble finding work pieces that fits you right now. You only need one good black suit.

        2. fposte*

          If you shop online, Lord and Taylor has some amazing post-holiday sales, and if you’re thinking on the sweater front, they’ve got some seriously marked down merino wool and cashmere stuff (under $20 for the wool sweater with the discount applied). You might check them out if you’re thinking of going the cardigan way–and they have petite sizes as well (I’d also say their normal sweater lengths are a little shorter than the trend right now, which is a boon for us short-limbed folk).

          And I wasn’t sure if the belt comment applies to all belts or not, but goof around with width and positioning. I find that wide belts work for me and skinny belts don’t, for instance, despite being extremely short-waisted myself.

    2. RMJ*

      I’m short and I love my oxfords. Looking sharp when you are wearing flat shoes is all about proportion and proper fit. Have you tried tucking in a long sleeve blouse while wearing your oxfords, and finishing off the look with a nice belt? It draws attention to your waist, and you look more balanced and proportionate. A cardigan buttoned in the middle with a pretty blouse underneath can achieve the same effect if you are self conscious about tucking.

      1. Kou*

        I love that look but man it does not work on me. I’m too short-waisted to tuck in most things, especially a long sleeved shirt. The belt ends up being 4-5″ under my bust and that’s not a good look at allll. Which is crap because it’s a) easy and b) what everyone else around here wears. They’re just all a foot taller than me.

        1. RMJ*

          Well I wouldn’t rule it out if you love the look! Kind of like skinny jeans, you have to find a way to work them. The rise of your dress pants is a factor in how much space is between your bust and your belt, as is a good bra that puts your bust where it needs to be. At least for me! The style of blouse also matters- I personally love the look of tucked, slightly flowy blouses. It adds some femininity to a menswear inspired look.

          At any rate, if I were you, I would experiment with different shirt lengths and styles until I find something that looks flattering when I look in the mirror. I would also search google to check out what some short professional women out there are wearing.

        2. Jeanne*

          I’m short and short-waisted too. Tucked in shirts just don’t work with short-waists. I’d suggest matching shirt and pants – black is good, and solid jacket/blazer.

    3. smallbutmighty*

      What about shopping for a good quality secondhand suit and then having it professionally tailored?

      I know some people are squicked out by buying secondhand clothes, but it can save you a ton of money to shop at a more boutique-like consignment store that specializes in higher-end clothing. If you found something there that was the right kind of suit and was close to a good fit, you could then take it to a tailor and get it fitted to you.

      Personally, as a fellow short person, I don’t think I would ever wear a suit, even if literally everyone else did. I’m 5’3, short-waisted, and busty. That’s a terrible combination in a suit, but it’s a great combination in a dress. I have many business-appropriate dresses I’ve worn in various settings, including presentations and interviews.

      If you’re wearing something that shows respect for your setting, is comfortable, and looks nice on you, I think that’s more important than being all matchy-matchy with everyone else.

      1. Kou*

        I don’t mind second hand, but tailoring a jacket and all that is not cheap. I mean it’s cheaper than buying a nice suit new and altering it, but my budget is pretty tight right now.

        But yeah it sounds like we are about the same sort of shape, though I’m barely breaking five feet. Standard business attire is so much bad news on us.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          I’m barely 5′ as well, but the thrift stores here often have stuff that fits me because of our huge asian population. Do you have anything like that in your area?

      2. Stephanie*

        I don’t think I would ever wear a suit, even if literally everyone else did. I’m 5’3, short-waisted, and busty. That’s a terrible combination in a suit, but it’s a great combination in a dress. I have many business-appropriate dresses I’ve worn in various settings, including presentations and interviews.

        Hi fellow short, busty person! I thought I was just losing it when I thought all the suits looked bad on me. Don’t get me started on the headache of trying to figure out the appropriate number of buttons or where the stance should fall. I felt infinitely better one time when I did wear a wrap dress and a blazer to an interview.

  90. Cassie*

    I am sometimes asked to take on extra projects which should be done by another staffer – I have no problem with this, except that the “reasoning” my boss uses is “oh, the other staffer is really busy”. So essentially he is saying that I’m not busy… because I don’t have any work to do? It would be one thing if the context was “Cassie is super efficient; I know she will be able to manage additional work even though she IS busy”, but I’m not entirely sure that’s what he means.

    He does tell people how efficient I am, but it makes me wonder if he thinks I’m just sitting around doing nothing. It just rubs me the wrong way.

    1. Us, Too*

      Labeling a staff member as “busy” isn’t necessarily a compliment. For some reason, a lot of folks think that being busy and working hard is the most important thing in a job. To a large degree, a good boss won’t care if you’re idle now and then. RESULTS are what count. I had to fire the hardest worker on our team once. She just couldn’t get the hang of the most critical parts of the job and was throwing effort at the problem instead of recognizing that she wasn’t a good fit for that role. Kind of like if I tried to become a professional athlete – as hard as I may work at it I would never be proficient enough to get to that level.

      Your boss tells others how efficient you are. He assigns you more work than the other staff members. These two things means that he is recognizing he can trust you to get ‘er done when others can’t. That’s all sunshine and roses right there! You’re probably over thinking this or reading something into it that wasn’t intended. But if you’re worried that he thinks you’re slacking, just talk to him about it. :)

    2. smallbutmighty*

      I wonder if he also sees you as someone who rolls with interruptions and ad hoc requests more effectively than your colleague. (He may not even be conscious of this reasoning if it’s a factor.) Some people really thrive on spontaneity; others have a five-year plan laid out and will give you the side-eye if you try to add a project or task to that list, no matter how small. If you cheerfully say “sure” to these projects while your colleague busts out a project spreadsheet to calculate bandwidth. your boss is going to keep asking you.

      (I *like* spontaneous projects; they’re interesting and they break up my day-to-day, and they often bring me into contact with people outside my immediate team. If I possibly can, I say yes to them. But I know people who are more long-term-planning types who really hate getting an ad hoc asks. More for ME. :) )

  91. Jess*

    I got feedback from another manager at the company I work for that I seemed really nervous at the interview (this was for an internal move and I was extremely nervous). I didn’t get the job but they said it was due to having someone more qualified. I was a bit underqualified for the role which probably made my nerves worse as well.
    Any ideas on how to not look nervous at an interview? From a managers view is it often a deal breaker at an interview, even if the role would involve no public speaking? I’ve alway been nervous at job interviews but have still managed to get jobs before.

    1. fposte*

      First, I’d say don’t get nervous about being nervous! It sounds like it didn’t keep you from getting this job either–that it was a qualifications issue–so I wouldn’t assume that it was that big a deal. In this case, it may be a manager who knew you outside of interviews and was therefore more aware of you being a little more keyed up.

      But you might also think about what you do that made this person think you are nervous–hands, posture, voice, etc., can all make you look nervous, and there are often alternative habits you can develop to whatever you’re doing.

  92. A Jane*

    I’m scheduling in person interviews next week. Thoughts on scheduling two interviews within the same day? Both are approximately 2 hours

    1. fposte*

      If you can keep your energy and interest up, I don’t see why not–it’s pretty common practice.

  93. Lilly_White*

    Being a racial minority at work

    OK, I hope that people will be gentle in responding to my query.

    I am one of four white people out of 70 at my workplace. For the past few months, I have been employed with this wonderfully diverse company but never feel fully comfortable.

    This is my first experience in being such a minority in any setting, let alone a professional one. My colleagues are outstanding people who have made an effort to learn my name and engage me. However, I still feel out of place at times; especially during meetings with a lot of people and I feel like the only Caucasian person in the group.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? If so, how did you resolve it? Is it something that you adapt to over time? Do you believe that people are self-conscious about my whiteness?

    **Please don’t interpret this question as being one based in racial prejudice. I genuinely like my job and sincerely want to get past my own discomfort.**

    1. Us, Too*

      I can’t speak to being a racial minority, but I am frequently the only woman in the room. In fact, I was in a meeting on Wednesday and of the 17 people in the room, there were two women – and I was one of the. I was also part of the 10% of women who obtained an electrical engineering degree in my graduating class. :)

      If the problem is your own discomfort and not a concern about being discriminated against, then my suggestion is that you spend a lot of time getting to know your coworkers personally. Once you know them as individuals (and, granted, this does take time), you probably won’t think as much about their racial differences. Focus on common interests outside of work, shared projects or tasks, etc.

      In terms of what others are thinking? No telling there. I probably wouldn’t worry too much about that – it’s not productive at this point.

    2. Sharm*

      Hmm. I’m curious where you are geographically? I’m in a region where this is the case at most companies, and the area overall. I know some white colleagues and friends have mentioned the initial feeling that something was different, but they all seem to have gotten over it pretty quickly.

      Since you say your colleagues are outstanding people and are making an effort to learn your name, where is the discomfort coming from? Just by virtue of you being the only one?

      Being a racial minority, I’m used to this, and so I don’t know if I can tell you anything. I would say I think you’ll adapt to it over time. I don’t actually think your colleagues are self-conscious about your race — I think that’s coming from you.

      I’m not a fan of phrases like “looking past color,” but I imagine once you start to get to know your colleagues as people, you will see past it and not care. Find your common interests, or if you’re not into making BFFs at work, find the people who are your allies (in terms of getting projects done), and I think things will work out naturally.

      But in the meanwhile, I would try not to keep fixating on this. It doesn’t seem like anyone is making comments or singling you out. Focus on your work and getting to know your colleagues, and avoid “othering” yourself (or your co-workers) when you don’t have to.

      Well, that’s my two cents, anyway!

    3. JBeane*

      Well, I’m a double-minority person of color so I can’t speak to the experience of being used to being part of the social majority, and then finding yourself in the minority. I only know what it feels like to find yourself in a new situation in which you’re the odd fish out. I grew up in a fairly diverse neighborhood and then went away to school at a university that was mostly white. I didn’t think that’d be a problem, as I’d had white friends, gone to a high school that was 50% white, and so forth. Still it turned out to be a HUGE shock when I moved in and noticed that I was often the only brown person in my dorm/lecture/group activity. I just had never experienced being “minority” in that way before, so I can relate to your discomfort.

      I think if you genuinely do enjoy where you work, and you make an effort to get to know your co-workers, you will find that over time you stop noticing that you’re the only white person in the room. You’ll be thinking in terms of “Bob, Julia, and Jack” instead of “all these people who are different from me”. You’ll start feeling in place because you’ll be looking for the commonalities that occur naturally as a result of working for the same company and having the same work or team goals.

      Also, I would be surprised if anyone else feels like you are the odd person out, or is especially conscious of your whiteness. You didn’t clarify the makeup of your company, but I doubt everyone else is of the same the ethnic/religious/financial background as each other. I work in a diverse office now and even if there are 4 brown people and 1 white person in a meeting it usually breaks out to 5 people from 5 different ethnic backgrounds. People of color aren’t monolithic.

      1. Lilly_White*

        JBeane,

        Thanks for taking time to share your personal experiences. I can only imagine the shock you felt at being the only person of color in a classroom or dormitory in college.

        My own very, very limited experience with race relations has quite a bit to do with my ongoing struggle to feel 100 percent in place at my job. I grew up in the rural Midwest and graduated in a class of 55 students with just a single person of color, a girl who was part Native American.

        Additionally, all of my previous positions have had predominantly white staffs with only one or two people of color, who were often haled as success stories of diversity by the company.

        Some of the other elements of my continuing feelings of discomfort are the distinct differences between my name and the names of my co-workers. African-American names often have unique spellings and a tie to French (at least I view it as such), which is somewhat new to me. Most of my friends, families and former co-workers have standard top 100 US names such as Josh, Jennifer, Laura, James, Tom, Claire, etc.; so, the name spellings and pronunciations are a bit tricky for me at times.

        The other issue is that religion is discussed pretty casually within the workplace, and I am an agnostic who’s dating a lapsed Catholic turned atheist. My supervisor attended catholic school and has a fascination with penguins and my immediate colleague (three-person department) is heavily involved in a small church and is constantly telling me about its ongoing programs.

        At any rate, I will take your advice and experiences, along with other commentators, and work to overcome my sense of self-consciousness.

    4. Kou*

      I doubt anyone notices it but you, but you’ll probably get used to it.

      As a sort of contrast, I’ve been the only white person in my neighborhood/school/social circles for most of my life. Generally, people are not paying near so much attention to you (and your race) as they think you are. They are thinking about their own lives and responsibilities, just like you. No one is thinking “Oh this is weird, Lily’s here and she’s white and no one else is.”

      The only times I’ve ever noticed it cross people’s minds were times that it was mostly culturally relevant vs race alone, like someone starting to move into pidgin and then realizing I might not understand them so well and then moving back to conventional English.

  94. Freelancer*

    I would like to build up a freelance writing business on the side. I have a degree in journalism, worked for a newspaper as a reporter/photographer, and I currently write for an online site (not as my main job). What has always caused me issues is figuring out how much to charge. How do you know what is a fair amount? When I try to poll other freelancers on this, they are reluctant to give any help at all with this. I suppose they don’t want me trying to undercut their prices, but that’s not my goal. I’m just trying to figure out what is reasonable for the work.

    What I would like to do is write articles for websites (as I’m doing now, but expand that) and do writing/editing for resumes (which I’ve done in the past with success for the candidates).

    Thoughts on how much to charge? I want to be fair, but not under price myself. Thanks!

  95. Marlboro Woman's Boss*

    My assistant smokes and doesn’t want anyone to know, not even me. The problem is she does a very poor job of hiding it. Staff often see her smoking outside the building and she immediately hides her cigarette when she sees them. She is absent a few times a day for “break” that everyone knows is a smoke break.
    The problem is not that she smokes but rather how uncomfortable it makes others trying to keep from letting her know that everyone knows. It is to the point that when she is not at her station no one will go outside or look for her for fear of the uncomfortable scene when someone sees her smoking. I tried to have a conversation about it but she denied, denied, denied. It’s not a big problem but it is becoming an annoyance.

    1. Ruffingit*

      In situations like these, I’m always a fan of just being honest as in “Marlboro Woman, I know you smoke and so does everyone else. It’s OK, we’re not judging you for it. No need to pretend that you’re not doing it. That is too much work for you and for everyone else.” Then walk away. Don’t give her a chance to deny.

      1. Ollie*

        I like what Ruffingit suggests to say. Maybe add that it’s making people uncomfortable about going out to find her when they need her, so it’s interfering with her ability to work.

        I’m also wondering if that is a situation where an e-mail would be appropriate? The not smoking thing seems to be a big deal to her for some reason, so e-mailing her a note about it might be less intimidating/uncomfortable for her than confronting her directly.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I thought about email too, but the reason I wouldn’t do that is it gives her a chance to reply with “Oh no, I’m not doing that…” I think the in-person and then walking away thing works better for that situation. I also really like your suggestion Ollie of throwing something in there about how it’s affecting the workplace. That is important for this woman to know!

      2. Marlboro Woman's Boss*

        Funny that what you said is almost word for word what I said to her. She became extremely emotional, sobbing actually. Her husband is also in the dark about her smoking although I cannot understand how he could be.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          She’s not hiding the fact that she smokes from you. She’s hiding it from herself.
          It can be very painful to see ourselves mirrored back to us via another person’s eyes. If she admits to smoking then she will hear herself say that.
          I am guessing but probably her husband wanted her to quit and she does not want to alienate/lose her hubby over it.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I would agree with all of this. A reaction of sobbing is over the top for something you are not guilty of so I think NSNR is right here that she’s having a hard time admitting it to herself. Not your job to be her therapist certainly, but it does seem it’s affecting work in a way in that people are afraid to go find her when she’s needed because they don’t want the awkwardness of catching her smoking. That could turn into a problem so if you feel the need to address that, you could do so. Otherwise though, there may not be much to say here if she’s going to keep hiding it.

            And, as the ex-wife of a smoker, let me say this too as an aside. Her husband knows. Smokers wildly underestimate how much their breath and clothes smell of smoke and how easy it is to find their cigarette “hiding places” (which aren’t well hidden at all when you really know someone).

  96. Sharm*

    Are there any marketing consultants out there? I want to get on the path to working for myself, but I feel pretty lost as to how to get t