open thread

photo 1It’s the 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.

{ 1,116 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed

    Is anyone else just really, really dragging lately? I’m positively exhausted, and for no really good reason. I think the weather is wearing on me, and I need a vacation badly. Trying to stay motivated until my next vacation :(

    1. Random

      Me! :( The weather is definitely a factor in my current mood and feelings of exhaustion, I am so looking forward to summer! (or even just sunshine!)

          1. Aunt Vixen

            I need a cabin near the beach, because if I slept on the beach for as long as I’d need to sleep to feel good again, I’d be so sunburnt I’d have to be admitted to the hospital.

            And some drinks.

          2. Catzie

            I just came back from vacation (where there was a lovely beach) and I am already dragging again. This weather is horrible. It doesn’t help that my roof leaks over my head and desk whenever it rains or the snow melts.

    2. Lizabeth

      Yes, I seriously think it’s because of the weather bouncing all over the place temperature-wise plus cabin fever :)

      1. Katie the Fed

        Oh god the cabin fever. We were supposed to go out of town last weekend – nothing exciting, just chicago to visit friends but the flight was cancelled because of the storm and I was devastated. I’m just sick of being at home.

    3. AnonEMoose

      Me, too…this winter can take a flying leap any time so far as I’m concerned. I’m metaphorically gritting my teeth and reminding myself that it’s almost the end of February.

      1. De Minimis

        We had a warmup this week and it’s really had a positive affect on my mood. I never thought that kind of stuff mattered to me, but this winter has proven me wrong.

    4. Ann Furthermore

      OMG, yes. The last few weeks have been so draining. I had a death in the family, which I found out about while I was travelling. Came home, got through that. Then it was my daughter’s birthday, so there was the birthday party to-do. Then I got a cold. And then woke up Monday with some sort of stomach bug. Ugh.

      On the upside it appears that the stomach thing just hit me. I was really worried that it was some sort of flu that was preparing to make its way through the whole house.

      1. Meg

        Hope you’ll be near the equator. Since they are in the southern hemisphere, it will be winter there when you go in the summer, and you’ll have to suffer again D:

        1. AmyNYC

          The mountains of Colombia, where summer is a balmy 60-70 degrees. (I hate being too hot, so this sounds wonderful!)

    5. Calla

      Dragging so, so much. It doesn’t help that I started evening classes last month on top of work, and my bosses have been doing a lot of traveling/PTO so I’m often alone (except for peers) in the office. I took a few days off last week but it wasn’t enough!

    6. Victoria Nonprofit

      YES. I feel like I’m barely staying alive – just slogging through the days.

      A friend just turned me on to magnesium supplements, though. Apparently they’ve transformed her sleep. I took them the last two nights (500 mg, magnesium citrate). On the first night, I slept like a log, without waking up at all (I can normally remember waking up at least once or twice overnight). Last night I woke up once, but it was because my husband had stolen all the covers.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        Also: Normally the kind of vacation I want to take is adventurous – or at the very least, a cultural experience. Right now, all I want is an all-inclusive where I can sit on a beach and have someone bring me cocktails.

        1. Katie the Fed

          YES, me too. I love trips to interesting historical places, but I would get in a flight to a resort in Cancun right now. That’s how desperate I am.

        2. LMW

          That’s how I usually am too. I compromised by picking Puerto Rico. Two days in the historic city, one day in the rain forest, two days on the beach. I’m counting down til I leave! (9 days!)

          1. Katie the Fed

            PR is great! I highly recommend kayaking at night in the biolumescent bay, too. It’s close-ish to the rainforest.

      2. Bee

        +1 for the magnesium supplements. I’ve been taking mag citrate (powder form, drink it like tea with warm water) for over a month now. I sleep so well! I’ve also had fewer migraines.

        1. PuppyKat

          Thanks for this information. I’m going to have to try that. Would love to sleep better and have fewer migraines!

    7. LV

      Me too – the past few weeks, when I get home from work, I essentially doze off the moment I sit down on the couch. It reminds me of how my grandfather would fall asleep in his armchair while watching TV… I’m just 25! I feel like I should be full of vim and vigour and instead I’m conked out by 8 PM.

      1. Joe05

        This is a bit of a tangent, but I’m having the opposite problem lately. I used to be able to come home, make some dinner, listen to some podcasts, and eventually go to bed. Lately I am dying to get out of the house – making plans every single night, going to the gym more often, anything I can do. I’m not sure what’s changed exactly (it’s not the weather, since I’m in sunny warm California) but all this excess vim and vigor is starting to wear on me a little bit.

    8. ClaireS

      Yes! I think it’s a combo of the weather (cold and no sun) and the fact that this is a long stretch without holidays. In Ontario, we have a long wknd in February called Family Day. It sounds super lame but it’s such a nice break from the monotony of winter.

    9. Elizabeth

      Yes. And is it just me, or are all the crazies coming out of the woodwork in the past few weeks? Especially people just getting ragingly angry over the most minor matters? I was just screamed at over the phone yesterday by a woman because I told her that my co-worker couldn’t attend a meeting today (she’s literally booked solid with meetings and a doctor’s appointment) and I would be there alone. Not to mention that the meeting itself is pretty unnecessary, as the information we need (a list of forms needed for an upcoming project) could be easily communicated via e-mail.

      1. Katie the Fed

        YES. we were just discussing this here – several managers have had to deal with some weird disciplinary issues over the last week – people being mean and spiteful and unprofessional.

        1. Mavis

          So good to hear that I am not the only one dealing with employeeswho are having ridiculous melt downs over nothing. I had an employee who got an “exceeds expectations” evaluation with one area noted as needing improvement. Security only didn’t get called by another employee working 50 feet away because I walked out of the office when the screamer wouldn’t calm down after 10 minutes. The screamer then went to my boss and tried to get me in trouble. She called off sick the next day, because I upset her so much. It was unreal.

    10. Tris Prior

      Definitely not just you. I am totally worn out, have zero motivation to do anything and yesterday was so exhausted at work that I kept zoning out at my desk. It’s the weather, cabin fever, public transport being all screwed up so it sometimes takes me an hour to go the 3 miles to work, etc.

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve felt that way a lot lately — zero motivation, tired, not as on top of things as I usually am! I don’t know if it’s the winter, or what…

    11. Just a Reader

      The weather here is so awful that I’m looking forward to going on a work trip in May.

      2 months away on business is looking like a vacation. Shoot me.

      However, I did convince the hubs to convene the Vacation Planning Committee (consisting of the two of us) and start planning our summer getaway.

    12. Abhorsen327

      Yep! A couple of weeks ago, there was some sort of weird bug going around here; I and a lot of people I talked to had “the flu but without the flu;” brain fog, exhaustion, aches and pains, low-grade fever, persistent mild headache, but no respiratory symptoms at all. It was enough to knock us all out for about a week.

    13. Anonymous

      I decided just today that I need a mini-vacation. Just a few days and maybe someplace nice and warm.

  2. Sunflower

    Anyone have good stories of getting their jobs through networking? I’m not seeing a whole lot of jobs posted and I’m hoping networking will give me some better options!

    1. Ash

      I got my current job in part by using my network to reach out to this org, but it was a posted job. I am interviewing for a position that I was able to apply for before it was posted since I knew the person leaving the position and that connection circumvented the dreaded online application site. So, still posted jobs but the network helps!

    2. Random

      I just had a job interview through a college contact! I don’t think they would have bothered to interview me (I applied late in the game) if she hadn’t sent the hiring manager an email about me! I actually got an offer from that interview/netw0rking experience but turned it down for something else.

    3. Lindsay

      I got my current job when I was interning at a different library in this system and I was offered a tour of this collection and I accepted. When a job in this collection opened, having internal references and knowing the hiring manager helped land me this job!

      Advice: if someone offers to do something for you, ALWAYS take them up on it!

    4. the gold digger

      I helped my brother with his resume and then suggested he tell everyone he knows that he was looking for a job. He gave his resume to a friend and then friend passed it on to his boss, who hired my brother a few days later. My brother has what I think might be a unique skill set – an architect who programs and sets up computer systems, so his type might be hard to find.

      I, however, have never gotten a job by networking. It has always been by responding to job ads.

      1. Stephanie

        I, however, have never gotten a job by networking. It has always been by responding to job ads.

        I never get why people go to extremes and say “You can’t find anything from a job posting!” I’ve gotten plenty of interviews from job postings. Use that in tandem with networking!

        1. Elysian

          I got mine through a job posting that I only found out about from a networking connection! It was posted on a niche-specific job board that most people probably weren’t looking at, but my networking connection saw it an passed it along.

          1. LucyVP

            Same here.

            Someone told me they had seen a job posted which would be a good fit for me. I never would have found it on my own.

            But it was posted publicly.

          2. Emily K

            My previous job was the opposite of that. I applied for a job posting, and unbeknownst to me, one of the other employees at the very small organization played on a beer league sports team with one of my current coworkers, who was also a good friend outside of work, knew I was job hunting and was keeping my confidence. The hiring manager shared my resume with everyone in their office, my coworker/friend’s teammate recognized the name of my employer, asked her about me, she gave me a rave review, and he relayed it to the hiring manager who advanced me to the short list of candidates to be interviewed largely on the strength of the off-the-record reference.

    5. MK

      The last two jobs that I had were obtained through networking. One happened by “chance.” I’m an introvert and I made a conscious effort to say hi to people whose work I found interesting in meetings without any ulterior motive… and a year later a contact gave me a really cool Dept. of Justice project. I also found my current job through a law school friend of mine. I’m currently looking for a new job and it’s definitely preferable to get a job through networking than by going through the regular process of submitting your resume via the internet blackhole.

    6. kaybee

      I got my current job through meeting an alumni of my graduate program. She was looking for an intern the year I met her, but I had already committed to one….however, I emailed her the following summer to see if she needed another intern. She didn’t need an intern but she needed a full-time employee and here I am, two years later!

      My boyfriend also got his job through networking. He started chatting with some random VP at a conference and they exchanged business cards. About a month later, boyfriend got a phone call from the VP asking if he’d be interested in a job that just opened and well, things worked!

    7. BG

      I’ve gotten all my jobs through networking/having an “in” at a company. I got laid off 2 weeks ago and the only interviews I have had are because I knew someone…though I’ve applied to about 15 jobs.

      I would definitely recommend it. Good luck!

    8. SL

      Not exactly networking, but I was hired to replace a beloved 20+ year library manager. After my first interview she gave me a tour of the library and intimated that she was very excited to see my resume come in because she’d heard me speak at a meeting several months ago and was very impressed by my eloquence and passion for our work (it was a meeting for grant recipients, both our libraries had been awarded the same grant). I remember being so tired and feeling burned out when we went to that meeting and I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to rally and make a good impression! You never know when you’re interacting with someone who could put in a good word for you later.

    9. Jubilance

      I got my current job thanks to a friend. The company originally called her for a higher level role but she’s not interested in moving. She told them about me, my skill set and that I was looking, and they gave me a call. I interviewed and the rest is history.

    10. A

      Yep, I got my government job through networking. I had applied for multiple positions in the same agency and was interviewed for two. I was declared “eligible” even though they went with someone else in both cases. They mentioned to a manager that I had an informational interview with that I was “eligible” and could be picked up for a job without more interviews. That manager had a job opening as a result of someone deciding on their first day that they didn’t want the job. I was a government employee four weeks later in a position that was a much better match for my skillset than the two I applied for!

    11. Dulcinea

      I was unemployed for several months and attended a conference related to my work. Through people I met there I go some really good volunteer opportunities (a volunteer gig paid for me to go to several valuable trainings and paid to get me admitted to another bar). The people I worked with at the volunteer gig let me know about an opening elsewhere and they proactively lobbied for me to be hired (they had connections to the director). And that’s how I got my current job!

    12. ArtsNerd

      Every job I’ve had. I was at my wits’ end, ready to just walk out of my last job. Then a friend in my field put me in touch with my current employer, who was desperate to find someone with exactly my background! They hadn’t posted the position on the boards I usually looked at, so we wouldn’t have found each other without the connection. So, instead of just an escape, I actually got a great step up!

    13. smallbutmighty

      I got my job through a friend of my college roommate. At my friend’s urging, I emailed the guy to let him know I was applying for a job at Global Teapot Leader. He called me, told me I was overqualified for the role but encouraged me to apply anyway to get a foot in the door here, talked me through some changes to my resume, coached me for my interview, and recommended me to the hiring manager. I got the job. I have still never met him (it’s a big company), but I email him a quick thank-you on my hire date anniversary every year.

    14. Anonymous

      I got my current job through networking. I used to work for an organization that provided IT services for a couple of medical centers. That organization broke up and each medical center took in part of the employees. I worked for employer A. A few years down the road, Employer B needed someone with my skills and someone said, “Hey, what about Windchime?” They called me before the position was posted, and I was hired. It worked out really well and I got to skip the whole interview thing because I was already known to Employer B.

    15. CC

      I didn’t directly get the jobs via networking, but I found the companies via networking then applied on my own. I didn’t have any contacts in the companies, but I knew somebody who knew of them, when I didn’t, basically. Both my previous jobs and both the interviews I’ve had since the layoff have been found using this method.

      You don’t have to ask your network if they know of jobs for you, you can also ask them if they know of companies that might be interested in your skill set, and work from there.

    16. Zandra

      I got my current job through my best friend from high school’s Dad who attended an event organized by my current employer and asked my boss if they had an openings. Turns out they were hiring for my exact skill set, and I got the job! :)

      (This was after a year of networking and over 30 informational interviews, so I’d kind of given up hope on finding a job through networking)

      My boyfriend got his first job out of university because he was in the same sports league as his boss and happened to mention that he couldn’t make it next week because he was attending his convocation. Boss asked what he studied, which was very specific but happened to be exactly what bosses’ company did, and he went in for an interview a couple days later. The craziest part is that Boss rarely ever went to games, so the fact he was there that exact week was a huge coincidence!

      1. IronMaiden

        I got my current job through a work contact. I had interviewed for this position and been offered the job 2 years before, but could not take it due to circumstances beyond my control. I always wondered about it and kept looking to see if they advertised again.

        Anyway, last year I bumped into my contact at the mall and she mentioned she was working casually there, but they were about to advertise. I rang the director and she remembered me, asked me in for an interview and offered me the job. This time I was able to accept and am contentedly employed there.

    17. Julie

      I’ve had a few different jobs at my company, but I got the first one because my then-partner is very friendly and outgoing and chatted up the woman who ended up as my manager on the commuter train. They were looking for another trainer on their team, and she asked me to come in and interview for the position.

    18. Mariette

      I interviewed for a job. The interviewer and I hit it off pretty well. Near the end of the interview, she looked over my resume again and said that my skills were really more suited to another dept in the same company. She called the manager of that dept and told her to expect my resume. A few days later, the first interviewer called to tell me I hadn’t gotten the job. But the dept mgr she referred me to called me for an interview and hired me within 2 days! It all worked out for the best, because I love the job I was hired for, and I see now that I was way overqualified for the first job and would have hated it. I sent the first interviewer a plant when I got the second job to thank her for her efforts on my (a stranger’s!) behalf.

  3. Tiffany In Houston

    I have been interviewing continuously since April 2012 when I started having issues with my then boss. I got fired in October 2012 from my full time position but was lucky enough to score a contract gig the very next week. I have been working contract ever since which is great but I REALLY would like a full time gig with vacation, 401K, etc. I’ve gotten close on a few things but no cigar. Needless to say I’m grateful to be working but frustrated all the same.

    My background is in oil/gas accounting. In general, do you think that this is the future of the workplace, with folks turning into permatemps and the like??? .

    1. Malissa

      I know from my friend in Houston that the Oil industry is changing a lot right now. I do believe that Devon bought somebody or got bought by somebody. With all of this going on I know they are doing a lot of temp workers until things settle back down.
      Have you thought of changing industries to something less volatile?

      1. Tippi

        Malissa, when Devon sold their offshore/international properties, they closed their downtown Houston office. They are now based in Oklahoma City, OK.

    2. thenoiseinspace

      I can’t speak to your industry, but I can tell you that every job in my office (including myself) except my manager is limited-term/contract. We’re a public university and funding is shaky at best, so there’s definitely the sense that these positions won’t become permanent. Unfortunately, until the economy recovers, I think the trend might stick around. :(

    3. 22dncr

      Tiffany – in H-town it’s all about perma-temps for O&G. Always has been since the Enron days. That’s why it’s rough if you go into an O&G business that way. I’ve known people that were there for over 5 yrs. I’d suggest you start applying to some other O&G companies – they’re always looking to steal/poach from each other. It’s a very common process and no one will think badly of you for doing it – no matter what the Agency says.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      Are you willing to move to North Dakota? Check out the energy companies there. (One place to look is mdu.com, and that’s not just ND.)

    5. HappyLurker

      Yes, I really do think the future is permatemps or part time, especially since the taxes and insurance premiums for businesses continually increase. In an era of uncertainty it is much easier for the small business to mentally let someone go that is not officially their employee. Plus they save on the benefits even though they pay a premium up front.

    6. Lamington

      I work for a super major and contract to hire is very common in our group. I was lucky because I got hired as an rmployee right away but my coworker had to wait 2 years. My frirnd that works for Shell says thay contractors and consultants are common. perhaps in a medium size o&g? Btw I’m in Houston.

  4. BB

    I need a change of scenery.

    What is your favorite place you’ve ever lived? Where is a place you’ve always dreamed of living?

    Bonus points if these places are having high job growth….

    1. Random

      London, England or Edinburgh, Scotland have ALWAYS been at the top of my list of places that I desperately wish to live! (I am from Ontario, Canada)

      1. Xay

        I also desperately want to live in London. i spent several months there as a student and I want to try it as a working adult. Durban, South Africa is also high on my list right now.

        1. Software developer

          If you want to live in South Africa, choose Cape Town! Not only is it more scenic and laid back, but it is controlled by a different political party and tends to be organised, better maintained and has less corruption.

      1. Us, Too

        I agree 100% with this. I’m in Austin. I got here in 2000 and didn’t plan on staying, but never found a city and job combo that was better than this. Inadvertently, I grew roots, I guess. :)

      2. BB

        Austin is high on my list. One of my good friends lives there and has a ton of friends who moved there with no jobs and most got one within 2 months. She hadn’t planned to stay either but now she’s planning to stick around for a while.

        1. De Minimis

          We’ve actually been considering Austin….I work in government [accounting] and my wife has worked in public health. I always hear how there aren’t enough jobs there, but it’s good to hear otherwise.

          1. Anonsie

            For your fields, actually, you might really struggle in Austin. Especially public health– a lack of pretty much anything in the field is what spurred me to leave the city, myself.

            1. Stephanie

              After I got laid off, I stayed with a friend in Austin for a bit. She had gone on and on about how good the job market is there. I managed to snag a couple of interviews there, but it’s definitely only a good market if you’re in very specific fields.

              1. De Minimis

                I’ve been concerned about that as well…we were both going to focus on state jobs [I’m a fed but have a weird status that currently makes it difficult to transfer, and haven’t been in long enough to where I’m giving up that much by leaving.]

                May just focus on returning to CA after all. Or just any place where we can both find work!

      3. TL

        Seconding Austin. I just moved away from it and miss it greatly, even though I’m enjoying my new city.

        Austin always has a lot going on, so if you’re looking for a city with Stuff to Do, it’s one of the best.

    2. kdizzle

      Favorite place to have lived = Charleston, SC

      The people are actually the friendliest I’ve ever encountered in a US city, and there’s just something about being in a uniquely beautiful place. When you’re living and working there, you realize how fortunate you are that people take their two weeks of paid vacation to try to live the life that you live every day.

      The job market is hit and miss though. A really good job only pops up every once in a while.

      1. kaybee

        I love Charleston, one of my favorite vacations ever was there!

        I moved from Florida to the Midwest for a job a couple years ago and you are 100% right about being fortunate to live where other people vacation. I miss it so much now and wish I’d been more appreciative…especially since this winter has just DRAGGED. ON.

        1. Anonymous

          I’m biased but I have to agree. We are very proud of our little city. Over the last several years we’ve been a regular on various top ten lists for places to live.

    3. Sascha

      I’d love to live in Scotland or Ireland, or New Zealand. Practically speaking, I’d probably move to Seattle, since I don’t want to be a 9-20 hour flight from my family.

    4. Katie the Fed

      I would love to live in Montreal. I’ve never lived there but I have relatives from there, and I’ve visited and it’s so fun and cosmopolitan. It’s like all the good things about Europe plus all the good things about Canada.

      1. LV

        I always get the warm fuzzies when I see people praising my hometown :) I had to move to Ottawa after finishing my BA, but if I got a job offer in Montreal, I would be back in a heartbeat.

      2. Abhorsen327

        Unfortunately, the job market in Montreal is pretty terrible right now, especially if you’re not fluent in French. It’s a great city to live in or visit, but I’m going to be leaving as soon as I finish my degree.

    5. Ann Furthermore

      I second New Zealand. Went there on my honeymoon, and it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It’s like being inside a postcard.

      I also spent a week last summer on a small island off the Outer Banks, and fell in love with it. It’s a small, sleepy little town, on an island that is all protected National Seashore land. But the mainland is only a half-hour ferry ride away. I was having retirement fantasies. But my husband is not a beach person, and then there’s that whole hurricane thing to contend with.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I third NZ, and if you want a change of scenery, drive 100K or so, and it will be completely different. I’ve visited, and the scenery is like all the rest of the world, only closer together. My cousins live in place a lot like where I live: large flat valley, no reason for tourists to visit, windmills on the hills, fairly dry (for NZ). But it’s probably about an hour drive to the beach, which would be wonderful.

    6. Anoners

      Toronto! Although the unemployment is kind of high I hear, but there are tons of job postings coming up all the time. Bonus points if you can speak french (not a requirement like some other provinces).

      1. esra

        Depends on your industry. Maybe wait till October when we get rid of Ford. Although if we don’t… Ugh, I don’t even want to think about it.

        1. Anoners

          Yeah, he’s a monster. At least if he gets reelected we’ll have another term of action packed hilarity.

    7. Sunflower

      Oh boy the places I’ve dreamed on moving. I would love to live in a lot of diverse places. I would love to spend some time in a huge city like Chicago and then maybe somewhere low key like San Diego. Lately Denver and Seattle are pretty high on my list.

      1. Christina

        The great thing about chicago is that it’s a city of neighborhoods. I’ve lived here for 10 years and its never felt like a “huge” city other than when your on Michigan Ave/Mag Mile and that’s not a great representation f the city anyways.

        1. Jennifer

          I LOVE Chicago! I’m headed there tomorrow (for work). I visit every chance I get. The weather in TX isn’t cold enough for me.

    8. Lindsay

      I lived and worked in Yosemite National Park, at a hotel. If you’re ever interested in hourly, sorta crappy work, but you can save a lot of money bc of low cost of living (employee housing) – national park concessions companies hire TONS of people for tourist season. And you get to live and play in a national park! Just be careful not to get stuck there for several years, like I did…

    9. Leslie Yep

      If you can handle cold, Minneapolis has been my favorite city to live in. Low key, great arts and music scene, diverse communities. If you can’t deal with the 5 month winter, you’ll hate it, but Minneapolis is truly an underrated city and I’d move back in a heartbeat!

      1. Natalie

        And, our economy is pretty strong and has historically been a lot more steady than other American cities!

        I grew up here, moved away, never intended to come back, but in retrospect am very happy I did. Through the Great Recession I’ve only known 3 people who were laid off, and they’re all in advertising where layoffs are more common. Not all of us are thrilled with our jobs (I’m not) but at least we’re working.

      2. AnonEMoose

        I live in Minneapolis, and I love it (although this winter…ugh). But it’s a far more vibrant city than people give it credit for.

    10. Victoria Nonprofit

      Minneapolis. It’s pretty great, if you can tolerate the winter. Great cost of living, strong economy, nice balance of city amenities (the Orchestra is back!) and navigable size and scope of the region.

      Downsides: Winter. Not daytrip-close to any other metro areas (miss you, East Coast!). Flights are pretty expensive. Schools aren’t great (in the city).

      My dream is to run away to Maine. Sigh, Portland, sigh. (Actually sigh, Harpswell, sigh, but there ain’t no jobs there.)

    11. LadyB

      I’ve wanted to open an English Tea Shop in Breckenridge, Colorado ever since visiting 15 years ago. Everytime I go back I scope out potential sites. I’ve got a folder of style ideas and my baking is getting better, but unless I get a lottery win I’ll never manage to wangle a visa :(

    12. Elizabeth West

      Sorry it may not be practical, but the California coast was my favorite so far. I LOVED it out there. Dumbest thing I ever did was to leave and come back to the Midwest. I should have found a way to stay.

        1. De Minimis

          That’s pretty much where we’d move if I ever hit the lottery [although a bit further north on the coast.]

          I’m another one that really regrets leaving California. Strongly considering moving back.

            1. Lizard

              I’m in your boat as well. Lived in Los Angeles for a while, but came back to the DC area. Although we have a good job market, I’m still kicking myself.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        Oh, yes. Clearly Monterrey is the best place in the U.S. to live. Unfortunately many people agree, so it’s costly. Also my damned family lives in the Midwest and East Coast, so I’m stuck.

        1. PJ

          The Monterey Bay is beautiful. I grew up here and left for “the big city” when I graduated from high school. It took me decades to get back. It’s good to be home!

      2. CAA

        I went to school in Santa Barbara, and I’d go back in a minute if there were any jobs there. I’m happy in San Diego, where there are jobs and beaches; but my heart’s home is San Francisco.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          No. Seattle is actually in a rain shadow of the Olympic mountains, and gets less rain than a lot of the other areas on the west side. Often there will be no rain in August at all. It does get plenty of rain, but it’s beautiful even when it’s cloudy. (Says the person on the east side of WA, where we get close to 300 days of sunshine and 6 inches of rain annually.)

          1. TL

            “often there will no be no rain in August at all”

            Native Texan here and I’m cracking up at that. A whole month with no rain! :P

            1. Stephanie

              Or anywhere in the Southwest. I’m in Phoenix and struggling to remember the last time it rained. (October?)

              1. TL

                It’s more that often there will be no rain in August at all is not a good indicator that the weather isn’t as gloomy as it seems, at least for those of us from the sunny side of the States.

          2. Stephanie

            I went to Portland once and the “mist” surprised me. I was visiting from Houston, where rain is usually a torrential downpour with flooding.

            1. TL

              I love Houston. When I’m old and grey and ready to stop moving, I will live there in the baking sun, torrential downpours, and lack of drainage system and be quite happy.

              1. 22dncr

                You got it! Now that I’m back I’m never leaving. That said never thought I’d be living in Houston – just wanted to be back in Texas. Lived all over (Paris, London, San Diego, San Francisco, etc.) and still Texas is home. Love Houston now though I didn’t when I was younger.

                1. Joey

                  I’m from Houston and hate it everytime I visit. Its so spread out and huge it takes forever to get anywhere. The mugginess blows, the traffic blows, the closest beach blows, the sports teams blow, its flat as a tabletop, all of the natural waters are gross, the crime blows. If it weren’t for my fam, the museums, and a few great places to eat Id never go.

                2. Stephanie

                  Replying to Joey specifically. My roommate freshman year was from Huntington Beach, CA. She really wanted to go to the beach. We went and you could just see the disappointment when we got to Galveston.

                3. giginyc

                  HATED growing up in Houston. Moved to NYC. Now I miss it. Esp in the winter here, esp w/ the horrific Feb Polar Vortex-Nor Easter-thundersnow situation. I’d be happy as a clam in 100′ humid muggy weather right now compared to here. And those moments I can’t just jump in my car and go for a drive to clear my head, blasting my music, etc. instead of being stuck next to someone on the subway doing something they shouldn’t be doing in public.

                4. the gold digger

                  you could just see the disappointment when we got to Galveston.

                  Stephanie, I felt the same way! Rice’s promo brochures used to promise “45 minutes from the beach.” I spent my formative beach years on the Florida Gulf Coast and in Spain before Spain’s coast got nasty. To me, a beach was white sand and clear blue water.

                  The first time we went to Galveston, during freshman week, I was shocked and then disgusted that anyone would call that a beach.

                5. Lindsay J

                  @Joey. I actually like the area, but I have to agree about the beaches. I moved to Galveston without ever visiting before (or ever being anywhere near Texas before) and I was promised gorgeous beaches (among other things).

                  What I got was disappointment. Gross sand, gross water, too much seaweed. Bacteria warnings. Eew. I do like the rest of the town though, just wouldn’t be caught dead in that water.

        2. Wren

          Depends on how you feel about clouds. Solid cloud cover for 2 weeks in a row is pretty standard. Sometimes twice that long. I love the city, though.

        1. Wren

          Really different vibe in PDX, though. You people are way too granola for my tastes. :) I do love to visit, though.

        2. smallbutmighty

          Sigh. Portland is where I live and it’s ALSO my favorite place. Not being smug, just telling it like it is.

          (My second choice would be Amsterdam!)

    13. CarolinaGirl

      Charleston, SC was magical. I lived there several years and every day was wonderful. It is a unique city.

    14. The IT Manager

      My favorite place I lived was Colorado Springs. I now live near the beach and the appeal of it is completely lost on me. But when I liked in Colorao Springs I went hiking and mountain biking and snowbaording a lot.

      If my family didn’t live somewhere else in the south, I be planning a return to Colorado (although maybe one of those small quirky towns in the moutains) or maybe Salt Lake City. I have never even visited there, but I’d like to. And SLC’s snowboarding mountains are closer than those of Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs was at least a 2 and half hour drive to a ski resort – usually through some kind of storm. When I lieved there I was too poor to do more than a day trip to the mountains.

    15. fposte

      God, I loved San Francisco.

      It’s no place I’d ever want to job hunt, but if I ever win the lottery, I’ll divide my time between there, London, and Stockholm. Wow, now I really want to win the lottery.

      1. Tris Prior

        I visited a friend in SF years ago and as soon as I got home got onto Craigslist to see, out of curiosity, how much it’d cost to rent an apartment there. yikes! (and I live in a major city so am accustomed to high rents. But not THAT high. 3 grand for a 1-bedroom?!)

        1. Jennifer

          I was offered a job in SF, but they literally couldn’t pay me enough to make it worth my while. I live in a Texas suburb now and could not stomach at least double the rent for half the space , plus a longer commute.

    16. MM

      If you’re outdoors-y, Vermont is wonderful. There seem to be a lot of openings in state government here because of a large retiring cohort, and in general our unemployment rate is lower than the rest of the country (4.2% in December). Plus, it’s beautiful* here in every month except November and March. And in March we have maple syrup.
      *I think mountains blanketed in snow and clear sunny -15 degree days are beautiful.

    17. Sharm

      I lived in San Francisco for years, and moved just before the rents went crazy. I loved it there, and miss it a lot, especially knowing I could never afford to live there again (unless the bubble bursts anytime soon). My first apartment was $600/mo, and I was right in Nob Hill too. I hope I can make my way back to the Bay Area someday. Such a beautiful part of the country.

    18. NOLA

      New Orleans! Good job growth and starting to get props for our entrepreneurial culture. Amazing local music and food scene and cost of living very manageable. Historic housing stock and lots of green space along the Mississippi River. Best place I’ve ever lived.

      Some less than ideal considerations:
      Schools — public schools are still really awful, but less than 10 schools in Orleans parish are under school board control (rest are charter or private)

      Crime — totally depends on part of town. Differences between contiguous neighborhoods are much more extreme than other cities where I’ve lived so you have to do your homework

      Corruption — Former Mayor C. Ray Nagin…well at least the Feds are arresting the bastards instead of looking the other way

    19. Anon

      I know that this is going to sound like a strange place, but check out the Omaha area. There is really low unemployment here and they haven’t been affected by the bad economy as severely as the rest of the country. There are actually quite a few Fortune 500 companies with headquarters here – i.e. Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, ConAgra and Mutual of Omaha.

      Besides that, it is really a wonderful place for families and is quite safe. There is quite a bit to do in the area and Omaha has some of the perks of much larger cities like culture, restaurants and shopping.

      The downsides are that the drivers here are just awful, the weather sucks no matter what time of year it is and there is quite a culture shock if you are used to a blue state and come here.

      1. Labratnomore

        Yes, Omaha is very surprising. I have relatives there, and the first time we went I hated the idea of spending our valuable vacation time in a place I had never wanted to visit. Now we go back regularly. The zoo is great, of course I am from MN were the zoo is super expensive and has a ton of MN animals (can’t I see those when I go in my back yard?). Also it is easy to find your way around, not congested, and has a ton of stores and restaurants. If the opportunity presented itself I would have no problem living there.

        My favorite place to live would be Hawaii, but it is too far from family and too expensive.

    20. Anonymous

      A couple have mentioned Minneapolis and I’d like to plug the other Twin, St. Paul.

      One of the things I like about it is you can live in either city and there are different atmosphere’s for each, basically two cities for the price of one.
      Overall the Twin Cities has a really low unemployment, some great public services, lots of arts, trails, sports teams, educational opportunities, and some real growth sectors in our economy.

      (St. Paul is the hippest, most romantic city in the US apparently!)

    21. Anonymous

      Seattle area. This is someplace I have always wanted to live, and now I’m here. The only downside that I have found is the gloomy weather. Summer is cooler and winter is warmer than I’m accustomed to, and it took me two full years to get used to that. Other than that, I love it here and I think the job market is not too bad here.

      1. Windchime

        Oh, and the other place I would love to live? Maui. I’ve been twice, and each time I have spent the weeks following my return trying to figure out how I can move there and never leave.

    22. Cath@VWXYNot?

      Vancouver! I came here for three days when I was 20 and liked it so much I moved here in 2002. Good growth in some sectors – high tech / clean tech especially.

      Always wanted to try New Zealand, although I don’t think my parents would ever forgive me… they’re still not over me being a 10 hour flight away…

    23. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think this qualifies for bonus points. But I would pick Burlington, Vt. Not super glamorous- but I think they have enough in place that I could live out my life there and be very content.
      A friend that used to live there said the people are super nice.

      1. Windchime

        I know someone who lives in that area and it sounds wonderful, but apparently jobs are very hard to find.

    24. Ilya

      Tel Aviv, definitely. Sunshine all year round with almost no rain, endless beaches, a booming economy and lots of jobs in high-tech. Every second conversation you overhear in a cafe is about some start-up company. In addition, everybody speaks English, and you can forget about the traffic jams because you can easily walk everywhere within the city. People work hard here, but the population is very young, so there’s kind of a laid-back and fun atmosphere in the city. I love living in Tel Aviv.

      1. Emma

        I’d also move to Minneapolis!

        My int’l dream location is Belfast, Northern Ireland. I fell in love with the city, its architecture, its hub location. I like rain and can deal with the damp chill. I enjoyed it much more than Dublin, to be quite honest. Sadly I doubt I could find work in my field there [public health, no MPH].

  5. Ann Furthermore

    I’m wondering if I’m being unreasonable or hypocritical about something.

    I’ve had a consultant working with me for the last few months on part of an ERP implementation. She’s very knowledgeable, I’ve learned a great deal from her, and with her help I’ve been able to design a solution that meets a very complex set of requirements. I would not have been able to do it otherwise. We are pulling the trigger on the project next week.

    That said, she’s driving me nuts. This is partly because she’s a bit scattered and disorganized, and partly because she pings me non-stop throughout the day with questions. The constant interruptions make me crazy, but I know we need to communicate about things so we can keep moving forward. And the other alternative would be for her to spin her wheels or do nothing, while still on the clock. So that’s on me, and I can’t legitimately complain about that.

    But the thing that’s really annoying me is her work schedule. At the start of her assignment, we agreed that she could work from home one day a week, and it was fine. I normally do that, but I haven’t been for the last few months, due to this project and a few other things. She also worked at home when I was offsite doing testing and training with users, and shifted her hours to be available when we needed her. Also fine. But since the beginning of the year, it’s been one reason after another to work from home 2 or more days a week. First it was to help out an ill family member. She lives on the other side of town from the office, so to drive in and then have to leave mid-day to go to provide transportation to a doctor’s appointment would have been a waste of time and gas. No problem. But then it was wanting to work from home because of a job interview mid-day, then it was the weather was too bad to drive across town, then it was car trouble, then the next day it was not having gotten around to getting her car into the shop to be repaired due to a personal obligation.

    I know she’s working and getting things done, it’s not a question of thinking she’s padding her hours. I just feel like she’s taking advantage of the company’s flexibility, and me. But then again, we’ve all talked here (me included) about how irritating it is when a manager or someone else thinks you must be in the office when you can just as easily work from home, and the dumb perception some people have that if you’re not in the office, at your desk, working, then you’re not really working. So I wonder if I’m applying a double standard. But then again, I’ve been a consultant, and I was always hyper-vigilant about being onsite, at the office, available for the client whenever I was needed, and it feels like she’s been slacking a bit there. But on the other hand, she’s always available via IM, email, or phone.

    So…am I being a hypocrite, or am I justified in my annoyance?

    1. Sunflower

      I don’t have a lot of advice but maybe you’re just annoyed by her working from home because so many other things about her annoy you. I feel like if she didn’t drive you nuts about the other stuff you wouldn’t think the work from home thing is so annoying. Or maybe you had to work for a while before having work from home abilities?

    2. PEBCAK

      If she is a consultant being paid on a 1099, you really can’t control where she works just for the sake of controlling where she works.

      HOWEVER…if there is an actual business need she isn’t meeting (being available to answer questions when you need her, being on-site for meetings because you are white-boarding, etc.), you can and should lay out how she is not meeting those needs.

    3. Malissa

      I think the stress factor of the go-live being next week is taking what used to be a minor annoyance and making it a major one. That said it wouldn’t be unreasonable of you to ask her to actually be there for the next week or two. Mostly because go-live is a critical time and you’ll need her and feel better if she’s physically there.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        I’ve already told her that she needs to be onsite every day next week, as we’ll be doing conversions, and she has said that she’ll be here.

    4. Us, Too

      re: constant interruptions.. Maybe you could have her collect her questions and come to you once every couple hours so that it’s not a source of constant interruptions. Or, only come to you if she’s truly stuck and won’t be productive without your help.

      re: working from home more than you initially agreed to. Is her WFH causing any issues with productivity and getting stuff done? If she’s doing her work and it’s not interfering with the project then I think the issue here is to examine why you’re annoyed by this situation. Is it because she didn’t “clear” it through the appropriate channels? Or something else entirely? That clarity will help you decide what to do next, if anything.

    5. Aunt Vixen

      Could it be that what’s bothering you is not that she wants to work from home so much of the time (since, as you say, she is getting her work done and is available when you need her), but that everything is an exception so you never know what to expect? I mean by now you’ve probably come to expect that she is going to ask to work from home two or three days out of five instead of one, but it still chafes because the agreement was for one day and it’s the constant exceptions that are bugging you.

      If that’s the case, would it help to revisit the agreement?

      (Full disclosure: I do my best work from home, for a variety of reasons, and mine is not a kind of work that usually depends on being available for face-to-face discussions. As long as I go in if there’s a meeting I need to attend, I feel like I should be allowed to work from home most of the time. My present job has ze-ro provision for telework and that frustrates me tremendously. So I may be more sympathetic to your consultant than neutral.)

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Ah, Aunt Vixen I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It is the constant exceptions that are making me nuts. I am a rather structured person, so constant changes like that really bug me.

        The thing that really chafed was her pinging me the morning after having car trouble and saying, “Well, I had [totally personal/social obligation] yesterday, so I didn’t get around to getting my car into the shop. So I need to work from home again today.” So because you couldn’t get it together to take care of things, you’re staying home again? Had it been that the mechanic said it would be another day, that wouldn’t have irked me so much.

        Her assignment will wrap up at the end of next week, so that’s another reason I haven’t said anything…no point in getting into a debate over this when, at the end of the day, she is meeting deadlines and getting things done. But if I was going to be keeping her for another few months, I’d have a conversation with her.

    6. Yup

      It sounds like you just have different work styles going on. You need unbroken time to focus on your stuff, she needs constant engagement to do her stuff. The intersection of the two is creating stress for you (not her), which makes you resent the interruptions. And maybe her working remotely is exacerbating that, because you’re getting 35 IMs instead of 3 pop-bys (if she were in person).

      I’d probably test drive a different way of interacting remotely before bringing down the hammer on being in-office. Any chance you can block out times during the day when you’ll be available to her, and consolidate your interactions into those buckets? Example: you block your calendar for 9:00-9:15, 11:00-11:15, 1:30-1:45, etc, and the two of you check in during those times. In between those times, she only IMs or calls if there’s a show stopping emergency that will burst into flames in the next 10 minutes without your input.

    7. BCW

      Yeah, I think you are being hypocritical. I mean you say you hate when managers want you there when you don’t need to be, but you are doing that exact thing. And I think that is annoying you because of the other stuff that you were already annoyed by. It really does just sound like you 2 have very different work styles, and while neither is better or worse, for you its annoying. You need to just have a conversation with her and try to figure out a happy medium.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Yep, that was my thought too, which is why I haven’t had a discussion with her about it. But I think Aunt Vixen helped me see what’s really bugging me, which is that everything is an exception. That just makes me nuts.

        That, and like you said, we just have completely different work styles, and neither is better or worse, just different.

        1. Anon

          It might also be a touch of jealousy because you noted that you used to work from home once a week but haven’t recently due to this project. I get how that can be frustrating because the same thing happened to me at a former position. It was hectic enough but then having to give up my super productive day from home made the increasingly longer hours even worse.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            Yes, that plays into it as well. I gave up my work from home day temporarily, because since I was going to be working with a consultant I wanted to be onsite working with her to be sure we were getting the most bang for our buck. But now due to the litany of excuses, she’s not here half the time on what was my regularly scheduled remote day.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Can you tell her you need her to be there on a particular day each week?

              Perhaps it is time to consider this: Is it necessary that you check in with her to make sure the company is getting its buck’s worth? Maybe enough time has passed and you can ease up?

    8. HR lady

      I’m a little late to this discussion, Ann Furthermore, but I wanted to chime in and say that pretty much every consultant I’ve ever worked with has worked off site (their home or their office or Starbucks- I have no idea). They’d come in periodically through a project but only for very deliberate, scheduled meetings.

      This is part of what makes someone a 1099 contractor- that you don’t dictate where, when, or how they do their jobs, except for in broad strokes (like we need x done by this date, and y done by that date). Also normally the company doesn’t provide office space or computer equipment to the contractor, except (in my experience) in small increments, like if they’re scheduled to be there for a few hours.

      For example, I hired a consulting group (about 4-5 consultants on the project) for an 18-month project. In that time, they probably came on site for a total of 6-8 meetings, for about 1-2 hours each time. And not every one of the group came each time – the appropriate person(s) for that leg of the project would come.

      Your project might have been different than mine, but I’m just surprised that the consultant was expected to be in your office so much.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        My company is a bit different…consultants are not allowed to use their own laptops to access company data, so they are provided with one when they start working here, and usually a work space too, unless the agreement specifically states that they’ll be working remotely. The network security requirements here are insane, plus there’s specialized software that needs to be installed to make some things work, so IT prefers to configure/work with specific laptop models since they know how to set them up correctly. I can access webmail from my own laptop, but I can’t get to anything else.

        My annoyances are stemming from the fact that everything is an exception, which has the ring of making up excuses. She just told me she thinks she’ll be getting an offer from the recent interview, and asked to use me as a reference. I’ll be happy to give her a good one, because like I said, she’s great at what she does and I would not have been able to bring this project across the finish line without her help. But she told me the name of the company, and I know their office is very close to ours. So now I’m wondering why she wanted to work from home that day since she had to make the drive across town anyway.

    9. Ann Furthermore

      Thanks everyone for your feedback! It was really helpful. I think I’ve gotten to the root of what’s been bothering me, so I thank everyone who chimed in.

      1. Not So NewReader

        One last thought- when people work intensely on a long project together they sometimes tend to wear on each other. I would blame the project- it’s long/intense/tiring/etc.

        Just listening to you describe your reactions and describe her reactions, I am thinking” here are two tired people.” Take 50% of your thoughts and just throw them away. Of the remaining 50% decide how important/relevant it is to deal with those thoughts.

        You are wrapping up? Focus on wrapping up and what it will take to put the finishing touches on things. If overall she did a good job, let her know. Put it all in as good a place as you can.

        Sometimes the work itself almost breaks people. We have to watch out for this and cut each other a little space. I am not sure if this applies to your setting, but am just throwing it out there.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          That is good advice, NSNR, thank you. I’ve had all these same thoughts. I do these ERP projects for a living, and the closer you get to the launch date, the more the pressure and stress builds. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it happens again and again.

          Overall, this person has done great work for me, and like I said, I would not have been able to deliver the project without her help. I think it’s mostly just 2 completely different work styles colliding at the end of a long, hard road.

  6. Anonymous

    If you have a significant amount of experience in Chocolate Teapot Purchasing, what would be the best way to become a Chocolate Teapot Purchasing Manager, if there’s no room for that in your current company? Will other companies hire someone into a management role with no prior management experience?

  7. Cassie

    Olympic-themed question:
    Assuming the two were mutually exclusive, would you rather perform your absolute best and not win gold or would you rather falter but still win gold?

    Honestly, I think I’d prefer the 2nd – winning gold even if by some dumb luck. Regardless of how you did it, you still got gold and your name will be in the history books. Of course, you’d have to go through life as the person who only won because you were in dead last (like in short track speed skating where the faster skaters have crashed into each other and you’re the last person still standing).

    1. Marina

      Second. Everyone falters–no one gets a perfect score. I’m pretty sure if I was an Olympic athlete no matter how awesome I did I’d still be able to think of something I did wrong or not as good as I should. My falter would just be better than everyone else’s falter. ;)

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      Maybe this makes me superficial (or just competitive), but I agree – I want to win. If it takes dumb luck to make that happen, I’m in. I can have my perfect performance in practice.

      1. hilde

        I have to agree with you (I’m not very competitive by nature so take that for what it’s worth). It does make me think back to the military. I had my marksmanship training and ended up scoring as an Expert Marksman. I was floored because I totally do NOT think I got it. I truly think whomever was looking at the shot card miscounted or something. But I got to claim it anyway and got a ribbon for my ribbon rack and everything. But it doesn’t really feel good because I feel like a fraud. I’m not 100% sure that it was all me that got that score, so the “win” is less than satisfying.

    3. Sadsack

      Doesn’t managing to keep from crashing along with everyone else count for something? Being able to manage your speed so as to avoid crashes seems like a skill. This is coming from someone with zero athletic ability, so I guess I am easy to impress.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit

        Sometimes… but did you watch the snowboard cross? In one heat the dude who was WAY behind managed to come in third because the guys who could actually keep up with the pace all crashed. I doubt that was his plan.

        1. Cassie

          Yeah, I saw that. And it happened a couple of times in short track speed skating. The person who wins only does so because they are so far back (away from the rest of the competitors) and would have finished dead last if everyone managed to stay on their feet and cross the finish line.

          I guess it could be one strategy, but you would have to be an incredible sprinter who can overcome everyone else in the last part of the race, in case no one or not enough people fall/crash/get taken out by another person.

    4. smallbutmighty

      My absolute best. There’s NOTHING more satisfying than knowing you brought your A+ game to something important. Not even a gold medal!

    5. Anonymous

      I think there’s sort of a problem with this.

      The first assumes you are simply not the best, you’re incapable of winning on your own merits.

      The second assumes that not crashing isn’t a skill. I totally think not crashing is a skill.

      Now if the second place guy sabotaged the first place guy intentionally and I won only because one person was being deliberately awful I’d like to think that I’d be the person to stop and help that guy get up and finish. But if the first few people just aren’t able to not crash? Then I won fair and square because I have the skill to not crash.

  8. Too much profanity at work

    I know there have been a lot of discussions on AAM about profanity at work. How do you adjust from a workplace that used very little profanity (and when it was used it was under someone’s breath and not overt) to a workplace where it’s used freely and even when training someone? I’m just not used to hearing it all the time and I’ve worked for a very long time. I find it really distasteful and even brought it up to my manager who told me it’s the “culture” of the office. Frankly, I don’t really understand why it needs to be screamed out all the time. The office isn’t really diverse either and it’s all boys screaming at each other and using offensive language (at least to me). How can I adjust to it? I’m not old fashioned and use profanity when I feel frustrated but I would never think to scream it in a professional office environment. Any suggestions are welcome.

    1. Joey

      Well “that’s just our culture” isn’t a good default excuse. Depends on how it’s used. If it’s not directed at anyone and isn’t related to protected categories and is merely used to describe situations or objects that might very well indeed may be something you need to get used to.

      1. Too much profanity at work

        Oftentimes it’s after they hang up the phone with a customer to curse out the work they have to do. I know it’s not at me but hearing the words constantly, “that bleepin’ bitch” and “f-this stuipd! c u next tuesday” and so forth is discouraging to anyone who wants to get work done. To me it sounds derogatory and they talk about women at strip clubs. I think it’s because they aren’t used to having a woman in the workplace next to them which is another issue in itself. It’s distracting me to the point where it’s difficult to focus on my own tasks. I did bring that concern up to the manager and this is a new job for me. He said he would talk to them but little I expect will ever change. I’ve been there a little over a month. I’m beginning to feel like this isn’t even the right fit for me. I’m just trying to bear down and learn.

        1. Us, Too

          Whoa. OK, that’s not “just” shouted profanity. That’s insulting your customers and really crossing some lines using the dreaded “c word”. Personally, if my manager didn’t address this, I’d look elsewhere for work.

          1. Too much profanity at work

            They don’t say these things on the phone when they are talking to them. In fact, they are totally very much the opposite. I have already started. I don’t want to give up on the job so fast because it’s a good salary and I like the work. But within the first day of me working there, they were also complaining to me about their jobs and the politics of working for this company. I shook my head and said little but no one wants to hear any of this when they first start working at a company. If I had known all of this before I got there, then I probably wouldn’t have left my other job. I don’t even know how I can learn if they keep cursing even while training.

            1. TL

              I’m pretty sure the constant use of the c-word, along with other derogatory words and general language about women, is at least somewhere where you would want to start exploring the term “hostile work environment.”
              May not apply but it’s worth looking into.

              The f-bomb I wouldn’t mind, nor any of the other non-directive curse words but that one’s a big no-no.

            2. Anon

              I think their poor attitude in general is the bigger issue. Coming from a former position where all we ever did was bitch and moan about work to a place where hardly anyone complains made me realize how toxic the former place was. At my new job I’m one of only a few women and the guys do swear a lot (this one guy use “f-in” 2-3 times PER sentence but it actually makes me laugh because he’s never angry – he uses it as a verb) and it doesn’t really bother me. But the context is what matters here the most. Your coworkers calling customers names behind their backs (especially the c-word) makes me wonder how they’d act if you did something they didn’t like. I’m not saying give up right away, but I’d consider looking elsewhere so you don’t get sucked into the negativity.

          2. Mimco

            I don’t understand why foul language is considered an acceptable work environment. As you have described it, it is a hostile environment. The comments don’t have to be directed at you, just overheard for the hostile environment requirement to be met. I’d talk to HR and look for another job and then file a complaint after I left.

            1. fposte

              The legal meaning of “hostile work environment” is different from simply hostile environment, though.

        2. Katie the Fed

          OK, so this is a different thing, because at this point you’ve got the makings of a boys club at best, and a hostile work environment at worst. You need to tell your manager you are not comfortable with this kind of anti-woman language and the talking about strip clubs.

          1. Too much profanity at work

            I’m beginning to agree with you and seeing for what it is. I’ve spoken up but he really hasn’t done much and I don’t think it’s going to get better. It’s really disheartening and I feel really alone.

          2. AnonEMoose

            I agree. Profanity is one thing…people can drop the f-bomb around me, and as long as they’re not directing it at me, I won’t even blink. But that kind of anti-woman language is just not ok.

        3. Anon Today

          Well, I’d be lying if I said I never got off the phone with an annoying customer and called her a b*tch. However, I’ve also called a guy a d*ck after I got off the phone, which to me is the same thing. Its not being anti woman or anti man, just expressing frustration. If they will curse about a guy as well then I think its hard to say that you don’t have a problem calling a guy whatever, but have a problem with B*tch. However, the C-word (which I know to many people is the ultimate woman diss) is something that I think you are within your rights to talk to your manager about.

          Aside from that though, I think some places are just much more free with cursing and stuff, and maybe its just not the right place for you. I’m sure some people will say its becoming a hostile workplace, which I don’t necessarily agree with. I just think its not the right fit for you if it bothers you. I know some girls with fouler mouths than many guys I’m friends with who would have no problem with that type of thing at work. So just figure out what will make you comfortable.

          1. A Bug!

            I don’t want to start a debate over whether particular gendered insults are equivalent, but rather, to note that many people don’t think they are, for various reasons. If you feel that those words are equivalent to each other and you aren’t using them for any gender-specific nuance, why not find a third word to use that is clearly gender-neutral and equivalent to both?

            A-hole, for example, is a completely non-gendered insult. So is jerk, dipstick, s**tbag, poophead, fartface, and doofus.

            1. Jamie

              A-hole, for example, is a completely non-gendered insult.

              Is it? I’m sincerely asking because in my life I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a woman being referred to as an a-hole. Ever. That one seems earmarked for the guys in practice, if not anatomy, at least ime.

              1. A Bug!

                You raise a good point, and you’re right. I’d typed out a bit addressing that when I was originally writing the post but ended up omitting it for wordiness (because I am trying to be more concise, I promise). So yes, as used, a-hole is almost exclusively used in reference to men. But there’s no real reason for that – pretty much everyone has an a-hole, and even in the event that a person doesn’t have one (if it’s even possible, but I’m leaving that open because I haven’t done any research on the topic), it wouldn’t be a function of their gender or sex.

                So, in an extremely tongue-in-cheek way that I’m not interested in defending or arguing here or anywhere else, I consider it a mildly feminist act to use the word a-hole to refer to women who are acting like a-holes.

            2. Anon Today

              I don’t necessarily want to debate it either, but there are insults that are geared toward men and ones geared toward women that do have the same intent. How many times do you hear a woman called a d*uchebag or jerk? I’d argue that 99% of the time those words are directed at guys, and have essentially the same connotation as B*tch does when directed at women. So yes, that is true, I could find a gender neutral term, but I don’t think thats how most people are.

              1. A Bug!

                I don’t think thats how most people are.

                But why? That seems like an appeal to tradition.

                I’m not telling you to stop using the gendered insults, mind you. You obviously don’t need my or anyone else’s permission and I had no intention of implying that you do. I was just offering you some food for thought and some alternative words to use, should you be inclined to do so.

                1. smallbutmighty

                  I totally read this as a parallel construction to “[the] bitch is crazy,” and immediately imagined it being spoken in a kind of bro voice.

                  I’ve been heavily involved in a work project leveraging internet memes (yes, some days my job actually involves internet memes), so that’s kind of where my mind is at right now.

                2. Anon Today

                  Thats true. My point though is when its applied toward women, it has the same basic meaning as when a guy is called a douchebag or a dick.

          2. Jamie

            I don’t swear in front of others at work, unless they do it first and more, and if someone overhears me under my breath I apologize.

            I respect that it bothers some people and try my best not to do it, but personally I don’t find swearing offensive for the most part – unless it’s done at someone or particularly vile.

            In the US the c word falls into the latter category. If you are not Ricky Gervais on a podcast I do not want to hear that word. (Use of it in British comedy doesn’t bother me at all because it doesn’t have the same intent. If you’re in the US and using it – you know you’re offending people.)

            I don’t think calling someone a bitch sexist, if you’d call a guy an assh**e (or whatever) in the same circumstances. if it’s only at women that’s a different story – but if you’re an equal opportunity cusser it’s not anti-woman, imo.

            I’d be bothered by the amount of anger more than the words. I mean if they were hanging up and irate and screaming – is it actual screaming? – about customers I wouldn’t care if they called them “that gosh-darn so-and-so” I would find it unpleasant.

        4. ClaireS

          I don’t think you’re over reacting. To me, the gender derogatory language is awful in itself. But the other issue that may be making you feel wonky about the situation is the anger. With that type of aggressive language, it sounds like everyone Hates their jobs. Whether or not it’s true, that’s how I would personally interpret it and that would really get me down.

          I’m sorry this happened, I hate to say give up but I would seriously consider starting to look elsewhere.

        5. Anoners

          Okay, I was going to say if it’s just really lowcore swearing to maybe let it go, but that is definitely not lowcore swearing! Good god.

    2. Us, Too

      Well, it’s obviously NOT a professional environment if people are literally screaming profanity all the time. ;)

      I think the real question here is how important is a relatively shouting and profanity-free “professional environment” to you relative to how much you value working in this job. This is probably going to be hard to change if it’s deeply rooted in the culture.

    3. Katie the Fed

      I did a deployment to Iraq where being around the military all the time had me cursing like a sailor. I came back and my first week back in the office I was cursing really bad. I didn’t even notice it until a coworker pulled me aside one day and said “you know, we don’t talk like that here and it’s really inappropriate.” I was mortified. It’s such a habit and can be really hard to break.

    4. Mike C.

      How to adjust to it? I’m sure that will happen over time.

      We’re talking about general profanity and not anything along the lines of racial/gender slurs, right?

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Ok, this is something that bothered me from a previous question, a week or two ago. Why are racial and gender slurs inappropriate, but profanity (which offends me because of religion) is just fine? Shouldn’t we care about offending people because of too casual religious language too?

        I should clarify that profanity is speaking blasphemously: g-d, hell, damn, stuff like that. Vulgarities, which don’t bother me as much, but still don’t seem very professional, are more earthy. I’m sure there are profanities against religions other than christianity, and it seems those should be avoided too.

        I don’t speak up, because it’s not a big deal. But I’m supposed to speak up when others use language that offends by race, gender, or ability. Why the double standard?

        1. BCW

          I see what you are saying, but I do think its different for a couple reasons. Using a racial slur, homophobic comments, and to an extent gender terms are making attacks based on something someone has no control over (and I don’t want to get into an argument about whether homosexuality is a choice or not) whereas yes, you may have been raised a certain religion, but you are choosing to practice it.

          Also, I think those profanities that you mentioned are very general terms that aren’t necessarily attacking your religion, just things that have become somewhat common in American society. So while YOU may find it offensive, it isn’t offensive to most people.

            1. fposte

              I also think that offensiveness is highly cultural, so there’s not that much inherent logic (as TL and I went around on a few posts ago :-)). But I think that the differentiation people are making between profanity and a slur is worth thinking about–that saying “I jewed the price down” is different from saying “Yahweh damn it!” without any interest in Yahweh. I don’t think you can argue that people *must* rank one above the other, but I think talking in a way that categorizes people as bad because of who they are is different from lightly invoking things that some people take very seriously. (We were discussing “drink the Kool-aid” on that other thread, and that might be a good secular example of that.)

            2. TL

              To be fair, I think religion is a very important identity people can have (though having none myself) and that people should respect your religious beliefs as they apply to you.

              That being said, it’s generally considered polite not to be vulgar around older folk who don’t like that language; I think the same should apply to profanities around the religious.

        2. TL

          So I wouldn’t be offended if someone asked me not to use a profanity around them (I know; people have and I’ve respected it.)

          I second what BCW says and I’ll add on. Racial, homophobic, and sexist slurs (against women) are all contributing to systemic oppression against those groups which is very present in our society. You’re not just saying something offensive to a particular person/group; you’re saying the whole is less than – and you have hundreds of years of society’s actions to back up your words. Not pleasant.

          In the USA, at least, Christians are not persecuted; there is no systemic oppression holding them back or punishing them for being Christian. (There are sects of Christianity to which this may apply and there are instances, I’m sure, of hateful actions or hate crimes against someone simply because they are Christian – but it’s not a deeply ingrained part of our culture.)

          So. It’s not the same. People should respect other’s wishes to not use profanity, but there’s huge difference between using the c-word and letting out a g-ddamnit.

          1. Jamie

            I agree with TL, if someone were bothered by it I would certainly refrain. I have a relative who is offended by what she considers to be taking the Lord’s name in vain and I certainly respect that.

            But culturally it’s different than racist remarks because of intent. I can’t drop the N word benignly. What black people can and can’t do with that word is not my business – there is no way a 40 something suburban white woman can use that word without showing a very ugly window into their psyche. But OMG and other religious swearing may legitimately offend others – but there is usually no correlation between that and intent. They are so commonplace and divorced from religious meaning for the vast majority of people – even those who identify as Christian.

            People who say God dammit aren’t really calling down the wrath of God with the intent of sentencing another to eternal damnation. It’s a widespread expression commonly understood to express anger and/or frustration.

            I’m not saying it’s wrong to be offended and we should all try to avoid that which offends others when we know.

            But so many things can offend so many segments of the population it can be a real minefield if people don’t communicate what bothers them specifically and expect others to know what will and won’t offend any given person.

          2. Anonymous

            I really want to say thank you for pointing out the different between groups that have been systematically oppressed and the groups that haven’t.

            In comedy this is referred to as don’t punch down. There is a huge difference between using a term for a repressed group, and a majority group.

        3. Kenny

          Because I can’t help being a woman, but you choose to believe in an imaginary man in the sky who tells you what to do and how to think.

          1. A Bug!

            That seems a little uncalled-for.

            For me, I will refrain from using most profanity when I am around people until I have a feel for whether or not they will be comfortable with my using it. If my assessment is wrong, I have no problem with refraining on being informed of same.

            I always steer clear of profanity that is directed at any specific group of people, and I don’t consider certain religiously-rooted words to be directed at a specific group of people, but I also feel that certain profanity which has religious origins has effectively lost its religious meaning in ways that gendered or racial profanities have not.

          2. Jamie

            There is no need to mock those who believe differently than you do. People should be free to post an opinion without fearing that if there isn’t universal agreement someone will take a personal shot.

        4. bad at online naming

          There’s a subtle difference between a slur and a profanity – a slur is a derogatory term for a person or set of persons, but a profanity isn’t quite.

          Religious slurs themselves would also be unacceptable, but I think they’re far less common. (I could be wrong there.)

          1. Jamie

            This is an important distinction. There aren’t a lot of religious slurs aimed at Christians bandied about ime, but that could be the result of my circle. There are certainly religious slurs referencing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc which are as ugly as any racial or sexist slur meant to debase a group of people.

            But people who say OMG or Goddammit aren’t directing it at any one in particular. So while it can cause offense, that’s because someone had to hear it who finds it offensive…not that anyone was insulting them or their group personally.

            1. Mints

              This is what I was thinking too. Religious swears (omg, Jesus!) aren’t used AT anyone, meaning it doesn’t refer to a person (except God, I guess, but you get my point). While sexist or racist slurs do refer to specific people. People who have been marginalized and oppressed.

              Another thing to think about is, could you see a situation where the word itself could cause someone fear? The N word is an obvious yes (I don’t want to be the only POC in a bar when people start talking about “n***** Obama”) Cunt is another yes, and fag. But Jesus H. Christ doesn’t cause the same fear.

              I’m kind of alluding to a Junot Diaz quote I just read that’ll I’ll try to find

              1. Jamie

                People who have been marginalized and oppressed.

                This make a difference. I consider myself neither marginalized or oppressed in any sense – but if I did something at work and I overheard:

                “Fuck*ng IT people, always telling us what to do – stupid [ insert gender neutral swear here].”

                Maybe I wouldn’t invite them to dinner and a back-rub, but it wouldn’t personally offend me.

                Replace IT people with “women in management” and it’s bothering me because people are factoring in my gender where it’s not relevant and careers have been hurt over that before. It’s not that those people could hurt me or my career, it’s that it’s an attitude that is damaging with even a little bit of power. And if the person who said that has reports or any say in the hiring process I am addressing it because I have a problem with the bias.

                You can be biased all you want against IT people, we don’t care, you don’t have the power to hurt us.

              2. Mints

                This is long, but my point is that not all swears are “un/loaded guns”

                Listen, when you use a word of hate ironically — like, and your defense is “I’m not racist, how could you ever think I’m racist??” I want you to imagine owning a gun, but never buying live ammunition. You only purchase blanks. Ok?

                And say sometimes when you hang out with your close friends, you take out your gun, which they know contains no live ammunition, and you shoot it at stuff, and you think it’s funny. And maybe the first time you do it, they’re like “Shit. I mean, I know those are blanks, but that’s kind of fucked up,” but your argument is, “But I can’t really hurt anyone! They’re just blanks!” And over time they just get used to it and find it kind of funny. “Oh, that Cliff, sometimes he takes his gun out and shoots some blanks, but he doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just funny! You know how it goes.”

                Now, imagine that over time, having received the acceptance for your actions from your friends, you decide you can start firing blanks around people you’ve never met. In mixed company. You’re at a dinner party one night, you’ve had a few, so you go “Hey, wanna see something cool?!” and those who are your friends at the party know what’s coming, so they’re prepared, but then the people who don’t know you, they see you whip out a piece and go “Oh shit, I’m going to die, it’s everything I feared,” but your friends explain to them it’s not a big deal, there’s nothing to be afraid of, “Cliff wouldn’t hurt a fly,” so they eventually, begrudgingly, don’t say anything about it, don’t call you, Cliff, a fucking asshole. “Fine, it’s kind of ridiculous, but whatever.” Something like that.

                And then you are at a large public place. A concert, an open mic, where you and your friends are outnumbered by the rest of the audience. And maybe someone pushes you or gives you a hard time, so you decide, just to give the guy a taste of his own medicine, to pull out your gun, and fire some blanks. Give him a real, real visceral jump. And everyone around you feels threatened, unsafe, about to be part of something they were always on some subconscious level afraid would happen, but at the same time hopeful it would never happen because our society’s getting smarter and more considerate of those around them. And then some other people, who after seeing it happen, feel relieved that you were firing blanks, but also feel empowered by your choice to fire a weapon in a public place, and choose to do the same thing.

                Do you get it yet?

                The fact is that derogatory remarks, whether used sincerely or ironically, and ammunition, whether blank or live, still creates the same environment of discomfort and fear every time it is used. So cut the shit.
                – Junot Diaz

              3. Wren

                I don’t know why, but I find it totally amusing that you will write out cunt but not nigger. Mostly because it took me far too long to figure out what they meant the first time someone mentioned “the c-word”

              4. Kelly L.

                I agree here too. I figure God can take care of himself. The other words insult particular people down here on Earth. Also +1 to the marginalization issue.

        5. JamieG

          Slurs are offensive because they’re directed at a person or a group of people; it’s not that women are all aghast at the c word because we think it’s bad, but because it’s derogatory and harmful. While you might find swearing in general offensive, nobody’s using slurs against your religion. Slurs against religious groups, like those against gender, race, disability, etc., are 100% not okay.

    5. Too much profanity at work

      I wanted to follow up here and thank everyone for the replies and the discussion. After thinking this over and analyzing the situation further, I have come to believe that this is truly at worst a hostile work environment for me as a person. The demeaning, disruptive, disgusting profane and excessive profane language isn’t a healthy work atmosphere for me. However, due to my financial situation I can’t simply up and quit. It stinks to have to go look for a job again after I thought this would be a good fit, but I know now I must go look for a job once more. I will suffer for the time being but as soon as I can find a new job, I plan to quit and file a complaint with the HR department immediately thereafter. I do not know if I can legally do much more at this point, but I have at least a plan and I will stick to it. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful commentary and debate. I feel less alone now knowing that I have some support too.

      1. Diane

        Thank you for the update! Please talk to HR before you quit. Donna Ballman has a great blog (http://employeeatty.blogspot.com/ ) with advice about what language you use to get HR to investigate and also protect yourself from retaliation. I think it’s something like “Official complaint of hostile workplace,” but please check her site. They are legally required to investigate. It will be uncomfortable, and the boys club will grumble, but it’s going to be uncomfortable regardless if they don’t change their language.

  9. Rayner

    Hi AAM- in before the mad rush :P

    Is it possible to have one open thread a month timed so it comes online earlier for the European/non USian peeps? I know in January you did it once, and it was awesome :D

    1. Jen in RO

      Yes please! I’m on my way back from work when the open thread hits, and by the time I’ve had dinner it’s already at 600 comments.

  10. Anonymint

    I’m super excited that I got a job offer yesterday, thanks to Alison & her awesome advice! I’m waiting until I get my “official” offer via email to give notice (hopefully Monday), but I’ve verbally committed and have a start date in a month & a 20% pay increase!

    I can’t wait!! I should have started reading Ask A Manager sooner :-)

      1. Anonymint

        Haha, well I think I maybe went a LITTLE bit overboard, but as soon as I found out I had an interview, I read every single interviewing post. I also downloaded the “How to Prepare for an Interview” guide, and practiced my questions/answers with a former co-worker. In the past, I kind of would just wing it because I never really understood how you could prepare for an interview.

        I think the biggest thing that helped, though, was having the nerve to ask the questions she recommends and kind of interview the interviewers. They all seemed really surprised but impressed, and the HR rep actually brought that up when she called to make the offer. It was also helpful to me, because all four people I interviewed with answered the questions the same way, and I thought the consistency was a really good sign. (this is the one I asked that they loved https://www.askamanager.org/2009/12/great-question-to-ask-your-interviewer.html)

  11. Lady Question

    I’m getting an IUD in a few weeks and want to take the day off for the procedure and to rest; I’m wondering how much information should I give when requesting to use a sick day. I don’t want to come right out and tell the office all about my personal life, but “medical procedure” or “minor out-patient surgery” seem overly serious and worrisome. What phrasing have you used for sensitive appointments in the past?

    1. AnonEMoose

      I might just say “routine medical procedure.” That’s what I said when I took a few days off to have my tubal ligation surgery, and it seemed to go over well enough.

    2. LizNYC

      I’ve had medical procedures (not what you’re doing) and doctor’s appointments that have literally taken the entire day, so it shouldn’t be unbelievable to the listener to say that you have a medical appointment that will take the majority of the day. If anyone presses you, you can say it’s nothing major, but just time-consuming (you know how doctor’s office are *wink*).

    3. themmases

      When I had this done, I just insisted on a Friday in case I wanted the next couple of days to rest, and asked for the day off with no explanation. But, my employer does a big bucket of PTO with no distinction between sick time and vacation.

      If you need to ask for sick time off specifically, I’d still just ask for the days off with no explanation other than specifying what bucket you want them to come out of. If I overheard someone ask if they can use sick time (or whatever you call it at your workplace) for next Thursday and Friday, I’d probably just assume your doctor and your dentist weren’t free on the same day.

      1. AVP

        Out of curiosity…if you don’t mind me asking…

        Did you feel better by Saturday? Were you okay to go in to work on Monday and feel up to par?

        I’m thinking about getting an IUD myself and I have a crazy-busy job so trying to schedule it is part of my worry.

        1. TL

          I don’t have one (need a two-hormone method otherwise I’d be on that like white on rice) but several of my friends do and about half of the ones who have an IUD say their first months were excruciatingly painful, but they never felt anything after that.

        2. Anon

          I was crampy and miserable the day of, and felt fine the next day. Over the next two weeks, I would occasionally get a fleeting cramp (like it was poking me), but it didn’t keep me from being 100% of my working self – and I was nannying full-time for a toddler!

        3. themmases

          I had bad cramps the first week or so, but I definitely could have gone to work the next day if I’d had to. My doctor told me to pre-medicate with ibuprofen every 4-6 hours or so the day before, and then I kept taking it for the next couple of days. My doctor would have preferred me to come in a couple of days sooner than I did, and in retrospect I think I could have done as she preferred and gone to work the next day.

          Right after insertion, I needed a few minutes to keep lying down before I got up and got dressed. Then I walked to the bus and got myself home just fine. I was uncomfortable enough not to want to go back to work, but nothing too serious.

          I hope this helps!

        4. Fiona

          I haven’t read to the bottom to see what other responses you’ve gotten, but I’m on my second one, and both times I was back to work the next day.

        5. AVP

          Thanks everyone, this is very encouraging. I was just a little nervous that it would be one of those “oh don’t worry you’ll be FINE” procedures where you can’t walk for four days afterward. And none of my friends have gotten them (yet, anyway).

        6. vvondervvoman

          Hey! Sex educator here.

          It really just depends on your body, everybody is different. Take some comfort in knowing that most people are fine the next day, but to play it safe, Friday would be the best day to give you extra buffer. Also talk to your dr. about pain management–ask about cytotec or other meds to take prior to insertion. Emphasize that you’re really anxious about pain.

          Two things that can help predict how much pain you’d be in are if you’ve had children (likely less pain) and how heavy your normal menstrual cramps are (the crampier the less pain during insertion).

    4. Anon in DC

      Honestly you might just have to go with “minor outpatient medical procedure”. I did that when I had to have surgery to remove a benign lump from my left breast. Certainly everyone was probably more concerned about me than they would’ve been if they’d known what it was… but since the alternative was to talk about my boobs with my coworkers, what else can you do? Just show by your actions that you really are fine and it’s not a big deal.

      No one wants to think about their coworkers’ lady parts, man parts, or booty. If you have an issue with one of these body areas, I really don’t know what else you can say other than “minor outpatient surgery”.

      1. athek

        I did the exact same thing for a breast biopsy. It sounded serious enough that the need for time off felt legit and I wouldn’t have people calling me all day, but not serious enough that I had people asking me details and making sure I was ok.

    5. Lindsay

      I said “routine medical procedure.” I got it done at lunch and went back to work – and this was not a good idea since I passed out after it went in. And then I went home sick for the rest of the day.

      Apparently nice doctors will anesthetize you. Mine was not a nice doctor.

      Oh – get a prescription for hard-core painkillers BEFORE you leave. Not on your follow-up. My doctor sucked.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Yeah, I think “medical procedure” is just fine, and YES, take the day off.

        My doc said it would be “uncomfortable.” God damn, that was an understatement. I was fine by the next day, but boy, did I not want to do anything for the rest of that day.

        1. AdAgencyChick

          (PS, I don’t have children. I’ve heard it’s not as bad if you’ve had them, because at least then your cervix has dilated before.)

        2. Lindsay

          Yeah, mine too! The first few weeks following were hell. It took me a year to feel normal-ish again. But I’d still do it again.

        3. smallbutmighty

          “Medical procedure,” and yep, it’ll hurt. They’ll give you drugs that knock you out for the remainder of the day. You’re definitely not going back to work.

        4. MJH

          Mine wasn’t that bad and I was fine to work the rest of the day (no drugs or anything like that). I’ve never had kids.

          Had some cramps (and still do) that feel like stabby contractions, but overall it wasn’t nearly as bad as the horror stories I read online.

        5. Emma

          I didn’t know the meaning of soreness that “goes right through you” until I had my IUD inserted. ‘Twasn’t the most pleasant medical experience in the world, I agree.

      2. Anon

        Definitely second getting the prescription before you leave! Even better if you can get it ahead of time so you’re ready right after your appointment. I thought I was doing ok, but about 10 minutes into my drive to the drug store the pain hit me all at once and I had to pull over. Also, the doctor didn’t give me any time between giving me the anesthetic and doing the procedure. I wonder if an extra 10 minutes would have helped.

    6. NylaW

      I would say “routine medical procedure” and maybe try to schedule it on a Friday, so that you’re taking one day off but you can also have the whole weekend if you need it.

    7. Natalie

      When I got mine in I just said “minor surgery”. No one batted an eye.

      Personally I didn’t have much of an issue with pain after the insertion, but I did take ibuprofen like clockwork for the next 24 hours, so that could be why.

    8. amaranth16

      I’ve just said “minor procedure – nothing to worry about but I will need to be out the rest of the day.”

      Good luck with the insertion! Mine was uncomfortable but not outright painful, and for 6-8 hours following I was crampy and woozy, but by morning I was right as rain, and I haven’t given it a second thought since.

      1. Elizabeth

        Same. I went in over lunch and came back to work afterwards. Mildly crampy for next several hours, but nothing debilitating. Just take it easy and pop ibuprofin both before and after.

    9. Elizabeth West

      I just say “minor medical procedure.” I’ve had to leave early twice lately because of stupid stuff that needed to be taken care of regardless, and that’s what I used. (Thankfully all that seems to be over now.)

    10. CTO

      I think “medical appointment that will keep me out all day” is just fine. My insertion (I couldn’t find anyone who offered anesthesia for it) was particularly difficult for the doctor. But even with it being a really unpleasant procedure, I felt fine after a few hours with ibuprofen and a heating pad. Everyone’s body is different, but you’ll probably feel good enough to work by the next day.

    11. Kat

      When I got mine in I just said I had a doctor’s appointment that would take all day and left it at that. I also recommend scheduling for Friday so you get the weekend off. I never had kids and while it hurt when it was put in, it really wasn’t that bad. It felt like cramps for a week and since then I’ve had no issues. I went to a renaissance fair the day after and was fine. I did use it as a good excuse to make my then boyfriend (now fiancée) bring me tea constantly. I’m amazed that some doctors gave pain killers for this! Mine definitely did not, and probably would not have!

    12. Not So NewReader

      I think if you let them know that 1) you will be okay and 2) you will return to work on X day, that will answer their biggest questions.

  12. Overly Anxious

    I’m 25 and having a ton of anxiety about my next career move. I work in PR/event planning and like my job duties- but the work environment is terrible and and I’m barely making ends meet financially. My anxiety is so high I’ve started counseling and while my therapist doesn’t think I need to be on medication right now, it’s possible I will if things don’t get better. I’m thinking about taking a marketing job because there are a lot more available. My worry is I’m terrified I won’t be able to get back into event planning if I get out of this job now.

    I know I’m young and will probably change my mind a bunch about what I want to do but I can’t shake the fear that taking the wrong next job will have a huge negative impact on my life. Any advice on dealing with this???

    1. Always moving forward

      Speaking as someone who recently changed jobs after over fifteen years at prior job, many of the concerns you have brought up are very common. The best way to approach it is that you can look at it like a really good challenge. You have a job and although it’s not what you want, you now have at least some experience to go after what suits you better. You may not find exactly the fit but you can at least take the time to go and search out what’s out there. Starting at a new place is scary after being so long but have confidence in yourself and accept there are growing pains. You’re in your mid-twenties. It’s normal to question everything post-university life and the best part is that you still have time to get through the next steps in life. I hope you have a support system in place, with friends and family. Believe it or not, they really do understand your stresses, goals, hopes and dreams. Keep your head up, take deep breaths. You can always go back if this opportunity doesn’t work out. Maybe not to your old job again but another job in the same field.

    2. Anonymint

      You could always freelance or volunteer at events to keep it on your resume. I was an event planner at my last job and I loved the job but hated the environment. I moved to a new place that I liked even less (and hate the job itself), so I just accepted a job doing something totally different – I’m 26 and I figure we have time to try a couple different things!

      I still volunteer at events at my old job and it’s great. I also make sure I keep in touch with vendors I got along with as well as my old mentor. That way, you still have a toe in the game even if you move on!

    3. ClaireS

      I can relate on the anxiety front. I have no idea, but I think your general anxiety may be over inflating the true challenge of “losing out on event planning forever.” But, you probably already know that.

      I work in marketing and I would recommend you look for jobs that have a lot of event planning components. I know some people on my current team handle a lot of events and have skills that would be incredibly attractive to event planning.

      Good luck.

    4. Izzy LeighGal

      Just want to echo some of what the other commentators are saying. I’m in my late 20s – my degree is in PR, but in my career, I’ve dabbled in marketing, social media, corp comm and event planning.

      For a while in my early/mid 20s, I had a ton of anxiety because I felt as if I ‘settled’ by going into marketing – it’s like I’d gone to the dark side because I couldn’t hack it in PR. Not sure if that’s the case for you – but it’s absolutely not true. If you’d be happier and less stressed in marketing, and you’d be a great fit for a great opportunity – go for it. There’s nothing worse than a terrible work environment – it negates everything else that’s good about your job.

      And if you do go into a marketing role and want to come back to event planning at some point – I could totally see that working. Both disciplines have elements of staying organized, being creative, working with different audiences and budgets, and more.

      I know telling an anxious person to ‘remain calm’ is akin to telling a depressed person to ‘cheer up,’ – but seriously hang in there. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel – and I wish it could be fast-forwarded to, but you’ll get there.

      1. Overly Anxious

        Thanks so much for the replies. This makes me feel a lot better that I’m not the only one who is feeling this way. Im an anxious person by nature so its something I will probably always struggle with in some way but its definitely reassuring to see this and realize I’m mostly caught up in my head.

  13. Anon

    Anybody else feeling like time is passing monstrously quickly lately? I feel like someone has taken my hourglass and added four extra holes in the middle for time to just spill out of. Any tips on making time SLOW DOWN? Or anybody have a time-turner they want to sell?

    1. hilde

      I know what you are feeling, but mine comes more in the realm of family than work (though that does go quickly but I don’t really care about that as much). I have two little ones and I can’t believe how quickly time has passed! I try (even in the hardest moments) to slow down and absorb what is happening b/c I know that phase won’t last. It’s wonderful to watch them grow and become their own little people, but sad when I finally put away all the 0-3 month sized clothes, never to be opened again. *SOB!* I guess these are things that all parents must face.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Oh, I know, and it doesn’t get any easier. My daughter just turned 5, and I just can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. She’ll be starting kindergarten in the fall.

        The day she turned 5, I dropped her off at school. I took her hand when she got out of the car, like I always do, and we started walking through the parking lot. She said, “You know, Mommy, when someone turns 5 that means they don’t have to hold their mom’s hand anymore.” I almost teared up…lol. I told her that at school, it would probably be OK, since people there drive slowly and look for little kids, but at places like the grocery store or the rec center, she still has to hold my hand in the parking lot.

        1. hilde

          Ann, stop it, you’re killing me!!!!!! boo hoo. I know what you mean. When I’m giving my girls (4yr old, 8 mo old) a bath I will be just chattering silly about things with them and a moment will sneak up on me that I want to preserve forever. Then I get a little sentimental and exaggerate a pretend cry to my oldest. It makes her laugh and giggle and she says, “but we’re always your little babies, mama!” I coached her into saying that a while back so she could always reassure me. haha. Ugh. No one prepares you for all of the bittersweet when you become a parent, either.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            No they really don’t. One thing I’ve done, that you might think about, is journaling the moments you want to remember, because they do slip away. I got this book called “The Mommy Journal” which has spaces for days where you can write about something that happened that you want to remember. The days are not pre-labeled, you can use them as you have things to write about. Then when your kids are older, you can give it to them so they can have those memories, or hear about things that happened when they were young that they may not remember.

            I also got another journal called the “Q&A A Day For Kids” for my little one. There’s a question for each day of the year, and it covers 3 years. So you ask the question for that day, talk about what it means, and write down your child’s answer. Then the next year, on that day, you get the same question, and then (presumably) a different answer. It’s a cool way to preserve a little snapshot in time.

            And I also write my daughter a letter every year on her birthday talking about the things that happened in the last year, and I’ll give those to her when she grows up.

            A bit of overkill, maybe, but I wish I had more things like that about my childhood.

            1. Ann Furthermore

              The Q&A thing is our nightly ritual, which we do after story time and right before I tuck her in.

            2. hilde

              Not overkill – I’m right in there with you. 100%. I’m a big memory preserver (have you heard about Becky Higgin’s Project Life? Just google it. It’s a simpler take on scrapbooking if you do the photo thing).

              I LOVE the Q&A A day idea – and to do it for several years on the same sheet. I’ll be checking into that.

              I have kept a calendar on each of the girls from birth – I found that really easy to just pop in some basic info on the calendar squares. I also journaled a lot with my oldest but obviously not so much with the younger one. I am the oldest myself and am very sensitive to not making my younger daughter feel like she got short shrift in the memory department. So I started doing basic quick journaling in a 8.5 x 11 weekly format calendar. It’s totally ugly, but left me enough space to write a few paragraphs (which is about all I have time and patience for these days). that format worked well for me.

              Memory-makers of the family unite!! :)

              1. Ann Furthermore

                Sometimes I wonder if I’m sucking the joy out of the Q&A A Day, because sometimes my daughter will give answers that make absolutely no sense (and not in a good way) or even say, “Just write ‘I don’t know.'” So that’s a bit aggravating because when she’s paying attention, she thinks about the question, or sometimes asks me to help explain it to her, and then she’ll come up with a really good/cute/funny/sweet answer. So when she’s not focusing, I do get frustrated, because what good is it to keep a book of questions if she’ll look back on it years later and see “I don’t know” as a bunch of answers?

                1. hilde

                  True. On the other hand, it could show over time her development in the areas that she doesn’t know about now. Or you can laugh about it later on and regale her with tales of how she couldn’t think of anything. It’s hard because you want to capture the stuff but too much can cause it to backfire. I’m with you in that dilemma.

  14. Yves

    I just need to cheer myself up here after a week where I feel like I accomplished almost nothing… Had my six months performance review last week and everything my boss said was positive. Plus, on top of the contractually agreed on 150€ raise I got another 50 (That’s per month).

    Also decided to open up and told boss about my chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis).

  15. Sunflower

    How long did it take everyone to find their jobs when from when they first started looking? I’m currently employed and started actively job searching about 3 months ago. Does the 1 month for every 10,000 you expect to make still apply? Doesn’t feel like it :(

    1. not so much web designer

      my brother in law must have looked for at least 6 months to a year- but i think it was worth the wait. for me, i started looking daily about 4 months ago. had 2 interviews, but didnt work out. some people, like my husband, gets everything handed to him! ugh! i say keep looking and it will happen! dont give up!!

    2. Marina

      Personally it’s taken me 3-9 months of serious (at least one application a week) job hunting to find a job. It’s more useful to me to think about it in terms of jobs applied to, though, rather than time. Someone sending out multiple (thoughtful, well put together) job applications a week is going to get more bites than someone sending out one a month. So, I mean, if there’s only one job that you even see per month that’s in your field and salary range, it’s going to take a long time. I’ve usually been able to get at least one or two interviews by the 20-jobs-applied-to mark. (Again, thoughtful, well put together applications, not just sending out resumes randomly.)

    3. Victoria Nonprofit

      In my last job search, this job was one of the first that I applied to – but I didn’t get hired until 3.5 months later. The job before that took 9 months. It just depends!

    4. Kelly L.

      I started looking in June. In September, I got a part-time job that I was overqualified for but that tided me over for a while. In December, I was hired…at a place I’d applied to in June.

    5. Kanela

      It took me about 5 months of constant hunting and applications to find an entry level (under 30K) job. I think the idea of 1 month for every 10K is a relic from better job markets.

      1. Mary

        About a month and a half – but it was a total fluke. I totally expected it to take six months or longer.

    6. littlemoose

      It took me 18 months to find my professional job, and I was very underemployed (retail) during that time. Admittedly this was in 2008 to early 2010, when the economy was even worse than it is now. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever dealt with. I hope you find something soon! Best wishes.

    7. vvondervvoman

      I started seriously looking for my current job ~2 months before my contract job ended and I had to start right after my contract ended. But I was also casting a wide net, applying for 5 jobs/week, had a couple of interviews, and was willing to move anywhere (I was only applying along the west coast of the US).

    1. LMW

      I’m just finishing up a course this week. It was interesting and not too time consuming, but since it was in my field I didn’t learn too much new stuff. Plus, when there’s 31,000 people in your class, it doesn’t feel like much of an achievement to finish. I’d say it’s worth it for areas that might be outside your areas of expertise, but probably won’t get much out of courses in your field.

    2. Anne

      Depends on the class, and how applicable it is to your job/career. I’ve fizzled out of Coursera classes because I wasn’t interested in the topic. But, I’ve loved other ones because the instructor was good and I found the material applicable to my daily life.

      Although I work in data analysis, I’m currently taking an edX class (similar to Coursera) on Food Science, and I love it.

    3. Anonymous

      Depends on the class. I’ve done a couple and LOVED them and learned a lot.

      I generally do the first week of work on a class and then decide if I want to spend time on it.

      LMW mentioned that it doesn’t feel like an achievement to finish but I’ve found that when they narrow down to the number of people who actually complete all the work and “pass” however that is determined the number is drastically lower than that number they advertise (which is usually the number of people who sign up). One class I did had something like 30K people sign up and less than 1K finish. It was a fantastic class though.

    4. vvondervvoman

      I wouldn’t put it on a resume, but I’ve completed a couple of classes and it’s great. Most people I know just watch the videos or do the week when there is a topic they’re interested in. No big deal if you start and don’t finish!

  16. De

    After this week’s discussion about coming to work when ill my husband came down with scarlet fever Thursday. I have no symptoms and seem fine, so I went to work. I know I could potentially be spreading scarlet fever, but I am not sure how to argue for staying at home when I feel absolutely fine just because of that possibility. Am I being irresponsible?

    1. ChristineSW

      I didn’t know scarlet fever even still existed! I’ve always associated it with Little House on the Prairie, when the older daughter got it and went blind a year or two later as a result. I’m sure that won’t happen to your husband since that show took place in the late 1800s–don’t want to scare you!!

      Might want to talk to your boss and at least let him know what’s going on and talk about your concerns. I’d also do some research on the illness to get an idea of how contagious it really is.

      1. fposte

        Book nerd update–current thinking is that it was actually meningoencephalitis, not scarlet fever, that Mary Ingalls had; because scarlet fever doesn’t generally affect vision.

      2. De

        Huh, is that not a common thing in the US? I am in Europe and it was semi – common when I was a kid. You can’t vaccinate against it, so it’s still a common, though easily treatable childhood disease.

        While it’s contagious, most adults don’t develop symptoms at all or get very mild cases (sore throat, raised body temperature and maybe a mild rash). It’s just that they are then also contagious.

    2. Aunt Vixen

      If I remember my Little Women accurately, scarlet fever is the same bug as strep throat, just (much, much) worse. Having been exposed to it you may be toting it yourself without symptoms, but I think this is less likely than hardier critters like nasty colds or the flu, or than extreeemely communicable ones like TB. And staying away from work when you’re *not* sick seems like overreacting (unless you’re quarantined because someone in your household has something nasty – see above re: TB; though even then, when a number of us were told we’d been exposed to what may have been an active case, we had to get two rounds of tests but were not ourselves required to be isolated; and I knew someone whose spouse was legit sick with TB, in a clean room in the hospital and the whole nine yards, and he – the non-ill person – came to work almost just like everyone else).

      I am not a doctor; none of this is intended to be actual medical advice of any kind. I’m just speculating based on my own past experiences.

      1. De

        Yeah, that was my thinking, too. Sure, I could stay home (and would if I could work from there), but it seems strange to do that when I am completely fine. Also, I have never heard of anyone staying home because another member of the household was sick (except for when it’s children) because they might be contagious. My husband just doesn’t get sick often so I haven’t ever had to make that decision before. I’m mostly wondering whether that’s something other people do…

    3. NylaW

      With a lot of illnesses you feel fine when you are actually the most contagious. Is working from home an option? If you feel fine, you can still get work done, and if you end up getting sick as well then you’ve done the right thing and not exposed all your coworkers.

      1. De

        Working from home isn’t an option or I would have done it. Most adults who are exposed stay without symptoms or get very mild cases, it’s mostly kids that develop the full infection.

    4. MK

      Did you talk with your husband’s doctor about whether you should stay home just in case? Scarlet fever is very contagious and there is a risk that you can pass it on even though you feel fine. Hope your husband feels better soon!

      1. De

        No, I was at work when he went and got his diagnosis and antibiotics. Husband is feeling pretty okay already, scarlet fever is luckily very easy to treat with antibiotics.

    5. Windchime

      My son had scarlet fever as a child. I was all freaked out because I also was remembering the story of Mary Ingalls getting it and I also thought it was a scary, old-fashioned disease. It’s a complication of strep. My son was put on antibiotics and recovered just fine.

  17. Anon

    Throwing this out to the group: My boss wants me to take on more responsibility and bigger projects at work (yay!) but in order for this to work, I need to get the managers under me to pick up some of the clack (boo!). They’re having a REALLY hard time understanding that I can’t be the one to prompt them to do their work anymore, even when I’m incredibly blunt about it. Any suggestions for getting them to be more pro-active?

        1. Elizabeth

          I recently referenced the Vimes’ Boots Theory of Economics at work. And my current boss knew exactly what I was talking about.

    1. Ursula

      If the managers need to be constantly prompted to do their work, isn’t something wrong with how they are doing their jobs?

      1. Anon

        Well, yes. But I think there was a conversation the other day about how every office has a “Judy” that’s just a fixture and can’t be let go or more aggressively coached due to extenuating circumstances — both of these folks are “Judys.” I’m trying to find ways to reward them when things go well, but even when I directly ask them what they want, they don’t give me any feedback — it’s beyond frustrating!

    2. Leslie Yep

      If you think they’re just not really getting the idea of proactiveness, what’s worked with my team is giving them a charge instead of a list of tasks, e.g. “You are responsible for making sure this project rolls out on time” vs. “You are responsible for creating the project plan, getting the input of x, y, z people, and producing the final product by January 2015.” Depending on how much of a shift this idea is, you’ll want to schedule lots of intervening checks to make sure they’re on track.

      If they’re kind of smokescreening with this (like trying to avoid being responsible for things by conveniently not understanding “proactivity”), you’ll need to be a little more straightforward and make it clear that this is a requirement of the job.

      Congrats and yay for more responsibility!

      1. Anon

        Thanks! Neither are really career-oriented, so motivating them to grow is the challenge. But I think your suggestion could work — assigning things as bigger picture “goals” rather than tasks. I’m in pretty close communication with them and they know I’m always available for questions (though getting them to not wait until 4pm the day a project is due is a bit irritating).

        1. ClaireS

          Waiting until the last minute for clarification would be frustrating. What if after assigning the bigger goal (not small task) check in with them 1/4 of the way through the project. Make sure they know you’re expecting progress at this meeting. If the progress is acceptable, great! If not, re-emphasize their responsibility in managing the project as a whole but let them work out the next steps to get things back on track. Be sure they understand at this time that you expected the project to be further along.

          Good luck!

  18. Rayner

    I’m having a devil of a time trying to think about what I want to do with my life.

    At the moment, Finland is winding down for me and I’m almost at the point of moving back, and I don’t know what I want to do from there, really. Job searching is …not going so well, and it doesn’t look like I’ll have one to walk back into when I go home.

    Considering going back and doing my Masters’ in Norway – there’s a programme in Bergen that looks amazing – but… it requires £20,000 upfront before you even /apply/ and I really don’t know if it’s worth it to take such a big financial risk. You must have that money upfront to show that you can support yourself.

    I know that I won’t be able to save up enough money in a single year – it’ll take two or three years at least before I can even apply if I have to save up that amount of money and this job here is winding down soon, and I’ll be moving home, so it’s not like I can even start now.

    ‘Is it worth it?’ I suppose is what I’m asking. I would definitely love to do it from a learning and experience point of view but idk if I could commit myself to a job for, say four years, and then throw in the towel to take two years in another country just to move back again and have to start from scratch.

      1. Rayner

        There’s always doing a master’s back home, but again, there’s the same issue kinds of issues.

        It’s nine grand to do one (only takes a year though) and I don’t really see the point of doing it at home if that’s the case. I would still need to save up because I don’t have nine grand in the bank to spare at the moment and I might as well do it part time, then, and not bother giving up the job/look for a new one and just not mention the getting a master’s thing

        . And part of the reason why I want an overseas master’s is for the language bonus, and the travel experience.

        IDK what to think XD

        1. vvondervvoman

          I have no idea how it works, but I’m pretty sure you can apply for student loans for foreign degrees. I’ve never had to do it bc uni was free for me, but there must be some way for people to finance it. Definitely not US-sponsored ones with the low interest rates, but it is possible.

          1. Rayner

            In the UK, not US, and I can get sponsoring if I do a ERAMUS MUNDUS degree or similar, but they’re very restrictive – mostly sciences and the like. My passion is in creative writing. :P Which is also not a good idea to pin my hopes on – the UK is currently engaged in a series of roundabout thrashing around about their EU membership, and it might be gone by the time I get to this point.

            And the UK Student Finance system provides loans for Undergraduate Degree students only. Unless you’re again doing a very limited set of courses such as nursing or in the sciences, your recourse is to pay for it yourself.

            UK degrees only go up to bachelors as standard. Masters is extra, and it’s a pay-it-yourself thing.

    1. Anon

      But if you don’t take the risk, how heavy will the regret be?
      You’ll be 6 years older in 6 years with or without the master’s degree :-)
      Will the disappointment of not doing it outweigh the relief of not taking the risk?
      I’m in a similar situation, not about school but relocating, and was given the advice to do nothing until I was *sure.* I’m now 18 months older, have no more savings than before due to an emergency that wiped it out, and have wasted all this time being miserable… I wish I’d gone at the time and made the best of it. But it’s a tough call. Listen to your gut when you visualize the two paths.

  19. Calla

    Whoo, open thread!

    This is kind of related to one of the questions this morning, but I was thinking about it last night actually. We talk about whether certain hair colors are acceptable, in what fields, what to do if it’s just temporary, etc., but usually the person in question is willing to (or is planning to) change it to a natural color. But what if it’s permanent and you are not changing it? I currently have the bottom layer of my hair dyed purple (the rest is dark brown). I’m in a secure job, but have decided if something comes along I’ll be open to it.

    Since I’m secure and content in my current job and I like my hair, I’m not going to change it (if I was unemployed or desperate, obvs that would be a different story). So in that case, how do you handle it in the interview stage? Mention it in the phone screen? In-person interview?

    1. Alex

      Don’t mention it at all. You should be getting a job for your competences; not your physical appearance.
      If they have an issue, they will just turn your down and not extend an offer. Since you have an full time position, I would not stress out to much about it.

      1. Calla

        That makes sense. I wasn’t sure if it would come across as oblivious if I didn’t mention it at all (previously, I always dyed my hair back to a natural color when I was interviewing so I have no experience with keeping it dyed fun colors).

    2. Joey

      Don’t mention it since it’s not actually related to how you perform. Mentioning it makes it a potential issue when it doesn’t have to be. Let them to decide if it fits with their culture.

    3. Rayner

      First, I’d consider what kind of a field I was going in, and if I knew anything about the particular company – like, if they were a very prestigious traditionalist law firm, I’d definitely think that dying it for an in person interview would the correct option without even asking about it.

      The same would be if I was moving up the ranks – from peer to a manager role, for example – I’d expect to dye my hair in that position, and would probably consider doing it as par for the course if I was asked for an in person interview. Not a phone one, but definitely in person.

      As a rule, only consider appearance changes when they want see you in person, rather than over the phone. Both to wait and see what happens and that you’re not making drastic changes for no reason, and also to prevent it tipping off anyone else at work if that’s the kind of environment you work in.

      And if I couldn’t make my mind up, I’d wait for a phone interview and just query the person on rules about personal appearances and hair colour – “Is there any rule or expectation around colourfully dyed hair at Company X, by the way?” and see what they said. I could be surprised.

      1. Calla

        Well, I am not open to dying it back to a natural color. So the question is whether to a) just don’t apply to any “traditional” place (but as Alison has mentioned before, sometimes places viewed as more laid-back can be against it too!), b) mention it before coming in to see if it’s a deal-breaker for them, or c) don’t mention it until they do.

        1. Rayner

          I’d say, mention it before you arrive if it’s very obvious like magenta all over, but if it’s subtle as you said yours was (I think?), then roll with it to the interviews without bringing it up.

          As you said in your original post, you have options so you can afford to be more choosy. And if they won’t accept you, hair and all, then you’ll just turn them down. :P

          1. Calla

            That’s a good line to draw! Obvious vs. subtle. Mine is definitely not as loud as all-over fuchsia. Picture mine like if Mako Mori (Pacific Rim)’s hair was purple and done at the tips too (not just the front strands). That’s about it.

            1. Rayner

              I love Pacific Rim – my favourite film ever. SO much meta there, it makes my heart sing.

              *dippy*

              And yeah, obvious v subtle. I like dying my hair red so… yeah. Probably going to have to stop that when I go back home, though. Expensive and not professional in most spheres.

              1. Calla

                Ha, I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve seen her character. And before I had the purple, it was blue, and someone said it looked like Mako Mori’s hair, so apparently it’s a good comparison!

    4. Ashley

      I wouldn’t mention it at all. They will see it during the in person interview, and if they have a problem with it, they should bring it up. If they aren’t ok with it, they will likely screen you out, or tell you it needs to be changed, at which point you can screen yourself out.

    5. AnonHR

      I was going to throw this out there on the earlier thread, but this layered color thing you ladies are rocking seems like it probably applies to longer hair? If that’s the case, and if it was concerning to you for a first interview or something, if it was pulled back in a more conservative style, it might work against the alternative vibe the color gives off. Or, if it was in a bun or something, they might not even notice.

    6. Fiona

      Related, and possibly even more divisive than colored hair: I have a nose ring (stud, technically). Keeping it is 99% non-negotiable – I can think of a couple very very specific job opportunities for which I would give up my nose ring, but for the most part, if a company bans body piercing in their dress code, it’s probably not the right fit for me.

      I’ve also had colored highlights (crayon red, purple – not at the same time). My current office wasn’t fazed by this, but they might not be thrilled if I came to work one day with an entirely blue head. I’d love to eventually work somewhere where I could do that.

      1. Calla

        See, I don’t know if a nose stud is more divisive! Or it probably depends on where you live. But I worked in a law office where someone came in for an interview with a nose stud (and when I expressed surprise, friends said “NBD”), and jobs in a hospital and healthcare company where people had nose studs (though I don’t know if they interviewed with them, but one has the piercing for cultural reasons so she may have). I’ve always been the only one with purple hair though!

  20. ChristineSW

    Hope you’re feeling better today Alison!

    Has anyone ever taken online classes, particularly from a brick-and-mortar university? Normally I prefer the traditional classroom setting, but I’m contemplating a graduate certificate in a relatively uncommon field of study. Uncommon in that there’s no such program in my state, and I’m eyeballing a program in Big University in NYC. The program has an online option, which I think would be easier for me than schlepping into the city by train and navigating my way to the school, especially if we keep getting winters like this.

    In short, I’m curious as to what people think of online classes vs. traditional classroom. I know it’s not live like a webinar; you can participate when it’s convenient for you (obviously while staying on top of assignments). I’m more curious about interaction with the instructor and other students.

    1. Malissa

      I got my Master’s that way. Most interactions were through email and message boards. Super convenient.
      Take a class and see if works.

    2. Lindsay

      I got an entire master’s online from a brick and mortar public uni – my MLIS. DO IT. I was able to work full-time because of the flexibility of course work. I saved SO MUCH TIME not going to class. Group projects can be a beast since it’s hard to meet synchronously with classmates, but I vastly prefer online to in-person classes now that I’m almost done completing my SECOND masters.

      Of course, you have to be good at managing your time and keeping track of deadlines.

      Bonus advice: don’t get an MLIS.

      1. Anon

        AMEN. I also got an online MLIS, although we did have two required in-person Saturday classes per semester.
        What a farce of a degree. The online part was nice, though. We had live classes that we viewed via satellite and online messaging classes. The satellite classes were viewed by a group in the area and that was the only interaction I had with other students, but for this degree it wasn’t necessary to do much group work. (Or much work, period…)

        1. Aunt Vixen

          I found I was constantly reminding myself that the MLS is a professional degree, rather than an academic one. (And one that ought not to be necessary, in a lot of people’s opinion – but in some libraries the line between professional and paraprofessional is *bright*.) It made it easier for me to be okay with getting very good or excellent grades on writing that I thought was terrible.

    3. Xay

      I’m working on my MPH through an established brick and mortar university.

      Pros: as a full time working professional, the flexibility is so helpful. I considered on campus programs, but the class schedules just didn’t work with my work hours and most of them are geared towards full time students in terms of expectations. Also, the program that I am enrolled in opens its classes to on campus and off campus students so there is additional confidence of the quality of the courses.

      Cons: It is much harder to build relationships with your classmates and professors. For my field, I wouldn’t recommend online unless you have lots of work experience because it is important to build relationships with your professors and classmates for networking and internship purposes. Even though my program requires two on campus sessions where you do get to meet your classmates and professors in person, it’s still a lot harder to build those relationships online than it is in a physical classroom. Group assignments can be especially difficult because you don’t have the advantage of seeing people regularly and getting to know their personalities and habits directly.

      My second con is that it does require a lot more self-discipline and initative. I’ve done well so far by dedicating myself to a schedule – even though I don’t have set class times, I’ve created set class times where I focus on school work. It’s easy to let things slide because you aren’t directly accountable by showing up in class and I’ve seen some of my classmates falter because of it.

    4. Yup

      My masters program was mixed online/in-person, and I personally loved the online portion that comprised ~85% of each course. My “online” was mixed methods: e-bulletin board, papers emailed to the prof, scheduled online presentations with live chat, regular conference calls, etc. So I felt like I had plenty of interaction with fellow students, and the flexibility was great. Some of my classmates did struggle with the self-motivating nature of it, though. You definitely have to be good at setting your own deadlines and managing your time independently. But for me, the only negative was the occasional instructor who was just lousy at replying to emails or terrible at using the technology options; I got less out of those courses. Overall I had a great experience with it.

    5. Elizabeth West

      All the time.

      I really kind of prefer them, since I don’t have to sit in a classroom and can work on my own. But I HATE group projects that way. It’s hard to get together with people when you don’t see them in class.

      There are usually discussion boards, but I find that interaction has been minimal in the classes I’ve had (mostly English, writing, and the criminology classes from before).

    6. hilde

      I have two master’s degrees: one I received through a traditional in-person, classroom environment and the other I completed from an entirely online institution. I found the online degree to be MUCH more rigorous than the classroom degree. Of course, ymmv depending on your particular institutions, but in my experience that was true.

      The online program kept me hopping because you constantly had to check in and engage in discussion questions and respond to classmates (actually, now that I think of it, it was not unlike what the regular readers do here on AAM). I really liked that aspect – the ongoing interaction and the thought-provoking discussion questions. We also had individual assignments that were required (papers, PPT projects, etc). that had to be completed in the course, along with team assignments. I hated the team assignments the most. Even though I ended up going through the same classes with the same core of people and often got paired back up with them, I just don’t like team assignments. And it was harder for me to collaborate virtually on something like that. My team experiences were successful in terms of getting it done and getting a decent grade, but I just didn’t care for having to rely on others.

      I liked all of the instructors, except for one bad experience. In other words, the instructors I thought were good quality and weren’t full-time instructors – they were also full-time employees in the field of study and I liked the relevant knowledge they brought. Some were better than others at engaging in the discussion and provoking more discussion. But that was ok – it was nice to have the balance.

      I highly recommend an online degree. And I’ll just say it – I got my second master’s from University of Phoenix. I still think there’s a stigma attached to that school, but I have to say…damn, that was a well earned degree on my part. It was rigorous, which was a surprise to me.

    7. Chris

      I did my bachelor’s degree online, and loved it. I found discussions much more in depth than what you get in a traditional classroom setting, and more people were able to comment in thread than if you were all trying to talk at once. I am a slow thinker who likes to ponder before answering, and the format allows me time to type out and edit my answers (And the great benefit of doing it all in my PJ’s). The teachers were a mixed bag- some would communicate back and forth with you on assignments and hold open chat sessions, while others told me flat out they were there to supervise/grade assignments and any questions/answers would come from peers or google.

      The biggest issue I ran into was in group projects- make sure you are very clear about expectations (everyone meet via skype 7pm EST/place your documents onto the master file by 8pm EST) as being vague can quickly cause issues. What you think is “later today” can mean 5pm for one person, and 11:59pm for another. (Oh, and to echo a comment from a post the other day- when given the deadline, make sure your done the day before, as the internet is bound to be glitching out)

    8. Ann Furthermore

      I got my MBA through the online program at a university in my city with a more prestigious name. And the only reason I could do it was because my employer offered tuition reimbursement. It was 12 classes, all online.

      I really enjoyed the online format. If you work full-time, and/or have a family, it’s much easier to keep up with things, because you can do assignments when they work for you rather than having to get in your car (or use public transportation) to schlep down to the campus, find a place to park, and go sit in a classroom. I loved the flexibility.

      I don’t know how other programs work, but in this one, part of your grade was based on classroom participation, which was measured by your activity in online discussions in the classroom forum. The professor would post 2-3 questions each week, and you had to at least provide an answer for each, and then you could engage in further debate/discussion with other members of the class by replying to their posts (like we do here).

      I really liked that because it allowed everyone an equal chance to participate and have a voice. In a traditional classroom setting, there is always one windbag that dominates the conversation and no one else can get a word in. In one of the economics classes I took for my undergrad degree, there was some idiot who would just pontificate endlessly about things when he had no idea what he was saying. He kept using the terms “price” and “cost” like they were synonyms, until finally one night I couldn’t take it anymore and finally said, “You know, those words DO NOT mean the same thing!” The professor chuckled and said, “She’s right.”

      Or some people are more uncomfortable speaking up in large groups, and the online format takes some of the intimidation away, and you get feedback and insights from people that you would not have gotten otherwise.

      I did think that an online format meant no more group projects, but sadly, that was not the case. But even those weren’t too bad, because we were all professionals with goals of career advancement, not kids going to school on mom and dad’s dime. There was only one bad experience…a group paper that ended up being just one other guy and me. I said I’d put the final document together and submit it, but when I got his portion, the writing and grammar was so appalling that I refused to turn in something like that with my name on it. Not only was it not at the graduate school level, it was not even at the high school level. So I spent the weekend re-writing everything he had done.

    9. Franny

      I just completed a grad certificate in a fairly unusual program at a Big University in NYC, and I would research the program as much as possible before you enroll. Not just because of the distance-learning element (which works fabulously for some people and less well others), but because sometimes the teachers and the content can vary from the same grad certificate taught in classrooms at the same university.

      My grad certificate was an intensive version of a program the university had taught before, and a number of my classmates and I ended up very disappointed. We ended up not covering all the same ground as the traditional program, even though the syllabi for the courses were the same. Depending on how new (or unusual) your certificate program is, I would try looking on LinkedIn for graduates, reaching out, and asking about their experiences. They might be able to give you specifics about how well the online classes worked (or didn’t work), as well as insight into the program itself. Good luck!

    10. Marcy

      I took two of my MBA classes as online classes and I found them to be a much better way for me to learn. I could work at my own pace and not waste all that time driving to campus, looking for a parking spot, listening to a lecture over material I could have read on my own in half the time, etc. I’m an introvert and rarely spoke up or answered questions in class unless called on. Most of the time I wasn’t even listening (I would get bored, especially when people were asking questions that I already knew the answer to). It was easy for me to participate more online. I also learn better by reading/doing things myself. I have never been able to learn in a classroom environment (my grades were great, but only because I read the material at home. I just don’t learn by hearing something). If you learn by listening, it might be difficult for you. If you learn by reading/doing things yourself, it should be a good experience for you.

    11. Not So NewReader

      I took SUNY online courses and LOOVED it. I felt they worked you harder than a classroom. Some profs admitted they did because there was a negative connotation with online classes.

      95% of the instructors were great. The students were all polite with each other and supportive. Unlike the classroom, the prof would actually “hear” your question and answer you.

      The only drawback I found was the first course I took it seemed like forever to get through the orientation and get through the navigation. Between that and “getting to the class” I spent an entire day working online to get myself started. Don’t sign in at the last minute- you will sorely regret that.
      Worthwhile though, because you do it once and you are set. All the other classes were set up the same way. Part of your grade is participation. You submit work directly to the prof and you participate in the discussions online. I found the online discussions similar to being here on AAM. I really wanted to read what people were saying I totally enjoyed it.

      I had a serious family concern at the end of my last course and the prof bent over backwards to accommodate me.

      Cannot say enough positive things!

  21. Cruciatus

    Has anyone ever gotten into an AAM “fight?” I have a coworker who thinks Alison’s advice is terrible because she suggests NOT hounding HR once you’ve sent an application in. He thinks it’s the only way to get jobs (though he did NOT hound anyone to get his current job). Funny how to him it seems like the thing to do until you’re actually in the situation… Yesterday I said that when you send a job application in you should just forget about it because it’s out of your hands at that point and he got completely fired up! “No, you should call and call them until they hire you!” He was complaining that on paper he was more accomplished than others in his graduating MLIS class, but he only got 1 interview while the kid who sucked got interviews and the difference was he hounded HR. He doesn’t seem to consider that there could be many reasons the other guy got the job over him… So, it seems, no matter how reasonable the advice, there are people out there who refuse to listen or believe it. Not even sure why he’s so hung up on annoying the crap out of hiring people…we’ll see if he does it next time he’s applying..

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You might ask him what he’s basing his opinion on, other than a single anecdotal experience (because he can’t be basing an entire sweeping philosophy on one anecdote, right?). Has he done large amounts of hiring himself (or even any hiring)? Talked to multiple people who have done lots of hiring? And if not, why is he clinging to his viewpoint so hard in the face of clear statements to the contrary from people who do have that experience?

      That would be my line of argument with him, anyway.

      1. Cruciatus

        Nope. Hasn’t ever hired one person ever. He’s a know-it-all. His evidence is that 1 interview from way back that he should have gotten since he was better on paper but the kid who sucked in the class and barely passed got (and did eventually get the job). I’ve tried reasoning, and even saying that perhaps there are certain jobs, though not many, where it might work. But nope. He hates lots of things though and apparently only needs 1 data point to prove himself correct. It’s a bit maddening, obviously. I just shrug and say “mmm” and try to move on when he gets like that (which is frequently, about most topics).

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Ah. I say just respond with “you’re digging your own grave” (preferably delivered in an annoyingly smug tone) and move on. He’ll figure it out eventually.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      Ha! Yes – my husband and I have AAM “fights” all the time. Literally every morning we discuss the short answer questions and he often disagrees, and I’m often frustrated with his disagreement. We also do this with Carolyn Hax. We are nerds, obvi.

        1. Aunt Vixen

          I – sort of assume everyone I know either understands that Certain People (such as yourself and La Hax) are always right, or doesn’t read them. (Other people, like Heloise – and Miss Manners, especially now that the Manners children are apparently doing more of the heavy lifting – are often right, but it’s less important. and still others, like Ask Amy, are usually wrong but honestly who cares.)

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

            You forgot Prudie.

            Prudie is often right, except if it is alcohol or work related and then she is wrong.

            But she is always Prudie and I love her.

              1. HR lady

                Yeah, I don’t always agree with Prudie, but she can be pretty good. But I almost always agree with Ask A Manager!

          2. Kit M.

            Bite your tongue. Miss Manners is righter than anyone else ever. She is the voice of reason in our age.

        2. Joey

          Annoyed why? Because he wouldn’t agree with you or something else. I always wonder why people get so annoyed at non personal disagreements. I sort of like to be around people that disagree.

        3. RJ

          Alison, have you gotten used to having a “husband” yet? Our third anniversary is coming up, and sometimes the fact of having a husband still surprises me. :)

          1. Anonymous

            I love her! Although her commenters are BRUTAL. I know this because she published my question once and… ouch.

    3. KLH

      I just feel that the MLIS world is backwards world where certain things just do not work the way you would expect. Like the California exemption or Europe in certain AAM answers.

        1. Emma

          I have! I was telling my boyfriend to put a manual labor job he’s worked for many years whilst completing his bachelor’s degree (which has taken longer than your typical 4-years due to being part-time study) onto his resume. He didn’t want to because the job isn’t relevant to his degree. I said “Put it on there, because the fact that you’ve worked for X years shows your potential employer things that new grads can only promise but not demonstrate. You can show work ethic, being on time, being dependable, taking correction, etc.”

          He put it on there. Not sure if my stance on this issue is strictly AAM gospel, but I’ve gathered from posts and the commentariot that given two recent grads equally qualified with a particular degree, the person with the solid work history might have the edge because the history makes them a known quantity. Am I off on this?

  22. AnonForThis

    I got an email from a coworker earlier this week, asking me to confirm some information. Thing is, I’d called him last week with that info (and left a voicemail). I responded to him, saying “Oh no! Did you not get my voicemail from last week? We’re good to go.” He replied, saying that he doesn’t listen to voicemail.

    Um. This is weird, right? You can’t just not listen to voicemails (at work).

    1. AnonForThis

      (I actually think it’s really important to understand different people’s work styles. I’ll obviously communicate with him by text and email from now on, which is fine – and my preference. But really?)

    2. Anoners

      Yeah, that is totally weird. If I told my boss I just don’t listen to my voicemails he’d probably fire me.

    3. Sunflower

      I know everyone is going digital but yeah I think voice mails for work are pretty important and if you don’t get information because listening to voice mails just ‘isn’t your thing’ then you are responsible for whatever consequences come from that,

      That being said, I think when you are presenting or confirming information, email is best because it’s documented and you can quickly go back to it if you forget or need to double check something.

      1. De Minimis

        My office mate often does not read e-mails until days afterward.
        She’s older and I guess is more used to the phone. I’ve peeked at her desktop and it looks like she actually has the e-mail set to display things alphabetical by sender, so that explains a lot of it.

        1. AVP

          My boos currently has 4,000 unread email messages in his inbox. I mean, most of them are probably promotions and spam, but plenty of them are relevant information, requests, updates, etc etc. As an Inbox Zero person it makes my head want to explode!

          (Since he’s the boss, though, at least I’m aware of his style and know to text instead if it’s important! If it was a regular co-worker I would lose my mind.)

          1. athek

            I have a co-worker who discusses the number of e-mails as a status symbol (“ooh, look at how busy and important I am! I have 400 e-mails in my inbox!”) I have determined he is either subscribing to every e-mail list in the country or he never reads his e-mail. Either way, it just screams inefficient, not important. We work together so I can somewhat gague how many e-mails he would normally get in a day.

        2. Sadsack

          My manager does the same thing. He never knows when I have sent him an email. When I follow-up in person, he will turn to his computer and never be able to find the email. Then I ask, “Why don’t you sort by date received? That way the new ones are right at the top.” Every. Single. Time.

        1. Scott M

          All my voicemails actually get translated to text and show up in myemail inbox. I completely ignore the little voicemail light on my office phone. But I do answer voicemails.

    4. ClaireS

      Totally weird but I sort of get it (although not checking at all- not ok). If you send me an email, I usually answer right away. With voicemail, I leave that light flashing for a few hours or up to a day. I know this is wrong and I have no idea why, but voice mail stresses me out. That red light haunts me.

      1. Nicole

        I prefer email to the phone, but I must check my voicemail immediately because that flashing red light will drive me mad! I have to make it go away as quickly as possible.

        1. Windchime

          I always check my voicemail at work immediately, because it’s really rare that I get one so it’s exciting! Today’s message was my physical therapist, telling me that I should come in to her office and get my foot taped up. Like I said, very exciting.

          I rarely check it on my cell phone because it’s always the same…”Hi Windchime, this is Mom. Call me back.”

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Heh.

      I have been running a no-voice mail policy for more than five years. It’s awesome.

      The great thing is, my voicemail message says, don’t leave me a voicemail, email me at () and people still leave voice mails.

      I respond to emails immediately, anytime of day and most of the night. I pick up my phone when I am at the desk. People are welcome to have me paged in building but..

      I don’t do voicemail, period.

  23. Ashley

    I am so happy to report that I just received a job offer! I’m so excited for the new opportunity, but I am literally terrified to tell my current boss I’m quitting. I know this is a totally normal thing for people to do, and I don’t fear her retaliating or anything, but I’ve worked here for 8 years, they have no idea I was even thinking about leaving, and our department is so busy, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to leave (but there will also never be a better time). I don’t want to burn bridges, because I really respect the company and my supervisor here. I know they are going to try and counter offer to get me to stay, but it’s really not about the money.

    I’m planning on having the conversation Monday. Any tips?

    1. not so much web designer

      congrats! were you not being challenged? i think just being honest – you were given a new opportunity and had to take it – (if that is it) and they cant be mad at that. also – ive heard never to take counter offers… not sure if that was a possibility. good luck!

    2. Ash

      Be straight forward but supportive, i.e. “This has been a wonderful opportunity, but I’m ready to go elsewhere. I am happy to help in any way to make the transition as smooth as possible”

    3. Sunflower

      There are lots of good info in the archives about how to handle this but I think if you just firmly stand your ground and repeat that it was the right opportunity and it was too good to turn down. It sounds like your boss will understand, even if they want you stay. Congrats and good luck!

    4. Joey

      Well it’s not a marriage and there’s rarely ever an ideal time to leave. Just let them know you appreciated working for them, but that you came across an opportunity you can’t pass up. If they’re half decent they’ll be happy for you.

    5. R

      Congratulations! I get pretty freaked out for the “I’m quitting” conversations as well. Here’s what’s worked for me:

      – Make an appointment with your boss for first thing in the morning. This alerts your boss that something is up, and also keeps you from wimping out. I also like the conversation to happen first thing in the morning so that you’re not nervous for it all day!

      – Come to the meeting prepared with your plans. Will you work two weeks, or four? What things can you offer to help ease the transition? Etc etc.

      – Practice what you’ll say. One time, I was so nervous to give my notice that I was practically incoherent, and had to repeat myself so my boss understood. Yikes.

      Good luck, and congratulations!

      1. anon attorney

        The last time I gave notice, I was in knots for days about it (I liked my job and hadn’t been looking, but an ex boss had made me the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse). It turned out fine, and I think that was partly because it must have been so obvious that I was being genuine when I said it had come out of the blue, and that I felt bad vabout them having to replace me. I also offered to give extended notice which I think helped. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared and I still am on good terms with them. I think being nervous is normal and just a sign that you feel some responsibility to your job which speaks well of you. I’m sure it will be fine, and congrats on the job!

  24. not so much web designer

    hello! here is my question – i was hired as a junior web designer (title of posting) at my current and first job our of school. i was told when hired it was a web/graphic design position with an emphasis on web development. fast forward 2.5 years, i have only designed and developed one 6 page website. i feel i am not at the place i should be (knowledge wise) in the time ive been here – and now with our photographer/designer leaving they want me to be their new “photographer” (which i have one class experience in).

    ive been looking for a new job – but since i havent learned much here its hard to find one that will pay the same. money isnt the issue, its that im not being challenged in the way i had hoped. what should i do?!

    1. thenoiseinspace

      If I were you, I’d start freelancing. Not just to challenge you, but also to beef up your portfolio – if you do decide you want a new job, you’re likely going to need more to show for yourself than one 6-page website. Basically employers will think about that job in exactly the same way that you do, so you’ll need something else to go with it.

    2. Joey

      Its hard to find one that will pay the same, but money isn’t an issue? I’m not following.

      If money isn’t an issue I would say to look for a job that will give you experience even if its at the expense of salary.

      But if salary is an issue you’re options will be more limited

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      They thought they needed a web designer. It turned out they didn’t but they have been giving you other work, keeping your job and now, they are giving you a chance to add more skills to your resume with photography.

      There’s an angle where what your employer is doing is a very good thing. They are repurposing a good employee to keep her working.

      However, this is killing your career if you want you want to do is be a web designer for a living.

      Since I hire and manage in all of these areas, I’ll give you some advice.

      Grab onto the photography thing, don’t resist it. You may never need it again after this job or it may be the skill set that gets you chosen for a competitive job. If I were deciding between two web designer candidates, I would **absolutely** choose the one with photography job experience. The more back up emergency people who know how to do stuff in our studio the better.

      But, you have to get some jobs in your web portfolio or your next job hunt is going to be for entry level all over again.

      Is there any kind of spec work they can give you at your job? Were you hired to design for clients but the client work hasn’t come in? Maybe you can offer to do spec work to try to get real work?

      Is there a local web design or hosting company that will give you freelance jobs? Coding is usually offshored but sometimes not the design.

      Keep building your personal sites and if you’re not doing that, start. And then make a mobile version of them.

      That’s a big change in the last 2.5 years, everybody is going to mobile versions. You want that in your toolbox.

      Best wishes!

  25. thenoiseinspace

    Yay! Okay, so as I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been having problems with those godforsaken online application monstrosities. The biggest problem I’m currently up against is this: the system will only allow me to upload ONE cover letter on my profile, which then gets applied to every job in that company I apply to. Isn’t that just a recipe for a terrible cover letter?

    I’ve applied for one job with what I hope is a really strong (and therefore very specific) cover letter, but there’s another job in the same corporation that I’d like to apply to. But I don’t want to screw up the first cover letter by changing it, and I can’t imagine something generic enough to apply to multiple jobs can be that good! The only thing I can think of is to just not apply to anything else in that company right now, but as it’s one of only five corporations in my field, that would eliminate a huge number of potential jobs.

    Has anyone else run into this? How did you get around it/ what did you end up doing?

    1. Ash

      Could you register a different account? Means a different email, but at least you could be job specific in your letter… I don’t think there’s any rule about not doing that.

    2. Stephanie

      I just delete my current “on-file” cover letter with the replacement one. Will it let you swap documents?

      1. thenoiseinspace

        That’s an option, but I don’t want to delete it until I know the hiring manager for the first job has seen it. I don’t know enough about the system to know how it works: does the letter on file get sent with the application and then the manager never needs to check the profile, or does the application get sent minus the profile information, and then the manager has to go view the profile (with whatever the most recent cover letter is?)

        I’m not sure the wording of that made any sense, but basically I don’t want to take the good one down until I know they’ve seen it, so when in the process does that happen?

    3. evilintraining

      The largest employer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not take cover letters. Period. Which, IMO, is just ridiculous. So you have to try to sell yourself with your resume only. And you can upload different resumes for different positions. All of them are saved to your account, but if they become outdated or irrelevant, you can’t delete them. Which also bugs the daylights out of me.

        1. Marcy

          I would suggest that, too. Our system keeps the cover letters separate from the resume and application. I have to remind myself to go look for cover letters. I’m sure other managers at my work may not look for them at all. Putting it in the same document would be good.

  26. Ash

    Handling multiple interviews/job potentials:

    TL/DR: Can you/should you delay a job offer if you are desperate for a new job, when you’re waiting on other job potentials.

    Background: Desperately looking for a new job, but want to make sure I find the right fit so I don’t feel like I have to leave after a year again. Been interviewing for about 7 months.

    Currently: I am interviewing for 2 jobs and networking for a position at another organization.
    –Job A: Third interview next week, impression they are very interested and may offer the job next week (not getting my hopes, up but sense I get). Pros: Better title, personnel management experience (something I currently lack), Cons: Not the best fit for my interests, not a lot of growth at that organization, limited influence potential (important to me).
    –Job B: Second interview next week, they said there would be 3. Better fit in terms of interest area, influence potential. Still no personnel management and a much longer commute. And obviously, still far out from a job offer at this one.
    –Job C: Without going into too much detail, networking my way back into a specific opportunity that I was pseudo in for a while (that is very vague, but don’t want to reveal too much). This will be a long process but have been told if I stick it out I will likely find a position. Problem is this is time limited by design, but potentially really good for my career as a whole.

    If I had a choice (which I don’t yet obviously) I would choose Job B. But Job A could be good enough to get me out of my current position. My fear is Job A will offer and I will need to make a decision before Job B materializes an offer, but if I wait it out the offer from B might never come.

    So: If I don’t know what B’s timeline is and A’s offer comes in, what should I do at that point?

    1. Anne

      No job is guaranteed. Don’t wait. If you get an offer from A, check in with B about their timeline. If they hem and haw, you can say, “I’d much rather work at B, but I have an offer from another company. Is there any way you can let me know what the timeline is?”

      1. EmilyG

        Question about this approach. I was in this situation once, did exactly this, and B wouldn’t respond to an email or (a week later) a phone call, and it seems like they think I was crazy for contacting them at all. I had another offer with a deadline! My B was kind of crazy and I should be happy not to work there, right?

    2. Anonymous

      I have the same question. I am applying for jobs right now. i had an interview last week and I am waiting for their response. They seemed very interested. But I have another interview next week for my dream job. This would be the job i would want, but what do I do if i get an offer for the other job A this week?? Any suggestions? I know this is all hypothetical

      1. Lizard

        I would do and have done exactly as Anne suggests. In my case, the second job waffled, and I accepted the offer on the table. Probably also depends on how desperate you are to get out of the current job. I was somewhat desperate.

    3. cat

      My wife had something very similar happen a couple of weeks ago:

      Company A offered her a job after two interviews – and they only gave her 24 hours to respond. Company B had expressed interest in scheduling an in-person interview with her, but was further behind on their timeline.

      When she got the offer from A, she called B and told them that she had another offer but that she would prefer to work with B. Company B *immediately* (like, within two hours) called her in for an interview and made her an offer (for $10k more/year!) the next morning.

      Conversely, when I was finishing up grad school, I got a job offer from one company while I was in the process of setting up interviews with another. I told the second company, but they couldn’t speed up the process. I ended up turning down the first job anyway (it was just an all-around bad fit) – though I was nervous about turning down a full-time paying job in that economy (2010), I ended up receiving and accepting an offer from the second company.

      I’m a big believer that if you’re honest in the process (both with yourself and with the companies involved), things will turn out for the best in the long term.

  27. AdjunctForNow

    Depends a lot on the topic being presented. I occasionally have to record lectures instead of giving them live, and I try to pick topics that are more conducive to one-way presentations instead of discussion. In general, anything that is really quantitative tends to work better as an online lecture, while anything more qualitative loses a lot by not having the back-and-forth discussion element.

  28. Donnatella Moss

    I would love some opinions on this situation: I work at a company with a pretty strict policy on doing personal things on work time – you can take your lunch and/or break at your desk and do whatever on your company computer but otherwise, you are working for 40 hours a week. I don’t really have an issue with this policy, and even when I take my lunch at my computer I mostly read my personal email/news sites/some online shopping. I don’t even log into Facebook from work, though some coworkers do.

    However, last week I told my supervisor that I wanted some more interesting things to work on (I am changing positions in the next six months, so there’s a limit to what I can take on in my current role, but for various reasons I have free time). This past Tuesday, big boss asked me into his office and made a comment that he noticed I might have been working on something personal (like a letter) on company time the day before and suggested that even if I’m bored I shouldn’t be working on personal stuff. He also said that “only I know” what I was really doing. I don’t know what I was working on when he walked past my desk, but I’m pretty sure it was a work task (and sometimes I draft letters as part of my role, so that wouldn’t be out of line).

    How should I have responded? I wasn’t really happy that I was singled out this way, when it may have been one occurrence (and I know I have coworkers who do much worse, though of course I didn’t mention that).

    1. Scott M

      The most important thing is not to get defensive, which is really hard because that’s everyone’s first instinct.

      Instead, just automatically assume that it is a misunderstanding. You could have said something like “Oh, well, I never do personal work on company time. Maybe you saw me working on letters for the xyz project? Anyway if you see something like that again, please ask me about it and I’ll be happy to show you what I’m working on!”

      1. Donnatella Moss

        This is a great response – I don’t think I completely messed up but I could have handled it better. :)

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      I’ll leave the helpful responses to someone else and just say: Donna! How I’ve missed you. If you were in an accident, I wouldn’t stop for red lights.

  29. Emily

    How’s the vitamix treating you, Alison? May I recommend a favorite recipe I’m a little addicted to at the moment? Spinach, banana, cucumber, mango, pineapple, mint, splash of lemon juice, ice. I add a little protein if necessary, too (unflavored).

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I am loving it! The first day we got it, we blended everything, in the space of probably an hour: several fruit smoothies, a made-from-scratch bloody mary, some frozen yogurt, a sorbet, applesauce… But since then I’ve stuck mainly with smoothies. Yesterday I blended up nothing but a frozen banana on its own, and it was delicious.

      1. Gene

        In some down time, go to youtube and search “will it blend?” As the Mythbusteers say, “Don’t try this at home.”

      2. Trixie

        I don’t have a Vitamix but have had great luck with frozen banana “ice cream” in my mini-food processor. Such a treat!

  30. Jen

    OK, I have a question. I’m probably being overly sensitive but something has been happening and I’m not sure if I should mention it.

    I frequently go to meetings with my boss and a number of other people in the department – we’ve had a number of these in the past week. One was an internal meeting with a department we don’t deal with, we had two group job interviews for an open position and then we had a guest who came from another country. The department usually goes around in a circle and everyone makes introductions “I’m Jen blah, I’m the Marketing manager and I help out with X, Y and Z” and then everyone else does the same. My boss says “I’m Jim, I’m the Marketing Director – which means I get to boss around Jen over there and I am IN CHARGE of X, Y and Z. Ha ha ha.”

    It kills me because no other director does this to their staff. Yes, he is my director but I’ve got close to 20 years of experience and work independantly so I don’t require much “bossing around” which I feel makes me sound like I need to be micro-managed. Based on titles alone, I think it would be clear that he’s my supervisor. I feel like it puts me into this “less than” category in the eyes of the guest and it limits me. Which sounds strange to say because he is my director, that’s not a lie. It’s just the WAY he says it. “Boss around Jen” – making himself look more important by making me look less important.

    It bothers me but it’s hard for me to verbalize why it bothers me without feeling like I sound petty – which makes me think it is a petty complaint.

    1. fposte

      I think it would bug me too, but I also don’t think it’s worth raising an objection to–it makes him look worse than you anyway.

      1. Jen

        Thank you! I didn’t even think of it that way about how it must reflect on him. I’ve been caught up in how it makes me feel.

    2. Yup

      I worked with a someone who did the same thing! In every go-around-the-table-and-introduce circle, everyone else would say their name, title, and department, and she’d go on for 10 minutes about how important she was and she’s the boss of all these people and by the way she’s an MBA. Everyone thought she was a pompous windbag.

      I get that it bothers you, but I’d probably let it pass. His behavior is the workplace equivalent of standing on the conference room table, beating his bare chest and screaming “I am the most important person in this room! I am the king of everything!”while everyone else rolls their eyes so hard they hurt.

    3. Alicia

      I have something somewhat similar. I directly report to the VP of Technology, and when he introduces me (compared to me introducing myself) he always says “This is Alicia. She is a PhD grad…” which always makes me have to explain that I already defended, and that I hold the title, rather than still being in grad school.

      I just wish he would say “This is Alicia, and she is our head Research Scientist.”… but it’s not worth correcting him over. I just cringe internally when he does it.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Maybe you can make a game out of where you sit so he has to go first. If you go second, you can just be your calm, professional self.
      Am thinking- walk in the room and guess which way the intros will go around. Sit so he has to go first.

      (It would be hard for me NOT to say “I’m NSNR. I keep [Boss] busy.”)

    5. Trixie

      This is risky but if the boss has a sense of humor I’d be tempted to say, “I’m Jen and because he’s my boss I let him think he’s bossing me around,” or something to that effect. Again, risky.

  31. LV

    I applied for a job last week, and today (in half an hour – eek!) I have to go take an “exam” to evaluate if I meet the criteria for the position. I’ve never been formally tested like this by a potential employer so I don’t know what to expect. The criteria are along the lines of “ability to form effective personal relationships” and I’m not sure how something like that can be evaluated through a written exam…

    Anyway, wish me luck!

    1. Ash

      There was a great PlanetMoney episode the other day about the employment tests many employers are using (will post link below when I find it). I had to take one for my current job and it was stressful and I still don’t understand the purpose. Especially if its being used to keep staff since nearly everyone at my current org is looking for a new position right now.

      Anyways, that’s beside the point. Good Luck!

  32. Suzy Wanzanewjob

    I’m currently in a job that I don’t particularly like, it’s not the worst job in the world, but I am looking elsewhere. Last week my manager told me that some new positions would be opening up and asked if I would be interested. I said maybe, but I’d have to know more about them. So far my job search has been going on for months, it could go on for months more. Do I stay in the current role I have, or transition to a new one knowing that if I find something else I’d leave the company entirely? Staying with the company isn’t an option since my job search is focused out of town.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I’d try it. You can apply for the positions. You can decide later to decline or accept their offer. It will probably take months for this process to unfold. You don’t have to decide today.

  33. Me

    Olive!

    You’ll know it’s me, but I don’t want my name on this one.

    Project trouble at school: We have a group of three for our healthcare writing class and our topic is ALS. We are supposed to design a series of three patient education brochures or flyers. This project has an individual grade (each one of us does one) and collaborative grade (we design them together). Teammate 1 and I had a class together; Teammate 2 is new to us.

    –Everyone is super busy.
    –Communication got way behind.
    –TM 2 decided to take over the project and get things going (she had a car wreck and part of the communication gap was from that–not her fault, really). The way she is doing it, however, is causing more rift than helping.

    Case in point: we agreed to meet at the library yesterday and TM 1 couldn’t come. TM 2 told me it was because TM 1 got mad at her and bailed. She was snotty, bitter, angry, and I had to hear about how she’s 53 and can’t find a job and has a work comp lawsuit and that’s why and of course because she’s 53 no one will hire a 53-year-old with a work comp lawsuit and there’s a suit about the accident, blah blah blah, TM 1 can just do whatever, she doesn’t care, snark snark snark bitch bitch bitch.

    I was thinking “Okay, Me, you’re getting a taste here of how you’ve been before a recent sea change, haha; okay funny, God. But we still have to work on this project.” And I don’t know if we can–at least not like this.

    I literally could not finish a sentence without her going off. I could not get her to listen to me–I was trying to tell her that since our flyers need to look the same, we need to share what we’re working on now, instead of her sending it to us when she’s done (which I’ll believe when I see, actually). She also wants to write the collaborative memo herself as though it came from all of us. This last part makes me very uncomfortable; I don’t want her turning in something with our names on it, or saying that we did nothing and she did everything.

    I just talked to TM 1 via text and she said the reason she couldn’t come was that she had a family emergency. So TM 2 lied…? TM 1 has no reason to lie to me. None. But TM 2 does, to make TM 1 look bad and us look like victims. (Not fooling me; I’ve seen this shiz before.)

    Would TM 1 and I be overreacting by going to the teacher about this? I thought of it, but TM 1 said something about actually doing it and I’m inclined to back her up. I feel like TM 2 is going to feel ganged up on and explode, but what else can we do? I’d almost rather take a reduction in grade just to collaborate with TM 1 and get the project over with. And I know who I DON’T want to work with again. :\

    1. Malissa

      Look at it this way, if this were a work project would you take it to management?
      In Grad school I went to the teacher on a similar situation. They understood and my group-mate was graded accordingly. Near as I can figure from his email the grade was low enough to fail him out of the class.
      But in addition to taking it to the teacher I also did double the work and got all of the project out in time and done right. So if you are going to out the bad member make sure you and the other person do your parts extremely well.

    2. kaybee

      Have you talked to TM 2 directly? I know you said she was not listening to you in person, but could you send an email outlining your concerns?

      Also, since you have a collaborative document to create, is a shared document an option? Maybe a Google Doc or uploading the document to Dropbox so everyone can access and edit the document. That might prevent TM 2 from doing all the work.

      Another option might be to provide a suggested project plan that breaks down who is responsible for which task…you could even offer to be the end-point for the collaborative project. Tell TM 2 you want to take this off her plate since she’s got a lot of stuff going on with her car situation.

    3. Elizabeth West

      These are all good suggestions. I’m going to email TM 1 and see if we can come up with something a bit more organized. I think TM 2 may be feeling frustrated because of the lack of communication.

      I don’t, however, have any control over whether or not TM 1 goes to the teacher; she’s on campus way more than I am and may probably do it anyway if the teacher is in her office.

    4. Zelos

      Yikes! But no, I wouldn’t go to the teacher about this. I’m in a similar program as you and generally, a good chunk of the students are close to the teacher in age; I can’t imagine the teacher would do much in the way of mediation.

      How’s TM2’s work output, do you know? What’s working for my current group project (larger in scope and group members than yours) is to have someone be the designated editor/compiler who takes the individual sections written by different people and smooth out the layouts, formatting, etc. so it actually looks cohesive and not drastically different. It sounds like your flyers might be more individualistic than a complete cohesive document, so that might not work, but if it’s at all possible I’d have one person do the compilation. This way everyone’s fonts and layouts match, but you wouldn’t have to spend time arguing about who needs to send who the layout format midway. And if the layouts end up not matching and sucking, at least you have the content out, which is a good chunk of the grade right there (even if it will suck to lose the other part).

      1. Elizabeth West

        Anonymous fail. *sigh*

        That’s what I was trying to get across to her, but she kept saying she already started and so did TM 1, so I think we need to look at what we’ve got now before anyone gets too far.

        I sent both of them an email that sort of broke it down; I said (roughly) that we need to decide on a layout and make sure we’re clear on who does what sections. Those two things are the most important right now. I also said I didn’t like that TM 2 would do the memo herself; it wasn’t fair to her to do all of it, and it’s not fair to us to not have a say.

        Hopefully TM 2 will be reasonable. I’m still gobsmacked over her running TM 1 down the way she did. I texted TM 1 and we agreed it’s best to try and work this out ourselves and if we can’t, then go to the teacher.

        1. Marcy

          When I was in grad school and had to do all of this group work (hated it!), I got stuck with a guy in our group who was lazy and never did the research he needed to do before submitting his piece. The other member in our group was the one coordinating putting the project all into one document to turn in. When he gave his part to her (at the last minute, of course), it was obvious it was all bs that he made up off the top of his head. She called me in a panic and we both decided that since our grade was on the line, the two of us would overrule him and change what he wrote. We quickly rewrote it and submitted the project and collected our “A”. It was irksome that he also got an “A” he didn’t deserve and it was also irksome that he was actually mad that we had changed his work, but it came down to us or him and we chose us :)

        2. Zelos

          I think trying to delegate sections of responsibility is a conversation for real-time, not email. (Because if one person reaches their email faster than the other, the other can feel “shouted down” if the conversation went ahead for a few messages without her.) If scheduling/location/other logistics doesn’t permit an in-person meeting, how about a three-way phone call? Conference call via Skype? Skype might be better because you can send links to sample templates that might work for your flyers, but the three-way conversation should happen.

          If TM2 is so set on doing the memo, she can do it…but someone else needs to edit it, or at least review it afterwards. I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing in a group project with my name on it without having even looked at the other sections, even if I’m not responsible for it. My group project has a designated editor (actually, two) and I don’t need to touch any of the other sections…but everyone’s work is on Dropbox and if I see anything glaringly problematic, even in someone else’s section, you bet I’m sending off an email. And we’re all taking a look at the compiled document next week once the two editors comb through it.

          If TM2 staunchly refuses to work with you and TM1 on collaboration, then yes, maybe you two might have to make secret arrangements to do a ninja edit behind her back, or write a portion/entirety of her work just in case her version flops. But I would try to work with her first, even if she’s being difficult to work with.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I agree, but she absolutely refused to use the discussion board, where the teacher has it set up to post stuff, etc. because “it doesn’t give notifications.”

            UPDATE: She sent this snotty email reply to my email and basically dismissed me from the project. So I replied that yes, our meeting WAS a waste of time–my time. Then I forwarded the entire mess to the teacher and told her that I woudl take the zero for the collaborative grade. I just do not have the energy to deal with her anymore.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I would definitely tell her that if she submits something to the teacher without your review you are going to the teacher and telling him that is not your work. Your name was put on the paper without your review and approval.

      I was on a team of five one time. Three did the work. The other two never showed up. I went to the teacher. He said he could see online who was signing in and who wasn’t. He said our grades would be adjusted accordingly.

      I am wondering if you could preemptively, ask the teacher “what happens if a team mate submits work that has not be reviewed or approved by other team members?”

      As far as the angry person, you could say something like “I have an hour to spend with you on this project, then I must get going to X. Let’s focus on the work itself.”
      “I am sorry you are having difficulties, I will help where I can. But I must focus on my classwork because this is my opportunity to make a difference in my life. So let’s look at this right now.”

      Speaking as a person around her age- I am embarrassed that people in my age group behave like that.

      1. Elizabeth West

        She said we would review the memo, but I don’t trust her not to send it with our names on it. I just don’t trust her now.

        And I’m wondering if the reason she didn’t want to send me anything until it was finished was because she hadn’t started?

      2. Elizabeth West

        UPDATE NUMBER TWO: She went to the teacher also and although TM 1 had suggested a collaborative discussion board meeting tomorrow, she said she wouldn’t do it. I have no idea what she said to the teacher, but honestly, at this point I don’t give a rat’s patootie. I just want to finish this and move on.

        The teacher said the writing part is more important than the collaborative part, so she is just going to grade us individually. I thanked her and said I was sorry that this worked out the way it did. I plan to be on the discussion board at the agreed-upon time, and if TM 1 shows up, we’ll go from there.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I really hate this working in teams stuff. I feel it defeated the point. It added to many distractions and took away from the course work.
          One prof was using the class teams to write her paper. So she could not interfere with the team process because it would bias her paper. This rendered her useless as a prof. In the end, everyone in the class ended up fighting with each other. It was awful.
          I could go on and on. This team stuff so sucks. I never had problems in real work groups that even came close to the problems I had with teams in college.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Me either, and when you have teams at work, everyone is in the same place, at the same time, or can communicate remotely over the same platform, with roughly the same schedule. In college, it’s so wildly varied, you always end up with people who can’t ever make meetings or have some kind of issue.

            I hope I don’t have to deal with her in any other classes. If so, I’ll drop it and retake it later. I seriously do not even want to be on the same PLANET as this person. Assuming I don’t run screaming into the night after this semester. >_<

            1. Zelos

              It’s also because school doesn’t emulate the workplace hierarchy. If a team can’t work together in the workplace, presumably management has the authority and the know-how to rearrange teams, decide goals, push things forward, etc. In school, your peers have no real ability to do that, and whether or not the teacher will intervene is uncertain at best.

              This makes me extra thankful that my team for my project is pretty excellent (not in the least because we don’t have individual grades at ALL; everyone gets the same grade…)

              *hugs* Good luck, Elizabeth.

  34. amaranth16

    My beloved boss’s last day was yesterday. He was a great colleague, mentor, and friend, but also sort of a buffer between me and the Head and Horns, who’s now my direct supervisor. Head and Horns and I have historically had a tense relationship, though it has been thawing a bit in recent months.

    It’s going to be a tough few months, though. I could really use everyone’s good thoughts (and happy stories of work-related triumph, and pictures of kittens)!

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      A good boss can make a job good, and you don’t even see it until they are gone. So good luck, and I’m interested in knowing more how to keep a job good after a good boss leaves.

      1. amaranth16

        Thanks, ThursdaysGeek. I have had to say goodbye to one beloved boss before this, and although I think it did help me grow professionally, I still don’t think I’ve really learned how to handle those transitions personally. Last time, my strategy was to get as good as I could at the components of my former boss’s role that I was good at, so I could learn more and benefit my team as much as possible. That helped make work more satisfying in a tactical sense, and we’ve also kept in touch personally, which is nice… but I think some mentors and confidants are just irreplaceable.

        Anyway, I appreciate the good wishes! If I figure anything else out along the way I’ll pass it on…

  35. Eric

    Any advice on how to get your confidence back?

    I was promoted into a position last October that was basically two levels up, so I skipped one, and it was a huge learning curve for me, but I felt like I was doing well. Then I went away for a Christmas vacation, and when I came back, I made a mistake that went out to about 5000 customers. Not a huge deal, but since I was promoted into an area that I don’t have any experience in, my confidence was shattered and I feel like everyone else in that area is now unhappy with me. Some of it’s in my head I’m sure, but I’m still really weirded out by the whole experience.

    1. Anonymous

      What happened when you made the mistake? How did people handle it? People make mistakes ALL THE TIME! Acknowledge it, make an effort not to repeat it, and move on.

    2. Nicole

      No one likes making mistakes but it’s going to happen to the best of us. Your attitude is what matters. Acknowledging what happened and explaining to your manager the steps you’ve taken to prevent the same mistake from happening in the future will go a long way.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Practice scope containment. Don’t take one instance and splatter all over everything you do.

      Look at the mistake. Devise a plan not to make that particular mistake again. Apologize to whomever.

      You could consider adding an extra step to things that go to the customer. Have someone review it for you. Put it to one side and come back to it later , then review it yourself with a clearer head.

      See, it’s not the mistake. It’s your willingness to work through it. Acknowledge. Correct if possible. Build a plan to prevent future occurrences. They may not be reacting to your mistake. They may be reacting to YOUR reaction to the mistake. If they think you are numb to the mistake- then yeah, they will get a little annoyed.

      I have had a few whoppers in my experience. Bosses will forgive you FASTER than you forgive yourself. I know first hand.

    1. Lindsay

      Something business-casual but comfortable! I’m always so nervous on first days. You also might do a lot of walking if they give you a tour/walk you around to meet people.

      Did you get a good impression of how people dress at your new job? Try to dress nicely – but don’t overdress.

      1. TLT

        My immediate boss wore a tie at both of my interviews. It’s at a university-an admin position. In the job I just left, only our CFO (a woman) and CEO (a man) (and myself) dressed business casually-the rest of the admin staff were sort of sloppily dressed so I always felt overdressed. Would you go skirt or pants?

        1. PEBCAK

          Always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Exception: do not wear a skirt if you are in the polar vortex.

          1. the gold digger

            I have fleece-lined tights, so skirts are an option for me. I don’t look so great with the sweatpants over the tights on my way to the bus, but do I care what the other people on the bus think at dark o’clock? Nope.

    2. Elsajeni

      Comfortable shoes! I wore really cute, but really uncomfortable, flats on my first day at my current job — didn’t think about the fact that I’m working on a university campus and I’d spend half the day being walked from building to building to deal with HR paperwork and be introduced to people.

    3. R

      I always wear a suit on my first day, and lose the jacket pretty quickly. (I’m also female, and have a job that is occasionally client-facing where suits are required.) But definitely wear something you’ve worn before! The worst thing is wearing a new shirt and realizing it dips too low in the front, or makes you really sticky, or whatever.

  36. Malissa

    So I’m looking at a position at a school district. They are asking for letters of reference. Is that odd or normal in that field?

    1. HeatherSW

      I’ve seen it for teacher’s aide positions. I always took it as a sign not to apply, but I’m not a career teacher.

    2. Katie

      It’s very normal. All teaching jobs I’ve applied for (including substitute jobs) required uploading either one or two letters of reference. Between that, the absurdly long applications with multiple (multi-paragraph!) essay questions, and having to prepare a portfolio, I find it to be one of the most demanding industries in terms of job searching.

  37. Ask a Manager Post author

    You guys, I am considering switching up the posting schedule here. Nothing dramatic, but probably going from 4 posts a day to 3 for a while, to give myself a bit more breathing room in my schedule, which has become increasingly packed in the last year while I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve been feeling more and more squeezed for time, and finally realized that 4 posts a day on a blog written by one person is not a standard I need to continue to reach every day just because I was doing it for a while. So I might experiment with that next week :(

    1. Ash

      Three posts is more than enough! I value any and all posts you write, and would prefer you posting rather than burning out!

    2. Lindsay

      I am always super impressed by how much content you release in a day. Definitely take it down a notch if it’s too much! : )

    3. Susan

      I’m unemployed (so I have plenty of time on my hands to look at the Internet) and I always feel like AAM is updated so often! If I get that impression while sitting at home all day, then it really must be so and I bet most people won’t notice one less post, but it’d be significant for you.

      I think part of the “update” feeling is there are always so many comments to read!

        1. JamieG

          There are definitely some posts (on both sites) that, when I read them, I think “Y’know, they should’ve sent this to [other site] instead.”

          The only two advice columns I read, and I love them dearly.

        2. Kelly L.

          YES!

          The tone of comments is so different between the two sites, though–I hope the culture clash wouldn’t be too big.

        3. Mephyle

          Is it coincidence that this subject came up the very day that Captain Awkward published two questions (#549 and #550) that were completely workplace oriented and would have been questions you’d expect to see here?

    4. Anne

      That sounds reasonable, Alison. You churn out so much amazing material that I’m not surprised it gets to be a bit much.

    5. ChristineSW

      Oh absolutely feel free to back off on the # of posts per day! I would really hate to see you get burned out. Three posts of day is plenty–I’m home a lot so I have the time, but during hectic times, less posts is easier to keep up with.

      So turn that frown upside down!

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      It’s actually reasonable for another reason: as the blog has gotten more popular, the number of comments have increased. By decreasing the posts slighly, you make it easier for us to continue to read the comments too, without being overwhelmed.

      Less posts means less answers to the questions that people email to you, but with the open post friday going so well, I think that aspect is still covered.

        1. Camellia

          Something else to consider is breaking up the ‘n answers to n questions’ posts into the individual questions. Often I am more interested in one or two of the questions and, with so many comments as noted above, it’s difficult to scan the comments looking for the ones in which I’m interested. It might also help the OPs zero in on the comments for their particular questions.

          Either way, do what you need to do to continue on! We want to keep you.

    7. Anonymous

      You could (depending on how you feel the feedback is on them) increase the times you throw the question to the audience. I think one of the best things about this site is the commentariat which is really robust and even respectful in a way nearly no other site I visit is (the only places that come close are extremely heavily moderated). So you could certainly turn that up. I know the times you’ve asked frequent commentors to put their voice in on some specific issues they’ve always done an amazing job.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Do what ever you have to do to keep this sustainable.

      For example: If we have an open thread I am set for the day. I am amazed that you do other posts, too. Sometimes I wonder if those folks kind of miss out because everyone is at the open thread.

      I was thinking you could have one day where you repost some oldies that are worth revisiting. That would give you a bit of a break on a second day of the week.

      I cannot see how posting 6-7 days per week is sustainable. You have to be falling behind on “life things”.

      Said in heartfelt manner: Do not allow yourself to fall into a place where you have to quit. If you posted three days a week- we would probably still all show up.

    9. Kit M.

      You post more frequently than any other one-person blog I’ve ever followed. You shouldn’t think twice if you want to cut down.

    10. Anonymous

      You could also do a day where instead of open thread, it’s a semi-directed thread, like when you posted about how much each person made in their specific job. I’d love some resume advice directed at research/academia for example.

  38. BCW

    Have any of you done one of those “digital interviews”? Its essentially a company gives a list of questions and you answer them into your webcam. I’ve had 2 of them in the last couple months, and I hate them. They are so awkward. I did one yesterday. The first one, it let you review your answers before submitting them, so I assumed this one would too. So first one, I stopped midway through trying to redo it, only to have it submitted. Then later my phone started ringing (it was in a different room), but I’m not sure how loud it actually was on the video. It was probably my worst “interview” ever

    1. Lindsay

      That sounds really craptastic! I would use Photobooth on my Mac to practice first before using their system. That sucks that yours went badly – sorry!!

    2. Sabrina

      Weird, I just asked the same question. I had one yesterday too. The one I did had practice questions, which I could review, so I did a few of those until I got my equipment working right. I wasn’t able to review or redo any of the actual questions though.

    3. Joey

      We’ll the good thing is this is the new thing so at least you can assume those companies take some risks and try to improve.

    4. Audiophile

      What’s the point of the digital interviews? I haven’t had a company suggest one. And I haven’t come across any as I apply for things.
      I hope this isn’t the start of a new trend as I have no place to record a digital interview.

      1. BCW

        It takes the place of a phone screen and theortically levels the playing field because everyone gets the same questions, same amount of time, etc. However, my problem is its not a conversation, so it makes things a lot more awkward.

  39. themmases

    Has anyone else been in a job that they think is making them sick?

    My boss just pulled me into his office yesterday and told me that I’ve had more unscheduled absences than are really allowed for the rolling year. No one has ever thought I had an attendance problem and I’m not really in trouble, he just wanted me to consider FMLA if I’m not better. The policy seems crazy, because we’re a hospital and one good flu would put someone over for the year (in fact, that’s what happened to me– I got bronchitis for the entire week before Christmas), but my boss can generally be trusted when he says he disagrees with something and doesn’t plan to enforce it. I was just kind of taken aback.

    I’ll be leaving in the fall for grad school (yay!) and I’m a generally healthy person so I don’t think it will be a problem, but my work environment is unpredictable and I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for some of the health issues I have had. For example, I now get weeks-long headaches once or twice a year, which never happened to me before I got this job. When I got bronchitis, it came right after a doctor blew up at me and prevented an appointment I had with our department head to discuss her ongoing mistreatment of me.

    I’m already planning to leave as early as I can and give early notice so I can start winding down my contact with certain people, but have any other strategies worked for people? Or even just validation that this is what’s happening?

    1. AVP

      Hopefully someone with direct healthcare experience can chime in here, but I always thought the stereotype about medical professionals was that they don’t take any sick days at all unless they’re physically unable to move from their beds, even after they’ve administered themselves “perk-up IV’s.” So maybe it’s an issue of expectations?

      1. themmases

        Oooh, yeah, we definitely do not do that. People do come to work and wear gloves and a mask all day if they have an upper respiratory infection or something. Oddly, it’s the people with direct patient contact who do this the most (i.e. everyone from doctors to techs), I guess because someone would have to cover them if they didn’t come. The expectations are different for office workers where your work can wait a day. And if I came in with a cough, someone else would cover my patient-contact stuff even though I was here and available, and I would just work in my office until I was better.

        We’re definitely not supposed to be here if we have a fever though, which is what I had. I’m not in trouble, it just seems counter to the hospital’s own interests to a) punish people for staying away from patients when we’re sick, and b) push people onto FMLA if they’re going to be sick more than 5 days in an entire year. You can easily get sick that much just from being around sick kids.

        1. Marcy

          As a patient, I wouldn’t want someone who was sick to be around me because 1) I would be afraid of catching what they have on top of what I’m already dealing with and 2) They are not at their best and I wouldn’t want them to make a mistake that would affect my care. I would think keeping yourself away from patients while sick would be a good thing.

    2. Anonymint

      Yes! In my last job I was miserable and I was sick constantly – I had the flu, I had strep, I had constant migraines, I had panic attacks and insomnia. Since I left over a year ago, I haven’t had ANY of those problems (and my acne went away!). I think stress wreaks havoc on your immune system.

    3. Stephanie

      Oh, I had a job that stressed me out so much that I started having two periods a month. It’s possible!

      Maybe if you have the funds, you could resign early and go travel before you start school? You probably don’t want to start grad school all frazzled.

    4. Anonymous

      me! Ive had stomach issues this past year, migraines, infection here and there. I think its my work as well since I usually feel more stressed out at work and my symptoms always worsen when I am here

    5. Audiophile

      My first post college job made me miserable. I cried on more than one occasion. And I was sick so often, that I got called into the HR director’s office, because I had missed so much work.
      I was so happy to leave that job, the weight that was lifted off my shoulders was tremendous.

  40. Sabrina

    Anyone ever have a “digital” interview? I had one yesterday. Basically a company I’d applied for emailed me to invite me to participate. I had 48 hours to do so if I wanted to. I could log in at my convenience and it asked me a series of questions that was taped via webcam & mic. It was interesting. Sort of like a phone screen, but on my own time. I liked that I could do it at my leisure, but at the same time, I couldn’t ask any questions myself. What do folks think of this new fangled technology?

    1. Anon

      I actually think I would like that as an initial screen especially since you can do it on your own time. The only thing I wouldn’t like is if I needed clarification on a question or if I wanted more information for the position. For that, you would need to talk to an actual person.

      1. Sabrina

        Right. All of the questions were very basic like tell me about a time you had a communication problem or what achievement are you most proud of and why. They also give you 30 seconds to think before you need to respond and they start recording.

  41. Anonymous

    I have a degree in Sociology. I graduated from college in 2008 and had a few short-term part time research assistant gigs since, but have mainly worked in Higher Ed for the past 4 years. I am currently working in the “Student Accounts” department and would like to move up in ranks within the next 5 years (Assistant Bursar type position).

    My question is: Since I am in the position to further my education free of charge, and I want to advance my career, does it make sense to get a second degree in Leadership Development (I think it would make me look more viable as a candidate for future promotions as well as improve myself personally right now and in my current position) ? Or should I be looking into an MBA program?

    1. PEBCAK

      I have no idea WTF leadership development is. Go look at some job postings for jobs you might want in 5 years, and see what degrees they are asking for.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      Leadership development is a specific field. I’m sure some of the skills would play in different disciplines and roles, but I wouldn’t think of it was a general “management” degree or something like that.

    3. thenoiseinspace

      In my experience, more education doesn’t help you; job experience does. Particularly for something like “leadership development” (which sounds more like a certificate for a weekend program, to be brutally honest – I don’t mean that to judge you, I just think that’s how it’s going to look to a lot of people and that’s something you should be aware of before you start), I don’t think it will help you. MBAs, on the other hand, can be valuable.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        My “minor” in college was leadership development. It was originally going to be in military science, until the Army & I came to a mutual understanding that I wasn’t that great at taking orders and left me 3 credits short. I took a business leadership course & we called it leadership development.

      2. cat

        Just chiming in to say: My MBA program mandated that we take a “leadership development” class.

        It was total BS.

      3. Anonymous

        Usually job experience means more, except in academia where they just loooove people with degrees, or even people who have taken classes in a particular area. If OP is going to stay in higher ed, then the extra degree will probably help.

    4. Stephanie

      Leadership Development sounds like a BS certificate program, tbh. But since I don’t know the specific program, it may actually be very useful. Can you talk to current students to get the real deal on the program?

      Re the MBA, depends what you plan to do with it. Do jobs you want require one?

      1. Marcy

        I agree with Stephanie but would add that the MBA can help even if it isn’t required for the job you are applying for. I got my last two jobs because I had one and my competition didn’t. It wasn’t a requirement but it does make you stand out more.

    5. Anon

      I would talk to people in whatever position you’re looking for and see what degree they pursued. You should also check how much they will pay depending on the program. At my university, they will pay if it’s a certain area, but if it’s outside that area, then they may only cover 80%.

  42. AAG

    I had a great interview yesterday at company 1 and the person I interviewed with said he would let me know about next steps early next week. I have an interview at another company (company 2) early next week and would really like to work at company 2 more. However, there is obviously no guarantee I will get it.

    So my question is…If I am offered the position at company 1 and the interview at company 2 goes well, how can I stall accepting company 1’s offer? I feel like it’s unprofessional to accept a position only to back out if I get offered a better position…. but company 2 offers so much more (money, schooling, commute, etc.)

    Help!

    1. fposte

      You can ask company 1 when they need to hear back from you on the offer, as you need some time to think, and then say to company 2 that you have an offer but you’re really interested in them, and do they think they’ll be making a decision during timeframe-ending-by-company-1 deadline?

      You can’t really string 1 along while you wait for an offer you might not get from 2 if the dates really don’t add up, though.

  43. Maid of Honor

    Here’s a wedding question for those who love them! I’m the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding. I have a hard time getting excited over wedding stuff though and I’m just not interested in a lot of it. So far I’ve just said yes to everything she wants me to do but I want to be a really good maid of honor. Anyone have any tips or anything they wish their maid of honor would have done?

    1. Sabrina

      My MOH was awesome, there wasn’t anything I wish she’d done differently. I would say act as the first line of defense as much as you can, esp on the day of. If a bridesmaid is being a pain or has a problem, have her bring it to you first. Like they don’t want to chip in for the shower or something like that. They shouldn’t be stressing the bride out with that.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit

      I had a very relaxed wedding with almost none of the traditional maid of honor stuff, so I’m not sure how helpful I can be. But here’s what my sister and best friend did that was awesome:

      – Celebrated with me in the ways I wanted to celebrate. I didn’t want a bachelorette party – I wanted a weekend at a cabin. So my sister and I did that, just the two of us. We cooked and kayaked and watched bad tv. It was awesome.
      – Let me talk about wedding stuff a lot, both the good (“Isn’t this pretty?!”) and the bad (“Omg, Jane is driving me crazy!”).
      – Made me feel special on the day of the wedding – took pictures while we were getting ready and posted them on Facebook (“This is what everyone has been waiting for: the dress!” etc.), told the waitress at the breakfast place that it was my wedding day, decorated our car and our suite at the hotel, etc.
      – Calmly took care of some of the work of the wedding. Our wedding was casual, so this involved things like going to the farmers’ market to get flowers the morning of the wedding, tracking down the lost marriage license, etc. I’m sure there was a lot they did that was invisible.
      – Gave a killer speech.
      – Gave me gifts – not wedding gifts, but Christmas/birthday gifts in the years following – that reminded me of the wedding: framed copy of her speech, a book made out of the notes I’d written about my vows (and thought I’d thrown away), etc.

    3. Anne

      I’d ask the bride what you can do to help de-stress her, and then do it. At my wedding, the biggest job my MOH (actually a very camp dude rather than a maid) had was to “manage” my mother, who was… is there a term for it when it’s not the bride who’s a bridezilla, but her mother? Yeah. It could have been really bad. But MOH scoped out the situation and kept as much of the crazy away from me as possible, and I really think it would have ended in tears if he hadn’t.

      But that’s probably not something he’d have thought to do if I didn’t tell him! So just ask what the biggest, most helpful thing you could do is, even if it’s an odd request.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      My sister gave a toast that is one of my favorite memories of my wedding — it was funny and sweet and made me tear up a little. She had her notes on a series of post-its and it was very amusing.

      She also just took on all the little random day-of tasks that I needed someone to do and was totally on top of it, so I didn’t need to worry about them.

      Do those two things and any reasonable bride will be delighted.

      (She did, however, insist on eating this really gross homemade chicken jerky while trying to help lace up my gown, despite my yelling at her to keep her gross chickeny fingers away.)

    5. Judy

      Being the practical engineer, here are some of the things I’ve done when being MOH or bridesmaid.

      * Have (at least in my car) one of everything. I have a bathroom kit for travel, I had it in there in case there were things I didn’t think about. I had a first aid kit. I had a sewing kit. I had double sided tape. I had bottles of aspirin/tylenol/ibuprofen/benedryl. I kept a notepad with me (I guess now I would take notes on my phone ;) for the week or two preceding, and especially during the decorating/rehearsal/etc time immediately before the wedding to take notes for myself for things to bring and things to remember.

      * I had non-messy snacks with me. Some water bottles, too. Depending on the schedules, there could be quite a wait during picture times, and many times the wedding party doesn’t have much time to eat because everyone wants to talk to them. Oh, and a deck of cards or other small favorite game for any downtime to ease nerves. (Bride wins should be the rule though ;)

      * I had my husband as a gopher, although we never had to use him that way. But he understood that I could be running out, calling or sending a note out for him to go to walgreens to pick up pink pipe cleaners or whatever I asked for and he was to do it.

      Although I don’t believe the brides should expect it, I did try to keep the rule “the bride is right on her wedding day,” and do what I could to make it that way, because I wanted it to be special for them.

  44. YunaShouldHaveWon

    Are any of you out there considered a “teacher’s pet?”

    A little background about me and my situation: I’ve always been a self-starter. I’ve always met my deadlines (could be my training as a journalist). I consider myself a pretty hard worker.

    My manager has a similar personality to me; however, the rest of our team is much more laid-back. My manager will often say in team meetings – “Tabitha (me) always gets her work in by the deadline – I wish the rest of you would do the same.” or “Tabitha’s work is always excellent.” I’m just doing my job – nothing “above and beyond” of what I’m being asked to do. However, I feel like it creates a rift between me and my team members.

    When my manager says these things, it’s always in a good-natured way, but I can’t help but feel like my team members think I’m a teacher’s pet.

    1. Scott M

      First of all – good for you!. Second – He’s not really being a good manager. He’s passively trying to shame his employees into improving and obviously its not working.

      If it makes you uncomfortable you might want to mention it to him. Say something like “I appreciate it when you acknowledge my work, but I’m uncomfortable when you publicly use me as an example. If others aren’t performing up to your standards, perhaps you could discuss it privately with them?”

          1. Stephanie

            You know, I initially thought Ashley Wagner was being bratty, but she has a point about the judging. The scoring is just so opaque, that it does make it hard for the casual viewer. I know there’s some valid reason why skaters can miss jumps and score ahead of others who don’t, I just can’t grasp it.

            Yuna was amazing, but it did look like she was just out there going through the motions. That could just be her performance style. The Italian skater was my favorite.

            1. YunaShouldHaveWon

              The Italian skater was wonderful! She should have been the silver medalist IMO.

              Your point about the judging is precisely the reason why there are fewer and fewer casual fans of the sport. A lot of the judging has to do with grade of execution (how well you perform the moves) and that’s not something you know unless you’ve been studying it for years.

              The judging panel was determined to put a Russian lady on the podium, no matter what. And when their first choice didn’t deliver, they went to Plan B. Not to take anything away from the gold medalist, because she did skate well, but her scores definitely had a lot of “home cooking” in them.

          2. YunaShouldHaveWon

            I’ve been figure skating for over 20 years and I will never understand the reasoning of the judges. IMO, Yuna is one of the best skaters of all-time. So disappointing.

    2. Prickly Pear

      I’ve always had a ‘teacher’s pet’ rep, and the easiest way I’ve found to help is to spread the love. My boss goes “good job on the project!” in front of everyone and I answer immediately “thanks! I’m really glad Peach was tag teaming with me.” Couple that with actually being a hard worker and you won’t be seen as a suck up, but someone that’s dedicated.

  45. Famouscait

    I think my boss (whom I’ve been working for for almost 6 months now) is really resistant to ideas that are not his own. I have a background in communication so I’m pretty aware of how I say things, framing them to the listener specifically, being open to different points of view, etc. But it feels like no matter what I do I just can’t get through to this guy. While he may ask for my input or opinion on matters, we inevitably end up doing what he thinks is best/originally proposed/etc. I’m in a functional area that’s analogous to sales, so I’m good at “selling” my ideas to others. I’m inclined to think this issue is more him than me… Has anyone else encountered a boss like this, and any tactics for working for successfully in this situation?

    1. R

      My old boss was very much like this, and I used a few different tactics that helped us have better conversations and brainstorms. I asked some leading questions (think: ‘Have you thought at all about what Arya could bring to this situation?) and referenced some of his former ideas (‘I wonder if something like what you put together for the Starks would work for the Greyjoys?’) I don’t think that I ever got much credit for my ideas, but he did learn to trust me and bounce ideas off of me, which is what I wanted.

    2. themmases

      I have a boss who sometimes puts her foot down about the exact wrong thing. E.g. one time she refused to get free Spanish translations of our consent forms and just refused to talk about it anymore.

      Typically with people like that, I just drop it and wait until we have a problem that could have been avoided by doing what I suggested. Then I re-suggest the idea as though we’ve never discussed it before and it’s just a new thing I discovered could help us out: “Hi boss, we had a Spanish-speaking patient today but unfortunately we didn’t have any forms they could sign. I looked into it, and Dept X will actually translate our forms for free, should I ask them to do that?”

      Sometimes if the solution to our problem is really obvious, I don’t even suggest it. I just let the person think they thought of it on their own, and tell me to do it.

  46. Jaimie

    Does anyone have experience with incentive programs for employees who submit patent ideas? If so, what does your company offer? And are there potential pitfalls?

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      My husband has gotten a silver dollar for each patent received. Oh, and a small bonus check for one that made money. There was also an annual dinner for all the patent awardees at the company. Yeah, it’s not much, but the company owns the patent, not the people.

    2. Judy

      Our company does a $100 bonus when a patent has been filed, and a $500 one for when the patent has been granted. They also supply a plaque for your wall. The first one is a single brass copy of the patent, the second one is one with one large one and 4 small ones, so you keep getting the brass parts for your later ones until you fill it, then get another plaque with the large and spots for 4 small.

      They used to have a patent award dinner and put a photo on the wall outside the director’s office, but they don’t seem to be doing that any more.

      At a past company, there were similar awards, but if a union member was listed on the patent, then everyone on the patent got royalties. I’m assuming it was written in their contract.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, what these guys are saying. My father had a number of patents with Big Famous Worldwide Company. They gave him prizes that looked like they came from the dollar store and told him to hurry up that six month project had a new deadline for next week.

      Don’t give prizes. Give money. Also give recognition.
      Don’t set higher goals next year- don’t keep moving the goals in other words.
      They are very much aware that the company owns their work. Don’t rub that in.

      I am sure you are aware of how long it takes to process a patent. Make sure the award comes out very close to the time the patent is granted. Don’t make the employee wait until the end of the year for his award to be given at a banquet. By then the employee only has a vague memory of what the patent involved and no longer cares. (he has had to move on to numerous other projects.)

    4. Graciosa

      At OldJob, where everyone was required to wear badges, after a certain number of patents issued (I think it was 10, but could have been 15 or 20) you earned a gold badge. Among the engineering groups, this definitely had cachet.

  47. badger_doc

    I would like to know what types of background check websites people use to run a quick search on someone before hiring. I have looked into US Search or Spokeo–are they worth the membership fees? Do you really get relevant information? Thanks!

    1. Not So NewReader

      Depends on the background. Criminal, financial, driving. I have no experience with the sites you mention but I know there are sites that employers use that are okay. (Sites are only as good as the person inputting the data. For example: If you get a speeding ticket and the court clerk never puts it into the system, then according to the system there is no speeding ticket. I should imagine the same holds true for these sites. Certain information is protected by law- driving record is one.
      Even if you did find a person on these sites, there is definitely some information that will not be there. If I had to guess- I would say probably not worth the money.

  48. KarmaKicks

    One of my duties is recruiting. This is only one of many hats I wear. I learned on the fly after our recruiter left and the company decided not to fill the position.

    Many times I’ve seen people here complain about applicant tracking systems, Taleo being among them. Our company uses Taleo (inherited when they took over Vurv) and so far we haven’t gotten any negative feedback. When I initially set it up, I tested it from the applicant’s perspective, submitting dummy info, and making sure it was straightforward. We don’t ask any more info than is necessary and our questionnaires are geared towards the position. There are some questions that are used to weed out applicants, such as – do you have a clearance? If the answer is no and the job requires one, it makes it easy for me to disqualify someone without having to read the whole resume (and yes, I do send out notices). I don’t ask for references up front, since the hiring managers can get those if they’re interested in interviewing.

    We use an ATS because the OFCCP requires so much information, that if we were to get audited and didn’t have something like this in place, we’d be scrambling.

    So, is there something else that would be easier for the applicant to use and allow the company to keep information at their fingertips? Or maybe there are suggestions to help keep things easy for the candidate? I’m open to suggestions!

    1. Jubilance

      Are you using one of those Taleo systems that requires applicants to upload their resume AND THEN go through all the screens (contact info, work history, education, etc). That’s one thing that bothers me – all that info is on my resume, so why make me upload my resume just to have to do it all again?

      I applied to a system that I think was running Taleo, but it was an extremely simple version – just upload resume and cover letter, and done. No extra boxes or questions. I didn’t even know it was possible in Taleo until I saw it.

      1. KarmaKicks

        Once you create a log in, we do ask for name, address, etc to be added. I’m not sure how that info would parse into the system otherwise, but that would be something to look into. You only have to enter it once no matter how many positions you apply for. It’s pretty much just attach a resume, cover letter, and answer any questions that might be appropriate for the position after that.

        1. Stephanie

          Yes, this is the way to do it. The ones that are awful are the ones that want job duties for every role, explaining gaps in unemployment, the high school “major”, etc.

          1. KarmaKicks

            Oh gosh, no. If the hiring manager wants that info, they can ask during the interview! I’m glad to know the set-up we’ve got sounds decent. I filled out an online app the other day for a county position and it took forever, so I definitely don’t want our people having to go through that.

      2. Stephanie

        I saw a simple app that was Taleo-based and almost refused to believe it.

        “But…I’m not screaming at this? And it didn’t log me out for no reason? Wha?”

      3. Ann Furthermore

        I have a little experience with implementing online recruiting systems (the project was shut down before I got too far into it). The most interesting and valuable thing I learned was that it’s not usually the software itself that is unfriendly, un-intuitive, cumbersome, or what have you. It’s the way the company has decided to set it up and implement it that drives most complaints.

        1. Stephanie

          Yup. Even the much-loathed Taleo can be decent if you don’t ask people to fill out every field available. There is no reason you need to know my high school “major.”

          1. Ann Furthermore

            Much-loathed Taleo – ha! We saw a demo of it a couple years ago and we all really liked it — it’s way, way better than the Oracle iRecruitment tool. Or at least it was the way we saw it for the demo. And now Oracle has acquired Taleo, like they do everything else.

    2. cs

      I have a suggestion for after the applicant has sent in their application. Create a page where they can go see the status of their application (received, reviewing, etc), and to show the status of the hiring process (reviewing, interviewing, filled/closed, etc). This way you’ll have fewer chances of people calling in to ask about their application or wondering when the company will call them.

      1. KarmaKicks

        I’ve thought about that, but I’m unsure how to do it. I’ll definitely be looking into it. I do have a FAQ set up that kind of gives our timeline on the hiring process, so hopefully candidates read that and know that their resumes don’t just go into a black hole somewhere.

  49. AnonForNow

    I submitted this question to Allison, but I think it could be a good idea to get the extra input:

    I’ve been in a bad work situation for almost 3 years now. I realized within just a few months of being there that it wasn’t a place I needed to be, and I’ve been job searching ever since.

    My job search has been long and tedious. I’ve had a few promising leads, only to have them fall through. This leads to my question: is it more important to get out of a toxic workplace asap regardless of what new job you take, or to make sure the transition is strategic–even if it means staying where you are longer? I’m in my early thirties, so I would think my career path should start to have a specific direction by now. I could probably get other local jobs unrelated to the field I want to be in, but chances are I’d have to take 2 jobs to clear the wage I’m currently making. I’m also wondering if having taken a position in an unrelated field would look bad to a hiring manager.

    My latest strategy had been to wait and only apply for positions I was really interested in, but those don’t come up very often, and especially with AAM’s comment about not staying too long in toxic workplaces earlier this week, I’m having second thoughts.

    Thanks!

    1. Anon1

      I need the answer to this too. I’m desperate to get out of my current job, but I’ve only been applying to really great-looking jobs in my most-desired field and ignoring lots of “lesser” ones. I’m not getting many interviews and it’s taking way longer than I anticipated. I wonder if I need to gtfo now while I still can even if it means taking another job I’m not excited about or if the slow and steady approach will eventually pay off…

    2. Overly Anxious

      Hi yeah I just posted about maybe having to take a job that isn’t what I envisioned as my next step. However, my toxic environment comes with a toxic salary so I have some slightly different priorities.

      I think it depends how much the toxicity is wearing on you and what your expectations are for your next job. Sometimes I find myself being overly picky because this environment has been so bad I want to make sure I get it right next time.

      I think maybe you’ll know when enough is enough. Maybe open yourself up to applying to a few positions you aren’t totally sure about and see where they go. Sometimes things end up being different than they appear. I don’t know about you but it’s really frustrating when I sit down to take the time to apply to jobs and don’t find anything I want to apply to. I’ve started throwing my resume out there to have somewhere to put that energy.

  50. AskingForAFriend

    Wedding Question Alert!

    A good friend of mine (Monica) has been asked to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding (Rachel). Rachel has turned into a bridezilla (which was somewhat expected knowing this friend’s personality). One example: When shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses, Rachel criticized Monica about her clothing choices to the point where Monica was almost in tears. I should point out that Monica has a very thick skin and it takes a lot to make her upset. Monica ended up purchasing a very expensive dress that was Rachel’s choice (fair enough) after being pressured by not only Rachel, but Rachel’s family and a very pushy sales staff. Fast forward to this week – Monica has been told that she can’t wear it now because the groom has decided he doesn’t like the color of the dress. She will now have to purchase a new dress.

    Monica also gets stuck hosting a lot of bridal/baby showers and it’s starting to get to her big time. She has a fantastic job and it seems like a lot of our “friends” are taking advantage of her financial stability. She’s getting to the point where she doesn’t even want to attend these events and the friendships are at risk.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    (And no – I’m not Monica. Monica has been one of my very best friends for over 10 years. I hate to see her so upset and I’m all fresh out of advice, so I thought I’d ask you all.)

      1. AskingForAFriend

        Ha! That was my first piece of advice to Monica! ;)

        Then I told her to tell Rachel in a nice (but firm) way that she was unfortunately going to have to “bow out” of bridesmaid responsibility due to work and other commitments.

        For what it’s worth, Rachel came to visit me a few years ago for a long weekend. She was such a terrible houseguest that she hasn’t been invited back. I won’t get into specifics here, but let’s just say I have a pretty high tolerance for bad behavior.

        1. fposte

          Why are people friends with this person? She sounds awful, and it doesn’t sound like you particularly like her. Is she maybe a legacy from a time when you were slightly younger and possibly less mature, and you all have outgrown her?

      2. hilde

        Right, what I always fail to understand is how a person can see someone that treats them so poorly as a friend. I know there are a lot of dynamics involved and probably some history of good times. But sheesh. I went through a bought the last couple years with my husband’s family being controlling jerks and I finally worked through that by coming to the understanding that you can’t just dump them (well, you can, but that wasn’t an option for my husband). But friends?! Yeah, you can dump them. Particularly when you are all at a point in your life where you’d shooting off and doing your own different “life events” (weddings, babies, jobs, relocations, etc.). Those are great natural times to limit or end the relationship.

        I had shitty friends in high school b/c you get locked into a group and we were a small town. I knew that as soon as I hit college it was do-over time and I ended up with a great circle and we are all still in touch today. Never the drama and shenanigans of this kind of stuff. One didn’t ask me to be in her wedding but asked all the others. It stung momentarily but I got over it b/c she included me in other ways (less expensive ways, actually!) and I still knew she loved me. I’m not sure that friends who love each other treat Monica the way Rachel’s treating her. I’d say peace out to that relationship.

        1. AskingForAFriend

          I agree (and sympathize) with you, Hilde. I love your point about life-changing events are good times to end or at least limit certain friendships – my friend and I were just talking about that actually.

          I was in a similar situation recently – long story short, a friend of mine got married recently. Someone in her wedding party bailed out at the last minute and she asked me to step in for them. I helped out and the friend treated me and some of the others in the wedding party so badly that I’m not sure if I’m going to maintain a friendship with her or not. Seeing how she behaved was very eye-opening to me and helped me (and others) see how one-sided the friendship is.

          I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand why some women feel like it’s appropriate to treat friends like dirt just because they’re getting married. Getting married doesn’t make you any better than your single friends, and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to rule over them. (End rant)

          1. hilde

            “I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand why some women feel like it’s appropriate to treat friends like dirt just because they’re getting married. Getting married doesn’t make you any better than your single friends, and it certainly doesn’t give you the right to rule over them. (End rant)”

            I am totally with you. I think we can insert the obvious (or maybe not) reason = jealousy. Low self esteem, yada yada. I know that has to be a big part of it because the group of girlfriends I have from college are all very successful (in our own ways; not necessarily society’s $$ standards of successful), very smart, and very secure in themselves. We can be happy for each other even if one is getting what the other doesn’t have.

            When I was newly pregnant we had a get together weekend with my friends. It was a little awkward for me becuase one of my friends just lost a pregnancy a few weeks prior. She was very gracious to me when my other friends asked me basic questions, but we all kind of avoided overtalking about in respect to her. When my friends and I decided to go maternity clothes shopping, my friend that had the loss was honest and said she didn’t want to go because it was too painful for her and wished us a fun time. That whole situation could have been an ugly one. But it wasn’t because we were all ok with ourselves, and we all had lots of love and empathy for one another. That’s what real friendship looks like.

            (And happy news, she went on to have two little baby girls. :)

    1. Sunflower

      I don’t have a ton of advice but I think asking someone to buy a dress then going back on it is COMPLETELY unacceptable. If the groom didn’t like the color and his input was important, then Rachel should have consulted him before buying the dress.

      There has gotta be some sort of nice way for Monica to say ‘I enjoy hosting these events but work is super busy and I just don’t have the time or budget to do these things. I’d be happy to contribute my share though’

      1. AskingForAFriend

        I was honestly surprised that the groom would care that much about the dress, let alone the color. But whatever…

        I’ve recommended that Monica nicely (but firmly) put her foot down about hosting any additional events. The problem is that some of her friends will say they want to help out/contribute and when the time comes to pay up, they mysteriously don’t have the money or aren’t available to help out.

    2. Sloop

      Rachel should purchase the new dress and pay for alterations if she wants Monica to wear something beyond the dress she’s already purchased.

      Monica also needs to put her foot down and stop hosting showers. Either she splits it with the other bridesmaids, family members for a baby shower, etc., or the shower isn’t happening. It is compeltely unfair for others to take advantage of her financial position. However, Monica needs to put a stop to it or suffer in silence.

        1. Sloop

          I am in a similar situation with friends and it’s really hard to bring up, believe me!

          The other option Rachel (and other brides have) is if they want something a certain way, the bridge can help to defray the cost. When my fiancée’s sister was getting married last year, we (wedding party) had a very frank discussion between ourselves, then with her about what we could and couldn’t spend for dresses, shower, bachelorette, etc. once we accepted her invitation to be in the wedding, to help frame the bride’s budget. We could spend $750 each, “all in” for those 3 items, so it was up to the bride how she wanted to divvy that up. She opted for a low key shower at a restaurant where we received a discounted rate from a family member for the space, food, alcohol, etc., for $100 each, and wanted to do a spa weekend for the bachelorette ($450 each). She wanted a fancy BM dress that was $300, we told her we were down to our last $200, and she paid the remaining $100 for the four dresses. Would that work for everyone? Of course not. But if a bride is THAT adamant about something and you’ve been honest with her from the jump, it’s a potential solution (or, she –might- realize she’s being a little ‘zilla ish and back down and find a cheaper dress, lower-key shower, etc.)

          I haven’t had to host a baby shower yet, but I believe etiquette “rules” allow for families to help pay for the shower (whereas the bridal party “should” pay for the wedding shower – don’t even get us started down the etiquette hole!!) so I would have less of an issue calling guest of honor’s family and asking for help (either monetarily or by helping address invites, etc.) in that case if it was becoming an issue AND there was pressure from the family to host some fancy shindig. If I could swing the baby shower with a few friends without getting the family involved, I would, but if I was getting pushback, I’d speak up.

          1. AskingForAFriend

            I love the idea of being open and honest about your financial capabilities. I wish more brides and members of the wedding party would do that. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have had the guts to say – “This is my budget, this is what I can spend, and this is the time committment I can give you. If that’s not okay with you, I am probably not the best person to be in the wedding party – I hope you understand” but I would absolutely say that today. It’s all about expectations.

            And I totally agree with you about the bride “subsidizing” particular items/costs if it’s that meaningful to her. But then again, I would never ask my friends to spend $300 on a dress that they will only wear once.

          2. fposte

            Just to be clear, there is no etiquette that allows you to offer to host a party and then ask other people to pay for it, whether they’re the guest of honor, the baby’s family, or whatever. It’s fine to say to whiners “That’s the budget we’re working with” and let them offer to chip in or host an alternative event, but it’s not okay to ask them to pay.

            The complementary point is that if the guest of honor, whether it be Rachel or the baby’s family, doesn’t like what’s being given them, they don’t get to bitch about it not being what they want. A civil conversation like the one you had with your sister-in-law is reasonable, because nobody’s being told to pay anything and nobody’s making demands; it can also be okay if the guest of honor/baby’s family *volunteers* to foot bills for a different kind of party.

            1. Sloop

              I should have phrased my response better – you’re right, fposte. If I plan on hosting a baby shower for Rachel and I get pushback from her family, I would have zero qualms with saying, “hey – this is what I can afford and my available time/resources. If you want above and beyond what I’m willing to offer to guest of honor, out of the goodness of my hear, here’s a list of invitations that can be addressed. Thanks!” But if I offer to host a shower and realize that I’ve gone over my own internal budget, wellllll… that’s on me and I definitely wouldn’t ask anyone else to pay! Maybe just the “nice” man at American Express, haha.

              I’d definitely chalk up being able to verbalize what I can/can’t afford, what time I can commit, has taken a LONG time and it’s come from work, incidentally. As a kid, I was painfully shy and wouldn’t speak up about anything even if it was to my disadvantage. I work in a very male dominated industry and have been pretty successful thus far at 26. My work persona is confident (and humble, I swear!) but also receptive to others and I’ve found that as “work” Sloop has gained confidence, “life” Sloop has as well!

            2. fposte

              Excellent! I got a little overboard in my clutching of pearls there, and I’m glad to hear both that it’s not necessary and that you will speak up appropriately. Go on, Sloopy!

    3. Anon

      If I were Monica, I’d sit down and have a talk with Rachel before the friendship completely soured. I would let Rachel know that I value her friendship, but that everything is getting out of hand.

      I would also set some clear expectations about what I could handle in terms of bridal/baby showers and maybe delegate some of that work to the other bridesmaids.

      1. AskingForAFriend

        Funny you should mention that, because my friend actually did try to have a similar conversation with Rachel. Rachel responded by saying, “I’ve waited soooo long to get married (she’s in her late 30s…in The South…quel nightmare!) and everything HAS TO BE PERFECT.”

        Ironically, Rachel just found out she’s pregnant and has to move up the wedding so that it doesn’t coincide with the birth.

        1. fposte

          For all the bitching you’re doing about Rachel here, it sounds like Monica’s folding like a towel. “I’m not paying more than $300” isn’t a conversation, it’s a piece of information. You don’t need to get Rachel to agree to anything.

        2. Elysian

          “I love you as a friend, Rachel, and I know how perfect you want this day to be. But more than that, I know you value our friendship. What is happening right now just isn’t working for me. I can manage X, but I just cannot do Y (because time, money etc.). If Y is really that important to you, then we need to figure out a way to spread out the planning time/cost of Y so that it doesn’t fall on me. I just cannot and will not do it all myself.”

          Lather, rinse, repeat until heard.

    4. Not So NewReader

      “Monica, Rachel is not a good friend to you.”
      Annnnddd

      “Monica, only you can say the NO word. No one else can do it for you.”

      Honestly, I run out of empathy sometimes. I have a friend whose friend talks nasty. All. The. Time. I have finally started saying “What you see is what you get. I am more concerned about you remaining in this abusive relationship and expecting it to change. I no longer worry about current-nasty-thing friend said. His behavior is consistent and will not change.”

      In regard to all the showers she is doing, again, she is there because she has not chosen NOT to be there. Until she decides to say no to showers she will remain everyone’s easy choice.

      So for you: “Monica, you know I love ya. But until you decide that it is time to do something different, I really can’t help you. When you want to move forward, let me know.”

    1. Fiona

      Eh. I did the free month and now I’m doing two months at half price. I kind of enjoy the “approximate salary” for job listings and being able to see everybody who’s viewed my profile, but those two perks arent nearly worth the full price they charge. I’ll be canceling when my two months are up.

  51. Anon

    Do you have any suggestions on where I should go for a phone interview? I work in an open office space and my car is in a parking garage so I don’t get very good reception unless I’m parked on the top.

    1. Ash

      I’ve done a few in Starbucks. Just find one with a quiet corner, order a coffee, and do the interview. Every one I’ve done this way I’ve gotten a second interview from, even with some background noise, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much.

    2. Sunflower

      Is there another floor of your office building or maybe in the back of the office building where no one really hangs out?

    3. R

      Can you try to schedule them first thing in the morning and do that at home? That’s what I used to do when I worked for a company with a flexible start-time. Also look for small parks! They work great, as long as there’s not too much traffic nearby.

  52. Scott M

    In a previous post, someone mentions how much quality information they got from informal coffee breaks and lunches with coworkers. And there were a lot of commenters that agreed. Can anyone else provide some insight on that? I have a hard time understanding how such informal meetings can be good for anything other than idle gossip that doesn’t really relate to my job.

    For me, if something doesn’t hit my desk or doesn’t come out in a meeting, it doesn’t exist. I figure if it’s important, I’ll hear about it through normal channels. If I don’t – well, I don’t. Of course, I’m in a technical field with no direct reports, so maybe it’s just the nature of my job.

    1. Joey

      When I play golf with people above me I always find opportunities to ask about work related stuff. Stuff going on in the company, stuff I’m doing that affects them, stuff they’re doing that will affect me. Usually I get their personal opinions as opposed to the official work answer. And they tend to reciprocate and ask what I’m doing at work. And always always they tell me things I would have never known otherwise and I get a great sense of their thought process. It’s hugely valuable.

      1. Scott M

        But if it’s stuff they are doing that affects you, won’t you hear about that anyway (via meetings, project emails, etc)?

        As far as other stuff going on in the company, if it doesn’t directly affect my job (which is why I don’t hear about it) they why bother?

        1. Joey

          Well, frequently I hear about stuff before everyone else does so I use that to get a head start. And frequently knowing what else is going on can help you modify your goals so they align better with the bigger picture.

          And sometimes I hear that a goal isn’t really as important as I thought it was.

          1. Jamie

            I can’t ‘this’ this enough.

            It was over one of those casual lunches when I was new that I heard my boss say “you’re great at the technical stuff, but I don’t really give a sh!t about that as long as it works. Accounting is where you’ll make your real impact.”

            Did it hurt me that the area of most interest and import to me was dismissed in favor of t-accounts and journal entries? Heck no, I appreciated the candid insight of what he finds impressive and worthy of reward.

            That’s not something that would have been said as directly – because there is truth in humorous banter – in a more formal setting and it’s served me very well.

            1. Scott M

              Ugh… That just bugs me to no end. A good manager will be direct with you at the office and not require an informal setting to tell you the truth.

              1. Jamie

                I’m not saying it should require an informal setting and yes, you’re correct in that ideally everything we should need to know about work we should be able to get through official channels.

                But the reality is for many, I’d argue a vast majority of people, the more comfortable someone is with you as a person the more candid they are likely to be. And these kind of informal interactions can make people more comfortable with each other.

                If there is a change in benefits or projects are being assigned I certainly shouldn’t have to have lunch with anyone to find that out. But someone giving me a heads up that the boss just lost a big sale and is in a very bad mood so now isn’t the time to go in and ask for a raise…

                That’s the kind of intel you get when people are friendly and comfortable.

                Just an example – but while we have every right to restrict ourselves to work only while in the office taken too far it can create barriers. If someone asks me if I have kids I don’t have to tell them – they don’t need to know in order to work with me. But if my reply to that question is “you don’t need that information to work with me” that would be very off-putting and make it really hard for people to relate to me as a person and not just an employee.

                In my real life example above I have no doubt I’d have gotten the message in formal communications regarding what he valued more. But there is value in someone being comfortable enough with you to be blunt so there was nothing to decipher.

                How many letters to Alison involve someone quoting their boss and wondering “what they really mean.” The more the people at work are comfortable enough with each other to be themselves the easier it is to read each other.

                1. Scott M

                  I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. I just don’t see the “value in someone being comfortable enough with you to be blunt so there was nothing to decipher” in a work setting.

                  In a personal relationship, sure. Friends can tell you things that acquaintances would be too polite to mention.

                  Work is more structured. You’re told to do a job, and you do it. People can tell you that you are doing something wrong, because it’s their job to tell you. They should be civil and professional, but direct (what you might call ‘blunt’) communication is expected (at least by me). It’s not personal, it’s business.

                  Ah well, I have about 25 more years to retirement.. maybe I’ll figure out the game eventually. :)

                2. fposte

                  You’re falling for the “people should be like x” myth. It doesn’t matter how people *should* be, though–what’s important is how they are, and they’re mostly like y and not x.

                  I have a remote that has no “off” button. That’s really not how it should be, but my choice is either to never turn the device off or to turn it off manually–insisting on the illogic of the arrangement doesn’t change a thing.

                3. Jamie

                  I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

                  On the main point we do agree – that it shouldn’t be necessary. I’m 100% with you on that. As long as I’m professional and do my job well whether they like me or know me personally should be completely irrelevant. And certainly everyone’s lunch time should be their own.

                  I’m strongly opposed to any kind of work mandated (or politically necessary) pseudo socializing – it shouldn’t have any career impact.

                  This kind of thing is easier for me now because I genuinely like a lot of the people with whom I work…so chatting or even lunch on occasion is a fun thing to do and not an intrusion. But I have worked at other places where even having to pretend to give a crap about someone’s weekend made me feel like an ass kissing phoney because I had no use for any of them outside of work.

                  I am with you that in a perfect world this kind of thing would have zero impact.

                  But in the imperfect world where I work it does matter. That’s where we differ – not in how it should be, but in how it is for me. I’m pragmatic enough to use it to my advantage…but I fully respect those who choose not to.

                4. Jamie

                  I have a remote that has no “off” button.

                  Seriously? I want to get one for my husband just to watch him lose his mind – he configures remotes like it’s his job and this would have him scratching his head like a monkey learning quantum physics.

                5. fposte

                  @Jamie–it was clearly a stupid design accident, because there was a big red button in the top row that stood out from all the black buttons that was obviously supposed to be on/off, but it was something like Mute or TV/DVD. So whoever designed the buttony part didn’t talk to whoever designed the commandy part (apologies for the techspeak) and they just put the suckers on the market anyway.

          2. Scott M

            I think that it maybe has to do with my level in the company. I’m not in management and I’m not a decision maker.

            So it doesn’t matter that I have advanced notice about something.. I can’t do anything about it until it happens anyway. And 99.99999% of the stuff I hear about “before everyone else” never happens.

            As for my goals, they are specific to what I’ve been assigned. So if my boss says “I want you to learn X,Y, and Z about Project A”, then that’s my goal.

    2. Jubilance

      It’s been helpful in my current role to connect with my coworkers and ssee if what if I was experiencing was “just me” or if others were going through the same thing; turns out we’re all dealing with the same issues. Having someone to bounce ideas off of or learn from their experiences has been very helpful.

      1. Scott M

        Thats a really good point. I’ve experienced that too, although for me it’s just been in hallway meetings and quick conversations outside out cubicles, rather than lunches or offsite coffee meetings

        1. Jubilance

          My company really emphasizes coffee status meetings so I take advantage of them. Plus it gets me away from my desk and gives me a chance to relax/decompress. I also work downtown, so there’s tons of people and lots of places to go get away. I probably wouldn’t do it if I worked in an area that I had to drive to get to a coffee shop.

      2. Kat

        YES! Plus people are more honest in less formal settings including yourself. I’ve found out a lot just be heading down to have tea outside-share frustrations, upcoming projects. And I’ve shared a lot that’s lead to people trusting me and helping me advance my career. A lot of it is about removing formal barriers so you feel comfortable sharing more.

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      It’s more just being around them, sometimes coming over to visit in a social way, and seeing them use a common tool in a new way. None of that ever comes out in a meeting or training, but can really help in doing my job better.

      I didn’t really recognize that until now, when I’m working remotely from most of my team, and I don’t have it. Those “hey, what did you just do, that’s cool!” moments don’t come very often.

    4. Jen in RO

      One example: in my previous job, all work was project-based. Each project had to have a member of each team assigned (one developer, one QA etc). Even though assignment requests should have been made for my team… sometimes they weren’t, and we found out a week before project delivery, which meant a lot of scrambling.

      Then, I started playing volleyball with some coworkers… Since I handled project allocations, I was very familiar with them, and whenever I heard someone talk about a project that *didn’t* sound familiar, I’d ask about it. Several times, this saved us from scrambling at the last moment.

      So, in theory you’re right: you should find out about the important things via official channels; however, this doesn’t always happen, which is where the informal channels come in.

      1. Scott M

        Yeah, I’ve been in the situation where people forgot to make requests through formal channels. But you know what happened? It didn’t get done. Or it got done, but not without a lot of serious upper-management talks about following the process and the consequences on other manager’s projects (peer pressure can be a powerful thing) . So they learned to make the requests, or else.

        Problem solved… and no volleyball required! :)

        I think that sometimes we accept the informal channels of communication too easily. We should push back against them, because they can be relied upon too heavily which makes things too inefficient at work.

        1. Jen RO

          You probably won’t see this, but maybe someone ends up here someday: I agree, but this depends on upper management actually caring :) In my case, they didn’t really care. Before we tried this more proactive approach (it wasn’t only informal volleyball meetings, of course), dozens of projects fell through the cracks – and it was my department that had a bad reputation, not upper management.

          Lots of things were wrong in that company, which is why it’s now my ex-job :D

          1. Scott M

            Oh yes, that is a problem.

            I’ve seen that; management relies on people to catch things that falls through the cracks, but neglects to even provide a floor!

    5. smallbutmighty

      I find these informal conversations valuable for two reasons.

      First, they offer informal brainstorming opportunities that aren’t hemmed in by specific goals or expectations. I can’t tell you how many times a colleague and I have come up with a brilliant idea over beers or while walking to a meeting in another building, and we’ve then gone on to act on our inspiration. This stuff tends to emerge organically when conversation is flowing freely. I really love this kind of interaction and find it critical to my creativity and effectiveness.

      Secondly, like it or not, my workplace is political and I need to operate from a place of awareness of the subtexts and alliances that surround me. I don’t like this stuff, and I try not to participate any more than necessary. But a general awareness helps me make sense of some of the interpersonal stuff I see going on, which would often completely fail to make sense otherwise.

      1. Scott M

        I get the brainstorming stuff, but I still think that can be scheduled. You just set up a meeting to ‘discuss x’ and then see where it goes.

        And I get you about the subtexts and alliances. I hate that stuff because I just can’t pick up on it, no matter how hard I try (although I don’t try very hard). Seriously, I’ve come out of meetings where everyone say’s “wow, the tension there was so thick you could cut it with a knife”, and I’m thinking “There was tension?” :)

        1. smallbutmighty

          I think brainstorming CAN be scheduled and still be effective, but if it’s A Meeting During Official Work Time it carries a certain burden of expectation. Of course something is going to get done; that’s what they’re paying you the big bucks for, right?

          But when you’re just sitting around chatting, really interesting ideas crop up in unexpected and fun ways. You find the answers to questions you didn’t think to even ask.

          One thing I’ve gotta throw in here. My workplace is pretty notorious for leveraging any expertise its employees may have, regardless of their title or degree. It’s something some people love and others hate. (I happen to love it.) So if I’m casually chatting with my manager or a peer and mention that I’m going to a chocolate teapot hobbyists convention this weekend, a colleague might very well say, “You know, we’re exploring the idea of launching a line of boutique chocolate teapots on the Asian subcontinent, and I’m heading up that task force. I’m going to put you as an optional attendee for the organizational meeting.”

          All kinds of cross-functional insanity happens in this place, and a lot of it happens informally. But you have to be where it’s happening to be in on it. It’s a baseline expectation here that you’re bringing your whole self–your interests, your hobbies, your talents, your quirks–to the table, and any of them can become part of your work.

    6. Graciosa

      Some people are very task focused, and this is a perfectly valid approach.

      That being said, my experience is that the importance of relationship building skills is directly related to your rank. Individual contributors can have long and healthy careers without much focus on the “soft” skills, but this is much harder as a manager and would be extremely difficult at the executive level.

      You clearly don’t believe in the informal channels of communication and don’t want to invest (waste?) time building these networks (playing the game?). Again, a perfectly valid choice – but please take full responsibility for making it in spite of evidence to the contrary.

      There is a difference between discounting any data that does not agree with your conclusion and accepting the validity of that data but making a choice in line with your preferences rather than the weight of the probabilities. The input here – and what you have observed in previous threads – is that the world does not yet work as you believe it should. Your choice to behave as if it does should be made after fully accounting for confirmation bias.

    7. smallbutmighty

      So this morning I actually spent the majority of my 12-mile run pondering this question, because although I tried to answer it, I felt like my responses fell short in some important way.

      I finally figured it out.

      I like to know my colleagues’ stories, and these informal occasions are where stories get told. I love stories for their intrinsic entertainment value, of course, but I also like what stories tell me about the people with whom I work. I like learning about where they came from, what they do for fun, their educational background, other jobs they’ve had, things that interest them.

      When I know people’s stories I feel that I understand them better, and when I understand my colleagues better, I’m likelier to feel empathy toward them in situations that might otherwise frustrate me. Knowing people’s stories humanizes them. They become more than just cogs in the machinery. They become people I want to collaborate with, be kind to, understand better, etc.

      None of this makes me a more effective chocolate teapot maker, it’s true, but it makes me a nicer person to work with, and I think there’s value there.

      And I know I appreciate it when my colleagues take an interest in me and make an effort to understand me outside of the basic tasks I perform.

      1. Scott M

        I can appreciate how you feel.

        Perhaps it’s just that I relate to my coworkers through our work. I’ve learned personal stuff about them, of course, in our years of working together. I know who’s married and who has kids (although not the kid’s genders or how many). I have a general idea of some of their hobbies.

        But for the most part, they are just people I work with. whats important to me is that Bob is the chocolate teapot designer who has mastered our CAD software and knows all the shortcuts and tricks to make it work . It’s not Bob the designer who also loves to raise miniature chihuahuas and grows his own vegetables. That stuff isn’t important because it’s not going to help me when the software is acting up and he’s the expert on it.

        I’m sure it’s just my personality too. I know I don’t really like to talk about my personal life a lot. and when people ask me about it I try to give them just the most basic information possible.

  53. Machamellie

    Is there ever a time that job hopping isn’t a bad thing?

    I’m torn about wanting to look for a new job. I’m overqualified for my current position and there’s no opportunities for advancement in my current company. I’ve been here just over a year. I thought I’d come in at entry level, nail it (which I did – I rocked it last year), impress the hell out of them, and get a promotion within 2 years. But it’s not looking likely, just because there’s not enough work and no one is leaving so there’s no open spots.

    I’ve asked around at various management levels to see if there will be opportunities opening up and everyone tells me “oh yes we’d love to utilize your expertise more this year!” but can’t promise me that anything will open up.

    Since 2010, this is my 3rd job. I don’t really want to bounce around from job to job, but I’m bored silly – most days I surf the web because there’s no work to do (supervisors know this). I’m very qualified, with 5+ years of experience and a certification, so there’s plenty of job opportunities in my area, but I’m loath to explore them due to company loyalty. Also my husband says it would look bad on my resume to have 4 jobs each less than 2 years.

    1. fposte

      Unfortunately, I agree with your husband. You’re going to limit the kind of positions that hire you with this kind of past unless you’re in some insanely fast-moving industry and have clearly been poached upward each time.

      Mind you, the problem is only really significant when you’re actually job-hunting; if you actually *get* another job despite that CV, it’s not a problem at that point. But it sounds like you might be inclined to be pretty restless, and if so, what’s going to keep you at the new job?

    2. Sunflower

      I think it depends on what jobs you were hopping to. Why did you leave each of these jobs? If you were hopping to gain new skills or responsibilities or to get closer to your intended field and it showed a general progression in your career, it wouldn’t be as scary as say someone with 4 entry-level type jobs.

      I do think job hopping is considered more okay than it was before but you gotta have the reasons to back it up.

    3. Anon

      Have you talked to your current manager to see if maybe s/he would have some more advanced projects for you to work on? Or could you maybe work with other departments in your company on a project?

      1. Machamellie

        Unfortunately, my direct supervisor has little work to do also. I’ve asked his manager, who works remotely, and she’s the one who said she wanted to utilize me more this year, but again, nothing else is opening up so far. The VP of my department said “oh we’ve got something being posted in the next 60 to 90 days, check our website” like I was some potential candidate off the street.

        They’ve given me very lowly menial tasks to do and that annoys me also – I’m so much more qualified than that. But yet I’ve kept asking for more work to do so I only have myself to blame.

        My career progression has definitely all been towards better jobs with more responsibilities each time.

        1. Machamellie

          Oh and my supervisor’s boss absolutely refuses to let me work with other departments. There’s some politics at work there – she doesn’t like the manager of another department who’s offered to give me work to do, so she won’t let me. I’ve looked around to see if anyone needs any help with anything but she won’t let me budge. So I sit here twiddling my thumbs.

          I do admit that I get bored and then start looking for new jobs. Maybe I just need to stay put. Argggghhhh.

          1. LV

            I was in a similar situation – when I ran out of work, and my supervisor didn’t have anything for me, I asked my coworkers if there was anything I could help them with until my own workload picked up.

            My supervisor then explicitly instructed them NOT to assign me any work ever, because she wanted me to be free to work on whatever she assigned me… except she never assigned me anything! I spent entire weeks sitting at my desk reading books or online publications and blogs. I hated it and I definitely got the feeling that some coworkers judged me for not doing any work, even though I would have given my eyeteeth to have any work to do in the first place.

    4. Graciosa

      There’s another post on this thread about being asked to provide a reference to a job-hopper – you might want to read it and think about how you will be perceived with four jobs of under two years.

      You clearly expected to be promoted within two years – but that’s not necessarily a reasonable expectation to begin with and you haven’t even put in your two years yet. It’s a little early to start agitating for a promotion. It’s perfectly normal for these to be dependent upon openings becoming available at the higher level, at which point candidates compete for them.

  54. Anne

    The co-worker who sits at the desk across from me chews with his mouth open, very noisily, and eats almost constantly. He has both breakfast and lunch at his desk, and many snacks. I dread his daily banana. (Sentences I never thought I’d say…)

    I really want to address it, because it’s disgusting, but I have no idea how. We get along well and I like him a lot otherwise, but I don’t feel like I could pull off a jokey “Hey Wakeen, no one needs to see that! Close your mouth!” And because our office only has 10 people, and I’m the only other one in the room with him, I think it would be obvious I had raised the problem even if I asked a manager to mention it to him.

    Help! What do I do? I can’t stand it.

    1. Machamellie

      I’ll tell you what people told me last Friday about my coworker who jiggles his leg all day every day. Just talk to him friendly but professionally about how distracting it is. Maybe you could invite him out for coffee or lunch so as not to embarrass him in front of everyone.

    2. Anon1

      Can you use headphones? I’ve had the problem you’re having and I hated, HATED it, but I’ve never found a good way to bring those kinds of things up. It’s one thing if someone is playing loud music or something, but to ask them to stop eating so loudly is much harder since people do have to eat.

    3. Jamie

      I have no advice – but I feel your hell. I’m so sorry you have to go through this.

      I can close my eyes and still hear the clanking of a cereal bowl and crunch of constant Doritos from co-workers past.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I swear to God, I heard someone BRUSHING THEIR TEETH AT THEIR DESK yesterday. At least that’s what it sounded like!

      This same cube emanates loud ringtones of 1) a dog barking, 2) the song “Kung Fu Fighting,” and 3) a crazy laugh. And I’ve had to speak to them nicely about not playing music on their phone without headphones.

      I’d work from home more often, but I get cabin fever.

  55. Lisa

    Do I take the new job?

    I left my job after 4 years, went to a horrific place, and was asked to come back after 6 months. I did and its been 1.5 years, I was fine at first, so happy but then my boss left. Her replacement makes me have so much anxiety from so much work and hints that i am not doing enough. I have the opportunity to work less hours for more money and not be so burned out.

    Am I an ungrateful person for wanting to leave again?

    1. fposte

      It’s work–what does grateful have to do with it? (And they asked you back because they needed you, not as a charitable gesture.) Are you being paid enough to put up with what you’re putting up with?

      That being said, it might also be possible to talk to your current manager about your feeling that she’s unsatisfied with your work–it doesn’t have to go on being an unspoken tension. But you can certainly leave if you have a job you wan to go to.

      1. Lisa

        I did, her response was new person had 35 clients at her last job and the next time, she said another new person had 50 clients before. So I started shutting up, staying late often, and went on anxiety meds. She gives me new clients, but then won’t take any away saying I am so good with them. As the place grows, I only see it getting worse.

        1. fposte

          I’m a little confused, because that sounds very different than the dissatisfaction you mentioned above–here she thinks you’re great at your job but your workload is unreasonable.

          It doesn’t really matter, though–you can leave either way, and if the problem really is workload, being clearer that the boss thinks you’re doing well at it isn’t a solution.

          1. Lisa

            She thinks because I am doing the workload and the clients love my work that I am fine, when I am drowning and telling her I have too many clients / work didn’t work. I pulled the plug, I took the job. I am nervous, but happy that I did.

        2. Sunflower

          Sounds like a no brainer to me…

          Don’t let guilt get in the way! As long as this new job is something you want to do go for it!

          1. Izzy LeighGal

            +1 to this. Don’t let the current boss bully or guilt you into staying. Your health is more valuable than your career – if you have an opportunity to leave, I would take it. Good luck!

  56. BCW

    So this is very much putting the cart before the horse, but if things go well I want to know how to proceed. I had a phone screen a few weeks ago, it went very well, then we talked salary. Their salary range was far below what I wanted, but I didn’t bow out immediately. They emailed me the next week asking me to come in, and I replied that the salary was below what I wanted, she asked me my minimum, so I gave it. Now my minimum was actually what I made at my last job, so I really didn’t want to make that, but I would accept it (when the alternative is $0 that I’m making now). So a week later she emailed me back saying they got approval to go up to my minimum. I had an in person interview last week that seemed to go well. So if I were to get an offer could I still try to get more or would that seem disingenuous since they had to get approval to raise it that far. Would I be able to at least try to get more vacation or something?

    1. Ash

      Tough position to be in — you already gave a number and they met it, so its going to be hard to come back and go “well, actually, really my number is X.” I don’t think you have very much wiggle room at this point since you’ve already said you’d essentially take the job for the amount you said.

      1. Jamie

        I don’t think he said that at all. They asked his minimum and he gave it – that’s the minimum he’d need to be in the ballpark to make it worthwhile talking.

        I have a minimum it would take to get me to even consider leaving my job…but that doesn’t mean I’d take that number for any job. It just means that below that number it could be the Hello Kitty wearing a Tiara of jobs and there’s no point in discussing it because I’m not interested.

        He just tossed out a number to make sure they were in the same neighborhood. That by no means he’d be interested in this particular job at that salary just like getting that number approved doesn’t mean they would necessarily offer it to him. Both sides are still fact finding, but they now know it makes sense to keep talking.

    2. Machamellie

      If they make an offer, they obviously want you, so there’s some wiggle room there. But it sounds to me like they already want you or they wouldn’t have discussed salary before even bringing you in to interview.

      That said, you’ve already had an informal discussion about salary with her. If they make an offer at your minimum, you could ask if they can go any higher, but if she says no, I’d let it go.

    3. Jamie

      IMO you still have room because she asked you your minimum…so a conversation about how that is your minimum but this job (insert reasons you’re excited about it but why it should be over minimum) wouldn’t be weird unless she made it clear the approval was for you minimum only and not a penny more.

      In that case if it were me I’d ask about a timeline for future salary review. And vacation is one of those things some companies will throw in happily if they can’t meet your price…some won’t. But in all the places I’ve worked the one and only place to negotiate this was coming in the door. After you’re in it’s just abiding by policy.

    4. Joey

      That’s a trick question. The answer they actually wanted was the answer to “what’s the minimum salary that will keep you here for a while?” It sound like you give them the answer to “given that you’re making nothing how much do you need to make to survive?”

      So yeah if you go back with another number they’re going to be pretty irritated since they already got approval to go higher than they originally wanted already.

  57. Chriama

    I just wanted to thank Alison for posting the cover letter examples. I had a really hard time understanding how a cover letter is supposed to be different from your resume until I had seen about 3 or 4 examples. My covers are still missing the bit about why I’d like to work for that particular company, but I think they do a much better job of showing off my personality and the soft skills that would make me a good employee.

    Alison, if you ever decide to continue with the cover letter examples, I’d like to see some good ones from people who aren’t interested in a particular company. How do you find things about the company to be excited about without sounding generic or cliched?

    1. AVP

      Do you talk at all about why you’re excited for that particular job, and it’s just the company part that you’re having an issue with? Or is it both?

      For the company – it helps to go on their website, see how they present themselves, what makes them different from their competition, and play that up. For example- “I was so excited to see this opening at Zappos, because I’ve heard so much about your culture of extremely helpful customer service and I feel strongly about providing that, even if it’s not necessarily in my job description.” Don’t worry about being generic or cliched, just be genuine if you can.

      1. Chriama

        Well I’m applying for similar positions at lots of companies in various industries so I can easily talk about why the position seems right for me. But this is my first professional job search and I don’t really know the difference between working in accounting at a bank vs. an oil company. I haven’t worked at any major corporations, so the only thing that attracts me is the kind of work I’d be doing — work which would be the same even if the companies are in totally different industries.

  58. ChristineSW

    I have a bit of a rant that’s sort of related to the question I asked upthread:

    As many of you know, I have an MSW and have been volunteering in the human services field. Since 2005, I was a member of a social work-related professional association and I’m licensed. However, I am having a really hard time deciding whether to 1) renew my association membership (I’ve let it lapse) and 2) keep my license. Association membership isn’t mandatory, and I’ve heard that many people haven’t renewed their membership. Not sure why, though. The one upside is access to continuing education workshops at a discounted rate as well as an awesome online encyclopedia.

    And therein lies one program–a lot of their focus seems to be on direct, clinical practice. As much as I try to deny it, working directly with vulnerable populations reeeeally kicks up my anxiety; I can think of two instances in the past year where I was on the verge of a panic attack (both were in volunteer capacities). I do know people with social work backgrounds who work in capacities similar to I’m exploring now with my volunteer work–program evaluation, research, committee work, etc–so I know my degree can still be useful. I’d love to stay active in the field–I’ve met some really awesome people through my grad program and subsequent activities.

    Here’s another problem: The topic areas I want to focus on don’t seem to have much presence in social work graduate or continuing education programs and in overall social work media. It’s why I’m still hesitant to pursue the PhD–I’ve looked through past dissertation titles and student research interests at some schools, including my own, and they’re heavily focused on things like children & families, poverty and mental health; yet, there’s very little on what I want to focus my career on, which center around disabilities. The idea of pursuing a PhD, I would think, is so that you can have access to faculty who study what you’re interested in so that you can have the support and mentoring crucial to success in the program.

    TL;DR: I can’t seem to decide if I want to stay on the path towards the PhD or pursue the graduate certificate in disability studies (the certificate I hinted at in my first post). Or both??? Oh, and I have tried reaching out to people for informational meetings, but to no avail.

    1. ChristineSW

      I should add that to find a PhD program that matches my interests would probably entail relocating, which is not feasible for my husband and I at this point. Plus, if we do move, we already have an idea where we want to go.

      1. ChristineSW

        I may have to check those out, thank you Heather :)

        And YAY, another social worker interested in disability research!

    2. fposte

      I think you’re articulating some reasonable things here. I would say if you’re severely geographically limited and the school(s) near you don’t have anybody who works in the area that interests you, the chances of it being worthwhile aren’t good.

      There are some possibilities even in that case–you put together an interdisciplinary/interuniversity committee with an advisor who’s worked on a similar project with a different focus and with somebody who really is doing interesting disability research–but that can be both tough to do and a tough sell to an admissions committee, because they’ll tend to think if you wanted to work with Apollo at Guam U you should just go to Guam.

      So who is doing really interesting disability research right now? And who has done a project outside of disability research that you’d be interested to take as a model? How would such a project point your subsequent work?

    3. Student Affairs Program Coordinator

      I also have an MSW and only had my NASW membership for one year, after school (when it was probably free or a reduced cost). I am not pursuing clinical licensure and did not feel it was useful or necessary for my career. I am 6 years post-MSW and still feel that way.

      Another career path to consider – working at a College/University in their Student Disability Center (may have different name). Our center tests students for learning disabilities, works with professors to determine accommodations for student with disabilities, advocates for students, helps students with temporary disabilities (ie: broken leg) figure out the best ways to get around, and other services. It would combine your interest in helping people with your interest in disabilities and an MSW would be an appropriate degree for many of the staffers in that office at my school. It is still direct-service, so it may not be of interest to you, but thought I’d throw it out there!

  59. Sloop

    Random question – I am in the market for a new suit (have a black one) and would like to either go for a navy blue or charcoal gray. Could I wear both of those suits in the summer, even though they are “dark” colors? Or would I be better served by getting a gray suit (more along the lines of an elephant gray)?

    1. Lindsay

      Is it a thing that you’re not supposed to wear dark colors in summer? The only reason I wouldn’t is because it gets to 115 here in Phoenix and only the stupid wear suits. Otherwise, I don’t see why not!

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I had to find a suit for an interview in the middle of August (it was out of town). It was HARD. Phoenix is not a suit-wearing town.

    2. Stephanie

      Are you in a really formal industry? I feel like only somewhere really formal would notice a light vs. dark suit.

      Charcoal gray is my suit color preference in general (looks formal without looking funeral and is less prone to visible dirt).

      1. KLH

        I had a super nice very light tan/stone suit that I loved that was perfect for summer wear. Unfortunately, the dry cleaner suddenly went out of business and stole it. So sad.

    3. Just a Reader

      It’s the fabric/weight of the suit that matters. There are many “all season” suits (Ann Taylor has great all-season suiting) and then there are definitely seasonal suits too.

      Gray can look very wintry. If it’s truly a year-round fabric you’ll want to wear a lighweight/light colored top underneath. Otherwise a summer weight gray suit is in order.

      1. Sloop

        Yes, I work in a very formal industry. I don’t have to go to client meetings often (2-3x month, maximum) and rotate between a black suit in the winter with other appropriate outfits (suiting dress with coordinating blazer), and rocked a light gray suit for the last few summers. The current suits are getting kind of gross and it’s high time I buy some new meeting clothes (yay, what I want to spend my tax return on – NOT!) and was hoping to get 2 suits that were full-time color / fabric appropriate.

        We have a Banana Republic in our building so I am going to pop down there this afternoon. I don’t look –great—in light gray, but I will try some stuff on.

        How do I know what fabrics are spring/summer appropriate? I like the way the BR jackets fit (will probably try AT this weekend as well along with J Crew). How the heck do you figure this all out? I’ve looked at Corporette a MILLION times (their interview suit articles are what I’m aiming for) but still don’t really know about fabrics.

        Also – what color shoes do people normally wear with navy suits?

        1. Just a Reader

          A lot of the fabrics will be labeled “all season.” Other than that, look for something that screams seasonality–light contrast stitching for summer, lighweight fabric vs. heavier fabric, etc.

          Gabardine, tropical wool and most stretch fabrics will be all season.

          I wear nude shoes with navy but you could also wear any color metallic, as long as your accessories are complementary and the hardware doesn’t clash.

        2. Graciosa

          I normally wear navy shoes with a navy suit, but could go with black, nude, or even brown depending upon the blouse and other accessories. In looking for a suit, I would pay close attention to the fabric weight and composition.

          You can really feel the difference between a heavy winter weight suit (flannel) and a summer weight worsted, which is much thinner and can be worn year round.

          Suits that are mostly artificial fibers (like rayon) don’t breathe as well as those that are mostly silk or wool. It can start to feel like you’re wearing an oven (or at least one of those bags used to cook turkey faster!).

          The challenge is to also find suits that breathe well, but don’t wrinkle too much. The classic test is to scrunch the sleeve of the suit up and hold it in your fist for several seconds before releasing it. You want the wrinkles to seem to fall out.

          Some suits made with artificial fibers do very well avoiding wrinkles but don’t pass the first test (not cooking you). An ideal suit will manage both, but it can take some time to find these.

          Good luck.

    4. themmases

      I love navy, and it can definitely be very summery looking as long as you’re not overly hot in it. Medium grays are also kind of an all-season thing. I’d pay more attention to the fabric than the colors– any neutral can look seasonal depending what you pair with it.

    5. guest

      Either is a safe and conservative choice for all year round, especially navy. The lighter the suit, the more informal. Try to get a lighter weight fabric so you aren’t miserable.

  60. Anonalicious

    There’s something that’s been bugging me about my boss.

    In the last year we’ve had one coworker have a baby (okay his wife had it), one buy his first house, one had her daughter have major heart surgery, and another is now engaged and will be moving to another state and leaving us. In and among all that personal stuff, we’ve hired 3 new people, had one person transfer back to our department, and another be promoted to a new internal position.

    My boss announced exactly none of the new hires or transfers until it was done and they were physically in the department, or it was the week before and we all already knew they were arriving because we had to setup their network accounts and system access. He has said nothing about the coworker who is engaged and moving, nothing about the person transferring back to our department even though it was incredibly controversial how he left in the first place, and nothing about the person who was promoted. This is just so weird to me. We’re all finding out about it second and third hand. A lot of these things affect our ability to do our work. people leaving, being off, duties shifting around, all of that changes how we do things in our department in some way.

    I’m not sure how to approach this with him.

    1. Scott M

      Is there a specific problem caused by getting the information “second and third hand”? Because he may be thinking that all you need to know about personnel changes are already covered. For example, if you find out about a new employee because you got requests to set up her network access, computer, and cubicle, he may thing that is all that is important. But once she got there you discovered that she needed XYZ software, and access to specific files, etc. Because if that’s the case, then provide him those specific examples so that you are covered in the future.
      Or is it that you just wanted him to say something to acknowledge the changes?

      1. Anonalicious

        Well in the case of two of the new hires and the person transferring back to our department, we had no idea where they were going to be physically setup. They ended up not having a computer, phone, or desk until the last minute (we’re IT and we’re responsible for doing this for ourselves and everyone else). There were also interpersonal issues with this transfer person and someone else in the department. Everyone knew about it and it was the elephant in the room for months wondering how this was going to work, if one of them was going to end up quitting over it (this had been said before). In general it just seems like in a functional department, the manager would announce things like a new hire, a promotion, a reorganization, and that they would be discussed up front, not left to the rumor mill and second hand information until it’s already happened and then the statement is “oh so we have this new person, and this other thing happened to Bob.”

        Also the lack of acknowledgement of major life events like someone having a baby or getting engaged and moving and thus leaving the organization, is weird because other events are announced, but these weren’t. It’s incredibly inconsistent and I wonder if those staff members feel slighted in some way.

        Something about the way this is all being handled, or seems to not be being handled, doesn’t sit well with me.

        1. Graciosa

          It is fair to expect your manager to inform you of changes that impact your job (“Tom is starting today in our Teapot Testing department and will be responsible for all spout measurements for floral teapots”). This is the provision of information, it is not a discussion. Your manager is entitled to make these decisions without consulting you.

          With respect to the timing of the announcement, you can expect to be informed when you need to know. Your manager may not believe you need to know until Tom is present and working. Even considering the computer issue, your manager may be perfectly fine with not having a computer set up and waiting for Tom on his first day. If that is the case, you do not need to know any earlier. You may *want* to know about the change before that – but that is a different matter, and not a good reason for your boss to change his practice.

          If there are actual impacts to your job, you can raise these as an argument for a change, but your request must be based on the impact to the company’s work and not your feelings or preferences. (“Not knowing that John had left his position a week ago and been replaced by Tom, the team continued sending floral teapots to John for inspection, where they waited until today. Now that we know what happened, we’ve transferred the backlog to Tom and he’s planning to work through it, but we’re going to miss our revenue targets for January as a result. What can we do to stop this from happening again in the future?”)

          Finally, a manager may choose not to publicize employees’ personal business. This leaves the person getting engaged or having a baby or whatever to tell whomever that person wishes to tell – just like the person who had a death in the family or some upsetting medical news. Managers are privy to all sorts of private information, and it is perfectly reasonable to choose not to share it with the world at large.

          It sounds like there is a certain amount of interpersonal drama and gossip in your team. This is understandable if there have been a number of changes recently. Some managers would choose to provide more information or spend extra time with the team to manage this (which sounds like your preference), and some managers choose to remain above it and ignore it. Either choice can be a valid one.

          1. IronMaiden

            Actually, it is very demoralizing to arrive at a new job and find your workspace/setup not ready. It isends a message that you are not important enough to be ready for. If it happens because of unforeseen circumstances ok, but because a manager doesn’t like to inform the responsible team in a timely manner is inexcusable.

            1. Graciosa

              I agree that it can be demoralizing – if you need to be working at your work space on the first day. We do, and actually had a bit of a contest running for a while to see how quickly a new employee could be logged in to the system on the first day (I was about nine minutes, but I think the record was closer to three).

              That said, I have had other jobs where it was as long as a week before you got to go to your desk (orientation, safety training, and paperwork with HR on day one, followed by further training or classes as the week progressed). In those cases, putting the requests in when the employee actually started made sense.

              A manager might also reasonably delay where they wish to keep the information private until a public announcement is made. Our facilities team at one job knew everything about any movement of personnel. Fortunately they were properly discreet about it, but I can see that being an issue in some cases or where (as is the case here) the people receiving the request may be the ones the manager wants to inform with the arrival announcement.

            2. Gjest

              I think it would also be a bit demoralizing to arrive and have everyone surprised that you’re there. As if it wasn’t interesting/important enough to the other employees that someone else was going to be working with them.

              We had a postdoc show up at my last job, and the PI had not told anyone that she was starting. It made everyone feel weird because when first introduced, it was hard not to start with a reaction closer to “what’s happening?” rather than “Welcome! so nice to meet you!”

  61. Dazed and Consued

    I currently work in an office as an HR Admin. A part of my job description is to manage our crews. I have to know who is going where and find trucks and rides for about 50 employees. I want to know if this is HRs job. In my opinion it should be either our dispatch or Managers. I feel this way because I’m not always in the loop, our dispatch knows all of our employees movement. Also, if I am telling the employees what to do, then they won’t respect me as HR. What is your opinion?

    1. PJ

      Two things here:

      “A part of my job description is…”
      That means you have to do it, even if you think somebody else should. It may be that they don’t have enough HR work for you, and are filling out the job with additional duties in order to make it full time.

      “if I am telling the employees what to do, then they won’t respect me as HR.”
      I just don’t get this one at all. Can you say more? Because I am an HR Manager in a one-person department, and I tell people what to do all the time. They do it. And they respect me. Are you maybe confusing the HR profession with a helping profession? It really isn’t. If you want to grow into a strategic HR professional you’d better get used to telling people what to do, within the scope of your job, and expecting them to do it.

  62. Recruiter

    Technology help, please! I have a local candidate and hiring committee members all over the country. They want to interview the candidate at the same time using video cameras. The committee is imagining a Brady Bunch-style split screen where the candidate looks at one screen and can see all of them.

    I typically use Skype for remote interviews, but have only done that with local committees and remote candidates.

    What’s the best tool here? The only thing I can think of is Google hangout.

    1. Judy

      Our company uses a polycom desktop system running on our own servers, not sure how much and if you can use it for a one off conference, rather than buying the software.

      It tiles all of the windows, if there are a certain number, it seems to make the one speaking larger (think one large and the others in an L around it).

      I think ATT conference system has video available, but I don’t know how useable it is, we’ve never used it.

  63. hating my job

    I worked in a small company and have three direct bosses. There’s three of them, and one of me. We just got rid of one employee who was equal to me because she wasn’t performing well and our business slowed down a bit.

    I am miserable and cry almost every day. I get directions from three bosses who filter all of the meaningless, time consuming tasks to me. I feel like I’m not progressing and there’s no opportunity to learn when I’m drowning.

    1. fposte

      Can you articulate the problem more clearly and then take it to your bosses? Is the problem that there’s too much support work for one person, that the priorities are hard to coordinate for several people, or that you hate being a support person?

  64. Katie the Fed

    Here’s my fun question for everyone. If you weren’t in your current career, what would you be doing?

    Me, I’d like to be a young adult novelist. :)

    1. Anonymous

      I would love to work for the government in some foreign language-speaking capacity. Like… being a spy, or being Jack Bauer.

    2. hilde

      An anthropologist or digging up ancient civilizations. Or wait – I’d work as a reenactor at a colonial village or something. I dunno …. anything that takes me into people’s lives in the past.

    3. NylaW

      I’d love to be a mystery/thriller novelist. (Though I am still writing and maybe will try to be published one day).

      Alternatively, I did originally want to be a history professor.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I’m already working on being a novelist. :)

      I don’t really consider what I’m doing now a career; that’s my day job. Don’t misunderstand me. I like my job! Novelists don’t make much money and I’m glad to have a day job that I like so I can eat.

      If I couldn’t do either, I’d be a zookeeper.

    5. Para Girl

      I would be a professional dancer even though I’m stiff as a board and can’t jump to save my life.

    6. ThursdaysGeek

      Professional Listener. I wouldn’t give advice, so not a counselor, but just someone who listens. I don’t think there is such a thing, but it would be nice to get pay for it for a change.

      1. Nicole

        I just had to comment on this because it made me giggle. :)

        I know exactly how you feel. Ever since I could remember people love to tell me their stories. I too wish I could get paid to listen, although I don’t mind giving out advice if asked.

    7. themmases

      I really wanted to be an academic historian before I got into my career path. I still think if the academic job market weren’t so ridiculous, especially in humanities, and the job situation were more what I thought it would be growing up, it would be a cool job. That’s just not the reality.

      Luckily I got into medicine and found out I like any kind of research, apparently.

    8. KarmaKicks

      I would absolutely love to own a bookshop! If I ever win the lotto, that’s part of what I’d do with my winnings :)

      1. Lore

        If you’re a Nellie Bly fan, I have to put in a plug for the recent book “Eighty Days”–I think it comes out in paperback in about a month. It’s the story of Nellie Bly’s race around the world against another, less famous female journalist (who went the opposite direction), Elizabeth Bisland. Reads like an adventure novel, and all of it true.

    9. MK

      I fantasize about being a CDC scientist researching dangerous germs, being a FBI profiler, or being Abby in NCIS.

  65. Jubilance

    I just need to vent & commiserate with someone…

    I still dislike what I’m doing and who I’m working for so much. My boss has gotten better but not really – he still micromanages, everything is a fire, he’s still brown-nosing in hopes of getting promoted and taking all the credit for our work. His boss (our director) and other managers heard that his entire time is unhappy (cause we are) and so he’s done a better job at not saying crazy things to people, but that’s about it. All of us are counting the days until review time and the company survey because all plan to be very candid in regards to his management of the team. In the meantime, I absolutely hate my project and how my role has changed from doing analysis to support business cases & root cause analysis, to updating weekly reporting, which basically boils down to a lot of cutting & pasting numbers. I’m too smart for this and I have way too many skills to do this busy work.

    I do want to try to stay with the company and I’m trying to pursue a move to another area, where I can focus on Six Sigma. I hope I can make that happen in the next few months, but overall the company has less movement due to our less-than stellar 2013 results. I do not want to stay in this role another year though, not even another 6 months.

    In the meantime this is the job I have, and I need to do a better job of hiding my unhappiness. I’m becoming bitter and I have no motivation to just do busy work and that’s not good. It’s just so hard to stay motivated when you don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning and go to work :-(

    1. Elizabeth West

      That’s how I feel about staying in my house/town. :( I don’t know what to do about getting out of it. My job can be done remotely. But my old house is like my old car; it’s crumbling faster than I can keep up with it, and I don’t want to spend any more money on it. I just want it GONE.

      Don’t know what I’d do with Psycho Kitty, though. :( Well, perhaps the Universe will answer a recent request and something will happen. In the meantime, I’m doing what I can and trying to find accomplishments a little at a time.

      For example, I’m setting projects for myself. Not huge ones. I want to redecorate, but I’m breaking it down into chunks and steps. I couldn’t sell the house as it is, so I’m doing small things to improve it until I figure out a way to do the renovations it needs (or dump it).

      I had a big revelation recently after watching a particular movie. Well, two:
      1. I can do ANYTHING I want to do. ANYTHING. There are no limits.
      2. I have literally NOTHING to complain about. (I still reserve the right to yell at traffic, though–tee hee!)

      I know it’s tough; I went through this with Exjob. You could set yourself some independent projects and work on them with an eye to challenging yourself. The other thing I would advise is to try and not worry about the things you can’t change. Concentrate on doing the best job you can and on preparing for the possible move. IMO they’re lucky to have you. Good luck!

    2. Izzy LeighGal

      Girl, you are my spirit animal. Seriously, I could have written, word-for-word, the comments above.

      I’ve gone from an Awesome-Boss to an Awful-Boss – it’s extraordinarily mind-numbing and tiresome. Great bosses are worth staying for, sometimes even in bad jobs. I’m sorry you don’t have an Awesome-Boss now – I think those can make a huge difference.

      I know this is a rough road – but if you have have an exit strategy (i.e., the Six Sigma role) – you’re on the right track. Hang in there because it WILL GET BETTER.

      And, in preparation for review time – have examples and written documentation, if available. Be prepared to speak logically and in reference to productivity – i.e., “Because I’m putting out fires, it takes away from ______” and “Since I spend a lot of time ‘managing up,’, I can’t accomplish ____.”

      Take care of yourself and your health – and hang in there.

  66. CeeBee

    Just wanted to say “Thanks!” to the people that responded to my question a week or so back about applying to a university that I’d already applied to a few times before. I was encouraged to go ahead and do it….and I’ve just had one interview with the school this week and have a second lined up for a different job, same university next week!

    My only dilemma now is that, if by some miracle I would get an offer for this first position before my next interview, I’m not sure how to respond…I definitely want to go ahead with the other interview opportunity, since this position would be full-time (vs. the part-time job I’m waiting to hear back on), but I’d hate to flat out say no to the part-time gig. Guess I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, though!

  67. Audiophile

    I’m struggling with what to take off my resume. I’ve been volunteering with non-profit for about a month now, handling one of their social media accounts. In that time, it’s increased to over 20k followers, so I’ve been encouraged to put it on my resume and start listing it on LinkedIn and mentioning it in interviews.
    My issue is my resume is jam packed, with my current and previous jobs, plus an internship, plus awards and skills.

    I’m thinking I can take my 08 marketing job off or at least limit it to one bullet and the same for my first post-college job. Advice?

    1. HeatherSW

      FWIW, when Kim Steins reviewed my resume she had me take off my first post-college, not in field job.

      1. Audiophile

        Kim Steins – I’m not familiar?

        Yeah my first post college job was at a school as a teacher’s aid. Unfortunately, none of my jobs post college have been in my field, like so many other 08 grads, but I may take your advice and delete it.

        1. fposte

          Kim is a longtime AAM poster and, I believe, one-time AAM employee; I believe she also has a work blog.

          1. fposte

            Sorry, “one-time” makes it sound like it was for a day or something–I mean I don’t think she works for AAM any more, that’s all.

  68. Cath@VWXYNot?

    So who else is surreptitiously watching / listening to the Olympic hockey in the office?

    I was listening to the women’s final on my phone yesterday, and when Canada won about ten people (including me) yelled “YESSS!!!” – and I thought everyone was working so hard! Today, for the men’s semifinal, people are being a lot more open about it after no-one got in trouble yesterday :D

    1. Zelos

      Surreptitiously? We have it going on full-blast in the boardroom on the TV (door open so the sound drifts out like a radio). Every so often people will wander in to catch snippets (or, during overtime yesterday, they just camped out there and watched). The partner was streaming news and checking scores while talking on the phone with someone :P

      Oh, and don’t forget the screaming. I was a nervous wreck just from the screaming and I wasn’t even watching!

      I have a very laid back office. :D

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?

        We don’t have any TVs, and we’re not supposed to stream anything over the internet because our work requires a mind-boggling amount of bandwidth (we’re a genome sequencing centre, and our building uses more bandwidth than the entire (massive) University of British Columbia campus). So there’s not enough slack for streaming music or hockey

        There’s a rumour that the engineering group brought in a radio – might have to find a reason to go and talk to them!

        1. Zelos

          I remember during the last Olympics I was in UBC’s labs (we’re in the same city! *waves*) but basically everyone just gave up on work actually being done. Instead, my entire lab group was huddled around the radio listening to the Olympic commentary, and I’ll bet you money every lab group on the floor was doing the same. XD

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?

            oh hi!

            I actually submitted a grant during the first intermission of the 2010 gold medal game. Damn deadlines – if it wasn’t grant season again right now I’d have taken yesterday and today off as vacations (my husband took today off).

            Ooh – update – management have embraced the inevitable and are streaming the game from the projector in the lunch room. My boss’s boss is now searching the building for external speakers

        2. Windchime

          Our workplace had to block streaming of the local TV stations a few weeks ago because everyone wanted to watch the Seahawks victory parade through downtown Seattle. There were so many people trying to stream it that it was slowing down business functions. So I’m guessing that it’s still blocked for Olympics.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I haven’t had time in the last week, except to glance at the sports page in the paper. Your friend got 4th, which is really good and really disappointing at the same time.

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s excellent for your first Olympics! She has many more in her future, so there is time. :)

          I’m glad Kostner won a medal, finally. I’m kind of a huge fan of hers. :)

    2. Random

      ME! I AM SO INVESTED IN THIS GAME IT’S INSANE. I even cap-lock because FEELINGS. GO CANADA GO!!!!!!!!! :D

    3. KarmaKicks

      I wish I could! My husband and I are huge Blackhawks fans, so it’s been pretty cool to watch our guys out there.

    4. Katie the Fed

      It’s possible I looked the other way while my employees gathered around a computer where it was streaming :)

  69. Brett

    I had a situation come up that is perfect for AAM, because I have no clue how to deal with it.

    A former co-worker has contacted me about a reference. He is definitely brilliant and does great work. I liked everything about him as a co-worker. But my problem will become clear with this timeline.

    I first met him when he interview for a position with us about 2 years ago. We offered him the position, but he turned us down for a different job offer. At the time, we had some concerns that he had been at his most recent job only 5 months. We ended up not hiring the position.

    3 months later, he contacts us. He saw that we had not hired the position, and his new job was not working out. We hired him and I had him as a co-worker…. for 8 months.

    After 8 months, he took a job in another state with zero notice. He literally started his new job, in another state, just hours after informing us by email that he was resigning.

    Fast forward 15 months later. He sends me an email saying that his current job is not going well and he misses working with us (we hired his replacement a year ago).

    And he wants me to be a reference for him as he looks for new jobs. He is a great co-worker, but he has evolved into a complete job hopper. I know health insurance and finances were a big part of his job hopping, more so than job dissatisfaction. At the same time, I worked hard to make my opinion valuable, especially on hires, and I don’t want to give him a good reference and then have him leave that position after a few months with no notice!

    Should I act as a reference? What do I say to him if I don’t? What do I say to him about his job hopping if I do? What do I say to anyone that comes to me for a reference on him?

    1. BCW

      Personally I think it depends on what they ask you when they contact you. I’m guessing they have his resume and can see how many jobs he has had, so if they are ok with his past as a job hopper, then I don’t think you need to bring it up. Now if they ask you about that, then by all means tell them your opinion, but I don’t think you need to bring it up.

      If its someone you personally know that asks you about him, I could see where it could be a bit awkward to not go into detail. But if its just some random company that you never heard of, just answer what is asked.

    2. Joey

      Id tell him I don’t mind being a reference, but may not be that useful since you can only speak to the 8 mos he worked with you. And that he should know you’d plan to say x (the truth)if asked about his reason for leaving.

        1. Trixie

          Plus if they asked if you would consider hiring him again, you can honestly say no and explain why. As a prospective employer, I would find this the most informative and helpful.

    3. Windchime

      I would probably agree to be a reference and to testify that he was a good worker, but I would also mention that he left with zero notice. That, to me, is worse than being a job-hopper because he has shown that he has no problem with just leaving his employer high-and-dry.

      1. BCW

        Yeah, but how many employers fire people with zero notice? I know its the polite and socially accepted thing to do to give notice, but there is no real requirement on either end. Sometimes things happen. I had to leave a job on 3 days notice once because the job needed the person in the next week. If I couldn’t do it, they would give the job to someone who could. Did it suck for my boss? Yeah, but I don’t think that should negate all of the good work I did while I was there.

        1. Brett

          Well, to be far, it was not just zero notice.
          He emailed us from another state the day he started work there.

          He had actually asked me the day before to help him with a project that day. It was very strange.

  70. X

    I’m worried about my sanity at my job and at my reaction during my upcoming performance review.

    How do I respond in an appropriate manner in my review to a boss who doesn’t know what I do and who doesn’t respond to any of my emails about my projects? In the past half year, we’ve (the whole group under him) had a major project that has sidelined our other major projects. Whenever I have asked or emailed him for advice, he has not responded or said it is not a priority. I make sure to ask him about the priority when it is necessary to my other projects. I’ve worked long hours and weekends, more than my other colleagues, to make sure the new project and my current ones have had all the tasks completed (while being efficient).

    However, recently he has been borderline rude to me on one of my projects, in which I told him that I would need development time and have asked him via email months ago for his thoughts (no response). I have made sure to ask him about it several times to prioritize, but he does not recall or says it is not as important.

    Is there a good way to ask in the performance review if he actually understands the work I have put in to everything? I have mentioned before that I wondered if he would like to see a review of my actions/accomplishments at a regular interval, but he has said he doesn’t need to see them because he assumes the team works together. In addition, is there a good way to state this if the score on one of my project goals is low? I read through this site and have gotten some good thoughts, but any more, I’d really appreciate.

    I am getting a bit bitter about the state of my job and the lack of any follow ups from my manager, and I am trying to prevent it from being noticeable. I am a bit worried his being rude might be an omen, but I am confident that my work has been good.

    1. Just a Reader

      I’d say it’s not about the effort, but the results. Go in prepared with your results and how and why you’ve been an asset to the team, company and project.

      You might have a case of perception vs. reality on your hands.

      As for demeanor, my motto is “be made of stone.” Don’t react until you can compose yourself. Don’t visibly compose yourself. Just stay calm and unrattled.

  71. Courtney

    The last few weeks have been sort of a huge bust for me. After a couple of phone interviews and an in-person interview for a temp opportunity that went bad, I’m losing motivation. I’m a not-so-recent grad (2012) and have mostly been applying for admin jobs. Truth is, I don’t really want to be in that field or stuck in that role.

    Since the end of last year I’ve been doing research about programming and web development and I thought it would be a good idea to learn some new skills. I’ve always been interested in computers and have always been pretty handy when it comes to technical things, but I never pursued formal training/education because I suck at math. I hope that it could help me find a better job. But with no formal background in computer science and no network, I worry that I may be in over my head. I’ve already registered for free courses on Udacity and CodeAcademy so nothing is really stopping me from teaching myself the skills. Well, just will power, which I’ve had limited supply of for a few months. I was wondering if AskAManager readers, if at all, have any insight into landing a job in that field after learning some skills on their own and with limited experience. Thoughts? Advice? Reservations?

    1. Graciosa

      I don’t want to sound discouraging, but I think this will be pretty difficult. Whenever you apply for a job, you are competing against others in the job market. In your case, if you apply for jobs where your credentials don’t match up against those of other candidates, you’re not likely to be the one who gets hired.

      Where I tend to see people transition to new fields without traditional credentials is when they are employed in FieldOne and have extensive opportunities to interact with people in FieldTwo. Gradually, they pick up some skills, (project work, a few cross-functional teams, etc.) and the people in FieldTwo eventually realize that this individual would be a valuable addition to the team. However, this presumes that the person is already working for that employer in a different capacity – convincing a manager to hire a stranger from FieldOne with no credentials in FieldTwo is a different challenge. Working at the new job in FieldTwo for a while will create credentials for other jobs in that field, but the initial transition is the difficult one.

      The other place I have seen this is in really small companies, where there are so few employees that everyone fills multiple rolls – the office manager also handles payroll and benefits, the person who keeps the books is also the IT manager, the head of sales also does the marketing and branding while maintaining the company’s web site and working social media, etc. You might have better luck taking on additional duties and making a career transition in this type of environment.

      So the short answer is that what you’re talking about is not impossible, but the odds are definitely against you.

      I hate to come to that conclusion because it sounds like you’re having a tough time of it. I hope things get better for you – try to hang in there without getting too discouraged. “This too shall pass.”

    2. Kim

      Yes, a very good friend did this. She had an unrelated job with tons of free time. She taught herself SQL and some other programming – I don’t remember the details – but she created a real website as a portfolio, so to speak. When she applied for a web developer job, she had that website to show them. No work experience at all in that area. She got the job and a lot more money, and is doing great at it. Sweet!

      1. Windchime

        Programming can be different from many other jobs in this respect. I work on a team of 10 people and I don’t know how many (if any?) of us have degrees in Software Development. I took 5 or 6 courses at community college and I have no degree. None of my classes were in the language that I’m currently using at work. We have a couple of people with a degree in mathematics, and another with an art degree.

        Programming is very much a skill that can be learned in the way that you are proposing. What I have found is that it takes a knack–you either really love it and can pick it up, or you don’t. And there are so many types of programming. I’m not so good at the web stuff; it’s just not my thing. But I really love C# and SQL, and I’ve pretty much settled down into doing SQL for a living.

        So I say go for it…take some classes and start learning. I find programming to be a really creative field and I love it.

    3. Courtney

      Thank you all for your comments. I have nothing but time so I’m going to continue on with it. I started with the web development tutorials but I’m not really liking it that much so I’m going to move into learning programming.

  72. Anonymous

    Well, I always get to these posts late, but just in case someone is still reading this far down…

    I am looking to increase my visibility in my profession. I don’t have a great network, I work for a small, no-name company and I feel like I am stuck in a rut. I have friends who get contacted by recruiters all the time and this has happened to me exactly once (granted I’m in marcomms and I feel like it’s not exactly an in-demand profession). I am going to join a local chapter of an industry association and start going to events.

    My other strategy was going to be to start participating in LinkedIn groups related to my profession, but I posted my first comment yesterday and immediately got a really annoying sales pitch. I feel like I fell into a trap! Did I just choose the wrong person to respond to, or is that what LinkedIn groups are like? I get enough sales pitches in my email as it is; don’t need to invite others!

    Has anyone had success increasing their visibility through LinkedIn Groups? Or, what’s worked for you?

    1. Scott M

      I have not had much luck at all with LinkedIn groups. Either they are full of spam, job listings, or have incredibly low activity. So it’s not just you. I’m afraid I don’t have any alternatives though. I would love to hear other’s responses!

    2. cs

      You should open a twitter account, if you don’t already have one. You can keep an eye on linkedin but I’ve noticed that many of the conversations in the groups aren’t as effective. Some are just spam, other posts seem to end up ignored by the community. However, on twitter, there seems to be a better sense of community there. People are more likely to comment to something you’ve posted or that you’ve commented on. The link below is written by someone in a different field but very useful to everyone.

      http://www.kristidosh.com/2013/04/22/students-how-to-use-twitter-as-a-professional-development-tool/

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks, I do have a Twitter account but it’s locked to friends only. Maybe I need to rethink how I use it.

        1. cs

          or you can create another one just for work. :) That way you don’t have to worry about making posts that might look bad to potential employers.

          1. Fiona

            This. Actually, I started with separate personal and professional accounts and then dropped the professional because I got tired of updating both. I’m just more careful about what I say on The Twitters (never post about work, etc.) than I am on, say, Facebook (which is friends only and locked down as tight as FB allows).

            1. Anonymous

              Yeah, I am pretty careful about what I put on Twitter. I already manage my company’s Twitter account as well so I really don’t think I could keep up with three!

      1. Anonymous

        Thanks! That makes me excited. There’s a meeting next week to talk about committee volunteer opportunities and I’m looking forward to it.

    3. ChristineSW

      I am going to join a local chapter of an industry association and start going to events.

      That’s a great start! Once you get more acquainted, see if there are any committees that you can serve on. I’m on a couple myself (not through my professional association though), and I am loving almost every minute of it.

      Also, see if there are any free or low-cost workshops related to your industry, either within the association or elsewhere. Not only would you learn a new topic or skill, you can meet others in your class.

      Good luck!!

  73. Not So NewReader

    An organizing question.
    I have been handed a laptop with approximately 4300 Word and Excel files.
    It has not been organized very much. Any suggestions that might make this less painful? Am using Windows 7.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Are their potential duplicates that you’ll need to winnow out? BeyondCompare has a free 30 day trial, and is useful for comparing directories, Word, and Excel, as well as other files.

    2. Scott M

      a little more information:
      – Are they all in one folder, or separated out in different folders?
      – how do you want to organize them? By content? By the name (maybe a project name in the file name)?

      If you can pick out anything in the name of the file that would help organize them, then you could use the DOS move command with a wildcard. For example, if “Project_X” is anywhere in the filename, you can move them all to a “Proj_X” sub-folder with this command : move *Project_X* Proj_X\

      1. Not So NewReader

        They are all in “my documents” but some are in subfolders, and some are just loose. Probably the majority are loose.

        I want to organize them by content. I want the meeting minutes together. And yes, the various projects each need their own folder.
        Then we have forms running wild- so a place to collect up forms. You get the idea. I will probably have dozens of folders before I am done.

        I am picturing this taking WEEKS. omg.

        When I posted this earlier today, I had not check the trash. There are over 5.000 files in the trash. Incredible.(Silly me. I thought everyone emptied their trash regularly.)

        I am open to all suggestions that would make this less unwieldy and less time consuming.

        1. Windchime

          I would probably start by sorting My Documents by file type. Then you can grab all the Excel documents into a folder, the Word Documents into another folder, etc. That might make it less overwhelming; for instance, the meeting minutes should all be in Word so you would have fewer documents to sort through if you got the Excel out of the way.

          Do you need to organize what’s in the trash, or can you just empty it?

          1. Not So NewReader

            I am thinking I can just empty it. But I have to let the boss see it first. I could not find anything there of value. (I can’t explain – let’s say it does not pertain to work.)

    3. Anonymous

      You could use Agent Ransank to find types of files and keywords in those files to help organize them. For example you could use “meeting” + .doc as your search terms to find files of meeting minutes.

  74. Just a Reader

    Does anyone here do public speaking? I’d like to start, I have the ok from my boss, but I have no idea how to break in.

    Any tips?

      1. Just a Reader

        My profession has a ton of conferences, and I have the experience, skill set and current role at a big sexy company to speak to key topics at these events. I’m just not sure how to get in.

    1. Ash

      I’d start with conferences — see if you can submit a proposal to a relevant event. Most public speaking comes by way of invitation so its hard to break in if people don’t already know you.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Could you be more specific? Do you mean it’s something you want to learn, or something you already know but are looking for someplace to do it?

      For the first part, people say Toastmasters is good. I tried it and it’s not for me, but that’s because I’ve been too busy to give it the attention it needs. For the second, I’m not sure what topics/venues you are thinking of.

      1. Just a Reader

        I’m a very good and reasonably experienced public speaker already, so I’m looking for venues–conferences, etc. that will bring me on to present.

        1. fposte

          “Bring me on” sounds a little like you might be thinking of paid speaking–is that where you’re going? In my field, the only way you ever get paid to speak is by speaking without being paid over and over and over again first.

        2. Anonymous

          Hello,
          I manage my company’s speaking engagements. Your industry may be different but in mine, conferences usually have calls for speakers, and you typically have to submit a proposal to speak. The process can be quite competitive for certain conferences. The proposal requirements can include anything from a 100 word abstract and a bio sent via email to essentially needing to outline your entire presentation beforehand and fill out a lot of long complicated forms. You need to keep an eye on the conference web sites because the calls can come up to a year in advance of the next conference. Invited speakers are usually already well known experts in their field, so I think the best way to get started is to respond for calls for speakers.

          Presenting research at conferences is another path, but again, you typically need to apply with an abstract of your paper beforehand.

          You might also consider creating a speakers resume to send to conference organizers if you want to try to get invitations and there’s no clear call for speakers.

          Good luck!

  75. a.n.o.n.

    So, during last week’s open thread I posted about how I was in one job for almost 20 years, the business failed recently, and I’m now in a new job (less than a month). I was freaking out because I realized that I should have taken the other job offer where I would have a lot of high-level projects, freedom, diversity, etc. Just about everyone I talked to (friends, family, former boss and former co-worker) said I should go to the other job, if they’ll still have me. Two people felt I should stick it out for awhile.

    Since I’ve recently had weight loss surgery and knew this panic could be related, I went to see the psychologist who did my pre-surgery evaluation. I am so glad I did! I felt so much better afterwards. She helped me to realize that I chose the “safe” thing to do (a job I did for many years, I know it, it won’t really stress or stretch me) because that’s what I always did before surgery. She said that sometimes people don’t really know for sure what they want until they get into it, then realize they want out and it’s not the right fit. She said that I was in one place for a long, long time and that sometimes clouds the judgment. She said it’s a new me and I need to spread my wings. If I don’t, I will eventually become frustrated and resentful and could go back to my old eating habits causing me to regain my weight. I hadn’t thought about that.

    So I emailed the guy at the other company and I’m waiting to hear back as to whether he still wants me. I feel like a total flake and feel terrible that I may be leaving the new boss in a lurch, but I feel this is what’s best for me and my long-term well-being. I just hope he still wants me.

      1. a.n.o.n.

        Thanks!

        Several people I talked to said, “But you did X for so many years. Look for thoses kinds of jobs.” But that doesn’t mean I was HAPPY doing it or that I want to do it again. Part of the problem was that I was a Jill-of-all-trades at Old Job, so that made it difficult to figure out what I really wanted to do in my next job. I thought I had it figured out…until I got to the new job.

        I’m having a hard time getting past the fact that it’s been less than a month, we’re down a person here, on a new system, and leaving Boss in a lurch. But I guess “it’s business; it’s not personal” should be my motto.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Yep. And it takes time to figure that stuff out anyway. It took me MONTHS of lists, investigation, etc. before I decided on this school program.

          I can’t exactly say it’s what I WANT, but it’s what makes the most sense right now and will possibly allow me to do what I DO want.

        2. Camellia

          And remember the ‘not a good fit’. You are certainly not a job hopper so this is a very reasonable approach.

          1. a.n.o.n.

            The psychologist told me a good way to look at this job is that it’s a rebound relationship, which is to be expected after so many years in one place.

  76. Gene

    OK, today has been way too workplace oriented for an Open Thread, so I’m going to throw out two things:

    What author/book series have you been reading forever? In my case it’s Terry Pratchett, especially the Discworld books.

    Is HBO going to screw up the results of the Red Wedding and not have the Starks actually die?

    1. AVP

      If you like fantasy, I feel like I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam books forever. There’s only three, but she wrote them over a span of 10 years so this last one was a loonnngg time coming.

      Worth the wait, though.

    2. Elizabeth West

      –Preston and Child’s Pendergast novels (and their individual works).
      –Stephen King.
      –Harry Potter (although they’re done- baww!). I’ll probably seek out JKR’s other stuff. I already read The Casual Vacancy.
      –Emile Zola’s Les Rougon-Macquart cycle. I’m out to collect them all!

      I can’t think of any other series right now , except I need to finish Tad Williams’ Otherworld books. There are four and I started the fourth but never finished it. Now I’m going to have to go back and re-read the synopses.

    3. Felicia

      I have been reading the Kelley Armstrong Women of the Otherworld series for what seems like forever. I read the first one when it came out in 2001, and the last one came out in 2012. But that was like 1 book a year, so not a long wait like A Song of Ice and Fire.

    4. 22dncr

      I have all the Discworld books in first editions. Winter project was raising them to higher bookshelves in case of flooding! Also all of Mercedes Lackey, Diana Wynne Jones and Colin Wilson (most old stuff, not new).

        1. 22dncr

          Believe me it wasn’t planned, just too impatient to wait for the cheaper pb, but it’s a nice $$ now (;

    5. Anoners

      The red wedding has already happened, and they stuck to the book (except they had the pregnant fiance there as well, which was kind of disturbing).

    6. Jen in RO

      Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series. (Highly recommended!)

      And I think HBO will keep everyone dead. I can’t wait to see Lady Stoneheart!

    7. Camellia

      Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series, Five Hundred Kingdoms series, and Valdemar series

      Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn series

      Anything by Anne McCaffrey and Robin McKinley

      And most recently, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series and Rob Thurman’s Cal and Niko series and Trickster series

  77. Strong Arm

    Anyone strong arm their boss to try to get what they want?

    I hate this idea. I have been on other teams with past jobs where my fellow peers have threaded to quit if something didn’t happen, and they would always get their way.

    I need my boss to allow me to flex my schedule more. Half our team does it, and I think that is why when I ask, he blows it off because he doesn’t see the need. Last week, I was snowed in and worked from home, and my boss was floored at how much work I was able to finish.

    The truth is, I will eventually quit my job anyway, because the pay is terrible. In the meantime, I might as well make the most of it. For that reason, I would hate to say “if I can’t flex my schedule more, I will be forced to look for another job” and if he lets me do it, and I get another job anyway, that’s pretty crappy right? I figure flex time or not, the max I will stay in this job is six months.

    Does this approach work? Nothing else seems to be working.

    1. Ash

      I wouldn’t use the “I’ll quit if you don’t” line. It just feels wrong to me and I agree, if you’re thinking about leaving regardless, it will burn bridges. I would try to prove your point about why it would be better for the company, not just you, to allow you to flex your time. Highlight the work you were able to accomplish at home, etc.

      1. been there

        I have actually had this conversation with an employee. Do you have an HR department you have to go through?

    2. Nicole

      I would bring up how much work you were able to get done that day you were snowed in. Perhaps explain how being at home without distractions made you more efficient. That might convince him that there really is a need and then he will allow it.

      I used to work at home once a week at a former job and I loved it. My home is nice and bright and comfortable and I could sit at my computer for hours and just bang out the work like there was no tomorrow. Honestly, I’d be happier at almost any job if I could work from home at least some of the time.

    3. A Bug!

      AAM’s advice has generally been to not explicitly threaten to quit if you don’t get something you’re asking for. That is always implied when you are asking for changes to your job, like raises or a different schedule or other perks or benefits.

      By making it explicit, you’re inviting your employer to call your bluff, which puts you in a far weaker bargaining position. And even if you’re genuinely willing to quit if you don’t get what you want, if you do get what you want, you risk taking a hit to your perceived loyalty and might find yourself passed up for future opportunities for advancement, or first in line for any future layoffs.

      I find that it’s always useful to frame it in less demanding terms. “Is there anything I can do to show you that a flexible schedule would work for both of us? I recall that on [snow day] you sounded pretty surprised that my productivity that day matched my in-office productivity. To be honest, I was a little taken aback by your surprise because I take it as a given that I would work just as hard from home as I would in the office.”

      This way, you’re not saying “Give me this”, you’re asking “What can I do to earn this?” It’s less demanding and more cooperative.

  78. MR

    I’m too lazy to read through the nearly 500 posts, but I was curious to know if Alison is feeling better today…

  79. Second Chance

    How to ask for a second chance?

    This summer I was interviewing for two jobs. Fun job, and well paying job. I was offered the fun job while still interviewing for the well paying job. If I turned down fun job, and didn’t get the well paying one, I would have been in trouble as I was unemployed at the time. So, I took the fun job and now I rather make some good money.The well paying job is with a large company, that happens to have many opportunities for me posted on occasion. I reached out to the recruiter I interviewed with, let her know I appreciated her excitement for the company, and I would like to meet her for coffee sometime. She ignored my emails. I have very casually reached out to the hiring manager from time to time, I keep it simple, just sent him articles of interest. Any suggestions on how to write him and let him know I want the job if one becomes available again? How do I sound interested, without sounding desperate. How casual do I keep it, while sounding ambitious at the same time?

    1. fposte

      Can’t you just keep your eye out for openings there and apply when they come up? It doesn’t sound like you made it far enough in the process that they’re keen to snatch you up just on a casual contact, and it sounds like you’ve reached out several times already, so there’s the risk of becoming annoying.

      1. Second Chance

        There were three interviews. I did the phone interview, then got to the second one where I met with the hiring manager. I got the call for the third and final interview (with the top boss) and that was when I had to turn it down because I already had the other job offer.

        I wasn’t sure if waiting till the job posted again was a good idea, I didn’t want them to think I was only reaching out when the job posted, and also if someone left before then, a position could open up that they might not even post for.

        Side note: while the recruiting manager has not gotten back to me, the hiring manager does write back to say “nice article- thanks for passing along.” I have only written each one twice since this summer. The first contact was an email to confirm to both of them that I was pulling my name from the job, and a second touch base email about two months ago.

        1. fposte

          Still, what you’re looking for isn’t a second chance. The job is gone. What you’re looking for is consideration if they have a new opening. I’m not clear why that wasn’t mentioned in your first email to the hiring manager (and I’m not sure of the math here–you said you reached out to her “from time to time,” which is more than once, but that you only withdrew from the application last summer); it seems a little coy not to have mentioned it if that was your point, and it seems like a lot of communicating if it wasn’t.

          I would say you can send one more email to the hiring manger and that’s it, and even that’s not risk-free; in this one email, you’re straightforward about your interest in another position there if one comes available, and that you’ll be keeping your eye open for postings (because you don’t want to sound like you’re expecting her to tell you when openings come instead of looking on your own).

          And then you look for postings and accept you might not hear about openings if they’re not posted even after that, and you quit with the “just to keep in touch” messages for a while.

          1. second chance

            To follow up, I wrote the hiring manager a straight forward email (today) , saying I was still very interested in the company and job, and that I would be applying for a position as soon as another one is posted again. He wrote me back immediately to thank me and to let me know positions would be coming up again soon and he also copied the recruiter on the email. I think I just needed to get a second opinion as to the tone of the “stay in touch and need to know emails.” The advice I was given before was to stay in touch and keep the communication open, and that is where I got confused. Thanks again!

            1. fposte

              Excellent–I’m so glad the outcome is positive for you!

              I think generically “staying in touch” with somebody who didn’t ask you to is on the coy, bad-advice side along with all the other “keep talking the people you want to be hired by whether they want you to or not without admitting that it’s all to get the job” advice. But a strong candidate saying “Hey, I was really impressed with you and am thinking about my future, and I’d love a chance to apply for you again” is a perfectly legitimate message that people are likely to be happy to hear.

  80. Yup

    Meta AAM talk.

    Are there certain styles of posts or comments that you personally find most helpful here?

    Me: I find scripts of difficult conversations really useful. Hearing the phrasing helps me understand the tone and the intent. And I especially appreciate when Alison or commenters explain the logic behind a given answer.

    1. Anonymous

      I agree – I like the posts on how to phrase difficult conversations (though I’m not confident I would have the correct delivery/tone of voice, etc. to pull it off sometimes!)

    2. ArtsNerd