open thread

Olive LucyIt’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.

{ 1,332 comments… read them below }

    1. Julie*

      Are the kitties playing or scuffling in the photo? It took our dog a few months before he decided that the new puppy was OK (now he loves him), but I don’t really know how cats are with newcomers. I hope they get along!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Cuddling, a little. Olive really wants to cuddle, but then after a few minutes she can’t resist launching an attack, which infuriates Lucy and ends the cuddling.

      2. Jen RO*

        Mine (5 months old and 3 years old) like to fight. Or, rather, the older one wants to be left alone, while the younger one wants to play. It ends with cats running around the house at full speed. It’s fun!

        1. Lisa*

          Mine too, only the older one will at one point put the little one in a head lock to groom her. The little one sometimes puts her head near her paws so she will do it and just lays there until her ears and nose are licked and her eyes glaze over in kitten cuteness.

          1. Jen RO*

            Mine do the same! Except the little one hates being groomed by the big one, so this also degenerates in cats running at top speed.

    2. Anon E Mouse*

      Or for those of us who work nights!

      I just want to say that I *love* the pictures of your kitties, and Olive is getting so big!!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There are a couple more sponsored posts coming that will feature them, so hold on to that feeling :)

        And yes, Olive is getting huge. She’s almost as big as Lucy now. It’s bizarre to watch.

        1. Seal*

          Both your cats are adorable! I adopted a 5-month old kitten my idiot neighbors abandoned outdoors just before Thanksgiving. He gained a pound in the first 2 weeks I had him and now at 8 months old weighs as much as my full-grown cats. It’s been fun to watch him grow – his tummy gets round, then he gets taller, and the the cycle repeats. He’s going to be a big boy!

          1. Meg*

            I adopted a feral-born kitten that hadn’t been weaned from the mother yet, but he was always crying and I had been sitting (crushed) hard dog food outside and water. He was the only one I saw or heard. The mother is an orange and white striped cat, and the father is a large black and white tom. This kitten is a smokey gray, but you can see some faint darker gray stripes in his coat. We didn’t know if it he was a boy or a girl kitten until his genitalia descended, which gave us a good estimate for his age.

            At first, for a few days, he would hide under my couches from my dog, a 7 year old female pitbull. She just wanted to love on him, and lick him to death. He warmed right up to her, and would play and scuffle and cuddle. He is about 5 months old now, spoiled rotten, very energetic and outgoing kitten who doesn’t take shit from the dog and will purposely instigate everything when he wants to play.

            And he’s grown so much, and is already the size of the last cat I owned almost 20 years ago. I have a feeling he’s going to be as big as his tom cat father. Beautiful dark gray coat though.

        2. Jessa*

          Olive is a foster fail right (you were fostering her and wouldn’t let go cause she’s so adorable?)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, we were just supposed to foster her for a month or so. What I learned is that you should never just foster one at a time — you will get too attached. (I fostered two sisters a few years ago and it was much easier — less of an intense bond developed. Er, kittens, not children.)

    3. Dan*

      Or just up late because the boss means it when he says we have flexible hours and I won’t show up until about 1015 tomorrow ;)

    4. Rayner*

      Thank you, AAM! It’s nine am here, and I’m just tucking into AAM and Breakfast :D

  1. Anonymous*

    I’ve just been asked for my first ever second interview. I’m thrilled. 6 years out of college and I’ve been looking to move out of my current position for the past 3 years.

    Now, what can I expect from the second interview? I thought I was asked all they needed to know

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hiring someone is a big deal. Talking to them one time for an hour shouldn’t cut it. And same goes for you — your next job has the potential to make you truly miserable or really fulfilled — don’t you want to screen them through more than a single interview?

      As for what they’ll ask, expect a deeper dive into your experience and their needs, and possibly talking to other people involved in the process.

      1. Anonymous*

        I get that feeling, thanks to your blog which played a big part in me getting this far. I’ve met four people already now I have to meet with the 2 directors. I guess I never really thought it could be this strenuous.

        How does one go about getting time off without having the current employer suspect something. I’m also in a position where if my current boss finds that I’m looking to move, she will let me go immediately.

        1. Dan*

          How actively are you interviewing? If it’s just the one job, you could probably get away with “doctors visit with follow up”. If you’re doing it more frequently, then I’m not sure what to do. I guess if you really really had to, you could try some variation of “family member needs regular assistance” ie, mom fell and you have to take her to rehab every Friday for six months because she can’t drive until her right foot gets better.

          1. Dan*

            I realize you might have to take *every* Friday afternoon off or something like that, but if you really are actively interviewing and don’t want to raise *any* suspicion, you’ll have to get creative and make a few sacrifices.

          2. Rayner*

            I wouldn’t lie like that. It could definitely backfire if someone were to talk to your parent or someone familiar with them, or that you slipped up.

            Weaving an unnecessarily tangled web for no reason is a bad idea, in my opinion.

        2. some1*

          If this is the only interview on your plate now, just tell/email your boss, “I have an appointment Thursday afternoon and I will be leaving/arriving for the day at X:00. I will use X hours vacation time/PTO.”

          People have personal appointments all the time that aren’t doctor’s appointments (like meeting with a loan officer, lawyer, financial planner, contractor, etc) that can’t take place outside work hours.

        3. AdAgencyChick*

          If they want to interview you more than twice (and even if they want to interview you twice), ask whether an interview before or after hours, or at lunchtime, would be possible. You may be able to do at least a couple of interviews in such a way that you’re not even absent at a time that would be noticed.

          Good hiring managers know that if they want to hire someone who is currently employed, they need to acknowledge that that person has a work schedule — and it’s pretty obnoxious, IMO, to schedule multiple interviews during normal working hours on different days.

      2. Dan*

        Interesting perspective. In my field, the only time I’ve had a second interview, it was unexpected, and I got rejected. Every single other job I’ve had or interviewed for only had one in person interview.

        That said, my interviews generally consist of meeting four different people (at a minimum) over the course of a few hours to a full day. For lower level jobs with multiple interviews, are they just meeting the same one or two people?

        I haven’t really thought about whether or not I would want to screen through more than one interview. In my field, it’s kind of hard to figure out *exactly* what I would do during the interview anyway. When I ask, they tell me they’ll figure it out when I onboard.

        1. Jen RO*

          For the company I’m currently interviewing for, I had 3 interviews so far and I’m waiting for the fourth.
          1. HR
          2. Potential future peer (the other person with my title)
          3. Product manager (also a peer, sort of)
          4. Department manager (the hiring manager)

          In my experience, this is fairly common. Maybe not 4 interviews, but at least 2, on different days. Most of the time it’s a HR person and the hiring manager, but for my ex-company people were also interviewed by the team leader in addition to HR and the manager.

          1. Jen RO*

            And I see you asked for more details below. To be specific, I’m a technical writer. The interviews with the various people weren’t that different from one another: they all asked about my background, why I was leaving my then-job, what I knew about their company. When I interviewed with a hiring manager or a potential peer, we also talked shop – what tools they use, what departments they interact with, what kind of specific skills they’re looking for (e.g. ideally they want someone who can already document APIs, but they will consider someone who knows the basics and can learn the details).

            Oh, and most interviews also included a written test, which in my field is a must. To me, a company not testing their candidates is a red flag.

            1. Meg*

              It is similar for my industry. I’m a web developer and currently a contractor. So my interview process tends to be like:

              1. Phone screen. Really not an interview, just some clarification on skills and possible fit because the recruiters usually have little to no programming background and just looking to see if it matches with what their client is looking for.

              2. Phone screen with another developer, or technical lead of the contracting company to evaluate knowledge of skills. Often times, it may be a code sample, or simple project. Once I had a PSD and had to make a high-fidelity prototype (or mock, something that would typically be used for usability testing and not a production-grade application or page).

              3. In-person interview with the client, where I’d see the work site and meet with my on-site manager and other developers, get a feel for the type of work I’d be expected to do, some sort of technical evaluation.

              I don’t actually discuss salary requirements with my client; my contractor hashes that out with HR on my behalf. I’ve never been asked for a salary history either, luckily. But my manager doesn’t know what I make, so I don’t really get raises. If I want a raise, I’d go to the contracting company. Usually though I’m locked into a rate by contract, but say the contract was expiring and I was negotiating a renewal or an extension – that’s when I would ask for a raise.

          2. Emily K*

            My employer uses a process like this:

            1. Phone screen with HR.
            2. In-person first-round interviews with supervisor and supervisor’s supervisor.
            3. In-person second-round interviews with director and three peer-level colleagues.

            The phone screen is just to make sure you’re aligned on things like start date, salary expectations, and more procedural things like that. The first in-person interviews are more in-depth going over the position and what you’d be doing in it with the people who will be setting goals and managing you day-to-day. If someone makes it to the second in-person interviews, at that point it’s either because we want to hire them and want to check for cultural fit and increase the team and the candidate’s exposure to each other before making a decision, or it’s down to just 2-3 of candidates with very well-matched qualifications and the hiring managers want to hear the rest of the team’s thoughts on who is a better fit.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


      Second interviews are typically extended to a smaller group of final candidates.

      The interviewers can be an entirely new group of people. They might be peer level or they might be the higher ups. In my world, I usually only interview at 2nd interview, after the candidates have been screened to final group.

      We’re primarily looking for cultural fit at second interview.


      How does one go about getting time off without having the current employer suspect something. I’m also in a position where if my current boss finds that I’m looking to move, she will let me go immediately

      We are sensitive to this anyway but especially at 2nd interview, realizing the person has already taken work time once for the first. We’ll arrange interview hours at off times (8 in the morning, 6 at night) if the candidate requests.

      Hopefully this helps!

      1. Dan*

        What type of people are you hiring? As I posted above, second interviews make me curious — I’ve only had to do them once, and never for the four professional offers I’ve received. Just for the sake of conversation, my current position started me just shy of six figures, so it’s not as if I’m interviewing for really low level positions where they’re just willing to take a chance.

        It’s probably worth adding that in my field, employers expect to interview out of town candidates so they’re used to setting up a process where everything gets knocked out in a day.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


          I think the out of town thing is the key. If we were bringing people from out of town, that would be the defacto second interview, because we’d only take their time and our money for a group of finalists if travel was involved.

          But, we pretty much never bring people in from out of town so not an issue there.

          In our world, all jobs have a second interview with different people interviewing than the first. Warehouse, sales reps, marketing, graphic artists, clerical, accounting, IT, programming, everything.

          Second interviews are conversations. When I second interview, I don’t take a pad and pen, I don’t take any notes. I just sit down and talk to the person. (I do not second interview everybody, I’d go mad. I second interview people who are more closely in my sphere but everybody gets second interviewed — except temps, who just get first interviewed.)

          1. Dan*

            Fair enough. Generally, “Interview #1” is a phone call with technical staff or management. It’s always interesting to see who they decide gets to make the decision to come onsite for the interview. Sometimes it’s an analyst, and sometimes it’s a VP of sorts. Oh, sometimes there’s an “Interview #0” which is a chat with HR. That doesn’t really count in my book.

            If I make it on site, I most certainly will meet with the key decision makers as part of the day, as well as others in the “chain”.

            Everybody who interviews me has my resume in front of them. But you are right, for me, the best interviews are “conversations”. If you stick to a canned script, forget it. If you want to talk about who I am, what I do, have done, and can bring to the company, I’m all for it.

            One of the things that I find interesting with this blog is reading different people’s interview experiences, and the crap they have to put up with for presumably a lot less money.

            So far, Operation Smile takes the cake. All of that crap for $12.50/hr? WTF?

      2. De Minimis*

        At OldJob, if you got to a second interview you had a really good chance at getting an offer [it was the type of place where they hired several people at once, so you weren’t really competing for a limited number of spots.]

        The first interview was to determine a general sense of “fit,” and the second interview involved meeting with the people that you would be working with, and also to give you a sense of what it was like to work there. They were really mindful of the idea that it was a two-way street and the need to sell the candidate on the idea of working there.

    3. OP 2nd Interview*

      Now that I think about it here is how it really went down;

      1st day – phone screen
      2nd day – skills test (went in casual, that’s what HR insisted)
      3rd day – 4 people interviw (1 hour each separately)
      4th day – been asked, need to agree on time

      See where my dilemma; I’ve had 3 day requests already. At most I thought it will be 2 days off. Now I’m guessing if all is well I’ll need a “drug test” day.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        That seems awfully inconsiderate. I hope the job is worth it and you get it.

        We do a phone interview mostly at your convenience. Any skills testing is combined with first interview so, absolute max 2 hours there. 2nd interview is max 2 hours, usually less, and we’ll accommodate around your work hours if requested.

        Of course, we’re not a special snowflake employer who can afford to drive off good people with unreasonable time demands.

        1. OP 2nd Interview*

          I think it’s worthy it. My salary will change from 36K to 56K. My commute time will cut the distance in half. I just hope it works out, I’m hopeful. I don’t think I can go through this again for another 6 months.

          1. VictoriaHR*

            Wishing you luck!! I’m sorry your current boss is such a brat. She shouldn’t be in management if she’d let someone go just for looking elsewhere.

          2. Dan*

            Good luck! We’ve seen people sweat over $5k and a longer commute. I’ve been known to point out that taxes and increased commuting expenses are going to suck up most of it, and you’ll see relatively little increase.

            But $20k and a shorter commute? Sounds like heaven, and no wonder why you’re anxious.

            Good luck.

          3. Anonymous*

            If you think your employer will let you go as soon as you give notice (assuming you get the offer and accept) then you may want to mention that to the place you are interviewing at. I did that because I knew my Old Job would ask me to leave right away (IT related) and I didn’t want to go 2 weeks without pay. I didn’t have vacation accrued to fall back on. They agreed to an earlier start date if I was asked to leave immediately which I was. Just a thought.

        2. Dan*

          Same here. I’ve had on-site skills tests combined with the first interview. Lately, I’ve done web-based skills tests from home, no need to take off work for that.

  2. Anon Today*

    Wow, this is up early! Anyhow, perfect timing. So I just got a new job, and started this week. Its kind of boring, just being that I’m still learning things, but I think I’ll like it. With that in mind, I have 2 questions.

    #1 How proactive do they really want me to be this early. Its a sales role, and while I am doing some shadowing of people and listening in on calls, a lot of it is just me getting familiar with our product and competitors. I’m kind of letting my manager dictate what I should be doing, and I have a check in with him at the end of every day and he is like “I know you are keeping yourself busy” and things like that. I don’t want to look lazy, but I also feel like I should just follow his lead.

    #2 Is about hours. So my first day the owner (who offered me the job since its a smallish company) told me to be in at 9am. In order to not to look lazy, I didn’t ask about an end time. I figured it would be 530 or 6. Well, my manager and the owner who both came in after me, left before me. Thats fine, since I know how it goes when you have been somewhere a while, but I never really got a sense of when I should leave. Finally yesterday I asked about the “standard” hours. He basically said people usually work 9-6 or 8-5 with an hour lunch. If you don’t take the full hour, you can leave a bit early. I personally am more of a morning person, so I’d prefer 8-5, but he comes in at varying times. So today I got in at 830, but he wasn’t there til after 9, so he doesn’t know when I got in. In order to not look bad I ended up staying til almost 6 (with no real work going on AND a shorter lunch). Should I just suck it up and do 9-6 for now for appearance sake?

    1. Anon E Mouse*

      In regards to #2, I would work 9-6 until you’re more on your own. If the person you’re shadowing comes in at 9 (or a little after), there’s no point in being in before him.

      1. Anon Today*

        Problem is, I’m not really shadowing one person. There are 2 other sales people, a guy and a girl, in my area that I’m kind of watching and working with at different points, and both of them come in and leave at different times each day, depending on what they have going on. The guy has more sales, and stuff in the pipeline, so he definitely stays longer. The girl on the other hand, I’ve been in before her everyday, and she still leaves before me, and that connection isn’t lost on me. As I said, I have no problem staying a bit later once I have work, but for now, I’d just like to figure out a normal schedule.

        1. Jen RO*

          Since you’re so new, I’d go with 9 to 6, to be on the safe side. If you come in at 8 and leave at 5, the people who come at 9 might think you’d only been there since 8.55. Once you’re more established I’m sure you’ll be able to be more flexible.

          1. Jen RO*

            Oh, and I’ll also add the obvious: ask! Since everyone else’s hours seem to be all over the place, it won’t be weird to clarify with your boss.

            1. Anon Today*

              Like I said, I did ask, and he just said “8-5 or 9-6 is what people work”. So it seems like he was giving me the “option”, however as you said, if I get in at 8:30 and others get in at 9, they don’t know that I didn’t get there 5 min before them but am leaving a half hour before.

              1. Just a Reader*

                I actually got dinged on this once–my workplace had a mandatory 55-hour work week. So I would come in very very early (like 7) and leave at 6.

                I got into trouble for “leaving early” because nobody ever saw what time I got in due to a late-working culture.

                It was a salaried writing position. And possibly the worst job I’ve ever had.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      The only thing that is important in a sales job, especially in a smaller company, is sales. The way you make a good impression is sales. The way you make a bad impression is appearing overly interested in things that aren’t sales, like what hours you work, how long your lunch is, and when you get to leave.

      Sales jobs are super simple this way. There’s not much to worry about it and politics mean nothing as long as you are selling.

      Since you can’t sell yet, the one thing you don’t want to do is leave before your boss does, even if you come in at 4am. Work hard at learning and start selling as soon as you can. Once you are selling, if you do well, you can likely work however you please and whenever you please as long as the numbers are there.

      1. Anon Today*

        I get that, but my boss is preparing for some big conference next week, so the last couple days he has been putting in crazy hours, and it will be like him, me and maybe 2 other people in the office. So I’m trying to base it more on when my colleagues leave, but they are all over the place in arrival and leaving time. I’d like a bit more of something set while I’m still getting my feet wet. Of course I know that when I’m selling, I’ll have to come in early, stay late, or both, depending on clients. But for now, it just feels unnecessary to never have any clue when I can leave.

      2. E.R*

        Eh, I disagree with this. I’m a salesperson and a sales manager, for a company of about 10 people. I’ve also worked for huge companies. On the one hand, your sales definitely matter. Of course they do. Just like if you were a marketing person, your marketing really matters. But its not ALL that matters. How much effort you put in, how you get a long with your co-workers (because sales doesnt happen in a vacuum, you are representing your company and often working with people outside your sales department to get things done. If your coworkers like you, you will get more done), being a team player etc. No matter how great a sales person you are, you are doing to hit rough patches where you are not bringing in that much. If you’ve got the rest (attitude, work ethic, company support) you have a much better chance of being kept on board until things improve. If you want to be defined solely on your sales numbers, and not worry about all that other stuff, go for it. But if will hit a rough patch eventually, and nobody will miss you.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Yeah, my answer was over simplistic and your answer is more complete. Mine was a 101 answer and yours i s the 201 and 301 answer.

          A good sales person also has to sell internally to get cooperation. We all know “that guy” who is obnoxious to/uncooperative with support staff, for instance, who is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s hard to sustain success when people around you are rooting for you to fail.

          My over simple answer was about time in/out and appearance politics. There’s so short a window when it makes a difference, after that it’s numbers that matter. Appearing hard working/focused on learning so you are ready to sell sell sell when it is time IS important, but other people stop thinking about it as soon as you are selling.

          * disclaimer: there’s a whole “call report culture” which is different from this and an environment that I think is dysfunctional and unproductive. Sales reps in this culture are overmanaged and judged also by what they put on their call report and get to enjoy sales manager questions like “why do you have 3 appointments scheduled for this day instead of 5” and “what do you mean you need half an office day on Friday to do paperwork, do that at night, schedule more appointments”.

          Nothing you or I said applies in one of those dreary places.

    3. Dan*

      WRT #1: Those kinds of people drive me nuts. I’M NEW DUDE. I need some hand holding for a week or so.

      My current organization is a 700 person group in a 7000 person company. My boss told me where expected to find our own work and pitch in where we can. Um, dude, I’m new, and I don’t know anybody. What am I supposed to do, walk down the hall with my hand held out holding a plastic cup in one hand, and a sign in the other saying “will work for food?”

      They *want* you to be a fully trained employee day one. Ya ain’t gonna be. So be “proactive” until they tell you to stop. Delicate balancing act.

      FWIW, I ended up quitting one job, because after a year, I was tired of asking for work.

      1. Anon Today*

        Exactly. I don’t think it will be bad for too long, but I’d at least like some guidance on what to be doing, looking at, researching, etc. I don’t want to just go up to one of my colleagues and ask to look over their shoulder all day, because I don’t know who the manager wants me to work with for what.

        To make matters worse, since I’m new I’m trying to avoid browsing the net for non-work stuff, so even though I could easily entertain myself in the down times, I’m not doing that muc.

      2. De Minimis*

        That is the exact situation I found myself in…they just set a bunch of us loose to sink or swim and find something to do. You had some people who had interned before and had a network in place, the rest of us had to scrounge around just to get someone to let us make copies.

    4. Cube Diva*

      I think it depends on if they’re as concerned about your hours as you are. When I started my job, I was told what hours I should work, which weren’t the same as my boss’s. Then, everyone was gone for a pre-planned meeting my entire second week. I didn’t have to check in, my boss assumed I’d work my hours, and on the list we talked about before everyone left. I was treated like an adult, and when they returned, the focus was on what I got done during the week, not if I worked 7.5 hours one of the days.

      Also- my boss comes in and leaves about an hour before I do each day. It’s just assumed that the rest of us be here to get our stuff done. I realize this may not be the case at your new position, but if they’re not concerned about it, just make sure you’re learning and doing what you need to be doing. They’ll notice that more than random half hours.

  3. Sandrine*

    Hi all! I recently wrote to Alison about a possible internal transfer that my friends were saying was a bad idea… and did not get it (instead of “strong characters” in that department, it’s more like “catty b******” and the manager thinks I’d be eaten alive).

    Now, my boss has made it clear that I am on the priority list for a transfer next time one comes up. Only thing is, of course, no one knows when that might happen.

    Since my call center job has been driving me crazy for the past two years and a half, any tips to help me wait a little more? I want to stick it out until I’m here at least three full years (better on the résumé) and I’m already at my breaking point…

    1. Dan*

      Make up little games to keep yourself entertained or little challenges to focus your mind.

      Odd thing with call centers: I do analytics work, and it turns out that one of my coworkers and I used to work for the same company about ten years ago. He used to do call center work, where I worked “in the field.” I told him that I hated to tell him this, but I know your job sucked while mine was awesome, and I bet he cussed me out when I had to call the call center. (They didn’t like employees calling in, although we kinda had to from time to time.)

      FWIW, I had a huge problem with 800 FLOWERS a couple of years ago, they tried telling me that they attempted delivery three days in a row and nobody was home. I got on the phone with the call center, and told the rep that I had nothing to do for the next two hours, and that I knew he couldn’t hang up on me. So he had a choice: Find a way to get my flowers delivered *pronto* or I’d drive up his call stats. Keep in mind they wouldn’t give me the contact info for the local florist or have the florist call me.

      I got my flowers delivered. It totally pissed me off, because they were delivered within 15 minutes after they “caved” (I think I was on the phone for an hour or so). And when I saw the address on the card, the florist ist at *least* 30 minutes away, and not the “around the corner” florist. Meaning they were in the neighborhood and wouldn’t circle back. That made me mad, ’cause I was home all day and heard nobody knock.

      1. Sandrine*

        As for the games, well, sometimes I do write down my call stats down to see how they progress during the day, sometimes I have a stack of paper to draw on (you’d be surprised at how much you can draw when you can’t hang up on a customer having difficulty programming their phones because they just won’t listen to you) … sometimes, despite it being forbidden, I just have a stash of food (that I share, though) and then sometimes the ultimate “THIS IS NOT ALLOWED” … I use my phone.

        I’m not a rebel by nature, mind you. And I do everything as discreetly as I can, not making noise, no food noises to customers (loving the mute button for that when you’ve just taken a sip of soda and… you know…) , desk always neat, I pick up my trash and am a team player and all…

        What’s sad about your 800 FLOWERS story though is that in my case, there are tons of things we cannot do as phone operators (unlike other providers) because, apparently, ever since the service started my company realized some assholes employees were abusing the system so their scrapped some responsibilities (like changing the e-mail once account is verified or changing their bank information) .

        Thank you for your contribution, every bit helps, even if someone comes in and tells me to suck it up xD .

        1. Dan*

          One of the sad things with work is that many times, your only choices are to suck it up or leave.

          I know that when I lead projects, if my subordinates object to the way I do things or the way things are going (and they can’t convince me to change my mind) their only real choice is to leave if they can’t suck it up. Boss put *me* in charge for a reason, and sometimes I have to draw the line.

          Don’t get me wrong, I do listen to those underneath me, but if my boss likes the way things are going, the client likes the way things are going, and I like the way things are going, it’s going to be harder for those in the trenches to make much changes.

          1. Sandrine*

            I do get that, but sometimes, it’s eerie how things just simply don’t make processes go any easier.

            For example, for the email thing I was talking about. Used to be that a customer would verify a few things, I could change the e-mail to whatever they wanted me to, boom, done.

            Except we get customer service surveys sometimes, and some coworkers would change the email to theirs, wait until the survey came in, give themselves a boost, and change the email back (or so the rumor says).

            And now I’m thinking… why not fire those people, instead of punishing the others ?

            Just like note taking on files when dealing with a call. Every call, we create a note to indicate that today there was a call, then we can create different tabs sub-notes to differentiate between questions.

            As silly as it might be… they decided to get rid of the ability to copy and paste when leaving those notes. When you just have to write “Info about service in X plan” it’s good, but when it’s more complicated (like questions about an invoice that you’d need to get the details for) you find yourself having to retype it all… worse, if the system breaks, you can’t even copy your note and have to restart all over o_o .

            I know these are probably nitpicky, but I pride myself in my integrity to do great work while honoring guidelines, and it makes me sad to see that they only see bad people doing things so they get rid of “perks” that made our jobs easier :( .

            1. Dan*

              Sometimes sh!tty management is just that, and call centers seem to have their own special place when it comes to that.

              If it makes you feel better, I once had a job that required us to break the rules every day we showed up to work. At that job, they required 3 people to do Function X. I worked midnights, where Function X was a major part of our responsibilities. But they only staffed us with 2 people. So how were we supposed to do our jobs and stay within guidelines?

              They made things worse when somebody at a different location had an accident while performing Function X with less than the “required” amount of people. The guy had been with the company for like 19 years, and they fired him for violating policy. And they sent out a company wide announcement about it.

              Other than that, I liked that job. But these days, I thank my lucky stars that I have a job where we act like adults and get treated like adults, we can come and go as we please, take vacation without having to worry about finding coverage (and take our full allotment without crap from management), not work more than 40 hours a week, work from home at the first hint of snow (no worries about being the crazy person who’s too afraid to drive), oh, and not have to deal with the general public.

              1. Chriama*

                This reminds me of the Series of unfortunate events book “The Austere Academy” where the principal made one of the characters work in his office every day and then punished her for being in the admin building. So bizarre it’s amusing!

            2. en pointe*

              I can see how that must be frustrating – when they implement things that make life harder, and effectively punish everybody, because a few employees act without integrity… rather than just dealing with the employees acting without integrity. Hope your transfer comes through soon!

      2. Jen RO*

        First time I read this I thought you were having 800 actual flowers delivered… derp.

    2. Jen RO*

      No advice, I just hope you have nice coworkers to commiserate with. And I’ll take you out to lunch next time I’m in Paris, if it makes you feel better :P

      1. Sandrine*

        Jen RO, I’d be more happy to have lunch with any AAM commenter coming to the city ;) .

        And to be honest, I do think that my coworkers have made up for some of the stuff I’ve been feeling. Especially one of them who’s just a fascinating person that I can’t be thankful enough for!

    3. Josh S*

      Call center work is hard because so much is tied to your media like handle time or calls answered.

      There’s 2 routes to go to make the next months bearable : the first is to find something to occupy your mind and entertain yourself so you’re not focused on how miserable you are. Drawing, etc.
      The second is to find a way to make your work itself more meaningful (and therefore less unbearable) . This is harder, but more fulfilling. It might be working on a filing /organizing project, or making sure the call routing IVR has enough people staged on each skill /prompt to keep queue handle times equal. Our finding way to make the work less miserable for your coworkers.

      If you choose #2, it will be hard. But you’ll accomplish 2 things. A) demonstrate that you’re not just in a holding pattern til something better comes along (even if that’s true), and b) show that you’re *already * doing the work expected of someone who is a supervisor.

      Good luck, and hope that promotion comes soon. Call center work is no fun.

      1. Anon #2*

        #2 is great advice, Josh S.

        Sandrine, in addition to the advice offered, also consider increasing your level of enjoyable activities outside of work. The more positive input you have in your life, the more diluted the dissatisfying areas at work will become. There will still be the effects of dissatisfaction, but hopefully they’ll be less bothersome.

        Also, by increasing your activities outside of work, you may end up forming relationships with people who can be influential if and when you choose to move on from the call center.

        Best of luck as you wait out the 6 months (or sooner, if a transfer comes through before then)!

        1. Sandrine*

          Thank you. I actually applied to be a sort of supervisor three times, and despite acing the tests, I bombed the interviews and didn’t get the opportunities (but I get really nervous in interviews… ouchies) . Thing is, one of the supervisors, that I was friendly with during a special work week together, told me I should avoid it at all costs anyway because it’s a soul sucking experience and they’re not treated any better than we phone monkeys are.

          So right now, the aim is to get somewhere where I can get rid of that pesky “phone” thing :P .

    4. Tiff*

      That kinda sucks, and I’m sorry. I work in customer service with the public daily, and people can sometimes make you wonder how we even survived the Stone Age. I had a crappy job for almost 2 years, and I tried a lot of tricks just to get myself through the day – doodling, commiserating, munching. All I got from it was a few extra pounds and proof positive that I would never have a career in art. What DID make me feel better was documenting my accomplishments (just an email to myself that I kept in a folder on outlook), looking at jobs I wanted to get and making plans on how I could get the experience needed to get those jobs. In the face of gloom and despair, productivity and ambition made me feel much better.

      Just thought I’d share what works for me.

      1. Sandrine*

        Thanks for sharing!

        The food thing is kinda problematic for me because we have 30 minutes we can take as a break every day, and the most common way is 3×10 even though we can negociate for a different arrangement if need be. No more lunch hour, weee!

        Which means that I usually wake up at 4:30 AM, get up at 5:30, leave at 5:50, leave work at about 3 PM and I’m home by 5:30 PM… if I’m lucky (it’s usually more like 7:30PM to have something that resembles a social life outside of work). So I can only eat a real real meal right after work, and *at* work I mostly get either salty snacks that I eat during breaks, or sugary stuff that will help between calls (or during calls when I really need that sugar boost).

        To Anon #2, I forgot to reply that I’m actually trying to find new things to go. There’s a writing workshop once a month. I have a newly found obsession with nail polish (amidst -forgot spelling- all that, I finally managed to stop biting my nails! woohoo!) . I want to buy a bike. I’ll be in New Jersey at the end of May for a wedding. I adopted two cats. Moved into my own apartment at the end of January. And am quite happy geeking out with the HDMI cable between the TV and the laptop so that my TV becomes a glorified Skype/OtherTabs screen when I’m reading AAM or Facebook :P.

        I also write songs, and try to sing (even though the French version of American Idol would say I’m a major fail… that’s a fun story for another day) . So all in all, I can’t really say I don’t have anything to do… but sometimes it feels like it’s not enough :P .

        I really, really appreciate the time you all took to reply *_* . Just that act makes me all… I don’t know, hopeful. Optimistic. And smile.

        Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    5. Emma*

      Someone here* suggested, to another call center peon who needed motivation ages ago, to pretend that her customers were time travelers to the present. So…pretend you’re helping Dr. Frankenstein program his phone so he can send a selfie with his monster to Igor?

      1. Sandrine*

        Oh darn it didn’t post from my phone :( !

        Good one, Emma. I do wish I had a Tardis to show people around, though. Might be more useful than trying to teach them.

        Sadly, I only have a screwdriver that beeps and lights up… I need a blue police box ASAP :(

  4. Emma*

    I’m looking into occupational or physical therapy as a possible master’s degree/career.

    Any current or former students or practitioners want to give me the low-down on those two fields? What you like and don’t like? Ease or difficulty in finding relevant, full-time work after graduation? How fulfilling is the work compared to your expectations?

    1. A Teacher*

      Well, this is cool this is my niche. I’m an athletic trainer and worked for a large physical therapy company full time before switching to teaching full time and working as an athletic trainer PRN for a smaller company. I also am an adjunct at a college that has a PTA program and teach a prereq needed to get into OT/PT school. Okay, so specifically: job stability is good and you have a lot of options when it comes to settings to work in for both OT/PT. You have to be good with people because you should be working 1:1 especially when you are working with Medicare (this is a legal thing, some companies violate it though) for up to an hour at a time. You will be dealing with patients from all walks of life which is cool if you like to learn about people and deal with diverse populations. Some of the injuries/illnesses that you help to treat are interesting and its always rewarding when you help a patient on their path to wellness. Most companies compensate fairly well and finding a job shouldn’t be that complicated–at least it hasn’t been for my many, many friends that work in the field.

      Downfalls: can be very tedious; paperwork sucks–it just does; carpal tunnel and low back problems are common. Insurance mandates are not fun to deal with (and more paperwork). A lot of the bigger PT companies, at least in the Chicagoland area that I’ve worked in and have friends in, tend to have pretty high turnover. Backstabbing to get ahead is an issue that you will see. Burnout tends to be higher too.

      The job is very rewarding, I don’t think that ever stops. Even working part time, helping people is rewarding. You do learn to draw a line and at times I think you do depersonalize your patients. I didn’t like working in a PT clinic because it was the same thing day in and day out–but there are a ton of options for PTs and OTs after graduation. Most of my friends have stayed in their various settings for 2-3 years for the first job and moved on. Several have been through 4 different positions in the 8-10 years they’ve been in practice, its common to move between companies where I’m from. All of my PT/OT/ATC friends like their degrees and what they do, they may not like a specific employer but they do like their professions.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        FWIW, PTs and OTs often end up in the management roles in allied health jobs (rehab hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, etc.). From what I have seen, there is a lot of ability to change employers in allied health–much greater than other fields.

        From what I understand, the DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) is now the required degree (not Master’s), so you should be aware of that. I agree with what A Teacher says above–to that I would add: if there is a particular population or practice area w/in PT/OT, be sure to do a grad program that allows you to gain as much experience in that area as possible (ie, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports, stroke rehab, etc.). Good luck!

    2. OhNo*

      I don’t have any insight into what the profession itself is like – but I can tell you that if you decide to go the OT/PT route for a career, your patients will (for the most part) appreciate the hell out of you. I spent 6 months in physical rehab, and I still remember every PT I ever worked with, and I still go back to visit some of my favorite therapists occasionally, six years later.

      From what I’ve seen in my area, working part time seems to be the norm for most therapists. If that is true in other places, I don’t know.

    3. anon*

      My husband is enrolled in a physical therapy grad program right now. He loves it. He worked as a physical therapy tech and took a lot of prerequisites at a community college before getting into school.

      He’s a really active kind of guy who never wanted to sit at a desk job all day. But he wanted to enter a well-paying profession with a good career outlook that involved helping people. With baby boomers aging, physical therapists are supposed to have great job security (unlike a lot of other professions where things can constantly change). Plus, you can enter a lot of different specialties throughout your career. You could work at a rehab center, an outpatient clinic, a hospital, a nursing home, etc.

      From what I’ve seen, I think you have to be a really good communicator who is comfortable working closely with people all day long (people who may be in pain and not at their best, too). You also need a strong academic record to get into school. Hope this info helps!

      1. anon*

        And one more thing — compared to other medical professions, physical therapists work pretty ideal daytime hours. They don’t have to be scheduled on night shifts or be on call like physicians do. If you are concerned about family-work balance, this can be a big plus.

    1. Anonicorn*

      That would be interesting, though not for my part since it would be a picture of me in front of a computer, sometimes avidly typing and other times leaning back and throwing a ball against a wall.

    2. Jamie*

      Yours is more moving – but it reminded me of the funny ones.

      Just google “what my parents think i do” and your profession.

      Love this one:;_ylt=AwrB8o8k5BlTg1IAVl2JzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTIzY211NWg5BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAMyMDhmZWEwODJhZjQ1NjFlNDlhZjk3NzBjMTlmMGE2MwRncG9zAzQxBGl0A2Jpbmc-?…&p=what+my+parents+think+i+do+computer&oid=208fea082af4561e49af9770c19f0a63&fr2=sb-top&fr=chr-greentree_ff&tt=%3Cb%3Emy+%3C%2Fb%3Efriends+%3Cb%3Ethink+I+do+%3C%2Fb%3E%E2%80%93+%3Cb%3Ewhat+my+%3C%2Fb%3Emom+thinks+%3Cb%3EI+do+%3C%2Fb%3E%E2%80%93+%3Cb%3Ewhat+I+think+%3C%2Fb%3E…&b=0&ni=240&no=41&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=11lupvfe2&sigb=14h9v6drt&sigi=12r9te08r&.crumb=vkV03T0D7dW&fr=chr-greentree_ff

  5. Trixie*

    Also watching the 1980 production of Price & Prejudice on Netflix. After all the various themes and spin-offs written, someone should write one from Anne DeBerg’s perspective. Maybe see her settle down Colonel Fitzwilliam!

    1. LisaLyn*

      I’ve always felt bad for poor Anne. It wasn’t her fault she was sickly — it was probably because her mother never let her leave the house.

    2. LPBB*

      Each time I re-read P&P, I’m still a little sad that Lizzie doesn’t end up with Colonel Fitzwilliam. Even though he’s only in it for a chapter(?), it seems like he and Lizzie have better chemistry than Lizzie and Darcy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy at the end that she ends up with Darcy, but there’s always a little “what if” for me during that portion of the book.

  6. MJ*

    Woohoo, loving this timing! (Waves at everyone from 6.40pm on Friday in New Zealand).

    Putting my question from last week’s thread out there again as I was about 1100 comments down last time!

    I’m looking for advice/resources on plus-size corporate fashion, specifically for a big but very hourglassy shape. Most of the corporate fashion blogs are more mainstream-sized. Any recommendations?

    1. Pepper*

      Fellow Kiwi here!! No advice sorry, except have you tried Ezibuy? They have plus size, not sure about corporate but worth a look. Quality can be iffy though.

      1. MJ*

        Ezibuy are so hit and miss, some of their stuff is amazing and some of it is complete rubbish! I do always keep an eye on their website though :o)

    2. Stephanie*

      Ooh, I struggle with this too! I’m that awkward size where I’m just slightly too large for some straight sizes, but too small for plus sizes. I just wear a lot of dresses/skirts as I find they’re more forgiving size-wise.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know of any blogs offhand. I’ll be monitoring this thread myself.

      1. louise*

        Me too! And I’ve just, um, grown into this stage so I’m really awkward when I shop and have no idea what dept I belong in! The last time I was on the bubble of needing different depts, I was 12 and my mom would run back and forth while I tried things in (and/or had a meltdown, ha!). Now I’m all by myself and I almost cried at kohls recently!

      1. en pointe*

        I love Asos, and they have sales all the time. I’m pretty sure there’s a separate plus size section with curvier models as well, which could better allow you to see how things are likely to sit and so on.

      2. VictoriaHR*

        Check out Gwynnie Bee, it’s basically a clothes sharing service where you can “check out” cute clothes (up to size 32) and they will mail them to you, you wear them until you get bored, send ’em back, they send you something else. I’m in my one-month free trial at the moment, haven’t received my first item yet. But they do have ASOS items, so you can try the fit/style before you buy things.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          Ooh just saw you’re in NZ, ok Gwynnie Bee wouldn’t work for you, but maybe there’s a NZ equivalent. Oh well, my post might help someone else :)

        2. Sarah Says*

          You should check out -they customize a lot of the outfit to your specifications

    3. Rayner*

      Yoursclothing is a life saver – uk sizes 14-32, and a wide wide variety of clothing from corporate to not. Their shipping is really reasonable too – pretty much world wide, I think – and they’re always having a sale.

      I cannot recommend them enough – when I was panicking because nowhere in a brick store had nice clothes for plus sized people like me, they saved my life. No more wearing sacks and being told that was it – I could actually wear nice clothes!

      *Not paid to endorse this, I just really really love that company.

    4. Dan*

      No advice, although I’m traveling to Australia in a few months. First time Down Under, although I’ve been to SE Asia several times.

      Travel times from the US East coast to OZ are INSANE if you travel through Asia. I’ve got a 14 hour flight followed by a 10 hour flight, with only one stop.

      Considering it’s less than 8 hours to Europe, those kinds of travel times are nuts. It’s like flying on the longest flight you’ve ever been on, followed by a flight longer than it takes to get to Europe. Ugh.

      1. Stephanie*

        I get really antsy on long flights. I think just because I can’t really see the trip progress (just hours and hours of clouds). I do love watching landing and takeoff, especially if it’s like DC, NYC, or Chicago and has a cool-looking approach. But I find the whole experience an unpleasant necessity.

        Some of it, too, is that I grew up doing a ton of road trips. My sister’s autistic and flights were a little too stimulating when she was young (it was exactly like that airport scene in Rain Man), so we just drove everywhere (like 1000+ mi trips).

        So yeah, reading you had 24 hours of flying just made me tense up. But I suppose your other alternative is…a boat? Probably not.

        1. Dan*

          Other choice is not go. This trip is strictly voluntary :) I’ve been really lucky with the frequent flyer mile game, I’ve collected over 1.5 million miles over the last couple of years. So, my tickets are free and I don’t have to fly coach, which makes things so much more tolerable. Sometimes even enjoyable. If I had to fly this far in coach (and pay for it) I probably wouldn’t go.

          The funny thing is, I’ve been to more countries than I have states at this point (we’re talking 20+ countries). I joke that I might actually see some of the US when I run out of miles and have to start buying tickets.

          Long car rides bore me after awhile though. When I fly, I can grab some booze, zone out, watch movies, and get waited on hand and foot. I kinda like it.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, they can be boring. But I do credit all those trips with never getting motion sickness (and being able to read pretty much anywhere).

            Main advantage to driving (in the US at least) is that there’s a ton of stuff I never would have seen without taking some detour on some 16-hour car ride (like all the national parks in the Western US).

            1. Jen RO*

              A road trip through the US is on my (nonexistent) bucket list. It’s unlikely it will ever happen, but it sounds really cool!

              1. en pointe*

                A friend and I have been talking about a US road trip since high school as well. We need to wait till we’re a) 21 and b) less poor, but we’re heaps keen.

                Although, I’m also pretty jealous of you tbh – you can visit so many other European countries so easily!

                1. Jen RO*

                  That’s true, Paris is only a 3 hour flight away for me. Being in the EU has been so amazing, the difference is huge compared to 15 years ago. I have Turkish friends and everything is horribly expensive for them, even though it’s just one extra hour of flying. I don’t care about the economic aspects, but I absolutely love the EU for making travel so easy. And maybe one day they will pressure the US to waive visas for all EU members! Though, as my boyfriend so nicely put it, now that I’m old (30 :P), the US might give me a visa after all.

              2. Stephanie*

                Every time I head to the Grand Canyon, I’m amazed at the number of foreign visitors.

              3. louise*

                Ooh! I live a mile off a *very* famous road trip route through the US and my favorite coffee shop caters to the European tourists who fly to Chicago, rent a car, and drive to LA. If you ever make that US road trip, I’ll treat you to coffee!

                1. athek*

                  I work a mile off of this same route, but I’m assuming in a different part of the county, since I’ve never heard of this coffee shop. :)

      2. MJ*

        Ha, we really are so far from anywhere!

        I went to the Philippines a few weeks ago. 1 hour flight to Auckland, 11 hour flight to Hong Kong, 2 hour flight to Manila. Then back again three days later.

        1. Dan*

          I’d do that only if work made me and told me I didn’t have a choice. 14 hours of flying time gets me to Japan or China or something like that, so I wouldn’t do it for a vacation of less than a week. (I did China for a week in grad school, that was fun…)

          But one of the major differences with your part of the world that may make that somewhat tolerable is that you’re dong mostly North-South flying with few time zone changes. For us in the USA, for that much flying, we’re crossing a sh!t tone of time zones, which wreaks havoc on the body clock. Only exception is flying down to southern south american — that’s 10 hours of flying and only one or two time zone changes.

          1. MJ*

            What? Noooo, not at all. New Zealand is GMT+12, almost no one is in our timezone. The east coast of Australia, the closest country, is two hours behind us. Hong Kong/Indonesia/etc is 5 hours behind.

          2. Anonymous*

            Hey! Do you have any advice for a first time flyer (on United) going to Venice from the Midwest (USA)? I have no idea what to pack and or even what to expect. Any tips would be appreciated. I’m not even sure what type of luggage to buy. Can I bring my own snacks?

            1. Anonymous*

              Check the United website to see how many bags you can bring, the maximum dimensions, and the maximum weight. Yes, you can bring your own snacks to eat on the plane, but not your own liquids (bring an empty bottle to fill from a water fountain). Use seatguru to check out how much space you’ll have. Make sure you have your passport and have called your credit card company to tell them you may be using your card overseas.

      3. Meg*

        That’s how it was when I went to Guam (my brother is in the air force, and is stationed there. I spent a few weeks there with him and his wife). I live on the east coast, and had stop after stop… Philadelphia to Houston to LAX, then LAX to Japan, then Japan to Guam. It was about 5 hours from Philadelphia to Houston to LAX, then about 14 hours from LAX to Japan, and another 3-4 hours from Japan to Guam.

        My SIL is from California and she flies back and forth a couple times a year, especially when he’s out of the country on assignment and she’s by herself. And she flies into San Jose or San Francisco, and says its usually a 19-hour flight from Guam to California.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Lucky!!! I want to go there.

        I’m trying to figure out and plan a trip to the UK this year. I went to London as a high school graduate, to visit my aunt who lives there (my mother’s sister, who at the time was married to a Brit). I absolutely loved it. My ancestry is English and I felt really connected to it, even as a tourist. Unfortunately, I was never able to go back.

        I’d like to see my aunt again (she’s in Surrey now, I think). Although we’ve visited when she came here, I haven’t seen her for a few years and I haven’t met her current bf and I want to see England again. I have several online friends there, a young friend from here who moved to Bath, and I’d like to visit Cardiff if I can. And I desperately need to get away from here for a bit. FAR away. My mom was supposed to go in March but she had to put it off. She’s planning to go in the fall, because she wants to avoid the tourists. I could not care less about that; I don’t need to mess about with tourist stuff in London because I’ve already seen it. I just want to GO.

        Airfare is going to be the worst part. Ugh.

        1. athek*

          I feel you– I’ve been to the UK three times and I just can’t stop. I had a dream I was there the other night…. I’m desperate to go back!

        2. Poe*

          I am living in the UK right now, and I LOVE IT. I spent years dreaming about it, and it has finally worked out. I only have a 2 year work visa, though, so my dream is time-limited, but I don’t care. As much as I’ve struggled with money, work, whatever, it’s been something I wouldn’t trade for stability and cash :)

          Cardiff is awesome – I was there for St Davids Day and it was a great weekend. Can’t wait to go back.

      2. Anonymous*

        US person here, who vacationed in NZ. There is SO much to do and see, a lot depends on your interests of course. I spent most of the time of the North Island and I loved Lake Taupo, which is in the middle of the North Island:

        I only made a short foray to the South Island, just to Nelson and Abel Tasmen National Park which was STUNNING!

        The flight is brutal and that’s just how it is…but when you get off the plan you’re in paradise so that helps :)

      3. MJ*

        Where exactly are you going? There is SO MUCH to see and do, so if you let me know where you’re headed (and for how long) I can absolutely give some advice :o)

    5. themmases*

      It won’t work if you prefer pants, but have you looked into eshakti? They make dresses, skirts, tops, and jackets and you can pay a small fee to customize the size to your measurements. They usually have a pretty solid collection of work-appropriate clothes, and often they’ll let you customize the length, neckline, and sleeves too to turn something work-appropriate.

      I am also very hourglassy, so I usually pay to customize things there and it has worked out great. They are also having a buy one, get one 50% off sale right now!

      The owner is in the U.S., but the blog Already Pretty also tends to have recommendations for plus-size women and women with specific body types. They style of the writers is more casual, but they’ve pointed me to several sites I’d never considered before.

    6. BB*

      check out nicolette mason dot com. She also writes ‘Big Girl in a Skinny World’ for Marie Claire US and has some stuff on Marie Claire’s website.

    7. NHNonprofitDirector*

      MJ, you might check out Sally at Not only does she frequently do features on plus size items per reader requests, but on Fridays she posts links to other fashion blogs and LOTS of them feature curvy and hourglassy very put-together women.

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Blogs: Hems for Her, Wardrobe Oxygen, Grown and Curvy Woman. There are lots!

    9. NOLA*

      I’ve had good luck with Pepperberry. Once you pick your size, you can further customize some items by ordering Curvy, Extra Curvy, or Super Curvey depending on how much room you need up top.

      I had bad luck with the customization at eShatki. My top, waist and hip measurements are starkly different. While the dress I ordered technically fit my measurements, the seamstress didn’t compensate for the extra fabric at the waist so it ended up being weirdly blousy. I had to go get it altered further. Maybe it was just the style I chose or maybe I’m just built funny, but it didn’t work for me.

    10. LD*

      I don’t wear plus-size but just this week I was searching for options to wear to several upcoming weddings and stumbled across They have lovely plus-sized clothing. You might have success there. Good Luck!

    11. Amanda*

      I’m plus sized as well, and from Australia. Corporate fashion is pretty ordinary for plus sized people here too, but my corporate wardrobe mostly consists of:
      – Talbots
      – Lands End
      – Myer (very hit and miss, but sometimes I strike gold)

  7. A Teacher*

    TGIF! I took a personal day (getting my taxes done) so I get to sleep in a bit and enjoy a day off :). My students just debated a career related topic: Should your employer be required to pay for birth control? in class. It lead to some very interesting viewpoints and great discussion with 16-18 year olds for an hour.

    1. Chuchundra*

      It’s the wrong question, though.

      The correct set of questions would be:

      1) Should the government set minimum standards for health insurance as to what is covered?
      2) If 1, should that include birth control?
      3) If 2, should your employer be able to opt out based on moral/religious grounds?

      In my opinion, nobody’s employer is buying their employees birth control, unless they’re handing condoms out at the office. Your health insurance is part of your wages. It is no more accurate to say that your employer is buying you birth control if it’s included in your health coverage then for them to say that if you use the wages they pay you to buy it out of pocket.

        1. Anonymous*

          And 3a would be what religious beliefs are “allowed” for the employer to be exempt.

      1. Rayner*

        I loathe this concept in the right winger lingo that it’s a right of an employer to dictate what healthcare an employee should or not should not receive.

        I feel that the company should not be allowed to pick and choose what they offer.

        Birth control is, for women especially, important because it allows them to control their career paths. Having children is expensive, and can often delay or significantly impact the mother’s career so giving women access to choose birth control is good for them so they can choose when and how they’d like to have children. Likewise, birth control is often prescribed for medical conditions, not just for stopping babies from happening, and hurting those who use it for that reason by taking it away for ‘religious or moral’ reasons is unnecessary and cruel.

        If a company doesn’t want people using birth control, then they should sit down and stop interfering in the healthcare of their employees. A company’s focus should be on their own issues, not on what goes on inside an employee’s body.

        1. Anonymous*

          It’s not just allowing women a choice, in many other countries it’s been showed that having free/easy access to birth control and abortions helps women’s health by lowering fetal and maternal deaths, and in the case of abortions actually lowering the abortion rate by a significant amount.

          1. Rayner*

            Exactly. Women in the workforce is always significantly helped by giving them access to birth control. It improves poverty as well, education rates, and raises their income potential because guess what? You can work more and in a better place, and go to school for longer, and have the opportunity to earn more if you haven’t got a gaggle of children biting at your ankles all the time. Not to say that’s impossible if you have them but for most people, it helps not to.

            Birth control is also important for trans* people, and shouldn’t be ignored either.

            It’s an absolute no brainer. Giving people access to birth control improves their lives. :D

            1. Dan*

              There’s reasons why I want health care separated from my job. TBH, an employer telling me they won’t pay for some health care related service that is commonly available (and paid for) under other plans is actually worse than the government getting involved in my life. Particularly when it’s done on religious grounds when they don’t require you to be a practicing member of the faith to work there.

              We have separation of church and state, which means the government can’t deny me access to things on religious grounds. Employers shouldn’t either, unless I have to take a vow of that faith to work for them.

              1. fposte*

                There are *so* many bad consequences of health care being job-dependent in the US. (Plus, it’s just illogical.)

      2. A Teacher*

        Well see, I give them a list of topics and they frame a debate and create their own question. Then we debate philosophical chair style. For being 16-18, they did a pretty good job and the discussion while focused lead to a few related tangents. For high school students it was well done.

        1. HappyLurker*

          Kudos to you and your class. I just love to hear about young adults forming and discussing opinions in a creative and non judgemental way. It is wonderful to see people’s intelligence develop and grow.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        That is a brilliant perspective. I sure that is what I have been thinking about the situation but I haven’t been able to explain it!

    2. Zillah*

      Like Chuchundra said, though, that’s the wrong question to be asking. It’s not about whether employers should pay for birth control – it’s about whether employers should be able to dictate what medical services their employees have access to.

      The employers don’t “pay” for their employees’ birth control. A company is not charged a percentage of the health insurance that a given employee uses – they’re covering part of the cost of the insurance, period. That cost does not change depending on how an employee utilizes health insurance, and their employer isn’t entitled to know details about their use. The employer isn’t paying for birth control – they’re paying for health insurance. The insurance pays for part of the birth control, and the employee pays for the rest.

      The problem with setting birth control aside as its own special category has two major issues.

      First, it completely fails to recognize the fact that hormonal birth control/IUDs are a valid medical treatment that many, many women utilize for a wide variety of reasons. Barring women from medical services that are directly linked to their sex is both sexist and presumptuous, especially since most people in charge of those decisions are men.

      Second, it sets a precedent for allowing companies to decide what services they will allow their employees to access overall.

      How would you respond to a company who refused to cover insulin for people with type 2 diabetes, and justified it by saying it was the employees’ fault for being lazy?

      Or an employer who refused to cover cholesterol medication, because if people would just get off their couches they wouldn’t need it?

      Or an employer who refused to cover anti-depressants, because they believe that people just use depression as an excuse?

      Or, to take it to its logical conclusion, employers who refuse to provide health insurance at all because they think everyone has to accept their lot in life and just trust God?

      None of these things are acceptable. Why is birth control any different, and why is it so different that people are willing to set a precedent for all the things I listed out above?

      1. some1*

        All of this. And the moral grounds issue is crap, imo. You don’t hear about non-married men being denied Viagra.

    3. anon*

      I wonder, are there allowances for it if you don’t use it as birth control? There’s so many things it is prescribed for besides actual birth control

      1. Rayner*

        I would say it would be unlikely because how would you be able to tell if it was used for that or not? Make employees bring in a doctor’s note to staple to the insurance claim?!

        1. De Minimis*

          For me that would get too much into privacy issues…the employer should not have access to my health records.

        2. Stephanie*

          I think there is some way to classify how it’s used for insurance purposes. I got it for an off-label use once and I remember my doctor saying she’d make sure to note it was bring used for that (versus contraceptive reasons). She was like “Personally, I don’t care. It’s dumb that insurance will cover your baby, but not your birth control. Seems like it’d be cheaper for them to cover it, on questions asked.”

          1. De Minimis*

            Yes, there would be a different medical code, and that would affect the billing. But the employer would have no business knowing about that.

            People would be livid if employers tried to restrict how they spent their salary, yet some are okay with employers trying to restrict health benefits.

      2. Del*

        In my experience, no. I had health insurance through Anthem back before Obamacare went through, and even though I was prescribed birth control as treatment for a medical condition, my insurance refused to cover it. My doctor even went to bat for me, calling the insurance company and arguing with them at length, but they wouldn’t budge.

        1. TL*

          God, that sounds awful. I definitely need my bc to be a functional human being for 1/4th of every month.

      3. Zillah*

        The idea of allowing its use as long as the woman isn’t using it for birth control makes my skin crawl even more, tbh.

    4. Scott M*

      I think things would be much simpler if employers didn’t offer health insurance at all. We should all buy our health insurance outside our employer. Of course, that’s not the way the market is structured yet so it’s difficult to do that economically.

      1. Anonalicious*

        I actually really agree with this. I wish health insurance worked more like car insurance where there were not only minimum standards at the state and federal level, but companies were competing heavily to give me the best deal, and reward people who make healthy choices just like you reward people who drive safely.

        But health doesn’t work like that. You actually have a lot less control over your health than your car. Sure you can eat healthy, exercise, and all that, but you can still lose the genetic lottery and have high blood pressure, cancer, etc.

        What we really need is a more fundamental shift in how we think about these essential services, and begin to see that if everyone pays in and supports everyone else, AND we have the ability to make healthier choices, we all win. But our collective attitudes right now don’t support that kind of change.

      2. Emma*

        IIRC, employers started subsidizing health insurance for their employees when they were unable to provide raises/COL adjustments sometime in the early to mid 1900s. And then that just kinda…stuck.

        1. NylaW*

          Yup. It was also used as a perk to attract applicants during the boom periods when there were shortages of some in demand jobs. People started relying on it, I think to our detriment, and now it’s stuck. I really do wish the free market really could work as well for health insurance as some people seem to think it would, but insurance companies have become too much about profit and all they want is your premiums. The free market for health insurance is a joke, much like it is cable and internet providers and their localized monopolies.

          1. Ahh*

            I am SO glad I live in Australia. They are really messing up our country right now (attaching fees to ‘free’ healthcare is one move our new PM is trying to get way with) but knowing that regardless of employment if I’m sick/injured/having a baby I can’t front up to a hospital or bilk billing GP and not pay a cent. I have the option to pay for better service and the option to pay for health insurance, though that’s way outta my price range.

            I pay for medications, but ‘essentials’ like antibiotics, contraception and Viagra are capped at a pretty affordable rate it you fit the criteria (some versions of the pill are dearer unless you legitimately need them because you can’t tolerate the cheaper ones, and I think Viagra is full price unless it’s causing mental distress).

            Our private health isn’t very healthy- it costs a bomb and the caps and limits usually mean you pay out way more than you can possibly be reimbursed. But, you still have that choice, if you can afford it.

            My heart absolutely breaks for those who need health services and can’t access them.

  8. MJ*

    Oh, and on a non-work related note, hubby and I are looking at starting the IVF process by the end of the year (I have to be below 28 BMI for treatment, currently a little over that). Considering the option of paying for three cycles in advance, which means we get 70% of the cost back if all three cycles are unsuccessful.

    Exciting, and terrifying. Working through all the budgets, I’m finding it hard not to be resentful of people who don’t have to shell out the better part of $30k just to get pregnant, which I know is horrendously unfair.

    1. abankyteller*

      I don’t know, I think it’s okay to be resentful about that. I’m sorry it’s happening that way for you. =( I hope IVF works for you!

    2. Dan*

      I live in Washington DC and borrowed just shy of six figures to go to college and get my MS. If I had to pay for IVF on top of that, I’d sh!t my pants among other things.

      So, just for the sake of conversation, if you guys realized that you couldn’t rationally afford IVF, how would you feel if you never had kids? I look at the mountain of debt I have, and the bigger mountain it will take to save for a down payment and buy a house out here, and I don’t know how I’d pay for kids on top of all of that. (And that’s assuming normal conception.)

      1. MJ*

        We’re really lucky to live in New Zealand where study costs are nowhere near what they are in some other countries, and study loans are provided by the government and paid back out of your wages, interest-free, at a really reasonable rate.

        In all honesty, though, I don’t think not having kids is an option if there’s anything we can do about. However, everyone feels differently about this, obviously :)

          1. Nodumbunny*

            I won’t speak for MJ, but many people who are going through infertility get really tired of hearing this. They are aware that fostering or adopting are options, but they are options they’ve considered and decided aren’t for them at this time. For one thing, adopting in particular is often a path filled with as much heartache and disappointment as infertility. Infertility can be very painful, emotionally – for me, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through. Please don’t dismiss it with “well, you could adopt.” Stepping of my soapbox –

            MJ – good luck!!!

            1. fposte*

              And speaking as an adoptee, it’s not good for the kids to be just plugged in as if they were born to you; adoptive parents need to be able to deal with the fact that their kids have biological parents and influences that matter, too. That’s not something everybody’s up for.

          2. TL*

            Yeah and I think it’s a valid point that you may not be able to love an adopted/foster child like your biological child. Some people don’t see a difference, but some people do and it’s not fair to say one is the same as the other for everybody.

    3. Anonalicious*

      As someone who went through fertility issues, I felt the same way. And that’s okay. You are allowed to feel all those things, even though you might logically know it’s silly. Let yourself feel them so you can move on. Every stage of the process will have setbacks and gains. Feel how you’re going to feel, don’t berate yourself for not feeling or doing what you think you should do.

    4. VictoriaHR*

      I personally think it’s BS that your BMI has to be a certain range before they will help you. My BMI is 39 but I lift weights and am muscular. Dr’s don’t give a crap about that though. I wanted to donate my eggs and/or be a surrogate in my younger years, but wasn’t allowed to because of my weight. Hmm. 2 healthy pregnancies and 2 healthy deliveries, perfect recoveries, and happy healthy normal-weight children. Imagine that.

  9. Canadamber*

    Hey, so, some of you may remember that I was dating this guy from my work. WAS dating. I just broke up with him on Tuesday, and we still have to work together, so bleh.

    A) Should I ask the manager to tell him not to come through my till anyway? Because he wasn’t allowed to when we were dating, and just today he came through my till and paid for a drink in all small coins. Ugh. Jerk.

    B) Has anybody else ever had this situation?

    He works in the grocery department, and I work in cash, but the grocery guys do price checks and exchanges and whatnot for us cash folk, and I don’t want to have to deal with him showing up if he’s the only grocery guy in the store (at least, not right now).

    I’m going to try to switch shifts that I have with him for a while, and will probably update my availability so that I (hopefully) don’t get scheduled any more on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when he seems to usually work (he works all Thursday nights, I think, and I’ve been getting scheduled for all Thursdays lately as well). I need the Wednesdays off, anyway, because my tutor comes on Wednesdays, and there’s often a lot of assignments due on Fridays, so I want the Thursdays off as well for convenience. (I’m still in high school.)

    I, just… ugh. This situation really sucks. I regret dating a coworker, and I regret dating someone who was 6 years older than me. I guess now that I just have to deal with it… /rant

    1. Canadamber*

      I might look for another job anyway, because I kind of want more than 11 or 16.5 hours a week (which is all that this job can really give me), especially once the summer rolls around, but it’s going to be tough to do, especially since I would probably only be keeping it until the end of August, when I’m moving away for university. Thoughts???

      1. Pepper*

        Hate to say it, but I’d just probably suck it up…he sounds like a dork, paying all in coins, but the best way to deal with people like that is to behave as though you don’t care. The more you show he bothers you (switching shifts, asking your manager to get him to avoid you), the more you play into the drama and you feed his possible desire to be difficult – you’re showing him how easy it is to make you uncomfortable, so if he’s that kind of guy, he’ll just keep doing it.

        Imagine if he sees you happy, confident, looking him in the eye, laughing with colleagues….he’ll see he isn’t affecting you, and he’ll move on (probably, I don’t know just how much of a jerk he is).

        And then before you know it, you’ve moved on, and life is back on track.

        Good luck, keep your chin up.

        1. Lalou*

          I agree. Just try and treat him the same as the other grocery guys. If he tries to play up, keep showing him how little you care are and he’ll get bored with it. If you’re really bothered by being around him at the moment though – discreetly switching a few shifts for the next few weeks to give yourself some space from seeing him all the time would likely make you genuinely care even less about whatever games he may or may not be playing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. Do your job, be professional and demand the same from him.
            You both need/want your jobs, if nothing else maybe he will agree that you both have that in common and he will dial it back.

            Definitely hold your ground.

            I am surprised the bosses allow people to ring up BFs (former BFs)/family etc. I would think that if a person had an outside relationship with the cashier they would have to chose another line to pay for their stuff.
            You might try that angle, too. I have worked in places where a friend or family came in, I could not ring up their purchases for them.

      2. abankyteller*

        16.5 hours a week and you’re in high school? That sounds like plenty!

        If you’re university-bound you’re probably 17 or 18, which would make this guy 23 or 24. He needs to grow the hell up. Paying you in all small change, really? Ugh. His antics only reflect on him, not you. Keep your chin up.

      3. some1*

        I was a cashier when I was your age. A good manager understands that high school seniors probably don’t want to work there forever, so I don’t think your college plans (5-6 months away) will be a big deal.

        As for the coins thing, are you sure that he did it to annoy you, or is that just what he had to pay with? I think it’s easy to assume malice about it because the break-up is new right now.

        Even if he did do it to annoy you, on the list of things ex-BF’s will do to piss you off on purpose, in 10 years this will be peanuts. I’ve had (older) friends who can’t get their ex-BF to sign over titles to cars and move out of their house after break-ups.

    2. BCW*

      I mean, it depends. I don’t think just because you are mad at him that you can say that he can’t come to your register. Is he threatening or harassing you? If not, I think you just have to deal with it. You can’t just say you don’t like him anymore and expect your boss to keep you separated. Thats the risk you run when you date a co-worker.

    3. Graciosa*

      Yes, you do just have to deal with it. This is why you shouldn’t date co-workers (okay, that ship has sailed) but having done so, you have an obligation not to let your personal life cause any disruption in the work place.

      You need to behave as if you had never dated and have no particular feelings for or against him that would be different from the way you feel about any other co-worker.

      Do you switch shifts to avoid all your other co-workers (kind of a logistical impossibility unless there’s only one person on swing)? If not, you don’t switch shifts to avoid him.

      Do you ask other co-workers not to go through your lane? If not, you don’t ask him.

      Nor do you ask your manager to ask him, which is worse – that would be asking your manager to get involved in the fallout from your personal relationship which is a huge imposition, completely inappropriate, and shows that you do not understand how a professional behaves in the work place.

      Yes, this is one of those times when you need to just deal with it.

      1. some1*

        Right, dating a coworker is a mistake a lot of people make. If you find yourself being attracted to a coworker in the future, my advice is to ask questions about his old relationships as you guys get to know each other. You can never predict exactly how someone will act when/if you have to dump him, but if he claims all his exes are crazy or talks crap about his ex-GF’s, he would probably do teh same to you.

      2. FormerGroceryGal*

        Whew! As a former grocery store worker (years through HS and College), please remember this is small potatoes and you have plans. Stick to them. This person is a blip and will pass.

        I dated many people in my 5+ years at the grocery store and the one time I dated a total wack job and notified my management about it…they did nothing. My parents made me go to the local PD (who knew this person by name and sight – ugh) to report harassment. Do not give this person anything to fester on, hold your chin up and know you will be gone in 6 months.

        Good luck – my grocery days have left me with many excellent memories and friends. I always tell people to “have a nice day”. It’s strange, I have been gone for 20 years and I still say it.

  10. AspiringCatLady*

    Long time lurking, first time commenting, yay!

    So… I need advice about asking for a raise.

    I’m in a strange situation right now. I’m on a small, new-ish team in a large org. I’ve been in my role a little less than two years, but I’ve gotten to do a lot in that time and am very much considered the expert in my area. I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m definitely considered a high performer. I know my boss considers my role to be one that people stay in for about two years. She just left for maternity leave, and we have plans to talk about what’s next for me when she gets back. I was planning on asking for a raise at that point – hopefully as I transition into a new position, but even if not, I know I bring value to my team above my current compensation.

    My team is in the middle of a big project that has the eyes of senior management. As I mentioned, my boss is out on maternity leave. We knew she would be leaving! But when three member of my team resigned in a two week period just after she left… that was unexpected. The day the third person quit, about four of my co-workers told me I needed to ask for a raise right now. They’re afraid that the company’s going to pile work on me and never reward me if I don’t act now. There is no doubt I’ll be taking a LOT more responsibility within this project because everyone’s left. Thank goodness – people from other parts of the business have stepped in so I won’t be alone or doing anything super-far outside of my experience; but I will definitely be making decisions my boss or senior co-workers might have made before, driving the project in ways I’ve never had to before, communication with higher levels of management, and providing a base of knowledge and continuity within to a team of new and unfamiliar players – oh yeah, and then there’s our day to day work outside the project that’s I’m also managing as we transition to having less people. It’s a lot! And less than two years into my first career-ish job. People are telling me I have lots of leverage now, and they are right – if I left, both this project and day-to-day operations in my department would take a huge hit.

    So, there’s all that. But but but. The project will end. My boss will return. Then I won’t have this extra responsibility anymore. I’d just be back to day-to-day til the next one. And with my boss out, I’d have to go to her boss to ask for a raise… a VP who knows my name but it’s especially familiar with my work. But maybe that’s just nerves? I just… I don’t know. Am I better off waiting for my boss to come back and doing this as I’d originally planned, or acting now when I have maximum leverage even though it feels weird? Will I be worth as much when this project’s over? Or will I be worth more, because it will add to my record of accomplishments? I don’t know. Especially since I’d probably want to ask for a large-ish raise, which I think my manager would understand – but would it seem outlandish to not-familiar-with-me her boss? I’m nervous and torn and also adjusting to all this change. It’s been quite a week! What should I do??

    1. Lalou*

      Yikes! I’d be tempted to wait until your manager was back to bring up a pay rise. That way you will have already demonstrated your talents and impressed people and you’ll have a much stronger case. I can see why you would want to ask now because you have all of this responsibility now, but I’m sure if (when!) you do an awesome job at all of this you’ll be given more responsibility in future too.

      1. Jen RO*

        I agree. (Assuming you are in the US and your boss is out for 3 months and not a year+.)

    2. LadyB*

      If you are confident that you can make a case for your role in this project being at a higher level, at the least I would negotiate for an ‘acting up allowance’ for the duration of the project. Phrasing it as time limited, i.e. to the end of the project, will make it easier for the boss’s boss to recognise the additional responsibilities and decision making that you are taking on, but gives them a get out when your boss comes back.

      If all goes well, by the time your boss comes back, you should have proved yourself at the higher level and it should be easier for her to make the case to keep you at that level. And if not, then you have a higher salary to use in negotiation elsewhere.

      Good luck

    3. Chriama*

      Question: are you willing to do your job at the current salary until you find a new position? If the answer is a definite no, you should ask the VP right now. You run the risk of her saying no, but if you won’t tolerate this pay you have nothing to lose. Also, you are in a strong position. You totally have the VP over a barrel, but I bet she’d remember it later and resent you for it.

      If you’re ok with where you are now (it’s time for you to move on anyway, and you have the experience to show) for as long as it will take to find a new position, wait until your boss gets back and ask her then. I think Alison has mentioned before about doing strong work and using it as a basis for asking for a raise. If you do the project really well, your boss should pay you more because you’ve improved your skills and are positioned to take on even more projects. The subtext to that conversation is that you’ll take your newly acquired skills and experience to a company that’s willing to pay market rate for it.

      TL,DR; It depends on whether you’re willing to stay at this company at your current salary for as long as it takes you to find a new job.

  11. Ali*

    Love the timing! Now I don’t have to come out of my Zumba class tomorrow and fight with 300+ comments! (I’m a participant, though I do have a license to teach it.) I’m also up watching West Coast hockey (I’m out East) so I can type in before I go to bed.

    So I’m pretty excited right now, as I applied for two jobs this week that are actually outside of sports. Both were at colleges in my area. I know it’s probably hell of hard to get into a college for an open position (these are staff roles; I have no desire to get into academia and get a PhD), but several of my family members went to the one school and the other one just had a job open that matched my skill set. I responded to both after seeing them on Indeed.

    Second, I was just wondering this: Has anyone ever had a moment where you don’t feel you’ve had career success? By all accounts, I am supposed to feel successful. I have a job with a decent salary, benefits and I have been there for a while after starting as an unpaid intern. As I’ve said, I also work from home. So naturally people are jealous and tell me how lucky I am, but I don’t feel successful by any stretch. I think of things like how my manager is a few years younger than me and he’s already being tasked/trusted to manage a team (disorganized by his own admission though he may be), or how my writing on the side has not paid off at all. Other people at the site I write for to keep up my portfolio, even first-time writers, get social media promotion, articles in the newsletter, etc. My editor tells me I’m “solid” and I get compliments from my co-writers, but I never get the recognition others do or the job opportunities some of them have gotten as a result of their work. I can’t seem to get paid for my writing at all, and all people can do is tell me to write for a newspaper or a content farm. (I have no desire to do either.) Furthermore, at work itself, I am worried I’m not as smart as the coworkers on my team and that one day, my manager may figure out I have no business being in the job I do and want to let me go or demote me. He gives me good reviews, but I worry about this anyway. I even envy my best friend, as we are in the same volunteer organization and she has had success with them and gotten into the “in crowd.” She is the vice president and handles a lot of the social media/photography/PR stuff. Everyone always recognizes her for the work she does and says things like “You’re amazing!” and “You work so hard!” I ran for the board of the organization too, but lost because my friend told me I wasn’t as popular as the person who did get the position I ran for. I am jealous of the attention she gets, even though I will be one of the first to admit she puts a lot of effort into the organization.

    Being on the job market does have me a little more worried about this more than usual. In a market where only the best and brightest are getting jobs, I feel like I just don’t fit that category. I feel like I’m “good but not good enough” or that I’m not worthy of the jobs and opportunities my friends and colleagues receive. Anyone else feel this way?

      1. FRRibs*

        Don’t define personal success in life by what other do; someone is always smarter/stronger/better connections/luckier/richer/more artistic/etc. Define it by what you think is important, constantly re-access for reality and as you get older, different things could equate to success.

    1. Stephanie*

      Heh, “a moment”? More like all the moments. I had what I thought was a great idea career/job wise post school and found it was a horrible fit for me. Still trying to right the ship.

      It’s still a work in progress for me, but I just have to keep telling myself that I haven’t stumbled on the right thing for myself yet, but that I will and that it’s ok to be a career “late bloomer.” I also used the missteps to get a solid idea of what I DON’T want and what I won’t excel at. That helped a lot in guiding me.

    2. Joy*

      Some of this sounds like Imposter Syndrome (search this blog for some good discussions of it), but other parts sound like something I have been dealing with as well – not having an internal sense of what “success” and “achievement” really mean.

      External metrics are important to watch, so you know if you need to improve, what you should keep doing, etc. But you’ll do yourself a disfavor if you *only* rely on external signals, because you can always find someone who’s better than you, sometimes you’ll get overlooked even if you did something brilliant, and some times no one is going to be there to let you know how you’re doing.

      Finding your own sense of what achievement, improvement, and success really mean is a way to stay grounded when external feedback isn’t available, or when you’re tempted to make comparisons. It’s not easy, but I’m finding it really worthwhile. Sorry if this sounds cheesy, but it’s late here, and I’m typing on my phone!

    3. Jen RO*

      I was thinking about something similar this morning. I had been talking to a friend (and former coworker) about the job I applied to and about not hearing from them in weeks. She replied that they would be stupid to hire anyone else, because I was the best person on the team.

      Now, I agree with her – I was pretty damn good. However… I was only comparing myself to a few people, some of which were downright low performers, so that’s not saying much. My friend is not interested in the field as a whole, so while she is well-intentioned, she doesn’t really know what’s “out there”.

      On the other hand, I read a lot of professional forums/email lists/LinkedIn groups and there are *so* many people who have been doing this job since before I was even born! There is so much more to learn, and sometimes I’m afraid I never will. There are also significant parts of the job I’ve never really done – hell, it’s a *writing* job and I’ve mostly done editing! Now, I do love editing, but what if I end up in a job where I have to write everything from scratch and I’ll crash and burn?

      And so on… that’s what’s going on in my head nowadays. The good part is that I really do love my field and I enjoy learning new things. Maybe one day I’ll be like one of those experienced people…

      [Yesterday I did get an email from the company I am interviewing with. I’m not out of the running, the process is just dragging out.]

      1. Ali*

        I’m actually an editor right now! The jobs I’m applying for involve more writing, as I’m not looking to stay an editor forever, but I am just trying to tell myself that if it’s meant to be, it will be.

        One of the jobs I applied for had a closing date on the posting, and the other didn’t so I don’t know if they’re considering applicants as they come in or what is going on. But I am just trying to remember the advice here to “move on mentally.”

        1. Jen RO*

          Thing is, I used to be a copy editor, and I also know other copy editors who are much better than me… ugh!

          But editing rocks. It’s not even a job to me, it’s a compulsion.

    4. Sunflower*

      I feel this way all the time. I have a job but I’m starting to mentally lose it I’m so miserable. Combine that with being stressed about what I want to do with my life and the fact that what I want to do might not even matter because who knows if I can even get a job doing it- is just a lot of stress and causes a lot of overthinking.

      Job envy sometimes about the grass seeming greener on the other side. Some of my friends envy me because i get to travel to cool place and work in a hip field- a lot of people think I have the perfect job. But I’m miserable and get treated like a child at work. You are feeling jealous of people the same way they feel jealous of you- no one really knows what’s going on unless they are in the job them self.

      My issue is that I feel qualified to do this work (most of the time) but I feel like there is always someone better. When you’re competing with hundreds of people for one job, it’s hard to not get down on yourself.

      Try not to compare yourself to others. I have friends that are more successful than me because they came right out of college, went into a job and stayed and got promoted. However, some of them are not very happy in their jobs because they never took the time to look around and ask themselves if this is what they wanted to be doing. These are also things people don’t tend to talk about with others. I have a couple close friends that I’ve talked to about these things but for the most part, none of my friends have any idea how insecure and unhappy I am at my job.

      Keep applying for things and try to stay involved in things you like. I think it’s really cool that you teach and do Zumba! I’m kind of jealous- I am trying to get more involved in things I enjoy but I let the stress of ‘where is my life going’ overpower that sometimes. Try to look at all of this as a stepping stone to get to where you want to be eventually instead of the next position has to be the best one.

      1. Ali*

        I mostly do Zumba right now. It’s really tough to get an instructing job here, and since I’m still struggling with my weight, it can be hard feeling like I “belong” as an instructor. But before my job got crazy, the gym where I take classes was willing to let me sub, and the good thing about Zumba is that they seem welcoming to all backgrounds, shapes and sizes. One of the teachers at our gym is a guy in his 50s and the women who take his class LOVE him! I got my license back yesterday b/c it seemed like a no-brainer to go back to something where people support me and encourage my talent rather than expecting that I will work for free forever until I have “paid my dues.” So I have some hope!

        1. Poe*

          I am really late to this party, but PLEASE APPLY TO TEACH! I used to hire fitness instructors, and I loved hiring ones that were great teachers and not whippet-thin. People look at instructors as role models, and having a rotating cast of model-types is not my idea of a well-rounded staff. If you are healthy and fit, I don’t care if you aren’t a size 0. Our surveys of participants consistently showed that “imperfect” instructors were some of the most popular.

          1. Stephanie*

            Seconding this! As someone who’s overweight, I really appreciate “imperfect” instructors–it just makes them seem more human and relatable. Even if the instructor is a size 0, I really love it if they admit to an exercise being hard or eating pizza earlier in the day.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      When I was at another job, I was bent on “working my way up the ladder.” It wasn’t going to happen there, and it made me feel like I wasn’t succeeding. It was a corporate world with lots of backstabbing and fraudulent activities.
      Then I went to a non-profit where I found work I enjoy doing everyday, and the work I was doing had meaning. I earn enough to pay the bills and save a bit. I now understand that that is success (at least for me). Not worrying about bills, and being happy when I come home… in the end, I think that is all anyone needs. We just don’t know that is what we want. :)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      What is your definition of success?

      It can’t be besting someone else or even doing as good as someone else.
      Hint number two: Success is not a house/dog/2.5kids/spouse.

      You don’t feel you have hit success yet because you keep moving your own target. You will never get a bull’s eye that way. (Am referencing all the comparisions to others.)

      Picture yourself living somewhere that you do not know anyone. This removes all the comparisions. Next, picture yourself HAPPY there. What are you doing? What is absolutely important to you? What surprises you to realize it does not matter?

      If I compared myself to most people I know I would come up on the short side most times. But I am happy with my life. Which is really very odd considering my givens. See, we all have our own individual definition of success. And it changes over time, too, which is all okay.
      So. Mull it over, don’t answer here: What makes you feel proud of yourself?

  12. Pepper*

    I have a question about a colleage, following on from AAM’s post earlier in the week about complaining about a colleague.

    I’ve done all the recommended things, explaining clearly and rationally why my colleague is a disaster, and my manager knows about and acknowledges all the problems the colleague causes.

    We are about to go through a major restructure, where all jobs are contestable, but the new structure has the same two positions available that me and my colleague currently fill.

    Do I tell my boss that if she re-hires the nightmare colleague, I’m leaving? In other words, boss has perfect opportunity to get rid of acknowledged disaster zone, but knowing boss, she might just be useless enough to retain the disaster zone.

    Do I pull the ‘its her or me’ ultimatum? I know it sounds dramatic and OTT, but it really is that bad. I won’t go into the issues, but suffice to say there has been personal abuse, multiple serious mistakes, incredibly poor professionalism, and a host of other problems.

    I literally will not work with her any more, after the re-structure.

    Do I tell my boss that, in crystal clear terms?

    1. PEBCAK*

      No. You need to focus on the impact this is having on your job, and/or the impact it could have on your new role, i.e. “I’m not willing to take a new role where I’ll have to do X and Y,” where X and Y are things the coworker is supposed to be doing, or whatever. And you can only do, even this, if you are REALLY willing to walk.

      1. Pepper*

        Been there, done that, got the worthless t-shirt. This is kind of do-or-die time, nothing a rational boss would respond to has worked. I am job hunting, for obvious reasons.

        And I am willing to walk.

        I guess I’m just wondering if, given all that, anyone thinks a boss would actually pay any attention.

    2. Anon E Mouse*

      I would absolutely not give an ultimatum. It is very likely you will be the one out of a job at that point.

      I would start looking for another job now. If you don’t find anything and the boss gets rid of the co-worker, great! If the boss doesn’t get rid od the co-worker, you have a jump start on the job search.

      1. Pepper*

        Thanks – I’m not sure why you think I’d be the one out of a job?

        If Person A is really, genuinely useless, and has many other problems besides that, and Person B does 75% of the work, without the blow-ups, walk-outs, mistakes and multiple other issues, why would you get rid of Person B?

        Would a boss be so annoyed at the ‘her or me’ thing, that they would get rid of the productive person who is at the end of their tether?

        1. Rayner*

          Because if Person B puts an ultimatum on the table that the manager cannot fulfill – maybe the department needs two people, maybe someone upstairs likes this stupid coworker A senior to the manager, maybe the company needs time to cover paperwork and to find a suitable replacement quietly before they fire this person – and insists that they be prioritized before anything else, then the manager might not feel so warmly about it.

          It’s not as simple as “B doesn’t like A, get rid of B.”

        2. Colette*

          Because if you say “If you don’t do X, I’m going to leave” and they don’t do X, they will be expecting you to leave and may, in fact, help you out the door.

          There’s also a bit of an element of a temper tantrum, here. If they give in to this demand, what is next?

          If you’re sincere about it, and if you can phrase it regretfully (more “I am not happy in this situation so I will have to move on” than “you have to do what I say or I”ll leave”), you can say it – but you’d have to leave if they don’t do it.

        3. Brett*

          “Would a boss be so annoyed at the ‘her or me’ thing, that they would get rid of the productive person who is at the end of their tether?”
          Yes. Because “her or me” means that either way, they have to hire a new person to resolve office conflict. And the goal of firing one person and hiring a new person will be to resolve the conflict.
          Since you would be the one giving the ultimatum, you would be the one most likely to have a conflict with the new person, prompting another round of hiring and firing.

          (And even if you survived this round, if the next person doesn’t work out and you give another ultimatum, you might become the “difficult person”, even if you just had the bad luck of two bad co-workers.)

    3. Rayner*


      What you’re doing is telling your manager how to do her job, if you say that. And you’re pushing her into a position where she might have to let you go.

      You don’t know why they haven’t fired the coworker, and that’s the way it should be. It could just be that they’re waiting for this restructure, or they need to prepare documentation, or whatever. The point is, it’s not your business to interfere with hiring and firing.

      Also, unless you are a major major genius hotshot, it’s unlikely that telling your manager that you will not work with someone will endear you to her. From her perspective, you’re being obstructive, and difficult if you do that. What’s she supposed to do? Give you authority to hire and fire? Let you influence her decisions? Let one employee dictate the way department works?

      Don’t bother.

      Focus on you. Prepare your job seeking materials, start a soft search by just sending out feelers into the job world, and if the worst comes to the worst and the coworker is rehired, start actually searching to move away.

      You cannot control the manager. You can control your own career path.

      1. Pepper*

        All good points.

        I don’t live in a country where people can be fired at will, it is very hard to fire, so thats why she is still there. Why they haven’t done anything like put her on a performance improvement plan, I do not know, because that is an option.

        I guess I just have this dream that they will actually use this wonderful opportunity right in front of them to get rid of her, I’m afraid they won’t, and I was fantasising about giving them the nudge they need to suddenly see clearly what they need to do.

        But you’re right. Not my position.


        1. Rayner*

          Like I said, the mysteries of the world of hiring and firing are often convoluted and deep. *shakes head* What makes sense in the common sense often doesn’t translate in the hiring, firing sense.

          *shakes head* Batty. Absolutely batty.

          On the other hand, this is a great opportunity for you to explore your market worth, and to find out if you do want to move. And what you might find out there. You may decide to take a new opportunity anyway, regardless of whether or not the co-worker is rehired. Spin it as a positive, not a tense waiting situation where one of the outcomes will make you scream, and it’ll definitely help your mindset to get through this.

          1. Pepper*

            True, I’ve seen some batty stuff in my life but this takes the cake. This person has made my life really really difficult, she has screamed and yelled at me, sent me abusive emails, hung up on people, stormed out of the office more times than I can count, comes in late, leaves early, makes mistakes on a daily basis, my manager knows all this, and yet she does…nothing.

            The sad thing is, without this person, this could be a good job – leaving aside the obviously useless manager. I was so excited when I got it, and now 15 months later I’m in hell.

            I’m looking for another job, but I don’t want to just jump into anything for the sake of it, I’d rather wait for an awesome job to come up. So I’m looking for how to make this one bearable.

            Maybe I can’t.

            1. Rayner*

              I would say that you can’t and realistically, you need to be working with the mindset of “I need to bail out of here soon” and find a job that matches your needs financially and culturally. Don’t worry about it being the perfect job, or the best job, or whatever. Just a job, that will let you survive, decompress from that stupid coworker, and then see where it leads you.

              Your manager won’t manage, and she’s allowing that *insert expletive* to run riot over the office and you. It won’t improve, and based on that new information, it’s highly likely that during this restructure, they may not lay this person off. Useless managers don’t tend to get un-useless after restructures for no reason.

              If the manager doesn’t manage, get out.

              1. Lacey*

                :-( Ugh, home truths. So hard to hear, but so…true.

                Thanks Rayner, you’re telling me things I need to listen to.

            2. Colette*

              As has often been pointed out, you don’t know that your manager is doing nothing. It wouldn’t be appropriate to share what she’s doing with you – just as it’s inappropriate for you to tell her how to manage.

              1. HappyLurker*

                Just sit back and watch. You know you are in the right place if your manager does take this opportunity to get rid of the dead weight. If they don’t then start looking pronto!

            3. Aisling*

              I would actually say that the issue here is with your manager. You have a horrible coworker that your manager will not manage. Even if this coworker is let go, you still have the same manager… who has shown she will not manage. It’s quite possible the next person hired will be great, but if that person isn’t, you’ll still have to deal with that, because your manager won’t manage. I’d look for another job.

            4. Ahh*

              If it’s that bad, then they aren’t a company you want to work for or they’d have dealt with it by now. What if you give the ultimatum and person two is just as bad? What if they don’t replace that person at all, but expect you to do the job of two people and constantly dress you down for not completing work?

              Find another job. Period.

            5. Poe*

              I totally worked with someone like that. Layoffs were coming up and our 2 positions were going to be turned into 1. I stupidly assumed she would be the one to go (I figured they’d be dying to get rid of her, since she was an acknowledged issue), so you can imagine my shock when I was the one let go.

    4. Jen RO*

      Are you really going to quit if they keep the coworker on? If you are 100% sure, then tell your manager. Not as an ultimatum, “it’s her or me” kinda thing – just as a heads up that you might not be around for very long. Then start looking for a job. If you find one fast – yay. If you don’t, you can see first hand what happens after the restructuring and, if coworker stays, at least you’re ahead in your job search.

      Some managers really don’t get how bad some employees are and how it’s wrecking morale for the others. I had a coworker like yours and it took more than a year for him to get laid off (I’m also in a country where firing someone is very difficult – it it hadn’t been for the restructuring, it would have taken even more time to get rid of him). Then, a year later, it took two people quitting (me included) before he realized that NO, we were not kidding when we said that we were tired of scrambling every day due to decreasing headcount and increasing responsibilities. After we left, boss suddenly managed to get 7!!! new positions approved, after telling us for a year that he couldn’t even get 2. Glad I’m out of there…

      1. Anon*

        I did this once. I had a unique situation where my manager was a long time friend of the CEO (small company) and she was terrible. She kept me from being able to do my work, be productive, help customers, etc. I had spoken with the CEO and he made it very clear that he trusted her and she was just that way and it wasn’t going to change. While I disagreed with his approach, he owns the company and therefore his decision. But I made it clear that I could not continue to work like this, not in a her or me way, but in a I want to be a great employee and do great things, but I have tried everything to make this relationship less toxic and I can’t do it anymore. They ended up moving me to work with another manager and I continued to have a lot of success with the company. She continued to drive people away and they continued to let that be okay. But once I moved I accepted that was how it was going to be and never brought it up again. My CEO did from time to time bring it up and I would very calmly tell him, you know how I feel about that and unless you are ready to do something, I would rather not discuss it. I had a great relationship with the CEO and could be this honest with him.

        Proceed with caution if you decide to go this route, and know that it might not work out this nicely. I did it because I was at a point that I had accepted this conversation might mean I have to search for a new job.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      I read that and thought that could have been me at my last job. I also had a coworker (who I call Philomena on here) who made lots of mistakes, some major, didn’t do much apart from corner people who didn’t want to be cornered and go into too much information about her ailments/ex husbands/entire life story, screamed at me down the phone and slammed it down because she blamed me for her getting into trouble for not calling in sick, picked fights with me about things that happened six months earlier.

      In the end it got to the point where she wasn’t speaking to me directly – it was all “I’m going to lunch now, M”, “Can I have next Tuesday off, M?”, “Who’s taken over dealing with John Doe now, M?” (M being the coworker who shared our office. Philomena did have to check with me about office cover too and I most likely knew who had the Doe case).

      It did get to the point where I started wondering how much longer I could continue to work with her and considered moving somewhere else. However I did know that Philomena had asked our manager about going part time from November, and allegedly our manager had said that if she could slot her in somewhere she would, so I decided to wait and see what happened there first. Before it got to the time when that would happen, a restructure was announced where we all had to apply for our own jobs and there was a possibility of people being moved to different teams. So I waited it out to see what would happen and in the end, Philomena was let go and is now to finish at the end of March (and I hope this remains the case, I have to admit – while I did move teams myself in the end, the work I do now is closely enough aligned with my old team that I have still had to have dealings with Philomena at some times.)

      I also live somewhere where it’s a lot more difficult to fire people than it appears to be in the US, and often wondered why Philomena wasn’t being performance managed (that was an option).

      I do agree with everyone else though that an ultimatum really isn’t likely to get you the result you’re hoping for.

  13. mango284*

    random non-urgent open thread appropriate question:

    If cover letters are so important (which I agree that they are), why do so many online applications not require them? So often they say “optional.” FWIW, I always still include one, but I’m wondering if they even bother looking at applications without a cover letter? Why wouldn’t they just make it required?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Because, if a cover letter sucks, it’s wasting my time, i.e. I’d rather get no cover letter than go to the trouble of opening a file that has one sentence in it (Dear hiring manager, attached is my resume, love, job-seeker). So when it says optional, I think it’s more like “either do it right or don’t do it at all.”

      1. Char*

        I think if they didn’t request for a cover letter, it’s better not to include one? It also hints at one’s ability to follow instructions. In this way, customizing your resume to the job would be important – the employer should be able to tell you’re a suitable candidate by looking at your resume.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, no, always include one! You’ll never be penalized (by anyone halfway sane) for including one, and it’s an opportunity to explain why you’d excel at the job, beyond what your resume shows. Don’t squander that chance!

          1. Pepper*

            There are industries and countries where that isn’t the case – my husband is in IT, and the other day there was actually a job ad he was looking at that said ‘extra points for not including a cover letter’. In his 20 years in the industry, hiring and applying, he has never, ever written or received a cover letter.

            Know your industry, at the end of the day.

            1. Jamie*

              That’s not a standard industry thing, so unless they say that I would include one anyway.

              I don’t think I’d be capable of not including one.

              Fun fact, because of being in IT there were bets before my first interview on 1. How much help I had and 2. if I had written any of it.

              It was apparently too well written to have been done by someone in IT. Breaking stereotypes one well worded letter at a time.

          2. Dan*

            Question for you… we know you’re a proponent of cover letters. Is your strong support for them just personal preference, or do you think most other managers like them as much as you do? (And by that, I mean *good* ones, not just “Dear HM, give me job, love job seeker” types.)

            For me, I’ve found that for the jobs I can write a compelling cover letter for, my resume stands out on its own, so the letter becomes obligatory, but useless (IMHO). And for jobs where I can’t write a compelling cover letter, my resume holds its own but by no means rises to the top.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Not just personal preference! Good hiring managers absolutely will read them. And I get so much mail from people who tell me that they started getting interviews once they changed their cover letters in the way we talked about here that I feel even more strongly about it. (Seriously, the letters I get on this are insane — like people saying they got zero calls for interviews for six months, changed their cover letters, and then got multiple interviews in two weeks. And I get at least a couple of these letters a week.) It’s truly powerful.

              (That doesn’t mean it works for every job, of course. Some managers just aren’t into them. But it will hugely change your overall odds, for most people.)

              1. Char*

                I’m one of the person you’re talking about. Although writing in the way you mentioned on this site makes the letter longer, it adds a more “human” element into it, I think. Also, I think the cover letter functions as a good summary, highlighting and putting relevant skills for the position together in one place. Although I didn’t receive interviews for ALL positions I applied, I’ve to say I received more than I ever had.

                But I noticed some online application only ask applicants to attach resume. So for those, I’ll normally not attach a cover letter.

              2. Chriama*

                Speaking of cover letters: would you be willing to post more examples? I know you haven’t really been thrilled about the response from commenters, but after seeing the 3 or 4 you posted here, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of them. I know my cover letters aren’t great and I’m still struggling with them but seeing the concrete examples has really helped me understand your other posts on what a cover letter should do.

                1. TheSnarkyB*

                  Alison, even if you’re uncomfortable posting more CL examples (which I’d understand), how would you feel about an open thread (like yesterday’s “workplace setup” question) that asks people to share their favorite sections of our own CLs or comment on others’?

              3. Laura*

                I’ve always gotten a lot of interviews (no jobs unfortunately:( ) but I totally got more once I changed the cover letters to the way you suggested! For the interview I had this past Monday, the first thing the interviewer said was “I liked your cover letter”.

                Most jobs I apply for, probably 80%, specifically ask for a cover letter, so I wouldn’t think of not including one, but I love them for jobs where it isn’t obvious from my resume that I’d be a fit, but I could explain well in a cover letter.

              4. Elizabeth West*

                I’m pretty sure this is my problem with query letters; but when I changed my cover letters per this blog, I ended up with an amazing one that I’m convinced got my foot in the door for this job.

                Now if only I could get the queries half as good! :P

            2. Joey*

              I always look at résumés first and cover letters after that. After that a really good cover letter will probably get me excited, a lukewarm is the equivalent of no cover letter and a bad one will leave me pretty skeptical.

  14. Char*

    Hi everyone, I have two questions:

    – do you think I should send cold calling email cover letter to the executive director of a company that I’m interested in working for but is not hiring? There’s no HR department so I’m thinking of sending to the executive director. I think the ED manages and approves all the projects. It’s a really small firm specializing in event management. Is there any suggestion on how to write a captivating subject line that might increase the chance of getting my email read? Or simply be straight forward -e.g. seeking job opportunities with company X?

    – I’m a recent graduate and there are a few graudate trainee programs offered by companies opening up in July. I’m really interested in those but waiting till July to possibly get a job is a tad too long, and I might not get them. Plus, if I wait till then, I might lose out on opportunities now – which makes me kind of end up having nothing :(

    Any suggestions would be helpful! Thanks!

    1. kas*

      I’m a recent grad as well and I’ve sent quite a few “cold emails.”

      I’ve either sent them to their careers email address or whoever was listed on their site. I’ve received responses from a few thanking me for my interest and that they would contact me if a position does open up or they have sent me other similar positions to apply to. I probably could make my subject line a little more interesting so hopefully someone has a great one to share.

      I would say go for it but maybe others on here in high positions will advise otherwise.

      1. Char*

        Hey Kas! Thanks for sharing! A division manager, whom I previously worked for, told me it’s better to send cold call to the manager of a department you want to work for rather than HR because the former is the one who knows whether they need people or not. I was quite ambivalent about this position so would like to hear from others! I guess I should just send them, what’s worse could happen right? :)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Sending a cold email to Google is pointless, but for smaller companies, why not?

      Not only do we get cold emails, we’ve hired from cold emails and we *like* getting cold emails. They are effective > job with us when the person has a particular reason for choosing our company to email (relevant experience, knowledge of the industry, etc.). We’re a little more structured now but back in the day we’d have hiring needs that we couldn’t even get to posting up jobs for so cold emails were a blessing. And we still take them seriously.

      For the love of all that is holy though, please do not call me on the phone. :) I am happy to look at your resume and letter on my own time, and then circulate to whomever else might be interested but do not call me on the phone.

      (I’m looking at *you* temp agency also!)

      1. Char*

        Hey! Thanks! Glad to hear that people are open to receiving cold emails. The company I’m sending to is pretty small (or what I’m assume) – it is a subsidary firm of something way larger in Germany.

        Any interesting/appealing cold email subject lines you’ve received?

        I do think calling is really extreme, even though I have heard people saying that calling reflects enthusiasm :S

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Nothing I can remember, sorry.

          I’d go for a salesy subject line myself but then I’m in sales and marketing so, take that all with a large grain of salt.

          Resume of [name], very interested in working for [company]

          Likely bad advice but it would work on me.

          1. en pointe*

            Honestly, I don’t even find this all that salesy. I think it’s quite to-the-point. Salesy to me would be something like

            “Professionalism, Experience, Passion, Trust – Jane Smith offers a wealth of unique skills to your organisation.”

            (To be clear, I’m not advocating this – it’s obviously cheesy and ridiculous. But I do work for someone who refers to herself as a “sales superstar”, and sends emails like this, so my experiences of what constitutes salesy are fairly over the top.)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              omg I would laugh so hard.

              But it would be fun to circulate with the “here’s another one for my book” notation.

              I would also probably interview her just to find out if she was that hardcore in person.

      2. Brett*

        Actually, Google recruited me based off a cold email and application when they had no open positions for me. When I was in grad school, I sent it in on a whim. 6-12 months later, I picked up the phone and it was my first phone interview. I personally know several other people this happened to.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          HA! That’s excellent.

          I always use Google as my “well, we’re not Google” example but even Google does cold emails. That’s great.

    3. Anon*

      I guess I’m the outlier. No. Don’t cold call me for a job. Check online to see what we are hiring for, if anything and IF you are qualified apply.

    4. Laura*

      I got an internship once through a cold email at an organization that didn’t usually hire interns. I think for me , what was most effective was explaining why I wanted to work there. I happened to be really passionate about the organization, and had some involvement with their programs in highschool.

      My instinct is that phone calls are too much, because a phone call forces the employer to respond instantly, and email you’re giving them time to think about it on their time . Also they’re going to want to see your resume, so you might as well send it in first contact

      Mine was for a newspaper and I sent it to the editor in chief. I can’t remember the subject line I used, sorry!

  15. kas*

    Soo I’m going to Europe! Planned a trip for the end of the month to London and Paris and would really appreciate suggestions on places to go/eat/see etc. I feel like I’ve exhausted all of the online resources.

    I’m going with 2 friends and we’re all in our early 20’s so other than the obvious Eiffle Tower and what not anyone know of any fun/interesting things we could do?

    1. Char*

      Hi! It depends on what type of people you’re (e.g. love arts? Adventures?). I would recommend Rouen (1.5 hr from Paris by train). It’s a small and quiet town where you can meet French people who ain’t as busy as those in Paris. Beautiful view and architecture. From there you can also visit famous Monet’s garden. Since you’ll be in Paris, it’s easy to travel to southern Germany. Any cities in Germany are nice, I’ve only visited most in the South so can only say for that. Oh, for Paris, go to st. Michel area in Paris for more affordable meals. They have a full course meal (ala carte + salad + drink + dessert) at really affordable price. Recommend that you walk down the street and look at the menu before deciding. :) have fun!

      1. kas*

        I’m open to anything but my friends are more into adventure and the obvious sightseeing of major attractions. I’m hoping to get a museum visit or something in, nothing too historic though.

        Thank you for the suggestions!

        1. Char*

          Visit Lourve in Paris. It’s free on Sunday but go and queue really early (like at 9am). You gotten queue for a while. The museum is worth it. There’s everything for everyone. Oh, and museum Pompidou would be recall awesome too (great building, great display, and you get get a bird’s eye view of the Eiffel tower there). Would definitely recommend Pompidou over Louvre if I could choose one.

          1. GH*

            I’m told that the way around the huge line at the Louvre is to buy some kind of Museum Pass ahead of time. It’s only a little extra and saves huge amounts of time. I’ve not done it personally (I went to to Louvre in 1994 when the lines were shorter and haven’t gone back) but it sounds like good advice.

            I also recommend the Bateau Mouche trip down the Seine in Paris, I did it in 1982 and in 2012 and enjoyed it both times.

            In London, I highly recommend the docent tour of the Globe Theatre if they’re open at the time of your trip, and the Tate Modern is right nearby and afterwards you can walk across the bridge to St Paul’s cathedral. Quite a nice day all in.

            And I found the London Eye ride was great, far greater than I expected really. I got discount advance tickets via Amex or Visa that saved quite a few $$$ off the gate price.

            1. JustKatie*

              Yes, you can buy a multi-day pass that allows you to bypass the main line at the Louvre (which allows you access to many more museums and attractions either for free or for a reduced rate). You can order them online, get them at the Office du Tourisme, at any FNAC (electronics and media chain store), or at any of the participating museums/ monuments. See en dot parismuseumpass dot com. (I’m a former French teacher who has organized FAR too many Paris trips!)

        2. LMW*

          I just went to Paris in November! Loved it. I stayed in the 7th arr. (district) – I liked it because it was more residential and less touristy (near the Eiffel Tower, right off Rue Cler, which is adorable). I felt very safe and comfortable walking around in the dark alone. Comfy shoes! No matter what you end up doing, there are so many stairs and hard cobblestone streets. I ate a ridiculous amount food (even took cooking classes) and still wound up losing 5 lbs from all the walking. My favorite area to walk around was the Marais (and I almost skipped it — I only went because a lady in my cooking class suggested we go eat crepes together). And the Latin quarter seemed to be the happening young crowd, but was more touristy.
          If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs – Parisian walls are thin!
          I got the Museum pass, and it was worth it for me — I did at least two museums a day. But I am a die-hard museum fanatic and that was the main reason I went. Well, that and food. Art and food. If you aren’t into museums, then it might not be the best value for you. The Louvre is great for older art and ancient art (and I recommend going in through the Carousel entrance – if you are facing the museum and the pyramid, walk through the arch on the left and go around to the outside of the museum. No line at all), but if you are into the impressionists, go the Musee D’Orsay. It’s impressionists heaven. And if you aren’t museum people at all and just want to see one quickly, consider the Musee D’Orangerie. You pretty much go just to see one exhibit (although they have a small exhibit and a traveling exhibit in the basement) – Monet’s Nympheas (Waterlilies), which is just a stunning experience where you are surrounded by his gigantic paintings in two large galleries (and you can get through the whole museum in an hour).
          If you are considering going anywhere that is considered a garden attraction (Giverny or Versailles), make sure it is actually open and the garden is in bloom. Versailles was impressive for scale but it was the one thing I wish I’d done in season – all the statues were covered for winter, none of the fountains had water, no flowers, etc.
          If you guys are foodies, I highly recommend a cooking or market class. Oh, and a boat cruise is a good way to get your bearings and figure out what you actually want to go see — I was doubtful, but glad I did it.

          1. Chrissi*

            Ooh we stayed in the same area when I visited and I really, really loved it! We were only there for 3 days, so no museum pass for us, but we prefer walking around the neighborhoods anyway. We did go to the Musee D’Orsay, but it was under construction and some of their best paintings were in storage (all the Monet’s and Manet’s – argh). But it was still pretty cool. We took a river cruise at night. Just a cheap one that lasted about an hour. It was lovely.

    2. samaD*

      I’m a big fan of the ‘Hop-On Hop-Off’-type tours – every city I’ve been in that has one I’ve done it :)
      they give you a map (always useful) and the trip gives me a real sense of where things are in relation to where I am and what looks interesting enough to come back to. Best is if you can get one that’s live-narrated because they usually crack terrible jokes :)

      1. Jen RO*

        * Make sure you check the zone you will be staying in. If you’re gonna use public transport a lot, a week pass (Navigo) may be worth it. It was around 30 EUR last time I was there (week pass + price of the actual card), for zones 1+2. You will need a passport-type photo for it. FYI zone 2 extends almost to the outskirts of the city, but if you want to go to La Defense you’ll need zone 3 too (or you can get off one stop early and walk, it’s not far). And always save your ticket! Some metro stops won’t let you exit unless you slide the ticket you used to get in; if the ticket is not valid in that zone, you won’t be able to exit.

        * The Latin Quarter is nice for having a drink in the evening. Lively and fun (though touristic). I also like Montmartre; if you go there, walk up to Sacre Coeur at least for the view. (You can also take the funicular with a regular bus ticket.)

        * Go see Notre Dame de Paris, but be warned that the queue to go up in the tower can be very long. I waited in line for ~2 hours a few years ago in April. I think the view from the tower is amazing, but it might not be worth it if you’re in a hurry.

        * Crepes! I looove crepes. 5 EUR should be the most you’d pay for them, and that’s at the base of the Eiffel tower.

        * I’m not a fan of museums, so the Louvre didn’t impress me at all.

        * I don’t know if this is still valid, but a few years ago if you had an Oyster card you stopped being charged after you went over the price of a day pass. This doesn’t make much sense, so I’ll elaborate: say I charged my Oyster card with 10 pounds, and the price of a day pass was 6.50 pounds. Once the price of my trips hit 6.50, the following ones would be free on that day. I found it really cool, and when I was too tired to walk, but didn’t want to go back to the hotel yet, I just took a “free” trip on any bus, took the front spot on the upper floor a double decker and enjoyed the view.

        * I loved the Museum of Science and the Museum of Natural History, but there is no way you can see both in a day unless you have great stamina.

        * I took a hop-on, hop-off and it was really cool, I got to see a lot of things I couldn’t have during a short stay. And the guide was really funny!

        * If you’re a fan on musicals, definitely go see one. This was the highlight of my trip (I saw Avenue Q).

        * Covent Garden was one of my favorite places – more hippie-ish, I saw a few cool street performers there.

        Overall, in both cities, I just enjoy walking around the historic parts. The architecture is amazing!

          1. Jen RO*

            I’ve never been to a Madame Tussauds, despite being in cities that had them several times. It always seemed so expensive and I just couldn’t justify it for something I might or might not like.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              If you go to London, go to the original one. I have no interest in the copies after having been there. The Chamber of Horrors is pretty cool, hehe.

    3. Colette*

      I’ve been to the Tower of London almost every time I’ve been to London. (I always seem to go with people who haven’t seen it.) Definitely recommended if you’re interested in history.

      And I totally agree that hop-on, hop-off tours are a good way to combine transportation with a tour, although I think you probably learn a little more about the place on a regular tour.

      1. Sam*

        +1 on Tower of London. It’s historical, but it’s got some pretty gory history, so it’ll interest even non-history buffs.

        1. Colette*

          Yes, I’m by no means a history buff, and I’ve enjoyed it every time. They also have guided tours (that I believe are included) which definitely help.

          1. Sam*

            Oh yes, DEFINITELY take the guided tour. The beefeaters (is that what they called themselves) where fascinating. And at the time, I was 18 and my only goal when arriving in London was to get as drunk as possible.

            1. athek*

              +1 to the guided tour! It is excellent!!!
              Also, I LOVE Westminster Abbey, but I’m a history buff.

    4. AVP*

      For Paris- try David Lebovitz’s blog for food suggestions ( – he’s an American pastry chef and food writer who relocated there years ago and writes a ton of reviews and interviews with local Parisian chefs and food-makers (in English). I’m sure he has an app or a guide or something as well that you could print out and look through.

      Also – if you want something cultural that’s lower-impact than the Louvre – the Musee D’Orsay is beautiful and you’ll recognize a lot of their works (the major Impressionists, mostly), but it only takes about an hour or two to get through. It’s in an amazing old train station so the building itself is an experience.

    5. JM*


      The view from Le Sacre Coeur is amazing; honestly, one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. We were there during the week and they’re happened to be a few school trips making it quite crowded, but so beautiful. If you want to go to a museum, obviously the Louvre is the most famous but I enjoyed Musee D’Orsay which is right on the Seine. If you can, see the Eiffel tower at sunset.

      This is my own personal preference but I loved Paris so much more than London. I went to Paris first and I think it tainted my image of London; if I had to do it again, I would do London first and Paris second.


      We did all your typical touristy stuff: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park. We ate a few good pubs, I wish I could remember the name of them. I really liked the area by the London Eye and like Jen said all of the architecture is amazing!

    6. Natalie*

      If you don’t find it morbid, I really enjoyed the Catacombs in Paris. It’s cheap and pretty cool, although there is a fair bit of walking involved.

      1. Jen RO*

        And there might be a horrendous queue! I tried to see it on my last day there and the queue seemed to be 2+ hours, so I had to leave or I’d have missed my flight :(

    7. Anonymous*

      Cafe du Marche was good. It’s just a couple of blocks away from the Eiffel Tower.

      Get a Paris city pass. It’s a one time fee that is good for certain days and let’s you get into certain attractions. It paid for my Louvre entrance and Arc de Triomphe. I don’t believe it covers the Eiffel Tower though. You can climb the Arc though and get views of the city the tower doesn’t provide. You can order the pass from Stateside; just let your credit card company know before you hit the order button.

      See all of the typical city sites. Try to get Versailles in. If you’re a Disney fan, they have a nice Magic Kingdom to see at DisneyLand Paris.

      As for London, I wasn’t there long but long enough to see a few things. Listen to Big Ben at noon. And remember to look right first, left second crossing the street!

      Have fun. That’s the best advice I can give!

      1. LMW*

        I will also give a huge thumbs up from Cafe du Marche. It was right around the corner from my little hotel and I ate breakfast there several times.
        Also, second Covent Garden and Hyde Park. I love the British Museum, but as noted above – museum fanatic. It is really cool to see so many things that you learned about in school though!

    8. kas*

      Thanks everyone for all of the suggestions! Noting it all down so I can plan my days in Europe, definitely going to keep the long wait times in mind.

      Thanks again!!

  16. anonjustforthis*

    I’m glad I caught this. I hope to maybe get some opinions on this. My workplace has part time and full time workers. Most people are hired at part time and it takes years, 4-5 on average, to get full time hours and it’s usually not even in the same store, just another site within the same company. (Example, a former coworker just got full time after 8 years and her commute increased by 30 minutes because she had to go to another store.)

    I was hired part time in 2012 and have a good performance record. We hired another part time worker late last year and they gave her full time hours at our same store two months later when someone else left. No one asked me if I wanted full time hours. I still feel very betrayed by this. Everyone I talk to from my company at other stores say it isn’t fair and I should have been asked. I don’t orchestrate these conversations, what usually happens is people find out the new girl got full time already and they say to me, “oh, you didn’t want the full time hours?”

    I know management doesn’t owe their employees explanations for their behavior but I still feel like this sucks. I mentioned it to my manager after talking about something else with them and they said that they didn’t know I wanted full time (bull, because I’ve covered more than my own hours lots of times and expressly said I’d like as many hours as possible) and that “business can be very cold”. I have an opportunity to take a part time position at another store within my company with a different manager. Should I go?

    1. Dan*

      Yup, you go. Subordinates generally have a tough time getting their superiors to change their behavior or make different decisions. You have a better chance if you’re a rock star employee who they can’t afford to lose, but clearly that’s not the case here.

      They blew you off when you asked, they know it, and you know it. If they can’t be bothered enough to volunteer what it would take for you to get full time hours at your current store, don’t waste any time and run.

    2. bev*

      I went through the same situation though I was the new part-timer that got full-time. Sometime after I got one of my previous jobs, I realized I needed more money so I asked my supervisor for full-time. She said there was nothing at the moment but if it came up she would tell me. Months later, I got it. Then one day, I was talking to a colleague who had been there longer than I have but was part-time. She just made a quick comment saying, “why don’t they just give me (her) full-time already?” I just thought to myself, it’s probably because you never told them you are interested in a full-time position.

      Even though you have covered more than your own hours and told them you wanted more hours that is not the same as telling your managers that you are interested in a full-time position. For one thing, your supervisors don’t know what else is going on in your life. What if you had another part-time job or less than part-time job? Or doing something that was more like a contract job? They have no idea.

      If you like your current store and the people you work with, there is no point in transferring. If you do though, let your manager there know that you are interested in a full-time position.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I would go. And tell the new manager you want FT as soon as possible, say it clearly. Find out from him first, if that is realistic for his store given his number of employees/seniority and so on.

      For whatever reason, you fell off the radar at your current store. (Maybe you wore purple socks one day and “everyone knows” do not wear purple socks. Ahhh- the joys of retail.)

  17. Poly, Esquire*

    I’ve been in a polyamorous relationship for most of the decade that my husband and I have been married. My other partner shares a house with us, all our in-laws know, and we regard this as our permanent family situation. We’ll probably adopt in a few more years.

    I’m starting my first job out of law school this fall with a big firm in flyover country. We’re in a blue state, and our city is very gay-friendly, but other than in a few big coastal cities (Boston, San Francisco, NYC, maybe a few more), poly families generally aren’t “out” publicly.

    No one at my firm knows about my other partner, but if I like the job and stay long-term, I don’t know how I want to handle this. It’s not an arena with a lot of role models to look to. We’re planning to be pretty open as parents – we don’t want to raise kids who feel they need to keep secrets for us or feel ashamed of their family – and I know the school systems around here aren’t going to make that a big deal (our community has quite a lot of poly families, it’s just that none are “out”).

    The firm I’m joining has a large percentage of lawyers with spouses and kids, even among the junior associates, and I just think it would feel awkward (and maybe painful) to have to hide or censor my family around my co-workers.

    I don’t know if I’m asking for advice or encouragement or what, but I wanted to throw this out there, because the Commentariat here is so fantastic. Anyone else poly and hiding that in the workplace? Any lawyers care to speak to this issue from the perspective of firm life? It’s worth noting that I am generally a pretty private person, so if I ultimately end up at a firm where people don’t talk about their families all the time, this could be a non-issue.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Dunno but I would love to see this as a plot line on the next season of “Suits”.

      If it were me, I wouldn’t explain a damn thing about my personal life, I’d act as if it was the most natural thing in the world since my choice would be natural to me.

      I don’t think you can show up to +1 events with a +2, though, so if your family is okay with your husband always being your +1 , the rest of everything else may take years for people to fully catch onto…like when you adopt and the family pictures on your desk are baby and three parents.

      If your family isn’t okay with your husband always being the +1, that will put you in the limelight a lot faster because you’re going to have to offer some explanation for changing partners at events, I would think.

      1. Poly, Esquire*

        We’re a pretty realistic set of people, and my husband will be my +1 at any firm events. I have long-term, not near-future concerns.

        Generally, I don’t explain a damn thing about my personal life, and life works well that way! Thanks for your comment – I always enjoy what you have to say here on AAM.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Thanks. :)

          Hopefully you will get some lawyer input because if you were operating in my world, you could manage to never say anything or be completely open on your second week and nothing bad would happen from either choice.

          Even though our company is family owned, by a reasonably conservative family, there’s always been a high tolerance for and acceptance of personal choice. We had openly gay employees who brought their partners to company events 25 years ago. And we’re in the suburbs! ;)

          I wouldn’t know what the law world is like though, other than, most of the the Suits people wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    2. Anonymous*

      I really could never imagine doing something like this. I think in a way this is selfish. What about your children? I could never do this to another person. Love is commitment. I love the show Sister Wives but honestly they sometimes seem a little sad.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Hey, this isn’t Dear Prudence. Poly, Esquire wasn’t asking for our opinion on her personal life choices, she asked a work question.

        I think your offering an opinion on her life choices is way out of line.

          1. JustKatie*

            “I really could never imagine doing something like this.”
            The nice thing is that you don’t have to. It’s not your life. Since they’re all consenting adults, OP isn’t “doing” this to anyone- they’re all on board and committed to each other. It just might not be the way you’d want to commit. Don’t make this about you.

            1. Anonymous*

              This isn’t about me. I would never do something this awful or stupid. This is about my opinion that some others may have also.

      2. Poly, Esquire*

        I am committed, and so are my partners – we’re committed to one another.

        Our child or children will have three committed parents who love them. Of course, many children with step-parents have three or more parents who love them and care for them. The difference here is just that our household isn’t split – we are one unit.

        Selfish? The “think of the children” argument you seem to be making wasn’t a good argument when it was used against gay parents (and still is used), it wasn’t a good argument when used against interracial parents, and it’s not a good argument against poly parents.

        I have not seen Sister Wives, but I can vouch that no one in my relationship is reluctant or unhappy. We aren’t in this relationship because of any religious beliefs, but only because we love each other – period.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          JMHO, but this is exactly what I wouldn’t tolerate if I were in your shoes. I’m not going to explain or defend my family choices to anybody.

          Which is where you end up deciding as a family how “out” you want to be at work. The more information you give people voluntarily, the more entitled they feel to chime in about what they think about your choices. How do you handle this conversation at work when it makes you want to throttle somebody?

          It’s none of their beeswax.

          1. Poly, Esquire*

            Eh, I’ll engage online, because I’ve found that, fairly often, commenters like Anonymous simply haven’t thought out their assumptions. In my nine years in this relationship, I’ve never explained myself to anyone offline.

            Of course, we’ve also been careful that no one finds out about our relationship unless we’re 99% sure they’ll be accepting, with the exception of telling our respective families.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Unfortunately, “Sister Wives” and “Big Love” haven’t done poly any favors because they perpetuate the traditional idea (not entirely unfounded) of poly being a means to subjugate women.

              I’m not poly but it gets exhausting even for me to have conversations where it’s like, no not that poly, we’re talking about the other poly.

              It would be very helpful for there to be a popular cultural show about the other poly. Going with Suits.

              1. Gjest*

                I think Sister Wives has done a disservice to the issue mainly because the guy (can’t remember his name) is such a douche. I don’t have any issue with their situation/choices, I just don’t like watching a such a tool.

              2. Poly, Esquire*

                I think there’s a great sitcom to be made, actually. Even More Modern Family?


        2. Anon*

          Love is love is love. What works for someone won’t work for others. You go Glen Coco!

      3. Anonymous*

        I’m also seriously not getting the advice from AAM that sex workers shouldn’t be stigmatized but somehow polyamory is something that should be hidden under the rug.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not sure what you’re saying here–do you think Alison has expressed disapproval of being poly? I haven’t seen that. The only poly-related post I recall was the OP whose partner inappropriately asked for work stuff from the OP’s boss. (I also think “shouldn’t be stigmatized” isn’t at odds with “but currently is, so you’ll want to take care of how that impacts a workplace.”)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’m confused by this too! I don’t think any of it should be stigmatized, but since both are, I think people need to recognize that and proceed with caution.

            1. fposte*

              I wasn’t sure if “not getting” meant “not understanding” or “wasn’t receiving”–the comment could mean basically two completely opposite things. But the second one would seem like it had to be a response to something else that I didn’t see, so the first seemed likelier–and also incorrect.

      4. Anon E Mouse*

        Poly relationships are committed. She’s not going to adopt with complete strangers. Just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s selfish.

      5. Sadsack*

        If you are interested in better understanding this, check out Dan Savage’s advice column, Savage Love.

        1. KLH*

          Especially since he had a convo with an attorney who specializes in legal polyamorous family stuctures and the law recently. The same woman popped up in an article in The Arlantic Online too. Diana Somebody.

          There’s also a blog by a woman in Minneapolis with a triad family including 2 small kids–it started as personal finance and was a very interesting look at their family structure. She had the family finance manager role and was making lots of long-term plans. I don’t remember what it was called though.

      6. some1*

        No, you’re right, Anonymous, I’m sure the kids they want to adopt would be much happier in foster care.

        1. Anonymous*

          You know Some1 I am thinking about children. Are you? Believe it or not behavior like this does affect children. They grow up having to hide things. Making references to foster children doesn’t change that. I am a mom and believe me I am thinking about the bigger picture.

          1. fposte*

            Children always grow up having to hide things, though–we just call it “being private” (or else we happily let them talk about the family budget and parents’ pubic hair all the time, which is dull); how much they have to hide poly parents will depend on where you’re growing up, just like how much they’re allowed to talk about Grammy’s drinking or Dad’s good friend the real estate lady or Mom’s politics.

            And ultimately this is one of those circular arguments that’s undone by acceptance: interracial relationships aren’t fair to the children because they won’t be accepted; gay parents aren’t fair to the children because they won’t be accepted. So accept them then.

      7. Anonymous*

        “I really could never imagine doing something like this”

        I have some marevelous news for you! You don’t have to do anything like this if you don’t want to. Isn’t that amazing? you get to decide what you liek to do, and then do it! And – here’s the really awesome part – OTHER PEOPLE get to do the same!

        I know, how perfect is that? People doing what works for them/not doing what doesn’t. Pretty great, huh?

        1. Anonymous*

          I have some marvelous news for you too. I have been in a committed marriage almost 32 years, raised three wonderful, responsible kids and to most people this is not acceptable. Sorry, that is the way it looks. Selfish like having affairs. A committed relationship should be between two people, not three, not four, not five. Children do need to not feel they have to hide things. This will affect children. You can try to justify it all you want but it doesn’t change things.

          1. Anonymous*

            If you were as happy with your life as you claim, you wouldn’t be trolling online to criticize other people.

            People like you, who focus on what others are doing and judge them and demonize them, are avoiding looking at the problems in their own life.

            Truly happy, content people don’t behave the way you’re behaving. And you can try and pretend that’s not true but it doesn’t change the fact that it is.

            1. Anonymous*

              Alison, I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to come on so strong with my viewpoints. I do not want to hurt anyone. I didn’t realize how strongly I was expressing my views. Thank you.

            2. Anonymous*

              I much thought, I don’t believe this blog is for me. If someone has an opini0n that is very conservative they are told their opini0n isn’t the place to comment here. So I don’t think I want to read or comment here any longer.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The way I see it, this blog is my living room and I’m hosting you all here. I doubt that you would think it was okay to come into my home and insult my guests’ relationship choices. You might decide that my guests weren’t a group that you wanted to continue interacting with, and that would be your prerogative — but you’d presumably be polite to them while here.

        2. Stephanie*


          Don’t believe in polyamory? Then don’t get in a polyamorous relationship. Simple.

    3. FRRibs*

      I’m not, but two of my co-workers are poly (not sharing homes or children though). If anything, it’s led to some interesting conversations. Don’t worry about it until you have a better read on the culture and co-workers?

      1. Poly, Esquire*

        I’d love to hear how you learned about your co-workers’ situations and what industry you’re in! I’m guessing you aren’t in a southern state?

        1. FRRibs*

          Nope; I’m in New England, in an area that is about as openminded as cow country can get. Likewise my employer is publicly dedicated to supporting diversity.

          For the first person who told me about their lifestyle, it just came up in conversation over time. I’m known as a pretty open minded person and genuinely curious about everything, so at some point it organically flowed into the conversation. At the time when we first started talking about it he lived with his legal wife during the week and with his…I don’t know what you’d call it…on weekends, and his wife would be with hers. I was confused about his relationship thinking it simple infidelity, which is when we starte talking about poly.

          The second was a facebook friend and I commented in jest that he seemed to have a lot of pictures with one lady who was not his wife, and he told me about being poly. It wasn’t a big deal; it hadn’t touched on any of our conversations in the years we worked together so he hadn’t brought it up.

          I guess you could say then that if it isn’t relevant to the conversation, it needn’t be said. Personally, I see more people get grief when they use their identity as a political position rather than just being who they are. Not that you have to “hide” anything…just that who you are is an amagamation of attributes, not just a cartoon “(whatever)”, and if you simplify who you are to others, it allows them to simplify their opinion. I would hate to judge people on just one facet of who they are, because otherwise I would never talk to my daughter again for being a NY Yankees fan.

          On reflection, my first girlfriend was a member of a ring of boys and girls who were in some kind of group relationship. At the time I met her I was still pretty vanilla (altar boy, didn’t want to take sex ed, hadn’t kissed someone my age, etc), so it was a massive shock to the system. I refer to her jokingly as my “timeshare girlfriend” whenever I speak of it. While I’m still somewhat traditional I’ve met a lot of interesting people with relationship permutations and it wasn’t until I started online dating after my divorce that I learned just how many folks identified as nontraditional/other.

          1. Anonymous*

            “I’m in New England, in an area that is about as openminded as cow country can get”

            My guesses: Burlington VT or Northampton :)

    4. Lacey*

      Couple of pieces of advice:

      1. Ignore the comment from Anonymous, they are being judgmental and horrible.

      2. On the other hand, imagine that at least 50% of the people you will work with, will think this way. That might be more or less true, but lawyers, particularly older ones, can be pretty conservative. I certainly can’t imagine any lawyers I know publically living this way, because of the risk of judgment. Keep it to yourself until you are very, very certain that people can deal with it without it impacting on your career.

      1. Poly, Esquire*

        1. Too late! I can’t resist challenging what I see as bad arguments that malign something that is simply misunderstood (and often tarnished by association).

        2. All good points. I am certainly not planning on ever outing my family to anyone intentionally if they don’t seem like they would be accepting. I highly doubt I will even consider letting a co-worker find out within the first few years I work in law, regardless of how accepting they seem.

        I very much hope that I’ll see widespread tolerance (maybe even acceptance) of poly families within my lifetime, but I am prepared to work around hurdles in the meantime. If that eventually means lateraling to a smaller or more liberal city/job/etc., then that is probably what we’ll do.

      2. Dan*

        Truth be told, I’m all for people setting whatever boundaries they think they need to. If Anonymous isn’t comfortable with Poly, then that his/her choice. And I’m not so sure he/she needs to keep those opinions to themselves, anymore than Poly Esquire needs to keep her home life to herself at work. But Anonymous also will have to accept the consequences of those boundaries, particularly if they publicize them.

        In this case, those consequences will have little impact on Anonymous. But if he/she said that she didn’t want to work with , they have every right to voice those opinions, but will find their career prospects extremely limited.

        FWIW, I’m separated from a spouse whose family is a candidate for just about every Jerry Springer episode ever made, and she wouldn’t set boundaries with them. It is hard as hell to deal with, and was one factor that lead to our break up. So yeah, I got to deal with first hand a set of folk who made truly sh!tty decisions with their lives. “Shut up and MYOB” is easy advice to give out on the internet, but when you have to deal with it in real life, it’s much, much easier said than done.

        1. Anonymous*

          I don’t agree that MYOB is hard IRL when it comes to what strangers do with their lives.

          50 years ago (and I’m being generous, it’s probably a lot less time than that), an interracial couple walking down the street hand and hand would have literally been risking their lives in parts of our country because people didn’t want to keep their opinions to themselves.

          I do think that people need to keep their hurtful, judgemental opinions to themselves about stuff that has NO impact in their lives whatsoever. It literally changes nothing about my life if a stranger is in a straight relationship, a gay one, a poly one, etc.

          1. Dan*

            The problem is, we live in a country where we are free to *speak* out about things we don’t agree with. We are not free to commit crimes against other people who do things we don’t agree with.

            People have the right to do what they want to do in front of me. I have the right to tell them I don’t like it. If you don’t want to hear my opinion, don’t do or discuss that thing in front of me. If it’s not my business, don’t make it mine.

            1. Poly, Esquire*

              There are rights and then there are “shoulds” I think. Do you have the right to tell a gay couple sitting next to you at a restaurant that you saw them holding hands and you find that disgusting? Yes. Should you tell them? No.

              Of course that doesn’t stop some people, but it doesn’t reflect well on them.

              The more stigmatized something is, the more likely it is that complete strangers will succumb to their urges to offer unsolicited comments. In the US, people who are overweight and obese get unsolicited rude comments frequently, for example. The fact that people have a right to make such comments doesn’t mean that it’s right to do so.

            2. Anonymous*

              “If you don’t want to hear my opinion, don’t do or discuss that thing in front of me.”

              Under your theory, any modicum of polite society falls apart. Using the example of the interacial couple, by going out in public, they are inviting the verbal abuse of anyone who sees them because they are “doing that thing” in front of them.

              Who gives a shit whether they have the “right” to do it – society cannot function if all of us verbally unload on any stranger we see in public doing something we don’t like.

            3. Anonymous*

              Dan, I agree with you. Everyone has their opinion. If Poly, Esquire thinks just because she thinks this is so great the majority of people will, she is wrong. Of course, she can do as she pleases. But, you cannot be committed to one person the way a marriage is and have lovers or whatever they are on the side. That is not love. People are people and yes there are conservatives out there that think like I do. We have our right to our opinion just as she thinks she does. If she is vocal on this some may think this is odd like I do. That is my opinion, my right, same as she has.

              1. PJ*

                “But, you cannot be committed to one person the way a marriage is and have lovers or whatever they are on the side. That is not love.”

                Shouldn’t you preface that with “In my opinion…”

                Because in Poly’s world, the relationship she shares with her two spouses appears to be, judging from her writing, most definitely love. She does not have a lover on the side. She has two commited spouses. Not your cup of tea, I get that. But there is no need to label her family as “not committed” just because it looks different than yours.

                1. Anonymous*

                  Sorry my dear that isn’t marriage. Marriage is between two people last I heard. That is just a live-in lover. For shame.

                2. Stephanie*

                  Whoa, Anonymous, that same argument about “hurting families” has been used to justify banning same-sex marriages, interracial marriages, and second marriages (and divorces).

                  It sounds like what Poly, Esquire has works for her and that everyone involved is a consenting adult. It’s totally valid that that’s an arrangement you might not subscribe to, but there’s no reason to claim it damages families. There are all kinds of familial arrangements outside a two-parent nuclear family (siblings raising siblings, single parents, grandparents, etc) that produce well-adjusted children.

                3. fposte*

                  It’s not illegal to do this, actually. It’s illegal to marry more than one person, but it’s perfectly legal (in most states and federally, anyway) for me to have a household of several devoted men who all love me and we all go out together and maybe they’ll do all my laundry and I’m getting a little overinvested in this fantasy now.

                  And marrying more than one person isn’t illegal because of families; countries where it is legal to have more than one spouse have families too. It’s just the way culture, religion, and property transmission have been handled in some regions that prioritizes monogamy. The property thing is already something law is running to catch up with, given surrogacy, gay parents, and the possibility of genetic chimera, so I don’t see any reason why polyfamilial inheritance would be such a big challenge to surmount at that point.

                4. Anonymous*

                  “that same argument about “hurting families” has been used to justify banning same-sex marriages, interracial marriages, and second marriages (and divorces)”.

                  I assure the other Anonymous is 100% against gay marriage, secretly (wouldn’tadmit it here) against interracial marriage, but ok with divorce.

                5. Anonymous*

                  In reply to the other Anonymous, yes I am against gay marriage, no not against interracial marriage at all and understand divorce happens. I know divorce hurts families. My heart goes out to those who have had to go through this. I am not going to suppose something the Bible is against and to me seems strange anyway. But, that isn’t what we were talking about. We were talking about trying to have your cake and eat it to. I think to have 2 or more men in that kind of relationship is cheating on your real husband.

                6. Anonymous*

                  The values, principles and morals of society have went down so far that now others are wanting anything goes. Well, for me I still believe in the Bible and I still believe your actions hurt other people. The marriage relationship is sacred or should be. It is not a game. To me it is a relationship between two people that love each other and choose to live their lives together. Man and woman. Like the Bible says. This poster can certainly do whatever she pleases but if others find out some will have my viewpoint. There will always be people that want to justify wrong actions. You cannot have the strong marriage you want and be doing things with someone else intended for your husband or wife only. The commitment isn’t there no matter what this poster says. I have been married almost 32 years and I am speaking from experience.

              2. Corporate Attorney*

                Erm, monogamous marriage has by no means been the rule through history (see: King David), nor is it universally the case today (see: millions of Muslim families throughout the world). So maybe marriage is “between two people the last [you] heard,” but I’m guessing that the last weren’t paying attention during the Old Testament readings last Sunday.

              3. Colette*

                You’re allowed to have your opinion. You’re just not allowed to expect everyone to agree with you or to live their lives in a way you’re happy with.

      3. Anonymous*

        Lacey, I am a wife and mother and I can assure you that more than 50% of people that are conservative will think like I do. I would be ashamed to tell anyone I was married and had a guy on the side.

        1. PJ*

          “A guy on the side?” This is a discussion about polyamory, in which three people are committed to each other to create one family. This is not about “a guy on the side.”

          1. Anonymous*

            Have you ever heard of marriage vows? Cleave only to him or her as long as you both shall live. This is not a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. It is cheating.

            1. PJ*

              You are assuming that the beliefs you hold are the only viable ones. And you are assuming that everyone took the same vows as you, and anyone who breaks YOUR vows is “cheating.”

              Your definition of “marriage” is suspect also — not too long ago (and still is in many places) the definition required that the two parties involved be of the opposite gender.

              Open your mind. There are other people in the world whose opinions, lifestyles, experiences, beliefs and choices differ from yours. That doesn’t make them wrong.

              1. Anonymous*

                I still believe marriage is between a woman and man. So did most people until recently. My mind is open, but closed to things that are wrong in the eyes of God.

                1. Corporate Attorney*

                  Re: the eyes of God and what most people believed until recently, please review the story of Jacob, the story of Moses, the story of David…shall I go on?

            2. fposte*

              Ah. You’re arguing from a specific religious perspective. I think that’s a different matter than child welfare, then–if it’s wrong to you because of Scripture, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean it’s a breach of a child’s welfare to let it have bacon.

              1. Anonymous*

                Yes fposte from a moral and religious principle. I believe God is for families and this way of life isn’t in the best interest of anyone. That includes children. You have to have a moral compass in life. There is a right and wrong. We all know it deep inside. Some people just try to make wrong right but it will never work.

                1. FRRibs*

                  I will be honest; _I_ find it the idea of balancing multiple partners daunting; it’s difficult enough just trying to be happy with one partner. But just because that is so with me, does not mean people are incapable of having such relationships. Poly Esq. said she has been in this committed relationship for nine years now. US census data from 2001 indicated that on in five marriages end in divorce, and only one in four marriages last 15 years or more, Nine years is longer than between 55-60% of marriages, so I would say yes, it can work.

                  As for the religious angle, there are a few examples of larger-than-two marriages, King David and his seven (possibly more) wives being a good example.

                  As a person of faith, I try to worship and emulate when I think is “right” in my thoughts and actions. I assume the best way to improve my relationship with the divine is not to waste energy judging others, but focusing on what I have control over ie: myself.

                  I don’t say it to be snarky, but if one has time to grade others on their righteousness, then they must feel they have already attained perfect grace. That, of course, is presumptuous.

                2. Anonymous*

                  To FRRibs. No, I do not judge anyone. Not my place. That job belongs to God. I do believe that thou shall not commit adultry is in the Bible though. Just stating my opinion like everyone else here.

    5. Anne*

      Hi Poly, Esquire – I’m poly too and yes, I’m hiding it in the workplace. My husband and I have been living together for a few years now, and each have other relationships, including a boyfriend of mine who I’ve been dating for longer than my husband. It’s very stable, but… still impossible to explain to some folks. When we have kids, we’ll be open with them about it. I have so much sympathy.

      My rationale so far has been that even if my co-workers would be supportive (and I think at least some of them would), all it takes is one manager who reacts like Anonymous above, you know? Even if it isn’t damaging in a concrete “I can’t give a promotion to that sicko” way, it has the potential to make things uncomfortable.

      The flipside is that, as you say, it’s pretty awkward to have to hide/censor major parts of your life around your co-workers. You might decide that for you, that’s a bigger consideration, and I think that would be completely understandable. My husband works in a much more liberal field and workplace than I do (I’m accounting, he’s IT development), and after putting out some subtle feelers to co-workers he was close with, discovered that there are actually four or five people in his department who are poly. Now they come to the local poly meets. That can happen!

      I don’t know if this is really helpful. I guess what I’m saying is just to do what feels best to you, and realize that either way there are potential ramifications for the some aspect of your life. Upside is that poly folks have usually got a pretty good handle on foreseeing and handling potential social weirdness. :)

      So much moral support for you.

      1. Loquaciousaych*

        My parents are poly and their usual explanation is something like this:

        (using fake names to protect them etc)

        LadyK and SirT are married. MisterS is their housemate, who is dating MissC.

        At first, it was after knowing an individual person that any of them revealed their situation. As they have gotten older, it has become less and less of something they hide.

        As the child of poly parents, having extra adults involved in and responsible for loving, caring for, setting examples and being supportive of a young person is NOT selfish. It can be truly caring. It’s a strange variation of “it takes a village”, but in my experience, it leads to healthy relationships and ability to interact with adults, as well as giving kids space to talk to adults that are NOT THEIR PARENTS about “important stuff”.

        It *IS* weird at times, and there’s no way around it. Having 6-8 parents even outside of divorce, remarriage etc can get overly complicated and make you feel like you are ALWAYS being watched. But it’s downright awesome to get that many extra birthday wishes, hugs, pieces of advice and more.

        Good luck.

        1. Anne*

          I can’t thank you enough for posting this. It is really reassuring for the future. I kind of assumed it would be possible for it to work out that way, and it seems to be working well in one or two poly families I know, but it is fantastic to hear from someone who has grown up in that environment and doesn’t have any reason to tell me how great it is other than it being great.

          Thank you.

          1. Poly, Esquire*


            Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Loquatiousaych. And thanks for your encouragement. I suspect that, like your parents, we will be less guarded as we get older.

      2. Poly, Esquire*

        Thanks, Anne. I’m with you on the reasoning (*sigh*), but I don’t know how my priorities will change once we’re parents. At least I have several years to figure that out!

    6. Brett*

      Which flyover state? The blue flyover states, especially the college towns, can make San Francisco look like Provo. Depending on location, it might not be as big of a deal as you think.

      1. Poly, Esquire*

        I’d rather not say, just in case someone I know is reading these comments, but it’s about Madison/Ann Arbor/Austin levels of liberal, maybe one step down from them. Like I said before, I know the school systems here won’t blink if we are open about it down the road, but law (even in liberal cities) is just a different ball game.

        1. Brett*

          That does sound like a tough call. If it was more like liberal Iowa or Minnesota, I would think that even with law you would likely be okay. But if it is on tier with less liberal but blue cities like those… although, you could still probably directly translate your experiences from the coasts, since those cities you named are decided more socially liberal than the coastal cities you have dealt with.

    7. MK*

      I’ve worked at a national LGBT advocacy organization in the past as a public policy attorney and met several people who were in polyamorous relationships. Since most LGBT organizations are progressive, my coworkers felt safe to be as open as they wanted about their personal lives. I think whether or not you want to be open about being in a polyamorous relationship depends on what your workplace is like and how transparent you want to be irregardless of what others think.

      1. Poly, Esquire*

        Yes! I think it’s possible that I might eventually seek a job with a liberal cause-related organization, like the ACLU or the FFRF. These would definitely be safer environments for people to find out that I have a poly family.

  18. Chocolate Teapot*

    It depends on what you are interested on doing/seeing in Paris. I quite like walking around the Rue du Faubourg St Honore and looking in the shop windows. The open top hop-on hop-off bus tours are a good way of getting your bearings too.

    And from experience, if you are planning on visiting Versailles, be prepared for a massive queue!

    1. Stephanie*

      Oh, Alison. That was the last thing I heard before heading to bed. I hope I don’t have a dream involving that laugh.

  19. Stephanie*

    Suggestions on moving on from an interview? Had a final interview last week that went well, but I know the job’s not mine until I get a written offer. I’ve definitely applied to other things since then, but I’m having difficulty shaking the “Eeeeee! This could finally be the one!” feeling.

    1. Rayner*

      Write down the EEEEEE! feelings, and put them in a drawer or shred them, if you like symbolic acts.

      The other thing I would do is if you have a spreadsheet of interviews, highlight it in a different colour so you know that you’re most interested in that one.

      And then just tell yourself firmly that the position is not in the bag until it’s in the bag, and that you have to find another “this is the one!” job while you’re looking. Don’t let yourself relax for a minute or get complacent about job searching or you’ll get really really down if this job doesn’t come through.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I am a horrible downer, but pretend you didn’t get it. Seriously. It can be a nice surprise if you did, but meanwhile you get to move on, not agonize, focus on other openings, and not be devastated if it turns out you didn’t get it for real.

      1. Stephanie*

        Not a horrible downer at all! This is what I keep telling myself. Just need to really believe it and use it to light a fire under my ass. Helps to see other people say it.

      2. Jen RO*

        Not related to interviews specifically, but I love that you’re giving out this kind of advice. This has always been my approach (to everything) and I kept getting told that I’m too negative… I just see it as self-protection.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


      I’m no help. I ‘m excited for you.

      Listen to Alison instead.

    4. In progress*

      I’m excited for you! But yes unfortunately putting too much on it can lead to major disappointment. I’ve even struggled with having that disappointment stall my job search, since it feels like “why even bother?”
      Best bet? Find other jobs to be excited about.

    5. Graciosa*

      I completely understand, and even agree with Alison’s comment, but I’m going to give you a somewhat different perspective.

      Pretend you KNOW you didn’t get it for purposes of continuing your job search and managing your finances.

      Pretend you KNOW you got it for all other purposes.

      The number of things I could have taken care of (but didn’t) while I was out of work still makes me wince. I was very focused on my job search – and keeping my spirits up – and worrying about my finances – so I never seemed to get around to cleaning out the garage, putting my wardrobe in order, weeding out my bookshelves, figuring out what was on my old unlabeled VCR tapes, touching up the paint in the laundry room, etc.

      Completely understandable, of course, and I told myself there would be time after I landed a job before it actually started – which there was, but much less than expected because I wanted to start right away.

      So my advice would be to pretend you got it and have to start on Monday for purposes of doing all the things you don’t have time to do when you’re working hard at a new job.

      – Which I really hope you get. :-)

    6. ChristineSW*

      Completely agree with Alison, but I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you anyway!

    7. Laura*

      I totally have that same problem – and have been rejected several times after I’ve had those feelings and been in the top 2-3 candidates, which made it worse. In fact I am currently having those feelings about an interview I had on Monday. I keep trying to tell myself I didn’t get it, but my brain will not cooperate and I can’t stop myself but thinking that I could. I’ve been rejected after being in teh top 5 or less so many times, yet I am still an eternal optimist for some strange reason. Don’t know how to help myself!

      The fact that I found a really promising job at somewhere I used to work yesterday helped me feel a bit better.

  20. Rayner*

    I’m having the issue that when I return home from Finland, it’s going to be a while before I can find a job again – like, months, it’s looking at the moment. It’s frustrating, but at the moment, I can’t apply for any of the jobs that I do find because they want people to start immediately and they pop up in cycles. My field of work is having a squeeze time again. D:

    That said, I did retail at a job for two and a half years about three years ago while going through another tough time, and wouldn’t mind going back there to earn some money while I wait for this stupid job market to come back again. I didn’t leave on a bad note – I had to go because of moving house, and was sorely sad to say goodbye.

    My question is, how do I approach my old manager? Or even do I? There’s no email address so it’s phone or in person only and idk what on earth to say for either! “Hi, I want a job, give me a job, I need money to live and to feed myself?”


    1. Chris*

      I work retail, and we hire people all the time that are only going to be available for short periods for whatever reason. It never is a huge deal and you have the perk of being already “trained”, having worked there before.

      I would just call the number, ask if so and so still works there and explain that you are moving back to the area and are looking for work, and didn’t know if they had anything available currently. I wouldn’t tell them you are job searching beyond that because you could be there awhile. Just explain when the time comes that you found an opportunity that you couldn’t pass up and that you are ever so thankful to them.

    2. Char*

      Perhaps you can just make a call saying you’re back in Finland and ask if he/she has any time for coffee and catch up? Perhaps you can tell him you are looking for a job and if there’s any opportunities at the previous company via phone, or you can keep till you all meet up. That’s how I would approach the situation. Even if there’s no position available, meeting is a form of networking which might lead to recommendations and such.

    3. IronMaiden*

      I think you have nothing to lose by reaching out to your retail contac, especially as you left on good terms. The worst they can say is no. Make the call and good luck.

    4. Elsajeni*

      “Hi, Manager, how nice to see you again! Yes, I’ve just moved back to the area — very exciting! And, actually, I’m looking for work, and I wondered if you might be hiring currently? You are? Awesome!” At which point they’ll probably tell you how to proceed — whether you need to go through the formal application process again, or if they can just rehire you and put you back on the schedule with no fuss, or what.

      (I went back to a retail job that I’d left to go to graduate school, and it went about like this — I didn’t get to speak to my manager in person, but I spoke to the employees who were on the floor at the time, dropped off my application with someone I’d worked with before, and the manager called like 6 hours later to say, “Awesome, you’re re-hired, can you start tomorrow?”)

    1. Rayner*

      Trawl through the archives of AAM and make one resolution based on the article(s) that you read.

      Ex: “I will not be the annoying coworker who steals other people’s lunches. I will buy my own.”

    2. FRRibs*

      Trawl wherever you purchase your reading materials and buy a book by an author you haven’t read yet. I recommend Richard Russo (any book, but Empire Falls would be a good introduction) or John Irving (Last Night in Twisted River) if you haven’t read either of them. If you like business shennanigans in historical settings, David Liss would be a good choice.

      If you’re in an area where it’s night, bundle up as warm as you can and go outside and look at the stars…they’re always crisper when it’s cold out.

      Click on random article on Wikipedia and start reading.

      If you haven’t watched them, pick the first episode of Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Shield, Justified, Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Lost, or some other top tier drama series that you haven’t seen yet, watch it, and decide if you liked it enough to watch the rest of the series.

      Make a list of dishes you have never cooked, and plan out a meal that requires preparation; send invitations to friends to make it together.

      Make lists of things you can do in an hour, and pick the one you want to do the most.

    3. Anne*

      Circulate around the office stealing bits of hair from coworkers so you can cast spells on them later.

  21. en pointe*

    Cheers, this timing is a nice surprise on a Friday night.

    I was one of the OP’s on a short answer post a few weeks ago, asking about how / whether to tell my boss I’m going to be shaving my head for a cancer charity campaign. This isn’t really much of an update, so I thought I’d just post it here quickly, in case anyone is interested.

    Basically, being the wimp that I am, I kind of just sat on this for a few weeks. But the event is coming up soon, so a couple of days ago, I brought it up with my boss, using pretty much the phrasing suggested by Alison. I needn’t have worried because she was fine with it, mentioning no negative concerns. Also, while we have a no-solicitation policy, the company itself is going to sponsor me (my boss is the owner), something that I was not expecting.

    Thank you to both Alison and the commenters for your insights. I found the advice offered valuable, and the related discussions that went on (about reasonable attitudes and expectations toward conventional appearance in the workplace, and also the concept / value of charity campaigns like this one in a broader sense) really interesting.

    Also, I’m a dog person, but crikey that picture makes me happy!

  22. In progress*

    It’s been a busy week with a practice interview, an interview today and an interview tomorrow! Things are finally starting to pick up since I started applying during the winter holidays. No offers yet. I’m disabled so I have someone who specializes in job placement for DVR.

    The only thing is, I wonder if they’re holding me back? My job coach contacts jobs on my behalf, and has gone with me to interviews to observe and support me. I know that having a friend do this would be a bad idea, so is it different since she is a professional? Do companies understand this? This doesn’t mean I can’t hold a job or do a good interview. I’ve gotten positive feedback on both. Should I turn down her help?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ooooh. I can’t imagine this wouldn’t impact how you’re being perceived, but maybe more context will help here. How is it explained to the companies you’re interviewing with? (If it’s being framed at all as “emotional support,” that’s going to be a negative for most companies — who will worry about what kind of support you’ll need on the job.)

      1. In progress*

        Alison- we approach it as neutrally as possible. I just introduce her as a job coach. If I explained the disability situation, that might make it more understandable, but of course some companies would hold that against me. There is an argument that I would not want to work for a company that would discriminate anyway. But I’ve been told all my life that my disability is something to keep hidden. Thanks!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Okay, no, you can’t do this! I’m actually amazed employers are allowing it (I wouldn’t, not without it being explicitly connected to a disability in some way). There’s no way this will reflect well on you. And the fact that she doesn’t realize that and is encouraging you to do this is very, very concerning about her competence!

          1. In progress*

            In that case, would you suggest I disclose I have a disability? Having her there is a help since social anxiety is part of the disability and I can get feedback on the interview. Otherwise, I could just get a pep talk beforehand and try to do my best on my own.

            1. Jen RO*

              This is what I would think if I were a hiring manager: if your social anxiety is so bad you need a job coach with you in the interview, are you going to be able to face the actual job without the coach?

            2. Zillah*

              I don’t want to be unsympathetic, because I totally understand how terrible and debilitating anxiety can be – I grapple with anxiety, too, and it’s really, really tough. Like, days where I can’t get out of bed tough.


              I don’t know all the particulars of your disability, obviously, but whatever it is, I think you need to learn how to handle it by yourself. I’m not saying that your coach can’t be helpful, but I think she needs to be helpful from the sidelines – e.g., helping you prep for interviews, giving you companies to contact, etc. Being unable to do an interview on your own isn’t good. Explaining that it’s related to your disability would, IMO, make things even worse, because then you’re not just naive, you’re explicitly presenting yourself as incapable of functioning on your own, you know?

              Again, I really, really get how hard anxiety can be… but I think you need to get a hold of this now. Maybe it will mean more anxiety which means you can apply to fewer jobs, but I think that’s balanced out by having a much better chance of getting hired.

              1. The IT Manager*

                +1. Companies are thinking if you can’t go to an interview without your coach right there that you won’t be able to work without someone looking over your shoulder.

            3. College Career Counselor*

              If at all possible, I would recommend the pep talk beforehand (like RIGHT before) if at all possible. I agree with Alison that someone who shows up with a second person for an interview (as a job coach, even) is going to be off-putting for most employers. Even connected to a disability is going to be difficult for many employers to understand because they will likely feel, as others point out, that if you need the support during the interview, then they’ll question your ability to do the job. (And I understand that the interview is for many people the most anxiety-inducing part of employment…)

            4. fposte*

              As an interviewer, I would assume that if an assistant were to be included in the interview it’s because she would have to be included in the workplace. That would require considerable workplace accommodation.

              1. athek*

                +1. And as someone who had this happen to me unexpectedly in an interview, it made me feel all sorts of uncomfortable and raised so many questions about accommodation and ability (and I strongly feel that I wouldn’t have had as many concerns without the presence of the assistant).
                If you choose to proceed with this, be very careful. I felt the assistant was overstepping her support and unfairly helping the interviewee by feeding her things to say in the questions. I would recommend that you guys clear boundaries ahead of time.

          2. Confused*

            Think of it in terms of Alison’s go-to dating analogy. Imagine if you went on a date with someone and they showed up with a dating coach or parent.
            I understand your coach is there to help you with your anxiety and interviews are more stressful than everyday life but they are probably wondering how you would be able to handle stressful situations at work by yourself if you’re not able to interview by yourself.
            Is it possible for your coach to stay in the car or go to a nearby coffee shop while you interview? Maybe…?

            1. In progress*

              Maybe! I’ll try it out tomorrow. To be honest the interview tomorrow is not one I really want (I said I could do something I don’t feel comfortable doing because I didn’t think I could turn it down). So I won’t lose anything by trying a different strategy.

        2. Dan*

          I don’t know what DVR is and google just tells me it’s another word for TiVo, which I don’t think applies here.

          In any event, I think you have to explain the disability or leave the coach out. Bringing someone with you to an interview is so outside the conventional norm that you need a compelling excuse. “Job coach” isn’t going to cut it.

          You also have to be *really* careful how you interpret feedback. In this society, we will tell you one thing to your face, and say another behind your back. In fact, Alison posted a list of “lies employers tell job seekers” just the other day. They may tell you they’re not bothered, but if you get no offers, you get no offers.

          1. In progress*

            DVR is Department of Vocational Rehab in my state. I’m not sure if that’s true for all states.

            Thanks for replying! Hm. Thankfully I’ve only been to two interviews with her along. The one yesterday, which I really wanted, I acted on my gut feeling and decided to do it alone. My job coach is already accompanying me to tomorrow’s interview so I’ll need to think fast if I want to nix it or disclose.

            1. Dan*

              Ok, I saw that reference too, but the way I interpreted your phrasing, I thought it was a reference to a disability and the job coach specialized in that. I didn’t catch that it was a government worker.

              Since it’s late and I tend to be blunt, nix the coach. I don’t know the nature of your disabilities, but you’re better off just dealing with it yourself. In my line of work, we deal with a lot of smart, socially awkward people, so we’re used to people who aren’t the most polished in interviews. If someone showed up with a job coach, they’d just set off all kinds of alarm bells.

              Just be your quirky self and exhibit confidence that you can do the job, and whatever happens, happens.

              All we try to figure out is: 1) Can this person do what their resume says (you’d be surprised) 2) Can I work with this person 3) Do they have confidence in themselves?

              I’m a math geek and software developer. If “polish” was required to get a job in my line of work, I’d be on unemployment forever.

              Nix the coach and good luck :)

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I’ve been in VR (in it now) and I’m puzzled as to why they are going with you at all. In my experience, I’ve been coached and all the interviewing, etc. was my responsibility. I don’t know the nature of your disability (and I’m not asking you to reveal it). This just seems odd to me.

    2. In progress*

      Also (because of the disability) I’m being financially supported by my family. My mother in particular does not really “get” the limitations I have, and how things are different now. She hasn’t had to look for a job in 20 years. I keep getting pressured to do things that aren’t useful (cold calling), or show excellent progress for things that are out of my control. For example, after applying or interviews I prefer (as Alison suggests) to just not put too much on it. But for her, I need to make it sound like the best! thing! ever! and of course I will get it. Emotionally, it gets really difficult. But of course I don’t want to be ungrateful for the help I receive and jeopardize our relationship.

      Mostly I’m just venting. But if anyone has input about getting a job w/ disabilities (and government support) or dealing with family that works against what’s best for your job searching, but you can’t shut out, that would be great.

      1. Char*

        Hey I know how pressurizing it is when people (for e.g. your mum) is urging you to do something about your life. Something like what I’m going through now :( I don’t really think it’s a good idea to have your job coach with you as a form of emotional support, because anxiety happens to everyone, though in different intensity. I think what you want the potential employer to do is to see you in equal light as any other people interviewing for the job. And having a coach there kind of sets you apart.

        I’m not sure what’s your disability is exactly but if you think you should say it, then honesty is the best policy. I hope you (and me as well) could find a job that we would really enjoy soon.all the best!

      2. Kay*

        I actually work on the other side of that as someone who places people who have disabilities. I agree with what Alison said about bringing a job coach or an employment specialist into the interview or even having them do the contact work for the employer. In my experience most employers don’t really know how to handle this situation and the majority don’t like having it surprise them on the day of the interview. It’s very difficult to broach the subject ahead of time without mentioning disability, although many of my clients use it as an opportunity to disclose. They usually say something like “I just wanted to let you know that I usually have a (job coach, dog guide, etc) to help me get to the interview. This won’t affect my ability to interview or perform the job, but I wanted to make sure you had a heads up”. Most employers prefer to hear it ahead of time, and if they pretend that the position has been filled after that…it wasn’t a place you wanted to work anyway.

        However if you prefer to not disclose, one of the best methods I’ve found for my clients, especially people who have aspects of anxiety, is networking. Occassionally going through channels like internships or work try-outs takes the pressure off a little bit (on both you and the employer) and makes the process slightly less formal.

      3. Anon*

        I am a deaf person and while legally I could request an interpreter at interviews, I don’t. Because if I can’t communicate with them without an interpreter, how am I going to be able to do my day to day job? I adapt my needs and show that even if I ask them to repeat that I can do an effective job. I am able to speak and listen.

        While I get people are trying to be helpful, even someone in my situation would be better off communicating in their natural language because the interview is to see how you would function in their workplace. They’re not hiring the coach, they’re hiring you.

        So the question to you would be: if you can’t do an interview without the coach, how would you cope in the job? That is the sort of answer you need to come up with yourself.

        1. FRRibs*

          We used to have an HR person who was deaf; they had a sign person follow him around and sign to him whenever he left his office. Nice but weird and more than a bit overboard, imo.

      4. Joey*

        If at all possible go to the interview without your job coach. Employers want to to see the person you will be on the job, not the person you are when you’re job coach is there. If you absolutely need your job coach that’s fine, but if you don’t then leave her behind for the interview.

    3. ChristineSW*

      I can completely empathize. In addition to the vision, I also have some anxiety and used to use a job coach. Years ago, my coach (who, honestly, I miss very much) initially made all the contacts, then after not getting many interviews, handed the reins to me; this helped because I got more interviews. She still accompanied me, which yielded a few hiccups, but one employer–where I eventually got a job–was incredibly supportive.

      All that said…

      I can absolutely see everyone’s point about the downsides of having the coach with you. Yes, I think most interviewers knew it was a professional and not a friend, but having been through the ringer myself, I know that employers would have a lot of hesitation if a candidate brought along someone, even if it is a coach. I think it’s okay to have a coach to help you practice interviewing and helping you talk out concerns. But see what you can do on your own–I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised :)

      Best of luck to you!!

      1. Jen RO*

        Christine or OP, can you explain what a job coach *is*? I’ve never heard about this and I’m kinda confused. Is it a person offering you (moral) support when you’re job searching? Someone who can explain your limitations to employers and advocate for you? Something else completely?

        1. ChristineSW*

          Depending on a person’s given situation, a job coach can do all of that. It’s called Supported Employment and is geared primarily towards those with developmental disabilities or severe mental illness, though I think they can work with any type of disability provided they qualify for the service. A job coach may help you select appropriate jobs to apply for, help with resume writing or interviewing and, with those with more severe limitations, accompany you to the interview. Once employed, they can help you acclimate to the job and perhaps help the employer understand your needs and assist in determining appropriate accommodations.

          Granted, this was all back before I went to grad school. I know in many states, they’ve been really trying to overhaul employment services, so I don’t know if the nature of job coaching is any different now than when I was using it. Kay (who commented above) might know more than me. (FTR: I did have a coach briefly when I was looking for work after my layoff, but nothing really panned out).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have worked in an adjacent field. It was always my understanding that the employer understood BEFORE the interview what is going on.

      The process should be something similar to this:
      The job coach or other coworker calls the employer and enthusiastically explains that they have some one for x position. Because of [limitations/needs in aclimating to the job/insert correct wording here] this person will be assisted by a job coach for x period of time at no charge to the employer.
      The requirements of the job (usually a job description) are reviewed to make sure the job is appropriate for the candidate.
      The employer and job coach come to an agreement OR decide that the position is not suitable for the candidate. (Too much lifting/standing/requires fine dexterity/etc.) Once agreed, the candidate goes for an interview.

      All this should be done BEFORE the interview. Therefore it would be perfectly appropriate for the job coach to go to the interview with you. Key point: The employer knows the plan here.
      The employer does not need to know the nature of the disability. But they do need to be able to figure out if reasonable accommodation can be made. For instance a concert hall is not going to be able to accommodate the need for a quiet work place.

      Ask your job coach what the employer is told. You have the right to know that. You should also have a clear idea of how the job coach will assist in getting into the swing of the new job. How long will she stay with you? What goals will she target with you?

      If she has been a job coach for any length of time she should be good at answering questions such as “What if x happens?” Or “How do I handle y?”

      The point in having the job coach go with you on the interview is because she has to learn about the particular job, too. Since she will be assisting you, she needs to be oriented to the major tasks and the key people that you will be working with, too.

      Yes, there are a lot of employers out there that are happy to work with job coaches. And yes, some employers have no idea what a job coach is or does. This is why that preliminary phone call is so important. It could be that the job coaching company has an on-going relationship with the employer or it could be that they are just starting with a new employer. You can ask the job coach that question also: “has your company ever placed people with this employer before now?”

      You have the right to know how the job coach does what she does. It’s totally fine to ask her questions.

      Now. Let’s say you ask a lot of questions and you just plain are not happy with her answers. Matter of fact, you start thinking that the relationship with this particular coach is not working well for you. You can ask if there is another coach who can work with you. BUT. Really try to give this coach a fair shot first.

      Keep accepting her help until you either a) settle into a job and are okay OR b) can see beyond doubt that you are better off on your own.
      I have seen too many happy stories come from working with a job coach. If you think there is a chance she can make a difference for you- keep working with her.

      1. In progress*

        This might be a bit late but thank you! I’m still weighing my options but at least I know that having a job coach assist me could work out. I’m not sure if she contacted the employers before the interview, but now I know what to ask if I decide to have her help.

      2. ChristineSW*

        Great post NSNR–what you described sounds fairly similar to the process I went through.

        I’m curious though–in your experience, have you heard of people with college or advanced degrees benefiting from job coaching or similar services? I’m one of those oddball people who have strong academic skills, but struggle a bit with interviewing and the work environment.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is late, I hope you get to see this.
          Typically, the people who have degrees also have a disability- I mean complete with doctor documentation and testing etc. The times I have seen it done, the person has been in a severe accident or had a terrible debiliating illness. In other words, extreme situations.

          But my world is as big as one square foot on this planet.

          There maybe people who will work on a less formal basis with less documentation and for private pay. (As opposed to government pay.) I would start looking for the answer to this by contacting the local employment office. They may be able to steer you towards helpful resources. I know the employment office near me had some type of group sessions where people could talk with each other about their job search.

          On the other hand you may find someone who is a life coach that would be willing to help. (Not all life coaches, so this might be a bit of a hunt.) Life coaches are good at hammering out a plan to deal with a question. It’s a lot of work but if you are willing to build a plan and follow the plan, this might help.

  23. Karin*

    I need to break up with my trainer. I started about 8 months ago and I exercise with him 3 times a week. My schedule is getting busier and it’s hard to make the time for a 3 times a week standing appointment (when I can work out on my own when it’s more convenient in my day) and I’m finding it harder to justify how much I’m paying each month. I like him so it’s just about wanting to prioritize other stuff right now. But I’m dreading telling him. I pay a month in advance and it’s always assumed I’ll be re-upping for another month but I want this to be the last month for a while. So what on earth do I say? I feel like I’m going to hurt his feelings – he really invests in his clients personally and it’s a pretty intimate relationship and I’ve gotten to know him fairly well.

    1. Lacey*

      “I have to focus on a few other things in the next few months so I’ll finish up at the end of this month and get back to you when my schedule is less hectic.”

      Don’t make it personal, just make it about the hours.

    2. Zillah*

      He may invest in his clients personally, but ultimately, he is still providing you a service that you are paying him for. Would he still be your trainer if you said, “I can’t pay you anymore”? Probably not. The same is true of your time.

  24. LittleMonkey*

    Had a phone interview today.
    The job description was pretty generic, and I didn’t think I had the exact skills they needed.
    But ouch! when I got the rejection email just two hours later.
    That’s the quickest “thanks but no thanks” I’ve received yet.

    Lesson learned: Be careful when applying to job ads that are fuzzy on details–your ego might get bruised! :/

    1. Trillian*

      I’ve been rejected before I even applied. I wrote away requesting application forms, as required by the advert – it was in the pre-internet days – and by return of mail got a rejection letter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Mind readers don’t need apps.

        You dodged a bullet. I wouldn’t want to work with people who could read my mind.


    2. Dan*

      I once applied for a job that I was perfectly qualified for. The next day, I found the rejection letter in my mailbox. Made me wonder just how fast they got that thing written, and what I did to piss them off. I had really good experience in exactly that line of work, so I was truly curious what the deal was.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        They had an internal candidate, most likely, and were just posting the job per legal requirements.

  25. AdjunctForNow*

    Okay, so I accepted a full-time academic position beginning mid-July. I want to connect with some of my new colleagues on LinkedIn. But to do that, LI wants to know how I know them and all that. Is it too early to add my new position to my profile? The fact that I’ve accepted the position is known to my current employers and everyone at the new school and everything, I just feel like it’s somehow presumptuous.

    1. AdjunctForNow*

      And LI won’t let me put a new position with a future date. The only way to do it is to say that I work there starting in the current month.

      1. Jen RO*

        Can’t you just choose the “friends” option that doesn’t request any other info?

        1. Fiona*

          Ditto, I use the “friends” option 90% of the time. IIRC, you have to put in an email address to “prove” you know them, but if they are future coworkers, then you probably have or can guess that info.

            1. Alicia*

              Perhaps that is because you share an employer or educational institute. If you don’t have any obvious paths that cross-over you need to “prove it”.

              That’s been my experience where I work in a building with three different employers. I see them every day around lunch, and email them once and awhile, but we don’t have obvious overlaps. So you have to type in their email.

    2. Brett*

      Put the current date. In the description of the position say, “Accepted an appointment in the Dept of Chocolate Teapots beginning July 2014 and teaching Dark Chocolate Teapotology beginning Summer 2014.”
      You can update the start date later once you start.

  26. Carrie in Scotland*

    I just need to rant about how dire my work situation is. I just came back from holidays and all my managers were in a.meeting (I came in later due to an appt) and I opened my emails and I was just lost as to where to start and what had been done, what needed to be done. When my manager came out of her meeting for a tea break she gave me the most rushed handover ever. We have a new start monday and someone has handed in their notice (I wish it were me!) so it isnt going to get any better… //end moan.

  27. Rayner*


    I just added up the degree I did+ the masters that I want to do in Norway, and it’s coming off as about £55,000. (Near enough $100,000)


    And after all that, the bachelors that I got the first time around had terrible grades – a result of depression and undiagnosed mental health issues. Is it worth going back to improve my bachelor’s grades? To do a whole new one – maybe even in a different field, and to make it not look like I’m a failure academically because I’m not. I went from A grades to D grades overnight. Or is it worth topping it up with Masters grade qualifications instead?

    I have international experience with my university – my degree title is “Blah blash with blah balsh WITH international experience” but idk. It just really depresses me when I look at the value of my degree and think that it’s not strong at all.


    1. Anony*

      If you have a qualification higher than another sometimes you can get away without listing the grades of the lower one. Sometimes employers can ask what grades, but not always.

      1. Char*

        I think grades are not as important as your work experience. Going back to bachelor to pull up your grade is a waste of time. If you’re interested in getting a second bachelor in something you’re interested in (which is what I’m thinking) than it makes more sense to go for it? You need to know why you wanna study again. Nothing is perfect and there’s no point making your academic grade perfect because it’s not a good measure of you at work and as a human being generally.

        I didn’t do well for a-levels though I managd to get into a good uni, and I’m embarassed to mention my grades for job application sometimes. But I know I’m a better person (in term of knowledge and perspective) than I was back then. Never stop learning but know why are you doing something you’re doing.

    2. Jen RO*

      Serious question: does any employer care about your grades? I really doubt that. I mean, the general manager of my first professional job asked about them, but he was a weirdo. None of my other employers gave a damn. You do have the degree and that’s what they will care about. (Or not – mine is in a completely unrelated field and it’s never mattered.)

    3. Katie*

      Um, no.

      It might make sense to talk about this with Norwegian professionals, but in the US, no one cares about your grades unless its your first job out of school. I personally know a few people in a similar situation who are are doing fantastic professionally despite having a tough time in school.

      1. Ali*

        I just did a job application that asked for my high school GPA. Considering I’ve been out of high school for 10 years this year, I am just praying the number is right.

        1. fposte*

          I still think Katie is right–that’s a box-ticking question rather than somebody genuinely caring.

  28. Anony*

    I’ve been rehired on a perm basis pending my trial period review by a company I’ve tempted for in the past. My salary is slightly lower than it was before and I was told this is because I’m now a perm (which makes sense). When I was hired HR said I was up near the top of my pay grade with a chance to get trained up to the next pay bracket. When I previously worked there it was as a temp/contractor during their busy period, our department was bigger and all on the one big project working directly with our department head.

    I’m now finding myself with tons more responsibility; attending meetings, scheduling my own work etc that I have not done before. I’m feeling really stressed, and keep making embarrassing mistakes (I’m a introvert and find social situations challenging). Since I temped before people don’t always explain what I am meant to be doing or how to do things, which as you’d expect have sometimes changed since I worked there. Boss is new since last time I worked here so in that respects it’s like a new job. Boss is also on another project so I rarely speak to him, apart from the occasional “hi”. . I was expecting more training /support. I don’t know if the pay gap between temp and perm is wider than I thought or if New Boss is very hands off or wrapped up in his own project. It may just hopefully be that he thinks I am doing OK so is leaving me to my own devices.

    My trial period review is coming up and I don’t know how much of this I should confide in my boss. I am usually very critical of myself, I’m dreading the feedback meeting, in case he asks me how things are going before he’s said anything. My friend tells me it’s OK to be stressed out and to ” fake it ’til I make it”.

    Any tips on what to do?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Tip 1:

      Take a breath!

      I will bet things are going much better than you think and you are spinning yourself into anxiety unnecessarily. You have the job. You aren’t a temp employee anymore, “trial period” notwithstanding. Companies don’t like to get rid of employees.

      As far as the pay thing goes, forget about that for right now. I don’t like that you are being paid less as a perm than a temp (that’s weird to me and not something we ever do), but the upcoming meeting isn’t the place to talk about getting a raise after so short a time as an employee so….take the pay off of your mental plate.

      I’d focus on two things:

      1) what can your boss/the company do to help you do your job better. “I think I could be more effective at XYZ if I had ABC training”

      2) requesting feedback on areas that your boss would like to see you improve

      Employers are a sucker for #2. I bite on it every time, even when I know I am biting on it, I still bite on it. If I have question marks about a new employee’s performance, and that employee proactively asks me what areas I would like to see her improve, I immediately turn soft and helpful.

      Oh, be sure you bring a pad and pen and take notes, too. Sucker for that also.

      1. Katie*

        Fantastic advice!

        New job stress is normal. I basically can’t function normally and am super tired for the first 2-3 months of a new job. It’s not you, it’s everyone.

        Don’t disclose your anxiety to your boss. Ask for feedback and training, but don’t go the emotional route. It’s not their job to help you calibrate your emotions, and in all likelihood they notice you struggling less than you see yourself.

        Get comfortable with what you’re doing, then get good, and when you’re good, advocate for the raise/promotion.

        1. Anony*

          Thanks. OP here really good advice. I like the idea of being proactive in the feedback meeting. I am glad I am not the only one who feels drained at a new job!

          1. Chriama*

            I don’t think you should wait until the feedback meeting if it’s possible. You know there are areas that need improvement. You should be getting informal feedback all the time, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. The problem with waiting until the trial period review (is it mid-period or at the end) is that if there are real issues you might not have enough time to fix things before your probation is up.

            Talk to your boss now, either about specific things (how to I learn more about task xyz) or a pattern of things (I find that people expect me to know certain things, but I don’t have the proper context because I was only a temp. What are some good strategies for learning about this stuff?)

  29. Detrich B*

    I’m curious if anyone here has some suggestions for me.

    I have two different disabilities: high-functioning autism, which impairs my ability to understand others’ emotions and react in a socially appropriate way, and a vision impairment serious enough that I’m legally blind without correction.

    No one will hire me. I have had some interviews, but never hear back. The vocational rehabilitation people have written me off and told me to apply for SSI. I refuse to lower myself to that.

    If I can complete a Master’s degree, I can certainly work with proper accommodations.

    I’m 31 and have never worked before. This has to end.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*



      (I’ll also reply with a link but links typically get held up in moderation and hopefully Alison is sleeping atm.)

      If you are in the US and you haven’t contacted Specialisterne yet, try that. You are pretty much the employee that they are looking to match up re autism as you are high functioning and educated. This is what they do.

      You may have to relocate.

      Re legally blind, they match I think mostly with tech jobs. I don’t know a lot about legally blind accommodations other than knowing that legally blind accommodations on computers and online seem to serve people well.

    2. In progress*

      Dang that’s too bad. I know there’s opportunities out there. As far as employers giving you a chance? I don’t know the answer to that. Don’t give up. I think going back to school is great for making yourself a better hiring candidate. What kind of work do you feel comfortable doing? I assume they did a workplace assessment where you proved yourself. Can you volunteer somewhere to show that you can do it?

      I’m a little curious though. As I understand you need glasses? That shouldn’t be a big deal for a workplace. And there’s certain fields where autism is pretty well accepted (from what I hear- I have a couple relatives on the autism spectrum). It doesn’t sound like they’re even trying to help.

    3. FRRibs*

      Not that you’d get paid for it, but if you’re a good listener have you ever thought about volunteering for your local suicide/mental health hotline? My Dad who was blind found it rewarding if often emotionally difficult.

      1. FRRibs*

        Totally skipping over the autism aspect; wish you could edit typing-faster-than-thiking-speed posts.

    4. Kay*

      I’m sorry that your voc rehab people have reacted in that way. I work on the placement side of things and I know how frustrating it can be to have the counselors burn out. Have they tried to set you up with internships? That would be a good way to get work experience on your resume, and often they can be sponsored by your counselor.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Have you tried looked into the government? I do not know if that is the answer for you. I know they give hiring preference for disabled veterans, but theymay also give preference to non-veteran’s with disabilities.

      Also, a question, because I’m curious, with correction how is your vision? I mean, I am also legally blind without correction, but I correct to near 20/20 so I never refere to that as a disability. OTOH I have friends from college who are legally blind and their vision cannot be corrected. One is a computer programmer/developer now so it can be done. It seems to me now that his biggest problem is actually getting around since he cannot drive. He lives in a city and even then the American public transit system is a problem since it doesn’t go everywhere.

      1. hilde*

        yes, I work in a state government where applicants are afforded a disability preference (South Dakota).

    6. Anonicorn*

      If you get into a master’s program, you could look into internship options, school organizations, etc. You could also get to know your professors, and, even though interpersonal relationships might be an obstacle, you will usually have to work with these people anyway. And they can see how dedicated and competent you are and maybe recommend you to employers.

      Another thought I had is looking up organizations that seem especially understanding, charitable, or humanistic – places that have that sort of language in their mission statements. For example, lots of healthcare systems need “behind the scenes” people in administration, IT, etc. and might be more sympathetic.

    7. AnonHR*

      Are you interested/educated in a tech field? Adaptive tech is such a growing industry, and almost all of the gainfully employed blind/VI people I know are working in adaptive tech, higher education, or support fields for vets or other people with visual impairments (out of those, with your additional disability, tech sounds like a great fit). Masters degrees have really helped a lot of people I know in those fields, so it may not be the worst idea.

      My suggestion is to contact your local reps for the NFB or ACB, and see if you can find state/local VI advocacy orgs in your area. I know there are some people even there who would just tell you to take your SS and stop looking, but overall, they have very little patience for that bs, and as political and messy as they can get when you get involved in them, they’re invaluable for networking. They may also have local business partnerships to get you into a “starter” job or internship to build your resume.

    8. Tiffany In Houston*

      Was also coming to suggest looking into state/local government. My husband works for the state Health and Human Services commission and currently has 2 ppl on his team that have visual impairments and have the necessary accommodations made for them. Good luck!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Get new people.
      I am not clear on legally blind with out correction.
      Does this mean glasses? surgery?
      How do you access this blog? You got here. Tells me a lot about you already.

      The people surrounding you are maxed out for ideas. So as you are doing now, keep looking for new people to talk with.

      My suggestions would be companies or agencies that work with vision impairment. This could be advocacy groups, companies that build adaptive equipment etc.

      My boss, who is legally blind in one eye and the other eye is not doing so hot , was talking about an mechanical arm that would hold her computer monitor at the exact level she needed to have it so she could read it with ease. She found it somewhere. (Probably similar to desk lights that have an “elbow”. Then some way of attaching a monitor to the end of the arm nearest the viewer. I hope I am making sense here… it’s late.)

      I never heard of such a gizmo. But it made me aware that there is a lot of stuff out there that makes the impossible become possible. This mechanical arm would be an example of an adaptive equipment company.

      I am a firm believer in going toward what you know. If life has given you extraordinary experiences, use the learning that comes with the struggles to move forward. Start there. You do not have to stay at any job forever. But you do have to start somewhere that has some familiarity in order to get your footing so you can proceed.

      (My friend started with what she knew. She got herself oriented and got into the flow of things. After a bit she was able to change jobs and do something else. Her circumstances were difficult to over come, so she worked in an arena that related to her own personal setting. She went with what she knew/understood and then branched out from there.)

  30. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Anybody else have questions that they are waiting for open thread to ask and then can’t remember what the questions are?


    Two weeks running, different questions.

    No idea now. I’ll remember again on Saturday when open thread is either over participation or over 1000 posts and hopeless to tack onto.

    I either need more sleep or more coffee.

    1. Anon E Mouse*

      During the week, if you think of something you want to ask on the open thread, jot it down on something near your computer. Then it will be there when the thread opens.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        You clearly have never seen my desk.

        Come to think of it, neither have I. It’s under here somewhere.

        Okay, I guess I send myself an email.

        1. Anon E Mouse*

          LOL! Sounds like my desk used to look. The only reason it doesn’t look like that now is that I share a desk with 3 other people. During my shift, it looks like a hurricane hit it, but I have to clear it off before my relief gets here.

          Of course, that’s the desk at work. The *two* desks at home still look like that.

          Sticky note on the edge of the monitor?

        2. Jen RO*

          I think this is the proper place to squee: I finally got a cabinet! I moved all my crap inside and I can see my desk!

        3. Laufey*

          You can put it in as a private event on a outlook calender so it pops up Thursday night or Friday morning.

    2. Jen RO*

      Two weeks, same question! I always remember it mid-week and promptly forget it again.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha! I am not alone.

        For what it’s worth, I think that you should choose option A, in answer to whatever your question was. I hope that helped.

    3. ChristineSW*

      Yup, that’s happened to me too. Sometimes I’ll remember after there are several hundred comments. I’ve also had it where I was all set to ask the question–while I remember generally what I wanted to ask, it doesn’t come out nearly as coherently as I’d wanted. I’ll have to try writing it down in the future.

      P.S. I love your posts, WTL!

  31. Jess*

    I have a very important question: Is it better to match your clothing to the shade of fur that will end up on it, or just pick something and hope the cat sleeps somewhere else?

      1. Anon*

        Ugh. I live in Toronto and lint rollers are so expensive! Like $10 for a decent one. Costco is in suburbia and I’m not willing to venture out and leave the core. WHY ISN’T ANYONE MAKING AFFORDABLE LINT ROLLERS FOR CAT PEOPLE!

        1. KarenT*

          It’s time to leave the core! Costco sells the Scotch tape ones (super sticky, awesome for pet hair) at 6 rollers for $11.99.

      2. vvondervvoman*

        Isn’t there a lint roller that’s reusable? Like no sticky sheets, just a weird plastic that you can rinse off.

        1. kas*

          Yes, I have the sticky sheet one and the reusable one and the reusable one is very annoying. Peeling off the sheets is much easier and more convenient but it’s great to have a backup if the sheets run out.

    1. Jen RO*

      I try to avoid black, I keep the cats away from the wardrobe, and I love my lint rollers.

      1. Jen RO*

        I have two cats – one is a brown tabby, the other is half brown, half white. I’m screwed with dark *and* light colors!

    2. Sascha*

      I know your pain. I’ve invested in lint rollers. I have a large, cream-colored dog that sheds in clumps and he likes to brush against my legs, so by the time I get to work, my black pants are pretty much white from the thigh down.

    3. Yup*

      I just go with it and hope that others mistake the fur for a cutting edge fashion treatment, like space dye.

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      I have one dark cat and one light cat, so basically the cat is not allowed in the bedroom, and we buy lint rollers in bulk. And I keep one in my car.

      1. Lara*

        My dog is black and white, so the black fur shows up on light clothes and the white fur on dark. Lint rollers are a must, and I also recommend the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser vacuum!

      1. Nodumbunny*

        I got a second golden last winter and now I’m constantly covered in fur from the knees down.

    5. KAS*

      I don’t put on “work clothing” until right (as in minutes) before I leave that house. That limits my exposure to Maine-Coon-Fur-Bomb.

      1. Mints*

        Me too. (Pre-morning, I need to put my clothes away right away and can’t leave them out.) My routine is that as soon as I get out of the shower, I put on sweats or flannels. Then I do grooming, eating breakfast, checking email, packing lunch, feeding the kitties, petting the kitties, stumbling around until I’m almost late. Then I put on my work clothes and leave right away.
        It’s also warmer without needing to wear a coat inside

  32. IronMaiden*

    Woohoo, only 177 comments.

    I was very annoyed today when an admin person walked from her end of the building to ask me for a piece of information that she could have found for herself. She then proceeded to email me asking for it and CCing the team leader. I sent it to her but am puzzled by the CCing? Can anyone offer any insight or is this a weird idiosyncrasy (that will annoy the TL is she does it for every request for info).

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      My guess is that the piece she needed was related to something the team leader had assigned and she was leaving a trail that she’d done her part in requesting the info. The annoying thing is that you now have to cc the team leader back in providing it.

      Some people are over cc’ers. If she does it enough, the team leader will tell her to cut it out.

      The generous outlook on over cc’ers is that they aren’t in tune with the social conventions of who should be on a cc and when and mistakes they make are unintended.

      The ungenerous outlook is that they are either self-important or have ill intentions of documenting lack of followup from another person.

      I like to go with the generous outlook until proven otherwise.

      1. IronMaiden*

        Thanks Wakeen’s, your generous approach is about what I thought. I didn’t CC the TL either when I provided the info. Really, this admin could have accessed the info herself, without disturbing me in the middle of something technical and time sensitive.

        1. Nicole*

          That’s a case where I’d be super friendly in providing the info while also explaining to her, in the email, how she can get the info on her own the next time so she doesn’t have to wait on you. I’m a firm believer in helping people be self-sufficient. :)

      2. The IT Manager*

        Wooohooo! My email inbox has less than 700 messages.

        Given that, I do not look kindly on over CCers and might suspect that this person is trying to look busy to prove to their boss how much they work. I had some people that did that to me.

    2. Chriama*

      Ignore the cc thing unless you know it’s becoming a problem for you (e.g. Team leader tells you to cut it out, at which point you say it’s admin but you will certainly tell her to cut it out).

      As for interrupting you for info she could get herself, if it’s a one-time thing I’d let it go. If it happens frequently, you have a couple options:
      1) talk to her about the general pattern. “You frequently come see me with information you could easily find yourself. Not only is this disruptive to me, but it’s an inefficient use of your time. In the future you need to first look it up yourself, second email/call me, third come see me only if it’s time sensitive and urgent”(modify those steps to suit your preference).
      2) If it’s really hampering your productivity, talk to team lead. “Admin frequently interrupts me for things she should be able to do herself. When she does that it prevents me from doing my own tasks a,b,c on time. How should I handle this? Is there are resource I can direct her to for training purposes?”

      I would only go with 2) after you’ve tried 1) or the admin has proven really unreceptive to feedback in the past.

  33. Christy*

    Yay open thread. My job is driving me crazy/making me depressed, and I need advice!

    Should I go back to community college to get a web design certificate? It is a short program that would help round out my graphic design degree (which did not include web design when I graduated) and has the added perk of making me a student again, so I can apply for an internship locally which I haven’t been able to do because all the places around will only take students (which is another rant)

    The biggest issue I am having with this scheme is that my current job will not work with me on this, so I would have to switch shifts and drop to part time. Everyone here is telling me that this is the worst idea ever, but to me the potential gains seem to outweigh the risk. It’s not like I want to work fulltime at my current (not creative) job for the rest of eternity. I want to transition into my degree area, but haven’t had any luck since graduation two years ago. Everyone seems disappointed about no web design experience, lack of internship experience, and I think this could help greatly.

    Has anyone been in this position before? Thoughts/Comments?

    1. Jen RO*

      How short is short? Could you live on a part time job? Could you get this experience by learning web design on your own?

      I personally suck at learning anything by myself, I need a classroom environment, so I’d probably go for the program unless it wasn’t long (a semester tops). Everyone also tells me that I should just learn alone! (I’m looking at Java.)

      1. Christy*

        I’m trying to learn myself, but I am going slower than I’d like and don’t know what to focus on. The program is only two years long but I can transfer most of my previous credits over, so it would most likely be one year for me.

        And yes, I can live on part-time, but I am getting hung up on everyone (mom/boyfriend/friends) predicting doom and gloom- in that the job market sucks, that I shouldn’t give up full time because I’d never get it back…but I really don’t know what else to do.

        1. Jen RO*

          I have no idea about the US job market, but web design is a booming business here, so this seems like the kind of degree that would help a lot for your future jobs.

        2. Another Sara*

          For what it’s worth, I started a part-time graduate program in the fall and I’m so, so glad I did. I’ve spent the last 8 years working as a self-taught, non-traditional programmer in a non-IT role. I decided to go back to school because I eventually want to transition into an official developer role, but I have a hard time assessing my own level of skill against “real” programmers. Like Jen RO, I also find it much easier to learn in a classroom environment.

          I’m two quarters in, and I have already been able to apply what I’ve learned to projects at work. It’s not so much that the information is brand new to me, but that the structured classes are connecting dots for me and providing a context in which everthing I already know becomes more useful. It’s also demonstrated that I really do know what I’m doing, and made it possible for me to explain my skills and background in terms that hiring managers in the field understand.

          My situation is different, because I’m able to continue working full-time, and because my employer has a generous tuition reimbursement program. However, I would have done it even if I had to foot the bill myself and switch to part-time work.

          I can’t say that your experience would be the same as mine, but I just wanted to give you a success story to combat the doom-and-gloom :)

        3. bev*

          Yes, get the certification. Even though your family and friends are scared about the future, if you don’t get the certification, you will never move up in your career if employers keep asking for things you don’t have.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I am chatty cathy tonight/this morning. I really am going to stop and do work soon. Apologize for all of the bandwidth I’m sucking up here!

      Anyway, I do have to jump on this because I am stymied by the lack of web experience I am seeing on people coming out of art school.

      We hire entry level graphic arts frequently, as in a new batch about every six months. I sift through the piles looking for people who are qualified to do the production art job who also have any background in or even interest in CSS.

      I have web designers but could really use people or persons who could do occasional CSS work and then learn and eventually move into a web designer position if they show aptitude. This works with print marketing but I’m just amazed I can’t make it work with web marketing.

      So, obviously, my answer to your question is a loud “Yes!”. There are a zillion graphic artists looking for jobs and not nearly as many of them are able to work on the web as you would think.

      1. Fiona*

        So, how do I get on this entry level train of yours? Because I’d love a job that has this kind of variety in its workload.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Er, actually, it’s not an interesting job full of variety at all, unfortunately. It a routine job, full of many of the same things over and over again. :(

          We do inject alternate work as possible which is how some people have been able to move onto print marketing and maybe one day, somebody who likes CSS will get some web work.

          Definitely best for entry level. We hire with no experience. As long as someone is ready to move onto something else in 1 to 2 years, it’s a good deal kind of job. After that it’s pretty dead end. :(

      2. Sunflower*

        You might be the perfect person to answer this quetsion!

        Do you have any suggestions for someone with no real web editing experience? I graduated college 3 years ago and have background in copywriting and web content marketing but a lot of jobs want some sort of web editing experience. I don’t have the funds or time to take a formal program but are there short courses or books I can read to get some skills? and which ones would you recommend?

        1. Mints*

          This isn’t part of my job, but I like codecademy. My job is boring enough that I spend lots of time on that site.
          There are a few courses on each language, and then you can build websites from scratch on their platform. I’ve done html& css, which were fun. I started Javascript, but it was really boring. Anyway, I’m now just building new dummy sites with different formats.
          I’m considering making a more polished site with custom graphics to make semi-public (like on the tumblr platform). I feel like I’m learning, though, so I like it.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Well, I’m self taught, but I’m not an actual web designer. I just know enough to be able to read code to make simple changes or write very simple pages from an editor.

          Basically, I know the amount that I’d have hope that somebody who is a copywriter or content marketer would know. (All of my copywriters and content marketers know *basic* HTML, but we’ve taught that in house. None of them came to me that way.)

          CSS is a bitch. I hate it. I can do it but I hate it. It’s not linear!

          Hopefully these jobs you are looking at are talking about basic HTML which is a breeze to pick up….but anyway, I got started way back in the day by just fiddling around and making my own websites.

          So! You can see I’m not much help! The only suggestion I have is to jump in, but I’m sure there have to be free or cheap online thingies you can follow to learn. (I don’t think certs matter at all for a writer/marketer, unless it’s fancy places who like certs.)

    3. Jane*

      If you go back for web design, be sure to develop strong CSS & html skills (do not rely on programs like Dreamweaver!) Also, be sure to focus on usability. Take as many UX classes as you can. I’m in the industry, and finding a graphic designer who can balance good design with great functionality is unbelievably difficult. So many of them just make “pretty” things without remembering that website visitors actually have to use them.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        + 100000000

        I have one. And you can’t have him! (I only let him out of sight occasionally but there’s an embedded GPS tracking chip just in case he tries to slip away.)

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        oh and Dreamweaver is evil.

        All of the crap code. The humanity! If you are going to use Dreamweaver, you have to learn how to read and edit code anyway so you can please clean it the heck up before publishing, thankyouverymuch.

    4. Mason*

      My suggestion is that instead of spending money on school, invest time in yourself. One of the things about technology based careers is that a couple of years after you’ve gotten your degree, half of what you’ve learned is outdated and not used any more. You’re better off teaching yourself and acquiring the ability to acquire abilities! To be successful, you’ll have to keep learning new techniques, and you won’t want to pause your career every couple of years to go back to school.

    5. Jamie*

      Do you need the cert to learn what you need to learn, or is it just for other people.

      I’ve hired web designers and I’ve never asked or cared about certs – it’s one of the few jobs where it’s all show and tell is irrelevant.

      But if you need to pick up some extra skills they can teach you, that’s another story. But don’t do it just for the paper.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I love community colleges. Number one fan here.

      The only caution I have is when it comes to their certification courses.
      Find out how many of their graduates from these courses get placed at a permanent job.

      Do employers feel their course work makes a valuable employee?
      The only draw back I have ever seen with community colleges is that people end up disappointed that their certifications did not help them land a new job.

      I took some web design courses at a CC here. I loved it. And the people in the computer lab were just the BEST. I learned as much or more from them than I did in class.

  34. Kim*

    I am curious if someone can shed some light into my situation?

    I am currently working as an assistant executive for a non-profit organisation for the past 1.5 year. Last September, I completed my Bachelor’s degree on a part-time dissertation.

    I am now wondering if I should leave my current position and pursue a greater role, or stay put in my current organisation to gain some experience?

    P.S. I am now dealing with stress and unfriendly colleague, and this is partly the reason why I am seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

    Please advise, thanks!

    1. Katie*

      If you’re dissatisfied, and you feel you could get something better with your new degree, start looking for a new job while you’re at your old one. Job searches take a long time, and you might have an additional 6-12 months experience by the time you find something new.

      Do you feel like you’re still learning at your current job?

      1. Kim*

        Katie, thank you for your comments!

        To be honest, I am now in the midst of a job search, and it’s extremely depressing that there isn’t any replies from companies as yet. But I’ll press on and continue with that, though it can get really depressing at times.

        As for learning on my job, unfortunately I feel that I am now reaching my bottleneck. Just to let you know I am doing corporate communications at my work place. While I am still keeping myself afloat by producing stellar work (and coping with occasional panic attacks), I can no longer derive anymore satisfaction from my work. It’s now more of hitting Key Performance Indicators for myself and pleasing my internal customers who are desperate to showcase their work to the general public, without discerning for themselves if their project are worth mentioning at the first place.

        To make matters worse, the community of support I got from my co-workers was lost. The once close-knitted office environment is now getting cold and unfriendly. Now most of them no longer talk to me and I find it extremely hard to continue working. And this is also the reason why I feel the urge to leave the NGO soon.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Can you make a lateral move within the company?
          Is there a near-by competitor that would be very happy to hire you?
          Check out affiliates- other organizations that interact with yours.
          If you need to make an emergency bail, then that is what you have to do.
          But, yeah, it could be a bit to transition, no matter which way you go.

          1. Anonymous*

            Dear Not So NewReader, thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, there are no suitable openings at other departments within my company (which I once explored), neither is there any affiliates with my organization. So I guess the only way for me to go is to wait patiently, and head out thereafter.

          2. Kim*

            Dear Not So NewReader, thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, there are no suitable openings at other departments within my company (which I once explored), neither is there any affiliates with my organization. So I guess the only way for me to go is to wait patiently, and head out thereafter.

  35. Anne*

    I just wanted to say that my husband had a surprise appendectomy last Thursday, and I called his manager on Friday for him. Manager was very understanding and thanked me for calling. I couldn’t help thinking of this blog and the advice “you should only ever call your spouse’s work for them if they’re in the hospital and can’t call themselves.” Well, it happened! :P

    (Husband is absolutely fine. He got prompt and fantastic treatment, is recovering very well, we signed 1 form in the whole thing and only paid for a taxi ride home. God save the NHS.)

    1. Elkay*

      Glad to hear your husband is fine, I’m a firm believer in the statement that in an emergency the NHS will do what it’s supposed to (except that time they’d only give me one x-ray despite hurting my ankle and my wrist…)

      1. Lalou*

        The quality of care in different NHS hospitals varies so wildly in my experience. I live in a town smack in the middle of 3 big cities, and I have a little experience with the hospitals in all 3 thanks to my rugby playing other half and what I can only put down to a complete lack of fear on the pitch. One of the NHS hospitals I would certainly only visit in a DIRE emergency after a few fairly major misdiagnoses (ie being told to walk off a leg fracture) and some quite rude staff. The other two are great though!

      2. Anne*

        Yeah, care for ongoing issues does seem to vary a lot. I’m up in Edinburgh and the emergency care and staff at the Western General have been brilliant every time we’ve been there. (Got glassed a while ago… I’m truly Scottish now!)

        But the care for ongoing stuff is pretty hit or miss. My GP is pretty dismissive, and when I’ve had tests for various things they haven’t been very good at letting me know when results would be available or how to get them. When I was trying to get my anxiety under control, they were happy to put me on medication, but anything else was pretty much my own problem.

        Still way better than my experiences back home in the USA. I pay my taxes cheerfully.

        1. Lalou*

          Finding a good GP makes so much difference. I had an amazing one growing up who always at least appeared to take me seriously and would really try everything if something was wrong. I was spurred on to find her when I had a previously unknown penicillin allergy diagnosed as acne which was so obviously wrong (It didn’t look like acne and I was like 7) Since I moved to another part of the country for university and work and I haven’t found another really good one since.

    2. Anonymous*

      A *surprise* appendectomy?

      You really suck at birthday presents!

      (OK, I’m fairly sure you meant emergency, but the thought of party poppers and balloons amused me)

  36. Jen RO*

    The poster traveling to London made me think of musicals. Share your favorites! Extra points if you can recommend something really cool to see in London in May-April. (I’m planning on going in May because that’s when the Miss Saigon revival starts <3 )

    As an aside, I am jealous of people who live in countries where musicals are actually popular. Only two have been staged here, as far as I know: Chicago (ages ago, before I even knew what a musical was) and Romeo et Juliette (a French musical).

    1. Elkay*

      The Book of Mormon if you’re not easily offended. The best musical I’ve seen in recent times. I’m going to see Matilda later this year as that also gets rave reviews.

      1. Jen RO*

        Not easily offended at all, and an agnostic anyway :) Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll look them up on Deezer.

        1. Elkay*

          They were running a deal of no booking fee if you book 12 weeks in advance for Book of Mormon. I just bought the soundtrack and will be listening to it on a loop in the car for the next few months.

      2. Stephanie*

        My friend and I tried to get lotto tickets in NYC. We were all hopeful until the guy next to us said he had been entering the lotto for two years and still had no luck.

    2. Katie*

      on Broadway: Mamma Mia! It’s relatively easy to get supercheap tickets for it since it’s been running for a while. And Les Miz is back! I haven’t seen it since I was 11 and want to go back. I’ve seen Avenue Q 3 times.

      I just saw Once, which apparently is the thing to see, but I just wan’t that into it. Neither was my sister. We got a a good deal on rush tickets, and couldn’t imagine spending $200 a seat on it.

      I’m you’re in NYC, or travelling here, check out the Broadway for Broke people website and the Broadway Spotted rush report. Those two will help you figure out how to get cheap tickets directly from the ticket office (prices are better than the TCKTS counter).

      1. Jen RO*

        I’m on another continent unfortunately, so London’s West End is the best I can do.

        …And I thought Les Mis wasn’t playing there, but I was wrong! OK, my list of things to see in London just got bigger – thanks for prompting me to search for tickets!

      2. Audiophile*

        I use Gold Star for tickets to some shows. They tend to have deals pretty frequently. But nothing beats rush tickets.

      3. Fiona*

        I don’t know if either of them are playing where you are/will be, but my two favorite musicals that I’ve personally seen are Mamma Mia and Lion King. Lion King is probably my favorite ever. It was so good.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musical at the theatre, only operas. Although I have a couple of musicals on DVDs.

        1. Stephanie*

          I love the opera! I am usually the youngest and swarthiest person there nearly every time.

    3. Claire*

      Les Mis, definitely. Wicked is always popular. The Lion King is spectacular. I loved Priscilla, Queen of the Desert when I saw it in the West End a couple of years ago, but I think it’s touring now.

      I highly recommend the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for half price theatre tickets on the day. When I’m in London for the weekend I go there first on the Saturday morning and see what they have available, and I’ve seen some great shows I might not have bothered with otherwise by doing that. They also have a website so you can check which shows they’re likely to have available.

      1. Jen RO*

        Thank you! I’ll be sure to check out the TKTS booth. I think I’ll buy tickets in advance for Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, but maybe I can find something extra to see for cheap!

    4. Laura*

      ALL the musicals:)

      I really really want to see Matilda the Musical, but it hasn’t come here yet. I live in Toronto where we get most Broadway touring casts, but not that one! I believe it’s in London though.

      Other that I’ve actually seen and loved (no idea if they’re in London or not)
      – Rent
      -Avenue Q
      – Legally Blonde the Musical
      – Mamma Mia
      – The Lion King
      – Book of Mormon
      – Chicago
      – Cabaret
      – Hairspray
      – Les Miserables

      I loved, and have seen, all of those! I’m sure some are in London. As you can see, I’m a big musical fan.

      1. Jen RO*

        Since you’re in Canada, did you happen to see Notre Dame de Paris? (Are French musicals even shown outside of Quebec?) That was the first musical I got hooked on, and I’m really sad that there’s no way I’ll ever get to see it.

        And your list of musicals sounds eerily similar to mine.We seem to have similar tastes, so I’ll add the ones I haven’t heard (Lion King and Cabaret) to my playlist. I’m super jealous that you got to see them all live – especially Rent! *swoon*

        1. Laura*

          They don’t show French musicals outside Quebec , so I’ve never seen one!

          There are 5-6 musicals a year here, and it’s what I spend my money on:) I’ve actually seen Rent 3 times, but only once was the Broadway touring cast. Lion King I’m going to see again in May – I haven’t seen it when I was a kid. I’m sure Matilda the Musical will come here eventually, but I want to see it now!

          I also had season tickets to mirvish, which is where the Broadway touring casts though, so it makes it more reasonable.

      1. Stephanie*

        “Is that fiddle player?”
        “No, it’s piccolo player.”
        “‘Ow can ya tell?”
        “It’s pipin’ hot!”

        Interestingly enough, my first exposure to that musical was in an Opera Appreciation class. Apparently it’s a weighty enough baritone role that (some) opera companies are lending credence to it.

      2. Jen RO*

        For some reason, this is one I didn’t like… maybe because I listened to the movie soundtrack and they are actors, not singers.

        (Just like the singing in Les Mis, the movie, wasn’t really *bad*, just impossible to compare to the stage version. I just couldn’t listen to Russel Crowe after hearing Philip Quast for so long.)

        1. Stephanie*

          Stage version is definitely better. I think a really powerful bass-baritone/baritone is required for Sweeney Todd…which Johnny Depp definitely is not.

          I enjoyed the movie, but the singing did seem kind of tinny.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, the only actor in the movie who was a professional singer was the woman who played Lucy. But overall they did okay.

            I love to bellow “Epiphany” in the car. I’m not a baritone, but I LOVE that song. :)

            1. Stephanie*

              They all deserve to die, tell ya why, Mrs. Lovett, tell ya why…

              I love the transition from that to “A Little Priest.”

    5. Schuyler*

      Here are some of the musicals I’ve seen that I particularly enjoyed:

      -25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: This one was a fun show.
      -Anything Goes: I enjoyed this one a lot too, and would definitely see it again. The music is great and the story is
      -Brigadoon: I’ve only seen it once, and it feels a bit extra sappy, but I still enjoyed it a lot and would love to see it again.
      -Mary Poppins: This was a fun show. I love the movie, too.
      -My Fair Lady: While the main male character makes my blood boil every time, I still love this one.
      -Oklahoma: I got a chance to see it last year with the 10 minute dance interlude that is usually taken out, and it was marvelous!
      -The Light in the Piazza: This has a lovely score, different from a lot of musicals that are in production in the last several years; it’s almost operatic to me.
      -Ragtime: I get the idea that this isn’t a widely appreciated musical, but I thought it was fantastic. It’s a sung-through work (which means there’s little to no dialogue, it’s all taking place through song), but the production I saw was wonderful and the music was great. Not staged often, though.
      -Rent: I liked this more than Les Mis, but I’m not a *huge* fan of musicals that are sung through… Rent isn’t my favorite musical, but I’ve seen it a couple times and liked it (well enough to see it twice!)
      -The Sound of Music: Though I like the film–it’s my favorite movie–more than the two productions I’ve seen, I’m planning to see it again in a few months at Lyric Opera.
      -Thoroughly Modern Millie: I thought this was fun. Not the best musical I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed it.
      -Wicked: My favorite; luckily it was running here for a few years when I moved to Chicago. I love the music in this, and there’s a lot of comedy, too. If you get a chance to see that one, I recommend it.

    6. Worker Bee*

      Les Mis, Lion King the list goes on and on. Even tho this wont find any audience since it is a German speaking production only, I need to mention it because it is my absolute favorite musical. It is called dance of the vampires (YouTube: Tanz der Vampire) I love the stage settings, the music, the costumes and the dances. And this has been runnin for years before the second vampire hype (as in twilight etc.)

  37. Maggie*

    Question…what happens to funds employees contribute towards HSA/FSA cards when the employees are terminated? I was let go last month but Former Job is saying all the money I paid towards the HSA card is no longer mine. “Too bad, so sad” is their attitude.

    1. Anon E Mouse*

      I believe they are incorrect. You cannot continue to contribute money towards it, but any money already in there is yours. Period. Who is telling you this? If it’s not HR, contact them immediately.

    2. Lore*

      I think it does vary by company, at least for FSAs–HSA may be different. I know at mine, your year’s whole allotment becomes available 1/1. So you can spend money you haven’t technically deposited yet, and if you leave the company “owing” money you don’t have to repay it. But the trade off is that if you leave with money in the account, you forfeit it. That’s leaving voluntarily though–I would imagine you’d retain it for the length of your severance if you were let go.

    3. Katie*

      When I was laid off a year ago, I had to spend all the funds by date x. In past job changes, I had to spend all the money before I left the organization.

      1. Maggie*

        They are saying I had to spend my contribution by my termination date. The termination was a total surprise when it happened & I had not had any health care expenses yet.

    4. fposte*

      From what I’m seeing very cursorily, FSAs are subject to forfeiture but HSAs are not–options (which may depend on the vendor) include keeping it there, rolling it into another account, and cashing it out (which is a taxable event).

      Call the actual HSA provider. It may not even matter what your employer thinks if you can get things straight with them.

      1. Maggie*

        I called the Plan Administrator, they will be returning my unused funds to Former Job in about 2 months. I sent Former Job an email requesting they forward my refund on to me. Hopefully they will. It is, after all, my money.

    5. AnonHR*

      There is a difference. Your contributions to an HSA should be yours as far as I know. If your HR is telling you otherwise, contact the HSA administrator directly and see what you can find out.

      If it was an FSA, you can still get reimbursement for any expenses incurred before your termination date, but the rest is forfeited. It typically goes back into the plan, which means that your funds hedge against losses the company could incur from employees who spent their full yearly election in January but then got fired in February before they contributed it all (there are a couple of other options, too, like they could use it to pay plan admin fees or pay out everyone in the plan a small amount).

      But, if it is an FSA, and you didn’t use the amount you’d already contributed, and your employer has over 50 employees, you should be offered the FSA under COBRA, which some companies don’t realize. You lose the tax benefit for future contributions, but it allows you some more time to rack up expenses to spend the funds on. If you want to take serious advantage of it, not only could you use those funds, but you could actually use the rest of your yearly election, no matter what you already contributed, the first month you pay for it under COBRA and then drop it. (Yours Truly, An Ex-COBRA Commander :])

          1. fposte*

            Okay, the “but” made me unsure. Wow, I had no idea about the COBRA thing with FSAs! Good to know. Thanks for the info.

            1. AnonHR*

              It was rambly :). The “but” was for the “you forfeit your money when you leave BUT you might be able to get it back”

      1. vvondervvoman*

        This explains why I got a notification for COBRA eligbilty when I enrolled in an FSA but declined the medical coverage. I panicked and emailed hr thinking I messed up declining it.

  38. Katie*

    Want your advice on following up with a hiring manager.
    In February a manager from OldCompany approached me about joining their team. OldCompany is a vendor to NewCompany, and I’ve had a lot of contact with OldCompany since joining NewCompany. The jobs sounds like a great fit, I loved OldCompany, and wouldn’t have left if it wasn’t for layoffs.
    Things seemed to progress smoothly for about a month, I had coffee with the hiring manager, a phone interview with the hiring manager’s manager, sent in my references. The next steps on their end were to set up a formal interview with the team and post the job. That was almost two weeks ago, and I’ve heard nothing about interviews and I haven’t seen the posting online. I do know that they talked to two of my references already, most recently early this week. So I know I’m still in the running, I just want to get the process moving.
    Since OldCompany is a vendor, I was required to disclose that I’m interviewing because of our ethics regulations, my current manager knows that I’m interviewing, as a do several of my coworkers. While my current manager is very supportive, they’re also slowly transitioning my work away from me. I’m anxious that the new job won’t work out, and that I’m working myself out of my current position. On top of that NewCompany is about to reorganize, and it’s hard to have conversations about where I would fit in after the reorg since so many people know I’m pursuing an outside opportunity.
    So here’s my question, how frequently should I follow up with the hiring manager? We’ve been doing quick calls around every other week, initiated by me. I assume that they moving forward on their end, but I’d like confirmation. I know how long these things take, but I’ve already gone through the hiring process with OldCompany once, and this is definitely taking longer.

    1. Graciosa*

      Take a look at some of Alison’s posts about candidate time versus employer time. This subject is pretty well covered, but I’ll give you a summary.

      Yes, you want it to move faster. No, there is nothing you can do to make that happen. The hiring company should be setting the expectations in terms of contact – if you don’t know, ask – but reaching out more frequently than expected is risky, and can make you look pesky or desperate, so you really need to be careful here. Learn to manage your anxiety about the process so you don’t drive yourself crazy or torpedo your chances.

      Good luck.

      1. Katie*

        I know, and I agree. I just wanted someone to tell me something different from the obvious. Since I worked at the company before, I have decent understanding of their process. I think there’s some delay in posting the vacancy. Venting here helped.

  39. IronMaiden*

    Dan’s post upthread about flying to Australia got me thinking. Do any of y’all meet up? Has anyone met an AAM-er in real life?

    1. Jen RO*

      There are a bunch of threads about meetups in the LinkedIn group. (See the blog sidebar for a link.)

      If anyone happens to travel to Bucharest, Romania, coffee is on me!

      1. AVP*

        I wish! A Balkan Grand Tour is on my bucket list…maybe we can do an apartment swap if you ever get your USA road trip wish!

    2. Fiona*

      I’m going to my first Twin Cities AAM meetup next week. I’ll let you know how it goes (I’m sure it will be awesome).

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Tuesday, March 11, 6:00. Dunn Brothers on Lake Street and the River Road (next to the Longfellow Grill). Yay!

    3. fposte*

      There was a Chicago meetup and I missed it :-(. (Not actually in Chicago but might have been able to drag myself in.)

  40. a.n.o.n.*

    So, as I stated in last week’s open thread, I emailed the CEO of Company A to see if the job is still available. Haven’t heard anything yet, but I know he’s pretty busy with something over there at the moment so I’m not too worried – yet. I plan to email him again next week to say I’m still interested and that I’ll be launching a new job search sometime next month. Hopefully that will prompt him to call and not put it off like he did last time. That’s how I ended up at Company B.

    I’m now starting to wonder what kind of job I’ll apply for if I can’t get the one I want at Company A. The reason I want this job is because I’ve discovered I no longer want to do what I did for nearly 20 years, and it’s working in the same size company as my former job which means more freedom and independence, a more open atmosphere, and lots of different, challenging things to do. I’ve also determined there’s one other aspect of my former job I no longer want either. So now I’m stumped as to what I should be looking for. I’m guessing it would be pretty hard to find the type of job Company A has given the industry and the size of company I want to work for.

    Just gotta say, it’s really challenging to go to a job I dread everyday. I did it for the last several years of my former job (I had my reasons for staying). Sucks that I’m at that point after just a month at the new job.

    1. Katie*

      I wouldn’t let him know you’re launching a job search. That’ll just inform him that this opportunity is the farthest along, and that he can take his sweet time.

  41. MovingRightAlong*

    Kitten Friday!

    I just started a new position this week and for the first time in years, I don’t feel like I’m at a deadend. I have to credit Alison and this blog: they’ve been invaluable.

  42. Is This Legal*

    I’ve never found a job through a network or lead. I have had 4 jobs in total, 2 minimum wage and 2 professional. All I found on my own. The profession once I found through LinkedIn and the minimum wage were through company’s website.

    Here is the irony though, at each of these jobs I’ve brought in someone where I literally gave them the job.

    1. meesh*

      I’ve never been offered a job through network or a lead but I have interviewed multiple times via networking… I think thats worse!

      congrats though!

  43. Small Raises*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to word asking for a bigger yearly raise? Or more specifically, what to ask for in order to achieve a larger percentage (like I’ll do this, this or this)?

    I have asked this before, but I’m not sure if it was taken under consideration or maybe I didn’t ask correctly. I just don’t know what else I can do – my raise was less than last year, but it’s also always consistently less than my other coworkers. However, I know I had really good results this past year (completing projects) while my other coworkers have not. People who are not in my group have told me that, so I don’t particularly assume it is me being biased toward myself. I feel like I can work myself to death and not get anywhere – I’m often the go to person to work extra, work weekends, or travel since I don’t have kids.

    On the other hand, I’m absolutely certain I’m not anywhere near my boss’s favorite. I just don’t know what to do now. Apologies for the rant – just depressed after my raise! Any thoughts are helpful – even if it’s just get a new job :(.

    1. Re:*

      Go in and explain to your boss exactly what contributions you made to the company over the year, how the company has succeeded because of you, and say therefore I am requesting x amount of a raise this year.

      (Don’t say “I deserve a raise, I work so hard, you guys need me!” or start threatening or ranting)

      has nothing to do with being your boss’s “favorite”

    2. fposte*

      “like I’ll do this, this or this”–well, don’t do that :-). “If you give me a raise, I will do this thing that I’m not doing” really doesn’t work, and it undersells your current value.

      I think you need to have a conversation with your manager about your work and compensation. You can’t just say “How come everybody else is getting more than me?” but you can say “My completion rate is well above the average for my unit, and I was surprised that that didn’t seem to be recognized in my last pay raise. Can we discuss what kind of performance the organization is looking for for a x% raise?”

      I do think that “look for another job” is a likely piece of advice here. If they’re genuinely shorting you on raises, that is a statement about how they view the value of your contribution, and it’s not likely to change just for the asking. However, it’s worth considering: would you be happy with these raises if you didn’t know what other people got (considering that other people aren’t always the most truthful anyway), and can you really rule out the possibility that there are other significant factors–lower start rate, different hire times, etc.–that are relevant to the discrepancy?

      1. Small Raises*

        Hmm, I really like that phrasing! Thank you; it was what I was looking for!

        I think “look for another job” is true, too. It’s just always difficult to come to that! And I think I wouldn’t be happy with the raises, no. I think I can rule out the possibilities as well – almost everyone makes more than me and was hired later than me. Plus, I asked for a salary adjustment, and it went up to HR two years ago and they agreed I was about 20% underpaid. So it is looking like “find a new job” is the case :(.

        Thank you so much for your comments! I will definitely use that phrasing in during my review :).

        1. Chriama*

          So you asked for a salary adjustment, they told you you were underpaid, and they still haven’t adjusted your pay? Your company has told you everything you need to know about how they value you. Seriously, find another job.

          If I’m reading this wrong and they adjusted your salary but now aren’t giving you equivalent raises, I think you may be able to have a decent conversation come raise time next year. “I know market rate for this position is x, and I’m currently getting x-y. This year I contributed in ways a,b,c, so I would like a raise to amount z.”

          I don’t know how to have a convo with your boss about the general pattern of getting smaller raises, so I would focus on the above. Ask for what you’re worth, and the subtext is always that you’ll look for a company willing to pay that if they don’t give it to you.

          1. Small Raises*

            Yes to the first paragraph :(. I’ve been waiting for over 2 years. They say it is because they are doing a full site review (my company is quite large), but still, 2 years. I’m not sure how it is typically done here, though.

            I did present the information for a salary adjustment two years ago. Whenever I follow up, there is no update.

            I guess it is time! :(

            Thanks for the advice! I will try it again this year as well and see how it goes while looking around for other jobs :).

  44. Amazing Interview*

    I had an awesome interview earlier this week with an organization I really want to work with, one of the best I have ever had. They told me they will let me know about next steps by next week.

    I sent the senior person whom I interviewed with a thank you email, and got a response back! She said, “Thank you for the “thank you,” It was a pleasure meeting you. Stay tuned; we shall see what we shall see.” Best, xxx”

    I know Alison says there are no “signs” but does this sound like a good letter or a bad letter?? Next week cannot come quick enough!!

    1. fposte*

      Sorry, I think you’re still looking for a sign and I don’t think it is one–I think it means that they’ll be in touch when they decide, and nothing more.

      1. Re:*

        Thanks fposte :) It felt neutral to me too, although I don’t feel out of the running either!

        1. fposte*

          I’m with Ruffingit in thinking it was slighly strangely phrased, so I would probably have taken some time to parse it too. My guess is that it was just somebody straining to avoid suggesting anyway and turning things slightly weird as a result.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Agreed. I also think it’s weird personally for her to say “Stay tuned; we shall see what we shall see.”

        The best thing you can do for yourself mentally is to move on from anything that isn’t “Here’s your job offer.” It’s hard, I know. But once you start doing that, you will end up with a ton of peace of mind because you don’t read into things, you just take them at face value and move forward.

        Best of luck in the job search!

  45. Anon this time*

    My partner got a new job across the country and started last month. For a variety of reasons, it doesn’t make sense for me to move there until next spring/summer (current work contract and local obligations).

    I guess I have two questions:

    A. When do I tell my boss?
    B. when should I start a job search in New Location, bearing in mind that it’s a 6 hour flight minimum from here? Should I just plan to start after I relocate?

    And if anyone has tips on keeping a relationship going strong with separation like this, those would be great too. We have Skype and plan monthly visits (the new job pays well, better than the old one).

    1. Katie*

      OMG don’t tell your boss until you have an offer! I disclosed a job search to my boss because it was required by our ethics guidelines (I’m interviewing with a vendor that I was managing – had to get rid of conflict of interest) and almost immediately my phase out started. I’m optimistic about the new opportunity, but if it doesn’t work out. I’m SOL.

    2. TFG*

      Re: long-distance, Skype and in-person visits are great, it really does make a big difference, I think , to see the person and not just hear a voice when you are separated. But don’t count out old-fashion snail mail letters. Maybe it was just because our long distance was a military deployment, but it was always so great to check the mail and have a letter there, even when we did get to occasionally Skype or have a phone call.

      But try doing date nights where you both start the same movie on Netflix at the same time and have Skype on while it plays and eat dinner or some such thing.

      Send surprise care packages too, just little things he likes to show you’re thinking of him. Best of luck!

    3. AnonHR*

      I don’t deal much with contracts, but if you are working through the end of yours and planning on leaving no matter what at a certain date shortly it’s over, it seems like you could tell your boss anytime to give them some time to plan.

      I like TFG’s movie date night idea, I used to “watch tv” with a friend who lived far away, we’d both watch the same show and IM each other throughout it. It was actually a lot of fun.

    4. AmyNYC*

      Start networking now – look on LinkedIn for your college alumni group in New City, or email the college alumni directly if there isn’t one. Ask mentors/higher ups (just not in your current office) if they know anyone in New City.
      I assume you’ll be visiting your SO, try to meet someone in your field for lunch when you do so they see you as a person not just an email.
      Start APPLYING 3-4 months before the move.

    5. Chriama*

      Start networking now! Also reach out to contacts in the area and let them know you’re looking. Long distance job searches are hard, but you’re moving in a few months anyway so I think you can start applying now with your new address. Just add a line about when you’ll be moving to the area.

  46. TFG*

    I applied for a great job that seemed like kind of a reach after spending the past year and a half looking for a new job and getting nowhere.

    Shortly after, my company encouraged me to apply to this great training program that I was accepted into that requires a week out of state and the rest to be done online.

    The job I applied for ended up moving quickly, very quickly, and have been doing a great job at keeping me in the loop. I’ve already interviewed and have been in touch with the person who would be my manager fairly frequently (when he initiated contact) so while I know it’s not a guarantee, there is a chance I’ll get this job and they said they’d have their final decision for me by the end of next week.

    The training program for my current job starts in about two weeks. *If* I got this other job, how do I handle this? My current boss knows I’ve been thinking about leaving (he and my department are great but they know this just isn’t what I want to do forever and the company is notorious for how underpaid we all are) and I even asked when they offered this opportunity for me what would happen if I wasn’t able to complete it.

    However, I never explicitly said I’d applied for other jobs and may not be employed here anymore by the time the 6 week long course ended. I think one of the reasons they want to send me on this trip is to help encourage me to stay.

    If I get the job I’d tell them right away, I don’t want to go on this trip and then come back and yell “PSYCH! I’M OUT!” but they’ve already paid my tuition and travel expenses for this program. Is it likely they then charge me for what they paid? I can’t imagine they’d let me spend my last month here after I’ve given notice being trained for something I will be doing for another company. Since I was accepted as an individual but also kind of as a rep for my company can they bar me from going to it at all, even if I end up having to pay for it myself?

    I’m like 98% sure there’s now realistic way to ask the new company this so I’m not planning on doing so, but if I got an offer could I potentially tell my new employer I was accepted into this program that would also be a big help in my role for that company and see if they’d be willing to let me attend underneath them instead?

    1. Chriama*

      Training employees is a cost of doing business. They can’t put that charge on you. It would be different if it was tuition reimbursement or something, but this is pretty clear to me. As for going to the training: it’s likely that they can get some money back or credit for another employee so I doubt they’ll give it to you if you’re no longer working for them. Letting you go on your own dime is a maybe, complicated by the fact that you’d be traveling during your notice period.

      Is it possible to work out the start date so that you do this training in between jobs? I can’t imagine what kind of training would require a company sponsor, although the cost might be prohibitive.

      1. TFG*

        Thanks so much for your response! I was thinking if I’m offered this job and they ask about start time explaining the situation and seeing if they’d rather me put off my start date to do it or if they’d rather have me start as soon as possible. I was hoping to give 4 weeks notice to my current office because of how tedious and long their hiring process is. Most of the course is online and the time out of state is the first week so it’d fall right around that mark.

        As far as the company sponsoring, the details of my acceptance and the arrangements made and all that were done through the company, so it wasn’t really made clear to me if I am going as T, who happens to work for ABC Company, or if I’m going as ABC Company rep T, if that makes sense? So I don’t know if the program can or would withdraw my individual acceptance and replace me with another employee or if I was accepted just as me. and go independently or perhaps as XYZ Company rep T.

        Financially it’d be a stretch but I can’t imagine it being okay to suggest to a brand new employer that they pay for me to go to training before I even start for them.

        Also, current company booked my hotel room and flight, so if they just cancel those reservations and I’d have no way to get there or a place to stay.

        I felt really torn about agreeing to the training because I didn’t want to be in this awkward position of seeming like I’m taking advantage of their time and resources for me to not even stay working for them long enough to use the skills. But, I knew that no job is guaranteed and I’d be so upset if I missed this opportunity and didn’t get the other job. Plus I couldn’t refuse without giving a reason and “I’m hoping I get to resign before then” wasn’t a viable reason to give. But now I don’t know how to navigate the situation without burning bridges or making the new company think I’m flaky.

        1. Chriama*

          I agree that it would be hard to ask the new company to pay for that training, but asking about the start date is perfectly ok.

          As for the training itself, if you really want to go just reach out to the training company yourself. I really find it unlikely that they’d stop you from going without a company sponsor unless there are certification rules or something. They probably only care about getting paid. If it turns out they really do need you to represent a company, pay for it yourself and ask company b if they would let you go on their behalf (letting you use their name is more reasonable than paying for you to go, IMO).

          Basically: if you really want to go to the training even if you have to pay for it yourself (including transportation and lodging), try the following:
          1) contact the trainer and ask about the logistics of paying for yourself. Find out if they need you to go on behalf of a company or if you can just attend as long as it’s paid for.
          2) Negotiate with the new company about the start date. If you need a company sponsor for the training ask if you can attend on behalf of them (make it clear you’re not asking them to pay for it, just to let you use their name to attend)
          3) When you announce your resignation, ask your company about the training. Maybe they’ll let you go. Maybe they’ll split the cost with you for a longer notice period. Maybe they’ll sell you the hotel/transportation so you’re paying the corporate rate

          If training is something that’s important to you in general, also be sure to ask the new company about professional development opportunities as part of the overall interview discussions.

          1. TFG*

            Thank you very much, that all makes a lot of sense and feeling like I have an idea of what to do just significantly cut my stress levels over this!

  47. WorkerBee*

    I teach at a private language school. They work me six days a week and treat labor laws like gentle suggestions. I asked my boss (two months in advance) for two days’ vacation to go on a trip with some friends. (We have Thursday and Friday off because of the government, plus I have Saturday off on normal weekends, and I want the Sunday and Monday. Monday can be covered, but Sunday is a problem.) She says she can’t do it because no one wants to cover my classes on a holiday weekend. No big deal, I wouldn’t want to do that either.

    I asked if maybe I could move my classes to another day (which practically every teacher has done at some point this year). No, because reasons. (Seriously, they couldn’t come up with any good reason why.) This school is already making me work through all the stats up to the May holiday with no extra compensation – not in the US, for the record. I also know for a fact that the schedules have not been made up yet for that period. Since it’s a holiday weekend, probably none of the students will show up anyway, so I’d basically be sacrificing my entire vacation for 2-3 people and we’d probably wind up watching cartoons.

    If they want several bitter, resentful teachers over one day of classes that can easily be moved, well, I just don’t know what to say. Not really asking for advice, just wanted to rant about my dumbass company.

    1. Jen RO*

      No advice, just wanted to say I was curious what country you’re in, I clicked through to your blog, I liked it and I subscribed :) Fingers crossed that your employer stops being a jerk…

      1. FRRibs*

        Ditto on the blog. I live in artillery range of the border and I always get a chuckle when the weather report says things like “It’s 40 degrees here…and -20 in Montreal.” (This in July.)

    2. matcha123*

      You’re in Japan, amiright?
      I’ve never worked at those types of places, but I’m pretty sure they have to give you the government days off either on those days or as substitute holidays.
      Since I can imagine the type of place you’re working at, I wouldn’t plan on taking any time off on major holidays. If you can switch to a different place, I’d recommend that. Eikaiwa places really don’t care about you, they don’t care about your mental health and they don’t care about your vacations. Unless something’s specified in the Japanese contract, you can’t do much of anything. And of course your Japanese coworkers will just take it in stride when their holidays are cut.

      While I’m not in the same exact industry, I feel ‘ya!

  48. Tips for interviewing university students?*

    My situation is a little weird: I’m on the exec team of a university association and we’re looking for next year’s team. This year I had problems with some members on the team not following through with work, not answering their emails, and basically acting as if they didn’t exist between meetings.

    I think our process will be good at screening for skills (I’ve learned a lot from Alison about testing people on the tasks they’d actually have to carry out), but how do you screen for “work ethic” or “fit”?

    University students have no references (large classes so their profs don’t know them, many have never worked or are from different countries so we can’t really contact their former employers), and the closest thing that comes to previous experience is if they have been part of other clubs or on event committees.

    So my question is: suggestions for interviewing university students for an association?
    Follow up: how would you screen for fit or work ethic?
    Follow follow up: what’s a decent proxy for checking references?

      1. Audiophile*

        That is unusual. I didn’t get my first job until I graduated high school and was well into my second semester in college, which made it difficult to get interviews, because most of my peers had been working since age 16, and I was 19.

        1. Anon*

          I didn’t have my first job until college either (university housing office), and I think they only hired me (with no previous experience) because I could work full time (because I wasn’t taking summer classes). Everyone else was part-time

      2. Chriama*

        To clarify, I’m not hiring. I’m a student myself and I’m interviewing people for a university association. It’s like a club — totally volunteer basis. Lots of students join clubs so they have leadership experience for their resumes.

        Also, depending on their background, lots of students have never had jobs before. If they had wealthy parents and didn’t have to worry about saving up for college, why work in high school and interfere with all the scholarship opportunities (grades, advanced courses, volunteering, etc)? I think your frame of reference is a little limited if you can make a blanket statement like that. In my case, not only would I miss out on some great potential candidates, but those are likely to be the strongest ones if they really did a lot of leadership things in high school. People who have to worry about paying for tuition aren’t that eager to put 10+ hours/week into an unpaid activity.

    1. fposte*

      How about adding on a different dimension? Involve successful current students. Have them recommend people they think would be good; have them advise you on processes. If you can get a recommendation chain going, that’ll save you a lot of work (my father’s retirement home staffed its dining room, all high-school kids, based on teacher and current staff recommendation).

      And you know, you can specifically ask about work ethic. “Since we’re hiring young people, a lot of them have no employment record for us to go on; it’s therefore important to us to find out if you’ve been able to hold down a responsibility and demonstrate a commitment. Can you tell us about a time when you’ve done that?”

      1. Chriama*

        I totally intend to casually ask around. There are a couple students that I know have been recommended by profs for other things I’m involved in, so they’re at the top of my list.

        Sorry if I didn’t make it clear that this is an extracurricular activity. They’ll be self-governing, and I’m having a hard time applying typical workplace advice to this scenario because their success is basically dependent on their own interest.

        I know things change and someone can seem totally interested and then just fall apart during the semester because of classes or whatever, but all the problems I’ve seen this year would have been prevented with better screening. They just don’t have the right mindset for the position, but I don’t know how to suss that out.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, yeah, if it’s for a volunteer situation what you’re describing is pretty common. I don’t even think it’s just because people lack job experience–it’s just that this is how a lot of people treat volunteer situations.

          1. Chriama*

            I get that. I’ve just poured a lot of work into this association and I want to find people who are that interested and devoted to it as well. Do you have suggestions for interview questions? I plan on asking higher level things like what they hope to achieve in the roles and what their vision for the association is, but what kind of situational/behavioural questions would be good to ask?

            1. fposte*

              I still might try the “tell me about a time when you had responsibility/had to make a commitment and deal with it under competition for your attention” thing–the value there is not only that you’ll learn about their experience, but also you’re signaling to them that it’s what’s expected.

  49. FD*

    The timing is perfect!

    Okay, so I’ve been at NewJob since Thanksgiving of last year. Through a series of events, they’re shifting my responsibilities significantly on a trial basis. I’m taking over acting as a controller for our department for our hotel to start with, and if all goes well, will be overseeing our department at four hotels by the end of this month.

    I didn’t feel I could push too much for a bump in title/pay at first because it was a trial basis, but at the end of the month, I hope to be able to show very significant savings to the company due to my work. Would it be reasonable to push for a raise and title change at that point, or do you think it’s too soon since I haven’t completed a full year at my company yet.

    1. fposte*

      I think when there’s a significant expansion in responsibilities, it’s perfectly legitimate to open the possibility of a significant expansion in pay and that you’d regret not raising it. Sounds like you’re quite the success there–go you!

    2. Chriama*

      It depends on what’s important to you. It’s a different job and so presumably commands a different market rate. If you ask right away and get rejected, will you be resentful that you’re not getting paid a fair wage? On the other hand, are you ok with doing the job? At that point it’s easier for you to walk away if they won’t pay you (you can put the increased responsibility on your resume even if you don’t have a title change), and you can show a whole year’s track record as evidence of your value.

      I think you do have a strong case for speaking up if the trial period is successful, and if they say it’s too soon you still have the option of bringing it up at your yearly review.

  50. Reference Check*

    If I want a friend to do a reference check for me, what should I have them ask? What sort of questions would a hiring manager normally ask a former supervisor?

    Context: I quit a job last summer two days before my official end date because I was going to have a breakdown if I tried to push myself two more days. (It was NOT a good situation or place to work for me.) I know this was a crappy thing to do, and that based on that my supervisor would probably give me an pretty awful reference. However, during the vast majority of the summer, she was extremely happy with my work and consistently praised me and gave me additional responsibilities. She also said she’d be happy to have me come back and work for her this summer. I’m curious to know what she would actually say if I used her as a reference in my upcoming job search. I’d like to have a friend (or possibly my dad, who has hired people before) call her posing as a hiring manager to see what she’ll say about me, but I don’t know what they should ask. Are there typical questions to ask during a reference check?

    1. bev*

      Alison has answered this question on the blog before. You would have to go through the archives by most relevant tag.

  51. matcha123*

    I’ve always wanted to try and participate in these, but it’s hard to do from Japan! I love reading this site at work and I’m wondering if I could get some advice.

    I’m looking for a new job, and when I quit the place I’m working at now, I’m wondering what the best way to tell them about the main reason is. Really, the salary is too low; the “responsibilities” are meh, and the ability to move up is severed restricted by me being a foreigner.

    Because people here in Japan typically get their first job straight out of university, and because most Japanese parents pay for their child’s university and housing, base wages start low and are unrelated to ability.

    I get that in an American context it would be strange to bring up salary because of one’s financial situation v. ability. But in this case, I wonder if along with talking about my abilities (only staff with translation experience/proven results related to translation/and a lot more) along with salary?

    Honestly, I don’t even make enough to save and I’m working another part-time job just so I can make an extra $100 to put away. Unlike the Japanese staff, I have university loans and other higher living costs; I can’t live with my parents (like they do) to save money. If my salary was based on ability and they decided that my ability amounted to X, I could deal with that. But, it’s not and, despite working 40hrs a week, they classify me as “part-time” and say that part-timers cannot get raises.

    If you guys work with anyone from another country, please be kind to them! Sure they may have chosen to work in your country, but it’s incredibly stressful to work in a foreign country, even if you speak the language. If you politely explain things to them, I’m sure they would appreciate it. I know that hearing *why* Japanese people do XYZ is a lot more beneficial than hearing “Because this is Japan and that’s how we do it.”

    1. rollcake*

      I’ve never commented on one of these posts before, but since I also have work experience in Japan (although it was with JET, where the situation is a little different from other flavors of eikaiwa…) I thought I might weigh in.

      If you’re definitely leaving the company once you’ve found a better position, then you could probably be honest with them about their having kept you as part-time in order to deny you benefits other workers are getting and the low pay. Who knows, it may make them treat their next foreign employee better. Or it could just remind them why the position has a high turnover.

      Make sure that you bring up any concerns about these issues when you interview for your next job, to see if they’re going to treat you like a proper full-time employee just like everyone else!

      Good luck! I had a series of unfortunate events trying to find the non-eikaiwa job I wanted after I left JET, even with work experience and N1 under my belt, so I ended up returning to the states. I hope your search goes better!

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks for the reply! Don’t know if you’ll see mine, but…
        I was also on JET, but not as an ALT. And I have N1. And no one here knows what it is. :(
        My company has gone through a number of foreigners…and a ton more Japanese. I’ve talked with my supervisor? about things and if he’s sympathetic, I can’t really tell. There’s just so much miscommunication between the Japanese staff and us Western staff. I’ve been spending months thinking about the best way to present my issues.

        I’ll be needing to make my way back to the states soon, too… (._.)

  52. LauraG*

    So…we have had a lot of changes happening around my workplace recently. As a result, some duties got shifted and people have taken on new things. As we’re learning the new things, unfortunately, some old things have been missed, so this led to my boss emailing our team about everything that’s been missed. Now, most of the things that have been missed have traditionally been the duty of Ben.

    I looked over the list, did my thing, and went to Ben and said I would do task X (filing some paperwork). It’s not difficult, just time-consuming, but it can be done and interrupted easily. He said he needed to finish something before I could, so I said to hand them to me when that was done and I could easily handle that filing.

    That was Monday. Tuesday, I got caught up in something else and forgot. Wednesday, I was out sick. Thursday, I played catch up, realized I never received X, so I emailed Ben and told him I’d have time to do X on Friday.

    I walked out of my office a few minutes later to see him doing task X.

    Now, if X was the only thing left and I saw that all the other stuff on the list had been done, I would have thought he got caught up! But it’s not. There’s still other things that need to be done.

    My question: do I bring this up? I’m not his boss, but I am senior to him, if that makes sense. I feel like I’m just tattling if I say something to our boss, but it bothers me that on a list of at least 5 things, he took the time on one I said I would do so he could focus on the others.

    1. fposte*

      It’s annoying, but I don’t think it’s report-worthy. In the future, I’d put a deadline on your “I could do this” window, so that if you didn’t get the stuff from Ben by the window’s close he’d know it was on him.

      Has Ben’s direct manager realized that the dropped balls have been largely in Ben’s court? That’s more of an issue.

      1. LauraG*

        I think she’s aware of it, but I don’t know how much of it is something I could have stepped in and helped/done sooner.

        I could try the idea of giving him a deadline for my help. Thanks!

    2. Chriama*

      I second the deadline on task handoffs. It could be he forgot to get it to you and then felt awkward about handing it off so late, and by the time you emailed him again he was almost done. You should probably mention something to him and also tell him “in the future, I’ll need you to hand stuff off to me by end of day”. If the problem persists then he has issues with organizing his work and you can use Alison’s post this week to talk to your boss (if it’s impacting your work, of course!)

  53. the SAHM Letter Writer!*

    Hi, I wrote this letter a year ago and I’d like to report that I have a PT position that I gained through my one of my contacts through my high level volunteer work:

    However, the job is temporary at a large organization, and I’m also underemployed (i.e. I can do more than what I am doing, and I am always looking for more work). The title is below what I did before (I know that is the price you pay when you’ve been a SAHM out of work for years) and not exactly what I what I want to be doing long term.

    What is the best way to explain this in an interview?
    I figured to be doing *something* was better than nothing and it would at least get me a foot in the door at this very large organization (where I would definitely work if the right opportunity came along).

    My boss likes me and I like her, but this position is grant funded and, as I said, temporary – I’m there to fix some temporary problems and I don’t see a long-term role there. She knows I’m looking.

    In a way, it almost is like a paid “returnship” like I mentioned in my original letter….

    1. Ursula*

      I was a stay at home mom for 10 years before I went back to paid work. I did a temporary gig at my former company, which allowed me to apply for jobs as an internal candidate. I got an admin job and, through being agressive with cross-training, have an analyst position that I love. My advice to you is to keep your eye out for projects/tasks in your company that you are interested in and jump at the opportunity to show that you can either learn or do them. Good luck!

      1. the SAHM Letter Writer!*

        Did your company offer cross training or did you find your own (in person or online?)

  54. The IT Manager*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for books or long articles on how to work on and manage a virtual team? My team members are scattered all across the country and most work from home. Even those that don’t are not co-located with any other team members so we do all our collaborating over phone, email, IM, and conferencing software.

    Despite that this is becoming very common, I haven’t yet found any books about how to do this well. I’m personally hoping for scientific self-help like The Power of Habit. I like understanding the background, research and getting advice on how to do better at it.

    1. A Jane*

      Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything specific to virtual teams. If anything, I read many sites with a productivity and tech focus (lifehacker, lifehack, etc), and I try to apply what they talk about there.

      Also, The Power of Habit is an amazing book! Highly recommend to the world.

    2. Lisa*

      You need a central database to assign tasks and compile notes that are not all in emails. I love Basecamp as you can have project and people with their own to-dos and notes for every to-do. You can put dates on things, but you don’t have to.

    3. vvondervvoman*

      My husband is on a remote team, and they use Teamwork PM. There’s a fee associated, but there are free options like Trello, Basecamp, etc.

      From what I see on the outside, the things that really work are using those tools, along with Skype for conference calls. Also, they get together to go to a yearly conference in their field, makes it more personable to hang out with someone you talk to daily.

      Some things they have done around hiring to me are a mixed bag to me. Because hiring remote folks is a big leap in trust, they have hired 4-5 contractors and offered full time gigs to the one they liked.
      But on the other hand, they also have 4 family members/personal referrals and it’s difficult to hold those folks accountable (not for day to day stuff, but more like overarching skill sets that should have improved in the last 3 years but haven’t).
      The only person who didn’t fall into either category is my husband. They put him through a 4-5 hour phone skills test after his initial interview, and then hired him FT exempt.

      Having a solid team from the get-go is even more important in this setting, so hiring is probably where I’d start. Interview questions should include items like work habits, set-up at home, how they will manage the balance between personal/professional time etc. It took my husband a good year to solidify his at-home routine, but he had the work ethic to always finish his tasks, even if it meant 60-90 hour weeks.

  55. Short Fuse*

    TGIF! I am seeking some advice regarding feedback I got from my boss in my annual review. She raved about my work, experience, willingness to jump in and learn new things, and general expertise.

    It was not unexpected, but the only thing she dinged me for was that I can be very opinionated and some people find me unapproachable and/or intimidating. One director, who I really like and get along with well, told my boss that he thinks I’m kind of a hard-ass, but that he really respects my expertise.

    I do know this about myself. I don’t mind being challenged or questioned, because in my line of work you need to consider things from all angles to find the best solution. But I have little patience for discussing the same thing over and over and over again after a decision has been made, and for people who won’t speak up and/or ask questions, and then complain later.

    I told my boss that I am aware of this, even though it probably doesn’t seem like it, and that my issues with being warm and fuzzy are usually a function of my stress level. Early in a project, there’s time for hand-holding and soothing. When deadlines are looming, that stuff falls by the wayside and I’m more like, “This is what we’re going to do, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.”

    Does anyone have some advice for how to cultivate a warm and fuzzy side? I’m a cut-the-BS type of person and I struggle with how to deal with people who aren’t.

    1. Chriama*

      I find your description sort of telling. You don’t need to be warm and fuzzy to be approachable, and I doubt people are intimidated by you because you don’t hold their hands. Diplomacy is a useful skill, and I get a sort of contemptuous vibe off of what you wrote here.

      Ok, now to be helpful: you don’t like people complaining about a decision after it’s been made when they didn’t speak up. During those meetings, can you explicitly state that? At the beginning say “once we move forward with a decision we won’t be changing it, so I need everyone who has concerns or suggestions to speak now or forever hold their piece”. Basically make it a habit of encouraging people to speak up at appropriate times and letting them know you won’t be entertaining further discussions at a later date.

      Second: is there a role model you can look to? Your boss, or a coworker or a senior project member? Observe them and also explicitly ask them for advice. If you can’t think of anyone, ask your boss.

      Third: ask your boss for suggestions! They should be giving feedback with suggestions for improvement, not just dumping things on you and telling you to fix them. Bring your own suggestions to the table so you look proactive, but they should be able to point you towards someone or something that can help you.

      1. Short Fuse*

        Hmmm. I certainly did not feel contemptuous, or feel that way when I was writing my post, so even this is valuable feedback. Thank you.

        I’ve discussed this with my boss before when we’ve talked about dealing with people outside our department. But this time there was something about how my co-workers can find me unapproachable. I know who this came from, because I worked with this person almost all of last year on a big project, and we had never worked closely together before. What I find amusing is that she herself is very opinionated, and everyone in my department has a hard time working with her because while she is extremely intelligent, she feels that she is smarter than everyone else, and can be quite condescending to others. She is accustomed to steamrolling over people to get her own way. If I feel strongly enough about something, I will absolutely not back down if I disagree with someone until I feel that my concerns have been addressed. And by that I don’t mean that I dig in my heels and refuse to budge because I’m being obstinate, but that if I think a given course of action will cause issues down the road, I will not cave in and let someone have their own way until I feel confident that the issues I’ve identified can/will be resolved. Or, sometimes it will turn out that something I thought would cause problems actually won’t, and if that’s the case, then I’ll agree to move forward. So I’m sure my co-worker is not accustomed to people pushing back as hard as I will, when I feel it’s appropriate, and that translated to me being unapproachable. My boss asked me for feedback for her evaluation, so I’m sure she asked her for feedback about me. I knew this would probably come up, and I’m not perfect, so I just hoped that she was fair in what she said, and said it with good intentions, as I did for her.

        When I say hand-holding and soothing, I really don’t mean that in a condescending way. I do ERP implementations, and those are huge and overwhelming for people. I get that you’re taking the system they’ve used for a long time, and gotten accustomed to, and replacing it with a gigantic beast that can be very intimidating. So I know that new users need alot of reassurance that the new system will work, and that they’ll be able to learn to use it and continue to do their jobs. So in the beginning, yes, it’s important to spend time helping them get comfortable and build their confidence.

        But as the project moves forward and the launch date approaches, the time for that has passed. The focus needs to be on testing what’s been designed. And — for example — if a user is complaining about not being able to do something, or something being very cumbersome, but in the next breath saying they haven’t done any testing or spent any time in the test environment, then it’s hard for me to be continue to be sympathetic. I empathize with how hard it is to do these projects as a user, because most of the time you still have your other regular job duties to worry about. I’ve been there. But at the end of the day, it’s in the user’s best interests to be active and participate, because it will have a serious impact on their job down the road. And if they’re not active and engaged, but then come back and complain later, that’s what I struggle with.

        1. Jamie*

          I do ERP implementations, and those are huge and overwhelming for people.

          End users should be sending you thank you notes just for not smacking them.

          That is a high stress project, I’ve done it twice and I am sure it’s taken years off the end of my life.

          If I could I’d buy you a drink – I get it.

    2. fposte*

      I’d like to hear Jamie weigh in on this, because I know she’s talked about a similar negotiation.

      I think also that time is less of a factor than it feels like–a softer startup, as the psych folks say, will likely save you some time in the long run with the people who are trying to talk to you about stuff you feel is a done deal. Just a handful of prefacing words can take the edge of “It is what is is” or “The decision has been made.”

      If you deal with animals, it can help to remember that people are animals too :-). You don’t just grab the dog by the scruff of its neck and move it around–you pet it and talk to it and then clip the leash on, and if you omit the petting and talking part you’re going to end up with a pretty anxious dog. (This sounds like I’m saying your co-workers are going to start peeing on the carpet.)

      1. Jamie*

        Very similar actually, although I’ve never been told there was an issue with my being opinionated. Needing to remain approachable under stress is what I get.

        But it’s what everyone who reports to my boss gets and it’s what he admits he’d get if someone were reviewing him. He hires people with a very similar style to him, because he respects it and it works, but he knows there’s room for improvement for all of us.

        I have a two part answer for this – first is my honest feeling that some people need too much hand holding and warm fuzzies in order to work properly. Not most people – and we always need to be professional and civil no matter what is going on (and my boss admits I’m always this, I’m just not always welcoming, if that makes sense.) But some people don’t want to send an email about a problem because you didn’t have time to ask about their weekend or look at pics of their new grand baby…in a perfect world those people wouldn’t be catered to.

        For 3-4 years the running joke would be that I would do the best I could to address this (and I did) but at some point I am who I am and sunny and chatty while the server has a processing block or an upgrade pooped the bed isn’t who I will ever be.

        Part two – what works. We can’t optimize for the ideal world, we need to optimize for the real world. This is something I actually made some major improvements and I’m still amazed at how little effort it took.

        I just made one little change – when buried and frazzled I assumed people knew I was working as hard as I can to get the situation resolved and that was true, but that didn’t mean they felt I had heard them personally.

        No matter how busy I’ll shoot off a quick email thanking them for bringing X to my attention and an eta which may change for resolution.

        When speaking or in email I started going out of my way to let them know I knew it was frustrating for them and I am working to fix it as soon as possible. People hearing that I consider their needs important even while I’m being honest that there are other priorities at the moment went a loooong way.

        And when people would say, “I’m sorry for bothering you again” instead of “it’s okay” by which I meant it was okay but I think came off like yeah, you’re bothering me but that’s fine, I made it clear they were doing me a favor by alerting me to X and it’s not a bother, it’s info I need.

        Which led into reiterating why I need it in email, so I can refer to it and see the screen shot and take care of it asap…so “send me an email” took on a helpful tone rather than the “stop talking to me in person” message I think may have snuck through before.

        Another thing – I have a very expressive face and I am an eyeroller. People can think it’s at them, when it’s at the system or issue. I don’t do that any more and if my bitchface is solidifying I make sure to make a line or two of chit chat about how X is frustrating for all of us – so they don’t take it personally.

        I have my own office and we have a private bathroom – those are my eye rolling spaces.

        And (and I hate advising it and I hate that it works) I make a conscious effort to smile and say hi when greeting people even when marinating in my own stomach acid. I don’t know why this is so important to people, but it puts them at ease.

        This has resulted in my overhearing people talk about how awful X issue was for me because I was working so hard and trying so hard to get everyone back up and running – there was empathy. Before, I’d have been working just as hard but the talk I am sure was about how long things were taking and how people were nervous to ask me for stuff.

        These are the most basic, superficial, no effort changes and I cannot believe how easily this worked.

        I look at it as “non-optional social conventions.” I don’t need this personal stuff from others, but clearly some need it from me so I give it to them even though it doesn’t make sense to me.

        Like birthday cards. I send them to people who send them to me because clearly they mean something to them…but I don’t get it. A text is fine imo…or nothing is okay, too.

        On the intimidating thing. That was an issue for me based more on culture than my personality. In manufacturing there can be an us vs them mentality from some of the people who work in the factory to management and when you add in a language barrier and someone not prone to smiling for no reason…people can be intimidated when someone at the director level shows up at their workstation with a clip board (I’m lead internal auditor.)

        That isn’t about me as much as it’s about the dynamics. So I start off every audit explaining it’s not a gotcha game and I smile and make eye contact. Deliberately. I’m still not comfortable with it, but I do it and it helps. A couple silly things also help in my environment:

        We wear IDs on lanyards and mine is Hello Kitty. I always wear Hello Kitty Vans for an audit and my clip board is Barbie pink (although not Barbie themed – I am a professional.)

        This won’t help in some places and will hurt credibility in others, but it always gets a genuine smile from people who don’t know me and takes some of the scary director vibe away and replaces some of it with softer and more quirky facade. And neither is a front – I mean I am both serious management and kinda quirky and (imo) fun so it’s just a matter of letting them see the parts which will facilitate a more comfortable conversation.

        And it doesn’t take anything away from credibility. No amount of whimsy on my shoes will make it pleasant if I find bad things on your computer or I find you willfully violating QC procedures.

        1. Short Fuse*

          Jamie, I think we might have been separated at birth, because you sound very much like me.

          Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. There’s some great advice there, and I’m going to try what you suggested. I think my demeanor is similar to yours, and just a few little superficial changes for me might well have the huge return that you got. I also prefer communicating via IM or email, so I can have something to refer back to later, and I think, like you said, answering with “it’s OK” can come off as dismissive even if you don’t mean it that way. Email and IM lack the face-to-face aspect, so without the inflection things can be misconstrued.

          My boss did give me a great piece of advice though. I don’t do it often, but once in awhile something will really make me mad and I’ll fire off a response that in my mind is tactful, but doesn’t come across that way. She said she struggles with the same thing, and she has started imposing a gag-order on herself, and giving herself until the next business day to respond. I do that, but I think I need to start being stricter with myself about when to respond right away, and when to give myself a chance to cool off.

          I’ve gotten the “unapproachable” feedback before, and I do try to work on it. This was the first time I got “opinionated,” and like I said above, I’d bet money that it came from my co-worker that also has a very strong personality, and is not used to people challenging her like I will, if I feel that her suggested solution is not necessarily the way to go.

          1. Jamie*

            The opinionated thing bothers me, because you were hired to have opinions. They hire anyone to not have an opinion.

            Someone giving their opinion weight merely because it’s their opinion while refusing to listen to feedback or factor in other POV which may bring up issues you didn’t see – that’s a problem. But you’re not doing that so, yeah, I’d lay that at the feet of your projecting co-worker.

            The email thing is great advice. I will never send an email I wrote even slightly pissy – because while I can guarantee it won’t say anything overtly unprofessional I need time before I can accurately assess my own tone. A drafts folder is a good thing.

            For me the hardest thing to get past was my own stubbornness and belief (that I still have) that I shouldn’t have to give out these kind of verbal hugs when I’m killing myself to fix the problem or meet a deadline. Why should I have to smile at you to make you comfy so you’ll tell me all about your computer problems. Why don’t you just tell me because you have a problem, it’s my job to solve it, and I won’t yell, speak harshly, or hit you for bringing it to my attention. Why do you have to come away from every interaction with me feeling personally validated? What’s next? A nice massage and then I’ll give you a little bath and bring you some soothing tea?

            Clearly an issue I still feel strongly about.

            But I finally accepted that this wasn’t a fight I was ever going to win and, albeit begrudgingly at first, began to accommodate their need for…comfort? I don’t know what the need is…but it’s a need.

            Case in point a couple of weeks ago I did an ERP upgrade – should have been routine but due to various issues on the vendor end it was a descent into hell. I think Dante has to write a sequel to include that circle.

            I am the only IT of a couple hundred users all having multiple issues of varying degrees of urgency. Treating them as fellow victims of an SP gone wrong rather than gnats circling my face…I’m telling you it was astounding. I still won’t blame the system because I need people to trust it was a glitch and not a reliability issue (all true) but by acknowledging how frustrated I know they are and how I want to get them back up as quickly as humanly possible did more than address my being more approachable. It bought me empathy and time. And their requests were less snotty and judgy which helped mitigate additional stress on my end.

            So there were actual benefits to me with all this – more patience and cooperation. Who knew?

            But yeah – I totally get it and if you ever find a company where it’s okay to be polite but not smile at people when you’re trying not to vomit let me know.

        2. HappyLurker*

          That was great and I have written down a couple of your things for my own reference. I think the reminders to smile, and make eye contact when saying “Hello” are so important in every interaction (and something I may have forgotten).

  56. BB*

    Just saw an article on Huff Post about average starting salary of a 2013 college grad: $44,928. Humanities/Social Sciences are still coming in at $39,992.

    If this is true, I need to remove my 3 years work experience and look for an entry-level job.

    1. A Jane*

      I’m located in NYC, and the $39 – 44K is what I’ve seen for entry level positions.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        This is why I hate those “average starting salary” things you read on blogs–they are rarely based on national averages, and usually taken in a major city with a high cost of living (NYC, Boston, DC, San Francisco, LA). AAM’s post about “what do you make” was insanely helpful after reading tons of articles like that.

      2. BB*

        I would expect NYC to be above average since the cost of living is higher than average. But yea only goes to show how skewed these reports are.

      3. meesh*

        i’m also located in NYC and actually getting paid $39-$44 is rare.

        My first job was 37K and my 2nd was 38…I’m now going on job # 3 (interviewing) which is also entry level in NYC and its exactly the same.

        It all depends on industry-not just location

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m very reluctant to trust *average* salaries because they are so skewed by the mega earners. Look for *median* salaries; they’re more realistic.

    3. Jamie*

      These things mean nothing without specifics – especially industry and region.

      The best way to check this stuff is do your own research. I had to do it once when my boss wanted me to get market rate for my job (don’t ask) and my job is a weird amalgam but even if it wasn’t – the generic sites aren’t accurate.

      I culled site after site (craigslist, indeed, dice, etc.) for positions similar is not only duties and size – but scope of responsibility and my goal was to get 20 for a sample. I couldn’t find a full 20 with salary ranges in the ads in my area so I broadened it – sticking to other cities with similar local economies and cost of living.

      It was a lot of work but the results had more weight as I vetted each data point for relevance.

  57. Amy B.*

    My BF is applying for jobs and received a call for a phone interview for a customer service position. The caller asked if he had “reliable transportation” and he answered, “Yes, the city bus.” (which he has been using for years). She made a noise and he asked if that was a problem to which she replied, “Yes” and then hung up on him.

    I told him to 1) Be glad he didn’t get a job with someone like that and 2) Just answer “Yes” to that question. Unless they need him to drive his own car to perform the job, it should not be their concern what his reliable transportation is. Is this reasonable?

    1. Zillah*

      I think it’s completely reasonable to just say yes rather than elaborating – I actually think it’s a little weirder to specify!

    2. Sascha*

      I think a simple “yes” is fine. If they ask further, he could say “the bus.” What a jerk to hang up on him like that! Dodged a bullet there.

  58. LV*

    I just wanted to say that I have an interview this afternoon and another one next week (different organizations). I’m really excited! And nervous, but mostly excited.

    I found the contrast between the emails from both potential employers to be interested. One said something like, “We’d like you to come in on [day] at [time]. Does that work for you? If you would need an alternate time, please let me know.”

    The other said, “You’re invited to an interview at [date and time]. Rescheduling will only be permitted for religious reasons, death in the family or cases of serious illness. A doctor’s certificate or other proof will be required.” It… kind of rubbed me the wrong way, especially since I got fairly short notice (Wednesday evening invite for Friday afternoon interview). Having to take hours off work in the middle of the day on such short notice would be tricky for a lot of people. I’m just fortunate in that regard because my current boss knows I’m interviewing and is fine with it (since my contract is up at the end of the month).

    1. Fiona*

      I’ve had interviews where only specific windows were available, and on somewhat short notice (tell me on Tuesday interviews are from 10:30 to noon on Thursday? Sure, my boss totally won’t mind that I scheduled a “doctor’s appointment” on top of our standing project meeting!) but I’ve never seen one that had all that extra. I’d seriously reconsider whether I wanted to work for an org that strict. If the entire company is run that way, there’d be a definite culture clash for me.

      1. LV*

        It’s definitely a red flag for me too, but it’s a temporary position until the end of this year. I figure that if I do get an offer (and this is the only offer I get), I can handle 8 months in a strict organization that’s not a good cultural fit for me.

    2. Smargie*

      That would rub me the wrong way too! What if you had another interview already scheduled for that time with another company? They are acting like they are the most important place on the planet which is never a good sign.

    3. bev*

      Wow. Can you imagine what it would be like if you needed to ask for time off? Make sure you ask this company lots of questions so you can figure out if you would still be interested after the interview.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The second employer feels that employees are a dime a dozen.
      “If you don’t show, we have ten more that will take your time slot.”

      If you keep that second appointment, keep your eyes wide open.

  59. R*

    As I’ve mentioned here a few times, I’m beginning a new job next week. I’m organizing my closet and getting mentally prepared, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of habits I’d like to begin at my new job. (I’ve also been thinking about what old bad habits I’d like to leave behind!)

    So, my question: What good work habits do you have?

    1. Ruffingit*

      Do not involve yourself in gossip. Just don’t do it. It’s easy to get caught up in that at a new place what with wanting to fit in with co-workers, etc. But don’t go there. Life is easier if you don’t invest in the office drama.

      1. A Jane*

        Agreed. The longer I can stay away from office gossip, the better/more productive I am. Allows me to stay open minded and focus on solving problems.

    2. AmyNYC*

      Get a notebook, and make in the only place you make notes. Lists, to-do, I made the last 3-4 pages of mine into reference so I don’t have to look up that one thing a million times.

      1. R*

        That’s a great idea! It’s one that I usually attempt, but somehow I wind up with four different notebooks, a pad of Post Its, and a scrawled agenda with notes on it. I might invest in an attractive notebook holder so that I’m more inclined to use it.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Have you ever heard of the company Levenger? They make really nice, high-end office supplies — things like portfolios, notebook covers, etc. I love all that kind of stuff so I can get lost for hours browsing on their website.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I could max out a credit card on office supplies, especially the ones with lovely leather notebook covers, etc. Le sigh. Love it all.

      2. Lalou*

        Yes! Keep a log book of everything you do. It doesn’t have to take long to just jot down things you think future you may find useful. As a programmer of some pretty unique systems it is so useful to be able to refer back to my old notes and reasoning behind decisions when I have to look back on what I’ve done to fix it or alter something after a long time.

    3. HappyLurker*

      Love both the previous ideas. Plus get to work 10-15 minutes early. It helps you get settled, and you can plan your day.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Protien for breakfast, every day, without fail.

      Before I leave at night I write a list of things I need to start with in the morning. It’s never a comprehensive list. It is just enough to jump start my day. I sleep better if I do this.

      1. AmyNYC*

        I made mini-quiches – kales, eggs and cheese (+whatever veggies you have in the fridge) baked in muffin tins. Quick to grab on my way out the door and keeps me full until lunch.

      2. AmyNYC*

        I made mini-quiches – kale, eggs and cheese (+whatever veggies you have in the fridge) baked in muffin tins. Quick to grab on my way out the door and keeps me full until lunch.

  60. Elkay*

    I’ve come here to do a little happy dance because I got to do something I enjoy while helping someone out. It started off as a seed of an idea then I went to buy lunch and during the walk there and back I worked out where I could find what I needed to know and how to pummel it into submission. I came back and did a dummy run, got the information I needed and gave someone what they needed in less than five minutes. At least I hope that’s what I did, I’m now having doubts about how helpful I’ve been and hoping I didn’t overstep.

  61. Sloop*

    I always get nervous requesting time off (I have no idea why…I have three weeks I have to use this year and my boss is pretty cool and is always telling me that I shouldn’t be afraid to use my time.) Does anyone have suggestions for a nice way to phrase the email – I feel like I should *ask* but I feel immature when I do that!

    1. Sunflower*

      I get the same way and I think the best thing to do is make the email the same as any other emails you said to him. By trying to ‘convince’ him or ask nicely, it will only further feed into this nasty habit you want to break

      ‘ I was planning to take the week of x/x off. Wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be a problem. Thanks’

      Part of your bosses job is handling employees and their time off request. Think of it as the same as you sending an email about a project.

    2. Fiona*

      Ditto Sunflower. We use our clock in/out to log PTO requests, so my emails usually read, “I put a request in Paychex to take Monday off. Please let me know if there’s a conflict.”

      I assume the yes, but acknowledge that it could be vetoed.

  62. Janet*

    Last year, I relocated with my company for a new position. I did not sign a relocation agreement. A few months after I moved, the company announced my job would be moved to another state and I was required to move again. I ended up taking a new job with a different company. My old company owed me a bonus from last year, however deducted relocation expenses from it. I have asked for the relocation agreement (there wasn’t one), and both hr and payroll now refuse to speak with me. Do I have any recourse? Another person from my same department was not forced to payback relo costs last year when she left the company, so there is a precedent set.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Get a lawyer. If they are refusing to speak with you now, this may be your only recourse.

      1. fposte*

        But get specific with the lawyer about fees and how much you’re willing to pay to chase this, because if this issue goes beyond the stern letter stage it would be easy to pay a lawyer more than the relocation expenses.

          1. fposte*

            My WAG is that this is a case where a stern letter might suffice, and I’d sure think it was worth it.

            1. Ruffingit*

              That’s what I was thinking as well. If they refuse to talk to Janet, they might start opening their mouths when it’s a lawyer on the line (or writing the letter, whichever the case may be).

        1. FRRibs*

          Most important thing I learned working with lawyers:

          If they ask if you want a cup of tea, say “no”. The 15 minutes it takes to make that tea will cost you $50+.

    2. Chriama*

      Check your company handbook. If they have a policy in there it might be binding. I don’t know that you have much recourse if they just don’t want to pay it out though. Maybe try contacting someone more senior in HR or payroll?

      To find out if what they did was illegal you may need to see a workplace lawyer (there may be rules about deducting expenses from paychecks, or it may be that they can’t unilaterally decide what the relocation expenses are if you didn’t agree ahead of time, etc), but at that point it might cost more than what you stand to recover.

      I would try to resolve it as diplomatically as possible at first. Could you get your boss to intercede on your behalf?

    1. Joie de Vivre*

      Yup! Love spending time with my friends kids, but no regrets that I don’t have any of my own.

    2. Sadsack*

      Yes! I have nothing against kids, I just don’t feel compelled to have my own. There have been times over the years when I thought I would like to have children, but then I realize that I like my life and my relationship with my significant other (of ten years now) just the way it is. He has grown children of his own. At times when we have discussed my interest or disinterest in having children, he basically said that he would if I wanted that. However, we just don’t feel any need to have children together. I don’t feel the need to have children at all.

    3. 22dncr*

      Yep – ever since I was a child have NEVER wanted kids. Thank goodness my extended family does not pressure and we were all raised to be independent thinkers.

    4. BB*

      I’m childfree for now- I don’t care for children and always thought I would eventually change my mind but I’m not sure that’s happening. It’s a weird feeling but I’m starting to realize it’s totally okay! Sometimes people gawk at me when I tell them I’m not sure but I can’t help but consider all the great benefits that come with no kids. Having a nice salary and the freedom to travel doesn’t sound so bad in my book..

      1. Jen RO*

        I used to think my body/brain will one day decide “OMGKIDS!”, but it never did… and at some point in my twenties it occurred to me that, well, I don’t *have* to have kids. My mom isn’t happy, but I’m lucky to have friends who are moms themselves but understand my lack of desire to go the same way. I’ve actually had nightmares of being pregnant – they were horrible.

        1. Trixie*

          This. I know my mom wants me to be happy towards whatever direction that entails but I do find it a little heartbreaking that she won’t have grandkids from my sister or myself. Have to wonder, what are the odds that TWO sisters end up not having children. But we do adore our fur babies!

    5. LPBB*

      Very happily so! I’ve never regretted that decision even though it’s cost me several relationships.

    6. Jess*

      Me too! I have a dog, two cats, two guinea pigs, a tank full of fish and a husband, though.

      It gets a little lonely sometimes though. I feel like I’m the only thirty-something married woman I know who doesn’t have kids or desperately want kids.

      1. Trixie*

        And this. I think we know there’s plenty of us out there, its just finding them in our local communities. I think that’s how I found meet-up groups so helpful in my last city because everyone I was meeting on regular outings didn’t have kids and maybe therefore had time for said outing. Its hard enough making new friends but at the family/SO dynamic and its a whole other level.

      2. Elkay*

        I am now the only married person in my group of friends who does not have/want kids. It seems like every week I’m getting an email announcing another pregnancy. I wish I knew how to find people who were the same as me.

    7. LV*

      Yes, and I’m very happy with my decision.

      The one fly in my ointment is that since I’m only 25, most people assume I’m going to change my mind. As a general rule I never say never, but I’ve known since I was 13 that I never wanted kids and my husband doesn’t want them either (and even got a vasectomy, so…)

      I have a lot of relatives who keep asking WHEN I’m going to have a baby. My grandmother grumbled the other day that “I was married at 19 and had your father at 20!” so what’s MY excuse, and my mother occasionally does stuff like email me photos of my dad holding a family friend’s grandchild with the caption, “Doesn’t he look great in the role of grandfather?” Very subtle…

      1. LPBB*

        Do you have siblings? I can’t tell you what a relief it was when my sister got pregnant, because it meant that my parents would have at least one grandchild and I would not have to feel guilty about depriving them. Not that they would have made me feel guilty about it, but I could win a gold medal in the Feeling Guilty About Things I Have Absolutely No Reason To Feel Guilty About Olympics.

      2. Jen RO*

        I just turned 30, so my mother made sure to point out that her plan was to have her kids before 30 and she managed it (me at 28, my brother at 30). I told her I don’t understand what that’s got to do with me…

      3. Ruffingit*

        I got the you’ll change your mind crap too when I was in my 20s. One of the best things ever about being in my late 30s is no longer having to deal with that nonsense. It really irritated me when people assumed I didn’t know my own mind. It also irritated me because no one would ever say that to a pregnant women in her 20s as in “Well, you know, kids are a life changing choice, you’ll change your mind…” Apparently people in their 20s who have children are perfectly capable of making that decision, but make the choice NOT to have kids? Oh, you don’t know your own mind.

        So that rankled, but it’s been less of an issue the older I’ve gotten. You get more credibility as you age so hang in there!

    8. CTO*

      Me (and my husband) too. When I was younger I always assumed I’d be a parent and my now-husband and I used to assume that we’d have kids together. But around the time we got engaged (in our early 20s) and kids became more of a real, concrete thing that people did and might expect us to start doing… we both lost interest in being parents, at least to babies.

      We do share an interest in foster parenting older kids/teens, so we might make that happen eventually. But the “traditional” parenting route is not for us. That could change someday (we’re not even 30, so we do have time) and I’m open to it changing, but also perfectly happy if we stay childfree.

      1. vvondervvoman*

        This is where my husband and I are. We both legitimately do not believe in making little humans (mostly for environmental reasons). Right now, we also don’t feel the need to raise children. But any parenting urge will go straight into fostering!

    9. Anon E Mouse*

      Hellz yeah!

      I get VERY tired of people telling me I will change my mind and want kids. I’m 45. I have zero desire to have children. I like my child-free life.

      On the other hand, I have 3 cats, and foster kittens several times a year, so….

      Luckily my brother had kids, so my parents don’t bother me with grandparent lust.

    10. kas*

      I’m only 22 but I plan on being childfree, I have no desire to have children. I have way too many young cousins and I’m usually the one babysitting and that has definitely made me realize how much I enjoy my freedom.

      I want to get married, travel the world and live life spontaneously – I can’t do that with children, having to either worry about a babysitter or plan child-friendly vacations.

      My sister feels the same way so no grandchildren for my parents ..

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. I am a firm believer in playing the hand you’ve been dealt, usually. (ie: What is, is.) By extension, I think that you make choices in life and part of that decision is to recognize that you can’t keep rehashing/regreting your own conclusion. Make the decision, realize it is best for you and move on. There are many aspects of life to experience, go find them.

      So part of the childfree choice for me was seeing that I was (am) going to be on a path less traveled. (There are a lot more childfree couples now.) I would need to actively carve out a life for me, I had very few role models.

      I don’t think that any one life decision makes you happier or sadder in life. I think you have to chose to be happy each day no matter what path you take in life.

  63. AmyNYC*

    Similar to the carpooling coworker from earlier this week – I leave around the same time as a coworker, and a few times a week, we end up walking to the train together and sometimes even in the same train car, making awkward small talk.
    I’ve tried saying “Oh, my stop is at the other end, see you tomorrow” and she just says, “oh, I’ll wait with you!”
    She’s nice and I don’t mind talking with her – for a bit. But I’ve been in the office all day, I’ve got roommates, I just want my commute to be 30 minutes of me. Is there a polite way to say BUZZ OFF?

      1. R*

        Or a book. Or even a fake phone call that lets you wave politely and situate yourself in the back of the train car all alone. I’ll admit, I’ve sometimes walked in a circle just to avoid chit-chat when I’m not in the mood!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I had something similar happen to me a few years ago. I finished several hours worth of interviews with folks on campus, including the Dean of the College. After I was done, I got a box lunch from my admin contact, then made my way to the train station, hoping to eat on the train while mentally decompressing.

      There was the Dean of the College, waiting to take the train to the airport, too. Cue an additional 30 minutes of post-interview small talk waiting for the train, boarding the train, etc. I can be as gregarious as the next guy, but after the typical meet-everyone-on-campus interview gauntlet, I’m DONE!

    2. FRRibs*

      Cultivate nonverbal cues that get the message across but aren’t rude. I’ve trained my co-workers to know the difference between when I’m available to chat and when I’m busy and would prefer to focus.

    3. Kit M.*

      Book. This is not ideal if you’re like me and really just want to use your commute to stare into space, but it’s worked for me. An Ebook reader is best for this because then it’s not so obvious if you’re not turning pages. Make a little small talk and then say, “Now if you’ll excuse me, my commute is the only time I get to read.” And start reading/staring at your book.

      If you feel comfortable being a little blunter, once you get on the train you can say, “Excuse me, my commute’s my only ‘me’ time and I’m going to zone out.” If she talks to you after that, look startled and ask her to repeat herself before answering. This is what I have done with overly chatty strangers on the subway, with moderate success.

    4. Amy*

      I walked to the train with a coworker, we chatted, and then when we got on, she took out a book and said, “I don’t mean to be anti-social, but I’ve got to read this before class tonight.” It was so clear and polite, and set the precedent for future rides together – sometimes we’d chat throughout the ride, but if either of us wanted to read, we would just take out a book and do so. You could also take out a book and say, “Have you read this? It’s great so far” as a transition into “we are going to stop talking now.”

  64. Ms Enthusiasm*

    I would love to hear everyone’s opinion on how to motivate an employee with a negative attitude. I know some people are beyond help and there is nothing you can do. And I also know that different people are motivated by different things. So some people might want recognition and some people might want monetary rewards. But I’ve recently had an encounter with someone who really stumped me. He basically said he was only interested in making money. We tried to give him stretch goals and told him if he met those goals then that would be considered going Above and Beyond and having a reputation of doing great work would help him with future roles. He never even tried the goal. He used the anaology that if you want more from someone/something you need to put more money into it first. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt: he is young and inexperienced and hasn’t had too many jobs under his belt. We tried to dangle developement opportunities in front of him but that didn’t work either. I know this one was probably a lost cause. Not only did he have a bad attitude but he was also arrogant (Of course he could do the job, he has his Masters degree). But then he kept making mistakes and was even caught sleeping on the job!

    I guess what I’m trying to ask is how do you motivate or engage someone like that? Is it even possible to pull them back from that horrible point? I think it is more than just an attitude change – it is a change in their whole way of thinking. Do any of you have any canned speeches/pep talks/expressions that you like to use to get someone excited and happy again?

    1. fposte*

      He’s got the wrong logic–I don’t spend more money on something that hasn’t looked to be worth it.

      However, it sounds like he’s a lazy and bad employee, and I’m not sure why he still has a job. (I suspect that answer is related to how somebody like this got hired in the first place, and whatever you can do to fix that hiring practice will help you in the future.) If you can fire him, do. If you can’t, PIP time, and an explanation that the money he’d like to make comes when he demonstrates he’s valuable, and right now he’s not succeeding at that.

      1. Ms Enthusiasm*

        He is actually gone now. He was a temp but even though the work he was brought in to do wasn’t finished we got rid of him. Hopefully the next temp will be better. If he had done a great job one of the rewards could have been a recommendation for a permanent role someplace else here where I work which really would mean a lot. We are a large, Fortune 100 company and are awesome to work for. We tried telling him that if he showed how great he was we would be happy to recommend him but he didn’t seem to care. Again, he was a lost cause. But I always will wonder if there wasn’t some magical expression I could have said to him that would suddenly turn his attitude around. Is there a perfect motivat