open thread – March 28, 2014

Sam and OliveIt’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.

{ 1,322 comments… read them below }

  1. Aunt Vixen*

    Ugh, sitting at my desk on a rainy Friday with a migraine is the worst. There isn’t a ton of work I’m not doing, fortunately, so going home wouldn’t leave much undone or overburden my colleagues – but it also probably wouldn’t solve me anything, and would cost me some leave I’d rather not burn (because I likely won’t be able to make up the hours next week). So instead I’ll sit here and try to keep very still and hope when people do have questions for me they ask them quietly.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Migraine days are the worst. I’m fortunate enough to have an office & a door and the ability to turn off the lights.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        At my old job I had this, and an understanding office-mate and other colleagues. :-) I could put a sticky note on the door saying “migraine – please proceed gently”. Now I have to huddle up at my cube with sunglasses and headphones (because people can’t see my earplugs) and a flag on my IM status, in case anyone happens to notice my IM status.

        (And she wears sunglasses, even when she dunt need to. Flash bastard.)

      2. Arbynka*

        I hate migraines. I have thyroid issue – had Grave’s, radioactive iodine treatment and have been jumping between normal, hypo and hyper. When I go hypo, I tend to get tension headaches, which is no fun but with hyper I get full blown migraines and it sucks. Right now I am finally “normal” – after what seemed like forever , the weight is going down, so hooray :)

      3. Canadamber*

        I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m an adult; the migraines can get practically debilitating! >_<; They just huuurt. :$ And Tylenol doesn't work for me and my parents don't keep any different painkillers around the house.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          If they’re true migraines (as opposed to cluster headaches – the two are frequently confused), Tylenol is never going to make a dent.

          If you haven’t seen one, a doctor can start you down the road of migraine management with actual migraine medications, supplements (my neurologist is big on magnesium & vitamin B2), finding your triggers, etc. There are no magic cure-alls, but you should definitely see someone to help you manage and mitigate your symptoms.

          1. Arbynka*

            When my thyroid is whacked, my migraines seem to come randomly but I do have one known trigger – chocolate. My migraine management – and narcolepsy (when I get hypo I get narcoleptic, had actual sleep study done to confirm it) is really a thyroid management. It is amazing how having messed up thyroid can mess up your whole body. And the hair loss, not fun either :( Sorry, this turned into me venting.

        2. Katie (Fellow Migraine Sufferer)*

          You might want to see if your parents will take you to the doctor. There are some very good prescription medications that can either stop the migraine once it’s started, or dailies that stop them from happening at all (if you get them a lot).
          Also, don’t know if anyone has told you this already, but taking painkillers with caffeine in them (or taking them with a caffeinated drink) can be very helpful. The caffeine helps what caused the migraine to begin with.

          1. Maggie*

            I have found extra strength Excedrin to be pretty helpful. I do have to take it as soon as I feel the migraine starting though.

            1. Izzy LeighGal*

              Another vote for Excedrin to treat migraines, along with pounding back a caffeinated beverage (coffee or Coke) if you can stomach it.

            2. KayDay*

              Put me in the Excedrin camp. I get occasional migraines–they’re pretty awful, but admittedly mild compared to how bad some people’s migraines can get and I find Excedrin + a nap works reasonably well. I also usually take a vitamin, but I have no idea if that actually helps.

          2. Arbynka*

            What was helpful to me was Exedrin – it has acetaminophen, caffeine and one other thing, but unfortunately it made my stomach hurt.

            1. Alicia*

              Acetaminophen, caffeine, and codeine likely. Basically a weaker version (less narcotic) of a T3.

              1. Miss Betty*

                It’s acetaminophen, caffeine, and aspirin. (I don’t think medications containing codeine can be sold OTC in the US.) I agree about Excedrin – I don’t get migraines but when I was younger used to get terrible tension headaches that required pretty much the same treatment (darkness and quiet). Extra-strength Excedrin was the only thing that would begin to touch them. I still keep it on hand at work and at home.

        3. Kelly L.*

          I feel your pain. :( I grew up in a household where Tylenol was all there was and my migraines weren’t ever recognized as such or looked at by a doctor.

          If it helps give you hope, my migraines diminished in both frequency and intensity after my teen years. I can’t promise that will happen, but it can, potentially. I also got MUCH better at seeing them coming an hour or two before the pain actually started, so I could throw meds at them preemptively and dodge the worst of it. Excedrin works great for me. That and a cold coffee drink, for whatever reason.

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            I started getting migraines almost daily when I hit 14, and my doctor said I’d probably outgrow them by the time I got to my early twenties. He was right.

            I still get bad headaches sometimes, but nothing like I used to when I was a teenager. My go-to headache concoction is a couple of ibuprofen and a Dr. Pepper. I have to be careful not to drink caffeine too often otherwise, though, or it loses it’s efficacy.

          1. KayDay*

            My (somewhat curious) experience has been that for me, Advil normally works better–most headaches, aches/pains, lady-pains, etch. BUT, for my migraines (and occasionally other miscellaneous headaches) Tylenol works better. No clue why this is though.

        4. Jubilance*

          Also, take a look at the idea of trigger foods & see if they could be causing/aggravating your migraines. For many migraine sufferers, foods like cheese, chocolate, nuts & wine can cause migraines, and they are often told to avoid them to prevent migraines. This isn’t an exhaustive list but you could start there and see if any foods seem to coincide with your migraine days.

          1. Windchime*

            Yes to this. I cut out sugar and diet coke a few months back and my migraines stopped. Completely. I’m now allowing myself a small amount of both and still haven’t had a headache. But when I go on a sugar binge (as I sometimes do when I’m stressed), I can almost count on having a migraine the next day.

            For me, it’s not the caffeine in the diet Coke that causes the migraines; I think it might be the aspartame. Because I can drink plain iced tea (which has caffeine) and that doesn’t cause a headache.

            Migraines are weird. I take a prescription called sumatriptan when I have a migraine and it works great for me; my son has migraines and it doesn’t help him at all.

        5. samaD*

          nth-ing the reccs for caffeine, & checking out supplements with your doctor :)

          my husband also used to find that a cold cloth on the back of his neck, right at the base of the skull, would help a lot

          1. athek*

            I’m another advocate of a cold washcloth or ice pack. I get one of those with a pain reliever and a short nap and I can usually function for the rest of the day.

        6. littlemoose*

          Taking a Vitamin B2 supplement from GNC has helped reduce the frequency of my migraines. I just take one at night. But yes, see a doc! Triptan medications (Imitrex, Maxalt, etc) and/or an analgesic (Fioricet for me) can help tremendously. I also take another nightly Rx, amitriptyline, that has helped with migraine frequency a lot. There are good options out there!

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I also kicked off my day with a borderline migraine. Fortunately I had planned to attend a networking breakfast that I was able to skip while I waited for the meds to kick in, so I didn’t actually miss any work (feeling better and at my desk now!).

      1. Trixie*

        Do those migraine headbands help at all? I saw them in the news recently, and apparently they’re sold by Costco in Canada.

    3. Nina*

      My heart goes out to you. I experienced my first migraine while I was at work and I was in so much pain I thought I would pass out. My coworkers were really sweet; they stayed quiet and kept the lights low until the Aleve kicked in. I actually called my mother for advice, since she’s dealt with cluster headaches for years. After that, a regular headache is a walk in the park.

  2. Ali*

    Wow…first! I feel awesome!

    So I’m feeling a little disappointed today. Two of the jobs that I really wanted that I applied for about three weeks ago have not called back. I am of course continuing to apply and just sent an application before coming here, but it’s a little disheartening that the jobs were right up my alley and no call. One employer told me she’d be getting in touch with candidates in 1-2 weeks, and it’s only been one week since she said that, so I’m hoping maybe next week? Even so, I just hate waiting, especially since lately, it seems like a ton of AAM-ers and other friends of mine are celebrating cool job offers and promotions.

    I’m not really down in the dumps or anything, just a bit bummed.

    1. Jealous Friend*

      I just posted the exact same thing! This week a friend of mine got a job offer only a day after she interviewed and she has interviewed for three more positions since then. I never ever hear back from anyone ever (except internships) which I no longer have the time for

      1. Ali*

        Right? When I was trying to get into sports, a contact told me that I would pretty much have to do an internship. Who can do that when you have a full-time job on top of that? She swore to me that it could be done and she once worked 100 hours a week and had no life to get to where she is now…so if I wanted it I could do it too! Ugh. No thanks. Part of why I gave up on that field.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I feel you. I’m not searching very hard right now, so when I find something I’m really excited about and then never hear back, it’s doubly disappointing.

    3. John*

      Ali, you’d be amazed at how slow some of these employers can be. As Alison often reminds her readers, other priorities come up. It’s always surprising because during the interviews the hiring managers often stress the need to get the new person in ASAP.

      For my last job, they had promised to call me in for a second round of interviews. That never happened and weeks went by and I moved on. Imagine my surprise when, first thing one morning, my phone rang with an offer. That was great, except it was so far out of my mind — plus, just the day before I came to the conclusion that mentally I NEEDED to get back into a work setting — that I just said yes without negotiating the salary at all. But it all worked out because the experience there set me up for the great job I have today.

      So keep the faith.

      1. Eden*

        I just got an email informing me that a company I applied to at the beginning of JANUARY has decided not to hire for the position after all. While I think it’s good form to let people know, the pace over there must be positively glacial.

    4. Audiophile*

      I’ve been there Ali. I had a friend get a job offer in December and they wanted her so quickly that she started before the new year. Meanwhile, I’ve been applying like crazy and had no interviews this month.

      I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

    5. Ash (the other one!)*

      Same here. I found out this week that a girl who was a couple years below me in grad school just got a position at a place I applied and never heard back from. It’s made me regret a lot of choices I’ve made in my career thus far…

      It also is making me depressed looking through linked in and realizing that my peers all have more impressive titles than I do. Petty, yes, but it makes me feel awful.

      1. Orange Banana*

        I do this all the time too! Its probably not very good for my mental health – but I’m constantly checking LinkedIN or Facebook to see what my high-school peers are up to, and always feel inferior because I haven’t even really started my career yet (I’ve been trying for 2 years with no luck)
        I always wonder what could/should I have done differently so that I could be well into my career now (at almost 30yo) instead of a sitting duck in a pond full of (apparently) more qualified candidates…..

        1. Nadia*

          I couldn’t have said it better myself for my own situation. While my peers are out doing great things, I’m sitting here writing cover letters that don’t lead to any prospects.
          Woulda, shoulda, coulda, is something that always crosses my mind as much as I want to look on the bright side instead of the negatives.

          The best of luck to you!

    6. Virginian*

      Same here, but it’s only been a week for me. I applied to an project coordinator position with one of the cyber security firms but haven’t heard anything yet.

    7. Mints*

      Ugh me too. I was bummed when I saw a job that I was really excited about applying to, and I just banged out the cover letter because it was such a match. And then…crickets.
      You’re definitely not the only one.

      1. Ali*

        Awww thanks guys! I am currently employed, so I’m not desperate for a new position per se, but I am also eager for a change from what I’m doing now and want to work in an office again rather than working remotely. (And OMG if one more person tells me how lucky I am to be doing so and that “there’s a lot to be said for it,” I think I could scream cause I’m just that sick of it!) In a way, I’m hoping for some improvements in my current situation b/c it’s so daunting to be searching and be one of hundreds of applicants for a job. I will admit that even though I know I want something new, I’m also kind of afraid to leave my job. Between being there almost four years and my family going on and on about how good I have it, I know it’s gonna be a tough change whenever something comes up.

        1. Sunflower*

          I hate when people tell you how lucky you are because of your job. No one has any idea what someone else’s work situation is. I travel a lot and stay in fancy hotels and people think it’s great but I’d prefer a job that paid closer to market value and I could afford to go on these trips myself! People always overestimate how great working from home is too. It’s hard to be stuck in your house or apt every day, all day

          1. Ali*

            And not to mention my shift schedule. I work sometimes until 1 a.m or 2 a.m. (I did know I was in a 24/7 type business before going in) and it really sucks. But people say “Oh well you jut have to deal with it; that’s work.” Never mind that one of the girls on my team NEVER has to put in these late night hours like several of us do. She can work her eight-hour *day* shift and leave the second the clock hits the end of her hours. Must be nice.

            1. Kelly*

              My condolences to you. It sucks working in that type of environment where one or two people get out of the less desirable shifts, late night in most cases, because of seniority, family circumstances, or other factors.

        2. Mints*

          My “you’re so lucky” is that I don’t have much work “at least you’re not busy!”
          Meanwhile I’m job hunting for jobs that have a normal workload. Because as much as I lone the AAM community, I don’t want to be on here (or tumblr or facebook) quite so much

        3. VictoriaHR*

          The grass is always greener. In theory I’d love to work from home, but I know for a fact that I’d get too distracted by tv, etc., or I’d fall asleep, so I don’t dare.

    8. Nadia*

      I’m in the same boat, so I know how you feel! The waiting game really sucks. I’ve been waiting to hear from a job for about a week and a half ago, and still nothing. Considering I felt I was qualified for the job, the job description was exactly up the alley I want to be, AND my resume was personally sent to the hiring manager by someone in the company I’d met, … I feel really bummed.

      But trying to take Alison’s advice … Move on as soon as you send in your application! (although it’s a lot easier said than done for me)

    9. Laura*

      Today I got a call for a job I applied to in mid January. Some of these places take forever!

      I’m also in the position of having no luck in the job search, and all of my friends seem to be getting new jobs or otherwise doing well career wise, so it makes me sad

  3. Sunflower*

    I’m struggling with including company information in a cover letter. I’m applying to mostly larger corporations and it feels very fake when I talk about why I’m interested in the company. I’m interested because they are well-established large companies where I feel I can grow my career. But I never really know what to say about why they’re great. I spend a couple minutes browsing their website and recent news but I mostly end up talking about how I feel my goals are in line with their mission or about their philanthropic missions. It just sounds so fake to me and I’m looking for ways to make it sound more natural

    1. Betsy*

      When I was in the same position, I wrote my cover letters to talk about how I was looking for a company where I could grow a career, not just have a job. Not all of the reasons we like companies are related to the day to day work, and that’s okay! There’s a lot of value in an employee who wants to keep moving up internally, instead of taking their knowledge and skill and going somewhere else with it after a few years.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Personally, I think if you’re not feeling it, don’t say it. Because you’re right, it will come across as fake, or insincere/shallow/cliche’d. Stick with what does excite you about the job – because you’re already a rock star at X, or because you’ll really be challenged doing Y, or whatever.

      1. Dan*

        Yes. I’m an extremely strong candidate within my niche (or so I think I am at least) and it’s really, really easy to write interesting cover letters. I feel it, it’s part of me, and makes for at the very least a decent story. When I talk about passion, I can show things that occurred over the last 15 years that play into why I want to do what I do.

        Outside my niche, I’m grasping at straws, and it’s hard to write cover letters that draw people’s attention. IOW, it’s not “me”, and it reads like it. Why am I applying? Because I don’t have a job. Why your company? Because you’re hiring. I’m just not as a compelling candidate outside my niche, and I’ve come to accept it.

        Thankfully, I like my niche and I’m good at it. The only thing that worries me is it’s a small niche and contingent on government funding.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Why am I applying? Because I don’t have a job. Why your company? Because you’re hiring.

          This made me laugh; oh, how many times I wanted to say that when I was looking!

          1. Laura*

            I want to say that all the time! To the “why did you apply to this job?” my honest answer is really “you’re hiring, I’m in need of a job, I am qualified and capable of doing this job, and you don’t seem to suck that hard. “

          2. Candy Floss*

            From The Wedding Singer where Adam Sandler goes to apply for a job at a bank:

            Mr. Simms: Do you have any experience?
            Robbie: No, sir, I have no experience but I’m a big fan of money. I like it, I use it, I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I’d like to put more in that jar. That’s where you come in.

    3. John*

      How about something along the lines of “Company X is a vibrant, growing company where I see long-range opportunities to apply my skills and experience to help Company advance its growth agenda while building a rewarding career.”

      1. Dan*

        That sounds like something people used to put in an objective statement, and we’ve gotten rid of objective statements.

        While the statement may be true, it doesn’t say anything unique about the candidate, the company, the role, or whatever. IOW, it’s not a differentiating statement that is going to stand out to a manager.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Actually, I don’t think it sounds like an objective at all. Also, remember that this is just one sentence of a larger cover letter. You could use that last part to segue into elaborating on yourself/skills/etc.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, come on. Joey, I agree with you that John’s proposed language isn’t a good answer here*, but I want to repeat my request to rein in snark toward others.

          * John, the issue is that it’s very vague, could be said to any company you’re applying for, and sounds very jargony — you probably don’t really talk like that!

    4. ClaireS*

      I would give up on trying to make up something about how you like their mission (unless you really do). Focus on what you said about why your applying. “I am interested in joining a stable company with a prove track record of success,” or “I am looking to begin (or move) my career with a company that I can see myself working for long term with plenty of professional development and growth opportunities.”

      That last one may make people worry you want to climb too quickly but it’s one option.

      What do others think?

      1. Dan*

        It doesn’t “pop”. I’ve had to accept that I can’t write “popping” cover letters for every job that I’ve applied to. Some I can, some I can’t.

      2. Joey*

        I wouldn’t . The problem with those statements is they’re way too generic and more about what they can do for you. They would much rather hear what you can do for them in a position that’s currently vacant.

    5. Dan*

      Well, are you certain that large corporations are the best place to grow your career?

      I’ve been doing similar work at the last two jobs. The first was a smaller company, the second quite larger. The small company, while it had little room for “title” growth, had plenty of room for position growth. I’m glad I started my career there, I accomplished a lot and it positioned me well for my current job.

      Current job is a much larger company. While there is more “structure” and presumably more “official” rungs to climb, the rungs are competitive with little turnover. So it’s not something I’m sure I can count on.

      Also, smaller companies might be easier to get into. They don’t have the “brand” recognition, and therefore don’t draw the same number of applicants that the larger companies do. Put differently, ex-job hired plenty of people current job would never dream of hiring.

    6. Joey*

      It’s far better to talk about why you’re interested in a specific job at that company. Its great that you’re interested in a company but stressing that isn’t real helpful in terms of whether or not you’d be good for a specific job. Its fine to pick one or two things about the company in general, but it’s better if they relate to the job your applying to. Like talking about a product or initiative in an area that you will touch. Or talking about your work philosophy or values( which mirrors theirs.)

      1. Dan*

        I agree. I see a lot of people talking about “companies” here as if they are a specific thing that you will go and work for every day.

        In reality, companies are an abstraction. Sure, they’re the name on your paycheck. But what you go and work with and for every day are your job duties, your coworkers, and your manager. All of that needs to be chosen carefully.

        Case in point: I work at a non-profit that provides professional services to the federal government. We provide services in a range of specialties and disciplines. I do *not* want just any job within this company. I want a job in my division, and even then, specific jobs that are aligned with my background, skills, and interest. My division itself makes up about 10% of the company — IOW, 90% of the jobs here I wouldn’t want right off the bat.

      2. Sunflower*

        This makes the most sense to me. I see that it’s important to follow the company and the industry trends but I work in event planning and the majority of the roles are supporting the business- it would be impossible to follow every industry that every company I’m applying to is in. Think I’ll find one product or one thing they pride themselves on, relate my experience to it and then focus the rest of the letter on the actual position

    7. C average*

      Honestly, I’d say Google the company and read news about it rather than just visit the corporate website. And try to develop as much familiarity with their product or service as you can. If you can speak to any kind of history with the company, that’s good, too. So then when you get the question, you can say something like, “I’d say it’s a combination of personal connection, admiration of your business decisions in the past, and appreciation for the kind of work you’re doing now. I’ve been interested in Acme Chocolate Teapots since I had my first nibble of chocolate teapot back in college at Overachiever U. It remains my favorite dessert. Beyond my personal appreciation for your products, though, I’ve always admired what you stand for as a company. Back in 1992, when you had to deal with the chocolate mite infestation in your factory, you were transparent and proactive in dealing with the situation. I admire a company that does the right thing in a tough situation like that. I want to work with people who demonstrate that kind of integrity. Finally, I’d love to be a part of the ongoing work you’re doing to grow your artisanal teapot business in underserved regions. It’s important work that’s changing the industry. I’d love to be a part of that kind of effort.”

      Show that when you’re reading the business page–and of course you read the business page!–and you see the name “Acme,” your stop to read it because you’re always interested in what’s going on with Acme.

      I work for a ginormous corporation, and that’s what we look for.

      1. C average*

        . . . and yeah, I know that would feel contrived if you’re just looking for a job. I don’t know about other big corporations, but at mine we’re not really looking for people who just want a job. We want people with a strong interest in working HERE. It can be a challenging workplace, and it helps to have a genuine passion for our brand. The vast majority of us actually do.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I wish I’d done that when applying to one place; I would have discovered that they were being federally investigated. I didn’t get an offer anyway, but I sat around for a couple of weeks worried about what to say if I did (I would have said no).

    8. VictoriaHR*

      Why not, “I’m interested in XYZ Co. because it’s an established large company where I can grow my career” ?? What’s wrong with that?

  4. TL*

    I don’t have anything exciting but I keep on passing up open threads where I’m right near the top. So I wanted to comment today.
    But I’m happy with my job and I’m enjoying working long hours and getting to know my new city and I really love my coworkers!

    1. J.B.*

      That’s great! I wanted to just minorly vent about office politics. No details, just cause. I’m happy to respond to your up thread post and to see that things are good where you are!

  5. CN*

    Hey everyone! I actually sent this in as a submission to Alison but it looks like she’s busy, so in the mean time I thought I’d post it here. I’m wondering if anyone can offer advice for my friend who is homeless. Here’s the situation —

    Until 1993, this man was an athlete, coach, and was later operating his own commercial sign/painting business. In 1993, he decided to do a walk across America to raise awareness for the homeless. He started in San Diego hoping to get to D.C., but in Texas, he had an accident; he was run over by an 18-wheeler truck.

    He was in a coma for a long time and came out almost completely paralyzed with extensive brain injury. He spent essentially a decade rehabilitating, and actually recovered to the point that he has basically all his faculties back, relearned how to read/write, etc. (he was even able to bench 400 lbs at one point! That’s AFTER being completely paralyzed).

    From then, he lived on disability for awhile and worked briefly at a construction company from 2005-07. But ANOTHER car accident in 2007 ended that job for him. Since then, he hasn’t been able to find employment. He’s been supporting himself by asking for donations with signs everyday in the city while trying to find work.

    I ran through his history with him, and these are the issues I’m most concerned about for his job prospects:

    –1. The gap since 2007, obviously…I’m not really sure how to tell him to address this? The accident is an acceptable explanation, but not for all those years, right? I asked if he’s done anything else since then (volunteering, training, etc.), but we couldn’t really think of anything. He was homeless a lot of that time and sold handmade art on the street to help support himself. That’s all we could come up with.

    –2. He does have work experience, but mostly from 1980-1993, with just some volunteer work from 1993-99 during his recovery. Obviously this is because of the accident. The only formal work since then is the construction from 2005-07. I know that resumes shouldn’t usually go back that far, but obviously his situation is complicated. How far back should he go?

    –3. This is the biggest issue — unfortunately, he has some felonies. These are from the ’90s. I do not know the specifics, but I am fairly sure that these were NOT workplace-related, and also that he has been completely straight since then — his record is clean since the 1990’s. I know it was 20 years ago…but realistically I also know that most, if not all, employers will probably strike him as soon as they see that.

    I’m not really sure what to do here. The gaps are one thing, but the felonies just throw an additional wrench in. He has only 2 years of college in graphic advertising. He also struggles a bit with short-term memory from the brain injury and is not so good with technology, so that cuts out some fields. Of course, he isn’t looking for anything fancy or white collar. Something in construction, maybe; he was also looking at a doorman job ad at a hospital. I’m just concerned that those 3 issues make this very difficult and I’m not sure how to approach this.

    Thanks everyone. Any help is super appreciated. :)

    1. CN*

      By the way, we DO live in a state where it is illegal to discriminate against people with criminal convictions unless that conviction is directly related to the job. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it really makes a lot of practical difference, especially not in situation’s like his. :/

      I’ve already looked up a few organizations that are supposed to help people with criminal records find jobs, but if anyone has any other ideas, that’d be great too.

      1. Crazy Cat Lady*

        What about applying for smaller companies? I’ve worked for companies that don’t even ask about criminal records or do background checks (beyond checking references).

      2. Crazy Cat Lady*

        What about applying for smaller companies? I’ve worked for companies that don’t even ask about criminal records or do background checks (beyond checking references). (This posted below but was supposed to be a response to you!)

      3. fposte*

        What kind of disability support/vocational rehab is available in your area? What about something geared to mainstreaming the homeless?

        I think it’s going to be tough work on the open market, so a program that funnels or an employer with a stated goal of hiring the disabled or homeless is the best place to start, if you can find one. I get that his rehab regained him a great deal, but it sounds like he’s still dealing with impairments that would make him eligible for such programs, so I think they’d be worth checking out.

        1. CN*

          You’re right — so far I was only looking into support programs for people with criminal backgrounds, but disability/vocational support is a good thought too.

          Well, okay, for the record, this IS NYC. So I know that there are supposed to be a lot of programs/organizations out there (and I’ve looked up a few already) — I just have no way of knowing how helpful they really are.

          If anyone can vouch for specific programs/organizations that’d be wonderful. From what I’ve seen, he’s already been to a few public assistance-esque programs and the employment advice they’ve given has ranged from mediocre to…seriously questionable, haha!

          1. AnAmy*

            Google ACCES-VR. They’re the state agency in NY that provides voc/rehab support to adults. It sounds like his disabilities are probably well documented and meet their eligibility criteria, so it’s very likely he could get assistance with training or job placement.

          2. Office Mercenary*

            Maybe the Doe Fund could help? I’m not sure if he’d be eligible; their target population is generally homeless individuals who have recently been released from prison, but if he’s homeless and has a criminal record they might be able to work with him. The Doe Fund is a non-profit that owns a few businesses ranging from garbage pickup to printing to catering, all staffed by their clients, who also get counseling and other services. That way they have some work history and references when they apply to new jobs.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          That was going to be my question too, especially since you said he did have short-term memory problems relating to the injury.

          Based on my experience (I can only speak for my state, but it may be similar), they have two choices: go back to school, or set you up with a job developer who helps you find an employer who can/will accommodate you. In his case, I would probably go with the job developer, since he isn’t great with technology and school will almost certainly require it. Plus, if he’s homeless, he needs immediate assistance.

      4. Lore*

        What about service organizations for the homeless? I know of the Doe Fund in NYC–but even if you’re not there, you might be able to talk to one of their resource people, or get some ideas about companies open to hiring formerly homeless people. I would think that many, many people who’ve had experience with being homeless have similar issues with resumes. This also might be a case where thinking local will help–are there positions at a hospital where he’s been treated, where he might know someone who could talk to a hiring manager on his behalf? Or anyone from his former construction job who might vouch for him?

        1. CN*

          I just looked up The Doe Fund and it looks promising. I’ll definitely pass it on to him, thank you.

          If anyone else knows any similar reputable organizations, please say so!

          1. Lore*

            I know someone who used to work as a program administrator for the Doe Fund, and he thought it was a great organization. Anecdotal, but one data point is better than none…

            1. Office Mercenary*

              I used to volunteer for them. I don’t know much about the larger operations, just that I really liked the people in my GED class.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Definitely look into Doe Fund.
          I mean, if you’re in NYC, you should Absolutely be looking at social services organizations. It’s just way too much of an uphill battle otherwise.
          But can I ask- why isn’t he still on disability? He should be eligible for social security and at least not have to worry about the most basic expenses until something else comes along work-wise…

          1. CN*

            I’m not sure. The way he said it, he WAS being helped by disability for a number of years after each accident, but it “ran out”? Or after a certain point he no longer qualified for it anymore? I’m not sure…I don’t know that much about this kind of stuff so I’d have to ask him in more detail.

    2. cecilhungry*

      Oh gosh. That’s really tough. I would second Crazy Cat Lady’s recommendation to look into smaller companies. I used to work for a local magazine that needed delivery people. It was a part-time job without much money, but it would show that he was out and doing something (obviously a delivery person might not be the best job for him unless he can drive, but I was thinking something along those lines that people won’t necessarily be doing b/g checks for, and that might just help him get some job-related activity on his resume).

      1. CN*

        @cecilhungry & Crazy Cat Lady — I didn’t realize that smaller companies might have different/more lax practices. At this point, he’s basically been applying anywhere he could, but I’ll look into targeting smaller companies specifically.

        1. fposte*

          Also, think about whether there are good things in his history that could be drawn on for connections. Felonies mean that schools are out, but are there alums of the school, or any of his former athletes, who remember him fondly?

          1. CN*

            Unfortunately I don’t think so. It’s been quite awhile since he’s been in school (it was like in the ’80s). According to him, most of his friends and family have passed away or are no longer in contact. I can definitely try asking again though to see if we can come up with anything.

    3. C average*

      Are there any social services organizations in your area that specialize in helping people like your friend? Maybe a nonprofit that helps with job training and placement for the homeless? (Apologies if there’s nothing like this in your area. I’m in an area that has many such resources. I don’t know how successful they are.)

      It’s good of you to want to help him.

    4. CN*

      Related question — at what point should he talk about the gaps? Obviously there are 2 blaring gaps — the large one from the 1990’s/early 2000’s, and the one since 2007 — both of which are explained by car accidents.

      But when should he bring it up? Is the cover letter an appropriate place to mention that aspect of his story and explain that he is trying to pick himself back up? Or wait until the interview stage?

      1. cecilhungry*

        I would put it in the cover letter, or he may never get to an interview. IMHO this is exactly what cover letters are for.

    5. Jamie*

      If he’s looking for something in manufacturing there are temp agencies dedicated to factory labor. All of our labor goes through a temp agency first and then if people are reliable, etc. they have first shot for openings.

      In many manufacturing places the criminal record may be less of an issue than in other places or higher level white collar jobs. Also, the temp agency we use actually partners with a halfway house for recovering addicts and others trying to get on their feet.

      It’s a foot in the door and absolutely can lead to direct hire – this isn’t just us, it’s standard in our industry in this area.

      I know we talk all the time about temping not being the option it used to be, but that’s for white collar temps. The temp labor market is booming.

      I would check into whatever vocational services he’s entitled to given being on disability.

    6. Puddin*

      Is he a vet? LOTS of help available through local VA and non-profits.

      If not, this sounds weird, but auto/motorcycle/boat dealerships might be the kind of small business where he can get in and maybe even move up. It is an industry where situations like this are somewhat understood and less important than in most industries. Sales would be 100% commission so there is some risk there, but service advising if he has an ability to use a computer to enter customer requests/orders pays well. Also look at parts counter work, running parts, receiving that sort of thing.

      If he is interested in construction, keep in mind there is a lot of competition for labor work there and that drives wages down.

      And in my experience, most criminal background checks only go back 10 years. (IANAF but I know people who know about these things.)

    7. The Real Ash*

      As far as the felonies go, is there any way to get in touch with free legal aid services in the area? They could look into getting one/some/all the charges set aside (aka “expunged”, agencies use different terminology) so that he has a clean record. Or at least get the “worst” one taken care of.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          She can check to see if the conviction was sealed for any reason. Actually,he would have to check. If it is sealed, he should make sure he knows what type of seal it and who can/cannot view it.
          For example: Sealed as far as police records but open as far as the general public. OR he may have youthful offender status which means the thing is sealed up tight.
          Check with each court involved to get an accurate picture.

        2. The Real Ash*

          I work in law enforcement, so I know firsthand that felonies can be expunged from someone’s record. Please don’t pass on misinformation.

    8. Lillie Lane*

      Just another suggestion — I know a bunch of farmers (veg, fruit, livestock), and most would not care about past history, as long as the person is reliable and hard-working.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto for nurseries (plants/landscaping)- a lot of these places do not worry about this stuff. You can tell them upfront the whole truth and they will still hire him if they have something suitable.

    9. AJ in Memphis*

      I would tell him to try either the local workforce investment networks’s training programs, apprenticeships and/or the programs offered to ex-felons by the goodwill and Salvation Army. Apprenticeships are a little harder to get but they pay well and will normally take a person with multiple convictions.

    10. CN*

      Thanks for all the help everyone. I appreciate it, and will definitely be looking into all the suggestions here! I knew it was smart to go to the AAM community. :)

  6. CanadianWriter*

    My mother is giving me terrible advice about calling places constantly and “showing initiative” to get a job. I already have a job, its just seasonal so I have two months of unemployment before it starts up again. Would you hire me for two months if I called you constantly? No. End rant about parents.

    1. Bryan*

      My mom used to do this to me too. She told me to lie. I asked her how she would feel if she was running a business and someone told her they would be there for a while but then quit after two months knowing they were going to quit the entire time. That tripped her up and while she admitted she would be mad she told me to do it anyways.

      1. CanadianWriter*

        I’ve tried to explain this to her. I would be tricking businesses twice a year (fall and spring employment gaps) and I’d make a name for myself pretty fast.

    2. Kelly L.*

      We’ve got to start that “Pounding the Pavement” coffeehouse that we discussed a while back. :D

    3. Poohbear McGriddles*

      Makes me think of a recent story on the Onion:

      Report: 95% Of Grandfathers Got Job By Walking Right Up And Just Asking

        1. Elysian*

          I was reading quick and my eyes combined words and came up with “Grumption.”

          I want to make “grumption” a thing now that my mind decided its a word. I think the definition would be – “When your elders give you horrible advice about how they got jobs in the good old days.” Used in a sentence: “My dad spent an hour talking about how I would have a job already if I only had grumption.”

          1. AmyNYC*

            Kind of like the Amy Poehler & Tina Fey/Hillary Clinton & Sarah Palin skit.
            “Yeah, you know, Sarah, looking back, if I could
            change one thing, I should have WANTED it more.”

    4. Adiposehysteria*

      I have seen so many posts on this site involving horrible advice by parents.

      Employers could get hundreds of responses to an open position and don’t want to hear from you. As far as they are concerned, you aren’t showing initiative, you are being annoying. Just don’t do it.

      People following this kind of advice is why so many employers are going through sites like Craig’s List now with anonymous postings. They don’t want 300 people calling them to show initiative. The problem is that those kinds of postings give you no way to see if a job is legit or a scam or to do any research in to a company before you apply.

      1. Heather*

        Exactly!

        While I was going through my job search, I was interested in several jobs posted on Craigslist so I always emailed the poster just asking for a company email address to send my information to. All the ones I responded to seemed legit (none of the make $2000/hr BS, because, well duh!) but I never heard anything back from any of them. I always had to tell myself that if an employer couldn’t understand that I didn’t want to risk giving my personal information out to scammers, that I didn’t want to work for them anyway. It was still always frustrating that I couldn’t even get to the point of applying with any of them though!

        1. Adiposehysteria*

          I’ve completely stopped looking on Craig’s List at this point since about 80% of the jobs on there are scams. I don’t want to join a pyramid scheme, mystery shopping or whatever other garbage these people are trying to con me in to.

          If anyone is reading this who is listing jobs there, please put what business you are from. Yes, I know it is annoying to get calls, but it makes it so much easier for strong candidates to apply.

          1. Phyllis*

            Hey!! Don’t dis mystery shopping! I used to do it a lot, and while you won’t rich, it’s a nice little bit of pocket money. One I used to do was for a grocery chain (that I shopped at anyway) that I could do 4 times a month for $15.00 a visit. (No minimum purchase required as long as I bought something.) I just figured that was $60.00 a month off my grocery bill. :-)

    5. StaminaTea*

      Yeah my parents have given me that advice too. That’s how my dad got his first job at the gas station, you know! Except it was the 1960s.

      1. louise*

        and, you know, a GAS STATION. Which is probably not part of your hopes and dreams (or your parents’ hopes and dreams for you, but they don’t realize what they want for you is actually Hard To Find.)

        1. StaminaTea*

          AFTER I got my masters, my mom told me I’d make a great security guard. Not a cop or a detective; a security guard. I love my parents, but yeah, their dreams for me are strange.

    6. Katrina*

      I’m really hoping that when it comes time for my future children to start applying for jobs I’ll get to tell them how easy they have it. “Back in my day, you’d apply to ten jobs and hear back from zero!”

      1. CanadianWriter*

        “Back in my day, we applied to 100s of jobs, and tried to pay with groceries with our tears.” (me at 60).

    7. Audiophile*

      My mother gave me the same advice as we. “Call places. Don’t just wait for jobs to be posted.” I did that once, and was promptly told, if it’s not on their website, there isn’t an opening.

      Of course the other day when I mentioned reaching out to small media agencies, I was told ‘I’ve been saying that for years’. Um no, totally different.

    8. VictoriaHR*

      My dad told me to go door-to-door to ask if they were hiring for professional entry-level writer positions. Yeah, not so much.

      Have you checked with a temp agency? Many of them have manufacturing jobs that would at least bring some cash in until your regular gig starts back up.

      1. chewbecca*

        I work front desk, and I hate it when people just walk up to me and ask if we’re hiring. Half the time I don’t know anyway, and we do almost all of our hiring through staffing agencies. Without fail, they’re usually younger people in their late teens or early 20s or in their 40s or 50s.

        I always tell them the agencies we use most often, but I really wish I could tell them people don’t really hire that way any more. I felt really bad for the woman last week who I think started crying while waiting for an elevator.

        1. Anonathon*

          Happened to me too when I worked front desk. We were on a major city street, and people would periodically walk in and ask to fill out a job application. We had maybe 30 employees and often no open positions, so conventional paper applications didn’t exist. In most cases, the person was clearly approaching every business on the street without looking at the sign or considering the size. (In sum: this method is not a good use of one’s time, generally.)

          1. Phyllis*

            Part of this (approaching front desk and asking if you were hiring) might have been people fulfilling requirements for unemployment. The only time I’ve ever drawn UE (in the late eighties) part of the condition of keeping your benefits was that you had to be looking for work, and you had to list (I think) four places that you had approached. Most offices knew this and didn’t turn a hair. Asked, answered, and you went on your way.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Exjob took walk-in apps, because we were in manufacturing and you never knew when you might need to hire extra crew. But honestly, some of the people who came in dressed like schlubs, chewing gum (AND STICKING IT UNDER THE DESK), bringing their bf/gf along, etc.!

    9. kf*

      I am struggling with parents who said, get a college degree of any kind and you will be guaranteed a job. Nope, it doesn’t work that way today!

      1. De Minimis*

        I don’t know if it ever worked that way. It sure didn’t for me, and I graduated nearly 20 years ago. Maybe for my grandparents’ generation, when it was still pretty unusual to go to college.

    10. Persephone Mulberry*

      So, if I understand correctly – your mom thinks you should get a different job for the two months when you’re off-season, and you don’t want to? I’d just point out that you really enjoy your seasonal job and that you’ve budgeted to cover the gap financially (assuming this is true) and leave it at that.

    11. Naomi*

      I have a job with a similar schedule–if you want to pick up work during your off season, you could try freelancing or temping. It gives you something to do, and since you already have a regular job you don’t need to worry if you don’t make much money at first.

  7. Random Reader*

    A quick rant about being 25 and single- it sucks not having an automatic roommate. And whenever you mention going anywhere to your mom, she immediately asks, “Are there any potentials? Don’t you want to be in a relationship? Can’t your married friends set you up with someone?” Grrrrrrrr. That is all.

    1. CN*

      I feel you. It’s really silly how romantic relationships are (superficially) idolized and held up on a pedestal in our culture.

    2. CanadianWriter*

      And once you find someone its going to be: so when are you getting married? When are you going to give me a grandchild? Your eggs are dying up!!! HIDE ME.

      1. Slow Down!*

        In the receiving line at my wedding we got the “so when are you going to have a baby” question. Slow down, I’ve only been married two minutes!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          The correct answer to “so when are you having a baby?” is “you – you know that’s not actually compulsory, right?” (in a tone that suggests that you think they don’t actually know this). Works every time, when people ask that question of me and anyone else within earshot of me.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Brilliant. I need to use this one. (Although I suspect it would not work on one particular member of my family, who has told me many times that a woman can’t possibly be fulfilled without a child.)

            I also like “Well, if you give us five minutes and your broom closet, we can get started on that right away…”

            1. Ruffingit*

              If a woman can’t be fulfilled without a child, then bring on the unfulfillment, I will be happy to be unfulfilled until I die and am placed in the custom made lack of fulfillment coffin.

              I do not get this idea of children being the only fulfillment a woman can have in life. SICK theory, that one.

              1. Dwight K Shrute*

                Totally agree. Recently turned 30 and never hear the end of this. I’m perfectly happy without kids and my ovaries haven’t imploded because of it.

      2. Aimee*

        And once you do have a baby, it’s “so when are you having another one?” (Seriously, my OB/GYN actually said that to me as she handed my first born to the nurses to clean him up post-birth. She was totally kidding, and I joked back, but I got that question from so many people who were serious practically right after he was born).

        And when you have your second it’s, “do you want more?” (people actually didn’t even wait until the second was born to ask me that). And I hear that after the third it’s, “aren’t you done yet?”

        You can’t win.

      1. AVP*

        Eek, you guys! You are so young! You have plenty of time before you need to settle down! Move to New York or LA where no one gets married until we’re 32 and then you’ll feel really young and free!

        1. Sharm*

          No kidding! I’m 30 and almost none of my friends are married. Most of them aren’t even dating anyone.

          I do happen to be dating someone seriously, but even I am like, “Marriage? Now? But I still have so much to do!”

    3. Sunflower*

      I feel ya. 2 years ago all my friends were single and now there are like 4 of us. My mom is also always gabbing in my ear ‘Why don’t you date so and so, blah blah has to have some friends for you’. And it’s not like I haven’t let my friends know I’m open to being set up because I am and I have! And my therapist is begging me to try online dating- it’s awesome for people that do it but I attempted it once and decided I wasn’t ready for it yet. Hang in there!

    4. Stephanie*

      A lot of my friends are getting married (or are in long-term relationships) and I get a lot of “We need to find you someone!”

      *sigh*

      1. Laura*

        Pretty much all my friends are in long term relationships. Though none will be getting married any time soon, here it’s outside the norm if you’re married under 30. When I get the “We need to find you someone”, I always answer with “Well who do you have in mind? What are you waiting for?” Because I actually wouldn’t mind being set up a blind date, and when they say that they never actually mean it or put in any effort to find me someone :) I am also a lesbian, and women I just happen to meet, through my language class, or the writing group I’m in, or work or wherever are mostly going to be straight, just statistically, so it might be nice to have some one else put in the effort to find women who like women for me :)

        My mom is similar – any time I go anywhere with anyone she asks if there’s any potential girlfriends for me there

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Just do what I do and tell her that you’ve started seeing the hobo that lives in a box in front of your place. And then go on and on about how grateful he is for a hot shower and free meal that he will do anything in return. I do this to my nosy cousins and it shuts them up fast (thank god my mom doesn’t care about my love life).

    6. thenoiseinspace*

      I feel very lucky to have escaped this completely. I’m 26, and my mother doesn’t do this at all. She went to grad school, got married at her own pace, and had me at 32 (late for back then), so she’s always made sure I know I can do things in my own time. My friends are the same as well – everyone’s focusing on grad school or their career. In fact, I don’t have a single close friend who’s in a relationship at all at the moment.

    7. StaminaTea*

      I’m 29, unmarried, and childfree. Every time I go to Target the cash register prints me coupons for either cat food or baby formula. I’m also catless, but clearly Target needs me to get it together and choose either cats or children. Clearly I’m on the cusp of spinsterhood.

      1. Sunflower*

        I only get 3 kinds of Facebook ads- Weight Loss, How to Make a Man Fall in Love with You, and Dating sites. Yay for target marketing!

        1. shaky bacon*

          I’m married and I still get the How to Make a Man Fall in Love with You and Dating sites ads :/

        2. cecilhungry*

          I’m in a relationship and literally ALL I get are engagement ring ads! Look, I’ll get engaged when I’m good and ready!

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            My wedding is in two months. The planning, it is well in progress. I’ve got ads for wedding planning services coming out of my ears.

            1. BeenThere*

              I fight back and tell and mark all those ads as offensive. Works surprisingly well I finally started get more engineering related ads than well at your age society expects you to be doing this ads.

            2. LV*

              When I was engaged, Gmail would show me ads for divorce lawyers!

              (Three years later, husband and I are still going strong. I haven’t taken Gmail up on its offer yet.)

          2. Anonathon*

            As soon as I got engaged, I got baby-related ads. Maybe Facebook was telling me to cut to the chase?

        3. Stephanie*

          I get the weight loss ads too! Do they just assume all women around a certain age are trying to lose weight? Or is there some kind of creepy photo scanning going on?

          1. Kelly L.*

            The former. In my case, I really am overweight and I got another huge influx of them when I Liked a couple of plus size clothing stores. It was like playing Whack-a-Mole for a while.

        4. VictoriaHR*

          I lied about my birthday to Facebook because no one needs to know my exact birthday, tyvm, and now I get all the “companies need women 40 and up to try their products!” Not 40 yet. /sigh

        5. Rev.*

          “How to Make a Man Fall in Love With You!”

          Sunflower, thank you. That’s the title of my next blog!

          (Caveat: Following this advice will make a man fall HARD. If you decide to change your mind about the man you’ve worked this magic on, you will need a billy club and a pit bull to chase him away, and, even then, you may need the services of Vito “Knuckles” Patino to convince the poor slob that you’re Not The One.)

          1. Sunflower*

            Seriously I have clicked on these articles out of pure intrigue and the things they recommend would probably work on a 12 year old. Maybe. Big Maybe.

            1. Ruffingit*

              I’ve read those articles too and I always cringe because they truly are stupid. News flash, you don’t have to MAKE a man fall in love with you. If you have to make him do anything, you’re with the wrong person. Just saying.

      2. Jillociraptor*

        You’ve defied Target’s segmentation strategy! How are they supposed to lazily market things to you when you don’t fall neatly into one of two acceptable categories of late-20s woman? The modern woman: the downfall of capitalism.

        (I’m 27 and permanently coupled but not married, and also pet-free. Target always gives me coupons for frozen family size dinners. Who knows!)

        1. Katrina*

          Here’s to being 27 and permanently coupled! We’ll get married when we want to, MOM, sheesh.

          1. Jen in RO*

            My mom has given up on trying to convince me to married, now we’re on phase 2: when are you having kids? Well, how does ‘never’ sound?

          2. Arbynka*

            Ha, with me, so many people are so surprised to find out that I am married (15 years now) with kids. It’s like “no way”. I decided to take it as a compliment.

        2. Kelly L.*

          The targeted coupon that I remember best: Godiva ice cream bars, when I’d bought feminine hygiene products.

        3. StaminaTea*

          Nice! For a long time, Pandora was giving me ads for pediatric hospitals. I DON’T HAVE KIDS, Pandora. At the same time, I’m kinda happy that I get inappropriate ads – clearly Big Data doesn’t really know who I am, and thus my life is more private…

          1. Wren*

            I had a miscarriage about 6 years ago, but had already ended up on some “knocked up” mailing lists. I got junk mail for several years reminding me exactly what stage my child should have been at. It was HELL.

            1. Karowen*

              I’m seriously having issues trying to find words to convey how ridiculously awful that is.

            2. Ruffingit*

              Oh man, I am so sorry. I know someone who did two rounds of IVF and both failed unfortunately. A little while after the second failure, she received a couple of boxes of formula in the mail. That kind of thing is awful and I’m sorry you had to endure it. :(

          2. Trillian*

            I figure that as long as I’m still getting bananas, belly-fat, and “Doctors hate this Mom” ads, blocking trackers and purging cookies is working. Even profiling me as a tinfoil hatter is going to miss my demographic.

        4. Blue Anne*

          Apparently Target have actually managed to figure it out when customers were pregnant, sometimes before they’d told their families. There was a story going around a while back about an irate father who complained at Target about the discount coupons they’d sent his daughter for things like diapers, then called back to say “Errr… well… she just told us she’s pregnant, actually.”

          Just a lil creepy.

          1. StaminaTea*

            Yeah, I read that article! Target is champion of Big Data. It was fascinating. It’s also why I’m surprised they get me and my life so wrong!

          2. Karowen*

            The part I love is that, now that everyone knows they do that, they’ve started going out of their way to also include coupons for things you wouldn’t want to make it seem more random. Like, they know you’re expecting so they’ll send you a mailer that has a coupon for diapers right next to the coupon for wine and you assume that everyone else on the block got the same mailer so you go shop there instead of feeling creeped out and watched.

            1. Ruffingit*

              I don’t know. Once you see the prices of diapers even with the coupons, it probably does make you want to drink up.

      3. Ruffingit*

        That is hilarious, I love it! I’m childfree as well, though I am married and I’m grateful every day that I’m at an age now where people don’t ask me when I’m going to have kids or tell me I’ll change my mind. That crap was rampant in my 20s. Now that I am careening wildly toward 40, people are less likely to ask. But, I do get the coupons at stores for diapers so…yeah. Apparently the self-scanning machine believes I too need to add to the world’s population of ankle biters.

    8. Noelle*

      If it makes you feel any better, I was single until I was 27. And not just, not-in-a-relationship-at-the-moment single, but I-have-never-had-a-relationship-ever single. It does suck, but don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        33 and still there. I live in a place and culture where marrying young is the norm, too. Gets really old sometimes.

        But whenever I’m feeling really down about being single, I think of all the men I’m glad I’m not married to– including my brothers-in-law and my friend’s husbands. Dodged a bullet there! :)

        1. Noelle*

          Yeah, I would always wonder why *I* hadn’t found someone yet, and then I’d think about who my friends/family ended up with and didn’t really feel that bad any more. As my grandmother used to say (after her husband died when she was still young and people kept trying to get her to date), the only thing worse than being alone is wishing you were.

    9. Diet Coke Addict*

      Those of us on the other side get it as well in different ways. I’m 25 and married, and I constantly get “Aren’t you bored? Don’t you wish you could go out and party? Don’t you miss dating around!” and “Getting married young is like leaving a party at 9:30!” and “What, were you pregnant?”

      So basically it sucks for everyone, and everyone should just step off on everyone else’s choices, and things will be so much more comfortable!

      1. Elysian*

        YUP! I’ve gotten many an incredulous “Why would you DO that?!?” You just can’t win with people. I agree, everyone should just step away from other people’s choices (unless they’re asked).

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        Oh man. I met my husband at 18 and we married at 23 (we are 28 now.) So so often I see web discussions saying people like me are universally stupid. I just nope out of those sites, though. I just feel like I got lucky. I certainly wasn’t rushing to find a man to marry that young. I’m not judging (general) you for not being married. My having kids isn’t judging you for not having them. I don’t care about the status of your relationship or your loins so please stop talking about mine.

        1. Ruffingit*

          So many people make the mistake of thinking that people who do something different are making a judgment on their choice. So my choosing not to have kids is saying that having them is bad. UH…no, actually all it’s saying is that having them is bad FOR ME. You can have 10 if you want to.

          People think my choice to do something different is an indictment of their choice and they must defend their choice. My feeling on that is don’t defend your choice, live it and let others live theirs.

      3. Camellia*

        My daughter and her husband have been together since they were 15, got married when they were 20, and will be celebrating their 10th anniversary soon. And they have two beautiful kids aged 5 years and 2 years.

        And when I show pictures of my grandkids I find myself explaining, No, they’ve been married ten years and the oldest grandkid is only five!

        Sheesh!!

    10. lavendertea*

      My mom got married very young and always felt she sacrificed her education/career for it, so she was the exact opposite until recently–“Focus on school, go to college, get a degree, get a job, work for a while, and THEN MAYBE you can start thinking about dating.” Then she suddenly realized her children were in their 20s and hadn’t really dated very much at all, and she’s like, “It’s too bad you two have no social skills because you spent all of high school reading books!” PICK A SIDE, LADY!

      1. Random*

        “It’s too bad you two have no social skills because you spent all of high school reading books!”

        Haha that’s hilarious!!

      2. Kelly L.*

        I blame this kind of upbringing for the fact that, while I have dated pretty extensively, I always feel kind of guilty about it. Like, when I first tell my family about a new boyfriend, I feel like I’m admitting to misbehavior. And I think part of the reason I’ve never had kids was that 110% of the messaging growing up was “DON’T GET PREGNANT!” I still feel often like I’m “too young” to have kids. I’m 36! Lol!

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          A friend of mine is dealing with the same thing. Right now she’s child free but there is a lot of anxiety and emotion to unpack there. I hate it when parents insert their own issues on their kids but I guess that’s sort of inevitable.

        2. Elysian*

          I got the Don’t get pregnant! message hard, too, growing up. When my friends announce their pregnancies to me a part of me still thinks “Oh no! What are you going to do?? How will you tell your parents?!??” Then I remember that I’m 28.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Me too! And somehow my younger siblings got over it, because they have kids, but I guess I either just got the lion’s share of the worrying as the eldest, or else I’m just more anxious by nature!

          2. Stephanie*

            HA. I’m 27 and it feels almost odd now to hear friends talk about getting pregnant without freaking out. A part of me totally is still like “OMG, what are you going to do?!”

          3. Sunflower*

            HA Same! My mother said if I got pregnant, don’t bother coming home.

            It’s definitely weird to see people getting pregnant on purpose though.

          4. LV*

            That reminds me of a joke by Aziz Ansari about the show “16 and Pregnant” – he said something like, “That show could be ’36 and Pregnant’ and I would think, Oh no, those poor kids, they’re ruining their lives!”

        3. lavendertea*

          I got the “DON’T GET PREGNANT” a lot too, which was HILARIOUS in HS because I never dated. I think I put that to rest though, because once when my dad was saying it for the umpteenth time I said, “If I got pregnant, you would never even know.” THAT caught him off guard!

        4. TwentyKittens*

          True story – my very first thought after discovering I was pregnant was “Oh s$%*, my dad’s gonna kill me!” I was 35, married, careered, and owned a house.

          And my dad had been dead for 8 years.

    11. Dan*

      I’m 34 and getting divorced, wife and I got together when I as 29. I live alone, and LIKE IT. The nice thing about getting divorced is people don’t say “oh you should get out and date” ;)

      I like living my life for myself and only myself. Am I open to dating again? Sure, but for the moment, I really like doing my own thing without having to answer/be responsible to somebody.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Living alone is the absolute best. I almost didn’t marry my husband because of the whole cohabitation thing, and for a while I seriously considered suggesting a duplex arrangement. “Your house is over here, and mine is next to it, and you can come stay at my house once or twice a month when I’m lonely.”

    12. the_scientist*

      WORST. When I turned 21 my mom cornered me and was like “your eggs are in your prime so you should find someone ASAP”. Honestly, it’s too bad we were at home and not in a moving vehicle, because at least if it was a car I could have jumped out and done a tuck and roll to get away. I’m now 26 (i.e. the same age my mom was when she got married) and have already received three wedding invitations for this summer. So I guess it’s just…that time. I’d also say I average 1 new engagement announcement a month amongst my facebook friends.

      I have noticed a difference between my peers that went on to graduate/professional school and those that didn’t. Now that I’ve been out of undergrad for 3/4 years, the ones that didn’t do additional schooling have put down roots and are starting to buy houses, get engaged/married. My peers who have done more school are still so unstable, life-wise- renting, living on tight budgets, moving every 2-4 years or so (I include myself in this category).

      I always anticipated being permanently single/chronically unlucky in love for some reason, but I’ve been with my (really awesome) boyfriend for a little over a year, so my mom’s relaxed on the dating front. Of course, she’s now dropping hints about grandchildren so you really just cannot win. Hilariously, despite having zero information about my age or relationship status on facebook the most frequent ads I get are for engagement rings.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        On FB ads: I installed FB Purity some time ago (add-on for Firefox) and that solved the ad headache (and other things that bothered me on FB).

        1. Me too*

          And Adblock Plus and Ghostery for Firefox. I now have to go to someone else’s computer to see what an advertisement looks like.

      2. Midge*

        Yeah, the nagging doesn’t stop when you start dating someone. The other day I was telling my mom about a male coworker who seemed to be flirting with me a bit. And her response was that my boyfriend should propose, and that would take care of that problem. It’s just ridiculous.

      3. Stef*

        My boyfriend and I are being weirdly pressured by his grandma! We graduated from college a year ago and a week later she was ranting about how selfish young people are these days, not getting married and having kids the moment they finish college. Four years ago, she wanted him to break up with me so that he didn’t have children in his late teens/early twenties like his older brother. There is no winning with some people.

    13. Puddin*

      OH man, I hate hearing this kind of thing. I would feel so diminished. Like I am not enough on my own, being my own person.
      I am sooooo glad I never got this from my mom. She never bugged me about kids either. She is not perfect and I think she is a little touched, but at least there was never any pressure in these arenas!

      1. Ali*

        I am 28 and have never had a relationship either. At work I am pretty much alone in this boat as pretty much everyone else on my team is in a serious relationship, engaged or married. There is only ONE other single person on my team. He’s a good guy and we have good conversations, but I am hesitant to have a relationship with someone from work and being that I work from home, it’s not like I’ve ever met the guy in person. We could be completely incompatible anyway.

        I cry every Valentine’s Day pretty much to see everyone else getting flowers, cards and presents while I’m left with nothing. This past V-Day, I was working and had to order pizza. How romantic.

        1. The Real Ash*

          Don’t cry on V-Day. It’s just a marketing gimmick. I know that it’s difficult to be single on that day (it was my first single V-Day in ten years this year), but you can’t let that crap get you down. Next year, if you’re still single, get on Meetup and find a Singles Awareness Party to attend. Those things are great!

          1. BeenThere*

            My husband and I have always boycotted V-day. Our rule is that no one is allowed to spend any money, so we usually spend the night in with a home cooked meal.. if we aren’t working. One year when we were both at the same company failover testing was scheduled on v-day I volunteered along with the other woman on team who had the same sentiments about v-day as did my husband. We both couldn’t care less about the day and were able to use it as a bargaining chip later to have better days off.

            1. athek*

              When I used to get a tax refund, I used to do my taxes on v-day…. at least I got money out of the deal.

        2. lavendertea*

          honestly, being single on v-day has always been more fun to me, because I use it as an excuse to be even more self-indulgent than usual. it makes me much more anxious to have to plan a holiday with a s/o and worry about both of us enjoying it, having wildly dissimilar expectations, etc.

        3. LMW*

          I sympathize. I’m totally having one of those weeks where I’m very aware that everyone else is married and I’m alone. Even my little sister is engaged. Kids I used to babysit are married. My last close single friend is having a wedding shower this weekend.
          Sometimes it just sucks (just like I’m sure sometimes the other side sucks).

          1. CarrotNotKarat*

            I’m in a similar situation. One thing my pastor said in a sermon a few years back really stuck with me and has made me appreciate being single: “It’s been to be single and wish you were married than to be married and want to be single.”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Wise man. Feeling alone while IN a relationship is sometimes worse than being alone.

        4. Sunflower*

          I’ve also never been in a committed, ‘real’ relationship and oddly enough this year was the first year I’ve ever been truly alone and not remotely interested in anyone when valentines day came around. It was the best one I’ve had! Every year Ive been sort of seeing someone and it’s always kind of disappointing when they don’t get you anything and you were secretly hoping for something.

          Also, if it’s your cup of tea, valentines day is the best day of the year to hit the bars and look for guys because if there isn’t a woman standing next to them, 95% chance they’re single

        5. Stephanie*

          I’m 27 and haven’t been in a committed, “real” relationship. I guess I should feel worse about it? Society has me believe this. As evidenced by all these other comments, you’re not alone. You might just be a late bloomer.

        6. Natalie*

          Gurl! This last Valentine’s Day was my first as a single lady in 11 years (2 LTRs back to back) and I was working late on a Friday. But since all of my coworkers are coupled and seem to think Valentine’s calls for a day off, I kicked off my shoes, turned my music up loud, and drank a little wine out of our work wine stash. It was awesome, a++ would do again.

      2. Mallory*

        Ha! This is how I hope my kids will think of me and how I’m very graciously not nagging them about their love lives (when they’re old enough for that to be an issue): not perfect, maybe a little touched, but at least not a nagger. :-)

    14. TL*

      My parents don’t do this – I’m generally their only single child and my other siblings seem to draw their attention away from me.

      But the one time my dad starting harping in on me, I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Just ’cause I’m single doesn’t mean I’m not getting any.”

      Nobody who was present for that – him, my uncle, my mom, and my youngest brother – has ever asked me about my love life again. Score!

    15. GoodGirl*

      Do you live in the South by any chance? Your mom sounds exactly like my good friend’s mother – even since my graduated from college, her mom has been obsessed with finding her someone. My friend is now in her early 30s and I think the mom is starting to lose hope. :(

      My mom is the opposite – she doesn’t want me to marry my significant other, even though we’re happy and in a functional relationship and well into our 30s.

      1. Tinker*

        Yeah, I know what you mean — my mom’s from the South, and although she’s pretty good relative to some I know of, she spent a chunk of the last holiday season pushing the notion that I needed to find a husband.

        This got especially fun when she then moved on to make sure I understood she meant “husband” instead of “partner” and started speaking of me in ways that asserted the assumption that I was resentful of men in the style of the old “man-hater lesbian” tropes.

        I get that this is, like, straight from the playbook of 1960s Texas small town, particularly if one forgets that I’m 33 and not 19, but that sure doesn’t keep it from being frustrating as all heck sometimes.

      2. Random Reader*

        Actually in the Midwest. I think part of it is all her friends are becoming grandparents. She’s also been knitting a lot of baby sweaters, even though I’m single. I do have to say, when and if it ever happens that I get married and have kids, that kid is going to be showered in lots of knitted grandma sweaters and hats :)

      3. Mallory*

        I’m from the south, and when I wasn’t married by the time I was 23, my grandma came to me and said, “Well, ‘Mallory’, some people just aren’t meant to be married, and I guess you’re one of them.” I felt really triumphant in that moment, because up until then, she had been insisting that I would marry the first man who asked me (because all women want to be married so badly — not because I’m particularly desperate). It was sa-weet to hear her admit that I wasn’t the marrying kind. (I got married at 26, though).

    16. chewbecca*

      I got this from my grandma a lot. I’d mention I was doing something and she’d ask with whom. God forbid it’d be a guy because I’d have to say something along the lines of “my FRIEND Wakeen”, of course that never deterred her.

    17. Katie the Fed*

      I see there’s been a lot of follow-up on this but I’d like to say that I LOVED being single in my 20s. So much so that I just stopped making an effort to date at all. I got so used to being independent.

      When I finally decided at 32 “ok, I want to date” I found my guy via online dating, and that was that. We’d both enjoyed being single for a while, were both at that place in our lives, and we worked really well together. I don’t think I’d be as happy if I’d been married in my 20s – I had to go out and do my own thing.

      Now, the hard part of that is living together after having each lived independently for over a decade. There have been quite a few moments of having to remind myself not to throttle him and that I’m actually quite fond of him because it’s a BIG adjustment.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m 25 and feel the same way about dating now as you did in your 20s. I just got a taste of being independent and I love doing stuff on my own! Your 20s are about learning and even though things are rocky sometimes, I secretly kind of love having no idea where my life is going or really what I’m doing.

      2. Mallory*

        We got married going on 18 years ago at 26 (me) and 32 (him). Sometimes I think we both miss having our own separate spaces. I mean, the kids each have their very own, private rooms — they’re in more luxury than we are when it comes to personal space! We talked about, when we are able to do any home remodeling, making two master baths so we each have one of our very own to hole up in.

    18. Dang*

      I’m almost 30 and single. 24-28 I was in a relationship, most of it live-in. So I avoided what you’re going through now, but NOW it’s ridiculous because most of my friends are mostly recently married and “omg so are you talking to anyone?” It’s really not even on my radar because of how devastating the breakup was, and how I need to find a job and get the rest of Life in order. I’m not a ‘catch’ right now, most people I’d want to date would be very hung ho about dating an unemployed chick living at home!

      Just remember we all follow our OWN timelines. It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen and the annoying pity from friends/family is based on their own feelings, not yours!

    19. Gene*

      When I got married the first time, I was 27 and wife was 33, her first too. After she died at 45 (not unexpected, when she was young, doctors told her she wouldn’t live to be 30) I was 39. Got married to wife #2 when when we were both 41 – her first.

      Tell your mom to stuff it and enjoy your time living alone.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sing it from the mountain tops, Gene.

        Folks whose parents are saying “hurry up- get married, have kids” should just tune out those comments.

        I met my husband just after I turned 18. He died just before my 46th birthday. I honestly believe that there are many aspects of life to be experienced and marriage is just one aspect.
        No one is less than or more than because of their martial/kid status.
        The truth is sometimes we lose our spouses, kids grow up and leave the nest and then we are faced with the question “what am I going to do with my life?”

        You can face this question now. Or you can face it later.

        Put the time in, figure out who you are, what you want out of life and where you want to be in years to come. That is the really important stuff right there.

        These prompts to get married/have a family belong in the same file as the parents’ job hunting advice. You know, that circular file next to your desk…..

        Aside to Gene: Congrats on your marriage! Many happy years to you both!

        1. Gene*

          Thanks! Coming up on 17 years now. Yes, we’re old.

          This morning in physical therapy, the girl (just graduated university in January) shadowing my therapist said something about “Old guys like you.” I laughed…

      2. RJ*

        I got married at age 41 to my 40 year old husband – first marriage for both of us, and for him, his first real committed relationship. My best friend got married when she was 44, in what was really her first relationship ever. She dated a little bit off and on but had never been romantically involved with anyone. I always say that we avoided the missteps of a failed first marriage by staying single while we were still discovering ourselves.

    20. Jubilance*

      Wow that sucks :-( My mom’s advice was always “don’t even think about getting married until you’re 30” and she never gave me any pressure to be in a relationship, which I’ve been thankful for. At 25 you have plenty of time!

      1. Stephanie*

        Luckily, that was my mom as well! She saw both her sisters get married and divorced before 30, so she’s like “Just work on your own timeline. Better you get married at 33 and get an established idea of yourself versus rushing to get married by 26.”

    21. Stephanie*

      Just say “I’d go put myself out there, but I’m too busy eating pints of Haagen-Dasz and trying to squeeze into bridesmaids dresses.”

    22. AmyNYC*

      I love my boyfriend a lot, and I’m happy to move in with him for many reasons – but not dealing with roommates anymore is definitely in the top ten!

    23. C average*

      I love my husband and stepkids, but sometimes I’d sell my soul to have the house to myself so I could watch dumb TV in my underwear and eat cereal for dinner. I miss those days sometimes. If I had it to do over, I’m honestly not sure I’d get married.

  8. Sunflower*

    So I recently started using this new job search site called The Ladders and it shows you information of the other people that applied. So far the jobs I’ve applied to I’ve been qualified for but people applying are much more qualified than me. I have 3 years of experience and bachelors degree and these people have 8 and some have masters(masters aren’t really necessary in my field). Just a little disheartening to see that this is the competition I’ll be fighting with over any available jobs.

      1. Sunflower*

        Oh wow, I haven’t applied to any jobs through the actual site- I get emails about positions(for free) and apply to them directly through the company site. I am impressed with the jobs they send out though

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      I feel your pain (and I have two masters, actually – they just made me over-qualified for entry level jobs for quite a while, even though I didn’t have enough experience for anything higher.) But just yesterday, I got an email from a job I applied for. It said that they never even consider anyone with less than five years of experience. I went back and checked the actual job posting, and it said only three years were required. I wouldn’t have applied if the posting had said five! Trust me, I don’t WANT to waste your time!

      1. Audiophile*

        That’s strange.
        I had a hiring manager email me once and rudely write “tell my why I should hire you, when you didn’t tell me whether you were interested in the full-time or part-time role?” I took a look at my cover letter again, where I had clearly explained I was looking for full-time work and then also mentioned that the ad said nothing about part-time.

        1. Dan*

          So write her back and ask her why would you want to work for somebody who can’t read basic English.

        2. Mephyle*

          I would like to see a whole post about this! How should one react? Pretend the hiring manager is being reasonable and answer politely, or let a bit of snark creep through?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            “I think you might have misdirected this! I do indeed say in my cover letter that I’m looking for full-time work.”

            However, you might also take that as a flag that you have no interest in working for this person.

            1. Audiophile*

              I took it as a red flag.

              I wrote something similar to what you stated and I think I also put the URL in my reply to show that the job post did not mention part-time.

  9. The LeGal*

    In my last four positions with my current company, I have not been given any training – at all.
    What are your tips for being successful in your new role when you haven’t been given any training, and aren’t going to get any? I have been doing well (by reading manuals, discussing concerns w/ managers, studying net articles / blogs, asking questions – both good and bad, and lots of other stuff.)
    Also, what are your tips for keeping a solid reputation when you are still learning the ropes?

    1. Malissa*

      Admit mistakes and ask questions! Both will show people that you are doing your very best to learn.

    2. Jamie*

      What kind of position is it? If there are others in that position this is where you try to find a mentor to help show you the ropes.

      Why aren’t they training you? That’s so weird.

      1. It's the economy*

        I haven’t been given any training since the beginning of the recession because my employer says that there are people who already have the training and waiting in line to get a job, and he’s right. So either I train myself or I don’t have job.

      2. NM Anon*

        Our company doesn’t provide any training for new hires. They’re given the manual and told to do the job & turn it in to be QC’d. It’ll get rejected & sent back to them for corrections. You’ll turn it in again, it’ll go through one tier of QC and be sent to another, where it’ll either be approved or more than likely, rejected & sent back to you for corrections. This will continue until you “get it right” AKA “the way they want it.”

    3. J.B.*

      What training do you think you need? If you think something would help and you haven’t put a business case together to support it, then do that.

      I wouldn’t be worried about reputation while learning, unless the expectations are unreasonably high…? Being responsive anytime someone needs help that you can give helps. Knowing where to go for the answers to questions is a huge benefit for the long term.

    4. matcha123*

      I don’t know how much help I can be. I also haven’t been given any formal training in my past two positions.
      What I try to do is observe the people around me, apologize when necessary and leave myself open to anything. There was a job that I really did not want to do, but, I wasn’t in any position to choose. It was very difficult and on top of that I was given a very basic outline of things to do. I just tried to take any advice from my coworkers, tell them that while I don’t know everything, that I am willing to learn and read through whatever they threw at me. I ended up quitting that job, but my supervisors told me that they were impressed with my work.

      TL;DR: Stay observant, know that you’ll make mistakes and don’t feel bad when you trip up as long as you consistently make the effort to improve. And try to keep a positive attitude and open mind :)

    5. ClaireS*

      I’ve been in several “trial by fire” situations before. My biggest suggestion is to manage expectations and ask a lot of questions. When someone requests something, answer with “yes, I can try to do that but would you be available for some guidance along the way as I’ve never done that before.” Or “sure, I’d love to try but I would need x,y and z to make it a success.” Stay positive but assert yourself when you need things from others. In my experience, people really respect a go getter attitude tempered with a knowledge of when to ask for help.

      Good luck!

    6. C average*

      This is really interesting to me. I’m currently writing a playbook for our department’s geo expansion and, as part of the project, interviewed everyone on the top of the org chart in our department. One of the questions I asked each of them was, “What kind of training did you receive when you started, and what kind of training do you WISH you’d received?”

      To a one, they said, “None, and ANYTHING would’ve helped! It was sink or swim.”

      Which led to me pondering a lot how the successful people got that way. Here are a few theories.

      –They were good at identifying who on our team had knowledge and influence, and they found ways to learn from those people.
      –They had good instincts for dealing with mistakes appropriately. They knew they were going to make some, and they had a damage control plan. If you make a mistake and don’t know how to fix it, do you have someone knowledgeable you can trust enough to ask? If not, find that person.
      –They understood the hierarchy, including escalation paths. They knew that they should ask Bob about finance questions, Judy about HR issues, Luanne about operations, etc. If you aren’t clear on who you go to for what, find one person who’s been around for a while and ask him or her to break down the org chart for you.
      –They were clear with the rest of the team about where they had confidence and where they’d need training. This way, any training could be targeted, rather than ad hoc. There’s no sense creating a comprehensive training plan that spends a week on a certain program when the newest hire is already an expert user. In some cases, the existing team wound up learning from the new hire, which was awesome.

    7. 22dncr*

      In 20 jobs I have received training once and that was only for the mondo-convoluted software package. Usually it’s: “Here’s your desk, here’s the computer manual, no one here knows how to work the system, good luck.” Always managed to make it and most of this was pre-google (;. When I have been to classes like for Excel or Word I get bored really fast. I think my brain thinks like a computer – or I’ve learned how to make it do that! No advise because I’ve always had sink-or-swim jobs. I seem to thrive on it.

    8. Ruffingit*

      That’s been an issue in my last few jobs as well. It’s a thrown to the wolves kind of thing. How to handle it is dependent on the job of course, but overall talking to co-workers and asking questions has been helpful to me as well as just generally poking around the systems. For example, come in half an hour early and just mess around with the computer programs they use, take a look in the filing cabinets to see how things are filed and what is needed, etc. Those are very simple tips and again, what you do is dependent on the industry, but the best you can do is look around, ask questions, and do the best you can to learn the ropes without hanging yourself with them.

  10. BB*

    Has anyone used Twitter to connect with industry people? I’m in creative services and I think thoughtfully replying to tweets and seems like an easy, non threatening way to put yourself in people’s lines of vision.My issue is I have a twitter but I mostly use it to tweet dumb jokes and live tweet reality TV- nothing offensive. I’ve contemplated starting 2 different accounts to separate work and fun but thinking also maybe having them together would show more personality. I’m leaning towards having 2 separate accts- a blocked one for my friends and a public one that I include some personal stuff on but use to mostly connect with people. Thoughts?

    1. Adiposehysteria*

      It isn’t a bad idea, especially for tech and creative stuff. I would suggest learning to use the advanced search feature. Some places post open positions on Twitter and the best way to find out about them is to search.

      Additionally, Twitter is a great way for networking since it is so easy to connect. Just make sure that you have one account for professional use and one for personal stuff. No one you are connected to professionally wants to see pictures of your cat or whatever you normally post. Tweetdeck is a great way to keep track of multiple accounts.

      1. cecilhungry*

        Ha, I just gave the exact opposite advice. This is probably sounder, although it may depend on what kind of industry you are trying to get into.

        1. Adiposehysteria*

          Well, if you were looking for a “cat photographer” position, one account would probably be perfect, lol.

      2. BB*

        Thanks this is great info! I didn’t realize it was common to have several social media accounts on one site- I recently found an app like Tweetdeck but for Instagram. I’d really like to work for a magazine so a lot would be reaching out to editors and writers and getting involved in industry discussions.

    2. cecilhungry*

      I will admit that I’m not an expert at twitter, but I would lean towards having just one account. I don’t think tweeting dumb (non-offensive, I assume) jokes and live-tweets will hurt anything (and the way media is going, live-tweeting events are all the rage) and I agree it shows personality. I think if you split into two, you will end up probably only using one anyway or accidentally tweeting to the wrong account at some point.

    3. Nancy D*

      It’s pretty common in my industry (libraries). I only have one account, so people get library stuff, books I am reading, pictures of my cat. I tweet a lot about libraries, but I almost never tweet specifically about my job. And I don’t tweet when I’m at work.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      1. Twitter is fantastic for making industry connections, especially in the creative arena. When I follow someone new, I like to dig through who they follow and who follows them for more inspiration. Plus it’s an instant ice-breaker when you meet someone you follow, face-to-face: “I follow you on Twitter! I loved your tweet about [whatever] the other day.”

      I had two Twitter accounts and got tired of mentally trying to separate them. I was always careful about what I was tweeting from my “personal” account anyway, and I eventually just stopped using the “professional” one. Yeah, I tweet dumb stuff about my cats and kids on occasion, but I try to keep a balance of personal and professional interest, because as it happens, MOST of my followers are industry contacts.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I connect with other fiction writers, but I don’t do a lot with it at the moment. I follow some who don’t follow me back, and I’ve gotten a few retweets and some followers from those. My blog is connected to it so when I post, it tweets a link.

  11. thenoiseinspace*

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    It’s pretty dreary and yucky here, so to liven things up, what are your favorite web comics/cartoons? I’ve just gotten hooked on Gemma Correll, personally. :)

    1. Blue Anne*

      Questionable Content is the only one I read every day, but I’m also a big fan of Girl Genius, Robot Hugs, FindChaos, Templar Arizona, and Oglaf.

      DO NOT LOOK UP OGLAF AT WORK.

      1. the_scientist*

        I love QC; it’s a daily read for me. Anders <3s Maria was also a daily read but it's finished now (extremely NSFW!). And I like PhD comics as well although I tend to read it sporadically (having gone through grad school it speaks to me).

        1. Blue Anne*

          DEFINITELY look it up when you get home. Not for the faint hearted, but incredibly hilarious.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      PhD Comics is my main one — probably because I’m a PhD and started reading it in grad school. BUT if you are in or have gone through grad school, then definitely read it!

      1. themmases*

        I was going to write this same thing! I’ve been linked to it a few times so my current work break thing is reading it from the beginning.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I’m a big fan of that one! Not because I’m a grad student, but because I grew up in the Ivory Tower. My parents were both the supervisor characters in that, to a T.

        If they ever did a strip about the home life of that supervisor, it would show him going through piles of student papers with a large bottle of white wine, then sitting his 10 year old daughter down with a red pen and saying “Here. Edit this for spelling and punctuation.”

        Sorry to break it to you, grad students, but that’s why I got such high verbal scores. I’m pretty sure they all do it.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I read QC and Girls With Slingshots daily.

      All Dungeons & Dragons geeks should also read The Order of the Stick (although I kind of dropped that one when his posting schedule got sporadic and haven’t picked it back up again yet).

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I tend to go on XKCD binges. I’ll forget about it for a while, and then read, like, 50 of them in one day.

          I also love Hyperbole and a half, although for some reason my brain doesn’t frame it as a webcomic. It would definitely be on my list if the question was “blogs you follow.”

      1. Forrest*

        I went to school with the Girls With Slingshots author! I’m always excited when I hear her blog being promoted.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Neat! I’m super excited that she’s coming here on her Slingshot Across America tour. :)

      2. Elizabeth*

        OOTS: He’s on hiatus at the moment, as he’s getting the latest book to go to press. He’ll resume on 3/31.

        Others I read: Kevin & Kell, General Protection Fault, Doc Rat, Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic (NSFW), Two Lumps, and Girls with Slingshots. GwS cost me an entire weekend catching up when my husband introduced me to it.

    4. Algae (formerly LauraG)*

      I like Surviving the World, personally. It’s a professor’s one panel photocomic on how to survive life.

    5. The Real Ash*

      How has no one mention Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal? That is one of my all-time favorites. There’s also Achewood and Dinosaur Comics, and I second the recommendations for Hark! A Vagrant and Oglaf (this one is definitely NSFW).

    6. Blue Anne*

      Oh, also, the various philosophers and geeks who hang around here should read Dresden Codak!

    7. Gene*

      Since there are so many cat fans here, don’t forget Two Lumps.

      And for sheer storytelling, Ursula Vernon’s Digger story. It’s ended, so start at the beginning.

      1. Elizabeth*

        I follow the authors of Two Lumps on their respective personal journals (Mel is a friend-of-a-friend). When the cats who were the inspiration for the strip passed away, it was almost as if the cat of a close friend had died.

    8. Chris*

      Unsounded, Lady Sabre & The Pirates of The Ineffable Ether, Gunnerkrigg Court and Camp Weedonwantcha are my top ones right now. Lackadaisy Cats is awesome, but she’s a game designer and doesn’t post alot so I only check it once a month or so.

    9. Anonymous*

      In addition to the others listed xkcd, Oatmeal, Tree Lobsters, sometimes Scenes from a multiverse, and always Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

    10. leighhh*

      I have fallen way behind on most of my webcomics, but I feel obligated to mention my sister’s comic, Ruby Red: http://www.rubyredcomic.com.

      I need to catch back up on Gunnerkrigg Court. And Bad Machinery. Well, I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend…

  12. Cruciatus*

    I’ve been looking at a university’s available jobs and they have many that are exactly the same title and pay but in different departments. You have to send in a new application for each job–is it bad form to apply to all of them? Do I need to change my cover letter much? Most of them are clerical/administrative–the job description is exactly the same for each open position. Do I need to cover anything about it being at the Benefits Office, or the HR Office, or the one in the English Department? Or should I just apply to one and be done?

    1. Anonymous*

      In my previous university experience, there were different hiring managers in different academic departments. If there were open positions for secretaries in the English department and the HR office, you would need to apply to both to ensure that the right people are seeing your application.

      There may be shared admin hiring managers (for Benefits and HR, for example), but that’s not universally true. In that case, look at the contact info – is it the same person?

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes this. I have applied to several of the ‘same’ positions and had completely different people contact me. I think each application gets routed to a totally different person.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, it’s all over the place. At the university where I currently work, when you apply for a position (say, a particular level of administrative assistant) with one department, you actually end up in a pool where other departments who need the same kind of spot filled can see your app too. I applied to one department and was called by four (and ended up being hired by the one I’d been applying for in the first place). The first call really confused me! :D

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      It depends on what type of system they are using…to some degree. We use a system where I can see every job you apply for at my university. I can also see any resumes or cover letters that you may submit. You would have to apply individually to each job with us. This might be the one and only case where I think a more generic cover letter would be okay. However, I’d still lean toward customizing it a little bit.

    3. BB*

      After reading through the replies it sounds like every college works differently. To be safe, I would apply to all of them and slightly tweek your cover letter for each. I don’t think they are going to fault you for that

    4. Cassie*

      The way it works at my university is that once you submit your application to the central portal, that application is used for every job opening you apply for. Some positions require cover letters or resumes (in addition to the application form) – so you are able to upload those separately for each position.

      I would say tweak the cover letters a little for each position (depending on the dept) but you probably won’t have to make any major changes since it’s basically the same position. Each dept does their own hiring so I don’t think a hiring manager in one dept would know whether you applied to another position or not. Maybe the people in central HR could see that information, but they’re not the ones doing the hiring/interviewing.

  13. iseeshiny*

    Does anyone work in IT as a long-term contractor through a third party service and have some sense of what a yearly review process might be like? How do you talk about a raise with a person who isn’t actually your boss?

    1. Jamie*

      Is the review with the 3rd party service for whom you work officially or is the review with the client where you’re assigned?

      I can only speak to the latter from the reviewer side of the desk – but the client is the one who has to approve a raise. Unless your agency wants to cut into their own profits (doubtful) the client needs to agree to the increased fee…so it’s not much different than a regular review.

      They aren’t your employer, but they are paying your salary.

      1. iseeshiny*

        I should have put this first but I am asking for my husband. (I don’t know why I’m embarrassed to say that, I think I’m being silly.)

        So a little background: He does monthly one on ones with his boss and they are pleased with his work. He got the position in the first place through networking, and since it’s a contract-only position, they just pointed him to a firm they work with and he negotiated his fee with them directly. In June he’ll have worked there for a year and we’re pretty certain his company wants to keep him on, which we thought might mean that he has room to negotiate things like paid vacation/sick leave and raises with the agency. Other people on his team (also contractors) with different contracts have such things, but it’s also very much Not Talked About in his office.

        But that is good to know from your end, because if it’s like a regular review then he has a better idea how to make a case for a raise. Thanks so much!

        1. Jamie*

          That’s how we do it – hope it’s the same for him and I hope he gets the increase he wants.

  14. C average*

    I’m taking a PTO day to study for the GMAT, which I’m taking in two weeks.

    Have any of you taken it? Do you have any tips or hints for success?

    I’ve historically done extremely well at standardized tests, in part because (I know this is perverse) I kind of dig them. I also kind of dig the puzzle page in the newspaper, and I was the only kid in my geometry class who enjoyed proofs. I’m in no way traumatized by the idea of this test–I just want to do my best and gain every advantage I can!

    1. Em*

      I was just going to ask if anyone has any advice about the GRE- I’m taking it tomorrow!

      I would highly recommend the app BenchPrep- they have tons of practice tests and quizzes.

      Good luck to you:)

      1. Stephanie*

        Apparently the first 10 questions in the first two sections really determine your score (and the direction of the test), so focus on those. (I’m assuming you’re taking the computer-based test.)

        Also, I would say don’t focus too much on how “difficult” the second sections are. Don’t let that psych you out!

        1. Em*

          Yes- thank you! I have heard that the previous version is question-adaptive, so if you answer a question incorrectly, they get noticeably easier- that would psych me out! I think like you mentioned, the current test is section adaptive.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yeah, I took both when they were question-adaptive, and had a couple of practice tests where I could tell I was not doing well since the questions got way easier. I feel like it made me more stressed when I was taking the actual tests because I couldn’t tell if I just prepared really well or if I was doing horribly. The move to section-adaptive sounds like an improvement!

          2. Stephanie*

            GRE’s section adaptive.

            Also, avoid clothing with lots of pockets. The proctor will run a wand over you and make you turn all your pockets inside out.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              YES. I felt like I was going to prison when I took the GRE. Don’t let that bother you, and just remember that you belong there, you’re following all the rules, and you’re gonna do great.
              Also, take multiple IDs. I don’t think I needed them, but the person in line before me had a big mix up that made me happy to have my passport on me lol

              1. Stephanie*

                “Cavity search! We need to make sure you’re not hiding vocab flash cards anywhere.”

      2. Stephanie*

        I have a pretty good vocab (as evidenced by that sentence), but Kaplan has this little box of flashcards that are great for studying vocab.

        I’d also up the level of your reading material while you’re studying. Magazines like The Atlantic, the Economist, Foreign Affairs, Smithsonian, etc are good for getting you exposed to more complex arguments and vocabulary. Popular history books or political science books are usually good for that as well.

      3. themmases*

        I needed to improve my math score, and I got a lot of mileage out of the free SparkNotes pages on that section. They spend a long time explaining what kinds of trick questions the GRE will throw at you (and there are a lot of them, because the math itself is stuff most people learned in high school and just need to brush up on), and in particular how to recognize a question that is simpler than it looks. I credit their observation that if something looks too hard to solve with the very basic GRE calculator, it probably is with raising my score from 18th percentile to 75th– seriously. The first time around, I would see the seemingly crazy question, panic that I hadn’t studied that topic, and guess. Not so this last time.

        Good luck!

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      I’m not sure this will be super helpful, but I’ve taken both the GRE and the GMAT. I’m another one that usually does well with standardized tests and puzzles so buying a couple of prep books worked well for me to get me back in practice with the types of questions they ask. Most come with software also that’s supposed to simulate the test taking experience so I’d work through that as well. I found the prep books to be helpful more for getting me in the mindset of figuring out how the test writers intended for people to approach the questions, if that makes any sense (since it seems like they write things that can be interpreted in a number of ways, and most frequently the way I’d usually approach it is not what they’re looking for.)

      I may be misremembering because I took the GMAT in 2009, but isn’t there some software you can download from the official website to help prep for it? I’d definitely work through those practice tests, too.

      I’m lucky in that my vocabulary is probably a little larger than average so I didn’t feel like I needed to spend as much time with the vocabulary lists they suggest, but if you feel like you’re weaker there it’s worth investing more time since if you draw a blank with a word on the test and end up guessing wrong, it can really hurt your score depending on when you come across it since the difficulty of subsequent questions are determined by how well you do on the first few (I had a couple of practice tests like this where I got one at the beginning and it killed my score for the verbal section).

    3. Malissa*

      I took the GMAT years ago, back before the computerized test centers had their crap together. They’ve greatly improved since then. ;) Mostly make sure you follow all the prompts on the computer screen. You don’t want to get up with out actually finishing your test! Wear as few pockets as possible and show up to the test center early, it’s a first come first served for getting into your test.
      Oh and use all the on-line study guides you can find!

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        I would add to this to pay attention to the timer. Don’t obsess on it, but don’t end up like me and lose track of time, look up at the timer to see that you have 3 minutes to get through the last 15 math questions. That sucked. I’d actually like to know how I did on those random answer questions since I had a 25% or more chance of being right (my odds changing if I could very quickly eliminate a choice or two).

    4. Kara Ayako*

      Download the offical software from GMAC. It’s super helpful in getting used to the test formatting. The hardest thing about the GMAT is that it’s computer-based and you can’t go backwards. My standardized test taking strategy was answering all the questions I knew right away first then going back to questions I was less sure of. This doesn’t work with the computer-based test, so you need to get used to this before you jump right in.

    5. the gold digger*

      Practice 8th grade algebra. That’s what got me – I hadn’t done word problems in so long. I was always good at them, but it’s a skill you lose if you are not doing it every day.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, this. I managed to get through an engineering degree, but managed to completely forget how probability works (this was for the GRE, btw). It was embarrassingly humbling (“I got through partial differential equations, but 8th grade probability is tripping me up?”)

        1. C average*

          Thanks, all! Great stuff. I have a couple of books I got at the library and have been working through, and I am using the Economist’s GMAT study app (which seems pretty awesome).

          I will check out the flash cards, make a mental note to wear something pocketless and keep an eye on the clock, and maybe pick up my own copy of one of the books that comes with a CD. (The library copies don’t have the CDs.)

          Now for the really hard part: tearing myself away from the AAM open thread.

    6. Mena*

      I took it some years back. I bought prep books, and like you, set aside time to review. I found the whole thing to be an unchallenging re-hash of previous learning. I did well and attended my business school of 1st choice. My advise is to spend time with the prep materials and get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. Good luck!

  15. Stephanie*

    Phoenix (and nearby) AAMers! Let’s revisit the idea of a Meetup. I posted this on LinkedIn, but wasn’t sure who else saw it.

    I was thinking first weekend in April or the second full week in April. Thoughts?

    1. Trixie*

      Or those interested in a NC Meetup, swing by Linkedin AAM and let’s chat about a meeting up.

    2. Arbynka*

      That sounds like fun. I don’t think I could manage to drive to Phoenix during the week and DH is working in the field on weekends during April. May might be better for me. I am also due for my Ikea trip anyways :) This will sound silly but I do Ikea when I fell “European homesick”.

      1. Stephanie*

        Haha, it doesn’t! Not sure where you’re from, but I pass by a Scandanavian restaurant in Mesa all the time. It is not too far from the IKEA. :)

        1. Arbynka*

          I am from Czech Republic but I take all European :) We have a good Polish restaurant down here. There was a Czech one but it closed while back. It wan not in business for long, either. What a shame. Their strawberry stuffed dumpling with cream.. Awesome.

  16. AAA*

    Feeling really off today — I had a bizarre dream last night that my boss sexually harassed me. Weird. Something I know he’d never do in real life, but I’m kind of mad at him anyway, though I know (logically) I shouldn’t be.
    Awkward.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think sometimes the brain just wanders around with no purpose what AT ALL while we sleep.

      For a while I dreamed I was working in a factory building. It must have been a tremendous building because I kept walking from one section to another to another….
      That made no sense at all. And somehow when I woke up the dream bothered me. Which also didn’t make sense, nothing major was happening I was just walking from room to room.

      Sometimes just talking about it during waking hours makes this stuff go away. It is odd though how a dream can throw you off kilter.

  17. Jealous Friend*

    ALLLLLL my friends now work except me. I used to have people to be miserable and broke with but now it’s just me. all by myself.

    I guess I shall be applying to jobs all weekend : (

    1. Kate*

      That was me during the seven months after I graduated from college – I had a group of unemployed friends to commiserate with, but I was the last to get a job by far. So frustrating! Good luck with apps…

  18. Oscar*

    Tips for “managing up?” Or suggestions for books or articles?

    My manager told our team that she needs to change her micromanaging ways, but it seems that she’s swung to the opposite end of the pendulum – no management, no feedback, and no advice. If anything at all comes up, we’re told to “manage up.” I love the freedom to take initiative, but now I feel like I’m constantly out on a limb without a net.

    1. WorkingAsDesigned*

      Read “The 360 Leader”, by John C. Maxwell. He’s a renowned authority on leadership, and this book addresses leading down, across, and up – great read!

    2. Tinker*

      I think the Manager Tools podcast has addressed issues like these a couple times — as I recall, they’re not big on the notion of “managing up” because that is not the direction that authority flows in, but IIRC they do have some suggestions on working to meet the needs of managers that aren’t making it easy to follow them.

    3. MK*

      The organization that AAM works at, the Management Center, should have resources to deal with micromanaging bosses and their tendency to overcompensate their micromanaging ways by being the complete opposite. I remember getting an email from them on this very topic!

  19. MissDisplaced*

    I just wanted to say that I finally got hired!
    I start my new job on the 1st. This blog has been so helpful for everything job-related, from resume and cover letter advice to help with negotiating job offers.

    For everyone who is currently looking for work: There is hope!

  20. A Jane*

    Started a new job this week, and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to look at AAM this week! What a whirlwind of a week, but it’s been amazing and I’m excited for the opportunities.

    Question for the folks: I’m having trouble keeping my energy up during the work day. Any suggestions for snacks/drinks/anything to keep me going through the end of the day?

    1. Nicole*

      It probably depends on how your particular body handles caffeine, but for me just one 8 oz cup of green tea when I first get to work does wonders for my energy level.

    2. Maegan*

      Bananas, water with chia seeds, yogurt, nuts. I avoid processed sugar as much as possible in beverages and have noticed that I don’t have that mid afternoon slump anymore.

    3. fposte*

      Do you have fridge access? I like cheese on a somethingorother. It’s got some substance and it doesn’t make me crash when it goes away.

      1. shaky bacon*

        +1 for movement. A change of scenery can do wonders for renewing energy. I try to go out for quick walks during lunch breaks if I can, but on the days I spend mostly chained to my desk, I start to feel that early afternoon slump and it carries on until the end of the day.

      2. Algae (formerly LauraG)*

        I agree with this. It’s not unusual to see me randomly wandering at 2:30.

        Also a small snack could help – celery with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, something that’s got some protein.

      3. Stephanie*

        There was a path by OldJob that went through a cemetery. It felt a little morbid to take walks there, but it was really relaxing and got me fresh air and sunlight.

      4. AmyNYC*

        I try to walk at lunch and stretch all day. I’ve been paced the hallway and gone up and down stairs just to move.

    4. Kelly L.*

      I like to have one more cup of coffee at about 2pm; my body has always wanted to nap at 3pm and this helps stave it off. I also keep granola bars around.

    5. rek*

      First, congratulations on your new job!

      Make sure you eat both breakfast and lunch! It’s easy to pass on meals, especially when things are hectic. Each meal doesn’t have to be so big it makes you sleepy, but it should be as balanced as you can make it. I know it sounds like a PSA, but breakfast really is the most important meal. Your body (and your brain!) needs fuel to operate at high efficiency.

      If you are already eating both of these meals, but still need more, I find it better to stay away from snacks with lots of sugar. Those always put me in a coma. :-p

      1. Mallory*

        I’m on a dietician-guided plan, and she says to never go more than four hours without eating something. So in addition to the breakfast/lunch/dinner meals, there are a couple of snacks in the plan. The morning snack is a fruit and a protein (cheese, cottage cheese, nuts or nut butter, lunch meat slice, etc.) and the afternoon snack is just dairy (plain greek yogurt, cup of milk or soymilk, etc.). It keeps your energy up and keeps you from being so hungry by mealtimes that you make poor choices.

    6. Anonymous*

      I’ve started eating Greek yogurt, granola, almonds, and fresh berries for lunch. I’m losing weight (yay!) and I’ve found that I have a pretty stable energy level throughout the afternoon.

    7. Elysian*

      Water, if you’re not drinking enough, is a surprisingly good energizer. I think its two-fold: dehydration can cause fatigue, but also if I’m drinking a lot of water I’m walking around more frequently to use the restroom and get more water.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        +1 for this. I had to put a reminder on my calendar to make sure I drank enough water. I aim to empty my large water bottle a day. If I don’t drink enough, I get a nasty headache.

        One thing I did was start walking the stairs twice a day at work to supplement my other workouts (I’m on the third floor, so why not use them). That has the added effect of making me thirsty so I drink more.

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Emergen-C works wonders (and it’s just a blast of vitamin C – not caffeine or anything else like that). I take a shot at 2 or 3 p.m. and it powers me through the afternoon.

    9. Jax*

      Water. Sounds stupid, but if you remember to get up and refill your cup every hour or two it gives you a mini-break from your desk and a chance to stretch your legs.

      Sometimes just the act of getting up and walking down the hall the bathroom is enough of a recharge to tackle the next stack on my desk.

    10. NEP*

      I find that steady water intake does wonders for boosting energy — as do stretching and deep breathing. The latter take just a few seconds and can really help. As for foods, any fruits including dates — nature’s candy.

    11. Omne*

      I’ve found that proteins make a big difference for me. Nuts, like almonds, or a good quality protein bar really help me avoid the end of morning/afternoon crashes.

      1. Office Mercenary*

        I have issues with my blood sugar crashing all the time and I have to eat protein and fat every 2-3 hours to avoid hypoglycemia. Nuts are the BEST. So filling, so yummy.

    12. Stephanie*

      PROTEIN. I find this is the best to stave off blood sugar crashes and to keep me full.

      I also like to take B12 drops sublingually.

      I remember my mom and I were trying to finish up a cross-country drive (I was relocating). She had to fly out the next morning, so we had no choice but to drive another nine hours that night. Only thing that kept us awake and from crashing was munching on a box of Popeye’s (and avoiding the biscuits!). I felt absolutely disgusting at the end of the trip, but it kept me from crashing.

    13. Rev.*

      Maybe you’re doing this already, but a multivitamin with iron, with a side of B-complex (or B-12 sublingually) works wonders. Take the B-12 an hour after lunch.

      My congregation swears by it. :>)

    14. A Jane*

      All, thanks for the feedback! I’m keeping up with my water today, but I have some black tea if I need a push. I think the new job adrenaline also resulted in me eating less during breakfast and lunch. I’ll be planning next week to make sure I eat well and properly.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      I was thinking about that too for next week. I always tend to get hit by the 3pm slump and it was SO NICE when I was laid off to take a wee nap.

    16. LCL*

      Emergency energy potion, for when you have to work extra hours to get through a nightshift doing physical and mental work and you have already been working for hours, and all the stores and restaurants are closed and the only thing that is open is the Quickie-Mart, coffee and chocolate milk in one cup, remix as needed. Not recommended for long term consumption, but it will keep you alert enough to function and not crash the company car.

  21. AmyNYC*

    I’m currently studying for professional exams and a friend suggested I ask my office to pay the testing fee (I’ll be taking 7 exams, and each one is $200+). I work at small company (around 20 people) and to my knowledge they haven’t done this for other people.
    My instinct is to phrase it similarly to asking for a raise, highlighting the benefit to the company; but does anyone have tips or suggestions?

    1. Joey*

      Depends. First don’t consider it unless the company will see a benefit from it. Second, if they’re hesitant consider asking them to reimburse you only if you pass. Third, if they’re hesitant at shelling out the money consider agreeing to pay it back if you voluntarily leave with x time period.

    2. Jamie*

      If there is no benefit to the company I’d ask during a review or other time when you’re going over perks and compensation.

      If it does benefit the company then emphasis how and as Joey mentioned – if they seem reluctant make passing a condition of payment.

    3. AmyNYC*

      Good point about being clear – I’m hoping for reimbursement if I pass!
      I figure the worst that happens is they say no, but then maybe I can get something else – like a day off to take the exam without using vacation time.

    4. MK*

      My sister’s company paid for the fees related to her CFA exams which, if I remember correctly, requires many exams before you can claim the professional title. I think the company looked at the fees as the cost of doing business and a way to get more money out of clients. So, you may be able to get the fees covered if you can frame this issue as a way for your company to invest in something (you) to get more profits.

    5. Crazy Cat Lady*

      I’ve had two companies pay for things like that, when they hadn’t done it before. I presented it to them similarly to the way I’d ask for a raise, and in both cases, it benefited them in the long-run. In one situation, the level of reimbursement was based off how well I did (but was reimbursed some amount, regardless).

  22. JessA*

    When I was in college, during one summer, I participated in an internship at a film festival. As part of the program you worked 6 hours a day at a booth and during your time not working, you could go see films, attend roundtable discussions, etc. (It was unpaid. I had to pay the program fee which covered the festival pass, 2 meals a day, and hotel. I also had to buy a plane ticket.)

    Fast-forward several years to just a couple days ago, I see that this organization is looking to hire a few people to work at the fest this year. It is unpaid, but travel may be covered. I sent them my resume, and I’m waiting to hear back. The fest is a little over a month away. What do I do if I am invited to participate? I am currently employed in a retail position and I would need to take nearly 3 weeks off. I do realize that it is short notice and a lot of time to ask off. How do I make this request?

    More background about my employer: I’m in a retail job. I currently have relatively open availability. I have a standing request to have the same day off each week (our day with the lowest sales), and to not go above 32 hours a week (full time starts at 30 hrs.) Other than that, I have wide open availability, and I frequently swap shifts with co-workers and pick up extra shifts. During the summer, we usually experience a slump and they cut back on people’s hours. Also, I make about 40% more than what a new person in my position would make. So, from a business standpoint, I think it could really benefit the business if I took this time off.

    With having said all of that…how do I request this time off if I am indeed invited to attend the program?

    1. Audiophile*

      I would just ask if you can take an upaid vacation. You’re part-time, not a floater or per-diem.

      Question: is it Tribeca?

    2. Crow T. Robot*

      How far in advance is the schedule at your retail job made? If they already have the schedule drawn up for that time, with you on it, it might be hard to convince them to let you take that time off. If not, it might be a little easier. Either way, definitely offer to find people to cover your shifts. Since you mentioned that they cut hours during the summer, I would bet there are a few of your coworkers who would jump at the chance for some more work. However, 30-32 hrs a week for three weeks is a lot of time to make up for, so I wouldn’t expect your employer to be thrilled about this request.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Agreed on finding people to cover! Also, you should be ready for your employer to say no, that they need you there. If that’s the case, are you willing to walk away from the job for this program?

        It might be worth it to you, but FWIW I’d be VERY skeptical about what the payoff of this program actually is, in terms of potential career prospects.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Sounds like the fee covered room and board – not the entrance itself. JessA – do you mind clarifying that part?

  23. ChristineSW*

    I have two questions today. I’ll put them in separate posts, if that’s okay.

    First question

    I did a whole update on my LinkedIn profile the other day. This included a bullet about recently becoming Chair of one of the standing committees of a council that I sit on. I’ve had several people already congratulate me on my “new job”. There are two problems with this. 1) I’ve been on the full council since September of 2012; the Chair appointment came in late Jan/early Feb. 2) This is a voluntary council (I haven’t had paid employment in several years, but that is an eventual goal), not an actual job.

    What is the best way, if any, to correct this? Should I say something in the comments? Should I just update that part to clarify that it’s on a volunteer basis?

    1. shaky bacon*

      This happened to a friend of mine recently. All she did was change her current job title (a position she’s held for months now) and it sent out a notification to congratulate her on her “new job”. She got a few comments congratulating her and she posted a comment along the lines of, “thanks everyone, I’m still in the same job but silly LinkedIn thinks I got a new one.”

      I think it’s some weird thing that LinkedIn does and I’m not sure if it’s avoidable, so I think saying something in the comments would work.

    2. Audiophile*

      This is why I haven’t added my volunteer position to LinkedIn.

      In your case, I would do it and follow shaky bacon’s suggestion if people start congratulating you on your new ‘job’.

    3. Sunflower*

      If the change is coming up on your homepage, you may be able to ‘delete’ it which won’t delete the change but will delete the story. If not, I think it’s fine to write ‘Thanks so much, I’ve actually held this for years and am just doing some light housekeeping on my page!’ Beyond that, I wouldn’t worry about it. It shouldn’t pop up on your actual profile which employer’s would look at. I would be more concerned about tweeking the listing on your page to make sure it appears as a volunteer position and not an actual job.

      Also, you can go to Privacy/Settings and there is an option turn off activity broadcasts. That turns off ANY changes you make to your profile I believe. Not sure if there is a way to only turn off some but I did this when the same thing happened to me

    4. Jen in RO*

      Just Li being silly… A couple of coworkers created their LI profiles just before they left the company… but LI didn’t know that and it popped up a notification of congratulations for their ‘new’ jobs (that they had held for years).

      1. RJ*

        Yes, I added my current position to linkedin maybe 16 months after I started it, so I randomly started getting these “congratulations on your work anniversary” messages that were nowhere near my actual anniversary and were wrong on the number of years.

    1. Rev.*

      Is this really about revolutionizing the recruiting process, or is it an exercise in “thinking outside of the box”?

      To be honest, it struck me as two minutes of my life I can’t get back.

  24. LV*

    I’ve applied to 5 jobs, interviewed for 2, and got an offer this week… for the job that was my token “Meh, in case nothing else turns up” application.

    I reached out to the hiring manager for the other job I interviewed for to ask if I was still under consideration, because I had another offer but would strongly prefer this job and would take it if offered. She said she would get back to me by the end of this week. I haven’t heard back yet. I have to either accept or decline the offer I did get by the end of today, and I’m not sure what to do.

    Husband said a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush so I should just accept the offer I have. But 2 of the other jobs I applied for haven’t even hit the application deadline yet, so there’s a chance I might get called in for an interview. Those jobs are permanent and the one I was offered is short-term (less than a year) so I would definitely take one of those if offered… but I would feel like such a jerk for quitting so soon after accepting an offer.

    Fellow commenters, what would you do in this situation?

    1. LV*

      Also, the offer I received was via phone, and it was clear the guy was expecting me to accept right away. He seemed surprised that I wanted time to think about it and was a bit reluctant to give me 2 days. It’s a government job so I have a good idea of what the salary and benefits would be, but I wanted to say, “How about you send me a written letter of offer before asking me to commit to this?”

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Wait, you don’t know the salary? This is a great way to stall; just say you can’t make a decision until you know the full details on salary and benefits and that you want it in writing. I’ve never heard of anyone accepting a job without knowing this stuff first. Sorry if I misunderstood what you wrote.

        1. LV*

          I know what pay band the position is in – roughly between 62 and 70k – and I’d be falling on the lower end of that, but no exact figure was mentioned. I think their initial plan was to give me my letter of offer on my first day there.

      2. Kara Ayako*

        Wait, wait, he wanted you to accept the job but haven’t told you what the salary and benefits are? That doesn’t make any sense. Before doing anything else, ask what the salary and benefits are. How can you even think about it if you don’t know what your comp package is?

        1. Sadsack*

          And definitely get it all in writing before accepting! Especially in this case where the person didn’t even tell you all the details before expecting your verbal decision.

    2. O*

      I’m not sure how helpful this will be, but I will say, I ended up taking my “in case nothing else turns up” job, because while I got tons of interviews and people loved my references and me, my experience level just wasn’t there. I was basically looking for my first full time job in my field, and while what I’m doing isn’t exactly new or giving me a leg up on experience, what I’m learning in other aspects of the job has really taught me a lot, like how specific things work within a department, actually being a part of meetings instead of just the graduate assistant, how projects are initiated, etc…Just things I never thought about before when looking for jobs. I think back now on some of the jobs I applied for, and even got interviews for, and I realize now I definitely would not have been prepared for working in those places. Basically what I’m saying, and seriously this might not have anything to do with your situation, but sometimes the job that doesn’t look the most exciting or seem worthy, might actually surprise you. But ultimately you just have to decide if you’re willing to pass up an opportunity. I’d recommend looking at factors like, how long have you been job hunting, are those same type of jobs going to be around when you are done with the short-term job (btw mine is actually a limited term also), and would it hurt your credibility if you did expect the short term job and then quit for the other one, because if it is short term, they’re going to have to spend another couple months looking for people again, which if it’s an outside funded position, might seriously hurt the project. But I totally relate, it’s a difficult decision, because when I got my job offer, I was waiting to hear back on another that was a great starting position, and the guilty over what I would do if they offered it to me after I accepted the other one, made me feel horrible for weeks. But best of luck…maybe if you don’t hear anything in the next couple hours, send another really polite short email, asking for a update, they might reply.

    3. Bryan*

      You should definitely have gotten it in writing with proposed start date and all of the specifics. It is ok to nitpick my language this time, I say proposed so it’s still a gray area of accepting.

      You need to be ok not getting a different job if you turn down the short term one. Don’t accept the short term job and quit a short time. It’s a really cruddy thing to do. When they’re hiring you they’re assuming you’re making a good faith effort to do the job they offered.

  25. Trixie*

    Any updates (good news) from the Long Term Unemployed? Looking for encouragement and continued inspiration!

    1. Anx*

      I had been unemployed since 2010 and I just got a job!

      It’s only a few hours a week, but I thought I’d have to retire in my 20s or something.

    2. PuppyKat*

      My husband recently got a job after being unemployed since 2010. I truly believe that signing up for a volunteer gig last summer helped put him in the right frame of mind for continuing his search. But that’s only because I know my husband and his personality. (YMMV)

  26. Lily in NYC*

    This is a bit morbid, but my boss just quit so I am thinking of starting a job search (I’ve been here 10 years). In the last two years, my 3 best references have died. They were all very high-level people from well-known companies and were fantastic references ; well spoken, respected in their fields, and best of all, they liked me a lot. I’m terribly sad that they are gone because I was very fond of them and they each died in their early 50s, which makes it seem even sadder.

    So, what do I do? I’ve been at my current job for 10 years and I’ve lost touch with other potential references because my other ones were so good and I stayed in good contact with them. I’m going to use my boss who just quit, but that’s only one guy. I guess my best bet is to suck it up and let my current boss know when I’m looking so I can use him as well. I know he will be cool about it and I would probably let him know anyway. Any other ideas?

    1. Kit M.*

      I’m sorry. One of my references died, at a time when she was one of only two managers I could use as references. I ended up asking her right-hand woman, who had also been in a position to see some of my work. And of course this woman understood why I needed her as a reference even though I’d never talked to her about it before. However, if I’d had earlier references to fall back on, even ones I was no longer in touch with, I might have considered that.

    2. annie*

      Just wanted to say you are not alone. In my reference stable I have a seriously ill reference and a reference who I think is starting early stage Alzheimers. It makes me so sad, they’ve helped me so much in my career.

      When it comes up, I am going to draw on some former coworkers, a manager at the place where I volunteer, and some client-type of people I’ve worked with. And of course, explain the situation, hopefully without totally bumming everyone in the room out.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This won’t help a lot but I have had opportunities where I could say “I worked with so-and-so for X years.” As you are saying, the name was well recognized, and it seemed to help open up conversation. Maybe you can use this some how in a cover letter or in an interview.

      I have noticed that at some point people stop caring about the actual reference and start caring about what you learned from this person- are you able to carry on in a manner similar to theirs? The trick here is the uniqueness of what you think of to say.

      “When I worked with Bob Smith, he was big on ABC so I fine tuned my skills/knowledge in this area. My time working with Jane Jones was interesting because Jane always required more information in X situation, so I learned to do Y in order to have that information for her.”

      Not the best example, but I think you see the drift. Show how these folks shaped your thinking and in turn, how you work.

  27. JessA*

    So, I realize this is off-topic, but I could use some advice. …

    Hey! Does anyone have any experience (or suggestions) on getting Airline miles re-instated? I just found out that mine expired. (All 91,000 of them – which is nearly enough to fly to Europe round trip) I called American Airlines and apparently I can pay over $600 and get them reinstated, or I can sign up for their Re-engagement Challenge (yes, that is really what they call it.) where you pay $30, fly 2 round trips and have to rack up 10,000 partner-base miles (ex. hotel, car rental, etc.) Anyone have any suggestions on how to get my miles back?

    1. matcha123*

      I had the same thing happen to me with United Miles last year. I emailed them and asked why I wasn’t given a warning email (as they used to do) when my miles were about to expire and then asked them to reinstate them.
      The woman who replied reinstated my miles and warned me that they do not give email warnings anymore. I was also told that I could pay some $600 to reinstate mine. Give email a try!

      1. Bryan*

        I would say call, it’s harder to be mean to someone over the one (not that it doesn’t happen but it’s far easier on the internet).

        And if the first person doesn’t give you an answer you like it’s ok to make up an excuse to hang up and try calling again.

    2. Mena*

      Good luck with that – I didn’t have good luck with it at all. I escalated several levels with both United and American and neither would budge. I now actively avoid both airlines

      1. Dan*

        Avoiding those two is funny, because your only other real domestic option is Delta, which has a terrible program.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oooooh, Delta miles are awful. The rewards website is so bad and buggy, it will take me two hours to book a trip. I try to keep the big picture in mind (i.e., I got a plane flight for $10…sort of) when I’m booking.

          Their mileage allotment is so stingy, however, that I try to conserve and use the miles only when I need to book a last-minute flight somewhere.

          1. Dan*

            I have gobs of miles on UA and AA that I’ve collected from credit card sign up bonuses. They can do whatever they want to me and I will still collect their miles. Delta can go to h-e-double hockey stick as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t earned a mile on them since the Delta merger.

    3. Dan*

      I think you have the suggestions that are going to work, the question is whether or not you want to pay $600 or you have enough AA travel coming up that will cover the “challenge.”

      You’ve got more than enough miles to fly to Europe in Coach, a Business class ticket will cost you 100,000 miles.

      The thing that you need to watch out for using AA miles flying to Europe is that AA has sharply reduced award seats on their own flights going over to Europe and back. What they will try and get you to do is fly on British Airways. Which is fine, except for the fact that BA has really nasty fuel surcharges on their awards — something like $600 or for the round trip. Redeeming on BA in coach is already a poor value, as $600 is almost enough for an economy ticket. Throw in the $600 reinstatement fee and it makes no sense whatsoever.

      If you are trying to fly business class, you will still have approximately the same fuel surcharges, but given how expenses those tickets can be, it might be defensible to pay the reinstatement fee.

      If you want to fly in a premium cabin to Asia, I’d pay the reinstatement fee in a hurry, particularly if you have ways (such as new credit card signup bonuses) to add to your collection. You can get a business class ticket to SE Asia for 110,000 miles, which is worth $600 easily. (You won’t pay fuel surcharges on the Asian carriers like you do on British Airways.)

  28. Maegan*

    I’ve got an interview today with a law firm for a secretary/assistant position. It was a very spur of the moment thing, but I’m stumped as to how to reply to the inevitable question of “why are you leaving your current position?” There are just so. Many. Reasons.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      Not about people, even if it’s true! Even if your boss is a dragon, blame it on money or the commute or “looking for more challenges/a chance to move up/grow professionally” etc.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Well, we all know what NOT to say. But professional growth, new challenges or something along those lines would be true. We know know that while those are very true and valid, it also probably means that you are trying to get away from a bad workplace. I think everyone has been there are some point and would understand a lack of detail.

    3. Anon*

      Pick a diplomatic one. “I wasn’t planning to leave, but this looks like an excellent opportunity because X, Y, Z.” “It’s not a great cultural fit. I’m a very methodical worker, while my current higher-ups are much more spontaneous.” “After X many years, I’m ready for something new.” “This would be a third of the commute!”

      In my experience, most interviewers are great at picking up on the “my company is batshit, but I’m too polite to say so” undertones. If you do come right out and say it, you’ll look indiscreet, so don’t.

    4. Mike C.*

      I hate this question so much, because a truthful answer is inappropriate to give. Don’t force me to lie to you.

    5. Laura*

      I usually focus on why I want the new position when answering that. Like i’ll say that I really want to do work involving a lot of x, which I know is involved in this position, and I didn’t really have the opportunity to do much of x at current job. So not so much why I leave where I am, and more why I’d rather be at the job I’m interviewing for, which isn’t necessarily negative.

  29. Elizabeth*

    I took a couple days off of work to do some work around the house and get my head clear. I love my work, and when I start seriously looking at other places, I know I need some time away from my employer.

    Yesterday, after my cat wouldn’t let me get out of bed until 10 (ever had a 14 pound cat sit on you and not get up?), I discovered that my cell phone was going nuts with notifications of missed calls, voice mails and text messages. When I tried calling back? No one answered.

    I eventually did get a return call, and the obvious hope was that I would volunteer to call the vendor who is being clueless. Nope, it is my day off, and I’m not budging on that. Had this happened when I was out on the cruise last November, they would have had to have handled it, so they can handle it now. I gave the colleague some ideas on who else to call at the company to get assistance, and I wished her luck.

    All of the names & numbers I gave her were already in the documentation I put together when that particular system went into production. I don’t believe in hoarding skills or knowledge, because I really don’t want to be indispensable. I like being able to take time off and actually not get calls. And if I win a lottery jackpot? I’m gone.

    1. Algae (formerly LauraG)*

      Good on you for setting up the procedure and back ups and for reiterating your boundaries!

      People hoarding information and believing they’re indispensable is a pet peeve of mine. NO one is indispensable. You could get hit by a bus tonight and people expect the work to continue.

  30. StaminaTea*

    *venting* In the last seven days, I’ve had to talk to the Employee Assistance Office twice, about two separate employees that were both talking suicide. One had a mini mental-breakdown targeting me last Friday when no one else was in the office to witness it that culminated in a joke about killing himself. (Apparently I’m a horrible person that sucks at her job, but really he just has issues and this week he’s pretending nothing happened). The best part – I had been using him as a job reference! The other one is a work friend that posts worrisome stuff on Facebook, but I got him to visit a counselor. So that was a win.

    When I say my workplace has a negative culture, I mean it, people! Sigh. I really need a new job.

      1. StaminaTea*

        Thanks! It was a rough week, but I realized today I’m also learning a lot from working here. I’m 29, and everyone I work with is 50 to late 60s. They’re mostly bitter, condescending old farts (result of attitude, not biological age), but at first I was all like “love me, let’s be friends! I’m nice!” And now I’m like – heck with it. I’m here to work, not make friends with bitter people. And my boss has said a couple times that since I’m “nice” my coworkers see me as a target. What kind of a workplace is this?!?

  31. Mrs. Heuzen*

    Hello everyone, this is my first post after compulsively lurking for months.

    I had a job interview for a big company that is growing like crazy. I was super excited as it would be a change of industry for me. Things were moving very quickly when the came back and said they’d gone with another candidate but they’d keep in touch for other opportunities. This was a month ago. Flash forward to this week, they emailed and said the other candidate didn’t work out and wanted to have a Skype interview (I am out of state).

    Seems like it went well, I spoke with the Director for the team and a team member. The Director asked if I wouldn’t mind saying hello to some other team members, they were at lunch and weren’t able to so she said “We will be in touch.” This was on Wednesday.

    I’m really hoping that they actually will be in touch! I am excited that they came back to me and hope that I am a top contender. But I know that it’s not in the bag until I have an offer…

    Rant over.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Patience is all you can do at this point — Wednesday was only 2 days ago. They’re likely interviewing others and meeting internally. I’d wait at least a week, perhaps 2, before following up to inquire on timeline.

      1. Mrs. Heuzen*

        You are definitely right! I’m still looking for other opportunities while keeping hope alive for this one…

  32. Juli G.*

    I would love some feedback. I’m in HR and from time to time, I need to meet with people to talk. Not because they’re in trouble but someone might be worried about them – maybe they’ve lashed out or seemed depressed and it’s impacting their work.

    I don’t want to freak people out because HR wants to talk to them. When people come to me about this stuff, it’s always because they want to help and they like the person.

    If HR wanted to talk to you, how should they approach you to cause the least anxiety (because some is inevitable)?

    1. CalicoK*

      Please don’t send them a message that just says, “We need to talk” or “I’d like to speak with you. Call me back.” No context means people have a million conclusions about the worse possible things! I’d mention the subject matter so that they don’t jump immediately to “I’m getting fired!”.

    2. CanadianWriter*

      I would want to hear “You’re not in trouble” as the very first sentence, or I’d probably die of panic.

      1. Bryan*

        I second this. My associate vice president meets with all employees when they start and before the meeting make she walked by to say, you’re getting an appointment you’re not in trouble.

    3. Mike C.*

      Tell them what you’ve told us.

      In fact, if you used the phrase “I just wanted to check in with you”, it sends the message that it’s a two way conversation and that no one is in trouble. Heck, put that in there two, just to be extra clear.

    4. A Non*

      The suggestions here are really good! I think I’d prefer all of the above – don’t send me a meeting request ahead of time, just show up at a time when you’re pretty sure I’ll be available. Say something like “Hey, do you have a moment to go get coffee? I just want to check in with you and see how things are going. No, nothing major – no-one’s in trouble!” Very Serious Conversations don’t usually happen in coffee shops, so taking the conversation there might be one way to set the tone.

      1. Cassie*

        This is how I’d want HR to handle it for my office – definitely no cryptic “please call me back” messages.

        Although as far as serious conversations not taking place in coffee shops – my boss needed to have a serious discussion with an emplyoee (re: very unprofessional behavior the employee was exhibiting) and he wanted to take the employee to lunch and discuss it there. I thought it was a terrible idea plus it would send a very confusing message.

        1. annie*

          Second this – please don’t have these conversations in public. Someone who is having real issues you need to know about (whether its personal to them like depression or more directly company-related like a coworker is stealing and she was trying to find a way to tell you) isn’t going to be forthcoming with you standing in line at the Starbucks where everyone can hear. Also for a lot of people, they are on friendly terms with the local barista or cafe waitress, so don’t make it awkward for them the next time they want to get a coffee down the street!

        2. A Non*

          This is true. Don’t have painful conversations in public. If you suspect a ‘checking in with you’ chat with a coworker who’s not been themselves lately is going to result in, say, a painful talk about mental illness, don’t do that in public.

    5. Sunflower*

      There is actually a post on a very similar topic. It’s titled how-to-avoid-freaking-people-out-when-summoning-them-to-hr-a-smaller-bonus-than-expected-and-more

    6. Joey*

      There’s no trick. You have to show a pattern that you don’t only talk to people when somebody is going to get in trouble.

      1. Juli G.*

        @Joey – very true but 1) I am only 3 months into the job and 2) I support 400 people so while I do talk to lots of people frequently, I definitely haven’t had the opportunity to talk to everyone multiple times.

        1. Joey*

          In that case Id give them a call to explain. And clarify that they’re not in trouble.
          My point was more about the reputation you’re setting.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I hate to be Debbie Downer but it’s not just the initial approach that would throw me.

      I would go home and dwell on how someone felt the need to report a dip in my work effort because of some problem, real or imagined.

      So the whole thing would throw me repeatedly.

      My punchline is it’s not just how you set up the meeting, it’s also what you say in the meeting.

      It could be based on my experiences. However, saying “no one is in trouble” to me means “someone is getting canned soon”. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen it play out this way.

      Since you have only been there three months you can use that to your advantage to spend a part of the conversation talking about company culture. “What do you like about the culture here? What do you dislike?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        whoops – the comment got away from me.
        Perhaps there is something going on that impacts these people in a manner that is not immediately obvious.
        Or maybe it is THEM- having personal, life type issues. I think that merely pulling them to one side to suggest EAP, doesn’t do much good, in fact it probably does more harm.

  33. Ash (the other one!)*

    So I bombed my job talk earlier this week. They haven’t called yet, but I know I didn’t get it. I could sense by the end that I didn’t have the experience they wanted and I made some nervous mistakes in my presentation. That was the last of my “irons in the fire” so to speak at the moment and I feel pretty dejected.

    I’ve been one of the final two now for four separate jobs — meaning I’ve passed phone interviews and multiple in-person only to get rejected. My references are good, although my best one is hard to reach which may be an issue? He leads a big organization and is often traveling internationally, so I always say when I submit my references to email him and his assistant (instead of calling) in order to reach him since he is often not in the states. He was my direct boss for my most prominent job and so I don’t want to remove him from the list… thoughts?

    I’ve been searching about 7 months now, hoped to be out of here by the beginning of this year, but am still here. How do I keep hope I’ll find something?

    1. Joey*

      Two nuggets:

      You’ve been close multiple times so it’s probably just a matter of time before you are in the right place at the right time.

      Two, not having experience is not bombing.

      Three, (okay I lied when I said two). Learn from your presentation mistake. Practice the same presentation in front of a friend so the nerves don’t get you next time.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        Thanks for your comments! Its really hard not to get disheartened when I’ve been so close, yet so far.

        1. Joey*

          Fwiw, my wife was in the same position and felt the same way while she was interviewing. I kept telling her you can’t make them choose you you just have to keep doin the right things and eventually it will work out. It did and guess what, she said looking back she can honestly say this job by far was the best fit for her and the company.

    2. LMW*

      Hey, I thought I totally bombed the interview for my current job. I was actually told that they thought I was lacking in some areas of critical experience. But then I got the call.

      I find it helpful to read (or watch, if you are more of a video person) something inspirational. For me that’s not usually something that’s all “Yay you! You can do it!” — it’s more likely to be an article by someone with an inspiring career talking about something they are passionate about. For example, when I was getting really depressed about finishing my grad school thesis (I was pursuing a degree in writing), I’d read a book by an author I admired talking about craft. And then I’d feel inspired about what I might be able to do with my writing, and it would make me want to keep trying. Plus, learning is always a bonus!

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        That would be incredibly ironic if I got this job despite the job talk, alas I don’t think its going to happen for me.

        My inspiration will be a nice bottle of Malbec tonight :)

    3. LV*

      My husband thought he bombed his job talk… but he got the job. He gets really nervous when he has to do public speaking (he actually passed out during a presentation once!) and was sure he’d messed it up very badly, but they still saw his potential and his talent. Don’t give up hope!

      1. Stephanie*

        I once belched during a phone interview and still landed the job. For some reason, I was really gassy and it just came out mid-answer. I apologized profusely and we moved on.

    4. Schmitt*

      I told my partner when she was discouraged at the lack of jobs to apply for, and lack of responses to resumes: You don’t need a lot of jobs to want you. You need *one* job which is right for you. And it’ll come along.

      She is finally settled in The Right Job and I’ve never seen her so happy about her work. It’s lovely.

  34. Anne 3*

    I know we have some French readers (Sandrine?). I recently got a job offer in Paris from the main branch of my current company. It would involve relocating from Belgium… and currently it looks like I might be doing this very soon.

    So: Anyone have tips for working in France and/or living/renting in Paris?

  35. Referred too many colleagues here to use Gravatar*

    I’ve been working on a non-fiction book proposal that’s on a subject closely related to what I do for work (although absolutely not anything proprietary or otherwise a conflict of interest – I checked with a friend who’s an IP lawyer in this jurisdiction). I think I’m going to be ready to start using my network to look for agents within the next few months.

    Right before I do that, I’m planning to have a chat with my manager and her manager about it – I don’t want them to hear about the book from anyone other than me, and I also want to have a chance to proactively address any concerns they have.

    Things I’m planning to say:

    – not one single word has been, or will be, written on work time or resources;
    – work always comes first (this is why it’s taken me so long to write the proposal). I do my writing after work and on weekends, and if I have a deadline crunch at work, I just don’t do any non-work writing until the crunch is over;
    – absolutely no promotion of the hypothetically published book will be done on work time or resources;
    – I have no plans to quit or go part time or anything like that – no-one I know who’s had even multiple books published has made enough money from it to be able to stop working full time!

    Is there anything else I should cover that I haven’t thought of?

    I should say that both managers are wonderful people and I think they’ll be broadly supportive. I just don’t want to freak them out :)

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      The one thing to think about is if the book is published, often publishers want the authors to do book tours and speaking engagements that could span over weeks and months. You will want to be procative with your employer that that may occur, you will have to take time off (paid or unpaid) to do so, and find out if that might be an issue. The other issue is often even though it is not being written using the employer’s resources, the very fact you are an employee ties you to them. If your book is in any way controversial, they may want to read and clear the book before publication — their name will inevitably be used in its context: “Gravatar current works at Teapot Associates working on Teapot Policy…” in the bio, or intros at talks etc.

      1. Lore*

        Sadly, unless the book has the potential to be a major seller, the odds of a book tour requiring travel outside your local area are a lot slimmer than they used to be–especially for a first-time author. Bookstores in your area, absolutely; possibly a few events in a major city right around the release date. But I wouldn’t recommend preparing an employer now for the likelihood of extended absences; if you get to that point, it probably means the book and your writing career are doing well enough, you might in fact be thinking about leaving the job!

        1. Referred too many colleagues here to use Gravatar*

          Thanks both!

          Yes, my promotion plan includes live events in the local area, and the internet for everywhere else (I’m thinking Google Hangouts, among other platforms).

          Even if Schrodinger’s Book (as I’m calling it until the published-not published situation resolves) does defy all expectations and make me a millionaire, I’m too risk-averse to quit the day job! I guess going part time is a (very) remote possibility… maybe.

          The book is not controversial, but TPTB might still want to have veto power I guess (I hope not, and my IP lawyer friend didn’t think so). I do have an outline I could take to the meeting with my managers, which hopefully would be enough to convince them that I’m not going to make them look bad!

    2. Camellia*

      :…absolutely not anything proprietary or otherwise a conflict of interest – I checked with a friend who’s an IP lawyer in this jurisdiction)”

      Let them know this? If you had the question, then they will also.

      1. Referred too many colleagues here to use Gravatar*

        Thank you! This is at least a couple of months away, but I’ll try to remember to report back on how it goes.

    3. Rev.*

      “…- not one single word has been, or will be, written on work time or resources;
      – work always comes first…”

      Best wishes to you, with a word of advice:

      Make sure #1 is hygienically, spotlessly true. It will be checked, trust me.

      As for #2, when word gets around about your plans, be prepared for the Work Always Comes First Police. Especially the ones working undercover. Human nature is funny that way.

      See you on the NY Times BSL!

      1. Referred too many colleagues here to use Gravatar*

        I talked to my lawyer friend while the proposal was just an idea, before I put a single word on paper, so I’m covered on #1 (isn’t it great having friends with useful professions?)

        #2 is an excellent point and I will make sure not only to always put work first, but to always be seen putting work first! Thanks!

  36. Audiophile*

    Wow 5 replies already!

    So I’ve had a not so great week. Got rejected for a social media job in less than 24hrs. Bummer. But then I got a call about a communications manager position, but haven’t heard back.

    Jamie, I saw someone with an HK wallet and it made me think of you. Now I feel like a creep.

    1. Joey*

      Yeah weird. My daughter has a hello kitty and recently asked me to cut off her sunglasses and I wondered if Jaime would have approved.

      1. Jamie*

        Of course I approve – it’s the inalienable right of any little girl to accessorize or deaccesorize kitty as she sees fit.

    2. Zelos*

      On my walk home I pass by a car with a HK bow decal on its gas tank door (whatever the proper name of it is). Every time I see it I think of Jamie. :)

      1. Jamie*

        Between yesterday and today you guys have made me feel so loved – backatcha – alla y’all. :)

        1. Elizabeth*

          When we were in the Detroit airport on a layover in November, they had a Sanrio store, and I thought of you. :)

    3. WorkingAsDesigned*

      Yep – just saw a picture of my niece wearing a cowgirl HK t-shirt, and thought of Jamie. Creepier – may now always associate HK with Jamie, and since I think we live in different parts of the country, never the two shall meet… :-)

  37. Veery*

    Here’s an interesting problem: How can I avoid the endless baby conversations in my 20- and 30-something office (and specifically, ones that are tmi)?

    There’s really just a handful of initiators — but the worst culprit is my teammate (we have a team of two), which means that I’m pretty constantly exposed to it. My teammate had a baby 1.5 years ago and LOVES to talk about said baby and all things baby in general. When one of our project managers became pregnant, my teammate wanted to know everything. Our joint meetings would trail off into lengthy conversations about pregnancy and labor and breastfeeding/pumping — stuff that was frankly tmi for me, but I didn’t know how to excuse myself politely.

    I am genuinely interested in my co-workers’ lives and children, but I don’t want to know all the details all the time (especially not the gross stuff!). When I’m at my desk, I can kind of tune out, but I’m at a loss for how to handle situations where a previous conversation or meeting takes a turn for extreme baby talk. How can I gracefully leave or change topics without coming across as rude?

    Side note: I’m in my late 20s. My husband and I plan to have kids someday, but are definitely not interested now!

    1. Mike C.*

      Frankly, I think if you told them what you told us that should be fine. If nothing else, the TMI stuff should always be off the table in polite/professional situations. That’s just common sense.

      But as to the other issue, constantly talking about babies/pregnancy is no different than constantly talking about any other topic – sports, hobbies, tv shows, movies, etc. It’s rude to socially exclude people, and it’s no different when all they do is talk about children.

      Of course, when the billions of kid pictures come out, I just pull out pictures of my car.

          1. Windchime*

            What!?? I didn’t know that Subaru even made a sports car. I’ve been thinking about getting some kind of a small SUV, but this is really, really cute. Er, I mean, really MANLY.

            1. Mike C.*

              There’s no shame in driving a “cute” or “pretty” car! :) I always hated the idea of “that’s a chick car” because, well, that’s really dumb. Anyway. :)

              The story behind this is that Toyota wanted an inexpensive sports car, but needed a boxer engine to maintain a low center of gravity, so they teamed up with Subaru. Toyota designed the outside and added some stuff to the engine, Subaru designed the inside and builds them all in the same factory.

              So here in the US you can have a Subaru BRZ or a Scion FR-S, and outside the US the Scion is a Toyota GT86. It’s not the fastest thing on the road, but it’s the most fun I can have without getting a speeding ticket.

    2. Who are you?*

      Can you approach your project manager and let her know that the conversations make you uncomfortable? She may be willing to stop talking about it once she realizes it’s making others uneasy.

    3. OriginalYup*

      It sounds like it’s really the one coworker driving this, right? Bringing up her personal stories, initiating the conversations, etc. So I say treat like any other favorite topic that starts to grate. In meetings or other business settings, let it go for a minute or two and then interject, “Sorry to interrupt, but do you mind if we get back to the Pinsky timeline? I had a few questions on that.”

      Social convos are different in that you can’t really redirect them as matter-of-factly. For those, I’d probably just quietly start a side convo with someone else who’s not participating in the kid talk and do my own thing. The exception is if the conversation gets graphic or really gross – at that point, I have no problem saying, “Whoa, major TMI!” or “that’s super gross, can we…not… during lunch?” I once just got up and left a lunchtime chat about episiotomies by cheerfully saying, “And that is my cue to exit. Catch you all later.”

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      Since I’ve come back from maternity leave, I’ve made a point NOT to inundate my team with baby updates or pictures or whining (depending on the situation). It’s hard. My kid is SUPER cute and I’m not sleeping through the night.

      I digress. The advice below is solid but some of these convos just can’t be avoided. I think most women think that anything related to our bodies is fair game to talk about around other women. I think we figure that you either will go through it or have gone through it too. Think of it as having to listen to that one friend who always brags/whines about their life. You just smile and nod.

      My office is probably a horrible example though. We have a lot of people who have kids and have had 3 pregnancies in the last 4 months, so it’s baby central and nothing is off limits. My folks know when I’m pumping even the guys. But then again, most things aren’t off limits in my office.

  38. matcha123*

    It’s really fun and informative to read about workplace life for full-time jobs back home. I don’t think my mom had anyone to guide her through workplace comings and goings and I certainly don’t have anyone here.

    Tomorrow my workplace is having a “hanami” party (sitting under cherry blossoms, eating bento and drinking alcohol). What might be interesting for people back home is that this is a work event, held on a Saturday and family/significant others are definitely NOT invited. But, since it looks like rain tomorrow, I think we’ll be sitting in our office eating bento. I hope they at least let us turn on our computers and play some music :)

  39. Communication problems*

    I was talking to a friend about communication problems in the departments we’ve worked in, and how this seems to be a widespread issue in our field (libraries/archives/museums). I’ve often had the experience that I’ll only know about decisions made or in process because I happen to ask the right person at the right time. These usually aren’t major decisions, but they still affect me. Based on what I’ve heard from others, I think the biggest problem is not so much that people are not told things — because they are, eventually — but that the way that it’s handled makes them feel that they are not being kept in the loop, and it makes them nervous.

    I’m not really in a position to address the problem, I don’t think, but I’m interested in how it’s done. I’d love to hear from people about what you think works for fostering efficient communication within a department, and how you make sure employees feel that they’re up-to-date on issues that affect them.

    1. OriginalYup*

      I don’t have experience in your particular field, but these are tactics I’ve seen work in different environments:

      – standing scheduled one-to-one check ins between bosses and employees, with periodic “skip” meetings where the employee meets with the boss’s boss
      – a monthly all-staff meeting (small company) with 30 min for state-of-the-business updates, and 30 min for rotating dept/team presentations about any major project that just happened.
      – weekly “roundups” or “huddles” where the group of less than 8 people just gathers in a cube aisle or work area, and has a quick standing meeting where everyone goes around and gives the key updates.
      – monthly/quarterly dashboards, where the key projects & business drivers get green/yellow/red ratings and a 1-2 sentence status update, and the info is emailed to everyone or put on an intranet
      – a wiki or sharepoint space where cross-team/dept administrators are responsible for updating the 10-20 pages on a scheduled basis
      – white boards/bulletins for big projects, where a physical space is set aside for a visual display that has a mix of standing reference content and rotating “latest update” content

      1. Communication problems*

        I like the wiki and the white board! So simple, and good for introverts and quiet people. At my office, we do have regular(ish) meetings, but those are only so helpful because most of the employees don’t do a lot of talking in them (myself included). I’ve noticed that smaller, more informal meetings, when they occur, seem to yield better results. However, those happen rarely and people are usually left out. I think something like “huddles” would probably work better.

    2. Cassie*

      Unfortunately, we have the same problem and although people keep complaining about the lack of communication, there hasn’t been any attempts to fix the problem.

      I’m lucky in the my desk in a centrally-located area (well, despite the noise factor) and I’m also invited to meetings as an observer so I hear about a lot of stuff coming down the pipeline. If it were up to me, I’d have mini meetings with each work unit to keep them informed. Unfortunately, a few of the managers in our organization seem to relish being “in the know”, and thus don’t share information readily. It’s a complaint that I hear from my coworkers time and time again.

      1. Communication problems*

        Yeah, in my case, I do wonder if there are any higher-ups who even consider it a problem. I had previously assumed that they realized it was a problem but now that I think about it, why would they? They know what they need to know and, as far as I’m aware, no one’s complained to them.

    3. Green Button*

      I’m in museums and this has been an issue at any site I’ve worked at with more than three employees. I think some of it has to do with turf battles (information is power!) and some of it has to do with the higher ups genuinely not realizing how many people certain decisions could impact and that office gossip will spread like wildfire if they don’t address things immediately.

  40. Lisa*

    I am so happy!

    I started my new job 2 weeks ago, and I actually come work with a smile on my face. I am back to working for my mentor again. He poached me, and would dread going to work, but no more. There are times where I catch myself smiling or giggling at my work cause I know he will like it, and in general just feel giddy going about my day.

    I never expected to ‘follow what I love’ – traveling with an endless source of income from thin air – but coming to work and having it not feel like work is the best thing ever!

    I am relaxed and have very little stress compared to my last job.

    1. Arbynka*

      That’s great, Lisa. I always love to hear updates, especially when they are good ones. I love traveling :)

  41. Nicole*

    Hi Everyone,

    So I followed my spouse for a new job and have been job hunting. The area doesn’t have ton of employers, the largest is a university (~6,000 employees). I have been applying to positions in a variety of roles but that I would be a good fit for. Do you think it hurts my chances if I am applying for positions doing different things and also does it hurt my chances just by applying for a number of positions (about 8 now)?

    Another question, all of my recent experience is adjuncting (I am applying for full-time, non-teaching positions). I also had an internship from 2003-2005. I was fortunate enough to get a retail position that started a month ago. Should I put it on my resume or leave it off? On one hand it’s current employment and it’s experience that’s non-teaching but I worry it could be a deterrent as I have not been there long even though it’s a high turnover industry.

    1. Juli G.*

      On the first thing, it could if they use an applicant tracking system (Taleo, etc.). I would try to be more focused on a certain path if you apply again. Also, prepare to answer the question of “So you’re applying for our accountant position but I see last week you applied for a sheep herding position as well. What’s your area of focus?” Answer by making comparisons between shepherding and accounting.

      On the second, I can go either way. I lean towards including it because I know managers that won’t even look at resumes of the unemployed (which is ridiculous in my opinion).

  42. LeeD*

    Ever since I read the article on Wednesday about being busy, I’ve had Jim Infantino’s song “Stress” stuck in my head.

    “I’m addicted to stress, that’s the way that I get things done/
    If I’m not under pressure then I sleep too long/
    and I hang around like a bum/
    and I think I’m going nowhere and that makes me nervous.”

    If you’re not familiar with it, it’s good for a laugh or twenty.
    http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Stress/3BfJxQ?src=5

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Some people get energy from being in a panic all the time. They have to have some crisis in order to motivate themselves.

  43. Arbynka*

    I just want to apologize for one comment I made not long ago that still bothers me. I think it was in the discussion about the security badges and women speaking up. Some of our European commenters wrote about their cultural perspective and I replied with “So sad to see not much have changed in good ol’ Europe…” I even never went back to look if anyone replied because I immediately realized it was crappy of me :( So, especially to those European commenters, I am sorry. I know things in fact changed for better and I really know that just because you have different cultural perspective it does not mean you condone sexism or you agree with it. Honestly I do know all that, but my bad experiences from over there and the bias I formed sometimes gets the best of me. That plus the frustration over helping to change some more things. Again, sorry and I will watch it from now on :)

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I didn’t read your comment, but I sympathize with you. Worrying about a comment that wasn’t quite worded right… I would do that too.
      I think you are OK. :)

    2. Jen RO*

      I got pissed off and answered with an equally crappy comment aimed at the States, so I think it’s better that you didn’t go back and read. That was a discussion better left alone, especially knowing that we probably agree in principle.

      1. Arbynka*

        Well, you had a right to be pissed off. I thought at first I should go back and read because I deserved whatever was coming my way, but then decided not to. I already felt upset and that’s not the state I like to post in. If anything, I would probably screwed up some more. But honestly, on the bright side, it did make me realize that I do in fact have some bias and allowed me to work on it.

  44. Jen RO*

    So… there is a possibility I might go back to my former company. They have been trying to recruit for a while and they can’t find experienced people, and my former coworkers had been trying to convince me to come back for a while. I thought they would not be able to offer me the salary I want… but my former boss was in Romania this week and apparently he’s willing to try to create a senior position that would allow him to give me my desired salary. I will have a video conference with him next week to see if we can agree on the conditions for my return. I have been talking to my former team lead (who has been going back and forth between me and Boss, basically negotiating this for me – yay), and from what she tells me the team will be going in a good direction… much better than when I left. I am… oddly excited about this, because I had said there’s no way I am going back. Interesting times are ahead!

      1. Jen RO*

        See, this is the question… and the main reason I want to have a good long chat with the boss. The company was very disorganized when I left, and I got tired of putting out fires. My team was also prone to “my hair is on fire” – panicking and stressing out without a good reason. (Example: a client e-mailed saying we did X wrong. Ideal solution: apologize and fix it. Former approach: OMG client sucks! That wasn’t our mistake anyway, it was made by someone who left the company already! And anyway everything sucks and will never get better!)

        What is making me hopeful is the fact that the team lead will be promoted to full-fledged manager, so she will have more authority. I don’t really trust former boss’s judgment, he is oblivious to many things, but I trust the team lead and she could do great things if given more authority.

        As for getting it in writing, that’s not really “done” here, but I think I can tell whether what my boss says is true (feasible) or not. I have always been on the same page with the team lead, so I absolutely trust any decisions she will make. (Bonus: I am her “right hand”, so to say, and I have helped her out even after I left the company, with technical and management advice… so I am in a good position.)

          1. Jen RO*

            Yep, I know. That’s the big dilemma – go back to the devil I know or keep job searching for an unknown devil? (I *will* keep searching until I have a signed contract with a start date, because it seems they can’t make me an offer until the new fiscal year anyway.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My two cents- go for the unknown devil. This may or may not be doable for your given situation- but if you can make a clean break go for it.

    1. Arbynka*

      I so totally understand you being excited about it. My friend was in similar situation as you, also thought she would never return to her former job but the company made some changes, she is back now and things have been working well for her.

    2. Lisa*

      If you can go back and be happy, do it. I left a place that wasn’t the best, then changed dramatically in the 6 months that I was gone, so I gave it another shot. It was awesome, and I loved it. But then my mentor was fired, and it went back to being the same as why I left. So I followed my mentor and I am so happy.

      FYI – They will be very angry if you leave again, but they don’t own you and you are not groveling. Though some will claim you begged to come back even if that isn’t the case. If you think that you can stay for at least two years (no commitment or contract, just a gut feeling) then why not…

      1. Jen RO*

        If I do go back, I plan to stay as long as possible (my previous stint was 3 years and a half). My former boss also wants me to be 100% sure I am coming back because I *want* to, not because I *need* to. I enjoyed most of my time there… so I hope it will be a return to happier days. (Also, I will get a significant raise, more than 30% compared to what I had when I left, and a bit more than I have at my current job.)

  45. KarenT*

    I have a situation, and would love input!

    So my team is made up of three managers, of which I am one. We share an assistant, and she reports directly to the manager with the most seniority, though it’s very clear her duties are supporting all three of us. We’ve had this system the whole time I’ve been at the company (seven years) and they’ve had it in place much longer than that. It’s always worked perfectly well, even great. And I know this from both sides, as my first job at this company was as said assistant. I think it’s always worked well because we’ve always had great assistants working for great managers.

    Now, we have a new assistant, and she’s not great. She was intern here, and really impressed us all (including me, I pushed for her hire). Now that she’s here full-time, she’s a completely different person. She spends hours making personal calls (her cube neighbours are complaining about listening to her lengthy chats with her boyfriend and her fights with her landlord), takes long lunches, and does work at a snail’s pace. She’s also constantly complaining that she’s busy, when we know for a fact she’s not. Us three managers discuss her workload and it’s actually pretty light right now (and again, I can say that with experience because I’ve both had her job and witnessed others in it). It takes forever to get her to do anything, and when she does finally submit work, it’s always late with no apology and no sense of urgency. I will say her work is really, really good.
    Two out of the three of us are really frustrated with her, and the third is completely oblivious. Of course, the oblivious one is actually the one she reports to. He’s fine with us discussing these issues with her (and I have!) but has no interest in doing it himself. Whenever I talk to her, she’s mortified for a day and then it’s like nothing happened. I can’t even explain how many complaints I’m getting from other departments about her timeliness and professionalism.
    Help!

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      This may come across as flip but…it sounds like PIP time to me. If you’ve already spoken to her about this problem and haven’t seen a change then something in writing that requires accountability and measurable improvement is the next step.

      One thing though, I would get 3rd manager on board with the PIP plan, if you go that route. If the employee’s “main boss” isn’t complaining she may not take it as seriously. He needs to tow the party line on this one for it to be effective.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        That’s what I was thinking. If her boss is saying she is doing a good job, then she will think she is.

      2. KarenT*

        It doesn’t come off as flip for me–it’s my desired outcome. Her manager doesn’t feel the same (and I swear he’s just lazy/wants to avoid awkwardness). But I think it’s time to push harder.

    2. LCL*

      It sounds like part of the problem is she has way too much time on her hands. Before the PIP, figure out what she could reasonably have added to her duties, then meet with her and help her plan how she will have time for the extra work.

      1. KarenT*

        I think what’s happened is she really should be busy, but people are avoiding giving her work because it’s kind of a black hole.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Instead of talking about a specific issue that she screwed up, have you tried a more general route? As in, letting her know exactly what you wrote above – that she was a good intern, you fought for her to get hired and that her attitude and work ethic have not been up to par since then? And approach her with concern so she won’t get defensive – maybe ask her if she feels like the job isn’t what she expected. Guilt can work wonders!Then tell her in no uncertain terms that there will be consequences if she continues her subpar performance (without mentioning that you don’t know if her main boss will support a PIP).

      1. KarenT*

        letting her know exactly what you wrote above – that she was a good intern, you fought for her to get hired and that her attitude and work ethic have not been up to par since then?

        I love this, and I’m going to do it! I’d sort of been holding back because she doesn’t report to me, but I think it’s time. I’ve been very blunt with her about her lack of meeting timelines (and really lack of caring about it) but you’re right, it’s time for a general conversation.

    4. some1*

      Any chance you can meet with her direct boss and lay out concrete examples of how her slacking off had a negative impact?

      “I had to leave a client meeting for 10 minutes to go find a file because Jane wasn’t back from lunch yet.”

      “I had to stay late on Thursday because I told Jane to merge the spreadsheets by noon and I didn’t get them til 4:45”

      1. KarenT*

        I have, but he doesn’t really care because it affects me more than it affects him. When I bring him specific examples, he’s always fine with me talking to her about it, and he even added some of my comments to her PA, but he won’t go the PIP route and I swear it’s just out of laziness. He’d rather wait for her to move on.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Company policies cannot possibly be okay with all the personal phone calls. Can you start by targeting one behavior? It sounds like the phone calls are a big player in this problem.

          Also, are you accidentally shielding her boss from the complaints? Perhaps it is time to tell the complainers that they need to go talk with Bob about these issues, since you have no jurisdiction over all this.
          Maybe that is not the best idea, but since Bob is unwilling to change what he is doing (head in the sand) then the next question is can you change what you are doing?
          If it were me, I would start adding up the time I spend handling complaints about this person. “Bob, I spent 6 hours this week and 5.5 hours last week talking about problems here. This IS impacting our team and our work effort.”

        2. AB Normal*

          Can’t you change the org structure so that the assistant reports to you (or the other manager) instead of the current one?

          If the problems affects you more than the other manager, it seems like you might have a case for this.

  46. Anon for this one*

    Anybody have any advice on dealing with a new manager who doesn’t fit the workplace culture? I know we’ve talked about new employees who just don’t fit in, but we just hired a new library director, and she’s managed to alienate pretty much the entire staff in the three months she’s been here. She’s not incompetent and she does have some good ideas, but her attitude toward the staff–particularly the clerical/non-professional staff–is really grating.

    She’s condescending to the clerks, some of whom have been here for literally 30 or 40 years. She doesn’t seem to have any interest in learning about our specific patron population and what they want out of the library (we have a large population of low-income senior citizens, and what they want is going to be a lot different than what your average yuppie wants); instead, she’s parroting back the Latest Big Ideas about how to bring libraries into the 21st century. She actually got into an argument with a patron last week because the patron asked her to stop talking loudly at the front desk. She told the patron that libraries aren’t quiet places anymore and if she couldn’t deal with it this wasn’t the place for her.

    I just…I don’t really know how to deal with it. She’s not particularly receptive to feedback. A few people have talked about going to the board, but we’re concerned about retaliation if things go poorly.

    Any advice anybody has would be greatly appreciated.

    1. lavendertea*

      D: I don’t have any advice for you, just that it’s really disheartening to know people like this are getting hired given the ratio of applicants to open positions in this field. I hope everything works out.

      1. Aisling*

        This is actually true (I’m a librarian too). The push is more for “community spaces” than quiet places. However, there are ways to let patrons know that without alienating them!

    2. Arbynka*

      Is there anybody “above” her (boss) or is the only option going to the board ? Sorry, I really don’t know how libraries work. Because her getting into an argument with a patron should be addressed. I mean not only to get into an argument but actually tell your patron “deal with it or this is not a place for you ?” I am sorry you are in this situation.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Nope, just the board. We’re a small library, and the hierarchy is pretty flat and informal–or at least, it was before she started. So there are levels of seniority, but she’s the only one who actually has disciplinary privileges, and only the board has hiring/firing privileges.

        I wasn’t actually present for the argument, but I heard it from another member of the staff, and the patron posted a pretty angry comment about it on our Facebook page. Our usual web admin isn’t planning to delete it, but she also has admin privileges, and I’m wondering if she will.

        1. Arbynka*

          I wish I have some good suggestion to you. Sure, I can say “go to the board” but I am not the one who would possibly face retaliations :( Do you think she might be open to suggestion about creating loud and quit areas as poster below me suggested. I mean, if you want to create a “loud” library while your patrons mainly prefer the “quiet” one, I think some sort of transition should be in place. I don’t think it is a good strategy is to say :”Oops, this is now a loud library, deal with it or leave..” Do you think maybe she could take some feedback in that area or do you think the culture misfit is just too big and she won’t be open to any feedback ?

          1. Arbynka*

            And btw, I have to go to the library now :) I can’t renew one of my dvds because somebody has it on hold and is waiting for it.

    3. thenoiseinspace*

      She’s handling this unprofessionally, but I do see her point. Lots of libraries now are really places to meet or study, give presentations, hold lectures, etc. And I do understand that she’s not catering to the current clientele because she’s hoping to appeal to a new, larger group. But I don’t think either of these things need to be mutually exclusive. It also sounds like she’s feeling pressure to make some sort of big change to make her mark on things.

      I actually really like the way one of my universities built their library. It was divided into two main sections. One was the “loud” section: it had multimedia computers for video editing, a nice coffee shop, several whiteboards for brainstorming sessions, and some tables with projectors for meetings or presentations. It was a great community center – we had all kinds of poetry readings and video showings there, and people could bring books from other parts of the library there to study in groups.

      The second section was the “quiet” section. This was the more traditional kind of library – soft chairs, small study tables for individuals, rows and rows of books, and quiet. It was a great place to read or study on your own.

      It sounds like your new director wants the “loud” library, which has become pretty popular these days. It also seems like she wants it at the expense of the “quiet” library. That doesn’t have to be the case.

      I don’t know the layout of your building or what resources you have, but would it be possible to suggest a similar new design? Maybe divide them by floor, or by wing (depending on what you have?) That way she’s be happy, your current customers would be happy, she’d feel like she was putting her stamp on things, and you might even get some new people enjoying your library. :)

      1. Arbynka*

        I like your points but since anon for this one now specified they are a small library, I don’t think they will have the means to separate loud and quiet areas. Maybe if they had wings.. But still, it would have to be suggested to the manager who, from the sound of it, does not take feedback well. And has disciplinary powers. Honestly, this is a sticky situation.

    4. Duckie*

      I’ve encountered this before, apparently she ended up leaving in about a year and a half. The director position was just a stepping stone to her until she could get a ‘better’ library. Is there any possibility that yours is the same way? She will probably end up bailing for somewhere else. If you can weather out the storm, it might get better when she leaves, depending on how much damage she does to your staff and patron relations. Of course, mine had a real disdain for our low-income patrons that was like ‘whoa did you just say that?’

    5. Blue Anne*

      “She actually got into an argument with a patron last week because the patron asked her to stop talking loudly at the front desk. She told the patron that libraries aren’t quiet places anymore and if she couldn’t deal with it this wasn’t the place for her.”

      Yikes! That’s just… oh man. What a thing to have to deal with, for both that patron and you.

      Would giving that as an example to the board, and saying “This patron was angry enough that they made a complaint on our Facebook page where it would be seen by other patrons” help? It’s not just an issue the staff are having with her, or an issue that a few of the patrons are having with her, but an issue that is becoming rather public. That would make it a very urgent issue for me if I was on the board.

      1. Joey*

        The problem with going to the board is you have no idea what they wanted when they hired her. All you know is that you don’t approve of her methods.

        1. Blue Anne*

          That’s a good point. I wonder if there’s someone on the board she could approach to say “Our new manager has been making a lot of changes, which has been hard to adjust to for some of our patrons. I don’t want to make a big deal of it, especially if this is part of a new direction the board is taking, but it’s a little worrying when we have upset patrons. Could you shed any light on it?”

          Hopefully they’d react with either “Yeah, sorry about a rough transition but this is exactly what we hired her for” or “What?! No, this is the first I’ve heard of it!”

          Would have to be someone the poster has a pretty good relationship with to be safe, though, I guess.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            Your GaiaOnline avatar is seriously bringing back memories. I know this is OT but I had to say something!

        2. Anon for this one*

          I actually do; we had a hell of a time finding a replacement director when our old one moved on–it was literally like the job was cursed. The first person they offered it wouldn’t accept the salary (which is non-negotiable because…civil service). The second one died of a heart attack before he could start. The third just never got back to them. The interim director was our children’s librarian, and she absolutely hated it. This woman had actually been passed over in several rounds of interviews, so it’s not like she was a top choice. That’s actually the main reason anyone’s even considered going to the board at all; there’s at least a 50% chance they’ll be receptive.

    6. Joey*

      Change can be good, but highly uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe the board hired her because they wanted someone like her. I’d say give you’ve got to give her philosophy a chance and just make sure you’re providing lots of feedback.

      And not listening to customers can be a good thing. Afterall if you are the experts you should be able to anticipate what patrons want before they actually know it.

      1. Arbynka*

        ” Afterall if you are the experts you should be able to anticipate what patrons want before they actually know it.”

        I don’t know, in my experience, before a change always came marketing research. I think that’s how experts know what patrons want before they actually know it. They have to listen to the patrons. It’s fine to be “innovative” but if you do not what you are doing, it can fail very quickly.

        1. Joey*

          Absolutey, but very few people are informed enough to know what’s out there. Some people have no idea what an app is or how it could be useful in a library setting. And there are many many libraries are resistant to change.

      2. Aisling*

        And not listening to customers can be a good thing. Afterall if you are the experts you should be able to anticipate what patrons want before they actually know it.

        This doesn’t make sense to me. We can certainly anticipate what patrons want, and offer them the greatest new thing, but if libraries change something and every patron screams “No!” – then why wouldn’t we want to listen to the patrons? It seems a bit condescending to not consider the patrons at all – as if we’re saying we’re the mukety-mucks and know better than the patrons what their library experience should be. They do pay our salaries; their responses should be considered.

        1. Joey*

          Considered yes, but you also have to consider that people usually don’t fully understand the purpose of the library. They only fully understand and value the services or products they use. For example I know many people value that the library has old technology like PC stations, cd’s and regular dvd’s. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to heavily invest in those technologies when newer technology are taking over.

          1. Aisling*

            True, though that also has to do with how the library markets itself. As an aside, pc stations are not old technology- we’re still teaching patrons how to sign up for email, apply for jobs, and file taxes! Everything is a balance between new and old.

            1. Anon for this one*

              This. Especially in a low-income area like ours, we can’t just assume that everyone has their own laptop/smartphone/tablet. Our PC stations are heavily used–as is our DVD collection. Yes, Blu-ray is newer, but if none of our patrons has a Blu-ray player yet, it doesn’t make sense to start phasing out DVD’s. We have a handful of Blu-rays in our collection, and they never go out. We promote our digital collection as much as possible, but our hard-copy mysteries still circulate heavily. I’m working to get tablet and e-reader classes going, but at this juncture it would be frankly insane to start thinking about phasing out PC stations–and I think that will be the case for a long time yet.

              There are newer technologies out there, but that doesn’t make it good practice to just toss out every existing technology without even considering how that would affect patrons.

      3. Anon for this one*

        I don’t actually object to most of her ideas, just her execution (FWIW, I’m fairly fresh out of school and haven’t been there all that much longer than she has, so it’s not like I’m still married to the idea of card catalogs :P). I feel like there are a lot of ways she could accomplish exactly the same thing–probably more effectively–without pissing off her entire staff.

        And in general…IDK, I feel like getting into a heated argument with a patron in a public area is almost never a good idea, even if you’re right and they’re wrong.

    7. MJ*

      I would suggest that you do whatever you can to help her succeed. You can say things to her (in a helpful voice) like:

      —“There was a complaint on our FB page that you might want to have a look at. You should probably know we have a very old-fashioned clientele here, and it may take them some time to come around to the idea of libraries as noisy, sharing places.”

      OR

      — “Margery who works on the desk in the mornings has been with us for 30 years. You may find that some of our staff have deep ties in the community and could be really helpful as ambassadors for the new things we are thinking of trying.”

      OR

      “I am really excited about X idea that I heard you talking about. I think it would be really helpful to get the circ team on board with this before we launch it, because they are our best sales people.”

      You could consider giving her a bit more time. If this is her first time as a library director, it may take her awhile to learn the politics of her new job, and when her mistakes catch up with her she may learn from them and improve. Do not protect her from criticisms, and encourage unhappy patrons to fill in a comment card or whatever grievance path is open at your library, but also let the library director know that you heard X complaint and thought she might want to follow up, so it does not appear you are going behind her back.

      Small libraries often do not have big budgets for a library director, and she may be the best person the board could afford. Taking this to the board can be a little bit touchy, as they may be defensive of their decision. If you feel you need to address them, I would suggest having an informal conversation with the most accessible member of your board: “I don’t want the board to be blind-sided, so in the interest of the library and helping Library Director to succeed, I thought you should know that I have heard X complaints from the public and that a number of staff are upset with her approach. I think she might need some guidance in how to navigate different groups in our community.”

      Good luck!

      1. Anon for this one*

        Thanks…I think this approach could be really helpful, actually. I don’t have a grudge against her, and I DO want her to succeed…there’s just a lot resentment simmering that isn’t totally unjustified, you know? But I think framing it as helpful information instead of criticism might get a better reception.

  47. ChristineSW*

    Second question:

    Next Friday, I’m attending a career fair / professional development workshop at the school where I got my graduate degree; it is specific to my field (social work). I could use some advice on how to make the most of this event, or if it’d even be worth my time.

    The first half of the event is the workshop: from what I gather, it’ll entail panels on various topics, such as licensing and career options. That I’m not too worried about.

    The second half appears to be a typical career fair setup, although employers are required to have openings in order to register. There will also be experienced social workers (I assume with hiring experience) who’ll offer resume critiques.

    I really want to attend this at least for the first part alone. I’d like to stay for the second part (many attendees will be coming by a shuttle, so there may not be a choice about staying), but other than a working list of employers, I don’t know what types of positions are available. Those who know me know that I’m more interested in work similar to what I’m doing now in my volunteer committees–working with grants, maybe help with research or training projects–however, based on the list I’ve seen so far, it’s probably all going to be clinical/direct service positions. Also, I am not interested in management or supervisory roles.

    Long story short:
    1) How do I properly convey what I’m looking for–this is where I’ve been stumbling.

    2) Am I totally screwed (lack of a better term) since I haven’t had paid employment in so long? Yes I’ve been doing substantive work with my volunteering and I love it, but I’m ready to take on something paid, at least on a part-time basis.

    3) Should I bite the bullet and go for direct service positions? I have a sense that it’d serve me well for my long-term aspirations, but honestly, my anxiety tends to get in the way of this. I just think my personality and skills would lend better to project-based work, rather than anything where I have to build relationships (yes, I get along well with people, but not everyone is skilled in forming and cultivating relationships. And why did I go into social work again?? lol)

    1. HeatherSW*

      I just went to an everything career fair, but I spoke with human service agencies. I found it most useful to be able to go to them and say “I’m interested in your x position, here’s my resume.”
      What do job ad look like in your area? I feel like in MA I see grant-type jobs at the master’s level which want an independant liscence. As such, I’d go with the direct care to a)get the 2nd licence and b)get into an agency where you could move to develpment or something else.

  48. AnonForThis*

    I have a colleague (from a different organization, that I work closely with) that I just can’t figure out how to work with. I think the problem is that she wants to be in control of everything; she’s asked me to copy me on all my emails to our (joint) members; she wants to have input into decisions that are internal to my organization (but involve joint members), etc. I’ve tried accommodating her wishes, pushing back on specific things that seem crazy to me (e.g. being blind copied on communications to joint outside partners), ignoring her preferences entirely and going ahead with my own plans… none of it has been successful.

    I’m leaving this job (in part because I’m so tired of having to think through how to navigate her as a roadblock whenever I try to do something), so this won’t be a thing for me much longer. But I wish I had been able to resolve this. Any thoughts?

    1. Aisling*

      It sounds like you’ve done what you can. I’d involve your manager, and ask their advice on how to proceed, since it’s causing you issues.

  49. Wonderlander*

    Does anyone have any advice for dealing with an unemployed spouse? Not necessarily financially (we’re lucky I have a great job that pays 80% of the bills) but more on the emotional or supportive side. Husband has been unemployed for 4 months and it’s starting to strain our relationship. :( I love him dearly and want to keep being supportive. I can tell he’s feeling worthless, not useful, etc. I think I hold some contempt (for lack of a better word) because I grew up poor and began working to help my mom when I turned 16 and haven’t stopped since. It’s wrong of me to compare our current situation to my childhood/teenage years, I know. But to me, Husband seems to be waiting for The. Perfect. Job to land in his lap. He won’t volunteer or go to job training or vocational classes. Any encouraging words?

    1. Elysian*

      What is he doing when he’s home? Does he do house-stuff, or does he mope? If he’s a moper, you might try giving him something (anything at all) to do.
      If he won’t do it for himself, maybe you’ll do it because you asked. Getting started (on anything at all) is sometimes the hardest part. Is there a big project you’ve been putting off or something that he can be in charge of (paint the living room, put up some shelves, spring cleaning, whatever).

      1. Wonderlander*

        He’s doing little things on his own, and has good and bad days. Some days I come home and the house is spotless, laundry done, and dinner made. Other days he’s sat on the couch in his boxers all day. I *have* found that if I ask him to do something, it gets him started and he does other things that day too.

        1. Elysian*

          Could he join a gym? I could see a lot of benefits to that if he’s the kind of person who might work out – its stress relieving and makes you feel better about yourself and gets you out of bed and moving in the morning.

          I would try to lay off him about job-related things, though. I’m sure he knows, and that he’s thinking about it all the time, and I think he just needs to come around to that one his own. If I were you I would support him in his sad times, and try to find non-job related ways to uplift him. I think if he can get enough momentum going he’ll probably come around eventually.

    2. cecilhungry*

      Hmmm, I’m in a somewhat similar situation in that my BF is stuck in a dead-end job, took a course in something that he loves/will actually get him a job, and is now doing NOTHING. Not sending out resumes, not networking with the DOZENS OF PEOPLE HE KNOWS WHO WORK IN THE INDUSTRY, just continuing to work at this job he hates.

      I think what it comes down to, and it may be for your husband as well, is fear. It’s easier to sit at home and complain about the job market / work customer service in a really crappy store for a terrible manager than to face up to the fact that you might not make it in a new industry/job.

      If your husband was laid off, he also may be facing doubts about whether it was REALLY just money/restructuring or if there was a secret, underlying reason he was let go that no one told him. I know that’s what I struggled with when I was unemployed.

      I think the best thing you can do is to be compassionate and kind. If you run into something great for him, offer it up. Don’t nag, that’ll just make it worse. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do, it’s up to them now. (And try to keep the condescension off the table. Rant to us, but try to keep a straight face around him.)

      1. Wonderlander*

        Husband was laid off and it was supposedly for financial reasons, so that totally relates. I *know* he’s feeling wronged and that his skills/education/etc are worthless. He follows Old Job’s FB page and keeps in contact with co-workers, so I think he’s having trouble moving on. It’s like he’s waiting for them to call him and say “Just kidding! Come back to work!”

        Fear is something I didnt even think about. It’s spot on, I’m sure. He’s likely terrified of being told that he went to school, got a degree, and now it’s useless. I’m sure he’s scared that he spent the last 3 years at Old Job for naught, as it’s certainly not helping him move up in his career. And rejection is scary too.

        But…. how long should I give him to be scared, to feel worthless, to be depressed about losing his job? He’s an adult and feel like 4 months is long enough – I want to tell him to pick himself up and move on. Get out there. If I tell him that it’s been long enough and I need him to DO SOMETHING, won’t he resent me?

        Thanks for the encouraging words – I’ll try to keep the condescension and nagging to a minimum.

        1. cecilhungry*

          Well, I think in a lot of ways, you kind of just have to let him go on moping. There’s only so much you can do, and if you spend too much time trying to pep him up/offer solutions/etc, you’ll just be one more thing he tries to avoid.

          I do think it’ll be tough, but I think you need to let him alone about the fact that he’s not doing anything, but be REALLY helpful and upbeat whenever he does do anything (“Of course I will look over your resume! How about if I take over dinner tonight so you can finish that application!”) Positive reinforcement?

          1. Wonderlander*

            I definitely *try* to praise him when I come home and dinner is on the table or he’s vacuumed the living room, but I think it comes off as kind-of…. tired. He usually POUNCES on me as soon as I get in the door and starts talking, talks all the way through dinner, and finishes around the time dinner is done. He’s lonely, I know. But at the end of the day, the last thing I want is to listen to a recap of his entire conversation online with a stranger. I’ll try harder to make it sound more genuine.

            1. cecilhungry*

              Ugh, that’s so hard, because I feel you wanting space, but at the same time it can be SO boring to be unemployed.

              Are any of his friends unemployed/stay-at-home/part-time/night-shift/freelance? While I was unemployed, a few other people in my general circle of friends were too, and we formed the “Unemployed Ladies Networking Hour” (AKA the “Unemployed Ladies Cocktail and Gossiping Hour”). Once or twice a month (sometimes more), we would get together and do something fun/interesting and cheap during the day. A few times when the weather was nice we split a bottle of wine in the afternoon on my porch. We took whatever we were going to eat for lunch and brought it to the park. We found the cheapest happy hour in town and had a few cold ones at 3pm. We went for 11am runs. Basically, we got together and took advantage of the fact that we weren’t at work. Sometimes we talked about the job hunt, but most of the time it was understood that if someone didn’t bring it up, it meant there was nothing new. It was a good way to get out of the house, see some people who weren’t going to ask you how the job hunt was going, people to commiserate with, etc.

              1. Anonsie*

                “Ugh, that’s so hard, because I feel you wanting space, but at the same time it can be SO boring to be unemployed.”

                Right? This is exactly how I was when we moved to a new city for my partner’s job and I spent five months job hunting after we got there. Sometimes I would just wallow, sometimes I’d deep clean the entire house, but every time he got home I’d jump on him and tell him all about what I read on the internet that day. I needed human interaction sooo baaad

        2. Anonsie*

          I agree with Cecil– you need to let him work through it. Four months is not an extremely long time, especially since you’re financially stable.

          Because yes, he will resent that. You feel bad, sure, you wish he was doing something else. That’s valid, and you’re certainly not *wrong* to want that, but he is the one in the really tough place right now. You being upset with him because you don’t like him being in a tough place is unhelpful at best and extremely hurtful at worst, so while it’s definitely reasonable to have those feelings, this is a situation where they need to stay personal. I guarantee you he knows (or at least fears) that you feel this way.

      2. GoodGirl*

        Amen what you said about fear! I have a close friend (let’s call him Sam) who seems to be paralyzed by fear. I’ve watch Sam struggle for years in a job he hates and stay in bad romantic relationships because of fear. I’ve been Sam’s shoulder to cry on for many years, but now, I just don’t want to do it anymore because he never seems to make ANY progress or even try. I know that’s harsh and I feel like a bad friend, but after years of listening/offering advice and still nothing, it’s irritating.

        (End rant.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had a friend in a similar situation. She finally broke out of it (after more than ten years!) but she had to do it on her own. Nothing I said made any difference, so I just tried to listen as best I could.

    3. iseeshiny*

      Oh man. Yeah, my husband was underemployed for a year, and then quit to focus on his job search and was unemployed for like eight months, then got a three month contract position that they offered to keep him at and HE TURNED DOWN because he thought he was getting a job that ended up not panning out and then unemployed for five more months after that. I had the same issue where I wanted to be supportive but also we did not have the resources for an unemployment stint that long and I really wondered if our (relatively new) marriage would survive the strain.

      What worked best for me was eventually just staying out of it. He was really good about doing housework, so it’s not like I was coming home to a couch potato – he’d have dinner in the works and everything – so I didn’t resent him for that. The hardest part was not freaking out about finances – I’m very much not a risk taker financially and terrified of poverty, and he was ineligible for unemployment – but the best thing I did for our marriage at that time was stop sending him links to jobs/AAM columns. I had to accept that he was a grown man who wanted to work and who was trying his best to find a good job, and that sometimes it just takes a while to find one. The best way for me to be supportive was to stay positive when he brought up his search, and never to bring it up if he didn’t, and just kind of trust him to find a job. And eventually he did, and now we just have to dig out of the hole we got into, which is much easier now that he’s making nearly twice what I do. It’s really tough though, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

      1. Wonderlander*

        I think I’m going to use this as a mantra, “He is a grown man who wants to work and who is trying his best to find a good job, and that sometimes it just takes a while to find one.” Repeat.

        Your situation sounds SOOO similar. It’s encouraging to hear that even though it took close to 2 years, you did get out of it.

      2. O*

        So have absolutely no experience with this, but I would say I’d have to agree with iseeshiny about maybe just staying out of it, but at the same time, and I might be reading this wrong, it sounds like there hasn’t been much discussion about it. Maybe you could ask, very nice and nonjudgmental about what’s going on, if there is something going on, like maybe he just feels he’s horrible at cover letters and dreads doing them. I’d say, maybe just ask if there’s something that’s holding him back/bothering him in a real non-confrontational way, and if that doesn’t work, stay out of it.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      There was a while where my BF was unemployed and I would ask him to do things around the house and he would just mope. It drove me crazy!

      But, I was unemployed for 2 months and all I did was mope and apply to jobs. So I couldn’t be mad because I knew I felt that way.

      He got a job and things are fine. But one thing I did was put up a dry erase board and I would write a to-do list to be done before the end of the week. (and if he waited until Friday to do it, I couldn’t be mad.) This helped because he was really just being scatterbrained from being home so much. Writing it down helped him remember that we talked about it.

      1. cecilhungry*

        Yeah, when I was unemployed and living alone, I lived in total squalor because I had all the time in the world to clean and I could just start tomorrow (insert Eeyore sigh). My BF moving in and giving me to-do lists realllllly helped.

    5. EmmBee*

      Honestly? Just talk to him. Be kind and loving, of course, but be honest. I’m hearing a lot of “I can tell he’s…” and “It seems like” and I think right now you need to hear directly from him about where he is emotionally about this.

      And, frankly, he needs to hear from you about where YOU are emotionally with this :)

    6. De Minimis*

      This was basically me for about 2-3 years. It really helped me to have stuff to do, I did grocery shopping and sometimes other tasks with mixed success. But some days I couldn’t get motivated to do anything, and it was easy to get sucked into the internet all day long. That got worse the longer it went on.

      It helped me to have tasks and direction, I guess it was similar to having a job. I don’t think he would be offended if you kept asking him to help with various tasks, and it would allow him to feel useful. I know he really should be more active in looking for work, but I don’t know if it will work well to try and press the issue. Some of it depends on how his job search has gone, if he’s had some letdowns and disappointments that can be really demotivating. If he hasn’t really tried yet, that’s different.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I see two things running here- a husband in grief over losing his job AND a wife having flash backs from her childhood. I am not clear on if the issue is the poverty or poverty PLUS other stuff. I am going to guess there’s other stuff running in that story.

      Try to force your brain to focus on how different this setting is from when you were 16. This means deliberately encouraging yourself to get away from the similarities and focus on what is new here. (Typically, thoughts tend to gravitate toward the well beaten path and it takes a bulldozer to move those thoughts on to a new path.)
      Personally, when I have hit reruns from my childhood, the reruns were never as bad as the original childhood situation. Why. Because as adults we have control- over our thoughts, our actions, what happens during our day, etc.
      Tell yourself- this is different, it’s not the same. (Telling yourself “it’s wrong to compare” is like beating yourself up because it does not instruct you how to move forward. Replace that sentence with “This is different now.”)
      Ironically, your hubby has the same deal going on– “how do I move forward?”

      Change one thing. I dunno what that could be. Have friends over to play cards on Fridays. Insist that you both go hiking on Saturdays. Pick something cheap/doable/easy. Just change something that you are doing and pick something new that you can do together. Use that little something as time to refresh, refocus and recharge.

    8. Smilingswan*

      This is kind of a late response, so I hope you see it. It is possible your husband is suffering from depression. I would advise you to encourage him to join a support group and/or get therapy. I have suffered from depression my whole life, and it gets exponentially worse when I’m unemployed. I feel worthless. I have no energy to do anything, and why bother even trying when I’m such a screw-up? This may not be the case for your husband, but please be aware that situations like unexpected unemployment, even through no fault of his own, can trigger depressive episodes even in people who have never suffered from depression before. I hope things work out for you both.

  50. Ocat*

    I have a short vacation starting tomorrow and have been getting everything in order for it this week. I was feeling good about it until yesterday, when a number of urgent things started cropping up. (feedback from clients on documents that need to be resubmitted, important conference calls) First, I was asked to join a quick planning call, then I was asked to handle the submission of some documents, then I was asked to join another call, then to make another revision to the point where it is eating into activities/events planned for my two work day (two days! Monday and Tuesday! Approved 12 weeks ago!) vacation. When I push back, because I am going to be driving by myself across the state at the time of the call or I am going to be at the Zoo with my nephew, I am reminded of all the occasions where others in the company have done calls before they went in for surgery or at their mother’s bedside when she was dying.

    This is insane. Our work is not that important. None of us are that important. We don’t save lives, we don’t respond to humanitarian crises, world peace doesn’t hinge on our work.

    I don’t know what to do about it. Just venting.

    1. BadPlanning*

      You really have to be firm — I have coworkers that bend over backwards all the time. People learn who is always available and who will do extra, but not 100% of the time. I do go the extra mile, but not all the time (I have coworkers who essentially don’t go on vacation because they log in and read their email all the time). Do your coworkers ever use the term “hard stop” — we do around here sometimes and if you follow up, it works. For example, if someone asks me to look at a Really Important Thing at the end of the day (which I know they’ve been plugging away at all day) and I can’t stay late, I’ll say that I can look for a bit, but I have a hard stop at 5:30. Then I leave at 5:30.

      Of course, if your manager is going to punish you because you don’t work 24/7, then there’s not always a lot you can do. A decent manager recognizes that you’ll pitch in for bad times and make sacrifices. But it’s not bad times all the time.

      1. Ocat*

        Thanks! We do occasionally use the term “hard stop” around here but usually when it is something else work related we need to switch over to. I will try it for non-work obligations and see what happens.

        I only recently became good at pushing back/setting a boundary; the next step is how to stay firm and defend that boundary when they keep pushing…

    2. Sadsack*

      Who is making the comments about what others have done in your situation – coworkers or your manager? Just curious. I’d say someone who took a work call at her mother’s death bed has some pretty screwed up priorities, given the way you described your work as not of life-or-death importance.

      1. Ocat*

        It’s both. My manager is understanding but in the same breath points out the things she has sacrificed for this organization, so it’s hard to read her signals. And sadly – I have been that person before, too. At my former organization I once worked 72 hours at the office and slept under my desk to get something in during a holiday weekend. The only difference is after a health scare a few years ago I decided this was not something to be proud of nor that should be what decides my value as an employee.

    3. Christine*

      Wait… someone called in from their dying mother’s bedside? For real?

      This sounds like one of those cultures where people like to be martyrs and compete for “who has it worse.” That sort of thing drives me nuts!

      I would be absolutely livid. I’ve always drawn pretty clear lines about not working while I’m on vacation, but thankfully I’ve never had a boss push me too hard on it. And 2 days! That’s just ridiculous.

      1. Ocat*

        Me too! I want them all to read that busyness article Alison posted the other day. This is not a badge of honor to compete over!

    4. OriginalYup*

      I completely get what you’re saying. Unless my job involves transporting live organs for transplant, everyone needs to calm the eff down.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      “I’m sorry; I won’t be available at X time, but I will check email at Y.” Then don’t check it until Y. Or “I’m sorry; I won’t be available during X time.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

      They may also be panicking because you’re going to be gone, but they’ll be fine. If you have someone to refer them to, that could go a long way toward reassuring them.

  51. Hrmm*

    I graduated from college in May 2013 and, through networking with a ton of alums and their connections (and with the help of this site!), managed to land a job I love. Now, I’m getting requests from soon-to-be-graduates to do informational interviews and introduce them to others in my network.

    How do I navigate this dynamic? I want to help them because so many alums helped me last year. But at the same time, at <1 year out of college, I don't feel like I've "given back" enough to my network for them to be doing more favors for me by letting me refer undergrads to them.

    Is it appropriate for me to be referring undergrads to people much further in their careers than I, and who have already helped me once (through advice, an informational, recommendation, etc.)? And am I "using up" favors from my network by asking them to talk to these undergrads?

    1. lavendertea*

      I would do informational interviews if you can, because that’s something you can give them yourself. But I agree that getting someone in your network to talk to an undergrad is really a favor you’re asking that person for yourself. Honestly, I wouldn’t do it unless I personally knew the student and thought highly of their work ethic/intelligence/potential/whatever. Because otherwise, you’re just asking someone to give their time to, not only a stranger to them, but a stranger to *you*, based on *your* alma mater connection. Although re-reading this it sounds like your network is largely alums you reached out to in the same way, which begs the question why aren’t they directly contacting the same alums you networked with?

  52. Canadamber*

    Any other young people here worried about the future? I didn’t do too fantastically in Grade 12 Semester 1, and while this semester is going slightly better, it’s not by too much. I’m going to a university near my home for at least the first year, which is probably better as I’m not getting a lot of scholarships and it’ll cut down on debt, as I’m not quite exactly sure yet what I want to do! I kind of wish that I had done better in the first semester, but it’s too late for that now. Moving forward, I shall do better! :)

    And… my parents keep telling me that the marks that you get in high school will pretty much dictate your future. Is that true? I’m in Ontario on the university track, and I figure that if I do well enough in first year here, I can always switch to a more prestigious university afterwards (kinda want Queen’s or Schulich). I CAN make up my marks, right? I don’t want a semester or two of laziness to doom me forever!!! :( I want to be able to have a decent apartment and own a nice car by the time I’m in my late 20’s. My parents are making it sound like I’ll be saddled with either crushing student loans or stuck working retail for the rest of my life, and will NEVER get that Subaru XV Crosstrek I want. :$ But I’m motivated! I just wasn’t for a little bit, but I am now!

    But what’s the point if I’m screwed anyway?! They’re making it sound like Grade 12 is the pivotal year! /minor freak out

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      It is absolutely NOT TRUE. I promise. After you get into university, no one will give the tiniest crap about secondary marks. I guarantee it. You are absolutely not the first person to get mediocre marks in high school and then strive to do better in university. Hell, it’s common for first-year students to have tanking marks that recover during the second through fourth years.

      You’ll be just fine.

    2. AVP*

      I have no idea if that’s true in Canada, but in America it would be blatantly untrue – I have not thought about my high school grades since basically the day after I got each report card. Maybe if you’re looking to transfer to a better university down the road, but I would think that your first year of college marks would be much more important.

      Maybe your parents are just trying to get you to work harder?

    3. Anoners*

      Don’t panic about this. I mean, if you want to get into a specific university program (like engineering), your marks will matter. Most college/universities are pretty open about what classes you need to have, and what your marks need to be. It sounds like you’ve already gotten into uni, or at least know where you’ll be going? As long as you