open thread

IMG_1425It’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.

{ 1,315 comments… read them below }

      1. mina*

        I keep looking at your pic at the top of the blog and thinking, someone really needs to draw in some kittehs.

  1. Diet Coke Addict*

    How are your cats always so incredibly adorable and photo-ready, Alison? They are impossibly sweet!

    My cats, on the other hand, are so dumb that yesterday one got in between the screen door and glass door of the balcony and could not figure out how to get out. So she just stood there. Not crying or meowing, just standing there waiting for death or something. “I guess I live here now!”

    And one of them has lost a toy so deeply in the house somewhere I can’t find it. Where do you look for a cat toy that seems to have dematerialized? After having checked under the couch, inside the couch cushions, underneath the TV/in the wires, under the appliances, around all the shelves, in the closets, the entire bathroom, under the rugs, and inside the heating vents? I think they vaporized it somehow.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Did you check in all the shoes? (depends on the size of toy) And it could have gone the way of the missing socks – into the black hole of the laundry room.

      1. Rebecca*

        My cats steal my hair elastics and put them everywhere, usually in the sink, tub, or in my shoes. I usually left one just lay on the bathroom counter top, but now I put them away in a drawer so I have one when I need it.

        1. TychaBrahe*

          Cats have been known to eat those and get horribly sick. Keep them away from your cats.

          A great cat toy is a cable tie. You can buy bundles of them at Radio Shack or Best Buy. Close them into a loop and toss them around. They’re too big to swallow.

          1. Fiona*

            I should try this! One of my cats is *obsessed* with twist-ties, and even though we try to be really good about throwing them away, he still manages to find them. I’m terrified he’s going to swallow one one of these days. A looped zip tie might do the trick.

            1. mango284*

              My cat is obsessed with Chapstick containers. He loves to bat and roll them around the kitchen floor. If I ever move and take my fridge with me I know I’ll find lots of missing Chapsticks under there.

                1. Positivity Boy*

                  My kitty found a new favorite toy last night – the stem from a bunch of grapes. I’ve never seen her so excited by anything, leaping, pouncing, rolling around on the ground with it…she is a weirdo. Although my sister’s cat loves to play with the actual grapes themselves, so maybe we should get the two of them together!

                2. Jessa*

                  The plastic ring from the milk bottle after you take the cap off. My cats think it’s the best thing ever.

              1. tcookson*

                One of my cats loves to “hunt” folded pairs of socks. She gets them out of the laundry basket or fishes them out of dresser drawers that aren’t completely closed. Then she deposits them in the living-room/hallway doorway like dead prey.

                The other cat loves twist-ties and the sticker-balls from sweet-gum trees.

                1. SD Cat*

                  He’s an elderly kitty with a lot less energy nowadays- but for years one of my kitties liked to “hunt” clothing from the basement, drag it upstairs, and leave it in the hallway. He would then sit next to it and meow until one of us noticed and praised him :)

                2. tcookson*

                  @SD Cat — that’s awesome. I’ve never heard of any other cat “hunting” articles of clothing and making a prey-pile out of it.

    2. Anonathon*

      I too am wowed by the phot0 ready cats. I have to be sneaky as can be to get a photo of our kitty, or he is outta there.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        And why do they never have the creepy cat laser eyes? Is there some magic photography trick I don’t know, or are my cats just space monsters in disguise?

    3. CTO*

      YES to missing cat toys. Where do they go?! Some reappear after months lost in the weirdest places, but some never show back up. Our most common lost-toy spot is under the stove. But the strangest place I found one (after not seeing it for months) was on the second shelf of our liquor cabinet. He must have flung it up there while frolicking and it landed behind some glasses. I was just glad he hadn’t broken a bunch of glasses trying to retrieve it!

          1. fposte*

            I was once walking along the street about half a block from my 15-story apartment building (which had onsite laundry facilities, so I didn’t have to go to a laundromat), and I saw a sock on the ground.

            It was my sock.

            I have no idea how I managed it either.

            1. Jill of All Trades*

              It was probably stuck to the inside of your pants by static cling and wiggled loose. That’d be my story at least :)

    4. LMW*

      My dog was so excited to get her chewy yesterday she dropped it, rushed to grab it, hit it with her nose, and knocked it under the stove. Then she spent the next twenty minutes sprawled on the floor with her nose pressed the space between the stove and floor and until I finally found a way to rescue it for her. You’d think the world had ended.

        1. Windchime*

          I read an interesting article about that. Cats navigate through the world by using landmarks, so when the landmarks move in relation to other landmarks, it’s very disorienting for them. That’s why they get freaked out when furniture moves; my cat acts like he’s never seen it before and is very suspicious and nervous until he has a chance to check it out.

          Picture driving home from work and suddenly the tree that has always been on the corner had suddenly moved across the street, or was upside-down. That’s how things look to cats when they’ve been moved.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      My parents had a great cat years ago, named Zipper. He got that name because when he was a kitten, my parents assumed he was a girl, the way people sometimes do. So that’s what they told the vet when they took him to get fixed. The vet just assumed this was the case, and didn’t check….and then during the procedure while looking for little kitty ovaries, found that the cat was in fact a boy. So they named him Zipper because he was the only male cat in town with a hysterectomy scar.

      He would go down into the basement, and then the door would get closed — leaving him trapped. Then instead of meowing, he would sit at the top of the stairs and stick one paw out from under the door, and just sit there until someone walking by happened to notice.

      1. KrisL*

        I accidentally shut my cat in a closet once (I opened the closet, reached in to get something, closed the closet without noticing she’d run in) (I’m more careful about that now). About an hour later she started meowing about it. When I opened it, she walked out calmly as if to say “I got bored. I wasn’t scared or anything like that!”

  2. KC*

    Happy Friday! Is anyone else binge-watching Veronica Mars tonight so they can see the movie in theaters?

    1. Audiophile*

      Happy Friday! I’m not. I think I may try to catch the movie tonight. There’s a bunch of AMC theaters in the NY/CT area where I live.

    2. Noelle*

      I am! I’m almost done with season 2. Thinking of skipping season 3, it’s always a letdown after the first two seasons.

      1. Positivity Boy*

        Any idea if season 3 is going to be necessary to understand the movie? I only ever watched the first 2 (and absolutely loved them) after hearing how disappointing season 3 was, but I don’t want to be totally lost if I see the movie.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Don’t know for sure, but I think Piz, Pez whatever (from season 3) is still her bf and she had a lot of interaction with Logan in season 3 so I would bet the answer may be yes.

          Saying that, I plan to watch the movie with only my vague memories of the three season when they first aired.

          And, yeah, season 3 was a letdown.

          1. Positivity Boy*

            Hmm, maybe I’ll just read the ep summaries on Wikipedia so I have an idea what’s going on but I don’t have to commit hours to catching up. Thanks!

              1. Positivity Boy*

                I don’t let myself go on TWoP anymore because every time I do, I get sucked into an ANTM recap wormhole and I don’t come out for weeks.

          2. Penny*

            Yeah I’d think you’d want to be familiar with Pez for that reason. S3 wasn’t VM’s best but still good and still better than a lot of TV out there.

            Anyone know if Wallace will be in the movie. I remember seeing most characters will but can’t remember on him, which would be so sad if not.

            1. Garrett*

              Yes, Percy Daggs is in the movie. I think all themain characters and some minor who were still alive are back (except Duncan – I don’t remember seeing him)

        2. Harriet*

          Yes, I think it is. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but flicked through the first part of the script and I think you’d feel a bit lost if you didn’t know the (terrible) way season 3 ended, but reading recaps should be fine.

        3. Laura*

          I’m 99% sure it will be at least helpful, because you need to have some understanding of Piz, and of how she left things with Logan (their relationship in season 3 was tumultuous, and a lot happened between them, and according to the movie preview she hasn’t seen him since.) You’ll probably understand without it, but the background of what happened to her relationship with Logan – they were still dating until mid season 3~! – will probably let you get more out of i

      2. KC*

        I’m almost done with Season 2 also! My husband’s already seen it in its entirely, but he’s catching me up before the movie. We’re hoping to go see it on Monday. He did say that Season 3 wasn’t the best.

        1. Noelle*

          Season 3 is still good, it’s just not AS good. The first two seasons are just so well written, and the third one is a little disjointed.

          1. Laura*

            I think the problem with season three is it has 3 different “big mystery” plots, while season one and two have one “big mystery plot” each. I cared very much about the murder of Lilly Kane (season 1) and the bus crash (season 2), but not so much any of the three arcs of season 3, though the Hearst rapist part is well done.

      1. BJ McKay*

        I actually loved Season Three, though I know I am in the minority. We are just starting to rewatch Season Three but I hope to get through it before the movie is out of theaters. I have an infant and a toddler who cut into my TV time. :)

        1. Kit M.*

          I love season 3! Actually, I started watching the show on season 3, and only went back to 1 and 2 later. I think 2 is the weakest season, personally.

      2. LMW*

        I have to wait till Sunday because my sister is out of town all weekend and we made plans to see it together when we heard it was coming out.

    3. JAM*

      Can I just say how happy I am that VM is getting so much attention? Every one of my favorite blogs – whether entertainment or fashion or even here – has people commenting about it. So glad one of my favorite shows is finally getting its due! (And that people will finally be watching it. Y’all, seriously – season 1 of VM is probably one of my favorite seasons of TV EVER. So good.)

    4. Aimee*

      I’ve only had time to get about halfway through the first season, so I won’t finish it by the time I get to see it tomorrow (can’t watch it with the kids around, so I only have enough time for 2-3 episodes once they are in bed). I will be practicing extreme self-control though, because my dvd should arrive today and I’m not going to watch it until I get to see it in the theater tomorrow night.

      I’ve been rereading the recaps at televisionwithoutpity . com though, in preparation. And I tend to rewatch the entire series every year or so anyway. It’s my favorite show!

      I don’t really follow entertainment blogs/news very closely, but my husband does (that said to indicate that I don’t know his source so I can’t judge the accuracy of the following, but I’m choosing to believe it’s true). He read that Ryan Murphy is going to write a couple books that take place after the movie and if the movie and books are successful, they will probably do more movies!

      1. Claire*

        Well, it’s Rob Thomas not Ryan Murphy ;), but yes. He’s confirmed in the Kickstarter Backer updates that there will be a couple of novels, and the first one is out on March 25th (Veronica Mars and the Thousand Dollar Tan Line is the title, iirc). And he’s also said that there’s a chance of more VM if the movie makes money.

    5. Laura*

      Me! I’ve been binge-watching for 2 weeks and seeing the movie on Sunday. I’d watched it when it was originally on and forgot a lot. I’d forgotten how much I LOVE that show , and how amazing the seasons 1 and 2 finales were.

  3. Ali*

    In early!

    So yesterday, I was doing resumes and realized that I had made not one but two mistakes on a resume for a position I really wanted. To make matters worse, Wednesday was the application deadline! Argh! After asking some contacts and a relative, I decided to make corrections and e-mail the hiring manager, explaining that I had updated my resume and to please discard the original one. I hope it’s not too late, since I did apply before the deadline and just had to send in a revised resume. I just cringe when I realize I’ve made such a critical mistake. Guess job search burnout is starting to hit…

    1. Zillah*

      Ugh, I hate it when that happens. I’ve done it once or twice, too – my sympathies, and I hope it works out okay!

    2. Eden*

      I did that, on an application for an editorial position–DOH! It bears mentioning that I got a phone interview anyway.

      1. Ali*

        Thanks everyone. I just heard back from the woman who I assume is the hiring manager for the position. (She wasn’t listed on the posting, but she’s the director of the department I applied in, so I figured it’s a safe bet.) She thanked me and said she included my revised resume with my original application. So it sounds like they haven’t even started to review candidates, or are in the early stages of doing so…I hope I get an interview!

        I also made a mistake on a cover letter once and got an interview anyway…also for an editorial job! Go figure!

        1. Erin*

          We just had this happen with an applicant! The greeting on his cover letter read “Dear [Insert Name]”, with the name not having been changed. However, he caught his mistake the same day that he sent the application and sent replacement files. It didn’t negatively affect his application in any way. I actually found it funny, especially considering that “detail-oriented” was one of our essential skills in the job listing, but really I appreciated that he caught the error himself and handled the situation very well.

    3. Cat Mechanic*

      I don’t know that I would have thought of such a good excuse to not draw attention to the old resume! During my last job search, I somehow didn’t change the Mr. to Ms. in the salutation of my cover letter (for an editorial job, of course) before I sent it. I just sat there staring at the sent email, not believing it! I replied to the contact that I was mortified (Alison’s favorite adjective) that I’d done that. I ended up getting an interview anyway!

      Honestly, it didn’t matter if I spent 30 minutes on an application or three hours; a dumb mistake occasionally occurred.

    1. kdizzle*

      I think it depends on the relationship. If it were my boss, I think that having a discussion about it and acknowledging how much I appreciate what he did for me would be enough. …but maybe a card too.

      1. Sadsack*

        I wouldn’t give my manager (real or hypothetical) a card for recognizing my work and pushing for me to be fairly compensated. I would do as Barbara in Swampeast wrote — thank him and continue to work very hard.

        1. kdizzle*

          That’s why I noted that it depends on the relationship. My boss happens to be an old-school, sentimental person who lives for his work and would appreciate something like a hand written note.

      1. KrisL*

        I agree with Barbara.

        If at some point you think of some things you’d like to say or e-mail to her about what a great manager she is (specifics are great for this), you might also consider saying/e-mailing them. I don’t know if managers hear that kind of thing. It might go over even better if it’s a few months from now.

    2. Lucy*

      You thank her and then keep working hard. She didn’t do you a personal favor because she knows you need extra money – she did it because she values your work and she sees value in keeping you motivated and around.

      1. D*

        Exactly. This is why I wouldn’t give a gift. If you give a gift, it looks like you think the raise was a gift, not something you earned.

    3. VictoriaHR*

      Do you have a hobby where you make something? Knitting, crocheting, woodworking, baking? I’d give them something handmade as a thank-you. For example I’d give my boss a bar of my soap or a jar of lotion or something.

      1. A Bug!*

        If you’re very confident that the boss would welcome and appreciate such a gift, sure. And when in doubt, Barbara’s suggestion is always appropriate.

        My boss doesn’t like gifts of any kind flowing upward, so what I might do is bring some baking in for everybody, so my boss could have some if he wanted without it being a gift.

    4. Nerdling*

      It really does depend on the boss and the relationship. Our office hierarchy is fairly formalized, but my relationship with my boss is pretty informal. For something like this, I’d bake him cookies — specifically the brown butter bourbon chocolate chip ones everybody in the office likes. With a more formal boss, I would just thank him and keep working hard.

    1. KC*

      I’ve been having focusing issues for this entire week–my last day isn’t until the 26th, though! I’m looking forward to it too!

      Congratulations, Anonymint!

      1. Anonymint*

        You can do it!! I gave three weeks and it’s been a struggle – this week especially.

        Congratulations right back!

    2. danr*

      You shouldn’t have to focus… everything should be wrapped up and ready for you to walk out the door…. you can always dream, right? [grin].

  4. TheSnarkyB*

    Whoa, only 4 comments!!
    Ok, I want to hear pet peeves in email communication. As I said last week, I overthink things and have email-anxiety, so I want to hear about what you don’t like. Especially re: first-contact emails/emails from people you don’t know well.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      When people forward an email from a mass header to exactly the same mass header, usually with the phrase “This made me think of you guys.” Gee, I wonder why…

    2. Ali*

      People who don’t answer at all! It bugs me when I contact a friend asking for advice, if they want to get together, whatever and they can’t even take 5-10 minutes to pen a reply. I’ve also run into this with my boss. I’ll e-mail him something about scheduling and he’ll ignore it for days. But if he sends a request and no one replies, he has no problem hounding for an answer…

      I also hate angry e-mails, especially when they come unprovoked. I asked a contact something last summer, and instead of addressing the question (when I also hadn’t spoken to him in a few months to begin with), he e-mailed back a long, angry response about all the things I had done wrong and why he wasn’t going to help me anymore. Nice.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh god, ignored emails. Especially if it’s in response to a request. If someone emails me a question or request, and I respond, and then….nothing….that bugs me. Acknowledgment of receipt is really all I want! Especially when sometimes attachments get lost, caught up in spam, etc.

        1. Dee*

          Ugh, ignored emails. If I ask a question and you don’t know the answer or you need to take some time to look into it, just let me know that! But don’t make me sit there wondering if you even received/read the email I sent.

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          Oh this is a big pet peeve for me too. There are 2 people I work with, both in the same subsidiary/department, who never, ever, ever respond to my emails.

          Of course, when they need something and email, and I reply, they’re quite responsive and complain loudly when I don’t reply quickly enough to suit them. But when I send an email with a question, or send something for them to review, it’s crickets.

      2. ChristineSW*

        People not answering is a pet peeve for me too, especially when they specifically invite you to email them!

      3. Sunflower*

        Ignored emails and then a freak out if you went ahead without them. This happened with a personal situation a couple weeks ago. We were decided on a house to rent for vacation and one girl never answered emails or gave input and then the day of, freaked out over what we chose. um sorry?

    3. HeatherSW*

      Non readers: I ask for a meeting time, they repsond “I look forward to meeting with you.”
      ALL CAPS

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Mine is when you ask for clarification on a few items needing the boss’s attention (or, hell, even ONE, such as “do you want X or Y done”), and the response is “yes.”

        That answer is worse than no answer, because the boss thinks s/he’s responded to your question.

        1. Jamie*

          OMG YES! Or when you ask a user 3 questions and they respond Yes and you have no idea to which they are responding or why they are ignoring the other two.

          This is such a huge one.

          1. Laura*

            Similarly, when you ask someone something that’s not a yes or no question, and they answer with “yes.”

        2. Midge*

          When friends or family do this to me- usually when we’re talking, and they don’t hear or aren’t paying attention to what I’m saying- I often say, “that’s not an appropriate response to the question”. Obviously that doesn’t fly at work.

      2. Noelle*

        I get so many of those! Or, I’ll say “Let’s meet on Monday. I’m free any time except 2-3.” “Great, see you at 2.” I have started just picking times when I am free, and highlighting/underlining it in my email. I think it’s annoying and I hate it when people do it to me, but it at least works. Sometimes.

    4. Anonymous*

      I saw a posting for a volunteer job that I’d be interested in doing, and just realized that it’s pretty old – over 2 months – but has no cut-off date. The website has a generic “volunteer opportunities” page that says that they need people to do this role, among others, but has no specific ad. Would it be terrible to call and ask if they still have need of people before putting together a resume/cover letter?

      To be honest, I don’t particularly want to do just anything for the organization – it’s this specific task that interests me because it’s something I’d like to develop more skills in.

      1. Anonymous*

        Darn! Posted in the wrong place – I was going to write a response to this comment as well.

      2. CTO*

        Contact them, for sure. Some specialized volunteer positions may easily go a few months without being filled, as organizations don’t usually have a lot of resources to put into recruitment. (Former volunteer manager here.)

    5. kdizzle*

      Read receipts and “urgent” e-mails when it’s not close to urgent. It’s NOYB when I decide to read your email and take action on it. I’ll do it in a more than timely fashion; I just don’t need people micromanaging me through e-mail.

      1. Sunflower*

        Read receipts are silly nowadays since my email asks if I want to send a read receipt and I almost never do. So they get replys to the emails and no read receipts.

        1. Em*

          AGH, there is a woman in another department who has the read receipt request on for every. email. she. sends.

          1. Lulu G*

            This is me, usually.
            I work in a large company and figuring out when to follow up with people I don’t know in less office-based jobs within the company is far easier when I can tell if they read emails every day or once a week etc. But I always forget to put them on when it’s relevant and end up kicking myself for missing out on the information. So now I read receipt all my emails. I wonder if my other coworkers are secretly mad at me!

            1. The Other Katie*

              I would be. One of my co-workers does that to all her emails. I take it as she doesn’t trust anyone to do their jobs, which includes reading email. I always decline. I figure that just because I read my email, doesn’t mean I’m obligated to do what you want right this second. But that’s just a pet peeve of mine. :) I never thought of it as an attempt to see how often people check their email…I could maybe see it in your circumstance.

              1. Lulu G*

                We had one guy we were trying to reach in order to get started on a project, but he’s always busy with urgent stuff in his lab. He was so caught up in the urgent matters, he ignored our important but not urgent emails. And he also ignored our phone messages. We eventually discovered that the only real way to reach him was his cell phone. But knowing that he wasn’t reading emails was the first step to solving the communication gap.
                Of course, half of the people in my building use read receipts for everything. Maybe we’re all rude and don’t even notice!

            2. Elysian*

              Do you have a lot of people who only read their email once a week? If you have to do a lot of follow ups for some individuals, it might be better to try calling them instead of emailing.

              Why not just send the email, and then if they don’t respond after 2-3 days give them a call? I would honestly be really annoyed if I were your coworker. I view read receipts as someone else’s way of telling me they don’t trust me to respond, or don’t trust me to respond fast enough for their liking. And honestly… that’s kind of why you’re saying you use them. You need to start from a place of faith that your coworkers will do their job, and then if there are people that habitually don’t, then take a different approach with only those people.

      2. Anonymous*

        Or what about those e-mails where you get an automated reply saying that that “for protection from spam” I have to type in some password or code to prove I’m not a bot before my response gets sent.

        You wrote to me, dude, and probably 3/4 of the time, the questions I’m addressing are answered on the front page of our website. Don’t make me jump through extra hoops.

      3. Anon from Oz*

        I’ve set Outlook up to automatically not send read receipts. I don’t even see the pop-up these days. When I found out how to do it I was told that I wasn’t to make the knowledge public in my company.

        1. e*

          Our office used to have an e-mail system where you could actually check and see if someone had opened, replied to, deleted or forwarded your message. We just switched to Outlook, and people who relied on that feature were told they could use read receipts. So we have a few people who now request a read receipt for every single message. It doesn’t offend me, but I think it’s funny that they are relying on a method that requires the other user to volunteer information. What use is it if they can just decline to send a read receipt anyway?

          On the other hand, sometimes I kind of wish that people would attach read receipts to messages that only require an acknowledgement that they’ve been received and/or read. It saves me the time of having to write something like “Got it! Thanks!” which for some unexplainable reason I just hate doing.

          1. Anon from Oz*

            I know what you mean about the “Read it” email response. That would be so handy for my boss. I always joke that if I created an App called “where’s my boss” I’d make a fortune !

            I’m in IT and a lot of people will not follow the procedure and log calls/tickets so they email me directly. In these circumstances I’ll read it and the majority of the time it isn’t urgent enough to circumvent the system. If they had received a Read receipt they’d expect that I drop everything to work on their issue immediately. It’s much better that they do not have confirmation that I’ve read it :)

    6. Ollie*

      I hate when I ask more than one question, but the reply only answers one question, so I have to e-mail again. I don’t understand why so many people can only answer one question at a time. (My multi-question e-mails are only 2 or 3 questions, so it’s not like I’m sending an interrogation or something.)

      1. Positivity Boy*

        This was going to be mine! It drives me insane and wastes both of our time – I don’t know if people just don’t read all the way through, or they think just answer the first question will suffice. I don’t ask those other questions for fun, I ask because I need to know the answers!

      2. SD Cat*


        That happens to me all the time- Some people seem to only be able to answer one thing per email

      3. Anonymous*

        I’m in the middle of this now. Do not understand why an otherwise intelligent person cannot answer or acknowledge a question I’ve asked multiple times now. I’m hoping that the fact that she’s answered my other questions (gradually) will help, since the unanswered question is now the only question remaining that needs answering….?

      4. Cath@VWXYNot?*

        I find that formatting multiple questions as a numbered list really helps with this – people are more likely to notice that there’s a discrepancy between the number of questions asked and the number answered!

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          I will try this tip next time I send an email with multiple questions. Thanks :-)

        2. Ollie*

          Formatting multiple questions as a numbered list sound like a great idea! I will try this. :]

          Does anyone have suggestions for when the questions are about totally different things? (The kind of questions where you’ll need to write two or three sentences to give context before asking the question, and then needing to start a new paragraph for a different context and a different question.)

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?*

            Same as above – numbered list, but put the actual question part in bold, if your email format allows. If not, separate each numbered point into “Background: [text]” and “Question: [actual question]”.

            1. Ollie*

              I was imagining the paragraph of context, and then the numbered questions. Numbering each set of context/question sounds awesome too.

              Thanks! :D

        3. Windchime*

          This is how I do it, too. Numbered lists. Otherwise, if multiple questions are buried in a big paragraph of text, the skimmers aren’t going to see it. I find bulleted/numbered lists easier to read, so that’s how I format my emails.

          1. Anonymous*

            The first sentence of my email reads “I have 3 questions”. And then I use the numbered list. Mostly works.

            1. tcookson*

              That’s what I do, too: state at the beginning of the email the number of things I will be asking, and then provide a numbered list.

              Someone once said that you should write, not only to be understood, but also to not be misunderstood. I try to keep that in mind when writing emails.

      5. The Other Katie*

        +1 One of the directors I work with does this all the time. I even limit my questions to a couple short sentances, and he still only answers the first one. Drives me crazy.

    7. Anonathon*

      Forwarded emails without context make me batty. Don’t just send me the thing, explain why you sent it! Is it just an FYI? Or do you need me to reply in your sted? Or did the email say something kooky and you just wanted to share? :)

    8. Kai*

      When people copy your boss on their message to you–not because your boss needs to be involved but just, I don’t know, to make themselves look good or something? I work with someone who will do this for the tiniest request.

      1. Jax*

        I do this only with coworkers who have proved (a couple times) that they won’t do the job if it’s only coming from me. It’s basically me saying, “Okay, now we have to drag in your babysitter to make sure you do your job.”

    9. Elysian*

      Importance markers and return receipts are my pet peeves in email. You don’t get to dictate what is important/a priority to me unless you’re my boss, and requesting a receipt so that you know I opened your email signals a lack of trust and professionalism to me. There are certain situations where these things might be helpful tools, but on the whole they are used far to much and just work to grate on my nerves.

      1. Dan*

        Particularly when they come from HR. I think HR at my last job sent *everything* out as “red exclamation point”. For some reason, I never thought that stuff was nearly as important as they did.

        So, my question about “high priority” is high priority for who, exactly?

        1. Elysian*

          Yes!! Especially because, if I’m away from my desk I’m getting my email on my phone. And my phone doesn’t care about importance markers at all, so your red exclamation point won’t show up. I had this once were something needed an immediate reply and they only put the red exclamation point, but didn’t ever say in the email itself “This is important and needs an immediate reply.” Since I wasn’t at my computer, I read the email and said “I’ll answer this later.” That was apparently wrong, though heck if I knew it at the time.

        2. Skippy Larou*

          I’ve had only one red exclamation point e-mail for my federal job, and that was because one of our courthouses had a bomb threat. I appreciated the red exclamation point then, and I’m glad they don’t use except when needed.

        3. Tris Prior*

          I had a client once who sent everything out with the red exclamation point. After a while, you just start tuning that out. Or at least we did.

          Many people at my current company actually put the due date for responses in the subject line, when it’s something that has a hard deadline. I actually find that really helpful, more so than the red exclamation point or putting URGENT in the subject. If I have a date then I can decide for myself whether it’s urgent or not based on when it is and what else I have on my plate.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            My ex-coworker used to get an inbox that was always full of junk, and it got to the point where she was very often only reading anything with the red exclamation mark. She then started assuming that everyone else worked the same way and was sending pretty much everything out with that on it even if it really wasn’t that urgent. A lot of people did tune that out, but someone did ask her not to do it any more for non-urgent emails and she didn’t like that.

          2. Anon from Oz*

            The words Urgent and ASAP have no meaning in our company any more. Everything is urgent ! It’s now at the point where the usual people who hysterically apply urgent to everything go to the bottom of the list (unless it is actually urgent which is extremely rare).

          3. tcookson*

            I put the due date in the subject line for things with a hard deadline, too. (ex. “DUE Mon. 18 Jan: Course Syllabi”). My faculty say they appreciate it because it helps it stand out from other emails.

            For my boss, I use subject lines such as: “FOR YOUR REVIEW: 2nd Year Field Trip Budget” or “FYI: So-and-So out of Office Today”.

            I really appreciate subject lines that are descriptive of the topic. And when the topic changes, I appreciate it when people modify the subject line to reflect that.

        4. smallbutmighty*

          I have a colleague who has become a horrible email bottleneck (which he freely admits), and he’s instructed those of us who have to work through him to use the exclamation point if we want him to read our email at all. Since he’s supposed to be looped in on more or less everything we do, we send him a lot of email, and yeah, much of it isn’t truly urgent or is primarily FYI. But I think it’s funny that he’s explicitly told us to use the exclamation mark if we want him to even read what we’re sending.

      2. Trillian*

        Corporate communications for one company I worked for sent out everything with ! When I moved on, it took me a couple of near-misses to resensitize myself to it having meaning.

    10. ClaireS*

      We have a few people who email questions and cc customers who I don’t know. It’s incredibly irritating and inappropriate.

      1. Jeff A.*

        This is one of mine, too, Rebecca.

        Especially irksome when “below” is an exchange of a dozen and a half emails from multiple parties that I have to spend 15 minutes sifting through to discover the relevant takeaways (if any).

      2. Positivity Boy*

        I use “see below” to indicate that there’s a history with further background beyond just my email, but I always include a very brief summary of the situation and the main question as well, so they have context for why I’m forwarding it to them as they read through the rest of the exchange.

      3. e*

        Huh, this one was a surprise to me. I’m a details person, so I’m just going to read the full conversation below anyway. It seems inefficient for the other sender to type out an additional summary, and inefficient for me to have to read the summary, too. I will have to be more cognizant that many people prefer it that way.

    11. Tasha*

      1) Responding yes or no to an email with more than one question, or talking about X at great length when I say, in the first line, “I have a question about Y.”
      2) Unduly harsh responses when, on an internal message, someone is in the To: line when they should’ve been cc’d.
      3) Clip art/GIFs and large or colored text.

      People in my department are much better at using email, and much more prompt about responding, than where I went to school before. They use mass emails quite frequently, but it’s better to be in the loop :-)

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        w/r/t item 3:

        I have a colleague whose default e-mail font is set to Papyrus. For some reason some e-mails come in Comic Sans. Quite apart from finding these a bit too cute for professional purposes, it turns out that it’s hard to tell the difference between some numerals in Papyrus. I shouldn’t have to squint to know what numbers I’m looking at.

      2. smallbutmighty*

        Yes to number two. Good Lord, yes. Having risen through the corporate ranks, I never got any formal (or really even informal) training on the meaning of “to” and “cc,” and had to make a few mistakes before I truly got it. One of my bosses seemed to positively enjoy dressing me down for it in needlessly mean fashion.

        Generally I’m not prone to schadenfreude, but I now outrank him (he was demoted and I was promoted–the two were in no way related), and I have a gloaty little moment every time I see him in the hallways.

    12. themmases*

      Sending stuff to the wrong person.

      I’m supposed to get reminders about project renewals from an admin assistant in another department. More than once a year, I fill out multiple forms updating this department on our progress, all listing me as the contact person.

      Every renewal cycle, reminders go out to the project leader (an MD or PhD who obviously won’t be doing the work themselves, at all) and not to me. Or they go out to the project leader and my coworker (who is senior to me but not my boss and works on totally different projects). Or to one of the admin assistants, who never worked on this stuff ever and in fact isn’t even in our department anymore. And yes, these emails are supposed to go to people in my role. I’ve given up correcting her after 4 years.

      I can keep track of the deadlines myself without the reminders, but what I get are panicked forwards from project leaders about whether I know about this deadline, or lazy forwards from project leaders a week before the deadline that would have been a disaster if I didn’t know. Plus it just strikes me as disrespectful that this person will respond to emails from me, but never address me herself as the person responsible for the project, even if it’s just due to her incompetence. I get other emails like this to my coworker too, like she’ll be delegating things to me that are actually my job.

    13. Boo*

      An admin from one of our partner agencies regularly sends emails which begin “Listen,” – ARGH

    14. TheExchequer*

      Misspelling my name. It’s spelled correctly in my signature. It’s a five letter, very common name. And yet, people constantly leave off the last letter. Arghhhhhh.

        1. Windchime*

          People always want to tack an extra vowel onto the end of my name, despite it being spelled correctly in my signature.

        1. TheExchequer*

          My name is Sarah. With an h. Which is the way it’s spelled in the signature line. So why, why, why, when you’re replying, would you spell it Sara? What have you got against the h? You couldn’t bother to take the extra two seconds to double check?

          I have never met anyone named Juddy, but now I am tempted to create a character with that name.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        YES. People constantly misspell my name – it’s a slightly less common spelling (think Stephen vs. Steven). If you get it wrong the first time and you started the email chain, fine, but once I’ve replied and clearly signed my name, you should be able to do it right. My boss still sometimes spells my name wrong, and I’m her direct assistant and have been for a year now.

        What I’m really curious about it if less common names are less likely to be misspelled. I find myself paying more attention to my spelling if I’m emailing Maurizio versus if I’m emailing Jamie, because I am more familiar with the name Jamie. Do others do the same? If you have a more unusual name, do you find your name is more often correct than incorrect?

        1. Jamie*

          This isn’t a pet peeve of mine at all – it truly doesn’t bother me.

          I have co-workers for over 5 years who still email me as Jaime or Jaimie (one of each) and I couldn’t care less. It’s on my sig tag and the from – but I’d never ask them to correct it because I just don’t care.

          Now that I think about it though, I would correct Jami, Jamee, or any version with a Y because even though pronounced the same those seem like different names to me, in a way. The two I usually get just look like typos of my name – and I don’t point out typos.

          I do always make an effort to get other people’s names right though. That’s reinforced because I put them in the system where it has to be right – so after typing it in a couple of times it sticks. Faces I’m bad at, names I’ve got.

          But to answer your question – as someone with a name that has multiple common and correct spellings it’s about 50/50 for people emailing me for the first time. The majority get it right after multiple contact, though.

        2. AAA*

          Less common name here – most people haven’t heard it before, and yes, it gets misspelled all. the. time. And mispronounced. And generally confuses people.

          And it doesn’t bug me when someone mispronounces it, especially when I’m first meeting them, but it *does* bother me in email when it is misspelled — though clearly spelled correctly in my email signature.

        3. Jen in RO*

          I worked in an international company and it always annoyed me when people in other countries misspelled my (weird for English speakers, yet only 5-letters) name. It was right there in my signature! How hard can it be?

        4. fretnone*

          I have an unusual and rare four letter name, and people frequently leave off the last letter (which does change the pronounciation of the name).

          It’s odd when it’s right there in writing, but also frequently happens out loud – I have co-workers who’ve known me two years who leave off the last letter out loud, but include it in writing, or vice versa, and not consistently.

          Sometimes I think they just aren’t sure what my name is so they flip-flop and hope it’ll be right at least some of the time :)

          1. AnonAdmin*

            No “h” Sara here, and I find it super irritating when people add the “h” – like you, it’s in my signature! Maybe it’s a commonality to Sara/h -es? :)

            1. TheExchequer*

              I’ll make sure to send you the newsletter for the Secret Society of Sara/hs later. :D

      2. SD Cat*

        My name is not particularly common , especially when you combine my first and last names, so I try not to get frustrated. It is, however, really annoying if I’d emailed them first (with, like you mentioned, a signature with the correct spelling)

      3. Wren*

        Sarah? I have a friend who has the opposite issue. And people write Sharron for me. That is the much less common version, so I don’t know why they choose it.

        1. Laura*

          A lot of people write my name as Lauren . I don’t know why they change Laura to Lauren, when my name is even in my email address.

      4. Mumbles*

        YES! My name is often misspelled despite being in my signature, email header, etc. It’s extra annoying when you’re in a chain of emails going back and forth with someone, signing your name and they continue to address you with the misspelled name!

      5. Cath@VWXYNot?*

        yes! I sometimes feel like replying “I don’t know where you’re getting that y you’re putting at the end of my name, but I know what you can do with it…”

      6. Tris Prior*

        I often am called a completely different name, that starts with the same letter as mine, in people’s responses to me. Using fake names: it would be as if my name is Tris, I sign my name Tris in the email, my email address has Tris in it… and then I get “Hi Tina…” in return.

        This happens all the time! It drives me insane!

      7. Smilingswan*

        I’m a Jennifer, and I can’t tell you how annoying it is to constantly get e-mails addressed to Jen, Jenn, Jenny, etc. If I have introduced myself as Jennifer, and it is in my e-mail signature and on my badge, please assume it is my preference. Argh!

    15. Steve*

      My last name is a very common first name. To make matters worse, our email system lists us as “Lastname, Firstname” (full first name, so Steven instead of Steve.)

      It bugs me that people don’t take 2 seconds to look at my signature line and see Steve in larger letters than the rest of my contact info and reply with “Hi Lastname! I’ll do that for you, etc . . . . “

      1. NHNonprofit*

        Yes! That happens to me too! Also, my last name is a very common first name for a man OR a woman. So gender confusion happens too. And my first name is a common last name. So many people don’t take a brief moment to look at my signature.

      2. frank*

        That is a problem I have. My last name is a male’s name and I am a female. My first name is a distinctively female name so it does annoy me that people say “Hi Frank!”

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes, I have that as my last name is spelled the same as, although pronounced differently from, a common first name, and people very often address me as that first name (in fairness that’s not only an email thing though.) It didn’t help that in my last job, my predecessor had that first name.

      4. kas*

        My last name is not common for a first or last name. My work email is firstname.lastname, however, internal emails always show last name first. I get people responding to my emails (which has my signature) saying “Hi Lastname …” and I can’t help but think “does this look like a first name to you??”

        An example would be the name Alicia Keys – my signature says Alicia yet people say “Hi Keys ..” like really?

        1. IronMaiden*

          I don’t have a particularly uncommon first name but at my current workplace it is spelled about 6 different ways, none of them correct. I just don’t worry about it.

      5. EA*

        I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who receives messages that start “Hello Lastname” … it is usually (but not always) from people who are not native speakers of English, so I kinda understand, but it is annoying.

    16. CollegeAdmin*

      1. Unnecessarily large fonts
      2. Extremely long signatures with unnecessary information
      3. Bosses who forward something to you saying, “Please reply to this for me,” and then respond to it themselves minutes later and cc you (or worse, don’t cc you and then you look like a fool with a double response)

      1. businesslady*

        I had a boss who did this, & his justification was that it felt “friendlier” (I guess, less final than ending with a period?). but it drives me crazy too; I just read everything with a kind of trailing-off/question-y inflection that undermines the entire point of whatever preceded the ellipsis.

        1. Ollie*

          I hate when people use two dots as ellipses because I can’t tell if it’s a typo of a period or a typo of an ellipses. :P

          Or do two dot ellipses exist and I’m unaware of it?

            1. Ollie*

              I will sleep much better tonight. Thank you. :]

              I sometimes wondered if it was a punctuation thing from other countries, like how some countries use ‘single quotes’ for dialog instead of “double quotes.”

            2. TheSnarkyB*

              Actually, yes they do. Not in grammar land, but it’s commonly used for multiple reasons. It’s not professional or correct, but it’s not necessarily a typo. I will admit to using them (and seeing them used) to indicate less idiocy/uncertainty/Valley Girl inflection than 3 dots, but less certainty than 1. For instance, I have a good friend that I text with and we both read a lot into the tone of text messages, so we get pretty creative with how things are written out.
              For example:
              “Hey, I know you wanted to talk tonight but I’m super busy.. Tomorrow instead? If it’s important, let me know.. I’ll make time.”
              I know it’s weird. I know it’s indirect. Ugh, but it’s actually useful.

            3. tcookson*

              Another ellipse question. My college comp instructor’s pet peeve was ellipses that started with no space after the preceding word and contained no spaces within the ellipse… (like so). So now I write ellipses . . . (like that).

              Does it matter? I am starting to suspect that it doesn’t because I’ve seen even fposte use the… ellipse instead of the . . . ellipse. And I’ve noticed that fposte is kind of a grammar badass.

              1. smallbutmighty*

                It matters! Thank you for asking. In some style manuals (MLA, which is the first one I used and hence became my default), there’s a space between each dot (e.g., word . . . next word). In other style manuals (Chicago, for one), there’s a space between the words and the series of dots, but not the dots themselves (e.g., word … next word). I’ve been told this second style is to save space in journalistic settings.

                Whichever style guide you’re using will also have guidance for different configurations (ellipses mid-sentence, ellipses between two full sentences, ellipses to indicate a pause, ellipses to indicate omission of part of a quotation, etc.), so if you know your audience is a pedantic one, you might want to check the guiding style book before using ellipses.

                Or you could just not use them at all, unless you need to indicate the omission of part of a quotation. That’s my approach. I see them used incorrectly so much that I just avoid them on principle.

                1. tcookson*

                  Wow, thanks for the thorough response! I was never sure whether to use MLA or Chicago, so I once had faculty submit their list of publications for the preceding year in MLA format. The current associate dean, who publishes in architectural historian journals, informs me that Chicago is more our style. So I’ll just adopt Chicago as my style, too.

        2. businesslady*

          I see what you did there.

          it’s particularly maddening coming from a supervisor, & especially so when there’s some kind of direction involved:

          “Maybe you should call a different caterer.”=I think you should call a different caterer.

          “Maybe you should call a different caterer!”=I think you should call a different caterer & I’m kind of annoyed you haven’t already come to that conclusion on your own.

          “Maybe you should call a different caterer?”=I’m going to throw out the suggestion that you call a different caterer, but whether or not you actually do is your call.

          “Maybe you should call a different caterer…”=I thought about how you could call a different caterer, but then I started thinking about how we’re all kind of caterers in our own way, man, & then a butterfly drifted past my window, & then I pressed “send.”

          1. Evan*

            That last one reads to me as, “Maybe you should call a different caterer. And maybe you should call a different cook, too. And find someone to do dishwashing. And… hey, you should be thinking of all this by yourself as soon as I suggest one point.”

          2. smallbutmighty*

            “Maybe you should call a different caterer?” is actually one of my pet peeves. It’s a statement with a question mark on the end! If you want to ask a question, make it an actual question. People I work with do this all the time.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          It’s not uncommon in higher ed, in my experience. I think it’s better in casual circumstances than “sincerely,” or “best,” and I think warmer than [first name] or [first initial].

          And while I’ve used it, I try to mix it up so that it’s not all cheers, all the time.

      1. Elysian*

        I have a group that I work with and all of them sign:

        I had to google it to see what it even meant (apparently, Very Respectfully). Honestly, I don’t feel very respected when you can’t even both to use real words.

        1. Azulao*

          It’s a military thing. I do it. Writing out very respectfully each time takes some time. If I’m using it with someone I have not emailed before, then I say v/r (very respectfully) so they know, and then I go with v/r.

          What’s wrong with cheers?

          Personally, I hate “best.” Blah blah blah, Best, Name. Now that seems rude to me.

            1. smallbutmighty*

              I hate “best,” too. I don’t even know why I hate it so much, but I do. When someone I haven’t yet met uses “best,” I draw lots of unflattering conclusions about him or her. I am trying to work on this, because I know it’s a ridiculous prejudice.

              It would help if someone who uses “best” turned out to be unexpectedly awesome and totally different from my impression of what “best”-using people are like, but so far that has not happened. Still waiting.

                1. Anhinga*

                  “Best” bothers me because it seems unfinished. I know it’s short for “best regards”, but I just feel rubbed the wrong way whenever I read it (maybe I just don’t encounter it enough). “Cheers” and “Thanks” seem okay to me, though.

                2. tcookson*

                  I use “Best”, too. I picked it up because it’s a habit in the circle of people I email (not in the first email, but after the conversation is continuing at a less-formal level than the initial contact).

                3. tcookson*

                  These aren’t military people, like Elysian’s are. They are professors and/or practitioners in the field of architecture.

          1. Elysian*

            Ooo they are indeed military folks. Good to know.

            I’m a Best, person. It seems we wouldn’t get along. :'(

            1. IronMaiden*

              I had a boss that used to sign all emails “cheers”. It was irksome and often inappropriate, especially when it related to a problem or matter that we disagreed on.

              I’m a “kind regards” person, although I was a bit put out to read that some people consider it equivalent to “F You” in passive aggressive land.

        2. doreen*

          I didn’t feel disrespected by the one person who began her emails ALLCON and ended them V/R – but I did wonder why she thought military abbreviations would be understood at our job. She works at my agency and is also in the Army Reserve. I’m fairly certain she never did this in reverse

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        I have one of those also. And if its an email to more than one person it starts with “hey folks”

        1. Candy Floss*

          I work with women who — if the email is only being sent to other women — will start it with “Hi Ladies”. Nope. Shut it down.

      3. frank*

        That was a standard at my previous job. All of our European employees used Cheers in their emails.

        I am sure there are people who are equally annoyed with my email that ends with “Thanks!”

      4. Sue D. O'Nym*

        I don’t find it annoying when it’s from my British co-worker, but from other people, it’s somewhat unusual.

      5. tcookson*

        Ha! my boss signs his emails “Cheers” and he also signs off phone calls — with ME, his assistant to whom he speaks every day– with “Cheers!”

    17. Elizabeth*

      I’m a teacher, and my biggest pet peeve is parents who are polite and reasonable in person but drop all that when they email. Perhaps it’s that they don’t understand how harsh the written word can be without things like tone of voice or body language, or that they write emails in the heat of the moment, or perhaps when they can’t see or hear me they sort of forget that I’m a person instead of a vague concept. I’ll get emails that make me terrified to call, but when I do call, the parent is always totally reasonable.

      If there’s a difficult conversation to have, don’t do it by email.

      1. Jeff A.*

        Heat of the moment emails seem to be more and more frequent with the increasing number of smartphones/tablets/mobile devices people rely on for email.

        I’m not a teacher, but work in a college/university. Received a rude email from a student, and was worried that something was lost in the tone of text, so picked up the phone and called her immediately to discuss. She was driving, and had sent off a quick email responding to me while she’d been stopped at a traffic light.

      2. A Teacher*

        Agreed. Especially when they feel like including things like “my child would do…” putting it in all caps, or ending it with the expectation that now that they’ve emailed you everything is excused and you will bend over backwards.

        It isn’t most parents but there’s maybe 1 in 10 that feel the need to do this.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        One of my friends is trying to figure out why her 7 year old son is having trouble at school. The fall semester was great, but since he went back after the winter break, he’s been having issues. Behavioral problems, etc. She told me about some of it and I said it sounded like maybe he was bored.

        She said I was the 4th or 5th person to make that comment, so she felt like she had to ask the teacher about it. So she emailed the teacher, but had me and a couple other people read it before she sent it. She didn’t want it to come across as, “You’re the problem! You’re not challenging my son!” But she worded it very diplomatically and tactfully, and it didn’t sound like she was accusing the teacher of not doing her job or anything like that.

      4. SA*

        I’m not a teacher but had this same problem with my former boss. We would finish up a meeting and all would be fine and five minutes later he would send me an email with a list of concerns. Drove me crazy, mostly because it was never anything serious and we usually had covered them in the meeting anyway. I tried to nip this in the bud by asking at the end of every meeting if there was anything he was concerned about but that didn’t help. He would say no and then still send an email right after.

      5. tcookson*

        I think people are lazy writers who don’t edit for content or tone; they just slop down anything that pops into their heads and push “send” without ever reviewing it for how it may be received on the other end. It is just sloppy communication. Did I already say it is because they are lazy writers?

    18. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha, I have this on my list to write about for U.S. News! This is going to prompt me to sit down and write it. And I’m going to steal your ideas :)

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Awesome! I totally get that the in-office politics of emails are annoying, but I feel like “not responding” etc. are more obvious replies. Similar to my question last week, I was wondering more about those people who hate “Best, ” or “Hi Amanda” instead of “Hello Ms. Kissinhug” (thanks for that one, Bart Simpson).
        So if I could throw a little vote in there for the more nuances email dislikes rather than the obvious ones, I’m doin it :)

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Also, as you may know, I have this theory that women get misread in emails more often because we are often expected to be pleasant or friendly above all and directness is low on the list of desired qualities in communication.

          FWIW, I once had a department head from a different dept email my boss (also a dept head) to specifically complain about me being curt and rude in an email. It was the sort of email that was simply direct, started with “Hi, Soandso” and ended with either “Thanks, (my first name)” or “Best,” and I was permanently scarred from that feedback. My boss read the email and said “Her complaint was totally out of line. Keep doing what you’re doing.” And “She would never have said this if you were male.” But since then, I have no confidence in my email writing abilities when it comes to people I don’t know. It makes my current job search torturous.
          So if it ever seems like I obsess about this stuff, that’s why.

          Thanks for the input, everyone!

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, but those are totally subjective preference. I don’t think there’s any objective guidance to be given on the use of “best,” “hi,” “cheers,” etc. …. That stuff is all personal preference, despite the very strong emotions it seems to invoke!

    19. EmilyG*

      “Thanks in advance.” One person I used to work with used this so often actually just used “TIA.” To me it comes off as passive-aggressive. I.e. I assume you’re going to do this for me and that no further discussion is required.

      1. Positivity Boy*

        I include “thanks in advance” when I know I’m asking someone for a somewhat annoying favor, especially someone external. I try to add as much gratitude in my initial email so that it’s clear that I understand I’m asking them to go out of their way to help me and that I truly appreciate their assistance.

        The one caveat is that I would only do this for something that they actually have to do, not something optional, because I agree that if it’s something they can choose to respond to or not, “thanks in advance” is a little presumptive that they will respond.

      2. evilintraining*

        In my secretarial training in the Dark Ages, we were told we should NEVER use, “Thanks in advance.”

      3. Grey*

        Yes. This one annoys me too. TIA is like saying, “I won’t be thanking you after you’ve taken the time to help me.”

    20. The IT Manager*

      Vague or downright inaccurate subject lines.
      1) Be specific
      2) If we have moved off the original topic to another, change the subject line so when I look for your message later I can find it

      1. AAA*

        Arrgh! Yes! I have an employee who just puts my first name in the subject line of every email he sends me, regardless of the content of the email. It drives me nuts. The subject line is a place for a *subject*!!

      2. Windchime*

        Yes, vague subjects like, “Question for you”, “FYI”, or “Update” bug me. Question about WHAT? Update on which topic?

        1. Amy*

          This is outside the realm of email, but it bugs me so much when people stop my my desk or raise their hand in a meeting and then announce, “I have a question.” Right, your behavior indicated as much- just ask it! Even worse is, “Sorry, I have a question.” Don’t undermine yourself before you even start!

      3. Smilingswan*

        Yes! Especially #2!

        I also hate when people respond to an earlier e-mail in the thread, which makes it really hard to follow.

    21. Positivity Boy*

      My biggest pet peeve with emails from people I don’t know is not starting out the conversation with a proper greeting and closing. If we’re going back and forth or you’re someone I know well and converse with regularly it’s fine, but we should exchange at least 4-5 emails in a chain before you drop the “Hi Bob” and “Thanks, Jane” from your emails. It irks me when people I’ve never spoken to send me just their question/statement with no intro, and especially if their signature is just “Sent from my iPhone”.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree with people emailing for the first time. The flip side of this is when someone with whom you work and email frequently does a formal closing. Yours sincerely or whatever.

        When they are the only one doing it in a culture of casual email back and forth it stands out, not in a good way. Not necessarily horrible, but kind of like wearing a suit and bowtie to a BBQ. Just out of place.

        1. Positivity Boy*

          I vary my level of greeting/closing with people I converse with frequently depending on what the email is. If it’s just a quick note about something (“Got the X report, thanks!”), definitely no need for formalities. If I’m initiating a conversation or explaining something at length, that still gets a “Hey Jane,” and a ‘Thanks, Bob”.

          1. Jamie*

            I do that too, actually. If it’s a somewhat official or formanl email I usually end with thanks, Jamie or something.

            But just the regular back and forth I don’t.

            It’s just the people who end everything, even the one word answer stuff with yours truly, name…and it’s not in the sig tag is odd to me.

            1. Positivity Boy*

              Ha, that is weird. Also somewhat related pet peeve – it bugs me when someone’s signature starts with “Thank you,” and they send me an email that just says “Thank you!” so the whole thing reads:

              Thank you!

              Thank you,

              I always delete the thank you from my signature in that situation. Although I fully admit that this is a weird pet peeve and maybe a little neurotic :)

                1. Jamie*

                  When I made the company sig tags someone suggested putting a thanks in there.

                  No thank you – as minimal as possible if you please…and what’s to say every email I send is out of gratitude anyway? If I have a need to thank someone I know how to type it.

      2. RJ*

        I’m having an internal debate about whether this is annoying or not. A colleague instructed me to email someone I don’t know to ask for a link to a site I needed. I did that in a normal fashion: “Hi Joe, can you please send me the link to the intake form, blah, blah. Thanks, RJ.” He replied with the link. Just the link. No hello, no “here you go”, no closing, no nothing. So, on the one hand, he was responsive and efficient, and I appreciate that. I can’t help but think that a tiny bit of warmth or human recognition wouldn’t have killed him though.

        1. Jamie*

          From someone with whom I have a working relationship that’s fine – they were busy and got me what I needed.

          From someone I had never emailed before – weird. At least a “here you go” would have been friendly.

          1. tcookson*

            I only ever send just the attachment or link with no other words to the two other departmental assistants who are sitting right next to me in our shared workspace. They ask me for a certain form, I attach it to email and hit “send”, and then, verbally, I say, “Here you go” and they verbally thank me.

            If it’s someone who isn’t directly with me, I send the atttachment and I type, “Here you go” or some such into the body of the email. Because that’s courtesy.

        2. Positivity Boy*

          Yup. This is totally annoying. Even if I speak to someone on the phone/in person first and tell them I’m about to send them a file or a link, I still add a “per our discussion” or “here you go”. If I haven’t even spoken to the person at all and I don’t know them, I would definitely include a complete greeting.

          1. smallbutmighty*

            Thank you for doing this. I get a lot of emails from a lot of different people, and many of them contain asks of various sizes. I like it when people call me by name and open and close the message appropriately. I do notice and it does make the message more pleasant to receive.

      3. SA*

        The whole ‘Sent from my iPhone’ should be banned at this point. It’s no longer unusual and who really cares. To me it means you haven’t figured out how to turn it off.

        1. Stephanie*

          I thought it was pretty pretentious and I was an earlier adopter of the iPhone. “Look at me! I have enough money for a fancy phone!” No one cares.

          I do keep a signature line that says “Sent from my phone–please excuse any typos” to cover for weird autocorrect typos or to justify a two-word reply.

          1. Amy*

            I see why you would do that, but to me that reads as if the person couldn’t be bothered to check for typos, which isn’t really any more difficult than checking for typos on a computer. I get that it’s more likely that you’d make typos on a phone in the first place, though.

          2. tcookson*

            Back when iPhones first came out, I really wanted to add “Sent from my clunky, three-year-old desktop Dell computer”. I resisted because that’s just passive-aggressive and rude, but I really kind of wanted to.

      4. Sue D. O'Nym*

        If I’m typing a response on my phone, I will sometimes drop the greeting. But, I always sign with my name, and I have the “Sent from a mobile device, please excuse any typos” disclaimer on there too.

        If I’m actually writing an email on the computer, I will almost always include the “Hi Wakeen”. Unless it’s something like Subject: “Here’s the link you asked for”, Body: (URL)

    22. The IT Manager*

      Backgrounds or whatever they’re called that change the background of a message and changes the background for every reply after that.

      1. Positivity Boy*

        Agreed on this one! Why is this even a feature of email? In what situation would I ever want someone else’s little clouds or flowers or whatever to be included in all my emails I send back to them?

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          They’re a holdover from the late 90’s/early 00’s Geocities web design aesthetic (along with auto-play MIDI or WAV files and animated GIFs of dancing hamsters, etc.). People got into the habit of using them when they were cool and chic and never got over it. Sadly.

          1. Elysian*

            This reminds me that yesterday I made a call and heard a ringback tone. And suddenly it was the 90’s again.

            1. Positivity Boy*

              80% of my job used to be outbound calls. You would be AMAZED at how many people still have ringback tones.

            2. Smilingswan*

              I once worked with a Home Health nurse manager who had a Super Mario Bros. ringback tone. It was awesome. :)

    23. SevenSixOne*

      ppl who typre liek dis in profesionel comunicatons

      i dont expct ur gramer n speelin 2 b perf but i do xpect it 2 b readable

      everything u r doin is bad n rong pls stop thx

      1. Anhinga*

        I agree. We have a guy here who isn’t that bad, but somewhat close. I thought it was only w/ me b/c we’re both young-ish, but my boss has commented on it too.

    24. LCL*

      Signature lines that are way too long. Working in a union, gov’t work place can lead to really long job titles. You don’t need to use your whole title!

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Or the dreaded “environmentally friendly” disclaimer at the bottom. “Please think twice before you print this!” as though I’m blindly printing every single email that I get…

        1. Candy Floss*

          OMG yes, what is this, 1995? Cannot we not agree as a society that it’s 2014 and people are confortable enough with the interweb that they no longer feel the need to print out every email they receive? (PS: People didn’t even do that in 1995).

          1. TheSnarkyB*

            I’ve noticed these mostly come from offices where it’s super common. My old boss used to print out every single email, often even replying in handwriting and giving them to her admin to type in. She was the editor of a major research publication and was comfortable typing when necessary, but still did this every time. That poor admin slapped that printing disclaimer into her email signature as the smallest act of activism she was afforded.

        2. Windchime*

          My company automatically tags that line onto every email. There isn’t any way I can stop it!

      2. Yup*

        Especially on a long reply chain, where important one-sentence communication like “This meeting has been rescheduled from 9 am to 8 am” is buried under a metric ton of titles, addresses, twitter names, marketing web links, and legal disclaimers.

        Every time I have to scroll down 15 screens to obtain three micropieces of information, a unicorn dies.

    25. TheExchequer*

      People who include what should be the body of their email in the subject line. I understand if it’s a quick emergency, but there’s really no reason otherwise.

      1. anonymous*

        My boss types in all caps. I have no idea how she can not know not to do that. I am guessing she only does it with her reports, but still we are all professionals and don’t need to be shouted at to get your point across.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          A colleague at Exjob did it and I did mention it to him. He would do lower case for a couple of days and then go right back to it. I gave up and started cap-yelling back at him, haha (we were friends).

        1. Windchime*

          Yes we had a guy like this at old job he would just keep on typing in a stream of consciousness and go from subject to subject and then the email was just over

    26. NylaW*

      People who ignore the subject line and either have no subject, or who start typing their message in the subject line.

    27. Jamie*

      My email pet peeves are legion – but number one will always be those who stop by my office to tell me they just sent me an email and proceed to tell me what it says.

      I don’t mean following up if I didn’t respond right away I mean click send > get up > walk to my office > tell me they just sent me an email about X.

      Followed closely by those who respond to my emails by printing it up, and bringing it to my office to hand it to me with their response handwritten on it – or just to discuss it in person.

      “You said you can’t log into a workorder – what’s the WO number?” Does not require you to use your printer or come tell me in person. With some people almost want to check their Outlook so see if they got the factory seconds version without a reply button.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        The only time I ever email and then do a cubicle drive-by is when something is truly urgent. Like if it’s 10 AM, I just finished testing a coding change, and I need my boss to approve it before the noon cutoff so that it won’t have to wait until the next week to be applied.

        1. Jamie*

          Totally different thing – sometimes I’ll send an email because I want an electronic trail but I’ll run in because I need a signature or something immediately.

          I am on-board with those – it’s the ones who don’t seem to understand how email works, or that I can read that bother me.

          1. RJ*

            Off-topic, but this reminds me of the people who don’t understand how voicemail works too. “Oh, uh, give me a call. I have a question.” If you would TELL me what the question is, I could call you back with an answer, instead of having to call you to find out what the question is, and then go research it and call you again. I hate telephones!

      2. Nerdling*

        We have a guy who does #1. For those of us who work remotely, he’ll press “send” and then immediately pick up the phone to call us. If we’re for some reason not at our desks when he calls, he’ll then IM us. So you can conceivably come back from the bathroom to an email, a voicemail, and an IM from this guy, trying to get you to read and deal with his (frequently not immediately important) emailed issue. It drives me bonkers.

        My other email pet peeve is people who either Reply All or reply directly to distribution lists. Especially if they respond with, “I don’t know why I’m getting this email. Please take me off this list.” I’ve decided we should use that as the person volunteering to be fired, as they are not intelligent enough to figure out Outlook.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          A couple weeks ago, I was scheduled to be part of a webinar-based training with 150 other people from my company nationwide. The number of people who replied all to the calendar invite destroyed my faith in humanity. Again.

      3. Becky B*

        This. We have a “I just sent you an email” person who will wander up and install himself in your cube to watch you open and read it. We suspect that him even moving to email in the first place was a hard-won case, not being “one of those technology types,” so this come from of a deep-seated suspicion of e-anything. Or he’s just a PITA.

        I’ve noticed that the people who expect you to respond to their emails right away conversely rarely respond to yours before a week is out–if ever.

      4. Ashley*

        I admit that I do this with my supervisor but it’s because he often doesn’t check his email and then will ask if something is done.

    28. Anonymous*

      Okay, I think this is a pretty unique and not an “easy” mistake to make, but my boss ends every question not with a simple question mark but with a “?!” Not just things that are urgent or that annoy/anger/confuse her, but every. single. question.

      “How does Wednesday, 10am work for a meeting?!”
      “Can you schedule a photographer?!”
      “What are we ordering for lunch?!”

      It’s weird as hell and adds this feeling of stress to every communication I have with her.

      1. Positivity Boy*

        ARGH I have a coworker who ALWAYS uses two question marks at the end of a question. It makes it sound like she is extremely confused by every situation she asks about.

    29. Grey*

      Please don’t type your professional emails in Comic Sans unless your recipients are, in fact, children.

    30. AmyNYC*

      People who don’t use BCC on mass emails! It’s not a privacy thing, just annoying to see the whole list.

      1. Stephanie*

        This. The distribution list will take up half the email body.

        Even with Gmail grouped replies, it’s still a PITA to end up on a never-ending email chain (especially if you don’t know most of the people).

      2. Audiophile*

        I will admit I’ve been guilty of this. I’ve been sending group emails lately and have dumped everyone into the To field. But part of that is convenience since I created a group list in gmail.

    31. Christine*

      -Sending me an email asking me to complete a task I do routinely without needing reminders as part of my job – the equivalent of emailing the janitor asking for your trash to be emptied. If there is some special urgency, please explain, otherwise I am going to ignore your email and complete the task when it would routinely be done. (I get at least 20 emails like this a day.)

      -Using email for topics that are EXTREMELY URGENT. You wouldn’t email the fire department if your house is on fire, would you? Pick up the phone. Send an instant message. Drop by my desk.

      -Engaging in an exchange of dozens of emails to work out a confusing, complicated, or controversial issue. Schedule a meeting. Pick up the phone.

      -My org has some HUGE email distribution lists for notifications that need to go to set groups of people. Sometimes when a notification goes out, a handful of idiots replies to all on the notification. Then there are emails from other idiots asking those idiots to stop replying to all – also sent to all. Then more idiots start replying (you guessed it – to all) to express wonder/amusement/annoyance at the mayhem. This typically goes on all day.

      1. Smargie*

        Regarding your first point, I hate the I have to e-mail people to do their job. I would imagine in your case you have proven to the recipient that you don’t need to be babysat but in my case of I don’t e-mail my colleague every month then it simply won’t get done. It’s frustrating to have to babysit an adult. I tried discussing this with his manager, but he was as useless as the employee.

      2. Kai*

        YES to your first point, so hard. I’m an admin and manage several people’s calendars, and have been doing so for several years. Got an email from one of them the other day: “Please schedule this meeting with X, Y, and Z. Check their schedules to find a good time.” Oh really, is that how it’s done? -_-

    32. Betty*

      I will email someone and cc my assitant, “Laura”, the person emails me back and says “thanks Laura” arrgh

    33. AAA*

      I have one employee who I recently learned does not know how to use email. Like, at all. He phoned me yesterday (4 times!) so I could coach him through sending a one-line email to me. (“no, its firstname DOT lastname AT company…the @ symbol is Shift + 2…no, I should get it right away…it’s instantaneous”)

      I am not kidding. Is it 2014? o_O

    34. Trillian*

      People who do not check the content of the entire thread before sending it on to someone new. I remember coming on to finish up a project and receiving an email with an attached thread that included a client venting about how awful my company was. Never knew whether it was carelessness or troublemaking.

    35. AnonAdmin*

      People who treat email like a glimpse into their internal monologue and have no context. I don’t know what’s so hard about rereading what you wrote and editing, but I get emails from colleagues that read like I just dropped into their stream of consciousness (not to mention no punctuation). “I was thinking that the report would be better with two options for sorting and then people could use it bi-monthly instead of weekly and Wakeen’s going to work on it”. Really?? What report? What options? What are we talking about?????

    36. LizB*

      People who reply to a mailing list email (which sends the reply to the entire list) asking to be taken off the list. Either email the people who run the list directly, or follow the instructions at the bottom of every single email sent to this list that tell you how to unsubscribe! It’s not that hard! It’s extra annoying when it starts a chain reaction of multiple people replying and asking to be taken off, someone replies with clear instructions about how to unsubscribe, and people keep replying “please take me off this list also!” anyway.

      1. Dang*

        Hahahaa this happens to me probably every 3 months or so. I’m really surprises every time that it keeps happening… It certainly is never my first rodeo!

    37. some1*

      Animated GIFs

      Sending an all-company or all-dept email that’s only relevant to about a quarter of the recipients.

      CC-ing a boss for no reason.

      Spelling my name wrong when it’s there in my email address and signature.

      Replying to all for no reason.

      1. Amy*

        I’ve gotten, “Please help, so-and-so’s email is not working and my messages are bouncing back” when they’re just typing the person’s name wrong in the email address.

    38. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      I got an email recently that looked for all the world like an FYI kinda message. I didn’t realise there was a question for me in it until a colleague, who was CCed on the email, was in a meeting with the sender and he mentioned “well that’s with Cath and she hasn’t answered my email”. Said colleague came out of the meeting and asked me to open the email; we both re-read it together and were at a loss as to how we were supposed to have known what the question was.

    39. frank*

      My biggest pet peeve is my Mom sending me an email and then calling me to ask if I had received it.

    40. samaD*

      – the wall of text

      – answering one random question of the three I ask

      – asking for questions and not only not answering them, but not replying at all. Usually followed by an “update” a couple of weeks later with “answers to common questions” which are about a week too late to be useful.

      1. samaD*

        a week late and don’t generally answer all the questions/give all the info I need anyway!

    41. Garrett*

      I hate it when you are corresponding over something and the reciepient replies and cc’s half of the company. The CEO doesn’t give a crap what color font we use on our document.

    42. TheExchequer*

      And then, I just had someone write cool beans. In an email. Used only for company purposes. We’re not an uptight office at all, but we are significantly more professional than cool beans.

    43. KrisL*

      My main pet peeve is when someone sends me an e-mail thread with 4 or more e-mails on it (usually there’s at least 10 e-mails) and instead of summarizing the e-mail and giving me the details I need at the top, the person clearly expects me to go through all of the e-mails to figure it out. I’ve noticed that people only do this when they want me to answer a question for them.

      Basically, the person wants my help but is going to make it harder for me to help.

  5. Pseudo Annie Nym*

    I’m sitting here, trying to write yet another new cover letter for yet another job. Writing these over and over are like trying to pull barbed wire out of my brain through my nose (and about as appealing)! Anybody have some fun tips for shaking these out and putting some life into them?

    1. Lindsay*

      I write a lot of cover letters, too, and tend to reuse the same one over and over, just modifying it. But two weeks ago I wrote a personal statement on my “leadership qualities” to apply for a grant and realized that it actually made a pretty good cover letter.

      Maybe do some creative writing by responding to an imaginary work-related prompt and see if it shakes any new ideas loose.

    2. Jules*

      Not sure if it’s fun but I use to have a set of question that only requires one-liner answer and in total just piece it together in the end.

    3. Anonymous*

      It sounds like you are burning out. I think you need to put down the cover letter, go for a walk, drink something nice like coffee and put yourself in a good state of mind. When I was trying to write cover letters wracked with tons of stress it was a lot harder to come across as enthusiastic and excited for the work, I sounded desperate and sad. So put yourself in a better state of mind, give yourself a fresh start, and try to tackle it again. Talk about how you’re excited and make the best argument for how you’d be a good fit for the position, doing so when you actually feel good will be easier and not quite so painful.

    4. JustMe*

      I’ve noticed that being descriptive helps. Both in your language and in giving examples of your skills.

      For instance, instead of “I am a problem solver,” you could say something like, “I relish the challenge of making things work.”

      If you’re a team player, don’t just say you are–give an example of how you collaborate with your coworkers.

      Also, when you’re writing the cover letter, really look at the job description, pick out the themes you find in the requirements, and make sure you mention those points.

      I am by no means a pro, but I noticed that after I made those changes, I have been invited for interviews for the first two jobs I had applied for post-change.

      1. IronMaiden*

        I applied for a new position yesterday. Unfortunately for me, I was right up against the deadline, so my cover letter was actually an email and not as good as I would have liked. Also, the selection crtieria left a lot to be desired. I was quite happy with it, having learned a lot from Alison’s columns.

        Take a look it the “Cover Letters” section of AAM and you will pick up a lot of good tips.

  6. Anonymous*

    I’m a middle manager. There’s a very jovial (forced IMO) environment at this company. My work is always praised, my clients are happy and my team is productive.

    My manager recently had a come to jesus meeting to tell me “nobody likes me.” He couldn’t give me examples of off-putting behavior, or concrete complaints. He just had a feeling that nobody likes me and thinks I should be more open about my personal life, particularly struggles I’ve had with a private medical issue (which he knows about in order to accommodate).

    So…time to look for a new job, yes? I can’t imagine what else I’m supposed to do with this info.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Is there someone else in the company you can ask? If your manager can’t give you any specific reasons then it is probably just his bias.

      I’ve been in work situations where I HAVE put people off, but my manager was able to tell me why and I was able to correct it very successfully.

      If you are up against whiners, then that is a no-win situations because they will always find something to complain about.

    2. Boo*

      Wow. This reminds me of Ex-Boss, who called me in a meeting to tell me that the Chief Exec’s PA had said I “could be difficult”. Of course I asked for some examples so I knew what to work on, and she couldn’t give me any!

      I don’t think there is anything you can do with that kind of feedback, it’s basically useless. All it does is make you paranoid and stressed. I also think it’s out of order for you to be asked to be more open about your personal life especially with regards to medical issues. It’s none of their business and there are plenty of other things to bond with coworkers/peers over which aren’t going to make you so hideously uncomfortable.

      Is there anyone else you can talk to about your manager’s concerns, like HR? While it’s nice to get on with one’s coworkers, what your manager has brought up sounds more like a popularity contest which I’m pretty sure isn’t measured by any performance appraisal/training…

    3. Rayner*

      Uh……… You’re supposed to make people like you by sharing private medical information? Um.


      Bad manager. *thwaps him with the paper*

      I would suggest job hunting anyway, since it seems that you’re not gelling with the culture – forced jovial attitude etc – and this is a big sign that they’ve clocked you not being there for it.

      Also, your manager sucks. No specific examples, gut feeling, and crappy advice to share something deeply personal and private to boot? Blargh. “Hey Cathy, let me tell you how my IBS gives me bowel problems to make you like me!” “Hey Bob, let me give you details on how I hate taking depression meds because they make me feel crappy so you know I’m a real human being!” (not saying you have those conditions btw).

      In the mean time, maybe take more time to interact with your employees, like ask them how their day is, make yourself more visible on the floor, or create time in your day to make yourself more avaliable for questions or such, if that’s possible. See if you can coach someone who’s been struggling more actively, or point some high flyers in a different and upward direction.

      Good managers manage, but it could be that they’re not seeing you do this visibly, which is why he came up with a “nobody likes you” thing. It’s not that they don’t like you, it’s that they don’t know you.

      If they do hate you, you would know, I think. There would be rumbles of discontent amongst the ranks.

      1. guest*

        Maybe the reason why people don’t like the OP is that they are unaware of the medical issue and think that s/he is slacking or unreliable or whatever, when really the manager is fully aware and accommodating. A manager can’t just share medical information with staff, but he may believe (correctly or no) that other employee’s misperceptions and possible resentment would be alleviated if they knew the full story.

        It would be tough to be the manager in that position. I’m not sure he’s taken the right approach here, but it could be motivated by wanting OP to thrive in the office environment but feeling uncomfortable saying that the medical issues are causing problems because he doesn’t want to be seen as not accommodating where the law requires, not violating her privacy, etc.

        Just playing devil’s advocate.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Uh. Could it be projection? The reality is no one likes the boss?

      Well, you cannot correct what is wrong if you do not know where the problems are at.

      Offer to sit down with the boss and one coworker to see where you can improve your relationship with that person. (I bet if you offer, the boss will say “no-no it’s not that important”.)

      Definitely tell the boss that you would like to change all that and ask him for some pointers. You will either get good tips or you will find out the whole thing is smoke and mirrors.

    5. Celeste*

      Do not divulge. I also think you don’t need to turn yourself into some kind of jovial back-slapper on your boss’s whim.

      I have no patience with the “nobody likes you” business. Unless he can give you some concrete examples of how your personality is hurting the workplace, disregard.

      I don’t know if you would be happier someplace else or if you are ready to move up a level in management, but if so then pursue it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Ha ha!

        My parents owned rental properties for years, and one building was Section 8 housing with many residents with physical or developmental disabilities, and also some people with mental health issues. They all just loved my parents, especially my dad, because they really tried to make that building a nice, decent safe place to live, instead of behaving like slum lords.

        One of the results of this was over-sharing by some of the residents about medical stuff. My mom was in one lady’s apartment one day to check out a clogged sink, and the tenant whipped off her shirt and bra to show my mom some sort of skin condition, and asked what it was. My mother very kindly and gently told her that she didn’t know, but it was important for the tenant to go see a doctor who would know what to do about it.

        Years later, we talked about how their tenants would just share anything and everything with my parents, who they didn’t really know at all. My mom’s theory was that for many of them, it might have been the first time in a very long time that they felt like anyone really cared about them, and so kind of looked at her and my dad as adopted parents.

        1. CTO*

          I work with folks living in that kind of housing. I’m grateful for landlords like your parents! While I’ve encountered my fair share of oversharing folks in this line of work (particularly when it comes to medical needs), at least no one’s taken off their shirt in front of me yet!

    6. Eden*

      Or maybe he is trying to get you to “be more open” because he’s already told a few people about it and knows he’ll be fingered if it all makes its way back to you.

      I also hate the “you’re doing it wrong” lectures in which no one has thought to write down some examples.

    7. Candy Floss*

      Bottom line, you can’t change the culture to fit you. I am in teh same situation as you. Exactly the same. My saving grace is that I get results and am really good at my job but that might not save forever. I try to moderate my communicationstyle as much as possible but it’s a strain – it’s like speaking a foreign language, it doesn’t come naturally.

      The medical thing is just weird. Unless your manager is deranged or terribly bad at his job, I’m sure what he meant to say was “Let people get to know you by sharing more ifo about yourself” and he just did it in a weird way.

      The other possibility is — is the accomodation he makes to your medical issue ‘visible’ to co-workers? for example, do you leave early or come in late and he’s the only one who knows why? could it be that co-workers resent see some accomodation, don’t know the reason for it and therefore are in a snit about it?

    8. Mel*

      Aaaack. Horrible manager. Horrible, bad, no-good manager. Even if what he’s saying is true (and it sounds like there are plenty of reasons to doubt that), that’s a worse than useless way of approaching the issue. I second the suggestions to talk to other people you trust to see if you really do have an image problem.

      How’s your HR department? I’ve gotten mine involved recently under similar circumstances. I told them what I thought was going on, then started emailing my boss after our meetings with a summary of what we discussed, and copying HR on it. I now have a nice paper trail showing my boss’s concerns, my responses, and the concrete guidance (or lack thereof) that I’ve gotten as a result.

      It’s pretty nerve-wracking, though, so I can’t necessarily say I recommend it. Looking for other jobs is also a viable move here.

    9. A Teacher*

      Old employer did this to multiple people and when our supervisors couldn’t give us concrete examples to be able to figure out what they were talking about, multiple people, including myself said “well that’s hearsay”. Frankly I can’t even put a vague opinion into context without concrete examples of how I’m doing something wrong.

      And no, some things are not your co-workers (or boss’ business) don’t feel like you have to stop being you and disclose personal information because “they” (whoever they is) don’t like you.

    10. NHNonprofit*

      Somewhat related. I once had a manager that told me I wasn’t meeting expectations. I asked what those expectations were, since I was kicking the heck out of my goals from my last performance review. He countered that I should tell HIM what the expectations were that I wasn’t meeting. At that point, I negotiated a severance package and resigned.

    11. CEMgr*

      I deeply respect the fact that you keep your private medical issue….private. I can only gape at the thinking of those who would pressure or want you to disclose it against your preferences.

      Just a little workaround…how about choosing some benign, neutral facts about feelings and preferences? “I really enjoy gardening…planted tomatoes this weekend. They taste SO much better.” “I like to come in early and miss the morning commute!” or whatever. This may meet the unexpressed need of some personal chitchat while still staying within your (highly appropriate) comfort zone.

    12. Jamie*

      What a totally unproductive way to talk to you. Of course you don’t know what to do with this information.

      And fwiw – I doubt it’s possible that no one likes you. I’ve known some vile people in my day and there was always someone who liked them – so assuming you aren’t president of the kitten kicking club it has to be an overstatement.

      And personally, I’d like you a lot more for not sharing personal medical issues. I’m not a fan of over sharing as it makes those of us who don’t seen secretive. Some people don’t get there is a difference between private and secret.

      If this is a culture thing and not just your manager being a ginormous ass I hope you find something soon because most workplaces aren’t this nosy.

    13. Malissa*

      Reminds me of the time my boss asked me if I had a problem with Wakeen in IT. I didn’t have a problem with him. Wakeen was usually a very good worker, but he’d been stand-offish and weird lately. Turns out Wakeen didn’t want to work with me anymore for no specific reason, he just didn’t like me. But there were no examples given. I offered to make it right if anybody could tell me what was wrong. I never did get a reason. And the relationship did improve after that.

    14. Anony Mouse*

      I’m on the other side of the table and I thought I might suggest another possibility. This might be offensive so keep in mind that I know nothing about you except the ~100 words you’ve written and I’m just describing my own experiences.

      My team and I detest our middle manager for a variety of reasons. She micromanages, hears what she wants to hear, rejects innovative ideas because she’s afraid we’re gunning for her position (no one is), and (here’s the big one) doesn’t take constructive criticism well.

      Is it possible that you’re giving off the vibe that you won’t welcome your team’s opinions about you? There might be some little things you’re doing that annoys them but since they feel they can’t tell you about these things, they start to nurse grudges and soon, everything you do is stupid and incompetent? I’m pretty sure our manager thinks she’s doing great (the ones who have complained have been labelled bad apples and retaliated against).

      No idea where that “share your personal life” comes from, though. Out-of-touch manager, perhaps?

    15. Vox De Causa*

      That’s atrocious feedback.

      Probably time to look for somewhere new, but in the meantime, you could try something that my manager has me do. Since day one (this even came up in the interview), he made it a rule that I must visit all 20 of my direct reports first thing every morning, in person. It’s not (necessarily) to ask about how their work is going, but to ask them about something personal (how was your son’s basketball game, did you have a good time on vacation, etc). If they bring up a work concern, I will follow up on whatever it is they need, but I generally open with friendly personal stuff.

      It takes up what I consider a significant amount of time, and I initially dreaded it, but now I enjoy making my morning rounds and it’s given me a much better connection to my associates.

      Apologies if you already do this. It was new to me – I’d had some supervisors who made a swift run through with a hurried “‘morning!” and others who never greeted me at all until they wanted something done. I was usually lucky if I got a once-a-week check-in. Now I see my manager daily for in-depth conversations (he practices what he preaches) and I see each of my team members to find out how they’re really doing. As a non-touchy/feely person, I think it has made me much more personable and approachable.

    16. KrisL*

      Can you talk to him and tell him you want to be liked, but you’re not quite sure how to do it? I’m not saying he’s right; he’s probably wrong, but acting humble and asking for advice tends to be a good way to go.

      I don’t get the part about the private medical issue – why on Earth would he think that’s a good thing to share? Most people don’t want to hear about medical stuff anyway.

  7. Cat*

    How do you/can you negotiate salary when moving withing a company that calculates increases based on a set formula?

    I’m interviewing for a position that would be at least one step up for me, grade-level-wise. In terms of responsibility, this new position is basically *the* communications person in that department; they want someone to do strategic planning plus day-to-day content production, some attendance at off-site, off-hours meetings, occasional travel. This is a pretty big jump in terms of responsibility for me, but I think I could do it and I’m excited about the work the department does.

    According to the HR recruiter I’ve been talking with, I would expect an increase of 6-8% which would put me just above the minimum posted for the position. My normal annual raise is around 3%.

    If it even comes to it, could I negotiate?

    I’ve also heard from another recruiter that when moving between positions with the same grade level, pay stays the same and you can’t really negotiate salary. It seems like it would discourage internal applicants when external people would be better able to negotiate.

    1. Anon*

      I think this varies by company. We have a set formula as well at my work, but when push comes to shove they over ride this rule if the employee in question can make a good case for themselves. Some places have this in place and really stick to it, though. Do you know anyone who works there that might be able to give you some inside information?

      1. Cat*

        I’ve gotten this info from the recruiters who work in the HR department, but haven’t asked directly if there’s any flexibility in that (and won’t until I actually need to). I guess part of it is that our annual reviews are done in June, with raises kicking in in September, so if I were to start a new job in the next few months, I’d wonder what would happen to my usual increase.

        I hope I’m not jinxing it by even asking this!

  8. anomnomnomimous*

    Yay for cute kitty pictures!

    So I had an interview earlier this week, which I think went well. I sent a thank you after the interview, and the HM encouraged me to stay in touch over the next few weeks while they finish their first round of interviews with other candidates.

    I wanted to create some samples of the work I’d be doing for the company and their clients (I couldn’t do it for the first interview because both their client list and the details of the job’s task are confidential until the interview.) Should I email them to her next week (hopefully it would refresh me in her memory while she’s working with other candidates) or wait to see if I get a second interview and if I do, bring them then?

    1. CTO*

      Unless you were directed otherwise, I don’t see the harm in emailing them (as long as you only send one message and don’t keep following up). It might help secure that second interview!

    2. Jen RO*

      I wouldn’t do anything unless they asked me to. An applicant sending me unrequested work would kinda put me off his/her application, honestly.

        1. AmyNYC*

          Leaving a sample at an interview make sense, like leaving them a resume. Unless it was asked for, emailing samples after seems… desperate.

          1. anomnomnomimous*

            Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. She’s got all the samples she requested…my sense is to wait until the second interview (if I get one) to give her anything else. My mom keeps telling me to keep emailing her stuff (I know, I know) but I think if I were in the interviewer’s position, I’d just find that obnoxious.

  9. TheSnarkyB*

    Are there any mental health counselors on here? LMHCs? I think in other states they’re called LPCs?

    1. Jax*

      My husband is an LPC. If you’re asking if you should pursue that field, he would adamantly tell you NO. Low pay and lots of heart-wrenching stories from the clients.

      1. Mz. Puppie*

        Oh Jax, really? I’m just beginning my graduate program leading to my LPC. Does he really regret it that much?

      2. TheSnarkyB*

        Thanks for the advice- too late though, I’m graduating in May :)
        FWIW, I disagree with him and am glad I made this choice, but I see where he’s coming from. There are unforeseen regrets (mostly $$ related) and not enough information upfront about the field.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’m a social worker not a psychologist but I am licensed to provide mental health treatment.

      1. anon*

        Just out of curiosity, what’s the difference? I’ve been looking for a therapist through my EAP, and most of the people they’re listing are LCSWs. I tend to associate “social worker” with things like CPS or welfare, rather than private mental health treatment, but I imagine that’s probably a mistaken or extremely limited view.

        1. doreen*

          The difference in NY is in education- licensed ( master or clinical) social workers have an master’s degree in social work, licensed mental health counselors have a master’s degree in mental health counseling, psychologists have a doctorate in clinical psychology. The programs differ somewhat in focus- for example social work programs often include some coursework in public policy while my daughter’s MHC program doesn’t.

          In my experience, few of those who work in CPS are social workers by training . The people who investigate abuse/neglect reports and monitor families tend to be caseworkers who are not MSW’s .( I had a bachelor’s degree) The few licensed social workers provide therapy to the CPS just as they can provide that same therapy in private practice- and it’s not uncommon for a licensed social worker have a private practice in addition to working for a government or non-profit agency.

    3. Rachel*

      My husband is a marriage and family therapist. He is licensed in our state to provide counseling and therapy, from perspective of family systems. He works approximately 60% of the time with individuals and 40% of the time with families are couples. If you are an entrepreneur, it is a great way to work.

  10. Ali*

    And a personal comment/seeking some advice:

    Has anyone here ever been through a phase where they feel like they don’t have a ton of friends or any kind of social life? My job schedule is really weird as it is because I work in a 24/7 industry. Also, the people who have worked Monday-Friday hours have all been in the position longer than me (though perhaps not necessarily at the company longer) and they are not leaving anytime soon. So for now, I am stuck on the dreaded second shift for who knows how long.

    But that’s really only part of my problem. I never get invited anywhere despite people saying things like “Oh I’d love to see you!” or “Oh we should get together/have lunch/whatever!” I don’t get why everyone seems so excited to see me then never seems to want to hang out or gives every excuse in the book as to why they can’t. Meanwhile, I then have to see that they have time for plans with other people. I never call anyone on it but it does depress me a little. If my friends don’t want my company, then why act like they do only to never come around?

    Yes, I realize this may be nothing personal and that everyone is Very Busy, but it feels bad when I see that my same friend who keeps telling me she is just too preoccupied to hang out has time to go out to lunches and shopping with another friend of hers.

    Gah…any advice? I am job searching, but until I find something with more stable hours, I am obviously stuck.

    1. Kevin*

      When they says “we should have lunch” can you make plans right then or at least pursue it? Like ok I’ll email you when I get back to my desk and check my calendar.

      1. Ali*

        When I try to invite them and give some kind of a time frame, they say oh I’ll have to check and get back to you! And then, with the exception of one friend and his wife, they pretty much never do. The friend of mine that does care enough to get back to me I’ve known for over 10 years. (And no, we never dated and yes I am friendly with his wife and she’s not a jealous person, so there are no issues!)

        1. TL*

          Have you tried saying, “Wow, I haven’t talked to you in more than Xtime and I really miss it? Can we try very hard to get together for brunch Sunday?”

          Give them all a last-ditch effort, making it clear this is something you really want, and then find other communities to get involved in if nothing comes of it.

        2. fposte*

          Depending on what you mean by time frame, it might help to be more specific–“I’m going to the new Wes Anderson Friday. Want to come and then get ice cream after?”

          But overall, it’s possible what you’re talking about are not friends but acquaintances; they have closer friends, so they’re aware that you’re in the acquaintance category, but you’re still looking to fill those closer ranks, so they feel like they should be closer friends than they are.

          Additionally, sometimes it’s just a rhythm thing–I have friends I enjoy greatly who are currently in a spontaneous-big-party mode that’s announced on Facebook, and I’m not on Facebook, and they feel like going out in a smaller group is cheating the rest of their friends. So we’ll see if we can sort that out in the meantime and if it changes to something that works better for us in a while, but it’s really not a slam on either side that we’re not managing to get together much at the moment.

    2. iseeshiny*

      If you are actually trying to set something up (not, “Yeah, we should hang out sometime,” but “Want to grab lunch on Thursday? There’s a new Thai place I want to try!”) and keep getting flaked on or dodged, it’s possible you just have lousy friends who aren’t that into you and should look for new ones. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh – I went through something pretty similar when I left school and went to work. I kept in touch with one friend because that was the only one who reciprocated any efforts I made to keep in touch. And while it did take some time (because it is seriously much more work to make friends outside of college) I did eventually manage to make new friends who actually followed through with plans, thought to invite me to things, etc and I am so much happier.

      1. Ali*

        It doesn’t sound harsh. I have tried adjusting my behavior a couple of times because of the whole belief that everyone wants to be friends with a happy person. But even when I’ve gone through stretches when I’m feeling generally positive, I still can’t seem to make plans. Then I feel negative again and everyone says “Well no one wants to be with you because you’re not happy!” It’s sort of a crazy cycle.

        The thing is, all my friends don’t seem to mind texting or Facebook chatting and our convos there go great, we joke around, talk about life issues, etc. But they just never seem to want to go out in person.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Wait, this seems like it introduces new and relevant information. If you’re often coming across as negative to these friends, then … yeah, that might be at the root of it. Chronic negativity can be exhausting after a while, and even if you have periods where you pull back on it, people will already be trained to think of you as the negative one and might be avoiding that. Any chance that’s what’s happening here?

        2. Colette*

          It’s possible that you’ve just grown apart, and that they really enjoy interacting with you online or over text, but don’t prioritize getting together in person. I think it’s worth thinking about what happens when you get together (i.e. do you listen as much as talk, when you talk do you get stuck on one topic but refuse to do anything about it), but the likely truth is that it’s as much about them as it is about you.

          Can you make an effort to go new places/try new things that work with your schedule? (Take a fun class, volunteer, go for a walk every morning, etc.) Best case scenario is that you make friends with other people who like the same activities. Worst case scenario is that you go out and do something different that you may not like.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. It could be that the friendships have run their course.

            This can get to be a cycle- of up and down moods. When the friends are around that does not necessarily mean the mood should go up. Sometimes a mood can remain low because wth- sure the friends are here now but will they ever show up again?

            Get new friends. Seriously. This is a hard cycle to break and it could simply be that the friendships have run their course. Friendship fatigue? I don’t know. But I do know that a few people have commented to me how others have drifted out of their lives over the years, I have seen the same thing. It’s fine to do a self-check but keep it in practical/helpful terms and don’t beat yourself up.

    3. AVP*

      I go back and forth with this…but yes. I think partially it was because I had a super-bffff for a long time, and I got used to hanging out with her all the time without having to plan anything or reach out to people, and now that’s she’s not around much I’ve realized I’m kind of shy and uncomfortable about reaching out to people.

      Also, I travel a lot for work and I’ve realized that the more you turn down invitations because you’re out of town, the less likely you are to get invited to the next gathering. I imagine it’s the same for you if you’re working odd hours.

      One thought though – after college it took me awhile to realize that just because all of my friends hung out in a big group all the time then, we don’t really do that anymore. People get together run smaller groups that might not include anyone, just because it’s more convenient. And now that we all have “outside” friends from work or whatever, you’re not necessarily expected to become friends with all of your friends’ friends the way we used to be.

      I have a friend who used to work nights and I noticed that she was very vehement about saying to people – “I am free on Thursday at 1pm! Where are we going to lunch? Pick a place near your office.” Much stronger language than I would use, because I get shy about inviting people places, but she knew she had one hour and people would generally appreciate her forthrightness.

      Ugh, also, remember that people only post the great things about their lives on Instagram and Facebook – so you might see “oh these two friends look like they’re going out and having fun tonight!” but you don’t see that they were sitting home alone for the last two nights!

    4. matcha123*

      I’ve been a somewhat similar situation for a long time, so I can kind of relate. In my case, I freely admit to crying and feeling frustrated.

      I’m not one to reach out to people and I guess that’s a part of my problem. However, I have been incredibly busy for the past year and people I wouldn’t mind meeting up with in the past get pushed to the side. I feel really bad, but even when I do have time, I’d rather use it to sleep or clean my house than see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.

      Maybe your friend who is shopping with her friend is in the same situation as me; dealing with a friend going through a rough time…a friend who is very willing to tag along with you anywhere you go because they need someone to talk to.

      I would suggest spending time on the things that you enjoy, emailing/calling friends early to make plans and take comfort in knowing that it may be something simple and stupid; rather than malice.

      Good luck :)

      1. AskingForAFriend*

        To add on to Matcha’s excellent response…

        How old are you, Ali if you don’t mind me asking? And what stage of life are you in (i.e. single, newly married, new parent, etc.)? The reason I ask is because I’ve gone through something similar in the past couple of years. Long story short, I’ve had the same group of friends for the past 5 or so years. In the past year, as a group we’ve had lots of changes (i.e. getting married, becoming parents for the first time, etc.) and the group has unfortunately become a little disconnected. We’ve stopped hanging out on a regular basis which hasn’t helped either.

        I haven’t had any major life-changing events in the past couple of years, and honestly, I’ve felt a little bit left out (others in our group have felt the same way). I’ve learned that we’ll have many different friendships throughout our adult lives. After all, how many of us are still friends with our BFF from 5th grade? Probably not many.

        I would encourage you to get involved in things you’re interested in, or try out some new things. For me, that means taking lessons again in a sport I love and joining a new community group at my church. This will introduce more people into your social circle and give you a better chance to connect with others who are in your stage of life.

        As weird as this probably sounds, I also deactivated my Facebook account a few years ago because it was just too painful for me to see how perfect everyone’s life seemed to be compared to mine, which was a mess at the time. I now realize that it probably wasn’t the most mature thing to do, but it helped a lot at the time. Comparison is the thief of joy – I have tell myself this a lot. :)

        1. TL*

          “deactivating my Facebook”
          yeah, if it’s too painful, get rid of it! I love Facebook because I have friends all over and it makes it super easy to get into touch with them (or judge-stalk them…er…) but I also carefully moderate it and if your Facebook is all about how perfect your life is, you’re not showing up on my feed.

    5. Jules*

      I used to work like a dog and when I get back home, people are asleep, I have no time to hangout since I am busy with work etc. It was very lonely.

      How I coped was to join an online gaming group. We all congregate on mIRc and theres always someone there no matter what time it is (global friends FTW). Maybe find some version of that in the area of your interest?

    6. themmases*

      Do you invite people out yourself? I had a period where I felt like this a lot, but gradually I realized I wasn’t taking the initiative myself either. What broke me out of it was going to meetups where if I liked someone, I had to get their contact information and suggest meeting again myself, or I’d probably never see them again. I got better at it and started trying to apply it to the friends I already had.

      I have a friend who works in administration for a stadium, so she has a 9-5 that gets changed all the time for her to work events. I can tell you that even as I’ve improved at calling people, I always hesitate to call her because I just assume she won’t be free. Then when we hang out I find out she was at home watching the same thing on Netflix as me, and we could have been doing that together. If you’re the person with the weird schedule, I think other people will make the same mistake I did and assume you’re busy, even though they want to see you. They should still take the initiative, but they might need to hear from you that you’re free– maybe even a few times before it sticks.

      1. Ali*

        I do try to take initiative, and I’ve often wondered if people just assume I’m too busy and decide not to bother. I got promoted a year ago, and my job can be quite demanding at times, especially when schedule shifts are requested. I’ve had to work nights until as late as 1 or 2 a.m. Obviously by then no one is free to go out!

        Among my friends, the ones who seem to get to go out a lot are the ones who have 9-5 jobs that don’t ever have evening/weekend requirements, don’t work at all or they have jobs where they can basically work whenever they please. My job is flexible too, and I generally have no issues with time off requests, but we still have shift times we have to report for and what not. (Even though in my case, reporting = going to my desk and logging into my computer because I work from home.)

        1. TL*

          Find a hobby, take some classes – if you’re looking for people time rather than specific friend time, find some casual drop-in classes in something you’re at least mildly interested in and go occasionally. You might not make any new friends but you’ll get more comfortable interacting with people and you’ll get some people time in that’s not about work.

          1. Ali*

            I do go to classes at the gym when I can, and though we’re not one of those groups that is all best friends with each other away from working out, everyone is really nice and we all small talk before and after class. It helps!

    7. literateliz*

      Are you in your twenties/recently out of college? I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to say that this is so, so, so common–it’s hard to make friends after college and it can even be hard to stay in touch with the old ones when you’re not all aroundat the same time anymore! I’ve been in the working world for about 4 years now and I’m finally starting to build up a small friend group but I still struggle with it sometimes and it has helped in a weird way to know that other people have trouble with this and that I’m not some kind of freak who no one wants to hang out with, haha.

        1. literateliz*

          Lol, I didn’t mean to imply it only happens in your early twenties… I’m 26 and if anything I think I’m about to enter a second wave of friendship upheaval as people get married, have babies etc. So I totally feel you!

          1. Sunflower*

            Same! I’m 25 and a year or two younger than most of my friends so they are starting to either get engaged or start seriously looking for someone to settle down with. It seems like me and the rest of my friends who are still single have seemed to grow closer.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              (Not sure if anyone’s still reading this but…)
              Maybe try to get good at/ comfortable with being a third wheel? I know it sounds weird, but my boyfriend and I wish we spent more time with other people, but everyone assumes we just want to hang out alone. There’s one person we know who happens to ONLY have couple-friends. She doesn’t love it, but she’s weeded out all the ones who are gooey and PDA-ey and has gotten comfortable with inviting her couple friends out to drinks-for-3, etc

              1. Laura*

                I happen to only have friends who are in long term committed relationships, and I am single (and don’t want a committed relationships right now). I find that the ones who make it hard are the ones who insist on PDA right in front of me, have private conversations or just can’t stop staring at each other long enough to pay attention to me. Also the ones who can never ever do anything apart. Though i like both people in the couple, I may be closer /better friends with one of them, generally the one I met before they were a couple. So sometimes (not all t hat often) I want to hang out with my friend without her fiance. Usually I’ll hang out with both of them, but on occasion I want one on one time with the one I’m closer to. So couples where you never ever see one without the other it’s hard to be friends with.

          2. Stephanie*

            Yup, this has started to happen to me, too. It was sudden. I definitely found myself growing closer to another single friend because I found myself less able to relate to some of the married/engaged friends.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yea this is something I’m still adjusting with. I did an extra year in college and in that year alone, I had to acquire a completely new group of friends since all of mine had graduated. I made new friends and then graduation came and they all moved to opposite ends of the country. By the time I moved home after graduation, I had pretty much just high school friends left. Then my sister mentioned she knew some people looking to do a summer shore house and I decided to get in on that. And now they are my core group of friends.

        Even now a couple years later, things have changed. It used to be a huge group of 16 and now I probably hang out 5 people regularly. And even then, I find myself some Saturday nights with literally nothing to do and no one to hang out with.

        Still the people I remain closest with are the ones all over the country and I think that’s just part of growing up. I have one person I would call a best friend here and I’m not as close with her as I am with my friends all over the place. I guess it’s just part of growing up..

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

      One thing that’s helped me is joining a meetup group based around something I like (Doctor Who). It only meets every other week, but at least I have definite plans when things slow down. And we’ve done stuff outside the group too.

      I also second the negativity stuff. It can be difficult to tell when you’re being that way after you’ve been doing it forever. I’m trying to change my attitude and it’s HARD. Even though I feel much more serene about things, complaining has become a habit. I have to force myself to be more conscious of what I say and how I say it.

    9. Anonymous*

      Ok, can I say this without sounding harsh? Ali, I have noticed that your posts here have had a pattern of negativity….. rehashing complaints about the industry you want to get into, complaining about friends…. I know people can be different here then they are in real life but combined with what you wrote above about knowing you need to rein in the negativity it makes me wonder if this is hurting you with the people you want to spend time with. I apologize if I am missing the mark but wanted to suggest it as an outsider.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If I remember correctly, Ali wanted a job in sports. It sounded to me like you aimed really high, Ali, I admire that because I wouldn’t have tried it.
        I can see where that would be a huge downer to sort through all that.
        This is a shot in the dark but if your friends are not realizing all that you are going through they are not going to be able to be strong friends.

        I was the first one in my group of friends to have a terminally ill parent. I also lost my friends because they had no clue what I was talking about most of the time. My life changed hugely. And once I gave up the bar scene that was the final straw that ended my friendships. My friends just went to bars and hung out. I was spending my spare time spoon-feeding a parent. Not much in common to talk about.

        You can kind of see why conversation broke down. I am wondering if this is your setting, where your experiences are so different from theirs that it’s just too hard to bridge that.

        It took me a very looong time to realize that people cannot give when they don’t know what to give. Heck, I didn’t even know what to ask for. No one’s fault really. It’s just life.

        1. TL*

          that sounds hard.
          All of my very close friends have a similar background to me and it took me a while that to realize how much I gravitated towards people who got what I had gone through. But they were the ones who really understood what was happening when I most needed a friend.

    10. Stephanie*

      You’re in your 20s, right? Making good friends post-college/grad school is hard. (I’m in my late 20s.)

      Been there, done that. I moved away from DC a bit and had this big, shiny, happy group of friends. I moved back and things were completely different. A lot of my friends had gotten into serious relationships and the single friends had all moved away. I definitely found myself not getting very many calls or being the third wheel A LOT.

      So, I just made an effort to meet new people. I did improv, which introduced me to a ton of new people (and got me into a regular activity). I saw you work second shift, but is there some regular activity you can do to meet new people?

      1. Audiophile*

        ^this. I often lamented my lack of a social life. But wasn’t sure how to go about expanding my social circle. I joined meetup, added myself to a few groups and never bothered to go to any events. I was complaining again about being bored and not having much to do, a friend suggested I check out meetup, haha. So I did a quick search using my work zip code and voila I found a group that was perfect for me. And now I feel like I have a good group of friends. People who really want to hang out and do fun activities. We participated in some cool events like “Accomplice NYC” and most recently “Escape the Room”.

    11. kas*

      Ahh I’m the horrible friend that always cancels or turns down plans.

      I’m a homebody and my friends make plans to get together almost every weekend. I have no problem spending Friday and Saturday nights at home – my job drains me and I spend Sun-Thurs waiting for Friday to arrive. All I want to do is relax at home and do nothing and I’ve realized they’ve started inviting me out less, which makes it awkward when I finally hang out with them and they discuss the night or weekend before.

      Like others have suggested, if you haven’t already – try setting up a time to meet up off the bat. If that doesn’t work, I personally would stop trying.

      1. smallbutmighty*

        You sound like me!

        As I’ve gotten older and more self-aware (and also busier and more crotchety, I’m afraid), I’ve laid things out pretty explicitly to my friends, and it’s helped.

        First off, I now let people know I’m an internet extrovert. I love bantering with a wide assortment of people on Facebook, but when I socialize in real life I like smaller groups and a lower-key vibe. That way, they’re not disappointed to find that I’m not as fun at parties as I am online.

        Secondly, I’ve decided that making plans ahead of time is a bad approach for me. I just don’t do it. If I say yes to an invite that’s two weeks away, I can pretty much bet I’ll be actively dreading the occasion by the time it rolls around. But I’m all about the spur-of-the-moment! My friends know (because I’ve told them) that I’m way more apt to say yes to an invite to get together tonight than to get together in a month.

        But that’s just me. Your friends are all individuals with different styles. Maybe just ask them. Say something like, “It seems like we always talk about getting together and we never actually do it. I’d really love to hang out sometime. What works best for you? Do you like to plan ahead, or play it by ear?”

  11. kdizzle*

    If you cloned yourself, and raised yourself from birth…do you think you could do a better job than your parents did?

    1. fposte*

      Heh. I think my understanding of me now would definitely have helped in raising of me, but I’d want kinder, patienter people than me to do the actual raising. Can I just advise them?

      1. Tinker*

        Totally. Or, maybe not necessarily more patient, but a bit more organized and a bit better at communicating the spirit of things?

        I’m thinking that such a clone would probably get well fed up with having it explained to them from first principles the thing that they did, and the thing that would be arguably better to do, and methods for evaluating these, and how each pattern of behavior rates according to those various metrics, and ways that one might go about implementing one solution or another, and and and etc. Like, okay, I ate all the candy because I like sour apple, okay? Enough already about the biochemistry.

    2. Lindsay*

      Maybe only slightly, because my parents have terrible social skills and I’ve worked hard to improve mine and I like to think I could impart that upon my offspring. But mostly no, my parents did OK and I turned out fine.
      lol, good prompt!

    3. Jules*

      I might have killed me… sadly, my teenage years where terrible. I was a huge jackass to my parents.

    4. Jen RO*

      Probably not. My parents made some mistakes, but I would suck even more. Good thing I don’t want kids!

    5. Tasha*

      I’m not sure I could’ve done better, although my life wasn’t perfect. Although they couldn’t pay for college or the test prep many of my current classmates have had since early on, they were very supportive and taught me that I could go far if I worked hard enough. (I do work hard, sort of. I need to finish that problem set due today, and then there’s research…)

    6. LMW*

      There are a few things I would change, but I think my parents were pretty awesome. They definitely learned from their parents’ mistakes and from stupid stuff they did as kids and taught my sister and I to avoid those problems. If anything, we’re both a little overly cautious.
      I do have to say that one thing these open threads have made me appreciate is how lucky I am when it comes to parents. It’s kind of like winning the lottery and gives you all sorts of advantages when you have good ones.

    7. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure. My parents did a pretty good job of raising me and I had rules but they weren’t anything ridiculous. I’m happy with the way I turned out since no one can possibly be perfect.

      I definitely know certain things I will try to do differently than my parents though. I’m much more outgoing than my family and while I was always told it was okay to be different, my kind of different wasn’t as respected as my sister’s kind of different if that makes sense.

    8. Malissa*

      I probably would be able to, knowing what I know now. But then I wouldn’t be the same person. While parts of my childhood really sucked, they are also a part of what makes me the person I am today.
      Yeah I would love to know how it would have been with out the pain, but would I be the same compassionate person if I hadn’t gone through all of my experiences? Would I have the same drive to make myself a better person?

      1. Jamie*

        I love this so much – beautifully put. I remember reading an interview with Jodie Foster decades ago and something she said has always stayed with me.

        Paraphrasing – ‘my childhood wasn’t always easy and given the choice there are things I wish I could have avoided – but we’re the sum of our experiences and all of it made me who I am now. And I like who I am now.’

        That’s how I look at it. My parents weren’t perfect, but they absolutely did the best they could with the tools they had. Certainly there were things I did differently when I became a parent – and I’ve made different mistakes, I’m sure.

        But while I could write a book about all the things they could have done better – the fact remains that the main thing that lingers from my childhood to this day is that I was ridiculously and endlessly loved and that there were two people who spent every moment of my life with my well being their main concern.

        Sure – I’m more cautious and neurotic and probably cranky and definitely hyper-critical than I would be if I’d had a more laid back dad. I also have not spent one moment on this earth without the absolute knowledge that to him the world was better just because I was born and there was no child more brilliant, adoreable, or loved as far as he was concerned. Load of crap to be sure, but 20 years after his death it still gets me through the day.

        And maybe I’d be more organized, more successful, and avoided some trouble in my wild youth if my mom were less trusting and kept a tighter rein. But she also taught me to be proud of what I do, but never to take credit of the gifts of my birth because you can’t be proud of being lucky. She gave me compassion and whatever kindness I possess comes from her. Her model taught us open and unabashed affection with which we all shower on our kids.

        Dad gave us supreme self-confidence, respect for structure, importance of competition, ambition, and achievement. The fact that I never doubt my own intellectual abilities is all because of him. He gave me the arrogance I needed to carve out this career and the strength to get through some very difficult patches in life – because of him I just did things without it ever occurring to me that maybe I couldn’t. My inability to settle makes for a disquieted psyche sometimes, but I’m still deeply grateful for me.

        Without the tempering and often conflicting values of my mom there is no doubt I would be a far less likeable person today.

        He taught us that no one was better than us. She taught us that we’re no better than anyone else – so you can stop posing for your statue at any time and do the dishes.


        He taught us our obligation above all things is to take care of ourselves and our own. She instilled an obligation outside our families…especially those less fortunate and animals.

        He taught us that financial stability is what you owe to your children and it’s the criteria by which society will judge you. She taught us that lack of compassion is a far greater handicap than lack of money. Which is true, but compassion doesn’t pay college tuition – so again…balance.

        He taught us that to us much was given. She taught us that to whom much is given, much is required. I really did see her as quite the buzz kill growing up.

        He taught us that the world is a better place for our mere presence in it. She taught us that was a load of crap outside of immediate family and common decency is not optional.

        He bought me my first of many tiaras…she taught me how to bake and that what you do with love infuses your actions in a way that doing them out of obligation won’t.

        He taught us to require respect. She taught us humility and the grace to apologize when called for. She gave us the amazing gift – freedom to be wrong, freedom to be imperfect. She taught us it was okay to be angry – but that no one else can make you angry because you can’t let others have power over your emotions. And that we are always responsible for our own behavior, and the actions of others, substances, nothing removes that responsibility. We control ourselves.

        She taught us that the worst thing we could do is hurt another person intentionally. He taught us the worst thing we could do is fail in our obligations.

        So tldr – but no, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because what they gave me and what is inherent in my being I wouldn’t trade for the world…and with change comes risk.

        I love this question because it was nice to think about this in a somewhat analyzing way. The knee jerk responses of when I lose my temper I think I’m just like my dad, or thoughts of mom when I can’t find my keys…but in the big picture I wouldn’t trade with anyone.

        I am sure there are better parents out there – who raised better more evolved and less complicated people than me – but I think I landed in the right family.

        I do regret not asking them more about themselves when they were alive – so much about their lives before me I would love to know now. And one pflamenkuchen recipe my mom died without writing down – I’d consult a psychic if I believed in them to get that back from the afterlife…

        And as my kids are not teens/young adults I wish they were here so I could apologize for being such a colossal pita and thank them for what I now know was an endless reserve of patience.

        20 years this year since they both died and not a day goes by where I don’t still actively miss them. Sometimes I wish they could feel that where they are.

    9. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think I’d like to be raised by my mom as she is now! I watch her with my nieces and she is an awesome grandparent.

      I was a pretty sensitive child, I think, and she’s very no-nonsense (which is good in many ways but was tough for a kid who yearned for more maternalism and mushiness). I think it took her a while to soften up with kids, and she has a better balance now. [On the other hand, that combination — a sensitive (or, uh, emotionally needy) kid with an uber practical mom — is probably directly responsible for much of the advice I give here.]

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Wow- interesting. It’s odd how it all plays out.
        And I read this blog because of your practical yet sensitive advice.
        You can see the human aspect of a situation but you also steer people toward the high road.

        I think the strongest piece of this blog is trust. People are here because they trust you to regularly give good advice and not make them feel like jerks.

    10. kdizzle*

      Thanks for the cool responses, guys. I know it’s a weird non-work related question; it was just something that my husband and I were talking about over cocktails, and decided it was worth a thought.

      1. fposte*

        It was an extremely interesting question–haven’t heard such a good one in ages! Thanks for asking.

    11. Marina*

      Yes. Probably. Well, probably not. I’d definitely do some things different (not nag myself to stop reading and go outside so often) but I don’t know whether it’d actually be better for me.

      On a slightly different question, though, one of the things I like most about parenting is the chance to raise my husband’s mini-me. I can definitely do a better job than my in-laws! ;)

      1. tcookson*

        I always wondered if I had little mini-me’s of my mom (who didn’t raise me), my paternal grandma (who adopted us kids and then after a couple of years let my mom move in with her to be with us), and my husband’s mom (who is kind of opposite of me, having been a popular cheerleader in highschool vs. me who was a nerd), what it would be like to raise them and how their personalities would be.

    12. Xay*

      Now that I have a preteen of my own, I can definitely say that I would not have done a better job raising me than my mom did. She isn’t perfect, but she was exactly what I needed.

    13. Laura*

      I think my parents did a great job, but I would be able to understand myself in ways my parents never did (and still don’t really). My parents were the popular, bubbly, athlete/cheerleaders in highschool, who like big loud parties, and I was a total awkward nerd who liked to read books and obsess about Doctor Who and write angsty short stories, and hated going to parties (not that I was ever invited), and was happy with the two friends that I had. Not that our highschool selves define us, but I think my relationship with my parents was strained when i was younger because we’re pretty much exact opposites in every way, and I couldn’t seem to make themselves understand me. Plus I had a really hard time coming out as a lesbian to my parents, because they had some outdated attitudes, though they’re fine now. So I would have made the whole gay thing easier for my clone self too, because I would get it.

  12. Ash*

    Happy Friday.

    When I started this week I had three potential job opportunities, now I am down to one, which I have a presentation/interview for on Monday. One it was between me and another person and they went with the other person and the other I had to let go as it would’ve been a bad move in the long run. The latter was really hard when I’m so desperate to find a new position. Anyways just ranting….wish me luck with this presentation. They told me at both the phone interview and the first in-person that I’m pretty junior for this role and yet they’ve called me in for this final interview, so who knows!

    1. Ash*

      Thanks all. This is the first time I’ve had to prep a formal presentation for an interview. Definitely nervous!

  13. Cassie*

    We have a bit of an epidemic going on where people frequently make snide or snarky comments – similar to the letter a couple of days ago except this just in regular conversation (both work-related and small talk) and not related to confidential info.

    Someone suggested that we tell the staff that they can only talk about work-related issues at work. This is just inconceivable to me, not least of all because we are a public institution and I would feel like we’d be violating someone’s 1st amendment rights. Also, these snide commenters will make snide comments on everything so it wouldn’t stop the problem. Besides, we’re trying to make the workplace a more positive place to work, not bring in the Thought Police.

    Instead, I think the staff should be reminded of our duty to our clients (faculty, students, community) to be respectful, professional, and treat others with dignity. So you shouldn’t make comments about “how stupid” a student is, or talk about the dumb thing this professor said. Our speech and actions reflect the dept and when students/visitors pass through, we want them to have a positive experience.

    Naturally, the worst offenders would need to be talked to directly, but I think we should also include something in the staff manual we are working on. Any suggestions on wording? And how detailed/specific should we be? While the phrase “be nice” may be enough for some people, it may not be that clear to others (especially if this is just their natural disposition).

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      No manual. This needs to be addressed in person on an as needed basis, because it is un-professional. You are not the “Thought Police.” They can think whatever they want, but voicing opinions can be unprofessional and you can address that. This can be a difficult habit to break, but you have to keep at it and keep reminding people every time you hear it.

      It is also infectious, can you find one person who seems to be the worst (or best) at it and start there. After a month or two you should start to hear a difference.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think that there is any 1st amendment coverage here. I am not a lawyer but we have plenty of law folks reading here.
      In short companies are not democracies.

      It would seem that if a certian type of talk devalues the company OR detracts from the work then that needs to be addressed.

      I believe the post office banned its employees from talking about post office shootings.

      I have worked jobs where the boss has said that X or Y was not open for discussion.

      I don’t know if you can take these specific examples and logically apply that to a behavior pattern.
      I do think that you can talk about attitude and positive work environment.

    3. Observer*

      You won’t be violating anyone’s first amendment rights, I’m pretty sure. But it’s a fairly stupid move, on many many counts.

      You’ve noted two of the issues. In addition, I see two other obvious problems. For one, how on earth are you going to enforce such a rule? And how can you even know whether or not what you hear is really work related or not? Say some people are having a discussion about “stupid teachers”. Is that just people yakking about their personal lives, being set off by some stupidity they encountered at work (and who gets to decide if that’s considered “work related”?) or trying to understand where your students are coming from? Or maybe a combination?

      And before anyone tells me “oh, come on! That’s not work related!” Tell me if YOU want to have that conversation with staff – and then do it again over and over and over again.

      A couple of specific items I would include:

      Speaking disparagingly about students or staff in front of anyone outside of your office is inappropriate (with the appropriate exceptions where information needs to be shared).

      You don’t need to like each other, but you do need to behave politely and respectfully to each other, and that includes how you speak to each other.

    4. Celeste*

      It’s tough to change culture once some negative people get going with the snark. For whatever reason, they often get a lot of followers.

    5. themmases*

      The most negative people probably need to be talked to directly, but it can also help to just stop feeding it. If you think someone is being inappropriately negative, don’t be afraid to politely disagree with them.

      “Wow, I always thought that was [charitable explanation]”
      “I’ve always had a really positive experience with her.”
      “Really? I like it!”
      “Maybe, but I find it makes my job easier if I stay positive about the students.”
      “That frustrates me too, but I know I wouldn’t want someone to talk that way about me.”

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Instead, I think the staff should be reminded of our duty to our clients (faculty, students, community) to be respectful, professional, and treat others with dignity.

      I like the way you put it here. And yes, it does need to be addressed in person.

    7. Marina*

      This is a work culture issue, not a policy issue. I’ve been in staff meetings where we’ve all been told to be nicer and less negative, and it feels incredibly patronizing and doesn’t have much of an effect, I think because it comes off as negative itself–“You’re all doing a terrible job being happy, knock it off.” That’s just depressing. Unless comments are way out of line, like with confidential information or in front of clients, it’s just not a policy issue.

      I think what would work better would be to secretly recruit some good cheer ambassadors (except call it something much less cheesy) who’s job it is to answer snide comments with themmases’s ideas. Or to just change the topic when things get snide.

  14. Kevin*

    So as part of my job I need to read the newspaper. My office of ~150 gets four and they are all clearly labeled as to whom they are for. They are left on the front desk well before anyone is in the office. At least once a week mine is missing (and I’m one of the first to arrive in the office). Since they all get delivered together I’m pretty confident someone is grabbing mine who is not supposed to receive one.

    Does anybody have any suggestions? There are not secure mailboxes for them to drop the papers in. There is no one I feel comfortable asking to grab mine who gets in earlier. I check online but unfortunately it seems too easy to miss a story that would be important for me to see. Thank you everyone for your help!

    1. Sadsack*

      I would consider asking someone to send a company-wide email informing everyone that newspapers are delivered to specific people and used in the course of their work, so please do not take papers that are not intended for you. Could you have a manager or her admin do this?

      1. Kevin*

        Thank you for your reply. It’s been tossed out there but my manager seems to shy away from it and I can’t say I disagree. I think whoever is doing it would not notice it was them and 150 people seems very large to the passive aggressive blanket email especially about what many people would consider a small event.

        1. KarenT*

          What about getting an online subscription? That way no one can take it and it’s usually cheaper.

        2. GH*

          Although you’re probably right that someone at the company is nabbing it, it’s also possible that that’s not the issue. I would call the paper’s delivery service every time and tell them your paper is missing. Chances are they will redeliver it with the next day’s pile, and you can look through it then. (I fully sympathize with your feeling that reading the online version is not the same experience.) If this is as frequent as you mention, the delivery person may take some action such as requesting a secure delivery spot.

    2. Elysian*

      Maybe someone could put a sign on the front desk where they newspapers are left saying “Please only take the paper intended for you” or something?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a place that received in newspapers daily.

      I was surprised by how routinely papers were missing. I would double check with the delivering company.
      (I knew no one took them because the delivery guy handed them directly to me.)

      1. Kevin*

        That’s good to know. It’s difficult because they are delivered before anybody is in the office.

        1. LCL*

          Buy the paper at 7-11, or subscribe if it can get to your house early enough. Given the setup you describe, you will have to mount a full workplace spying op to figure it out. Do you have the time to spare, and the aggravation, and the distraction from your job, to do that?

          I always buy the paper. That way I am positive someone hasn’t dragged it into the restroom before I get it. I like to read it when I am having a snack on my breaks. And yes, if I leave it in the lunchroom it often disappears. Especially when people from the main office, who make more money than me, are visiting.

    4. NHNonprofit*

      I read two papers online every day. Much easier than paper paper. I can do searches of the content that relate to my org and find articles instantly. One of them is free online and the other online subscription comes packaged with the actual delivery of the paper, which goes to someone else here in the office. Also, I really don’t like getting all that ink on my hands.

  15. Calla*

    Just need to complain! After applying to an Exec Assistant role, I was contacted by the recruiter for it and interviewed with her. A few days later, she called to let me know that they were passing on my resume because I haven’t completed my BS yet. I’ve done two years and am currently IN school to finish the rest, I have two more years of exec assistant experience than they ask for (which I managed to get with an incomplete degree), AND have their “desired” program-specific skills… but gosh darnit, those last two years are going to give me what I REALLY need to do this job (what is it? who knows), I guess.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Sorry to hear about this, but it is just a way to cut down on the number of applicants they have to consider. It is no reflection on you and no, two more years of education isn’t going to be a magic pill.

      1. Calla*

        I forgot to mention I saw it re-posted a couple days after that, so I’m assuming they’re not overwhelmed with applicants they are considering!

    2. Sunflower*

      That is annoying. Is it a larger company? Some company’s require a BS or BA, no ifs, ands or buts about it. It’s dumb but it could be the reason you were passed over. Still sucks

      1. Calla*

        Not sure of the exact size, but it’s not a small company. And yeah, I’ve always been aware that happens sometimes but I’ve never personally encountered it — before (no matter the size), everyone was willing to at least interview based on my experience.

    3. Candy Floss*

      I think that;’s a bullshit answer — if your resume indicated you haven;t completed your degree and they interviewed you anyway, then that’s not the reason they aren’t moving froward with you – that woudln’t make sense. If that was a requirement, they wouldn’t have wasted time interviewing you.

      That assumes you were 100% clear about your degree status up front.

      I once got the feedback that I didn’t move forward (after a phone screen and an in-person interview) because I didn’t have a degree from an Ivy League. Since my resume included my non- Ivy League college…they already knew that. So that wasn’t the reason they didn’t hire me, they just didn’t want to hire me, which is fine. No need to make up an excuse.

      1. Calla*

        Well, it was an external recruiter who interviewed me, before sending it to the actual company, who then declined (my resume has the anticipated degree date on it). It’s possible that they didn’t make it 100% clear to the recruiter that it was a hard and fast requirement, I guess. But either way it’s dumb IMO.

    4. KC*

      I’m sorry that you encountered this. The first company I worked for out of college had a call center, and they wouldn’t even consider people for the call center who didn’t have a college degree. From what I hear from folks who are still there, they’ve eased that requirement (when I started it was 2008–the worst the economy had been–so they had their pick of recent college grads).

      It’s a stupid prejudice, especially when you have experience to back it up.

      1. Mitchell*

        Sometimes you just need to say the right buzzwords. Say “will you substitute work experience for the educational requirement?” I see this commonly on government jobs and honestly I’ve seen enough HR people who are unfamiliar with their own policies that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Maybe the issue wasn’t that you don’t have a BS in-hand, but that they don’t want to hire an exec assistant that is also attending school? And maybe their wording just wasn’t super clear? I’d be *extremely* reluctant to hire an exec assistant that was attending school even part-time, just because executives can make crazy (as in frequent and all hours, not as in unreasonable) demands on your time and schedule.

  16. Ohio CPA*

    I was waiting for this to come up so I can vent.

    I recently had a third interview for a position. The first and second went really well, and I was excited to have lunch with the department vice president. However, before we even sat down at the table, he told me that he thought my resume was “light” but he was going to talk to me anyway. The rest of the interview was slightly awkward because I was thrown off guard by his comment.

    Why would a company allow me to make it so far in the process when a manager thinks I’m not qualified? I don’t think anyone wants to work for a place where they’re not sure they’re wanted. I can understand these concerns coming out in the first or second interview, but I’m baffled by waiting for a third meeting to raise these concerns. I might add that I met all of the qualifications in the job description.

    1. A Jane*

      I was in a similar position. I finally got to the in-person interview, and the hiring manager flat out said that I didn’t have all of the experience he was looking for. I was still able to talk through my experience and how it would relate to the position. Surprisingly, they brought me back for a final interview with the hiring manager’s boss.

        1. A Jane*

          I actually removed myself from the interviewing process since I received a different job opportunity afterwards. In retrospect, the company wouldn’t have been a great fit and I didn’t have a good rapport with the sales people I would be working with.

    2. De Minimis*

      My guess is he might not have been involved in the process prior to that–it’s a breakdown in their process if you can get that far into it with a major decision maker having that kind of reservations. I would guess he might not have been involved in the earlier stages.

      I think three interviews is too many unless it’s a senior level position. I worked at a big four and we only had two rounds of interviews, although the second round involved multiple interviews. Even then, people usually were more interested in personality traits than specific experience, at least for entry level people.

      1. Ohio CPA*

        That was my thought too. I suppose it’s possible I might get an offer, but I’m not sure I’d want it. If your boss doesn’t think you’re qualified, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

    3. Puddin*

      A couple of things came to mind…
      1. He does like the HR process or person(s) that initially selected your resume. Therefore, any results of that process or person are immediately suspect and he will find fault. His problem.
      2. This is a tactic designed to make you feel uncomfortable to see how you will react. Shitty, but it’s done. His problem.
      3. He thinks he is Important and Important People give feedback and at the same time, compliments you by spending his precious time with you. His problem.
      4. Your resume is not well put together. Your problem, easily fixed.

    4. Stephanie*

      Either this is some terrible stress interview technique or the manager’s not very involved with the early stages of the process.

      I’ve had this happen—it’s pretty unpleasant and can throw your game off completely!

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      He thought your resume was light, but you came well-recommended from your first two interviews so he was willing to give it a shot. He was candid with you about his reservations, and instead of proving to him that his reservations were unfounded, it sounds like the interview went badly because you were thrown off by your future boss being candid with you…. which probably just confirmed his reservations. :(

      You are rarely, if ever, going to be 100% perfect for a job, and since that’s the case, you should be prepared for your interviewer to want to discuss your drawbacks openly in a job interview… that’s what it’s for!

      Did you ask him what he meant by that statement? Did you go into a dialog about your qualifications? Or did you bow your head and sit down and just accept the criticism? How you react to the question is key to his determination on whether he’s right or not.

    6. KrisL*

      Maybe they think you may work out anyway, even though they usually prefer applicants who have experience in something else.

      I think this was actually a positive thing, even though it doesn’t sound like one. I think the manager is saying that even though they usually ask for more things, they think you might work out for the job.

  17. Elkay*

    General moan – why won’t companies accurately explain the level a job is – what the heck does “Early Career” mean? I’m only six years into my career I figure that’s early if I have to work for another 30+ years. I’m going to apply but I hope I’m not wasting my time.

    1. Fiona*

      Personally, I would assume “early career” to mean 5 years or less. No longer entry level, but not quite experienced – and I guess I’d consider more than 5 years in a role or industry to be experienced. I wouldn’t let my interpretation deter you from applying, though – they may think they want “early career” but your extra experience may bring some good stuff to the table that they hadn’t considered.

      1. Elkay*

        That’s probably about where I am, I’ve got a year’s really relevant experience plus five years of stuff that helped me get the job that gave me the year if that makes sense…

  18. Boo*

    Hello all!

    I’ll be starting my new job on 1st April (hopefully not an April Fools!!) and was hoping you guys could help me with some tips/advice on a couple of things:

    Current job has been toxic for some time. I nearly had a breakdown last year due to poor feedback from my boss who was aware of some serious personal issues I was going through at the time. I’m now worried about a couple of things (well, more than a couple because I am a Chronic Worrier, but these are the Big Three:

    1) I’m worried about how I can mitigate any Toxic Job PTSD. I get really anxious with stuff like performance appraisals and unexpected meetings with my boss.

    2) I’m worried about what bad habits I’ve picked up in Toxic Job. My attitude hasn’t been great and I know I’m not as professional as I should be, because I hate it and despise the culture/management style here. I really really want to be a great employee at New Job but am scared of how much I’ve internalised at Toxic Job.

    3) I have major, major Imposter Syndrome (salutes all the How I Met Your Mother fans out there) New Job is a big step up career wise and my interview with them was surprisingly short because apparently they just decided I was The One. Which is great but I spose I feel like I haven’t really earned it, I’m not good enough for them and I won’t last my probationary period.

    Just a couple of simple, easy questions ;)

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Wow- I seriously feel like you just echoed my thoughts except that I’ve not found a new job yet. It’ll be interesting to see what advice commenters can give.

      Congrats on the new job!

      1. Boo*

        Well I guess it’s good to know we’re not alone!

        Thank you, and good luck in your job search :)

    2. Anonymint*

      I would love advice about this as well – I’m starting a new position a week from Monday and am seriously worried about the same exact things you just listed. In fact, I was thinking about posting a similar comment!

    3. VictoriaHR*

      I was in a toxic work environment a few years ago and am still feeling the effects. Whenever I’m called into a meeting with superiors, I get very anxious and think I’m going to get written up or fired. So I feel where you’re coming from.

      The only advice that I can offer is to be as friendly as possible in your beginning days and make a good first impression. Just be happy to be out of the crappy job and it will show!

    4. Becky B*

      I can speak to #1 in terms of getting anxious with performance appraisals and unexpected meetings. If this isn’t already part of NewJob’s culture, ask your boss about having biweekly or monthly 1:1s to go over what you’re working on. This works both as a “Look at the cool stuff I’m doing!” and helps give you feedback well before the official performance appraisal, so you’re not walking in blind. Plus it helps you get to know your boss better so when you do have unexpected meetings, you may be less likely to seize up inside (I do this) and worry about what’s going to be said or done.

      #2 is more anecdotal so I don’t know how much it will help, but when I moved to new company after being 10 years in my old company (and getting the axe in a massive wave of axings), I recognized that I needed to change X, Y, and Z about my approach and behavior. For example, it wasn’t until my last 2 weeks that I found out how many people valued me–something management never knew either, because I had become something of a recluse, and wasn’t seen as a people person/networker/visible at all.

      Changing this took me way out of my comfort zone, such as deliberately talking to people I didn’t know well in different departments, and asking to join groups for lunch instead of holing up at my desk reading, but it SO helped me go from that job to another and then finally to the one I have now that I love.

      In the meantime I didn’t forget the way I used to be, so I could guard against it–I get what you say about internalizing, and it can be hard not to dwell on it negatively.

    5. Puddin*

      Good luck with your new role and I hope you find it a healthy career move!
      I have to congratulate yourself on the level of self awareness you demonstrated in your post. As GI Joe says, “knowing is half the battle!” That being said, here is what I would do:
      1. Perform some cleansing ritual. I know to some it sounds hocus pocus, but get a spa treatment, take a day long hike alone, or take a drive. The point is to absorb your self in something where you can shed off the skin of icky job memories.
      2. React slowly to all input from the new job. Be quiet and let your feelings and reactions sit for a while before you act on/say anything.
      3. You are gone from that old crappy place. Do not stalk it on Facebook, do not wonder who is zooming whom from the office, just walk away like you would from a zombie horde. i.e. don’t look back. Cut the ties and work at leaving them in the past.
      4. Cognitive therapy – look it up. You do not need to go to a therapist to do it. (You can if you want of course.) But it basically helps to dispel the negative self-talk myths that we all tell ourselves. This really really helped me with the Imposter Syndrome.

    6. Elizabeth*

      I think you have a good head start on this in being aware of it. Keep that awareness as you start the new job, and especially if you find yourself getting anxious, give yourself a pep talk. “Remember, self, NewBoss isn’t OldBoss. If she said that she wants to meet with you just to get an update on Project, take her at her word on that.”

      To deal with impostor syndrome, I take a few moments to reflect at the end of the workday and list a couple things that I did well that day. I might also think of things that did not go as well, but I try to frame them as opportunities for growth: what will I do differently tomorrow/the next time that situation comes up? You don’t have to be perfect at your new job immediately. You just need to keep growing.

    7. Anonymous*

      First, congratulations on your new job!!

      I went through something similar in my last job. It wasn’t a great fit from the start, but it was the depths of the recession, so I just sucked it up. Then, after a fairly chaotic department reorg, I wound up reporting directly to the Spawn of Satan. It was 18 months before I could get out, and I had the same fears you have about carrying my toxic baggage with me. Here’s what helped me:

      For 1 & 3 – I was fortunate enough to have quite a few years previous experience (at another company) where I was a valued and respected employee. I conciously reminded myself of those years to try and counteract the bad ones. I even pulled out my old performance reviews to re-read all the good comments and work examples to help make it more concrete and “recent” in my mind. Sounds like patting your own back, I know, but at this point you have to remind yourself that you *are* a good and valuable asset to the team you are joining.

      For 2 – It definitely helps that you’re aware of potential bad habits. The only thing I found that helped for this *was* self-awareness. I knew bad work habits from good work habits, and I made a conscious effort to monitor my behavior until I no longer had to think about it.

      Best wishes in your new opportunity. Believe me, once you are in a better work environment, your view of yourself will improve!

    8. A Teacher*

      Well, no real advice, but: be nice to everyone but extra nice to your custodial staff and your administrative staff (secretaries, PAs, etc…) from the first day. Whenever I’ve switched jobs that something that I’ve carried with me from my grandmother that was a secretary for over 30 years. Plus, it helps to put you at ease if there are a few friendly faces in the new job.

    9. NEP*

      Best of luck with the new post. Sounds to me as if you’re giving undue power to thoughts and past situations. Often such things have only as much power as we give them. Not minimizing the difficulties you’ve had, not at all. Simply, it’s worth considering that it’s not inevitable that such things weigh on you and adversely affect future undertakings.

    10. KrisL*

      Imposter syndrome – fake it until you make it. Don’t overcompensate though. Don’t talk yourself down. Appreciate what you do well. Learn to deal with what you don’t do well. Good luck!

      Attitude – I’ve heard that reminding yourself of the things you’re grateful for can do wonders, especially if you do it regularly.

  19. matcha123*

    w00t! I’m early enough to post!

    Please help me figure out how to talk to my coworker about attitude. I’m working in Japan and there are two other foreigners in my section.

    One of the other foreigners is from America, like me. She’s about 5 years younger than I am. I think she spent the majority of her pre-university years being homeschooled, and (possibly) struggled with interacting with different types of people in university.

    My issue is that, it’s really hard to read her. There have been times where she’s turned around to do a task while involved in conversation with myself and other co-workers. As if to signal “I am finished here.” I don’t think she has much experience working in an office, because when she first came, she’d take a notebook, her cell phone and a cup of coffee to the bathroom for close to an hour. Other times she’d pull out a small cup of ice cream to eat at her desk.

    And when she had hay fever(?), she piled up the used tissues behind her computer. Our office is open and a lot of times she invites herself to look at my computer screen, inject into conversations with other coworkers, and such and so on.

    I’ll actually be quitting this place at the end of the month. It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the low pay. I want to give her some advice, but I’m not sure about the best way to approach her. I’m not good at these types of things, and while I’ve been there longer than her, we are considered to be at the same level.

    I mean…I’ve caught her tallying my yawns. She stretches when I stretch. She clears her throat when I cough. A lot of times she sounds like she’s being argumentative and whiny when asked to do tasks. Ex: She was asked to fill in for me while I was working on another project and complained that it was the second time…but no complaints when I filled in for her for 2 weeks when she was on vacation!

    Even if I don’t click with her personally, I know that she’s going to work in the US and I know that people probably won’t be as forgiving as people here in Japan are. Is there a way that one would prefer to be approached in a situation like this that won’t make it sound like I’m making a personal attack on her? Thanks for any advice in advance. It’s past midnight here in Japan, good night!

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know if there’s really a legitimate way for you to access this. You’re not her boss, you’ll probably never see her again, and you’re just basically annoyed by a bunch of stuff she does; the stuff doesn’t even sound particularly horrible to me, just annoying, so I don’t think it’s necessarily going to make her unemployable or intolerable in the US. I think that unless she asks you for feedback, you move on and think of her when you carefully place your used Kleenex in the garbage.

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks for the reply! I haven’t worked full-time in the US before, so I can’t totally tell whether or not these would be dealbreakers for her.

        Our supervisors, however, have come to me a few times about her. Asking me to tell her that she shouldn’t be taking selfies in the bathroom while at work/staying in the bathroom for close to 3hrs a day/dropping food on the floor and not cleaning it up (no janitors)/etc. I’ve been passing it back to them saying that since I’m not the supervisor I can’t make her stop.

        You’re right, it is annoying heh.

        1. Elizabeth*

          You definitely did the right thing by passing that back to them! It sounds like your coworker has some irritating habits, but the bigger problem is that your supervisors were being bad supervisors. Asking *you* to tell her to change her behavior?!?

          (Exception: if you went to your supervisor and said, “Nancy does this annoying thing; make her stop” then they’d be right to say, “Have you told her it annoys you and asked her to stop?” But if they came to you, that’s not okay.)

          1. matcha123*

            Yeah, they came to me because I am female and they are male and they thought she would be more comfortable hearing that from another female. They aren’t old men, but I think this coworker’s way of communicating is offputting to them. They have little contact with foreigners aside from us.

            I should add that even though her actions might seem small to North Americans, she could be fired for them. Especially since she’s been warned about some things a number of times. Since we both are here on working visas and getting along with our Japanese coworkers and bosses is a Big Deal, I feel I should talk to her…

            1:30am here…time for bed for real!

            1. Jamie*

              I don’t get why gender factors into this.

              There were a couple of times in my career where I’ve volunteered to do the talking strictly because the subject matter would be less awkward coming from a woman. One was a bra less issue and a shirt incredibly see through and another was a feminine hygiene accident – both times I let them go home and change and as much as I hope to never have another one of those conversations I do think it was easier coming from a woman.

              1. Aisling*

                This is in Japan, and the culture there is different. Making someone uncomfortable in any way is a major faux pas. They bend over backwards to make sure it doesn’t happen. May seem like overkill to us, but it’s common there.

                1. rollcake*

                  True, but they’re just passing the buck so that matcha123 is the one who will have to experience the discomfort of telling the coworker her behavior is inappropriate. It’s likely that the Jpn higher ups are thinking that the feedback/criticism coming from a coworker from the same culture will be better received, but if the behavior is really a problem and it needs to stop, then they need to find a way, outright or delicately-phrased, to tell her to cut it out.

                  As fposte says below, it’s possible that matcha123 is focusing on these behaviors because it was pointed out as a problem, but if you’re on the way out of the company and will never have to see this person again…I’d say just let it go and don’t look back. Of course, you’re welcome to commiserate on your blog / here in comments about the behavior, but it’s too late for you to offer feedback “in the moment” (ex. you see her piling up tissues and suggest “Oh is your trash can full? Use mine / here’s another trash bag / let’s pull the common area one closer to you”) and it’s not your job to manage her behavior because you’re not her manager!

            2. Aisling*

              I think I might too, if the supervisors are asking you to… I generally would do exactly what you did, but since they aren’t sure how to approach it and because of the cultural issues with it, I’d sit down with her and give her a general “how to be a professional” speech- maybe mentioning that the supervisors had asked you to speak with her so she wouldn’t have to be written up for it.

              1. matcha123*

                Some things I didn’t notice until they were brought to my attention, but now that we sit right next to each other, they are glaringly apparent.

                (Will need to figure out how to reply better here ;) )

        2. fposte*

          It’s that three hours thing that’s going to bring her problems, but I’m with Elizabeth in thinking your managers have been blowing this one; I suspect it’s because they’ve tried to make it into your problem that you took it onboard enough to worry in the first place.

    2. KC*

      What I’m going to say could be completely off-base, but judging by some of her behaviors, it sounds like your coworker could be somewhere on the spectrum. I used to work with teenagers with autism and they often didn’t “get” some social niceties, pick up on non-verbal social queues, sense the mood of a situation, etc. It can come across as weird and make you uncomfortable if you’re not used to being around people on the spectrum.

      I would agree with other folks and say that it shouldn’t be on you to address the behaviors. That’s management’s job, and they should be expressing these things to her. If she is someone on the spectrum, they’ll also have to be VERY specific/literal in their feedback. Not “as a group, we need to keep our work spaces professional and tidy,” but “when your allergies are acting up and you need to use tissues, please use the garbage bin to dispose of them.”

      That doesn’t mean you should treat people like they’re stupid (some autistic folks I’ve known are some REALLY smart people), but you do have to understand that the things that are important to you/squick you out may not even be something they think about as bothersome.

      1. matcha123*

        I’ve thought that, too. If she is on the spectrum, Japan is a very hard place to work because the culture is not direct at all.
        Our Japanese coworkers will say, “The tissues on your desk can be a bother to others,” and she says, “They aren’t dirty.”
        I say, “Do you want a bag for your tissues?”, she gathers them and puts them into her desk drawer.

        I’ll try and think of some ways to be more direct, thank you!

    3. KrisL*

      If you two were close, or if she asked you for help, that would be one thing, but I’m not sure there’s a good way to offer advice otherwise.

  20. ChristineSW*

    Couldn’t WAIT for the Open Thread to be posted–I just have to share some good progress.

    Yesterday, I had my first meeting as the Chair of a subcommittee of a council I am on. You guys, it was a HUGE confidence booster! I’ll admit that it probably helped that I knew most of the people in my group, and that the main county staff person was helping me, but it felt so, so good to hear the positive feedback when the meeting ended–I even got a round of applause! One gentleman said I was a natural.

    It’s exciting yet scary at the same time. I’ve considered myself more as a contributor rather than a leader, and I don’t have any aspirations to go into full-fledged management, or even become Chair of the entire council! My hope is that this will give me enough of a boost to finally come out of my shell and really stretch myself so that my dreams actually become reality.

  21. Yay*

    Glad I made it here soon enough to get near the top of the thread

    I got a job offer on Wednesday. It’s for a volunteering type position (unpaid), and honestly I’m not very interested in it. I am in the process of interviewing with another place that I love and am supposedly should hear back from today. I read Allison’s advice, to email Company B immediately and explain I had another offer, but I didn’t email them. I guess I’m a bit afraid… of being pushy. Everytime I’ve followed up about a company’s deadline, it’s always ended with ‘sorry, we’re not picking you.” It’s always been better for me to wait for them to contact me. I guess I should contact them anyway today and ask about the timeline.

    1. Jen RO*

      It won’t help you, but I was in a similar situation (offer from job #1 when I really wanted job #2) and I was also afraid to push. My dilemma solved itself while I was fretting – job #2 called! Maybe you’re lucky too :)

    2. Mel*

      If they said they’d be contacting you today, I’d wait to hear from them. If you still don’t hear anything after two or three business days, then call to ask about the timeline. It’s up to you if you want to mention that you’ve had another offer or not, they don’t have to know. How long can you wait before giving the less interesting volunteer position an answer?

  22. OP 2nd Interview*

    Im the OP who was excited about second interview ever. I was offered the position 60% pay increase. This blog helped tremendously, now who and how do i send a thank you letter when 5 high levels interviewed me and the other 4 on my level i will be working with?

    What do i say?

    1. Kevin*

      If you were offered the position I think the thank you letter time has passed. Just reiterate your enthusiasm on your first day.

    2. Fiona*

      IMO, you don’t need to send a separate thank you for being offered a job. Just indicate your enthusiasm for the job when you accept the offer.

  23. Audiophile*

    Any tips on how I can craft a general cover letter?

    A friend suggested I apply to small creative agencies in the city, as I may have better luck finding a fitting role there. But I noticed a lot don’t list positions and just suggest sending a resume and cover letter. This is hard when I don’t know what I’d specifically be applying for.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      “Dear (name if you can find it),

      I’ve just begun looking for (industry type) jobs in (city) and have become interested in (company name) due to its (positive attributes/community involvement/etc.).

      My background is in (blah blah) with an emphasis in (blah blah). I have (# of years) experience in (blah blah) as well as (other qualifications/experience). I’m very interested in any positions that you may have open that fit my qualifications, as I feel my (skillset) skills would be very beneficial to (company).

      Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon


      1. Audiophile*

        Thanks, VictoriaHR! This is a great start.

        I find it much easier to write a letter when I have a general idea of what skills and experience they’re looking for and can somewhat match it to my own experience. But I drew a blank when I started encountering “email us at” and we’ll get back to you if we feel you’re a good fit. I’ve attempted to apply this way in the past, a kept coming up against a wall of rejections. “Thanks for your note. You have interesting experience, but you’re not what we’re looking for.”

        Very frustrating.

    2. Eden*

      I’m guessing that there are only so many roles you’d actually be qualified to fill at a creative agency, so why not write about what you have done in the past that you enjoyed (using enthusiasms and accomplishments rather that just “I was responsible for X” language)?

      1. Audiophile*

        Well see that’s the thing: for the past three (almost) four years I’ve been in reception roles. But my degree is in communications and media, which is where I want to get back to. So I started managing social media for an org and there’s been a lot of growth in a short time span. But I think a lot of companies are getting caught up in my four years as a receptionist and saying ‘well unless she wants an admin role, we can’t see her here’. Any tips for how to offset this? I completely stripped and rewrote my cover letter, it now exclusively mentions the social media work. I can’t list it at the top of my resume because it’s a volunteer position.

        1. Fiona*

          Stop the truck – you totally CAN list your social media work at the top. Mentally frame it as it “pro bono consulting” rather than “volunteer work”, and if you really feel the need to be transparent, list it as “Social Media Manager (volunteer) – ABC Org”. And be sure you’re detailing that growth you mentioned in your bullets!

          1. Audiophile*

            Really?? Right now it’s in my “internship/volunteer” section and titled as Social Media Coordinator. The growth is mentioned in the second bullet.

            I had a PR internship in college that I still list, along with my marketing experience, also from when I was in college.

            I’m only managing one specific platform, but it’s seen the largest growth out of all the other accounts, so I was a little worried about using a “manager” title.

            1. Fiona*

              I mean, use whatever title the Org would give if asked about you, but I definitely wouldn’t stick it way at the bottom.

              1. Audiophile*

                They’ve used alternating titles, so at this point, I likely could use “manager” and not run into issues. I’m clear that I’m only handling one specific social media platform on their behalf, but that I have experience across all the platforms.

                Thanks for tip, I really felt I had to stick it at the bottom. I was really shy about even including it on my resume in the first place, but once I started getting hard numbers and there was significant growth, I knew I needed to start talking about it.

                I may edit completely and get rid of the intern/volunteer section.

        2. kas*

          Are you me?

          I’ve been in customer service for four years and applying to positions in the same industry (communications/marketing).

          I definitely agree with your friend – I’ve been sending my cover letter and resume to smaller agencies as I figure I’ll have better luck oppose to emailing places with stricter hiring practices. I just had an interview earlier this week after emailing my cover letter and resume to inquire about any openings.

          I basically just use CLs/resumes I’ve used to apply to jobs and take out points from them. For example, I know communication/pr roles can incorporate writing news releases, coordinating events etc so I briefly touch on those points letting the reader know I have experience in those areas – and of course including why I want to work for them. The cover letter is shorter than ones I’ve used to apply to jobs but I have been getting responses.

          1. Audiophile*

            Haha, I may be.

            I asked her this morning if she could think of any places I could apply to, because while I know people at large agencies, a lot of them have left and I feel I’ve run out of contacts. Plus I met an HR person from one of the agencies and she gave me some rough numbers for applications that they get (250+) for positions. She encouraged me to apply again but made a similar suggestion.

            I completely overhauled my CL about a week or two ago, because I realized I was regurgitating a lot of what was on my resume. Additionally, I realized that other than one or two sentences I wasn’t talking up my communications or social media experience, it was basically all customer service. I looked at it the way I’m sure most people were reading it, “well we have no reception/admin openings and she’s not telling us what she could do in social media. Pass.”

            I’m glad to hear you get an interview. I’ll definitely try over this weekend to research small agencies and just apply. I was afraid because it hasn’t gone well in the past.

    3. Sarahnova*

      What type of role do you see yourself doing there? I’d talk about what they do that you can see yourself helping with.

      I’ve made successful speculative applications and I either 1) looked for old posted job descriptions and used details from there or 2) talked about where I saw myself being able to contribute to what they did.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’m specifically interested in social media and community management roles. I’m really enjoying the role I’ve undertaken as a volunteer with this nonprofit, where I’m handling their social media for a specific platform and it’s going well. Getting good feedback from them. So I’m looking for positions in that area.
        I have marketing experience as well, but I haven’t seen many marketing jobs that weren’t senior level.

  24. CTO*

    I’m thinking of switching sectors (I’ve always worked for small-medium social service nonprofits). Has anyone switched from the nonprofit to government or corporate sectors? What was the hardest part of the transition? What surprised you most?

    1. Anonymous*

      The hardest things to get used to were the bureaucracy and red tape, and a lack of the entrepreneurial spirit I enjoyed in smaller non-profits. Even though I knew this would be the case, it was still hard to get used to it.

    2. Boo*

      I switched from private sector to public sector and I agree with Anonymous 11:22am. Everything moves at the speed of a glacier. There are enormous amounts of red tape and layers of bureacracy to get used to. Not to mention being answerable not only to the public but also to local councillors and the Mayor, who would get very involved in things without necessarily having an understanding of the issues involved. Also very little training or opportunities for career progression, because of lack of funding/staffing cuts. Hopefully that last one at least won’t be true of your place though!

    3. some1*

      I went from government to the private sector. The biggest adjustment was dealing with a peer/friend being laid off or fired. My government job only had to lay one person off the whole time I was there, and you couldn’t get fired from the job once passing probation.

  25. Anonymous*

    My CEO recently observed that young women do not succeed in our company. There isn’t one woman under 35 who has lasted more than 3 years, period. The same is not true for young men. Now that this fact has been pointed out to me, I’m concerned and curious about what’s going on. Any ideas?

    1. Anon*

      If the measure of success is having women stay past a certain time period, then ok. Not successful. Are those women who leave moving on to better jobs? If so, maybe that’s a good thing.

      1. AVP*

        Still, could there be a reason that men might be on a promotional track while women have to leave in order to move up?

      2. Anonymous*

        The young women are either let go for not meeting performance goals, or they resign for better opportunities.

        These are the same reasons the young men leave, but at least some of that group do stay here long-term. In fact, there’s a sizable number of men who’ve been here the majority of their careers.

        1. AVP*

          Be honest with yourself – are the goals reasonable compared to competing/similar companies? What are the men doing that makes them good candidates for promotion – do they have higher performance numbers, are they more visible, do they still until midnight and work on the weekends?

          1. Anonymous*

            I’m not sure if the goals are in line with industry norms; I can’t answer this for the entire company. But it’s a good point, and something we can look into.

            Honestly, there’s not a lot of promotion opportunities. That will change in a few years due to some impending retirements. When a position does open, experience is a factor. And since young men tend to stay longer, they have an advantage over their internal female peers when all other things are equal.

      3. Observer*

        No, it’s not a good thing. After all, the men don’t seem to need to move out to move up.

        1. Anonymous*

          Thinking about it further, there are very few women here who have young children. Plenty of men with young children, though. Hmmm….

          1. Anonymous*

            That likely accounts for some of it. However, a lack of paid maternity leave isn’t unusual in our industry or area. So if women are leaving our company for maternity reasons, they are likely leaving the industry as well.

            Still, I don’t want to discount this point. Even if the rest of the industry is struggling with the same issue, it doesn’t mean we can’t try to do better with our own policies!

            1. KC*

              For what it’s worth, as a young woman (29), when I was considering whether or not to leave my current company for a new one, their better maternity leave policy at New Company is one of the things that clinched the deal. Their 401k match wasn’t as good, their health/dental/vision was comparable, but New Company’s policy (full pay for 12 weeks), blew my current company’s policy out of the water. They also offer “Family Time Off” during the year for parents who need to go to their kids’ extra curriculars/dr. appointments/etc.

              While I don’t have kids yet, I appreciated that New Company treats parents well.

              1. Jax*


                I want to work at your company! Paid maternity leave and companies that value a good work/life balance are the best places for parents (and everyone else).

                If more companies would realize that I think they would retain a lot more women and have happier and more committed employees all the way around.

            2. Editor*

              Anonymous — when your CEO wondered why young women weren’t staying, did he do any factual research? Besides looking at maternity, I would try to find out if the women who fail to meet expectations receive the mentoring they need — it may be that the younger men are getting more off-the-cuff advice than the women. Is there a competitive culture among the young men that excludes the young women from their networking and allows them to move ahead while undermining the women they work with? Look at what the successful candidates have in common, too — is it background, seat time, smoke breaks with executives, golf dates with executives, gym memberships with executives, good networking within the industry, being assigned certain accounts, trouble-shooting ability, superior communication skills, or what?

              Compare the pay for the women to men with equal qualifications. Do they start at the same level, but do the women get crap raises?

              Finally, talk to or have some neutral third party talk to some of the successful women who left the company and ask them what led them to leave instead of stay. You might find out, now that they’re safely away, that there are one or two people who need to retire early because the way they treated women in the company undermined retention, or you might find out other issues, or it might in fact turn out to be maternity leave.

              If the CEO is serious, those are some ways he could follow through. Looking at facts and patterns might help with effective hiring and retention. In addition, if the company wants to offer equal opportunity, does the company pay for and encourage participation in professional networks that include women in the industry? Do higher-ranking men listen at those events or are they dismissive?

              Maybe the CEO could ask Alison to do some consulting or recommend a consultant to examine the facts and suggest improvements.

    2. Becky B*

      My first thought was, if this is an accurate observation on the CEO’s part, is he/she interested in looking further into the problem, or just talking about it?

      I don’t have an actual answer for what to do about it, but if people take their cues from leadership, perhaps there’s something going on at the CEO level/direct reports that fosters this discomforting trend. Maybe people aren’t comfortable speaking up about what’s driving them out. For starters, would you say your company has good internal communication?

      1. Anonymous*

        Yes, the CEO seems very concerned about this trend. Managers are being asked for their input, and HR is looking at our policies from this angle. Overall, I would say that we have good internal communication and transparency. Still, that doesn’t mean that exiting employees would necessarily be blunt about what’s driving them out.

        1. Observer*

          Some things to look at (You may not have or be able to find some of the information, though.)

          1. Promotions and raises – How long does it normally take to get a promotion or pay raise? Is there a differential between men and women?

          2. Are women leaving voluntarily, being pushed out, or fired? If they are being pushed out or fired, then either your hiring practices stink, or you have some serious issues in management / policies / overall environment/

          3. Where are the women going? Are they leaving to new jobs or leaving voluntarily without a job? In the latter case, you almost certainly have a toxic environment, which no one seems to realize and you really should get an outsider to come in and evaluate what’s going on.

          4. What kind of information are you getting from exit interviews, resignation letters, etc. Are there significant differences between the men and women – not just in the specifics but the overall style and content type. Eg if the men typically tell you why they are leaving and the women are reserved and vague you may be dealing with a situation where women are fairly sure they won’t be heard anyway. That’s going to have a bad effect on retention.

          5. How does management and HR deal with complaints? If complaining never or rarely has positive results, at best your knowledge of what’s bugging people is gong to be severely limited. Look at both official policies and what is actually happening.

          6. Look at possible discrepancies between official policies and what actually happens. A classic example is generous vacation policies that workers never take advantage of. When that happens, there is usually a reason for it. And that reason may be related to a different policy that no one has thought through, management that makes it difficult to take advantage of the policy, or (unofficial) penalties for taking advantage of these policies.

          1. Puddin*

            I would also interview the women (if any) that have made it past the 3 years. Find out what hurdles they had to cross or what is different about them compared to the women who left or are thinking about leaving. Just a thought…

          2. Anonymous*

            Observer, this is great list to consider! Thank you! A few of these I’ve answered here since you posted, but many will require some additional investigation. I will copy this list for our next manager’s meeting. Thanks again!

    3. Sunflower*

      Hmmm I find this to be very interesting. As stated above, it could be that they are moving onto better positions. At my sister’s company, which consists of 70 hour weeks, a lot of women quit when they are ready to have kids and move into positions closer to a 40 hour week.

      It also depends on the industry. Some industries are simply male dominated.

      Do you think it could be a sexism thing going on? Or do you think there could be something going on the in the background causing these women to quit? I’m also curious now…

      1. Anonymous*

        I haven’t seen or heard any overt sexism whatsoever. Still, there could be some subtle biases; those are harder to observe.

        Also, there are several women in high-level positions. But they are all older, and the majority were external hires.

    4. CTO*

      Are people leaving voluntarily, or being let go? Any idea what kinds of positions they leave for?

    5. Barbara in Swampeast*

      How was the observation made? Was he commenting on why he doesn’t consider women for certain jobs or he is he truly concerned and wants to change things.

      If young women do not stay around it is because they know they are not wanted.

      1. Anonymous*

        The observation was made in a larger discussion about hiring and retention. It was definitely in the context of “this is problem we need to fix.”

    6. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Your company needs to do some serious, reflective work. Why are these women leaving? Are they not able to move up (why? because there aren’t opportunities in general, or because those opportunities aren’t as available for women)? Is the culture subtly (or openly) male-focused? Are they getting snapped up by other companies? Staying home with kids? Are you hiring smartly? What are the commonalities between people who are leaving, and differences from people who are staying?

      It’s a hard and super interesting process. Since your CEO is the one who brought it up, it sounds promising that your company could have a good go at it.

      1. Anonymous*

        We do have a lack of promotion opportunities in general. I have a feeling that a lot of our more ambitious and better performing female employees are leaving for other opportunities before promotions open up here. If they aren’t good performers, we let them go. If they are good performers, they find better opportunities. But what concerns me is that we’re not seeing the same thing happen with men, at least not to the same extent.

        1. Colette*

          Do you offer the same mentoring opportunities to women as to men? Do you have conversations with the women you’d like to stay about what they’d like to do longer term? Do you have conversations with all the employees (including and especially the women) where it’s safe for them to tell you what they’d like changed about their job or the company?

          1. Anonymous*

            We don’t have formal mentoring programs. Managers *should* be having conversations about each employee’s long term career goals (this is literally in our management guidelines), but I can’t honestly say if this is happening equally for both genders and across departments. One of the ideas that another manager raised was to set up some formal mentoring programs internally.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        One of these questions was along the lines of my thought process. Is it maybe that there’s not a difference between the women and the men, but instead a difference between the people leaving and the people staying, and more of the people leaving just happen to be women? Are the women being hired just more experienced/have stronger qualifications coming in, and maybe more ambitious to move on or more likely to be recruited elsewhere due to their backgrounds? It might be worth comparing the backgrounds of the people leaving to see if there are any commonalities – something similar happened at one of my previous workplaces where all of the superstars or highly ambitious people moved on after a couple of years, while the regular performers or people who weren’t focused on climbing the ladder stayed put. If this is the case, it might be worth examining the hiring process to find out why all of the women fit this background – just coincidence, or is there something happening during the process that’s weeding more of the women out or making it harder for them to get hired than the men?

        1. Anonymous*

          This is such a great point. We are looking at hiring as well, but it’s hard to untangle.

          Your post made me wonder about the hiring questions we have around long-term career goals and staying in the area. For example, are we screening out male applicants who have career or location goals not aligned with our company? If we’re doing that to men only, I could see how it could eventually contribute to our current situation.

      3. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Replying to myself here:

        I think hiring is something that can get overlooked in this kind of conversation. Are you hiring women differently than you are hiring men? Expecting different things from them? Making different assumptions about their trajectories? etc.

    7. Sarahnova*

      How big is your company? If it’s large, do you have access to general data on performance, tenure, etc? Do women receive performance ratings that are the same as men, on average?

      See if your data can tell you anything. Whether it can or not, get out there and talk to some of the younger women in the business. How do they find working there? What barriers do they feel they face? What would make their lives easier?

      Does your company do exit interviews? Yeah, sometimes people just soft-pedal their real reasons for leaving in a desire to get out the door, but if you don’t do exit interviews, I’d look at introducing them and tracking why people leave. If you are still in contact with young women who’ve left, say via LinkedIn, you could approach them and ask them for honest, confidential feedback on why they left. It could be all sorts of things – sexist managers, low-key harassment, an expectation for lots of evening socialising, performance frameworks that reward behaviour stereotypically associated with men, etc. (I do consulting in this space.)

      Bottom line, though, you’ll need women to trust you to get to the real answers, and if the environment is hostile to younger women, it will be hard to win that trust.

      1. Anonymous*

        Small to mid-sized, but we do have extensive data on performance, salaries, etc. No obvious answers, but we’re still looking.

        We do exit interviews, but HR hasn’t noticed different themes by gender. I like the idea of talking to more young women about why they left.

        I also like your suggestion of looking for performance frameworks that reward male-associated behavior. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s more likely to be things like this or other forms of more subtle bias than clear-cut sexual discrimination. (Which is especially challenging, as it may be more difficult to identify and change subtle biases.)

      1. Anonymous*

        Right now, the plan is to figure out what’s happening. Once we know the cause(s), we can take action.

    8. A Teacher*

      How paternalistic is the environment? Is it one of a good ole’ boys club or is collaboration by all seen as important? Are men given subtle preferential treatment? Fair doesn’t mean equal but too much unfairness will be offputing as well.

  26. Anon*

    How would you feel if you are at a director level (with 6 years exp) and a new AVP position is created above you and one of your fellow directors (~3 years exp) is moved into it and….new AVP proceeds to tell you that he’ll join you on your next hiring committee for an entry level position?

    I’m feeling pretty damn insulted. We’ve been colleagues for the past two years and I trained him. Not going to go into the issue of the new position and the fact that it was created while I was on maternity leave. I’ve hired lots of people and they’ve all been great. Past AVP never sat in on any interviews.

    So, really more of a vent than a question. Yes, I’m looking.

    1. Kevin*

      Are you just not happy what someone who has less experience than you was promoted above you? Do you know if they are outstanding at their job? Not to add fuel to the fire but promotions should not be based on seniority. It’s possible they want to be in the process to do a good job. I interviewed with someone super above me for my current position (my boss’ boss’ boss), I don’t think it’s unusual.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you hire or does a committee hire? I am not getting why he thinks there is a hiring committee.

      Does he want to learn how to hire and this is how he frames that request? Or have you had a history of snark from this guy?

    3. Jen RO*

      I’m not sure I get this, honestly. An ex-coworker joined the company a year after me, I trained her, and then she was promoted to team lead. Why? Because she was the better person for this job and I wasn’t.

    4. fposte*

      Is there a reason why you’re taking this as second-guessing–is he a micromanager generally, or is he only doing it for hires you manage and leaving other people at your level alone? Absent that, it doesn’t seem hugely unreasonable for somebody to want to check out the hiring process.

    5. SA*

      The new AVP may be looking for opportunities to learn more about you and your group. It is difficult going from a peer to a manager relationship, on both sides. That might be some of what you are reacting to.

  27. Sunflower*

    Does anyone else feel like they are the only person they know freaking out about their career? My friends seem content in their careers and their company’s and I haven’t felt that way once since I graduated 3 years ago. I’ve always been career oriented but when you have no idea what you want your career to be, it’s hard to channel that energy. Everyday I can’t decide whether I want to be an event planner, or a writer, or a project manger or maybe i should just go back to school and become a speech therapist or a counselor. I know your 20s are rocky and you’re supposed to not have any idea what you’re doing but it feels like I’m the only one in my group of friends who’s constantly worried about it. Everyone seems to have accepted that the job they fell into after college is their career and they seem okay with this. I know I should just calm down but it’s hard when you’re stuck in a bad job environment that you need to get out of.

    Ahh just venting.

    1. Boo*

      Yeah, I feel you!

      It does seem like I’m the only person I know without any particular direction/ambition in life. All my other mates have Proper Jobs, like lawyers or engineers or project managers etc. I’ve basically always done admin.

    2. Midge*

      I’m in my late 20s, and I feel like most of my friends are freaking out about their careers. The ones who aren’t are the exception. However, the problem becomes that when you get together with friends who are all freaking out, that becomes what you talk about the whole time. I have some friends in my field that I just can’t spend that much time with right now, because every time we get together we have the same depressing conversation about this issue. For my own sanity I need a little space from that.

    3. Jen RO*

      I was there 5 years ago. All my friends had corporate jobs with a set schedule and good (I assume) money, while I was working as a freelancer with no job security. I loved my work, but I felt like the least accomplished person on Earth. Even worse when we went out with my boyfriend and friends, who are all 10+ years older than me and well-established in their careers.

      And then… I kinda fell into a career and I’m as happy as I could ever be. Hang in there!

    4. Elkay*

      Late 20s and no idea. I frequently complain that job seeking is so much more difficult when you don’t have A Job (like Engineer, Architect, Chef). I have multiple skills which can be described in multiple ways so finding the job that uses them is really tricky.

    5. Kerry*

      It’s like you are me. Every single option you listed is one I’ve considered (plus graphic design/illustration). I can’t choose, I don’t want to choose, and so here I sit, watching as my friends continue to make huge strides towards their career goals (the same goals they’ve had since high school) while I can’t even answer “So, what else have you been up to?” without cringing.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yea that’s how I feel too. Although I finally forced myself to leap into something which was a good idea. I’m definitely happier now that I’m on some sort of track but my next move worries me. It feels like the next move will lead my down one track and I’ll be getting further away from the other things I’m still interested in. I think some of my friends are having the same thoughts as me but instead of moving at 100 mph trying to fix the problem like I am, they are just handling it internally and not saying anything

    6. louise*

      31 here. Still trying to figure out what I’ll be when I grow up. At a recent interview, I was asked “How does this role fit into your career path?” and I thought “Path? I’m not on a path. I’m on a tilt-a-whirl.” I didn’t say it out loud luckily (instead I said something wildly inappropriate later on that I’m pretty sure knocked me out of the running, but oh well!).

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, I know those feels. I know exactly what I want to be doing, but unfortunately, it’s along the line of “do it first and if you’re lucky, you’ll get paid for it.” My dilemma is in deciding whether to put ALL my energy into it and really go for it, or continue to play it safe and divide it up with school. Though I may never succeed, I don’t think I would regret trying, but I might regret not trying.

      Errggh, I just answered my own question. :P I hope that thought process helped some.

    8. Stephanie*

      Late 20s and yes. All the time. I picked a field that was a poor fit (and has a bad market anyway) and have just been flailing. It can be a bit disheartening to look around and see other friends starting to get their footing and succeed professionally.

    9. ChristineSW*

      I’ve been in that endless cycle of indecision myself. Although I know generally what area of specialization I want, I still waver on the exact role I want to play–from research, to grant writing, back to direct social work, consulting, etc etc etc, until my head spins. Even with my success yesterday at my committee meeting, I’m still trying to think long-term. I’m 40, which I keep freaking out about–I worry that it’s too late. I try to remind myself of a friend who recently told me she didn’t find her niche until her early 40’s. She has been in this niche ever since–30 years later. So there is hope for me as long as I stay positive and keep stretching myself little by little.

      I know it can be very disheartening when everyone around you seems settled, or at least content. Believe me, it takes every ounce of energy not to feel jealous. But you are still young! Try not to compare yourself with your friends…just relax and take things at YOUR pace.

      Good luck!

      1. LPBB*

        I’m turning 40 at the end of the month and I’ve been wrestling with this exact thing. Thank you for posting this — it’s something I really needed to hear.

    10. Sharm*

      Right there with you. I’m not as career-minded necessarily, but I haven’t won a lottery yet, so I have to work. I just don’t know what I want to do. I fell into something and have been in that general field for almost 8 years now, and I can’t help but feel like I did everything wrong. My friends circle is a bit older than I am (30), so they definitely seem way more content than me. They are all at more senior-level positions and have several degrees under their belt. I feel like I should have done that too, but then all the advice I get is not to pursue a higher-level degree because I don’t know what I want to do. I totally get that, but I feel like I’m floundering.

      I moved from a very competitive area (the Bay Area), and comparing myself to peers there is even worse. All anyone wants to do there is work, and they’re all tech founders and CEOs and millionaires. I feel like such a failure (at least when it comes to career) most days.

      My saving grace is I came to where I am now because I wanted a change of pace in life. So every other aspect of my life other than work is really, really good. That wasn’t true before. So I’m viewing it as a trade-off. I hope I can find something, because I know I’m smart and capable, and people have always told me they love working with me. This blog intimidates me sometimes because everyone is so ambitious and accomplished, but it’s also nice to hear because I want slightly different things in life, of course my career path will be different.

      Sorry to blather. I totally get you, is all. (I think we may have shared similar thoughts on being bored at a job before?? Either way, I feel you!)

    11. JustMe*

      I’m pretty much there, too. It’s really hard to not be jealous of friends (particularly younger friends) who seem to have a great career trajectory, while I’m living paycheck to paycheck.

      For what it’s worth, I just signed up for a free Coursera course about careers. I don’t know how helpful it would be, but at least it’s something to think about (starts end of May):

    12. Dang*

      Yep! 29, humanities major, interdisciplinary masters degree that hinders more than it helps apparently… And still no clue.

    13. kas*

      I’ve kind of been feeling like this lately. I have no problem with what I studied in school, however, I would like a more exciting career where I’m always on the move (if Carrie Mathison’s (Homeland) job was actually like that in real life I would sooo switch careers).

      Just about everyone I graduated with were hired on after their internship and here I am still struggling to find something … entry level does not mean entry level anymore.

  28. Squeak!*

    Anonymous(e) for this –

    A co-worker recently changed his resume so it looks like this on the 1st page:

    -Current job: A two-columned, bulleted format of all his accomplishments that takes up the rest of the first page, because each bullet point is a large sentence, and sometimes two sentences.

    I look at this and my eyes want to fall out. He says it’s because he does so many things he wants to make sure people know about them all.

    I had him move a few bullet points into a Key Results section right below his Profile (depending on the job).

    I then said to whittle down his remaining bullet points to about 6 or so and get rid of the double column. He won’t.

    I’m not a hiring manager or recruiter, but was asked for help. I think the double-column, bulleted approach looks awful and a busy hiring manager would be less likely to take the time to go through it, but is this just a matter of opinion, and would work with some?

    1. Zillah*

      He asked you for your opinion, and you were clear about it. You can’t make him change his resume, and at this point, I think it’s really his problem.

      1. Squeak!*

        Nice! :)

        Because of all this, I am actually wondering if that two-column format is an acceptable thing.

  29. Kate*

    My officemate has a phone interview today and has asked for me to leave our shared office for 30 minutes today so she can have some privacy to do the interview. Do you think this is reasonable? I’ve never thought to kick my office mate out when doing phone interview and have always gone elsewhere.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think it’s weird esp bc it’s 30 minutes! But if it’s a one time thing, I would do it just this once. If it starts to become a common theme, just explain that it might be better to use a different spot, especially since there are other people walking around the office.

      1. Kate*

        I definitely don’t mind doing it this once, but I think I’ll say something if she asks me again. Just want confirmation that it’s asking a lot of a person. She’s a nice officemate and I want her to get a better job, but not if I have to wander the halls for 30 minutes!

    2. The IT Manager*

      It sounds pretty unreasonable because two people will not be working for 30 minutes in order for one of them to interview for a job. You officemate should definately be taking this call on her cell out of the office.

      1. KrisL*

        Unless you can find something else to do for 30 minutes, this seems unreasonable to me, too. Basically, the co-worker is asking you to do nothing useful for 30 minutes, which is not something I’d be comfortable about when I’m supposed to be working.

    3. Jen RO*

      I would find it a bit rude, but I wouldn’t mind it a whole lot, if it doesn’t become a trend.

      1. Jamie*

        Me too – I’d probably do it once but say something if asked again. It’s a little odd, but one time I wouldn’t make a fuss.

    4. thenoiseinspace*

      My instinct is to say that this is weird, but before I judge her, does she have a reasonable reason for doing this? (ie can’t afford a cell phone on current salary, has literally no nearby cafes/places she could go where she wouldn’t be overheard by a boss and cause a potential conflict…I don’t know, I’m reaching here but I feel like we should give her a chance.)

      1. Kate*

        Haha, no, no way. She has a cell phone and a car she could go to for the interview. She’s also known for showing up late/leaving early most days so she could just leave early and do it at home. Honestly, I have no idea why she just didn’t leave early for the interview. It’s weird but I’m willing to be a good sport this time. Just wanted to make sure I won’t be considered a hard-ass if it happens next time and I say no.

        1. KrisL*

          I think I’d say that I don’t want the boss to see me wandering the halls doing nothing and/or I have a lot of work I need to do, and I can’t just not do it for that long. But it’s your decision.

    5. Tiffany In Houston*

      Your colleague needs to make arrangementa to do her interview on her time and not in your shared space. Furthermore, WHY would she even do it on the company’s phone..that’s not the wisest course of action..What if your boss were to walk in on her. She needs to find a conference, coffee shop or go to her the rest of us do.

  30. BB*

    Does anyone work at a creative services type of place? I’m filling out an application that asks for a personal website. I don’t have a blog but I do maintain my twitter and Pintrest as well as Tumblr. Do these company’s have a preferred site?

    1. Rayner*

      It depends what they’re asking for. If your tumblr is full of your portfolio as an artist, or if your twitter is full of pimpage for your own articles, I would say yes and choose the one which is most easily accessible on any device + readable in a public sphere. So don’t pick your tumblr if it’s got a pornographic or very dark text on dark background, for example but if they’re just you ranting about your day or talking about ..idk your favourite tea, I would be wary of adding them.

      Also, I like Pinterest, but I find it hard to navigate, and I know others new to the site can share the same issues. If your tumblr is formatted to be easily read and navigated – easy to find the next and back buttons, etc – I would go for that one.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Lots of creative types have a personal website that hosts their portfolio. That’s probably what they’re asking for.

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        +1 This.

        It’s almost always talking about an online portfolio. Alternatives include a blog which you update regularly (multiple times a week) if it’s an editorial position, or professional social media accounts you currently manage if it’s a social media position.

  31. Anonymous*

    I saw a posting for a volunteer job that I’d be interested in doing, and just realized that it’s pretty old – over 2 months – but has no cut-off date. The website has a generic “volunteer opportunities” page that says that they need people to do this role, among others, but has no specific ad. Would it be terrible to call and ask if they still have need of people before putting together a resume/cover letter?

    To be honest, I don’t particularly want to do just anything for the organization – it’s this specific task that interests me because it’s something I’d like to develop more skills in.

    1. Celeste*

      If you really want to do it, then just put it together and send it in. If you get it, great. If you don’t, then you are clarified on what you do want, and you are now a step ahead in going after it.

  32. LK*

    Question for the nonprofit folks! (Or for-profit folks to whom this might apply.) Any suggestions for working with board members that have a tendency to micromanage? This is a good-sized, established nonprofit, so it’s not as though they are filling in where the staff cannot. Said micromanagement is also somewhat random, as it only flares up on specific projects, yet isn’t a result of obvious problems on said projects. Involved board are great, without question. But this is actually starting to take away from my ability to work efficiently. Any tips?

    1. Observer*

      What is your position? That’s going to constrain your choices.

      You can be sure that it’s almost certainly not as random as it seems. Start looking for patters. Is it always the same person or group? Does it only happen around certain projects? Time of year? Profile of the project? After a certain type of event hits the news?

      If you can figure out some of the triggers for this, you will have a much better idea of what you can do about this.

    2. CTO*

      Ooh, overinvolved boards are hard and board culture can be really hard to change. Is there any board leader and/or organizational leader who could speak up for change? Could an outside board consultant come do some training?

      Otherwise, any idea why the board is concerned about these particular projects? Is it a lack of communication? High stakes? Are there 1-2 domineering personalities who just believe that they need to be involved in this area or have expertise in it?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, the ED needs to talk to the board about appropriate boundaries — this shouldn’t be happening; it’s not the board’s job to manage the staff.

        1. LK*

          Clearly posted at the same time as this! I’ve been thinking about officially escalating this one (so to speak), so it’s good to know that that’s likely the next step. I don’t think I can do much more on my own.

      2. LK*

        I’m basically one tier removed from really having the power to get involved. (Not CEO/Exec level, but high enough on the ladder that I have significant Board contact.) There is a pattern in terms of the members themselves, but not in terms of the project stakes. We actually get more micromanagement on some mid-level issues than some giant ones. This can be mitigated by much communication, which is good — but it’s not good when the back-and-forth become a whole extra job (and ultimately doesn’t accomplish a lot). Should I consider having a sit-down with the CEO on this one?

        1. CTO*

          I think you should talk with your CEO if she/he might not realize what’s going on. Even though the board technically supervises the CEO, some CEOs I know spend a lot of time managing the board. Someone needs to set boundaries. Micromanaging boards (at organizations big enough for sufficient paid staff) really hold an org back.

    3. NHNonprofit*

      Blue Avocado (nonprofit website/newsletter) has some great articles on staff/board boundaries

    4. KrisL*

      I can think of a couple of ways to deal with this.

      One – ask them what information they need, and when they need it, etc., so that you can send them what they need when they want it, and then they might be able to stop bugging people.

      Two – give them too much information. This is passive aggressive, so I wouldn’t do it unless option 1 doesn’t work, or you’re sure it won’t work. But if you basically give them more information than they need or want, they may start asking for less or may bug you less because they already have more than they want. If at all possible, make it useful info so it won’t come across as a jerky thing to do.

  33. a.n.o.n.*

    As of last week’s open thread, I had emailed the CEO of Company A to see if the job is still available and didn’t hear anything. I emailed him on Monday to reiterate my interest and was told the position is still open, but there’s a freeze on hiring at the moment (lots of new positions filled in a short time). Given what they’re doing there, I understand that. I don’t think it’s a put-off. He said we could speak in a few months.

    I’m wondering what kind of job I’ll apply for if I can’t get the one I want at Company A. The reason I want that job is because I’ve discovered I no longer want to do what I did for nearly 20 years, and it’s working in the same size company as my former job which means more freedom and independence, a more open atmosphere, and lots of different, challenging things to do. I’ve also determined there’s one other aspect of my former job I no longer want either. So now I’m stumped as to what I should be looking for. I’m guessing it would be pretty hard to find the type of job Company A has given the industry and the size of company I want to work for.

    It’s really challenging to go to a job I dread everyday. I did it for the last several years of my former job (I had my reasons for staying). Sucks that I’m at that point after just a little more than month at the new job.

    One thing that’s good about being here longer is each day I feel more certain that I want a different career path. I know I’m not panicking or being a flake, like I originally thought.

    1. a.n.o.n.*

      I just noticed I didn’t ask my question.

      Anyone have suggestions on how to figure out what kind of job to apply for in the event I don’t get into Company A? I definitely know I don’t want the kind of job I have at Company B. I did it for almost 20 years. No more. I’m not sure how to go about looking for the kind of job that would involve helping the company with high level projects that help the company get where they want to go. I know I want a small company. A start-up would be nice. I would stay in teh same industry definitely.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have found listening to friends suggestions, reading this blog and getting away from my old thought patterns helpful.

        I now apply for jobs that I used to say I would never do. (With in limits, of course. I am not going to apply for an auto tech job. I have no quals and no interest.) But some of the work I do now is work that I swore I did not want to do.

        What I like about friends suggestions is that they see capabilities in me that I just don’t see. Instead of saying flat out no, I say “thank you” and go home to mull the advice. It has helped to open up my thinking.

        1. a.n.o.n.*

          Great idea, thanks! It was very rattling to me to discover I no longer wanted to do this work. It’s who I was for years. I realized that the reason I was able to do it for so long is that I have many other responsibilities that were more interesting and allowed more freedom.

  34. Addy*

    How do you calculate how much experience you have? And then how do you take that number and use it to think about job postings that you might be a good fit for?

    For example, I’m a couple years out of undergrad, and these are the things that I’m thinking about:

    – I worked retail part-time all through high school (started when I was 15!) and then on breaks when I was in college–8 years, part time
    -I worked as a TA for a professor in undergrad- 1 year, part time
    -I’ve been in my first full time job out of college for 2 years now
    – I have a second, part time job that I’ve had for about 6 months
    – I’ve also volunteered for years as a Spanish translator, I chaired a major conference at my college for years, I was a volunteer coordinator for the YMCA, part time, volunteer in college, I’ve volunteered at the Humane Society, I was the (volunteer) editor of a magazine in college…

    I just don’t know how to calculate this. Any thoughts?

    1. Kevin*

      Honestly I would only count the 2 years at your full-time job. If you were the hiring manager for a job that wanted 5-7 years experience and someone applied and said “I have two years full time experience and all of this other experience” would you count it? Not to say that it’s not all impressive and I admire your work ethic very much but I don’t think it is what people are looking for when they are hiring for a full-time position with larger (non-entry) levels of experience.

    2. Lindsay*

      In case this helps – when we did hiring for my university, things like internships were counted as half if they were part-time. So if you worked six months part-time, you could perhaps count it as three months. Add up all the weeks and divide by two for that.

      You could also categorize your experience by sector/main duties, and calculate from that. So – a year volunteering, eight years retail, two years desk job, whatever.

      When it comes to job postings, I think that hiring managers will officially count your “relevant” experience but I would definitely leave your retail stuff on there – having a steady work history is important and does show you’re a hard worker! It would also give you an edge over someone else with the same professional experience.

    3. Zillah*

      I disagree with Kevin – I think that it really depends on what you mean by ‘part time’ and how your experience relates to what you’re applying for.

      If ‘part-time’ means one day every other week (for example), I probably wouldn’t include it unless it was very relevant to the job you’re applying for (e.g., a position as a TA). If ‘part-time’ means 25-30 hours a week, on the other hand, absolutely include it.

      Similarly, I think it depends on how much you volunteered and how your volunteer experience related to the job you want. As Alison has said, you should absolutely list internships/volunteering experiences that are relevant.

      1. Kevin*

        I agree with you on volunteering/internships depending on the position.

        But 8 years of retail, let’s assume the 25-30 hours week, even counting it as half of the time I don’t think equals 4 years of experience. If Addy is looking for a job and has been working full-time for two years (to make it easy let’s just use the retail and full-time) and counts the part-time job as four years, I don’t think she should be applying for jobs that ask for six years experience. If I was hiring for someone and wanted that much experience I would not be counting retail.

    4. Fiona*

      Pretty much what Kevin said. I find myself with a similar dilemma as I’m trying to change fields. I have 10+ years’ experience doing what I’ve been doing, but I’m not sure how to add up the bits and bobs of what I want to be doing, that I’ve done on my own time within that 10-year span.

    5. literateliz*

      I pretty much agree with what everyone else said–I’d just count the 2 years since they usually want to know about post-college jobs–but I did want to add that if you see a job that asks for, say, 3 years experience, or 3-5, that otherwise seems well suited to you and your abilities, go ahead and apply! A lot of people limit themselves by not applying for jobs when they don’t have exactly the number of years specified on the application (and I remember reading somewhere that women are far more likely to do this than men), but as long as you’re in the ballpark I think that kind of thinking is unnecessarily limited.

  35. Anonymous*

    I’m working in a nonprofit where I interned for a year during college, so this is my first job out, and while I worked there before, I had a different kind of position. Now I have two bosses where I work, and about a month ago one of them missed the renewal deadline for our biggest grant. This meant that we had to apply for an extension and get cross-departmental approval, etc. She told me not to worry about it, but then a few days ago she changed her mind and told me that I need to start helping her with it. Fine, except I quickly realized that the reason she asked me is because she doesn’t know how to do it herself and can’t help me figure out how. So I’ve been trying to piece together how to do this grant extension with help from people in a few other departments.

    I’ve been frustrated to tears about this, but also because she’s asking me to take on more and more tasks that are her responsibility, and that I think she doesn’t know how to do. (I figure this because whenever we have meetings, she’ll ask me to do things that are counter to procedure and that need procedures, like sending out contract offers, and when I point this out she just shrugs and says that she doesn’t know.) I’m also worried that I’m going to be held responsible for the grant if it’s done incorrectly, and I feel like I have no support from her while I’m trying to get this done. And this is just the latest in a long series of crises with this boss.

    I’m also frustrated because my other boss is great! She was the one who set me up with training and helped me really get a handle on this position, and now I’m starting to expand my role with her beyond just administrative things and into other projects. But I’m tired of coming into work and having to drop everything because my one boss forgot a deadline and work nonstop on it while stressed out of my mind for two days! And I’m not even sure if I have any right to complain. I’m new to the workforce and don’t know what to expect at all. I just feel ugh.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      It sounds like you report to two different people. If so, you can go to the one who is not a problem and say, “I would like some advice about how to handle my work load. Alice keeps giving me emergency projects without any direction on how to do them and that makes me late in getting things done for you. Do you have any suggestions on how I should handle this?” Hopefully she will ask some more questions.

    2. AVP*

      Who did all this stuff in the past? It sounds like your manager didn’t, if she doesn’t know how to do it. So was it a part of the job for the person you replaced, or was there a totally different person involved?

      1. Anonymous*

        She had an assistant who has since left, and he didn’t leave a manual or any procedures, so I’m not sure what he did and didn’t do. If someone did it, though, it would have been him. I didn’t receive training for grant support when I started, but one of the other departments is going to set up a training session soon so I can finish this project in a somewhat timely manner. I’m not really worried about not continuing to not know how to do things, at this point. I’m more worried that I’m in for other surprises in my duties down the line.

    3. Observer*

      Also, follow up every verbal conversation with an email. Make judicious use of the CC line. Don’t CC everyone on every email of course, but if something is going to slip, for instance, then the people who are going to be affected should be cc’d. And, if you think that there is a procedure that needs to be followed and she’s either dismissive or unclear / unsure about it, cc the person above her.

      If she explicitly tells you to do something that is counter to policy, then make sure you get it in writing (email), and then ask the next person above (or the Executive Director) about it. Not in a sneaky “she doesn’t have a clue” way, but in a straightforward request for clarification and guidance. eg “Jane told me to do x about getting prices for the whatchamacallit that need to go into our extension request, but our policy manual says we need to do y. Please clarify. How should I move forward with this?”

      1. KrisL*

        I agree with Observer.

        If it looks like something is going to hit the fan, make sure as many people know about it in advance as possible. In a nice way, of course. You’re not trying to make your boss look incompetent; (although she probably is) you’re just giving people a heads up.

        Getting some kind of mentor might help. If you can find people at the office who know what to do, that will help. If you can write up notes on what to do, that can be great.

        I’ve noticed that if I put together documentation on something when I know part of how it works but not all of it, it’s usually pretty easy to get a co-worker to go over it and help fill in what I need to know. It’s much harder to get someone else to write documentation that I need.

  36. nyxalinth*

    I finally have a job. Yay! It isn’t ideal, but I’ve spend the last two and a half years being picky and getting nowhere. It’s fundraising on the phone for causes I support, and that part alone makes up for the rest. It’s a good environment, aside from the crappy chairs that hurt my butt and make my legs swell. If anyone has suggestions for things I can use to alleviate those things (keep in mind, I take the bus, and we don’t have storage or our own work stations there) I’m all ears!

    1. pgh_adventurer*

      Would it be weird to stand up and pace around every so often while on a call? I used to do that at my call center job and it helped a lot.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, nyxalinth, congratulations! I know it’s been a long process, and I’m glad that it’s actually for something you’re interested in supporting.

      Amazon shows some inflatable footrests and back pillows–maybe you could schlep them back and forth if they were helpful?

    3. Eden*

      Congrats on your job! I hope you can deal with the chair issue through the magic of foot- or backrests. Could you possibly stand?

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yay for job!! Can you ask for a different chair? Or get something to put your feet up on? I got a cheap storage ottoman from Target to put my legs up on, and it goes right under my desk.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Congrats! I agree with the suggestion to pace around a little if you can. Also, get a small stool to rest your feet on. It should take some pressure off your legs.

  37. Sunflower*

    Has anyone done one of those work to travel programs? I’m in the US- Most of what I found is nannying or au pairing and living in someone else’s house. I’m not sure at 25 I’d want to do that but it seems like landing an office job internationally isn’t likely for a junior level person. I’ve also considered taking out a small loan to get abroad and trying to find a job/waitress when I get there but I’m not sure how work visa’s work. I’m really interested in going to Spain, Greece, Italy, Australia maybe? Also what are people’s experience in going back to work after this? Was it easy or difficult to get a job back in the states? Any experience anyone would like to share would be nice!

    1. Mike*

      I taught English abroad, although not in any of the countries that you listed. Its interesting fun and an adventure. The pay tends to be low and you may live with a host family depending on the program. Typical countries that need ESL Teachers tend to be Poland , Japan, Korea, Turkey, China and Russia. I’ve heard interesting things about the Stans as well.

      You can find a lot of listings and information on Daves ESL Cafe or Footprints.

    2. Sarahnova*

      In most countries, you are probably not going to get an admin job over a native speaker and permanent resident, and the economies of Spain and Greece are in serious trouble, with high unemployment. It may be difficult to get the right to work or find a job in much of Europe, unless it’s for seasonal work which is predominantly done by a transient population (i.e. working in ski resorts or similar).

      Australia, OTOH, has a fairly lively temporary worker market, as far as I know. The cost of living is high, but wages typically account for that.

      It’s unlikely that this will improve your employability in the States – you’ll be as employable (or not) as you were when you left, unless you picked up fluency in another language while travelling. I’d do it for the fun and the experience, not the career benefit.

      1. Sunflower*

        I would definitely be doing it for the experience. I’m more worried about getting a job when I don’t have one. I quit my job a couple years ago and then couldn’t find anything for almost a year. It was bad and I’m very hesitant to do it again. Saying I traveled for the year is probably a much better resume gap explanation than my previous situation but I can’t help but think how difficult it was to get back into a job once I quit one

    3. kas*

      If you said you were 22 and lived in Canada I would’ve thought I wrote this.

      I asked pretty much the same question in an open thread 3 or 4 weeks ago and it had quite a few responses, you can find some more suggestions there.

    4. vvondervvoman*

      Check out BUNAC. It’s an org that helps you apply for temporary holiday working visas in Australia/New Zealand (if you’re a US citizen). They provide job search assistance and they have something like a higher than 90% job placement rate within the first month.

      You do need to save up with around $5, but if you wanted to get a loan I’m sure you could, but it would probably impinge on your ability to travel on your down time.

      I really discourage you from arriving as a tourist and working illegally (there’s no way you’ll get a visa just because you’re there). You could potentially work under the table, but you need someone to help you get in touch with those types of employers. You would also be at constant risk of deportation, just like undocumented people in the US.

      Because the visa is for only one year, it gives you a solid end date so you can start applying a few months in advance. Or you could do a second year!

  38. pgh_adventurer*

    I need some help with the profile statement on my resume. It starts:

    “I am a public policy graduate student with four years of experience in data analysis, research, and communications.”

    Then I want to say something about how I use that experience and a more data-driven way of thinking to assess how things are done and improve efficiency/effectiveness of whatever program or department I’m working for. Under each of my jobs I detail ways I’ve accomplished this. Any suggestions?

    1. Laufey*

      Why do you have a profile statement? I’d just drop it. If they can’t figure out your education and experience from looking at your resume & cover letter, you’re (or they’re) doing something wrong.

      1. pgh_adventurer*

        Because I’m going to an internship fair next week where a bunch of local govt agencies while be looking for help with their projects, and so I’ll just be dropping off resumes. At first glance my experience looks a little all over the place, and I want to explain how it hangs together without using a cover letter.

        1. Anonymous*

          Government agencies often look for some kid of profile or (ew) objective statement. I’d leave it on if that’s the sector to which you’re applying.

        2. Laufey*

          I guess I recant, then. I think I was confusing your profile with an objective. I can see its value in that case.

      2. Zillah*

        I dunno, IIRC, Alison has always said that she thinks that profile statements are pretty important.

    2. Midge*

      When I was rewriting my resume, I looked at the samples at Blue Sky Resumes. If I remember correctly all of them have profile sections, and they were a good jumping off point for me. It’s also nice that they show the before and after versions. Not every example was to my taste, and most of them were outside of my field or for someone with way more experience. But I think it’s a solid place to start.

  39. Laufey*

    Is it bad if I don’t want to move on?

    Everyone says that you shouldn’t stay at one job for too long, but I genuinely like my job, have a fairly functional office, decent benefits, like the city (and it’s a niche field, so in order to keep similar benefits/level up I’d most likely need to move), am finally making friends, and am looking forward to staying in one city for more than four years (after moving excessively in my childhood). Because I enjoy my job so much, I’m a little worried about having to change when the time comes (and it’s still aways off; I’ve only been here for just about two years), and I’m not certain I want to leave. Does that make me an underachiever? How long can I push off having to get a new job before I do become unhireable somewhere else?

    1. pgh_adventurer*

      To me, this sounds like a non-problem! I’ve never had a job so good that I didn’t want to move on.

      Do you feel like you can accomplish your career goals here? Are you looking to move up in responsibility, and do you think that could happen with your current company?

      Two years isn’t very long. Maybe 3 years from now, your goals will have changed, and you’ll be ready for something new.

    2. Rayner*

      I don’t think it’s always a bad idea to stay in one place, but you should always try to show progression in your employment. For example, you might stay at the same pay grade, but you start processing orders for Chocolate Teapots, and then you ask and graduate up to overseeing ordering for White and Milk Chocolate Teapots, and then maybe you add in something else as well.

      You could also look into taking academic courses, and attending any extra training or events your company offers, so you show that you’re an individual that does strive to improve yourself, and learn more. The thing you don’t want to do is stay in the same job, for ten years, doing exactly the same work, with no changes, no growth, and then suddenly have to find a job on top of that.

      Two years isn’t long, and you might decide by the time you hit four years that you want to move up again to a different role within the office or company, but maintain your loyalty to the company.

      Stagnation is the danger, not necessarily stability.

    3. Eden*

      Two years sounds to me more like the minimum time to stay at a job, not the maximum. Don’t worry about what other people think, and enjoy having a good job, for as long as it stays that way!

    4. Laufey*

      I mean, I know I wouldn’t move on yet – I should (and want to) stay longer than two years at my first post-college job – I guess I’m just generally uncertain as to how long is too long to stay here and if I even want to leave at all. I know it’s a good problem to have, but I’m worried if I stay at one place too long, it goes under, will I then be un-hireable later because I stayed too long at one place I liked.

      1. CTO*

        Cross that bridge when you come to it. If you’re still growing, then you have plenty of time before you become or appear stagnant. Why stress about it now?

      2. Sunflower*

        I think the reason a lot of people leave their first jobs after a year or two is because they don’t like their job but they have to put in a year or two to avoid looking bad. It’s not that you should feel you’ve outgrown your job after 2 years. Maybe in a year from now, things will change- orgs go through changes and your career goals might change as well.

        Also IMO I think a long time to stay somewhere would be over 5 years. Around 10 years would be where I see things being ‘too long’. So you still have a while!

      3. Amy*

        I felt the same way at my first post-college job! A year or so in, a lot of my colleagues started leaving, and then I worried that there was something wrong with me that they all wanted to leave and I didn’t. There was nothing wrong with me! It’s OK, and often great, to want to stay at the same company (generations before us often did this for their entire careers). Eventually (for me it was at 2 years) I got fed up with some aspects of the job that I had previously taken in stride, and now I’m 2 years into another job where I’ve been promoted and can see myself staying for a really long time. Stay until you feel differently about it and actually WANT to leave.

  40. Anonymous*

    I know it’s far too early in the year to be thinking about time off for Christmas, but the two parents in the team I work in have announced that they are having Christmas off and that they should get first refusal for the time, as they have young children, I’m not overly bothered about working over Christmas so have already said I’ll work, (the office is shut for 4 days anyway)

    I really dislike the attitude that their time off is any more or less important than mine. I asked them why they thought having time off is any more important than me having time with my family, and the only reason they had was I’m an adult and Christmas is for the kids and it would upset the children not having one of their parents around over Christmas.

    Do you think I’m out of line in getting annoyed with this or do they have a valid point of view?

    1. Boo*

      Personally, I think they are out of line. Just because you don’t have kids doesn’t make your time less important than theirs. You still have friends/family/other commitments. And you know what? Even if you didn’t, their time STILL wouldn’t be more important than yours.

      I’ve been lucky in that wherever I’ve worked, everyone’s been pretty adult about working out who is taking what over Christmas. But if they’re going to be unreasonable, it sounds like you’re going to need a system where you all take turns.

      1. BB*

        YES. Grounds for having First refusal including being there longest, maybe being in a higher position or maybe finishing up a huge project right around that time.

        ‘Chritsmas is for the kids’- honestly, how dare they? Christmas is whatever it is to everyone- in fact, maybe I’m wrong but I believe the day originated as a religious holiday? Must have forgot it’s all about presents for children….

    2. Rebecca*

      I don’t think you’re out of line. Your time is important, too. I asked for 3 days vacation time – Dec 29, 30, and 31 in January. Why? Our company will be shut down on Dec 25 & 26 as well as January 1 & 2. That would give me 11 days off in a row. My child is grown and out of the house, and I don’t have family obligations, but you know what? I need some down time too. Unfortunately, my manager won’t approve it. She is waiting to see what the others want to schedule because of family issues. I don’t think this is fair at all.

    3. BJ McKay*

      I have two small children and I think the implication that people with kids should have preference for Christmas is garbage!

      Their family time isn’t more important than yours. Perhaps you can mention a few times between now and Christmas that’s when it’s your turn next year {insert plan}. Just stay calm and reasonable. Good luck!

    4. Positivity Boy*

      Ask them how they would feel if one of their children weren’t available on Christmas, and point out that you are someone’s child too! Just because you’re adult doesn’t mean your family doesn’t care about spending time with you anymore, and for a lot of adults Christmas is one of the few times a year they even get to see their families if they don’t live nearby. I hate this line of reasoning that young children are the only family members that matter when it comes to holiday time, it strikes me as very self-centered.

      1. Anonsie*

        This is what always gets me. People want to see their *grown* kids as well, you know! You’re still a family once your kids are out of college, you know.

    5. Jen RO*

      “I don’t have kids, but it would upset my mother not having one of her children around for Christmas.”

    6. Mike C.*

      Forget what I said earlier, ask them point blank why the whims of their children should come at the expense of everyone’s holiday schedule. I’d love to hear that answer.

    7. Jamie*

      As a parent this infuriates me. No one’s family is more important than anyone else and the entitlement is what bothers me.

      That said it’s nice for the people to whom the exact days are no big deal to volunteer to cover if they are so inclined. My mom used to volunteer for Christmas Day as a nurse because we’d spend that with our dad and it was one less person who had to give up plans. My husband never puts in for time around the holidays because we don’t go out of town and days off weeks before or after are the same to him.

      Not obligated, but it’s nice when people do this just to free the spots for those who do want to go out of town or where plans are a bigger deal.

      But the composition of my family will never be more or less important than anyone elses and I don’t get people who think otherwise.

      1. KrisL*

        It would be one thing if the parents asked nicely if they could have Christmas off so they could spend it with their kids. I think I’d be very sympathetic in that situation, although I have nephews and nieces and enjoy spending Christmas with them, so it would be tough to give that up.

        Still, I’d probably be willing, at least some of the time, to give them the time, but I don’t like the way they feel entitled to it.

        I might want to say something about how I had (at around 40) given up in my dream of having kids of my own and sometimes it still hurts to think that I won’t. I get annoyed when people with kids think childless people have all the fun. I mean yeah, there are things I’m glad I don’t have to deal with, but I did want to have kids.

    8. Zelos*

      I’d be tempted to answer “your family’s Christmas schedule is not my problem” but that seriously won’t improve coworker relations…

      Vacation times given out by the company should be judged based on contributions to the company. If you’re more senior at work, okay; if you just completed a huge project, okay; if you just secured a huge grant so everything can run better, okay. Your kids? Not my problem.

      But in the interests of coworker relations, I’d take this up to your supervisor/manager instead. A (hopefully fair, even-handed) policy from On High is probably more productive, and less refutable for your coworkers with kids, than getting into an argument with you.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      This annoys the crap out of me. I am childless by choice. Does that make my vacation and family time less important? No one has ever directly said to me that I shouldn’t mind because I don’t have kids, but I’ve felt the implication many times.

      I spent 17 years in my last job and I can count on one hand the number of years where I actually took some time off around Christmas.

      I had people in other departments I’d have to cover for that always took that week because they had young kids. Later on, I had someone reporting to me who had young kids. I didn’t mind her taking that week as much because I knew she couldn’t afford to pay for daycare for the week and didn’t have family close by who could watch them.

      What annoys me even more are the people who take that same week (or two) every single year because “that’s what [they] always do.” What about those of us who never get to take that week?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I forgot to add that my parents are out of town so I almost never got to see them on Christmas. We would always have to do our Christmas Day with either my sister or my husband’s family and then travel the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s to see my parents.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        RE: taking the same week off every year.

        I have a lot of that in my department. I generally take the first week of October, there’s another guy who takes the last week of June, but there are only 5 of us and while we have a combined 17 weeks of vacation, we can’t take vacation in February, May, July & November, so everybody kind of latches onto the same weeks because the pickings can get pretty slim.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That’s understandable. I meant Christmas week into New Year’s and Thanksgiving week. I generally take the same time every year, which is sometime in October.

    10. Nerdling*

      This would completely chap my hide if I were in your shoes, and it really infuriates me as a parent because it makes the rest of us look bad. I really don’t think family status should factor in when it comes to granting time off at the holidays. I much prefer when everyone can work it out among themselves like the adults they are so that nobody gets stuck working every year — or, if they can’t, then set up a rotation.

  41. The Unknown Rodent*

    So I’ve been searching/applying for jobs. With the standard online application, you get the question “Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor/felony?” Over 10 years ago, I was caught driving without insurance, went to court, license suspended, etc. By the time I did appear in court, I had acquired insurance. Does this still need to be included on my application? (I think this is a misdemeanor?) Yes, EXTREMELY stupid on my part. Just wondering if I still need to include it.

    1. Technical Editor*

      If you were convicted, not just charged, it may seem disingenuous if you don’t include it. But in the application you can be upfront: I was dumb, I acquired insurance, no issues since, etc.

    2. PEBCAK*

      If it’s more than 10 years old, you should contact the jurisdiction in which it happened and see if you can get it removed from your record or sealed or otherwise categorized as something that won’t show up in a background search.

    3. Fiona*

      I’ve done the exact same stupid thing, except that I HAD insurance but I paid the ticket instead of sending in the proof, which is an automatic plea of guilty and license suspension. Anyway, this may vary by region, but according to MN courts this type of violation is a petty misdemeanor, not punishable by jail time and therefore “not considered a crime.” I’d leave it off.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Contact the court and find out what the final disposition is on the case. (They may charge you a small fee for searching. If you go this route have them give you a hard copy of the disposition for you to keep in a safe place.)

      In all likelihood you had a plea agreement that reduced the charge to a lesser offense. Probably a traffic infraction (which is less than a misdemeanor.) This may not be a big concern for you.

      You can also get a copy of your driver’s abstract. In NY you can go to MyDMV to find your driving record for free.

      This question works into a biggger deal than it appears at first. Applying for colleges/scholarships/etc may involve answering this question, so it is well worth the time to find out what the offical status is on your case.

  42. Technical Editor*

    What should you do if your company threatens to reduce your pay because you won’t stay up until 11:00 PM to answer emails? I have a friend who has narcolepsy and she can’t have a computer or phone screen in her face past 9:00 PM due to her condition. I think this is ridiculous and she should find a new job right away. She’s salaried, and all they have offered so far is comp time. What’s her recourse besides that and possibly seeing a lawyer?

    1. Zillah*

      I am not at all well-versed in labor law, but this sounds like it’s getting in ADA territory, in which case her company should be treading really carefully. Is there someone in HR she can talk to?

  43. visenya targaryen*

    I had an interview where a piece of my work was critiqued. Should I send in a revised version? Or just leave it alone and thank my interviewer for the feedback?

    1. Rayner*

      Hmm. If you had a great rapport with the interviewer, and it was maybe the second or third interview, maybe email your contact and say something like,

      “I was very grateful for your feedback on my work during the interview. It definitely made me consider [thing x, thing y], and then reapply them. I’ve made some changes to the document, and have reattached it. Although I realise you don’t have to give me feedback again, I would very much appreciate your thoughts on the changes.”

      But I would only do this if you had a great rapport, and they were very interested in you. If it was lots of changes, and they weren’t very interested in you as a candidate, I would think that just a thank you for the feedback and remember it as a lesson.

    2. Colette*

      If you brought in a sample of your work and they criticized it, I’m not sure that’s a job you want.

      If it was something like “I see you used the Oxford comma – we prefer not to do that”, then that’s something you could adjust to.

      If it was more like “This first sentence is sloppy and I don’t really understand what you’re saying in this second paragraph. The third paragraph is entirely unnecessary”, then that’s a lot for an interview.

      In other words, the distinction for me is whether it was telling you what they would do differently, or whether they were picking apart a work that you believe accurately represents what you’d do on the job.

  44. Positivity Boy*

    What are people’s thoughts on “senior” titles/roles (ie senior developer, senior associate, etc.)? I always thought a senior position was reserved for someone who has been in the role for a while and is considered an unofficial authority figure in the department.

    I ask because someone was recent hired directly into my old department as a senior associate. Is this normal? She has a long history in the industry but she’s never worked in a department like this, which has a huge technical learning curve that typically takes 6-12 months to master. I held this same senior position previously and even after a year in the role, I still regularly encountered situations I didn’t immediately know how to address.

    I can understand wanting to give someone with experience a higher starting salary (especially since this tends to be an entry level position for people who come from outside the industry). However, starting her off with an advanced title seems weird, as I think it will mislead others about her level of expertise and authority, especially people outside the department who don’t realize she’s the least tenured person there. Am I misguided here?

    1. The IT Manager*

      It is entirely careerfield / company dependent on what “senior” means.

      I think your concerns seems odd to me, but they may make sense in your company culture. Frankly long history in industry sure sounds senior level to me and to me it makes sense that high starting salary b/c they have experience would also make someone “senior.”

      1. Positivity Boy*

        If it makes any difference, I work in the financial industry. Within my business unit, we have a number of seniors (associates, directors, consultants, specialists) and they were all promoted to senior roles after several years in their specific position. I guess it’s just odd to me because there hasn’t been any precedent of this yet within my area, and for those that have been seniors they are always tenured, highly knowledgeable in their specific role, and considered go-to people when the manager isn’t available. She’ll be the only senior out of 8 or so that doesn’t fit this description.

    2. Jen*

      I’ve noticed that “senior” fluctuates. Twice I’ve been hired as a Sr. in a position. For the first I was a Senior Associate Producer. I had the most experience of any of the Associate Producers but not enough experience to be a Producer. Then later on in life, I was hired as a Senior Public Relations Specialist. I don’t even know why. There wasn’t another one there for me to be “senior” over.

    3. Elle D*

      I really think it varies wildly depending on the organization, and you shouldn’t read too much into it.

      In your case, it may be associated with pay grade. She may not have a ton of experience at your organization doing this specific work, but if she’s an industry veteran she’s probably being paid significantly more than someone with less industry experience would be.

      A colleague at my former organization had an enormous amount of responsibility but was an individual contributor. He was being compensated the same as a manager but wasn’t managing people, so Senior was how they opted to designate that.

      My friend has 3 years of work experience total and is a Senior Analyst at his Fortune 500 company entirely because he has an MBA.

    4. Jen RO*

      In my former company, people regularly got hired as seniors if they had a lot of industry experience (outside the company). They were paid higher salaries due to their experience and they needed to be classified in the appropriate pay grade.

    5. vvondervvoman*

      Everyone else’s responses are spot on, but in my org “Senior” really is more of a reward for sticking around. The pay is very low and turn-over is high because there is little room for promotions. So they want to create a title upgrade to qualify people for a higher pay-grade. But it’s really about the reward for staying. Someone had been a Senior and then quit to have kids. She came back and was allowed her same salary, but it was explicit that she didn’t get the Senior title back. You’d think the experience would be the same, but it may be partially because our field is constantly changing and she did have to do some catch up.

  45. TheExchequer*

    It’s pi day, pi da, gotta get down on pi day.

    Okay, one more really bad joke:

    What do you call 3.14% of sailors?

    So to those of you who saw me post in the last open thread, I’m working at some place with different coworkers and suddnely, I get along with everyone! Even the cool kids. I really really hope I get made permanent (as it looks like it will – but as Alison says, I don’t have a job offer until I have a job offer!).

    Any tips on focusing at work when you’ve had insomnia the night before?

    1. Jamie*

      Microsoft just sent me an email that everything is 3.14% off today for Pi day.

      Cute, but not really an incentive.

      Insomnia – I’m just a caffeine and power through kinda person…but that is rough. I feel for you.

    2. Stephanie*

      Caffeine, B-12 drops, and protein-heavy meals or snacks. Also, get up and walk if you need to. Post-insomnia work days suck.

    3. tcookson*

      I was bitterly disappointed today when I realized that I forgot my plan to bring pie to work — inspired by the OP earlier this week.

      Oh, well — I can still have pie tonight. Does pizza count?

  46. No Car*

    I posted about not having a car and having to get a lift to/from work a few weeks ago. Finally got a job, and the not having a car is already causing problems. For my first day, I’m supposed to go to one building for a short orientation to go over the policies of the contractor who hired me, and then to a second building a mile away to meet and be trained by the manager I’ll be working under. I e-mailed them to say this was problematic for me since I don’t have a car and asked if I could skip the first orientation since I’ve already gone over their handbook a few times and don’t have any questions. They replied that the manager might keep us in the first building for the remainder of the day, and if we get sent to the second building, I could ask a coworker for a ride if I’m comfortable with it. Obviously not comfortable with imposing myself on a stranger the first day of work (I’m very shy). Really stressed out now and regretting accepting this job and rejecting a part time job that I could have gotten to via public transportation.

      1. Lindsay*

        I was gonna suggest the same thing – a bike gives you way more range distance-wise if you’re using public transit since you can take it on buses. I bike to work everyday and I love it.

        1. No Car*

          A bike isn’t an option right now. The orientation is on Monday. I don’t know anyone I could borrow a bike from, and I can’t afford to buy a bike. And because of snow/mud/huge puddles, I’d be hesitant to ride a bike in dress clothes anyway.

    1. Sadsack*

      Find out who else may be going to the second building for the meeting and ask them if you could tag along. If I were the coworker and was already going to the same building that is only a mile away, I would have no problem giving someone a ride. I am not sure why anyone would mind, as long as it doesn’t become a regular thing.

      1. No Car*

        I feel awkward/embarrassed to have to pick out and approach someone about this, and guilty for forcing myself on someone (they can’t say no without seeming like a jerk). It seems like a HUGE FAVOR instead of a minor favor. Maybe I’m just blowing it out of proportion if you say no one should mind. =/

        1. The IT Manager*

          If it it a ride one mile, I think you are blowing this favor out of proportion. That’s less than 5minutes together in a car and you two are going to the same place. I cannot see how it is inconveniencing someone.

          I hate asking people for help, but in this case you should just do it.

          1. Jamie*

            Great point. This is in the “can I borrow a pen” category of favors…not “can I borrow $20 till Friday.”

            1. No Car*

              I guess I feel like it’s a big deal because I already feel like a burden to the person who is picking me up/dropping me off, and I didn’t want to burden a stranger. Also probably have social anxiety issues. I’ll try to keep in mind that it is not actually a big deal to other people, and that if the situation were reversed, I’d be happy to give someone else a ride.

          2. KrisL*

            What the IT manager said. Not a big deal for a 1 mile ride. I’d hate to have to ask someone, but sometimes you just gotta ask.

        2. Sadsack*

          Seriously, this is not a huge favor. Also, if the person giving you the ride is also new, then you may make your first friend at work! You can offer to cover the person’s coffee next time you see him in the cafeteria or something like that.

          Good luck!

          1. Sadsack*

            P.S. I meant that if the person is also new, you might both appreciate making a new friend.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not trying to be disrespectful of your concerns about asking for a ride, but in a lot of companies this is pretty normal stuff. Even if everyone has a car they will carpool together. You will probably see this over and over again.

      My suggestion is to try. If you can, offer to buy the driver a coffee or a snack. It’s okay to say “I feel awkward asking but would it be okay if I rode over to X with you? I’ll spring for coffees for us.”

      1. No Car*

        I’ve never worked for a large company before, so I didn’t realize carpooling might be normal.

        Starting with “I feel awkward asking this…” and offering to buy a coffee sound like a good idea, though that would require them having to also drive me to a coffee place somewhere. Would it be okay to just offer them $5 so they can buy coffee themselves later as a thank you? Or is offering money weird in that situation?

        1. Jamie*

          I worked at a place where my main office was 1.5 miles away from another one I went to every day and about 4 miles from corporate.

          Everyone carpooled when going to corporate, and made me feel weird because I always drove myself. I was the odd one out.

          For a one time thing and you’re new I personally don’t think you have to buy anything and certainly don’t offer cash – again if it becomes a regular thing that’s different but once? Just say thank you.

        2. Sadsack*

          I also mentioned this above before seeing NSR’s post, but you could always just make sure to cover the coffee the next time you see the person, unless you don’t have those facilities where you work. No one is going to allow you to give them $5 for a ride to a place a mile away where they have to go with or without you.

    3. AVP*

      If it’s only a mile, is there time to walk?

      Not sure what part of the country you’re in, I know in some that would be unheard of and in some people wouldn’t give it a second thought.

      1. No Car*

        It’s supposed to snow that day, the ground is already muddy from the snow that’s currently melting, and there’s no sidewalks, so that kind of makes walking in dress clothes not an option. Walking wouldn’t be so bad if it was in a different area or if it wasn’t winter.

        1. CTO*

          Can you wear practical shoes/clothes and get there early enough to change in a bathroom or a nearby coffee shop/gas station/etc.? I know this is a really unpleasant situation, but you’re putting your new job at risk. You’ll impress them more if you show that you’re proactive enough to solve this problem, rather than asking to be excused from a training right off the bat.

          1. No Car*

            Getting there early wouldn’t help. It’s a one hour orientation at one building, and then we’re supposed to be dismissed to go to another building. I’d have to get changed into practical clothes, walk, then get changed back into dress clothes. The multiple changes and walking would make me late.

            I already asked if I could just skip the training, so the damage is already done there. =/

    4. Jamie*

      Did you know you were going to have to go back and forth between offices when you were hired? They should have mentioned that – if this will be a regular thing. Or is it just the one time for training because you’re new? If it’s just the one time thing I can see them not thinking about it.

      Like you I’d have a very hard time asking a co-worker for a ride – so I get the awkwardness of that – but you really don’t want to ask to skip training. If you had said that to me I’d have taken it as you got what you needed from the handbook so you’re assuming there is nothing training could possibly add…and it comes off a little…presumptuous.

      It wouldn’t be a huge deal breaker – but it would raise an eyebrow. Just explaining the transportation issue was enough, if it was something you could skip they will bring that up.

      But don’t worry about it – it’s not a huge deal.

      Fwiw if I were your manager I’d arrange a ride for you so you didn’t have to ask on day one – but that might be because I’d know how stressful that would be for me in your shoes. Someone for whom asking wouldn’t be that big a deal might not think it’s necessary.

      1. No Car*

        I basically just got an e-mail from the program coordinator saying there’d be a 1 hour orientation with the people who hired me as a contractor at Building X, and then we’d be dismissed to go meet with the manager we’d actually be working under at Building Y (a mile away). I’m assuming that I’d normally be working in Building Y.

        I replied asking if I could just skip the 1-hour orientation, which is why they responded with “you could ask a coworker for a ride if you’re comfortable with that.” So I guess I screwed up there. =/ Hopefully the program coordinator won’t tell whoever would be in a position to fire me?

        1. Jamie*

          It’s not a horrible faux pas – I wouldn’t worry about it. Definitely for sure not a reason to fire anyone.

          I guess I’ve always worked with so many people who use public transportation I think it’s weird they didn’t have some kind of arrangement made.

          This seems far more weird on their end – try not to over think this. And fwiw I would be sick to my stomach about asking a stranger for a ride because of my own social stuff – but if someone asked me in this situation I’d be more than happy to give them a lift. I wouldn’t think twice about it and the vast majority of people are that way.

          I’d feel bad someone was stressing when I could easily drive them – so keep that in mind too. People like us, our stress about asking for this kind of thing is internal…it’s not based on other people realistically seeing it as a gross imposition.

          I’m sure if we worked together and you drove and I didn’t you’d be happy to give me a ride and wouldn’t think anything horrible about me – a lot of times the internal hurdles have zero to do with other people.

          I feel for you, though.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have loaned my car to (trustworthy) people who happened to be car-less on meeting day. (I have not done this often though.)
            Everyone understands that this stuff happens, No Car.

            If you can’t come up with anything else, tell the driver- thanks so much, I owe you one.

            I do understand the social aspect of all this. I swear that doing the job is less of an issue than working through these little situations that come up at work. Although I have a car, I had huge issues with one job because I could never find the building I was supposed to go to. Man, I got worked up over that one. (The company had many, many buildings. I never went to the same building twice.)

            That was when I realized that I needed to learn to flex more. And that is how I framed it inside my head- “learn to flex more”.

            Did you happen to think that someone might be hoping to find another person to go with because they are worried that they won’t find the building? You will be their second set of eyes. And you can also help find a parking space.

            1. Jamie*

              I know so many people who do this – not randomly but they are totally okay with others driving their car on occasion.

              I don’t even have a nice car and I’d be more likely to go into the ladies room and loan someone my panties at an impromptu request than my car.

              I don’t even like my family driving my car. Especially the one who shall not be named who left a ketchup packet on the floor which their brother then stepped on necessitating a side of the road splatter clean up and car mat splotch which now must be shampooed.

              Car sharing – I only allow it at home because I can’t afford to buy the kids their own – but in an ideal world it would be as illegal as sharing a social security number.

              Lifelong marriage vows and giving birth to people shouldn’t mean I have to extend that kind of intimacy – or hand over my keys. I’m just a very nice person.

              (and yes, I know I’m a complete weirdo about this.)

              1. Stephanie*

                Nope, I don’t lend out my car. My parents are the lone exception. It’s just too easy for something to happen. I’m happy to give someone else a ride, but just handing over the keys? No way.

                I bought a stick, knowing that it would be a big deterrent for most people.

                1. Jamie*

                  I have always wanted to learn stick and never had the opportunity.

                  That skill impresses me like non-other. I swear it’s the only reason I’d want to go on the Amazing Race because I’d have to learn then. (Because I am totally one of those people on the couch rolling my eyes at the people who go on TAR without knowing how to drive stick. Like going on Survivor without practicing building fire or knowing how to swim. Lack of preparation.)

                2. Stephanie*

                  Oh, my dad forced me. He said he wanted me to be able to drive any car in case of an emergency.

                  Texas allows home drivers’ ed, so he taught me to drive a stick. There was a lot of crying involved. He said I almost gave him a heart attack a couple of times. But eventually I got over the hump and learned. Learning curve can be pretty steep.

                  Of course, now I get in an automatic and my left foot looks for a clutch. I’m not sure what I’ll do after I get rid of this car. Sticks are becoming more and more of a niche item. I’ll stall out periodically and friends get confused: “Uh, is your car ok?”

                3. Emma*

                  +1. I also drive stick, and learned because…well, my parents are from MT-driving countries!

                  It prevents most people from being able to drive my car (not that I’d lend it out) while also enabling me to DD for an inebriated MT driver.

                  When I was first learning, I was going about 30mph and threw it into 1st accidentally instead of 3rd. Heart attacks for all involved – it was my first experience with the rev limiter.

                4. Stephanie*


                  I remember I injured my leg in college and couldn’t drive myself to urgent care. My friend happened to know how to drive a manual and drove me. She’s like “Heh, I should call my dad. He said I’d need to know how to drive a manual in case of a emergency.”

                5. Stephanie*


                  And yeah, first time I drove my dad’s truck on a high-speed surface road, I became very well-acquainted with both the rev limiter, stalling out (with many angry drivers behind me), and the smell of burnt clutch material.

                6. Emma*

                  Mmm. Burnt clutch material and so many angry drivers…memories.

                  Not to mention the infinite number of heart plummets when learning to stop and start on hills. In fact, I probably lost a year of life the one afternoon I took myself out to a hilly section of my city in a “trial by fire” learning experience.

                7. Windchime*

                  I can’t reply to Stephanie’s comment about her dad, so I’ll put it here. My dad taught us all how to drive in a big 3/4 ton, 4wD pickup that was a stick, and for the same reason. He wanted us to be able to drive anything, be it stick or automatic. I really thank him for that; we are all expert with the clutch.

                8. Phyllis*

                  My first car was a stick (’62 VW Beetle!!) My step-father taught me how to drive it, and told me I was not allowed out of the neighborhood until I could learn to stop at the top of a hill without rolling back. That certainly caused a lot of tears, but I did it!!

                  When my children reached driving age, I insisted all of them learn to drive a stick with the same guidelines.

                  They have since thanked me because everyone of them has had to drive someone else’s car (stick shift) in an emergency situation.

              2. Windchime*

                The only people that I would ever loan my car to are my kids and my sister. Nobody else. My kids because they are my kids, and my sister because she is careful and I trust her.

                Back when my car was new, I would loan it to the kids only under very special circumstances. Like taking a date to Homecoming type circumstances. Nowadays, I use it as incentive: “Will you go to and pick up some ? You can take my car!” They fall for it every time.

                1. TL*

                  My mom got really sick when I was in middle school and driving has tired her out easily since then, so us kids have always driven for her.

                  Then she got a brand new car with a nice engine, stick shift, diesel, purrs ever so nicely and she fights us tooth and nail to drive. So unfair!

              3. Jen RO*

                I think I might be *too* lax with my car. I always offer to lend it to people – no one’s really needed it so far, but I am just not that attached to it. The boyfriend and I swap cars fairly regularly (mine is a hatchback, his isn’t), and my only worry is that I will crash *his* car, since it’s a bit bigger.

                And a big “Yes!” for people on TAR who can’t drive a stick! Seriously, how many teams have been eliminated for that? Learn!

                (Really, driving a stick is not difficult. I guess it’s harder if you’re already used to an automatic, but after a while everything becomes muscle memory and you don’t have to think about gears anymore.)

            2. No Car*

              Thinking of it as trying to be more flexible makes sense. I’m normally pretty flexible, but when I’m stressed out and dealing with a lot of unknowns (like the kind of unknowns you’re faced with before starting a job), I kind of freak out about little things. “Be flexible” would be a good mantra. :]

          2. No Car*

            Thank you for the reassurance and sympathizing! Makes me feel better to know that other people would be uncomfortable with it too.

        2. Amy*

          At the end of the first orientation, I’d say to a coworker, “How are you getting to Building B? I took the train here” or whatever. And then I’d do whatever that person was doing – and if the answer was, “I drove,” I’d say, “Could I catch a ride with you?” and then be very thankful (“Coffee’s on me later” or whatever would be great too).

          1. Zed*


            OP, in the future, a good strategy might be to email your contact something like, “I will be taking the train to Location X on Monday morning. What is the best way for me to get to and from Location Y?”

            A good manager will do some legwork behind the scenes and figure something out for you. It would probably be:

            “Oh, don’t worry, you can get a ride with Bob, the trainer.”
            “No problem. We run a company van back and forth a couple times a day.”
            “I don’t mind dropping you off myself – it will be a good chance to get out of the office/get to know you/grab some coffee.”
            “There’s a bus/sidewalk/footpath that will get you from one the other.”
            “Other people might be in the same boat. I will make sure to mention carpooling during the morning orientation.”

    5. No Car*

      Thanks for all the replies everyone. Very helpful to be able to vent and get feedback/reassurance that I’m making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be a big deal. <3 This is my first real job so it's been stressful.

  47. Anonymous*

    I process volunteer applications before they’re handed off to the hiring managers, and I just received a really, really bad one. The cover letter provides no real information. The resume has an objective and says “references available upon request”. It is also two full pages and this is a college sophomore. The worst part is the personal statement (not something we do not ask for) that starts “ever since I was a child”.

    I want to reach out to this person and give them advice so badly, but that really not something I’m supposed to do. Someone is giving this person terrible advice, and it makes me sad not to be able to do anything about it.

    1. Apple22Over7*

      That… doesn’t sound so bad. Outdated yes, and there are some bloopers, but I’ve seen much much worse. One CV I saw had the man’s zodiac sign, compatible zodiac signs and his lucky numbers. It was also in landscape, riddled with basic spelling errors and had no actual information (beyond job title and company) about his work experience. It was incredible really, and I now hold up any application I see to that standard – nothing yet has surpassed it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We got one at Exjob once that was a long page full of disjointed rambling, with lots of ellipses and a photocopy of the guy’s driver’s license at the top.

        1. louise*

          I almost forgot about when I worked in healthcare a few years ago and we had a walk in candidate whose resume smelled SO strongly of smoke that it made the office smell for awhile long after she was gone. She brought in a stack of 12 awards, references, other miscellany and told me she needed to leave them with her resume, but didn’t have copies–would I please copy them for her? I could think of ways to tactfully decline, but I wanted to see what all was in the pile, so I agreed. :)

        2. Windchime*

          We got a resume one time that was written in pencil on notebook paper, and the return address was the county jail. I felt such compassion for that guy–he was not qualified in the least for the position, but good for him for giving it a shot!

      2. louise*

        That just made my day. I’m embarrassed to say I would love to punk a co-worker with that…”I’ve just scheduled someone for an interview with you. Here’s the CV.” and then watch them freak out!

    2. Ollie*

      Since you’re really not supposed to give advice, could you just send her to Ask A Manger, which would be indirectly giving advice? Like, “You might want to look up cover letters and resumes at [insert AMA link]. There’s a ton of helpful advice there, especially for people just entering the work force, so I like to share it with college applicants.”

    3. Anonymous*

      Apple, I guess it could be a lot worse. It just seemed like every outdated, not very good thing all in one package. It came across as amateurish, particularly because I’ve been getting some very well written, polished applications lately.

  48. Anonymous*

    Would love some groupthink on this. Let’s say you’ve been in advancing positions with one company for a long time (say 10 years). You’ve picked up some bad habits and a lot of work anxiety because it can be a pretty toxic environment. You’re not in a position to leave at this time, but you will at some point. What are some concrete ways of leaving the work anxiety and bad habits there and not taking it to the next company?

    1. Rayner*

      Maybe write them down, so you’re concretely aware of them. Like, “I don’t like asking my manager for help because Manager Y snaps and gets grumpy if I ask questions.” or “I am not good with deadlines, because my department culture is that deadlines don’t matter.”

      And then try to get out of those habits, like by writing deadlines down, and breaking the project down so you meet it, and sticking to it.

      You have to cure yourself now of them, or work as hard as you can, so you don’t get to your new job, and bring the very worst of the worst with you.

      You won’t shift it all, and it’ll still be a culture shock, but if you’re aware of your problems and the things that set you off (like, you feel scared going into meetings with your new boss because the old one liked to intimidate people), then you can at least start off on the best foot forward.

    2. Anonymous*

      I don’t think there are any concrete ways but I think recognizing that you have the bad habits and work anxiety is a good start. Just be open to the new environment and recognize that not all companies function in the same way as your toxic company.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I agree, just being open to the new environment will help. It would also be good if you could take a week off in between jobs to decompress and clear your head.

    3. Positivity Boy*

      Here’s my best tip for breaking the cycle of bad habits caused by a bad environment: don’t react to things that haven’t happened yet.

      By that, I mean recognize when you’re assuming a bad result at the new job because that’s what would’ve happened at the current job and getting upset about it before it even happens. If you currently have a manager that promises raises that never happen, you may never ask for them in the new job because historically you always got burned. Eventually, you end up being resentful towards your new manager for not giving you a raise when you haven’t even asked. You’ve already decided in your head how the situation will play out based on how it’s been in the past and it makes you to keep carrying around the negative impact of your toxic past.

      I’ve dealt with this a lot in my personal life. I have a history of boyfriends who reacted badly (getting defensive/aggressive) when I would try to bring up something that was concerning me about our relationship. As a result, I get scared to ever say anything to my current boyfriend because in my head, I play out the familiar scene where I try to bring something up and he gets angry, and then I find myself stewing over his negative reaction that I completely invented before I even said anything to him. My bad habit of keeping quiet when something is bothering me is perpetuated by how it’s been received in the past, and that keeps me from changing it in the present.

      If you catch yourself falling into a bad habit or a negative mindset, pause for a moment and consider if you’re doing that because of how your new job has been treating you or because of how your old job treated you. If it’s the latter, take a deep breath and let it go, and then move forward thinking only about your new situation.

  49. Refreshed Admin*

    I just wanted to share that, one year into my first full time job post graduation, I finally got up the courage to ask a normally fairly uncommunicative boss for feedback, and it’s worked out so far! The feedback was more negative than I expected (given that no one has said anything to me aside from pointing out what I thought was the occasional mistake) so at first I was devastated, but then I read AAM’s post on receiving criticism gracefully and swallowed my pride and asked for specifics and now not only do I feel better about my job because I know what I need to improve instead of only guessing and feeling alternatively great/terrible at my job, but my bosses are actually being a lot nicer to me! Plus I’ve already made a few changes that everyone has approved of, so even if this week started out kind of crappy, I actually feel kind of hopeful, because even if I don’t want to go further in this field, having a great reference later on would be helpful. And AAM has been really helpful to me with navigating my first full-time job, so thanks!

      1. Refreshed Admin*

        Go for it! I was so surprised by how I reacted. Right after the negative feedback I was so upset because I couldn’t help but take it personally and it took a night and a day before I could step back and realize it really was the best thing- there were times when I felt like The Worst at my job, and I realized having this feedback (with the promise of more concrete examples later), really helped because some of the things I was worried about apparently weren’t even on the radar- and I could make plans on what I needed to improve! And I figure things can only go up from here.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          FWIW, I think you rock.

          And it could be that you have pretty cool bosses, too. I see two things- they actually explained what they wanted this shows that they think you are worth the investment of their time. All is not lost. And secondly, you say they are nicer to you, now. I suspect their opinion of you just went UP.

          No add water and stir fixes here- but I think in a short time you will be in a better spot and so pleased that you worked this through.

        2. KrisL*

          Good for you!

          They might be acting nice because they appreciate that you want to do better.

  50. Anony Mouse*

    I’m a regular commenter on a board related to Greek Life, and we have an ongoing debate about whether your sorority/fraternity affiliation should appear on your resume. What do you guys think?

    1. Lindsay*

      I’m not affiliated, but I would think it was weird. I this your affiliation would be great for networking, but it probably doesn’t belong on your resume.

    2. Jamie*

      I wasn’t Greek – but I don’t have any negative feelings toward seeing it on resumes. For me it’s neutral and it can help if the hiring manager has the same ties.

      I know other people have strong negative associations, so I don’t know if my views are typical or not.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Personally, I would *never* put it on my resume. Even when I was in college, and applying for entry-level jobs while president of my chapter, I left it off, though I did sometimes talk about it in interviews, because it was a good experience to draw on for behavioral-type interview questions.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      I wouldn’t put it on there unless it was some kind of senior, long-term volunteering role that consumed a lot of time and energy–say, you held a position at the national level and organized X amount of national events, etc. If it was just “Organized X charity drive” I’d skip it.

    4. Fiona*

      I’d leave it off unless it was an academic honor fraternity/sorority related to the field I’m pursuing.

      1. Ali*

        I was an Alpha Phi Omega in college, which is a co-ed service fraternity. It was a great experience and I’d love to get involved in volunteering again. That said, I don’t put it on my resume anymore…but that’s more b/c I don’t do anything with the organization right now and I’ve been out of college for almost six years.

        1. Kim*

          I was also in APO! I’ve never put it on my resume because I never held a leadership role in my chapter, and some people have negative views of Greek organizations in general.

    5. Anon @ Work*

      Leave it on so I know you’re a d-bag in advance?

      I’m just kidding (a little), but I went to school in the 90s and was a very anti-Greek kind of girl.

      For every hiring manager that sees it as a plus, there’s probably one who sees it as a negative or neutral, so I would leave it off and count on the merits of my actual experience to get me through the recruiting process.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I was anti-Greek as well. My first reaction would be, “Wow, this candidate wants to show me how much they recklessly partied and proudly hazed students.”
        Yes, that is a very wrong attitude to have, but since I wasn’t involved in Houses, and I didn’t have any friends in any, I only know about the news headlines.
        Would the gatekeeper HR Rep reading your resume have the same impression of your House as you do? Your House may have been great on your campus, but it may have been awful on their campus.

    6. Tiffany In Houston*

      I do not include it anymore because it would indicate my ethnicity and invites too many questions because I am still active in my sorority long after college.

      1. Stephanie*

        I was just going to post this. To be fair, I don’t think a lot of non-black people know which Greek orgs are historically black. What would come up as odd is probably the level of involvement post-college. That definitely is a big cultural difference between black and non-black Greek organizations.

    7. Sunflower*

      I have mixed feelings on this.

      My gut says college activities go off the resume. However, I went to a school that people describe as cult-like, we have a huge alumni base and alumni love to hire other alums. I’m not saying anyone gets a job based solely on this fact but it might incline a person to interview someone over than someone else. Not that I’d take my education off my resume any time soon but I feel would hurt my resume if I took my university off.

      If you think the greek affiliation could work in the same way, I’d encourage to keep it on.

    8. Elizabeth*

      I wasn’t in the Greek system, but my brother was, and both of our parents were. I did have a lot of friends who were in the system when I was in college, so I wouldn’t be bothered by it. My husband, who had very negative experiences with the Greek system at the university we both attended, as well as at the university where he works now, would consider it a negative.

      I’ve also been out of college for 21 years. If someone my age included it, I might raise an eyebrow, because at some point, high school & college activities become less relevant.

  51. went anon once it turned into a cathartic rant - just keeping name out of search*

    I’ve had a week from hell and I hope the worst is over because my brain needs to reboot.

    I want to spend the day cleaning my office while getting some hardware issues out of my queue. I know it’s hard not to envy the exciting and glamorous life of an IT.

    Open Letter to my Users:

    I am just so tired of hand holding. I’m not good at it and I resent it beyond reason.

    You – If there is a spreadsheet with a tab for each month and your job is to enter data into the spreadsheet per month why do you put the data in any tab except the correct month? If I send you the X for February why do I find the data in the May tab? And why every – single-time? You’d think at least by coincidence it would hit the right tab once in a while. And when I ask you to move it because even though I could do it in a second you NEED to stop telling me you don’t know how to move it when I’ve shown you every month for the last 3 years…how does this happen? Is it learned helplessness or are you trying to kill me?

    And you, the other one who changes a setting in a program I never use …why can’t you look up how to change it back in the help files? Or pay attention to what you’re doing so you stop f’ing with your settings? Why do you make more than I do and yet aren’t expected to be able to read or look up an answer. Where the hell do you think I found the answer. FYI it was also the first google hit – so this isn’t secret hidden IT information passed amongst us in secret club meetings. And why, when I had issues bringing the network up after a power outage and spent the morning on ladders in the ceiling tiles rebooting switch after switch to get everyone back up do you stop me the second – literally – I walk back into my office with ceiling tile dust particulate still in my hair – to ask me if I looked up the answer to why your files aren’t opening in a full sized window anymore and you have had to click the button to resize all day.

    Google – first link. Help files – first link. But don’t bother – just come to me your faithful handmaiden to read for you since apparently that’s much too complicated.

    And all of you – when I tell you to log out of the ERP because I need to reboot ffs log out. I am so sick of having to do it individually since you walk away from your desk mid transaction and I don’t want to have to clean up your truncated mess in my data tables afterwards.

    And to those of you who schedule and conduct internal audits without 12 thousand follow ups and prompts from me – thank you. Those of you who do it and also write audit reports that are complete and correct and need no editing on my end…if it were in my power I’d buy you all new cars. The rest of you – operating a calendar isn’t rocket science …try it, it’s not that hard. And I’m not going to reward this passive aggressive crap by kicking you off the audit team. I need auditors and until I have replacements you’re it. If you spent as much time doing them as bitching and procrastinating about them we wouldn’t have problems.

    To everyone – Office 2013 is not the work of the devil and I’m not rolling back the upgrade. Just hold each other’s hands as you venture into this brave new world and you’ll be okay.

    You know who you are – when the network is down and I’ve been running around like a crazy person since 5:00 am and finally take time to get to the bathroom at almost 10:00 you don’t have to remind me your segment is still sketchy. My forgoing the bathroom and peeing my pants will not get you back up any faster.

    The other you know who you are. I do not care how important whatever stupid non-urgent thing you are talking about is to you when you hijack me on the way to the ladies room…you DO NOT FOLLOW ME IN THERE AND DO NOT SPEAK TO ME THROUGH THAT DOOR. Never again, or so help me I don’t care how embarrassing it will be for the both of us I will do an official write up.

    And and new guy – I saw that you looked at your watch 7 times during the closing meeting for your audit. So sorry I’m boring…maybe next time I’ll puppets to act out your CARs to hold your attention. Being dismissive with me when it comes to QC issues is a really bad idea.

    And work friend who I really like, I’m still pissy you suggested a new Chinese place so now there is one more place I can’t eat from when they order in. I know my food issues are my problem, but you took away my occasional lunchtime happiness. I’ll get over it – not sure when.

    And guys in the back who were totally good sports about my running some Barbie pink cable from the switch to production machine…you are awesome! When I die at my desk of a stroke from the stress, which should be any day now, there will be a little bit of me in the cabling to tell future workers that I was here…if only for a short time.

    Seriously TGIF – which I’ve never said unironically before. I have a weekend full of data migration ahead of me, but with no users in the system it will feel like a vacation.

    1. Calla*

      Office 2013 is great. I got to use it when I covered reception and was jealous that I didn’t have it — don’t know what their deal is!

    2. Anoning it*

      I wish my office had Office 2013. We still have Office 2003 and every time I need to do something I don’t know I have to Google “how to do x in office 2003” and sift through pages and pages of stuff from like, 2006 for my solutions.

      We have another piece of software from 1998 that we still use, and whenever I run into a problem, there is nothing on the internet ever that will help me. I just have to slam head into desk until I figure it out myself.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have it at home and I like it okay (though I hated it at first because it looked so beta). We get it really cheap through work. But my work computer still has 2010. It will probably be upgraded when they force me to go to Windows 8. >_<

        1. Anoning It*

          Anything is better than those messages that pop up all the time for .docx files “This was created in a newer version of Word than you have and so the formatting might get messed up when you open it with your inferior archaic version of Word.”

          It’s like its rubbing it in, every time.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            We had a presentation at work where IT showed us the interface. The whole thing was like a big hard sell of the product, which I found annoying, but it did remove some of the mystery.

          2. Jamie*

            You find Windows 8 faster? I haven’t noticed that – maybe I’m too busy focusing on how much I hate the new look and where they put everything.

            Windows Server 2012 is similar and it still feels like someone came into my house and rearranged all of my closets and takes me forever to find anything.

            I’m not usually change averse, and I’ll get used to it, but it still feels less like an improvement and more change for the sake of it. It’s just not as intuitive as 7 was.

            1. Zelos*

              I do find Windows 8 slightly faster, but the annoyance with the tiles and layout more than offsets that slight advantage to me. Also, Windows 8 doesn’t play nice with Steam, my gaming platform, so I get grumpy at my computer a lot.

              I lasted all of five minutes on Windows 8’s tile layout, then I installed Classic Shell. Nowadays I try to pretend the tile layout doesn’t exist.

              1. Fiona*

                Classic Shell, and googling to find out how to mostly disable that flyout menu thing on the right edge of the screen, have kept me from throwing my Win8 laptop through a window.

                1. Stephanie*

                  Uggggh, or the left swipe. It took me forever to figure out why I kept changing applications. At least it doesn’t crash all the time like Vista did.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  My boss wants XP back. She has 8.1 and is not happy. At all.

                  What do you think of Classic Shell?
                  My boss is not a big computer person, by choice basically. So I am trying to figure out if this would help her or make it worse.

                3. Zelos*

                  To NotSoNewReader:

                  ClassicShell is amazing, and worlds better than the imitation start menu Windows 8.1 tries to bring back. It’s actually slightly more functional than Windows 7’s start menu–for example, browsing to Control Panel and hovering there will actually bring up all the contents of the Control Panel in a stacked menu (a la the style of the Start Menu) instead of forcing you to access the Control Panel and use the icons there. Saves a few clicks.

                  I’ve basically given up on the app versions of anything and just use the Desktop exclusively. Any marginal improvements in speed in Windows 8 is, in my