open thread

IMG_2049It’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.

{ 963 comments… read them below }

    1. Candy Floss

      I have a foster cat mom and kitten currently – kitten is about 2.5 weeks old. They came from a hoarding situation so on top of being a normally protective mom, the mom kitty is very fierce so I have to work on socializing her and the baby. They are so unbelivably precious when they are this small. Mom got sick today and the baby uh rolled in it basically..let’s say it wasn’t pretty and leave it there. I had to wash up the baby and oh the little feet and the tummy! I already feel like the baby is getting “big” since it can almost walk now :)

    2. Olive

      Great videos! Personal question about sweet Olive – when she slides, she sounds like she has her claws? Our cat is not declawed and we’re thinking of hardwood. Will this be a problem for us?

      1. Elysian

        Can you trim your cat’s claws? I trained my cat to tolerate the nail clippers, so she doesn’t scratch my floor too bad as long as I’m diligent with keeping her nails dull.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        She does indeed have her claws, and she hasn’t scratched our floors but that could be because they’re Pergo, which only looks like hardwood but is actually indestructible. Like seriously, indestructible. However … as long as you keep her claws trimmed regularly (like once a week), I think your floors should be okay. (But also, if you’re open to it, look at Pergo. People always think my floors are real hardwood and they are not.)

        (And to everyone: Do not declaw, as it can cause lifelong pain and behavioral problems!)

        1. Emma

          +a billiony to NOT declawing. Seriously.

          You can also buy these little claw caps to cover their nails. They last about 4-6 weeks and come in different colors. Disclaimer: I’ve never used them on my cats, so I can’t personally vouch for their effectiveness.

        2. Finally Friday

          Declawing a cat is like removing half of a human’s fingers. It sounds like a simple and easy thing by the name, but it really isn’t. It’s a form of amputation. Just don’t do it. Cats don’t scratch up wooden floors when walking or running around… they keep their claws retracted when not in use. They will pull on things, and sometimes that includes wooden furniture (never my cats, but some of my friends have had that happen). You can keep your cat’s claws clipped regularly, and make sure they have scratching posts and other things to pull on that keep their claws in tune. That also lessens the urge to pull on stuff you don’t want them to mess up. Lessens, doesn’t eliminate, mind you. These are cats we are talking about.

        3. KrisL

          Thanks for telling people not to declaw. Many people still don’t know how traumatic this can be for cats and what kind of unpleasant behaviors (biting, not using litter box) can be caused because of it. It’s not that the cat’s mad at the declawers so much as that a declawed cat may be more cautious (can’t claw so might be ready to bite first and ask questions later) and that a recently declawed cat can find the litter in the litterbox painful.

        4. Olive

          The floors are gorgeous. Good to hear from you and the others that the claws do no damage. We declawed two of our cats front claws and left the back claws intact 16 years ago but we are sorry we did it. The two have never displayed any behavioral problems but I have wondered about the pain. Our newest cat has all his claws.

        5. The Other Dawn

          Thanks for telling people not to declaw their cats. My parents did this to our two cats when I still lived at home and they were never the same. One hated to have her paws touched (previously she loved it) and the other would not use the litter box for a long time; she couldn’t stand the feeling of the litter touching her paws. We tried many different litters and then finally found one she could tolerate.

      3. Hcat

        We have hardwood and no there is not one scratch from our cats…they are not declawed. We do more damage to our floors than our cats ever would even if they tried. The leather sofa is a different story, but so what, it’s just a stupid sofa

        1. ChristineSW

          You’re not kidding!!! :( Our cat doesn’t claw the sofa, but she sneezes all. the. time. and gets snot everywhere. So between her and us, the couch is ready for the trash in my opinion.

          P.S. Alison – Thumbs up on the “don’t declaw” statement. My now husband had his cat declawed years ago, and it sounds like it was awful for her.

        2. Elysian

          Indeed. I love my cat way more than my furniture. She brings me so much more happiness than a couch.

        3. JC

          I’m a little late to this game, but my cats’ claws have scratched the finish of the hardwood floors in my new apartment. I think it is from their back claws as they spin their wheels trying to get traction when they are running. My last apartment was a rental with a super heavy duty finish on the hardwood floors and they didn’t scratch that. I own my current apartment and bought it new, and I assume the difference is from the builders using the cheapest, thinnest finish possible. It’s not hugely noticeable, only noticeable in the light.

          We recently started putting soft paws on our cats’ claws. It’s been helpful for our furniture. They don’t love them and they pull them off eventually, but they do get used to them. We tried putting them on the back claws too to help with the floor problem, but those were much trickier than the front claws. They have way more little tufts of fur between their rear toes that it makes it hard to not get their fur stuck in the glue. Poor little fellas.

        1. Liz in a Library

          Our Himalayan is like that. She looks like a normal sized cat (even a little stout) until you pick her up and realize that she’s tiny.

          I love fluffy cats!

          1. Jessa

            A friend once picked up a Persian cat that looked like she weighed 16 lbs. He almost tossed her across the room because she was all fluff and no cat and he was expecting to lift a thing that had weight to it.

      1. Elkay

        I was going to ask if she was fluffy or just thick furred. My parents’ cat looks huge but she’s really light with very thick fur.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        (Although we are actually worried that she might be getting a little fatter than she should. Can kittens get fat? I’d always thought that wasn’t a real concern until they reach adulthood, but I can’t easily feel her ribs now.)

        1. AnonEMoose

          She may be prepping for a growth spurt; if this is a recent thing, I’d just keep an eye on things and not worry too much yet.

        2. Anon

          How old is she now? I was still feeding my cats like kittens as they reached their first birthday, but they had evidently finished their kitten growth before then. They ended up getting a bit plump. They’ve slimmed down again now they are on an adult diets.

    1. Anonymous

      Olive looks exactly like a non-diluted version of my kitty. :D She’s got the same white stripe down her belly… we call her a baked potato when she does this.

        1. S

          Olive is very cute!
          Our cat used to do the “otter-kitty”. She doesn’t do it as much anymore. I think it’s because she is 12 now / older and does not feel like it. She still loves to play with shoe laces!

      1. AnonEMoose

        One of our cats likes to snuggle up next to me on the bed and demand a belly rub. Only from me, though…if my husband tries it, she glares at him and runs off.

    1. Tinker

      My cat has a) a really fluffy and soft and tempting belly b) a part in his fur that makes an X as if to say “here is the place that it is very tempting to pet” c) a tendency to lounge on his back and be very very cute d) an absolute zero-tolerance policy re: belly pets. Not Even Once. Pet belly -> get claws.

  1. Sunflower

    Has anyone taken a job with a company they felt good about but weren’t so sure about, position wise? I’m job searching and not finding much in event planning. I’m thinking of shifting my gears towards similar positions(marketing, proj. management) and focusing more on the company culture and fit. Right now I hate where I work, majorly toxic, and I’ve heard sometimes working somewhere you like can be as important, if not more, than the actual work you do. Any advice?

    1. The Other Dawn

      I personally think it’s a combination of the two. If you’re unhappy with the work itself, I don’t think a great office culture can really make up for that. And if you love the work, a toxic culture can make you pretty unhappy, too. I think they go hand-in-hand. A great culture can make an OK job bearable.

      1. Kate

        Agreed. I love the company I work for, I have so much respect and appreciation for how the company treats us and how great my coworkers are to each other. But I don’t really enjoy the work I do. I enjoy it enough that I’ll probably stick around another year or two, til husband-elect finishes grad school. But when I go I’ll definitely miss the culture and benefits and not the stuff I do every day. In your case, Sunflower, I think it might be worth looking at those other positions.

      2. Laurie

        +1

        You need both, a great office work culture and interesting work, but it’s better to be slightly bored while working with great people as opposed to being unable to love your work because of the horrible people you have to deal with every day.

        Plus, the way I figure, good people will help you add to or modify your responsibilities so you can have more fun at your job.

        1. Penny

          Agree with Laurie. I’ve worked in a company with a horrible environment doing similar work as I do now, but now I’m in a great company that values employees, has better benefits and perks, is more flexible and offers growth and what a difference it all makes! I love my team, not just my department but everyone and we all love the culture. I like what I do though I wouldn’t say it’s my passion, but I have opportunities to shape my role here and that helps. If I had the opportunity to make more money somewhere with a worse culture, I wouldn’t take it because it makes my life better overall.

    2. athek

      I agree that workplace environment means a lot. One of my favorite jobs was doing things that I didn’t really like to do, but the culture and people I worked with were so great it didn’t really bother me. If I worked there for ten years, the actual work probably would have bothered me, but I was there for three and I didn’t mind at all. Especially if you are currently in a toxic environment, a not-so-ideal job description in a better environment will definitely make things better in the short term.

    3. Labratnomore

      I have been thinking about this a lot myself lately. I actually work at a pretty awesome company doing great things, but don’t like my current position. There was a re-org a few years ago and I ended up in a job that just isn’t for me, but there is really nowhere else to go here either. One company I applied for a job at seemed good on the surface but then three of their employees, including 2 from the department I applied to, got jobs at my current employer. They said it was a horrible place to work, so I guess I dodged a bullet on that one? But I still find myself wondering if the work would have made up for the company. My current position is the opposite, but the great company just isn’t enough to keep me from wishing I had a different position. Like other have said, I think it is really a combination, but I would rather be employed with either one of the two than not have a job altogether (thus why I am still doing a job I don’t want).

    4. Brett

      That’s pretty much what I did with my side startup job. I liked the company, so I approached them and asked them if they wanted to hire me. There was no position fit at all, but they found what they wanted me to do and it has worked out extremely well.

    5. Anna

      Hi Sunflower. You’re talking about exactly what I did. I started out looking for event planning and then broadened my search to include marketing and outreach and that’s exactly what I’m doing now at a place with a great environment. So yes, even if it’s not the EXACT job you want, the environment will help tremendously. I also discovered I prefer the marketing events for an organization to being an event planner because in my role I can make the events look how I want them to look, within some parameters. And I’m not dealing with demanding clients.

      1. Sunflower

        Marketing events might be a little more my speed too! I interviewed, but wasn’t offered, a job that was a mix of both and it really appealed to me. I started at my company part-time in marketing and was miserable. I was doing strictly email marketing and just writing copy all day when a full time event planning job came up. Now I like what I do but am only less miserable. I think I have some unnecessary bias toward marketing because it was so brutal when I was doing it at my company but it could be the right job at a different place.

        1. Anna

          Yeah, I avoided anything that was email based or “sales & marketing”. There is no “marketing” in that position. It is ALL sales! Stop calling it a marketing job! The way I view it, marketing is promoting the company or organization and that can take on a lot of different forms, but is more effective if people have faces and names to attach, or an experience.

    6. Just Me

      I love my job, but my co-workers are clicky and always leave me out. Of everything. So, after several years of sucking it up and crying at my desk, I just accepted a position that’s a promotion and a 20% raise. I should have done it years ago.

      You have to find a balance between the two. I do event planning as part of my job, and I think you’re going in the right direction with project management or perhaps working for a non-profit. Turnover is high and pay is low, but it’s a foot in the door and you’ll learn a lot of other skills.

      Good luck!

    7. Aimee

      Not exactly the same situation, but I moved to a new position in my company because the manager was my old manager who I really loved working for. She reached out to me to see if I wanted to apply; if she hadn’t, I would never have even considered it. It was for a marketing project management role, actually; I was in a channel management role at the time (basically focusing on the “getting sales to sell it” portion of product management) and liked the more creative side (developing collateral, training presentations, etc). I thought project management would be boring. But the manager was the best manager I’d ever had, and it was a promotion, so I decided to go for it.

      Thankfully, I’ve discovered that being a project manager is a good fit for my skills, so even though I took the job for the good dynamic I have with my manager (and the culture I knew she’d create for our team), it’s worked out that I like the job too.

  2. a.n.o.n.

    How do I go about figuring out what kind of job to apply for or what kind of career I might like?

    I’ve been sharing my saga in the weekly open threads. Short version: I was at one job for nearly 20 years, business shut down, thought I wanted the same kind of career and found out AFTER I took a new job that I don’t want to do this anymore, and may have missed the boat on the opportunity I turned down to come to the new job. Although the opportunity may not yet be lost, I’m starting to think about my next move in the event it’s lost for good.

    I’ve discovered that what kept me sane in my old job and made the boring, tedious side of my job tolerable is that I had a wide variety of things to do. The job was compliance/regulation, risk management, operations, and IT. The boring, tedious part was all the detail, follow-up, and documentation (although I love writing procedures). The fun side was implementing a new system; figuring out how the system works, what drives it, etc.; research; and a few other things. I was very independent and self-directed. Now that I’m in the new job and discovered I don’t want to do 90% of what I did before, I am really lost and unhappy. I have no idea what to pursue or how to even start thinking about it. My career was my identity and I’m feeling really rattled and like I’m drifting. I feel like I’ll never find another job I like. I know that sounds extreme, but that’s how I feel.

    1. Colette

      It sounds like you have identified what you like to do – I’m guessing in general terms that it’s learning new things, making decisions/recommendations, problem solving, and sharing information with others.

      There are a lot of jobs where you can do those things.

      I’d suggest taking the time to figure out what you like to do, and what you’re really good at, and then start talking with people you know for suggestions about what kinds of jobs you could use those skills in.

      1. a.n.o.n.

        You are right on target with your observations. :) It took me awhile to figure that out and it was only once I got this new job that I did. Although, I guess I’ve always known that at some level. All the other duties and responsibilities kind of clouded my mind.

    2. MissDisplaced

      I know it may sound kind of trite, but I still recommend the book “What Color is Your Parachute.” If you do the exercises honestly, it can help you determine areas where you can apply your likes and your strengths.

      I had to work through the book as part of my capstone class. At first I was a little annoyed, as I had done the book some 18-20 years prior. For me doing the exercises happily confirmed the fact that I HAD indeed chosen the right career. You might be surprised though.

      1. a.n.o.n.

        I bought that book about 5 years ago and got annoyed also. What’s funny is that the results pointed to exactly what I was doing for years. But now the thought of doing that for years again just makes me feel stifled and imprisioned. I think I still have the book and maybe I’ll pull it out again. Who knows? Maybe the answers will change.

    3. Susan

      Have you looked into technical writing or instructional design? as long as you can translate technical information terms that a reader/user can understand, you don’t really need any specialized training (I learned on-the-job and from reading related books, as well as joining a local chapter of STC – the Society for Technical Communication). I loved working at a software company, playing with new software and writing up step-by-step instructions that users could actually use.

      1. a.n.o.n.

        I have thought about this in the past and always said I’d like it to be my next career. I just have no idea how to get into it or what kinds of positions to look for. I think I’m technically inclined and always felt that the process of writing a procedure (or doing a risk assessment) is a great way to learn. I will definitely look into the Society for Technical Communication. Any other suggestions?

        1. Chandra

          As an instructional designer, I’d encourage you to look at that as an occupation. that said, you do need some knowledge of and practical application of the following:
          adult learning theory
          instructional technology (elearning platforms, LMS, reusable content objects, multimedia, social networks used in learning)
          performance vs training
          how to design training so it is effective.

        2. Jeanne

          There are lots of posts on LinkedIn (and elsewhere) about breaking in to Technical Writing. Try some googling, check your network to see who might be or know a TW, go to an STC meeting.

          Also, if you can, get copies (with permission) of some the writing you’ve done to use in a portfolio.

      2. Anonymous

        I have a close family member who is an instructional designer. To get into the field, you need to have a master’s degree in instructional design and technology, or a similar field, along with some very wide ranging technical skills, some of which Chandra touched on. I have actually also seen these types of positions moving towards knowing some pretty heavily developed HTML/CSS skills for online based learning, Adobe Creative Suite and several other programs. You also need to have a strong project management skills set. It’s not actually a field you can just jump into….

        1. a.n.o.n.

          Thanks for the info, both of you. I have an associate’s in science (business admin) so this doesn’t look like something I can do unless I’m willing to go back to school.

    4. JMegan

      It’s funny, I’ve been having this exact same conversation with myself lately, and come up with almost exactly the same answers – adult eduation, instructional design, and technical writing.

      So this is good information all around – thank you all!

  3. Anonymous

    If there’s no room for advancement in your current company, what are steps you can take to get a new job in a higher position? (For example, if you’re a buyer, what would make another company interested in hiring you as a Purchasing Manager?)

    1. Sunflower

      I’m stuck a bit in this conundrum too. Look at job descriptions of a purchasing manger and see how your position is related. How can you elevate your current position to get closer to the experience of a manager? Are there managers at your current company you can shadow or try to take on some of their duties? For example, I’m an event coordinator but am looking for an event manager job. So I’m trying to stick my nose into anything I can that is closer related to management. I’m getting as much information from my boss as I can about negotiating contracts and why certain prices are okay and others aren’t. I’m in the same boat though. Good luck!

      1. Anonymous

        The company is reallllly small (< 10 people) so there really isn't anyone I can shadow. I do it all, except the supervising/managerial part because I'm the only one who does my job.

        1. Sunflower

          My company is pretty small too. Our event director is also the director of accounting and pretty much director of all office stuff so even if I shadow, I’m not picking up a whole lot of stuff.

          I don’t have much advice but I think you should be looking at the purchasing manager job descriptions and see how things you’ve done in your job relate to the management job. Being the sole person in your job has had to force you take on some sort of leadership/management tasks. Even just working at a small company forces you to learn a lot of stuff you wouldn’t get at a larger company so try to focus on some of that stuff in your cover letter and resume.

          I think this is happening more and more though. People are no longer relying on their company to give them promotions and I’ve seen some people make large jumps.

          Don’t give up on the purchasing coordinator jobs either. I applied for an event coordinator job and it was really a manager role. Some might allow you to transition to manager shortly after or you can even negotiate your title.

    2. Chriama

      Depending on your timeline for moving up, you could try informational interviews with hiring managers. Networking in general takes time though, so ymmv.

    3. NylaW

      Same issue here too. I feel confident I can make the transition with the right support, but so many places want experience over anything else.

    4. Anonathon

      Would you consider a lateral move (or even a slight step down) to a much bigger company that does have room for advancement? So you may not get the job that you want originally, but you’d now be in a place where you could eventually move up. (I did something fairly similar, and felt it was a good choice.)

  4. BB

    What do you guys think is a viable solution to the gender pay gap? Does anyone work somewhere where there is an obvious gap between genders? From what I’ve read, it seems like even if you factor out industry, race, tenure, women are still making, at most, 90 cents to every men’s dollar. I’ve also read when a woman negotiates her salary, both men and women are less likely to want to work with or hire her. I’m not sure new laws and policies are the answer but I do agree that there is still a large difference between how society views authoritative and aggressive men vs women and something needs to be done about that.

    1. Anonymous

      I used to work at a call centre that paid women 10.5 and men 13.5 an hour. When I got hired, I was told 10.5 was non-negotiable and nobody started at more than that. Untrue!!

    2. NylaW

      I think the only thing that we can do about it is to continue working to change the way we think and perceive others. We have to start to recognize why a woman negotiating salary the same as a man would makes us less likely to want to hire her. It is only when we start to acknowledge our own biases, as uncomfortable as it is, that we can start working to change them. This applies to all forms of discrimination and there is no easy or quick answer to any of them.

    3. Sunflower

      Changing viewpoints can be difficult. There are still a lot of company’s that are good ole boys clubs and women are going to have a difficult time breaking barriers there. I’m still entry-level but I have to wonder what happens 10 years down the line when you have people with differing kinds and years of experience working the same job. With so many different (weighted) factors going in, how do you determine it’s gender inequality and not just simply ‘sorry this person brings more to the table’.

      1. MT

        You hit the nail on the head. There are just too many factors that go into pay. If person A excels every year for 5 years and earns .5% more of a raise then person B. Personal A’s income is already 3% higher than person B. Then if a promotion comes along, and person A and B both get one and the promotion comes along with 10% raise. Persona A will now be earning 4% more than person B.

        If you step back and look at the entire working population, ages 18-65. I would imagine that men would have a leg up on women who are 50+ due to past work enviroment. And that can skew the data as well.

        I would be interested if you took the wage gap between men and women between the ages of 22-30.

        1. Anonymous

          There are numerous studies that show when everything else is taken into account men still earn more doing the same job, same experience, same objective outputs, etc. It comes down to perception. Too many people perceive men as working harder and being more productive.

          1. MT

            those studies where everything was held the same, the wage difference was under 5%. Yes that is a difference, but it would almost be impossible to make be 0%. Too many unmeasureable factors play into it.

            1. Anonsie

              Well here’s one with no unmeasurable factors– the candidates were fake and had identical credentials, save for a male vs female name, and the “female” applicants were consistently offered a significantly lower starting salary– about 87% of the men’s, on average. They were also rated as less competent and were offered less guidance.

              http://www.pnas.org/content/109/41/16474.full

              1. MT

                How much of that is attributed to companies having the perception that women tend not to ask for more money? People forgot that the role of the employer is to get as much work out of employee for the least amount of money.

              2. IndieGir

                I find studies like that unconvincing, b/c in real life, everything changes when you actually meet with your candidate. Someone who looks good on paper, for whatever reason, even biased reasons, make look a lot less appealing when you actually interview them. So whatever numbers were being assigned when looking at the fake applications would likely have translated to very different real world numbers.

                For the record, I am a woman, I am a killer negotiator, and I have been among the most highly compensated individuals in my workplace for the last 7 years or so (and right now make more than most of my male co-workers). I am also single so I have never had working gaps which creates so much of the apparent wage gap. More importantly, while I truly enjoy my work, I have never deluded myself that the most important thing about a job is that is should be “fulfilling” — and as a result, I kept my eye on the prize, ie, the salary.

                I think many women don’t know how to negotiate effectively, but I also think many women are willing to trade off other items for a lower salary (and I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing or wrong in any way). In particular, most of the other women in my group are having babies and want more flexible hours and work from home arrangements. That’s a great choice to make, but it comes with the trade-off of lower money, because frankly, the more flexible hours/working from home IS a benefit and does have a monetary value to it.

                1. Zillah

                  But what that study does support is the assertion that men are starting at an advantage. Yes, things change when you actually meet a candidate… but I’m not sure how that completely overrides that bias.

                2. MT

                  What that study says “in a hyper selective field” there is a bias based on the name of the candiate that they have never met. One study on a super small group of people does not prove a trend for the rest of society.

                3. Anonsie

                  Conversely, I find it unconvincing that inherently uneven starting ground is somehow going to evaporate once a face is put to an application. If a female name automatically imprints the assumption of less competency and less value, what makes you think that bias is going to go away once it’s a female face as well? If that slant was already in someone’s mind, you’re not going to clear it away because you’re “one of the good ones.” You should not have to be however many degrees better than the male applicants just to be considered even, there is no way you can skew that to make it sensible.

                  And this doesn’t have anything to do with taking leave or making tradeoffs for salary. This is about getting the job and getting a footing that allows you to go anywhere. If it were truly career choices and poor negotiating alone creating the pay gap, this initial issue wouldn’t exist.

                4. MT

                  If it was negotiating that was the influencer, then a 10% difference in pay would be explained. Asking for an additional 10% increase in pay starting off is not unheard of. If two people performan the same, and one person starts 10% ahead in the game, the 3% raise is going to have a bigger affect. Person A starts at 100 and earns 3%, 2nd year would be 103, Person be starts at 110 and earns 3%, 2nd year would be 113.3, instead of being 10% ahead they are now 10.1% ahead. and so it grows

              3. Zillah

                Yeah, I agree with Anonsie – I feel like you’re trying to justify and explain away a study that pinpointed a clear problem by excusing prejudice because… it makes good business sense?

                I’m sorry, but everyone who has ever been prejudiced against another group has thought that they were justified in it – if as an employer you’re offering women less money because they’re women and more likely to take it, you’re 1) perpetuating a horrible system and 2) killing employee morale.

                I mean, it’s also the role of the employer to keep their workers happy. In the long run, a string of disgruntled female workers who don’t feel valued are going to cost you a lot more money in lack of productivity, higher turnover, losing talented workers to other companies that will pay them better, and, potentially, lawsuits, than just paying them the fair wage in the first place.

                1. MT

                  The problem is that there has never been a study that asks, which applicants get more money? The reason for this, is that it would be impossible to do.

                  The issue is that people keep repeating the political talking point of 77 cents on the dollar, slogan. The larger the number the larger the uproar.

                  Studies show that comparing apples to apples, there is less than a 5% pay difference in wages. Yes i do agree that any pay difference is wrong, but until you can prove the cause of the pay difference, there is no point in bashing the employer.

                2. Zillah

                  I agree that the $.77 figure is troublesome, because, as you say, comparing apples to apples is much more productive. I think that the fact that women are more likely to end up in lower paying roles for whatever reason is problematic, but issues like part-time vs. full-time, etc, are larger societal problems that can’t be solved overnight.

                  However, you seem to be saying that there’s no way to measure whether there is income discrimination, which is ridiculous… as is the contention that until the pay difference can be “proved,” bringing any attention to it is “bashing the employer.” Raising serious questions about pay equity is not bashing an employer, especially not when we’re doing so in hypotheticals.

                  Can you link (or cite) the studies that find that comparing apples to apples, the pay gap is “only” 5%? I’m curious to read them, especially since I can’t imagine that it remains at a flat 5% for all age groups – that wouldn’t make sense, because raises are based on percentages.

                3. MT

                  links are pending

                  Economist June O’Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found an unexplained pay gap of 8% after controlling for experience, education, and number of years on the job. Furthermore, O’Neil found that among young people who have never had a child, women’s earnings approach 98 percent of men’s.[30]

                4. Zillah

                  Can you give me something more specific than “wikipedia”? Wikipedia isn’t very reliable, and people often edit in misleading facts about studies and/or link to news articles rather than the actual study. I don’t really have the time to sift through the garbage to find the real stuff.

                  I’ll look at the other link when I get home, though I can think of several other studies (which I’ll provide) that show a gender gap even with unmarried women.

                5. MT

                  the wiki link gives a quick synopsis of many different papers, and there are about tons of links to the articles themselves on the page

                6. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I think you two might need to agree to disagree on this for now, before this eats up half the open thread and crowds out other issues :)

                  (Edited to add: This was supposed to appear much further down — reading through the comment section now, it appears wildly premature placed here.)

                7. Zillah

                  Fair enough, Alison! :) I don’t think this was getting anywhere, anyway. Agree to disagree.

            2. S

              You’re right, but there’s a reason that those factors have to be accounted for in those studies. Those factors (often things like who chooses to stay home or work part-time to care for children, who is seen as assertive-but-not-bitchy enough to deserve a promotion, etc.) are fuzzier and therefore harder to quantify – and also harder to tackle.

              That doesn’t mean it’s not an issue that people should care about, it means it’s a more complex and layered issue than flat-out workplace discrimination. It also means it’s a broader issue of societal pressures, expectations, and perceptions of gender, not just a workplace issue.

          1. MT

            Not a bad study. But the only wage differnce they used was average pay, and did not take into account any factors other than male/female. This also include full time and part time workers. Definetly not an apple to apples comparrison.

            1. Zillah

              So what?

              The questions that Pew asked men and women had a gender disparity I found really interesting – both in the figure that AW cited, but especially in the difference between perceptions about whether being a working parent made it harder to advance. 19% vs. 59%? Wow.

              The fact that women earn so much less than men on average is still a problem. It’s not a problem with an easy solution, but it’s a problem, because it indicates, at the very least, that professions dominated by women tend to be underpaid and/or that women take a disproportionate role in childcare (and, possibly, household chores).

              If it’s being presented as, “women are paid $.77 for every dollar a man makes for doing the same work,” sure, that’s wrong – but presenting the income gap is a fair way of presenting some real flaws in our society.

          2. MT

            when asked “100% of respondents say they don’t earn enough money” It could be a valid perception, but in my business the saying is “your perception= your reality”

              1. MT

                Im just saying that, just saying that you are discrimated against, doesnt actually mean you are discrimated against.

      2. Brett

        “With so many different (weighted) factors going in, how do you determine it’s gender inequality and not just simply ‘sorry this person brings more to the table’.”

        To basically test each individual factor for its level of correlation to find which factors are the most dominant in determining pay. Then you statistically remove the influence of each factor one at a time, starting with the most significant and working your way down. (Similar to PCA, but using binary tests to isolate the factors.) Even with a situation as complex as pay, it is just a matter of time and sufficiently large datasets to eventually work out the significance and magnitude of factors like race and gender on pay isolated from other factors.

    4. MT

      I feel like its the opposite. I am an engineer in a male dominated field, logistics. Near graduation, a group of us were comparing job offers and the females of the group had much better job offers than the males. Even though we all had the same classes and electives and had very comparable GPA’s.

      1. MT

        Now with a couple of years experience, and now doing the interviews. There is a push within companies to try to attract female engineers. I would imagine the job offers were there to encourage women to join male dominated companies/cultures.

          1. MT

            Probably. Women engineers tend to interview better than the male counter parts. I usually interview 10-20 engineers a year.

          2. fposte

            Or she just interviewed better than them–I don’t think we know which group MT is in, do we?

            1. Mitchell

              I think it takes a certain confidence and strength of character to pursue a career where you are likely to be in the minority. Perhaps employers are acknowledging that?

              1. MT

                Sometimes companies are willing to pay more for a candidate with similar qualifications, but they feel like they would be a better fit personality wise.

              2. fposte

                Or there’s a self-selection for women with a higher degree of drive, whereas men don’t self-select for that.

                1. Zillah

                  Yes. I don’t think this can be overstated enough. In many male-dominated fields, if you’re a woman and you don’t have a lot of drive, you burn out.

      2. Zillah

        I can see it being the opposite in some fields, but are you saying that it’s the opposite in your field, specifically, or overall? Because those are two very different things.

    5. 3rd Party Recruiter

      One thing I continue to notice is the difference in starting salaries when people change jobs. I help stage and manage the negotiations for placements through our agency, and there is a marked difference between how men and women negotiate starting wages. Lots of times, women will want to sign the first offer. Many times, men will ask for the moon first. They almost never get their ask, but it makes a really big difference. I notice employers start to get turned off if there’s too much backing-and-forthing, but I think it never hurts to ask (speaking about professional-level positions).

      It’s obviously not the only solution; there are still major systemic problems (like the fact that you can/are expected to negotiate a starting salary).

      1. BB

        That’s interesting. Have you read the article of the woman who tried to negotiate her salary at a college- asked for a raise, semester maternity leave, a couple other things- noted at the end she figured not everything would be easy as others- and they pulled her offer? I keep seeing articles telling women to be careful about negotiating too hard and I’m scratching my head a bit…

        1. MT

          That article was light on details. She did ask for a lot. I do buy the school’s response was that they wanted someone who would focus on teaching rather than research. She did ask to limit the amount of classes she would have to teach, while not on the leaves she was asking for

          1. BB

            Yea I definitely got the impression that there was another side to that story. The article I read must have been outdated since it said the school didn’t reply when asked for comment. I more had a problem with the person writing the article jumping to the conclusion that it was because she was a woman and nothing else could be the reason. It also makes me wonder when you hear about people being paid unfairly, maybe the company is just bad hiring or bad all around and it’x not just gender discrimination. Or ya know, maybe it’s something totally different.

            1. MT

              people who read that “S” ite call the articles “click bait” Authors get paid on that sight based on the number of clicks on the view counter.

        2. Diet Coke Addict

          I think that was a very different scenario. I believe the woman had asked for a year’s time off the start date, plus a lower prep load compared to other teachers. I think the difference was that the college was very small and teaching-focused, and her demands showed that she was more interested in a research university with less emphasis based on teaching. I wouldn’t be surprised if a college that strongly emphasized its teaching would yank the job offer of someone who showed through their offer that they were not as teaching-oriented as they wanted in that position.

          1. fposte

            Though I’m at a research I university, and at least in my school we’d have been horrified by that as well.

          2. BB

            Yea I definitely felt there was another side to the story. I think that woman kind of wanted a job that wasn’t there and the article writer chose to turn it around and make it seem like she was rejected on basis of being an aggressive woman. All in all, the woman ended up on the wrong side and probably shouldn’t have done the story.

          3. Zillah

            Yeah, it actually seemed to me that the salary/maternity leave demands were the most reasonable things on the list, and probably not what turned the hiring committee off.

        3. fposte

          As an academic, I’ll repeat what I said in the last open thread–their concern was not with the salary negotiation itself, but with the laundry list of queries, many of which were completely out of touch with reality. It’s really not a cautionary tale of what happens to women who negotiate–a man would have been in deep trouble for that level of folly s well.

        4. Sunflower

          I read an article titled something like ‘read this before you “Lean In’. and It basically said yay for negotiating, yay for power but make sure you know what you’re doing before you go in and get all over taken with the movement. While I obviously agree that you need to do your homework before negotiating, I found the article kind of offensive. Like women are so overcome with ‘Leaning In’ that they’ve forgotten that they have to make rational arguments and say ‘i am asking for this because of x, y, z’ and they are storming into CEO’s offices saying ‘i am woman, hear me roar’!!!

          I don’t know, it totally rubbed me the wrong way.

        5. Anonymous

          The fact that this is all over the news, with the name of the candidate masked, but with the college fully identified by name and address, only confirms that this person has a sense of entitlement that, when frustrated, triggers retaliation. No employer wants to have to deal with this. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. The college dodged a bullet.

    6. littlemoose

      I think a key is something that is tough to address legally: social and familial expectations. Women are more likely to be “tied movers” or “tied stayers,” meaning they are more likely to leave jobs or decline to move for a new job/promotion beause their husbands don’t want to move. They are much more likely to take time out of the workforce, not just for maternity leave it a few years as a SAHM, but to care for family members in general (eg elderly parents). These factors cost women opportunities and promotions, often indirectly. And as others note above, career choices and failure to negotiate are big factors as well. As for whether laws or policies can be changed to influence this – I think it’s difficult. We need to change societal and relationship expectations regarding caring for others, etc. That said, better maternity leave policies and child care options would probably help keep women in the workforce and advancing steadily.

    7. Mike C.

      One of the best ways is to make pay bands open information. There should be similar pay for similar jobs given experience, education, etc with some wiggle room for merit.

      There should be a business reason for paying a certain amount of money for a certain job, and a good business will be able to “show their work” so to speak.

    8. GenderBender

      If there is a positive to earning less, here it is. At a friend’s firm there was gender pay inequality and during a layoff all the higher paid people (in similar roles) were let go. Thus a lot of the men lost their jobs and the women were not nearly as affected. Thereafter the women earned more because they got a salary while the men were paid only unemployment.

    9. Anonsie

      Changing attitudes over time, which is extremely gradual and not really a compelling answer, unfortunately. People have to start assessing female employees to be as valuable as the male ones, which is not going to happen in one generation.

      People always like to bring up all the factors that are more easily addressable (and, conveniently, often only addressable by women themselves) as conflating factors and debate whether at a base level, people want to pay women less than men. And yes, better leave policies and better grooming of young women to negotiate and all those things will help, ok. But at the very core of the issue is that we know we can present two identical candidates and the male will be valued higher, offered more pay, and offered more mentorship. We know that when we have gender-blind evaluation processes, interviews, auditions, etc, more women are suddenly accepted by a significant margin. This is in a wide array of industries, and even younger (and female!) managers will make the same biased judgments, so this isn’t an issue in just one place or for just one group of people.

      We can keep greasing the wheels for this shift, and we should, but I’m not really sure there’s a lot else to be done.

    10. Brett

      We have a tremendous gap in both gender and race/ethnicity in my work place. I’ve posted the statistical tests before, and I think the EEOC would have an aneurysm if they saw them too. I’ve been able to clearly trace it back to a decade of too much hiring power in the hands of one person. That person pretty much rewarded people similar to him (not just white men, but same school, religion, etc), and paid for those rewards by hardballing negotiations with women and minorities.

      So, I think the source of the problem might point to some of the solutions. Better control of the hiring process. Keeping salary negotiations out of the hands of one person with no oversight, etc.

      1. VintageLydia USA

        I remember when you posted this numbers. Made me sick, tbh. I hope the problem person is no longer in charge of salary negotiations.

    11. Camellia

      Make wages and salaries public knowledge. Expose them to the light of day and many of these issues will be self-correcting.

      1. MT

        I can just the frenzy of lawsuits from anyone who feels the slightest bit offended by their company. I would be fine it if the lawsuits were losers pay attorney fees.

        1. Zillah

          … which would make it infinitely harder for women and minorities to challenge perceived unfairness. I certainly wouldn’t file a lawsuit if there was a chance I’d have to pay both their and my attorney fees, however wronged I felt.

          1. MT

            Is it fair for a company to have to pay to defend itself if a court of law has said it has done nothing wrong?

            1. Dan

              Yes. “Slam dunk” cases get settled out of court. Which means that most cases that end up in court get there because both parties couldn’t come to mutual agreement. If the outcome of the case comes down to a judgement call that is hard to predict, why should the “loser” get stuck with the whole tab?

              Also keep in mind that the loser probably can’t pay, so they will just file bk and the other side’s lawyers won’t get paid at all. Is that fair?

              1. Zillah

                Exactly. If the person doesn’t have a case, it won’t proceed to trial. You don’t just get to take someone to trial because you glare and stamp your feet – you have to have some kind of case.

                It’s also worth noting that a court of law does not say, “You have done nothing wrong.” It says, “There’s not enough evidence to convict you.” There’s a difference.

                1. MT

                  The problem is that you can sue anyone. If the judge decides to throw it out is up to him. The attorneys start billing as soon as the paperwork is filled with the court. Anyone can file papers to sue anyone at any time. This is not criminal law, this is civil.

                2. Zillah

                  And whether the jury decides that you’re guilty is up to them, too. Why do you think it’s so important to err on the side of business “in case” a judge lets a case go through without merit, rather than on the side of people being discriminated against because yeah, sometimes juries get things wrong or evidence is conflicting. A slam dunk would be settled out of court.

                  Regardless: that’s the cost of doing business. I’d rather businesses have to pay for that than make it virtually impossible for anyone who’s discriminated against to sue.

      2. MT

        Looking at the number doesn’t tell you about all of the legitimate factors that influence pay.

          1. MT

            Agreed if two people are doing the same job and one person is making 50% more. But if it’s onlt 5-15% differnce then its not. Would it make a difference if the person making 50% more was the owner’s child?

            1. Zillah

              Well, not being related to the owner is not, as far as I know, a protected class, so while employees could certainly get disgruntled, I don’t think it’s grounds for a lawsuit.

              Similarly, if we’re talking about two people, and one is being paid 10% more than the other… sure, it could come down to a number of factors.

              But what I think TL is talking about is not just whether the individual salary numbers are large enough, but whether the number of employees affected is large enough. If you have a company with 600 people and men are earning 5-15% more than women in the same role, and there are no mediating perks (e.g., more vacation time, telecommuting, etc), that points to there being a problem. (TL, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

              1. MT

                That’s the problem with large sets of employees, you would have to go position by position and normalize the pay based on each candidate’s qualifications and all other qualifying adjustments. You would never be able to tell by just looking at a name and a number.

                1. TL

                  Actually untrue. And to clarify: If you designed the study with strict enough parameters defining type of job by duties performed, and normalized for region and type of employer, all other factors could be “controlled” for by making the sample size large enough. Basic stats.

                  And that 5% you keep bringing up actually only applies to white women compared to white men. Not for black or Latina women, which have a much larger percentage gap.

              2. MT

                Even if you say the person sitting next to me makes 10% more than me and has been here one year longer, who is to say that a large portion of that was a raise after a good financial year and the company decided to give out raises before you started. Or the starting pay last year was 50k when i was hired and now this year demand for the position is greater and its now 52K, so now i make 52K just like the new hire even though i have been here a year.

              3. Zillah

                I’m not asking this to be condescending, but what exactly is your background with human research?

                Because the things you’re focusing on strike me as being common misconceptions among people who don’t have much experience in conducting research with human subjects. I’m not an expert, but I did have to deal with these sorts of studies a lot for one of my degrees, and the thing is, for a study, the individual doesn’t matter. Sure, one individual might be paid more than another for totally valid reasons, but in a large-scale study, that should either a) be balanced out by other outliers or b) be excluded because it’s a clear outlier that is mucking up the data.

                1. MT

                  i have an undergraduate degree in engineering with a minor in statistics

                  The problem is that there have been large scale studies that say there isn’t a large difference in pay when all mitigating factors are applied. And the difference is not explainable.

            2. forrest

              You seem to think that 5% isn’t a big deal. Would you be ok with always making 5% less just because you were born one particular gender?

              5% of my current salary is about $2,000 more a year. Trust, I would notice an extra 2 grand.

              1. MT

                There is no proof that being female is cause of the 5%. That is the problem. Untill there is statisical proof that just being a female is the cause of the 5%, it is just a wild guess what the cuase is. If it’s the unwillingness to ask for more money at the point of hire, then its a personal issue not a gender issue.

                1. fposte

                  I think “statistical proof” is a bit of a misnomer, though. Statistics won’t tell you the why answer, because numbers don’t do that, and therefore there’s always some wiggle room for people to argue them away.

                2. MT

                  Which goes back to the original argument, taking the salaries of everyone in a company and running some statistic on them will give you some number, but not why that number is what it is.

                3. Brett

                  Um, there is statistical proof though that gender is the determining factor even if it is not the proximate cause.
                  Which that, alone, is gender discrimination by the very definition of the concept.
                  Or to phrase that another way, if women consistently perform worse in the standard methods of negotiation for your company regardless of all other qualifications, then your methods of negotiation are biased and discriminatory regardless of why women perform worse in those negotiations.
                  (If they are unwilling to ask for more money, then having a willingness to ask for more money as a critical element of your negotiations _is_ a discriminatory process.)

                4. Zillah

                  So by your argument, we should never do studies at all, because there’s no proof that anything is caused by anything.

                  Scientific studies aren’t just “wild guesses.” We plan them out pretty carefully. They’re not perfect, but I think we can control for a lot more than you think we can.

                5. MT

                  there needs to be studies. But there more than one hypothesis on this subject that explain the pay difference. Neither one has been proven to be the reason.

                6. MT

                  Brett, its not discriminatory if you give women the chance to ask for more money. If they chose not to do it it is on them not the employer.

                7. Brett

                  That’s like saying it is not discriminatory if you base starting pay on vertical leap, because women can jump too. If a difference in gender, race, ethnicity, etc accounts for the difference in pay created by a policy (and that policy has zero bearing on that person’s ability to perform their work – basing pay on vertical leap would make some sense in the NBA), then the policy is discriminatory.

              2. MT

                there is a saying that goes “correlation does not imply causation” just because things appear to be related, doesn’t mean they are related

                1. Brett

                  Which doesn’t matter with discrimination. Discrimination is an effect, not a motive. There does not have to be causation, only correlation.

            3. Ask a Manager Post author

              I posted this higher in this thread too, but want to make sure it’s seen:

              I think you two might need to agree to disagree on this for now, before this eats up half the open thread and crowds out other issues :)

              1. Lee

                While I agree, to be fair, I think the cat talk eats up plenty of the open thread each week! :-)

      3. Brett

        I work for a public agency and our pay is public. That’s how I know about our disparities. It has not done a thing to prevent gender pay imbalances. Even with the problems clearly visible, fixing them is not easy.

    12. Gene

      I’ve worked in government since high school and there is no gender gap in wages here. Not only that, but our wages are publicly available.

      Transparency is good.

    13. Nikki B

      The one thing that would change the gender gap is to stop the taboo about talking about salary. If you don’t know what others at the same level are making, how can you ensure that you aren’t low balled ? I think the gender gap is much less in govt jobs where pay scales are more transparent.

  5. Masters Anon

    How do people feel about masters degrees from schools like Capella or University of Phoenix verses a regular brick and mortar school that offers online programs?

    1. Bryan

      This might sound incredible snobbish but I look down at the for-profit universities. It’s not a deal breaker or anything but I just view them as such awful places that it makes me question who would go there.

        1. Anonymous

          Or…people who work hard and literally have no time for regular classes? Who can’t take the risk of getting 2/3 of the way through a program and finding out three required classes have to be taken in person?

          1. fposte

            In my experience, established online programs at not for profits are pretty clear about whether you’ll have to be on campus or not.

            1. Ollie

              Indeed. I got my master’s entirely online, and it was set up so that all the classes would be online (no in-person ones were offered for students who were out-of-state…I think some might have been available for in-state people, but they could have taken them all online too).

          2. The Real Ash

            Then the person needs to sit down with an advisor Day 1 and lay out the specifics of their life. That’s what advisors are there for. I sat down with mine and said, I live off-campus, I work full-time and I have to take 100% of my classes online. They helped me figure out a good course load, when to take what class, etc., and everything has been great since then.

            1. Anonymous

              Unfortunately, things can change between now and 4 years from now. They did for me. I had to wait two semesters for one of the classes I needed to come around to Saturdays again. Sitting down with my advisor three years prior didn’t help with that.

      1. AnonEMoose

        Bryan, how much actual experience do you have with for-profit education? It’s important to check if the place is regionally accredited, for sure, but if they are, they have to meet all the same standards as the brick and mortars.

        It’s still important to ask lots of questions and be sure the program is a good fit for you. And if you are not good at self-motivation, online education in general may not be the best option for you.

        1. De Minimis

          Many of them are always under investigation. Fair or not, the “diploma mill” perception is such that I would probably be a little wary of someone with a degree from one, depending….I do know of people who went to them in order to advance at their current job and that’s different.

          Another issue is just that they cost so much and you could get a degree via distance learning from a brick and mortar school that I would wonder why someone would pick the for-profit option. It was different years ago when few brick and mortar schools offered distance learning but that was a long time ago.

          1. Laura

            I think that’s the reason I’d never go for one of those for profit schools, other than he diploma mill perception – they end up costing the same or maybe more than a degree done entirely online with a brick and mortar schools. I’ve been looking into programs that are 100% online that are offered through well known, well respected brick and mortar schools, and was surprised at how many options there were.

        2. Anonymous

          I do wonder what they might find if they investigated brick and mortar universities and their tuition increases and admissions practices.

            1. fposte

              Not really; many for-profit screwups are accredited as well anyway.

              It’s really the loan payback stuff that’s driving a lot of the investigation–since much of the loans are via federal programs, the feds care that some schools apparently can’t deliver students who repay loans at a decent rate.

        3. Not So NewReader

          Added wrinkle: You also have to check the accrediting group to make sure they are ethical. Just because a place is accredited does not mean you are all set.

      2. Anoners

        I think it’s always best to do online programs that are connected to an brick and mortar school. I know most major universities offer some online programs.

        Having said that, I’m assuming Phoenix and Capella don’t have a physical campus? I could be wrong, though.

    2. LV

      From the Wiki article on DeVry, another for-profit university:

      “Senator Tom Harkin’s comprehensive report on the for-profit college industry revealed this about DeVry: tuition for an associates degree is 10 times higher than at at community colleges, it has a dropout rate of 50 percent (60 percent for online students) within a median of 3 1/2 months; spending per student of less than $3000 per year on education, about a quarter of what is spent by the University of Illinois; a CEO salary of $6.3 million, 46 times more than the president of the University of Illinois; and evidence of deceptive recruiting of students. At least two state attorneys general, Illinois and Massachusetts, are investigating DeVry.”

      I would definitely question whether someone who attended one of these schools actually got high-quality education and training – they’re basically diploma mills with some accreditation.

      1. The Nameless

        I lived in FL for a while and was unemployed for the time that I lived there. I researched schools. There was a for profit campus within walking distance of my home. Tuition was nearly $30K for a certificate program I was considering taking in my efforts to become employed. The local community college (a short ride from my home) had the same program. Their cost? $5000. When the for profit place called me to offer me more info, I asked what made them charge more. Their response was “We accept anyone. The college makes you apply and get accepted.” Seriously? That was the selling point as to why I should dish out 6x more for tuition?

    3. Sascha

      Personally, I don’t really care. However, I have worked at two brick and mortar universities, and if you are looking for a job in academia, I get the general sense that academia hiring managers see some fully online schools, like Phoenix, as a racket. Others are more “prestigious,” like Western Governor’s University. It comes down to nonprofit vs for-profit. For-profit schools are often viewed as “less noble,” they are in it just for the money, and will put the bottom line above student learning. Is that true? Sometimes, but not always. It can be true at brick and mortar schools.

      So it depends on the industry you are going into, job-wise. As far as what you will learn…I think if you get good instructors then a degree from one of those schools can be just as valuable and enriching as any other.

      1. Anonie

        University of Phoenix is not a totally online school. They have in class meetings at the satelite campuses. My mother got her BSN from the University of Phoenix and she had to go to school weekly and took all the classes that any university would require. I know because I had to help her with her statistics homework. The degree is from the University of Phoenix.

        I don’t know about Capella university but the University of Phoenix should not be considered in the same category it is from the actual university.

        1. fposte

          The problem isn’t physical plant, though; it’s the for-profit structure, which doesn’t go away just because a building gets built. It’s just that for-profits with a big online approach penetrate more and are better known. Phoenix is a classic example rather than an outlier.

          Corporations seem to be accepting Phoenix more than they used to, but it’s not universal; I’d check to see the credentials of people currently in the field and companies that you’re looking at to see if anybody had for-profit degrees. I wouldn’t want to be the first.

    4. thenoiseinspace

      My only advice is to be sure it will actually help you. I’ve got two masters degrees and they often do more harm than good. I’d say that most of the good that comes out of graduate programs comes from networking and internships, and I’m not sure how much of that will come from an online course. Talk to some hiring managers in your field and see if that degree alone would actually make them more likely to hire you, or if you’ll need experience, a big-name school, connections, etc. If it’s any of the latter, it’s not worth the hefty price tag.

      1. Masters Anon

        My goal is to get into management, and while I know that experience managing others should be more important, many companies pretty much require a masters degree to even be considered.

        1. thenoiseinspace

          Then it sounds like it’s worth it to get it, but I’d talk to someone higher up in your field before you go with an online school. It might be fine, but as some of the people have stated above, there is a certain stigma associated with them sometimes. Alternatively, there are more and more brick-and-mortar schools offering programs that are either partially or fully online – I would research those extensively before you make your choice. It might also be worth it to look on LinkedIn and find people who you hope to work with and see where they graduated – if a large number are from the same school, that alumni network could potentially be very helpful.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Don’t go with a for-profit school. It won’t help you, you’ll be out the money, and it may even hurt you (because many hiring managers will look down more on those degrees than on having none at all).

          1. Smilingswan

            That seems a bit crazy. They would look down on someone who made a commitment to their career by furthering their education, but not on someone who didn’t even try? I can see that a UoP degree isn’t as prestigious as one from Harvard, but I have a hard time believing they are worse than a diploma from East-Nowhere High School. For the record, I have a BA from UMass, and went back to school for a medical billing and coding diploma from Kaplan. While I did spend way more than I should have, I learned a lot, so even while hiring managers may look down on the school, it definitely helped my level of knowledge in my field.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yes, many people will indeed look at a UofP degree or similar as worse than having no degree, because they’ll conclude it shows bad judgment and lack of rigor (whether or not those things are true in a particular person’s case). There’s also a sense of low quality by association — the schools’ poor reputations rub off on people with degrees from there.

    5. Sunflower

      Going online is becoming much more popular for brick and mortar schools. PSU has a huge world campus and I’m not certain but I don’t think there is anything on your diploma that addresses that the degree was obtained online. Even if you can get into a program that is 90% online with one class a week, that would look much better than strictly online IMO.

    6. JoAnna

      My husband graduated from the University of Phoenix in late 2012 and now has a job in his field (software programming). So, it was a good decision for us. It was the only program we could find that would work with his full-time job (i.e., that offered full-time online classes — he worked 10-hour days until 7-8pm at night, and his schedule changed every 3-4 months with very little notice, so a traditional program was logistically impossible).

    7. Artemesia

      I don’t know about masters degrees but when I was hiring people where a PhD was required, we didn’t look at people with degrees from those schools.

        1. Stephanie

          My dad’s Fortune 100 company would pretty much fund any advanced degree, online included. He did a fully online PhD and got to the ABD stage. The program quality was pretty suspect and given all the snobbery I’ve heard about in academia, I don’t know how much it would have bought him. Luckily, he kept working during the program and his job footed the bill.

      1. Anon

        I throw away applications from for-profit schools. Most are either mediocre or diploma mills.

    8. Stephanie

      University of Phoenix, especially, has a pretty trashed reputation thanks to all the investigative reports showing the low graduation rates and questionable recruiting tactics.

      First, before you pay any tuition, make sure a masters is actually required.

      What about an online program tied to a brick and mortar school? I know the big flagship school in my area has a big online presence and I don’t think there’s any distinguishing the online degree from the brick-and-mortar degree.

      1. Masters Anon

        My issues are:

        1. Affordability – My current job will reimburse me for the tuition and book costs, but only after a course is completed. So I basically have to foot the bill for it and then get paid back later.

        2. Finding a brick and mortar school that offers what I want as an online program.

        3. Finding a brick and mortar school that doesn’t have the same requirements for me to get into a masters program now that I have 12 years of industry experience that they would if I was an undergrad going straight to grad school. I think it’s stupid for someone who has been out of school and working for so long to take the GRE and to require me to have a certain GPA.

        1. Ethyl

          Additionally, at least my master’s program required a certain number of in-person courses, while the rest could be online. They offered 3-week intensive courses and stuff like that to help students out, since the program was mainly a “professional” master’s for mid-career professionals, but there was no way around it — if you wanted the big name uni on your diploma, you had to find a way to be on-site for 6 weeks total. It would have been a big problem if I stayed in my previous role while trying to do the program.

        2. Elizabeth West

          For #1, can you get a small loan for the cost of that one initial semester? Because you’ll only have the one to pay back. When you are reimbursed, use that money for the next semester and repeat. That’s what I’m doing (if I choose to continue, and if I pass this semester).

        3. Stephanie

          Actually, your experience might be a plus. Plus the further away you are from undergrad, the less a program’s going to look at your UGPA since you have tons of other data points for your application. I’d reach out to an academic advisor to ask what they look for in applicants.

          1. Zillah

            Agreed. Whatever the official admissions requirements say, it’s always worth reaching out to the program itself if you fall outside the norm.

        4. Emily, admin extraordinaire

          I would highly recommend Western Governor’s University to you. They’re a non-profit school, but they’re online only. The best part is that they’re competency-based, which means that if you can prove that you already know the material for the course they want you to take, you get full credit without having to take it (so your industry experience would be taken into account). Their tuition costs are also a lot lower than most for-profit or brick-and-mortar schools, and since they’re competency-based, you can work at your own pace.

          I worked for them about 10 years ago, and I can tell you that they take rigor very seriously (I worked in assessment development, and those tests are crafted extremely carefully). They’re also much more highly respected than the for-profit schools you mention.

        5. Anonymous

          I have two professional graduate degrees and I cannot imagine earning an MBA online. I found the in-person discussions in class to be incredibly valuable, much more so than the reading or the lectures. And at least in my case, most graduate courses are seminars and not lectures. There are ways to simulate this online, but it wouldn’t be the same to me.

          Many well-regarded universities in my area offer fully-employed MBA programs. I don’t know much about them, but would guess they offer classes on weekends and evenings. Several of my graduate classes were weekend classes. You might want to look into this as an option.

          Regarding requirements, reach out to the schools. I was able to waive some requirements because of prior professional experience. And if you have a lot of work experience, that may be factored into your applications and less weight may be given to GMATs and UGPAs.

          Regarding cost, I agree with the suggestion about short-term or student loans that you can re-pay as soon as you are reimbursed.

          Good luck!

          1. Masters Anon

            I would LOVE to take classes as my favorite part of school was always the in class discussions, but that’s just not feasible.

    9. Amy B.

      I will only speak to UoP as that is where I attended, briefly. I was attending to complete my bachelors. I was enrolled in the FlexNet program. Week one class at the school, weeks 2-4 online, final class, at end of week 5, at the school. I applied myself and wrote 10 to 30 page, well researched papers weekly. I got all A’s for my first 3 classes. For the online portion, we had to work with our classmates responding to their responses to questions and writing research papers. I found that several of my classmates could barely put a sentence together (yes, English was their first language) yet these students were receiving A’s also. I decided during my 4th class to barely do any of the individual work and required class participation. I still got an 89 for the class. There is truth to the motto: ‘You pay for an A’. I realized what a joke my degree was going to be and cut my losses (about $5000 by then).

      The education you get is what you put into it. The degrees are bough, not necessarily earned. I would not automatically say that someone with a degree from UoP did not earn it; but I wouldn’t automatically say they did either.

      1. Anoners

        I think this can be said for a lot of universities. I went to a top university in Canada for my Masters, and many of my classmates got way higher marks than they should have (based on the grading metrics at least). I think maybe it varies by prof.

        1. AnonEMoose

          Grade inflation isn’t just an online or for-profit education thing, for sure. And it starts pretty early, too, with parents screaming at teachers/school administrators that if Johnny or Susie doesn’t get an A, he/she will never get into that Ivy League school…

      2. Stephanie

        My mom taught a basic rhetoric class at the UofP when it was enrolling anyone who could pay. She was pretty horrified by the level of preparedness (she did say some students–usually the veterans–were amazing). She said it was pretty impossible to fail anyone, short of them doing absolutely no work.

    10. Chriama

      Given the current stigma around diploma mills, I honestly believe that the majority of employers with strict degree requirements (as in, they won’t consider an equivalent mix of education and experience) will be as strict about the kind of school you can get your degree from.

      As always, before investing in anything costly for the sake of your career, do your research! Look at the kind of positions you want to do, check out their requirements, and get informational interviews with hiring managers. Know what you’re getting into and the likely return on your investment ahead of time.

    11. Anon for this

      I taught at one of these for a while, and was not permitted to fail students–the school wanted the tuition. This was a major factor in leaving that job. I have no way of knowing whether my school’s policy is widespread, but I am biased against them as a result.

      1. Stephanie

        My mom stopped teaching at the UofP for a similar reason. She also felt they were aggressively recruiting students who were woefully underprepared for higher ed just to get tuition dollars.

    12. limenotapple

      I think it depends on the industry/area, but if I had two applicants that were equal, I would go with the non-profit-schooled one. I agree with the commenters who said that education is what you put into it, but I have been burned by hires from for-profit schools just being lower quality skill-wise, that I definitely have a bias. I also think that non-profit schools which have been around for a long time will offer more in the way of networking.
      There might be good for-profits, but the bad ones have kind of soiled the reputation for all of them. I work in academia and even working for a for-profit can pretty much bar you from ever working for a traditional school again.

    13. Anonymous

      A lot of major colleges now have weekend or flex MBA programs. I am doing one now, and honestly I can’t imagine that I would be getting anywhere as much out of this if I was doing it online. I get easily as much if not more from the class discussions than I do from the readings. And I say this as someone who did about half their undergrad online due to the military and then working full time plus.

      I am in class every other Saturday from 8-4 and one Friday evening a month. It is a sacrifice, but the program is phenomenal. Also key in on Executive MBA programs. Most require ten years of work experience, but they are usually much more accommodating of busy working professionals with families. The name on your MBA does matter to A LOT of hiring managers unfortunately.

  6. anon for this question

    Curious if there’s a professional way to convey to my boss that I purposely don’t take things personally because it’s just business — any criticism I get, I try hard to implement the improvement asked for, but not to let it get to me personally because then I’ll just feel bad, not motivated.

    My boss seems to mean the criticism personally (this is based on what she complains about with employees in another location) and when I don’t take it that way, she doesn’t think I’m taking it seriously. I don’t know if there is a way to explain how I approach criticism and explain that I do indeed want feedback, but I won’t ever get mad or defensive which seems to be what she wants. This is a clusterF and I won’t stay here forever, but I want to do my best while I’m here. I dream of working somewhere that’s more professional and less…informal? Less out of sorts?

    1. Anonymous

      I think you ARE taking it personally if you’re implementing the feedback. If you weren’t taking it personally, you’d be ignoring it and thinking it doesn’t apply to you. I feel getting defensive would be counter-productive…?

      1. The Real Ash

        I think they mean “personally” as in “a criticism of you as a person” and not “a criticism of the work you do as a worker”.

        1. Tris Prior

          yeah, I’m sort of reading this as, the boss wants you to feel bad about yourself as a result of her criticism? Ugh.

          1. anon for this question

            Yes! That’s exactly right. Five years ago, I would have. And probably cried. But over time I’ve realized I don’t want to react like that because then I feel so awful I’m nearly paralyzed.

    2. Sadsack

      I think that each time she criticizes, you tell her that you appreciate her feedback and that you’ll endeavor to improve in the areas and ways that she requires. That’s about all you can say. Maybe she has something to learn from you if she seems annoyed that you didn’t blow up or get upset when she criticized you.

      1. anon for this question

        I don’t think she’s one to learn by observation. :) But, yes, she needs to! I think what threw me is that she seems upset that I appreciate the feedback. I assume we’re on the same team, and she assumes that I’m going to resist at every turn, even though I never have before.

        1. The Real Ash

          Your manager’s behavior makes me feel squicky. It’s one thing to enjoy inflicting pain or emotional distress in a consenting relationship between two adults, but it’s another to bring that behavior into the workplace. Your boss sounds like she has weird issues and I would work towards getting away from her. Her need for enjoying other’s negative emotions is disturbing.

        2. Anon

          I too have had a boss who was very, very confused when I listened to their feedback, acknowledge my mistakes as appropriate, and stayed calm. He complained that I “didn’t have any fight in me.” Er, what? Do you want me to get in screaming matches with you like one of my coworkers does? Because that wasn’t in the job description.

          I didn’t work there very long.

    3. Chriama

      Not sure if I’m reading this right, but it sounds like your boss wants an emotional reaction to your criticism. There is no solution to an unreasonable person’s unreasonable requests. Maybe try having a “big picture” convo with her, like “Hey boss, I notice that when you give me feedback you seem unsatisfied with how I receive it. My MO is to take the feedback and use it to improve my work, but I’m not sure I ever made that clear to you. Is there a better way I can show you I’m taking your feedback seriously?”

      Then whatever she comes back with (e.g. Your response doesn’t show me you’re taking it seriously) you can answer “Would you like it if I told you specifically how I intend to apply your feedback?”

      In other words, act as if she’s a reasonable person and get her to spell out her demands. Either they’re totally crazy (I want you to be upset when I criticize you), secretly crazy (I want to see you’re taking my feedback seriously [iow, I want you to be upset when I criticize you but I can’t say that to your face]) or normal (I wasn’t sure you were internalizing my feedback because you didn’t respond to me in a way I could interpret).

      In all cases, get her to spell out her demands and agree to a solution that you can implement (e.g. I will tell you the specific ways I plan to implement your feedback).

      1. LCL

        Been there, done that. To some people, if they don’t get an emotional response to criticism, they think you aren’t listening. All you can do is tell yourself that she is broken, and from now on you will explain to her what specific things you will do regarding each criticism.

        People like this aren’t fixable, unless they want to fix it. The best thing you could do is find someone else to work for. I would rather work for a shout and scream manager than one that thinks I don’t provide the proper amount of reaction (fear and deference) to their instruction.

        1. anon for this question

          I haven’t worked for a screamer/shouter, so I don’t know, but I appreciate your encouragement. Yes, I do think it’s mostly her, but sure–I have things I can improve, so I’ll focus on those.

      2. anon for this question

        Yes, you’re definitely reading it right. I like the idea of asking her a question in response. Usually, I respond with “Yes, that’s definitely something I can do–I can see how that would be helpful for you.” I think she genuinely expects me to never see it from her angle but I usually do and it was just a blind spot that I hadn’t previously thought of whatever it is she’s asking for.

        That said, most recently, she flipped out over something that she said she told me to do (if she had told me, I genuinely didn’t hear it–but I also think she only *thought* she had told me!) and she said in an exasperated tone “You know what? Starting tomorrow, you take a piece of paper and write down everything you do from the minute you get here to the minute you leave.” I responded with “I can do that. I’ll start first thing.” The thing is, of course it’s ludicrous, but we don’t work in the same location (she stops in 1-2x/wk) so I tried to see it from her viewpoint and realized, yeah, my time is hers, there’s no reason I can’t account for it, down to the minute. (THough I feel pretty silly when I have to go #2 and it takes more than 2 seconds in the bathroom…looks stupid to write down “bathroom” on the list…) I think it’s demoralizing and a bit inhumane to ask for the itemized list, but I keep telling myself that it’s just business and there’s no reason I can’t play by the rules for however long I’m here. (Although, I’m not planning to put down “20 minutes on AAM to figure out how to interact with you” on today’s list!)

        1. A Teacher

          Whoa…that’s insane. Now I have a friend that works in the NFP world and she’s having trouble with someone she supervises so they are doing 15 minutes blocks of time and charting it to see if they can make the employee more productive but nothing as serious as listing EVERYTHING she’s doing. Your boss is something else…

        2. Gene

          Don’t forget to write down,
          “1301: Writing down what I just did.
          1302: Writing down writing down what I just did.
          1303: Writing down writing down writing down what I just did.
          1304: Writing down writing down writing down writing down what I just did.
          …”

          Word process that and there’s your day. Head off to Starbucks for a coffee.

          1. A Teacher

            I just started laughing out loud. My students are watching “Vaccine Wars” and they turned and looked at me funny.

        3. Another Timekeeper

          I had a position where you had to work 12 hours per day, but only put 8 detailed hours into the timekeeping system and you had to keep a separate set of books for your real 12 hours down to the minute. Yes it included the time required for bathroom breaks. I left after 6 months.

        4. Chriama

          OP, you sound like a great person to work with and I’m sorry your boss doesn’t appreciate that. I think you could still try the “big picture” conversation, if only so she knows that you really want to take her feedback seriously. Overall though, your boss sounds like a bit of a nutjob. That sucks ;(

    4. Not So NewReader

      I have had bosses like this and a frienemy or two like this.

      There is no winning. If you confront this person directly you just pose a challenge for them.
      So if you say “Boss, I believe in being professional. I don’t typically cry/sulk/yell while receiving criticism. I believe that part of any job is to learn how to do it better.”

      What happens next is that the boss does not dial it back. The boss dials it UP, waaaay UP. Why. Well, you have just presented a challenge. Now the boss must figure out a way to reduce you to tears or anger. It’s a game for the boss.

      I had a friend (no, not an actual friend as it turns out) that kept pressing my buttons. One day she let fly with xyz and that was it. I broke down and cried. Later, I said “why did you do that?” Her answer: “I wanted to see you cry.”

      That was the last time I saw that friend.

      Your boss escalating in her antics. The whole idea of writing down everything you do is sick/bizarre.
      Make yourself a bail out plan and start working the plan. NOW. Her next stunt will be worse than this I promise. Get out.

      Document everything, btw.

  7. athek

    I’m going to be managing a new team where morale is extremely low. I’ve had this explained to me and my main goal with this new team is to improve morale. I plan on meeting with everyone one-on-one, clearly defining my expectations, and generally being open and honest and personable, but could some people that have been in toxic workplaces share some thoughts about what a new manager can do to help? I know these guys are a bit traumatized and will be scared to talk to me, etc.

    1. AnonEMoose

      I think that being understanding of that, not expecting them to trust or open up to you right away, and not punishing them when they do venture something will go a long way. Don’t push it too much or too fast, be supportive when they do share something with you. I’d expect them to, after awhile, put out some tentative feelers as an effort to see if you mean what you say. Be watching for them; they’ll be important.

      Striking a balance between being supportive and understanding of their bad expereriences and not tolerating excessive negativity is going to be tough, I think, because they’re likely to be jumpy about any kind of criticism…but on the other hand, showing them that criticism isn’t the end of the world can actually be a good thing. I don’t know if that helps, but it’s what occurs to me off the top of my head.

    2. Artemesia

      I met one on one with a similar group and it really gave me insight into the dynamic of the place. I quickly spotted someone who was undermining needed changes in the operation and worked with him and then eventually fired him.

      In that one on one meeting don’t just focus on setting your expectations; make that first meeting mostly about listening and learning about what is really going on in the place. Making clear that there are problems that need to be brought undercontrol e.g. quality control, production or similar issues is important, but most important of all is to find out what each of them perceives is the dynamic and operation of the place.

      Listen, listen, listen.

    3. VictoriaHR

      From someone who’s worked in a toxic environment before, my advice is to not let people bring their petty drama to you. Encourage them to work it out, and only get involved in the important disputes. So if someone’s all like “waaaah Beth always talks behind my back to Sue,” help that person come up with ways to handle it herself. Empower your employees to manage their own interpersonal conflicts. And have zero tolerance for drama.

    4. Leslie Yep

      This is so hard. Thank you for being so thoughtful about it.

      Two things from my own experience. First, transparency is critical. After you talk with your team, make sure you communicate back what you heard, what changes you’re making and why. I’ve seen this kind of toxicity (even on a much smaller scale) lead to the feeling that someone’s always hiding the ball. When you share as much info as possible, including “we’re still trying to figure this out but I haven’t forgotten!”, it just enhances trust so much.

      Second, this is a little counter-intuitive, but also make sure not to be too sympathetic–focus on action and solutions. My team went through some major changes over a couple of years that really depleted morale. I tried to counteract that with lots of sympathy, introducing every new process with “I know you have been through SO MUCH…” and couched everything in terms of making things easier on them. This had the result of actually making people more anxious and fixated on the challenges rather than feeling confident and empowered to do their work in a better environment.

    5. Anon

      One thing I’ve seen in toxic environments is that people don’t get good training and/or quickly become afraid to ask questions. I would have appreciated a manager who declared ‘stupid question amnesty’ and made it clear that they’d be happy to spend a few months addressing training gaps without any judgement of the person behind them. (Then you have to actually follow through on that, of course.) The more you can show yourself to be trustworthy when employees make themselves vulnerable, the quicker you’ll be able to get things turned around.

    6. girlonfire

      I’d agree with the below about making your first one-on-one as much about listening as about communicating expectations. Find out what the common pressure points are, and see what you can do to alleviate them. Also, if you can get approval from the higher-ups and a budget, some sort of team-building activity may help — something simple like a lunch out, or an afternoon bowling. The key is to not make an after-work thing mandatory, but in a really toxic workplace, being able to have fun with your coworkers can go a long way toward improving morale.

    7. smallbutmighty

      If you can handle the situation well the first time someone makes a mistake under your management, that will set a great precedent in establishing the new tone you’re trying to set. Treat it as a learning opportunity for the whole group, avoid anything that looks like blame, try to determine and address the reason for the mistake, and make it clear that (within reason) no one is going to get thrown under the bus for a good-faith reasonable effort that went awry for unforeseeable reasons.

      My manager, who took on a pretty dysfunctional team when she arrived, is great at this. It made a huge difference in our attitudes and our growth as employees to know that while we’d be held accountable to learn from our mistakes, we would also be forgiven, coached appropriately, etc. She singlehandedly turned a culture of fear and blame into a culture of exploration and courage and forgiveness. The before-and-after has been amazing to experience.

    8. A Teacher

      Don’t give them the “we shouldn’t dwell on the past routine.” I’m not saying they should drag t he “well this is what we always did” excuse in but if they are comparing experiences, that’s healthy. I’ve had bosses in the past that come in and say “well now I’m here so forget about the past.” That’s not reality.

      1. AnonEMoose

        This…the “this is what we always did” shouldn’t fly. But if they’re simply talking about the past, or giving you examples of the toxicity, be willing to listen.

        An “it’s all going to be bunnies and unicorns and fluffy kitties now, so forget about the past” attitude is only going to make you look naive and unrealistic, and put people off. An attitude of “I know things were tough, and it’s going to take time to improve, we’ll work on it together” is likely going to be much more welcome.

    9. Amanda

      You’ve gotten some great advice here already. One thing I would add is to have their backs. Not in an “us against the world” way but make it clear that they are your team, and you are going to work with them and for them, not just be the person who relays bad news. A previous workplace was an extremely toxic work environment, and while I liked many things about my manager, I knew that if it ever came down to it she would offer me up like a sacrificial lamb. In fact, she did – toward the end of my time there, another manager in another department came to her with criticism of me with zero evidence – I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m saying there was no single thing that could be pointed to to help me understand how to proceed. My boss said to me she could find zero fault with my work or my behavior, but she came down like a ton of bricks on me because of these vague claims, putting up no defense of me at all. It stung me deeply.

    10. athek

      Thanks so much for your input, everyone! It has been really helpful. I know that this is going to be a fine line to walk for a while, but I’m hopeful I can do things to really improve the situation in the long term.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I had a traumatized team at one point. It takes commitment because it takes months and months to see any change at all.

        A few things I did:
        I never corrected anyone in front of others. I would have private conversations and talk softly.

        I never raised my voice for any reason. If I wanted to say good morning I would walk over to the person rather than yell down the hall. Extreme, yes. Also very helpful.

        I started by listening to their smaller problems. I knew they had bigger concerns but they did not trust me to ask me about the serious stuff. So I handled their smaller concerns with respect and efficiency. They were testing me. I understood why.

        I refused to discuss anyone behind their back. If one complained privately to me, “Oh Sue is lazy-lazy.” My response would be “Ok, I will watch. But you know I cannot discuss my findings or what my next steps are, right? IF anything happens that is private.”

        Interestingly, they seemed to respond to the fact that I heard what they said- the outcome was not as important.

        I showed them what type of decisions they could make and how to make those decisions accurately.

        After all this, we still hit plenty of bumps in the road. I made sure I apologized if I gave the wrong answer, neglected to do something, etc. If I did not know an answer to a question I would just say so rather than fake it and then find an answer later on.

        It was a journey and I learned a lot about people and about myself. I guess that was a big take away for me I learned about my own short comings and my strengths. Neither one of those was where I expected them to be. There were lots of days that were really humbling.

  8. LV

    I’m waiting to hear back from 2 potential employers that I interviewed with recently and it’s making me really antsy. I jump every time I notice a new email, and it’s never the one that I want. My current job ends on the 31st, so the clock’s ticking…

    Job #1 is with the government and I know their hiring process takes a really long time. It was 3 weeks from the application deadline to when I got called in for a written exam, then 2 weeks between the exam and the interview. 2 weeks after the interview I got an email from someone in HR requesting some paperwork (security clearance, language test results, etc). I supplied all that stuff within an hour of getting the email – that was a week ago and I’m still waiting to hear back.

    Job #2 (with a university) I interviewed with last Friday and there’s been no contact since. I know 5 business days isn’t a very long delay, but it’s hard to stay positive because I don’t know if the silence means “We’re working on other stuff right now” or “We decided to hire someone else and won’t bother notifying you.”

    1. Colette

      Oh, that’s nerve-wracking. I hope you hear soon.

      From a practical perspective, what would you be doing if you knew you wouldn’t be offered either job? This is the time to do that.

    2. Stephanie

      Ugh, I’m there now. It’s anxiety-inducing. I posted something similar a couple of weeks ago on an open thread.

      What helped me is just assuming I didn’t get it and keep doing what I would have been doing anyway (i.e., more job searching).

      1. Chriama

        I agree. Keep up the job search and do other things to help yourself as a candidate (e.g. reach out to your network, former & current bosses and coworkers).

        1. LV

          I agree that this is good advice, but the job market here in my field is pretty shaky right now. I’ve applied to 5 jobs in total and was surprised there were even 5 vacancies to apply for! (Moving isn’t an option because of my husband’s job, which pays significantly more than I could hope to earn at this stage in my career – fortunately this also means we won’t be in dire financial straits.)

          1. Chriama

            Oh man, I can imagine your anticipation. I think the best way to take your mind off things is to keep working on alternate plans. In other words, proceed as if nothing is in stone and keep pursuing other opportunities. I know your market is limited, so that might mean preparing a (long term) career transition plan, or a plan for becoming a freelancer, or identifying organizations that could use your talents as a volunteer. Just keep yourself busy with backup plans.

      1. LV

        Thanks! :) The main reason I’m worried about that one is that the hiring manager told me he wanted someone to start ASAP in April, and April is fast approaching.

        1. Anon

          For what it’s worth, a job I interviewed for in January at a university, with the job description mentioning needing to be available immediately, and it wasn’t until March that I got the offer. Slow is definitely nerve-wracking when you need to pay rent, but it’s not necessarily a bad sign. Hope you get good news soon!

        2. University admin

          I wouldn’t let that worry you. Seconding limenotapple that universities are hella slow. At mine, once we’ve selected a candidate we then have to push the paperwork through our diversity office and our budget office before we can even call the candidate. If someone’s out in one of those offices (this week was spring break for us), things will get held up even more. He might want someone to start in April, but that doesn’t mean it’s what he’s gonna get. Good luck to you! :)

    3. The Real Ash

      Like Alison always says, mentally move on from these jobs. Pretend that in both cases you haven’t heard back from them because they’ve hired someone else and haven’t bothered to tell you. Just let go of your anxiety (as a naturally anxious person, I know this can be asking a lot from certain people) and continue your job search. That way, if one of the places does contact you with a job offer, it will be a welcomed surprise!

      1. LV

        I’m also naturally anxious (I have a prescription for Ativan, but I don’t like to take it because it just makes me feel *flat*) so I always assume the worst. Thank you for the advice!

        1. Not So NewReader

          You can try some calming foods- broccoli, cauliflower… heck, turkey! ha! Google foods that calm (or something like that). It will give you something to focus on and it might help a tiny bit.

    4. Davey1983

      Like others, I recommend moving on and looking for other oportunities while waiting to hear from either one.

      I am currently employed by the federal government. The time from application to job offer was 1 year for me. The process took two years for my boss. If this is a federal job, I would take it as a good sign that they are asking for paperwork on security clearance– I didn’t get to that part until after a job offer was made to me (offer was contingent on a clean background check and obtaining my clearance)!

  9. Anonymous

    If anyone has a good office romance horror story, please post it! I get along very well with one of my coworkers, am very attracted to them, and they have mentioned that we should spend time together outside of the office.

    As this is legitimately my dream job, I am not looking to mess anything up and want to stick to a strict “no office romance” policy. Any stories that could shoo away any idea of seeing where this could go is greatly appreciated!

          1. Anonymous

            I really can’t even put it in writing! Aside from how mortifying it is, it involves so many BAD things. I bet if someone tried to come up with the worst possible work romance horror story, it wouldn’t be as bad as this.

            1. The Real Ash

              Is it rude to say I hate it when people do this? Sort of like those attention-seeking statuses on Facebook, “Don’t even ask me about my horrible day — it was so horrible!”, “Having a bad day, don’t want to talk about it”, etc. I don’t get why people bring it up in the first place if they are honest when they say they don’t want to talk about it.

              1. Anonymous

                No, I don’t think you’re rude. I generally hate it, too. In this case, it’s not an attention-seeking thing, even if it does come across that way. (I certainly didn’t expect people to be so interested in the story.) It’s just REALLY bad, involves many illegal things and other bad things. It’s pretty unlikely other office romances would go down like my experience, though.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Think of a romantic partner from your past who turns your stomach now. And now imagine you have to work with him closely every day for years, and that he talks to your coworkers about you.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Or, he dumps you and then you have to watch while he starts dating another coworker, gets her pregnant, and marries her right under your nose. And you can’t say anything. (FWIW, they’re divorced now and she and I are still friends. Ha!)

        This is why I don’t date coworkers anymore.

          1. Lili

            An executive and her beautiful assistant… both married…
            His relocation oversea put (apparently) an end to the romance.

    2. anon for this

      I dated a guy that I worked with who was a commitment-phobe. We were both single but he insisted that NO ONE at work knew about us.

      He had a female friend in another dept who it was obvious he had feelings for (he’d baby-sit her cat when she went out of town with her BF even though he hated cats, he’d take her car in to get her tires rotated, etc). I never asked if he was into her because I didn’t want to seem jealous.

      And I actually wasn’t (all that) jealous. Until we broke up and they started going out and he bragged to everyone at work about their relationship. It felt like a slap in the face after he hid our relationship. There was awkward elevator rides and a horrible sit-down Xmas party where I gut stuck sitting at his table.

    3. Anoonymous

      I wasn’t in a relationship at work, but my co-worker was dating our boss, and no one knew but me.

      The worst part was that this coworker turned out to be a total psycho on every project we worked on, but who can I complain to…my boss/her boyfriend?

      And because I was the only one who knew, my boss would have secret meetings with me just to complain about his relationship with her.

      It was just a wheelbarrow full of awkward, and I’m not sad that it ended.

    4. Sunflower

      One summer I was interning and went on ONE date with a guy who worked there. I asked him not to mention it to anyone because ya know. Well of course I hear from another employee that he is telling people we are together and some intimate things that were completely made up. So I address the guy and tell him to stop making up the rumors. The guy I went on the date with tried to fight the person I heard from and then started spreading rumors to clients about the guy and it was just all around bad. Oh and I spent most of the summer in the HR office having to coordinate my rotation around all of this.

      Now obviously the guy had some other issues going on but ONE DATE.

    5. Stephanie

      Imagine you have a really nasty breakup with this person, but then you still have to remain professional with this person. And then remember it’s not professional to drown your sorrows in Haagen-Dazs, red wine, and sad breakup music at the office.

    6. Super Anon for This

      A couple of years ago I was working for BigCorp and the company went through some financial hard times. The department where I worked was cut. All but three or four people were laid off. However, because this company was so huge, it moved at the speed of a glacier, so there was a six month period between when we were told of the layoff and when we actually walked out the door. Everybody was determined to hang on for those six months to get the maximum severance package. It was a very strange and difficult time, getting up and going to work and knowing your final day was hanging over your head.

      During this six month period, my manager (who was one of the few people not laid off) basically decided he no longer gave a damn and more or less openly had an affair with a young woman on staff. You could set your watch by the daily coffee breaks they had together, and there would be long stretches of the day where she would just hang out in his office. They were never openly physically affectionate, but… it was a very open emotional affair at the very least. We all knew he was married, and we all knew she was married as well because she had excitedly showed us all her wedding/honeymoon pictures not long before the affair to remember started up.

      On the one hand, it was kind of entertaining in a real life soap opera sort of way. But on the other hand, it left me with a very bitter taste. Not because I particularly care what people do in their personal lives – I don’t. Mostly because I knew that if *I* behaved so unprofessionally, spending all my work time giggling at my desk with some hot dude instead of being available to do my actual work, I would have been reprimanded. It added insult to the injury of the layoff. Because I kept thinking “I did everything right and performed to the absolute maximum of my ability and I’m still losing my job, but my manager can act like a seventh-grader and gets to keep his.” I know it wasn’t my manager’s fault that the layoff happened, but I lost all respect for him over how he handled it.

    7. Anon

      Oh man. I have the best story for this. My bestie was dating the owners brother for awhile at her work, in total secret. Both her boss and brother were psychos (a story for another time, but trust me, not good people and a terribly abusive work environment), basically she was trapped in a bad situation in both her relationship and job.

      Long story short, she ended up getting with another coworker at the same time, who also didnt know about her dating the bosses brother. Her actual bf found out because the guy logged into his work e-mail from her apt, and recognized her IP address.

      Needless to say awkwardness ensued. The shocking part was that she stayed with the bf/job for awhile after this. Until she ended up escaping into a better job.

      (from this is sounds like my friend is an awful person. She isnt at all I swear! She was just in a crappy situation and made some poor decisions).

      1. The Real Ash

        Her actual bf found out because the guy logged into his work e-mail from her apt, and recognized her IP address.

        Uh, what? Who memorizes IP addresses unless they’re in IT (and even then, who memorizes others’ IP addresses)? That just sounds creepy as hell.

        1. Amy B.

          This! I will admit to being a bit stalker-y when my ex and I were separating (logging into his FB, email and looking at text messages kind of stuff [yes, I know, still wrong]); but….IP addresses? That’s a whole other level. I can barely remember my own phone number.

        2. Gene

          This is the crazy.

          But sometimes IP addresses can stick in one’s head if there’s a pattern or some personal significance.

    8. Anon

      I dated and eventually married my supervisor. There was fallout at work, I was transferred to another department, and they eventually fired HIM, ostensibly for another reason, but I think it was because they told him he could not date a co-worker, but we kept dating. I think the only reason they didn’t fire me was because I had recently undergone cancer treatment, and they were worried about seeming callous. I quit that job soon thereafter for a better opportunity. Working toegther while dating is not ideal. Criticisms and even routine work communications become fraught.

      We were together for 15 years, but recently divorced. Would I recommend dating in the workplace? Not really, but your options can be a little limited once you’re out of school, so I understand why it happens.

      I am now remarried, met my current husband online. I think online dating takes some conspicuous huevos. I am a believer, of course, but you do have to kiss (or at least email) a lot of frogs.

      1. Annony

        +1 for online dating. Much more interesting than going out to a bar. In a serious relationship with someone I met online also.

      2. Sunflower

        For those who are wary of online dating, don’t freak out but I would suggest Tinder or another smartphone dating app. Tinder gets a lot of crap for being a hook-up site but I have met a lot of guys who are looking for a relationship and know people who are dating after meeting on it. It is geared towards twenty-somethings so there are obviously some creeps(they exist on online sites too!) and guys not looking for serious stuff but for every creep, there are 9 nice guys. My friends don’t believe me but it’s true!

    9. Anonymous

      I need this too!

      Someone tell me work relationships are a bad idea, because I’m starting to think it’s an okay one.

      1. some1

        Keep in mind that even the good ones can have issues. Imagine seeing the person who fired/laid off your spouse every day, and having to be professional and courteous.

        1. Lili

          This!
          I prefer to leave my feelings home when I go to work.
          I pack only my brains (it is a much lighter load anyway) & lunch.

        2. A Bug!

          Yes. Even when the relationship is successful and long-lasting, it can still cause discomfort in the workplace. There are a lot of factors involved aside from just you and your partner, and you have no control over most of them.

          The bottom line is really, when you date in the workplace, you are potentially putting your job on the line, no matter how confident you are that everything will be fine. If you’re honestly willing to take that risk, then great. But if you have any reservations about it at all, best to stay away.

          (And beware the coworker who actually quits just for the chance to date you.)

      2. Sunflower

        I think it depends on the nature of your work environment. I know people who date their co-workers. But their co-worker’s work off-site in totally different departments and they only know the other works there from the office happy hour.

        My sister is marrying her co-worker. They met when they were assigned to the same client. They kept quiet until the project was over and then told the office. She was assigned to a different industry department and if they weren’t dating, they would probably see each other once or twice every couple months.

        Better to air on the side of caution but it can be done

    10. Way anon for this

      My sister was in management, dating a unionized, hourly worker who was not under her management. Still, a no-no at the company so they kept it “secret”. He was asleep in her bed when her ex broke in with gun in hand. Her new BF shot and killed her ex. Police exonerated new BF. Her unionized BF kept his job. She was called to corporate office and fired, no reason given (not that one was needed). I can’t even make this stuff up.

      So I guess the disadvantages could range from being mildly uncomfortable having to work with an ex to not having a job at all.

    11. Stephanie

      My buddy works in a really insular DoD agency. Like insular enough to where there is crying when someone leaves. It sounds like this org’s primary recruitment tool is converting co-op students into full-time hires after graduation. A lot of students also work multiple summers or winter breaks. Add the fact that everyone has pretty high-level security clearances, so it sounds like people just kind of stay there and don’t leave.

      She says basically everyone dates each other in the org (including supervisors and subordinates). She seemed baffled that I had no interest in anyone at my office.

      1. Anonforthis

        When I was a new fresh-out-of-university worker, one of my managers got drunk and had a one night stand with one of my housemates (who did not work with us).
        Each to their own, but I could have lived without a) seeing the guy staggering in hungover fashion round my landing in his underpants and b)the fact that my housemate wanted more and kept grilling me about what he was doing at work during the day, whether he was seeing anyone, etc.

        1. Stephanie

          The friend in question was talking about dating her supervisor at one time. I’d like to think my horrified look convinced her otherwise, but I really think it was just a loss of interest on her part that stopped it.

    12. LPBB

      I only witnessed the tale end of this, but it was a doozy.

      Many years ago I worked in an incredibly unprofessional workplace. Two people on staff who were married to others had an affair. The male half of the affair broke it off (the female half may or may not have called his wife at some point, I don’t totally remember) and the two had a screaming match in the employee lounge witnessed by most of my department.

      The female half’s BFF called her “crew” and told them the male half had put his hands on the female half (that may or may not have happened). Her “crew” showed up at 5:00 and beat the crap out of the male half in the parking lot. IIRC, both halves of the affair were fired, but that place was so unprofessional they may have been promoted!

    13. Anon for this too

      I slept (it was casual and he initiated it) with a coworker and he (normally super nice) started snapping at me every time he got upset about something. So I put him on the “a-holes I have to be polite for at work” list and now we’re not interacting unless it’d be obvious we weren’t interacting.

      It’s not a romance or a horror story – we can work together just fine – but people do act differently once you start having non-work relationships with them. Be careful.

    14. Anonymous

      Two different tales from one former workplace.

      Tale 1
      Owner was married. So was co-worker A. Not to each other. Owner had been physically attracted to co-worker A from the beginning, and became very depressed when she got married.

      Fast forward a number of years, where co-worker A begins confiding in Owner about her marital issues. Intense emotional relationship begins, everyone speculates whether physical relationship also exists. Including the spouses. It gets so bad that when either spouse calls the office, the receptionist becomes the target of inappropriate questions regarding the whereabouts of both Owner and co-worker A. I was not the receptionist, but she confided in me because I was leaving the company. It was much more awful and distracting than I can describe because each spouse was calling multiple times a day.

      Tale 2
      Co-worker B was involved with co-worker C. Meanwhile, co-worker D was involved with co-worker E, but everyone thought she really was attracted to co-worker C. In any event, co-worker D married co-worker E.

      Several months later, co-worker D began aggressively pursuing co-worker C. A physical relationship soon followed. Co-workers B and E were unaware, though co-worker B suspected. She finally found out the truth when she walked in on co-worker C and co-worker D.

      Shortly thereafter, co-worker D divorced co-worker E. Co-worker E was so distraught he quit. Co-worker B was also devastated by the betrayal, but she had been looking for employment elsewhere and also left the company. A little while later, co-worker C and co-worker D got married.

      Both of these instances were horribly disruptive to all of us and resulted in betrayals, loss of trust, and unnecessary hurt. We all worked very closely and very intensely together on our projects, and I sometimes suspect that the adrenaline produced by the work may have been mistaken for physical attraction to the co-worker.

    15. Frances

      I had a boss years ago in academia who, before he was actually my boss, we worked with closely in his capacity as a higher up admin at one of the larger grad schools. He started dating a woman who was at the time assistant to the Vice Provost my department was under. They broke up very soon after he changed jobs to become my boss, and he started dating someone else REALLY fast. She transferred to a completely different area of the university that our department had nothing to do with so she wouldn’t have to work with him.

      The kicker is, about a year later, he was fired because the person hired into his old position did an audit and discovered he had been stealing money from the school for almost a decade. I ran into his ex soon after and she kind of shrugged and said “yeah, he’s kind of a sociopath.” I think she felt vindicated because the breakup had been really ugly but everyone at work liked him so much she couldn’t even hint at him being a secret creep.

  10. Anonymous2

    I had a late-round interview a week ago, and the company said they’d let me know shortly whether they want to move forward. Last time they interviewed me, ‘shortly’ was in 5 days’ time (3 business days). It’s now been 7 days (5 business days). Should I contact them today, to reaffirm interest and inquire about the timeline, or wait until Monday knowing that this is a complex decision for them?

    1. VictoriaHR

      If they didn’t give you a specific date that they’d be making a decision by, I’d say you’re fine to follow up today. After that, move on.

      1. Chriama

        I’d actually recommend Monday or Tuesday only because I find I don’t get as many responses on Friday as I do mid-week. It’s like people mean to get back to me on Monday but get caught up in wrapping up other work things, and then I have to send a reminder email the next week anyway.

  11. Former OP

    Hello all! I have had a few questions answered and updates about my dysfunctional workplace, where our technician and boss had a screaming fight about required travel, among other things. Our technician has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the workplace to the point where he is surly and withdrawn even to us, and refuses to do the work that is asked of him.

    My boss wants to hold a meeting where we can discuss any issues we are having with our tech, even though we are 99% sure all the issues arise from resentment between our tech and our boss. It’s very uncomfortable here to feel like someone is on the chopping block, and the workplace is very….tense, lately. I certainly don’t want to be involved in a meeting where my boss is (it seems like) looking for additional reasons to terminate someone, but I’ve already been advised that it will be mandatory. Is there any good solution here, other than for me to keep my mouth shut?

    1. The Real Ash

      Do you think you could say something like what you posted? Using your words, could you say, “‘We are 99% sure all the issues arise from resentment between'” you and the tech”? Or would that not go well?

      1. Former OP

        My coworker has actually already said that to our boss (her relationship with our boss is much more established)–in those words, essentially. I don’t know if hearing it from the rest of us would influence his thinking at all? But I’ll discuss with the three other coworkers and see if we can present a united front here.

        1. The Real Ash

          I think a united front would be your best bet. If only one person says it, maybe they are just saying it because they don’t like the boss or the tech or whatever excuse you want to concoct. Having multiple people say it might get the point across that not only is it affecting everyone, but that everyone notices it.

      1. Brett

        The tech might report to a different boss.

        I have people I work for as a tech, where I simply refuse to go to their workplace on demand any more. Their department doesn’t pay my salary, and they were asking for 60-80% of my time and pushing my own department work way way behind.

        So, my boss finally put his foot down and said, “Tell them no from now on. They have to schedule your time and clear it with me.” And that means I refuse to do any work they ask me to do.

        1. JoAnna

          Oh, it sounded to me like the technician was refusing to do the work assigned to him by his boss, but I can see how that might not be the case.

          1. Former OP

            Nope. You are correct. The tech reports to the same boss (we have only six employees here) and his method of refusal is to say he’s continually busy on other projects….it’s just that projects that used to take a few hours now take days, nothing ever gets done, and my boss is too ineffectual and a poor manager to actually accomplish any change.

  12. HeatherSW

    Going to a job fair at school on Monday. Resume is updated, suit is at the cleaners, etc. I plan on talking to people at agencies where I want to work.
    Is it passe to send follow-up emails/notes to people you meet there? Although I’m hoping resume dropping will help, I’m also hoping to be able to add “I met Wakeen at xyz fair” to my cover letter.

    1. RS

      I wouldn’t include “I met Wakeen at xyz fair” in your cover letter, it just seems like name dropping to me. Instead, I would include things you learned about the company at the career fair and why you would be a good fit.

      But definitely do follow up with the individuals you meet at the career fair. If you get a business card from someone, it would be completely normal to send a “It was great to meet you, thanks for sharing your experiences with XYZ company…etc” email a few days later.

        1. Anon

          I don’t think it’s name dropping. I just think it would sound awkward in a cover letter. I would mention the person’s name if they call you for a phone screen, though. It’ll show you were interested enough to remember the person by name, and they’ll be able to ask that person if they remember you.

    2. JM

      I do career fairs for my job, definitely send a follow up email with information you spoke about along with your resume even if you already gave it to them there. It always helps me remember what resume goes with what info they told me there because you literally meet tons and tons of people.

      Good Luck!

    3. ChristineSW

      Good luck Heather. I signed up for a career fair at my school (open to alumni as well as students) in two weeks. Actually, I do have a question: The website states that the dress code for this fair is business casual; that seems unusual for a career fair.

      1. Audiophile

        Christine,
        That’s not that unusual. My own alma mater has invited me to their annual carer fair for several years now. They only suggest “neat attire”. I haven’t gone in a while, but I’d say anyone who didn’t show up in jeans, was given high marks. Most of the students were walking around in college hoodies and jeans, the last time I went.

        I’d say go with business suit to be safe. I pair mine with a nice Anne Taylor top, instead of a collared shirt.

  13. Bucket

    So I’m going to be receiving a promotion soon, yay! The full details of it have not yet been discussed with me, but it’s something I asked my director for a long time ago, and it’s finally coming to fruition. Part of what I’m hoping to get out of this promotion is being moved off the team I am on now, and report to a different manager (or straight to the director).

    So here’s my question. If my promotion still has me reporting to my current manager, should I negotiate that out of the promotion? My director is basically creating a new position that has no precedent in our department, so it’s up in the air to whom it will report. I’m worried she will keep me reporting to my current manager.

    Which is a big factor in my desire to leave this job…I love the work, I love my coworkers, I love the benefits, but this man drives me crazy. He exhibits all of the signs of a bad manager except micromanaging – he’s the opposite, way too laid back. He is also defensive and does not take negative feedback well, and gets his ego damaged very easily – which is why me and my coworkers hardly ever talk to him about his management style (we’ve seen him fly off the handle at people for perceived insults). My reason for wanting to get away from him is mostly personal – I just don’t like the guy and I feel like he inhibits my ability to do my job, and is just an extra layer of bureaucracy. However I can’t seem to come up with good business reasons why it makes sense to move me from his management.

    Does anyone have ideas of how I can come up with a convincing, non-emotional, business-related argument as to why I shouldn’t report to him anymore? Or should I just drop it and hope for the best? Thanks!

    1. Bucket

      I should add – I think that continuing to report to my manager would be unnecessary in my new role because 100% of the decisions regarding workload, projects, approvals, etc. need to be made – and have been made – by my director. She has already been directly managing me in the tasks I’ve been doing, and all the decisions regarding these tasks are not within my manager’s domain anyway, so I don’t see the sense in it. I’m just afraid I will continue to report to him because he will throw a hissy fit that he is losing one of his subordinates.

      1. Anonymous2

        What you just said here sounds like a good business explanations to me (minus the last sentence, of course)!

      2. Anon

        Well, there’s how you phrase the question then. Ask your director “Since the workload for this new role doesn’t involve anything that Manager needs to make decisions on, will I be reporting to you?” Then be prepared to explain why the work you’ll be doing is none of Manager’s beeswax. I’d leave any comment about your personal dislike of Manager out of it.

        1. Bucket

          Oh I’d definitely leave out anything related to my personal feelings. I am just having a hard time thinking of a reason that is not related to my personal feelings. But what you suggested sounds great, thank you!

          1. Chriama

            Come up with aspects of your new job that aren’t under his purview. E.g. if he is an area manager but you’ll be supporting various areas, it makes sense to report to someone else instead of just him

  14. some1

    I mentioned this the other in the thread about managers refusing to tell employees or clients that their employee put in notice:

    It’s pretty standard when a hair stylist or nail tech or estetician leaves a salon, the salon sometimes will book an appointment and not tell the client their stylist left and it’s someone new, or the salon will tell the client teh stylist left and refuse to say where, or tell the client that the stylist is no longer doing hair? Do you guys think that’s fair, and how should salons handle that.

    Not a beautician, but I think it’s an interesting topic.

    1. HeatherSW

      Ooh, this happened to me and my hairdresser. I was disappointed to learn it–I ended up putting up a yelp review asking and a colleague messaged me.
      A few hairdressers have Facebook pages nowadays, which helps.

    2. Diet Coke Addict

      I know it happens, but it really sucks. Hairdressers/aestheticians/nail techs in particular are very personal jobs, and if you find a good one, that’s an extremely valuable connection. Plenty of women will follow a hairdresser or waxer to different salons regardless of price. So I understand why a salon wouldn’t want to advertise that a popular stylist or tech was leaving (because they’re potentially taking a big chunk of money with them from regulars), but as a client, I’d be pissed. I think it depends on a lot of things–how big the town or city is, the salon’s way of doing business, the hairstylist’s relationship with her clients, etc. I can see both sides.

      1. AVP

        It also makes a big difference to me if the person is a generalist or a known expert in some particular genre. For example, I have really curly hair and the woman who cuts it is famous for only doing curly hair, and doing it perfectly. If they tried to swap her out on me with a normal haircutter I would reschedule and track her down. I would imagine the same is true for colorists, short hair people, nail art geniuses, etc.

    3. Elizabeth West

      I think not telling the customer that they left sucks. I probably wouldn’t continue to patronize the salon. It’s understandable if they didn’t want to tell me where the person went (if they even knew), but to book the appointment and leave me expecting to see my own hairstylist when he/she is actually gone would really piss me off.

      If it were something anyone could do, and I accepted substitutes if the person were out sick or on vacation, then fine. But if they know I prefer that person, I expect to be notified.

    4. AdAgencyChick

      This has happened to me. I did get the haircut that day with the replacement stylist, but I refused to go back to the salon. The haircut was fine, but I would have appreciated the opportunity to decline the appointment or at least talk to the salon about *who* would be replacing my stylist.

    5. chewbecca

      My stylist left abruptly last Memorial Day. The salon did tell me she was gone when I called to make an appointment, but after I got two bad haircuts for two other stylists there, I stopped going.

      I’m still kind of traumatized from it, actually. She understood my hair! My special hair!

    6. BB

      WHAT???? I would have been LIVID if I booked an apt and showed up for it not to be with my hairdresser. Even though I would trust pretty much anyone at the salon I go to with my hair, I would have been so mad and felt lied to.

      My hairdresser friended me on FB so if she ever leaves I can find her(in a non creepy way of course)

      1. Windchime

        My hairdresser had a heads-up that she would be immediately asked to leave if she gave her notice, so she made sure to get her regular clients’ contact information before she gave her notice. I didn’t know she had left the salon until I was shopping one day at Target and she called me to see if I wanted to re-schedule at her new salon. The answer was YES. Once I find a stylist I like and trust, I stick with him/her.

        1. A Bug!

          It’s pretty standard for hairdressers and estheticians in my town to put out an ad in the paper once they’re at their new salon, just saying “Come say hi to Patty, joining Blah Salon from Blee Salon.” Some of them will put out a sandwich board or other signage saying the same. I’ve briefly wondered if that’s strictly legal, but I’m sure if it’s not, it’s one of those things that’s just not worth pursuing in a practical sense.

    7. Sascha

      I think that’s just rude. I understand the salon doesn’t want to lose business, but I think they would lose more business from doing rude things and being coy about the stylist, more than they would lose by just letting those clients follow the stylist. As evidenced just by the comments here.

      In fact, I think if the salon was actually upfront and helpful about it, they would get more clients. I might leave to follow my stylist, but I might recommend that salon to a friend because I was impressed with how they handled the situation. Being deceptive and unhelpful does no good in the long run.

    8. Eden

      I once showed up for a doctor’s appointment to find out that my doctor had retired and sold the practice. When I complained that I wasn’t notified, the receptionist (same one) informed me that he had taken out a full-page ad in the St. Pete Times announcing his retirement. The practice was in Clearwater, and I lived in Tampa, so this did not help me. Who does this?

      1. TL

        My old ob-gyn sent me a letter in the mail when he left his practice. (I didn’t really care but it was nice!)

        1. Mitchell

          My dog’s veterinarian sent a letter to my house informing me that he had sold the practice and introducing the new doctor. It had a nice little bio and everything. If that’s the level of service I get for a pet, I don’t think you’re off base assuming equal or better service for your personal doctor. Sheesh!

    9. Omne

      My wife’s stylist sends out her own notices to her regular clients when she moves. So far my wife has followed her four times.

    10. Mints

      I’m 100% loyal to the person, not the building. I have difficult ethnic hair and have had plenty (plenty!) of dissapointing haircuts. If I showed up and my girl was gone, I’d be pissed! Especially since right now I’m driving an hour to get to her.
      I can see that they don’t want to a advertise where they’re going, but keeping the appointment after they leave seems really dishonest

    11. OfficePrincess

      I’m going back to my hometown to get married and I hunted my former hairstylist down at a new salon to have her do my hair for the wedding. She was a genius with my hair and NO ONE I have found in my new, 10x larger, city in the last 7 years comes close to what she did. It’s a person cutting my hair, not the name on the building.

    12. Stephanie

      I followed my stylist back in Dallas all around the area when she bounced from salon to salon. At one point, I was going to her house when she was between salons. I even drove back from college in Houston a couple of times for appointments (and tied it with a weekend trip home). I was still relaxing my hair at the time and she knew exactly the right application technique, time, and amount such that I didn’t leave with a bunch of chemical burns. Going to someone I didn’t know resulted in burns and messed-up hairdos more often than not.

      Of course, now that I wear my hair in a short ‘fro, I’m a little less attached to one stylist.

      To answer your original question, I don’t think it’s fair for salons to not notify clients. Most people I know are pretty attached to their hairstylist and will follow one around.

  15. nyxalinth

    Olive is soooo cute!

    Sorry, this is going to be long. But here’s the tl;dr to take away:

    I got fired from the new job after 4 days (we supposedly have 5 days to prove ourselves) because I really, really suck at fundraising on the phone. I did it, but I wasn’t very good at it.

    Unfortunately–or maybe fortunately–New Job didn’t work out for me and vice versa. I was so excited going in, but I found it very hard to constantly badger people for money, and that’s essentially what it boiled down to: badgering. I went in understand that fundraising requires negotiation and I’m going to hear ‘no’ a lot. That didn’t bother me so much. What did bother me was how we had to do it. I wholeheartedly supported the causes we worked for but I don’t have what it taks to ask someone for money 3-4 times after they’ve told me they’re struggling.

    I was going to stick with it, though, and not give up. They kept telling me to not worry about my numbers, just follow the process, I sounded great, etc and a couple of times they had long timers sit with me who are very successful there. The tips didn’t really help me. It felt more like telemarketing to me than fundraising because the more successful people were very loud and obviously very extroverted and I’m… not. I can do it to a degree, but i guess my essential nature came through too much. tl;dr, I couldn’t sell ice in the Sahara desert.

    The other issue was the pay structure. I’ve done telemarketing and been somewhat decent at it (usually in inbound/outbound call centers) when i have a strong script (they hired me because my delivery doesn’t sound ‘read-y’ and I sound good and I’m passionate about the causes like the environment and animals and stuff) and I don’t try to ad lib I suck at ad libbing, and if they’d asked me or I’d asked them about how much ad libbing vs script made for successful callers, I could have saved us both time.

    Anyway, the pay structure. Where I’ve worked before you got a flat hourly which never changed, and bonuses which of course would fluctuate. Where I was, they recalculated your pay every 80 you worked, by comparing your stats to everyone else. So you could have an awesome week and bring in some 2-3k in donations, but if lot of other people are pulling in 5-7 k, you suck by comparison.

    So it could be one pay period you bring in 10-12 dollars an hour, but then the next week you suck compared to the others, and come re-eval time, your pay plummets to 8 an hour, or even minimum wage. I knew they did things weirdly, but I thought I could succeed there. (Plus possibly getting only min wage looks awesome compared to bringing in zilch for two years).

    Sorry this is so long. Basically, I was kind of limping along, and they fired me before the week trial was up, because I suck so bad at fundraising. Ah, well. And if you want to avoid these guys, it’s Telefund. Don’t answer their calls unless it’s to ask to be taken off their lists: donate directly to the cuases they work for. They are for profit, and keep 35 of what they take in, so it’s better to give directly. They’ve been around over 20 years so I guess it’s not wholly bad, and it works or they wouldn’t do it, but still.

    Also, two og the bigwigs were in that day–the call center directer for Denver and a high muckity muck from the corporate end. I expect part of why I was fired had to do with them seeing my numbers and basically saying “Her numbers suck. Too bad if her 5 days aren’t up. Fire her.”

    1. Calla

      Those jobs are so hard. My girlfriend worked at one that starts with Green and ends with Peace and lasted a few weeks for the same reason – she just wasn’t comfortable with the methods and therefore didn’t meet the required quotas. They straight-up told her that even if someone tells her they are unemployed or homeless, they can still afford to donate $10 a month and to persist! What!?

      1. nyxalinth

        Yup, this is what Telefund told us. they said “Broke means different things to different people. It might mean they have to choose between eating or feeding their cat, but it can also mean they won’t be able to afford that cool thing they want and actually have enough to donate.” Or something like that. I tried to accept that in my mind, because I have a friend who is broke when down to her last 20 bucks, and I feel broke at flat nothing, but in the end all I could do is what they said to do, and feel icky doing it.

        1. Stephanie

          Oooooh, Telefund. My alma mater uses them for alumni recruitment. Man, they will find you and hound you.

          1. nyxalinth

            Yes, they will! I know it’s a job, and for people like me, a job of last resort, but that doesn’t mean that the hounding doesn’t suck badly!

            1. Stephanie

              I’m just waiting for Telefund (or a similar company) to violate someone’s protective order or witness protection in an effort to get money for an annual fund.

      2. Laura

        Those tactics are why I don’t donate to that place that starts with Green and ends with Peace… I used to donate 20$ a month , and then my situation changed, I was unemployed and I couldn’t afford it. They kept badgering me like you mentioned, saying 20$ was nothing (it is when you’re making 0$!) I had intended to donate again when I was more financially stable, but their methods made me not want to. I will find another less pushy environmental charity when the time comes.

        1. nyxalinth

          I’d actually tried to work for them. They always seem to need people here in Denver to do the outside fundraising. I call and leave a message and they never call me back! Maybe because I don’t have that ‘young, cute college student’ voice, whatever it sounds like to them. Sounds to me like I don’t care to now.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Ugh. I understand; I had to do sales in jobs and I absolutely stink at sales. Needless to say, those jobs didn’t last.

      Poo on them anyway. And thanks for the warning, though I never give money over the phone anyway.

      1. nyxalinth

        I wouldn’t either. Mind there were very nice people there that I had started to like, and if one of them called me, I might do it. But I would ask to be removed after and make it clear I’m doing it for the and the cause, not Telefund.

    3. ChristineSW

      Oooh I’m so sorry the job didn’t work out :( I really think you’re my twin because had it been me, it would’ve been the exact same scenario. I recoil even at the idea of raising money for my most absolute favorite cause….I too don’t think I could sell ice in the Sahara. lol.

      And a big fat ice at that pay structure. I will never get involved with anything where pay is based on how much money is raised, even if it’s through writing grants. I believe in being paid based on merit and solid efforts.

      Crossing fingers you find something better soon!!

    4. Poohbear McGriddles

      Sounds like you got out of a bad situation. It’s like being told by the devil that you’re not wicked enough..

    5. Not So NewReader

      That sucks. But I give you credit for trying, I would have not been able to try. Now you have something to compare all other jobs to on “the suckiness scale”. I am sorry this happened to you.

  16. Leslie Yep

    Any advice for creating great internal communications? We have a big, geographically spread out division and need to regularly communicate announcements and get input from multiple (often 50+) people. Big problems are:
    – Getting people to submit their announcements/requests on time, and in a reasonable lengths (we have some wordy teammates!)
    – Coaching content submitters on writing more for the audience’s point of view
    – Integrating our communication with our intranet/other static resources

    Any thoughts on any of these areas? Anything that you love or hate about your organization’s internal communications?

    1. Agency Life

      We use Basecamp with wild abandon- I LOVE it. Also, as our email is supported by Gmail, the company chooses to utilize a bunch of different gmail apps.

    2. LMW

      Big things I learned in my internal comms role:
      – If it’s really important you need to not only get it out in writing, but you need leadership to “cascade” the message and hold managers accountable for sharing things with their teams. There should be a short, clear bulleted list of items to share at all times.
      – I had a really short checklist of writing tips and guidelines that any of our content submitters had to meet to get their content published. If they didn’t meet the guidelines, then they got a call from me to fix things. I was really lucky that my boss empowered me in this regard – I had final editorial power over anything that went out and people had to meet our quality standards.
      – Do you have communications templates? I found creating some basic adaptable templates very useful – they not only demonstrate appropriate length, but also can instruct on how to write effective headlines, short paragraphs, etc. Examples of good communications are also useful.
      – For deadline and length issues: Again, I was lucky that I had a boss that empowered me to put my foot down and say that projects that missed deadlines were delayed and reject or edit pieces that were over a certain length. If you don’t have standards, or don’t people to them, you’ll never win this battle.
      – In most situations, I coach people to write for the person who just joined the company yesterday. That means keeping it short and basic (to not overwhelm them), but cutting out jargon, writing out acronyms, and providing in-text links to relevant information that might be hiding on the intranet. The problem that I often see with internal comms is that people assume that everyone has their level of knowledge on their topic, and that’s almost never the case.

      One thing I love about internal comms is that you have the chance to really deeply know your audience and you can a tremendous impact on the work environment, especially morale. At the same time, when you are in a large organization especially, you will always have pockets of people who pretty much refuse to read stuff or insist that they are not being communicated too, even though you can say “You were emailed, it’s on the monitors throughout the building, it’s on the intranet, and it was mentioned in the all-hands meeting.” That can be frustrating!

    3. Rachel

      I did internal communication for our department of 20 staff and 200+ graduate students. How I handled it:
      1) I created a list of announcement guidelines, including word limits, style rules, and organization conventions. I published the guidelines in our intranet and emailed them out as needed.
      2) I heavily edited all submissions for style and clarity. Often, I went back to the original submitter for more information.
      3) I encouraged hyper-links to give annpuncers more space to communicate details. Our intranet was a great place to store information.
      4) I had a weekly email time. The submission deadline was set on Tuesday morning and email went out at 3 pm. If you missed this week, it went on the next week. No exceptions. If it truly was an important enough notice that it had to go out right away, it required a separate email to everyone from Big Boss.

      I was very careful to keep the emails succicint, relevant and timely. Even so, only about 50% of the mailing list opened the email each week.

    4. Intranet Manager

      Reach out to your intranet manager if you have one! We love helping with internal comms.

  17. Mir

    Does anyone have advice for dealing with depression/anxiety on the job? I’ve been slogging through trying to deal with my EAP, but they’re really difficult and unhelpful, and combined with the depression it’s making the climb toward getting a therapist really steep. Mostly I’m just trying to stay functional enough at work that I keep my job/don’t wind up on my manager’s list of forever-unpromotables, but even that can feel really difficult sometimes.

      1. nyxalinth

        This is relevant to my interests. I wish I’d thought of this when working in a bank call center 12 years ago!

      2. ChristineSW

        Did it make you feel loopy though? I’m supposed to take Xanax as needed for anxiety, but rarely do because I worry that it’ll cloud my thinking. Which would not be helpful in crucial situations, such as a meeting or–heck–a job interview! But thinking back, I know there have been situations where it probably would’ve made a big difference.

        1. TL

          Have you tried other meds? If not, talk to your doctor and see if there’s alternatives that won’t have the same side effects.

        2. fposte

          I take Xanax to fly, and I negotiate airports, currency changes, flight rebookings, etc., just fine with it. I can get some effects I need from *very* low doses, too, which is nice.

          I wouldn’t take my flying dose for meetings, though; the main reason is that for anything over a very small amount, it impairs my ability to put stuff away in long-term memory. It’s great for flying because I can read the same book outbound and inbound, but that’s not really an advantage in a meeting.

    1. De Minimis

      I can’t access it here, but Captain Awkward had an excellent guide on how to handle serious depression at work.

    2. athek

      I don’t have a ton of advice, and I’m sorry, but I feel for you.
      I had a lot of personal crises happen in succession last year, and I sought out assistance from our EAP and also found them unhelpful.
      I would seek out a therapist on your own. I know it’s tough, but I think it’s what you really need. I know what it’s like to struggle to be functional and it doesn’t have to be that way if it doesn’t have to. Please look for help elsewhere and let us know how it goes.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Keep trying to find someone. You might also visit your doctor; they may be able to prescribe a low dose medication that can help. They might also be able to refer someone, and your insurance might cover a prescribed number of visits.

      Practice good sleep hygiene, too. Depression and especially anxiety can really mess with your sleep patterns. Get up at the same time every day (including weekends), and try to go to bed at the same time too. I go a little early and read in bed–I find it helps make me sleepy.

      Try to eat regularly and have healthy foods. I know it’s difficult when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s starting to be the time of year for fresh fruits, which you can just grab, and frozen veggies can be microwaved quickly and are really good for you.

      At work, do your most difficult or annoying tasks when you have the most energy. If that’s afternoon, do them then. It’s less demanding.

      It’s tough, I know. *HUG*

      1. LeeD

        Please do visit your doctor. There may be an underlying medical issue contributing to the depression. It’s worth it to have yourself checked.

        1. Kerr

          Yes, this! Especially while you still have insurance. I learned that I was low on certain vitamins (including Vitamin D), and taking supplements improved my outlook significantly. It didn’t solve all my problems, but restoring those levels helped SO much.

      2. Trixie

        All the above plus lots of exercise and movement. I sleep better, have more energy, and most importantly, I’m so much calmer when things go haywire.

    4. limenotapple

      I’m sorry that is happening to you. It’s so hard to get anything done when you are dealing with that…I know from experience. What worked for me was being able to build my day around things that would give me some pleasure, whether it be a walk or looking at pictures of kittens. I’m an introvert but it did help for me to make some personal connections, and find things that would tickle my funnybone. I guess I was lucky enough to have a manager I could explain things to. I also think it can help a lot to find other outlets to talk…especially since it can take a while to get to a therapist…whether it be online groups where you can find people going through the same things or an in-person group.

      When I was living in a university town, I found a great free group therapy situation that made me feel less alone even though it was goofy at times. Maybe there is something in your area where you could meet people (virtually or IRL) to trade coping skills?

    5. matcha123

      I can’t really help much. I’m going through the same thing. What helps me a bit is listening to YouTube videos and singing/dancing along with the songs; taking long walks downtown and trying to study a bit.

      If you can find little things that make you happy, keep those in mind. And keep in mind the things that set you off. When I feel especially down, I try to take a step back and walk myself through what’s making me sad and what I could do to change it. If there’s nothing I can do to change it, well…I have a good cry and try to remember what it is that I like that I haven’t done in a while (usually singing along to some song or something like that), and do that for a bit to pull my mood back up.

    6. Jess

      I always wondered what was up with EAPs anyway. It kind of seems like they’re just a way for your employer to spy on what’s going on with you personally. Is this a wrong assumption? Are they held to any kind of confidentiality standards?

      1. Windchime

        Yes, I think it’s a wrong assumption. I’ve worked at several medical facilities (in the IT department) over the past 15 years and they’ve all had EAP programs. I feel comfortable going to the mental health practitioners at my own facility (both have been in off-site buildings, but still connected to the facility) for EAP services. The practitioners are bound by the same HIPAA laws as they are anywhere else and so they wouldn’t be able to share your records with your supervisor or HR or anyone.

  18. The Facebook Trap

    Some social media drama for you all! About a month ago, I called out a commenter on a co-worker’s (Fiona) thread for being racist (he taped his eyes back and dressed in yellow face to be “oriental”)- he responded by calling me a ####tard. The next day, Fiona pulled me into her office and proceeded to tell me I was out-of-line, I’ve made things “incredibly awkward between us,” and how dare I make such a comment on her public thread. It ended in my decision to keep my work and personal relationships separate.

    I have another co-worker (“Jane”) who I used to have a friendly relationship with during work. We work together on the same client, so we often communicate with one another. However, she is close to the Fiona and, on the day in question, I noted the two of them meeting behind closed doors before and after I met with Fiona. I’ve also noticed since the whole shindig, Jane has been extremely distant and cold to me to the point where she ignores my emails, won’t returns messages, and won’t even walk with me to meetings.

    Is this something I should just let slide? Or is there a more professional way to say to Jane, “Hi, I’ve noticed in the past month there seems to be a bit of tension. Is there something I did to offend you?”

      1. The Facebook Trap

        They are! She has no problems in responding immediately if there is a perceived problem (ex. I wrote a blog entry, had it proofread according to guidelines, incorporated some changes but left out others I felt were stylistic edits, and then sent it to the client. Apparently, I needed a final “approval” by the copywriter), but not if I need her to sign off on something before I send it to our client.

        1. Colette

          You definitely need to address it – but given the situation, I’m not sure that you should ask if you’ve offended her. I’d probably jump right to asking if there’s a way she’d prefer you to request approval, and to escalating when you don’t get approval in time.

          And yes, look for a new job.

    1. The Real Ash

      I wouldn’t approach Jane directly because it sounds like she’s an immature brat.

      Also I would start looking for another position. Your workplace sounds horrible.

      1. The Facebook Trap

        It’s extremely gender imbalanced. Also, many of the co-workers attend the same church and subscribe to the belief that women are meant to serve men. #nojoke

        1. Elle

          Dunno. It’s all well to drip feed facts that make them look bad and that you look good but my least current social justice trend is the complete deterioration of manners in favor of the strident lecturing of people you barely know. Did you really think your actions were professional?

    2. Fiona

      I have no suggestions for you, I just had to share that I now have whiplash from the double-take on seeing my name. I think I re-read the first paragraph three times just to confirm that it wasn’t actually referring to me. :D

  19. Elizabeth

    I just pushed back on a colleague who is very sweet but extremely needy. I told her that I expected, after over 2 years, she could perform the basic functions needed in her job without asking me every time if she is doing it right. The expression on her face made me feel like I was kicking a puppy. I’m sure she’s going to tell our boss that I’m not being helpful. But, he’s told me I have my own projects to deal with and that I can’t handhold her through the project she has been put in charge of.

    1. Sascha

      Ick. I’m sorry. I think you did the right thing, especially if you boss has told you that you can’t handhold her anymore. And 2 years is certainly long enough to get those things done. I hope this turns out for the better.

    2. Jen RO

      You absolutely did the right thing. I used to work with someone like that, who messed up procedures even after 3 years, and, you know, it’s not your fault if they suck! She will be the one to look bad if she goes to the boss and says “Elizabeth won’t help with this thing I should’ve learned 2 years ago”.

    3. BadPlanning

      Does she need your help? Or is she doing the job fine, but asks anyway? Maybe you can hope that she will realize she doesn’t have to check with you and you’ve done her a favor in telling her. It can hard to make the change from getting an approval on everything you do (or think you will do) and just doing it and being responsible for the consequences. I struggle with it sometimes. On a small scale, it’s the difference between “I’m considering Plan A to fix The Thing, do you think that’s a good plan?” and “I am doing Plan A to fix The Thing.”

    4. Susan

      There might be another way to look at this, other than just getting irritated at your co-worker and having her crash and burn. What type of training do new people get? Is there a manual of Standard Operating Procedures that you could direct her to? I think my point is that you’re all on the same team at work, and making the company/product successful is the end goal, right? So how can you assist your co-worker in being successful? Perhaps that’s “not your job,” but it’s definitely your manager’s job.

      1. De Minimis

        It sounds like it’s that she wants constant reassurance even for stuff she is fully able to do, not so much that she isn’t performing. At least the boss seems to realize what’s up.

        1. fposte

          Right. Even if there is a problem with the training, it’s still a problem for the co-worker to make the OP responsible for filling the gap.

    5. Not So NewReader

      How long has she been draining you?
      Yeah, it matters because the longer she has been asking you the same questions over and over then the longer it will take her to stand on her own two feet.

      Be sure to let the boss know that you have cut the cord. This is important so the boss knows what to expect next and can deal with it.

      She’s going to keep asking you. Say no, redirect, answer her with a question, do what you have to do.

      I recently had one of these. But since it did not go on for long, it was easier to cut the cord. I had a hard time not jumping up and running over to help. It was really hard watching the person struggle with something that they should have known how to do.
      But I HAD to make a break. I had my own full set of work to do. And some of the struggling was actually play-acting.

      Remind yourself that no one runs and helps you every time you encounter a hurdle.

  20. Elkay

    I have a phone interview on Wednesday and now I have THE FEAR that maybe I shouldn’t be looking to leave my current job because the people are nice. My last job I was so burned out and desperate to leave I never went through this, does anyone have any tips for getting over it?

    1. Yup

      Realize that your current job’s environment could change: the people that you like working with now could leave and be replaced with less nice people, you might get a different boss, your job duties could change dramatically, the company could get bought out and be a completely different place to work. Staying where you are isn’t a guarantee of future safety from bad jobs. Change is inevitable so it’s more important to assess risk thoughtfully and thereby make good decisions, than to try to avoid change entirely by hiding in the familiar. Choosing to take a smart risk is empowering, so also think about why you initially started looking for something new (advancement, pay, more meaningful work, the chance to stretch your skills?). What are the positives you’re looking to achieve with something new? What makes you happy in thinking about a new environment?

      (This assumes that you’re trying to mentally work through a fear of the unknown. If you’re genuinely happy in your current job and your anxiety about the phone interview is based on not actually wanting a new job because it doesn’t seem appealing on its own merits, then don’t push yourself to be excited for it.)

    2. Stephanie

      Clearly there’s some reason you applied (the job sounds interesting, you’re underpaid, you want to move to City X, or whatever), so just keep that in mind.

      1. The Real Ash

        This is exactly what I was going to say. *high five*

        You wanted to leave for a reason, just repeat it to yourself over and over whenever THE FEAR strikes. ;)

          1. Wren

            Anyway, this is just an interview. You may find out that you don’t even want the job. No need to worry now.

    3. Jen RO

      I left a job with nice people and, while I do miss them, I met more nice people in the next job! I’m also keeping in touch with the former coworkers I was close with, and even have lunch with them once in a while.

      1. Elkay

        Thanks, I need to remember there are nice people lots of places and not keep projecting the horror of previous jobs!

  21. Carmen

    This has been on my mind a lot lately since I’m looking to move on from my current position.

    I’m mid-career, and in a senior position. I am looking to move up, but feel anchored by the fact that I am not 100% healthy. Not to go into too many details, but I’ve had 5 major surgeries in the last 6 years and will probably have to have more as the years go by. I am in a very dynamic business (IT/Data) and have kept pace with my much healthier colleagues. However, it takes a HUGE toll on me to do so.

    I’m looking to see if anyone else is in the same position and how they’ve managed to navigate this. I am ambitious but don’t feel like I am on level playing field when it comes to my health!

  22. louise

    Technical writer and/or editors of any kind, please weigh in!

    Scared to say this out loud, but: I’m thinking of going back to school. I have a bachelor’s degree that is…not really worth the paper it’s printed on (and that I won’t say what it is because I think there’s only one tiny school in the world that offers it and I don’t want google betraying me, ha!)

    My husband works as a salaried staff member at a public university so I can go for 25% of the full cost.

    I’m looking at majoring in Technical and Professional Writing because I’ve always loved writing protocols, procedures, manuals, and so on in the jobs I’ve held over the last 10+ years.

    Then, I’ve also had a knack for finding things that we were doing inefficiently at the small businesses I worked for so I thought about a minor in Process Improvement that includes some Six Sigma studies, statistics, and the like.

    I want to think about whether this is the right track before I jump into classes this summer. Any feedback appreciated!

    1. AdAgencyChick

      From my experience (medical writing), it’s better to have a degree in the subject you want to write about than a degree in technical writing. YMMV in other types of technical writing, though.

      1. anon for this question

        Thank you! I’m not really sure what I want to write (I’ve done dental office protocols and manuals, law office protocols, and small retail protocols, for example) so I was hoping to make myself appealing to a wide number of sectors. Sounds like by doing that, I risk appealing to NO sector, so I will think harder about this.

        HR is always interesting to me and I love employee manuals…maybe that would be a good direction? (That question is me thinking out loud, not asking you–unless you have an answer, of course!)

    2. JoAnna

      Do you have a background in a technical or scientific field? If not, having a Technical Writing degree might not help a whole lot. I have a minor in Technical Communication, but most tech writer positions require a technical or science background, which I don’t have (my B.A. is English). I’ve been working in document conversion for the last 8 years so I’ve been using my degree, thankfully, but if I could do it over I might have majored in a technology field and kept the tech writing as a minor, and structured my career that way.

      1. anon for this question

        I sure don’t. I’m not opposed to it though–just not sure what would be the best.

        I’m curious: what is document conversion?

    3. Artemesia

      Is there some reason you can’t demonstrate that you are good at this and go from there? Technical writing is such a demonstrable skill that I would put together writing samples and such and begin to build a base of experience. Degrees don’t impress people hiring so much as evidence of competence in this field.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Hmm, good question, and these replies are helpful, because I had the same question about continuing this exact program. And it’s looking more and more like I might not be.

      Your results may vary.

    5. Susan

      Totally agree that a degree in a technical field is worth more than a degree in technical writing (unless you just want to teach tech writing somewhere). That’s with the caveat that you’re ALREADY an excellent writer. Even though my learning was mostly all on-the-job, I did take classes in computer science and so joining a software company as a tech writer was a good fit for me. Check out your local community colleges and take a few classes — they’re usually very inexpensive, and the company you work for might cover them as part of its tuition benefit.

    6. Zelos

      Yikes, I’ll be watching this with interest.

      I have a science degree (chemistry) and I like the classes I’ve taking at my tech writing program so far. They give me an entirely different perspective on how to write and what to think about. My lab reports was definitely written in a very different flavour than my tech writing assignments. So in that vein, I don’t think it’s a waste…so far.

      That said, aren’t most tech writing positions in software? Does STEM degrees actually help? I never thought science degrees would be advantageous.

    7. Headachey

      Technical editor, here, who did a Tech. Writing/Editing certificate program after a layoff from a previous job. I have a B.A. in English with additional undergrad/post-grad science-related cousework, but was working in totally unrelated fields. Like you, I always ended up as the default proofreader/editor/procedure-manual writer in previous jobs. It turned out to be a great choice for me (this is what I should have done after graduation), and in my area there are tech. writing & editing jobs in all kinds of fields – from biotech, software, game development to process documentation, instructional design.

      If there are certificate programs available in your area, you might explore those instead of another undergrad degree. Since you have access to classes at a public university, you could also beef up your technical background, as well – including learning graphics and layout programs if you don’t already know them.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire

        Could you share where you got your certificate from? I’ve been researching Technical Writing certificate programs, but they’ve kind of been all over the map.

        1. Headachey

          It was a classroom-based program at a suburban Seattle-area school – but they changed the content & program structure after I started, so I might not choose it again unless I only wanted to do technical writing – they no longer have a technical editing path/certificate, and the general Technical Communications certificate is much less editing focused.

      1. anon-2

        The best way to do technical writing – if you have ANOTHER technical job — then, write articles about it.

        Many professional journals, and journals of professional associations, won’t pay you, or won’t pay you much – but you DO get published, and that opens doors, if you’re any good at doing what you do.

      2. Susan

        I think it depends on the type of tech writing you do and the city/region you live in. In the D.C. area, it seems like there are plenty of tech writing/proposal writing jobs (we have difficulty keeping our writers–they keep leaving for greener pastures). I’ve known “tech writers” who really didn’t know anything other than MS Word (and that, not very well), and I’ve known fabulous writers who knew everything about PDFs, FrameMaker, Photoshop, etc.

    8. a.n.o.n.

      I have no advice to give, but I’m thinking about technical writing also. I was always the one to write all the procedures in my old job and I really enjoyed that aspect of the job. I will need to watch this thread for any tips.

    9. Mary

      Hmm, my experience is almost opposite the one that everyone else here is describing. I have a writing BA and a professional writing MA, and I found that the skills I learned are extremely transferrable from subject to subject. For example, after grad school, I got a job working for a software research and development organization, and recently left that position to go work at a company that sells custom T-shirts.

      If it’s protocols and procedures you like, I think you will be well served by a technical/professional writing degree.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I thought I would like it, but I haaaaaaaaaate it. I’m a creative writer (novelist). I like editing reports, but I hate learning about document design, and I have NO interest whatsoever in medical writing/editing. I just want to go to work and do my work and come home and write books.

    10. Jeanne

      There are lots of articles on breaking into Technical Writing on LinkedIn and on the internet in general. In addition to doing some reading, Check your network for a TW you can do an informational interview with or go to an STC meeting.

      I’m a TW with a BS in electrical engineering, and I specialize in very technical writing. Many of the TW jobs in Silicon Valley are software oriented, and require a lot of programming type experience. There are “non-technical” TW positions as well – I wrote arcade game assembly manuals in my first formal TW job.

  23. Anonymous

    I know there are tons of librarians in the commentariat here, so I wanted to pose a question. Does anyone have any suggestions for how someone in publishing can move into working in libraries?

    1. athek

      I know a few people who did this! The two fields seem to cross over a bit.
      I would say focus on your project management, attention to detail, communication/diplomacy and multitasking skills.
      Also, your copyright and research skills will be useful. Try and decide where you want to work in a library and begin reviewing job descriptions from those types of jobs and matching up your skills. Also, do you have relationships with library people through vendor relationships (not sure what type of publishing you are in)? Start dropping lines to those people mentioning you’re interested in library work.

      1. Anonymous

        I’m in academic publishing so there seems to be a lot of crossover (we seem concerned with the same type of changes in the field, we do a lot of similar work, our “missions” are the same) and I actually do have some copyright background, so yay! That’s great to hear.

        What about getting an MLIS? Should I try to change fields first?

        1. Lindsay

          Definitely try to change fields first. Getting library experience is SO CRUCIAL to being competitive. The MLIS is really just a piece of paper, IMHO.

        2. athek

          It depends on what you want to do. I know someone in academic publishing who went into management with their MLS without changing fields first. I also know someone in academic publishing who went to a library first before getting their MLS — they want to go into reference so it makes more sense to have some practical experience.

    2. limenotapple

      I think it is difficult, depending on what area you are in, but the best thing is networking. In some areas there might be a professional group open to non-librarians, and meeting those people can be the best way to get your foot in the door. ‘

      If you have time to volunteer, that would be great! At some of the libraries where I’ve worked, we’ve just hired from our volunteer pool because we already knew they would fit in/do good work.

      I know in some areas (like mine) the market is very overcrowded and even paraprofessional jobs are filled with people with MLS degrees. The more people you know, the better for sure. Also, librarians are usually pretty good about helping other people by sharing their experiences/advice, so don’t be afraid to get to know ones in local libraries and asking them to coffee/lunch.

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve been trying to volunteer, but it’s so difficult to find opportunities! Is it possible that the volunteer opportunities that are posted publicly aren’t the only opportunities at libraries? For example, might someone help me find a shelving position rather than an after school tutor position, if they were in my network?

    3. Lindsay

      The library job market stinks. I’m still trying to figure out how librarians can move into getting paid to work in libraries, ha.

      I think that if you really, really want to work in a library, you have to get a foot in the door as a staff person. Which might be part-time, and will definitely be underpaid. I got my staff position after doing three unpaid internships and getting a Master of Library Science. If I were to do it again, I would definitely have held off on the degree until I actually worked in a library. (You have to have the degree to be a full librarian).

      Like athek says, your network will be hugely helpful. Leverage it for all it’s worth. And also do your research first. I don’t know how lucrative publishing is, but libraries generally pay very little!

      AND – consider why you want to work in a library and what tasks you hope to be assigned. Are you OK with working a circulation desk? Do you dream of printing call numbers and putting property stamps onto new books? How about cleaning up bodily fluids, if you go the public library route?

      Assume the work will be tedious, and you’ll have to get the MLIS if you want to be a full librarian. Good luck!

      1. anon librarian

        I am a librarian who came from trade publishing.
        Seconding all previous advice
        What kind of librarian do you want to be?
        Read the trade magazines- school library journal, American Libraries. Go to a regional conference or see if your publisher can send you as one of the team going to ALA.
        Go to your public library or local academic library and do an informational interview.
        ask to trail for a day.

        1. Anonymous

          I want to work in access, especially for underserved areas and populations. Digital vs. physical access doesn’t seem like an important distinction for me at the moment, and I’m willing to go overseas or stay in the US. I’m also really interested in access for people who speak foreign languages, and access/resource preservation for American Indian nations.

    4. MJ

      Suggestions:
      — Volunteer. If there are no volunteer jobs on offer that interest you, spend time in the library and figure out what they need, and offer to do that thing. Maybe they need someone to teach Overdrive classes, for example – your publishing background would serve you well, and if you are good at it, you could end up with an instructional role perhaps.
      — Watch job listings for non-librarian jobs that happen to be in libraries. Libraries hire administrative people, PR people, web/tech people, teachers. They might not advertise these on library job sites.
      — Check out small libraries. The pay can be lousy, but the opportunity to try lots of different tasks is really great, as is the opportunity to network and prove your mettle.

    5. Library Manager

      I worked in academic and trade publishing before going into public libraries. I had held a work-study library job in college, and I volunteered at my local public library the year before I applied to grad school. I decided to quit my job and go to school full-time for my master’s because I knew I would need to get meaningful library work experience while completing my degree. I also made that factor when choosing schools. One school offered me more money, but I would have had to work half-time in their admin office to get the free tuition and stipend they offered. Another school offered me free tuition without a stipend. I accepted that offer, took out modest loans to cover living expenses, and worked part-time at a public library throughout grad school. I had three full-time job offers within a month of graduation.

      Might not work for you, especially if you don’t have the flexibility to move for school, but it was what worked for me. Real-world work experience will give you an advantage over all the people who went straight to library school after undergrad and have never held a real job.

  24. JM

    Anyone know any good marketing blogs? I read a few but would like one with a more conversational tone if that makes sense.

    1. MJ

      There are a bunch of them at marketing.alltop.com. Alltop is a blog aggregator that has pages on a wide range of topics and makes catching up on topical reading very easy. The libraries page (libraries.alltop.com) has some bugs in it (LJ shows up a dozen or so times), and I originally found Alison’s blog on HR.alltop.com.

  25. Anne

    Alison, I just wanted to say thanks again for your amazing blog.

    On Wednesday, a job turned up in my inbox that looked great. Only 25 hours a week and still a pay bump, doing ENTIRELY finance instead of 10% admin, 45% sales and 45% finance. So I spruced up my CV, giving achievements and citing specific outcomes, deleting really old irrelevant work, and getting rid of stuff that was just explaining my duties. Then I wrote an awesome cover letter with lots of personality that gave some more information about why I was so interested in the role and why I thought I would be awesome. I submitted it at about 9:30 Wednsday night.

    At 9:15 AM on Thursday morning, I got a call from the recruiter! THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME. We talked a little bit about the role and why I was looking at new jobs. He asked if I could come in to get the ball rolling that day. I did not bend over backwards from the pressure! I said “I’m on my way to work and can’t get time off right now, but if you excuse the fact that I’m currently dressed for a VERY casual office, I’d be happy to come by at about 5:30 PM.”

    And I did. And he was understanding about my goth kit and WOLF PURSE. And we talked about what I was looking for, I held firm about what I wanted in terms of money, I asked some questions about how he operates. We talked about what I would do if I got a counter-offer – I said nope, not interested, and we both cited almost exactly the same data about turnover after accepting a counter-offer, at the same time. I had an irrational urge to yell JINX! (I did not yell jinx.)

    I sent him a quick thank-you with some follow up info this morning.

    He’s putting me forward for the job and giving his contact a call to look out for me specifically, but he was kind of gushing about being very happy to place me in something else if this one doesn’t come through. This has never happened to me, Alison. I always thought I’d be able to handle myself well if I got to this point, but I’ve always fired CVs and cover letters into the void and never reached it. And I never would have expected to be able to confidently walk into a recruiter’s office with pink and blue hair, an Iron Fist wolf purse, and combat boots, and tell them about my debt management skills and the kind of salary bump I was looking for… and get taken very seriously.

    THANK YOU. You are brilliant.

    1. Anne

      Also: Philosophy majors! There is hope! The VERY first thing I said when he asked me to tell him about myself was “Well, I bet you’ve noticed that I have a degree in Philosophy. It probably seems odd for a finance person! But I went into it because I love logical rules and debate, and being able to go back to first principles and figure out what’s wrong when something doesn’t seem right. When I got into an office, and started doing some accounting, I realized… it’s logic. The whole field is an enormous logic puzzle. I love it.”

      His response? “Huh. I wouldn’t have thought of that. But that makes a lot of sense.”

      And this is a recruitment company that specializes in accounting, so I don’t think it was entirely platitudes.

      1. Robin

        Also a philosophy major working in finance! What a great response you gave him. ( I never had to answer something like that because I already was in my field when I graduated.)

      2. MJ

        Book recommendation for a philosophy major who loves finance:
        Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile (he wrote The Black Swan). He really changed the way I think about things when I make decisions.

        1. Anne

          Fantastic! I’ll have to pick up a copy. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

          (I’m currently reading Accounting For Growth… really interesting from both an accounting and an ethics perspective.)

    2. louise

      Congratulations on getting an interview! I’m seriously cracking up over the wolf purse. Pretty sure that’s not what I would have pictured when hearing a candidate is coming from a casual office, but I love it! Confidence–and better yet, actual achievements that led to confidence–really is important!

      1. Anne

        Thanks! I was also cracking up about the wolf purse. I mean… it’s snarling, with blood on its teeth! All day I was thinking… should I pick up a classy shopping bag on the way to the recruiter and put it in there? Should I grab a different purse at a thrift shop?

        But I just rocked it. And it worked. :D

    3. Not So NewReader

      What a great story. I was laughing out loud- you know how people laugh when someone really nails something? Yeah that kind of laughing.

      Way to go!

      Fantastic.
      I will remember the goth and wolf purse for a very long time.

      I’d try it but I just don’t think I can pull that one off.

  26. Jubilance

    I’ve totally been refreshing waiting for this.

    I have an update and a question. Background: been in my role 18 months; 8 months ago my team got a new manager, who is great at executing but needs serious work on developing his team members. It’s bee a struggle for me, both working for/with him and also on the specific project I’ve been working on since he joined the team.

    In my company it’s highly encouraged to network with others in different areas, and I made connections with people in our internal consulting team. This team has 2 main functions: training & support for various methodologies (Six Sigma, Project Management, Change Management, etc) and consulting on high-level company initiatives (think what an outside consulting firm would do, only internal to our company). Based on the interactions/relationships I have with this time, I’ve been very interested in pursuing an opportunity with them if one ever came open. Well, last week a position became open, for the Six Sigma trainer. This role is responsible for delivering the trainings as well as serving as a subject matter expert/consultant for the methodology within the company.

    I want this job a ridiculous amount. I know I would be successful in the role, and my contacts in this department have been actively lobbying for me to be interviewed for it. My biggest advocate is the person who previously had this role, which I’m grateful for. I have a meeting with the managers of this team next week, and I’m a bit nervous but I also know that I can knock their socks off. I have an extensive background in Six Sigma, completing multiple projects & I have a deep understanding of the methodology and application.

    My one concern is my current manager. I’ve informed him of my interest in this role & he’s on board with me pursuing it, but only as a lateral move at my current paygrade. This new position is currently listed as a level higher than my current paygrade, though it’s possible there’s some flexibility there, meaning I could move over at my current level. Should I address that with the managers for the new position? My concern is that my current manager will prevent me from being able to take the new role. And I don’t want the new managers to think that I’m not capable of doing higher level work – I am and I have been performing that way, but my manager just doesn’t want anyone on his team promoted. Basically I want this new role super bad for a variety of reasons and I want to try to prevent my current manager from having any objections if I can.

    1. fposte

      Oh, Jubilance, this sounds like a fabulous opportunity!

      I’m outside of my wheelhouse here–how formal an approval does your manager have to have for this? Can you make a courtesy nod to his warped little plan in the meeting (“I’m keen to take on the challenge, and I’m ready for it. I should mention that when we’ve talked about it, Bob is suggesting a transfer at the II level rather than the I–I think I’m ready for the I but I’ll do what’s needed to make this happen”) and then let the managers duke it out themselves?

      1. Jubilance

        The short answer is I’m trying to figure that all out. I’ve heard conflicting stories on how much power my current manager has in being able to veto a move if this other team wanted me. It’s possible that they could also speak behind the scenes & come to an agreement that I move at my current level with the opportunity to be promoted in 6 months or something. My only concern is how rigid they are on what level this position should be – I don’t want to lose out on the opportunity because my current manager refuses to support anyone’s promotion.

        1. Not So NewReader

          The times I have heard of managers hold back an employee there has been some truth to it but not a lot. Just enough to raise an eyebrow.

          I say go for it. You just don’t know if you don’t try.

          Take a look at others who have tried to make a move – how has your manager responded? You might be able to find common threads in his responses and take preventative steps. If you anticipate your boss will say x, the work up an answer to that. If you think he will do y, figure out what you can do if he does that.

          You have really great enthusiasm going on- harness that and make it work for you. Yes, your enthusiasm can make a difference. What you are doing is tapping a positive mind-set that comes with enthusiasm. The positive mind set leads to creative solutions for old problems.

  27. Good news to report

    So, after eight months, multiple phone interviews, three in-person interviews with ~26 people total (two positions at one company), and countless hours of stress, I’ve finally landed a wonderful job. Ask a Manager has been the BEST resource – I’ve used the interview guide, read dozens of articles and hundreds of comments, and gotten so much helpful information. My job search was never-ending and I only got a few interviews, but the one job I really, really wanted finally worked out. I’m basically leaving a job that is completely wrong for me for a job I think I will love after searching for nearly a year. Just wanted to share some good news and thank Allison and everyone else for so much helpful advice. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say I wouldn’t have this job without her cover letter articles and without the excellent suggestions for questions to ask in an interview (I tailored several of her questions to my situation and kept hearing “EXCELLENT question” in return).

    1. Anon

      Huzzah! My organization just hired someone through a similarly lengthy process. (Which was reasonable, given the very high level of the position.) If you’re my new coworker, welcome!

  28. Kevin

    I just wanted to vent that I’m having a hard time producing work that is up to snuff and it’s really frustrating/depressing. I feel like no matter what I do it’s wrong and I have gotten good feed back on what to do, just that it if I have two options I feel like which ever one I pick will be wrong.

    1. Colette

      Is the feedback consistent?

      Once you receive feedback that something should be done differently, can you think about why you picked the one you picked? Were you trying to do things too quickly? Did you not understand the overall purpose of what you were doing?

      If you can identify common threads, you might be able to stop and do a check before you make the mistake again.

      1. Kevin

        Thank you for your advice. A lot of it is report writing and I’m just having a difficult getting my writing style consistent with the department standards. I have a check list for common mistakes and that has helped. But for example, today when trying to include more details (I have previously been told to put in more detail), they told me I put way too much in and it was confusing.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule

          Are there examples of reports done with the “right” amount of detail that you can look at and use as a baseline?

          1. Trixie

            And is it the same audience first saying too much detail and then not enough, or do you have multiple audiences, in which case can it be tailored to their style? Also, maybe its not so much too little or too much detail but not the relevant info being extrapolated? I would find it helpful if my manager (or someone who has the style dialed in) could sit down with me, show me examples of what works and why, why this doesn’t and way, and how this could be tweaked.

    2. AVP

      I’m having the same thing! Chalking it up to a rough week, but somehow no matter WHAT I do this week it’s a mess. I usually have all good reviews but lets just say I’m very glad we don’t have to get rated on a weekly basis.

  29. CN

    Hey everyone! I’m a recent grad working as an independent contractor for a company. I haven’t had a real fulltime job yet but want to start searching in June; this is my closest thing to working for a formal office, so these are some newbie questions about how to navigate some things.

    1. I have two managers that I’ve worked closely with in my time here. One is my official manager, the one I was hired under. But the other is from another department and I ended up working with him directly a lot due to the content of my projects. Is it okay to use both of them as references? Will future employers count that as two?

    2. My current official manager is leaving the company this Friday and moving to Australia. Is it still okay to ask her to be my reference? What if she isn’t available by phone?

    3. Eventually when I start my job search, I want to ask this company whether they have any full time opportunities. Is that doable? How would I word that to my manager in conjunction with asking for a reference? I guess I’m just wondering how to navigate the 3 things at once: asking for a reference, asking about fulltime opportunities, but also inevitably informing them through this that I’m planning on leaving.

    Sorry if these questions are basic! I’ve just never done anything like this before so I want to make sure I get it right.

    1. Chocolate Teapot

      Does the company have its own Intranet? Often there is an internal jobsite, which might bring up some possible positions.

    2. Anne

      1. I have a very similar situation, and I’ve been using both the manager who hired me and the manager I work most closely with as references, and no one has thought it seemed odd. If/when I have the chance, I tend to point it out and say “This is Wakeen, who hired me in the first place – but day to day I worked more closely with Brumhilde, so she might have more insight for you.”

      2. Can’t be very helpful on this one, hopefulyl someone else will.

      3. I get the impression this is pretty common. If you’re a contractor for the company, it’s totally normal for them to be your first port of call for a permanent full-time job. If it were me, I’d find the manager I believe would be most sympathetic, and say something along the lines of “I’m going to have to start looking for full-time work in June, and I would love to stay with this company and put my experience here to even better use. Do you think there are any full-time positions I might be suited to?”

      But hopefully others will have even better answers. :)

    3. rollcake

      Since my previous job was my only full time position after college before Current Job, I wanted to give at least one reference from there. BUT the position was in Japan, so I needed to give email information, and ensure that the reference could communicate in English via email. I made sure to give all the information (Name, Work/Position, Workplace address, Workplace phone, email) and include a note to the effect of “can respond in English via email,” hoping that a potential employer would want to contact this reference, and would be happy for me providing the most convenient method to do so.

  30. The Real Ash

    Looking for advice from others who have done this…

    I’ve already read Alison’s [very helpful] posts on this issue, but I’m looking for personal stories about this. I will be moving across the country with my partner towards the end of the year. His company is moving their main office to a state that he would like to live in, and while I love where we live now, I’m up for something different.

    So for those of you who have moved to another state, how did you do it? Not just the job searching part (which of course I would love to hear about), but also the logistics of a cross-country move. I’m already paring down my junk, selling stuff on ebay, donating things to local charities… The job search might be a bit complicated by the fact that I’m going to try to finish up my degree before I start hunting for a job down there, so there will be a gap in my resume (the first in about a decade). I’m sure I can easily explain it away as finishing up school, but I’m still nervous.

    Thanks everyone! :)

    1. JoAnna

      We moved from North Dakota to Arizona with about three weeks from decision to actual moving day.

      It’s good that you’re decluttering! Pare down as much as you possibly can. If you’re willing, give away or sell most of your big furniture and buy new stuff (or new-to-you stuff) once you’re in the new place.

      Start packing now. Anything you don’t use on a regular basis, box up and label clearly. Don’t pack boxes full of books; mix the books in with lighter items (clothes, etc.) so you don’t have 50-lb boxes. Use your washcloths, hand towels, dish towels, and regular-size bath towels to wrap around fragile items like picture frames and vases and dishes. Consider transferring all DVDs and/or CDs to electronic formats and ditching the originals, if possible.

      We had such a horrible U-Haul experience our last move that we rented a Penske truck instead, and we had a good experience with them.

      1. De Minimis

        We’re still in the process of doing it, and it’s a source of stress. All I can advise is…don’t leave your stuff behind in storage to be moved at some point in the future. We have a lot of really nice stuff that we really care about in a storage unit on the other side of the country–initially we were supposed to go get most of it last fall but all leave was cancelled due to the gov’t shutdown. Then we were going to try after that but winter weather got in the way. Hoping maybe this month or next month that we can at least move a portion of it, but I’ve got a feeling we may just give up and relocate again soon.

        I’ve gotten to where I think relocation for work is only worth it if it’s for a lot of money or if you’re in a stage in life where you don’t have a lot of things tying you down.

        1. GoodGirl

          I just did this last year. My biggest piece of advice is to hire reputable movers. I ended up hiring movers from a local company in New City. Long story short, they were five hours late, showed up high/drunk, and double charged me the rate that the owner quoted me. NEVER AGAIN will I hear movers based on cost.

      2. The Real Ash

        Ha! The move isn’t until late fall-early winter (depending on when his company picks their office space), but I am already junkign as much stuff as possible! And I already have some totes packed up. We also have a local antique/thift store that puts on flea markets during the spring and summer, so I’m going to split the cost of a booth rental with some friends (who are also planning a move) and we’re going to sell off our nicer junk. :)

        And I definitely hear you about CDs! I have probably over 100 CDs and I’ve decided to just start ripping them to my laptop, and then sell the CDs. I didn’t even think about ripping my DVDs though. I traded in a bunch of them through Amazon and donated the ones Amazon wouldn’t take to my local library. I don’t have a lot of electronic storage space, but my partner does. I’ll have to see if he’ll store them for me. Thanks for the idea! :)

      3. Kelly L.

        Hahaha I used socks as padding for fragile stuff! And I ditched all my CD jewel cases. I’ve got all the CDs in a huge CD wallet anyway, and most of them digitally backed up too. I realized during a move that I’d moved the same box of EMPTY jewel cases from the place before that and hadn’t even opened the box since, so I trashed them. They were never going to be collectors’ items anyway in my case–these were all well-used CDs.

    2. pgh_adventurer

      Not sure there’s a stress-free way to do it. One 1,500 mile move we hired a moving firm, and our stuff was the first on the truck and the last off. This meant then once we found a new apartment and “moved in”, we were sleeping on the floor and eating out of tupperware because our stuff didn’t arrive for several weeks! It was kinda fun though, like indoor camping.

      1. The IT Manager

        If this is a possibility and you’re moving from one home to another without extended house hunting on the other end, pack up early so you’re living in your old home town without furniture, kitchen supplies, etc instead of your new home town.

        Air mattress works to sleep in an empty house. Also keep disposable cleaning supplies so that you can clean after all of the furniture is gone and the house is empty and then throw everything out.

        Personally I completely and totally recommend hiring packers and movers. I don’t ask people to help me move, and I don’t help them move.

    3. BadPlanning

      Any pets in the move? I would also work on how they will transport and practice if possible (have them ride in the carrier, etc). If you plan to give them calming medication, try it out before hand. I’ve heard some cats get nuts instead of getting sleepy.

      Also, find all the important documents and items and keep them with you when you move. You don’t want to find that your passport is stuck in unknown box 12 and you have to make an emergency trip somewhere. Or your jewelry wandered off in the move.

      1. The Real Ash

        Nope, luckily no pets for us to move. I’ve had to move pets across the city before, and that was not pleasant (for anyone involved).

    4. vvondervvoman

      A couple of years ago, we moved over 3,000 miles across the US, and this is how we did it.

      Seriously, get rid of stuff. It’s like the only advice that makes a big impact, and the one piece of advice nobody listens to enough.

      We did the containers, PODS is the most well-known, but we used Smart Move. There are a lot of different options to price check. We ended up using a full 3 containers, came out to under 5k, but that’s the size they recommend for a 2-3 bedroom house (we had a LOT of stuff). and it included movers to put everything in and out of of the containers. The advantage with this is that you can choose the delivery day, and there’s the most flexibility. We really needed that because we were shipping our car and flying to the new city and started apartment hunting once we were already there.

      Moved again 6 months ago, only 150 miles away, and we used U-Haul with the movers on both ends. With gas, it was less than $1,000. With cross-country, renting a truck tend to get just as expensive because of the gas and the cost to house/feed yourself along the trip. So make sure to be aware of that when comparing costs.

      It’s all about balancing cost vs. stress vs. time. Of course it would be great to hire movers for packing, and the whole shebang. But unless someone else is footing the bill, most people don’t opt for that. But the cheapest option is get rid of everything and again, for most people, that’s a no-go.

      So find your own balance. We chose movers because on both ends, we had stairs. Move out day was 95+ degrees plus humidity. It was absolutely miserable. I would have curled into a ball crying if we didn’t have an additional 3 men doing the heavy lifting. Well worth the $400 + tips.

      1. The Real Ash

        We have probably an apartment’s worth of furniture and other household items to move, and nothing horribly ancient or expensive that we wouldn’t feel comfortable just tossing in a UHaul and driving ourselves. I’m sure that’s what we’ll end up doing, especially because I’ve heard way too many horror stories about people’s stuff being stolen, held hostage for more money, being destroyed, etc. If my stuff gets lost or damaged, I’d prefer it to be my fault.

        1. vvondervvoman

          Yikes! I’ve never heard those stories about legit companies! I think that happens when people try to get steep discounts.

          It’s definitely a personal preference, because I totally would prefer it to be someone else’s fault. But I also consider it less work to get a reimbursement rather than be responsible for my own things =)

          Movers in general won’t load a truck so damage can occur, simply because they know what they’re doing. And this is doubly so if insurance is involved. The container company offered dirt cheap insurance (something like $50/10,000 per container), so we just made sure to pack all of the expensive instruments/tech stuff in that one container.

    5. Stephanie

      Yeah, there’s not really a stress-free way to do it. Moving is inherently stressful. Here are my big tips to make it easier:

      1. Find all your important documents (passport, SS cards, car titles, etc.) now and set them aside. You don’t want to move and then frantically have to search through boxes for your passport for your first day of work.
      2. If you just have some household items to move, I’m a big fan for Amtrak Express. You take your boxes (up to 500 lbs) to a train station, they load them on a pallet and shrink wrap them, and you pick them up at your destination. They ship pretty cheaply. They will also ship bikes.
      3. Label, label, label. I cannot stress this enough. I’m speaking from personal experience going through boxes trying to find all my cold weather clothing when it started to drop below freezing at NewLocation.
      4. Any IKEA furniture is probably not worth moving.
      5. Home Depot tends to have the best deals on boxes.
      6. If you’re going to drive cross-country, I wouldn’t drive more than 8-10 hours/day.

      1. The Real Ash

        Thanks for the tips! We will probably be driving (18 hours it looks like), so I’m assuming we’ll probably stop around the 10-hour mark for the night. Although I will be worried about having a moving van in a parking lot, just screams “Hey I am full of valuables, come steal me!” to me.

        1. JoAnna

          We had two small kids and a cat at the time, so we went at a slower pace (I think we did 1,800 miles in 3 days). Our budget was tight so we couldn’t afford more than 3 nights in motel rooms, but if we could have I would have gone even slower. If you can swing it I recommend stopping on the way and seeing any cool national monuments or landmarks that you might not otherwise see. It breaks up the drive and gives you a chance to make memories, and see cool stuff. I wish we could have detoured over to Mt. Rushmore when we were in South Dakota, for example.

          If you can do the thing where you tow your car and take turns driving the truck, do so. Because of the kids, we had to have one of us driving the car and one of us driving the truck, and it made the trip so much more difficult because we couldn’t take turns driving.

    6. Anonsie

      The first time, I packed up my van and drove.

      The second time, I didn’t have a reliable vehicle so I rented one and drove.

      The third time, I packed a giant suitcase and flew (this was overseas).

      The fourth time, I shipped something like 9 boxes and packed a big suitcase (overseas again, the opposite way).

      The fourth time, I picked a weekend, rented a 14′ truck, and drove.

      It’s actually pretty easy to do. It seems more difficult when you’ve never done it. It’s the same as any other move, only you move everything all at once one way. I’ve never hired movers, I don’t really find it necessary in general.

      The best way to declutter, I think, is to just start packing your things into boxes by type or room. Put all the finished boxes all together, but don’t tape them shut. After you start nearing 10, you’ll start to think “wow this is a lot of stuff.” Consolidate some boxes if you can, remove things that don’t seem like they’re worth the very limited space. Suddenly when it means fitting in x or y and you don’t need x, it’s easy to toss it when it means y will fit.

      1. The Real Ash

        Ha, I did that exact thing with my storage totes that I have packed so far! I got to eight and I was like, “What the hell is all this stuff?” A majority of the totes were ones that had been in the basement that I hadn’t even gone through since the last move, and got that down to four. I got back up around 8 and that’s when I felt it was time to start paring down the media and the books. All of the sci-fi nerds who go to my local library will be happy about all the stuff I donated!

        1. Anonsie

          That’s the way to do it! It’s easy to keep just this or that here or there, but when it’s in a heap it’s a lot easier to make cuts.

          Good luck with the move! It’s a lot of work for sure, but it’s hard to mess up.

    7. TL

      I moved from Texas to Boston in about 3 weeks.
      I pared down, gave away, and…left what didn’t fit for my mom and brother to handle.
      It, uh, wasn’t the most mature of moments but whatever.

    8. Anon #2

      Having moved 10 times in 12-1/2 years (husband’s OldJob relocated us a lot), I can echo the other comments about labeling clearly.

      To go even further, I recommend that you include on the label: Room the box needs to go in, detailed list of what’s in it, and if it contains fragile items, write “FRAGILE” on every side you can. :-)

      Additionally, put your label on the top of the box, and a label on at least one end. That way, if you have a big stack of boxes stacked, you can still see the label on the side. Once you’ve “un-stacked” them, you can easily read the top.

      For breakables, check with your local newspaper to see if they sell or give away the newspaper “end rolls”. These are the last of a large roll that they used to print the paper, which is usually quite a bit for you, but not nearly enough for them to use.

      For books, smaller boxes are better. Just ask my husband, who’s threatened to kill me every time I’ve used too big of a box, and he’s nearly had a hernia. :-)

      Good luck with your move!

    9. Jubilance

      Is your partner’s company paying for your move? That will dictate how much you’ll have to do. I’ve moved twice due to jobs and both were paid for by my employer, but 1 move was just a lump sum provided to me and I had to coordinate everything, while the other was a full service move coordinated by my company.

      For both moves, I started by figuring out what I wanted to keep/take with me. Start putting together your Goodwill piles now, and start making trips now so that you don’t have the clutter around. I’ve sold/given away furniture on Craigslist with no problems and it was easy to do – make sure to have clear photos in your ads.

      If you’re coordinating the move yourself, request quotes from moving companies, and disregard any company that claims they can give you a quote without actually seeing your items. People always underestimate how much stuff they have to move. Are you ok with packing it all yourself or will you want people to do that too? Also get a quote for that in case you want it. Will you take a trip out to your new location to secure housing? I suggest scoping out housing online using Craigslist/Padmapper/Apartment Guides/etc so that you have a list of places to visit and you can make a decision quickly. Will you be shipping your car(s) or will you drive them to the new location? It might be helpful to also make a spreadsheet to keep all the details handy so you don’t forget anything.

      With my full service move, it was super easy. My company contracted with Cartus and they took care of all the details for me – scheduling the packers, the movers, having my car shipped, etc. You’ll have one main consultant that you work with and they will handle setting up appts and everything for you, and take care of payment so you won’t get any bills. If your partner’s company offers that option, I highly recommend it. Best of luck!

      1. The Real Ash

        Thanks for all of the tips! I think his company will give him some relocation assistance, but I don’t think they’ll pay for 100% of the move. I believe that we’ll be doing all of the work ourselves though either way; like I said upwards a bit, I have heard way too many horror stories about movers to feel comfortable using any.

    10. Anon

      I’ve done 4 interstate moves in 13 years–and as a single person, I did them solo.
      Move 1: Threw a couple suitcases and boxes into the trunk of Corolla, and had a friend drive me to my new state.
      Move 2: Sold most of my furniture, gave away lots, shipped my belongings via UPS. Flew to new state. Was a new driver and didn’t own car, as driving wasn’t an option.
      Move 3: Hired movers, shipped car, flew to new state. I was going from the Midwest to California: I was still a relatively new driver, uncomfortable driving that far solo, and didn’t have any friends/family available to drive with me.
      Move 4: Hired movers, drove myself from California to the Pacific NW.

      Advice:
      – If you can possibly afford it, pay someone to move your stuff. I packed my own boxes, but hired people to load the boxes and my furniture onto their trucks, drive, and then unload at the destination.
      – Research your movers. I spent a lot of time on the message boards of MovingScam.com. Lots of good information there on how to be a savvy consumer. Get competing quotes, make them come look at your stuff before they give you that quote, and don’t believe anything that’s too good to be true.
      – Keep a good packing list, so you don’t have to dig through boxes to find stuff at the beginning. For the same reason, pack your first-day-after-arrival essentials in a couple of easy to find boxes.
      – Get rid of as much stuff as you can!
      – Drive your own car if it’s at all possible to do so safely. I shipped my car once successfully, but it wasn’t cheap and most of the companies who do it are fairly sketchy.

      1. Stephanie

        Ugh, yes. Definitely try to drive your own vehicle. Car shippers are shady as f*ck and make movers look like Boy Scouts. My car did always arrive, just usually at least a day after the fact.

    11. Nikki B

      As a book lover, I can’t declutter my collection. The best way to shift books is to pack them in photocopier paper boxes. The weight is limited, and you get lots of the same size boxes which is great for u- haul 3-d Tetris

  31. Heather

    I just started my first full time job on Monday and when I was offered the position, I was actually suprised at how much they were going to pay me. I didn’t try to negotiate any more money than they originally offered me because I didn’t have any concrete evidence of why they should pay me more (except that I want as much as they’re willing to give me :) ). Anyway, a couple days ago they gave me a document with just some employee info. On it, it shows my pay grade and the minimum and maximum for that grade. It is about a $13 dollar range and my pay is $4/hr more than the minimum. Is it normal to be given this information? Is it normal for an employer to offer you more than the minimum they are able to pay for a particular position? They even offered about $6,000 more per year than what I originally asked for.

    1. ArtsNerd

      Hey, congrats! It’s normal to see employee salary grades if you’re working for a university or government employee. They’ll pay you more than the minimum if they think you’re worth more than the minimum for the position.

      It seems like it’s okay that you didn’t negotiate here, but when you’ve earned them, PLEASE ask for raises. It actually affects what you might be able to earn over the course of your career. The same applies to negotiating salary when you change job. Any reasonable company is going to say, at worst, “We can’t do that” (assuming what you’re asking for isn’t wildly out of the range of what your market value is.) Then you just continue as you were. Or you get more money. Whee!

    2. Anonymous

      My organization is very transparent about the pay structures and highly encourages everyone to know and understand them. It’s an effort to increase diversity, retention, and pay gap between genders and cultures in the organization. What happened to you is normal where I work. It’ll be to your advantage if a promotion ever comes up because you’ll be able to know where you stand versus having to make something up in future negotiations.

  32. "Mandatory" training

    So my employer has set up some workshops in “Excel 2007 Basics” that are apparently “mandatory.” The lesson will include tips such as how to enter text and how to edit cells. A few problems with this: my employer never asked if anyone needed such a basic lesson or if anyone had prior experience in Excel, I categorically refuse to do training in a 2007 version of a program, I already know everything on the lesson plan, I don’t use Excel in my job anyway, and here’s the kicker: I’m giving my notice the day before my mandatory training! I’m enjoying this way too much.

    1. Rebecca

      This makes me smile. Good for you for getting a new position!

      My company came up with the brilliant idea to have tests, training, etc., like school, for us so we can be labeled and categorized as to what level of employee we are. This will be done during working hours, with people who are already too busy to get everything done. Yes, I will have to do the same thing – sit through basic classes for things I can do while asleep, while my work piles up. Ugh.

  33. ArtsNerd

    Anyone find an inexpensive alternative to InDesign yet? I’m really not interested in a) pirating software or b) paying an ongoing subscription fee or $700 for it, since I only use it sporadically.

      1. ArtsNerd

        Flyers, postcards, Facebook graphics, and the like.

        I don’t want software to bump my elements around because it thinks I don’t understand white space, or to push me to slot my stuff into a pre-existing template. I’d like to be able to control leading and kerning, and have my full selection of typefaces available.* I’d like to be able to use layers and apply some basic element effects like transparency, gradient feather, etc.

        *I can do everything in Pixelmator that I used to do in Photoshop, except access all of my fonts, for some reason.

        1. Liane

          You might look into GIMP, which is intended to do what Photoshop does. Now, I didn’t like it and couldn’t figure out how to do simple things. But YMMV. I am a dabbler in 3D art, the software didn’t have instructions for doing what I needed to do–make textures for 3D models–and the instructions I googled were for older versions. So it could be good for you, especially if you are already familiar with similar programs, which I was not.

        2. Fiona

          Quick Google search for “indesign freeware” comes up with Scribus. It’s basically what GIMP is to Photoshop.

          Scribus is a free and open source software system that has almost everything you can find in commercial software. The range of page layouts it offers is comparable to those of Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress (above), but unlike them it can be downloaded for free. Besides layout, Scribus is made for typesetting and preparing files for professional-grade image-setting appliances. One of its main strengths is making PDF files with animation and interactive presentations. The user can also employ Scribus to design small books, brochures, newspapers and newsletters.

          1. Fiona

            And my formatting didn’t work. Everything in the second paragraph is from a review I found.

    1. Kerr

      Student discount. Possibly you know someone in school who doesn’t need Adobe and would be willing to purchase it for you?

      1. Kerr

        There’s also CorelDRAW. Never worked with it, but it looks much cheaper than Adobe’s mega-$ software packages.

    2. A.

      I don’t know how complex the work you’re trying to create will be, but I’m pretty sure Adobe offers Adobe InDesign CS 1 and 2 for free now. Please keep in mind they’re on CS6 now, so these are very early versions. I also know you can download a 30-day (?) trial version for free. Are you a college student? Do you know a college student? Is your college email address still active? They offer discounted prices for college students if you purchase with a .edu email account. I hope this helps.

      1. Mints

        Yeah it is free now. I was so excited about free Photoshop, I downloaded it asap even though I haven’t done any photo editing lately.
        I also used paint.net for a while, which I really liked. (these are obviously pretty basic,I don’t even know what indesign is)

    3. AVP

      Someone recently recommended Sketchbook Pro to me , for use with fliers and postcards. I think that one is $59 for the download option.

  34. LV

    My department currently has a staff of 11. After March 31st (the end of the fiscal year here) due to budget cuts, there will be a staff of 3. The atmosphere is so tense and awkward. The eight of us who will be laid off are so on edge from not knowing when/if we’ll find another job.

    We have a lot of pressure from the higher-ups to finish all our projects before we go, and my manager (who’s one of the 3 who gets to keep her job) keeps piling other small tasks on me as she goes along – “Oh, I just remembered, this has to be done, so can you do it next week?” on top of everything else I have to do. The small tasks aren’t time-sensitive or require any specific skill, which makes it extra irritating – it’s nothing that can’t wait until April, but she just doesn’t want to do it herself.

    I’m trying really hard to stay motivated, but it’s challenging. My manager said to me the other day, “I can’t believe you’re only here for another week!” and I assumed she was going to add that she’d miss me, but instead she went, “I hope you’ll finish all your work by then because I don’t want to have to do it after you’re gone.” Thanks for sharing that sentiment. I’ll be crying a river for you as I sit at home and fill out forms for employment insurance.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      That’s incredibly insensitive.

      In your shoes, I would shine up the phrase “That won’t be possible,” and “Sure, I can do X, but then Y won’t get done.” Unless, of course, you’re nonexempt, in which case you may want to lock in all the overtime you can in your last days.

      Be polite but firm. There’s no way in hell I would put in extra hours as an exempt employee knowing that they’re going to cut me loose.

    2. Tiffany In Houston

      That was a really shitty thing to say!! I would try to complete what I could of the workload because I’m sure you’re a professional but I certainly wouldn’t knock myself out to finish anything, I wouldn’t be staying late or working over the weekend to finish anything either.

    3. mesmerizing crow

      Your manager sounds a lot like my former manager. I know you’re in a really sucky situation now, but at least you won’t have to deal with her for long. I mean, that’s what I told myself when I faced the uncertainty of not having a job after my notice period was up. Good riddance.

  35. Anon

    I know Alison usually advises against this, and for good reason, but does anyone have thoughts on when/if you should quit a job that’s becoming unbearable, without another job lined up? I am currently searching, and have had some interviews but no offers yet. My current job is making me absolutely miserable, to the point where I bring a bad mood home with me and it normally takes until Sunday to recover from the week.

    What worries me is that I’m afraid I’ll get to a point where I’m too burned out to care, and start giving less than 100%. I’ve already been making some mistakes lately, although to be fair I’m alone in a department where there used to be 3 of us. I guess I’m afraid that I’ll start doing poorly and get fired, and I’d much rather try to explain to potential employers why I left a job than why I was fired!

    If anyone else has considered this or gone through with it, I’d love to hear about it!

    1. Ash

      I’m in the same position and seriously considered quitting. I’m the main breadwinner though and while we hav enough in savings and husbands job to survive a few months, we’d end up with very little left. Plus it’s been 6 months since I started this process and who knows when it will end so I just can give up the paycheck. Put your head down, get what you need to done and send as many resumes out as you possibly can…

    2. ArtsNerd

      It sounds like you’re not at the quit-with-nothing-else-lined-up stage yet. If it affects your health? Yeah, do it.

      But “bad mood” and “less than 100%?” Eh. If you’re the only one left in your department they’re not going to fire you for small mistakes.

      I was at the point at a former employer where I was getting arrhythmia due to stress. I maybe should have quit without nothing else lined up, but I’m glad I didn’t since the job search took MUCH longer than I expected it to. Instead I somehow managed to negotiate a month off of work (paid!?) It was pretty awesome, and I went on a crazy trip and forgot all about the office. I didn’t *mean* to jump straight into another job offer within 6 months of my return, but that’s what happened.

      Keep slogging through. Put your energy into your professional network!

    3. NylaW

      I think when you get to the point where you are suffering health effects from the stress and/or toxic environment, which it sure seems like you are mentally suffering, it might be time to move on.

    4. LeeD

      This was what made me decide to finally do it, after months of misery, dreading going to work, and spending all day with a stomachache:

      I was driving to work, and just barely avoided getting into what would have been a bad accident. After I pulled over and stopped shaking, my first thought was, “If I had gotten hit, I wouldn’t have to go to work today.”

      I gave notice the following week. I didn’t have anything lined up, and to this day I don’t regret it. I ended up taking a position that meant an almost 10K pay cut – it wasn’t the best path for me career-wise, but I am happy and healthy and I go home at night and don’t want to cry. For me, that trumps my career path every time.

      1. limenotapple

        I was in the same situation! I was literally losing sleep over hating my job, had digestive issues related to stress, and was depressed just thinking about going to work the next day. My career took a hit but not for too long. I was really worried because at the time, I was in my late 30s and felt like I didn’t have a lot of time to waste.

        Long story short, quitting was the best thing for me. I left before my work turned bad and I burned any bridges, and it really gave me renewed energy to use the off-time to develop some other skills and put me in a better place for a better job. It definitely could have backfired, but I was lucky enough to have a supportive spouse who brings in enough for it not to matter.

      2. Windchime

        A relative of mine recently quit her job after years of stress and overwork. She went to her doctor because of the stress and her blood pressure was sky high. Like, almost stroke-level high. He instructed her to stay home from work for 6 weeks and then recommended that she quit. So she went back to hand in her resignation letter, and discovered that two (two!) coworkers had had heart attacks while she was out on leave.

        She’s close enough to retirement age that I think she’s just going to retire, unless she can find something low-stress and part-time.

      3. Anon

        Wow, sounds like you made the right call. It helps to hear stories like this and put things in perspective! I don’t think I’m quite to the level you were at, but it may not take too much longer.

    5. Anonymous

      I’ve done it, but it was because the old job had a very real risk of physically injuring me again (I had one worker’s comp claim there already), due to demands of the job and what my physiotherapist called “naturally lax joints” (translation: my joints suck. Not that I knew this when I first got the job). At the time, management would not/could not move me elsewhere and the worker’s comp had already been a year-long drawn out battle between recovery and dealing with management. So I quit and stayed on relatively good (??) terms with said management before I ended up having a meltdown at work.

      I generally defer to Alison’s advice unless continuing in the job will cause you severe mental/physical harm. In this case, it did.

    6. mesmerizing crow

      Yeah, I’d like to get some insight from people who have gone through this as well. And while I’m happy for those who managed just fine due to having a second source of income, any tips on getting through the never ending job search would be extremely helpful. Thanks, y’all.

    7. Anon

      My usual guideline is that if the thought of going to work on Monday makes my stomach clench, it’s time to leave. When and how depends on how much of a financial buffer you have and how miserable the job is. Don’t wait too long – you don’t want to wait until it’s sucked so much of the life out of you that you don’t have energy to search for another job.

      I have also gotten to the point where I’d fantasize about ending up in the hospital instead of at work. I stayed way too long at that job.

    8. Jess

      You know, I’ve done it and I don’t regret it. It saved my sanity. I ended up temping for a year, which was not so great, but then I finally did get a temp job that ended up being an awesome permanent job.

      So, I wouldn’t recommend quitting without something lined up but if you get to the point you’re seriously headed for a breakdown if you don’t get out – you need to go ahead and take care of yourself first.

    9. Nina

      I did it about six months ago. I agonized back and forth about quitting because I didn’t have anything else lined up, but when I started envying people who were injured/hospitalized because it meant they didn’t have to work where I did, I knew something had to give. I was exhausted, sick, and stressed out 24/7.

      That said, if this is something you’re going to do, then you need to evaluate your funds – I cannot stress this enough. Even when you live frugally and have money saved, it goes quickly on food, gas, etc. Schedule any doctors/dentists appts before you quit so you can take advantage of the benefits before they lapse.

      But I don’t regret my decision. The day I left, all I felt was relief. I kept in touch with a few people I worked with and they were on the verge of the same thing; either quitting entirely or searching for something else while they were there.

      1. Anon

        That seems to be a common theme – that when it gets really bad, people start wishing they were in the hospital instead of at work. It seems like a horrible but pretty effective litmus test. I’m reminded of the guy in Office Space who was thrilled that he was hit by a drunk driver!

  36. Sarah

    I have been tasked to lead a workgroup to develop a best practice guide about on-the-job-training. What have people found to be the most helpful/successful on-the-job-training strategies? I was doing some internet research and one article suggest a book club at work (gag). So far my main ideas are moving employees around so they can learn all aspects of the business, giving employees opportunities to participate in strategy/policy/etc high level discussions, and of course actual formal training. What have you done or seen that has actually worked?

    1. athek

      We offer one-on-one training on topics that are of interest to the employees. This is great because it offers an opportunity to meet people at their own level (some person might need help with pivot tables in Excel while someone else might need to start at the very beginning) and allows employees to seek extra assistance on things they may need a refresher on without launching a new training initiative.

    2. EA

      Actually train people. When my team merged with another team, and we each took on supporting each other’s applications, a lot of the so-called-training was “Oh, there’s an incident. Look at the documentation database and you’ll figure out how to handle it”. Well, except for the fact that the database is very user-unfriendly, and the text search doesn’t really work.

      (although, after watching some folks from the team we merged with, I’m convinced that they don’t actually know what they’re doing, and “look it up” is really the best training they can offer)

  37. Trixie

    Some encouraging news for job seekers out there. A good friend (currently employed) who has been applying and interviewing for two years has landed a new internal job. And my sister applied for/received job promotion at her job, something we never saw happening when she was fired a few years ago, or miserable at this new job a year ago. In a word, persaverance. Yeah team!

  38. Ash

    Kitty belly!

    I’m so frustrated. My interview on Monday was delayed to next week due to the snow in the DC area. It is now scheduled for Tuesday and of course we’re expecting yet another snow storm. I emailed hr to ask about if the interview will be delayed again due to this incoming storm but I guess I just need to wait. I’m just worried they’ll move on without interviewing me, even though the delays have been due to Mother Nature… not me! I am so sick of snow.

    1. ArtsNerd

      Ugh, I’m sorry.

      If it is delayed again, I wonder if you and they could both open up the time available – say, earlier in the morning or evening than you would under ordinary circumstances? If you haven’t heard back from them, it’s probably because we are ALL just hoping it will go away and then we won’t have to deal with it.

  39. pgh_adventurer

    Does anyone here serve on a board and have some advice on how to be a good board member? I’m now a student member of a nonprofit board and should have my first meeting in a few weeks, but I’d love some advice on how to prepare for the first meeting, how to conduct myself, what to look out for, and so on.

    1. Yup

      Check out boardsource.org, they have a ton of free materials in their Community Resources section. Independentsector.org also has a ton of free stuff under Resources that can help you get acclimated to governance topics and so forth. (Also, the blog Blueavocado.org has some good stories about board/org relationships from both sides of the relationship that might be useful.)

    2. vvondervvoman

      I was going to post the same thing! I was randomly asked to apply to be a board member of a non-profit agency in the county I work in. At first I thought there was a quota to fill in terms of # of members, but I learned that wasn’t the case in the first meeting. It’s a strange situation because they wouldn’t let my agency participate in their big annual event (at the time, we assumed they hated us–many people do) but then they actively wanted me on the board. So now I’m wondering if it’s quite as adversarial as I thought it would be.

    3. A Fundraiser

      Things I’ve learned through experience as a board member and by staffing a board:

      1. Introduce yourself to other board members proactively. Often staff doesn’t properly make introductions, so while you think you’re the only one who doesn’t know anyone else in the room you’re not. Others will be grateful if you say hi first.

      2. Feel free to speak up. Participatory boards are the best boards, and you’ll be fine just so long as you’re not speaking more than everyone else.

      3. Say hi to the staff! They’ll appreciate it because they may be intimidated to initiate a conversation with you. Plus, we’re a wealth of information and will gladly get you background info, materials etc if you’ve been nice to us.

      1. A Fundraiser

        And 4! Ask for old meeting minutes and read through them. It will give you some perspective and help keep you from being repetitive.

    4. Not So NewReader

      There is lot of material on the net about boards and how to act, what to expect, what is expected and so on.

      Going to worst case scenario:
      Don’t expect anyone to mentor you.
      Don’t expect anyone to speak to you! (ugh)
      Don’t expect to be asked anything or asked to do anything.

      Greet everyone the same and treat everyone with the same level of politeness/friendliness.
      Act oblivious to any of the above mentioned bad behaviors.
      Think of yourself as more of an observer.
      Ask yourself “how can I help these folks?” and keep your eyes open.
      Watch for activities that no one seems interested in covering but yet attention is needed. If they ask for volunteers and no one speaks up consider volunteering. No matter how boring/difficult/odd the task do your absolute best.

      If they give you copies of an agenda/minutes then make notes right on that paper. Keep the agenda/minutes in a binder- bring your binder to each meeting. (Conversely, if they are all using laptops, etc, then copy what they do.)

      Learn their names.

      Skim Robert’s Rules of Order- just in case you find they are formal people.

      I have been on one board for seven years. Other boards for shorter time. Boards vary widely. Prepare for the most conservative, formal board imaginable. You can always dial it back when you find that the formality is not necessary.

      I guess the only thing I’d think to look out for is to watch for talking too much. If they do ask you questions, be brief, positive and friendly. Watch their body language to figure out that you have been talking too long.
      If you are in doubt as to what to say to a question, answer as briefly as possible and ask a question about the board (or it’s work) to redirect the conversation off of you.
      If they invite you somewhere – say YES.

  40. Katrina

    I had a telephone interview with a company I REALLY want to work for, for a job I REALLY want to do (and think I would be very good at) two weeks ago. I thought the call went well, and was told the hiring process usually took about three weeks and they would be in touch regarding next steps. I haven’t heard back.

    Should I wait until the three weeks are up to check in? Check in now? Or give this one up as a lost cause? It’s a relatively small company, so I’m wondering if they maybe just couldn’t adhere to that timeline?

    1. CalicoK

      Lol, I think we posted a similar question question at the same time. I do the 2-week check in, and if I haven’t heard back, I just let it go. It’s frustrating, but it’s better than dwelling.

    2. fposte

      If they told you three weeks and it hasn’t been three weeks, I don’t see the point in asking now–wait until the time frame they told you about has elapsed. I don’t understand “maybe they just couldn’t adhere to the timeline”–maybe they won’t be able to, but they haven’t breached the timeline yet, unless I’ve misunderstood something you’ve said.

      I wouldn’t say it’s a lost cause–they’re working in their stated timeframe–but you should definitely move on just for psychological value.

      1. fposte

        Ah, I think I see—they’re saying the whole process would take three weeks, so interviewing might already be happening. Same thing, though–they said they’d be in touch, they gave a timeline, you should move on and be pleasantly surprised if they call you for an interview.

    3. Anon

      If they said they’d be in touch in three weeks, wait three weeks and a few days. I know, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to wait. But if you contact them before then, it’ll look pushy. Hang in there.

      1. Katrina

        I’ve been at my current company since I got out of college and this is the first job I’ve applied for elsewhere that I have been excited about so it’s super frustrating! I will wait it out and hope for the best.

  41. CalicoK

    Is radio silence the default rejection post-interviews? I’ve had a couple of 1st round interviews since the beginning of the year, and everyone keeps saying, “We’ll be in touch next week.” Two weeks later I follow up and it’s dead silence. I’ve learned to let it go, but it’s just BEYOND HAIR PULLING FRUSTRATING when someone tells you they will be in touch but never do. Grrr!!

      1. CalicoK

        I don’t mind the radio silence (as much) if people didn’t promise that they’d be in touch with a specified period of time. I sort of get the silence after you submit a job application, but after an interview? I just think that’s wrong.

        1. Katrina

          Agreed! To me it doesn’t seem time consuming to send off a quick email saying you didn’t make the cut.

        2. Windchime

          It’s the same kind of thing when a guy says he’ll call you after a date or when he gets your number when you’re at the bar. It doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t count on a call; let it be a nice surprise if it happens.

          I don’t know why people say they’ll call when they have no intention of doing so, but they do and we just have to learn to roll with it.

    1. Eden

      How hard could it possibly be to simply send out a form email to unsuccessful candidates that says, in essence, “thanks for applying but this position has been filled, so best of luck with your search and feel free to fruitlessly apply in the future, P.S. this email address is not monitored so don’t bother replying”?

      I mean, most candidates have gone through the online application process and their email addys are stored in a database. It would be pretty simple to have an action, like taking down the job posting, that would trigger this email.

      1. CalicoK

        I hear you! It seems to simple, but I guess the process is difficult to implement this is difficult? I guess my feeling is that when you’re interviewing, you’re owed at least a quick email saying thanks but no thanks. I go out of my way to schedule time off to go to interviews and prepping for these interviews takes up a lot of time and brain space.

        1. fposte

          Honestly, I don’t think it’s that difficult. I think it’s just that there are no immediate bad consequences for places that skip that step, so it’s easy to fall into the habit of doing so. I mean, I don’t even have mail merge and I manage to send rejections to all our applicants; it doesn’t take that much time.

          1. Lee

            I was on an interview panel at a previous job for a very entry-level position (pretty much little or no prior experience required). My boss at the time was pretty terrible. We interviewed 6 people. When I asked how she would let the non-successful candidates know she said ‘Oh I won’t, they’ll figure it out when we don’t contact them’. If I thought I could keep their contact details, and she wouldn’t have been extremely annoyed, I would have emailed them myself. In this day and age, a general email would be so easy and save so much unnecessary waiting/stress for candidates.

  42. De Minimis

    Venting too….I’m having to fill in for a vacant position in another department. The department only has a nominal connection to what I do, so it’s pretty challenging. The people in other department are a little confused as to why I’m there, and I think it’s just another case of my supervisors’ general lack of knowledge about the work I do, or about the work this other department does.

    Not doing well at the fill-in position right now, and it will probably soon get to where it starts to affect other people. They just posted the announcement for the vacant position, but I think I’ve got at least a month to go of this. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if my supervisor had the bright idea of just having me help out here permanently. It sucks…outside of work, very little in my life is going well, and now it seems like things are crappy even at work.

    1. Rebecca

      I feel your pain. My situation of “help out while someone is on medical leave” just turned into “Oh hey, guess what, you get 3/4 of her workload on top of your workload, permanently”. I am not kidding. I am juggling, doing it badly, and the company is all like, just make it work, and pull in help from others where you need to.

      I am so fed up.

      1. The Real Ash

        I’m having issues with that wher I work right now. It finally took going to my direct supervisor and telling her that I feel overwhelmed and that no one cares. If it is possible, be frank with your direct supervisor and let them know what’s up. I would even detail exactly how many things you do every day and how you can’t keep up. If nothing else, whenever you ask for help, ask for it in writing, in detail, and copy your supervisor so you can have a paper trail.

        1. drives me crazy

          At what point does “filling-in” bisect “taking on new responsibilities” and equal “pay raise”? People have left at my company and we have all had to share responsibilities since replacements aren’t getting hired. No salary adjustments because management says we are in financial trouble so paying more for more work done isn’t possible. But this causes more people to leave because they can get paid more elsewhere. Soon there won’t be anyone left to do any of the work…

          1. The Real Ash

            The company needs to decide for themselves if they’re willing to let that happen. Clearly in this case they do not care about the workers; they don’t want to hire anyone to help ease the workload, and they don’t want to compensate you for your added reponsiblities. It is their own fault if everyone abandons their ship. In your career, your first priority should be yourself, always. The company’s first priority is going to be its own interests, yours should not be any different.

            1. Rebecca

              And this is why I am documenting every single process improvement I’ve implemented, and I’ve already asked for a pay raise, and/or more vacation days, and the ability to work from home several days per week. I don’t mind working hard, but I haven’t had an evaluation or a raise in 3 years, and it’s obvious the company couldn’t give a rat’s behind about it.

              And, I’m looking for another job.

      2. De Minimis

        Yeah, should have mentioned that I’m also supposed to keep up with my regular duties and go back and forth between the two departments. Thankfully my regular job has the senior employee that I’m supposed to be shadowing, so she can do a lot of the day to day stuff.

        I am trying to view it as an expansion of my skill-set to where I can say I’ve had experience with medical billing/collections. It is a lower level job, although that really isn’t the problem for me, it’s more that I’m just not so great at it, and when I’m behind, the whole process kind of grinds to a halt and that’s not good. I know I’ve only been at it one week, but I’m pretty frustrated. The only positive is that I’m fairly busy so the days go by more quickly.

        I’m also really disorganized, which is a bad trait in my field, but it’s even worse here….I just get overwhelmed by all the paper.

        1. Windchime

          Medical billing is really complicated and it’s mind-boggling that they thought they could just throw someone into that with no training or experience. No wonder you’re overwhelmed!

  43. Imposter

    I cannot get over “Imposter syndrome.” I’ve read the post on it here and other websites and while they’ve been helpful, I really can’t get past it. It impacts my ability to interview because I always feel like my resume makes me look better than I am, and that I’m just awful. It’s impossible for me to sell myself in person because I feel like everyone will think I’m just a joke. Anyone have any tips for me (besides therapy – been there, done that.)?

    1. Lindsay

      Fake it ’til you make it! (And find a different therapist?) Remember that interviews aren’t exactly high-stakes situations. You’re there to find out if you’re a good fit, and they invited you because they think you just might be the best fit.

      It’s just a conversation.

      And while you are not your resume, your resume reflects your real world experience and skills, and it’s part of who you are. You have those skills, and employers want someone with those skills. You are marketable.

      Practice, first, saying nothing negative about yourself. And write all the things that you are awesome at – and focus on those. Like all things in life, I think practice makes perfect.

    2. ThatOneRedhead

      Valerie Young’s book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women”. Changed my whole perspective.

    3. Del

      If it’s available to you — interview for stuff you genuinely can’t do. Or rather, if you get into interviews where you know you can’t, use those for practice.

      When I was looking to make an interdepartmental move at my company, the first few positions I interviewed for were ones that I knew within the first 10 minutes of the interview I would fail horribly at. I had brief panics, and then completely relaxed — because at that point, my goals changed from “get this job” to “leave a good impression with this manager and build connections within the company.” So whether or not I could do the job became moot; it just turned into presenting the best “me” I could and letting the manager make the decision.

      Then when I did land an interview I really wanted (the job I currently have), I was a lot more relaxed because I could fully see the difference between “this is a job I actually 100% could not successfully do” and “Nah, I got this, my skills cover all this stuff.”

    4. Not So NewReader

      Please don’t think I am rude, I tell myself the very same thing I am saying to you.

      If I am worried about feeling like an imposter then I am not spending enough energy/time/concentration on the work in front of me.

      If you concentrate on learning about the company, the interviewer. observing your surroundings then that should not leave you a lot of brain space to worry about being fake.

      See, there’s more than one way to be fake. If I am preoccupied about how I look/sound then I am not thinking about the company. I am not thinking about the interviewer’s words. I am not thinking about how I can help this company. What does that make me? An imposter because I am presenting myself as someone who has the company’s interests at heart, yet the thoughts in my head are all about ME.

      Regroup. Look at the job. What skills does it require? Where do you match up to what they need? How can you help them do what they do?

      See, it’s one thing if everyone thinks I am a joke- that can be worked through. But if I think I am a joke, then no one is going to
      be able to help me.

      Why do we have these imposter syndrome problems and other problems? Perhaps because we are afraid of failure. It is easier to generalize and say “well I am an imposter anyway.” The deep dark secret is that everyone fails at some point. Decide to be responsible for the inevitable mistakes that happen along the way. Just decide that you will fix any mistakes you make.

  44. Confuzzled

    I’d like you guys’ opinion on something. I’ma receptionist at my job and I believe my boss has something against me, I just don’t know if I’m reading too much into it, or even if I’m able to counteract it if true. She’s told me a few times I come off as dumb because I’m “pretty and nice”. She’s also documented in my file that I often come in 10 minutes late everyday, and that it takes me an additional 20 minutes to get settled (untrue, I come in on time everyday and set up the coffee machine for everyone , which takes 5-10 minutes). I’m very new, so I’m thinking this might be red flags for more serious problems down the line. What do others think?

    1. Rebecca

      I’m old school, and old (51) so back in the day 8 AM start meant in your chair, computer on, and working at 8 AM, not walking in the door at 8 AM. Not sure what the environment is at your office, but perhaps you should arrive 15 minutes prior to start time, put your coat away, do other things, and be in your seat and working when the start time arrives. Appearances are everything, and you don’t want to be perceived as someone who is constantly late, no matter what the reason.

      1. Confuzzled

        The culture here is much more relaxed than that (I’ve worked in offices where a 9am start time meant be at your desk at 8:55), but here it’s reasonable to walk in at 9, set up things in the office (because that is beginning the “work” day), and it’s only a problem when I do it, plus the exaggeration of time kind of threw me off as it certainly doesn’t take a half hour to do these things.

        1. Anonymous

          I think her comment about your appearance was way out of line, but maybe she has a valid point about “being late”. I know you say the culture is to be in at 9, but if you’re the receptionist it might be different for you. You’re expected to answer the phone, greet guests, etc so maybe it’s not reasonable for your position to come in at 9 and then start making coffee, etc. I can’t say whether this is the case or not, but it’s worth considering.

          1. fposte

            Could be, but receptionist is likely to be non-exempt, so if she starts earlier she should get paid for that time.

    2. fposte

      “She’s told me a few times I come off as dumb because I’m ‘pretty and nice'”

      Whoa. That is a deeply inappropriate and unprofessional thing to say. I don’t know whether she has it in for you or not, but she is, professionally speaking, a fruitcake and should be treated gingerly.

      1. Confuzzled

        She definitely is. I guess I don’t have enough evidence at this point, but will tread lightly around her, since she has no idea of what’s appropriate to say smh.

    3. littlemoose

      That definitely sounds like a problem, and I don’t think you are overreacting. The biggest red flag for me is that she is documenting that you are consistently late, when in fact that is not true! Does your employer have HR or someone else you could talk to? Do you think it would be worth it to say to her in a non-confrontational manner, “Hey, I noticed that you have been marking me as late by 10 minutes, but I have consistently been arriving at 9:00, which I understood to be the strt time for m workday. Do you expect me to arrive at 8:45 instead?” Although, of course, if you are hourly, you need to be paid for that extra 15 minutes if she expects you to be in early and you do arrive early. But yes, this is a big problem. Any input from Alison?

      1. Confuzzled

        Thanks so much, I was thinking that I was crazy! The problem is that these incidents were reported about 2 months ago, I just happened to come across it. She never approached me about “lateness” so I can rectify it if it were an issue, she emailed HR and placed a copy in my file. So it’s her word against mine. I’m just unaware what other sneaky things she’s falsely documenting, and if it’s even worth trying to clear my name.

        1. Eden

          If you don’t have an actual time clock, I would start doing something first thing every morning with a time stamp on it, and keep a file of whatever it is (send an email to yourself, or something) so that you have documentation of when you are actually at your desk in the morning. Just in case.

          1. ec

            Ya, you need to figure out someway to document your time if your employer is lying about it! This is a huge deal. Also, if making coffee is part of your job (some places it is, some places it isn’t) then that should be counted as part of your time. Ask your supervisor if that is part of your job (if it is unclear) and if she says no, then stop making it. But don’t come in 15 minutes early, make the coffee off the clock, and then come to your desk. That’s not right.

    4. A Bug!

      She sounds like a nightmare and I hope it doesn’t end up going poorly for you. Putting notes in your file without telling you that there’s a problem is terrible management.

      The “dumb” comment was out of line, period, and I won’t speculate on why she might have said that because it doesn’t actually matter. But…

      …if someone had said that to me, I would consider whether or not there’s something in the way I speak that might have encouraged that impression. Not because there might be truth in what was said, but because that kind of judgmental garbage is distressingly common, and if there was something I could do to prevent being misjudged that way, I would.

      Do you say “um” a lot, or often use uptalk? These are things that, when coming from certain people, don’t really leave much of an impression, but when someone’s already predisposed to think of you as a bimbo, might contribute to that perception. Attractive receptionists are especially vulnerable to this, because some people have the idea that reception is very easy work and that if a woman were smart and attractive she wouldn’t have to be a receptionist.

  45. Just a Reader

    My beloved boss is taking a new role and I will no longer report to her. I actually cried when I found out–that’s how much I love working for her. I am NOT a crier.

    I am having a lot of anxiety about a new (yet to be hired) boss. A large part of my success here is my boss’s willingness to set me up for success, and make sure everyone knows when I shine. I don’t think lightning strikes twice.

    I’ll have the opportunity to interview candidates so that’s good. What should I ask them? I am afraid of a non-flexible micromanager. Right now I have tons of flexibility and almost total autonomy.

    1. Windchime

      I don’t have any advice, but I feel for you. I have an awesome boss at this time; zero complaints at all and I feel like this is the first time *ever* that I would consider following a boss if he left to go someplace else. Not in a creepy, stalker-ish way but in a “I want to keep working for you!” way.

    2. J

      I had a beloved boss leave the organization last fall. I also cried and was very anxious about who would replace him. Although new boss is essentially his opposite, she has become just as beloved. No advice on questions since I wasn’t part of the hiring process, but just wanted to share some hope that lightning can indeed strike twice — actually, lightning strikes the Empire State Building thousands of times a year, so the odds are in your favour!

  46. Chrissi

    What amount of pay cut would you take in order to be able to change careers completely? I’ve been in a job for 11 years w/ a government agency and have topped out in pay and will likely never be management. I’d like to change careers but feel like I can only take a pay cut so deep to do that. Probably the most I could handle is 20%. I am single and have no one else to fall back on, so I feel like I have to keep a certain level of pay. And to be honest, some of that is that I have no desire to go down to eating Ramen noodles for dinner every night and just scrape by. I suppose if I really felt passionately about something, I’d be willing to make more sacrifices.

    This is not really asking for advice – I’m just intrigued to know what other people would sacrifice to change careers if they were unhappy in the one they have? Or what people HAVE sacrificed to change careers?

    1. pgh_adventurer

      I took a 50% pay cut last year: from 40k call center job to an Americorps fellowship program. It was really, really hard, but showed me that I wasn’t stuck in the same rut and could take a risk and have it pay off. At the same time, working my way back up the pay ladder to something comfortable seems like an impossible dream sometimes.

    2. vvondervvoman

      There are some career changes that you could reasonably switch and make a decent amount, because there are opportunities to gain experience in them while still employed. I think it’ll also work in your favor because higher paid career tracks (which I’m assuming you’ll gravitate towards since you’re topped out at your current position) tend to start off a little bit higher too, so an entry level salary is higher than it would be in other career paths.

    3. Rebecca

      At this point, as bad as the economy is, and the reports of people losing decent paying jobs only to be able to find part time, low paying jobs, the answer for me personally is zero. I would rather stay at a sucky, horrible job that I hate than take a big pay cut and have to worry about how I’m going to feed myself or stay warm on top of everything else.

    4. Colette

      I took a 30% pay cut once while remaining in the same industry. (I was a software developer during the high tech bubble, and when I eventually got laid off from that company, the market rate had dropped considerably.)

      Then I changed to customer service and took another pay cut.

  47. Anoning It

    Howdy! I saw this article the other day about cover letters for lawyers on Above the Law (link to follow – ignore for a moment that this article is from a well-known legal ‘tabloid’). It referred to the cover letter as a “formality” and seemed to have a pretty low bar for what attorneys should write in their cover letter. This runs against the grain of what AAM advises here – thoughts? Different professions are different, sure, but is it possible that in law: “No one has ever been hired because he or she wrote an amazing cover letter. Many people have been rejected because they submitted a poorly written cover letter. ” ?

    1. Leslie Yep

      My significant other is in the legal field and this comports with what I understand from him. It’s like a Ron Swanson (Parks & Rec)-style letter: “Dear Law Firm, I would like to work with you. Sincerely, Lawyer.”

    2. LF

      This makes sense to me. The law firm wants to know that it won’t have to train a candidate from scratch to handle certain things. The example that the article highlighted as acceptable the experience that the candidate has. When you say that you’ve worked on “x” types of matters, usually you’re not talking about job duties, but exposure to specialized legal skills or knowledge.

  48. Chocolate Teapot

    This is why I always send off some more applications, even if the job isn’t quite right for me.

    I find it helps with the frustration before I get the “Dear Chocolate Teapot. Thank you for attending the interview. Get Stuffed.” letter.

  49. judy

    I’m working on my resume. Is there a better way to phrase this?

    “Enhanced existing spreadsheets by adding pivot tables and other advanced excel functions”

    At my job, there are several spreadsheets that I’ve added pivot tables, vertical look ups, and other formulas to that have greatly improved efficiency.

    Thanks!!

    1. vvondervvoman

      I would lead with improving efficiency, and then explain how.

      “Improved efficiency by using pivot tables and other advance Excel functions in existing spreadsheets.”

      If you have a number that indicates it, add it in. Either time, or # of tasks able to complete, whatever.

  50. vvondervvoman

    Does anyone have advice on selecting graduate programs to apply to?

    I’m balancing cost, specific concentrations/coursework offered, urban vs. rural location, and domestic v. international programs.

    I’m not factoring in things like potential advisors/faculty who specialize in my field, research opportunities, or the amount of time it will take, etc. But I’m wondering if I should be.

    My eventual goal is to get a PhD in a very specific niche field, and the idea is this graduate degree is going to position me for one of the top 5 most prestigious programs in the country for that field.

    For me, there are certain factors that are up against each other. Cost vs. prestige is the main one. Obviously if you’re dropping 90k on a prestigious degree, that may be worth it. But is it really? I just can’t bear the thought of it, especially when I have access to programs that cost less than 5-10k.

    1. just laura

      There are few programs/fields where prestige of institution actually matters. Can you be more specific about your field?

      1. vvondervvoman

        Sure! This is for an MPH with a concentration in global health and reproductive/sexual health. The PhD would be in Medical Anthropology.

    2. MissDisplaced

      Depending on your field, you should totally be figuring in the professors, advisors and the type/style of research they do!

      For instance, some programs heavily feature and focus on quantitative research, but if you really enjoy Qualitative research methodologies, you would be miserable there.

      It’s good to see you’re shopping around! Graduate school is a huge investment, and you should enter into it with caution, much as though you were buying a house. I can’t say if going to a prestigious school or program helps or not… It really depends on your major. With law or medicine this may make a huge difference, but with other majors such a nursing or even business or science, it may not matter nearly as much WHERE you study, but WHAT you study.

      I think that if you’re going into a specific “niche” field as you say, you should definitely seek to meet with the professors before you decide and let them know your ultimate goal.

      1. vvondervvoman

        That’s a really good point. I was wondering if I could talk to professors/advisors and tell them my 20 year plan, and ask if this program fits into it. It sounds like this is more common than I thought it was.

        I also never thought of it as qualitative vs. quantitative. The MPH is usually quantitative, but can incorporate qualitative methodologies as well. I do know that I want to improve my abilities on the quant. side but really I want my career to focus on qual. stuff and the PhD in Med. Anthro will definitely be qual., but I’ll have already completed a MA in Anthro using qual methods before I’m applying to the MPH. This is amazing advice–thank you!

    3. fposte

      I’m with others in thinking you need to pay more attention to research and faculty. If the PhD is the eventual goal, you really need to think about what stuff makes you a strong PhD candidate–the master’s is much more than a credential. Are you thinking you’ll get a PhD at this same institution? How’s their homegrown admit rate, if so? In the fields I’m familiar with, you really will want to know who you’d be likely to be working with for a PhD, so if you’re planning to do masters to PhD at the same place, you don’t want to lock yourself in to a place that isn’t doing the work you want.

      1. vvondervvoman

        Yea, I think I sort of already realized that I need to talk to potential faculty/advisors, but now it’s a definite necessity. I won’t be doing these at the same institution or even field, but I don’t want to be locked in for even 2 years at a place that isn’t doing the work I’m interested in!

    4. Lindsay

      I second what just Laura says – I haven’t found institution prestige to be very important. My first thought is to recommend selecting a program that will put you in as little debt as possible. Do your research about career prospects and be realistic. Will you get a job soon enough and make enough money to repay student loans? Because they’re horrible and unforgiving.

      1. College Career Counselor

        Program prestige over university prestige in grad school, in general, is what I advise.

        Also, what are the job/employment prospects for PhDs in that field? GET SPECIFIC NUMBERS from the grad program. Be very leery of “all our graduates find gainful employ” type responses. Gainful employ doing WHAT? And, you have to look at the cost–will they fund you? Will it be enough to live on, or will you have to take out (likely non-dischargeable as debt in the event of bankruptcy) loans? It makes no sense to spend $90k to get a $35k/year job (or have to switch fields if you can’t get a job in your chosen academic arena).

        This advice assumes that you’re looking to be an academic, but it still has some applicability if you’re entering industry.

        1. fposte

          Good point on program vs. university–once you’re in the field, people only care about what happens in that field, and patterns within a discipline vary wildly from general/undergrad prestige.

        2. vvondervvoman

          Program vs uni prestige is a good point. I think I’ll keep that in mind. Where would I get information on program prestige? It’s a little harder to find than the whole uni.

          I think I wasn’t clear enough I think in my timeline. The PhD is in the 15-20 year plan. A grad degree in Anthro is in the 5 year plan, the MPH is in the 10 year plan, and then the focus will be a solid career in global public health. At some point, I’m probably going to want to move into medical anthropology and that’s when the PhD will come into play. I just don’t want to spend 4+ years in grad school and find I’m not a good PhD candidate after all that work!

          Is it wrong/bad to not really care about the program stats? I plan on being quite successful in a career before launching into the PhD to enter into academia, and if I can’t land a job in academia, I would want to continue working in the field I was in before the program. I haven’t done any specific research into the PhD, because I need the MPH for the first leg of my career anyway (public health is one of those fields you can’t advance without a grad degree), I just want to make the most of it in case I do end up wanting to pursue the PhD.

          Also, I appreciate the money comments, but I’m not personally concerned. One grad program will be less than $2k and amongst the MPH ones I’m looking at, they will be less than $10k. I also don’t have to worry about living expenses because my partner is the primary breadwinner anyways. I realize I’m extremely privileged so I do understand that this is an important concern.

          1. Anon

            As a public health researcher with lots of friends in public health programming who really hated getting her MPH, I question your assumption. You’ll get WAY more out of your graduate degree (whatever it may be) if you have work experience first – also, you’ll position yourself well for a better graduate program. I also question the need for multiple graduate degrees – if your plan is to be a perpetual student, that’s one thing, but if not, what do you actually want to do? If the answer is teach, then go straight for a PhD or a DPH. If the answer is work in the field (internationally), do that first, and explore getting a degree afterwards if you need it. If you want to do research but stay stateside, PhD or DPH is the answer. If you want to work for an international public health organization but stay stateside, a single MPH will get you where you need to be. If there’s a specific topic that interests you, read up on it, and scour the bibliography for people who currently teach, and find out where they’re at.

            Very few fields require a 15-year educational plan (surgery comes to mind), and international public health work is definitely not one of them.

    5. TL

      If you’re going to a Ph.D program, definitely consider research mentor! There are awful, awful PIs out there. And wonderful ones.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I know there’s a whole industry cropping up to convince people they need creatively designed resumes like this, but they don’t. Hiring managers don’t want them. They want the traditional resume, easily scannable, nothing fancy. People should save their money; this type of thing isn’t useful, although it’s certainly very pretty.

      1. Anonymous

        Agreed!
        I can understand it for creative fields where this is more expected.
        But honestly, even as a designer I still end up submitting my “plain vanilla” resume for most jobs, and then pointing them to a portfolio website via a link. I think maybe only once in 20 years has anyone said my paper resume was “too boring” for a designer.

      1. A Bug!

        Even as a baby, I put 110% into everything I did. When I pooped my diaper, I pooped it with conviction. I put the same passion into my work that I once put into my diapers, and I’m excited for the opportunity to do that with you.

  51. MissDisplaced

    I was offered and accepted a job!
    The position is pretty much all I could ever want and is exactly the area I was looking for.

    BUT… (why must there be a but?)

    The salary is LOW. I mean really low. The initial offer was for $40k. I was able to successfully negotiate a higher starting salary to $45k, but that’s as far as they would go. The benefits are also really great.

    I should be happy, BUT this salary is still a full $15-20k LOWER than I made in my last two full-time jobs. Honestly, I haven’t worked for $45k since the mid-1990’s when it was earlier in my career (lower level jobs), and with fewer expectations and responsibility attached!

    I suppose I have to “suck it up buttercup” being that I’ve been unemployed for the last 4 months, and having no other firm offers in place. I’m hoping for the best here (this is a very stable company) and trying to mentally adjust to the fact that this just seems to be the way of things nowadays with middle class Americans being downgraded and salaries shrinking. It’s just not the way I’d have hoped to begin a new job.

    1. MissDisplaced

      Yes, this job will have a great many expectations and general level of responsibilities (jack of all trades) as my two previous positions. The only difference is that in the higher-paid of the one ExJobs I did manage a small staff. There is no management of staff here, though I may be expected in the future to manage interns.

      There is room to advance, either within the department or in other areas within the company. I don’t know about timing of those, as it would depend of when/if people leave or other projects opening up, but yes there can be a progression upward.

      1. Parfait

        it’s still a buyer’s market, sadly. Knock their socks off and move on up! congrats on landing the gig!

    2. Eden

      *sigh*

      I would be overjoyed to make 40-45K. Would it help your perspective to know that bunches of us make much less?

      Also, just so you know, I have been in the workforce since 1986, so it’s not that I’m a newbie.

      1. MissDisplaced

        Oh, I’m well aware that so many people make less!
        Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have gotten a job.

        It’s just that when you made $60k at your last job, and $64k at the one before (and in the $50’s for about 5 years prior), $45k seems like a really BIG dip. I mean, $15k a year basically equals a car! It is also $15k that could be badly needed to go to my nonexistent retirement fund. Basically, it’s a LOT of money left off the table that could be going toward a more comfortable future.

        Of course both of those jobs also did end in layoffs too.
        I’m not being greedy… but part of me just feels as though the bad economy means settling for less. Working harder, doing EXTRA, and bettering yourself means getting paid less and not more? Whatever happened to ‘moving on UP?

        Guess I’m just feeling a tad bitter and isn’t that the case for most American workers right now?

        1. Anon

          Consider that layoffs were necessary at your previous two jobs because people were being compensated higher than competitors, which made the company staffing plan unsustainable. It sucks to realize this, but your work is only worth what people are willing to pay for it, and what the overall economy will support. Upward career trajectories aren’t guaranteed, especially as technology makes some skills obsolete, and new ones way more important.

  52. grumpycat

    All the men in my office just slipped out to watch March Madness at the bar – no vacation days used! they bragged. This is after my boss took the new guy golfing this morning and sent us all an email telling us to train on the new report type and show the new guy on Monday.

    I’m VERY unhappy right now.

    1. GoodGirl

      I just have to tell you how much I love your screenname. :) I actually have a Grumpy Cat stuffed animal that my SO gave me as a gift.

      But yeah – I can understand why you would be grumpy about this situation. I live in SEC country, so I imagine our productivity the next few weeks will be low.

    2. Sunflower

      ah do you work in the office with the woman who’s company president took the boys out to watch the USA Olympic hockey game?

      I’m assuming you weren’t invited so…

      WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE??? Do they think you’re blind and don’t notice all the people who have left for the day without using PTO?

      1. Ali

        My coworkers leave a lot for things like company picnics, in-office trivia contests/field days, holiday parties, etc. Since a lot of us work remotely or in the company’s satellite office on the other side of the country, it can be annoying when you notice all the people who are near the main office get to have all the fun. However…the people who are out having fun always make up the time earlier or later in the day. It makes it only a little less annoying than it actually is.

  53. GoodGirl

    Happy Update Alert! :-D

    I had posted about this several weeks ago and wanted to share some good news. :) My original post revolved around being lonely in a new city. I’ve been in Current City for just about a year, and it’s been a real struggle making friends. On top of that, I work from home most of the time, so that hasn’t helped either. I moved to Current City for a variety of reasons (mostly due to my significant other being here).

    Well, after a lot of thought, I decided last week to move back to Old City! My work team is thrilled, as are my friends and family. My SO is considering moving to Old City with me as well. This is the most excited/at peace I’ve felt in months.

    A lot of people on AAM provided a lot of helpful ideas and encouragement and I want to thank you all. I’m glad that I took a chance and moved to a new city – I learned a lot about myself and it most definitely deepened my relationship with my SO. Y’all rock!

  54. Kd

    My company has seemingly useless policies in place.

    Here’s the story: My coworker has been a contractor with the company for a while (~2 years.) No job prospects in our current department. She applied for a position in a different department and was offered a contract there. She informally accepted. Her current and future manager talked and determined a transition date. Everything seemed a-okay until her future manager said the contract could not be approved! Apparently, our company has some sort of policy that limits the amount of time a contractor can work here.. Even in a completely different role in a different department.

    What could be the reasoning behind this time limit?

    1. Elysian

      Might be trying to stop nepotism or other kinds of favoritism. Or they might be trying to skirt some law by trying to keep people classified as contractors instead of employees. I’ve seen these policies before but I’ve never really thought much about it.

    2. Colette

      It’s about trying to keep a distinction between employees and contractors (so that the company doesn’t get sued by a contractor for the benefits they give their employees). A lot of companies have a limit for how many consecutive months a contractor can work for them.

      1. NOLA

        exactly right — at my company a contractor can only work for us for 2 years in a row. Then they would need to take a break (I think it is 3 months) before coming eligible for another contract position. We call it needing to sit on the bench…i.e. SuzyQ needs to sit on the bench until June so we can’t assign her to the TPS reports

  55. Reality Bites

    OK…I am on a sinking ship. My company has lost several key members from various teams in the past six months, and prior to that almost half of the entire company. There have been inroads made towards hiring new people, but there are still internal process and product issues that are not being resolved. I don’t think hiring more while ignoring the issues causing turnover will help, but maybe I am wrong.

    On top of that, I feel taken advantage of in my position because of all of this turnover which causes really poor transitions with the remaining teams. I have voiced my concerns and where I want to actually develop my role within the company, but have been met with silence. Recruiters have begun to reach out to me as of late, and I am receptive. I want off of this sinking ship. And trust me, I already have tried to give this a chance to improve and I regret not departing the first time.

    Not really a question, just felt good to say it.

    1. MissDisplaced

      Been there.
      Start looking NOW and begin getting all your duckies in a row.
      Get your references sorted out and make a work portfolio if you need to do so.
      Take care of any needed medical/dental things while you still have insurance (in case they do layoff).
      I mean, it may be worthwhile to stay until something like a layoff happens… but at least you’ll be prepared for it.

  56. VictoriaHR

    I’ll be teaching a “soft skills” “after you get the job” class next week that’s the final class in a 5-part series on job hunting. Does anyone have any stories of someone that they worked with who was clueless in one of more of the soft skills?

    Acting as a team player
    Flexibility
    Effective communication
    Problem-solving skills and resourcefulness
    Accepting feedback and applying lessons learned
    Confidence
    Creative thinking

      1. VictoriaHR

        It’ll mostly just be talking about what the skills are and some various ways they can work on them. This is a class for lower-income folks that I’m volunteering my time for, through the local library, so some people do need to be told to be on time, wear appropriate clothing, etc.

        1. College Career Counselor

          Can you do something on the “unwritten rules” of the organization, with examples? Just because your day ends at 5, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea to be packing up your stuff at 4:58 (if you’re exempt, I mean). This is about picking up on the cultural norms of the institution in order that you’re perceived as a “good fit” long term.

    1. Sascha

      Acting as a team player AND flexibility – A former coworker on my team of support techs had a problem with chronic absenteeism and just leaving work in the middle of the day or last-minute rearranging her schedule for things like “I want to take my daughter shopping at 2pm instead of 4pm, so I’m coming in early so I can leave at 1pm.” She didn’t understand that the world did not revolve around her and what she felt like doing that day. Her attendance problems constantly left us without support coverage when we needed it. She thought “flexible” meant “I can work WHENEVER I want” – for this job, it meant we could set regular schedules ourselves, we didn’t have to worry about being five minutes late to work, and if we needed to leave for something unexpected, we could talk to our boss – but all within reason of course. It’s flexible, but not in the way she expected. Note: we were up front during the interview about what flexibility meant in this job, so it should not have been a surprise to her.

      1. Sascha

        *I need to note, Coworker did not ask the boss prior to leaving work unexpectedly or rearranging her schedule, she would just up and leave. When the boss talked to her about this problem and said she needed to get permission, she then started sending snarky emails to him asking for permission with the rest of the team copied.

    2. Sascha

      Communication – another former coworker, “Fred”, had problems with doing projects. Whenever projects were assigned, he would always say he didn’t to be involved, he wanted no part of them, etc etc. So he never got projects assigned to him, since he made it quite clear that he did not want to do them. Okay, fine, Fred can focus on daily support tickets. However this was not satisfying to Fred. He then complained to me and other coworkers that he never got projects assigned to him, and he didn’t want to work on tickets all day. So I told Fred why – he said he didn’t want to do them to our manager, so he didn’t get them. I asked Fred why he would say those things, and if he told our manager that he really did want to work on them. His response was he didn’t want to be responsible for making decisions or something like that. I think if he just talked this out with our manager, they could have come up with a compromise, however the few times Fred did get some projects, he did not complete them because he got hung up on the details and had a difficult time moving forward.

    3. Anon

      For “team player” and “problem-solving skills”:

      Sometimes people don’t realize that pointing out all the ways in which something could go wrong or why something can’t be done can come across as a bad attitude and unhelpful. These people sometimes honestly think that they’re being constructive. I’ve found that it’s helpful to reframe their thinking in the vein of “how do we get to yes?” This framing emphasizes that being constructive requires extending beyond trouble-shooting to how something CAN get done.

  57. Going full to part time because... reasons

    Anne here again.

    I think I’m likely to have an interview for a part time job soon. 25 hours per week. It’s actually, and it would be a pay bump despite being part time. I applied for it over other jobs specifically because I would LOVE to work part time just because… you know… I like video games? And I’ll be able to clean my house more? Yeah… I do not have kids. I do not have a lot of commitments. I do not have health problems. I just want an extra 15 hours a week to play visual novels and knit Avengers toys.

    Well, also, I imagine I’ll be taking some more distance courses to continue getting qualified as an accountant. But this is a pretty basic credit control job. It is not really accountancy. I’m not sure I want to say to them “I want to take this part-time job you’re offering so I’ll have more time to study for the jobs I REALLY want!”

    I also don’t want to say “I’m willing to compromise on hours for this role because it is perfect otherwise” because actually, the hours aren’t a compromise for me. They’re the selling point. But mostly because I’m lazy.

    What to do? In their place, I would definitely ask why I wanted to leave full-time for part time. So do I tell them about my courses? Pretend I’m less enthusiastic about the hours than I actually am? Or put together the best mumbo jumbo I can about work-life balance and hope they don’t think I’m just lazy?

    1. Going full to part time because... reasons

      Um… I seem to have missed a few words. In the first paragraph, I meant to say “It’s actually in my field”

    2. Lindsay

      Ohhh I would LOVE to work part-time if I could afford it. I would definitely show your enthusiasm for the hours, because they might be concerned someone will take the job and leave it as soon as something full-time comes along.

      I would tell them about your courses and that part-time hours will give you time to attend to various other commitments. A good employer would be OK with your developing yourself for a future career. Good luck!!

  58. Audiophile

    Has anyone seen the ‘Get-The-Job-Guide’ from Glamour this month?

    A friend sent it to me because I’m job hunting, as I’ve mentioned here. Interesting note, it suggests sending both an email and a handwritten note. I’ve basically decided to not send a handwritten note. My handwriting sucks. But I’m curious what others think. I think the other tips were useful and I may reconsider that tip in the future.

    1. Laura2

      Handwritten notes are silly, since they’ll arrive days later – probably after the interviewer has decided whether they want to bring you in for a second round/hire you.

      I think email is fine. We do pretty much everything job-related by email when it’s not done by phone, and a handwritten note might just seem cheesy or even clueless.

    2. Stephanie

      Eh, I think that’s overkill. What would you say in the handwritten note that you didn’t say in the email? Plus, mail can take forever to arrive if it’s a big organization.

    3. Stephanie

      Also, if you have bad handwriting, that’s not going to help.

      “Did she say she was pleased to meet me? Plied to meet me? I can’t read this.”

      1. Audiophile

        This made me smile.

        But seriously, the same person who told me to handwrite thank you notes, also said my handwriting was bad. I knew it wasn’t great, which is part of the reason I hadn’t handwritten notes before.

        And I know from working in corporate, it can take even longer because of additional mail screening setups.

    4. Sunflower

      Haven’t read it but I love Glamour- my secret ‘dream job’- and love how much more focused they are on women’s issues than other mags of their kind. Will definitely be reading!

      Also read a great article on Cosmo- people in high power give 31 best career tips to young women.

    5. College Career Counselor

      I have come across exactly ONE person in the last 15 years who said that he preferred to get a hand-written thank-you note from a job-seeker (this was for a well-known banking and financial services company headquartered in the western U.S.). He liked it because it differentiated the sender from all the other people who “just sent an email.” His reasoning was that it takes more time to get nice stationery, write it out, find a stamp, etc., so this was a mark of someone who put more thought and effort into the process.

      I suspect that he would acknowledge that he was something of an outlier in this regard. Since I was recruiting for internships at the time, I managed to refrain from telling him it could also be the mark of someone who was far less efficient in communication for negligible benefit..

      1. Editor

        Late observation about handwritten notes, but because of my upbringing, I always have notes with matching envelopes and stamps on hand (thank you, post office forever stamps!).

        What takes time is figuring out what to say. That time goes into the note whether it is handwritten or not.

    6. BB

      A handwritten note could be nice if you are networking and want to send a thank you to someone who met with you or hooked you up with another contact. Not so much for interviews where there is a timeline.

      This is coming from someone who hasn’t checked her physical work mailbox since Christmas…

  59. Just a Reader

    Random side note appropriate of nothing–I just found out my sister is a regular commenter here too, and we never recognized each other.

    1. Laufey

      Every now and then I look at a post’s content and/or writing style and wonder if it’s a coworker and/or friend.

      That’s really cool, though!

      1. The Real Ash

        I do that when stories sound similar to my office. “Is someone posting about me/us/that idiot in teh other unit everyone hates?”

    2. ChristineSW

      I’d be almost embarrassed if someone I knew, be it a family member, friend or colleague, turned out to be a regular commenter. I try to be professional and am careful to not post any identifying information, but I sometimes wonder!!

    3. VintageLydia USA

      I recognize a few commenters here that I know elsewhere on the web that I didn’t realize they were commenters until we became friends elsewhere (they don’t always use the same display name.) I don’t know if anyone I know IRL comments here, though. Lydia isn’t my real name and I’m anything but vintage so they may not recognize me if they were.

      1. The Real Ash

        Ha, speaking of which, I can’t believe I didn’t notice you still post here. How’s the old G+ crew? ;)

    4. Anonylicious

      I’ve seen a username in the comments here that I suspect belongs to a sibling of mine. Or it could be a coincidence. I should ask her if she reads AAM.

  60. Stellalala

    I’m so frustrated. I’m a full time student with a part time job. Not related to career stuff, just helping me build up some savings and such.

    Three weeks ago I had a break from school. I got it cleared with my boss that I would be gone that week. I even reminded them before I left because the schedule wasn’t out yet when I left.

    Well, apparently they scheduled me anyway, and marked me down as being a no show for a full week. I never once got a phone call or anything from them. When I came back I went in for one of my usual shifts and wasn’t on the schedule. Then each week since I haven’t had a shift.

    I called my boss this week to ask what was going on, and he was all mad at me for not showing up to my shifts when I was gone. I had NO idea they thought I no showed. I’d been in several times since then and no one once said anything to me about any of it. They were just taking my hours away and not confronting me or saying or doing anything.

    When I reminded him that I was gone that week he changed his tone really quickly and just said “Oh, that’s right!” and gave me some hours for this week.

    I’m just so mad! I lost almost three full weeks of pay because of their lack of organization and communication. They always talk about wanting to be flexible for students so I get lots of shifts, but they are non essential so I can call out if I have a particularly hectic day, which I have done in the past. It was mentioned kind of casually to me before about me not coming in sometimes, which I took to mean call outs, but now I’m afraid they never communicated when I called out and that they think I’m a habitual no show, which is what my boss made it sound like when we discussed this recent incident.

    I don’t particularly care about this job, except that they have a location near where I plan to move to in May when I graduate and they give great benefits, so it was going to be my fall back if finding a job took a long time. Now I’m afraid I can’t rely on them to give me a good recommendation.

    They seem to want to just let this go, but my coworkers are begin incredibly rude to me and I’m getting the worst assignments now. And I think they owe me an explanation or apology or something. I’d like to rationally and clammy have a conversation with them about why no one even called me or asked what happened or any such thing. Or do I need to just let this go?

    1. Just a Reader

      This happened to me once, waitressing in college. I had to take off to have surgery and when I was cleared to return to work they never put me back on the schedule.

      I was unfired.

      I’m sorry that happened. It’s a crappy way to deal with people.

      1. Windchime

        This is such a passive-agressive thing to do. It happened to my son awhile back. They didn’t talk to him or coach him or anything….just started cutting his hours back; hoping, I guess, that he would quit. He transferred to another department instead but jeez–why can’t people just have a conversation!?

    2. Anne

      Yuck! Urrrggh, that would make me really frustrated too. That’s such a cruddy thing to deal with.

      Do your co-workers who are being rude know what happened? Can you tell them “Hey, just so you know, there was some confusion with my shifts – I had actually let Manager know I would be out, but for some reason I was put on the schedule anyway”?

  61. Anonymint

    I’ve posted about this in previous open threads, but I’m getting ready to start a new job on Monday and I’m having some (okay, a lot) of anxiety. I’m coming out of two very toxic workplaces – my first full-time position was managed by a person with no boundaries who often bragged in staff meetings about having a mental illness that was being managed with “dreams and music” (I’m only mentioning this because it was so bizarre – I’m 100% sure that most people with mental illness are perfectly capable of doing their jobs and do not feel the need to make such proclamations to their entire organization). Manager would call me at all hours of the night (multiple times until I picked up the phone) with elaborate (often illegal) money-making schemes to be executed “in secret” as soon as I arrived at work the next day, and several times Manager shared that these schemes were “presented” to them by famous people in dreams (this seemed to concern no one but me). I would show up at work to 10-12 page long emails of to-do lists, and Manager insisted that we meet for several hours every day to dissect my daily schedule so they could “track my productivity” and “make sure I wasn’t wasting time”. Manager had been fired from a previous prominent position for erratic and unethical behavior – so much so that Googling their name turned up plenty of local news articles with details.

    I left 3 years later after a series of panic attacks that sent me to the hospital (Manager called me repeatedly with demands while I was there and I was diagnosed by my GP with “needing a new job”) and went to work for a manager who was the exact opposite. Manager 2 would come to work and often not speak to anyone on our 3 person team for days at a time. No one ever received any direction, and in the 1.5 years I was there, not one of the three of us ever got any type of review or feedback, despite asking for it from HR and from Manager 2. When I left, Manager 2 told me that I’d been “a disappointment from the start and lacked certain skills” but couldn’t actually come up with specifics when I apologized and asked what I could have done to improve.

    I feel a little traumatized and now am afraid that I won’t know how to act in a more professional atmosphere. My new organization is big, has a great structure and is consistently rated the best place to work in my region. Has anyone overcome post-toxic-environment-trauma? Any advice? I’m really excited about the job, but now that it’s getting close to start time, my anxiety is sort of overtaking the excitement.

    1. Elizabeth West

      First, breathe. :)

      It’s hard to let that go, but you have to let it go. One thing that helped me was going through my company’s extensive orientation process (it’s also very large and has a great culture). It showed me that there are procedures in place to deal with problems and that they do care about welcoming new employees and making them feel like they want to be here. Actually doing it helped me separate from Oldjob, which being unemployed did not really do, as I was still kind of mentally putting all potential new jobs through that filter.

      Physically, it will be a new start too. You’ll have a new space, meet new people, drink new coffee from a new pot, etc.

      Try to focus on going forward rather than looking back. If you feel anxious about something, make a note of it so you can remember to find out more later if necessary, and then leave it for the moment. One thing that really feeds anxiety is going over and over something in your head, especially if you don’t know the answer. When you go back later and look at it, it might not seem important, or you might find someone already answered that question for you.

      Remember that your old managers are not there and you don’t have to deal with them ever again. (And personally I think Manager 1’s condition sounds almost completely out of control.)

    2. Trixie

      If its any reassurance, you’d still have some anxiety/excitement over the new job even after the trauma of the old one. That’s just natural. Don’t over think how to act, just be yourself. You’ll be completely absorbed by all the new responsibilities, faces, names, routines, etc.

      In addition to what Elizabeth suggests, I would consider the First Date scenario with someone recently divorced or broken-up who can’t stop talking about their ex. That’s not how you want to start a new relationship or in this case, job. Not only is not helpful/relevant to New Job, its just dragging a bunch of emotional baggage that successfully left at Old Job. If I can avoid bashing any previous jobs in interviews, I like to think I can continue this professional tone once hired.

      Congratulations, and keep us posted!

  62. anon for this

    This week hasn’t been a good week.

    I was told that my line manager was changing – in front of all my colleagues – no warning, no quick “before the meeting can I talk to you?” just – “we thought it was unfair that X had 4 people & Y and 2, and they’re both new, so to be fairer, we swapped J & K to be with Y” – J was me. This also meant that some people I support changed as well, including someone that needs alot of additional attention and I think it’s unfair to both them & the new person (because the new admin is NEW) to have that kind of pressure.
    My new manager is a micromanager as well so ARGHH

    1. Sascha

      I’ve suggested to my bank several times they need to implement two-step authentication, but they have yet to do it. It’s a small, local credit union, so I guess resources are tight and I’m sure it’s not just a simple flip of the switch – I work in IT so I know how things go. :) But really! It’s so necessary these days!! Especially for financial institutions.

    2. Audiophile

      I think I might do this.

      I did it for twitter, have yet to do it for email or anything else. But a friend’s twitter accounts got hacked, and the hackers had a blast posting via those accounts.

  63. chewbecca

    I want to thank whoever it was (I can’t remember) that mentioned Offbeat Bride, oh, several months ago. It’ been so helpful! My fiance got really excited when I mentioned they have tutorials on how to make paper boutineers, and suggested we could do his with comic book pages.

    1. The Real Ash

      One of my friends did that for her husband and the groomsmen. She even added little Lego action figures. They were adorable.

      1. chewbecca

        He brags about it to people when he tells them. “This was chewbecca’s idea!”

        I was looking for ways to save money and fresh flowers are so expensive. I just have to make sure I can actually make them look good before deciding to cut out fresh flowers.

    2. Lalou

      I have to work really hard to stop myself from looking at that site too much. I can spend hours poring over the pictures of beautiful weddings and I’m not even engaged!

  64. Cat

    I’m preparing for an interview next week, and would love to get some input from any parents or educators here as part of my research into the questions they’ll be asking me.

    The position is for a center that offers extra-curricular programs for gifted kids kindergarten-high school. What I’m trying to get a sense of is how parents and educators would like (or be able) to find out about programs like this for their kids and what would make them want to attend, especially as budgets for individuals in-school handling gifted programs are getting cut.

    Any thoughts welcomed!

    1. A Teacher

      Make sure you actually know who to contact at the school and what their name is. My students miss out on lots of possible events because it gets sense to a guidance counselor someone that had my job 7 years ago.

      Don’t send obnoxious junk mail or “opportunities” that will cost my students several hundred dollars or where I need to “nominate” my best students to then apply for a scholarship for your program. That just goes in the trash or recycling bin.

      Make sure that your program has value for the person/audience you try to reach and then I tend to see things on Pinterest, twitter, and FB. If you don’t have a social media presence I probably won’t see it.

      1. Cat

        This is really helpful, thanks! The role is in communications and one thing they want is help with their social media. I suggested they start using pintrest to supplement their existing FB/Twitter, I was surprised how much i found there about gifted education.

    1. Chrissi

      I think that could mean to make decisions more quickly – don’t hem and haw and try to do ALL the research to figure out the “perfect” decision, just make one. Or it could mean that you need to communicate in a more confident way – don’t sound wishy-washy when explaining what you’ve done or decided, stand by your work. Or it could mean you need to make decisions more independently – not asking coworkers or boss for input for everything you do.

    2. Sascha

      It could also mean being more comfortable with your decisions. Maybe if you already are, you might not be coming across that way. For example, someone asks, “What is your decisions on this” and you respond with “Let’s go with option A?…maybe?…what do you think?”

      And in addition to what Chrissi said, it might mean recognizing which things are priority in decision making, and which are not – not trying to get that “perfect” decision. I had a coworker who would try to find a single solution that would satisfy ALL hypothetical situations – and that is impossible. He would not make decisions unless he could cover every single circumstance imaginable, even ones we were likely never to encounter.

      I hope this helps! Any chance you could talk to you boss and ask her to elaborate?

  65. Windchime

    I work in a big IT department of about 100 people. We are a department of a much larger organization. Last week, two people were let go. Management is saying that it’s not part of the restructuring that is going on in other parts of the organization and our management here has a reputation for transparency and honesty, so I have no reason to disbelieve them. Management is also saying that the two firings are totally unrelated and the timing is coincidental.

    I have no reason to not believe this, but still part of me is wondering……is it time to polish up my resume, just in case? (I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Alison’s recommendation is probably to *always* keep my resume current!)

    1. Anon

      I tend to trust management until I have evidence not to. Really bad but coincidental timing with firings does happen. But if your gut says to polish your resume and start checking Craigslist, go ahead and do it, it won’t hurt.

  66. HG

    I wasn’t able to find an answer to this question in the archives, so here goes:

    I was recently accepted to a top grad school program, and told my boss (who’s been incredibly supportive and helpful) that same day. He asked that I stay on as long as I can this summer so that I can train my replacement (I’m the only person in the office who does what I do). I know that it’s not unheard of for people to use vacation days after giving their notice, but I’m wondering if that applies to this situation since I’d like to take several weeks off, but am giving several months notice (my last day will probably be in July).

    If I take a vacation before my last day, I’ll still be covered by health insurance which is my main concern. I’ve thought about asking my boss whether I could take time off (even unpaid leave), and still come back for a couple days in the summer, but am wondering if it’s completely transparent why I’d come back to the office after my trip rather than just finishing my job and then going on a trip.

    In my version of the timeline (famous last words, I’m sure), I’d be able to help in the candidate search and fully train my replacement before going on my trip. I’d then return for a week+/- to help wrap up any final questions.

    If I ask my boss for approval, will is be completely obvious as to why I’d like for my last days to be set up like this? I don’t want to seem like I’m taking advantage of the system. Am I though?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Colette

      How flexible are you on the vacation dates?

      I’d lean towards an earlier vacation rather than a later one – there are always lots of lose ends to be tied up at the end of a job, and if you took one in, say, late May, you’d still have a couple of months to train the new person, document, and generally leave things in a good state.

      I think it would be best to talk with your manager.

  67. Anhinga

    Anybody here get a master’s degree not directly after they graduated college?

    I’m not that old (27), but am thinking about moving on to a master’s (I have a B.S. in wildlife mgmt, though I’m not as interested in strictly wildlife-related science jobs).

    1. Lindsay

      I had three years between finishing my bachelors and starting my masters. I only think it’s useful to get a masters if it helps your existing career. Be very wary of getting into debt if you’re not sure! If I had gotten into debt for mine, I would be up a creek right now.

    2. Noelle

      I took about two years off between undergrad and grad school, and I second the advice Lindsay offered below. I picked a major that was completely different from my undergrad degree, but it related to the job I was working at and what I wanted to do for my career. I think you really need to consider what you want to do with an advanced degree and how realistic that is.

    3. HeatherSW

      Took 6 years off inbetween. I am glad I did (knowing what I wanted to do before getting into debt), but it can be hard as you’re neither just out of school nor an older career changer.

    4. ChristineSW

      I started taking Masters-level MSW courses 7 years after graduating college, and officially matriculated one year later.

      1. De Minimis

        I had a 10 year gap between my undergraduate and graduate career, but am a career changer. I was in my mid-30s by the time I finished.

    5. LMW

      I started my masters 4 years after finishing my BA. No regrets. Well, maybe getting an MFA in writing wasn’t the soundest financial decision I ever made…

    6. Anhinga

      Anyone do it just for the sake of the knowledge gained/experience/professional networking? I feel like if I had tuition remission (which seems possible), then why not do it (well, besides having to live on a small stipend, and working crazy hours)?

      1. Cat

        I did! An MA in literature in top of a BA in lit probably isn’t going to help anyone get a job, but I got a 75% tuition discount (plus helpful for taxes to still be a student) to get my MA at the school I work at a pretty exceptional university. My thesis advisor was pretty much the premier scholar in his area (helpful that my thesis was on that subject).

        It helped that I was part of the last class to get my degree directly from the graduate school and not our continuing studies program (no difference in classes or anything but I think it looks better).

        I’ll also say that I feel incredibly lucky to be able to write for significant portion of my job. I’m not analyzing literature or anything, but I still consider my MA a worthwhile investment.

        1. Cat

          Oh, I forgot to add: I did the program in part because it seemed ridiculous not to take advantage of the tuition discount, and I missed analyzing literature (a book club just isn’t the same). I also did this in the evenings after my 9-5 and got no stipend.

    7. A Teacher

      Yes. I went to grad school the traditional route for the first one (MS in Athletic Training) and then went back at 27 for a MA in Teaching with certification. Worked FT and went to school FT and then switched careers.

    8. Anoners

      I took a year off. I was 28 or so when I graduated. There were people in my program much older than me. I think age varies a lot more in Masters programs, as opposed to undergrad.

    9. Jules

      I think about it a lot since the last few years but it has never reached the point of actually doing it. Mostly because I haven’t quite figured out what kind of graduate study would be most beneficial to my career.

  68. Chris

    Throwing down a question. Recently I got a rejection letter from an internship position that had this line:

    “We had over 154 applicants to fill four Intern positions for this summer. ”

    This means there were 38.5 applicants for every internship position. Here’s my Q:

    Are these numbers consistent with the amount of people that apply for a position (this was an engineering firm that designs UAVs if that matters)? Does this number increase / decrease for entry level positions vs mid level vs Senior level positions?

    1. Ask a Manager

      In my experience, junior positions typically attract hundreds of applicants (like 200-300, sometimes even more, depending on other factors). Mid-level ones often do too (I once got 600 applications for a writer position). Senior ones have a somewhat smaller pool.

    2. Bryan

      I would say it really depends on the field and particular job. Having 38.5 applicants for every position seems kind of low compared to entry-level openings. I hear many times 150 if not more. I’m not sure if it goes up or down but I bet the more senior the position the easier it is to rule people out.

      1. Ali

        When I was looking for sports job it was pretty normal for even some minor league team jobs to get about 300 applicants. This was for media jobs, but I remember seeing some ticket sales jobs getting over 100 depending on the market and experience needed. It brings me down just thinking about the numbers sometimes.

    3. Anne

      Saying “over 154” seems so odd to me… I mean if you’re not going to round it to 150 or 155, why both with “over”…

      Anyway. Sorry. That’s not very helpful. :)

    4. Laura

      It depends, but it’s probably normal depending on the field, location and how desirable the position is. I’m applying for entry level marketing positions in a big city, and they get on average 200 applicants each. Which I suppose makes me feel good when I get to the interview stage but I don’t know

  69. Anonymous

    Hmmm… yeah it could be seen that way, but if your boss/company has been supportive you could still ask. Of course they could also just tell you not to come back after your vacation, and that would be completely understandable.

    Is it possible to shift the time of the trip by a few weeks? Like take the trip for a week and then come back for 1 full month before your end date? Can you take the vacation/trip NOW or in April, but then plan to work until July?

    Is there a particular reason you need to keep your health insurance to go on this trip? I mean, you would still be able to get COBRA when you quit.

  70. Ali

    I need some AAM good vibes please! I followed up with the hiring manager for a position I really want (it was only one e-mail; please don’t burn me over the coals! Haha!) and she said in the next week or two they will start bringing candidates in. I’m trying to mentally move forward, keep my excitement in check, etc., but so far I’ve had positive interactions with the hiring manager (she was even nice when I sent in my revised resume when I made original mistakes) and I would LOVE to work for this company. And the job is in my field.

    Anyway, even though I’m doing my best to take AAM’s advice of not getting too enthusiastic, I am just worn out on my current job and tired of being isolated working from home. I would really welcome this change. So if anyone could cross fingers, send good wishes, etc., I’d appreciate it!

  71. Anonymous

    Any ideas on how to help someone who refuses to use an agenda for meetings, and consistently goes over the alloted meeting time by 30 minutes or so?

    1. Colette

      It depends on your relationship to that person. Are you their manager? Their employee? At the same level?

      Why do people stay for 30 minutes after the time scheduled?

      1. Anonymous

        The person in question is a high-level person (much higher than me). We’ve tried politely asking someone to keep the time, but all that does is annoy said person.

        Not sure why they stay – fear, maybe? This person would totally call you out even if you politely said, “Hey, I’m really sorry – but I have another meeting I can’t miss.”