the questions I get asked the most

As a workplace advice columnist, I field all sorts of questions from readers – everything from how to survive the annoyingly loud coworker in the next cubicle to how to get along with a crazy boss. While some questions are truly one of a kind (this one  and this one come to mind), there are other questions that come up over and over again – the more typical situations that most of us will run into at some point in our careers.

As my inaugural column for AOL Jobs, I thought we’d take a look the questions that I get asked the most often. Can you guess what they are?

You can read the column here.

{ 72 comments… read them below }

  1. Holly*

    I know you probably have no control over it, but that stock photo screams more “I’m a cougar on the prowl” than “finding a job is super hard.” Ha.

    1. Bryan*

      hahaha, Dear AAM, my manager is a cougar, how do I politely decline?

      What if people think that’s her?!?! These might be new readers.

      1. Jessa*

        Yeh, her pic is at the bottom of the post, but seriously, that header pic is not appropriate for the content. Nor for AAM’s serious vibe.

      2. TychaBrahe*

        Dear AAM, my manager is a cougar. I don’t mind mostly, because we get to pet her during lunch hour, but she kills small deer, and I’m tired of finding the entrails in the break room.

        1. Quiana*

          Okay I’m a lurker (no, not the skeevy type) but I NEVER comment because someone normally says what I want to say. BUT…I have to because your comment is just too hilariously yummy for me not to comment!

        2. Stephanie*


          And then the follow-up:

          Dear AAM,

          We talked with my manager’s handler about cleaning up the entrails and she’s been compliant. However, now the handler microwaves the entrails and it gives me a headache. It really stinks up the break room. What should I do?

        3. Lindrine*

          Dear AAM, my co-worker spends all day alternating growling, purring, and sharpening her claws while I am on conference calls. Is this legal?

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      That’s actually what I always imagined the curse-casting co-worker looked like…

    3. Jamie*

      Yes! My first thought was that her top is not workplace appropriate. (But I did have a boss that did that claw thing we cat noises at me – so that’s a weird workplace blast from my past.)

      And I would bet an entire paycheck that Alison had zero to do with picking that photo.

      1. Chrissi*

        I will not take that bet! I feel like someone got this picture mixed up with another article – it’s just so….wrong.

        1. Jamie*

          That’s what I was thinking. Almost makes me want to browse around the site to see if there is an article on cougars with a professional pic attached.

        1. Zelda*

          I’m not amused – the image reinforces sexist stereotypes about women in the workplace and in general.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Ha, I was just coming to write the same exact thing! Congrats on the new column, Alison. Does this mean you will no longer be writing articles for USNews & World Report?

        1. TychaBrahe*

          I hope you’ll keep posting links to your other columns. I like to read what you write, plus I love the discussions, but I can’t keep track of all of the other sites.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I absolutely will. (Especially because in some cases I get paid by the number of people who read, so it’s in my best interest to keep sending you guys there!)

    5. NEP*

      Indeed — that photo. I thought it was part of an ad, not a photo accompanying the piece. Incongruous at best.

    6. OriginalYup*

      I’ve decided to mentally apply the photo to Alison’s “my coworker is driving me crazy” point #4.

      Because I actually had a coworker who looked, dressed, and acted like that (including the ‘rawr’ hand gestures). She held telephone ‘dates’ on speakerphone at her desk during working hours.

      1. SFC*

        “She held telephone ‘dates’ on speakerphone at her desk during working hours.”

        That is AWESOME. Can I steal that for my novel?

        1. LV*

          You’d better not be writing that novel on company time or I’ll have to report you to your boss!

        2. OriginalYup*

          Feel free. Be sure to include the scene where she calls you (her beleaguered coworker) to her desk under false work pretexts to critique the photos of the people she’s phone dating.

    7. littlemoose*

      Thank goodness somebody else said it! The picture is totally incongruous with the article. Hopefully somebody changes it. It was rather startling, and enormous on my computer screen.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Although with a global readership, what is legal differs from country to country, so perhaps people are looking for local advice (number of paid days leave and overtime regulations) elsewhere?

        1. Bryan*

          That’s a good point. I know on the open threads many people have asked to start them at different times as they are overseas. I would love to see a demographic breakdown.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              The last 12% were too spread out to count? To me that is the really interesting part- so I am curious.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                No, I have those too! The next 15, in this order, all under 1%:

                Philippines, Singapore, Malayasia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Ireland, Hong Kong, France, Indonesia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia

                Ranging from 10,118 visitors (Philippines) down to 2,075 (Saudi Arabia).

                1. Greg*

                  I’d be curious to see what kind of “Is this legal?” questions you get from Saudi Arabia. ;-)

    1. Greg*

      My favorite career blogger wrote about her most frequently asked questions, and didn’t include the one I was sure she would include. Is that legal?

  2. TheExchequer*

    Ahhh, the black magic one. That one never gets old.

    I would have thought “What sites should I use?” Would be popular as well.

    1. Liane*

      I am still hoping for an update on this &, while I wasn’t willing to bet on Alison’s non-involvement with the rawr pic, I am willing to bet a lot of others want to find out what happened next in The Case of tne Cursing Custodian.

  3. Adam*

    Funny. I would have thought the most frequent question you get would be “Would you review my resume?”

  4. JMegan*

    “Black magic is just one of many occupational hazards.”

    Still one of the best things AAM has ever written!

    1. Jamie*

      Yep. I’m still waiting for “it’s not a line up in a brothel. It’s a two way business discussion.” To end up on swag because I will buy that out!

      The black magic one would be perfect on a coffee cup for work. Doesn’t hurt if people are a little afraid. :)

  5. Poohbear McGriddles*

    We get cat photos on Fridays, and cougar photos on Wednesdays.

    That lady is frustrated in a way that has nothing to do with a job search.

  6. Carrie in Scotland*

    Alison, I’m not sure if you’ll read this or not – I hope you do but I want to say I like your changes to the tagging articles – I like that there are several of them on the page and there’s a little blurb about it. I am finding very helpful navigating the archives when I’m looking for a certain topic. So thanks =)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I like it so much better too! The only thing I don’t like is that now I can’t scroll through the whole open thread category and see all the pictures of Olive as I go (because the new category pages don’t include photos).

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Am now picturing a whole page full of Olive getting bigger and bigger and cuter – that is an awesome amount of SQUEE (for some reason I’m also picturing her growing like some sort of flick book, you know when you’re a kid and the picture “moves” as you flick through it?)

  7. whimsy*

    What is your preference on which site should get the comments?

    A part of me feels that the client site should get the rewards of a active commentary section. Your site however has a better community though.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks for asking! My preference would be for people to comment over there — it allows them to get the benefits of an engaged readership, which allows me to bring more value to them, which helps me continue to earn a living from my writing :)

      That said, I understand that people like the community over here, and so that’s okay too. But if you want to do the thing most beneficial to me, it’s reading/commenting over there!

  8. Workforce Consultant/Unemployment Guru*

    I would say “Is it legal for my employer……..” would be the one you are most asked.

  9. Hunny*

    Alison, it is incredibly ironic that both comments over on AOL give the exact opposite advice that you consistently recommend. “Use a salary checking website,” says one. “Follow up with hiring managers weeks after the interview,” declares the other. I’m glad they chimed in, just amused at the complete about face from what I normally see over here.

  10. eemmzz*

    I’m surprised that “During my interview the interviewer said X, what does it mean?” wasn’t on the list.

Comments are closed.