open thread – April 11, 2014

goatIt’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

{ 1,146 comments… read them below }

        1. NotMyRealName*

          I learned this spring that when goats give birth, it’s actually called “kidding.” Also, newborn baby fainting goats are probably one of the cutest things ever.

        1. Rebecca*

          You’re at a goat ranch?!?! I’m so jealous!

          This week at my local Whole Foods, they had a special event with a goat cheese creamery. (Belle Chevre, tasty stuff!) They led me to believe there would be a baby goat at the event, but sadly there was not. They said they tried to take her to events but people were rough with her and she got bad anxiety. :( Poor baby goat.

          1. Jessa*

            That is awful. I hate people who don’t get that animals can get nervous and get all crowded in and all.

      1. the gold digger*

        One of my favorite things about Spanish is that the word for baby goat is “cabrito,” which means “little goat,” and it’s used to refer to human kids! So in both languages, we have “little kids.”

        1. Joey*

          I’ve never heard anyone called cabrito. Maybe youre thinking of cabron which is male goat or asshole/mf’er (sort of like calling someone a jackass). Cabrito usually refers to a Latino dish made of baby goat.

          1. Anna*

            There are a LOT of countries that speak Spanish and they all have different uses of the same word. So for example in Spain they “coger” everything. Buses, bags, boxes, ideas, everything. However, in a particular South American county (it might be Argentina) the only thing you “coger” is something you have very strong physical feelings for. In Mexico, a woman can be called Concha but in Argentina only a certain part of her body would be called that. In other words, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that somewhere in a Spanish speaking country, children are called cabritos and jerks are still cabrones.

            1. Mints*

              I once heard a good spoken word / slam poetry something about “coger” (actually, how she likes the F word and nothing translates well to Spanish. “What? You want to grab me? That doesn’t sound sexy”)

              Anyway, one more data point, I hear cabrón to mean dude/man/bro/bruh/homie so it’s informal but not offensive. Cabrito would be “little man” or “little dude.”

              (I’m in California, so a mostly Mexican hispanic population, but I’m from a different county in Latin America)

              1. Joey*

                Mints, I wonder if you’re misinterpreting the meaning. In mex culture cabron can be a term of endearment but more like when you say to your buddy “hey, bitch/mf’er/shithead/sonofabitch.”

                1. Mints*

                  Hm, I know it can be used negatively, but I generally hear it more neutrally. Maybe a closer use is the N word within the black community. Language is tricky. (I’m more comfortable with loco, o mujer). Agree to disagree maybe

                2. TheSnarkyB*

                  Oh jeez. As a black person who is also fluent in Spanish, I can tell you this is not similar. Mints, you’re totally right, I’ve heard it that aay. Go with your intuition.
                  Joey, someone already pointed out above that Spanish is a SUPER diverse language with SO many usages and variations. I don’t think it’s really useful to debate it since no singular Spanish speaker is going to simply “be right.”

          2. the gold digger*

            Joey, I know the difference between the words cabron and cabrito. I lived in Spanish speaking countries for nine years. I took four years of Spanish in high school and 12 hours of upper-level Spanish in college. I use Spanish every day for my job. I speak Spanish. I know cabron vs cabrito. Please do not assume I am an idiot when I make a comment. Assume instead that you have a different experience from mine.

      2. Lamington*

        we were in a goat farm in december and the kid tried to eat my shorts, it succeeded with the paper bag i was carrying when i got distracted to pet him.

  1. CH*

    I like my work and my company. My work depends, not entirely but in large part, on 7 other people giving me their work to edit and/or proofread. The only problem is they don’t keep me nearly busy enough –my manager is aware of this and just tells me to look busy.
    I am proactive in finding “other” jobs to do that can make our department run more smoothly; I make it known to the admins that I’m willing to help them out in a crunch; I have become proficient in the software available to me by using it for volunteer projects. The work I do receives a lot of praise and is obviously always done by deadline; I just feel guilty spending time web surfing (except for reading AAM!) when I am at the office.
    My annual review is coming up and I’d like to find some way to bring up the fact that I have quite a bit of unused capacity. Since the outside training budget is tight, one thing I might suggest is that I develop a training session on proofreading. Or would you not rock the boat? As I said, my manager is aware that I’m not that busy.

    1. Celeste*

      Couldn’t hurt, might help! If nothing else it can go on your resume and maybe you can use the material elsewhere.

    2. NotMyRealName*

      This sounds like a great solution. My current position is somewhat similar. I’m not yet terribly busy, but my boss says that I’ll have more than enough work by fall. So right now I’m the go-to person for those pesky little things that need to get done.

    3. Bea W*

      I think it is worth asking. The worst anyone can say is “No, it’s not in the budget this year.”

      Are there other tasks people in your group do that you can take on or assist with? Is someone else in your group swamped while you look for things to do? Maybe you could help take some things off their plate so they can focus on their biggest priorities. Related to this, if there are other functions in your group you would be interested in learning about, maybe there is room for you to help out there.

      Maybe your boss knows of other people in other groups that need an extra hand and can “loan you out” when your own workload is light.

    4. Chriama*

      I recommend you propose some higher level projects that you can take on. If they succeed, you’re a superstar. If they don’t, it isn’t on anyone’s radar as a failure. Also, is it realistic to think you’ll stay employed at full capacity when they’re only using you for half capacity? Even if your manager is ok with it, if anyone starts talking budget cuts or layoffs you’re particularly vulnerable.
      Aside from a strategic project (which may be hard to identify or evaluate) are there any new skills you could develop on your own that would benefit the company? For example, I’m learning VBA so I can write my own macros.

    5. Jazzy Red*

      My last job was a lot like that. I tried to find another job, but because I was so close to retirement, I couldn’t get anything so I had to just stick it out.

      I like your idea of offering to train other people. If it flies, you’ll be much more fulfilled and able to wait until your regular job becomes busier. If it doesn’t, though, you might want to look for another job that would make you happier.

      After a while, not having enough work to do becomes incredibly stressful.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I don’t feel guilty if I have a bit of downtime at work where I can surf the net or do a bit of work related learning because like Elizabeth, I can become very busy, very quickly.

    6. Julie*

      My first corporate job was like this. I asked for more work more than once, and there just wasn’t any. This was back in the day, when Windows was new, and most people didn’t know how to use PowerPoint and Excel, so I used the down time to poke around in the software and learn it as much as I could. Now that one can access all kinds of training online, you might want to learn or increase your knowledge of an application that will be useful to your long term goals. My company pays for a subscription for me, but it’s not very expensive, even if you had to pay for it yourself. I like the videos they put out, but there are also a lot of other training videos available online.

  2. Ayeaye*


    I am in a quandary. At the moment there is a lot going on.

    My Masters dissertation is due 30th April.
    My partner’s mother has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has been given weeks to months to live. This is obviously taking a significant toll on my partner and his family, and his Mum seems to be getting poorly now. As a result we’ve decided to move our wedding plans to next month rather than next year (we were only have a little thing abroad anyway, so now it’s just a little thing at home). I volunteered to help start a committee two months ago and things are just getting rolling with that now and it’s starting to take up time. I also work full time in a job I’m happy at mostly, but I do want to advance at some point in the near future if possible and the option isn’t feasible here. Also, office politics. A job has just come up in a nearby city which would be a one hour commute, but offers a great opportunity career-wise. The interview date is 5 days before we get married. I’m not even sure I’ll get an interview as it’s a heavily competitive field. Would you apply, and risk being an hour away should anything happen with my mother-in-law if the job was offered? It’s also risking moving to a less compassionate workplace that may not be so understanding of the circumstances. My current workplace also paid for my Masters, so I’d have to pay back a percentage of those fees, probably around £1000, which I currently don’t have. I also love my manager and we get along great and she has given me so many opportunities. If she could give me more hours in the role I want I know she would.

    My inclination is to not apply, leave the stress of job hunting for a while (I’ve already not applied for 3 other openings in this area, and they don’t actually come up that often!) and perhaps lose opportunities but still making a conscious effort to improve my CV for when the time comes (I’m doing a teaching course in September, will have more experience on the committee and all the skills that brings, I’m going to spend the summer designing an online resource) or do you think these things always happen and so I need to just go for it while I can? In the last five years I’ve lost two members of my immediate family unexpectedly and it’s changed my view of ‘wait and see’ as actually, everything can just fall apart at the drop of a hat so you may as well try and do everything you want to whilst you have a chance. But I’m not sure I want to – I think I’d rather be closer to my partner whilst he’s going through this in case anything happens during the day, as it’s also made me realise it’s people that you love who are important, not any of the other stuff. But then it’s the difference between a 20 minute walk and a 60 minute drive. As you can see I am going in circles! Thoughts?

    1. Harriet*

      Personally, I would not apply for the job. Maybe it would be better than where you are now but unless it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity (which very few are) I would not put myself through the financial strain, the stress and then the massive additional stress everyday of the long commute.

      1. Ayeaye*

        Thanks for this. It would actually mean a significantly improved financial situation to be honest, but you’re right in that it’s not a once in a lifetime opportunity and perhaps not the best timing. Good food for thought.

    2. Bryan*

      I don’t think the question is should you apply but if you got an offer should you accept. It’s not guaranteed you’d get an interview or an offer. I think you should apply and weigh your options down the road if it comes to that. Right now you’re kind of worked up about a hypothetical.

      1. Catherine in Canada*

        Yes, loved ones dropping dead on you does tend to focus the mind, doesn’t it? I’d suggest that rather than “you may as well try and do everything you want to whilst you have a chance”, try thinking of “what would I regret the most NOT doing?”

        And, if you can, drop the volunteer position. You’ve got more than enough going on, they should understand.

        Good luck.

        1. Ayeaye*

          Good perspective, thank you. I’ll have to think that over.

          There isn’t really a reasonable way I could drop the volunteer position at the moment without making a very bad impression on several very influential people in my industry, despite the circumstances, so unless things get significantly more stressful I think I’ll just have to balance it. Fortunately it’s not especially stressful so quite a good way to spend time as a de-stressing activity.

          1. Chinook*

            I think there is one way to dial back the volunteer position – if you mention that you need to spend time with your family because someone has been given a short time to live. You don’t have to say “I quit” but you can ask if you there is anything you can pass on to someone else for the short term. You may be surprised by their answer.

            The reality is, many people want to help someone gong through an unexpected rough time but don’t know how. By asking directly for help and being willing to not drop out of sight completely, you may have people offering to lighten your load in ways you never imagined.

            And, what is the worse that could happen – they are going to think less of you because you put family before career commitments? Is that somethign you could live with? I know I could.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Further endorsement of this. I’ve tended to phrase it as “What choice will I wish I had made”, but the idea is the same.

      2. Ayeaye*

        Yes, that’s a very good point. I think part of it is that the application form is quite a task in itself but you’re right in that I’m talking myself in to issues. I suppose application form practice is always handy.

    3. Alex*

      Apply! You never know what will happen.

      Our competition remain active for 2 years after closing so that we can go back and look at the resume again and find an other candidate.
      Also, you never know! Maybe they do have the interviews planed for a certain date but someone might get sick or things at work happen! So the date moves.

      Basically, you never know! Apply!

      1. PenguinCat*

        At a time when someone is in the final stages of a terminal illness, you are contemplating:
        marriage (and in a condensed amount of time)
        job change
        dramatically altered commute time
        dissertation presentation
        writing an online course
        Any one of these would be stressful enough by itself. Together, I think they amount to a burden so intolerable you are virtually guaranteeing to set yourself up for failure on many, many fronts.
        To me, this should be a time you are jettisoning commitments, not adding to them!

      2. abby*

        I agree. I went through significant turmoil last summer, though not nearly as bad as yours. The stress of everything just about pushed me over the edge. In the end, I let a good job opportunity go. Sometimes I wonder “what if?” But I am confident I will find other opportunities.

    4. Sue Wilson*

      You’re not obligated to go to the interview if you get it. You’re right that you might regret not being close to your partner at this time. However, even in dire health situations , you never know what might happen. The doctors were ready to put my grandfather into hospice a couple weeks ago. However, now they’re still trying to treat him.

      So fill out the application because you don’t really know what the state of everything will be when you get to your wedding. But remember, even if you get an interview, you don’t have to take it. You can politely decline, and at least you’ll do so with more immediate information.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Am agreeing with the others, who say pass on the job.

      My rationale is that some things in life only happen once and never again. A parent’s passing. A marriage to one particular person. There is no re-do button for these things. Stop and give these life events the respect/attention that they deserve. You will never regret that. In all likelihood, once you are back on track you will find opportunities that you are over-the-moon happy about.

      It’s better to do a few things well, than to do many things on the fly and possibly half-baked.

  3. Sunflower*

    Any Graphic design people out there? How do you like the work?

    Also I discovered today I really should have some more graphic design experience. Any programs you know that are good to learn(preferably free) or books/tutorials on how to teach yourself some basics?

    1. esra*

      I’m a graphic designer and illustrator and love it. All the art, none of the starving.

      As for programs/tutorials, what kind of design are you wanting to do? Logos/branding? Environmental? Print? Web?

      1. Sunflower*

        I work in marketing now so it will probably be mostly web and some logos.

        Today I had to take take an image (think pepsi logo) and change the colors. I had to use paint since I have no design programs and between changing the pixel colors it took about 2 hours so I feel like there has to be some easier ways!

        Also do you have any recommendations for breaking into the field?

        1. Jillociraptor*

          GIMP! It has a lot of the same basic functionalities as Photoshop, and it’s free. WAY more functionality than Paint (though I do love me some Paint) and you can get used to some of the concepts you’d use in Photoshop and more complicated, specialized software. I can think of a few different ways to transform colors like you describe that would take more like 5-10 minutes.

        2. KerryOwl*

          Paint!? At the very least you should download Gimp, it’s free. And I’m pretty sure it does a lot more than Paint — though to be honest, I probably haven’t opened Paint in years and years.

        3. esra*

          Paint?? Yikes. Are you freelancing/contracting? I’m surprised your employer doesn’t have the Adobe Suite licensed. If you’re working web/brand, you’re going to have to be very familiar with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. InDesign will come in handy too, as will After Effects. With the new(ish) creative cloud service, it’s way more affordable than it used to be. I’d suggest at least checking out the CC free trial.

          The nice thing about graphic design is your portfolio can compensate for a lack of experience/formal education. Do you have a degree in marketing?

          1. Sunflower*

            We have a graphic/web designer in my office who has a MAC and I assume some programs on there. I was actually just doing the color change as a project for my sister’s wedding and I realized that I really have no idea how to do any of this stuff!

            My degree is actually in hospitality management. I mostly do copywriting in my job but am job searching and thought by adding some graphic design skills, I could broaden my search to some other positions. I’ll definitely check out these suggestions though

    2. thenoiseinspace*

      I don’t know about programs or the kind of design you want to get into, but if you’re looking to explore the design world and its trends, Minted (particularly its Pinterest, with many design-centric boards, and its blog, Julep) is awesome and really on-point.

      Also CreativeMarket (fonts, website themes, graphics, etc) and StarSunFlower (blogspot – they do an awesome weekly roundup of free design things, like fonts and backgrounds for websites or digital scrapbooks) are my go-to sites for design news. Colourlovers can also be really useful – they’ve got a blog and weekly emails with updates on current design trends.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Adobe Creative Suite is pretty much the standard software (InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop) with the occasional Quark for page layout.
      Peachpit Press Visual Quick Start Books are my go to for reference etc on the different programs. When computers were coming into the graphic design field I also went and took night classes at the local community college in all of them except InDesign (pick that up on the fly at work)

      Check out – lots of stuff to browse through.

      Also, take a real graphic/advertising design class – not just the software. All the software in the world will not help if you don’t know how to make things look great to begin with.

    4. Anonsie*

      I know a number of people who swear by for new software, but personally I can’t watch tutorial videos and focus well. If videos work for you, you could check it out.

  4. Random Reader*

    I was recently at an Excel seminar and the presenter made a big deal about MOS certification. Does anyone have experience with this? Is it a good investment?

    1. chmur*

      I have my MOS in Excel and Word. Usually when I mention it, people are surprised that you can be certified.

      I personally feel that the exam was not in depth enough for an advanced user on the Excel side. I honestly don’t remember much about the Word exam.

      IIRC, there weren’t any questions on complicated formulas (VLOOKUP for example), PivotTables or VBA. There were questions on things like how to save a file securely and some of the collaboration features that I don’t think are used very often.

      Just my two cents, I think you’re better demonstrating your expertise by showing your achievements/projects with Excel on your resume. If you can answer in depth questions in an interview, I think you should be okay.

    2. Bea W*

      Many years ago I had MOS certification available from my employer. They offered it as part of the training courses at no extra charge to us. The classes were actually really useful, but the certification itself, I don’t think I have ever used it for anything.

    3. Mike C.*

      These sound a whole lot like those A+ certifications that were popular a while back. They usually covered stuff you could learn on the job, and didn’t cover a whole lot you needed on the job if I remember correctly.

      1. De Minimis*

        Blew quite a bit of time and money on one of those training courses back then….and didn’t even end up with the certification!

  5. Anon*

    I have a question about a management situation that seems appropriate but feels … icky. I recently started managing an employee who has a 10+ year history in the organization of being “difficult” to work with. From what I understand, this has largely manifested itself in behaviors that are difficult to quantify (e.g., not being proactive in overcoming roadblocks, making “uncollegial” or disrespectful comments, etc.). I’ve built a good relationship with her, and although I can see how these issues may come up with others, I suspect that a lot of this criticism comes from personality conflicts where both parties have some responsibility.

    The thing is, I’m getting pressure to keep an eye out for more easily fireable offenses, like look for time sheet inconsistencies by tracking them against her computer log-ins. I’m usually pretty good at understanding office dynamics, but it’s not clear to me what the expectation is here. Should I work to coach her on her interpersonal skills, or is it too late for that given her history with the organization? It feels dishonest to be actively searching for reasons to fire someone unrelated to the actual issue at hand (interpersonal skills).

    For context, her work product is generally timely and good quality, and she has several chronic health issues that have historically resulted in some antagonism between her and HR around reasonable accommodations and appropriate use of short-term disability. This isn’t really a current issue, but I know she’s maintained her own documentation (which leads me to believe that she’s more likely to get litigious than the average employee).

    1. H. Rawr*

      I’d ask that question frankly of whomever is asking you to keep your eye on every little thing. Let them know you think she is not a lost cause and you’d like to continue working with her, but you want to ensure you’re all on the same page.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I would too. Have they gone through standard performance-issue procedures with her? Discussions, warnings, PIP-type stuff? If not, I can see why you feel uneasy about collecting ammo against her.

    2. Mike C.*

      I think the thing you need to do (or keep doing) is set clear, measurable expectations.

      So when you say she wasn’t being proactive, what do you mean by that? What did she not do that she should have? When it comes to comments about other coworkers, that one is easier – rude statements about other coworkers aren’t to be tolerated.

      That way if you do need to fire her, you’re firing her for good reasons, not because you suddenly decided to enforce rules on her that you wouldn’t enforce on others.

    3. Bea W*

      Geez you probably have better things to do with your time and tracking time sheets against computer log-ins. Obviously someone has a personal interest in firing her. If you can avoid it don’t get dragged into the middle of someone’s personal agenda. That agenda may or may not be related to her interpersonal skills. It could be just that someone doesn’t like her, and no amount of couching her will change that.

      I’d continue to work with her both for her benefit and the benefit of others who aren’t bent on getting her fired, since there’s nothing that will likely change the mind(s) of anyone who would go so far as to ask you to manufacture reasons to fire her. Personally,I wouldn’t want any involvement in that kind of underhanded witch hunt when the employee is otherwise dependable, doing good work, and is just considered “difficult”. “Difficult” can mean a lot of things. It could be a lack of interpersonal skills or inappropriate behavior and demands, or it could be purely a personal conflict, or an employee who is actually very good at her job and trying to do it right. There are some positions where doing your job correctly means you might ruffle feathers. This is actually true of my own field. It wouldn’t be weird for someone to complain that all we do is “find problems”, because a large part of our job is just that, finding problems and fixing them. It’s annoying as heck to people who don’t understand our role.

      Is your own manager asking you to do these things? Where is the pressure coming from.

    4. Rebecca*

      It sounds like HR wants to get rid of her before she costs them too much money in short term disability costs or they have to spend money on accommodations, and they’re looking for an excuse. That’s sad.

    5. Chinook*

      I have a question about the time sheets vs. computer log ins – do TPTB realize that it is a) impossible for them to line up because they do have to pay you the time to boot up the system before you log in and b) does she have work she can do without being logged in. For b), I know there are days where I log in a half hour later than usual even though I showed up at the same time because I printed stuff off that I sent as a secure job to the printer the night before (I wanted to wait to print off the 50 invoices until there were fewer people sending jobs) or got caught chatting with someone about an issue.

    6. SCW*

      This can be really tricky, because you are her manager and know her work the best, but sometimes when someone higher up wants a certain direction it can hurt you if you push back. I used to work in an organization where after evaluations were done by the manager the director would go over them and adjust them based on how she felt people had done comparatively. They never wanted anyone to get too positive of an evaluation, but once they really came down on a manager and wanted him to give a below standard evaluation for an employee they wanted to leave. He resisted strongly and he ended up leaving followed shortly by the employee they wanted out.

      I no longer work there, but have gained a good appreciation for the balance of the manager who works with the person and the admin. Sometimes admin can have a good view of an employee who is hard to work and manage, so when you try to do a PIP they push back, other times an employee who you view as good and worth saving can be seen as someone they don’t want to invest a lot of time with.

      Personally tracking log ins and punch ins is only appropriate if you have a history of issues with this. It doesn’t sound like you think this is a big issue, but clearly you all need to get on board with what your boss thinks is important.

      1. Bea W*

        This sounds like the BS that went on with my last employer. The manager would write the review, and the grandboss would “adjust” them to her liking. Generally this “adjusting” resulted in poor reviews for people she personally disliked and had targeted for bullying. It was well known throughtout the dept and others places in the company that she did this. HR even seemed to be aware or at least familiar that it was her writing these reviews rather than the employee’s manager. HR looked over my review when this happened to me and said it really wasn’t that bad. They’d seen worse. That was probably the least comforting thing they could have said. My immediate thought was “She writes reviews WORSE than this?!” My own manager was only interested in keeping her own job and not rocking the boat, so the person who should have had my back didn’t. it was an atmosphere for managers where it was “throw under the bus or be thrown”. Actually that philosophy went beyond her dept.

        Most of the managers end up leaving the company after a year or 2 of torture. 2 is generally stretching it. I recall one transfering to another dept after a matter of months. Even when she isn’t intimidating people to do her bidding, she’s just mentally and emotionally beating them to a pulp by reminding them of all the ways they suck.

    7. Anon*

      Thanks for all the great advice – there are a few different ways to proceed suggested here, but I’m definitely going to do two things immediately:

      1) clarify the goals of my “pressure cookers” and try to get them to spell out what the history is

      2) continue to perform standard due diligence management – correcting issues when they come to my attention, but also be a little bit more present to make sure I’m not missing bad behavior

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There is a honeymoon period with a new boss. I had an individual that everyone told me was horrendous. I could not catch the individual doing anything out of order. As time marched on, and familiarity crept in, I found the individual was ten times worse than what they were telling me. It took about a year to a year and a half for me to finally catch the individual in the acts.
        See, the problem is that bad workers can be good for a short run. But they cannot sustain it over the long haul. It could be that over time this will become more apparent to you.

  6. Unknown*

    Question Re: Seasonal work on Resume:

    -If I’m still “on the books” (i.e, still on email lists for possible work in the summer) for a Summer job, but haven’t worked since last August do I still put “Beginning Date – Present” or “Beginning date – Aug. 2013”? Thanks!

    Anyway, great blog and great insight by the readers on here! I really find it fascinating.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Only record when you actually worked. So if you start up you would do date – Aug 2013, new date – present.

    2. Midge*

      I have several years of seasonal work on my resume, and I usually put “Summers 2005-2010” or “June-August 2011-2012”. And if I find out during the year that I’ll be doing that seasonal work again, I’ll go ahead and add ahead of time. This way I’m giving an accurate picture of how long I’ve spent on this work in the past, and any conflicts I know are coming up in the future.

      1. Unknown*

        Thanks to both answers. I’ve usually done present, but obviously since it’s a secondary gig, I may/may not do it this year (almost feels like I’m Brett Favre to come back or not :) ).

        I know on the job title I do explicitly state it’s “Seasonal Position X”. to indicate it’s a seasonal job.

  7. Audiophile*

    Woo open thread! Have an after work interview scheduled for today. First time in a long time I was able to make things align.

    I’m debating for going the suit jacket, but not sure of that would be too casual.

    1. Laufey*

      The nice thing about suit jackets is that they can always be taken off, or unbuttoned, or fully buttoned, with all levels of casualness. Unless I was familiar with the culture where I was interviewing, I would wear one, knowing that I could always unbutton or loosen up as needed. If you don’t have it at all and it turns out to be crazy formal, you’re up the creek without a jacket.

      1. Audiophile*

        Yeah that’s true.
        Last time I left my jacket behind in a cab, but the office seemed casual.

  8. Anlyn*

    For folks who read Carolyn Hax on Washington Post–has anyone been having issues with their 20-article limit? I don’t pay, and I’m fine with staying in that limit, but lately it hasn’t even been giving me that. The only thing I ever read is Carolyn Hax, so I should be able to get at least 20 days worth.

    In late March, it told me I had no more free articles. Okay, that’s fine. So I start up again last week, to be notified that I only have three days left! This isn’t the first time that’s happened.

    I’ve tried going elsewhere, but I haven’t found one that has her articles both up-to-date and complete (an Idaho syndicate has them up-to-date, but leaves out questions).

    1. Elizabeth*

      I read it from her FaceBook page, and I never hit the article limits. I only run into that if I look it up (like on a Google search) and hit from there.

      1. Mephyle*

        Yes, another reader through Facebook. If you go to the article through the link on the Facebook post, it doesn’t count towards your limit.

    2. giggleloop*

      Your local library might have an online database that would give you the articles. Some even have images of the newspaper so it would surely be complete.

    3. Brett*

      Washington Post tracks your reading by cookies. So you will have different limits on different machines.

      1. Headachey*

        Also in different browsers – so while I use one browser as my default, I have another browser set up to delete cookies/history on closing, which I use for reading sites that track & limit by cookies, like WaPo, NYTimes, my local paper, etc.

    4. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I don’t know about the article limit. I have her Washington Post RSS feed on Firefox and have no trouble reading the daily question and when I have the time, I can read the logs from her chats with no problems.

      Do you sign in and that is how they are counting the articles? If you don’t sign in then they are probably using cookies and all you have to do is delete your cookies (or at least the WP cookies) every so often.

    5. LCL*

      The way I read Carolyn Hax every Friday is,
      I do a google search on Carolyn Hax, then click on the result. I don’t know if this will work around the limit or not.

      1. businesslady*

        that’s often a good way to get around the paywalls for other sites too (NYT, etc.).

        I sometimes get yelled at by WaPo re: my Hax addiction, but sometimes not–I’m not sure what the difference is, but the folks saying cookie-deletion should help are probably right.

    6. Robin*

      I’ve got the WashPost app on my phone, which doesn’t have as many articles as the whole site, but any articles I go to there don’t count against my limit. Carolyn Hax is in the Lifestyle section.

    7. mm*

      I get that “you’ve met your limit” message all the time. I delete the Washington Post cookies and that takes care of it.

      1. Annie O*


        Anlyn, I also have a suspicion that navigating around the site can add to the count unnecessarily. So it may be counting page views, instead of true article views.

        1. Anlyn*

          That’s what I’m suspecting. I click on Carolyn’s link through google, then on the question itself. When I go back, I sometimes have to click twice…it doesn’t always take me immediately back to the main list.

    8. snowglobe*

      Using Chrome, I can view the articles using incognito browsing, and there is no limit. But you can’t post comments.

      1. Annie O*

        Really? I’m totally going to try this. Previously I just deleted cookies when I hit the limit.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          There’s also an EditThisCookie extension for Chrome that will delete all cookies for the site you’re on, or even make individual cookies read-only or block them.

    9. IndieGir*

      Two pieces of advice — first, clear your individual cookies. If you let me know your browser, I can tell you how to do that. Second, when you click on the link for an article with your right-mouse button, some browsers (chrome and firefox come to mind) give you the option to pick “Open in new private window” which will render you invisible to the WaPo.

        1. IndieGir*

          Go to Tools => Options and then click on Privacy. Under privacy, you’ll see “remove individual cookies” in blue text. This is the best way to go, b/c otherwise you’ll wipe out all cookies, even those you want (like saved passwords). Click on “remove individual cookies” and type “wash” in the search box. Then, highlight all the cookies that appear in the results and click Remove Individual Cookies.

          And, going forward, when you want to read something on the WaPo, just use the right mouse button and open in New Private Window. The Private Window won’t create new cookies for you to remove later.

      1. Anlyn*

        Heh, same here. I also always seem to wipe out my remembered passwords, though I’m sure that’s because of IUS (Idiot User Syndrome). ;)

    10. Tmarie*

      I follow Carolyn Hax on Facebook, and never have the Washington Post article limit happen.

  9. Katie the Fed*

    Broader philosophical question(s):

    How do you know when it’s time to leave your job/industry? I realize work isn’t always going to be personally and professionally fulfilling, but let’s say you only ever feel good about going to work maybe 10% of the time, and the rest of the time you’re just miserable. My specific job is ok – but I don’t want to move up, and I don’t really want to work for my employer anymore. I’m constantly frustrated and disheartened by senior management and their terrible policies and communication.

    When is it time to throw in towel and say it’s not working? Should I just suck it up and recognize that I have a good-enough, stable job that pays well and has decent benefits, and that I probably won’t really be happy/fulfilled anywhere?

    1. Holly*

      I’m not sure about your specific situation and feelings. I know it’s time for me to move on when I’m actively looking for any way possible to be out of the office – exploiting flex-time, PTO and the like, because I just need to get the heck out.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It’s like this: I like my job. I like my coworkers. I like my immediate workgroup and the people who work for me. All those things are good.

        Everything else is terrible. If I move up ever, I’ll be confronted more and more with the lack of leadership and vision above, and reorgs, and just general stupidity. Morale is so very bad everywhere.

        1. BausLady*

          It kind of sounds like it’s time to move on. If you’re getting to the point where you’re thinking you’d like to move up, but you can’t possibly imagine moving up where you are, then I think you should start looking elsewhere.

          And think of it as a little bit of a luxury at this point: You’re happy where you are currently, so you don’t have to do a panicked search. You can start a search, take your time, and be choosy.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            This is a good point. I have a job that’s good enough – I like what I do, just not where I do it. I can certainly hang on long enough to find something that’s a good fit.


        2. Bea W*

          Sometimes moving on to another employer makes all the difference. My last one was miserable to the point where I questioned if I even wanted to do this work anymore. I am still doing the same work, but with another employer, and I found that it wasn’t the career or the field, just the job itself literally. I am back to loving what I do.

          1. De Minimis*

            Is it a case where going to another agency might help?

            Although from what I can tell, some of the problems as far as senior leadership and communication exist at every agency. But some seem to have better morale than others.

          2. Katie the Fed*

            That would be a great situation. It’s hard to know of how much that bothers me is just part of work, part of government, or particular to my agency.

            @De Minimis – I’m considering that too.

      2. Rebecca*

        I’ve come to the conclusion the only thing I like about my job is the free coffee and paid time off. I get 20 vacation/PTO days per year, plus 11 paid holidays. So, basically, I don’t have to be here for 6/52 weeks per year. Woot!

    2. Celeste*

      It sounds like you know.

      It’s past time for me, but I can’t figure out where to go and not have to settle for less $ and bennies than I have.

      So now I’m trying to stay Zen about being in a grudge match.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        True. I’ll think of it like online dating. It never hurts to look (and that’s incidentally how I met my fiance).

    3. Joey*

      Its time to throw in the towel when you have a better option- that is don’t throw in the towel until you have an offer on the table that looks better. If you’re asking if you should look, absolutely. In the meantime make the best of it.

    4. LMW*

      I think when you are feeling that way, it’s time to start looking. You don’t actually have to take a job just because it’s offered, either. In the past, I’ve found that just the act of actively looking and thinking about how my experience might fit a potential new role makes me feel more optimistic.
      I felt the way you feel…about a job I loved. And I resisted moving on for a long time because I loved the work itself, even though the management and policies and politics were driving me batty. I can’t imagine putting up with that with out the love. When I finally did move on, I was surprised by how happy I was. I don’t like the work quite as much as my old job, but I do enjoy it and up till recently (which I’m going to post about below), the environment was so, so much better.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        “You don’t actually have to take a job just because it’s offered…”

        Exactly! Looking around and interviewing are not commitments. A lot of people say that everyone should send out feelers every couple of years, just to see what’s out there.

        You owe it to yourself.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        This is a good point – thank you LMW and Jazzy Red. It doesn’t hurt to look. Worst case is I find something better.

    5. Colette*

      It may be a trade off – benefits & stability vs. a more fulfilling job – but it’s also possible you could find both.

      It sounds like you need to be looking, though. Even if senior management is frustrating, is there a place you could go where you’d be out of their sphere, or where you’d be better insulated from it?

      1. De Minimis*

        That’s often what people do at my agency, but ours is one where you have a lot of “field units” where people can work and not have to deal as much with senior management.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        It only ever gets better for a year or two. You’ll go on a rotation or somewhere else, but eventually the mothership calls you home.

    6. Anon for this*

      I was in your shoes late last year. Company was horribly mismanaged, my great boss was retiring, and I was burning out on the field (compassion fatigue is real). I had risen as far as I wanted to, and actually as far as was even possible. Despite all this, the decision to leave was very difficult to make, as it as one of the best jobs I have ever had in terms of feeling like I was ‘making a difference’ in others’ lives.

      The beauty of your situation is that you have a job. So you have the luxury (in my opinion) of being able to look, be picky, and still receive a paycheck.

      I have a new job now, thanks to AAM! And I love it. It’s a learning curve, but most of the complaints I had about my old job simply could not happen here. Of course, I don’t love every minute. There are some negatives, as you would expect, but I really think 90% is too large a percentage of work unhappiness to continue in your current track.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It’s good to know people get through this and find something better. Fingers crossed!

    7. Collarbone High*

      I just went through this exact process (including the “I might not be happy/fulfilled anywhere” part) and decided to pursue another job. (It worked! I’m starting the new job next month.)

      The major deciding factor, for me, was analyzing the specific things I didn’t like about current job, and realizing that those are all institutional problems. They’re unlikely to be resolved for years, possibly decades, because they originate in leadership and have spread through the huge organization like a cancer. I’d say at least 200 top execs would have to leave, and be replaced by people who were willing and capable to institute a 180-degree culture change, to turn things around. That is not going to happen, so I was never not going to be frustrated and unhappy with the job.

      It sounds like you’re in the same place.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yes! That is exactly it! We would need to pretty much overhaul all of the senior leadership (and much of Congress – ha!), and it’s just not going to happen. This is a very good way of looking at it.

    8. Malissa*

      I left the very situation you are talking about. Seven blissful years in government and all of its stability. I may regret taking my current job, but I don’t regret shaking things up and leaving.
      First thing to do is to really think about where you want to go. Where do you want your career to be in 5 years? Do you have everything now to get there?
      When I hit this feeling I went to grad school because I needed it for my next step. I got fully prepared for the next step before I took it. It’s really nice to have this luxury.
      If you are really not sure you want to leave, can you look for growth in a professional association? This is a great way to take on extra stuff that might actually make your career better.

      My last thought on this, it never hurts to look or apply. :)

      1. Ali*

        For me, when I decided to move away from sports, I saw some of the signs and once I accepted them, it made the decision easier:

        1) Pretty much every job I apply for draws tons of applicants, and you either have to be well-networked to get them or have a ton of internship/otherwise free experience. I even heard of a company that does only a “friends and family search” because there’s no way they have time to read so many resumes so they’ll just go with someone who knows someone. I don’t have tons of awesome connections, so this isn’t really an option.

        2) I apparently wasn’t qualified enough for a full-time job in sports, but I was somehow qualified to intern and/or work for free. Not getting any calls about permanent jobs was frustrating, and I am no longer at a point in my life where I can quit my current full-time with benefits job for an internship or find the energy to work basically two demanding jobs.

        3) I do some writing for free for a website and I am still not being paid two years later. The only people who get money are the people who get traffic bonuses, which requires relentless marketing and focus on “building a brand” that I have no interest in or personality for. I find that I no longer agree with my colleagues who are “just happy to be there” or don’t care if they never make money because they love the sport we cover so much or just love to write. If I’m going to write, I want compensation. Period.

        So with that said, I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I am job searching, either for a paid media job where I can use my writing skills, or a different field altogether. But I know changing careers is a struggle in this economy when employers have their choice of tons of experienced people.

        Anyway, I’d say it’s time to leave when you’ve lost interest in the work you’re doing or wear out on some other aspect of the job. For me, it’s the untraditional hours and feeling like I can’t have a life outside of work, as well as the intense competition for any available jobs.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        What I know for sure in the 5 year outlook is that I don’t want to move any higher in my organization. It only seems to get worse the higher up you go. At that point you’re either tilting at windmills or becoming part of the problem. So…yeah I think it’s time to go. There are some professional organizations I can get more involved in too.

  10. Holly*

    Our trainer and I just got pulled aside by HR and told that we talk too loudly to each other – specifically, I was told that my voice projects and that that “sometimes isn’t a good thing.” We work in an open-area office and it’s not uncommon for a) it to get so loud that I can’t hear a person on the phone and b) some of our contractors to start screaming – yes, screaming, like they’re turning into the Hulk – at other employees, without visible recourse. But, you know, projection.

    I’m a little fed up of this place. Our trainer, bless his heart, is a newer employee and he sounds demoralized and pretty tired of the place already. “They’ve got everything on lockdown around here, don’t they?” Sigh. I’ve discovered where happiness goes to die, folks. /rant

      1. Holly*

        My direct manager is out of the office indefinitely because his father’s dying. My replacement manager apparently wasn’t bothered by it, because I haven’t heard squat from him.

        1. LBK*

          So was it a random person who said something to you and they happened to work in HR, or was this an official HR sitdown? Because that is an incredibly bizarre thing to be handled by HR, assuming that it even needed to be “handled” at all, which it doesn’t sound like it did. If someone had an issue at that moment they should’ve just said “Hey, I’m on a call and I’m having trouble hearing the client, would you mind keeping your voice down?”

          I’d chalk it up to a weird incident and move on.

          1. Holly*

            Official HR sitdown with both of us. The sort of ironic thing is that our entire space was completely empty except for the IT Director nearby, who was talking with us. I have no idea who we were interrupting – but if they had come by to ask us to lower our voices or whatnot, we’d obviously do so. As I sit right now, I hear three different conversations going from far parts of the office…

            Yeah, I should. It’s just one of many things this company has done to hurt employee morale (nickel and diming PTO, threatening to fire someone for not sending a thank you card upon getting a bonus on the same day they found out, etc.)

            1. Mike C.*

              WHAT THE HELL?!

              A bonus is extra pay for good work at the individual or collective level. It’s not some “gift” that is handed out just because the owner felt like it.

              Do they expect thank you notes for your regular pay check as well?

              1. Holly*

                I wrote to Allison about the bonus thing and she called our owner a loon, haha.

                Yeah, it’s a performance bonus but it’s also considered a “gift,” and if you don’t do a hand-written note right away (legit before you even get the check) the owner will yell at your manager about you being ungrateful. No thank yous required for a paycheck, but that’s probably only because they’re required to give you that one.

              2. Jamie*

                I second the WTH – seriously?

                Now, I send thank you emails after bonuses because they are discretionary and I like to encourage generosity toward me – but they should not be expected.

                1. Holly*

                  If nothing else, you should give the person time to buy a thank you card. This happened the afternoon I found out I was getting a bonus.

                2. Chrissi*

                  I sent a thank you email to my boss when she told me I’d be getting a bonus and her response was “No thank you is necessary – you earned it”. That’s how it’s supposed to go. I hate employers that think they are doing you a favor.

  11. Jamie*

    I have so missed open thread since I was swamped last week and didn’t get here.

    And I don’t have words for how happy being greeted with goats makes me. Here’s hoping this is an omen to pain free Friday.

        1. LBK*

          I NEED IT. I watched the trailer about 400 times and laughed hysterically every time. I’m so glad it’s becoming a real thing.

      1. Heather*

        Goats are awesome. I pass a field of them on my way to work…seeing them climbing all over their shed cheers me up even when I have a case of the Mondays.

  12. AVP*

    Now that it’s (finally, sort of) spring – any Citibikers out there? Anyone thinking of joining a bike-share in your city this year?

    1. esra*

      I would join Toronto’s in a heartbeat if it wasn’t so downtown-focused. Instead I’m looking for a reasonably priced bike to truck around.

    2. anon in tejas*

      Im taking my road bike out on a renovated city trail today after work. I am so excited. I couldn’t find my helmet though, so I gotta pick one up and then…. yeah!

    3. KC*

      They have something like that in Boston. I’ve seriously considered it, but the bike lanes on most major roads are a joke here and a lot of times, you’d be riding without one. It’s just dangerous.

      The last time I was in Montreal, I noticed how well-designed their bike lanes are (separated from car traffic by barriers, etc.). I wish more cities did that.

    4. AmyNYC*

      I think it’s a great idea but there isn’t one near my apartment, I don’t want to carry a helmet all day, I’d only use it on my way home since my work doesn’t have showers/changing area.

  13. Kai*

    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the way we go after careers today versus how people of roughly my grandparents’ generation did. Going back 60 years or so, a lot of people got a job out of school and stuck with it (or at least stayed with the same company or industry) through retirement. Now you’re likely to have a dozen or more careers by the time you retire.

    There are pros and cons to both approaches to work, but sometimes I wonder if I’d feel differently about my mostly uninteresting, dead-end job if I were part of a culture that put a premium on longevity. I might be more willing to just suck it up and accept where I am, rather than spend so much time looking at job boards and sending out applications so I can move up and out.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve thought about this too. In pretty much every job I’ve had post college, I’ve wanted to leave from the moment I walked through the door. Sometimes I wondered if it was just me, but then I’ve heard similar things from friends.

      1. OliviaNOPE*

        I think I’ve done this every time too! I’ve worked in my current position for over four years and I’ve been looking and applying for jobs for two years now. I’ve never worked anywhere this long and I’m dying to get out but then I wonder if I would realistically like any job because with each move I’ve been like, “Ugghhh, this ain’t what I thought it would be.”

        1. Audiophile*

          I’ve worked for the same company for almost four years now, but at two different sites. And I’m really feeling the itch because of the current culture here.

    2. AVP*

      My mom is so perplexed by this – she’s worked at the same place since she got her masters in 1974, and I had had more cumulative total jobs than her by the time I was 24.

    3. Joey*

      Depends on what you mean by premium. Giving you raises or more responsibility simply because you’ve been there longer isn’t the answer. That results in tenured people kicking back and just waiting for raises.

      Personally I think longevity is much easier to achieve and is much more fulfilling in a large organization. There are so many more advancement opportunities that are available when you are ready. At small companies it’s highly dependent on whether or not the company is growing or waiting for a few select people to leave.

      1. Kai*

        Mostly what I meant by premium is that if we still lived in a culture where the norm is just to pick a job and stick with it–if that was the most accepted way to go about your career–maybe I would feel differently about my own job. Judging by the comments, looks like I’m not alone :)

        1. Kelly L.*

          I think it goes both ways though–I think in the times you’re talking about, the employer was (ideally: not sure how accurate this was in practice) supposed to be much more committed to the employee than they are now. I think people are changing jobs more often in part because they don’t feel secure in the one they started in.

    4. LBK*

      I think it’s all part of the culture change regarding life plans and locking them down early. It’s kind of like marriage – people are getting married later in life, because the culture is changing so you aren’t seen as a weirdo if you aren’t married by 25 or 30 or even 40. Likewise, it’s considered less bizarre to still not have any idea what you want to do with your life when you go to college or when you graduate, so people accept that you may hop around different jobs to pay the bills post-graduation until you find something that fits. People also accept that the job market is and has been awful, so you may take something less than ideal short-term because the odds of landing the perfect job in your field right out of school are so low.

      In the past, I think the cultural expectation was that you chose your career at a much younger age, you went to school for it, and then you started it once you got out. That was it, and if you hated it, well, that was what you decided to do, so enjoy your miserable life!

      1. horsewithnoname*

        My parents still have this mindset. A major fight broke out when I tried to tell them I might eventually leave my field.

        They’re still upset my brother and I aren’t getting sweet pensions! Times have changed, Mom & Dad.

        1. LBK*

          Ha, are pensions still a thing? Apparently I have one at my company. I don’t have the slightest clue how it works.

          1. fposte*

            I’m prepping to do stuff on retirement with my students, so I’m currently on a “Know what you have!” kick. So I’d encourage you to figure out what the heck your pension is–it’s important to know what it won’t give you as well as what it will.

          2. JAM*

            They are still a thing. I have one at work (which I was the same way – had no idea we even had them until a couple of years into my job here), and they are now only contributing to that and not our 401(k). We were all very confused by the switch, and just assumed it somehow benefited the company to contribute to a pension instead.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Take a look at who is managing the pension vs who is managing the 401k. That might be telling.

              Consider the cost of the contribution to the pension vs the highest estimated cost of the 401k match.

              Next look at where the investments are for each- the pension and then the 401k.

              Know your pension. Find out if you can take a lump sum at retirement. My retired friend cannot do this. The people managing the pension fund have lost so much money in this economy that the fund is dangerously low. My friend can not retrieve his share- he can only get his usual monthly installment. If this pension fund goes belly up, my friend will be going back to work.

              Pensions were a wonderful thing at one time. But too many pensions have collapsed and now it is worrisome.

    5. Mike C.*

      I think part of the problem is that so many jobs now simply don’t allow workers to progress in any meaningful fashion. I keep seeing stories about how this CEO or that CEO “started in the mail room and worked their way up”. That’s a great story and all, but then you realize that now the mailroom is run by contracted workers who can’t just “move up” and the whole thing seems like a farce.

      I’m lucky enough to work for a company that in many ways takes a long term view. Last week we had a catered breakfast for an employee who was celebrating 35 years with the company. Folks like that are really, really common here.

      Before this job, what was so maddening to me was that I had no problems working my way up, putting in my time and so on, but there was no process for this. And by no process, I mean in two ways – no investment in employee training/certifications/education, and there was no process to promote people. No Job I/II/III title changes, no movement between non-management and management, nothing.

      I’d love to see some serious economic studies on this, in particular the common expectation that the only way to get a raise is to leave for another company. How much money do you think is wasted when Employee is spending time finding a new job, FormerEmployer has to replace and train up new employee and NewEmployer has to bring the Employee back up to speed in a new environment? Sure, you need some amount of labor turnover otherwise things get stagnant, but this idea that employees are replaceable cogs in a machine rather than long term investments has to cost our economy a fortune.

      1. LBK*

        Well, people aren’t getting hired into management roles straight out of school though, so someone somewhere is moving up. CEOs don’t appear fully formed like foundlings.

        I think the reality is that culturally, we’re told that everyone will get to move up if you work hard, but realistically there can only be so many managers. If every single person who worked hard, did their time, etc. kept getting promoted, who would they be managing?

    6. Bea W*

      My dad has been working at the same company all of his career, since the year I was born. Prior to that he had a brief stint at another employer when he started out, but once he was hired on at his present employer, that was it. He stayed put. There was a brief interruption in the 90s when he was laid off, but he ended up back at the same place. The company has changed hands twice in that time.I don’t think it ever occurred to him to work somewhere else.

      I prefer to not change employers. I like the stability, and why fix something that isn’t broken. So it takes a lot to get to the point where I am looking. I’ve worked for 3 employers in this career since 2000. Apparently that is really unusual, and it’s even more so now in my field where it’s near impossible to get a regular/perm position anymore. Everything has gone to temps and “outsourcing”. :-/

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My company says when they hire you that they want it to be the last job interview you ever have. I kind of liked that. Having been through two layoffs and a business closing, it made me feel a bit more secure.

    7. Sunflower*

      I think technology has just opened up people’s minds to things they never really knew about before. While finding a job isn’t easier, It’s so much easier now to look for one. Before you had to know people and read the newspaper and knock on someone’s door to ask for job. Now if you want to get a job, you sit on your couch and open the computer and BOOM- tons of jobs right in front of you.

      It does have pros and cons but ultimately, I think this idea of finding a niche is better than the old way of thinking. This atmosphere is much more conducive to entrepreneurs which can be a good and bad thing but ultimately good as more businesses are created and more of our needs are met

  14. Diet Coke Addict*

    Here is something I don’t understand:

    People who use job boards as a way to post their own availability for work. “Looking for full time work I own a car” “Need some work to pay for expense’s and bill’s” “I need work and I KNOW employers check these ads” I know that it’s people without any experience or who aren’t looking for professional positions but rather general handyman-type work, but….does this work? Are there employers or people who hire like this?

    The same thing goes for people who post in apartment/house ads with things like “In need of a 2bdrm apartment, can pay x dollars, call me!” Has this ever worked for anyone ever?

    1. AVP*

      I did once get an apartment share on Craigslist that way! I was emailing a million people, but put up an ad that said “Hi does anyone need a roommate? This is where I want to live, how much I can pay, etc” and two people did email me. They had unexpectedly found a 3-br and needed to fill in the last room. I did end up living with them for a year!

    2. mango284*

      I doubt it works… especially when employers know they can easily get hundreds of applicants to chose from within a few hours of a posting an entry-level job.

      I hate it when people randomly post a status on facebook like “I need a job! Does anyone know who’s hiring in the _____ area?” Seriously?!? Do these people not know how to browse a job board or find these things out for themselves?

      1. mango284*

        …yeah, I think it sometimes might work on Craigslist for finding roommates, but definitely not for jobs.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        It’s not that outlandish to think a friend might be able to refer you to a job. A lot of jobs aren’t posted on job boards or anything. I don’t think that’s the same thing as randomly posting to Craigslist.

    3. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I’ve never heard of that working, but I did know someone who wrote a script that sent an automated response to Craigslist ads containing certain keywords. He was applying for programming jobs, so when someone called, he explained what he had done. At least one employer was impressed, and he got a good job.

    4. Tris Prior*

      We recently were looking for an apartment after selling our house, and our realtor suggested we do exactly this, due to some specific circumstances that made it tough to find what we needed. He swore this works.

      I got a few responses but it was pretty much the same deal as when you go to an apartment-finding company (there are many of those in my city) and ask them to find you a place. As in, they clearly did not read my ad and instead emailed me re apartments that were out of our price range, in neighborhoods we don’t want to live in, or both.

      We did finally find a place on our own so maybe if we’d left the ad up longer it would’ve worked for us?

  15. LBK*

    Does anyone here use Salesforce for work, and how do you like it? My company is in the process of transitioning over from about 6,634 separate systems to this centralized platform and my department is actually serving as the guinea pig for the entire corporation, which is pretty exciting. It seems like it will definitely make things easier, but should I really be expecting the kind of mind-blowing growth in productivity the integration consultants are predicting?

    1. Trixie*

      Re: software, anyone know where I can find free online Raiser’s Edge training? Or Salesforce?

    2. Seattle Writer Girl*

      I’ve used Salesforce at 2 different companies for a total of 7 years. It’s amazing! It is basically an electronic version of a rolodex that also lets you record every conversation, notes, phone calls, etc. in one place so you can access everything on your client at one time. It also has really awesome reporting capabilities so you can measure everything you do.

      I highly recommend Salesforce!

    3. A Jane*

      It’s great and beats having the 6,634 different business systems. The implementation and migration is usually a pain, but it’s all a part of the process. I like being on the guinea pig team for these projects — you have a good chance of getting your feedback implemented, you get to be a part of the problem solving process, and in some cases, it means you’re on a kick ass team ready for changes.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I love Salesforce. You can expect mindblowing productivity IF AND ONLY IF people don’t cling to their pet trackers and external systems.

      Salesforce works great on the whole. It’s s really flexible and adaptable to lots of business needs, with a little bit of creativity you can make it do just about anything, and for the most part it’s very user-friendly. The cloud-based structure and email integration makes it really easy to use. There’s so much natural collaboration capability built right in.

      However there were some growing pains in the changeover for us (ours was about 3 years ago). It takes some time to learn, like any new system–though I reiterate: it is super easy to learn–and some people just never got up to speed, and kept tracking all their data in spreadsheets, which makes for a huge bummer when I go in to check out a record and all the relevant information I need is sitting on Steve’s desktop.

      But where adoption is pretty high, it’s been AMAZING how much less time I spend asking where this or that tracker is, or who attending this event or whether anyone remembers if we talked to that person recently.

      1. LBK*

        That’s really good to know. As far as I’m aware, I’m actually only one of 2 people in the office that has a pet tracker that we’ll need to be weaned off of. I’ve been tagged by my boss to be one of the people working directly with the integration consultants, so seeing everything as it develops and getting to put in my obsessive 2 cents on each step is definitely making the transition easier.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          One thing that might be really helpful as you transition over is to write out or just be ready to really clearly explain to your Salesforce developer/whoever is designing your environment exactly what your tracker is, what it does, who needs to see it, the whole course of its use, etc. They can trouble shoot with you to help you figure out what functionalities in Saleforce will replicate or even improve your tracking process. Good luck!

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          See if you can get the other pet tracker user onto the implementation team, and you’ll be golden. :-) (I’ve never used Salesforce, but I think it’s important to include the people who will likely be the biggest opposers or struggle the most with a new system onto the implementation team so they can hear the benefits straight from the horse’s mouth and also have a say in the settings and whatnot, as you describe.)

    5. manomanon*

      I’ll be the dissenting voice here and say that I hate Salesforce with a passion. It runs slowly only tracks and reports on information inputted a certain way (ie to an organization rather than an individual) meaning many things have to be listed twice. However, we use it as a donor/donation management tool rather than for actual sales and there is a possibility it was not set up in a manner which would allow efficiency for our organization 5 years ago.

  16. Mary*

    Yay! I have been waiting for this ALL MORNING!

    I work for a somewhat small company – about 70 employees. I have the good fortune to be part of the management team, which I am seriously loving. We had a meeting last night, at which the president (my boss) mentioned how everyone’s been working hard and he wants to reward all the employees somehow. It may or may not be germane to my story that the company has both people who work at a desk and people who perform manual labor (the production department).

    The current ideas for a reward are:
    1) an Easter egg hunt, with money inside the hidden eggs;
    2) a funny-hat contest, with a cash prize to the winner.

    Am I wrong in thinking that these are not really great ideas?

    I’m sort of with Allison in that I think people should be able to have their own kind of fun on their own time. I also don’t know if we are able to implement another popular suggestion, which is giving everyone the afternoon off, with pay. We might be able to give the production employees an hour, maybe an hour and a half out of the middle of the day, but I’m not sure that we can have them take an entire afternoon off – not for financial reasons, but for workflow reasons.

    My current thinking is to suggest that we buy lunch for everyone in the company, and, like, a nice lunch; not just pizza and sodas. But if anyone else has any suggestions about how we can have fun, be inclusive, and not do something that people will find stupid or unbearable, I am delighted to hear them.

    Thanks in advance, friends. I love this community; everyone is the Most Helpful.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      If time off isn’t an option for workflow, I think free food (and good food!) with a spare hour or something might be the best option. I would rather swallow an egg whole than do an Easter egg hunt with my coworkers. Unless your employees are six-year-olds, I would definitely, definitely not go with that.

      Food and time off are always appreciated.

      1. Mary*

        Yeah, I get what the president is trying to do, but the whole Easter-egg hunt smacks of “Dance, puppets, dance!” to me. I’m probably going to suggest good lunch and an hour to enjoy it once I have a chance to talk with him, which is usually after 5 PM.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I think that sounds fantastic. Most people don’t want to do silly things like Easter Egg hunts at work. But free food +time is always appreciated.

          Exjob always bought us lunch at mandatory quarterly meetings, which made them far less painful.

    2. esra*

      I would take free food over an easter egg hunt or funny hat contest, both of which seem patronizing to me.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I think the funny hat contest is particularly bad — how is a contest that only one person wins a reward for the whole group? At least the egg hunt would give everyone a small prize.

    3. thenoiseinspace*

      My mom did the money-in-the-eggs thing once when I was a kid, but for the workplace? I dunno…I think making people scrounge around for a hidden extra dollar or two is almost cruel. Plus, it IS a religious holiday, though it’s become so mainstream I don’t know if an egg hunt would be likely to offend anyone.

      I much prefer your idea of going to lunch. If your boss wants to do something festive and seasonal, he could always bring in some chocolate.

      1. Arjay*

        And just going back to the Lenten discussion, if you’re scheduling a lunch for/around Easter, please don’t do it on Good Friday. I suppose it would be a true Lenten sacrifice to have to abstain from a nice lunch intended as a reward, but it would be better if everyone could enjoy it.

    4. Jamie*

      Those are horrible ideas.

      So you have people who perform well and should be rewarded based on that – but instead give it to the person with a silly hat or with random eggs?

      A nice lunch and take the money to be given as prizes and give small cash bonuses distributed in an equitable manner. You are so on the right page.

      We do quarterly lunches for all employees – pizza or chicken in winter but cookouts in the parking lot in the summer. I’m not a fan because…well, I’m me…but the general sentiment is that people love the cookouts. It’s about an hour midday and everyone sits outside and the owners of the company and other upper management (not all, no one wants me near a grill) do the cooking and serving.

      People really look forward to those. And we do bonuses end of year so if we want to reward other times we give gift cards – Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and for those doing inventory will get $50 in gift cards. It’s not life changing money of course, but it’s a nice as it’s always given by one of the owners as they come around and say thanks – and it’s fun.

      1. Mary*

        I think President is more thinking about rewarding every single employee with something – a fun thing for the whole company – rather than highlighting individual performers. We’ve had a tough winter and everyone’s been under a lot of pressure, so he wants to do something fun.

        At the same time, I think you’re right and that doing something that includes free food (and, like, nice food) is a better choice. Your company’s approach sounds awesome – and like it was put together by rational adult people.

        1. Colette*

          It seems to me that the original suggestions will result in more hard feelings than people feeling rewarded – because there’s money involved, but not everyone will get some.

          A lunch is a better idea if the goal is to reward everyone.

          1. Sadsack*

            Exactly – how does everyone benefit from one or a few people winning a hat contest? Is the contest supposed to be the reward? Boss’s heart is in the right place, but I would ask him these questions directly and see if he doesn’t realize that what he is suggesting isn’t that great.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Am I wrong in thinking that these are not really great ideas?

      You are not wrong. Both are horrible ideas. If you have money to give out, just split it fairly in some way and not reward people for finding eggs (I am picturing pushing and shoving) or being most creative with designing a hat.

      Cash or time off is best if your company can manage it. Could they spilt the PTO so that workflow would not be impacted but people can still get an afternoon off? If not that, then a nice lunch at work sounds like the best bet.

    6. Permatemp*

      I really don’t like the Easter Egg hunt. It doesn’t seem suitable for adults and I definitely wouldn’t participate. Can you guys just have a company-wide barbecue? You can have nice catering, good music or other entertainment and a raffle. You could also give all the employees a nice, small gift. Usually people always appreciate free food.

      1. Mary*

        We actually do have a company-wide summer barbecue, which I think is in June. I’ve only been here since January.

    7. Bryan*

      I always say the only two things that EVERYONE loves are extra money and additional time off that you can take.

      I think your gut is right in that those are bad ideas, especially the hat one as that’s not a reward for everybody’s hard work, only one person. Not everybody will like a nice lunch. I would but I know some people’s thoughts are why not just give them the money you spent on the lunch. Depending on your office that sounds like a nice possibility though.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        At my first job, at a law firm, one year there was an Easter Egg hunt for the junior support staff in the records storage room. I don’t think any of the eggs had cash; some had candy, most had gift certificates or similar, and one had a voucher for an extra day of PTO. It did in fact motivate us to hunt for the damn things, but nobody participating was over the age of about 25. I think for grown professionals it wouldn’t have worked at all.

    8. Lora*

      Good heavens no, you are not alone. If someone offered me an Easter Egg hunt on Friday as a reward for knocking myself out on Project, I’d be mysteriously ill on Friday. Money inside the eggs? Unless it’s in the form of $100 bills, no, and even that is pushing it. In particular, I am thinking of some very senior folks in my organization who would find such things downright humiliating, whereas I would only find them annoying and infantilizing.

      Nice lunch is OK. Events at most organizations I have worked with, that everyone more or less enjoyed, consisted mainly of getting out of work early on Friday for a company-paid-for happy hour, where everyone got a couple of drink tickets and there were appetizers set out, AV guys had put together a music playlist. Not that anyone danced because we’re all science nerds, but it was good to have during conversational lulls. A startup I worked for had a summer event where we went to see a baseball game and then had lunch afterwards–hotdogs, popcorn, burgers, veggie burgers, picnic or ballpark-type stuff. Another place I worked for did a summer lobster/clam bake on a private beach that was available for rental, people could hang out playing volleyball, go swimming or whatever. Other than “food will be served at (time)” there was no set program.

    9. H. Rawr*

      I’d say buying lunch (and providing an opportunity for it to be a fun get together, but not requiring it), or letting everyone out an hour or two early on a certain day, or something along those lines along with a heartfelt “thank you” would be great.

      I can see how they’re fun to some people, but you’re not wrong about the other ideas. I’m a freak who’s always hated Easter egg hunts, and something about my company hiding money and me competing with my coworkers to find it seems icky to me. And, a contest that rewards only the most unselfconcious person in the company is not really saying thank you to everyone.

    10. Laufey*

      What do you mean I didn’t win the prize. I have the best hat!

      It can’t be seen by people who are idiots and think these kinds of things are good ideas for rewarding adults in or out of the workplace.

      1. Jamie*

        I believe you were being tongue in cheek and I agree it’s ridiculous, but honestly? If there was money involved we would have complaints and meetings about why this hat was or wasn’t chosen and complaints of favoritism and bias.

        This would be a nightmare for HR for sure.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, I feel like both that and the Easter eggs would have the same problem (besides the obvious): if it’s a trivial amount of money, nobody would care; if it’s a lot of money, everyone who didn’t win would be resentful. And, in the case of the Easter eggs, if it’s a lot of money, the scramble for them could actually be vicious.

    11. Brett*

      Easter Egg hunts also have religious connotations which can make people of other religions uncomfortable enough not to participate. Which especially sucks when there is actual money involved.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The hunts themselves have gotten more secular over time, but since Easter itself is basically a religious holiday, yeah this. Also it’s for little kids, not grown adults!

    12. Bea W*

      The best way to reward employees is not by having contests and silly activities. Just reward them – money, gift cards, time off…anything where they don’t have to compete to maybe “win” a reward.

    13. Lizzy Mac*

      An Easter Egg hunt showed up on our workplace calendar for next week. Based on the “hints” my manager has been dropping I’m guessing there will be cash prizes hidden inside some of them. I’m not impressed. I would much prefer a really nice lunch and an opportunity to socialize with my coworkers than a shot at winning some money.

      If its supposed to be an employee reward, actually ensure that all the employees participating will be rewarded. There’s a very good chance that a couple of the athletic pushy guys at my work will grab all of the plastic eggs and leave the rest of us with chocolate while my manager gets to laugh at the mayhem. If its in your power to push for a lunch, do it. The team will appreciate it.

      1. Can't Think of a Good Name*

        Any suggestions for season/holiday-specific alternatives? I’m in charge of putting together a small morale booster like this (Easter egg hunt is what has been done in the past and was specifically suggested), but it does feel weird. On a helpful note, this is supposed to be a small fun activity, and employees are given bonuses and banquets as actual rewards. We just have a number of things like this (raffles, March Madness pools, trivia contests, etc.) throughout the year. Our budget for this event is $25-$50.

        1. Rev.*

          How many ppl are you talking about for this event? A $25-$50 budget will only effectively handle 2, maybe 3 ppl.

          A Guess the # of Jellybeans in the Jar Contest, with a $50 gift certificate @ a nice local eatery?

        2. LQ*

          My workplace did something I actually enjoyed (though I thought could have been taken to another level).

          In November for the first 12 days a prize/s were given away, different kinds of prizes and different numbers of people winning. So each day a few people had their name drawn. At the end of it everyone had won something, several of these were “sharing” things. Like winning a coffee gift card with a note to share your thanks, or a big plate of cookies for people to share with coworkers.
          No pushing no shoving some people got more than others but most people were very satisfied.

      2. Judy*

        One year our engagement team did a lot of little things, and one did include an Easter egg on everyone’s desk with candy in it. but they also put a candycane flag before 4th of july, and other cutesy baggies of candy. I think that’s mostly ok. It’s the actual hunt for the eggs that sounds odd.

        1. Lizzy Mac*

          I agree with this. Children hunt for eggs because how else are they going to get chocolate? I’m an adult and I can go buy chocolate if I want to. I would rather take those 15 minutes and do my job so that I’m not scrambling to get work done later. Also, I really don’t want to get elbowed by a coworker. Giving chocolate out is okay. Hiding it and making me hunt for it not so much. I liked the idea from below on a sundae bar. You could use Easter candies as some of the topping options. Mandated fun is great for some people but torture for others. Sincere thank yous, money, time off and food are the things closest to universal rewards and even then nothing is truly universal.

    14. Sunflower*

      If you can’t give an afternoon off and if the company isn’t casual dress, offer them casual dress that day/week on top of free lunch or whatever you decide to do

      1. Mary*

        We are a super casual workplace – so much so that we do Formal Fridays! I’m sorry, I was being vague about where I work, but we design and print custom T-shirts. Right now, I’m wearing an unprinted T-shirt, dark jeans, a cardigan, and Chucks, and I look a little more formal than most people do every day. Of course, I’m not dressed up for Formal Friday or anything.

    15. NotMyRealName*

      Last Thanksgiving our president personally handed each of us a grocery store gift card and thanked us. It wasn’t for a ton of money, but it’s one of those things that says a lot about the person in charge.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We used to get turkey certificates. I can’t eat a whole turkey by myself (I always gave mine to a coworker who had lots to feed that day), but it was a nice gesture. They certainly weren’t obligated to do that.

    16. Just a Reader*

      Celebrating a religious holiday is so not appropriate in the workplace. Neither is treating it as a secular holiday, as people tend to do with Santa and Easter eggs. It’s just a bad idea.

      Ditto a funny hat contest.

      I echo what others have said. Food, money, time off.

      Planned “fun” at work is rarely fun. And you don’t want people to have to stay late because you made them act like 6 year olds for cash.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree that the Easter Hunt is a bad idea for adults, but there is also the religious sticking point – it is a Christian holiday and, for some of us Christians, celebrating the holiday before the actual holiday goes against our religious beliefs (we have learned to accept the cultural practice for Christmas, but Easter is a bigger deal). Heck, the day before the Easter long weekend is even a day of fasting for a bunch of us!

        1. Del*

          As well, there are some of us who vehemently don’t hold with the bunnies-and-eggs version of Easter. If my coworkers are doing that, fine, but it’s not something I would feel comfortable participating in.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. Better to call it “happy spring” or something more secular like that.

    17. Eba*

      The problem with an easter egg hunt for this purpose is that you are trying to reward all of the employees, yes? But this sort of activity inevitably will financially reward some more than others. Would just cause discord. Same with the funny hat contest. I think upper management often gets too caught up in making things “fun” rather than thinking about what employees would truly appreciate.

      Nice lunch for the company is good – just be sure that’s not the same reward every time (unless they love it, then by all means).

      A few hours off is better than no hours off…

    18. Stephanie*

      Easter eggs?! Oh God no. There would need to be $100 bills in the eggs and even then, I’d find that patronizing as all get out. While Easter’s gotten pretty secularized, there still might be a religious discrimination issue with non-Christian employees.

      The funny hat thing is silly and just rewards one person (when you’re trying to reward everyone). Personally, I can’t even wear most hats (too much hair–Gravatar is old).

      Nice lunch and/or a bonus is good. And kudos to you for thinking beyond a pizza lunch.

    19. A Non*

      I think a nice lunch sounds like a good idea. Could you do something like barbecue, and make it a long lunch?

      Cash prizes that aren’t distributed evenly don’t sound like a great reward to me. A funny hat contest with a small giftcard prize could be fun, perhaps as part of other things, but that in itself isn’t going to reward the whole office.

    20. anon in tejas*

      I agree that those ideas are not great.

      I second/third/chorus that free food/prizes is a great way to reward your staff.

      My office will reward us with lunch occasionally or sundae/coke floats on Friday afternoon. It’s generally a few minutes (15) to come socialize. It’s optional to participate.

      1. Windchime*

        We have done sundaes and that was fun. We recently did pretzels; they had fancy pretzels with dips and sauces and I think that was pretty popular. We’ve also had catered lunch (not fancy; stuff like taco or baked potato bars) and they set up the WII for people who want to play WII bowling or tennis. People can come and go as they please and it’s a nice way to take a little longer lunch.

    21. Persephone Mulberry*

      What about giving the production people their half-day as a float so they can take it when it’s convenient for them without shutting down the entire workflow? It’s not quite the same as the get-out-of-jail-free that comes with closing the office for half a day, but it’s something.

      1. Collarbone High*

        This is a great idea. I would be thrilled to have an unexpected half day, and I’d use it on some weird time like Wednesday afternoon to go to a museum and a restaurant that are packed on the weekends.

        1. Mary*

          I like this idea, too. I should mention that we’re definitely going to do the half-day at some point soon, once the weather is nice. We do need to plan for it, though, and it’s easier to just decide on a day and have that be the half-day. I wish we could float it for everyone – that would be awesome – but it’s just not feasible with the way we’re set up.

          An additional complicating factor is that the owner of the company will be in town next Friday and therefore the “fun thing” that we do will probably have to occur then, so he can see it. Even though it is Good Friday.

          1. Chinook*

            Do you have a lot of Catholics in your area? Good Friday is a day of obligation (I don’t know the rules for other Christians) and, if he only rewards the people who show up, he would be actively discriminating against them. At the very least, there would be some major resentment if he did something like a bar-b-cue and a chunk of his staff were fasting.

            1. Mary*

              We are in Pittsburgh, PA. I would say that our area is more culturally Catholic, but a lot of people don’t practice. The company also skews younger, and it’s been my experience that the young people in this area are generally less observantly religious than they may have been in the past. That’s not to say that devout young people do not exist, just that I haven’t encountered a great number of them.

              The major thing we do have around here is fish fry fundraisers on Fridays. Basically, almost every church and volunteer fire department offers fried fish in some form on Fridays, as well as other traditional Lenten delicacies. In fact, I am hitting up the VFD on the way home for a fish sandwich and am hoping that they will have haluski left, since I had to settle for mac and cheese last week.

              Fish fry is a big deal and I am sad every April when Lent is over.

            2. Rev.*

              Years ago (when I was young/dumb, I wanted to BBQ on Good Friday.

              Pork chops, chicken, and sausage.

              My older sister talked me out of it, with quite a bit of finger-waggling and castigation. We live in SW Louisiana, and were surrounded by Catholics, but I didn’t quite “get it.”

              *hangs head in shame @ the memory*

              I certainly “get it” now, trust me. People can get really offended @ what they perceive as a religious faux pas.

    22. Mike C.*

      You’re right on the money. The only other thing I can think of is a cash reward, and an earnest thank you from upper management recognizing the contributions of each team.

      The reason I add the latter part is that really the only thing better than a check in hand is knowing that your hard work is actually being noticed, utilized and appreciated. That’s really good for morale.

    23. Chinook*

      I don’t like the idea of rewarding people with money via prizes – it emans that the fastest person in the Easter Egg hunt or the most creative person or person with money or time to be creative gets rewarded, which may not be the skills that are normally valued in the job.

      Now, if he wanted to still give a few larger prizes vs. spreading it out evenly, then maybe have a prize draw in the afternoon for every employee (not just those who happen to be there at that time)??

    24. Franny*

      I worked at a company once that gave everyone a ham at Easter time, and a turkey near the holidays and that was a nice gesture

    25. Bonnie*

      In the past my boss has both cooked us breakfast at the office and held a cookout where he maned the grill. People appreciated not only the money spent but our boss wanted to do something for us himself to show us his appreciation. This year he bought lunch on our mandatory Saturdays, but while people are appreciative I don’t think they like it as much as when he made us pancakes, bacon and eggs.

    26. Mary*

      I’d just like to thank everyone who replied in this thread – there are some really excellent suggestions here. It’s really been helpful to me and I hope that it helps someone else in the future!

    27. Not So NewReader*

      Crawling around on the floor looking for eggs containing money is my idea of total humiliation. I would not be able to participate.

      My husband worked for a place where once in a while the boss would walk up to him and say “thanks for doing a great job” and press a $50 bill into my husband’s hand as he shook hands. Since my husband never knew when this was going to happen, it was a delight each time.

    28. Mary*

      An update: I talked to President after the rest of the non-management employees had left for the day. I said, “I get what you’re trying to do, but I don’t think an Easter-egg hunt will have the intended outcome.” He said, “You’re probably right. I don’t think people here like to have that kind of fun.”

      In the end, he will do what he wants, because he is the president, but I hope he will think about it some more.

      1. Stephanie*


        I guess he kind of got it? Hopefully his better judgment keeps y’all from crawling around the cubes on all fours.

    29. Grace*

      I don’t know where you live, but one of the companies I worked for rewarded employees by hiring a huge yacht to take us sailing for about 4-hours and they gave us a catered lunch.

  17. Dan*

    How does one analytically define what “market” rate for pay is, and whether or not one is “over” or “under” paid?

    I’m not talking about “go to salary dot com and look at the range.” What I’m asking about is once you’ve gotten that range, then what? Is “market rate” the median salary? Note that the definition of “median” means 50% fall above and 50% fall below that mid point. IOW, 50% of the people in the market are paid “below average.”

    If one is looking at “mean” salaries (“mean” being a simple average), the average is hard to chase. As people in the lower tiers of salaries get increases, that further pushes up the mean. IOW, if the average salaries in my field are $50k, and I make $25k, getting a raise to $40k will push up the average salary. This makes chasing the mean so to speak rather difficult.

    So, question: What’s the analytical definition of market rate, and how does one define whether or not they are over or under paid?

    1. Joey*

      Its kind of weird doing it backwards. Market is the salary required for a specific job to compete for candidates. It’s highly dependent on the major functions (job titles frequently function differently), which companies you compete with for candidates, and years of experience. So from an applicant standpoint I would use the median (less affected by abnormal salaries) salary of people with similar years of experience who are working at similar companies performs similar tasks to the ones you’re targeting. Tough, I know.

    2. Mike C.*

      In addition to what Joey said, if you’re in the US (heck, it might be useful outside of the US), look at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. They’re really good about classifying different types of work, and they have an amazing amount of data to sift through.

      I don’t know if you’re asking this for personal enlightenment or if you work with salary decisions, but I have a few thoughts if you’re in the latter group. I think it’s important to make sure that differences within a company are there for concrete reasons – levels of education, levels of experience, years of service, wiggle room for merit and so forth. Also seriously consider internally publishing pay bands for your jobs and job levels.

      1. Dan*

        Personal enlightenment. As a math geek, I’m just trying to quantify what “market rate” and “underpaid” means. People like to piss and moan a lot about it, and I’m curious on how to actually put some numbers on the griping.

        Again, though, I’m not asking for the data. Assume you know what the distributions look like. What parts on the distribution would you circle and label as market, underpaid, and overpaid? Why?

        1. Joey*

          In short, underpaid/overpaid is making more/less than those similarly situated.

          Where a lot of people make mistakes is they’re only using the data that supports the outcome they want.

        2. Comp Geek*

          I’m a compensation analyst, so this type of thing is my bread and butter.

          In general, I’d define “market” as between the 25th and 75th percentile for a job. “Under market” is typically from the 0-25th percentile, although I would really only use that term if you’ve been in role for a while (at least over a year) with good performance. If you’re new to the job/role, it’s more appropriate to be at the bottom of the range. I also wouldn’t necessarily define those above the 75th percentile as “overpaid”, since sometimes there’s good business reasons for that pay.

          Even though there’s a mathematical median to the market data, I spend a lot of time educating managers that there’s not a single “market rate”, but instead is a competitive range for similar work in companies similar to ours (revenue size, industry, geographic location, etc.).

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I know most readers of AaM will disagree with me on this (the popular narrative is that you should always try to negotiate for higher salary), but for simplicity’s sake (even with a little wiggle room for negotiating) the market rate is whatever you’re willing to accept that someone else is willing to pay.

      If the average (whether you define it as the median or mean) is $50,000, but the most any employer is willing to offer you is $40,000, and you are willing to accept that offer, that’s the market rate.

      If the average (same deal about definitions) is $50,000, but you get offers of $60,000 and $65,000, the market rate is $60,000-$65,000.

      It’s similar to renting an apartment. If the average 1-bedroom apartment in your area is $1000/month, but you see one you really like for $1300/month, you just have to ask yourself how much you want that apartment and whether you can afford it or not. You can always find a 1-bedroom for $1000, but it may not be the one you want.

      1. Jamie*

        I understand what you’re saying – but market rate is what most people are willing to work for in that area for that job – you will always have outliers outside of the market rate.

        If I’m out of work for a really long time and getting desperate I may take the first low ball offer that comes my way, even if it’s outside of market.

        Or conversely if I’m lured away by another company because they know my work and really want me personally and want to pay me crazy money…that’s outside of market also.

        And market rate is typically for a position – there are reasons that someone would fall above or below market (legitimately) based on their skill level or ancillary experience.

        It’s kind of like real estate. Market rate for a 4 bedroom house in X neighborhood is 500K. If you get it for 250K because you’re buying it from your gramma or because the sellers are in a hurry to offload it you got a deal. The same as if you pay $700 for it because you just had to have that particular house. Either scenario is an outlier and doesn’t change the market rate.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I can speak from only my limited experience, but the times I’ve been low-balled have been way before the offer stage, because the employer knows their budgeted salary range is below market rate. They’ll say during the interview stage “We really can’t pay more than $__,___. Is that okay with you?” One time it was fine (I didn’t have a lot of other things going for me), and another time it wasn’t fine (I ended up taking a job paying more than twice as much).

          Of course, a lot of employers will pay the least they can get away with, but that’s the key—unless there are unusual circumstances, usually they can’t get away with going too far below market rate, because at a certain point, no one will take those offers.

      2. Joey*

        That’s the thing though. Dans trying to figure out what to accept by looking at what’s reasonable and fair. Your methodology disregards retention issues due to low pay. It’s like saying if its more than what you’re making now you should take it. That’s misguided.

        1. Audiophile*

          But I think that’s true for a lot of people. I know I’ve done that, because I wanted to get out of a very low paying, dead end job. Market rate wasn’t a factor because, I was going to something new, had very little experience.

    4. Jamie*

      When I was tasked with coming up with market rate for my job it was hard because my job is a weird amalgam you won’t find on a salary site this is what I did:

      I hit the job boards looking for IT ads in the field looking at similar levels of responsibility, duties, and company size within my area (where I personally met the requirements – so basically jobs I would apply for if I were unemployed). I did the same for the accounting/auditing parts of my job. Fortunately both were in the same range. I wanted to get 25 as a control sample but it was impossible in my area because so few jobs list numbers in the range. So I extended my research to other Midwestern cities with a similar economy and cost of living. So I didn’t toss in NY or LA to skew things higher – because I genuinely wanted to know the real market – not an idealized fiction.

      Once I had 25 I did a mean (and when ranges were listed I typically picked the mid point – except in jobs where it was a little stretch where I’d go low and where it was less responsibility I’d skew a little higher.)

      I used Craigslist, Indeed, Spiceworks, Severfault, and Dice – as well as some manufacturing boards for their IT listings. I did not use Monster or Career Builder since I wanted to avoid tainting my data with the phantom jobs with inflated salary lists so many agencies post.

      I felt a lot more comfortable with my number than anything from a salary stat site because I knew where the data came from and I vetted it myself.

      Just another way to go.

      1. Joey*

        The only caution to looking at the midpoint if ranges in job ads is they frequently don’t correlate to the midpoint of actual salaries. I see tons of job ads with a salary spread of 10-20k when in reality the real spread (between min/max) is 50k. And a lots of companies have salaries that skew lower or higher than their salary midpoint for a variety of reasons. But, if you don’t have access to actual salaries or real pay bands this is probably the best you can do.

  18. Unemployed*

    I can’t find a job and I have no idea why. I have my masters in education, I have been looking for a teaching job for so long. I have been unemployed since 2012. All I can find are little part time jobs and those quickly disappear. I had a writing job for a while, got laid off after a month. Last month I picked up a job in a daycare center, they let me go after two weeks. Meanwhile I watch kids who are younger than me and only have a high school diploma walk into places and get the same job, no problem. I don’t understand what is wrong with me or why nobody will give me a chance.

      1. Unemployed*

        nothing performance based. all about money. one company actually is about to go bankrupt…

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      If you’re applying to the jobs as people with a high school degree only, then don’t tell people about your advanced degree. I had the same problem applying to part-time jobs this past summer. During my preliminary interview for a restaurant job, the head waiter told me not to mention any degrees beyond an undergrad one, and he was right – I got the job, after having been turned down for dozens.

      1. mango284*

        This is hard to do though when it leaves an unexplained gap on your resume. For example, in the 3 years it took to get my master’s, the jobs I had were all part-time student assistant jobs at the university I got the master’s at, which was different from my undergrad institution. If I left my master’s degree off my resume, I’d have to leave those jobs off as well and would have no way to explain what I was doing for those 3 years.

        1. C*

          I don’t think you’d have to leave off your part-time student assistant jobs if you left off your Master’s degree. Say you hadn’t actually finished the degree in the end…but you had those jobs, right? So they stay.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            Yep. No need to leave them off. They were jobs, which presumably you did to the best of your abilities–they don’t stop being work experience just because you didn’t complete your degree or chose not to put it on the resume.

    2. Bryan*

      If you’re seeing people with only a HS degree get the same job are you applying to the right jobs? Employers don’t look at you and them and think, “This person is more education let’s hire them.” They more often think, “This person is getting a job that is beneath what they want and they’re going to leave as soon as they can.”

    3. Anoners*

      Could your Masters be hurting your chances? Where I live school districts don’t hire people with Masters because they have to pay them more. A lot of my old teachers/friends will get the teaching job first, and then go back and get their Masters so they get more money, without having to worry about being blocked or fired.

      Not sure if that’s how it works there or not (or even if you’re trying for public teaching jobs).

    4. Stephanie*

      Aw, sorry to hear you’re going through this.

      Public teaching jobs strike me as pretty competitive (at least my area) unless you’ve got a really niche skill (like bilingual special ed or something). State budget’s pretty tight and the education schools pump out tons of grads, so the market’s pretty glutted.

      Have you done a reference check with your past employers? Also, it might hurt you that you’ve at a lot of short term jobs, especially if you can’t explain that well in an interview.

      The HS diploma jobs are probably the wrong ones. Like someone just mentioned, it’s usually not seen as a plus to have a masters degree in an unrelated field.

      Have you looked into curriculum development or training jobs? Those might like your M.Ed. Good luck!

      1. Unemployed*

        Yes I’m applying for teaching jobs. I’ve applied to lots and sometimes I’ll get a phone interview or in person, but I don’t make it past the first round. It’s…difficult. I’m just applying to small part time things to have some form of income coming in, in the meantime.

        1. thenoiseinspace*

          Have you tried tutoring companies or test prep (like SAT?) In my area, there are several places that do summer tutoring programs for students – that might be a good gig that would give you helpful experience. You could also freelance tutor and advertise at local schools.

        2. A.*

          Have you tried applying for for-profit colleges? It seems like every time I browse job boards they’re always hiring.

          1. Stephanie*

            Er, University of Phoenix/Apollo Group is hemorrhaging employees, but I bet she might have better luck with a for-profit with a less tarnished reputation.

            1. Liz in a Library*

              Yep, the for-profit group I once worked for has had several rounds of massive layoffs, too. The brand I worked for is hiring, but everything else is pretty bleak. So, just be wary.

    5. Sunflower*

      Unfortunately a lot of teaching jobs are who you know. A lot of my friends are teachers and even they have truble. My roommate had to sub in the same school district her parents taught in for 4 years before getting offered a classroom. 2 years later and she still doesn’t have a contract. Have you tried long term sub jobs?

      Also will echo that the degree will hurt you on part-time jobs.

    6. Aisling*

      Are you willing to move? Oklahoma is always looking for teachers, though the pay is not great.

      1. De Minimis*

        I think they are always looking because the teachers get fed up and leave….education is just not a big priority and a lot of the lawmakers are outright hostile toward teachers and the public schools.

        I’d try Texas first, although I don’t know what the market for teachers is like there—but that is where a lot of new grads in Oklahoma end up going for teaching jobs.

      2. Frances*

        But unfortunately, Oklahoma is one of those states where they are reluctant to make new hires of teachers with Masters (I have many family members who have taught in that state, and this happened to my aunt when she tried to get back in the workforce).

    7. Sitting Duck*

      I’m going through the same thing. I also have a Masters and have been looking since 2011 – I’m only able to find short term/seasonal jobs that are usually great while they last – but the problem is they end and then I’m right back where I started without a job.
      The market really sucks out there. People keep saying ‘its getting better’ but until I see that I won’t believe it (aka until I get a full time year round job)
      Good luck. I don’t really have any advise as I’m in the same boat. :/

    8. Rachel - HR*

      I know it isn’t a great move financially but if you are serious about becoming a teacher, your best bet is to substitute.

  19. WorkingAsDesigned*

    I posted this question in the open thread a couple of weeks ago, but it was several hundred posts in, so giving it another go!

    This question is directed mostly toward admin/exec assistants and managers with assistants, but I welcome everyone’s feedback!

    I support a C-suite exec and a VP. They’re both very satisfied with my work, so no issue there. What I’m looking for are suggestions to continually step up my game. Reading AAM has certainly been helpful! I’ve also purchased books about becoming a great/better assistant, and read blogs by stand-outs in the field.

    In addition to suggestions about continued growth, I’d also like to hear suggestions on ways to fill downtime when my 2 execs don’t have anything for me, and other assistants and/or managers in the office don’t have anything I can help with. I am slowly working on a policies & procedures manual for my role in the event that we win the lottery and I give a 12-second notice . . . :-)

    1. brightstar*

      What about trying to become more proficient with software that you’re using? It might be a way to fill up downtime as well as increasing your skill levels.

    2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      See if they’ll let you do training (even from somewhere like on the more advanced features of Word or Excel (or any other software you often use: Photoshop, Publisher, whatever). Being able to create a pivot table in Excel or an automatic Table of Contents in Word by using styles can make you look like a whiz kid, even though they’re fairly easy if you know what you’re doing. If you already know how to do those things, I’m sure there are still things you can learn– using wildcards in find/replace, slick ways of formatting in Excel, etc.

      1. Trixie*

        gcflearnfree offers FREE online learning so definitely worth spending some time there. Such a great resource.

      1. WorkingAsDesigned*

        Great question, AVP. In the true long-term, I have a side business that I’m planning to grow to the point of having as my source of income.

        In the shorter long-term (is that a word?), while still employed, I’ve become more and more aware that admins can have a major impact on the companies they work for, including the executive team. My C-level manager and I discussed just this week that by being his admin, my “team” is the entire company. He’s on a upward growth path within the company, and it’s really important to me that I’m growing my skills and professionalism right along with him, if not a step or two ahead of him.

        1. AVP*

          One thing that could be helpful both for your EA work and future business plans is to start getting a background in the programs and technology that your boss’s specialty uses. So like, if he’s rising through the marketing department, learn how to make Board-o-matics and basic Photoshop. Or presentation programs, or whatever. Or go to a seminar in ‘how to write a business plan.’ I find with my direct reports that their jobs go smoother (and they can get more done) if they have some idea of what I’m talking about, even if it’s not exactly in their purview. Particularly if it’s something unimportant or that there’s not a dedicated person for at your company- it’s so nice when someone asks me to do something for them and I can refer them to my EA and she does it well!

    3. LBK*

      I don’t have any suggestions for the first part, but for the second part: start keeping a list of everything you find yourself thinking “Wow, I wish I had that, but I just don’t have the time to do it.” Like if there’s certain information that would be helpful to dig up, or certain documentation you’d like to revise, or a certain subject you’d like to read more about.

      This happens to me a lot re: data analysis, where I’ll think as I’m working on something, “I wonder if I were to look at X over time and compare to factors Y and Z if I would see trend N” but I don’t have time to drop everything and look into it now. It also happens with documentation, where I’ll be using a template or a file and think “Man, I hate the way this is written, I should really fix it at some point.”

      Often by the time you’re actually able to do these things, you’ve forgotten about them. If you write them down, it becomes a handy list of pet projects you can work on in your downtime.

    4. PA Kay*

      A wonderful manager told me that one rule of success is to develop deep technical knowledge no matter what your field. As a PA, I spend any downtime researching and creating worst-case scenarios. Examples – travel – if mgr needs a meeting at an airport – what are the meeting facilities? what are the hotels near the airport? what amenities do the hotels offer? Do they offer a day rate for showering, changing, quick nap rather than a more expensive night stay? Visas – where are they likely to go and what are the visa requirements and how long will it take? How soon can I get his passport renewed? What are the train schedules for the Eurostar? What are the rates? I also do this for the calendar (with whom are they likely want to meet? what is that person’s schedule? is there any pre-read needed?) and financial (e-expenses, exchange rates, where to go to get $s changed to £ and € and vice versa). Good luck and Kudos for trying to improve your skills.

    5. Jazzy Red*

      Consider joining The International Association of Administrative Professionals ( There might be a chapter near you. You could visit them before making a decision to join.

      I was a member for 13 years, and I earned two professional certifications. Getting to know real Administrative Professionals (as opposed to people who just work in an office) helped me to expand my professionalism. Taking part in my chapter and division helped me develop skills such as public speaking and event planninng. Networking with other Admin Professionals provided me with insights I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, as well as best practices for real, on-the-job help.

      Check them out. They are much more than some of these associations that just take your money and send you a newsletter now and then.

      1. WorkingAsDesigned*

        Thanks, Jazzy Red. I’ve looked into IAAP, since they seem like a wonderful organization, but sadly the nearest chapter is 150 miles away.

        Any suggestions on other ways to connect with local Admins? I keep looking for local organizations, but our smaller, rural community doesn’t seem to have any “formal” ones.

    6. Rev.*

      How familiar are you with the job descriptions/actual duties of your C-suiter and VP?

      Without stepping on any toes or violating the Turf Border, what can you do to make their job easier? You want to become the Indispensable One, and a lot of times it’s in finding the little things that greases the wheels of the boss in front.

      1. WorkingAsDesigned*

        This is great feedback, Rev – much appreciated!

        I’ve worked with the C-suiter for 7.5 years, and the VP for 6 years, so we don’t have many turf issues, thankfully. When there are issues, I know them well enough to realize when a boundary’s been crossed, and to back off.

        They’ve both had transitions in their duties over the years, and continue have their job descriptions morphed, so your advice about making sure that the little things are taken care of is terrific. I believe that success in my role as their support person is to ensure that they’ve succeeded in their roles.

        My goal is to earn a nickname change from “WorkingAsDesigned” to “Radar” (nod to my fellow M*A*S*H fans)! :)

  20. Cath in Canada*

    I often find myself on teleconferences where the chair asks for yes/no opinions on a question or proposal, and is met with deafening silence. Does anyone know of any free virtual meeting software that would allow people to vote yes/no by clicking a button, or something like that? I think it might help with engagement.

    1. Kara Ayako*

      Ours isn’t free, but we use WebEx which allows for polls.

      The other option is to not do a poll but apply a “silence implies consent” policy. We do that for our conference calls, and it works well.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        “silence implies consent” – I really, really like that idea, especially because it doesn’t involve asking people in multiple countries to download something. I’m going to suggest it to the two main chairs next time I see them. Thank you!

  21. Stephanie*

    Texas folks: is the Texas Job Miracle actually true?

    I’m always a little skeptical of these “Best Places to Find a Job” lists, but the unemployment rate in the big Texas cities is definitely lower than the one in my current city. My mom is convinced that that might be the answer.

    I did stay with a friend in Austin and search there for a bit. I found it to be ok, but that the booming job market there was really limited to tech and not a whole lot else. Are Dallas or Houston any better?

      1. De Minimis*

        Ha, I’m looking at Texas too….

        Low unemployment rate can be deceptive, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are plenty of good jobs available. I was misled by a low unemployment rate where I currently live, although it is not hard to find a job there, it is hard to find one that pays much above minimum wage. I don’t know if that is the case for the bigger cities in Texas, though. People where I live are always complaining that younger people leave for Texas due to higher salaries.

        1. Stephanie*

          I know a lot of it is minimum wage jobs.

          Salary thing, not sure about. I heard salaries all over the map when I graduated from college in Texas. I definitely got offered more out-of-state, but higher salaries were offset by the higher COL. Also, I grew up outside of Dallas and I’m amazed at how things have gotten pricier there.

        2. TL*

          For skilled labor, if you can transfer your skills to the oilfield, you’ll definitely get a higher wage in Texas. For more white-collar work, the salaries are lower but so is the cost of living – most of Texas is in the bottom third of the national average COL. Austin is considered a very expensive place relative to the rest of Texas and it’s right at national average.

      2. Befuddled Squirrel*

        +1 for San Antonio. Low cost of living and lots of jobs. Austin is an hour’s drive away so you can take advantage of everything going on there without having to deal with all the congestion, higher costs, and throngs of tourists and college students.

          1. TL*

            USAA is based in San Antonio, I’m pretty sure. They have a huge complex out by the med center, off 410, IIFC.

          2. Joey*

            Not mostly military by a long shot, but definitely a lot, especially if you’re close to a base.

        1. Joey*

          Not really an hour unless you’re counting from edge to edge with no traffic. More like 1.5 -2 as a job commute if you have to deal with rush hour. Its a bear of a commute and lots of speed traps both ways.

          1. TL*

            Yeah, Austin is definitely an 1.5 hr drive from SA, unless you’re doing 90+ in the middle of the night.

            1. De Minimis*

              I know a guy who makes that commute, but I think he works oddball hours so it may be easier for him.

    1. Lora*

      What kind of job? Some fields are more location-specific than others. I mean, where I live it’s biotech heaven, and people with advanced degrees are doing just fine, but jobs for high school grads are thin on the ground.

      1. Stephanie*

        Mechanical engineering-related. My degree’s in that, but I worked in a different, but related field after graduation. So mechanical engineering jobs or anything that might like that background.

        1. Lora*

          More specific? Robotics, consumer goods, process design?

          For robotics, Texas could definitely be a good choice. Consumer goods design, depends on the goods–one of my friends designs consumer electronics for Bose, one designs bicycle parts, another does all kinds of stuff for a consulting company that advises consumer goods manufacturers (more efficient refrigerators, electronic medical records…can’t remember what all he’s worked on). The MechEngs I know in Automation tend to work for places like Raytheon or else along the coasts. For business-to-business stuff, also really depends on the business. I know MechEngs who designed blast furnaces who worked in the midwest on materials manufacturing, elastomers for Dow (Delaware) and DuPont (Ohio), coatings for Sherwin-Williams (also Ohio).

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh, sorry! I’m not being specific enough.

            Actually, I am interested in robotics. I rekindled my interest in the subject after doing some volunteer work through FIRST Robotics and started learning C/C++ and brushing up on MATLAB.

            1. Stephanie*

              I should add, not just interested in that specifically. Also open to other areas as well. I’ve got kind of an odd background, so trying to see what fits it.

        2. Joey*

          I don’t know where your experience lies, but there’s aerospace and energy related engineering jobs near south texas (military and eagle ford shale.)

        3. Dan*

          How would you feel about moving back to DC? I work for a non profit that hires mechanical engineers. I just saw a presentation from some of them on nano technology that they have been working on.

          1. Stephanie*

            Ha, conflicted. But for the right job, I’d consider it. I do miss seasons. I know Alison doesn’t like solicitations in the comments. I’m in the LinkedIn group–my last name is Jennings.

            (Do you work for MITRE? Taking a wild guess here.)

        4. TL*

          Hi! If you’re willing to live out in the middle of nowhere, Odessa and Midland have a booming oil industry which I imagine would require some mechanical engineering stuff – it’s worth looking into. The pay is excellent, though the rent/housing prices are ridiculously high for Texas.

          San Antonio and San Marcos are also good – San Marcos is the fastest growing city in the US, I believe, though it’s generally absorbed into the Austin Metro area. San Antonio has a lot going on; I know a fair number of my engineering friends in multiple fields have gotten jobs there. Make sure to look in the suburbs, as well!

          Austin has a lot in the tech/biotech industry right now (Dell, Apple, Google, DropBox, LifeSciences, ect…) but I don’t think there’s a lot of straight engineering work. Mind you, it’s growing like crazy and certainly there are enough events/big things coming it that it’s worth a look (F1 races and the X-games, for instance)

          Corpus Christi and Houston for oilfields (be prepared for off-shore companies) or south Texas for more industry type jobs where I imagine mechanical engineering would be of use. The oilfield jobs pay extremely well but are very demanding in terms of hours and sometimes travel/location, depending on what you’re doing.

          Also, if you’re not attached to living in or near a city, check out the small towns all around Texas – I imagine that mechanical engineering would be useful for many of the jobs located there. You’d be surprised how many towns are supported by one major industry that hires a variety of people that aren’t necessarily easy to find in that town’s population.

          1. Joey*

            San Marcos for mechanical engineering jobs? Not unless you want to commute to Austin or SA.

              1. Joey*

                TX state, outlet malls, and a few mfg places. Pretty average small town when you take out TX State. Local professional jobs pay less than Austin/SA and are fewer.

    2. Bryan*

      I might be wrong on this but I usually read Houston’s job market is largely in the energy sector. Now I don’t know if that means all types of positions at energy companies or working more hands on with oil wells.

    3. Mike C.*

      Yeah, those lists require a lot of context. What sort of jobs are available? How many people have simply been dropped from the employment stats because they aged out or simply stopped looking for work?

      And heck, I’ve seen stories that conflate raw job numbers with employment percentages, and also reports about how employment plans from the local politicians netted N number of jobs when economic predictions said long ago that those jobs would return on their own.

      So yeah, most of those reports feel like over-simplistic ads for a local area or political group.

    4. Malissa*

      I’ve been seeing a lot of jobs for Houston. I’ve even had a couple of recruiters contact me about moving. So it must be a boom town.

      1. TL*

        Keep in mind that Texas is fairly buffered from the rest of the nation, economically speaking. We (for the most part) didn’t feel the recession as much as the everyone else did.

      2. Joey*

        Lots of trade offs though. Muggy as hell, horrible traffic, and 30min-1 hr to get anywhere. Forget it if you have to go to the other side of town.

        Although restaurants and culture scene kick ass. Astros and texans tickets are a great option if you go to see their opponents.

      3. Mz. Puppie*

        My husband got recruited out of our old city into Houston. Was offered a relocation package and everything. Can confirm.

    5. Anonsie*

      I left Austin two years ago because I could not, for the life of me, find a new job. I know a number of people in a variety of fields who were laid off during the recession and still can’t find full time work, or work in their field, or a solid job at all. I’ve heard the “Austin job market is great” story over and over and I don’t know what in the world people are talking about. Most of us expanded our search outward to Houston and San Antonio at least without any success as well, though there seemed to be a few more options on those markets.

      I wouldn’t hunt based on unemployment rates. Hunt based on how much money is going into your industry in that city. I do clinical research and, while Texas has a ton of major medical centers and medical schools, they are not expanding. I moved somewhere there was enough money to go around, basically, and had no issues after that.

      1. Stephanie*

        I had the same reaction. A friend let me crash at her place in Austin to try and line up interviews and while it was ok, I didn’t think it was as great as portrayed. I think if you have really in-demand tech skills or don’t mind waiting around for a higher ed/state government job, it’s good. I just got kind of a confused shrug in regard to my background.

        Houston and Dallas definitely seemed to have a bit more options.

        Nah, I haven’t been hunting on unemployment rates. Hell, I interviewed for something in Detroit, which never makes those best job cities lists. I was just curious from a firsthand experience if things were better enough to focus there.

      2. TL*

        Austin is actually opening up a medical school in the next few years (I’m pretty sure they were trying to overturn that but failed.)

        I think the thing with Austin is that for certain fields, it’s great. Or if you want to kinda live the partying, after-college lifestyle with a low-paying job and a bachelor’s degree, it’s also great.

        But for clinical research – no. I think your advice about knowing how much money is going into your industry where is right on the money.

        1. Stephanie*

          I don’t even know how feasible the partying, low-paying job route is there anymore! It sounds like rent and housing prices have gotten insane in the last few years due to the tech boom, unless you plan to live way out in Georgetown or something.

          1. TL*

            Nah, people just live in crappy houses or on East Riverside (like I did!) or other undesirable neighborhoods-mostly East Austin- with roomies. You can still keep your rent at like $600 or less a month if you’re not picky.

  22. Permatemp*

    I’m a temporary employee covering for Project Coordinator who’s out on maternity leave. In my email signature what should my title be? Should it be Temporary Project Coordinator or just Project Coordinator? I think “Temporary Proj Coord” sounds… off, but I also don’t want to confuse those outside of our department who might think that I’m permanently replacing the employee who’s out.

    1. WorkingAsDesigned*

      I did temp work for several years, and during the couple of times I had a longer assignment, just put the position’s title in my signature block (“Project Coordinator”). With that being said, the assignments were in smaller companies, so the chance of internal confusion was lessened.

      When clients or other outside people asked me about what happened with the person I was filling in for, I just said that she was out on parental leave, out on medical leave, or some other generic response, and if pressed, her approximate return date.

  23. Lee*

    I’m getting married very soon, and plan to make my maiden name my middle name and add my husband’s as my last name (aka Marsha Brady Jones). My last name is fairly unusual. However, I have recently started a new job (clinet-facing) and am worried about any confusion as well as sending off any unintended signals. Has anyone negotiated this before?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      If you’re currently signing off stuff with “Elizabeth Bennet” and you’re getting married next week, can you sign off as “Elizabeth Bennet Darcy” for a bit–say, a few months, before transitioning to “Elizabeth B. Darcy” and eventually “Elizabeth Darcy”? I know women who have done this as a way of transitioning to a married name without throwing people off or confusing them.

    2. Befuddled Squirrel*

      Both of the companies where I’ve worked have had a standard way to do this. A few weeks before you get married, change it to Martha Brady (Jones). After, change it to Martha Jones (Brady) and stick with that for about a month before switching to Martha Jones.

    3. Jamie*

      What unintended signals?

      But regarding the name change you want, there is nothing unusual about that. In fact, the way you’re doing it has the collateral benefit of people immediately knowing you’re the same person, just with a name change.

      Just make sure IT forwards your old email addy to your new so you don’t lose anything.

      This happens every day – you should do this how it makes you happy and not give it a second thought – because no one else will.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I have a short and memorable maiden name, and a long and hard-to-pronounce (at least, most people find it so; I think it’s long, but phonetically spelled) married name.

      For a while I kept my maiden name at work. This proved to be a pain in the butt at times, especially when every time we got a new admin (and we had a lot of turnover) I had to explain to that person not to book any hotels and ESPECIALLY no flights in my work name. Or we’d have a client whose security team had been told to look for “AdAgencyChick Maidenname” and wouldn’t let me in because my driver’s license says “AdAgencyChick Hisreallylongname.”

      I changed jobs, and decided I was going to go with one name for my whole life. So I got my business card printed up with Hisreallylongname, informed everyone that’s what I was using, etc. This was worse. At my level it’s good for clients to remember my name and they just didn’t. Now any contacts I made from that job, if they hear from a friend who says, “I have a job opening, do you know anyone?” and they think of me, think, “Yeah, how about AdAgencyChick His…uh…Hisousky? Hisini?”

      Went back to my maiden name, even though that now means I use two names. My husband wasn’t delighted, but he gets it. He should change HIS name to Jones if he wants me to use his at work!

    5. Dan*

      The HR person at a job that I had applied to used her maiden name as her email address and displayed name (ie and displays as Jane Doe). Her signature (which I never look at) uses her married name (so it says Jane Doe Smith). When she would call, she would announce herself as “Jane Smith.”

      It was always confusing as hell. We actually got to offer stage, and when “Jane Smith” called looking for me, I was about 2 seconds away from saying “Why are you calling me? I don’t believe we have met.” When you’ve received tons of emails from “Jane Doe” getting a call from “Jane Smith” is a bit… weird.

    6. Dan*

      The HR person at a job that I had applied to used her maiden name as her email address and displayed name (ie jdoe at zzz dot com and displays as Jane Doe). Her signature (which I never look at) uses her married name (so it says Jane Doe Smith). When she would call, she would announce herself as “Jane Smith.”

      It was always confusing as hell. We actually got to offer stage, and when “Jane Smith” called looking for me, I was about 2 seconds away from saying “Why are you calling me? I don’t believe we have met.” When you’ve received tons of emails from “Jane Doe” getting a call from “Jane Smith” is a bit… weird.

  24. Offtopic*

    Completely off any topic ever covered on the site, but I’m a regular part of the community, so you are my people. I have a crush, and it is sooooo annoying. I’m married, closer to menopause than to the normal age of “crushes”, but I met this guy who has somehow gotten into my head. I will likely never see him again, and it not’s like I would ever do anything about it anyway. I’ve been attracted to people besides my partner because people are obviously sometimes attractive , but I can’t seem to relax and just enjoy this feeling. He’s making my brain itch. So, are you supposed to feed a crush or starve a crush? I know I’ll get over it eventually, but what do I do in the meantime?

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t know how helpful this will be, but when I would find myself attracted to people who weren’t appropriate I’d picture them doing something gross. Like eating one of the foods to which I have a phobic aversion. Or being mean to his mom.

      I can kill any romantic or sexual feeling instantly with that – it’s weird.

      But don’t beat yourself up over it. The definition of a crush is that it’s not really real. They can become real, but then it’s no longer a crush but a relationship.

      There is nothing wrong with thinking about someone in the “oh in another time and place this would be fun to pursue” kind of way. Kind of the same way I feel when I see a nice apartment and wistfully think of how nice it would be to live without the upkeep of a house or everyone’s else mess to clean up. If given the choice I’d panic at the thought of living without my family and their accompanies towels on the floor. It’s just an idealized fantasy.

      Personally, I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell on fantasies of people in real life – there is an element of danger to letting it take hold that isn’t there if it’s some celebrity you’ve never met. So I’m a starve a crush kinda girl, personally.

      In the meantime you can distract yourself by thinking of someone yummy but unattainable. Like Alex Van Halen – or Griffin O’Neal.

      And you all now officially know too much about me!

    2. Calla*

      I haven’t tried this, but I once heard that someone (a married woman) got rid of crushes being on their mind all the time by walking through if it really happened in her head — what would happen, what would it be like, etc. It never compared to her spouse, so that was that. Or focus on the bad stuff — was he smart but had really, really bad fashion sense? That kind of thing!

      And I think crushes (not just “ooh, they’re cute”) are normal and fine as long as they are not interfering with your (or their) relationship!

      1. Jamie*

        This is really good – because it’s so true that part of the appeal of crushes is you have the luxury of only focusing on the positive superficial aspects and can ignore the rest.

        You don’t have to deal with their used tissues they leave on the night stand when they have a cold, or the fact that they forgot to pay a ticket, or the times where they hurt your feelings by saying something crappy without thinking.

        I love my husband very much, but he is not perfect. But if he were just some guy I knew I’d have the most wicked crush on him because he’s freaking adorable.

        It’s the lack of complication that’s appealing. It’s the same reason workplace personality conflicts can be a pita – but they can’t break your heart a real conflict with someone you love. The deeper the relationship the more complicated it gets.

        When I first met my husband my heart would skip when I’d see his number on the caller id, or his name in my email. I’d get all flooded with happiness – Yay – he loves me, he’s thinking about me.

        I miss that, tbh. But it’s not because he doesn’t matter to me – it’s because I know he loves me until I hear otherwise and the more secure I am in that the less visceral my response is to affirmations of that.

        Sorry…tangent. No idea where I was going with this.

      2. Windchime*

        I picture him ignoring me while he plays video games and I clean house. Or of him stinking up the bathroom or telling me that the cat can’t sleep on the bed. Or of a really bad foot fungus. About 5 minutes of those kinds of thoughts and the crush is a little less crush-y.

    3. Christy*

      When I have a crush, I tell my partner and then enjoy the crush. Never get alone with the crush, but still enjoy the banter/interaction.

      1. Jamie*

        My husband is okay with my deep and abiding love of Alex Van Halen. He would not be okay if I felt that way about someone I actually knew.

        And I don’t want to know he’s ever had a thought in his life about a woman who wasn’t me. We both humor my delusion that I am and have always been the center of his universe – even before he met me. To do otherwise would result in a very sulky me.

        I always admire couples that can be open about that stuff. I’m just too…insecure, narcissistic, whatever…to be that healthy.

        1. Offtopic*

          I think that’s a little part of what’s bugging me. We are pretty open usually about people of hotness. As a red-blooded American male, he has the requisite pants-feelings for Kate Upton. And he’s perfectly fine when I admire real-life men-in-tights at the Ren Faire. As I said, I will likely never or rarely encounter the crush-guy again. He’s a service provider to my husband, so that’s how I met him. (And I think there’s a joke in there about the services he could provide to me, lol.) But I don’t want to mention it to my husband because I fear that would make their occasional, professional interactions uncomfortable.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Honestly, I think keeping it to yourself is adding fuel to the fire, as it were, and I don’t think it’s going to make things as awkward for your husband as you think it will. Go ahead and tell hubby, “you know who’s really hot? That guy Dave you introduced me to that one time.” What’s hubby going to do, tell Dave?

            1. Offtopic*

              Thanks, I’ll consider this. It probably won’t hurt either that Dave’s wife is also pretty hot. Maybe we can crush on them together. :)

    4. some1*

      Distract yourself. If you catch yourself thinking about him do something else that you know you have to concentrate on. Read something, call a friend, watch TV, surf the internet. After awhile you’ll stop thinking about it.

    5. Queen Victoria*

      When I have a silly office crush, I view it through the same perspective as my dweeby middle school crushes. This means acknowledging it as a harmless fancy that will eventually pass. Another commenter also responded with this but if your partner wouldn’t mind hearing about it, it can also be nice to share with them. That way, you can both get a laugh out of it.

      This is a slightly different scenario, but I tell my partner about tv crushes I get and he thinks they’re hilarious (For any American Horror Story watchers, I had a crush on Dr. Thredson before his big character reveal. Whoops!).

      1. HappyLurker*

        Love this topic – it was fun and sweet to read!
        BTW, my old crush was cured after 15 years by friending them on facebook – :) boy how they changed!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I had a bf who had a huge crush on Traci Bingham from Baywatch, and also on Melissa Gilbert from Little House on the Prairie. We agreed that if our celebrity crushes actually wanted to go out with us, we’d let the other one go out with them. It acknowledged the fantasy in a non-threatening way (and it was safe because that was never gonna happen!).

        I probably wouldn’t have liked it much if he said he had a crush on someone at work, but I would have at least been glad he told me.

        1. giggleloop*

          My husband and I did this, too — we each have a celebrity person that we have permission to sleep with if the opportunity ever arises. :)

          1. Tris Prior*

            Hell, Partner and I each have an entire “free pass list”!

            (“yes, honey, should Karen Gillan show up at our door demanding some action from you, go right ahead.”)

    6. Celeste*

      Google “fiery friends”. I couldn’t get the link to post here. It has advice about going forward when you’re attracted but nothing can come of it.

        1. Celeste*

          Crap crap crap–I should have said, google “fiery friends Will Meek”. He’s a psychologist whose blog is pretty good.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Relax and breathe–this is normal. Everybody has crushes. I like Jamie’s suggestion about picturing him doing gross things (picking his nose and wiping it on his pants, for example). I try to do stuff like that with celebrity crushes–though I rarely get them, they can be annoyingly persistent inside my head when I should be thinking about other things.

      LOL side note: that’s also how I keep from being nervous when I actually get to talk to people who are well-known.

    8. Grace*

      I’m a proponent of starving a crush, focusing on your spouse (that thing about “forsaking all others”), getting out of ruts/boredom.

  25. C average*

    This seems like an appropriately weird question for the open thread.

    My manager is a musician. She was in a very successful band in her native country a decade or so ago, and is still well-known there. She plays semi-regular solo gigs at small venues locally.

    She always invites members of our immediate team to her gigs, and several members of our team pretty much always go. (I know these things because there’s discussion of it around the office the day of and the day after.)

    I like my manager’s music and have enjoyed the couple of gigs I attended, but I’m not much of a going-out kind of person. I’m married with two youngish stepkids, I have a couple of demanding hobbies, and I tend to be an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of person.

    I sometimes get the vibe my manager takes it personally that I don’t come see her shows, even though I’ve gone out of my way to praise her music and explain that I don’t go out as a rule but that I like making the occasional exception to come see her play. There’s still weirdness, especially the day after a gig or when she sends out an invite on Facebook and I decline it.

    Any suggestions for making this subject go away permanently as a source of weirdness and tension around the office?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Are you declining the invitation on facebook? By that, I mean, publicly saying “I can’t go?” My advice would be to ignore the FB invitation and do more of what you’re doing by complimenting the music you like or the occasional performance you do attend.

      1. C average*

        I usually decline the Facebook invites so they’ll stop appearing in my “Events” section. I always thought declining invites when I knew I wasn’t going was the appropriate thing to do from an etiquette standpoint, and it also keeps my calendar uncluttered. I’ve actually been off of Facebook for Lent and haven’t missed it a bit, so may delete my account permanently, which would at least make that aspect a non-issue.

        Thanks for the response!

        1. Stephanie*

          I deactivated my account temporarily (and inadvertently reactivated it when I logged into a different website) and was surprised that I didn’t miss it all that much.

        2. Jessica*

          I always thought declining invites when I knew I wasn’t going was the appropriate thing to do from an etiquette standpoint

          You would think! But I think when it’s come see me do this or come to this benefit sort of invite where they invite every single person on their friend list, it’s better to ignore if you’re not going.

          Now with a real party or get together among actual friends, I think declining if you can’t go is definitely the thoughtful thing to do.

          Also, I wish Facebook would have a separate “event” invite for things of this nature. I’m always wondering if people actually really want *me* specifically to come to something or if they just want warm bodies in seats. One starts to feel used after a while.

          Oh and feeling obliged to go to your boss’s musical shows sounds like a special kind of hell. I feel for you

        3. The Real Ash*

          You don’t have to decline an event to get it to stop showing up. There’s always that handy little “x” that will delete the invite without notifying the organizer; I use it all the time as I have a few friends who are in bands and are constantly inviting their entire friends lists to every. single. show.

    2. Kai*

      This is the kind of thing that I would obsess about too, but is it possible you’re overthinking it? If your manager is at all a reasonable person, she’ll appreciate that you’ve been out to see gigs a few times and have a lot of other demands on your time. I totally understand feeling weird about it, though.

    3. Brett*

      If she plays gigs that regularly at small venues, she probably has quite a bit of control over scheduling those gigs.

      Maybe ask her if she can schedule an occasional gig that fits your schedule better (e.g. early evening) so you can see her more often? If she can, then you have gigs that fit your schedule that are even partly scheduled just for you. If she can’t, she will at least know that you are really interested in seeing her.

    4. Befuddled Squirrel*

      You might be reading too much into her reaction. I’m a gigging musician. People often assume that I expect them to come to my shows, but the truth is that I understand that people have other things going on and not everyone likes the kind of music I play. All I hope for is a good sized crowd made up of nice people. I think most musicians who have been playing for a long time feel the same way.

      That said, hitting decline on a Facebook invite without saying anything could come across the wrong way. Either don’t respond at all or decline and post a comment saying you can’t make it.

      1. C average*

        Thanks–hearing from someone who shares her specific point of view really helps. If I do reactivate my Facebook, I’ll try to be more sensitive about declining these invites. And maybe I’ll spread the word to some of my friends who DO like to go out because, to your point, a good-sized crowd of nice people is really the end goal here.

    5. Random Reader*

      You could ask about her events the next morning. It shows that you care, even though you weren’t able to be there.

  26. De Minimis*

    I noticed when we were discussing government jobs last week that some of the commenters had said they worked for the State of Texas. If they are still out there, I’d like some info about their hiring process and how long it might take.

    Strongly considering a move there in the near future and that seems to be an area with a lot of jobs in my field [accounting] at my current career level. Just wondering about the overall process, how the interviews are done, and how long it might take. I’m also wondering if they might disqualify me just because I’m not local, or if they would do a phone interview. I am in a neighboring state so it’s not like I’m coming from halfway across the country.

    1. El Presidio*

      I don’t think they’ll disqualify for not being local-we’ve had a couple of people who we’ve hired from out of town, provided that they’re willing to relocate.

      For hiring timeframe, it really really depends on the HR processes. I’ve seen it take as little as 3 weeks from time of application receipt to offer, or in my case, it took a little under three and half months.

      What kind of agency were you looking at?

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve only started to look, but right now I’ve been looking at their Health and Human Services agency. I’d be looking at accountant/budget analyst jobs. The specific agency isn’t too important, although my current job is working for an opdiv of the federal HHS so that would be the most logical starting point. Seems like there are quite a few jobs out there.

        We are trying to set things up to where we could leave in a month’s time if need be. What I do mainly depends on if my wife can find a position there….that is the main reason we’re wanting to relocate, there’s just not much opportunity here for her.

          1. El Presidio*

            Any time! If you have a good email addy, I’ll forward you some openings. I think we have a couple at my agency (not the HHS) and I’ll look around and see if I can find anything else.

  27. Anonforthis*

    How to you react to/deal with an employee or co-worker who is, for lack of a better term, “freaking out”? The Boss is on leave, and so it’s mostly me holding down the fort. Recently I had to communicate a change to some co-workers because it affected what they were doing *in the future*. It was really not freak-out worthy, just a change in process, and those kinds of things are not totally uncommon.

    My poor co-worker misinterpreted what was actually happening proceeded to have a bit of a meltdown, not so much about the change, but more about building frustration over communication, and some other unrelated things that occurred at the same time.

    I didn’t know what to say, other than to reassure her that all of the work she had just done would not be lost, and that I had no part in the decision to make the change or aware of prior discussion and wasn’t keeping her in the dark, and that I would work with her to make sure her group could finish their work and transition smoothly to another process. She was clearly just so frustrated and upset about general things, and I felt totally useless and like I wasn’t doing the right thing.

    She’s actually a great worker and apologized the next day. It’s not usual behavior for her, but I want to know how I best could have handled it. She’s was jumpy over this change, and having technical issues beyond our control has just magnified her worry that she is going to lose all of that work. It also didn’t help that the vendors haven’t been communicating changes at a level we needed them to communicate.

    It’s resolved now (I worked with her and the vendors to transition all of those files), but I feel like I could have done better in diffusing the freak-out part. What is the best way to react to and deal with these kinds of situations?

    1. LMW*

      I have no advice for you, but was coming to the open thread to day to post the same type of questions. We have a new boss, who has pretty much been traveling since she started two weeks ago. We’ve had almost no contact with her…but we’ve been on our own without a leader for quite a while now, so while it’s not ideal, I can’t blame her for getting her bearings before she starts meeting with us regularly or gets knee-deep in the details of our roles. We need to do some restructuring, and we’ve known a reorg was coming for about six months. There’s no new or shocking development in that area.
      My coworkers are choosing now as a time to freak out. It’s driving me nuts. I’m sick of having to be the level headed one constantly saying “I know how you feel, but….” One of my coworkers even got made at me for saying I had a good initial meeting with the new boss (Hers was not great, one of the directors wasn’t happy with his. “How was yours?” “Mine was actually okay, but that’s probably because I have the most specific role on the team.” “Well, thanks a lot! Now I feel horrible.”) The negativity is really starting to get to me. I like my job, I like my company, and usually I’m on good terms with my team.
      So I’ll echo Anonforthis: How do you react to and deal with this type of situation?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am not sure there is anything you can do. I guess the first thing I would look at is do these folks actually want help in calming down or would they prefer to freak out?
        Can’t help someone who does not want help.
        The next thing I would consider is to check to see if there was something specific I could help them with.

        I know I would not be happy if I did not hear from my boss for two weeks. Perhaps you can send her an email and say that people are getting concerned about the reorg, etc. And ask her when she might be able to touch base with the group? Or maybe you can encourage them to pull together a couple questions and email her themselves.

    1. H. Rawr*

      Not usually. COBRA allows you to continue your coverage on the company’s group plan, so if there’s no plan anymore, there’s nothing to be continued. In those situations usually there is a conversion policy offered directly from the insurer but it’s probably beneficial to shop around if you’re offered one.

      But, losing your coverage from your job will also count as a “qualifying event” to shop for a policy through and see if you can get a subsidy, which you may well be able to do if you find yourself without income.

      Best of luck if this is a situation you’re facing.

      1. CTO*

        At least in my state, the insurance exchange health plans are usually WAY cheaper than COBRA anyway, even if you don’t qualify for financial assistance. But people should know that if they accept COBRA, then they can’t enroll in an exchange plan instead until their COBRA runs out or open enrollment comes around again. Quitting COBRA voluntarily (even because it’s too expensive) is not a “qualifying life event.”

        (Certified insurance exchange navigator here.)

        1. H. Rawr*

          You know, I’ve been wondering exactly how the COBRA qualifying periods worked in relation to the exchange. But the annual open enrollment an option after COBRA has been elected? I have seasonal employees who work April-October and qualify for the subsidy in the off season, but they’re not super thrilled about the idea of basically three running deductibles during a calendar year, so it was on my list to look into that for them (maybe they take the COBRA in the last few months of the year and then the subsidized policy off the exchange in the first few months of the year).

          1. CTO*

            My state’s exchange, at least, has experts on staff specifically to help small businesses explore their options. Maybe that could be a resource for you.

            From what I understand about my state, anyone can drop COBRA (or other insurance) and choose other coverage during the annual open enrollment period for any reason.

  28. thenoiseinspace*

    I’ve asked this question before, but it didn’t get many responses, so I’m trying again.

    Creatives: any tips on online portfolios? I’ve set mine up and it seems…fine. Maybe good. But I want to to be great.

    How do you build an awesome portfolio? I’ve got the work and I’m really proud of it, so I just need a great way to show it. How many pieces do you have, do you include a photo of yourself, how much contact info do you list, etc?

    1. esra*

      For me (graphic design/illustrator), a great portfolio is all about the work. Big, good quality pictures, ideally photos of the work and not just digital comps. I’ve seen a few designers pull off complex designs well, but more often than not it just looks cluttered. So I tend to go with really minimal site design.

      People want to see the work above all else, so that’s what I try to showcase. Honestly, I don’t even have an about page let alone a photo. My work is there, a link to my resume + social media, and a contact link.

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        Yeah, I’ve finally managed to get copies of pdfs of my published articles so the work itself will be more impressive – now I’m just looking for a way to display it that looks professional. And I’m glad to hear that about the photo – I’ve currently got one on my site because I found so many sites recommending it, but I just feel like it’s out of place. What good can come of it, really?

    2. StaminaTea*

      When I was setting mine up, I googled other people’s portfolios to get ideas. Like I’m angling for instructional design now – so I googled “instructional designer portfolio” and found lots of great stuff (and not so great stuff). I bought a domain name and bought a WordPress portfolio template that I really liked and installed it. It looks really slick and there’s no ads, and it comes up when you google me. As far as contact info, I set up a gmail and google voice number just for my website that redirect to me, so I can change them if they get spammed.

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        Mine is on WordPress too, and I’ve been trying to make it look sleek, but I think I’m totally failing. What theme do you run, if you don’t mind my asking?

        One of my problems is that I haven’t found any writer portfolios that I really liked – even in those “top ten best portfolio” lists, most of them seemed only average.

          1. thenoiseinspace*

            ooh, pretty! I’ve been using a free theme (I’m poor) but it may be time to spring for something nice. And $30 is a great price…

            Thank you for sharing!

    3. anon-2*

      Copyright it.

      Even watermark it.

      That way someone can’t rip off your work, or, at least you can go after them if they do.

  29. FarFromBreton*

    I asked on a recent open thread if I should try to leave my flailing organization, and a bunch of commenters and Alison told me I should because it was likely doomed anyway. Well, I kept trying to make things work for a few weeks, but then I finally quit! Not because I had another job lined up, but because I gave the board an ultimatum to contain the ED so that I could do my job (and not be made physically sick from having to deal with her nonsense) or I would leave. Most of our board then abruptly quit. Since they were the only hope I had of making my job doable, I quit a few days later. I didn’t actually give a full 2 weeks’ notice, since the ED has a history of trying to withhold pay from people she’s angry at. I didn’t have a job lined up, but I am so happy not to have to deal with the ED anymore! My now-former coworker showed me a recent email from her, and even though half of her organization has quit, she’s pretending that everything is great and that all of the recent problems were caused by the people who left, not her. Now I can just laugh ruefully at her antics instead of stressing out about them.

    1. esra*

      It’s crazy how, once you leave, the things that used to stress you out so much just become funny. Once it’s not your problem anymore, you can step back from it and see how ridiculous it is/was.

      1. Stephanie*


        The absurdness of FirstJob is hilarious now that I’m not there anymore, but at the time, it was pretty awful.

      2. FarFromBreton*

        Thanks, everyone. Unfortunately, my poor coworker is still stuck in the organization for now (she can’t afford to jump ship without another income waiting), but at least now I can let her vent without worrying that I’m being unprofessional or making morale worse.

        @alfie Yeah, it wasn’t my most-desired outcome, but on the plus side it meant that I could stop struggling to save everything and just leave.

    2. alfie*

      Good for you! And scary when the board all quit!! You are better off. I hope you find the next thing soon.

  30. De Minimis*

    I forgot to mention, I had an AAM dream earlier this week!

    I dreamt that Alison was declaring an emergency because she’d ran out of questions to answer, and people were scrambling to come up with material for the site.

  31. Midge*

    I’m looking for some words of encouragement this morning. I’ve been temping in my office for several months, and they are about to hire me full time. Someone recently made the comment to me that I must be so happy, because this is the kind of job I’ve been wanting for a while … but I’m not.

    I’ve been so much more stressed out since they started training me for this new job. It’s about 80%-90% administrative, 10%-20% the kind of work I actually want to be doing. I know I need to pay my dues to advance to something better, but that point feels so far away right now. Anything I can tell myself to feel happier about this transition?

    1. Sunflower*

      It’s important to fill your outside life with things you enjoy. If you have stuff to look forward to when you leave work, it can make it a lot easier to go everyday. It might also help to try to get some volunteer experience doing the stuff you really want to do

      1. Midge*

        That’s a good idea. I do make time for a structured hobby, but I haven’t been planning a lot of other fun things lately. I also just changed my monitor background to a picture of where I’ll be going on vacation soon, which is making my space a little nicer.

        1. Sunflower*

          Ha it’s funny because I just got a new computer and decided to actually put a background on it- I usually use keep whatever is on there- and I changed it to a beach I often visit and I love it!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can you start planning your next transition? Am thinking of outlining a plan on your personal computer- where you put in each step of what you need to do to get to the level you want to be at? (I would want to do it on the computer- not paper- because I would need to be able to add unforeseen steps as I mapped this out.)

      Also try to figure out ways to maximize where you are at now. How can you get the most out of the experience?

    3. kas*

      The second paragraph has definitely been my issue. I’ve been applying to entry-level positions which mostly all include administrative work.

      I’ve done administrative work before in addition to what I would like to do career-wise and hated it. There have been quite a few positions I would love to apply to but because of the admin duties, I end up just passing on the position.

      I tend to think of the outcome to help myself get over things. For example, I bought a new pair of shoes that turned out to be super painful. I was out and couldn’t change and it took everything in me to walk properly. Thinking of how much closer I was to going home and removing the shoes helped lessen the pain a bit, at least in my mind. Maybe thinking of where you’d like to be/what duties you would like to have will help you as you know the admin stuff will only be temporary. It’s helped me in the past ..

  32. Agile Phalanges*

    I just wanted to post about my experience with interviewing with a government agency. It’s for a position in accounting at the local county sheriff’s department.

    It didn’t start off too auspiciously–they sent an automated e-mail that sounded VERY strict about how I’d have to sign up for an appointment for a written test followed by an oral interview, and I’d have to sign up for a slot by a certain day, and the appointments were first-come-first-served. Even though I had just received a verbal offer from a company, I went ahead and did so (because I know to keep moving on until there’s a written, agreed-upon offer), and it’s a good thing, because I STILL haven’t heard back on that offer. Weird.

    Anyway, I logged into the website and selected an appointment, and the website also had really strict regimented language, keeping up with my expectations due to posts I’ve read here about people’s experiences with government hiring.

    I showed up for the interview about 10 minutes early, but wasn’t sure which door to go in, so I went ahead and headed toward the most likely door even though it was 10 till, not 5 till, and that worked out well because they sent me to a different door. Oh, and the building is secure and this was just before the doors opened, so luckily someone saw me and opened the door to tell me that, because they were all locked.

    Once I got to the right location, they didn’t keep me waiting long, and ushered me into a private office (unused by anyone–just a computer, 10-key calculator and some pencils and a pen on the desk) to take the written test. I was expecting a “written” test on a computer, maybe something about Excel skills, or multiple choice accounting questions or something, but it was literally written. The woman administering the test handed me a folder and read a paragraph of (standardized for everyone to hear the exact same thing) instructions.

    When she left, I opened the folder and it was just two questions, basically story problems. In the first, I was supposed to pretend it was my first day, and the incumbent was leaving in a week, and using the financial details they provided me, I was supposed to say what I would want to be sure to ask the incumbent about. The second problem was assuming I was a month into the job, and asked me to read a budget variance spreadsheet and predict whether the department would come in under or over budget and support that.

    Fine, no biggie. I guess what I didn’t anticipate is that I’d then orally present my answers to the panel (four people, in fact four older white men–I’m a young-ish white woman; this is a very white town, though, so that part didn’t surprise me much, but some variety in age and gender would be nice). They allowed me 15 minutes and said to watch my own time. I came in under 5–I hope that’s not a bad thing. They had a couple follow-up questions based on my responses (including one that revealed that the incumbent is already gone, so I’m not sure why they had an exercise that assumed you’d have a week to spend with them).

    Then they told me they had some questions for me, and that they were allotting 35 minutes for this portion, and again, I’d be responsible for staying on time. However, they didn’t tell me how MANY questions they had, but when I had 15 minutes left, I checked and there were only a couple more, so I did fine in that regard.

    What surprised me was that they didn’t have any weird questions like what kind of tree I’d be, nor did they ask my biggest weakness (or strength)–they were all straightforward accounting-related questions, though some were pretty basic. What was awesome was that nearly all of them played into an accomplishment on my resume, so I was able to give (what I thought were) great examples of how I’ve actually dealt with a given situation or concept or type of report. Oh, that was another thing–they weren’t “tell me about a time when” questions, they were “how would you” questions. But like I said, I was able to use a “time when I” did whatever for a lot of them anyway.

    Then they actually allowed me to ask some questions, which I didn’t figure would happen in a first round goverment department interview, so I asked a few, including Alison’s “magic” question (they weren’t impressed), and we started wrapping up.

    I asked what the next steps were (and implied, or I’d follow up with asking and when), and they said, “Well, we’re going to meet with all the candidates [duh], then meet together to discuss them [again, duh], and then we’ll contact each person to let them know next steps, but we don’t know when that will be.” Wow, thanks for that oh-so-helpful answer. Heh.

    THEN they told me that they were offering a tour of the jail to candidates (oh, did I mention that the written test and interview were in the admin area for the jail, through a door marked jail, but just a few steps and a “sally port” away from the inmates?) at noon (the interview finished at 10). Well, it would have been nice to know that sooner, but luckily I’m job-searching with my employer’s blessing, so I just went home for the couple hours in between (the jail is closer to my house than my work) and went back for the tour. Boy, that’s an experience. I’d never been in a jail/prison for any reason before, and hope to not be on the wrong side of things if I ever am again. :-)

    A co-worker of mine also applied (for the same position) and went through the same process, just a day later, so it was fun comparing notes with him after, though he thought the process was dumb and onerous. I’d seen enough here to know that what we went through was actually pretty humane. Though we’ll see how long we have to wait to hear anything (if ever). And neither of us know whether there’s any further steps or if they’re going to make an offer based on that test and <1 hour interview.

    1. De Minimis*

      That doesn’t sound too terrible. I’ve had worse experiences interviewing for county jobs. In my case, they were always pretty slow to send out rejection letters, but they eventually would.

      If you had specific things you could point to in answering their questions, I’d say that’s way ahead of many people.

      I am another person who has not had much success with the “magic question,” and I really haven’t seen it work when interviewing for government jobs. I keep trying to think of ways to reframe it to where it might be valuable, but haven’t been able to do it yet.

    2. Brett*

      Positions under an elected Sheriff often fit into a weird spot in local government because they may not be required to operate on a pure merit system and can do their hiring outside county government processes. Sometimes they are even patronage positions (especially deputies). Your process actually resembled a civil service process more than a merit process, even though your position sounds like a merit position. Public safety really likes using civil service process for professional merit positions.

      Civil service have defined systems of hiring and advancement, often through testing. Merit advances on individual merit, but without the defined examinations system. Patronage serves at the discretion of the elected official and does not have to have any basis in merit, though often patronage employees are the most talented since they can be recruited and offered higher pay than the merit system allows.

      Your position is almost certainly merit, but it would be good to know for sure. One huge problem with patronage positions is that a new elected Sheriff might clean house of patronage employees (they cannot do that with merit or civil service employees).

    3. Brett*

      On the magic question…
      I think for government, one problem is that often times the interviewer have only known one person in that position. And the interviewer had no clear guide or comparison of how successful that person was.
      FTE counts are applied very strictly in local government, so most positions never scale up or down and that person you are replacing might have been the only person to do that work for the last 10-20 years.

      1. De Minimis*

        I actually haven’t been able to use it on private sector jobs either.
        I’m wondering if it’s just not a question that really works well in my field, which is not known for creative thinking. It just seems to result in blank stares most of the time.

      2. The Real Ash*

        I used it in the interview for my current position (local government) and the interviewers were very impressed. So impressed in fact that they clearly didn’t know what to say and didn’t actually give me a response at all… But they liked the question at least?

        1. De Minimis*

          With that question it’s not so much about the answer…if they’re impressed that means the question has served its purpose.

          I guess it is also useful even when the interviewer is befuddled or doesn’t seem to appreciate the question, because that can give you good information too.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          Yeah, I used it in the internal interview for my current position, and he ate it up. But maybe the thing about the government process is they try really hard to at least appear impartial, so kept straight faces whether they were impressed, mocking, or otherwise.

          1. De Minimis*

            This is quite possible, I’ve had interviews where they were very strict about the interviewers not being allowed to say anything beyond asking the pre-selected questions.

  33. SaraV*

    So I just discovered recently that the general manager I reported to two jobs/six years ago no longer works there. The current general manager was the sales manager while I was there, and someone I’m actually comfortable with having prospective employers talk to. (Not necessarily as a reference, but work habits/ethics)

    Sooo…the question is…how do I fill out those wonderful online applications where it asks who your supervisor was? Who my actual supervisor was, or the current general manager?

    1. SD Cat*

      From what you’re saying, if they ask specifically for your supervisor, you should probably put down your supervisor’s name rather than the current person in that position (Do you have current contact information for them?).

      1. SaraV*

        My former GM is still with the company, same position/title, just at a different site in a different state.

  34. Zombie Bait*

    Post termination issue here. About three months ago I was terminated suddenly without cause by Old Job. Through the grapevine I learned it was because one upper management person did not like me. My measurable outcomes were excellent, two previous employee reviews were positive, I got along well with my immediate team and had no attendance problems. The point I’m trying to make is that in every measurable and logical way an employee aught to be evaluated, I was a valuable asset. This has been confirmed by coworkers after my termination. And now to the issue. I now have my New Job and am working hard at excelling in it. New Management is treating me well and provides friendly and clear guidance. They say I am doing well. However, I am paranoid of being suddenly terminated again. Every day I’m afraid of commiting some small error and management becoming radically offended. How do I deal with what happened and relax in this (presumably) logical New Job Environment?

    1. J.B.*

      If your new manager is a decent person any chance of cluing her/him into this issue? Just generally? Otherwise time is probably the only thing that will help – if there was nothing you could see coming, you can’t really look for particular signs. Also continuing to get clarity on your responsibilities and how you’re doing might help you feel more confident in yourself.

      That sounds really tough.

      1. Zombie Bait*

        Thanks for the suggestions. It is hard because there were no warning signs. Just a request to come up to the office and I was terminated on the spot without cause. What I’ve learned from this is that I can do a damned excellent job and still be terminated for no good reason. It’s demoralizing. I hope time and more data about Good New Management will help me relax. It will take a very long time though. If ever. I was at Old Job for almost two years. :(

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This is very much like being the victim of a crime — it reminds us that we are vulnerable, and can lead to an unreasonable fear that it will happen again. I say unreasonable because it sounds like you have no reason to worry, and in fact there was nothing you probably could have (or at least should have) done to keep from being fired at OldJob.

      Everyone is different, but what would work for me in such a situation is to imagine the manager who created the problem throwing a tantrum like a toddler, and in a baby voice protesting about me. It’s laughable, really, because you are obviously good enough to find work again, and at a place with a much better work culture/ethos. A manager like that probably couldn’t get a job with your current company if they act out unprofessionally like they did.

      So try to think of it as a silly, childish person who threw a tantrum, and in doing so maybe did you a favor by getting you out of a company where that kind of thing is acceptable or maybe even common, and into a company where you will be appreciated.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Can you discretely find out if New Job has a history of that behavior?
      Is there a policy manual that you can skim through to see if there are procedures for dismissal?

      Maybe the easiest thing to do is mention to the boss that you really like your new job and stress that you want inputs so that you can become a valuable employee. Or something to that effect that lets the boss know you want the lines of communication wide open.

  35. Ash (the other one!)*

    Curious as to people’s thoughts about “years of experience” and reverse age discrimination in determining titles, salaries, etc.

    I had an amazing boss in my last job who gave me a chance at a leadership position straight out of grad school. I thrived in that position, won a prominent award for my work and was well respected by the broad field. After he left and new leadership came in (who was threatened by the fact that at 27 I was doing all of this work, had a PhD and was more well-known than he was) I had to leave. I went on to a non-profit where I am leading a program, but they refuse to give me the title that matches (Manager vs. Director) because of my “lack of years of experience.” I am miserable at this job for many reasons but am shocked at this bias not towards my ability and success at my job, but by how many years I’ve been in the workforce. To me this is reverse age discrimination.

    I interviewed for a position with a recruiter this week who looked at my year of graduation from college (about 8 years ago, went to grad school straight after) and said since it was only that long ago, I would only qualify for a certain level which would have a salary less than I currently make. Now I’m all for standardized pay scales, but this just seems arbitrary. Why is everything based on the number of years I’ve been working rather than my success at those jobs and prominence in the field?

    I really truly don’t get it. I am at the point where I feel both underqualified and overqualified for most positions, realize that if I leave my job I will likely have to take a substantial pay cut, and I just don’t get it. Why should my age outweigh my skills, prominence, and success?

    1. Kevin*

      There is generally an assumption that there are certain things come with experience and can only come from experience. That being said part of that is a track record of success, which while it appears you have some of what they might be looking for, they might want more of a track record with the positions you want.

      This is going to come off as extremely rude and I apologize but your tone has a bit of arrogance and wondering why you can’t start at the top. Do you think your overqualified because of your PhD? Work experience is usually what moves someone up the chain.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        The issue for me is I’ve already had a leadership position that was high visibility, fast paced, and high pressure and I thrived. I ran the initiative, managed the people around me, and led the vision for this particular project for 3 years and was praised by the most senior folks at my organization. Was I surprised to be thrust in such a role so early in my career? Yes. But now moving into a position more in line with “years of experience” rather than what I’ve actually done and accomplished seems to be moving backwards. Perhaps I’m arrogant about this, but its highly frustrating that my success cannot speak for itself. (as a side note, what’s even more frustrating is my current org likes to promote the fact I was in the role I was before I started there, knows the value of what I did, but still won’t give me the title that actually matches what I do. Nothing in my job would actually change with the title change.)

        1. lindsay j*

          Maybe try applying at smaller orgs, which are less likely to be held to strict hiring processes and salary bands and more likely to judge your candidacy based on your individual accomplishments and attributes than on years of experience.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Number of years experience in a particular role is a very common framework for titles: 2 years experience required for associate, 5 years experience required for manager, 10 years experience required for director, and so forth. So a qualified person who shows up with X years will fall into Y category regardless of their age, because applicants who are 25, 35, 44, or 55 could all have the same number of years experience in Thing X. So to my thinking, that’s not a clearcut age bias.

      Because what the employer might be requiring is a certain minimum number of work cycles on a certain thing, with years of experience as a proxy for number of cycles. For example, if you were an accountant and applying for a job that requires doing monthly closes as part of your work, the “four years experience” is that employer requiring a candidate with experience in 48 cycles of closing. If you only have two years of experience but can demonstrate that you’ve completed 48 cycles because of handling multiple departments or dual businesses or something, then you’re still in play. But just stating that you’ve had great success with the 24 cycles you *have* completed won’t fly.

    3. Kate*

      Speaking both as someone your age and as a recruiter who handles compensation:

      At most organizations, titles and salaries are based on factors that are measurable and proven. Years of relevant work experience is the most common factor, as OriginalYup explains well. How valuable do you think skills, prominence and success are? How would you calculate that into a salary? Most organizations would rather determine title and salary based on education and experience, and then promote based on your success at THEIR organization. The standardized pay scale you refer to isn’t arbitrary. Arbitrary is asking managers to come up with a dollar number for a new employee’s prominence.

      To approach it from a different angle– Presumably, you want to work at top organizations. Top organizations hire the best people. The best people are as skilled, prominent, and successful as you are. They’re also bringing intangibles to the table that aren’t factored into a salary calc. That’s why it’s fair to assign starting salaries and titles based on education and experience, and then reward based on performance.

  36. Agile Phalanges*

    Okay, I just wrote a novel, but alluded to this and want to vent. I’ve seen Alison and commenters here saying PLENTY of times that employer time is not the same as candidate time, and now that I’m on the other side of it, I can totally see how frustrating it is!

    I had an interview on a Friday afternoon, and then the next Thursday afternoon (six days later), the HR person called me with a verbal offer. It was quite a bit lower than the number we’d all been talking about all along, so I said I’d have to think about it, but asked whether, if I accepted that salary, they could add a few PTO days to the pot. She said she didn’t think it would be a problem, but didn’t want to just agree to that without talking to the hiring manager, and so she’d try to catch her tonight, but otherwise in the morning, and would get back to me that same night or in the morning.

    No word on Friday, no word on Monday, no word on Tuesday, so late in the day on Tuesday, I sent a follow-up e-mail. She replied right away and said that she was actually trying to talk to the owner, who had been busy with an acquisition, but she would do her best to get back to me the next day.

    No word Wednesday, no word Thursday, no word Friday, no word Monday, so Monday afternoon, I called, didn’t reach her, and left a voicemail. No word Tuesday, no word Wednesday, no word Thursday, and it’s now Friday.

    I’m debating sending an e-mail today (since it’s now been 10 days since I last had a reply), but don’t want to tick her off. Also wondering if I should reach out to the hiring manager, but all the contact since the interview has been with HR (and in fact the interview was with potential peers followed by HR, so I haven’t spoken with the HM since the first interview).

    Oh well. Nothing I can do but wait, I guess.

    1. Bryan*

      If all of your contact has been with HR I would stick with HR. I would maybe send an email next monday or tuesday. If you do it monday don’t’ do it first thing, give HR a chance to get settled into their to do list as you might be on it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      It IS frustrating! I guess that’s why we’re supposed to keep looking; not only in case nothing happens, but to keep us busy until something does.

      Aside, I like your username.

    3. Agile Phalanges*

      Well, I e-mailed a little while ago, got an out-of-office message, but then got an actual response. She says she left me a message on my phone a week ago today, but I don’t have any missed calls or voicemails, so I’m not sure what happened there.

      Bottom line, though, is that they decided they couldn’t offer me the additional PTO. I’m not sure whether the phantom voicemail offered me the chance to take it or leave it with the original offer, but the e-mail today just said they’re rescinding the offer and if I change my mind on my salary or PTO requirements, to let them know and they’ll keep me in mind for future positions (but clearly they’ve already filled the current one).

      Well that sucks, and it reminds me of all the discussion of that professor who asked for the moon and had the offer rescinded. I was caught off guard by an oral offer that was 10% less than the number we’d all (me, HM, HR) discussed and neither of them batted an eye at, and simply ASKED for a concession on their part, but was not rude or insistant. In fact, the HR person said that it sounded reasonable to her but she wanted to check with the HM first.

      Whatever, it’s water under the bridge. I sent a brief e-mail back explaining that I hadn’t gotten the earlier VM and that I was disappointed at the rescinded offer but still interested in their company (though now there’s a huge red flag, of course, because of how they handled this), blah blah blah.

      Oh well…we’ll see what happens with the county job, and I’ll keep applying for others.

      And Elizabeth–thank you! I thought of it back when I was doing medical transcription, because it describes my nimble fingers in a medical way, and have used it occasionally ever since.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        One more vent, different job prospect–I found a job posting that sounded good, and tweaked my resume accordingly and wrote out a thoughtful cover letter, as you do (if you’re an AAM reader), and was pleasantly surprised when the online application process only seemed to involved asking for my name and e-mail address, and for me to upload my resume and cover letter. Boom, done!

        Or so I thought. It took me to a second page that had a battery of questions about working in government, which I haven’t done (yet–applied to that job at the sheriff’s office, but can’t really count that as experience, you know?), and then at the bottom, it said “Government experience is required for this position, please tell us a bit about your experience” or whatever. Um, no. I went back and looked, and the job description said government experience was “desirable.” That was their word. And to me, that word means they’d LIKE it, but it’s not REQUIRED. Right? Aargh! I’d spend an hour or so on my materials, apparently for nothing. But you know what? I typed in that I don’t have experience, but am a fast learner, and hit submit anyway. What’s the harm, right?

  37. LanaK*

    Hi all! I have been applying for a new position for about 4 months now, and interviewers keep questioning my commute. I recently moved outside of the city, and realistically any job is going to be a 45-60 minute commute. I knew this, and took it into account before we decided to move. I understand why employers would be concerned about this, but it isn’t something that has been an issue at my current job. I plan for the commute and delays accordingly (and have actually become more punctual as a result), and I truly do not mind the length of the commute at all. How do I address their concerns in the interview? Usually, I just say that the commute would be similar to what I am doing now, and that it is not a problem, but I still sense some hesitation and incredulity in them after I respond. Any advice to sound more convincing in my answer? Thanks!

    1. College Career Counselor*

      You could say a version of what you just said here. That you plan for delays appropriately, and as a result you are a punctual employee and do not anticipate that this will change. You could also say that you use your commute time to unwind/listen to books on tape/whatever, so you actually prefer the time to ‘switch gears’ between work and home. Others may have a different take, however!

      1. Eba*

        I ran into the same thing with my new job – and I used all the reasons the previous poster said. And I work there now, so they were clearly not put off by it!

    2. Joie de Vivre*

      Can you expand on the reasons you don’t mind the commute?

      “It’s similar to what I’m doing now. I really don’t mind the commute as the windshield time has given me the opportunity to listen to audio books, work on my second language, catch up on phone calls, mentally transition from work to family etc. etc. etc….. “

    3. Bea W*

      That’s a pretty normal commute time here and for many major cities (45 min is actually on the short side in some places!). That question wouldn’t even come up. I don’t have any advice here. Almost everyone I work with has a 60+ minute commute.

      1. Jen RO*

        Yeah, I was wondering about that. It takes me 40-45 minutes to get to work, and I don’t even live outside the city.

    4. Bonnie*

      Commute expectations can be regional. Where I grew up most people lived 15-20 minutes from where they worked. Driving 45-60 minutes would be considered odd and might lead to a question like couldn’t you find anything closer? It is also possible that they have had employees move out of the city and then chose to change jobs and then say it was for a shorter commute time. They may just not be able to imagine it. But I think you did the right thing in telling them that you are already dealing with a commute of that length to let them know it won’t be a factor in your decision.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “I am concerned you are hesitant on this point. I understand that not everyone does this, so this is a little unusual. If you have specific concerns about my commute, I would like for us to talk about that.”

  38. AmyNYC*

    NON-WORK RELATED: I’m nearing the end of my lease and will not be renewing with my current roommate (for various reasons I’ve mentioned here in the past).
    In theory, he seems like a great roommate – he’s got a steady well-paying job, he’s polite and sociable, loves to cook, active in the community and works long hours.
    In practice, he’s terrible with his money (he’s been late on rent twice in a year – but always has new clothes), disgustingly messy, loud at all hours, constantly has friends from out of town using the couch as a hotel and is overall just inconsiderate.
    As we go our separate ways, he’s been talking about moving in with some mutual friends. Should I warn his potential roommates about his less than desirable nature? On one hand, I wish I had know this before, on the other it seems like something straight out of reality TV.

    TL/DR: my roommate sucks, should I warn his potential next roommate?

    1. Celeste*

      All you have to do is say to them, gosh I’m glad to be done rooming with him, and wait to see if they ask for details. Maybe they like him enough that they won’t care (after all he does pay eventually), or maybe they will be able to get him to shape up.

    2. SimpleeInspired*

      It depends on how well you know the potential roommate. If it’s a very close friend of yours and you know that they’ll be just as annoyed with him as you were then I say go ahead. Otherwise, I’d advise you not to say anything for multiple reasons.
      1. What annoyed you might not be that big of a deal to them.
      2. What you say can get around and that might damage your reputation and burn bridges.

    3. Calla*

      Since they’re mutual friends, I think this is something you can mention if it comes up (they tell you they’re going to be his roommate, they ask what he’s like, etc), or if you know it would be a major problem for specific reasons (he doesn’t pay his part of the bills on time, meaning you have to pay and he doesn’t pay you back, which sounds likely given the rent thing; one of them really needs quiet hours at night; etc). Or, slip in YOUR gripes in casual conversation! “I’m so tired, Joe had a bunch of friends crashing on the couch and they played video games at full blast until 2am.”

      Obviously, just don’t be like “OMG I heard you’re moving in with Joe, are you crazy? He’s a slob!” because THEN you might get into reality TV territory :)

    4. Sunflower*

      I’m kind of shocked none of the mutual friends have asked how you like living with him- esp since you are not renewing the lease with him. I would mention how you liked living with him if someone starts talking about how they might move in with him. Some people might not think it’s a huge deal if you’re late on rent or messy or have 100 people over. I would do it casually and not sound like you are discouraging it though

      1. AmyNYC*

        I’ll be moving in with my boyfriend, so it’s not a big dramatic I CANNOT LIVE WITH YOU thing

        1. Midge*

          Even so, I have to agree with Sunflower. No one is even curious? My roommate experiences in college taught me that someone could be a great friend, but a not-so-great roommate. If there was a way to get some insider perspective ahead of time, I would definitely take advantage of that!

    5. LBK*

      I think it would be worth giving them a very light heads up – not a long, negative rant, but a very gentle and polite-as-possible nudge that his habits at home may not be what’s expected based on their social interactions with him, with a non-emotional description of the situation/events that have occurred.

      I got this kind of nudge from someone when she saw me discussing moving in with a mutual friend on Facebook, and I appreciated it. She didn’t trash the person, but she let me know that they’d had some disagreements about keeping mutual areas clean and dividing up other chores while living together. Just enough info for me to take into consideration if those things would bother me, which ultimately I decided they didn’t and I would be fine living with her, but I was happy I knew that going into it.

      TL/DR: tell your mutual friends in as nice a way as possible and let them decide if they’re still okay living with the person knowing what you’ve dealt with.

    6. LMW*

      I wouldn’t phrase it as negatives at all. I’ve done this in the past when a mutual friend was moving in with a former roommate who was still a friend too. I went the humor route and said something like “We were a bit of an odd couple. I’m a little too neat and an early bird and like to have quiet time alone at home – and you know D, she’s a social butterfly and night owl and doesn’t sweat the small stuff, like dishes and vaccuuming. I’m glad we get to go back to just being friends since we were not an ideal roomie match, even though we are individually awesome.”
      Or something like that.

    7. annie*

      Yes, especially about the late on rent issue, since landlords will often expect the other roommate to pay the entire rent due, which can affect your credit score or even get you evicted. I got warned about someone years ago, did not room with them, and am so glad I had the warning.

    8. AmyNYC*

      Thanks for all the advice! The new potential roommate is more of a casual friend, so I’ll mention being happy to move next time I see them and if they ask for more info present the facts as unbiasedly as possible.

    9. Mints*

      I think you should definitely definitely tell them he was late on rent. The messy things, I’d maybe say as a joke, but only if asked.
      But missing rent is a huge deal. I’d be panicking and stretching my budget that far would cause me anxiety. I think you should tell your friends that they might need to plan for that

        1. AmyNYC*

          Thankfully it’s never been that bad, he pays it within a week. One notable time he put a Post-It on his check asking our landlord to please not cash it until Friday :/

  39. Who Are You?*

    Love the picture! Reminded me that I need to start actively looking for sturdy fabric with pictures of goats on it. My daughter asked me to make her a Totes M’ Goats tote bag. LOL! :)

  40. krm*

    I have a coworker who is new to the industry (she has been with my company for almost a year, and this is her first job in this particular industry). The way our organization is structured, we both report to the same managers, but we are considered equal on the org chart. In order to do my job, I rely on her to set up files in a specific way, depending on the situation (I know this is vague, but I don’t want to get in to too many details, as I have friends and coworkers who read this). The problem I am having is that she is not doing this well. If something doesn’t meet a pre-defined set of criteria, she doesn’t know what to do with it. She doesn’t understand our industry enough to be able to fill in the blanks and figure out how to set up and categorize the file. She has been given a lot of formal training, and I’ve tried giving her “cheat sheets”, I’ve tried addressing specific situations as they come up, but I’m at a loss as to how to help her improve. I spend a lot of time correcting her mistakes, and my deliverables suffer as a result. I know she feels like I am nitpicking, but I really do need things to be done correctly. I don’t want to go to our manager and tell him that she isn’t doing her job well, but I am at the point that I feel like that might need to happen. I’ve also suggested on a few occasions that she sit in my department for a day or two just to see what happens to the file after she hands it off. I thought that maybe that would help her understand why I need things done a specific way, and that taking a more holistic approach might help her know how to fill in the banks when things don’t fit in a neat little box. Any suggestions on how to implement these changes? I’m not her manager, so I can’t force it to happen. Our manager agrees it is a good idea, but doesn’t back me up when my coworker doesn’t follow through. I’m really trying very hard to keep a positive attitude in regards to my coworker. I know she isn’t trying to make my job harder, but it is very difficult! We are coming in to our busy season, and I don’t want to lose my temper with her. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to handle this.

    1. Sunflower*

      Why do you think she isn’t picking things up? Do you think she just doesn’t care or do you think she doesn’t have enough experience for the job? I’m getting the vibe that she doesn’t know that this is creating such a large issue. Have you explained how this is an issue and how it affects everyone else’s work in addition to giving her the cheat sheets? If you haven’t yet, I’d start with that and you might get some more info on what else you can do to help her.

      I think it’s worth speaking to your manager though. You don’t have to frame it as ‘she isn’t good at her job’ Just tell you manager there is a bit of a disconnect and you’d like to help her more and if the manager has any idea, it would be greatly appreciated

      1. krm*

        I’m really not sure why it is that she isn’t picking things up…She was in an entirely different industry for many years, and a lot of that experience does not translate to her current job. I know it isn’t because she doesn’t care. She does try very hard, and she tends to take any criticism very personally. I try to explain the reasons why I need things done a specific way, rather than just telling her that it needs to be done, so she will see that I’m not just asking her to do these things for no specific reason. She is very hard on herself, and I think she is a lovely person, so I don’t want her to feel picked on, but at the same time, I need things to be done correctly, particularly as we move in to our busy season.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Here’s where I’m stuck: if you don’t know where to file something, I don’t understand how your first inclination is to stick it wherever and let someone else fix it, and NOT to pick up the phone/send an email/IM asking “can you tell me where this goes?”

      Is she aware of how much time you spend redoing her work, and is she aware that sticking the file wherever and letting you straighten it out isn’t an acceptable fix? If both of these things are “yes”, then I think she just doesn’t care and all the coaching in the world isn’t going to fix it.

      I also question someone who has been with the organization for a YEAR – new industry or not – and still doesn’t have the filing system down, when knowing the filing system is a major part of their job duties. See above about “just doesn’t care.”

      1. krm*

        It’s not that she intentially does it incorrectly, it is that she thinks she has done it correctly until I have to tell her differently. I work in insurance, and part of my job is to produce policies. If she doesn’t set up the file correctly, and insert the correct premium codes, underwriter requirements, etc., then the policy that I issue is incorrect and unusable.

        The fact that she has been here for almost a year is increasingly frustrating for me…but like I said before, my manager doesn’t seem inclined to push the issue, which is a problem in itself.

        1. The Real Ash*

          You need to start documenting every instance that she screws up your work, just for a certain period of time, say a week or two. Then bring that to your manager to show that she is negatively affecting your work and here’s how. If they aren’t willing to do anything about it, I would say something like, “Is there any way that we could bring [her manager] and/or [your manager’s boss] into this to figure out a way to fix these issues?” Point out that your busy season is coming up and you can’t afford to have your deliverables suffer because of your dedication to your customers or whatever buzzwords you want to use.

          1. krm*

            That is a good idea. I’ll give that a try. Hopefully concrete numbers will spur some change.

  41. Calla*

    I am having my first experience with suuuuper long hiring processes! I had a phone interview with a place 3 weeks ago and haven’t heard back (I did follow up a week and a half post-interview), but their application system still has the position open and still has me listed as “Interview Stage.” Fingers crossed it just got delayed and no one thought to tell me?

    Then another place emailed me this past Monday about an interview “within the next week”; I responded not even an hour later with dates for Wednesday, Thursday, and this coming Tuesday. They didn’t respond until yesterday! But I know have an on-site interview, so it all worked out.

    Definitely a good thing because I found out my new boss, who previously asked me twice how I (an exec. assistant for 2 VPs and a Director) how I’m different from the receptionist, also said to the receptionist “I’m still not sure what Calla does.” ???? I explained it to you twice, if you can’t grasp the concept of an exec admin (and the fact that I take care of all your scheduling, traveling, expenses, and anything else you need) IDK what to tell you!

  42. Anna*

    (I have two comments but I’ll make them separately as not to muddy the waters.)

    I have a work related vent. Why do people treat work bathrooms like their homes? One particular woman at my work spends a good 90 min in the bathroom every day (cumulatively) flossing, fixing hair, makeup. It’s so annoying. I want to do toiled related things and it’s SO AWKWARD when someone is in there… not doing those things. If someone else is peeing, fine. If someone else is putting on makeup… ugh. And there is a private disabled bathroom next door but that probably doesn’t have enough counter space. Sigh.

    1. Can't Think of a Good Name*

      Well, if I want to touch up makeup, that is the place to do it. And I for one would feel really shady taking up the disabled restroom just to put on makeup, which could take a while.

    2. esra*

      I don’t mind if someone needs to fix makeup, or floss, or whatever. But it is a Rule of Women’s Washrooms that if a woman is in a stall, not making any noise, then she is clearly waiting for you to leave so she can poop and you get out of there ASAP. The whole system falls apart when people don’t respect the rules.

      1. C average*

        I am a bit of an advice column junkie and have noticed that the washroom-related questions often get a lot of really passionate responses in the comments section. I have joked with a couple of friends that there really needs to be a site dedicated to these types of questions exclusively. We even have a name for it:

        1. manybellsdown*

          The worst flame war I ever saw online was between women who “hover” and women who sit. The “hoverers” thought the sitters were disgusting for touching the foul toilet seats, and the sitters were like “It wouldn’t BE disgusting if you didn’t hover and pee all over it!”

          It went for like 20 pages. Crazy.

          1. The Real Ash*

            Haha, but it’s true! If you don’t want to sit on the seat, make a seat cover out of toilet paper (or use a pre-made one if it’s provided). Anyone who pees on the seat and doesn’t clean it up is a soulless monster. That’s disgusting and they should be ashamed of themselves.

            1. Jamie*

              I need someone to explain to me how this happens.

              I have been going to the bathroom my entire life. I had a mom and sisters growing up – I toilet trained a daughter.

              I have never, ever had anything hit the seat – even when hovering – nor has anyone I know.

              What are the physical machinations which result in urine from a woman hitting the toilet seat?

              This is one of the mysteries of life for me.

              1. Del*

                Hovering! Not wanting to actually touch their behind to the filthy toilet seat which has been touched by other women’s behinds, because that’s so terribly unclean! They do whatever they can to kinda hang in the air above the toilet seat and wind up making a hideous mess.

                1. Jamie*

                  Which begs the question from what height are they hovering? I think they are doing it wrong.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                People with dehydration issues or kidney issues can spray all over the place.
                Or maybe they are just careless.

                But yeah, sometimes kidney issues cause messiness. But something else causes the inability to clean up.

            2. fposte*

              And then the pile of TP clogs the toilet, so somebody else has to plunge the bowl because of all this.

                1. fposte*

                  In our buildings, you can clog if you’re generous with a regular use. Most people who want to use a seat cover don’t exactly either/or it, and they try to make it all go down in one flush, which a lot of toilets can’t handle.

                  So if somebody’s going to seat cover, at least use a separate flush so that one person’s fear of seat contact doesn’t mean somebody else has to dig into the full bowl.

        2. OriginalYup*

          I will be an avid reader on Toiletiquette when you launch it.

          FYI, you will recognize my comments because they will all be filled with &$&!!!!!!!! rants about why has the office restroom turned into a bus station bathroom by 10 am and who the flock is taking a d@mn bath in the sink that there’s a 40 oz puddle of water on the ledge.

      2. chewbecca*

        The Rule of Women’s Washrooms always amuses me, even though I abide by it, as well.

        I always feel silly when I’m the silent waiter. Why can’t I just own what I’m in there to do? It’s what the bathroom is for! But nope.

        1. LPBB*

          I just go ahead and do it! (apologies if that’s TMI). It’s a BATHROOM with TOILETS……that is its purpose!! I see no need to apologize for or hide the fact that I am doing certain biological functions in a room specifically set aside for those functions.

    3. Darth Admin*

      I don’t understand this either. For one thing, the lighting in my company’s bathroom is so bad you’d come out looking like Bride of Frankenstein if you did your makeup in there!

    4. Rebecca*

      I wish people here would just replace the toilet paper roll already! Quit avoiding the stall that has 4 sheets on the roll, and put a new one in there! Nope, they use the others until none of them have paper, and wait until the magical toilet paper fairy swoops down to take care of it.

    5. Jamie*

      We have an individual bathroom so when people sequester themselves in there it’s an issue.

      Bathroom issues are such a huge thing – I guess because underneath the guise of all this civility we’re still at the mercy of our basic needs.

      And it’s an oddly intimate (wrong word, but can’t find the right one) activity that we’re forced to do in a shared space with relative strangers.

      When I was little I told my mom I wished they made a pill so we’d never have to eat food again so we would never have to go to the bathroom. She said I was silly. I still wish for that.

  43. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    This summer, I’m going to be leading several webinars with 100+ participants. This will be the first time I’ve given a presentation via webinar (aside from quick progress reports in team meetings with remote colleagues). 

    What can I do to make the webinars as effective and engaging as possible? We’ve all sat through awkward, stilted, never-ending webinars (or is that just me? sigh.) and I’d really like to improve on that. I’d love any tips, especially on how to prime participants to actively engage (rather than sitting silently on the line).

    1. Brett*

      Break the webinar up into clear pieces with an agenda. Include polling and other interactions (twitter can be useful or the webinar chat room). One of my favorite strategies is having a “chatroom” person whose job is just to gather questions while you talk. Then when you hit the question break, read back:
      “Brett from asks, ‘….'” and answer the questions.

      If you will be demonstrating techniques, make sure everyone has their hand on materials ahead of time so they can follow along. If you are giving a presentation, get the slides out in case things run slow. Anything you can do to give people a chance to interact on some level.

    2. PricklyPear*

      I have to attend webinars as part of my continuing education. I’m sure I’m a little atypical, as I can pick and choose which ones based on topic, but I really enjoy when the leader does flash polls and discusses the results. The last one I did was on colonoscopy preparations, and not only did I learn a lot, but I was entertained by the opinions of the people on the conference. (We also had a separate chat box to IM questions to the group and they were addressed at various times too. It definitely felt less like a lecture and more like a discussion.)

    3. Ash (the other one!)*

      Depending on the platform you’re using, there are ways to embed interactivity like polls and quizzes… I like to embed those because I think engaging is the best way people learn.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      On our all-staff calls (~100 people, but not the same people who will be on the webinars I’ll be running), we use the chat feature liberally – both as a response to intentional prompts, and as a sort of side conversation. I think it works well – and for people who learn through reading or writing rather than hearing, it can aid their learning. But I’m worried that it could be a distraction – and that new participants who aren’t used to a culture where it’s ok to have side conversations in the chat won’t feel comfortable using it.

  44. en pointe*

    I’m asking this on behalf of my friend *Jane*, who is a very young, single mum.

    When Jane picked her daughter up from child care earlier this week, she was confronted by the director of the centre, who told her that they’ve noticed a change in her daughter’s behaviour; she is a little more clingy toward the staff than previously. The director said that they’ve discussed this amongst the staff and concluded that Jane “must have a new man at home”.

    Jane was really upset by this and wants to talk to the director about it, but she’s struggling with what she should say. My only advice was not to try and explain herself. At all. I think that it is the director who needs to explain why she thought that was an appropriate thing to say.

    Am I off base? What should she say? Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated please.

    1. en pointe*

      And sorry, this is Not Work-Related, obviously. Should have put that above, as AmyNYC did.

    2. SimpleeInspired*

      The way the director phrased the statement to your friend was wrong though I believe the reason behind it wasn’t to be judgmental towards Jane but rather out of concern for her daughter. If I was in this situation, I would inform the director that it isn’t what she thinks and work with her to address the change in behavior. When children cling to their caretakers when they haven’t done so previously often indicates insecurities. In some cases, this may lead to larger behavioral problems in the future if not addressed.

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        While I completely agree that insecurities like this that come up out of the blue are a cause for concern (and that they can lead to potential social development issues in the future), I do not agree that the comment from the director came from a good place. In this situation, it would have been much more reasonable to let the parent know about the change in behavior and ASK if there had been any changes in the home environment recently that could be leading to the insecurity. It’s really important for a childcare worker to build up trust with parents (so that, like you said, the childcare worker can work TOGETHER with the parent on potential behavioral concerns), and bringing up someone’s personal relationships in an accusatory manner is absolutely the opposite of that practice. If I were Jane, I would feel very uncomfortable talking to this director and the staff at this agency from now on, because the director told her that the staff speculates on their personal relationships during work! Yikes!

    3. Marian the Librarian*

      Wow, as someone who has worked in childcare I just have to say that is wildly inappropriate and not okay at all. You are not off-base. There are many reasons why a child might feel more clingy that are much more likely than having an affair (my mind is seriously boggling that a childcare professional would come to this conclusion *and then mention it to the parent*).

      No, Jane should definitely not feel like she needs to “explain herself.” Even if it was true, it is wildly inappropriate for a professional to bring up someone’s personal (and private) relationships in this context. If the childcare workers suspected ABUSE (this is obviously not the case) there are proper channels to report it. Did they even try to talk to Jane about other possible changes at home that could have been making her child feel insecure, or did they just jump to this weird accusation? Seriously, what on earth were these people thinking!? I am 100% sure that I would have been fired from any of my previous childcare jobs if I made an insinuation like that (and rightfully so).

      I would absolutely expect an apology from this director. If the director says something about it again, Jane should be direct and say something like, “Wow. That’s a very inappropriate thing to say.” SHE should not be the one feeling bad in this situation. And if she wants to take it further and bring it up again herself, she could say something like, “I have been thinking about the comment you made the other day. I didn’t respond at the time because I was so shocked that a person would make such an inappropriate comment, and it was very unprofessional. I will be expecting an apology and an assurance from you and your staff that this will not affect the level of care my child receives.”

      Also, if I were her (and she can afford to go with a different agency), at the end of this daycare session (if it is one that goes by sessions and not a drop-in daycare) I would take the time to write a carefully worded letter to the director letting them know that she will be withdrawing her child from their daycare after this session because of their wildly inappropriate comment, AND that she will never recommend others to the agency and will be telling those parents that she knows about this inappropriate behavior. These people obviously know little about childhood development if that is their first assumption, and I personally would not want my child to attend daycare somewhere that would do this!

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        Sorry if this comment was abrasively worded–I was just feeling really “what the heck” around this entire situation!

    4. short geologist*

      That’s obnoxious. But does she have some change in her home life? If so, then perhaps it’s something to consider. It’s still worth telling the director that openly speculating about her love life is unprofessional.

    5. Befuddled Squirrel*

      They’re probably concerned about the daughter and wanted to bring it up without sounding accusatory towards Jane. Jane could respond by asking for more information about what they’ve observed and what it can mean when a child acts this way.

    6. Darth Admin*

      I have a kid in daycare and would be Not Happy about this either. I’d suggest Jane say something like “Director, I was pretty taken aback the other day when you said that Daughter has been clingy and I must have a new man at home.” And then wait and see what the Director says.

      The important thing here is that there ARE reasons kids get clingy, and by “concluding” that Jane has a new man at home, the daycare isn’t examining any of those reasons or helping to address it. They’re also not saying (from the description, anyway) that the clingy-ness is a problem – instead it seems almost like a throwaway to tell Jane their “new man” conclusion.

      This is something that would cause me to seriously look at changing daycare centers. It suggests that the center is less concerned with getting to the bottom of what’s really going on with the kids and more with jumping to conclusions that allow them to avoid any interventions.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my take on it. What, are they sitting around gossiping about parents? I understand bringing up the change in behavior–and I would want to know about it if it were my child–but to suggest something like that is just….wow.

    7. VintageLydia USA*

      This just boggles the mind. Even if Jane DID have a boyfriend, why would the daycare care? Kids react weirdly to even benign things (if the gentleman was a perfectly nice guy, just the fact that he’s a new person in her life could cause her to act out of character until she adjusts to the new normal.)

      It’s one thing to bring up a potential issue. That’s a good thing. But the “new man” accusation waves a red flag for me. Like she’s a bad mom just for dating. Whether it’s true or not, that says a lot of what the childcare workers think of her and I’d find a new daycare ASAP.

    8. Mints*

      That was a horrible thing to say, but I’m not sure it would be beneficial to bring it up again. I mean, if the director says something again a good vague “everything is fine at home” would be appropriate. But I’m not sure confronting the director again about the “man” comment would really help. They’ve already made up their minds, and it might be better to keep being a good parent and leaving partners out of it, if/until they’re a Co-parent too

      (I say this as a non parent and ex childcare worker)

      1. Mints*

        Broadly, what does your friend/ the parent want? Good childcare, I’m assuming. Confronting the director now wouldn’t improve the childcare, I think. But if she (rightfully) wanted to go to a provider that wasn’t weird about her personal life, once she leaves, she could tell the director why she left, and post it on yelp or mom boards or wherever else, to warn other families.

    9. EAA*

      The age of the child can make a difference, too. They do go through stages. Address the clingyness. What exactly are they seeing? Is it just at certain times or all day. Is it just with certain people or everyone? Is the mother seeing the same thing at home? Also have there been changes at school? If there are no new people in the child’s home life have there been changes in personnel or children at the school?

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Disclosure: I am not a parent. However, I can remember as a kid, I would get very clingy just before I would get reeeally sick. I didn’t feel right and wanted to be next to an adult. (I was really sick a lot, so I remember this well.)
      So my question would be did anyone ask the child if s/he was alright? grrrrr…..

      I think these care givers need to focus on doing their jobs not mom’s love life.

  45. Nonprofit grant jobs*

    I’m in the process of leaving a nonprofit job that I started about a year ago. The job (a new position for the agency) was funded through a one-year grant, but that was NOT disclosed during the hiring process. I found out after I started. From what I’ve been told, the organization’s leadership intentionally omitted this fact during hiring because they were “so confident” they’d find additional funding (spoiler: they haven’t).

    When I leave, I’d like to say something to the leadership about how problematic and unethical this practice is. I don’t know of any other orgs that would purposely omit this fact during hiring, but I think our leadership believes it’s a common practice.

    So–does anyone know other nonprofits that actually don’t tell candidates that their position is funded by a one-year grant?

    1. Bryan*

      This is the only instance I have seen of this and I’m so sorry they left that out. You might want to ask if they can drum up any extra work for you now since they did this.

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        Agreed! Don’t burn any bridges if you liked the job, but what they did wasn’t okay. If you really feel like you need to mention it, try to do it in a non-confrontational way: “I’m not sure if you know this, but it’s common to add the duration of the position to a job description. Doing that really helps mitigate disappointment if you can’t find extra funding during that time because it gives that person a timeline on when they should be looking to complete their work or find an alternate source of funding.”

        Honestly though? If it were me, I’d probably leave it. There’s too much potential for them to get unreasonably mad at you for bringing it up (even though you’re right), and then losing a good reference. If you know the higher-ups well, though, and feel like they would take it well, feel free to bring it up.

        1. CTO*

          Thanks for the input, everyone. I will definitely be careful about if/how I discuss this when I leave. My immediate boss and I have had candid conversations about this issue (he was brand-new when I was hired, and has told me that he advocated for disclosure about this but was told by the higher-ups not to disclose). I think I’ll ask for his guidance about whether or not I can bring this issue up. I would also feel comfortable sharing my concerns with the HR rep who helped hire me, as we have maintained a good relationship. I don’t think I’d actually discuss it directly with the higher-up who I suspect was behind the decision (we don’t always have the greatest relationship, though it’s not awful).

          I just wish they could realize how much it damages employee and loyalty when they “bait-and-switch” like this. During the interview process they asked me several questions about my ability to make a long-term commitment to the job.

          Yes, I know that endless funding for any job is never guaranteed, but I still think it’s different when you KNOW the funding will be ending in a relatively short time.

          Thanks for letting me rant.

    2. Annie O*

      I don’t know if it’s common, but it definitely happens. Heck, it happened to me once. I found out during my first week when I was trained on our timesheet/payroll software.

      If you plan to bring this up in your exit interview, I’d be very careful with wording. I suspect that the leadership knows they were unethical, and they just don’t care. You don’t want to burn the bridge, especially when saying something isn’t going to change their bad practices.

      Sorry, by the way. This situation just sucks.

    3. Mimmy*

      PostGradSchoolJob was “contingent on continued funding” (or something along those lines). It wasn’t stated during the interview, but was stated in the job offer letter. Not nearly as bad as your situation, but it would’ve been nice to know during the interview. Though, I don’t know if it’s common knowledge that a lot of nonprofit positions are dependent on funding

      I did get laid off the following year, but it wasn’t due to discontinuation of funding.

  46. Mimmy*

    How important is it to be part of a professional association?

    I was a member of the predominant association in my industry since 2005 but just let my membership lapse. I really like my industry because of its professional values and I’ve met some incredible people through various association events (as well as through grad school and alumni events). However, my professional interests are starting to lean towards a specific niche. I think my educational credentials can be relevant; however, this association has very little to offer in my niche area in the way of CE workshops and articles in their various publications.

    So I’m torn with whether or not to re-activate my membership with this association; I’ve had friends suggest I look at my “return on investment”, and to be honest, there isn’t much that I see. However, I’m not sure I want to leave my industry altogether just yet (if I do, I’d go into something related). I’ve been contemplating further study, including a PhD, but worry that dropping my membership with the predominant professional association would reflect badly on me.

    I appreciate any feedback you guys have. I’m trying to remain somewhat anonymous with this, but would be happy to give more specific info if it’d help :)

    1. Aisling*

      My professional organizations offer trade publications so I can keep up on industry trends, and also discounts to various conferences, so it’s worth it to me. But they are quite expensive… each year I consider dropping them for that alone.

    2. giggleloop*

      I think it depends on your field and what you want to put into it. I know a lot of people in my field who belong and really just put it on their resume. In my case, I wouldn’t bother, because it’s not important enough in my field to require it. But, I do a lot with my professional organization, and so I’ve met a lot of people and gotten a lot of ideas, so it is worth it to me personally.

    3. Bonnie*

      I think it might depend on the opportunities of your niche. I also work in an industry that provides great education and publication but very little is relevant to my work. When I first entered the niche part of my industry I struggled to find the same opportunities. I ending up keeping my membership in the general industry association until my niche industries got up to speed with their offerings and now I direct my time and money to the niche association.

  47. Overworked Anonymous*

    What can I do to advocate for my position to become full-time?

    Here is some background: I’m currently in my first non-internship position in the industry I want to work for. I’m really excited to have a job after six months of fruitless job searching, and my coworkers and workplace are amazing–this is a dream job, except for one thing. It’s part time, and it really, really should be full time. In order to meet the expectations of my job, I’m having to work 40+ hours a week (the extra hours at home), and I’m paid for less than half of that. I understand that the previous person in this position also did a significant amount of work at home, but didn’t push for full time because she had two part time jobs (and she was excellent at her job and had 20+ years of experience). So, it’s not that I’m fiddling away my time doing unimportant things–there’s just that much to do. I’m also the only one in my organization doing my particular job, whereas there are many other people in each different role in our organization (so there’s nobody to pick up my work during the days that I’m not at work–meaning that I must complete what needs to be done at home).

    My position is up for consideration for full time in a few months, and my direct supervisor has made it very clear that they absolutely want to advocate for my position to become full time. They feel very strongly that there needs to be a full time person in this position (and they also mentioned that they don’t want to lose me because I need to take a full time position elsewhere).

    I’ve been collecting statistics about the demographic that my position serves in our community (very large for only one part time employee), and I am trying to build a case for my position to become full time (because other positions are also up for full time at the same time as mine).

    Are things like using a spreadsheet to log the number of hours that I work at home and how I spend my time at work (illustrating that I am not wasting my time but need more hours to complete my job duties) useful or just weirdly aggressive? Thanks!

    1. CTO*

      Honestly? I think you need to stop giving them FT hours at PT pay. How is your supervisor allowing that to happen? That’s really irresponsible leadership and you are being taken advantage of. You need to start prioritizing like Alison often suggests, by telling your supervisor, “In my 20 hours this week, I can complete X, Y, and Z. That means that I won’t have time to do A and B.”

      I think it’s great that you are documenting your time, because the leadership may ask why you need FT hours when your predecessor asked for that. Show what you’re accomplishing, how much time it takes, and what important work isn’t getting done because you don’t have time. Maybe you could also ask your supervisor what other documentation would be helpful.

      1. Overworked Anonymous*

        Thanks for your reply. Actually, I don’t even work 20 hours because they don’t want to give me PT benefits! I think I work something like 19.5 a week so that they can avoid that. Argh!

        I know that I should probably take your advice about not working FT hours for PT pay. It’s hard for me to reconcile that with the desire to do my job very well. I work with kids, so if I don’t complete all my work I feel like I’m doing them a disservice because they’ll receive inferior service. It’s not the organization that will suffer if I decide to work less, it’s the kids! Still, I know this is why lots of people who work with kids burn out in just a few years, and it would be healthy for me to pull back, so I’ll probably need to just try to resolve that issue within myself. Thanks again!

        1. Annie O*

          It’s illegal for your company to not pay you for those hours. Your company needs to be paying you for all hours worked, period. Even though it sounds like you’re voluntarily working off-books, that doesn’t make it any more legal.

          As a manager, I would be extremely concerned if I knew one of my employees was working *any* extra hours without pay. I’d put a stop to it instantly; it’s a wage claim or lawsuit waiting to happen.

          1. Overworked Anon*

            I have been “told off” (jokingly) for working off the clock voluntarily, so they definitely don’t encourage it (except tacitly by assigning me mountains of work). I’m just sort of at a loss because the work has to get done in X amount of time and it’s just impossible for anyone to do that in the hours that I work!

            I also feel like if my work doesn’t get done they’ll have less incentive to hire me full-time because I’ll look like a bad employee? Then again, if I appear to get ALL my work done, what’s the incentive to hire me on for more hours? It feels like a lose-lose situation.

            1. Annie O*

              Okay, this is even worse. You’ve been told to stop working off the clock, but you’re still doing it. That would be grounds for termination in my organization. I know I sound harsh, but you seem determined to ignore the legality of working unpaid hours.

              Check out CTO’s above advice about having a prioritization meeting with your boss (“I can do x, y, and z but not a or b.”) Hopefully you can get a reduced workload, more hours, or both.

              1. Overworked Anon*

                I get that from my previous comment that it seems like I’m going against what my supervisors said, so I feel like I should clarify: the reason why I posted this question in the first place is that I’m very uncomfortable working off the clock because of the legalities (and do not want AT ALL to ignore the legalities of working unpaid hours). I understand that in your organization it’s completely forbidden and might result in termination; however, our organizational culture encourages it (and, in fact, so does our field in general–most people in my position do a significant amount of work unpaid) so I feel uncomfortable bringing it up with my supervisor lest it look like I’m “lazy.” However, I absolutely recognize the legal importance of this issue and I will suck it up and follow the advice about the prioritization meeting and clarifying that I won’t be available outside of work unless I will be paid for those hours (I won’t–I work for the city and am budgeted a certain amount of hours/month).

                Additional context: while it was mentioned once that I shouldn’t be working off the clock, when I ask my supervisors and coworkers about how [person in previous position] completed their work in a timely fashion, the response is always that they did a lot of work at home (off the clock). Also, my coworkers and supervisors constantly call/email me while I’m off the clock, expecting a response. Furthermore, everyone at my organization does do a lot of work at home, even in full-time positions, up to and including my supervisors. It’s just worse for me because I’m a PT employee while everyone else is FT.

                I’m really not trying to condone working off the clock, I promise! I’m very uncomfortable with it and do want to work out a solution that will either get me paid for the time I’m giving to the organization or result in me working zero hours off the clock. I just wanted to give you some additional background to clarify the mixed messages I’m getting from management and my coworkers on this issue. I’m not saying that it’s RIGHT, I’m just concerned about the possible ramifications of pointing out that working off the clock is illegal and that I can’t do it anymore when everyone else does (and is expected to do) it.

                1. fposte*

                  But some of the people in this picture are exempt, right? Your supervisor is probably exempt, so she doesn’t have a clock to be working off of–she can work 24/7 and the law doesn’t care. You, from the sound of it, are non-exempt. That’s a whole nother kettle o’ fish.

                2. Jamie*

                  What fposte said. I had a similar conversation recently with a non-exempt person in real life who has take it upon themselves to police everyone’s hours and complain, loudly, if someone worked 7 hrs and 50 minutes.

                  There are different expectations and different levels of flexibility. They have to put in a full 8 to get paid for 8 – but they never have to stay late, come in on a weekend, or be tethered to their phone on call. The people they’re complaining about routinely work 6 day weeks – so no one cares if they leave a little early on occasion.

                  My explanation didn’t land, so I’m frustrated, but they just refuse to give up the belief that the only way for things to be “fair” is for everyone to be treated exactly the same.

                  another tangent – not saying that’s what Overworked Anon thinks…but the point is people do often blur the lines between exempt and non-exempt and you just cannot do that and stay in compliance with the law.

            2. Jamie*

              I’ve been involved in firing people for this.

              I don’t know why they aren’t addressing it, but working off the clock is illegal and you are incurring liability to the company every time you do so.

              You need to stop doing this immediately. And they aren’t going to make it a full time position if it looks as if it’s getting done in 19.5 hours a week, but if you highlight the work from home it’s a legal issue.

              Being honest about how long it takes a good performer to do X, Y, and Z won’t make you look like a bad employee to any employer worth working for.

              Believe me, I understand your intentions and totally get it…but this will absolutely get you fired a lot of places.

              1. Stephanie*

                FirstJob would fire people for working off-the-clock. This was a white collar job, btw. It tended to be more of something you’d get dinged on if a manager wanted a reason to get rid of you.

                There were a few lawsuits from former junior employees where they tried to get back pay for all the unpaid overtime they worked. I’m unsure if the lawsuits were successful, but after all the bad PR, FirstJob just banned “voluntary overtime” (as they called it) for employees below a certain level. This, in turn, led to people (myself included) doing all kinds of weird things to hide hours worked like not logging off the computer and delaying send on emails.

                NextJob was similar, but not quite as bad. They were ok with working some overtime, but regular overtime was viewed as being inefficient. A coworker told me to make sure I clocked out (yeah, we had time cards; again, this was another white collar job) at around 8.5 hours after I arrived (but not exactly) because TPTB could use that against me as being inefficient.

                If they’ve warned you, you should stop doing it.

        2. CTO*

          I work in social services; I know what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed by the need for your work that you don’t want to “punish” your clients by working within your intended hours. Big-hearted people really struggle sometimes to draw the line between “going to work” and “saving the world.”

          But you’re right: ultimately, you don’t serve anyone very well if you burn yourself out. And you will burn out if you keep doing this. You’re also shortchanging your own financial security, and at some point that will matter even if it doesn’t right now. The lack of appropriate resources to serve your clients is not your personal responsibility, it’s your agency’s. Don’t feel guilty about things that aren’t your fault.

          Also, if your company gets in trouble for not paying you appropriately, that does your company and their clients a HUGE disservice. You’re putting your entire organization at risk by working all of these unpaid hours.

          It sounds like you have a good relationship with your boss. I’d be really clear with him/her about your workload and your concerns. Maybe they can help you prioritize differently so that you all have realistic expectations of what you can accomplish in 19.5 hours.

          1. Overworked Anon*

            Thanks CTO (and everyone) for the responses! I totally get that this is an offense that can result in termination and I will absolutely address it immediately. I adore my organization and do not want to cause them legal issues. Nor do I want to get fired, because I love my job!

            CTO, I appreciate your empathy. Setting up appropriate boundaries is my biggest issue with my work. While I want to help everyone, it’s something that just isn’t possible. You’re right that it’s shortchanging my financial security: right now it’s impossible for me to look for a second PT job because of the amount of work I’m doing for my first PT job.

            I will definitely sit down and clarify my responsibilities with my supervisors. I do have a great relationship with my supervisor and I hope they will be open to establishing realistic expectations for what can happen during the time that I’m paid to work.

            1. CTO*

              Setting boundaries is always an ongoing challenge in our line of work, but obviously an important area to keep trying to improve in.

              One thing that helps me is having some out-of-work commitments and hobbies I really enjoy: volunteering, board service, social events, even a second job. Having places to go and things to do at the end of the workday makes it easier for me to stop working. I don’t find myself idly sitting on my couch, figuring that I may as well check my work email if I’m not doing anything else…

              It’s also tremendously helpful to reflect on this challenge with other people who understand it. I have friends in my field and this is a common topic of conversation for us. It helps to have people with whom I can be honest about the challenges. We support each other. If you can find a couple of people also struggling to find balance, perhaps some accountability and support will help you all. Good luck and thanks for doing such important work!

    2. Aisling*

      If your boss knows you’re doing this, but keeps assigning you work that you cannot complete in your allotted hours, you have a complaint that can go to the labor board to get pay for hours worked – especially if you’ve been keeping track of your hours.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This answer is a PITA. But track your time- by task. I don’t do it but I need to. It’s such a pain.
      But write down all the things you do in a day and how long it takes you to do them. Be sure to include the one-offs that seem to occur regularly. (My list of one offs would include: Set up new computer, 5 hours. Wipe hard drive on old computer – 4 hours. Get clearance for XYZ site. 2 hours per day for 10 days. This does not sound like much but every day is some labor intensive unforeseen that just chews up my time in huge blocks. The fax machine went down the other day and that was an hour and a half.)
      Basically, you are explaining what you job entails. I think many places do not understand how just a “few minutes” here and there morphs into a big chunk of time.

  48. LV*

    I started a new job on Monday, and so far it’s been great and everyone has been really nice, except I am developing some strain of Impostor Syndrome. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing here, and I have so much to learn, and I’m stupidly paranoid about asking my boss, “So… what should I be working on?” because what if she starts wondering why she hired this idiot in the first place? Have you ever seen that image macro of the golden retriever in a science lab with the caption “I have no idea what I’m doing”? Yeah. That.

    This is mostly related to the fact that it turns out I am supervising 2 people – there was no mention of this in the job posting, and during the interview I was told I would be “working closely with” those 2 people. Then on Monday while I was talking to one of them, she said, “You know that you are my and X’s supervisor, right?”

    I’m good at what I do, and I love my field, and I think I’m going to like it here, but I have never been in a position of authority at work before. It still feels odd to me. I’m not used to the idea that I have my own staff, that I have to assign them work, that they need my authorization before doing certain tasks… especially when I’m significantly younger than them (25) and they’ve been here for much, much longer than I have.

    I’m not sure how to navigate this, and I’d appreciate any advice or insight.

    1. Sunflower*

      I don’t have much to add on the supervising front but I think it’s totally common to feel clueless when you start somewhere new. It’s like showing up at a new school for the first time. You don’t know anyone but everyone else knows each other and you just want to fit in and know what you’re doing too!

      Esp don’t worry on asking your manager what you should be doing. My boss just hired someone new and keeps forgetting to tell him what to do because he isn’t used to have another person so he likes when the new guy comes in and asks for stuff.

    2. A Jane*

      I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and felt the same way. I don’ t think it hurts to ask your manager what are some of the things you should be prioritizing while you’re onboarding.

      Also, following up with the team to see what they’re working on and have them show you how they do it. Make it clear that you’re observing–you’re interested in what they’re working on and the whole process.

    3. A Jane*

      Also, another thing that helps is having a quick morning check in with the team. What are you working on, what will you be working on today, and is there anything they need help getting done (either following up with another team, helping through the process, or approval).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      One time, I started a job that was so different for me, it was like some one turned my world upside down. One of my coping tools was to write a short list of tasks for the next day. I did this each night before I left.
      This helped to deal with the stomach butterflies each morning because I knew where I was going to start at any rate.
      The two people that you are supervising can be of assistance to you. Start by saying “Do you have everything you need from me or have I forgotten something?” Let them help orient you.

  49. Jamie*

    Coolest thing I learned in a long time was how to put on a duvet cover in less than a minute and no hassle.

    I love Youtube.

    I wish I could do the same with folding a fitted sheet. It’s my goal in life (don’t judge me) to be able to fold fitted sheets in neat little squares, but I’ve watched a million vids and practices and mine are still a squishy mess.

    Last weekend I learned by husband had no idea what a duvet was, nor what eyelet was when asked to pick up a new bed skirt. I marveled at that…but he named off a bunch of different types of tires and I heard Charlie Brown’s teacher in my head so I guess different interests.

    And I need help choosing a paint color for my bedroom. Dh nixed pink (because he’s mean) and my bedding and accoutrements run blue. I can’t do another blue room because I always pick blue and the house is starting to look like we’re under the sea.

    I need something nice for the bedroom and main part of the house (open plan so can’t have different colors for living room, dining room, hall, stairway, and kitchen. Family room separate so want to so something different in there.

    I need something pretty – not jazzy but not the plain neutral ecru either.

    Oh, and while I’m typing random neural firings – don’t accidentally put a broom handle though a stained glass window of a closet door. We have to replace both bi-fold doors since it’s way more expensive to get the glass remade than to just buy new doors.

    The upside we’re putting the non-damaged old door on the pantry.

    I have put in so much time this week I’m mentally already home – I need to focus!

    (By the end of this weekend I will have a much bigger linen closet and I am way more excited about this than is healthy.)

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Folding fitted sheets is one of my superpowers. Are your sheets elastic all the way around, or only at the corners and un-elasticized on the flats? It makes a difference! When folding elastic-round sheets as a beginner, it helps A LOT if you use a table or floor or other flat, firm surface.

      When you have tucked the corners into each other and have one on each hand, lay the sheet down onto your flat surface and tuck/arrange/flatten as you need to. Then put the corners all into each other, so you have a vaguely rectangular-ish shape all held on one fingertip. Shake it vigorously so all the fabric falls together. Then lay this shape down on your table again and flatten/tuck/arrange as needed. This should take out all the air bubbles and you should be able to flatly fold it after this as needed.

      (This is WAY easier if I could produce a video!) Anyway, no need to do it all in the air. Fold flat on a table or the floor. Life is easier.

      1. Jamie*

        Just at the corners – and I will pull this up the second I get home.

        It’s all I can do not to call it a day and go home and try right now!

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          At the corners can be even easier! Be sure to shake vigorously when the sheets are gathered together on one hand, then take your time arranging the sheet while it’s laid flat on something. Once you get the hang of it, it will go MUCH more quickly.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        I, too, am a fitted sheet ninja. I credit the Martha Stewart video on YouTube.

        I was so excited when I figured out how to do it smoothly that I even blogged about it. It’s the little things that get me through the day, I guess.

    2. The IT Manager*

      No blue, a mint green perhaps?

      Actually I am too busy to do any home improvement, but I am thnking more and more of painting using some dark/bright colors inspired by a visit to a 1920s arc deco historic home. I’m also thinking that’s not the wisest idea since I do not know if I might move soon or not, but in my mind it is very tempting.

    3. littlemoose*

      We did a neutral taupe-ish brown in the bedroom, and I love it. It’s not as boring as white, but works with almost anything. Looks great with white doors, baseboards, etc.

      1. Chrissi*

        I love that color on walls – it makes everything on the wall pop, especially crown molding, baseboards, chair rails, and pictures that have some kind of white matting. I think it looks so snazzy.

    4. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      How about a nice pale yellow? Yellow brightens up any space and makes me happy. :) Your existing blue bedding would coordinate well, too.