open thread – April 18, 2014

olive smallIt’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.

{ 1,095 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      A little earlier today, she randomly started tearing around all 3 levels of the house, then ran under the living room chair, where she made a noise that I swear sounded just like a pig — while also panting from all the exertion — then ran upstairs and howled. When I went up to investigate what the hell was going on, she was laying down peacefully, acting like she was up to nothing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OMG. She sounds happy, confident and strong.
        I had a Balinese that pulled all kinds of stunts, too. I was so pleased. She was 5 when she came into my life. And she lived under my bed for the first three weeks. I was scared she was going to die from fear. (She would not eat, drink or eliminate.) One day that was over and we found out who she really was. hahaha!
        Your fun with Olive has begun!

      2. Gene*

        My three normally wait for 2 AM to do that kind of thing. Only a single level house, but they add vertical by including the cat tree, chair backs and the bed full of sleeping humans.

      3. OriginalEmma*

        My cat would make the pig noise occasionally. It’s from vigorously grooming himself while trying to breathe at the same time. It was pretty amusing.

  1. HDJ*

    I recently started a “how to make the most of your career” book club; inspired by the great discussions I’ve read on this blog. I was hoping the readers could suggest some engaging and useful books for us.

    The participants are either developing their careers or trying to make a career change (most are in their 30s). The “classic” career books “How to win friends…”, “7 Habits…”, don’t seem to carry much interest with the group. So I’m hoping to find something that has been published more recently, is interesting and has substantial content.

    I would be extremely appreciative of your help!

    1. CAA*

      Maybe try something in a different direction:

      Leading Change by John P. Kotter
      The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
      Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

      1. Journalist (AKA Katie)*

        I’m currently reading ‘How to Be Useful: A Beginner’s Guide to Not Hating Work’ and really enjoying it.

    2. Charlotte*

      If you’d like a good managing book, Jay Shepherd’s Firing at Will is amazing. He worked as an employment lawyer on the employer’s side for years in addition to running his own law firm. Remarkably good read.

    3. A Jane*

      * Moneyball – a great way to think about analytics
      * Ender’s Game (fiction) – read about it in the context of leadership

        1. A Jane*

          Yeah! I was reading up about the book and learned that it’s used by some parts of the military on how to approach leadership

      1. Teacher Recruiter*

        Influencer is a popular one
        Getting to Yes while not a career book has been valuable in working with people in general.

    4. Dylan*

      Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck – I have re-read this book several times and always find something insightful in it. Good for career path as well as almost all other parts of life. Funny too.

    5. hildi*

      Anything written by Bruce Tulgan (“It’s Ok to Be the Boss, “It’s Ok to Manage Your Boss”)

      Ditto Mark Sanborn

      The Power of Habit is my most recent read (months ago) and I’m still thinking about it.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      “Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard” by Chip Heath is possibly my favorite business book ever. It’s not specifically a “career growth” book, but it changed the way I look at change management in the workplace, which is something I think is of value at every level.

      I also REALLY enjoyed “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for the Work You Love” by Cal Newport. It’s a little dry through the middle, but there’s some really powerful stuff about how to angle your career in the early days to be able to command the salary/terms/jobs you want down the line.

    7. C average*

      I recently read a book called “The Smartest Kids in the World” that’s really stuck with me. It’s about education, but it has broader application to any setting where people are learning new skills.

      I’ve also really gotten a lot out of “Creative Confidence,” anything by Dan Pink, and the series of time-management books put out by 99U.com. (I know the first one is called “Managing Your Day-to-Day,” but I can’t remember the other titles.)

      Probably the business book that has influenced me most is “The No-Asshole Rule.” It teaches you how not to be one, how to identify one, how to get rid of one (if you’re a manager), and how to tolerate working with one (if you don’t have firing authority over the one in your life).

      1. Jean*

        20+ years ago I read and reread “When Smart People Fail: Rebuilding Yourself for Success” by Carole Hyatt and Linda Gottlieb (first published 1987). It offers many anecdotes plus compassionate & helpful advice for people who have to start over after a career detour. Based on a super-fast look at Amazon’s site I think that its latest edition is dated 2009; not sure whether or not it addresses our currently insanely distorted economy & job market.

        My copy had a front-cover quotation from Rabbi Harold Schulweiss (“When Bad Things Happen to Good People”) predicting that this book would be helpful to many, many people.
        I know I’ve recommended it frequently over the years. Glad to mention it here as well.

    8. Anon*

      I really liked Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It’s a quick read but introduces you to a different way of thinking about work.

    9. Robin*

      Does “Good to Great” count as a classic? It’s basically my bible for building a strong company/organization. Don’t forget the book Alison authored, “Managing to Change the World”. (I swear Alison didn’t pay me to say this, don’t know her, just love her book!)

      1. Seattle Writer Girl*

        “Good to Great” is AMAZING! Makes you realize just how dysfunctional most workplaces really are.

    10. Gene*

      I haven’t had to job hunt in 20+ years, but when I was I found Martin Yates’ “Knock ‘Em Dead” book (there was only one then) incredibly useful for interviewing. I see that the franchise has been updated and expanded, you might want to get recommendations from someone with more current info on them.

      The one interview thing that still sticks with me is to go into the restroom just before you are going to be called in and run hot water over your right hand, dry well and keep a paper towel in your hand, in your pocket. When you go in and shake hands, warm dry handshake! Now that I’m on the other side of the table, I notice the number of clammy handshakes I get; the dry ones stand out.

    11. corner cube*

      Clear Leadership by Gervase R. Bush. Its not just a management book, there’s a lot in there about how to have clear communication with team members too.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        The Nordstrom Guide to Customer Service Excellence.
        Setting The Table–Danny Meyer (the restaurant dude who started Union Square Cafe and Eleven Madison Park)

          1. Becky B*

            +1

            I read this while in a rather dynamic (minefield-like) marketing environment and it really helped.

    12. EA*

      “Creating magic : 10 common sense leadership strategies from a life at Disney” by Lee Cockerell

    13. Mittens*

      I absolutely loved “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston. The title is a bit off-putting but it seriously opened my eyes about how to *really* listen and how to get people to open up. I thought I was a great listener, but I really picked up a lot of tricks and insights from this book. Would recommend it to everyone!

  2. Audiophile*

    Olive’s back! I kept hitting refresh because nothing happened the first time.

    No news from my interview last week, which isn’t making me feel good.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Remember, hiring times take longer than we think they will. Mark it in your tracking document and leave it behind for now. It’s the weekend!

      Well, it will be the weekend at five o’clock.

      1. Audiophile*

        Oh don’t worry. I’m not dwelling on it too much. Still applying for jobs, looking at grad school programs. Trying to decide if I want to take online courses or traditional courses.

        But thanks for reminding me to stick it in my spreadsheet, haven’t opened that in a while since I passed 200+ apps a few weeks ago.

    2. danr*

      You’ve hit a bad holiday time, Passover, Easter and many school vacations. Breathe in and out and give it some time.

      1. Audiophile*

        You’re right. I’ve become one of those people who replays the interview in my head and thinks about what I could have said.

          1. Audiophile*

            Haha, thank you. I’ve been thinking of seeing if I can make it into a customized license plate.

            1. Jean*

              Depending on your state’s character limits, here are some ideas:
              AUDIOFILE (9 char)
              AUDIOFYL (8 char)
              AUDI0FIL (also 8 char but the “O” is really a “zero”)
              O-D-OFYL (8 char, pronounced “oh-dee-oh-file”)
              Good luck!

                1. fposte*

                  Jamie’s is apparently RTFM–evidently the DMV aren’t too up on their acronyms if that slid through!

                2. Audiophile*

                  My state requires a reason. I’d love to know, what, if any, reason Jamie gave.
                  I’m trying to come up with one.

                3. Mallory*

                  Okay, now that I’m back from googling LMGTFY (yes, the irony strikes me now) and RTFM, my acronymic horizons are broadened.

                4. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  I’m loving this thread, especially since we helped enlighten Mallory. :) But yes, I meant LMGTFY, which I adore, although I also tend to have a lot to talk about with audiophiles and videophiles. But I’ve solved problems by Googling the issue that I would never have been able to figure out on my own (or it would have taken me hours instead of minutes to figure out).

                  If anyone enjoyed learning about Reading The Fine Manual, try Googling LART, PEBCAD, orID-ten-T error. :D

                5. Jean*

                  Ooops. Thanks for bringing me into the 21st century. (Only 1/2way there, obviously, b/c no smart phone means no email or internet access unless at a computer.)

                6. Mallory*

                  Ha! I did all my acronym-googling homework as prescribed by the Cosmic Avenger, and now I also understand PEBCAK’s username.

  3. Looking for new career*

    Contrary to AAM’s reaction to this concern, most articles I read on the web suggest that self-employment is considered a black mark on your resume.

    I run a one-man architecture firm and am looking for a new career, as my user name says. What is the best way to list my job title, accomplishments, etc. on my resume when looking for work in the tech sector?

    Thank you for any tips!

    1. fposte*

      I can’t tell–are you suggesting ways to describe your achievements while self-employed, or are you asking about ways to make it sound like you weren’t self-employed? What field are you looking in?

      1. Looking for new career*

        Not trying to hide it, more looking for ways to describe accomplishments. More below…

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Whaaaat? I wouldn’t think being self-employed was a black mark. That takes a conscientious and responsible person to make it work.

      Not sure about title, though Ash or others could suggest there. I would list accomplishments the same as any other job.

    3. Esra*

      I think it depends on what kind of/how much work you are producing while self-employed.

      What kind of work in the tech sector are you looking at?

      1. Looking for new career*

        Really, this is kind of early to be doing a resume, since I’m still exploring what kind of work I want to try for.

    4. Trixie*

      Similar question but I’ve been busy with long-term house/petsitting. Great clients but no official paperwork/taxes/W-2 to show for it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This is why I don’t read most article on the web any more. Not trying to be snarky- the advice that self-employment is a black mark is not instructive. If that is true, it is a black mark then there should be some instruction how to jump that hurdle. I am sick of these articles that pile on useless non-advice or labor-intensive advice that leads to nowhere. (Clearly, I have read too many and suffered after-effects!)

      I think that being able to explain why you want to change and what you bring to the table is the key. I have been able to connect odd things together into a story-line that makes sense to an interviewer. What I have done is listed accomplishments that have parallels for the job I am apply for. I am trying to create a master list of accomplishments so it is not so hard to think of things for each resume- I can just pick relevant things off my main list.

      1. AVP*

        I think what the articles are trying to point out (not very well, probably) is that sometimes Hiring Managers can be a little leery of people who’ve owned their own companies because those people can get used to being in charge, making their own schedule and priorities, etc. Not saying that this applies to everyone, but it’s a factor.

        So I would also go out of my way to emphasize why you’re looking for this kind of change – you’re excited to have the steadiness of a staff job, ready to work within a team and report to a higher-up again, etc. Not everyone worries about this, but enough do that you want to derail the line of worry before it starts.

      2. Looking for new career*

        Thank you for the great reply! Yes, I’d thought of making accomplishments fit the position being applied for, and you’ve affirmed that approach.

        I’m figuring telling the story about why I’m changing careers and s on belongs in a cover letter, not on a resume. Should ssomething about this be on the resume itself?

      3. Looking for new career*

        Dang, I missed! The reply to AVP was meant to be to Not So New Reader…though thank you to AVP too!

        All of you folks are very helpful and generous. I really appreciate it!

  4. Paloma Pigeon*

    Cover letter salutation suggestions to a large national company that has a ‘careers@company.com’ address? Dear Hiring Manager doesn’t seem to cut it since looks like the national office screens submissions and this is for a local job. I can’t find a name of an HR person that would be the most likely person reading the letter. Any ideas?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      I would just do Dear Hiring Manager… even though it may be a while until it gets to the person actually doing the hiring, I think that’s better than the “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” crap that my mother once told me to use…

        1. Anonymous Analyst*

          I take the opposite view point: never do Dear Sir(s). Just because others are doing it, doesn’t make it right.

    2. Stephanie*

      *shrugs*

      I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I omit the salutation because I think “Dear Hiring Manager” sounds goofy.

      I volunteer at the science museum periodically. A lot of the volunteers are high school students. The coordinator organized a resume, cover letter, and interviewing workshop. Most of the advice was solid (if you hadn’t heard any of it before), but there was the occasional cringeworthy nugget, including “Oh you have to go find the hiring manager’s name for the cover letter, or you’ll look lazy.”

        1. Stephanie*

          Ha, no. But then they gave that advice and didn’t tell them how to find the name, so what’s the point?

      1. Paloma Pigeon*

        I do have the name of the national HR director in DC. Is it presumptuous to address it to Dear Ms. National Director?

        1. Stephanie*

          Nah. Like Alison said below, I don’t think the hiring manager cares who it’s addressed to. I wouldn’t if I was in a hiring manager’s shoes. It’s such a minor thing.

    3. Calla*

      Honestly, if I have a company name but not a person’s name, I just put “Dear [Company].” I think it’s actually more personal than “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern” because there’s SOME kind of specific name there.

    4. kas*

      If I don’t have a specific person to address my cover letter to I address it to human resources, Dear Human Resources, (for larger companies) or the hiring manager.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “dear hiring manager” is fine. I swear to you, no one reading your letter is giving it much thought. You’re certainly not going to be rejected over it.

      1. Rachel - HR*

        This! I am one of those people that first screens applications and I don’t even give a second glance to who the letter is or isn’t addressed; unless they spell my name wrong in which case I laugh because it is clearly visible on all our postings and website but even that won’t cause me to discount a person.

      2. Mallory*

        Yes . . . we receive so many CVs when we do a faculty search that how they address their cover letter is the least of our concerns. We’re just processing all one-hundred-plus of them and getting them to the search committee as efficiently as we can.

        I have never heard from a search committee/ search committee chair that any impression whatsoever was made by who the letter was addressed to (and as the departmental admin for 8 years, the search committee and the chair have gossiped to me PLENTY of times over the years about all manner of candidate stuff. Honestly, the greeting line has NEVER come up).

        The one thing I do remember from a search from when the economy first started to decline is that a candidate’s wife called me to plead with me about their dire financial straits and how long he’d been without a job. When we did a search again a couple years ago, I remembered his name as a repeat from the previous pool of applicants because I will never forget that conversation with his wife.

        To summarize, I think you have to go pretty big to make any sort of lasting negative impression; the name by which you refer to the hiring manager or search committee is unlikely to be a blip on anyone’s radar, unless you say something like, “Yo B*tche$” or some such.

        1. Stephanie*

          [T]he name by which you refer to the hiring manager or search committee is unlikely to be a blip on anyone’s radar, unless you say something like, “Yo B*tche$” or some such.

          This sounds like a cover letter Jesse Pinkman would write.

    6. ADE*

      I do “to the selection committee at XYZ” — I assume my CL is going to get passed around a bit if I get interviewed.

    7. Stryker*

      Try the advanced search on LinkedIn for potential people in charge of the department you’d be in–that might scrounge up a probable name for you to use. :)

      1. Ali*

        A few years ago, I applied for a job that had a hiring manager with a non gender-specific name and accidentally addressed the letter to Mr. So and So. I still got an interview, but I was so embarrassed when I got there and the person interviewing me was a woman! I ended up as a finalist for the job though so maybe she didn’t take it too personally.

        1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          As someone with a gender neutral name, I can attest you really can’t take it personally.

          1. Mallory*

            Truth. My boss gets called both Mr. and Mrs. and all manner of variations on his name: Marion, Marvin, Marlon, Marlin, Marianne . . . you name it. Nobody really pays attention to that stuff, except maybe me to laugh a little at his expense. But that lasts for a microsecond and then it’s over. It has nothing to do with the real nitty-gritty of someone’s job search.

    8. Kimberley*

      I just received a cover letter addressed to “Most Distinguished and Respectable Hiring Manager”. It is how I now wish to be addressed at all times. :)

      Seriously, for very large organizations, leave it blank. For mid range and smaller companies do some research on LinkedIn, Jigsaw, or call reception and ask. Finding a name of a real live person is the best.

  5. Cruciatus*

    Can anyone give any advice for becoming an academic advisor or if I am in any position to try for it (though I know I have nothing to lose by applying, which I will)? A university has reposted this position and I keep circling back to it–it definitely appeals to me but then I fear I’m unqualified because I don’t have any specific experience doing this (and I can’t yet verbalize why it appeals to me–just does). I read an academic advisor website that said many have apprenticed as an advisor before becoming one–I definitely did not do that. I have a Master’s in sociology which I think would be helpful but I’m early in my career and after working in libraries, I’m now an administrative assistant for a particular medical school pathway. What are they truly looking for with advisors–skills, personality type, etc. Anything anyone can tell me will be very useful to me!

    1. MaggieMae Teapot*

      I would think that the medical school pathway would definitely open some doors for you. Have you sat down with any of the advisors for your pathway for an informational interview/coffee chat? You don’t necessarily need to start *with* the medical school (advisory positions would likely require a scientific background, I would think), but if there was a position supporting them within their unit, you should have a really good shot, giving you more organic exposure to the role.

      Although, that’s probably a much longer route. Hmmm. I got nuthin’.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I’ve never heard of someone apprenticing as an academic advisor and I’ve been working in higher ed for over a decade and all that in advising.

      An advisor needs to be a cross between a social worker who is empathetic and a good listener and a detail oriented computer programmer. Cover all of that with a skin of steel. You will hear the wildest things including the extremely personal. You will, at times, be a therapist. So, you need some of those skills. You also need to be able to dig through policy, procedure, regulations and changing requirements and not get lost. The wrong advice means a student takes a class they don’t need.

      My employer uses professional advisors as opposed to faculty advisors. Entry requirements are a bachelor’s degree and 2 years customer service. I say go for it.

      1. ADE*

        +1 (higher ed experience but not an academic advisor)

        If I were you I would be networking like crazy with the academic advisors at your current institution. My old employer in higher ed celebrated lateral moves, though there was a lot of turnover among advisors (low pay, etc.)

        I don’t think it’s a job for everybody, and you have to really show that a) you know the institution and its policies well, and b) you know how to deal with lots of nonsense :)

        1. Cruciatus*

          Thanks everyone for the replies! The problem is that the job is at another university and the college I’m at now has faculty advisors, not professional ones and the place is small enough that if I start asking, well, it might get around that I’m looking. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who is currently doing this.

          1. Suzanne*

            Look for groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or via NACADA. You’ll find lots of folks willing to answer questions and give you feedback.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          Depending on the nature of the institution, a PhD can be required for being an academic advisor. Why? Because they CAN. There are a lot of un-/under-employed PhDs out there. I ran into this (admittedly some years ago) when I was applying to academic advisors positions (with a Master’s degree and 10 years experience in academic advising).

          That said, the Master’s in Sociology (mine is in a liberal arts discipline) isn’t a deal-breaker. Try emphasize any related experience you have dealing with students, giving information, etc. in your current role. I’d look for health professions advising roles for undergraduates as a stepping stone to broader academic advising. (People in those roles often work with faculty advisors in sciences, with academic advising staff, as well as in career services offices.)

          They’re looking for people who are student-focused (think advocate/encouragement/assistance), but not prone to believe every wild story that comes in the door. Someone who can empathize and assist with problem-solving, who is aware of (or can learn) the requirements for the degree/program/grad school, etc. It helps if you’re comfortable speaking to groups of students and have a reasonable degree of organizational skill and don’t mind planning events.

        3. Mallory*

          Our professional academic advisor was hired after completing her bachelor’s degree while working as a part-time admin in another department. The requirements are a bachelor’s degree and the ability to convince a search committee that you’d be good at managing all the details mentioned by TotesMaGoats.

          Our school uses a professional advisor for the detailed curricular stuff (which classes the students need to take) and faculty advisors for career-trajectory/mentoring-type conversations.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        The wrong advice means a student takes a class they don’t need

        Or DOESN’T take a class they do need, which is 1000x worse, especially when it’s only offered every third semester or somesuch.

    3. Anonymous Analyst*

      I know someone who is one and she had a master’s in educational counseling, which included a type of apprenticeship.

      Can you talk to someone at your alma mater or alumni association to get more precise feedback?

    4. Rachel - HR*

      Your current career path doesn’t hint towards anything academic adviser related. I’ve seen academic advisors come from career counseling backgrounds (usually in non-profit organizations) or were hired in an administrative role at the College/University and then promoted later on.

    5. Lucy*

      Does your organization have any Fellowship Coordinator positions? It could be a good experience to work with a small group of med students or fellows!

    6. SuzanneM*

      I’m a former academic advisor from UC Riverside. Apply for it. One of my colleagues says that you can be taught how to advise if you have other transferable and people skills. Most advisors I know don’t have formal training as an advisor; we just “fell into it.” Your current experience and Masters will be beneficial. They’re looking for someone who can work with people, think I’m terms of both big and little pictures, and someone who is flexible, dynamic, and able to relate to the population yet serve.

    7. C average*

      I had an academic advising job for a while shortly after graduating. I kind of fell into it and didn’t have any particular qualifications that made me an obvious fit. To tell you the truth, I can’t even remember why I pursued it at the time (other than the fact that I needed a job and it was available).

      Key traits:

      –Empathy. Each student who comes to you needs to sense that you’re in their corner, doing your best to help them succeed.

      –Bureaucratic kungfu. You’ll deal with every possible permutation of student scenario. Transfer students, non-traditional students, students trying to transition from one study area to another with minimum loss of credits, etc. Knowing how to read their paperwork, transfer it knowledgeably and sometimes imaginatively to the system your school uses, and get the requisite approvals and sign-offs where needed is key.

      –Ability to deal with big egos. You’ll often be in the position of advocating on behalf of students to people with a LOT of letters after their names, a lot of books published, and a high degree of self-importance. You’ll need to know how to work with them to reach the desired outcome.

      –Ability to enforce boundaries with parents. They won’t all be helicopter parents, either. They may have legitimate concerns about their kids’ academics or personal life, and you need to be able to clearly and assertively draw lines even when you know the parents’ concerns are well-founded.

    8. kbeers0su*

      I work in academic advising now. Lots of good advice above (ADE’s advice about networking, everything C Average said).

      There are “apprenticeships” for folks looking to get into Academic Advising. My Master’s is in Higher Education/Student Affairs Administration (same degree has different names elsewhere), and typically the degree program will require a graduate assistantship, practicum(s) or internship(s) to get on-the-job experience. So many people who end up in advising have some hands-on experience. But what others shared, particularly about working your way into these positions, is also true. Some of the best advisors aren’t the ones who have this specific Master’s degree, but rather are those who’ve worked in university administration, understand the politics, policies and protocols and can interpret these things and apply them to individual student’s situations. So sometimes it’s the long-term admin who has soaked up all this info by just being around it who can serve students the best.

      I would recommend the following:
      – Apply. Some schools do look for the Master’s in Higher Ed, but just having one may also make you qualified.
      – Learn what you can about from your current office setting. It’s in a school, and there are probably discussions being had about requirements, admissions standards, transferrable credits, curriculum, etc. Even just understanding how these things may affect a student can help you wrap your head around what the job will entail.
      – Reach out to any folks in advising who you may know. It’s not unusual to know advising staff at other nearby schools because students do transfer, so it’s in the advisor’s best interest to know how other schools operate (and sometimes who they can call there if they have questions).

      Best of luck!

      1. Lizard*

        I have a Master’s in Higher Ed and I still kinda want to get into Academic Advising although I do something totally different now.

        Anyways, like people have said there are different ways to get into this field. In your case, I would look for a job focusing on Social Sciences since that’s what you have your Master’s in or the medical stuff you are working with now.

    9. Polaris*

      I used to work in student affairs. If you’re really interested in the advising position, apply. Very few of the advisors I know earned a master’s degree in a field related to higher ed administration or completed an advising internship before graduating. Most just fell into the role.

      It varies from school to school, but some academic advisors are also expected to be career advisors. You should find out whether your institution combines the two positions or not.

      I haven’t seen anyone mention this, but if you have any experience having difficult conversations, that is a skill you should emphasize in your application. As an advisor, you may be the first person a student turns to when she or he is in trouble. You may need to deliver some tough feedback regarding unrealistic goals – like the student with a 2.5 GPA who has her heart set on going to Vet School.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I just finished applying! The due date was today (in my defense I only found out about the job yesterday). We shall see what happens. I’m applying to a different school than I’m currently working at, but I believe they have separate career and academic advisors. They have a career services webpage and on the application it lists the department/college the academic advisor would be working in (in this case, engineering college). Might sound ridiculous, but it feels good to have just applied, no matter what happens (though hopefully an interview will be forthcoming)!

        1. College Academic Counselor*

          Yay! I love what I do and I love when other people want to do it too :). This is somewhat repetitive of what others have said above, but I’d say the most important traits for an academic advisor to have are 1) empathy, 2) good listening skills, 3) high attention to detail and 4) excellent logic/reasoning/problem-solving skills.

          Someone above mentioned NACADA – they have some good resources on their website and you don’t have to be employed in the field to join. Attending a regional conference can be a great way to learn more about it and also network with people.

          I will say that it is tough to break in without relevant experience. In my area, there are enough highly qualified candidates that we would rarely look at someone who hasn’t done advising work before. This is where your cover letter becomes really really important – you have to make it clear that you’ve done your research, you understand what the job is, and you have relevant skills and you’re not just applying to every job out there. Even then, it may take a while, but don’t get discouraged! Most new people get in either by earning a graduate degree in counseling/higher education/student affairs which requires doing internships that give you work experience, or by starting in a related field. For example, you could look at graduate advisor positions; they are more administrative and less student focused, but for that reason, they are also less in demand.

          1. Cruciatus*

            Welp. Just days after applying I decided to check the status of my application and I was already moved to “No longer being considered.” I know it’s nothing personal but… damn! But I’ll keep seeing what they have available that fits my skills and see what happens…

  6. Ash (the other one!)*

    I’ve been waiting for this today. I have two questions, but I will post them separately —

    So, building off the millenial conversation yesterday here’s an interesting one. DC is having a “Millenial Week” in June and giving out awards to local prominent millenials. I got an email this morning that someone nominated me and that I’m a finalist. Given all the negativity surrounding the term “millenial” I kind of want to write back and take my name out of the running. Do I really want to be associated with the “millenial” label? I am on the older end of millenial (will be 29 in a few months, ugh) and it seems like a bad move to move forward with this, especially since I’m job searching right now. What do people think?

    1. Sunflower*

      I would not drop out. They’ve been doing ‘Top 30 under 30’ type lists for so long and I guess this is just a new name. I think it can only look good for you though!

      On another note, what the heck is ‘millenial week’ and what happens during it? I find that to be the weirdest part of it all..

    2. Paloma Pigeon*

      I say recognition is recognition. You may get some good contacts out of it. Also, you didn’t come up with the term ‘Millenial’, and by simply accepting an award nomination you are not necessarily condoning the term or not.

      I say see where it goes – what’s the worst that could happen? You get a nice award and free dinner, and everyone moves on. You don’t have to put it on your resume or anything.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        Problem is they want to put me on their website — so if you google me, the “millenial” label will pop up. It’s not like my age isn’t publicly out there (in fact my recent wedding announcement got my age wrong by a year so I appear younger than I am online), it just feels odd. This relates to my second question which I’ll ask below though…

        1. Esra*

          I don’t think I’d drop out, but I would ask them about why they chose ‘millennial’ instead of 30 under 30 etc.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      I’m assuming most reasonable people would get that it’s a positive recognition, not an award for having strong #selfie game and never answering the phone.

      I think the negativity surrounding the label is more about fatigue over its pervasiveness. I wouldn’t worry about having the award.

      Congrats btw!

          1. Heather*

            I meant to say the same thing the other day!

            Now I’m tempted to say “Clever girl…” when I agree with you instead of giving you a +1 :)

    4. Jubilance*

      Don’t drop out. Recognition is always great, and I’m assuming there was a large pool of people nominated. Getting the award would be a great achievement.

    5. Just a Reader*

      Like it or not, millenial is an accepted and widely used term, and I certainly wouldn’t decline an accolade because of the terminology. It’s not “30 Under 30 Biggest Losers” or whatever.

      Don’t overthink it and I hope you end up being included.

      1. Anonymous Analyst*

        This. I’m a Gen Xer, I read a lot of AAM, and I wouldn’t associate any negativity based on this. It’s just a generational label – it’s meaningless.

    6. Chriama*

      I’d say it depends on the kind of people who organized the award and are likely to be paying attention to it. If it’s organized by millenials and for millenials, stay away! However, if it’s an older generation appreciating the younger generation kind of shindig, you might benefit from the opportunity to network with potential mentors.

        1. MaggieMae Teapot*

          Hmmm, thanks for the link. I am actually now seeing your point about it possibly being negative.

          Oh, and the irony of creating your own ‘week’ by using a quote about narcissism? Amazeballs. “TIME called us the lazy, narcissist “Me, Me, Me generation”….we think it’s time to explore and celebrate all that that means.”

          Maybe you participate but don’t add it to your resume. If someone brings it up, you can explain what you learned about the experience. Or maybe participate and then play it by ear. Or win and point out during your acceptance speech that creating an award for oneself is precisely why the whole Millenial thing is a thing. And then throw the mic on the ground like in the movies. And then take a #selfie. ;)

          AAM? Thoughts now that we have seen the website?

    7. Steve G*

      I agree with you that this title is ridiculous and I personally wouldn’t go into the competition because it is so stupid. I wouldn’t argue it from the point of not wanting to be tied to a label “millenial” label, because honestly being born in 1985 is already 5 years into the generation and means you did graduate 3 years into the new millenium which is the whole point of the term millenial…but I would not participate simply for the fact of…what the hell is a millenial week?!?!

    8. TK*

      If you’ll be 29 in a few months, you’re not really in the older end of millenial, actually, as that means you were born in 1985. Most definitions of millenial are people born after 1980-ish. It’s not that you’re too old to be a millenial, it’s that millenials are just getting older! The term is so associated with “young people” that I wonder if it’ll continue to be used even as the generation ages.

      For the record, I’ll be 26 next month (born in 1988), so I certainly am a millenial by any definition!

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        I just meant that there still seems to be a divide in terms of our generation — those that grew up with cellphones in their pockets and constant connectivity and those of us who had dial up internet until we went to college. I do think that makes a difference (see the conversation from yesterday).

        1. Steve G*

          Tiz true…..and this is exactly the conversation that shouldn’t be tied in with a “hot under 30” type discussion. And I know it is endlessly annoying to have to explain that “I didn’t grow up with internet so don’t feel as tied to Millenial stereotypes as others……etc.” which is why I’d personally opt out of this one.

          But good luck either way with whatever you do!

    9. Jeanne*

      Could you ask your boss her opinion, after showing her the website? She might have a better idea of how people in your organization, field, and city might perceive it. Good luck!

    10. Tinker*

      Meh, I’m inclined to think that the effect is likely small.

      I agree that there’s a negative association with the term “Millennial” that’s worth thinking about (for reference: every discussion we’ve had here about it), and if I won an award like that and was looking for a job in a region/industry/culture which was likely to include some number of grumps (and I’ve been there before), I’d not put it on my resume. Probably would not put it there in most cases, anyway, because meh. But in that case, I think that if googling you turned up some sort of puff piece about your accomplishments and such as a up-and-coming youth in an up-and-coming-youth city, I’d think they might grumble and eyeroll about the award, but probably not so much about you.

      Plus which, there’s the general consideration of “if it’s necessary to conceal something that evokes a prejudice, and you successfully do so, your prize is working for someone who has that prejudice.” Sometimes you want to do that because hey, money — but that sort of lifestyle choice is best made in a considered fashion. At least so I think.

      I’d think that if you go through the process related to the award in a professional, humble, and gracious manner, then the odds of alienating people who shouldn’t be alienated anyway aren’t high.

    11. MJ*

      Generational labels weren’t designed to describe individuals.
      They are generalizations which help us organize our thoughts when groups are too large to think about individually.

      Generational labels serve the purpose of grouping people together by when they were born – not the dates so much as the world they were born into. Baby boomers, for example, were born into a world where women were just being invited into the workforce, though unequally. It was a world with way fewer appliances so chores took longer to do. Long distance phone calls were expensive, mail took at least a week to get somewhere and the response took another week to come back. Their parents had been through Depression and War and so Baby Boomers were raised with a brand of work ethic that is based on scarcity while becoming adults in a period of relative abundance… Millenials were born into a world of instant communication, in a time of abundance but lousy starting salaries. Things happen fast now, and millenials have no experience of the slowness of prior times. The Baby Boomer period (’46-’64) is longer than subsequent periods. Because change is happening so fast now, children born in recent decades have a significantly different childhood than the decade before. The time a generation is born into and the generation their parents were born into affect their worldview.

      I can read about millenials in the workplace to get a general idea of ways I might need to shift how our organization operates in order to incorporate the current worldview. I can look at my millenial children and see ways that they interact with the world that are different than how I do, and I can tell sometimes that the difference is generational rather than idiosyncratic. The workplace is continually changed by each new generation of workers, and a wise leader or manager tries to anticipate and work with such changes.

      Each generation has much to contribute to the evolution of the workplace. Look how far we have come from industrial sweatshops and Mad Men offices. Prior generations made those changes happen. The millenial generation is currently shifting leaderhip to a new paradigm where there is growing emphasis on a personally rewarding work environment, where everyone is invited to contribute and have personal responsibility for the shared passion of the organization. It’s very exciting!

      Yes, Baby Boomers will complain about this trait or that, just as our parents complained about us. If the millenial generation has a “sense of entitlement” perhaps it is a positive contrast to the sense of servitude of much earlier generations. We should all feel entitled to a positive workplace experience, and the millenial generation may take us further along that evolutionary path.

      So be proud of your generation! Ignore the negative slights, because they are but one side of a coin, expressed by a different generation born into a different worldview which is struggling to understand yours.

      1. Steve G*

        This paragraph is so good, and would just close down any further millenial conversations: “Things happen fast now, and millenials have no experience of the slowness of prior times. The Baby Boomer period (’46-’64) is longer than subsequent periods. Because change is happening so fast now, children born in recent decades have a significantly different childhood than the decade before. The time a generation is born into and the generation their parents were born into affect their worldview.”

        This quickening of the pace of development does make small age differences now much larger than they are.

        For example, if you look at the changes in pop music between, let’s say 1985 and 1991. We went from “breakdancing” type beats and lots of synth pop and the end of new wave to grunge and the explosion of hip hop and rave. My younger-by-only-a-few years coworkers almost seem to think I am making it up that I remember the first set of music, because they only remember the second. But, yeah, I do remember it going from….Pointer Sisters and Chaka Khan and hair metal to Nirvana in only like 5 or 6 years, even though its totally different music. Music certainly doesn’t change so quick now, but….

        ….when things do change so quick, it’s harder to be lumped in with people even very close in age, because you don’t feel like you had a similar experience. On the other hand, my mom and aunt, born in ’48 and ’54, never discuss feeling different in age in the same way.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It puzzles me because the life experience of someone born in 46 is very different from someone born in 60. Yet all of us “came in at the end of the war.” I think about it in terms of what high school was like in the 50s vs 60s vs 70s. There were huge social differences.
          My parents were born in the 20s and they totally rebelled against those ways of that era. My grandmother actually rode in an “automobile” which was such a horrible/radical act in the minds of her parents. Each generation makes its own modification/improvement on what we are doing.

  7. BB*

    Any good stories about people who started out working in really toxic workplaces but were able to get out into a better place? How did you know when and what to leave for? What kind of things did you use to decide if the new place was right for you?

    1. Cube Diva*

      It’s sometimes hard to tell when you’re in a bad situation, or when your bad situation crosses over into unbearable. I waited WAY too long at OldJob, and it took my mom to say, “you know, it’s almost abusive” for me to try to look at it objectively. I think a lot of it is coping strategies, because you’re stuck until you find something better, and you don’t want to admit that it’s awful. For me, I was having anxiety symptoms every time I saw my boss (and I don’t normally suffer from anxiety on a daily basis). I was also run down, gaining weight and just feeling lousy. I’m sure my relationship stalled, while I was too focused on surviving my job.

      My situation is lucky in hindsight, because I was “let go” from the toxic place, anyway. I wasn’t even mad– just relieved (and thankful we could go for a while without two paychecks)! I spent 6 weeks unemployed, job searching and really taking the time I needed to suss out the right things to apply for. It helped that I didn’t have an awful job to go to every day, but I spent full days at Starbucks writing cover letters, etc. I went through two interviews for my current job, and they were really up front about the job duties, and any potential reservations about me as a candidate. In the end, I went with the first offer I received (despite also being in the interview stage for another position), but it also came with a good gut feeling. And now I’m making 30% more!

      Good luck!!

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        Just a question, no snark. Why doi so many of you go to Starbucks to do your job search prep? Don’t you have public libraries?

        1. Stephanie*

          Starbucks has coffee and food and pretty reliable internet (and you can’t eat or drink in a lot of libraries). They’re also pretty consistent in terms of ambience, so you know what you’re getting no matter where it is.

          The quality of city libraries varies a lot. My city’s libraries are painfully dated-looking and can get overrun with screaming kids. There’s a branch that’s in a storefront in a dying mall that’s particularly bleak. I prefer the neighboring cities’ libraries or the county system. The downtown library is really nice, but the wifi is horrible (and turns into a teenage hangout around 3 pm every weekday).

          I prefer the library myself (and really dislike Starbucks’ burnt coffee), but I’m lucky enough to be in a big metro area that has decent libraries. So I could totally see the appeal of a coffee shop.

          1. Polaris*

            Stephanie nailed it. I prefer a local, independent coffee shop to the nearby libraries because the wifi is more reliable and the atmosphere is better for working: More light, nicer furniture, fewer loud children (and adults), and good espresso.

            Our public libraries are absolutely wonderful and I use many of the libraries’ other services, but I’d rather work on my job search in a different environment.

            1. Fish Microwaver*

              Thanks for the replies. I guess I’m spoilt because my public library is brand new, has reliable wifi, lots of areas with single desks, group desks, booths and rooms. Much to my disgust, people freely eat and drink in there. Totally unsuitalble foods too like shakes, fries, donuts etc.

        2. Danis S*

          I really hate job searching, so I go to Starbucks (or any other coffee shop) to make it a little more pleasant experience. It’s a way to bribe/reward myself. Same reason I used to study in coffee shops.

          I’ve gone to the library instead when I was really broke, and it worked just fine, but it was less relaxing and enjoyable. The plus side was that I could print/scan/fax at the library if I needed to.

    2. Just a Reader*

      I left an 8-year stint in a toxic workplace and 2 years ago landed in my current workplace.

      I knew when it was time to leave the day my boss told me nobody liked me. And that was reinforced the day he screamed at me in the middle of the office, in front of everyone, for something that wasn’t my fault.

      I thought about what I did and didn’t like about the work that I was doing at that time, talked to people in the field and narrowed down my list of requirements for my next job. I was far along enough in my career that these were very specific and there weren’t a lot of jobs that matched what I wanted.

      I read a lot of Glassdoor reviews, lots of news, crawled the company’s website for benefits, opportunities, culture, etc. This is a very large company so I also talked to people who worked here or knew people who did. I also asked pointed questions to my interviewers about the team, work/life balance, management/discipline style, etc.

      And I went after the job with everything I had. I ended up getting 2 offers at the same time and that helped me get the salary I wanted.

      Overall, it took me a little more than a year to find my job, but that paid off and it’s an excellent fit.

      Good luck!

    3. Noelle*

      I worked at a toxic job for three years. I’ve mentioned this before, but my boss was absolutely terrible (lots of sexism, sexual harassment, insults about my work, etc.). I knew after about half a year that I needed to get out, but unfortunately it was in 2008 and there were NO jobs available.

      On the plus side, when I started interviewing for other jobs a couple years later, I was able to recognize things to look for/avoid. I was pretty desperate to get out, but I had one job interview that I could tell would be another terrible job. The hiring manager asked me to do a bunch of bizarre tests, and didn’t tell me about them in advance so I was there until 7 that night doing 5 or 6 hours worth of tests. Then, one of the directors bragged about how they fire a lot of their employees, and was very condescending towards me. I never got an offer, but if I had I would have turned it down.

      I knew I’d found a better job when I had an interview process and the people were actually professional and straightforward. I asked a lot about the culture (and talked to someone I knew who used to work there) and used that to determine if it was a good fit. It ended up working out and it was an awesome job. It was amazing both for my career and my self confidence and personal happiness. So just because you’re in a toxic job now doesn’t mean you’ll be there forever!

    4. A Jane*

      I made the same mistake for two jobs. Unfortunately, I ended up in toxic work environments and ended previously great relationships.

      In both cases, the manager that brought me over took great pains to hide the toxic work environment. For example, I talked with only one or two individuals, and sadly, I did not immediately catch the warning signs–dodging questions, uninterested in the hiring process.

      In addition, there were serious financial issues which weren’t immediately apparent because quite frankly, I didn’t know how to ask. In retrospect, I could have looked at the annual report for the first job. For the second job, it was a start-up within a bigger corporation, so not sure how I could have assessed this (maybe someone has suggestions?)

      In both cases, it was that gut feeling of “something isn’t right here”. Unfortunately, in the first case, I wasn’t able to get out soon enough and it resulted in health problems that are now resolved. In the second place, that gut feeling was a good trigger to start job searching now since the it could be awhile before I could get out. I ended up job searching about 7 months into the new job, and was able to leave in the following year.

      Now that I’m in my new job, I know this is a good fit for me. The people are friendly, there’s some resources for professional development, and a sense of actual pride in their work. In addition, the financial health of the organization is strong. I know this could change at any minute, but it’s a good thing to know.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I had a string of toxic workplaces. The problem was that I kept thinking “anything is better than where I am now” so I didn’t research into work environments before I applied.
      The last toxic job, I walked out without anything planned because I was getting really, really sick. (I had savings ready.)

      I know it is the dumbest thing to do, but I talked about why I left my last job when I was interviewing for new jobs. I didn’t want to end up in the same situation again so I laid it all out. After my last phone interview, the HR rep called me back and said she was hesitant, but she said she would have done the same thing in my shoes. I was invited to an interview and was given the job.
      In my “toxic” situation, there was illegal activity, sexual harassment, and HR did nothing, even when I followed all procedures and in the kindest way, brought it to their attention. So it was a bit reasonable to talk about it with future employers. It ensured that I ended up working for a legit, honest organization! (but it is risky to talk bad about past employers!)

    6. LMW*

      I had a job I loved that slowly evolved into a toxic workplace (department) for me over the course of a year — we had a ton of turnover and eventually I was the only member of the original team left. I had a temp boss who hated me and my new boss bought into her prejudice and I just couldn’t win her over (and for the record, every single project I worked on during that period came in on time and under budget). I considered transferring to a different department just to get away from my impossible-to-please boss, but I wasn’t as excited about the new role as I was about the one I was already in. I went and talked to a former team member who was on the new team about the opening…and it took her walking into my office a few days later, shutting the door, and saying “You really need to leave this department and come over by us” to realize how bad things had gotten and how much worse they would get if I stayed. In retrospect, I am really, really lucky that I had a senior colleague who was willing to go to bat for me and help me get into a position where I could prove my worth.

    7. Seal*

      My first job out of college was in an incredibly toxic workplace, where I got stuck for almost 14 years. For about the first 10 years, this job was what I did to support what I thought was my passion in the performing arts. It was stable with good benefits and enough flexibility for me pursue other things outside of work. Plus it was a job I could do very, very well with little effort, something I later found out my coworkers deeply resented. Although it wasn’t a particularly pleasant environment overall, because my priorities were elsewhere I put up with it; compared to most of my performing arts friends who didn’t always have steady work, I had it good.

      Eventually I got burned out on pursuing my passion and came to the realization that I would never be able to make a living in the performing arts. But when I started paying closer attention to my day job, I discovered that people far less capable and competent than me were the ones getting promotions and choice assignments. Why? Because everyone “knew” that I was only working there to pay the bills and had no interest in moving up. That, along with being very good at my job made me the target of a pack of bullies. Between the loss of my passion and realization that my job situation was truly terrible, I feel into a deep depression that only made my situation worse.

      Surprisingly, what got me out of my downward spiral and on to bigger and better things was my job. The building I worked in (a library) was going to be closed for a 2 year renovation, which meant that everyone in it had to be moved to a temporary location. During that time, some people basically curled up in a corner with their heads down, some people stood around wringing their hands, and some people rose to the occasion and made themselves invaluable. I pushed myself to shine and got noticed, not just by the bullies but by the few people who knew what they were doing. As I started feeling better about myself I started to plan my exit strategy. I didn’t know what I was going to do next, just that I had to get out of that place. About a year and a half into the building renovation and after I had bailed my coworkers out of yet another move-related crisis, I was passed over for a promotion most people thought I deserved so I quit on the spot. I took the summer off to clear my head, temped for a few months, then went back to the same organization in a much better role.

      In the decade plus since that time my career has taken off, albeit with quite a bit of work on my part. Getting myself out of that toxic work environment was the best thing I ever did. Granted, many people can’t just up and quit their jobs without having something else lined up; I doubt I would do something that rash today. But because of that experience, I am hyper-aware of workplace bullying and toxic environments, as well as how easy it is to get stuck in a bad job because you’re too afraid that the next place might be worse. Everyone is afraid of change because they’re afraid of the unknown. That’s what you have to get over to move to a better place.

    8. OriginalYup*

      My first permanent full-time job was like an office Apocalypse Now. I tell people stories from there (the two employees found having sex on the conference table during work hours, the coworker who cornered me in the mail room and threatened to beat me up, the manager who stole everything that wasn’t nailed down) and they think I’m making it up. I guess I didn’t really need a reason to leave, I just took the first better job I could find and ran out the door as fast as my little legs could carry me.

      The upside was that everything afterwards was pretty much a step up. It’s harder to be really incensed about someone canceling a meeting or whatever when your last job involved people leaving porn mags in the lunch room and a fistfight in the parking lot.

      1. OhNo*

        Wow, that sounds intense. Now I’m incredibly curious about what other stories you have from that job, because it sounds amazingly dysfunctional.

    9. girlonfire*

      I had a really toxic job for nearly two years that I left about a month ago. It is possible, but it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t want to leave for just anything (that’s what got me into the toxic job in the first place). I did my due diligence, researching companies, only applying to jobs I thought I would truly enjoy, going on interviews and asking questions to learn more about the work culture. I even turned down a job because I was pretty sure the environment was not a good fit for me. Keep in mind that you have a job (if that’s true) and that you’re not required to leave immediately. Just by owning the choice to stay in a bad work situation until you find a really great one can give you a lot of piece of mind. I am loving my new job, and even though it took me about eight months to find it, I wouldn’t change the process at all.

      1. girlonfire*

        Oh, also, Captain Awkward has an excellent post about red flags to look for in your interview — like, do people smile? Is the hiring manager or HR rude? Are people laughing at the water cooler, or all heads down at their desks. It was really useful to me in my search, so I’d recommend checking it out!

      2. Ruffingit*

        Just by owning the choice to stay in a bad work situation until you find a really great one can give you a lot of piece of mind.

        THIS. It’s so true that once you change your perspective, you can cope a lot better. I’ve been in a three seriously toxic job environments and there is a shift in the way you feel when you think of it as something that is paying the bills, but that you don’t have to stay at forever. If you use your off-time to job hunt ferociously, you will feel better. Just knowing you’re doing something to get out makes it easier to be in it sometimes.

    10. Bea W*

      My last workplace was super toxic, and the Big Boss had me in her crosshairs. I got out 2.5 years ago. I was at my last job 2 years and at the 1.5 mark I had a miserable and abusive client making outrageous demands, and Big Boss’ response was to toss us all under the bus, pucker her lips, and sidle up close to his @ss in a futile attempt not to lose his next contract. (The rest of us were convinced he had already decided to go elsewhere, and a sudden demand to complete our work 6 weeks early was a giveaway he was moving on). I was lead on the project and that put me directly in her line of fire.

      I worked my butt off and received not even a thank you from Client or Big Boss. Big Boss had locked onto me as her bully target of the month. I think the point of no return came when my manager told me that if I could just hang in there lay low she would eventually move onto someone else because that is how she was. She would switch targets every couple months, and soon my turn at receiving her wrath would be over and she would move on to someone else.

      It was meant to be comforting, but I was beyond appalled that not only was Big Boss a straight up bully, but that my own manager appeared to find it acceptable and that it was only a problem to the the current target and not anyone else. That was a clear signal to cut and run as soon as I could. I’d been looking a couple months already, but that was the point where I decided I was leaving and had to step up my job search from casual to serious.

      It took 4 months of serious searching and interviews. It was the best move I could have made. My new job turned out to be a great fit for me in every way. My new manager and new Big Boss were awesome (Big Boss is now the only manager). I got a layoff notice 3 months later and it was still worth it. I had ZERO regrets even knowing I’d be out of work a year after I started. Luckily things worked out for me, and I was able to stay on in my current position when another team member resigned for another job a few months later.

      I wasn’t too picky when leaving and not sure I wanted to even stay in my field. I liked the team I interviewed with. The company had a great rep, and the work seemed a good match to my experience and skills. They also offered 25% more than I was making not including the bonus. win-win! Even with the drama of aquisition and nearly losing my job it was by far the best decision. I am happy and feel challenged and like I am learning and growing all the time. I have an excellent manager who cares about her staff and being a good manager. Taking the chance and getting out paid off 10 fold.

    11. Anonathon*

      One of my first jobs post-college was … not toxic, but definitely dysfunctional. This was a well-known (in my city) nonprofit and the staff was great for the most part. But the Board was just not on the ball. They were perusing an insanely expensive project to the detriment of all else, even though everyone knew that it was not going to work. And no one wanted to be the one to speak up and rock the boat. It was nuts. I actually ended up volunteering at another nonprofit on the side — and thus knew exactly what I was getting into when I applied for a job there.

    12. SarahBot*

      I spent 6 years in my old toxic workplace – I had been unhappy there for a really long time, to the point that I would catch myself thinking, on my drive in, “I hope I get in a car accident today so that I don’t go to work.” (Which, in hindsight, was a huge sign that I needed to go.)

      What finally got me out was entering therapy after my dad’s death – part of that process was untangling some really irrational beliefs I had about life (including “it doesn’t matter whether you are happy at your job – what matters is that you have a job and you’re earning money”), which helped me see that I didn’t need to stay there any more.

      I’m really lucky in that my current job is really great and not toxic at all, but – instead of having any great recommendations to make about what to look for to determine if the new place was right – I was super focused on just getting OUT, and keeping the mindset of “if it’s not right for me, I am allowed to find another new job and leave”. (Another one of my irrational life stories was “how can you quit your job? Your loyalty should be to this company, since they’ve employed you all these years” – so telling myself I was allowed to quit and move on if the next one didn’t work out was very liberating and empowering to me.)

    13. zora.dee*

      Just thank you for this question, i am having a very similar problem, and it is really helping reading other people’s thoughts.

    14. Windchime*

      I started working at my first professional job in 1989. For many years, it was a stable and good place to work. Upper management was sane and I had a good manager. After many years, I moved to a department with a kind-hearted but ineffectual manager. I was on a team that did some amazing work and we all worked hard, but we didn’t have an involved manager. One team member stepped in and tried to steer the ship, but that person didn’t have good people skills and the team imploded.

      I moved to a different team; not because I wanted to, but because my old team was disbanding. I was put on a project with an insanely unrealistic timeline and not enough experienced IT people to meet the deadline. It was only because of a last-minute intervention by a couple of people at our sister company that we even partially met the deadline. There was tons of cleanup afterwards. My new team spent most of our time working 12-15 hour days, 7 days a week. We all cried a lot and I was so stressed out that I basically hated my life. One night I was working at home and I was so tired that I literally fell off my chair.

      About this time, our sister company had a team with an opening that they needed to fill quickly. Someone on that team that I had worked with before recommended me and they gave me a call. Because I was so stressed out, I was ready for the change and I kept at the chance. So on one day I was crying and stressed and upset, and literally 4 weeks later I was working at a new job in Seattle (over 100 miles from my home….a co-worker graciously put me up during the week until I could sell my house). I realize how incredibly lucky I am that this fell into my lap.

      I have never, ever regretted it. NewJob is a company with supportive leadership, good pay and benefits, and a realistic idea of what work/life balance should look like. I still work really hard and am challenged every day, but the difference is that I don’t feel like I am on a runaway train with no one at the wheel; this is a well-oiled machine that is being steered by people with experience and good judgement.

  8. Sunflower*

    For people who have jobs but are seriously job hunting: I REALLY need to buckle down- things at my company are spiraling out of control and I need to get serious. Like apply to at least a few jobs a week. Problem is, summer is also approaching and I’ll be away almost every weekend and have more stuff going on in general. So I need some sort of job search plan for both finding and applying for jobs as well as staying motivated. Any advice or tips on how to do this and schedule it into my life around other activities?

    1. CAA*

      Put it on your calendar to block out an hour 3 times a week. If something else comes up, you have to reschedule the job search appointment before you can accept the new invite. (Of course, if anyone else can see your calendar, you might want to make up some other name for that recurring appointment.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Even an hour a day will work. Pick a time when you’re likely to be less busy (but still awake).

      Then take a little time to get organized before you begin. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of all your applications, because if you’re busy, you’ll forget stuff. When you apply to a job, create a PDF of the online listing in case they take it down later (if you don’t have Acrobat, get Cute PDF Writer; it’s free). Put it in a folder so you can find them all again.

      This helped me a lot. Even though I wasn’t working when I was applying, it kept me focused because everything wasn’t so scattershot.

    3. A Jane*

      For me, the bulk of the work was related to cleaning up my resume and figuring out where to apply. Plan for the resume cleaning before the summer hits.

    4. Sasha Fierce*

      I have a full-time job and feel your pain. My motivation: I tell myself, I won’t get any calls if I don’t send any resumes! It seems really obvious typing it out, but somehow putting it in those terms to myself gives me the needed kick in the butt to get serious.

  9. Confuzzled*

    I have sort of a conundrum. I’ve come across my unofficial personnel file in my department (official one resides in HR) and saw memos and other letters regarding my performance where I’ve made errors. I was never confronted about these issues so I can address and correct them. When I approached my manager and told him I’d like it if he’d raise issues with me as they happen, he subsequently “denied” all employees access to their files from now on. When I asked HR about it, they said this is totally fine, as it is an “unofficial” file and belongs to my manager. Any thoughts on whether this is right, and also what to do if my manager refuses to be transparent with me regarding performance? I’d hate to have a negative review based on these items, especially if I don’t know and can’t correct behavior.

    1. fposte*

      Okay, they’re being dumb. But: file access is legislated state by state; even if it’s an “official” file it’s quite possible they’re not legally required for you to have access to it. (If you’re in a state where the law does provide access, I doubt that merely calling it “unofficial” will get them off the hook.) Nolo.com is one place that has an overview of laws on the topic.

      I’d worry less about the file and more about your manager’s concerns. Can you initiate check-in meetings for feedback, since your manager seems not to be doing so?

      1. Confuzzled*

        Thanks so much for the website, I’ll look into my states regulations. The weird thing is that I receive verbal praise all the time. Even my past evaluations have been stellar, it just seems that he is fixated on these minute details and seems to be obsessed with keeping track of minor mistakes, not larger pattern/behavioral issues. So as my name suggests, I’m very confuzzled. When I asked for transparency/scheduled meetings for regular feedback both good and bad I was blown off so I’m at a loss.

        1. Chriama*

          I think you just need to document your requests and his responses. Instead of requesting a sit-down meeting, send an email requesting a brief reply.

        2. MaggieMae Teapot*

          Perhaps they’re notes so he knows where to retrain you, hence why you’re not being reprimanded for them. To him they’re just educational gaps, not ‘mistakes’?

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            I think this could be it. He could also be tracking errors SO THAT he can see whether or not there is a pattern… If he’s managing multiple people, it could be that he just likes to keep track of things in ways that are easy to reference later, so he’s not overlooking a lot of small errors based on a vague idea of the ‘big picture’ being fine, or vice versa.

            And really, if that’s the case, I could see him not wanting you to have access to that (if he considers them more his personal notes on your performance), and I could also see not telling you about every single mistake you’ve made that he’s caught.

            Which also makes sense to me. If they are major things that you’re doing wrong over and over, then yeah, it sucks that he’s not being more transparent with you. But if he’s making notes about minor errors and giving you good reviews, it’s probably because he doesn’t think the errors are a big deal individually, and just wants to keep n eye on things in aggregate.

    2. Chriama*

      The bigger concern is that your manager is building a file of performance issues and not discussing them with you. And when confronted, he’d rather deny he has any concerns than actually address them with you. You need to find a better job with a better manager. In the meantime though, have a conversation with him about wanting more feedback in general, and make a point of checking in with him more regularly (e.g. every other week, you email him a summary of what you’re working on and what you’ve accomplished and ask for his perspective).

      1. Chriama*

        Also, if you’re worried about a negative review based on these issues, make sure to document your requests for feedback (which is why I suggested a regular email rather than sit-down meeting). If you can show that you regularly and proactively sought feedback, it’ll be harder for boss to justify a bad review to HR.

        1. Confuzzled*

          Great advice! Thanks so much, I think that def my boss has some issues that I’d rather not be involved with so moving on might be the best option. In the meantime it’s clear that a paper trail is my best bet, so email requests are harder to look over. I’ll try that and see how it works!

          1. SCW*

            You may also what to look at how you’ve received feedback in the past. Sometimes people respond so poorly to feedback that it makes manager’s hesitate to talk about small things, and means they wait until they can’t help it. It isn’t a good practice, but look at yourself and see if you are actively seeking out feedback and responding appropriately when you receive it.

    3. Rachel - HR*

      Your HR department is correct. It is very common for supervisors to have their own supervision notes that do not go in employee’s official files.

      Your manager should have never had open access to those files so it’s not surprising that it was taken away once pointed out.

      Your manager may be documenting small mistakes for many reasons. For example, I started documenting when one of employees changed their schedule so that I would have quantifiable notes to allow me an objective view to see if it was occurring too many times (rather than my perception on certain days when I’m frustrated) . I haven’t addressed it with her yet because I’m not sure there is anything to address at this point. Similarly, it could be that someone else has told your manager they think you make frequent mistakes and your manager wants to start tracking to see if it is something he needs to address or if he needs to go back and address that person’s perception.

      The big problem here is your manager not responding to your request for frequent supervision. This may just be because he was taken off guard when you saw the notes and he’s being defensive. I would let what you saw in the file go but approach him again in the future about setting up frequent supervision (without mentioning the file).

      1. Confuzzled*

        Thanks for your perspective. What’s strange to me is that I’ve had regular access to my file before, he’s even shown me other employee’s files. It only became an issue when I noticed the strange track keeping of minor issues that was new to me, and when I asked for more regular feedback I was met with a defensive attitude and the denial of access. But I think to take away from this is that we need to get on the same page regarding performance and expectations.

        1. Jean*

          Why did he show you other employee’s files? He may have had a good reason but my immediate reaction was the klaxon-blasting bleating of my red flag alert monitor.

          1. Confuzzled*

            To Jean and MaggieMae Teapot – because he’s an inappropriate, unprofessional guy w/ discretion issues. I told him I didn’t feel comfortable seeing these documents, as I am office manager, however not those employees’ direct supervisor.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              And because he is unprofessional he is taking your comment to the extreme of not showing you anything.
              ugh. Okay guess you know are keenly aware that he does not respond well to remarks that might be correcting in nature.
              The best you can do is be a professional yourself and act like you expect him to be professional, too.

  10. Adam*

    I have a question: how do people generally schedule time off for interviews during work hours when they have to be specific for time reporting purposes? My current employer is pretty cool with approving time off when needed but it does need to be reported to the half hour of what kind of leave it is, i.e. sick leave, vacation time, emergency travel time, etc.

    How do people usually go about this (assuming of course your current employer doesn’t know you’re looking for other opportunities)?

    1. Celeste*

      I always just put in for vacation and said I had an appointment I had to go to. There are so many services you can only receive during work hours that most people won’t press you.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      If you cant’ do it before or after work, I usually try to do it around lunch and say I have an “appointment.” Usually that means I take sick time for it as that can be used for doctor’s appointments, I just don’t elaborate…

    3. Stephanie*

      You could just put in vacation time, right? I can’t imagine they’d ask why you’re taking vacation time.

    4. Adam*

      Yeah, I figured I’d either do sick or vacation time. Probably sick since I have that up the yin yang.

    5. Mints*

      Fake appointments usually: broken dishwasher, AC/heater, dentist, apartment inspections, veterinarian, delivery
      This is for when I plan to go to back to work after, but if it’s a scheduled enough in advance, I can just do a vacation day

    6. Davey1983*

      I use vacation time, and if pressed explain I have a personal appointment (though, I’m rarely asked why I’m taking time off). I have taken the entire day off to avoid giving explanations for why I only need an hour or two. I explain that I’m taking a day trip with my family (which is true enough, I just don’t mention the interview in the morning). Fortunately, I only had to do this with one boss.

      I know many who use sick leave, but that doesn’t feel ethical to me as I’m not sick, nor is my appointment for a doctor, dentist, etc.

  11. Random Reader*

    Woohoo open thread! I’m in a bit of a pickle… I have to be out of my apartment by May 31st but can’t move in until June 1st. The way both landlords are talking, it doesn’t seem like either have any flexibility. Has anyone run into this situation in the past? I was thinking of renting a UHaul, loading my stuff on there, sleeping at a friends house, and then having movers move my stuff the next day. I live in Chicago and I’d be moving to a new place a couple blocks away.

    *Apologies if this seems jumbled… I’m in a bit of a cough syrup haze.

    1. Celeste*

      That’s about all you can do when there isn’t any way to get in early. Good luck with everything!

    2. Random Reader*

      A follow up question- I don’t know who would be the right part of government to ask this, but how do I go about getting a permit for overnight street parking for a UHaul in Chicago? I have guest passes, but I don’t think those will cut it.

      1. fposte*

        You might have better luck parking it in a paid garage, though I’d want one with decent security.

      2. Celeste*

        Do you know anybody who has a house and would let you park in their driveway or garage? The only other idea is stay at a hotel and use the parking lot, but then you have the worry about security. Although, people moving across several states have to do that. Be sure and have a lock for it, I don’t believe they’re included.

      3. Tris Prior*

        I am fairly certain we parked ours overnight on the street and just slapped a temporary pass on it, without issue. (in Lakeview, no less, where parking’s a total nightmare as you probably know!) But, that was about 7 years ago. Maybe worth a call to the alderman’s office to double check?

        (also, fistbump of Chicago moving solidarity. Getting the timing right of our imminent move has also been a total nightmare.)

      4. AndersonDarling*

        Normally you would talk to the police precinct that patrols the area. They would be the ones who would ticket the truck. If you get their OK, you should be good.

      5. Kit M.*

        I parked a UHaul for two days and nights in Logan Square, without any kind of permit, and had no problems. Obviously I may have just been lucky.

    3. Bryan*

      Just careful where you park it, all of your belongings are in a truck that can be stolen or are just guarded by a pad lock.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I think this is your best bet. This is essentially what we did a couple years ago when we moved, although the timeline was longer. We had to be out of our old house on June 15th, and could not get into our new place until JULY 15th.

      But we did the same thing. The movers came and got our stuff, and then we had it stored at their facility for $30/day. It was not too bad because they would only charge for the first 10 days, and then give you the rest of the month for free.

      We stayed in a hotel for a few days, then with one friend for a couple weeks, and then some other friends for another couple weeks. For some reason I’d thought we could just stay at an extended-stay hotel, but then when I started looking into that, I realized it would be about $2500. Ack! Thankfully we had some very generous friends who opened their homes to us.

      It was the summer of homelessness, with my husband, our 14 year-old, our 3-year old, our 2 dogs and me. I will say that very few things in life have ever felt as good as that first night in my own bed at the new house!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Oh — and best of luck with your move. Whether you’re moving 2 blocks or thousands of miles, it’s always a huge pain!

      2. Ruffingit*

        You totally have awesome friends if they let you, your husband, two kids, and two dogs stay with you. Hope you sent them a fruit basket. Or a ton of wine. Or both :)

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Well we did board the dogs, which cost a fortune, so that’s why I was balking at the thought of paying so much for us to stay in a hotel. But still — awesome friends! And yes, we did definitely make sure to buy them some thank you gifts.

          The first friend is someone I’ve been friends with since college, and we were roommates years ago. He still lives in the same house (although it’s been completely renovated) so it was definitely a walk down memory lane. He is pretty much the gayest man on earth, and his house is full of lovely, breakable crystal and other things. I spent the whole time there following my 3 year old around saying, “Don’t touch!” Miraculously, nothing got broken. I bought him a crystal wine decanter and a crystal wine stopper in the shape of a skull (he is very into Halloween).

          The second set of kind souls was another friend of mine from college, her partner, and their 2 daughters. So my poor husband was trapped in a house for 2 weeks with 7 chicks — the four of them, plus our 2 daughters and me. When I told my friend that I’d asked him he’d be OK with staying in an estrogen palace for that long, she laughed and said there was probably more testosterone at their house than there was at our other friends house. Ha!! I assigned the thank you gift purchases to him and said I could shop for gay men all day long, but was drawing a blank about what to get for 2 gay women. Neither one of them are super girly types. They are huge hockey fanatics, so he bought them some really cool sports memorabilia, which they loved.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Sounds like cool friends and you guys were cool right back with getting them nice gifts they would like! :)

    5. Judy*

      Could you do one of those PODs things? And pay them to keep it overnight? Or maybe several nights if it makes it work better for you?

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve had ridiculous dealings with PODs, so be careful. In general, the closer you are to a major population center, the better your experience is likely to be with them.

    6. Jennifer*

      This happens every year in my town because 99% of leases do this. You end up having to rent a UHaul or storage space (if you can get any) or stashing it all in your car or a friend’s house overnight.

      1. Zahra*

        In Quebec, most of the leases finish on June 30th and start July 1st (an old law changed the end-date of leases for one year from April 30 to June 30 and since leases are usually 12 months, it stuck). Usually, everyone moves on the 1st and coordinates with the last/next renters of the apartment so your place is empty before the next person moves in.

    7. Mondays*

      I’m a landlord. They have very little recourse if you over stay a day. Sure, it is a jerk thing to do but they can’t get a court order and kick you out that quick. I’d just stay the extra day. Let the landlord yell at you. That’s all he/she can really do.

      1. Lab Tech*

        Be sure to read the lease carefully if you chose this option. There’s usually a fee involved (expensive, but potentially worth not not having to move twice and get a hotel). However, watch out for clauses that state staying over the last day of the lease constitutes a lease renewal for another term. (Apparently this has happened before in my area, where leases typically are a year long.)

      2. Grey*

        I’m manage apartment properties as well, and this is exactly right. Just go ahead and stay the extra night. All your landlord can do is deduct one day’s worth of rent from the security deposit he has. Residents do this all the time. It’s not a big deal.

        Of course, check your lease like Lab Tech says, just to make sure there’s nothing sneaky in there.

    8. AmyNYC*

      That’s exactly what I did when I moved. I kept peering out the window to make sure my truck-o-stuff was still there!

  12. Candy Floss*

    I am gainfully employed, making a good amount of money but as with any job, there are things that could be better and there are a few specifics things about my job that have me keeping my eyes opens for a new one.

    And I know I am preaching to the choir on this site when I complain about this but good lord, the process of applying for jobs is BRUTAL. I cannot imagine how depressing and frustrating it would be if I were in position where I NEEDED a job and I was seeing this kind of behavior.

    Case in point this week: I submitted an online application and received an email Weds from an HR rep saying he wanted to set up a time for a phone interview “this week” and could I let him know what times I was available. I replied on Weds with my available times for Thursday and Friday and here I sit on Friday – never heard back. It’s just SO. EFFING. RUDE.

    And it happened a few months ago too with another company – HR rep contacts me for availability; I supply it; I don’t hear back. Two different HR reps from that company contacted me a total of THREE times via email over the course of a month to get times for my availability for a phone interview and yet there never was one scheduled.

    I have been unemployed and looking for a job in the past, but it was about 8 years ago, and it just wasn’t this bad – companies were better about this stuff then. I’m not saying they were stellar at follow-up back then, but it was not nearly as bad as what I see now. The lack of respect for candidates is shameful.

    SHAMEFUL, I SAY!

    1. Calla*

      I had the same thing happen to me! Contacted on a Monday for a phone interview “over the next week,” gave a Wednesday, Thursday, and Tuesday the following week. Followed up on Wednesday. Didn’t get a response until Friday.

      I also had a phone interview a month ago, followed up after about 2 weeks, and still haven’t heard back — but the position is still showing as open and I’m still in “Interview stage” on the ATS so who knows, maybe they’re just taking a really long time.

      Fortunately, like you, I’m employed (though actively searching) so these cases aren’t as devastating as they could be!

      1. Lucy*

        When I had just graduated from college, I had a phone interview scheduled and the interviewer never called. I called her 15-ish minutes after our call was scheduled to start, and she HUNG UP on me! I was floored.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      That is so strange! I mean, I would figure that the HR rep would tell you when SHE is available and to choose one of those times.

      Sometimes I feel like they do these things to shrink their candidate pool, “Whoever is available on Wed between 1:00 and 2:00 get the interview!”

  13. Lucy*

    I need to vent for a second about online application system pre-screening nonsense. I found a job at a university that I was really excited about. One of the pre-screen questions asked “Do you have 3 years’ PR or journalism experience,” which technically I don’t have. I checked “no,” realized it was probably a trigger, and decided to change it back to “yes” just to get through the filter. Unfortunately once I uploaded my documents, the system wouldn’t let me go back, and I got a message saying that I did not meet the basic qualifications, and that was that.

    I spent two hours preparing an application including writing samples and cover letter, only to have it all rejected in a flash. Ugh.

    1. Sunflower*

      Those things are so dumb. I usually end up just checking yes because I figure I’m not sure they even really read those questions as they’re more focused on your resume/writing samples

    2. FundraiserWriterProf*

      This has happened to me before. Call the HR dept and ask them to allow you to resubmit. I don’t know how much you “technically” don’t meet the 3 years requirement but with recent studies that show most guys apply for jobs even if they are only 60% qualified (or something like that) I’d recommend you check the box to get your foot in the door. On the other hand, if a university posts a requirement like that as a check box it means they are pretty serious about it.

      1. Lucy*

        Thanks! It’s a medical communications position, and I have five years of research grant administration and events- experience I totally believe is relevant to the job. I just hate the black and white dismissal of it- I don’t want to seem like I’m circumventing their credentials, but I do feel I’m qualified!

        1. Ruffingit*

          University hiring is insane sometimes. I had a friend who was working at our old grad school in a temporary position while they looked to hire someone permanently. She wanted to apply for the permanent position doing the job she was currently doing, but was told she didn’t meet the qualifications for the position. WTF?? She was literally doing the exact same job they were hiring for and had received good performance comments and evaluations and yet, she didn’t meet the qualifications for the job. I just can’t even.

      2. Jennifer*

        I honestly think that 60% thing can only perhaps work when you are not dealing with a rigid HR computer system first. By that standard, even men playing fast and loose with how much they qualify for a job wouldn’t be getting in here either.

    3. This is me*

      I want to preface this by saying that my hope in writing this is to make you feel better, not worse.

      I work in higher education (large public university) and we have extremely rigid hiring practices. Even if you were able to get your application past the filter and wow the hiring manager, you may not have been hired anyway. Here’s why: First, for falsifying your application. Second, for not meeting the minimum requirements of the position. In my experience in higher ed, hiring managers can help set the quals for a job but may not retroactively change them after the fact.

      1. Lia*

        Agree 100%. If you managed to get past the filter, here at Large Public Research University, we would bounce your application if we did not see evidence on the resume to back up the filter question. Our filters usually have to do with education levels (i.e., do you have a master’s degree): if an applicant checks “yes” and the resume does not state “master’s in XYZ from U of ABC”, we remove the application from consideration.

      2. Anna*

        Yeah, but then it’s all in how you consider your qualifications. Do you have 3 years PR experience? That’s not what it was called, but as part of my other duties I was required to X, Y, Z, which is like PR, so I’m going to say yes. It’s pretty subjective so I can’t see how it would be considered falsifying.

        1. Lucy*

          That’s totally how I feel! I really appreciate the insight from other people who hire in the field. I don’t exactly feel justified in trying to contact the hiring manager, because I flat-out haven’t worked in PR- but I do feel if given the opportunity I could demonstrate relevant work experience.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      BTDT, university application as well. I got booted for not having a bachelor’s degree, despite having 10 years work experience. I don’t blame the system, but I do want to find the person who decided to put that qualifier in, and kick them in the shins.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Oh! Same thing happened to me! I had been doing the exact (rare) job for 6 years but I didn’t have a degree. I wanted to hand deliver a resume to get around the system, but the University HR Department had no contact info listed anywhere. I mean NO WHERE! I later found out they were in another city!

      2. Lia*

        I can tell you that we put it in for entry level positions to try and cut down on the number of applications we get. I chaired a search once for an admin assistant position and the hiring manager insisted we require a bachelor’s degree. I asked why, since the job could be done with software experience and customer service skills, and was told that it was to reduce the applications. Everyone wants to work for a university, it seems. We still got well over 200 applications that HAD degrees. Had we not included it, manager said, it might have been over 500.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          And no offense to you, because I appreciate that it wasn’t your decision, but this really, really sucks for applicants. I’d be curious to hear if Alison has any recommendations for ways to build in filters that don’t eliminate excellent candidates on the basis of a piece of paper. >/

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes. Your goal in hiring is to find the best person for the job, not to restrict your applicant pool to make it a more manageable size. I doubt that opening it up in this one way would take it from 200 to 500 applications. 200-300 applications is a typical amount to get for most positions, degree required or not.

    5. Jennifer*

      Happens here too. I’m told the HR people hate it, but there’s nothing to be done. You really just cannot apply for a position unless you have 100% of the qualifications and have already done that job before, seriously. People don’t believe me when I tell them this, but it’s true.

      1. Teacher Recruiter*

        We don’t use these automatic filters at my current company, but I have seen them before. I’m not a fan of them because as a hiring manager, I want to decide what is relevant experience and what is not. With that said, I’ve found many candidates who I think place too much importance on transferable skills vs. the real time experience.

        Great example – an employee stopped by my desk this morning to tell me his wife is applying for a role with my team and how her background would be a great asset to the team and what she does now is “just like recruiting.” While the two have similarities, at the end of the day I’ll get enough applicants with actual recruiting experience that she won’t be a very competitive applicant. Not to mention they fight on the phone all the time, so why would I bring that into the office…

    6. Danis S*

      I’m running into the same problem with applications on USAJobs. For example, one question was, “Do you have 2 years of X experience with Y population?” I had the X experience, but it was with a different clientele, so I felt I needed to click ‘no.’

      I tend to be a very honest and literal person, which works against me on these applications. Anybody have tips on how to fill out these wretched things?

      1. Stephanie*

        I just honestly assess if it’d transfer over. If it does, I hit “yes”, even if it’s not the specific experience. It’s clear those things are just to screen out candidates at the application stage.

  14. Virginian*

    Yes! Made it before 10 bajillion comments!

    Earlier this week, I applied for an open until filled position at a university that has been open for a couple of weeks. I know the advice is to get your application in as soon as possible, but I’m still worried that TPTB probably reviewed and began interviewing candidates. It’s for an out of state position to boot. When applying for OUF position, what’s the latest that people have been able to apply and still be interviewed?

    1. Bryan*

      If it makes you feel any better at all my department (at a university) is hiring for a position, we posted it a couple of weeks ago and yesterday we found out that it’s only popping up on some places this week. We are going to repost on some other sites just because the other places are only showing up now. We are still in the gathering candidates phase, haven’t done a phone screen yet.

    2. Lia*

      A former co-worker was just telling me about this situation at my old/her current university. They had three finalists for two positions. After the interviews, one dropped out of the process, one was removed by the director, and one hired…so they went back to the pool for more candidates and one of those got the other opening! The applications there anyways are reviewed until the final offer is accepted, at which point the posting is closed.

      University hiring can move at a snail’s pace. It is not uncommon for some searches to take months. If the posting has only been up for a couple of weeks, it is unlikely IME that they are already interviewing! Go apply!

    3. Virginian*

      That is, the position has been open for a couple of weeks, not the uni. Looks like I need a second cup of coffee.

  15. Apollo*

    Last year during our reviews (we have a three option rating system, excellent, too much of a good thing, and needs improvement). My manager chose a lot of “needs improvement” because he wanted to see me take on bigger projects, gain more responsibility, etc. So instead of judging on my current role, he understood it as a way to show the higher ups that I have potential. Unfortunately, that bumped me down from the excellent rating to the proficient rating in the system that we use. I think I could have gotten a bigger raise if he had done it differently, since HR just looks at the final score.

    The time has rolled around again. Any suggestions on how I can address this concern with him before we submit?

    1. Midge*

      Maybe there is a comment section where your manager could say that you’re great at A, B, and C but he would like to see you add X, Y, and Z to your workload? I don’t really have experience with this sort of thing, but that would strike me as a more reasonable way of conveying that information.

      1. Apollo*

        There actually is a comment section – which is super because I’d probably be upset if I saw that there were these need improvements without seeing the reasoning behind it. For example, one of the questions is “Does Apollo consistently participate in self-development?” and the answer was “needs improvement” and the comments said something along the lines of “I would like to see him gain more experience in company-wide projects and special responsibilities.” Which is a message to upper management, not to me. But it negatively affected my final score.

    2. Steve G*

      That is totally not fair. In my job, we do our own reviews into an electronic system and our boss can change the final scores per section, but your original self-rating still appears. They can also add comments but not delete ours. I work somewhere were 3/5 is the average rating for really good employees, so to make me stand out to get more responsibility, etc., my boss gave me lots of 4s and 5s which bumped me up to almost a 4, which definitely got higher ups attentions, because they wanted to know all about who I was, etc. (since I am at a small satellite office). Your manager needs a talking to this year.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t know if this is happening there (I hope not), but I’ve been at organizations where Managers are told that there isn’t much $$$ for raises and to rate their people poorly to save money. No matter how great you do, you get a crummy review.

      1. Ed Zachary*

        +0.5 (I’d have given +1 but senior management told me to withhold the remainder)

        Not only this but I’ve had senior management say to line managers that even though we achieved 180% of goal and had a super year, everyone had to fit in a normalized bell curve so a lot of above par performers needed to be moved down to par and some par people needed to be moved below par.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Ah, yes.. The dreaded “forced ranking,” which demoralizes high performers. (It’s like they got the idea from Alec Baldwin’s “Always Be Closing” speech in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

          1. Kate*

            Exactly what happens at our company. The management was told that it demotivates people, to which their reply was: ‘On the contrary! It motivates them to work harder!’
            They have some really strange thought-process…

            I mean, you work hard all year around and get an ‘average’ or ‘needs improvement’? How it this motivational? (Sorry for venting. But it seems it’s not unusual at companies, which is really sad if we think about it.)

              1. Stephanie*

                My HS orchestra director had a poster in his office that said “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Considering that he was an already kind of terrifying hard-ass, this didn’t really help to make him seem any more warm and fuzzy.

        2. Bea W*

          Yup. Policy here is everyone is average or “meets expectations”. Where is the incentive to work harder and go above and beyond if you can only ever hope to achieve “meets expectations” ?

      2. MaggieMae Teapot*

        Yup. I worked at that company for several years as a supervisor. I looooooooved telling my staff to work hard all year, just to tell them after ratings that there wasn’t a budget for merit increases, after being told by my leader that it was because there was a smaller pool of funds and the ratings were on an incredibly unfair BELL CURVE. Seriously, there were so many times that my peers and I said ‘what if everybody does well?’, to which we were told that it didn’t matter. The Company didn’t think that it was possible, so everybody had to fit in the bell curve. Even folks that met expectations were knocked down so they met the bell curve.

        One of many reasons I left said Company.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Not everyone does well? Are they saying they don’t know how to hire/train/manage good workers?

          1. Ruffingit*

            Or dump the ones who aren’t doing well?? Seriously, this says more about the business than it does about the employees.

    4. Grey*

      What the heck is “too much of a good thing”, and how is that a step lower than excellent? I’ve never seen that one before.

  16. TheSnarkyB*

    Vague Interviewer Trying to Keep it Short?

    I had an interview this week that seemed like it was going to be very brief. After he asked “Do you have any questions for me?” I had like…. 15, but I tried to only ask the 3-4 most important ones, which took up like 20 minutes including all of his answers.” Only after that, when I asked “Do you have any questions for me?” did he ask any sort of interview questions. A lot of his answers were vague and he seemed like he didn’t have much patience for me to go deeper with a “Can you say more about that?”

    What’s up with this?
    and also, if I get an offer or he calls, how do I go into the extensive questions I have? Think of it as a kind of indefinite contract position, so there’s a lot to be worked out. I’m not sure how or when I’d get paid, who is responsible for getting me work, etc.
    Not sure what to do here and I’m not in the best position to be selective, but I definitely wouldn’t take a position there knowing this little about it.

    1. kas*

      I had a similar experience. My interviewer spent 5 minutes just making random conversation and speaking about the company. She then asked if I had any questions for her, signaling the end of the interview. I had to ASK about the position! She was pretty vague and through one of my questions I learned she was only helping out the owner so she had no real experience/knowledge. Interview was only about 10 minutes …

      Maybe if they call with an offer mention you’d like to ask a few more questions you thought of afterwards? Or if you don’t want to wait until then maybe send an email?

      1. Malissa*

        Oh thank goodness I am not the only one that’s had this experience lately. WTF people? How do you expect to find the right person when you don’t even know what questions to ask?

    2. Kristen*

      This happened to me last week! I hope it’s not becoming a thing. (I was also extra annoyed by the lackluster approach to interviewing b/c I had driven 5 hours to get there and taken a day off work.)

    3. tango*

      I also find this can happen when you’re not someones top candidate. Its like they already have chosen the top one or two who they want but they have to interview so many people total per some company requirement, so rush through the other interviews. If you were to get an offer or a call from him, just ask him those questions.

  17. Bea W*

    Non-work question:
    I am going on vacation half way around the world in a few months. The flight is 11+ hours, and I have horrible back/neck pain issues among other physical things, and am concerned about being stuff into a standard airplane seat overnight for that length of time. The fact that it is overnight both ways just compounds the issue, because that involves some level of sleep deprivation, and the intenary is full and will be physically demanding for me in the heat. I’m considering what I can do to mitigate issues for maximum enjoyment and participation. I could do this type of flight just fine 25 years ago, but now…not so much.

    Am I nuts if I pay an extra $4-5K to change my flight tickets to business class now instead of taking my chances with an upgrade becoming available either through miles or at check in? Or should I take my chance at check in, in which case I’m looking at about dropping $2K if I can upgrade each way just on the long flights? Right now there are still seats. Who knows if there will be seats at check-in.

    I can afford it, but I have thrifty tendencies that also cause much appallation when considering dropping $4K vs. $2K.

    1. Stephanie*

      If you’ve got the funds, I’d go for it! It’s not worth the pain.

      Unsure on this, but do airlines have to make medical accommodations? Like if you have medical needs? Maybe that could get you around the upgrade/change flight fee.

        1. Bea W*

          The change fee is $300 in this case, which would be pretty awful for your average domestic ticket, but at the point where your tickets cost a few thousand dollars or more, it’s doesn’t make much difference.

          1. AVP*

            Oh no I just meant, airlines don’t legally have to make medical accommodations for something like this. [I would definitely pay for the business class, fwiw.]

            1. Bea W*

              I figured that’s what you meant. It was my follow-up on that thread in generally to basically to say, “The fee is so insignificant at this level, it doesn’t matter anyway. (at least not to me $300 was the least of my concern!)”

    2. fposte*

      Ha. I just came back from PT yesterday with a new set of exercises. Weirdly, plane seats are actually pretty good for me, but desk chairs are doom.

      Honestly, since you have it, I’d drop the BC money for the sure thing. If you’re like me, it’s not just a question of how sore you’d be on the plane, it’s how sore you’d be after you got off it and for how long. That’s presuming that you know business class is more comfortable for you on this particular aircraft–a friend of mine actually is less comfortable in some business class seats. I get the “OMG I could have just paid for an upgrade on the day!” remorse that you might fight, but the whole point here is to maximize comfort and relaxation.

      And if you haven’t checked out a PT for a while, try again. I find them kind of like slot machines, but my new one yesterday produced some good new stuff.

      1. Bea W*

        That’s my concern, how much discomfort I would be in after the flight and during the trip. It’s a tour group, and we’ll be out and about a lot, walking, dragging luggage from place to place every couple days. I won’t even discuss how much my back hates squishy hotel beds and pillows. I always pay to check luggage, because lifting anything overhead or having to look up is one of those other things guaranteed to set it off. I have limited range of motion in my neck. I’m always a bit of a knotted mess when I get back from traveling.

        Chiropractor: What did you do?
        Me: I was traveling. (no further explanation needed)

        I’m opposite with the chairs. A good office chair makes a huge difference for me (not a crappy one, a good ergonomic, adjustable office chair) Airline seats are the bain of my existence. I often keep them in the fully upright position, because the normal recline is at an angle that doesn’t agree with my back and I can’t sit like that very long. I also tend to sit on the ABC side, because I like to look out the window, and I can’t keep my head turned to my right more than 5 minutes without regretting it.

        BC seats either lie close to flat or fully flat and have multitudes of positioning options plus the leg/foot rests, which means I can actually doze off and not incur a permanent crick in my neck that sends pain shooting down my arms, or fall forward repeatedly waking myself up, which is somewhat amusing the first time, not as much after that.

        1. fposte*

          I think this is one of those “Why gamble?” things, then. Use the money to make your life better–that’s what it’s for.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I would go for it. If you’re going to be on a plane that long and you know you’ll have issues, then it’s definitely worth the money if you can afford it. You really can’t depend on availability–it’s just too up in the air (sorry).

      For me, it’s legroom; I’m very tall for a woman and I HATE sitting scrunched up. Window seats usually have an inch where the fuselage curves out that I can tuck my legs into, but now that I have more money, I’m sucking it up and either paying for an exit row or a better seat.

    4. Annie O*

      I’d pay the money now and enjoy being treated like a human being in business class. If you need to justify it in your head, think about how much money you’d be *wasting* if you spent your trip in pain because you’d cheaped out on the flight.

      Also, you might want to talk to your doc. I have back problems as well, and I’ve found that taking muscle relaxers on long flights helps a great deal.

      1. Bea W*

        I feel a little bit sad everytime i read this because I am old enough to remember when the price of your economy ticket included a snack and a meal, checking your luggage,and pillows and blankets were given without charge if you asked. You had a choice of meals. I was urprised to find out that now in economy international, they will give you a meal but there are no options. You better like whatever hey are serving or be willing to pay stupid money for a meal upgrade that will give you access to a couple of choices. I also recall getting a goodie bag as a child lying to Disney. Flying has become more and more like being herded like cattle, though i suppose it’s no worse than taking the bus to work except longer and more expensive, and the bus driver doesn’t constantly try to upsell you on things like a regular seat near the door or ridiculously priced snack boxes.

    5. kas*

      I just came back from vacation and was on an 8 hour flight and if I’m ever travelling for that long again, I am definitely upgrading. I don’t have any physical problems and have no issues sitting or standing for long periods of time but on a flight, my right knee was acting up and it was almost painful but felt numb at the same time. It was uncomfortable and it wouldn’t go away no matter how I tried to adjust myself and it happened both ways. I’ve never felt anything like that before and I’ve never had any issues with my knees.

      I say go for the upgrade, it will be worth it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Chiropractor? A chiro might have tips that are tailored to your exact issues.

      My chiro keeps telling me that water is the key to reducing my pain. And it seems to be working. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and commit to using the restroom every few hours. (Am reading every 2-4 hours.) I think just getting up and walking to the restroom gives some relief. And I do know that increasing my water intake has definitely helped.

      1. Bea W*

        I do that already. Dehydration just makes everything worse, and for some reason plane air is very drying. I usually make sure I have a big bottle of water on myself at boarding time. Those miniature ones they give you in coach are ridiculous.

        1. fposte*

          Do heat or cold help you at all? Heat is good for me, and those heat patches that you stick to your skin are great for traveling. My friend swears by cold and loves the squish-activated cold bags. And they’re both medical, so they’re not subject to TSA limits.

          1. Bea W*

            Heat is what works for me. I love those stick-on heat patches! Tiger Balm helps me especially around the neck and shoulders where it’s harder use the patches. I need to add that to my packing list.

    7. Tennessee*

      google ‘long plane ride tips’ for lots of links! something there should be helpful (i’m combing through them now for tips for a similar trip in the next year or so)

    8. BadPlanning*

      Having been on several long flights (10-14 hrs), if you can afford it, bumping out of economy is great idea.

      Otherwise, I would pick an aisle seat and get up and take a stroll around the cabin every 30 minutes or so (if you are awake). Take water every time the attendants offer it. On some long flights, when I take some laps around the plane, they’ll have glasses of water sitting out by one of the flight attendants stations so you can get extra water.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      I flew to Russia on United and they had an option for a kind of Economy Plus seat with a little extra room. I don’t think it was too pricey. But after that trip I seriously considered getting one of those dorkey inflatable pillows that fills up the space on your lap so you can just lean your head forward to sleep.

      But if you can do Business class, well, it is super swankey on those overseas flights! It is worth it!

      1. Bea W*

        I need something that will hold my body in place seated so that i don’t fall over and startle myself awake. I have one of those neck pillows to support my cranky neck, but it doesn’t prevent me from falling forward.

    10. KellyK*

      Not nuts at all. If you can afford it, go for it. (If it makes you feel better, think of it as not really being 2k, but 2k minus whatever you’d spend on more chiro appointments, meds, or whatever if you don’t take it. Plus, it seems like wasting the thousands you’re already spending on the vacation if you hurt too much to enjoy it.)

    11. Anonsie*

      Get a massage the evening before your flight (or morning of, if your flight is later in the day). It will help immensely. I’ve done this before I have a big day doing things that will aggravate my back, including before surgery, and it REALLY does the trick.

    12. Bea W*

      Update: I want to thank everyone for the advice and encouragement, which helped, and after I saw that these were the fully flat seats that kind of pushed me more toward parting with $4,000. After talking with a couple friends, I decided to change my ticket, and here’s the best part…

      It only cost me $2800 extra! The first quote the customer service agent got was still the same price from yesterday, $4000 extra on top of what I had already paid. I told her I knew already it would cost that much and still wanted to change the ticket. She then put me on hold again to communicate to whomever to book the ticket, and when she came back she had great news. She was able to book the ticket at a total cost of $4200, and that meant I my additional cost was now down to $2400! I was ecstatic. Upgrading at check-in would have cost me as much as $900 each way on the international flights, and would not include upgrading my connecting domestic flights (which are short hops, so I don’t care). Now I am traveling first class on my domestic connections and business on the long haul international flights, and I am very excited. I really enjoy the frivolity of international business class. I used to travel a lot in a former job, and still fly domestic at least twice a year for fun trips. After spending so much time in cattle class, I feel so pampered when I get to fly in the swanky section of the plane, and you get your own speedy short lines at check-in, security, and boarding, which is super awesome for international where the lines are ridiculous. (Though I kind of feel guilty like it’s cuttsies, and no one likes a line cutter!)

      SQUEEE!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        We booked those seats — the ones that lie fully flat in business class — on our honeymoon and had a similar thing happen with the price, and it was WELL WORTH IT. We didn’t want the flight to end, actually. (However, we’re now totally spoiled and don’t want to fly coach ever again, which isn’t exactly feasible.

        1. Bea W*

          That’s the biggest downside. I flew once because it is the default mode of traveling for business where I work if it is an international flight greater than 6 hours. Now I will be forever tormented by what I know I am missing every time I fly. I don’t even care about the other amenities. I bring my own food and drink (okay, I can’t bring the ice cream) and entertainment. I’d be happy with just the seat, pillow, and blanket. They could call it Bed Class.

  18. NoNameForThis*

    Only semi work related but thought this nice group of people can help! My friend is going through a really rough time- I think she needs to see a therapist but she keeps deflecting when I bring it up. She lost her job- she wanted to quit but ended up being asked to leave and is now unemployed. She is struggling with that a lot as well as a very strong negative body image. She was recently diagnosed with a disease that causes crazy weight gain. She texts me almost everyday to complain about something and I try to be supportive but honestly, this is completely out of my control- I truly believe nothing I say can change her way of thinking and only a counselor can help her. I’ve read every article about how to convince a friend to get help. When I asked if she’s thought about seeing someone, she doesn’t even address it and acts like I never said it at all. I know it’s not money because she has mentioned before she is not worried about paying bills, only about figuring out what she wants to do with her life. She knows I see a therapist and I’ve been very open with her about how helpful it has been. She was very happy for me when I started to see someone so I don’t understand why she is rejecting this so much. I’m struggling because I really do care and want to help but I’m tiring of her complaining all day, every day and not doing a thing to change it. I’m on my last leg here! Anyone have experience with this?

    TL:DR- how do I convince my friend to at least think about seeing a therapist

    1. fposte*

      You know the answer is “You can’t,” I bet. There’s really no way to make somebody else do something if they really don’t want to.

      If she’s a good enough friend, though, you can try to have a real conversation about this: “You sound so unhappy, and I can’t help you in the way that I’d like to be able to. Is there a reason you don’t want to see a therapist, or is there an obstacle to going that I can help with?”

      And I think you can bow out of supporting every repetition of the same complaint; it might also be helpful to find positive, costless or low-cost things you can do together and see if that gives you two something else to talk about.

      1. Customer Service Quality*

        I like this.

        There’s also the “what do you think you’ll do about that?” response if she is complaining about the same thing over and over.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        That was exactly what I was thinking. Sometimes people aren’t ready to change. They will eventually get there, but you can’t do anything to speed up the process.

      3. NoNameForThis*

        You are so right. I know the answer is that I can’t but of course, i can’t stop trying. I really like what you said about what to say to her. It will at least force her to acknowledge what I’ve suggested. Unfortunately she is a college friend that lives 1,000+ miles away so our communication is mostly over the phone. But I also agree that I’m going to stop supporting the constant same complaints. Maybe just answer with a “I’m sorry, I wish I could help’

        I think I feel an obligation to her because in college I was going through a really tough breakup and she listened to me complain about it over and over again. However, I also started seeing a therapist during that time and that was really the main thing that got me through it so you can see why I think she would majority benefit from it

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You can point that out to her that you know you were complaining too much so you sought professional help.

          Really, friends don’t use friends as dumps. “Here let me dump off today’s problems so I can keep doing the same thing tomorrow.”
          Insist that she has a quality of life issue that must be addressed by a professional.

      4. C average*

        My father-in-law the psychologist has a favorite joke: “How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?” “Just one, but the light bulb has to WANT to change.”

    2. Bryan*

      I think fposte has some good wording to bring it up.

      You can also tell her that her complaining is exhausting you. Friends are there for each other but that doesn’t give her a license to kill.

    3. BadPlanning*

      Do you have any mutual friends? Maybe one of them should suggest the same — not that you should gossip about the trouble friend — but sometimes you need to hear a suggestion from fresh ears before it starts to sink in.

  19. Dana*

    I was wondering what the best techniques for training customer service are that others have come across?

    I work in a call center type environment and we do a pretty basic Customer Service / Dealing With Upset Customer slideshow during the initial training. I don’t know if its the weather, the economy or just the toll of work, but we can not seem to get our reps to provide the outstanding, outgoing customer service that is required. We audit calls and work on tone, empathy, ect but what can we do to really motivate them? They aren’t being rude, just not overly friendly or caring.

    I was wondering what other companies turn to.

    Thanks!

    1. Sabrina*

      I’m not a trainer or anything, but I’ve had 2 call center jobs. One didn’t even have a slide show about irate customers. The other had a whole day of training devoted to it, with role playing and handouts. Plus review every day for the rest of training of that and all topics.

    2. kas*

      I’ve worked for a company that had two meetings a month, with your manager. You were marked/graded on calls and knew those grades affected raises/promotions/etc so everyone worked on their tone, empathy etc. Plus you didn’t want your manager to tell you the same thing every month so you always tried to improve. The environment was also pretty easy going and laid back so it’s not like we necessarily dreaded going in every day.

      Maybe it’s also the hiring process? The managers where I worked seemed to pick the same type of people/work ethic somehow. Everyone was pretty friendly on calls even if we hated working in a call centre environment or the customer we were speaking to. Also, are there enough associates? Are they taking back-to-back calls or do they get a breather? I know that when it was busier and the calls were constantly coming in, it definitely affected our tone.

      1. LPBB*

        You touched on one of my pet peeves. There is a perception that customer service is a job that anyone can do because it’s just common sense. That’s not actually true. You have to have a certain mindset to do the job and not everyone has it or is willing to develop it. I did customer service for YEARS before I got into the proper headspace to be good at the job. I think too many companies hire and train with this thought in mind and then are shocked by a poor outcome.

        For the OP: I agree with Steve G about empowering your CSRs if at all possible. Also, do your CSRs feel as though their supervisors have their backs? There is nothing more dispiriting than trying to enforce a policy with a customer only to have your supervisor give in to the customer’s demands when the call is escalated.

    3. Customer Service Quality*

      How are they rewarded (with good evaluations, bonuses, swag, etc.)? In my experience, you get the behaviour you reward.

      Also, Corporate Executive Board has a series on reinventing the customer experience – if your company is a member, I’d check it out.

    4. Steve G*

      I was a CSR for about a year at 2 different places….the trainings were not adequate so my #1 peice of advice on training is: Don’t not get into the technical details of the job and keep saying “those will come later.” It doesn’t matter if a CSR is polite if they can’t help a customer.

      But this doesn’t sound like a training issue. CSR reps used to make good money but their rates have been the same for years, so the jobs are attracting less experienced and professional candidates, from my experience. My friend manages a 20 person call center and his biggest issue is finding people with business acumen, great communication skills, etc. etc. who would work for only $14-16/hr in NYC, which is like minimum wage here. Maybe your company needs to look into compensation and bonus structures?

      Let me tell you, in my office, the lowest paid person makes around $45K and when we have to do seasonal outbound call “campaigns” and have alot of phone calls going on, everyone is super upbeat, helpful, and professional, and cheerful. That is mostly because they aren’t sitting there thinking about where they can find a lunch they can afford or how to make rent.

      Also, many call centers have rediculous behavior rules (counting bathroom trips, can’t be 3 seconds late) that may need to be dropped at your organization.

      1. Steve G*

        You also need to look into whether you give CSRs the actual tools to help customers. If every little decision needs to be escalated to a MGR, and the MGRs don’t like escalated calls….then the CSRs are going to be nervous all day, hoping the callers don’t want something too complicated. If they are empowered to actually help customers (for example, you let them give out sales + refunds up to a certain $ amount) they might feel more powerful and be more cheery/confident on the phone.

        1. OriginalEmma*

          +1. I worked in the call center of a Medicaid HMO performing outbound outreach calls. We were graded on numbers. How many calls we made and how many of those calls resulted in talking to the beneficiary. Which is a problem when your beneficiary group is almost exclusively made up of low-income individuals whose phone numbers constantly change due to using cell phones.

          We were hounded to make the calls and slammed by our VP for not succeeding, and when we explained that we couldn’t make the cut because so many numbers were disconnected/wrong, her response was “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” I understand that no manager or executive wants complaints without solutions but c’mon…how are call center weenies supposed to solve that problem?

          I left after a year and 1 month at that job.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I’m going to second this. I worked at a telefundraising office, which is similar in some ways and different in others from a call center, and you could cut the financial anxiety with a knife. And there were always weird control issues about the restrooms, which sucks when you have to drink tons of liquid just to not lose your voice talking all day…

    5. Jennifer*

      Well, call centers are generally considered to be one of the circles of hell because the employees are being paid to be screamed at on the phone. What on earth can you do to motivate them besides threaten to fire them and thus they lose the paycheck? I can say from some related experience that getting yelled at a lot is what did it for me. Even when I am trying to be nice, apparently I have “bitchy resting voice,” so I got into trouble a lot for “not caring.”

      Now I answer the phone in SUCH a perky way that it makes me want to gag, but it makes customers happy. I think you’ll need to drill it into them that they can’t be “themselves” on the job, they need to be fake perky and happy at all times. Create a fake personality, if you will.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be fake perky and happy again for the next four hours…

      (This sounds like I’m being mean or snarky in this answer, but I’m really not. This is exactly what I’ve had to do to stay employed.)

    6. AVP*

      I worked on a documentary about outstanding customer service a few years ago. What we found (from asking people who are with the absolutely best brands in the world for this) is that they key to great customer service are:

      1. Hiring the right people. I know it’s a call center, but do you hire people who demonstrate empathy and professionalism? Not everyone can be trained into that.

      2. Rewarding it. Both in terms of actual tangible rewards (bonuses, etc.) and not penalizing them for going out of their way (are you both asking people to provide great customer service but also grading them on how many calls they can take per shift? That ain’t gonna work.)

    7. EA*

      If you do customer feedback surveys, let your customer service reps see the feedback direct from the customers. If your survey has a way to provide free-form feedback, that’s even better. Let them see both the positive and the negative, but if there’s a negative comment, remove any information that can identify the individual rep, and speak with them privately.

      Also, if you have sample calls you can let them listen to, play an example of a “bad” call, an “ok” call, and an “excellent” call, without identifying them as such, and see if they can pick out the “excellent” call, and what makes it “excellent”.

      And, a second to the commenter that mentioned empowering your employees. When I was a front desk clerk at a hotel, I was empowered to compensate guests up to a certain amount without needing approval from a supervisor or manager. If I wanted to go higher than that, the supervisors and managers usually wanted to talk to the guests as well, but they would back me up and issue what we felt was fair compensation to the guest.

  20. Ash (the other one!)*

    Question 2 —

    This relates to being known as a millenial as well as issues of prejudging skills based on age rather than experience.

    How do people feel about leaving graduation years off of the resume? I had one recruiter skip over all of my experience to look at when I graduated college to say “oh, 7 years out, that puts you at a level X.” I’m thinking if I leave the years off they actually have to look at me as a whole package at least in initial review.

    My age is publicly out there and they could easily figure it out based on my work experience in different cities (I worked for my college and then my grad school), but I think its a huge “hi, I am only 28” flag to have when I got my BA and my PhD on my resume.

    1. Virginian*

      I know that some older people leave off their graduation years on their resume, but honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it. If you get to the in-person interview stage, they’d probably be able to guess your age range and if they wanted to put you out of the running, they could do so after that. Or they could eliminate you from the hiring process for having a Ph.D and being overqualified (in their opinion.) Let your work history and accomplishment speak for itself.

    2. Alicia*

      Right there with you. I am 28, with a BSc and a PhD. I ended up with a job that is a reach, so I feel like I’m playing catchup. Everyone knows I am around 30 and this is my first job, but I work in an interdisciplinary field where a lot of my colleagues didn’t have their PhD until 35 or so, and they have 5 – 10 years experience… so I feel the age difference sometimes.

      I’d leave the dates on anyway. It seems weird not to, especially if they’re recent (maybe if you’re 45+ and graduated 20 years ago I could see it). Also, if you’re in academia, or tangential to it, dates matter. If a question like that comes up with a recruiter again, just try re-focus it back to your experience.

      1. Bryan*

        I would find it weird too, especially when you’re younger as education is considered more relevant by employers. It comes off as trying to hide something.

    3. GoodGirl*

      I graduated with my B.A. in 2005 and I no longer include the dates on my resume. I’ve got enough work experience by now and haven’t had one inteviewer ask me about it.

    4. meesh*

      When I started applying again, I pulled my year off my resume. I’m only 3 years out and not looking for entry-level anymore. With my year on it (2011), I was being suckered back into entry-level. Much better with it off.

      1. ec*

        I’m also three years out with no date listed on my resume.

        It’s pretty obvious from my resume when I graduated so I don’t feel like I’m hiding anything, but on the other hand, I feel like when people see the year they are automatically calculating my age, which I don’t like.

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      Wow, that’s kind of a crappy way to calculate what level someone begins at. How about actually figuring out how many years of actual experience someone has? I got an entry-level accounting job without any college education (well, less than a years’ worth), and worked my way up through responsibility, decided to get a degree, and after many years of hard work with a full-time job, part-time education, and half-time kid (shared custody), I graduated. Then left accounting for a different career path within months of graduating. If someone calculated years since graduation as my number of years of experience in accounting, they’d be doing it wrong.

  21. C*

    Five weeks after my state gov’t interview…I got an offer!

    I accepted today and they’re actually sending me paperwork next week so I can be drug tested. Wasn’t actually expecting that, but whatever. Once that comes back clean I will get the official offer.

    They are willing to let me wait until June to start. I am currently interning with a federal agency and we have field work scheduled, plus I’ll be relocating to another state. But I’m moving 3 months sooner than I had anticipated which is GREAT because now my LDR no longer has to be LD!

  22. Sabrina*

    I’ve been going back and forth with a company I applied to a couple of weeks ago. I have a conference call with the hiring manager on Tuesday. (their words) The first thing I got from them was a list of questions, similar to what they’d ask in a phone interview, but they sent it via email. One question was ,”What is your expected salary?” and I answered, “Depending on what the full job entails, I’m willing to negotiate, but I’m looking around $X.” A couple of days ago they updated the job posting which now has a salary range. The range is $X – $X+10K. Am I SOL on this one if it comes to negotiating more money?

    1. fposte*

      I think you’ve covered yourself reasonably to ask for more there. You’ll know the job better, know what you can bring to it that puts you higher in the range, etc. It may make it slightly less likely that you’ll get it, but I don’t think it prevents you from asking.

  23. A Jane*

    My question for this week came out of the AAM AMA this past week (wooooo so many A & Ms)

    Does anyone have any recommendations on courses finance for non-finance? Online courses are cool, and in-person classes around the New York area would be great as well.

    1. Anne*

      Check out Coursera and edX. They’re free, online classes offered by major universities (Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Cornell, etc.)

  24. A regular going anon*

    Would love any advice for managing around and helping my team deal with people who are “protected” in some way.

    My company has recently had some shakeups in senior management and one particular person who’s been brought in as a change agent has been bringing in people he likes. I realize he’s here to change things — that being said, sometimes the people he brings in are causing friction because they don’t want to get the day-to-day work done. Fortunately, none of these people is in my direct line of reporting (yet!), but my direct reports and (to a lesser extent) I have to work with them.

    My question is twofold: In the likely event I have to manage one of this person’s handpicked people in the future, what advice do people have for managing someone when you can’t attach the same level of consequences for bad behavior that you normally would? (Especially if they know it!) And what advice do you have for how to help my team members interact with these people, knowing again that we can’t complain too much?

    I do have some thoughts, and have been devising what I call “elaborate coping mechanisms” for the latter scenario, but I would love more ideas (and am especially interested in how to handle the former scenario, when and if it happens to me).

    1. Celeste*

      I think all you can do is get on board with HR’s requirements for putting someone on a PIP. It’s a lot of extra work to track them, but you may be able to turn your documentation into consequences.

    2. Annika*

      Engage with them! Motivate them by showing the relationship between the smaller day to day things and the broader goals they want to achieve. Encourage them to become part of the team.

    3. Aisling*

      Honestly, if I were on your team, there wouldn’t be a positive way to spin things for me. What I would hear and see is that there are people being treated differently, and the job is no longer about qualifications or hard work, but about who you know. I would be looking for another job.

      I think you should try to speak to your boss about the how much the situation is going to lower morale, if it hasn’t already.

  25. Lily in NYC*

    I’m struggling to find a “weakness” if asked in an interview. The only negative comment on recent reviews was that I can be “too helpful” – I think that would make me look like I was trying to do one of those negatives that make me seem virtuous (like when people say they are a perfectionist). I am an executive assistant who hates event planning. Would it be terrible to say that event planning is not one of my strengths? I’m worried it will make me look unorganized. I’m actually good at it but I hate it with a passion and tend to procrastinate and work on other stuff first.

    1. Calla*

      Did your review give a concrete example of “too helpful”? You can just add that (“Sometimes I’m a little too helpful; for example, a manager commented [blah blah blah]”), so it’s obviously you’re not doing the perfectionist thing. I think that could be a good one actually (disclaimer: I’m not a hiring manager).

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I do know what was meant by it (people always ask me for little favors that add up to a lot of time because I’ve been here for so long and have a lot of institutional knowledge). I also got positive comments on the same review for being so helpful, which made me laugh. I stink at interviewing job candidates (I handle admin hiring) and I’m thinking of using that instead because I can show how I’ve taken steps to improve. I would feel weird saying that about being too helpful – what would I say? “Hey, I don’t help anyone now, I just tell them to bite me”.

        1. Colette*

          So it’s not that you’re too helpful – it’s that you let your desire to help take your focus away from bigger priorities, is that it?

        2. Calla*

          I think what Colette says is spot on (and this is a common problem imo! I do it too!). “I love to help my co-workers, but sometimes my willingness to help with everything gets in the way of focusing on more important priorities. I am learning/have learned to better delegate and prioritize.” Interviewing would be good too, since you can say how you’re improving on it.

    2. Bea W*

      god I HATE this question! I wish people would stop asking it. Maybe the weakness is that there are certain parts of your job that you just really dislike and because you dislike them you know you have a tendency to procrastinate about doing them, and then talk about how you deal with that. and you can use event planning as an example.

      1. Bea W*

        PS – this is definitely a weakness I suffer from! Putting off the stuff I dislike and getting side tracked on other things that are not as important but that I enjoy more.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          LOL! I hate this question too, but not as much as “where do you see yourself in 5 years”? I really want to say that I have no ambition and hope that I’ll magically win the lottery and not have to work by then.

    3. Sunflower*

      When I sat down and tried to honestly think of what my weakness was, it’s is exercising authority over other people. For jobs I’m applying to, they still aren’t management level so it’s not terribly important to the job at hand. I tell that that although it’s my weakness, as I’m getting more exposed to management, it’s becoming easier(and all of this is true!)

      1. Sunflower*

        Also, I’m an event planner so organizing is very big in my job as well. I have a lot of trouble picking just one organization system to use so maybe a weakness is you are always re-oganizing things. that does border virtuous territory but it also makes sense

      2. Lily in NYC*

        That’s a great idea Sunflower! One of the reasons I am a career executive assistant is because I don’t want to have accountability for “the bottom line” so I could definitely use that angle. Thanks a lot.

    4. Jubilance*

      Everyone has weaknesses and that’s ok. Can you talk with a trusted mentor or coworker who can give you honest feedback as to what they think your true weaknesses are?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I know what my true weaknesses are but I would NEVER tell them to an interviewer. I am able to overcome them through sheer force of will and a strong work ethic (example: I am not naturally organized but have to be because I’m an assistant). I’m also super-lazy but I don’t allow myself to be lazy at work and I excel at my job. But no hiring manager would take a chance on me if I were blatantly honest.

        1. Sunflower*

          Haha laughing along because both of those things are my secret biggest weaknesses and I do the same thing and force myself to do it.

        2. Jubilance*

          Actually I think that’s the stuff you SHOULD be saying. It’s more compelling. Managers already know the game people play with using something “good” as a weakness like “I’m a workaholic”. What’s more meaningful is highlighting a real weaknesses and what you’ve done/are doing to address it. In this instance, you saying “I’m not naturally an organized person, but I’ve learned x y and z which have helped my organizational skills improve” is a great thing to say. I think AAM has actually done a post about this too.

    5. Sadsack*

      I had this prepared for a recent interview, but they didn’t ask that question. My job requires constant juggling of deadlines. I was prepared to say this: In the past, I have at times realized that I was sacrificing accuracy for speed in my work. This hasn’t resulted in any major issues – no huge errors and no missed deadlines, just some minor – but I have since realized that I need to better manage time to try to avoid minor errors and keep up the same pace of workload. I have analyzed and revised certain personal processes to be able to do this and so far it is working.

      1. Sadsack*

        meant to write minor errors (such as overlooking the need for documentation, and transposed numbers (which can be bad!).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I really like this. It rings true rather than sounding like BS, and you explain that you recognized it and what you now do to avoid it. You sound self-aware and proactive. The mention that you’ve “analyzed and revised certain personal processes” sounds credible, and like you’re someone reflective. It’s good.

    6. Jennifer*

      I think the whole point of that question is to see if you are smart enough to toe the company/PC line and not give an honest answer to it. I would only say event planning isn’t a strength if it is something you would never have to do on the job–otherwise it’s a reason not to hire you.

      I think going with “too helpful” as in “I got derailed trying to fix someone’s life for a half hour” is possibly(?) a better answer than that. But proceed with caution.

        1. Sadsack*

          Dare I ask you to comment on my suggestion upthread? I didn’t have to divulge a weakness, but if I had said the above, would it have reflected poorly on me?

    7. Steve G*

      Maybe something little like “I’ve gotten in trouble a few times by giving TMI in emails or phone calls. I’ve got to learn to simply give people the info they want and not volunteer to much else, and let them ask me if they want it.”

      Well, that’s a simple one that I could say about a coworker that wouldn’t make you sound bad, as all of us could have said it about ourselves at one time or another.

  26. CollegeAdmin*

    I’d like to give a shout-out to AndersonDarling and Dan from Tuesday’s “talk about your job” thread. I really appreciate the two of you taking the time to talk about what you do, and especially Dan for taking a look at that masters program I was considering. After some thought and further research into other programs, I’m officially applying to SNHU for a masters in Data Analytics – a well-established program with a solid career center, technical courses, and a culminating capstone project. If all goes well, I’ll be starting this summer. Thanks, guys!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Oh my goodness! Thank you for the shout-out!
      I feel so cool!

      Good luck, CollegeAdmin!!!

  27. LizB*

    After a successful phone interview last week, I realized that the interview question I have the hardest time answering is the “Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a co-worker, and how you resolved it” question. I’ve gotten it in basically every interview I’ve done, and I can never think of a good example! I’m very easygoing, and I tend to change what I’m doing to accommodate other people’s preferences and try to head off any disagreements before they really start. If I really can’t change my methods for some good reason, I’ll go to my coworker and explain why I do things the way I do, and usually they let it go at that point. Does anyone have any tips for answering this question, or for coming up with examples to use when you have a very accommodating/avoidant approach to conflict?

    1. fposte*

      I think that’s a fine answer. I’d think it was funny that you just explain them into submission.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      When we ask this question, we’re looking at how well (including how respectfully) you influence others’ actions. Can you make a compelling (logically and socially) argument, and balance finding a solution that works for the greatest number of people and still gets the job done? It’s not really about dealing with a huge blow up, but more about can you smartly argue your position and bring others on board.

      There’s some solid stuff in your answer, but you won’t want to frame it as “I prioritize avoiding conflict over getting to the best solution.” Instead try to focus on how you listen to others’ perspectives and try to incorporate them in your solution.

    3. C*

      I think being honest is best. Explain that you are accommodating and easy to work with, and in order to avoid major conflicts you make sure to keep open lines of communication. But you will still need an example.

    4. Christina*

      I think what you described is a great answer – can you think of an example of when you demonstrated those tactics? For example, you might say, “I was working a project with Jane and I know that she usually likes to handle X by doing Y. For this particular project, however, Y wouldn’t work because of —. I handled this by talking to Jane and explaining that Y wouldn’t work because…”. Then be sure to include the result of that situation – maybe it was as simple as Jane understood and you moved forward and the project went on to be a success or maybe it was Jane preferred to do Y and then talk about how you managed that and issues resulting from that.

      I think the main goal of the question is to see that you know how to approach your co-workers and work through things without being stubborn, flying off the handle, or automatically escalating things. Good luck!

    5. MK*

      I hate that question too! You seemed to have answered your own questions when you said, “I’m very easygoing, and I tend to change what I’m doing to accommodate other people’s preferences and try to head off any disagreements before they really start. If I really can’t change my methods for some good reason, I’ll go to my coworker and explain why I do things the way I do, and usually they let it go at that point.” You just need to think of a specific example to show how you resolve disagreements.

  28. Kristin*

    I have a phone interview this afternoon with a non-profit (only every worked for-profit sector) that seems pretty awesome. Any suggestions for making the switch?

    Also, from researching the company, looks like they’re also hiring for the person who would be my manager, which is making me leery. Anyone have any suggestions for how to handle a hiring process when you don’t know who your manager would be? Questions to ask etc?

    1. money lady*

      Be prepared for a culture shock. I went from working only for profit to non profit 10 years ago and there are still things I can’t wrap my head around. We are a social services agency and one thing that really gets me is the unwillingness to fire under-performing employees. There is much hand-wringing because if we fire them, they won’t have a job, etc. etc. Sometimes they forget that even though its a nonprofit and the emphasis is on our mission, not the bottom line, IT TAKES MONEY TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR MISSION! Also, you have to kiss the butt of every funder no matter how they treat you or speak to you because they hold the purse strings.
      That said, there are many perks as well. At least where I work we dress very casually and are very family friendly.

      1. COT*

        I have worked at both for-profits and non-profits that don’t deal well with underperformers, and ones who do. I don’t think it’s representative of the entire industry to say that it’s filled with poor employees that no one will fire. That said, I do think that many nonprofits take a human-centric approach to their work. That might mean that your mediocre coworker gets more chances to improve and more kind coaching than they would at some other companies, but it also means that the same grace is extended to you when you make a mistake or are learning a new aspect of your work.

        It’s not true of every workplace, but I think it’s generally accurate to say that most nonprofits have fewer resources for training, travel, etc. than many for-profits do. Be prepared for modest budgets, lower raises/bonuses, etc. even if the pay is competitive (and it’s often not in comparison to other sectors).

        That said, there are a lot of benefits: working towards a meaningful mission, getting to be creative and wear lots of hats when resources are a little lacking, and generally a concern for staff happiness and well-being.

        Overall, though, I don’t think any two non-profits are alike any more than any two for-profits are alike. Look at each organization separately, just as you would in any other field. Good luck!

      2. Hunny*

        While I have seen what you describe, and it is common, its not universal. If you have good leadership, then your nonprofit will be well run, including holding people to a high bar, focusing on what’s best for the agency, and even turning down funding when the funders treat you badly.

        I love my nonprofit job because it avoids all the pitfalls you mentioned.

        Good luck Kristin!

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s not something specific to nonprofits; that kind of dysfunction is endemic throughout all sectors (as we often see from letters here). I hate it when nonprofits get tagged as being specially guilty of this kind of thing, when the reality is that it’s everywhere, and there are well-run and poorly-run organization in every sector.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’d want to know who I would be working with to learn the job. New boss may/may not be able to train or advise you. Ask something about the key people who will be helping you learn the ropes.

      Ask what your average day would look like.

      Ask about longevity, after all they are hiring you and your boss. What happened to the previous people? No, don’t say that but keep your eyes open for clues.

      Try to get a feel for if they would ask you for anything outside your job description. You might find an opening in conversation for that such as: “And last year we repainted this whole end of the building.” Jump in with a fishing statement: “oh wow,that is a lot of furniture to move!” Then you may find out “Everyone volunteered their weekends and helped. It took us a month!” Uh-huh. Your turn: “oh do people volunteer their time a lot?”

  29. Ann Furthermore*

    Who watched the first episode of Fargo, and what did you think? I thought it was weird, creepy, and full of potential.

    1. Celeste*

      I’m afraid to watch it because I loved the movie so much and don’t want it ruined, if that makes sense.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        No, I totally get it. I love the movie too, but I really liked it, and I believe the pilot was directed by the Coen brothers (or they had some kind of involvement).

        It’s completely different characters, and a completely different storyline, but there are alot of nods to the movie.

        1. Celeste*

          Okay, I will check it out then. I am a terrible one for not wanting to see the movie because it might spoil the book, too!

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            Yes, I’m with you. Best example for me was Cloud Atlas. I watched it on a flight a few months ago and thought it was a convoluted mess. Beautifully shot, and great special effects, but a mess.

            Then I read the book and it made so much more sense. I need to watch the movie again though — I think I would like it much better now that I’ve read the book.

    2. some1*

      I’ve lived in MN all my life. I found the show good and the movie is great, but the errors in geography and local parlance both annoy me as a local of course.

  30. Trix*

    So, here’s the kind of luck I have. I just started a wonderful job about three weeks ago. Now I’ve found out that I am going to need two surgeries: 1) removal of a large cyst on my ovary (which requires a week off work) and, the biggie, 2) a malignant mass in my kidney which obviously needs to be removed (having this done in a month; doctor forsees about 6-8 weeks of downtime.

    The people at my new job have been very nice about it (at least to my face) and I filled out paperwork for a leave of absence, but I really hope that my taking all of this time off doesn’t reflect badly on me. I mean, I have no choice, but still :(

    1. Celeste*

      You have no choice, and all you can do is come back strong and work hard. Bad luck can happen to us all, but I’m glad the timing of this didn’t hurt your job search.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      This happened to me, also, when I first started a job years ago. Around the same timing, too. It was an ovarian cyst. They were fine with it. It’s not like it’s something you can control. It would be different if you were having elective surgery. Then I would say to hold off for a few months.

      Then, about two months later, I was out for a week because of a nasty viral infection. Again, no issues.

      Good luck and I hope all goes well for you!

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think it will reflect badly on you. I think you’ll be a bit of a question mark for longer than usual because of the time out of the office and restart a few relationships, but not in a bad way, just in a “we don’t know her yet” way.

      Good luck to you and a swift recovery!

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, I’m sorry. None of that is ever anything you want to go through, but to have it hit you right when you start a new job is even worse!

      If your managers and co-workers are being supportive, then take it at face value. It’s not like it’s something you have any control over. And just make sure that before you start your leave, that you’ve got everything taken care of, people are lined up to cover your work, and so on.

      This is totally different than, say, if you’d started your job and then said, “Oh, by the way, I’ve got a round-the-world cruise scheduled next month and I’ll be gone for 4 weeks. See ya!” That would really tick me off. But this is a medical issue — totally different.

      I hope everything goes well!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      It’s not something you can help. If they’re being very nice about it, then I would take that at face value.

      Good luck and I hope everything goes well and you feel better soon!

    6. Mimmy*

      Agree with everyone else. It’s just rotten timing…you’ve done nothing wrong. Wishing you the best with your surgeries and recovery. Remember to take care of yourself first.

    7. Ilf*

      Take the time to recover after surgery, and take the time to research the cancer (is it RCC?) before and after surgery. If RCC, take the time to find a good oncologist that specializes in renal cancer – rare enough, used to have a poor prognosis, but there have been huge progress in the past five years with targeted therapy (chemo has zero results for RCC).
      I had RCC (the vanilla clear clear type) so I have some idea of what you may be going through. A good oncologist that specializes in RCC is key. I suggest joining the kidney cancer community on smartpatients.com. Do not give complete control to your doctors, do not rely on SO or parents or friends to make decisions for you, be your own advocate. There are key decisions to make, like doing Interleukin-2 if the cancer is not contained, or preserving the tumor for a potential vaccine (very long shot, but if the decision is not made now, there’s a lot less opportunity to make it in the future). The IL-2 treatment has low rate of success, but in case of success very low rate of recurrence. Most doctors do not offer it.
      The job will be there for you, and if not, there will be other jobs, but this is a time to make important medical decisions.
      Good luck to you!

      1. Ilf*

        “clear cell” not “clear clear”

        Also – for follow up, I strongly suggest you to consider not doing your follow up with the surgical urologist – the standards of American Urology Association are quite out of date – like chest Xray (vs chest CT) which does not pick up lung mets (most frequently occurring mets in RCC) until they are quite big, losing precious time for treatment.

    8. Nancypie*

      The timing of this is probably not that bad. If projects are just getting assigned to you, etc., possibly someone can cover easier ( because until you came they were doing the work) than if you had been there for years and were suddenly going to be out. If that is the case, I might bring that person a box of chocolates or something upon returning.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Chiming in to say- I lost over a month at a very new job for health reasons. It went fine. The only thing that happened was they changed my date of hire on my record. Which didn’t amount to a hill of beans in the long run. Of course, I worried about it and I checked in with my boss at one point to let them know how things were progressing- just a general overview of time frame. (I thought that showed interest/concern about my job- but I really was very concerned and pretty upset over it all.)

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        When I started my new job last year, I had a badly timed flare up of a chronic condition that unfortunately wiped out my immune system. I was out sick for most of the first six weeks and then struggled to recover for the month after that. I felt very embarrassed by such an inauspicious start, especially as they were expecting great things from me.

        I have worked hard to get the chronic condition under control, improved my general health and am now being trained as team leader. I received a lot of support from my managers and co-workers.

        Good wishes to you for a full recovery from your surgeries.

  31. Stephanie*

    Guys, my job search mojo is gone. I’m experiencing major burnout (again). I just feel completely unmotivated. I’m glancing at the Taleo applications in my browser tabs and just feeling awful at the thought of slogging through those.

    I feel incredibly discouraged (and I get why people say they just stop looking). On a rational level, I know I have to keep applying and talking to people, because that’s the only way. But on some irrational level, my mind’s like “Noooooo! Nooooo! No more applications where we have to list the high school ‘major.'”

    I can’t wait for the day when I can post “I got an offer!” on an open thread.

    /vent

    1. SimpleeInspired*

      I’m right there on the same boat with the exception of having to sludge through my last semester of college as well. Recently over spring break, I decided to take a vaca on job hunting (been on it since August). Maybe that’s what you need, a three day vaca from job hunting. =)

    2. Sunflower*

      Same. I try to associate applying for jobs with rewards. Like I can watch my TV show once I apply to this job. Or I can eat a cookie once I do this, etc.

    3. fposte*

      No good help, but I’m sending good wishes and taking much delight in the wonderful new avatar.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I like to think that there is a job out there for you, but it isn’t ready yet, so you need to keep looking. Once it is ready (a person quits/ a new job is created) you will find it and it will be perfect.
      I don’t want to sound like a blue, bald priestess, but visualize what you want and it will materialize at the right time.

  32. Phone interviews?*

    I’ve been doing phone interviews for volunteer positions. I am very aware that I give a lot of non-verbal cues when people are talking – nodding etc, but how would I translate these to verbal cues? I’m thinking particularly of the people we talk to who have a tendency to ramble – probably because getting phone silence on the other end is uncomfortable/they’re nervous/etc.

    1. fposte*

      You may actually be overdoing it on the nodding anyway–many people do. This could be a good experience for you holding back a little and letting the interviewee take the responsibility.

      And I think it’s fine to do verbal cues like “That’s great, thanks” both on the phone and in-person when somebody’s answered the question enough, and to ask “Can you tell me a little more?” if they stop before you wanted them to.

  33. Jessica the Researcher*

    I’m moving into my first solo apartment in a few weeks, and I’m so excited (mostly because I can finally get a cat!). Please share your wisdom, AAM community – any tips for either cat ownership or living alone?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I would get two cats that are about the same age. Preferably from the same rescue. That way they know each other and will tend to play together. Single cats tend to get lonely and can start acting out. That’s what happened to me when I got my first cat. He was a rotten little bastard…until I got another cat his age. It was like night and day.

      1. Jessica the Researcher*

        I really wish I could have two cats, but my landlord will only allow one. And the apartment is small, unfortunately, so I’m not sure two cats would be comfortable in it. I plan on putting up a bird feed outside the largest window and having a lot of toys around for the kitty. Do you think that will be enough entertainment or should I plan for more? I don’t want it to be lonely or bored!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          One would be fine if you go for an older cat, I think. Older cats don’t need as much stimulation. Also depends on how often you’re home. If you’re home a lot then a younger cat might be fine. If you’re gone a lot then maybe an older cat. If you go to a rescue you can look for one that prefers to be an only cat.

        2. Jen RO*

          I second Dawn’s advice. My cat was very hyper and aggressive before I got him a friend – now they both seem happier!

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      Litter boxes smell. I just got in a fight with the hubby about this last night. You need to make sure you clean them up (some cats are more picky about this than mine — we go three days or so between scoops, some cats refuse to go after using the box once).

      For living alone, find ways of getting out of the house. This was the biggest challenge for me — not becoming a hermit by myself since I didn’t have the instant draw of roommates.

      1. Jessica the Researcher*

        A smelly litter box was actually my biggest concern with getting a cat. I lived with a roommate that refused to keep on top of cleaning her one, small litter box for her two cats – what a nightmare for the cats and for me. What do you think about litter box liners? A friend swears by them for her cat, but my roommate’s cats would tear them up.

        1. Ash (the other one!)*

          I tried them maybe once or twice and, yea, they rip. Plus we’ve started using a giant 40 gallon tub for our cat’s litter box so those won’t work there…

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I don’t use the liners. Cats shred those things up.

          Just scoop often and use a good clumping litter. We use Dr. Elsey’s Prescious Cat (sold in pet stores and Petco) and it’s 99% dust-free. I have 12 cats and no one ever complains about a smell. In fact, people tell me they can’t tell I even have cats. But we scoop 8 litter boxes everyday.

        3. BadPlanning*

          I think scooping every day is a big help. And perhaps a non clay litter. I find the clay litter has a shard unpleasant smell in itself. Nature’s Best litter is a corn based litter which is nice — it clumps and scoops much like clay litter. Feline Pine (the pellets) is nice too.

          It can also depend on how good your cat is at covering. Some cats are very careful about covering…some do not cover.

        4. Sadsack*

          I use flushable litter called World’s Greatest Cat Litter. I clean the box at least once a day, twice when necessary. I live in a very small house with one cat and the litter box is right in my bathroom, so I just drag the box over to the toilet and scoop away. The litter is expensive though, like super expensive, but I feel that the convenience and cleanliness of using it are benefits worth the cost. My place never smells of the cat box because I never let it accumulate. it isn’t difficult to keep up with at all — it takes about a minute out of my life each time I scoop.

          I also do not have a regular litter box, I use a big Rubbermaid container that I cut a door in so I can keep the lid on and not look at the litter. It keeps my cat from flinging litter all over the place, too.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I used to use that! I loved that it was flushable. I recently changed to Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat (terrible name) and it’s not flushable but we got a Litter Genie to scoop the litter into, which is nearly as easy.

          2. COT*

            I’ve tried a lot of litters and World’s Best is my favorite for odor control (particularly the pine-scented) and tracking, plus it’s healthy (dust-free) for the cat and flushable.

            We got a “solo” kitten and he does just fine with lots of stimulation, toys, and playtime. He doesn’t usually act out or seem listless/bored even though he doesn’t have any other pets at home.

            Learning a little bit about cat behavior and nutrition was really helpful for me as a first-time cat owner.

        5. LPBB*

          Definitely scoop every day, it will really help with the smell. And you might want to look into getting a Litter Genie or something like it. It might seem a little wasteful, with all the plastic bags, but it does also cut down on smells.

        6. abby*

          Litter box liners are useless. Get a good-quality litter. We use Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Respiratory Relief. Clumping is better because you can remove everything from the box. I don’t like scented – it simply replaces one nasty smell with another. Scoop often. When we’re home during the day, we scoop as we notice anything. During the week, we scoop at least twice per day, sometimes three, depending on activity.

          Another trick to cut down on litter box odor is to feed the highest quality food you can afford. Because one of my cats appears to have food sensitivities and other intestinal issues, we recently switched to a higher-quality limited ingredient canned food. Both the volume and frequency went down, and now we cannot smell a thing unless we’re right next to the litter box.

    3. ryn*

      Get your kitty a ‘da bird’ cat toy. The best cat toy ever. Will keep both of you entertained and use up the cat’s extra energy.

      Also, for living alone, get Netflix in lieu of of cable.

      1. Elysian*

        My cat adores da bird. We heard about it on TV, from “my cat from hell” and I thought, This silly thing will never work. My cat hates toys! But oh gosh, does she love it. Literally to shreds, we have to keep buying new birds.

    4. Stephanie*

      I’d say stay on top of cleaning. I keep common areas clean, but when I lived alone, that could go to hell because I didn’t have the looming specter of a roommate argument over dishes.

      Also, I was really amazed at how things would randomly end up out of place because I didn’t have roommates to keep me in check. So I’d go into the kitchen and see a deodorant stick. “Ok, I’m sure I had the deodorant in the kitchen for some reason…”

    5. C*

      Living alone is amazing. I’ve had roommates, and I hope to move in with my partner sometime next year, but living alone is so so so great.

      Just be sure to get out of the house. I started a book club and do a couple volunteer activities 3-4 times a month. I could probably get out more than I do, but in general I’m pretty introverted and a homebody.

      And maybe think about two kitties. I have one and I’m sure she gets lonely, so I hope to get another soon (although she may not like that either…)

    6. LMW*

      I’d take a little time to enjoy the luxury of being alone before getting a cat. Pets are awesome — and my dog has brought so much joy to my life and I wouldn’t trade that for the world — but it’s also really nice to just have a little space where you can be completely self-centered for a little bit, even if it’s just a few months. Because once you make that commitment to share space with another living creature you don’t get that back for a long time (hopefully). If this is your first solo apartment, make sure you take at least a little time to enjoy being solo!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I don’t use liners either but I put old newspaper down – my cat doesn’t shred that, for some reason.
        I also have a laser pen that I use to play with the cat – it is very fun.
        If you’re picking up the cat and using a car/bus/train I’ve been (recently) advised that to stop them freaking out (my cat hates the car) put a towel or something over the travel box.

  34. ryn*

    So, curious. Does anyone work in an office of a manufacturing facility that is nearly paperless? Cause, I swear, we’re just thinking of ways to kill more trees at my place.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      My new workplace is trying to be paperless. I’m a fan of trying to go paperless, but it seems like things take longer since you have to get all the docs organized, scan them, name the file, put it where you want it, etc.

      It seems that we’re really not saving a lot of paper, at least not here. We’re just shredding it rather than boxing or filing it.

      If you go paperless someone will have to make sure your workplace has the server capacity for all the files that will be saved there.

      1. ryn*

        Yeah…we’re basically in the dark ages in IT respects. It’s…sad. And now we’re actually doubling up on paper work that doesn’t actually need to be filed and it’s just frustrating. Everyone in the front office has a huge stack to file and there actually isn’t any room in the files to put them away. :|

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Sounds like there needs to be a record retention schedule so things get shredded after a certain amount of time. Or contract with a document storage facility.

          Yeah, if you’re in the dark ages in terms of IT, going paperless would be difficult. It uses up a lot of server capacity.

          Maybe start printing double-sided, if you haven’t already. That helps me.

    2. Annie O*

      My company said they wanted to go paperless, but a few higher-ups adamantly prefer paper. As a result, almost everything needs to be done digitally AND on paper. Instead of “going green,” we’ve just increased the amount of work.

      1. ryn*

        hah, see, that’s something that also annoys me. Most of our vendors and most of our customers already do things digitally, but we download their stuff and print it off.

    3. krm*

      My office is officially paperless…we use more paper than when we weren’t! The nature of my work just lends itself better to having physical paper infront of you than reading it off of computer screens, which means I print something, do my work, pass it off to the next person, who then re-prints what they need from the file, etc. We’ve discussed having an actual file that gets passed around in addition to the scanned file, but due to new industry regulations that is not allowed.

      1. Ed Zachary*

        Toxic OldJob was paperless. They simply let the printers break and didn’t fix them. They didn’t stock pens or pencils or other stationary items so if you wanted to write something you had to buy your own pen and pad of paper. There was no process evaluation to see how things would be done in a paperless way, people just adapted.

        One of my happiest days was the day I left Toxic OldJob.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yup, I had to supply my own pen and paper at a former job. They claimed they were going paperless themselves.

          A friend worked at a place where they got really nice, free pens. He said he’d bring me some. He did and then several times after that, we’d meet up and he’d have like six pens in hand for me.

          Man, those were nice pens. I was kind of sad when he left that job because I lost my pen supply.

      2. Stephanie*

        When I worked at the Patent Office, TPTB computerized all the applications in an effort to go paperless. Except this had the exact effect you mentioned–no one wanted to read patents and technical drawings on computer screens, so everyone just printed everything out.

        1. Grace*

          Stephanie,
          Have you thought about applying to work in Intellectual Property law offices and legal departments?

          1. Stephanie*

            IP I’m trying to transition away from, but both of my jobs in it have been at pretty toxic workplaces, so not opposed to doing some work in it.

            Problem is, there’s not a whole between paralegal/assistant and attorney, but I’ll look into it. I’ve gotten some traction from university tech transfer offices. Thanks for the suggestion!

    4. Fish Microwaver*

      Our office is officially paperless, but I am one of the few who adhere to this. I keep a jotter handy to scribble down names or phone numbers, but all my work, apart from the client confirmation letters, is digital. (They could be digital but much of our client basis is older with less access to computers. That being said, I will send digitally to those who request it.) This means I am able to deliver twice the output of my colleagues. My manager doesn’t do anything about enforcing the paperless “rule”, which is quite irksome.

  35. Heather*

    I’m taking my first actuarial exam on Monday. Since starting a new job a month ago, I haven’t had nearly as much time to study as I was hoping. Anyway, feeling very nervous for my exam! Any other actuaries out there?

  36. Chocolate Lover*

    I’ve seen the news reports and statistics about lower unemployment rates but wanted to get an idea of what you all think. Do you feel the economy is getting better and is easier to find a job?

    1. OriginalYup*

      Yes and no. My sense is that it’s getting less gridlocked, but at an uneven rate and not uniformly across sectors/levels. I see plenty of hiring going on but it be seems single hires in relatively specialized roles, rather than waves of new people at entry level or whole industries suddenly bursting open. I’m starting to see a lot more ‘help wanted’ signs in retail & food service places, and a lot less ‘for rent’ signs in commercial space, but in dribs and drabs rather than what I’d considered proper momentum. I see it as kind of a cautious thawing, if that makes sense.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I took a picture of a Help Wanted sign this week. I thought they were extinct. :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      They reworked the formula for computing the number of unemployed a while ago. They also don’t count the people who have given up. And there seems to be a bump in long term disability claims?

      I think that math has gotten better but employment, uh, not so much.

  37. Mae*

    My boss recently asked our team (in a meeting) to start taking photographs of our coworkers should we observe them breaking rules. That’s weird, right? I would much rather just talk to them about it and remind them of the implications of rule-breaking.

    (We work in a professional setting with specific accreditation and regulations, which require regular official inspections. If rule-breaking coworkers were caught by an inspector, our group could technically be cited and possibly penalized.)

      1. Mae*

        Nah, inspectors are usually outside groups/officials and we usually have some warning that they will be visiting. Sometimes we have internal, unofficial inspections performed by other people in our institution (but not by someone in our department).

    1. Beti*

      I’m not sure what your field is but would a photograph accurately document the infractions? If an infraction is something like falsifying paperwork, you’d have to be leaning over their shoulder to capture the evidence – and presumably they’d stop at that point. I’d think written documentation would be more accurate and useful.

      I’d be weirded out by my co-workers photographing me but I’m a little photo-phobic.

      1. Beti*

        And isn’t it mostly your boss’ job to monitor employees’ behavior? Yes, safety/security/rules are everyone’s responsibility but this comes across a little too nosy-neighbor and I can’t imagine it would be good for morale.

      2. Mae*

        Yes, a photo could document the specific infraction discussed by the boss. We were asked to photograph coworkers eating or drinking in certain spaces, to be specific. I appreciate the need for everyone to be involved in the success, safety, and compliance of our group, but I too am uncomfortable with taking photos of someone without their consent. My trust would be violated if I found out that someone took a photo of me doing something wrong instead of just speaking with me directly about it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is bizarre. How come other companies feel no need to do this?

      So, what is the managers’ plan to make sure the pics have not been photoshopped by someone who has an agenda?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Search for passive voice. This is my biggest issue with writing — but I know it, so I write and then edit every passive sentence I possibly can.

    2. StaminaTea*

      Set a goal to delete half the words you wrote when you’re done writing something. If you repeat something, cut it. If a sentence has more than one comma or “and,” it’s too long.

    3. books*

      Practice writing memos. Front with the most important thing, then expand on the reasoning. Once you’ve laid out exactly where you’re going, it will be easier to write more to the point.

    4. Bryan*

      See if you can get someone who is a concise writer to edit your work. Once you see some examples it might help.

    5. littlemoose*

      I find examples invaluable. Find some examples of well-written and concise work – maybe that someone else in your role or a similar one has produced, or just in books or newspapers that you think are well-written. Then try to break it down and figure out those writers have done, and apply it to your efforts. Maybe that will be of use?

    6. straws*

      Along with all of these other great suggestions…
      Try to step away from yourself and ask if everything you’re saying is truly necessary. I have a tendency to load as much info as possible into an email, but never everyone wants/has time for that. I’ve learned to ask myself “Is this really important to my primary point, or is it something that can be addressed later?”

    7. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Think about the information you want to deliver, and just write that. When you’re done, go back through to make changes to improve the tone.

      (For example, my “fat” version of the two sentences above would be: Do some thinking about what you actually want to communicate, then try to write just those words, without any additional explanation or commentary. After you’ve finished, take a look at what you’ve written and make any changes you need to get to the right tone.)

    8. Sunflower*

      I reverse it around and put myself in the shoes of the person receiving it. If I was receiving this letter, would I be sighing at the length? What parts would I skip and what parts would i maybe reread?

      and this sounds so so bad but I also look at it and pretend I’m talking to my best guy friend. He(like some other men) don’t care much for little details so I imagine it like I’m telling him a story where I need to get to the point

    9. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Get a Twitter account. It’s amazing how much being limited to 140 characters makes you examine every word and punctuation mark.

      1. EA*

        Yes, but in the business world, bad grammar/punctuation/spelling is not as acceptable as it is on social media.

    10. The Real Ash*

      I have been told by friends and co-workers that I use “too many words” when writing. So now what I do is type out everything that I want to say, and then go back and revise it. Maybe I repeated myself in two different places, maybe I am oversharing information, maybe I’m answering questions that weren’t asked… That way I still get the words out of my system, but I am making myself be considerate of others’ time by reviewing it for conciseness and clarity. It’s helped me cut down my initial amount of writing considerably.

    11. lavendertea*

      Studying poetry really helped me see how much you can do with so little. Reading it but especially writing it.

    12. Elysian*

      I’m wordy when I write. When I revise, I go back through and ask myself “What does each sentence bring to the table? If I delete this sentence, what message will my reader lose?” If the sentence doesn’t add any value, then I don’t keep it.

    13. MJ*

      I learned from a coworker that when I am finished writing something I should look at my last paragraph and try moving it to the top (we tend to conclude with the point we are trying to make instead of leading with it). At that point I can often find parts I can delete as no longer necessary since I am not trying to pull someone along a path to a destination – I put them at the destination right up front.

  38. StaminaTea*

    I enjoyed the post “how to know it’s time to leave your job” a few months ago.

    I have a root canal scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon, and I’m excited that I get to miss four hours of work for it.

    Is it time to leave my job? ; )

    1. C average*

      Yeah, that’s not a good sign!

      That said, I’ve always wondered why root canal has become the universal standard of unpleasantness. I’ve had one, and it wasn’t that bad. If I had to choose between, say, a root canal and a three-hour conference call, I’d take the root canal every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

      1. StaminaTea*

        hahaha! Yeah, I think they have a bad rap. Mostly sounds like sitting in the chair for a long time. Supposed to be similar to a filling.

        1. Stephanie*

          I agree with C average. They’re not that terrible. I’ve had cleanings from aggressive hygienists I found far more unpleasant.

          Only that was kind of weird was when the dentist was “fishing out” the dead root. I was numbed, but there still was the sensation of the wire (or whatever they use) going in and out the tooth. That was odd feeling.

          My tooth was pretty sore afterwards, too, but that subsided after a day or so. I didn’t like how loopy the pain meds made me, so I just waited out the soreness.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Root canals were awful and painful until not that long ago. Now they aren’t a big deal at all. I don’t know why – advances in Novocain maybe? Better equipment? I just had one a few weeks ago and I had no pain at all the next day.

        1. danr*

          You got to it before an infection set in. I’ve had both, and the ones without an infection are mostly painless. And yes, there are more powerful –caines than there used to be.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oooooh, I had the same thing happen! That job was also quota-based, so I was further excited because my root canal meant I could write off four hours.

      Anyway, yeah. Time to start looking.

      1. StaminaTea*

        Ha, yeah! I’ve got an ongoing saga with this particular tooth. It’s been more worrisome than painful, tho.

  39. Autumn*

    So glad to catch this early on! I have an interview attire question, as I have an interview next week (yay!) but I’m not sure what to wear. I have a traditional, grey pinstriped women’s pantsuit that I bought in grad school, but it doesn’t really fit anymore and honestly makes me look like a kid dressed up in her mom’s clothing (I’m 26 but often get mistaken for a teen/college student). What I’d like to wear instead is a yellow and black patterned skirt with a much better fitting black blazer on top. Do people think the bright color/pattern is too much for an interview? I work in non-profits, so while we’re not as conservative as say, law, we’re also not exactly creatives. Thoughts?

    1. krm*

      I think as long as it isn’t too wild it should be fine. Keep everything else conservative and it will balance out.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I love it, but I also don’t think it hurts to be memorable for something in addition to your fantastic qualifications. :)

    3. Autumn*

      Thanks for the comments! I am feeling a lot better about the skirt. The pattern is big, but I think the outfit as a whole looks pretty conservative.

      The suit is actually too tight, so getting it tailored isn’t really an option. The whole ‘making me look like a kid’ isn’t about size, but about style. Somehow wearing ‘older’ clothing makes me look younger – I think it just accentuates my youthful face!

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, I’m the same way. I look young for my age and have a round face, so an ill-fitting suit makes me look like I’m playing dress-up in Mommy’s Big Girl Clothes. I think it’s the contrast between the outfit and my face.

    4. Nancypie*

      Caveat: I do not work in non-profits, but a somewhat conservative industry. So I may have it wrong, but your skirt sounds too busy and bright for an interview to me. I would get a grey skirt (even at target!) and wear that with the black blazer. You should avoid getting a black skirt so that you don’t wind up with 2 different shades of black.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        That’s good idea, especially if it’s a conservative environment. We had a candidate show up last summer wearing a miniskirt, sleeveless top with a giant cut-out in the back and sandals – my boss refused to interview her. It was for a very high-level position and everyone was shocked that she didn’t know better. She was also 20 minutes late and didn’t apologize or offer an explanation, which was way worse.

        1. Nancypie*

          I kind of get that; if the person doesn’t have the right judgement to know (or ask someone or look it up) what to wear to an interview , what other lapses on judgement might they have? I would have gone ahead with the interview, but it would have impacted what I thought.

    5. Mae*

      I’m in non-profits and I think it depends on the job you’re interviewing for. If it’s an entry-level position or one where you aren’t going to interact with many high level people (clients or co-workers), then I think what you describe is totally fine. If it’s something higher level where you’re going to be working with department heads and/or donors I’d go with a more neutral bottom.

      Good Luck!

  40. matcha123*

    I feel like my financial situation is really holding me back. I’ve spent most of my life thinking about money; how to get it, how to save it. And now that I’ve been working full-time, I feel like it’s effecting my ability to really get ahead.

    When I can only focus on how to pay bills, how to find ways to make more money, etc., I can’t fully focus on the things that would help me get better at my job. Instead of going into work refreshed, I’ve spent the past almost decade going into work feeling tired and drained.

    How do you get the energy to get better at your job when there’s no chance of a pay raise (even with changing jobs), you think about how to best use your money 24/7 and there’s no chance of improving your situation? Anyone feel the same way? How did/do you overcome it?

    1. GoodGirl*

      You may already be doing this, but have you ever tracked your spending? I started doing this about a year ago and was shocked at how much money I was wasting on a monthly basis.

      From that point on, I started doing a monthly budget and it has helped me tremendously. I want to buy a home in the next year or so, and was having a lot of trouble saving money for a down payment. The tracking and budget have helped so much.

      And, I dont’ know what industry you’re in, but changing companies/jobs really helped my financial situation. I started out in an ad agency (a.k.a. very low pay for entry-level people), moved to another company (got a substanial pay bump), and then moved to another company a couple of years ago and another substantial pay bump. Four years ago, I wasn’t even making 30K/year and now I make 60K.

      1. matcha123*

        I tried tracking for a few months, but lost motivation. I know that my monthly bills are a lot less than most of the people around me. But, a big chunk of money gets sent home every month to pay student loans and to help my family. That’s the kicker.

        Strict budgeting and looking for food sales are things I’ve been doing since high school and I start to get panicked when I have to think like that. Then I can’t concentrate on anything else because while I’m counting change to buy cheap food, someone else making the same as me is living it up because their situation allows that.

        I’m hoping to get a large pay raise when I can move back to the US, but since I’m in Japan, salaries across the board are way lower than the US. No pay negotiations. No salary increases for ability. I could make do on my current salary if I didn’t have to worry about helping my family and paying my uni loans.
        I’m doing side jobs to stay afloat and try to put away a very small bit a month, but it’s very draining >_<

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The money you send home each month- is there any way you can reduce that even by a little bit?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Missed this and wanted to add: lack of concentration and cheap food. This might be tricky but see if you can reduce the amount of sugars and flours you are eating. It will help with your concentration. Also make sure you are drinking water- I know when I am stressed these are the first things that just go away. And I need to bring them back to help me cope.

    2. Sunflower*

      What is your job that you are at the point where you can’t advance or make more money even if you changed jobs? And why would you care about getting better at it if it’s not going to do you any good anyway. No wonder you’re exhausted- I would be too!

      You sound very defeated. Or like you’re putting your energy into the wrong things. I would spend less time worrying about how to get better at your job and start thinking of how to get yourself into a situation where you can improve your career and overall life situation because there is a way out there somewhere!

      1. matcha123*

        I think that if I moved back to the US, I could make more money. But, to do that, I need money to move back to the US. And without a place to live (back home in the US), savings and a driver’s license, I don’t feel like a great resume/interview/etc. could help me secure a job.

        The suggestions of some of my friends haven’t really helped either: “sell everything you own and move back to the US and stay at my house until you get a job.”
        “Uhh…how am I supposed to make my loan payments doing that when the economy is bad and I’d certainly have to move??” is my response.

        My main job focus is translation between Japanese and English. I know there are jobs in the US, but, again, selling everything I own for a “maybe” without having significant savings in my account is not a risk I’m willing to take. A translator is making between 25k – 40k a year here (in general, there are people that specialize in law, etc. that make more i assume). The people who would be in the 40k range would most certainly be in their early 50s. I had a recruiter laugh at me when I told her my salary requirements because, “Pay is based on age lolz.”

        1. fposte*

          Can you develop one of those more lucrative specialties, and would you like to?

          Are there any freelancing possibilities (thinking maybe remotely) that would help the finances?

        2. Ilf*

          I know a big Japanese company with global aspirations making a big push in US. Maybe try to work for a company like that and express interest/ availability for relocating to US? They could pay for your relo.

    3. MJ*

      Every time I have been short of money, I have looked for ways to share expenses with someone else. Is there someone you could share an apartment with?

      1. matcha123*

        Thanks for your replies :)

        I don’t know if you three will see them, since I went to bed right after typing my last one up.
        Roommates are not a possibility here for a variety of reasons (small apartments, against the lease).
        I’m also hoping to take on more freelance projects. I’ve done some in the past few months and I’ve also turned down a lot because the time needed to complete them is too tight for someone with a full-time job. But, the fatigue from life is also holding me back from searching more. It’s a vicious cycle…

        Thanks for the replies, I do appreciate them! It’s hard to talk to people here in Japan about these things :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Keep us posted on how it is going for you. Don’t allow yourself to be totally alone with your thoughts–keep bouncing ideas on here. I know I have searched around inside my head to realize there are not a lot of answers in there! Talking to others helps in incremental ways.

  41. Gallerina*

    Does anyone have any advice for what to do when you keep getting rejected after second and third round interviews? I’m honestly baffled about what I’m doing wrong that’s getting me down to the final two or three, but not getting me the jobs. My requests for feedback have either been ignored or very vague. I’m drawing a blank!

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        Me too. I’ve now been a finalist (one of two candidates) for four jobs now that I have not received offers on and I want to kick something.

    1. Laura*

      I have no idea, but I have the exact same problem…it’s happened…i don’t know like 20 times? I figure if I’m getting to the second interviews, I can’t be thaaat horrible. It’s similar types of jobs, but all sorts of kinds of companies.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      See if you can enlist a friend to do a mock interview with you. Make sure you pick someone who can give good feedback and whose opinion you trust (and don’t get mad if they have criticism!).

      Of course, it could be too that there are a ton of people applying and interviewing and you’re just having bad odds right now.

      1. Gallerina*

        Thanks! That’s a really good idea. On thinking about it, I might get more nervous as the pool of candidates gets whittled down, so make a less good second or third impression.

    3. Ash (the other one!)*

      Have they called your references? That’s one piece I know has been addressed here before…

      1. Laura*

        For me anyways, a lot of the time, during the second interview they say they’ll be calling references, and then never call mine at all. When they do my references do give me a general idea of what they say, and it’s nothing bad.

        I felt like if I did well enough in the first interview t hat they invited me for a second, I can’t suck too bad at interviewing , right? I don’t do anything drastically different in the first or second interviews….i don’t know, maybe I should be doing something drastically different for the second one.

        1. fposte*

          Have you had somebody else call your references just in case?

          I also think Elizabeth has an excellent idea about a mock interview. I agree that you can’t be too bad, but there might be something that you could sharpen up, and this would be a way to check on that.

      2. Gallerina*

        I have had references called at least once and had reports back from my former managers, who I stayed on good terms with, that they had given me fabulous reviews.

        I did once have a reference do an absolute hatchet job on me (I got the job anyway) so I try and be extra cautious about who I put down and what they might say about me.

    4. GoodGirl*

      I’ll echo the advice below about getting a friend to mock interview you. I do interview coaching as a side business and a lot of my clients have found mock interviewing very helpful in figuring out what their interviewing weaknesses are.

      Also, do you know who the companies end up hiring? Are they internal candidates? Do they have some sort of personal connection to company (i.e. their aunt works there?)?

      1. Laura*

        I think some sort of professional doing mock interviewing would help for me…I’ve tried it once or twice with friends, but with someone I’ve never met , it’d probably be closer to how I really am in an interview. I am in Toronto, so if anyone knows any good professionals like this in the area!

        And when I do find out the people who get the job, it’s often someone with far more experience than the job requires. Like it says 1 year experience required, I have 2 years and the person they hired has 6. I think to an extent, with this type of job all of the top 3 candidates would be brilliant at the job, and probably all of the top like 20 would be pretty good at it (these are jobs that get 200+ applicants each, so it’s a little comforting that I’m doing something right to get to the top 3)

  42. Meghan*

    Cautiously optimistic today: a company I’ve interviewed with twice before reached out to me on linkedin and wants to meet again for a new role.

    In every interview I feel like there’s been a great rapport with the team and the managers, so I’m hoping now that my experience and the role clicks.

  43. Ann Furthermore*

    I’m so proud of my stepdaughter! There is a school trip to the Galapagos Islands next summer that she really want to participate in, but it’s going to cost about $4000 by the time it’s all said and done.

    We told her that she had to get a job if she wanted to go, and that for every $75 she saves, we’ll pitch in $25. She started looking for a job, and applied all over the place, and no one was calling her back. Then she got hired at Safeway as a courtesy clerk. She’s been there a few weeks now. They’ve got her working 20-25 hours a week, and she’s still keeping up with all her schoolwork and chores at home.

    I’m so proud of her. I think she’ll enjoy the trip even more since it will be something she worked so hard to earn.

    1. hildi*

      Way to go mom & dad – a good kid you’ve got there :) And that trip will feel even better since she worked so hard for it. My girls are still small, but I’ve long thought that as soon as they can work, they’re getting jobs. I have been working since I was 14 and I think kids should just work (or volunteer). I think it keeps them out of trouble, aside from all the other obvious benefits.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The kids I’ve seen who have actual chores at home seem to do better with this (and not just for allowance–I mean when everyone in the family pitches in). They get a better sense of responsibility and teamwork. Even little ones can pick up their clothes and toys, etc.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. I think of one poor person. I asked him to mop the floor. I gave him a mop and bucket.

          He dumped the water out all over the floor. Totally emptied the bucket.

          He wondered why he was having difficulty.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Thank you on behalf of everyone for not having her do crowdfunding (like Kickstarter) to get people to try to give her the money instead. I can’t believe how many people think that’s ok. I am not funding someone else’s vacation, dream house or wedding.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Good God, people actually do this? I’m pretty sure if she’d tried this, my husband would have shut that down as soon as he found out about it. And then told her that she was not a beggar and was not to behave like one. Thankfully, she’s got a good head on her shoulders and I don’t think this would even occur to her.

          The most outside-the-box thing I was thinking of, if she didn’t find anything, was to start going through the neighborhood offering photography/portrait services to families for a discounted rate. She is really into photography, and even though she’s only 16, she’s got a great eye. All of her photography projects at school are always selected to be in the display case. She took a school trip to Iceland last year, and the pics she got of the Northern Lights were amazing.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            You’d be amazed how many people do it! Back in the olden days when I was in HS, we babysat or had bake sales/car washes – you know, the usual ways to earn money where you perform a service. The photography idea would have been fine for that very reason – she would be doing something for the money instead of asking for a handout. It sounds like you have a great kid! I still haven’t seen the northern lights but it’s on my bucket list.

        2. chewbecca*

          Or the tech gadget they don’t really need. I followed a guy on Twitter for a while who was known to ask for money for things on a semi-regular basis. I unfollowed after the “I want a tablet, please give me money” plea.

    2. BadPlanning*

      As a courtesy clerk, I bet she’ll also have an assortment of hilarious crazy customer stories.

    3. Celeste*

      This is awesome! My daughter is turning 12 and it won’t be all that long until we can tell her she needs to work for some of these special opportunities that cost so much. I like the split you have; I never thought 50-50 was fair for kids with their limited earning power.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I think kids earning their own money is so important, and it gives them a real appreciation for the value of a dollar.

        Your daughter might have to start with stuff like babysitting, mowing lawns, or housesitting at first. My stepdaughter was trying to find a job last summer, and almost every place she tried told her that they didn’t hire kids under 16. I figured it was because of not having a drivers’ license, and therefore no reliable transportation, but I guess in our state, the child labor laws are much stricter for kids under 16 and alot of places don’t want to deal with the hassle.

        1. John*

          Agreed. I know way too many people whose kids are partway through college yet have never had a job. I would never hire someone like that (internships aren’t the same as real jobs). More important, I think it does the kids a disservice all around. Lots of character is built through those positions.

  44. hildi*

    Oh. I feel bad making this come so shortly after Jessica’s excited about getting a kitty post above but…..has anyone ever gotten just tired of their pets? I know this is a pet-loving community and I love them to, but…….I just wish they’d go away these days. We have two cats and a shih-tzu and we have had them for 10-12 years now – we got them shortly after we got married. They were our original babies and we treated them as such.

    But now, with kid #2 here our focus has shifted entirely to human children. I think one of the cats is misbehaving because he’s getting virtually ignored just because we are so freaking busy and tired with the little people. So he’s been pooping in the basement and then peeing sometimes. I can’t tell if he’s making a statement or if he’s having accidents or if he’s just…..being stupid. The other cat barfs after she eats. We’ve tried to cut back on the food and that has helped. But lord help me it seems like each day we come home we have to deal with another cat mess of some sort. Then our doofus dog has her days and nights flipped and wants to be let out all damn night long.

    I feel really horrible feeling this way about them. I have said they are lucky we aren’t the type of people that just exterminate their pets because they are inconvenient. But it’s crossed my mind. And I don’t know that I want to give them away because I’d hate to have them go to a new home and get extra scrambled up and cause problems for new owners. Plus….they are my family and you don’t just dump family because they pee on your floor.

    anyway….not really seeking solutions or anything. Just wondered if anyone else ever got really disillusioned with pet ownership and felt bad about it?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yes. Yes yes yes. I know it sounds awful, but my kitty is a HUGE inconvenience to me sometimes, because she’s so antisocial that I can’t even go out of town without making ridiculously elaborate arrangements (she’s an outside cat). I’m going to have to shell out a stupid amount of money to have someone feed her when I’m in England. There is no one I can depend on to do it for me except my neighbor, and he is getting older and having trouble getting around. I don’t want to ask him to do that for 2-1/2 weeks. Sometimes I wish she would run away, but I’m sure I would miss her, even though she was dumped on me and I didn’t even want a cat!

      If you’re struggling to adjust to a new member of the family, this is going to happen. And of course your focus is on the humans right now. If you can give them a little attention now and then, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, that might help. I’m sure once they get used to Kid #2, things will settle down. It’s probably a disruption for them too.

      1. hildi*

        Elizabeth – it’s so stressful for me to think about asking someone to watch our creature when we’re gone. They’re pretty easy for the most part but it feels like such an imposition. Definitely stressful – I hope you get it figured out for your trip (though you’re going to England YAY! so that should overcome the stress of pet arrangements. Better than being gone 2 weeks for, say, a root canal :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s one reason I’m hiring a professional pet-sitter. Though I do plan to have her meet my neighbor so he knows who she is and that the person going in and out of my house is legit and he doesn’t have to call the cops!

    2. Bryan*

      I feel that way at times just to have a break but not to the extent you’re facing. I think that’s part of having pets, just like having kids.

      1. hildi*

        I think you’re right, Bryan. The more I think about it, the more I think it must be just moving in and out of phases of life and sometimes pets are an awesome part of that and others not so much (like kids!)

    3. StaminaTea*

      Totally normal. I think it’s typical for pets go by the wayside when you have kids. Especially when you have a baby, or two kids under 5.

      Heck, I’ve had a parakeet for years, and even with no kids, sometimes I wish he’d just go away.

      1. hildi*

        Is it true that if you put a cloth over a bird’s cage they will think they are asleep and stop chirping? Or is that a myth?

        1. StaminaTea*

          Mostly true. When I really need him to quiet down, I cover him, he settles in for the night, then looks shocked when I uncover him a bit later and it’s daytime.

          I think it’s like a Pavlovian response – I usually only cover him when it’s bedtime. But sometimes he’s too worked up, and will keep on making a racket. Mostly he’s a good bird.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            We had to do that sometimes with the parakeet we had because he was so loud when we were watching TV. He loved to chirp along with the music. Silly Budgie.

        2. Ed Zachary*

          We’ve had 5 birds over the years and putting a dark cloth over the cage that completely covers all lighting openings works like a charm. Instant quiet. In the morning when you pull the cover off they are so happy to see you.

    4. Mimmy*

      Oh yes!! We had two cats since 2003 until one died last year. We still have the one, but she can be a royal pain in the neck sometimes. I feel horrible saying it too because we DON’T have kids. I think we’re just tired of the fur, snot, hair balls, etc. Our once-nice leather couch now looks like s***. I don’t wish ill on any animal, but man, I’m looking forward to the day we can buy new furniture and paint the walls. lol.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, I can so relate to this. We got 2 dogs about 10 years ago, and they were great pets, but also a pain.

      We are just not dog people. We never mistreated them, of course, and they always have a warm place to sleep, plenty of water, and we always keep their shots up to date, and they have a yard to play in. And we don’t banish them to the yard or the garage or anything like that. But other people we know treat their dogs like their children, and just lavish them terribly. It makes us feel like inadequate pet owners.

      At the end of December, we had to put our bulldog to sleep, which was just so sad. He was almost 10, very old by bulldog standards, and had been going downhill pretty quickly. We do miss him. Our other dog is still in good heath, and finally did bounce back after losing her companion, and we do enjoy her, but after she goes, we’ve agreed that there will be no more dogs.

      1. hildi*

        Ann – it’s hard, isnt’ it? I have thought about the day when these creatures will go downhill (which will be in the next 5 years I bet) and it make me relieved but also sad to think about them not being around. And I don’t think I’d be interested in another cat, but maybe a dog? I always had a pet growing up and I do like what they can contribute to a family.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          It is really hard. With our bulldog, it was just the right thing to do for him. He was in pretty bad shape, and anything we would have done to prolong his life would have been for us, not for him. But still, it was hard to say goodbye. And on top of that, I had to try to explain death to my 4 year old without freaking her out scaring her. Ugh. That was a true test of my parenting skills.

          Dogs are great companions, but they are much more maintenance than cats — I’m sure you already know that though. Just be aware of that going in. Choose a breed that will fit in with your lifestyle. Like if you’re not really active, then don’t choose some kind of hunting dog that loves to roam and run.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, I lost a beloved dog in the fall of ’12 and I miss her every day and yet there are definitely ways my life is easier without a dog: I was able to move really quickly when my living situation became untenable without months of trying to find a place that would let me rent with the dog (she was a “scary breed”), I can stay out as late as I want, I can take trips without arranging pet-sitting, and my upholstery is definitely much cleaner…

      3. De Minimis*

        My wife and I are in a similar situation….my father-in-law passed away a few years ago and we have his dogs who are both at the geriatric stage. They’ve been part of our lives for a long time [my father-in-law lived with us for the last 6 years of his life] but they can be pretty difficult and expensive now that their health is more of a concern. We bought a home recently that is not really set up well for the dogs and that’s been a big pain to deal with. Neither my wife nor I are big dog people but we’ve inadvertently become people whose lives revolve around their dogs, just due to our living situation. We love the dogs and will miss them when they’re gone, but I think both of us will be glad to have a break from animals for at least a few years…and probably not ever have dogs again, they just aren’t a fit.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit*

      … I feel awkward even asking this, but: Does anyone ever feel this way about their kids? ‘Cause that’s what I’m afraid of, if we decide to have kids. What if we end up not liking parenting? It’s not something you can change your mind about after the fact.

      1. hildi*

        Even though we’re not there yet, I bet the answer is yes. And I would suspect it’s linked more to a phase–that either the kids or you (or both, really) are going through. Which, the good news is that they are not forever (phases). I think that’s what I’m feeling about the pets right now. They fit, they were awesome, and we were ok with them at a different phase of our life. Now we are here with a totally different set of priorities and desires and the pets don’t fit. Which is why I say that I can’t get rid of them, because I still love them and care for them and it’s my obligation as their person to take care of them. But I’m just not thrilled with them right now. I’m sure peopel feel that about their teens – but there’s a mysterious bond between parent and child that overcomes all of that. Otherwise most of us wouldn’t have survived our teens. :)

      2. Sunflower*

        I feel this way too. I was googling something and I ended up on a forum about people saying they are tired of being parents and am terrified this will happen to me! I’m convinced all parents feel this way at some point but it’s taboo to talk about it

      3. Darth Admin*

        Parent here, and yes – there are days when I’d like to run away. But those moments are (for me) fleeting and far between. Plus, much like pets, just when I’m most exasperated with my kid, he’ll go and do something hilarious or sweet or otherwise wonderful and all is well again.

        Point being, no one is thrilled with everything, all the time.

      4. Lily in NYC*

        I love my niece to bits but she caused me to realize I should not have kids. She is a smart, well-behaved, adorable 10-year old but I still can only handle her in finite doses of time. It has nothing to do with her – she’s fantastic. It was an eye-opener that if I can’t be around such a great kid for more than a long weekend without going nuts, then I should not be a parent. But I also got no maternal twinges around her (or any kid). That was also an eye-opener.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          This is such a cliche, but it really is different when it’s your own child. And you shouldn’t just write off the possibility. I never thought I wanted to have kids, and never had any strong maternal urges. Plus I had some kind of messed up crap happen in my childhood, and I thought I wouldn’t be a good parent, like I’d be continuing the cycle.

          Then I met my husband, and a couple years after we got married, I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t have maternal urges, I just hadn’t met a person that made me think having a child was a good idea. Fast forward, and we now have a 5 year old daughter that we love to pieces.

          I wouldn’t change a thing, but I do wish I had not closed myself off to the possibility for so long. I didn’t have my daughter until I was 41, and although we could have tried for another, and I wanted to, getting pregnant at that age is kind of scary because there is more potential for complications. And I had a few when I was pregnant with my daughter. I asked my husband if he wanted to try for another, and he said that he thought we’d probably used up our good baby karma on the child we had, and we should just be thankful for what we have. I figured he was right.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I am 41 so it resonates. I also recently found out that there is a 50% chance that I will inherit my dad’s fatal genetic condition, and that any child I have will also have a 50% chance. So add that to being ambivalent, and it’s a no-brainer for me. I don’t mean to sound morbid, I have come to terms with it and wake up happy every day.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              No, it doesn’t sound morbid, it sounds sensible and realistic. I’m sorry that’s something that is part of your life though. But your outlook is what I would hope mine would be, because the only other choice would be to get angry and be pissed off about it, which really doesn’t accomplish anything.

      5. Ann Furthermore*

        Oh, there are days when you’d like to just be free of your kids, believe me. And like hildi said, it’s usually because of a phase either you or they are going through. Do I love being a parent when my daughter is having a tantrum about picking up her toys? No, I really don’t. I just have to grit my teeth and get through it. But then she’ll go to bed, I’ll have a few hours of peace and quiet before I go to sleep, and then we wake up and it’s a new day and a fresh start.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          +7(pm bedtime) That’s when my parents used to make us go to sleep (often when, where we lived, there was another 2.5 hours of daylight, which made that challenging).

          It was not until I had children myself that I realized the early bedtime was NOT (solely) for our benefit, but for theirs. They wanted some time when we were out of the picture to relax and recharge.

      6. Jen RO*

        This is one of the reasons I’m never having kids. (Though I am very happy with my cats and I can’t imagine giving them away even when they are at their most annoying!)

      7. Xay*

        Yes, parenting is exhausting and more than once I have looked around and wondered what I got myself into. That’s why parents invented sleepovers, overnight summer camp, and Grandma’s house. I love my son dearly and I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but when he and Dad went away for Spring Break last week while I stayed home and worked it was a breath of fresh air.

    7. Stryker*

      Definitely feel this as a NEW pet owner, which makes me feel icky. Our dog has severe separation anxiety and we just got him from a foster mom who stayed at home all day and had like five other dogs.

      Now it’s just me and my bf for his new pack, and we have to work during the day. I guess it’s a good thing we were planning on new carpet in the living room, but it’s so disheartening to come home to a wagging dog tail and half your carpet ripped up into fuzzies.

      I wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into sometimes. It’s not like we can give him up–his next owner will have a similar problem and we love him now–but still… Glad to know I’m not alone in this.

      1. O*

        I’d suggest, if you’re able, since he’s so used to other dogs around and having people around, take him to a daycare facility, even just once or twice a week will probably help. It’ll give him exercise and socialize him since he’s used to being around other dogs.

      2. John*

        You might also want to consult with a behaviorist. We have (and are currently) consulted with some great ones at Tufts Veterinary School, and they do it from a distance.

        Last dog had separation anxiety and had to go through training and doggie Prozac. And daycare was a huge help, as well.

        It can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel but, in restrospect, it is amazing how quickly she adapted and became the world’s greatest dog. RIP.

    8. Celeste*

      Yes, first when I had my daughter, and again now that my older cat (a male) has not just strong but copious urine output. (He isn’t ill, it’s just how they can be). It is A JOB keeping up with the litterbox now.

    9. LMW*

      I love my dog to death (I sometimes freak out realizing she’s already 8 and we’re probably more than halfway through our time together), but it’s hard to be completely responsible for another creature (pets or kids). It requires energy and attention. And that can get old even when they are perfectly behaved. So it’s totally normal to feel that way when things start to get rough.
      I actually think this applies to kids and the elderly too. You can love them and be committed to taking care of them, but it can be frustrating and exhausting too. You are entitled to your feelings, whatever they are. And it’s much better to acknowledge those feelings to yourself than letting them boil over and showing them to your pet, kid, grandma with Alzheimers, etc.
      I try to think of it this way: Those awesome times, when the pets were your babies? You pay them back for that by putting up with the frustrations that stack up at the end.

    10. Parfait*

      do take kitty to the vet and make sure there’s no medical issues. sometimes they’ll pee in inappropriate places when they’re sick.

    11. abby*

      I haven’t read all the comments and maybe this has been suggested to you already.

      Cat who is peeing and pooping outside the box: Sometimes this is behavioral, sometimes it’s medical. Such as a urinary tract problem or constipation, both very serious problems in cats. This cat should get checked out by a vet to make sure it’s not a medical problem.

      Cat who is barfing: Probably not behavioral- who on earth wants to barf?? One of my cats used to barf on occasion, then started barfing more frequently. It turned out that something was very, very wrong. We still don’t know exactly what was wrong, didn’t want to do an endoscopy to get a definite diagnosis, but we suspect food allergy or sensitivity and changing his food did wonders. Frequent barfing can also be a sign of other medical problems.

      Not what you wanted to read, I am sure, as cats with medical issues are a lot of work. Hoping for your sake this is not the cause for either cat.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds like some aging issues going on there– unfortunately all three animals are doing it at the same time.

      I think you’re pretty normal. Animals are a commitment and unlike kids they don’t grow up and move out.

      I don’t have kids, but when my beloved dog was aging and having so.many. issues. I had a tough time with that. I did as much as I could but when they are older it’s not as much fun as when they are younger. I spent more time worrying than I did enjoying in the end- that was the worst part. I almost felt relieved when he died. That sounds horrible- but all things considered: his pain/discomfort and my inability to provide a major relief for him plus my sorrow about that…. On his last morning, I knew it was time to let go of him. And so did he.

      I think there is a season for everything. You may have a small pet later on in life. Or not. I do believe that animals teach us about ourselves and I think yours are helping you define yourself and your life. Nothing is wasted here.

  45. Jubilance*

    Just a few quick notes:

    1-I know 5+ people who have voluntarily my company since I started about 18 months ago, and 3 have left with no job lined up. While my job isn’t completely unbearable, I’m unhappy and I’m wasting my talent. My company has a lot of issues and I don’t see myself having a long-term career here. I’m going to start taking a look and seeing what else is out there.

    2- I’m getting married :-) Having a nerd-themed Pi Day wedding (3/14/15). So far we’ve got the big stuff out of the way – venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, but I’d love some tips/resources if anyone has them.

    1. KTM*

      Congratulations!! No specific tips here but we got married last October and I found apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com to be awesome resources (we also had a nerdy type wedding) Have fun!

    2. fposte*

      Sorry the job is still kind of sour, but many congratulations on the festivities! I have no tips or resources, but I love the Pi Day wedding.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Congratulations!!

      For your bridesmaids — you pick the color, and let them pick the dress style. That way everyone can wear something they’ll be comfortable and feel good in. I did this, and just went to David’s Bridal, as it’s a national chain and a couple of my bridesmaids lived in other states. This is a pretty common thing to do anymore, and maybe you’re already planning to do it, but it’s always my first piece of advice. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit wearing something I would never pick for myself, and then feeling horribly self-conscious during the whole wedding and reception. Ugh.

      Also, you said you’ve already lined up a DJ, but what we did for music was create a huge list on my iPod, and let that play during the reception. It was at my parents’ house, and we didn’t have any formal dance floor or anything like that, so it was just background music. But we started off with slower, easy-going stuff early on, and then graduated to rowdier music later in the evening when the older relatives had left and it was just the younger crowd left. So — if you’re not planning to do the traditional dancing, etc, this is a great alternative to save a little money.

      We did our reception kind of as a glorified cocktail party, so all our food was hors d’oeuvre type stuff. This was out of necessity — since it was at my parents’ house, there was not enough room to have a formal sit-down dinner. But what was nice about that was that it really helped facilitate people mingling, talking, and socializing, instead of groups of people staking out their table and then just hanging out with each other.

      Do your bachelor/bachelorette parties a couple weeks out, so both you and your fiance can let loose, get as wild and crazy as you want, with no worries about being hung over for the big day!

      My husband and I agreed that we would alternate a soda after every alcoholic drink we had, so that we wouldn’t be sloppy drunk at the reception and embarrass ourselves. This was a great call — we both ended up with a “happy” kind of buzz, but nothing regrettable. And, we had an open bar, but told the bartenders that shots of any kind were banned. Trouble and drama at weddings always seems to happen after people start doing shots.

      And — DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. This is supposed to be a fun, joyful time! Remember to have fun when doing the really cool stuff like cake tastings, registering for gifts, your shower, and bachelorette party.

      I’m sure whatever you do will be lovely!

    4. Mimmy*

      Congrats on your engagement!! Your wedding theme sounds really clever!

      My tip that I tell everyone: Take in every moment of the prep and the day itself…you want to enjoy the memories and not get buried under the stress of everything. I was SO nervous in the moments before going down the aisle, but once it got going, I just took the time to truly enjoy the day (wow…I’m actually tearing up thinking about it).

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      And I think you should have wedding pie instead of wedding cake! Or a cake done up to look like a pie. :)

      1. Parfait*

        Absolutely on the pie. I went to a wedding with several flavors of pie and it was the BEST. And I say that as a life member of Team Cake.

    6. Ed Zachary*

      You lucky ducky. Next year’s PI day is 3/14/15 9:26:53.58. That’s the first 12 digits of PI! So you need to pause the celebration at 9:26 and have an announcement at exactly the right moment. Let us all know how it goes.

      Also, you wedding pi must be in the shape of a semicircle. As we all know a full circle is 2pi, or tau (6.28318530718). Pics or it didn’t happen. :)

    7. Jubilance*

      Thank you everyone :-)

      We chose Pi Day because we’re both in the sciences (he’s a mathematician) and we’re both pretty nerdy. We don’t want to overdue the nerd theme of the wedding, but we’ve figured out a few things which I’m excited about. We are still having wedding cake, but the wedding favors will be mini-pies in various flavors – I figured those would be more appreciated than some of the random stuff you see as wedding favors.

    8. Mephyle*

      Here’s an idea for anyone who’s not big on dancing (if there are any such people – I know there must be because my daughter and son-and-law aren’t fond of dancing.) So since they are serious board game enthusiasts, what they did at their wedding was to have board games instead. I confess we were very sceptical that people would take to it, but we were proved wrong, I’m glad to say. The board games were a big success, and also helped people from the different friend and family groups to mix with each other.

  46. KTM*

    I couldn’t wait for the open thread this week to tell this story! My husband came home this week and told me that during a manager’s ‘Attendance Policy’ meeting he went to, he found out that his company retains a private investigator specifically for the purposes of checking if employees are abusing FMLA to take time off. Not just ‘has hired one in the past’ but actually pays to retain one. Right after he told me that I was like ‘is that legal’?? Which of course meant I had to post it here (and I’m guessing yes, it’s creepy, but legal).

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that’s…creepy. I don’t know about the legality either, but my guess is that it would depend on what they actually did.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Creepy, and I have to think a huge waste of money. It can’t be cheap to have a PI on retainer, and it would be interesting to know the cost of that compared to the cost of people allegedly abusing their FMLA.

        I could see having a PI to investigate repeated disability/workmen’s comp type of claims, but FMLA? That just seems weird.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, worker’s comp was what I was thinking of, to the point where I wondered if the relationship started that way and one side or another expanded it to FMLA.

            1. fposte*

              The company has no power over the doctor, though, just over the employee, and even if the doctor were corrupt it wouldn’t prove the person wasn’t entitled to FMLA.

            2. AVP*

              Not sure if you heard about the huge NYPD disability fraud case recently, but in that case it was dozens of people going to different doctors, and millions of dollars, so I guess it was worth the investigation costs in that particular case. But I highly doubt that’s what’s going on for KTM’s husband!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Bizarre! I’d bet the PI is a friend of the CEO and needed a job.
      I would think there would need to be a clause in the handbook stating that all employees will be investigated when taking FMLA.
      What is a PI going to find out that a call to the employee’s doctor won’t uncover. If I am taking FMLA for mental health issues and go on holiday to relax, will the PI determine I am cheating? Weird.

    3. OriginalYup*

      WHOA. That is….just…wow…so many thoughts.

      I seriously have nothing useful to contribute here. I’m just wildly contemplating either the stuff that must have gone done in the past or the Hoover-like paranoia that exists at the management level. ON RETAINER. That is spectacular.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Interesting! What kind of firm is it? I know management consulting firms do this sometimes becuase of how they are structured. Entry level hires either get promoted in two years to associate or they are highly encouraged to leave. Apparently it’s an epidemic – when people realize they aren’t going to get promoted they “develop” carpal tunnel, get a fake doctor’s note from an MD friend, and take 6 months off so they can job search (knowing it’s the end of the line for them). I know of one firm that has a full time investigator to deal with these claims.

    5. Grace*

      I don’t know what state you are in and laws vary. (You can also post your question for free for employment attorneys in your state to answer on www dot avvo dot com .) I do work in law and I always tell people that if they ever use Workers’ Comp to expect to be put under surveillance by the insurance companies. If they don’t like the surveillance photos (person claiming back injury remodeling a home or carrying a 100 pound of dog food from the store)…expect to also face felony prosecution by the district attorney for insurance fraud. And yes, I’ve seen several people go to prison for that and one get a hung jury.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Decades ago, my husband did activity checks as part of being an insurance adjuster.
      I assume this is more of that same concept.

      Well okay, let’s assume Bob is taking FMLA to attend to his dying father. (Bob’s a busy guy on this forum.) Now how the heck does that investigator prove that Bob is doing something nefarious? Anyone who has ever taken care of a terminally ill parent KNOWS this can put you any place at any time doing absolutely anything. Suppose dad wants to go for a ride on a nice day. “Gee, Dad, love to take you – but I have this investigator that follows me around all the time….”

      How is one investigator going to keep up with Bob? Bob could go home but get called in the middle of the night. So the next morning the investigator goes back to Bob’s house and finds out he is not home- for three days! (Makes sense because Dad got move to a hospital that is 50-75 miles away and Bob is sleeping at the hospital.)

      What a huge waste of money. I wonder why managers are not aware of what goes into taking care of a sick family member.

  47. Carrie in Scotland*

    What was good/bad for you this week?

    Good: Free chocolate bunny from the people who run the building.

    Bad: V slow work week (due to loads of people being on holiday) and also, my cat threw up in my (very) new shoes =(

    1. Meghan*

      Good: My insufferable boss was away for most of the week.

      Bad: My puppy is 50% blind in one eye due to a run in with a horse last fall.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Good: I have a ton of PTO I can (have to) take and it’s finally warming up. Yay warm!

      Bad: I only get to roll 40 hours of PTO over at fiscal year end, so I won’t be able to take ANY between now and my vacation, in order to earn enough to cover it. Also, I don’t really have anywhere to go right now.

    3. SimpleeInspired*

      Good: One week left in my final semester of college.
      Bad: My ChemE exam and waiting for after interview callbacks.

      1. Stryker*

        :) Keep your chin up! You’ve been taking a class all semester for the ChemE exam, and hopefully you know more than when you started, so I’m sure you’ll do fine! (That said, exams suck and I still feel for you.)

        And interview callbacks mean that you had an interview in the first place, so there’s that. Keeping my fingers crossed for you! :)

        1. SimpleeInspired*

          Haha, thanks! I’m just getting antsy waiting for my academic career to FINALLY come to an end. Four years of the engineering curriculum is grueling.

    4. Stephanie*

      Good: I got an A on my midterm (for the class I’m taking) and a “good job” from the professor.

      Bad: Turns out the restaurant I picked out for my birthday dinner (probably) gave me gastroenteritis. I spent the following day running between the couch and the bathroom.

    5. Stryker*

      Good: I sewed a linen shirt all by myself, and the sleeves are still attached.

      Bad: One of my email newsletters for work only got a 3% Click through rate, which is low for us. :/ Darnit, gotta work harder!

    6. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Good: I’m starting to shirt over to my new role, and it’s really fun to start digging into my new projects and responsibilities.

      Bad: One of my projects in past role took a quick, hard turn for the worse. I’m not sure yet what to do about it. I feel like a failure!

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Um, shirt = shift. It took me a minute to even remember what I was trying to say there.

    7. C average*

      Good: I got my GMAT scores back and came very close to acing the verbal, integrated reasoning, and writing assessment portions.

      Bad: I’m in the 13th percentile (no, that is not a typo) for the quantitative.

      I’m going to hire a math tutor to try to bring up my quant score so that my overall results aren’t so shockingly lopsided. I’ve always been freakishly good at verbal stuff and worse than average at math, but this is the worst I’ve ever done on the math part of a standardized test.

      1. Stryker*

        :/ I’m sorry to hear that. Better luck with a tutor! Still, not everyone’s good at everything, and how long has it been since you studied? I tried doing some of the new sample math SAT questions and bombed it, but it’s been six years since I did serious algebra…

      2. Stephanie*

        Standardized test math is weird and seems to be more about applying tricks than actual knowledge. No shame in getting a tutor! And I’m sure the GMAT candidate pool is pretty math-inclined to being with.

      3. Lucy*

        That sounds SO similar to me with the GRE! I got my results back and was so excited about the verbal sections- but the math was even more dismal than I expected. Oh well, congratulations to you!

    8. Rye-Ann*

      Good: I finished, printed, and distributed my thesis to my committee! Yay!

      Bad: It turns out I have to reschedule my thesis defense and it’s not going well because there’s more or less no time when five faculty members can get together for 2.5 hours! :\ As a result I might have to delay graduating until August. :(

    9. LPBB*

      Good: I found out yesterday that I’m doing even better than I thought I was in my job and they are planning on training me in some other products soon.

      Bad: My fiance and I got the quote from the venue we want to use for our wedding – it was at least $1000 more than our friends paid for that venue (of course it was 4 years ago, but still) and officially busted our budget.

      1. I Love Books*

        Good: just found out a beloved staff member at work who quit a year ago is coming back on board since we have new management. yay!!!!

        Bad: Still house hunting (rentals) for June. I’m so antsy to move. The people (leasing office AND other residents) hate us, and I feel like they’re looking for a reason to kick us out. Grr.

    10. Darth Admin*

      Good: I went through my giant to-do list and got much more organized, thus removing stress from my (work)life.

      Bad: Kid and husband sick, and I’m trying to fight it off.

    11. Xay*

      Good: The semester is almost over and I am looking forward to a lighter summer workload.

      Bad: I have a plan that I need to stick to for school and family reasons, but I’m getting bored and restless in my current job. I can’t afford to blow up the plan to change jobs so I’m trying to make do, but I wish I could get on the job market instead.

    12. EA*

      Good: I installed a new irrigation timer to replace the old one (2 of the 4 buttons weren’t worrking), and nothing blew up.

      Bad: I checked my company’s internal job postings, and only 1 out of 110 in my state is something that I’d be good at. (I’ve been with this company for 9 years, and there is a good amount of internal movability, and I like the company, just not my present role within the company)

      Also Bad: Our team has 2 “co-managers”, and in our official org chart, I’ve been switched to be under the one that doesn’t know I’m job searching (they’re part of the reason that I’m searching).