open thread – April 25, 2014

IMG_2250It’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.

{ 1,207 comments… read them below }

  1. Jill-be-Nimble*

    Tried this last week but got in too late—maybe there will be some PR people early on! (Or maybe it’s just too long). Jumping in early…

    I’m wondering how large PR firms work, specifically in the creative side. My background is in book and magazine publishing, with education/experience in studio art, photography, design, story-telling, web design, research, and journalism. I always thought that this Jill-of-All-Trades approach would help me in the shrinking industry–I can do anything! Let me come at the problem from different angles! I’ll proof it visually and editorially and make sure it all works! I’ll come up with online interactive extras! Need an article and a photo gallery? I can create and edit from every side. Bring it on!

    Turns out this hasn’t helped me, though, just given me too much experience to get in at entry level and too little focused experience to get me hired into a single role at a higher level. I’ve been looking for the right company fit for a long time and have ended up as a contractor–no one really knows where to put me or what to do with me, but they do like me a lot and keep hiring me.

    I went to a career fair the other week where a large PR firm was recruiting. They got really excited about my background and started asking me detailed questions about my experience in negotiating between art and editorial departments to create materials. This is something I’m actually really good at, have decent experience with, and love doing. It’s just really difficult to find something like that with a job title! The recruiter said he would pass my information on to his creative team so that we could have coffee sometime. He said that they might be looking for someone in a few months, but weren’t hiring at the moment. When I asked exactly which type of position he had in mind for me, he just said “creative,” but didn’t elaborate.

    After doing some research on the firm, I’m incredibly excited about the type of work they do and would love to make this jump if they would have me! So my questions are two-fold: 1) Does anyone with PR experience know what job title(s) I might look out for on their job site? 2) Would it be worth sending an introductory letter of interest to their HR department? They mentioned at the fair that they are always recruiting and will try to find a place if they get the right people. (Also, the creative team has not reached out. It’s been two weeks and the recruiter says that they are extremely busy at the moment. I was going to wait another week before emailing again, but then thought of the HR idea.)

    TL;DR: I would like to know more about the types of jobs on the creative side of PR, especially those working between art and editorial. Also, is it acceptable to send a general letter of introduction/resume to a large PR firm’s HR department, or will it get swept under the rug?

    1. Sunflower*

      Ah I wish I could help on this. I think it’s worth sending an email to the HR department in a week or 2 if you don’t hear back. I think if you can get more involved in networking groups you might be able to find out more about how PR works. You’re in a good spot where you’re generally interested in finding out more about PR and not just looking for a job. Check out LinkedIn groups and see if you can hop on a networking event in the next week or 2 to start off. Does PSRA have a chapter close to you? That’s where I would think you could find the most helpful resources. Good luck!

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’d follow up with the recruiter you spoke with at the fair; tell them basically what you said here: that you’re interested in their firm and you have some more specific questions about the various roles within the organization, and can they refer you to someone on the creative team who might be willing to answer those questions.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        That’s a great suggestion. I think I’ll do it, but will wait until next week to give them a few more days. In the meantime, I’ll poke around PRSA.

    3. The Prez*

      Oh my golly! I can actually answer this… kinda. Anyway, I’m still a student, but I am the President of a PRSSA (the student version of PRSA) chapter.

      It’s an amazing organization. You should definitely reach out, they’d love to help.

      Anyway, PR works hand in hand with creative services (that’s what they’re called at the place I intern.) They usually help out by designing any printed materials like brochures, or signage for events. They also help publish our magazine, although this is fairly unusual.

      If you’re going to be working in a large agency, chances are you’ll be a part of a team with some PR account executives. Usually if the clients want special programs or campaigns, you’d help create the “look and feel.” for all the promotions. Web design and any programming skills are a definite plus, as more and more people are moving to social media and e-gaming as a teaching tool.

      IDK if this is the same firm, but check out Weber Shandwick’s (one of the huge international firms) work for the United Nations Foundation:

      Right from the case study, “Engaging infographics, Op-Eds, and a new web site were all added to the mix.” If you can do either (or all) of those things, you’d be extremely valuable to a PR agency.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        This is great! Actually, the company I was looking at was Edelman, but it’s always good to learn about new places. I do currently do infographic research and infographic consultation with a very well-regarded magazine. (I can also create them on my own, but they have people in the art department who are faster than me. They tend to keep the researchers and artists separate.) I really love doing this type of work, tying the articles together with beautiful and informative infographics. I also write articles and blogs for them and have clips in a few major publications and a couple of books.

        I have created websites, although this is a skill I’m still developing and it’s my weaker point. (This is where the Jill-of-All-Trades thing starts to bite me a bit.) I can lay out how I want it all to look and what I want the functions to do, but implementing it all takes a quite bit of time. If I could just hand it over to a coder, that would be better!

    4. Just a Reader*

      PR veteran here. The agencies I’ve worked in and with typically have “creative” or “digital” titles. Director, manager, executive, etc.

      This is typically a support function–the role supports the company in landing new business and servicing existing clients as well as its own brand–so you’d be in charge of creative/visual elements for a new business pitch, as well as any needed support for reporting, templates, etc. and work for current clients which would run the gamut. Most agencies have menus for creative services but there’s a lot of room to come up with new concepts, as long as there’s a use for them in the press and they can be effectively priced.

      That’s the way to think about your work. Your audience is media and its consumers (traditional and social media). Whatever you create needs to be able to be published and shared effectively on other outlets, and it needs to be able to make the company money. So if you have a great idea that takes 20 hours at your going rate of XX/hour (say $150 for someone relatively early in their career), it needs to be high value and either get one large bang for the buck in a traditional media outlet, or go viral.

      The types of creative things our agency does for us are infographics, both interactive and static, sexy reporting templates, custom apps, branded feeds for Flipboard and other business apps/platforms, that kind of thing. I work in house and we also have in-house brand & creative and video services that provide us videos, logos, power point templates, animated bumpers, etc. But this is a big company and smaller companies typically outsource that kind of thing (maybe to their PR firms)!

      Hope this is helpful and I’m happy to answer any questions.

      1. Jill-be-Nimble*

        This is excellent; thank you so much. So, for an entry-level type job, would the job title be Creative Director or Digital Director? I’ve noticed with PR they have inflated titles to make their clients think that they are Very Important People–one reason I’m confused!

        Also, what kind of software, apart from Adobe CS, would it be best to know going in? I’m great with inDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, but don’t know AfterEffects. Should I know how to code Python or Ruby, or is that something that can be handed off to developers? I’ve worked on some really cool, flashy infographics, but mostly from the planning and research stages.

        1. Just a Reader*

          I don’t actually think that most credible PR agencies have inflated titles. A director is a leadership role–mid career I would think “manager” or “supervisor” would be correct, and entry level would probably be something like “specialist.”

          I can’t actually speak to the software side of things–but the more coding you can do, the better. PR agencies will rarely have significant resources for development.

    5. uses of enchantment*

      If you go to Edelman’s career page and do a search of open positions in your city, you can take a look at the ones that might be what you’re looking for…don’t pick a “Sector” just pick a City.

      I did a search just now using my city and there’s something called a Presentation Specialist which reads like it matches your skills and interests. Interfacing between groups, creating a variety of media documents/templates/PPTs.

      You may also consider searching in the broadcast/network/cable television companies that have offices near you. At a company that size, you may have multiple PR departments.

      1. Just a Reader*

        Probably not–only Fortune 500 companies typically have pr departments of any meaningful size (I work for a fortune 200 and we have a corporate PR staff of 15) and in house, the type of work that Jill is asking about typically doesn’t fall under the PR umbrella.

  2. Sunflower*

    What are good place to network? I feel like networking events solely focused on networking are awkward- especially if not everyone is in the same industry. I prefer to find other people I guess at conferences, speeches? Any other good places anyone knows of to find new contacts in a more organic sort of way?

    1. Looking for new career*

      Is there a professional organization for the field you’re interested in?

      Also, though I haven’t done any yet, I’ve read it’s good to network through LinkedIn to get introductions to people you want to talk to.

    2. Another Librarian*

      I would check facebook and linkedin for groups in your profession. You can pretty frequently find young professionals groups that get together for happy hours and things like that, which can be intimidating at first but are also a great way to meet people in your field.

    3. Mimmy*

      Another good way to network is continuing education workshops (if your field requires or encourages it).

    4. Stephanie*

      Professional organizations, especially if the events aren’t billed as networking events. It’s a lot less awkward to meet with people if that’s not the primary event focus.

      Also, if you have an active alumni group in your area, that’s good too.

    5. anon-2*

      OK, I’m in IS/IT. Give ya some networkin’ hints, and I don’t know if they’re applicable to your industry/profession.

      1) Join professional groups that are peculiar to your industry and don’t just attend – but PARTICIPATE. Write papers, give presentations, and if you can, perform some of the organizations’ functions. Just don’t let it interfere with the performance of your job duties, for which you’re getting paid. People tend to notice if you’re more “professional organization” than a “contributor” … which lends people to think “all hat, no cattle”.

      2) Participate in social media – that’s geared to your profession. LinkedIn is one of those places. Most professional folks look at that. And, there probably are various bulletin boards out there that are specific to your profession.

      3) If you’re proficient in your field, offer to assist and mentor younger people in your specialty. What I mean by this is online advice, professional and friendly discussions.

      4) Does your discipline have any professional journals you can write an op-ed piece for? Then do so.

      Now – what else to do….watch out ….

      1) On “regular” social media pages (Facebook, YouTube) don’t put anything embarrassing to yourself out there.

      2) Don’t alienate ANYONE. You never know what you’ll need in the future, or what opportunites that this person might link you up with.

      3) Unemployed people fall into this trap quite often = they network with OTHER unemployed people. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on these people for support – you’re sharing your grief, and buoying each other — but you’re not going to find a job in those groups. There you find solace, comfort and support, but don’t rely on those groups for professional networking.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Stephanie*

        I agree on the active involvement in groups. People definitely remember someone who sits on a committee than someone who comes to a meeting once every other month.

        1. Stephanie*

          It’s also a lot easier to do this when employed! It’s awkward attending meetings when you’re job-hunting. =\

          1. anon-2*

            Why should it be awkward, Stephanie? You’ve got the time, and it’s a good place to let people know that you’re available.

            1. De Minimis*

              I found it awkward too….many times I’d be the only one there who wasn’t employed, so I’d have to tell people again and again that I was looking for work.

              Also, the events I went to didn’t seem to attract a lot of the people that I probably needed to meet—I met a lot of retired and semi-retired professionals and owners of really small operations that didn’t really hire many people.

            2. Stephanie*

              I can’t place my finger on it, but I’d guess it’s hard to say upfront repeatedly “Hi, I need a job.” (Granted, I don’t phrase it that way, but it comes up inevitably within the first five minutes of meeting someone.) People definitely shirk away like “Ooooh, please don’t ask me for a referral or a job.” But it can seem like you’re at the meetings or events solely to get a job.

              1. anon-2*

                You DON’T say it. But you definitely let people know you’re between situations if anyone asks.
                You don’t go to one of these functions begging for a job, but your presence allows you to let people know of your status.

                Then let THEM ask the questions.

                1. TheSnarkyB*

                  I think Stephanie’s point was that it comes up, not that she brings it up.
                  It’s true- people always ask or it comes up within the first 5 minutes because it’s a networking event.

      2. anon-2*

        forgot one thing

        4) Do not rely on advice from your unemployment office as to how to find a job. First of all, they’re EMPLOYED through political connections, usually — second – most employers do NOT go to the unemployment office looking for staff.

        1. Stephanie*

          The UI office isn’t great. I do see some jobs posted there, but they’re rarely any of interest.

          Problem is, I think the UI office has to deal with everyone, from laid-off CFOs to home contractors, some of whom have never written a resume or done an interview before. So more often than not, their advice is vague and broad (and obvious if you’ve worked in a white-collar environment).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The unemployment office near me said that they could not help anyone looking for a job greater than $30k.

          2. anon-2*

            Yeah Steph

            I have a friend who had been out for a year – I asked to see his resume. It was very generic.

            He was taking courses there (MS Office, etc.) – good – you can put on your resume that you KNOW these products — but not that you learned them in rehab/retraining.

            I also said “networking” – but WHO are you networking with? Well, his LinkedIn page – all unemployed people. I suggested he change that.

            I suggested he rewrite his resume to indicate his skills and experience UP FRONT and he did. He started getting interviews. I also asked him – how many applications do you have out there now? One, he applied and was waiting to hear back.

            I told him that he should have 20 applications out there at any given time …. yes, 20. When I was out of work, I would have 15-20 applications and would track and classify them. I only applied for positions I was qualified for but I did manage to get two interviews a month.

    6. HarryV*

      The best way to network are your current network of friends. Do you recall any friend or friend of a friend who is in the industry you are interested in? Many times we forget where our friend’s work but they are the ones who would usually go the extra mile to help you out. Professional network doesn’t work unless you have something that would benefit them.

      1. Stephanie*


        Friends, friends of friends, parents of friends (if you’re young enough) can be great. It’s also a lot easier since they know you personally.

        Professional network can be useful if you have the time to volunteer through professional organizations (like helping out with a conference or something).

    7. Scott M*

      I think that good networking happens where you socialize. It’s hard to be personable at industry events. It’s better to make friends first, then suss out work related info later. And if you don’t make a networking contact, at least you have a new friend.

    8. I'll think of something late*

      I find any group that isn’t for networking to be better for more networking. If you have a common interest (outside of just finding a job) it’s a lot more comfortable because there isn’t an underlying goal in the communications.

  3. Looking for new career*

    I have a question about whether it’s really such a bad idea to contact a hiring manager directly when applying for a job.

    Over at the excellent site I found this tidbit:

    “Start doing some research to find out the name of the hiring manager or other senior people within the company.
    Then use your network (including LinkedIn and Twitter) to make contact. Or send a creative job application directly. Or call them. Or come up with any one of 100 different ways to stand out.”

    She was an HR person for years, so if this is bad advice, why would she suggest following it? Thank you for your thoughts on this!

    1. Chandra*

      Not sure why she would suggest it, but as someone who has worked in HR, as a function of HR (instructional design/training) and as a manager for a couple of years now I can tell you that her advice would annoy me.

      I don’t want a bunch of individual messages from potential candidates clogging up my inbox or mailbox (because I still have other work to be done and because our company has a long process for hiring). It would make a person stand out, but not in a good way, in a “to the back of the pile with you” way because it tells me already that you’re willing to skirt the rules to do what you want, versus what the process may be telling you and/or that you don’t respect my time.

      If someone I know wants to shoot me a person’s resume or name, I still tell them to have them go through the process and I’ll let HR know that I’m looking for specific referred candidate to come across their desk (because they get it first, send it to me for review, I tell them who to phone screen and then they shoot me their feedback).

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, I always feel like everyone in an office talks to each other, and if I’m calling up the admin or receptionist to glean that name, the receptionist is then going to tell the hiring manager I did it and I’m going to look like I’m trying to game the system.

    2. Lizzy Mac*

      My instinct is don’t. It’s bad advise almost every time. Do what the job posting asks. Don’t make a hiring manager’s life more difficult. They will remember you and not in a good way.
      Looking on LinkedIn is normal. If it turns out you actually know someone in common, reach out to that person. Obviously there are exceptions but most of the time the best way to make a good first impression is following instructions.

    3. Sunflower*

      I think the part of this advice that is important is ‘use your network to make contact’. Like if your former co-worker used to work with the hiring manager or is connected to them, talk to the coworker about the company and see if they can set up an introduction. I think this advice is stressing you to use your network and look outside of the box to find people- not just ‘find the hiring manager and track them down’

    4. Elliot Echlov*

      I would say “it depends”. With larger companies they likely have formal processes in place that all candidates must go through in order to be part of the selection process. This way individual managers aren’t inundated by hundreds of job-seekers, only 10% of whom are remotely qualified. Considering the amount of email and voicemail they get on a daily basis, the chances of you getting a favorable response – or any response at all – is small.

      Managers at smaller companies might be more receptive to direct contact, but again it will depend on the volume of work they otherwise have.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So here’s the thing: You will find this same advice in many, many places. It’s still bad advice. As far as I can tell, it’s coming from people who frankly aren’t sure of what to advise, and so they’ve settled on this. Most of the time the reason they aren’t sure is because they’ve never hired, or never done a significant amount of hiring. Other times it’s because the last time they hired was a really long time ago (maybe this is the case with her). Other times it’s because they’re just not great at figuring out what works. Other times they don’t really care what works, lack integrity, and have gone into “career advice” as a way to market themselves and make money (and lack the intellectual honesty/intellectual rigor to do it well and basically repeat the same old advice they see in other place without thinking about it critically).

      But yeah, it’s bad advice. You can always find a handful of hiring managers who say that a bad piece of advice would work on them, but it won’t be the majority (and by using it, you will screen out the good ones and screen FOR the bad ones).

      1. Michelle*

        This is a really interesting thread. I actually have gotten two jobs by contacting the hiring manager directly. One was a job to manage a board and one was in fundraisig (the one I currently have). Do you think it could also have something to do with the type of job? In both cases, they were looking for someone not afraid to reach out and to research.

        1. fposte*

          Meaning the job posting said “Apply here” and instead you found Jane’s address and emailed her? Or just that you reached out spontaneously because you were interested in work there rather than applying to an open position? The first one is more of an obstacle, I think, because you’re overtly ducking the system devised. But you’re right, there are some areas (and, I think, some levels) where people would mind less.

      2. Looking for new career*

        Good points. Just because they seem to be good with resume’s doesn’t mean they aren’t repeating the same old bad advice for job searching that’s all over the web.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      I really like BlueSky’s resume advice, but I think their actual job search advice is a little off. But then I prefer Alison’s less aggressive approach in general.

      1. Looking for new career*

        Thank you to everyone for the great feedback! You’ve resolved any doubt I had from reading that contradictory advice.

        Blueskyresume does seem to have some very good advice on resume writing, which I’ll use, but as Persephone Mulberry says, their job search advice seems a little off–breezy and out of touch.

        I have never had to look for a job in anything bigger than a ten person company in the last twenty years, so I’m the guy who is used to just walking in and asking to hand my resume to the owner of the company. I’m quickly getting up to speed thanks to AAM though!

    7. LD*

      I agree with most of the comments about this not being a good approach, with the exception for individuals seeking more senior level positions or jobs requiring particularly specialized expertise. I’m thinking of jobs such as a VP or Director level positions and people with a good, long track record of success in their field, or someone who has a particular skill or expertise. This might be a marketing specialist who has helped organizations revamp their marketing with a resulting increase in market share, or an operations manager who has created a program for saving significant expense on annual maintenance or facilities updates that another organization would also find valuable. In situations such as these, it might make sense to do a “cold-call” letter. For the run-of-the-mill job opening, though, do as Alison advises, don’t try to go around their expressed instructions; apply the way the organization directs you to apply.

    8. Grey*

      The most shocking part of that article is this line: “Just don’t, whatever you do, follow the rules.”

      As for your last question, “She was an HR person for years, so if this is bad advice, why would she suggest following it?”…

      Maybe it’s because she WAS an HR person. It’s possible she hired too many rule-breakers for her company’s liking.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Or it’s because she didn’t hire at all or very little. Being an HR person can mean a lot of different things. She worked in benefits and never hired at all, she reviewed applications received, but had no authority to do the actual hiring, etc. So many possibilities here. Just having worked in HR guarantees nothing in terms of being able to advise anyone about hiring.

  4. Heather*

    I’m always impressed at how right on time your posts are Allison! Do you physically post these all or do you have them scheduled to post at certain times?

  5. Sunflower*

    I’m taking my first mental health day ever next week. However, I’m a very antsy person and it’s hard to not attempt to be productive. For example, I don’t want to spend the day worrying about job searching or furnishing my apartment but I know my brain will try to tell me to do it and the point of this day is to de-stress. I’m planning to go for an early morning run and then lay in the park and read for a bit. Any other good stuff people like to do to recharge their mental health?

    1. Celeste*

      I like to get a pedicure. It takes me out of my routine and I always feel great afterwards. I’m pretty low-maintenance, so it seems like a big treat.

    2. Colette*

      Do something relatively mindless. I spent last weekend painting a bedroom, and it was incredibly relaxing, even though I was working a lot.

      Another option would be to be a tourist in your own town – go to the places you don’t go because you live there and could go anytime.

    3. Chelsea B.*

      I like to go out to breakfast. Always cheap, but feels like a luxury to have someone else make my breakfast.

      1. Apple22Over7*

        +1 breakfast is to me the best meal to have out. You can set the pace of the whole day with just that one meal. You also get to have cooked breakfast withoit having to cook before work, or washing up, or anything. Eggs benedict, endless tea, and a newspaper is the best way to start any day off for me.

    4. CTO*

      I like to catch up on mindless housework like laundry or cooking. Otherwise your day sounds great! A museum visit is also a good way to recharge.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s my favorite way to spend the day.

        And after the hardwood floors are all shiny and dry and everything smells like Murphy’s Oil Soap (one of my favorite smells in the world) I take a running start in the hallway and see how far I can slide in my socks.

        I know exactly which socks give me the best distance.

        I also put on puppet shows for the cats while sorting socks. It’s a little embarrassing when the humans catch me, but the cats like it.

        Turns out my mental health days are oddly specific to me.

        1. mina*

          My cats LOVE it when I act weird to entertain them. It reinforces their position of lofty superiority.

      2. Mallory*

        I like to spend few hours in the morning doing housework, then sit and read in the clean, relaxing house. Something easy for lunch so that I don’t have to cook much, and maybe a nap on the couch. Sometimes I get on the computer, but it’s too easy to get sucked in for too long, and somehow it makes it seem as if my day went by too fast, and not in a good way. So I limit my computer time to winding down in the evening.

    5. Alex*

      My advice would be to get out of the house if possible! It’s easier not to think about the thinks that you feel you need to do around the house when you aren’t sitting there looking right at them. Coffee shop, library, window shopping.. whatever things you like to do that you can spend time meandering and relaxing. If leaving the house is not an option, try and get all of your chores done before your day off. Clean up and down, do all the laundry, etc. and then on your day off, lounge and relax in your lovely clean house! I like to go to Home Depot or Menard’s and dream about projects for the house. That is relaxing for me though – I can see how it would be stressful for some people. I also like to watch hours of YouTube videos – cute animals, scientific things, hair styling tutorials, cooking vids… etc.

      Either way though, turn your email off on your phone, or ditch your phone all together if you can that day.

      1. Jamie*

        This made me smile! I took a couple of PTO days last week and I whined endlessly that I had to run to 7-11 for half and half (coffee is important).

        The goal was to not leave the house at all (which would be my life goal if I could) and having to drive 5 blocks and put shoes on to go in the store …I totally wanted a do over.

        I admire people who are more active than me – I wish I was more of a go places person.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Some days I want a very out-and-about day off, and other times I want the do-over if I so much as have to get the mail.

        2. Elizabeth*

          put shoes on to go in the store

          This is the reason I keep one pair of silver ballet flats around. They are Actual Shoes that can be worn in places that require them, but they feel enough like bedroom slippers to be comfy and not like Actual Shoes.

        3. Editor*

          Yes, I like to stay home the whole time on a one-day off break. I go to the Wegman’s the night before and get prepared food so I don’t have to cook. Then I either spend the day reading and ignoring life, or I get caught up.

          If the weather is good and you like to clean to do mindless work, opening the windows and washing them is a good thing to do in spring. Once I cleaned my bedroom, including emptying the closet and sorting the clothes and so on, and that really paid off in terms of enjoyment for weeks afterward. I got ready faster in the mornings and just felt good coming back to a room with a desk that didn’t have random lists and stacks of paper waiting to be filed and a dresser that didn’t have tangled necklaces, shed hairs, and a three-year-old Aleve bottle. Now I try to do the bedroom twice a year, spring and fall. It really helps.

          On this last move, we needed to paint the closets but hadn’t decided on bedroom colors. So we did all of them in white. I love it. A friend wanted a small project, so we emptied her closets and painted them white. She likes it too — clothing colors aren’t affected by the wall color, white closet accessories match and colored ones pop, and the light bounces around the closet better.

    6. ClaireS*

      I used to have the same issue and for me, it was bigger than just being antsy for a day. I did a lot of work on learning to calm my mind to help with anxiety. Yoga and hiking really help. They are active but you are actively taking care of yourself. I also find being outside incredibly relaxing.

    7. kbeers0su*

      I know exactly how you feel. All the ideas of things to do listed above are great. If you want to make sure you actually take the day to do this relaxing stuff, make a schedule for yourself. That will fill your need to feel productive because you still have a to-do list that you can check off at the end of the day.
      – go out to breakfast √
      – get a pedicure √
      – go to the museum √
      – buy cute shoes √
      and so on.

      1. Sarah M*

        I like to make a list of things to do too. Oftentimes, it includes browsing the library, watching that movie my husband doesn’t want to see, walking the dog (which often leads to just sitting or laying at the park with nothing to do but enjoy that moment, learned it from the dog!), taking a bubble bath and reading, going to a class at the gym that I usually don’t get to go to. My day is still full of relaxing and fun treats, but at least it is organized!

    8. Katie the Fed*

      I spend the night before my mental health days checking things off my to-do list. Tidying up, other small things.

      Then I sleep in. Have coffee. Take the dog on a long walk. A nice long workout. Maybe tinker around the garden. Sometimes I’ll hit an outlet mall and do a little shopping. Go pick up Thai food for lunch and enjoy it with a beer because I can. Nap. Long walk with dog.

    9. krm*

      I always like to bring whatever book I am reading and sit in the coffee shop…I drink some fancy coffee, eat a bagel or croissant or some treat that I wouldn’t normally have. I bring some headphones too, just in case it is a bit noisy and listen to some mellow music.

    10. EG*

      I’d suggest thinking of your favorite weekend things to do, and move them to your day off. For me, this would be wandering around Goodwill or other thrift stores/flea markets. Or the something essential at home that’s been bugging you forever, like painting some worn trim or washing the windows. Sure those aren’t fun inherently, but imagine the calm you’ll feel every time you see that this is done. I’m weird though…

    11. Juli G.*

      Movie matinee. It’s a great way for me to veg but not feeling like I’m wasting the day in my house.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I do love a nice leisurely breakfast or lunch when I’m off – even though it is something simple (toast, jam and hot chocolate) just the fact that I don’t have to rush anywhere – like work! – is blissful. I also second, if the weather is nice enough, that you be tourist in your own town, or go to a park or something

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I like to enjoy a massage, a light meal (lunch or breakfast) out and some exercise like a long walk or a swim on a mental health day. It really helps me to feel nurtured and un-rushed. I try not to fit too much into the day, especially boring routine stuff like grocery shopping.

  6. cecilhungry*

    So, not work related, but I’m running my first ever half marathon on Sunday. Do any runners out there have good tips? Things you wished you knew for your first half? I think I’m pretty prepared, but I love hearing other people’s stories/tips!

    1. dahanaha*

      No matter what the weather is going to be bring warm clothes for afterwards. Once the adrenaline rush is gone and the excitment dies down you WILL be freezing! Alot of marathon kits come with those silvery blankets for this reason but if you want to enjoy the post race events just throw in an extra layer! Worse thing that happens is you don’t wear it but you will be glad its there if you need it!
      Good luck!!!

    2. Mints*

      If you’re meeting people after, warn them that you’ll be ravenous, and plan on eating like a bath tub full of food. I ate immediately after, then showered and ate two more dinners. I was surprised!

    3. kdizzle*

      I find that if I try to run and drink Gatorade at the same time, I spill everywhere and have uncomfortably sticky hands for miles. So at the Gatorade stations, I slow down (a lot) and pinch the cup into a spout.

      Good luck, have fun, and take in all the sights and sounds. There’s just something about running in the same direction as so many other people to reach a common point…it’s almost a religious experience. Happy trails!

    4. StaminaTea*

      Don’t worry too much about time! My goal for my first half was just to finish. If it’s cold where you are, pick up a sweater/sweatpants from a thrift store. You can leave them at the starting line since most races collect discarded clothing and donate them to charity. Have fun, high five the spectators, and bask in your glorious victory after you finish! And be sure to get pictures of yourself with your medal. Good luck!

    5. LMW*

      Don’t go so fast in the first half that you have nothing left for the second. It’s really easy to get swept up in the excitement and the crowd and burn out early.
      Also, I learned the hard way that if it’s hot out, you might want to carry your own water. I’ve run two races where they ran out or they didn’t have enough cups or something and when it’s in the mid-70s F or higher that can be a disaster (plus, I like being able to run right through the first two or three water stops and not getting tangled in the crowd).
      Good luck! Have fun!

    6. Kirsten*

      Have fun! Soak it all in! There’s something special about running your first race at a new distance. If you have a specific time goal, and there are pace teams, use them! They are awesome.

    7. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Don’t pick race day to do something different. Run the half the same way you’ve run your training runs.

    8. Veery*

      I really like to study the race map (and elevation map, if they have one) beforehand. Especially with longer races, it helps to have an idea of what to expect. For example, if miles 6-7 are uphill, it’s nice to know that you’ll have a respite at mile 8 and be home free by mile 10. As others have said, enjoy!

    9. C average*

      Don’t sit down right after the race. Try to walk around a bit to keep from stiffening up. Shopping is, in many ways, the ideal post-race activity.

      If you’re like me, you won’t be hungry after the race, but your body will need some calories. I always bring some food to eat post-race that I know I can choke down even if I’m not actually hungry. My go-tos are bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Lucky Charms cereal.

      Don’t wear anything new on race day!

      If the weather is changeable on race day, wear a long-sleeve over a short-sleeve and pin your race number to your shorts or tights so you can take off your long-sleeve and tie it around your waist without having to re-pin your race number.

    10. JBeane*

      1. Don’t get caught up in excitement and/or pride and go too fast the first few miles. The first time I ran a half I noticed a walker who was going faster than me, and I was determined not to get beat out by a walker. Turns out that he’s a member of a hard-core long-distance speedwalking group, which is why he was so freaking fast. I used up a lot of gas the first 7 miles trying to outpace him and then I could only barely hold on for the remainder of the race. I would have had a better time if I had stuck to my own steady pace.

      2. If you’re used to running with a water belt, wear one during the race! Water stops tend to get crowded with people trying to grab a cup, and then all the cups are underfoot on the street. Carrying your own water can save on time and help keep your momentum going.

      Good luck and have fun during the half!

    11. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Nike Women’s Half? I’ll be at Hains Point (the suckiest part of the race) to cheer!

        1. wanderlust*

          OKC is a great race!

          Don’t do anything new on race day. Eat the things you usually eat for breakfast, drink the water or gatorade you usually drink during runs, take the fuel you usually use (if you use fuel), if you normally listen to music, do that. Wear something you know is comfortable 10 miles in. This is not the day to experiment.

          I second the people that said don’t get overexcited and speed at the start. Wait a few miles and then see how you feel. And wear lighter clothing than you feel comfortable in if it’s chilly. You will warm up once you start running.

          Have fun!

          1. TL*

            Seconding the don’t do anything new for race day! Most injuries are caused by exactly that – and that includes stretching, supports, braces, whatever.

            Good luck! Don’t stress about this – your training’ll get you through, I promise. This is your first one, so it’s not about time or beating anyone, it’s just about doing the best you can.

            Also, on the off chance that something happens and you can’t finish, it’s better to walk off than to end up with a serious injury. If you’re not totally sure about what’s “walk off the course” pain and what’s “push through it” pain, err on the side of walking off.

      1. Michelle*

        I ran the Nike Women’s Half last year and that truly was the most miserable part of the race. Good on you for being there to motivate!

        1. Victoria Nonprofit*

          I’m a TNT alumna, and my sister is a TNT coach, and I’m a prolific marathon cheerer… I know how massively crappy the empty spots are.

          1. April*

            You both are very different from me. When I am running (which is not usually in an organized race, although I have done that) I like to zone people out – cheerers or people who try to talk to me are very annoying. They distract me when I want to just focus. I guess I’m probably in the minority though, since cheering is so popular. Surely it wouldn’t be if most runners hated it!

    12. anon in tejas*

      Get a good nights sleep the night before the night before the race. Normally pre-race jitters/super early wake up will keep me from getting a GREAT sleep the night before, so if I get a really good nights sleep the night before that, I’ll be okay.

      Don’t do anything weird/new/different the day of the race. If you haven’t tried Hammer Gels, don’t try them during the race. I’ve done that and ended up throwing up, or ending up with a really bad headache. Stick with what you know.

      Try your best to pace the the beginning. For me, that means finding a pacer and sticking to them (if avail) or really working hard not to go too fast.

      Hope you have a great race. Good luck!

    13. meesh*

      I just ran my first half 2 weekends ago!!!

      Make sure you pace yourself, drink gatorade/water at every stop and walk if you need to!

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        Take the time to enjoy the experience and interact with your fellow runners. This is your first half so whatever your time, it will be a personal best. It is an awesome experience and a fantastic achievement. Have fun.

    14. I'll think of something late*

      Give people a way to cheer just for you! Put your name on your shirt or dress distinctly in some way. For an October half I did I work an orange shirt and drew a jack o’lantern face. I heard “go pumpkins” or “go Halloween” along the way. It was a lot of fun!

      And have fun!

      1. April*

        Argh. I would have hated that. I like it best just me and the road (other runners are all right, even pleasant to have nearby, as long as they stay part of the scenery and don’t try to talk to me). Second best is if it is clear that folks are just cheering for the crowd generally and not me specifically, so that I can fairly easily tune them out. Cheer for me at the finish line when I am all done, but not before, thanks! Are there any other runners who feel this way? I realize I am in the minority, but surely I am not *completely* unique.

  7. Random Reader*

    Hooray for open thread!

    Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m behind in life. Whether it’s romantic or financial or living situation, I feel like I’m permanently stuck in the “just out of college” phase and I’ll never get out. I have a couple of weddings this year of people who are my age who seem to be moving ahead in all areas of life and I’m just… here.

    1. Dang*

      Solidarity!!! I’m turning 30 in a few weeks, temping, have been looking for a job for almost a year (which coincides with the breakup of the relationship I *thought* was lifelong), single, just had to sell my dead car for parts…

      To be perfectly honest I think I was more on track just out of college than I am 8 years later! I just tell myself ‘well, it can’t be like this forever…’ and it never is, so keep your chin up! Things will work out for all of us.

      1. LMW*

        Oh, wow that’s almost right where I was at 30, down to the temping and the dead car…four years later I can look back and say “I was on the path to this much better place, I just didn’t know it at the time.” Kind of like being in a valley and all you see is a big hill up head — once you get up there the view is great.

        1. Dang*

          Ah, I’m SO GLAD to hear it! I keep telling myself it will get better but can’t imagine how. I’m happy to hear things turned around for you, and thanks for the hope! :)

    2. Anoners*

      Yeah, I totally know what you mean. It’s hard, but you really just need to focus on yourself, and where you want to go. You never know, all these people moving on with their lives could be making terrible mistakes, or unhappy behind closed doors, or on the verge of bankruptcy (or they could actually just be happy). Who knows. I find with social media you’re bombarded alllll the time with all these great things happening to your friends, but it can totally skew your perception of your own life.

      1. Ali*

        Another story just popped into my head about this.

        A couple of years ago, I had started talking to a guy in my field and he was a naturally friendly person, so we talked a little about our personal lives. Nothing intimate, just about summer vacations and that kind of thing. Anyway, I got kind of a crush on him and was devastated that he was already in a relationship. (Yeah, I’m embarrassed now that I let myself crush on him.) From what I knew about his girlfriend, she was constantly posting “Boyfriend and I did X” or “Boyfriend said Y,” and she’d add something like “I’m so happy!” or “I’m so lucky!” People would always tell them oh you guys are a cute couple; you’re the best couple ever, and they’d say they were each other’s best friends. It made me really jealous and I began to think, well if I can’t have Taken Guy, maybe I can have a relationship like this someday. Fair compromise.

        Well…guess who ended up breaking up last year? All that talk about being together forever and all the posts that made their relationship look perfect ended up being for naught. My friends were very much “I told you so” about the fact that if they were posting about their relationship constantly it might not be that great in reality.

        And as far as that guy who seemed SO dreamy? He ended up being nasty to me when I asked him if he wanted to catch up, and I later found out he has issues keeping a commitment in a relationship and is “bad news” about such things. I’m not into him anymore at all even though I am still kinda ashamed of myself for crushing on someone who was very, very taken.

        1. nyxalinth*

          Feelings are what they are. Not acting upon them is the main thing. That’s my take on it. Sorry to hear he ended up being a jerk!

      2. Mary (in PA)*

        Social media is sometimes the worst for this. I just tell myself something that I saw on Tumblr – don’t compare your lows to someone else’s highlight reel.

    3. Ali*

      Hey I totally understand! I’m 28 now and I’m still living at home and will be just starting to save money to get out. Did I mention I also have trouble driving because I have focus and coordination issues? I did take my test in October, failed and have been so embarrassed that I almost wish I didn’t have to get back on the road since pretty much everyone else I know was driving when they were 16.

      I don’t know how old you are, but I tend to feel like I’m one of the only people my age who doesn’t have a steady, long-term relationship, a successful career or a house/apartment. My coworkers are living on their own or with partners in big cities and I’m the only one who lives with my family. One has a wife and kid, and the other is taking two weeks off in July to get married.

      I don’t get invited to weddings and only a couple of my good friends are married.. My closest friend is older than me and never married…she went through a broken engagement before I met her and has only been seeing guys casually in recent years. I’m not saying I’m glad she’s single because I know she had hoped to settle down, but at the same time, I guess it’s good to know that it’s not just me and that she still has a full life despite not having an SO.

      I hope things get better! And I rambled I know…so hope I didn’t lose you in that!

    4. Lizzy Mac*

      I can relate. It’s hard because I like where I am, but I wish I was farther ahead at the same time. I really want to feel like I’m making progress but in my current role I’ve really developed great skills and met amazing people. If I hadn’t stumbled early in my career I would have missed out on this. But I guess I feel more than ready for some sort of next step.

    5. Anonicorn*

      LOTS of people feel like this, even though it might not seem that way.

      I think it’s probably the exception if someone seems to have everything in their life in order, and looks can be deceiving. You never know what other people are dealing with (massive college debt, a ginormous mortgage loan, a demanding job with terrible hours and a horrible boss). Not to sound like a motivational poster, but hang in there. I bet if you look at the positive things in your life you’ll probably see that you aren’t doing so bad after all.

    6. Josie*

      So much sympathy here. I started a PhD and for a few years I was all “Look at those bourgeois fools with their suburban mortgages!” (not really, but I liked being less encumbered than my friends who were in professional jobs). Now, PhD-less at 30, unable to afford a car, unable to date because I never know where I’ll be living in three months… it’s not so much fun.

    7. Sunflower*

      Yea I feel like my friends are getting out of the ‘I’m broke and just starting out my career and praying I don’t screw up’ phase and I’m still in it. I feel like I’ll never not be broke- the idea of having disposable income feels like it will never happen. Good news is being broke is easier when you’re single- no vacations/weddings/dinners/outings you have to go to if you don’t want to!

      I’m in my mid-twenties and something my therapist said to me a couple years ago is finally sticking with me ‘Stop looking at bad things as bad things that happen to you. They are just as important and as much a necessary part of your life as good things. Start looking at them as just another part of life’. Once I realized that just because my job sucked and my boyfriend dumped me it didn’t mean all these bad things were happening to me- it’s just a natural part of life! Now I’m trying to embrace all the ups and downs of my twenties as a part of my life that I’ll never get back and trying to accept what happens to me as part of the bigger picture (I know this is super corny!)

    8. Noelle*

      I struggle with that too, but I try to at least do a little bit to get ahead. I felt like I wasn’t taking my health seriously, so I started setting minimums for myself that I would at least go to the gym once a week and make my own lunches to bring to work. Or with financials, I opened a savings account and even though I was just putting in $100 a month or so, it was a start. Or, I was constantly binging on Netflix and feeling lazy about it so I vowed to read at least one real book a month. Once I start doing little things it’s easier to do bigger things, and I feel more in control and confident that I will get to adulthood….someday.

    9. The Real Ash*

      I checked out the book “Adulting” from the library after seeing it recommended in the last Open Thread, and wow, as a late-20s person, I definitely feel behind. That book seems to be aimed at just-out-of-college adults and I don’t even do half (probably not even a third) of what the book suggests. But it provides a really good starting point and an easy list of Things To Do to help. I’m also recently-divorced while everyone else is getting married, so that doesn’t seem to help. But the book has been a great jumping point for stuff I’ve been wanting/needing to do, but had no idea how or where to start. I’m thinking about purchasing the book, which is a big thing because I haven’t bought a book in probably five years (with the exclusion of textbooks, and even most of those I rent).

      1. Sunflower*

        Ha I read ‘The Defining Decade’ after seeing it recommended and also had some mixed feelings. It felt like the book was kind of an older person scolding me saying ‘Look your 20s are real important so you better do good!!!! It gave a lot of good tips but as one person put it ‘I can’t decide if this book inspires or terrifies me’ I thought it was an overall good read except the last chapter where she said ‘don’t count on in-vitro because you’re drying up!’. I like Christine Hassler and Laurel House though. Hassler’s stuff is a little new agey but she her books were good reads.

      2. CAS*

        I love “Adulting” – and I am late 30s. Despite being pretty far in my career and relatively accomplished, for a variety of reasons I missed/skipped over a lot of the basics as a teen/young adult. It’s a terrific book.

        1. fposte*

          I haven’t looked at the book yet, but I loved the blog, and I’m in my very early 50s. The whole reason it exists is because these are things worth knowing that we’re not necessarily getting taught, so I don’t see any shame in finding it useful all through life.

    10. Jamie*

      It’s so weird for me reading this, because I was just complaining about the same thing on the other side of the spectrum.

      My kids are still home while going to college, but not babies anymore. I have fallen into a kind of sad envy of people whose kids are still little and they have all the milestones to look forward to, or who are getting married, or graduating, or changing direction in some way.

      I know it’s not a problem in the real sense, but I have no intention of changing fields. Love my husband so much so wouldn’t want to change there. Not looking to move.

      I know – first world problems – but I’m pretty content, but a little bored and sad that there seems to be more more big adventures left for me. Just work until I die at my desk at some point – which sounds morbid but not meant that way.

      Also in the last year or so my mindset has totally changed and I have gone from anticipating what I will do next and where the career will take me to the realization that I’m probably where I will be from here on out. I don’t mean the company, I mean the position, general ballpark financially…I’m in my mid-40’s and it’s just hitting me that I’m not going to really make a mark or ever hit serious money…or leave any kind of a legacy.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m good at my job and I like that I am able to teach people things and do things for people here that make their jobs easier. But I’ll never make a significant difference on a broader scale.

      I think I’m just coming to terms with my very average life and it’s kind of like mourning the next big leap and just accepting that my last leap was my last leap.

      This sounds defeatist and I’m so not, it just struck me that Random Reader wrote about feeling stuck when to someone like me I think my God, you have your whole life of adventure and achievements ahead of you what an awesome time in your life. Goes to show it’s all a matter of perspective and anyone can feel like this at any stage in the game.

      1. LMW*

        I’m in my 30s and I sometimes feel that way already…but then sometimes I meet really awesome older people and I realize that as long as I am healthy and have my mental faculties I still have the chance to start many new adventures.
        For example, I went to Puerto Rico last month and in the rainforest I met this really interesting woman that I ended up hiking with for a few hours. She was 64, had just retired after spending her entire career as a school secretary in small town Mass. and realized she was really bitter that she never “did” anything. She didn’t have kids, she didn’t travel because her husband hated it, she didn’t have a big career. She’d had a sweet life filled with friends and family, but she felt like she might have missed out on stuff. So she told her husband they were selling the house and one of the cars and they moved into a smaller condos and she’s traveling solo every other month to a new place. She’s been to Mongolia, Ethiopia, Paris, London and Puerto Rico so far. I totally want to be her when I grow up.

        1. Dan*

          Why wait? I am in my mid 30s and last week crossed country #21 off my list. Next week, I am going hiking in the rain forest in Borneo.

        2. LMW*

          Oh, I’m not waiting at all! I just want to get to 65 or 70 or 80 and still find new adventures.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        it’s kind of like mourning the next big leap and just accepting that my last leap was my last leap.

        Your next leap could be the leap home!

        (sorry, had to)

        Seriously though, I feel ya. We’re at the same life stage although I have about seven years on you.

        Get more dogs. That’s what I did.

      3. Mallory*

        Wow, Jamie. This could be me talking. I just had almost this same conversation with my husband last weekend. He called me out on being cranky and giving him the side-eye all weekend long (for the past several weekends), and we sat outside on the front porch and talked about what’s been bothering me.

        I’m in my mid-forties, too, and it’s just recently hit me that I’m not going to get some of the things out of life I’ve wanted. My average house with several unfinished improvement projects (many of which have been “temporary” for years) is going to be my house for the foreseeable future.

        It has recently begun to hit home for me that my life isn’t going to follow the trajectory of continuous upward mobility that seemed possible in my late twenties/early thirties, and I’ve been mourning that loss quietly to myself (and kind of inwardly beating myself up for not being better, then inwardly blaming both myself and my husband for the ways in which our mutual strengths and shortcomings have never aligned perfectly so as to avoid these pitfalls).

        In short, I’ve been a mid-life mess, and my family have noticed my extra moodiness and snappy crankiness. I posted in a recent thread about feeling irritated about a young colleague who doesn’t really follow the dress code, but I think I’m just envious of all the potential she still has in front of her. I’ve never said a word to even my closest confidants at work about it (and I never will) because I know it’s just a personal problem of mine having to do with my own insecurities, not anything to do with how she dresses at all except in a petty, feeling-sorry-for-my-misspent-youth sort of way.

        1. MJ*

          Mallory and Jamie, feeling crappy at midlife is the universe’s nudge for you to do something new. So, break an old routine or go learn something new. Pay attention to what crosses your path especially if it crosses your path more than once. Watch for opportunities that you normally might quickly dismiss and give them longer consideration. When you say yes to something new, you may be surprised what it will lead to. I am having an amazing life in my 50s that I never anticipated in my 40s!

          1. Mallory*

            Thanks, MJ. Now that I’ve admitted to myself and my husband what’s been bothering me, and we’ve had several long conversations about it, I kind of feel better already. I even applied for a new job today, which I wouldn’t have done even just a few days ago.

            I tend to keep my dissatisfaction bottled up, and turn it in on myself in a negative way, instead of sharing it and getting support from the people who care about me. My husband thought I didn’t like him any more after 20 years of marriage, but it was just me, beating myself up again.

          2. Jamie*

            That’s really good advice. I need a new adventure, but my problem is I don’t get excited by all that much.

            When Penny had that conversation with Leonard on TBBT it really hit home for me – I think my default is meh.

            But I need something, because highlights in my hair are fun, but they didn’t change my life the way I’d hoped.

            1. Mallory*

              I really identified with that Penny conversation, too. I need a new adventure where it doesn’t seem “safe” — like the outcome of it is already predetermined. Waiting on a response from that job I applied to!!

              1. MJ*

                You might find that things that don’t seem exciting turn out to be. I was at an exercise class in my mid-40s and one of my classmates asked if I wanted to come volunteer at a local nonprofit. I went because it was an opportunity to meet people and to contribute to the community. I found a passion! I saw things that needed doing that we didn’t have the funds for. I saw things that were done certain ways and I wanted to know why we did them that way. I met people who needed help and were so grateful for whatever help I could give them. The organization hired me part-time and I pursued a graduate degree simultaneously. I quickly went from part-time to full-time, and now, in my 50s, I am a director at a similar organization.

                I am suggesting here that you don’t look for something you feel passionate about, but just start saying yes to things until passion finds you!

                Mallory, I hope the new job works out!

    11. kdizzle*

      I feel what you’re saying. For me, it’s always been important to recognize that happiness is not a zero-sum game. Someone else doesn’t have to lose happiness for me to gain it, and vice versa. I think that direct comparisons with people of the same cohort can lead to insecurity and unhappiness, but recognizing the things that truly make me happy (relationships with family & friends, making an impact in my community) have nothing to do with money, or being a VP at 25, or vacations to New Zealand, or whatever else I’m seeing people post on Facebook (though…a trip to New Zealand would be pretty sweet).

    12. Emily G*

      This! Ive been feeling like this for a few years now. Work doesnt pick up, everyone is getting married, having babies, and I am just living a 9-5 life, commuting for ten hours a week. Routine gets very daunting.

    13. Competitive Cookie*

      As someone who went through this, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to live on your own time table – not your friend’s, not your parents’, and not society’s.

      A lot of my close friends have gotten married in the past five years. I’m not yet married, but am in a really good relationship that I hope will lead to marriage in the next couple of years. But I’ve watched friend after friend walk down the aisle and wondered what I’ve been doing wrong. Um, NOTHING – it just ins’t my time to walk down the aisle.

      I’m struggling with homeowner envy currently. It seems like everyone I know (single, coupled, etc.) are buying homes. I hate renting, but I know it’s temporary and that I’m actively working towards purchasing. Have a plan with built-in milestones (i.e. “I will have $10,000 saved up by 7/1/2014”) really helps to stay on track.

      Have patience and have a plan. :)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Wisdom “borrowed” from another forum I frequent, the thing with homeownership (& I include myself in this) is that there is always something to do up/fix/repair, which, if you rent, is someone else’s problem. I guess it helps things if you have a SO.

        I too, am in my later 20’s and feel stuck/lost/left behind. I just feel like I’ve been doing the same thing – living in same flat, that has had some major problems (bad roof, bad mould/damp) and in some low paying jobs etc while everyone else seems to be happy – forever.

    14. anon-2*

      It’s funny.

      I recall watching the “Beverly Hillbillies” and Elly Mae Clampett and Jethrina Bodine were in a perennial “race to the altar.”

      Men don’t think that way – why do women? I can’t figure that one out. Relationships happen when they happen. They don’t happen on a timetable. You want a schedule? Go to or your local train station. When Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) comes along? He or she comes along when they come along. Live life accordingly and don’t get flustered.

      Careers? People develop their careers at different paces. Fate, how far they’re willing to go to develop them, resources available, and so forth are all factors. Some are within one’s control, and some are not. But that, too, is not really a competitive yardstick.

    15. AB*

      Same here, I am 30. I have a “real job” but feel like I’m behind the other people on my team who are 5 years younger than I am. My manager is only a few years older than me, which isn’t that weird, except that he has his own house and kids and goes on real vacations, and I am sitting here trying to figure out if we can afford to take a long weekend camping in the mountains AND a new car payment.

      I came to my career through an unconventional path where my years just out of college were full of unemployment/ underemployment. I feel like I’ve been stunted by it, and all the people around me own houses and have kids and we’re still renting and likely will be for the next several years and only just reaching the place where we can start doing adult things (we’re looking at buying our first new car… not new to us, but actually new to replace the one that just turned 18).

      Just thinking about it is depressing. I got a really rough start out of college, and felt really unmoored for years. Once I finally got a real job 4 years ago, there was so much financial catch-up that we’re really only just getting on feet now. We don’t have a nest egg or any real net-worth. To make it worse, both of my siblings were immediately success, business-wise and family-starting-wise, immediately out of school. I know there’s a lot I can’t help (like the fact that I can’t have kids and adoption is pretty much out of the question due to cost), but sometimes I can’t help but feel like a looser. Then again, there are a lot of people who had it worse than I did, so it’s really just a pity party, table for one.

      1. Ali*

        My boss is younger than me too, as is his second in command (who, honestly, is just a point of contact and is helping to train our new hire). I feel jealous that two people younger than me already have significantly more responsibility than me at work. I mean the second in command guy is trusted to train an employee, gets to sit in on meetings the rest of us do not and that sort of thing. I’m still just having to keep working and hope an opportunity for advancement pops up.

      2. AB*

        Wow… I really should have proofread… That’s what I get for spouting off on a self-pitying diatribe!

    16. Sharm*

      Me too. I posted about this last week. My peer circle is full of Ivy League kids who went on to become doctors/tech entrepreneurs/engineers/business people. I imagine several are in debt, but I don’t know. They come from well off families who, for example, buy them an apartment while they’re in med school so they don’t have to worry about housing. I always see advice that you don’t always know what’s going on, but many are my FRIENDS — so I feel like I have one degree more information than just a Facebook post. They’re all successful and doing well.

      Add to this most are married and have size 0 figures and go to fancy galas and take big trips constantly.

      In contrast, my jobs have never been that prestigious. I’ve even got the, “What are you even doing with your life?” comments from friends before. I did well up until I got into college, and then I really went off the rails (I think massive depression since college that has never really gone away is the main culprit). I can’t focus on any career path, and it gives me anxiety. All my life, I told to be an A student in everything, so I don’t know HOW to specialize. I have to be good at everything, right?

      I met my boyfriend a couple of years ago, and since then, the marriage anxiety has subsided. In its wake, my job/career anxiety has shot through the roof. And I actually don’t even want a career. I’d be fine being a SAHM. But, we live in this economy, and my bf doesn’t make enough for me to stay at home when we eventually get married. I feel that this desire of mine really puts me at odds with everyone in my social group as well. There is so much nastiness directed at SAHMs (and my mom was one, so I am particularly sensitive to the judgment).

      I’m sorry to vent here, but I totally get it. I wish I had chosen a different career path when I was 18. I should have gone into engineering or something, back when my brain was still young and I understood math/science easily. Now I can’t seem to learn anything and it just feels too late and too costly to veer off course.

    17. Marcy*

      I was one of those people that seemed to be moving ahead. As it turned out, I was just practicing. Between 35 and 38, I changed countries, husbands and careers and started completely over. Just look at it as maybe you don’t need the practice.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      I think that no matter what age it is really easy to feel behind in life. There seems to be some competitive feelings at any age: “WELL, my grandchildren came to visit three times this week? How many times did yours come visit you???”
      ugh. Maybe no one says that out loud but the feeling is still there.

      It never stops. I watched my 92 y/o MIL tell her kid sister (82 y/0) “You think it’s bad now wait until you hit 92.” OMG. This stuff just never stops.

      Some how this seems to just be a part of life. But when it starts to eat at us, then it is time to do something. One thing I have found helpful is that there are plenty of people that would like to be in my shoes. Why is it that we always look at people doing better than us and scold ourselves? How come we never look at the parts we got right? I read a statistic somewhere that said if you own a house and a car you are among the top 1% wealthiest people in the world. I don’t see how that can be right but it made me appreciate my old house and old car a bit more. I got one right- be it ever so humble.

      I think that we have to experience something that pushes us forward. Otherwise we stagnate. If these competitive feelings are pushing us forward then the feelings have served a purpose. If the feelings are causing us to grow fangs and werewolf hair then the feelings are not serving us. It is simply us abusing ourselves.
      If we have an abusive boss/coworker/family member/partner that is nothing we caused. But if we are abusive to our own selves that is our own fault. One thing I read that was kind of helpful was if we can’t respect our selves how can we ever hope to learn how to respect others? This seemed to motivate me to dial back some of my harsher thoughts about myself.

      Yeah. I spent way too much time thinking about this, as you can see. I had to because I kept looking at the half empty glass I refer to as MY LIFE. Reality is that no one has it all. No one.

      Perhaps that is the biggest bubble to burst here, the illusion that other people have it all when they really don’t. It’s easier to believe that we missed out the magical star dust, than to realize there is no magical star dust.

      There is a dear person in my life that sadly believes people are out there leading perfect lives and having everything go perfectly all the time. All this thinking does for this dear person is deepen her depression, as her life is not perfect. (Yes, she has point blank said that some people live perfect lives. So this is not an assumption on my part.)

      Punchline: Do reality checks. I try to ask myself if I am looking at the whole picture or am I picking and choosing parts of the picture while totally neglecting to observe other parts of the picture.
      And yeah, I kind of have come to the conclusion that I will probably do these reality checks for the rest of my life, because this is tough-tough stuff.

  8. Forrest*

    How does one deal with wanderlust? I’m used to switching jobs every one – two and half years. Now I’m at a job I want to stay at for at least four – five and already, about 10 months in, I’m getting that itch to move on.

    How do you combat it?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Diversify what you are working on. Ask for different projects, or think of things you’d like to work on and pitch them to the boss, where possible.

      Professional development. Speak at local conferences in your field, meet people, etc.

      The trick is to keep growing/changing within the position.

    2. Alex*

      I TOTALLY get this too – I’ve literally left my last two jobs on the 2 year marker, to the DAY. That is about my threshhold for job tolerance.

      I don’t actually think this is a bad thing all the time – if you can stay within the same company and move around, it can actually make you very marketable. Unfortunately if you move around from company to company, you may be viewed as flighty. SO I guess my advice would be to get into a large corporation, preferably an HQ location if possible, and hop around within the company.

    3. CrazyCatLady*

      For me, I find doing really fun and different things outside of work helps combat this. Taking cool vacations, trying new things, going on adventures ….

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, start a big hobby so your creative mind has something else to occupy it. If work gets boring, there is so much outside of work you can do.

    4. VictoriaHR*

      I get this very much – comes from being a military/State Dept brat and moving around every 2 years when I was young, I think. I’m currently itching to move on but would love to settle at my current job. I just wish they had more work for me – it’s really difficult to combat the wanderlust when you’re bored.

    5. Pierre*

      Have you ever thought about becoming a freelancer? (If that’s possible in your field.)

      Some people just aren’t made for staying at the same place for long.

    6. Sunflower*

      All I can say if I feel you. I want to move somewhere different every 6 months and try a new job every other day. Maybe make a list of things you want to do or try and look for other outlets to try them. Like if you’re interested in writing, see if you can get some freelance work or see if the local paper is looking for a volunteer to write. Volunteering is also a great way to fulfill things you want to do in your life. I’ve found that a lot of people don’t like traveling for work but if you’re a wanderluster it’s perfect! See if your work offers any trips or volunteer to travel places other people don’t want to

    7. OhNo*

      Try window shopping.

      Look at postings, do research on companies, think about what you would write in a cover letter (or even actually write it out; it can’t hurt to stay in practice). Basically do everything that you would do if you were job hunting, and then just… don’t apply.

      I love doing this, especially for positions that I’m not ready for yet. Look at positions that you might want to be in in five or ten years, do your research, and come up with a list of things you can do in your current job to get ready for the next step you want to take.

      That, and plan killer vacations if you can afford it. Sometimes taking that wanderlust and re-directing it into a new area (travel instead of jobs) will help to.

      I’m just getting started in my career, and I already have killer wanderlust, so I know how you feel. I’ve gotten a new part-time internship every semester I’ve been in grad school, and this is my first semester where I haven’t needed to. It’s making me antsy. Window shopping positions really helps me, so maybe it will work f0r you, too.

  9. BB*

    How badly does it anger hiring managers if you apply for a job you aren’t qualified for. For example, I just applied for a job asking for a bachelors and 4-7 years experience. I have 3 plus a bachelors. I read the job description and feel I could handle the job so I applied for it. Also, how common is it for the manager to say ‘Oh not for this job but maybe this other job’? I just feel like that never happens

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      I know a lot of people say to apply anyway, but in my experience, it’s a waste of time. I recently applied for a job that required 3 years of experience. A few weeks later, I got a personal email rejection (which is unusual, as I’m used to either form letters or not hearing anything) saying that they would never consider anyone with less than 5 years of experience for that level, despite the job posting. So I guess you can apply if you want to, but there’s a very high chance you’ll just be throwing your time away.

      1. Rayner*

        Well, in your case it doesn’t apply, because you had three (I assume) years, and they asked for three, but it turned out they wanted five.

        Lying hiring managers – who don’t tell candidates what they actually want for the job – is different from, “They said three, I have two.”

    2. PEBCAK*

      It doesn’t anger us. If your resume is doing what it should do, we can decide within about half a minute if you might be a good fit.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      That doesn’t seem like such a big gap that it would automatically exclude you.

      I don’t think it would anger hiring managers regardless, at least not me. The only time I’ve been super annoyed is when it because really clear in an interview that someone had REALLY misrepresented his background and experience level in the interview. That’s not cool.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I think if you’re right on the edge like that, a good resume and cover letter might get you onto the interview list. If you had 6 months of experience plus a degree, then I’d think you’d get skipped over.

    5. LBK*

      Unless you are truly, woefully unqualified – like you’re applying to be a surgeon and you haven’t even gone to med school – I doubt it’s going to make a difference or cause any ill will. The worst that happens is they throw your resume out because you aren’t right for the job.

      1. AB*

        Even if you are woefully unqualified, I don’t think it will cause ill will, just give HR a good laugh before they trash your application.

        1. BB*

          Great- I read somewhere, I’m not even sure when it was that hiring managers get angry when unqualified candidates apply for jobs and I didn’t want to get put on any bad lists. Thankfully I’m also not applying for anything wildly out of reach!

          1. Good_Intentions*


            Your comments about qualifying for positions when you don’t meet 100 percent of the requirements reminded me of an article that recently ran in The Atlantic about the “Confidence Gap” between male and female professionals.

            This paragraph in particular stood out to me, and I believe it’s relevant to your query:

            “we were reminded of something Hewlett-Packard discovered several years ago, when it was trying to figure out how to get more women into top management positions. A review of personnel records found that women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. At HP, and in study after study, the data confirm what we instinctively know. Underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect.”

            You can find the entire article at

            It’s just something that came to mind when reading your post. Obviously, you are under no obligation to read it a all.

            Best of luck in your ongoing job search!

    6. Kai*

      I think it’s much more likely to be successful if you have a personal connection within the company. I, too, like to apply for jobs that I’m slightly underqualified for if I truly feel that I could handle the job. But it hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet, and I bet I’d have more success if I knew someone.

      That said, I doubt many hiring managers actually get angry over underqualified applicants–they just discard them.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I always wonder about the jobs that require 10-12 years experience. Who has 12 years experience at anything? After 5 years, are you really going to learn that much more?

      And why is it 10-12 years? Do they want 10 or 12?

      Sorry… I ranted on your topic. :)

      1. anon-2*

        So they can reject anyone.

        Way back in 1990 when I was out of work – people were looking for “5 years experience” in a platform that had only been around for three. In this manner, they could arbitrarily reject anyone without having to justify it to upper management.

        1. AB*

          In certain industries, this is actually done for a very specific reason… they want to recruit people outside the country who would require visas. They post impossible to meet requirements so they can say they tried to find a qualified candidate in the US and then are justified to bring someone in (typically a lower cost than they would have had to pay an American worker). This has actually been a big problem, esp in the IT world.

          1. anon-2*

            Oh yeah

            I saw a bigshot on the financial channel crying “we need more H1B visas”…. when, there are a lot of tech school grads who can do the job.

            Of course the U.S. based employee has rights beyond an H1B visa holder, they have to pay SSI, unemployment insurance, health benefits, and the young American 20-something can’t be deported if he quits his job, and doesn’t have the dream of the possibility of a green card carrot-dangled before his face….

            1. Stephanie*

              Not in IT, but OldJob liked to hire foreigners for similar reasons: they could dangle the green-card sponsorship in front of them and knew they couldn’t quit the job for fear of deportation.

              1. Dan*

                Which is why I *love* government contracting. The government won’t approve reimbursement for employees who have sponsored visas. Ad a result, I make a lot more money than my private sector industry counterparts.

      2. fposte*

        Over 20 years in my field here. Are these entry-level jobs, or mid-career jobs? Lots of mid-career people have over 10 years in a field.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          My bf has been looking for maintenance jobs. (Well, I have been looking for him.) Most of the 10+ years experience are for apartment maintenance jobs.
          I could see it for industrial maint, or another spectrum that changes with the times, but what new amazing process came up in apartment maintenance?

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, with you there. Is it maybe more about weeding out people with spottier histories, since access to apartments can be a big trust deal?

    8. LAI*

      I don’t think that’s such a big gap that it would anger me. I may or may not think you’re a strong candidate but you’re certainly not the worst. It angers me when we ask for a bachelors degree and 2-3 years of experience and we get a recent high school grad with no work experience at all.

    9. Marcy*

      Maybe I didn’t scroll down far enough but I didn’t see anyone answer the last question about how a manager might look at your resume for a job he isn’t going to hire you for but considers you for a different one. I’ve gotten a couple of jobs that way and one of my co-workers just told me that he was called in to interview for a position based on his application/resume to a position he wasn’t chosen for. I hired my last employee the same way. I wasn’t thrilled with the candidates who answered my ad and asked a co-worker for her “rejects” and hired one of them. I don’t know if there are statistics on it but in my experience, it happens enough it is worth considering if you are at least close to meeting the qualifications.

    10. Neeta*

      It can’t be worse than this resume that was going round the office a few years ago. Someone was applying for entry-level programming job, and cited experience in lawn-mowing as a plus.
      People were rather amused than annoyed.

      As for the experience, I think that 3 is not necessarily that far away from what they ask, and might even give you the opportunity to interview, depending on what other candidates they have.

  10. drunner*

    I’ve seen some really interesting stuff on some company career sites lately. One site clearly stated next to the job whether it was Entry Level, Experienced, or Intern. Another had the potential career progression of a person who entered into this position. I’m torn between whether these things are awesome or not.

    1. BB*

      I saw the career progression on a website and I thought it was interesting that I could look up the job I would possibly be going into. However, I think it would be important to address that just because that’s a possible path, it doesn’t mean that is the path you are expected to go in. I was a little turned off by the job once I saw what the endgame position was. I was actually overqualified for the position but if I wasn’t, I would have made sure somewhere in the hiring process that this was just an idea, not an expectation

      The other thing is helpful if you’re entry level because SO many jobs are hard to tell if it’s truly entry level or not. But beyond that, I don’t see how ‘experienced’ job would help. That could mean 3 or 30 years of experience

    2. Elliot Echlov*

      The career progression part is seriously awesome! It shows the company is thinking about their potential hire not just for the immediate need, but the future. By laying out up front where the person’s career can go, they can attract some serious (and seriously good) candidates.

    3. Felicia*

      I like when job sites provide these details, except sometimes jobs they label entry level say minimum 5 years experience, which I hate.

    4. kbeers0su*

      I would like this, but only if it’s truly accurate. I would hate to apply for a job thinking that there is a potential for career progression within the company only to find out that only 1/100 candidates actually ever gets the chance to progress.

      I also like distinguishing between levels, especially in fields like mine (higher education) where job titles vary widely. An Area Coordinator may be entry-level and Bachelor’s only at one place, but mid-level and Master’s level elsewhere.

    5. Paige Turner*

      I recently saw a posting for a job that I am not qualified for (I meet the educational requirements but not experience) but that I would LOVE to have in 5+ years. Unfortunately, it’s at a major university without any direct contact info (which I totally understand). I have been trying to think of some way to find out info about the job without being a total PITA (like what career/educational background do strong applicants/past holders of the job have). I am a few years out of grad school (social science MA, not my best financial/life decision) and my career hasn’t taken off yet, to put it mildly. This posting really caught my eye because I’ve been having a hard time finding jobs that I think I’d enjoy and could reasonably do. Any suggestions on how to find out more about the job in particular or related jobs without being too pushy?

      1. Paige Turner*

        Oops, didn’t mean to post this as a reply, but this thread made me think of my question, so thanks :)

      2. fposte*

        Take the job title and search at various universities to see who holds it; then check ’em out on LinkedIn (they may even have their CVs posted on the university website).

      3. kbeers0su*

        I like fposte’s idea. You could also search for a similar title, but (as I mentioned above) you have to be careful that the title is congruent between the two institutions. Typically that means the size and prestige of the university. So if the one you’re looking at is a small, liberal arts college look for similar job titles and similar small, liberal arts colleges.

        If the job you’re looking at is in any way under the umbrella of Student Affairs/Student Life, then the size of the institution will probably also determine whether they want to see a more traditional career track (coming from internal to SA/SL) or if they’re more willing to look at transferrable skills. Also, if it falls in any way in this area, feel free to email me and I’ll see if I have contacts at the institution you’re talking about (our field is fairly small and everyone is connected to everyone in some way). I’m

  11. AdjunctForNow*

    A general question for those who have MBA’s:

    Did you, in your MBA program, have to take a course or two that were really elementary, given your previous education and work experience? How did the instructor make that course useful to you, or did they?

    I’m teaching an intro to X course in the fall, and I know that some students have experience with X, but some have none, and I’m looking for suggestions on how to balance the differing needs.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I have a BS in Accounting, and I think the first 1 or 2 classes in the program I did included pretty rudimentary accounting. But for people who had no business or finance background, it was confusing, as accounting can often be.

      My program was online, so in the online discussion forum I answered quite a few questions about debits and credits, how to read financial statements, and so on. The instructors in that program tended to be pretty hands-off, and let the students discuss things among themselves, and only stepped in if things got heated or something.

      The courses weren’t really useful for me, just because I already have an accounting degree, plus many years of experience in the field, but it was required, and I was happy for the easy A. But I did like helping some of the other students in the class who were struggling with things like the difference between a debit and a credit.

    2. Current MBA student*

      Instructors who make it clear what they want the class to know for the exam, and who welcome comments that are based on prior knowledge, are generally easy to deal with. However, in my MBA program, we have had a couple of classes this year where mentioning having previously seen a video or making reference to some other aspect of the reading than what was assigned was a violation of the in-class honor code, and that was very frustrating. Simply treating students with respect and presenting your own take on the subject can be enough to make a course that turns out to be a refresher worthwhile.

      1. AnonAnalyst (Recent MBA)*

        Wow, I’m surprised to hear about the in-class honor code thing. I completed my MBA a couple of years ago and I guess I was lucky in that all of my professors welcomed comments about their previous experience. It made for some interesting dialogue, especially in situations where students offered anecdotes about real-world experience that contradicted what was being taught, because then discussion often ensued about other ways we could use the subject matter, which generally seemed more valuable to me since a lot of the stuff you’re learning isn’t black and white.

        I totally agree that the instructor’s perspective and experience made classes where I was more familiar with the material more interesting though, so I would definitely second that recommendation. However, in my program, students could test out of some the core classes, particularly stuff around finance (where there’s probably not a lot else they’d learn), so those with a lot of experience often weren’t in those classes. I’m not sure if that’s a possibility also where you’re teaching, but if they haven’t clarified, you might ask just to find out what the policy is.

    3. Shana*

      I am in exec level MBA program now and the best professors have been the ones who draw on the experience of the class. I have CPAs in my accounting classes, but they are the first to help with questions at break times and offer real world examples in class. The professors have welcomed those additions and it really helps round out the knowledge base. The classes that are interactive conversations seem to keep everyone involved, even those just checking off a box.

    4. Puddin*

      Have you thought about how to have the more experienced mentor, coach, or even lead the less practiced? That keeps them involved and the lessons still get communicated. I think one of the best ways for me to learn something backwards and forwards is to have to explain it or train someone else on it. You could also have the less experienced facilitate the class and have their ‘pro’ cohorts provide peer feedback.

    5. Marcy*

      I got my MBA from the same school as my BS, which was in Finance. The MBA finance classes were very basic to meet the needs of students with no exposure to the subject. I just looked at them as a review class. Some were even taught by the same professors I had for my BS. It never hurts to review what you’ve learned to help make sure you’ve mastered it.

      1. AdjunctForNow*

        This is mainly the type of thing I’m talking about. A handful of my students are bored, and I don’t know how to fix that.

  12. Katie the Fed*

    Oh good, ’cause I need help!

    I’m applying for other government jobs, and one of them requests a “writing sample.” It doesn’t specify at all what the writing sample should be.

    What kind of thing should I send? I really can’t send anything from work because that’s all classified usually. The most recent formal thing I’ve written outside of work was a master’s thesis a couple years ago.

    Should I write something specific for the job opening that addresses the skills/qualifications like a cover letter-type of thing?


    1. Celeste*

      No idea, but I’m glad you’re addressing the unhappiness issue with some forward action! You’re my hero.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Well thank you :)

        I hit a point a few weeks ago where I decided my two-year goal is to have a job at another place. I could kind of deal with it when the bad management and policies affected just me, but when they affect the people who work for me I feel completely powerless and just…pissed off. I’ve gotta go. I’ve got a couple applications in elsewhere and am still working on more.

        1. De Minimis*

          Kind of in the same boat here…may or may not leave my gov’t job this year, depending on if my wife finds something out of the area. Also exploring the possibility that they may increase the grade for my job depending on staffing changes here [they may hire someone to help me with things after my co-worker retires.] If that is the case I’ll stay longer…

          Really need to find a job at the next grade at some point, that would be my entry into good career progression. I’m stuck at my current grade right now at a job with no promotional potential [unless they decide to change the grade of the job.]

          Feel very behind in my career due to a late start and a major setback during the recession, and I really need to make up for lost time.

    2. Colette*

      Poetry. :)

      I’d actually stick with something fairly factual. If you don’t have something from work, how about writing up the process someone would have to follow to take the bus from point A to point B, or how to decide what coffee you want to order?

    3. Dang*

      How about an abbreviated version of your thesis? Did you do an executive summary or anything like that?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Hmm I could do the first chapter, or an EXSUM. The thesis was sort of related to my work.

    4. OriginalYup*

      I don’t know the norms for government work, but in nonprofit applications I’ve used: blog posts that I wrote for the org’s website, a (required) essay on my personal theory of continuous improvement in the workplace, and a modified/redacted training document describing at the macro level how a big plan was going to roll out.

      I have seen applicants include school papers, but those are usually so long that I wonder if it defeats the purpose.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        What are they looking for in a writing sample? They just want to make sure you can put together a structured argument?

        1. OriginalYup*

          Depends on the place, but I’d imagine that most places want to see that you can write coherent thoughts in whole sentences while using these new-fangled computer thingies. :)

          My job asks for writing samples because the work itself requires a lot of internal and public-facing written communication. So the sample is to make sure that applicants invited for interviews can express themselves reasonably well in writing — grammar, organized thoughts, reasonably articulated ideas. Basic stuff.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Yeah this is primarily internal communications for this position.

            OK, I can handle that. They just want to make sure I can write coherently.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        OK, here’s an idea. Since the job is for internal communications, I could craft an example of what I normally send to my team each week.

        At the end of every week, I send an email out with highlights from the week – (kudos to so-and-so, don’t forget such-and-such), schedule for next week, things like that.

        What do we think of that?

        1. littlemoose*

          I think that might be a little too informal for a writing sample. I liked the suggestion below of taking something you have written and obviously changing the facts and names to make it safe to share. Would that be possible? (I know the rules can be strict, so you might not feel comfortable doing that, but maybe if its obviously changed, like “John Doe” for the names, it would fly.) (Also I wanted to tell you to use Wakeen as a fake name, but maybe that’s not obviously fake enough.)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Why not write something as if your boss has been away and asked you to keep her up to date in email. This could look like a summary of this weeks events/activities and your plan for next week.

          This is sneaky because you can weave into the writing some of your better moments AND the writing itself IS an internal communication.

          Use the first paragraph to set the stage. You are talking to your boss who is away for two weeks. Explain that you had to deliberately make the projects and the names obscure because of confidentiality, but this will still give the reader an idea of how you can convey messages using the written word.

    5. LMW*

      I had the same problem when I was working in internal communications — I developed lots of communication plans that I couldn’t share because they were dealing with something private (a reorg or layoff or merger). What I did was take the sample I was most proud of and adapt it to a fictional scenario. I also went through and pretended I was a censor (replaced names and dates with XXs and then highlighted in black). It’s not a perfect solution, but it showed I could come up with plans, demonstrated my writing abilities and showed that I had care for confidential situations.

    6. Beti*

      It’s hard to recommend something without knowing your field (I get the privacy/security thing) but what about some sort of PR piece? Something like a description of the work/duties/goals/benefit to the public written as if you were talking to the general public, like at a job fair or as if you were a recruiter? Either about your current position (could also demonstrate your qualifications) or for the place you are applying (shows you’ve done your research about the organization). Done right, it could include enough technical information to show your knowledge but also that you are able to communicate with people outside your field without sounding like an owners manual (if that makes sense). Good luck!

    7. Amy*

      I recently used a letter to my state representative that I’d written advocating for something that was also of interest to my non-profit. I didn’t get the job, but I don’t think it was because of the writing sample, at least!

  13. A Reader*

    Seeking advice for my commute to work…

    This may seem small, but I’ve been going bonkers lately because there’s always one person on my bus who feels the need to have a long, loud conversation on their cell. Am I wrong in feeling this is incredibly rude? I have no interest in listening to somebody else’s conversation, especially half of it (there’s a great NPR report on why this is soooo irritating to most people)!

    Any advice on how to get people to finally just give me a quiet commute home/to work if I’m right here?

    PS Yes, I def have headphones. Sometimes people speak so loudly you can hear them over your music. So ridiculous….

    1. Looking for new career*

      Sounds lousy, but I can’t think of a way to put a stop to it. Maybe bigger and better headphones?

    2. IndieGir*

      Ugh! I feel you! Today on the commuter rail, I had my earplugs in and could still hear a conversation, they were that loud. I finally gave them a sad smile and said “I’m SO sorry, but would you mind speaking a little less loudly? I can still hear you even though I’m wearing earplugs.” Today, it worked. On another occasion (when I was in the quiet car, for Pete’s sake!) the talkers were completely annoyed with me for even asking and made nasty comments. However, they did eventually shut up after the nastiness.

      If you ask nicely and they don’t shut up, I’d try singing “This Is The Song That Doesn’t End” until either they quiet down or the ride ends. You won’t get your quiet commute, but it will help displace your frustration!

    3. Calla*

      I don’t think you can stop people. But I sympathize. Today there was a woman loudly clipping her nails on my train.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ugh, a woman was doing her nails on her bus. The smell doesn’t usually bother me, but it was a bit much on a bus.

        1. Apple22Over7*

          I was on a train recently and the woman behind me must have mistaken it for a mobile beauty salon. Hairspray, nail polish, perfume, the works. Horrid.

          1. Stephanie*

            That instance, a passenger politely asked the woman to stop polishing her nails, saying the smell was unpleasant.

            The passenger was like “Well, no one else said anything, so I assumed it was fine.”

            1. Jennifer*

              Given how often I spill nail polish while sitting still, I cannot conceive of successfully doing that on public jolting, people-filled transportation.

      1. KerryOwl*

        Yes, this one. Or someone suggested recently: listening to their conversation, and very obviously taking notes. Then start involving yourself. “That’s not what you said yesterday, you said Sansa *deserved* what she got!”

    4. Kai*

      Just here to commiserate. It is incredibly rude and annoying when people do this, or listen to their music really loud, or eat on the train (I live in Chicago).

      Sometimes I imagine that the loud phone-talkers have jobs where they can’t make personal calls, and they have a dear relative who lives in a different time zone or whatever, and this is the ONLY TIME in the whole day when they have a chance to talk to each other. It’s still super annoying, but it helps a little.

      1. Calla*

        Oh god, eating. A week or so ago I had the misfortune of sitting next to someone who was slurping cereal. I could not stop cringing.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Public transportation is….entertaining. Back in the days when I rode buses to get around and travel long distances, there were always memorable people. In fact, some of them I don’t think I’ll ever forget. >_<

        1. Stephanie*

          I kind of miss that, actually! On the subway, you saw people from all walks of life and it made for some excellent people watching.

    5. Mints*

      I’m pretty non confrontational so I just frown and sigh loudly. Sometimes staring works because it’s like, yes we can all hear you. You could try it if it doesn’t sound too petty or passive aggressive

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        That is awesome! I totally want to do that next time I’m in public with an annoying cell phone talker.

    6. AdAgencyChick*

      This is why I hope they don’t make it so that cell phones work on the subway. My sympathies.

      1. Tina*

        I once overheard a very loud conversation on the train that included a story about being in the military and needed to inject a massive needle into some guy’s @ss during a medical emergency. I think everyone standing around just looked at each other. He changed stories, but was still loud, and on and on he went. An older gentleman finally got sick of it and said “this isn’t a payphone stall, you know” and the guy looked at him and said “yeah, it’s a public train, so what’s your point?”

        The loud obnoxious conversations and music drive me nuts, and smells can sometimes make me queasy. Nail polish in a confined train or bus? I’ve become quite sick to my stomach a couple times when that’s happened.

    7. Jessica*

      I’ve taken public transit every day for over a decade and I have to say things have gotten much better since the early 2000s where every had cell phones but nobody really texted yet. Thank god for text messaging!

  14. While the boss is away...*

    My boss is returning from a looong vacation on Monday and I’m dreading it. I have been so much more productive (and happier) since he’s been out! Yesterday, I mentioned this to the rest of the team and they enthusiastically agreed. In fact, our production numbers are up by nearly 20%. I’d like to bring this up with the boss, but the essence is, “I work better without you.” Should I try to bring this up – diplomatically of course? Or just keep my mouth shut and hope he notices that we’re more productive when he’s gone?

    Additionally, I’m seriously wondering if I should look for another position. Until his recent absence, I didn’t realize how much better I work when he’s gone. Again, he’s not a bad guy and it’s not personal! It’s more a matter of preferred management style and fit.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think it’s worth thinking about why you were more productive. Was it because he wasn’t micromanaging or looking over your shoulder? Were you assigned work for the whole week instead of being given it piece by piece? Even if he notices you were more productive, I’m not sure he’s going to attribute it to him being gone. It could be worth it to think about why you were more productive and attempt to make moves towards that as a normal, everyday thing. This is just my opinion but unless you truly enjoy your job or it’s one a kind or some special circumstance, I would start looking anyway. It never hurts!

      1. While the boss is away...*

        I think I’ve been more productive for a few reasons. There’s been far fewer interruptions and meetings. Our team has been able to prioritize our own workloads, which has resulting in a lot less switching in between tasks or getting reassigned to different projects halfway through. There’s been zero last minute surprises. It just seems a lot more efficient and organized! And a lot less stressful.

        1. J.B.*

          You might be able to bring up the prioritization. Like hey we did this while you were gone and it worked out really well, is there a way we can continue to prioritize stuff as a group and then bring to you for final ok?

        2. Sunflower*

          Well I think those are things that are likely to happen in any office when the boss goes away. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something here. I work in an office that everything is (unnecessarily) done last minute and I hate it- it brings unneeded stress. This is the office way and there’s nothing I can do to change it.

          Things like last minute changes can throw productivity off but sometimes they’re necessary. You need to see if this is something that is necessary or if it’s something you boss isn’t realizing is impacting your productivity. If this is something you think has the possibility to change, it’s worth getting your coworkers together and presenting the information to your boss. However, if this is just the way the office is run, than it might be worth looking elsewhere.

        3. Pierre*

          Why not just talk about the fact that you were still productive while he was away and that you (the whole team) have demonstrated a great capacity in managing your priorities? So he could left this part to you and free his time for other important things?

          I’d leave the “more” productive part out however in order not to offend him.

  15. MDT*

    A year ago, I talked to my boss about the possibility of me working remotely to tend to a sick family member out of state. He was supportive, but mentioned a big project the company is developing that they saw me having a big role in and said that could not be done from a distance. After talking to my family we decided I should stay here and see how this plays out.

    It’s been about a year now and the project is continually being pushed back, all the work i’ve done for it is being credited to people who aren’t doing nearly as much, and when i tried to talk to my boss about my role and my desire for more responsibility i was told they wanted me to do more, but have instead split my work even further and have promoted people with no experience in this area onto projects i’ve already half finished. One of them has even appointed herself an unoffical lead on one of my projects.

    Basically, it’s not turning out at all like i thought it would and i’d rather go home to my family. However, i’ve been job hunting and getting no where. This is my first job out of school (though i have been here a few years) and i don’t have a strong network to pull from.

    How do i convey to my boss that i want to either do the job that was originally lined up for me to work remotely like we discussed without it sounding like a whiney ultimatum?

    My concern is that my family really didn’t want me to put my career on hold for them, but if my career is not advancing and is instead making me very unhappy, i’d rather be with them. i’d be devastated if something bad happened and i wasn’t there because i was wasting away in a hated job. i know a lot of employers would be sympathetic to a gap on a resume once they understood the family reasons, but if i can’t even get an interview when I’m employed how can i get a chance to explain myself once i’m in that position? i’ve thought about taking some classes to cover the lapse in time, but in my industry real world experience is far more important than a higher degree.

    1. Colette*

      What is the worst case scenario for both options?
      Stay where you are, miss out on time with sick family member (or other family members)
      Go, lose job & have to get another one (or miss out on big project)

      What about your family members? Do they have contacts they could introduce you to – not necessarily to get a job, but to better assess your job prospects there?

      Would your boss be agreeable to you working remotely for a month or two?

      1. MDT*

        To be honest I don’t even care about the project, I like the work I do but I’ve always known this wouldn’t be a company I’d stay at forever. There are a lot of really dysfunctional elements to this place. I saw it more as an opportunity to put something valuable on my resume, but if it takes another year to launch I don’t think I can really handle being in this position for that long.

        My big concerns are just not being able to break back into this competitive field and ruining my career before it fully even starts yet, and that taking care of sick family member will be too much for the family at the house to do on their own and he’ll end up in assisted living or a hospital full time which he would hate, and i would hate for that to happen if i could be there to help with care rotations to keep him home.

        Worse case scenario is i quit, they get mad and it burns that bridge just by virtue of my leaving (they’ve had very mixed reactions to people leaving before) and i’ll have spent 4 years in a job that made me miserable most of the time for nothing and wont be able to find another job.

        Other worse case scenario is that someone who helped raise me needs help and i cant be there/he could pass before i get to spend more time with him/ it takes a toll on the rest of my family having to do everything themselves.

        1. KerryOwl*

          Wait but wouldn’t a worser worse case scenario be that you stay and then you’ve been at a job for SIX years that made you miserable? I suggest you start looking for a job near your family. Is that not feasible in your line of work?

          1. MDT*

            I’ve been looking but have only pulled one interview so far. They kept in touch with me a few weeks afterwards and kept telling me how interested in me they were, but then I saw on the online application form that the position has been filled and have never heard from them since. I’m still job hunting, but nothing seems to be coming together.

            But yes the thought of being here another year or two and still being in the same boat is kind of terrifying. I could stay for a long time and still not be able to find a good job in my field I suppose, I never really looked at it that way. Kind of just kept thinking if I accomplished enough here SOMEBODY would want me. But that may not even be true, either.

        2. Zillah*

          You’ve mentioned your sick family member before, clearly, since you brought up the possibility of working remotely to your boss. If you tell them that at this point you really can’t put off going any longer and feel like you have to be there for your family, and that burns bridges, I don’t think there’s a way for you to avoid burning bridges. A sick family member is something that I think most people would understand.

    2. Nodumbunny*

      This is a hard one, and I’m not sure anyone can really advise you how to make this decision. I think I would do as Colette suggests and talk to your manager again about working remotely for awhile. I probably wouldn’t bring up the promised project unless he does or unless you’re very sure you can do so without sounding like you’re blaming him for a bait and switch (which is what this turned out to be). Maybe he’ll be willing to let you go remotely, maybe he won’t. He might try to resurrect the promised project, but I would doubt it is something he can really deliver on very quickly, so I wouldn’t advise going down that road again. Then, my gut tells me I’d quit and go home as long as you won’t starve without a job at home for awhile. In the future, employers will understand a break to take care of a family member.

      1. MDT*

        Yes, I’d be able to live with my family and could defer my student loans if necessary and get by for awhile. This is the solution that appeals to me the most for sure, but I can’t really tell if that’s logically the best one or I am letting my emotions take control.

        Do you have any advice on how I can bring it up to a potential future employer? I’m just worried if they see the gap on my resume they won’t care enough to even ask and will just pass over me. Is it appropriate to put in a cover letter?

        1. Nodumbunny*

          I know Alison has written on this topic before, but I can’t remember exactly what she advises. I think it’s probably okay to put in a cover letter…something like “after a x-long break to care for a sick family member, I’m ready to…..”

          Good luck – I honestly think it sounds like your potential regret over not being with this family member weighs more heavily than any potential difficulties getting back into this career track.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have done what nodumbunny is saying and it works just fine. I was kind of surprised not to be even asked any questions about it. Relief!

          There are some things that happen only once in life. Then that is it- there is no redo’s. Family members in their last illness is one of those things. Of course, I am going to say GO! Be with your family. But the reality is that is will be a little tough getting back into the work world afterword. So brace yourself for that.

          On the plus side, you should be job hunting anyway. The job you have sounds like it is killing your soul and you need to get out. That stands on its own as good reason to move on. You have the additional tug of wanting to be with your family pulling you closer to that exit door. Do it with finesse, take the high road when you resign. You will not regret that choice later on, even though it will be difficult right now.

          In the future, when asked to explain why you left you can just say “I wanted to move back home to be with my family member who was very, very ill.” Short, simple explanation.

    3. JC*

      MDT…you know in your heart what you want, and I say you need to go for it. You’ve already given 4 unhappy years at your job. It sounds like you’ve sacrificed your happiness and time with your family for your career, and now it’s time to give some focus to those areas. It’s OKAY to do that!

      As for the gaps you are worried about…you have the option of volunteering or freelancing to keep your skills fresh. That way, you’ll still have a track record of accomplishments to show for your time off.

      Who knows, maybe you’ll meet the right person at the right place after you move and land a job that makes you much happier!

    4. StudentA*

      Sit your boss down and explain that your relative is sicker now than they were a year ago, and that you can’t put off the move any longer. Say you love your job and mention a few things you like about the company that make it unique. I’m not telling you to lie, you need to think of sincere things to say. Give your boss every reason to want to work out the telecommute thing for you.

      Give your boss a time frame. Your reasons are legitimate, not personal.

      This conversation can also be seen as a really long resignation notice, because if he says it’s impossible, you’ve given him the objective time frame.

      It sounds like you wouldn’t stick around if he says no, and that’s perfectly understandable. But you need a good reference out of him. You can also freelance for them after you leave.

      Good luck.

  16. The Wall of Creativity*

    I went for an eye test a week ago and ordered new glasses, which I pick up tomorrow. Thing is, the only frame I could find that was the right shape for my huge head (and that don’t pinch me at the temples) was an fcuk frame. So my glasses will have the letters fcuk reasonably visible on the arms, at the ends closest to the eyes.

    My question for AAM readers is this. Do you see this as unprofessional given the similarity of the logo to a really rude word that has no place in the office (not now that I no longer work for a Big 4 accountancy form, anyway)?

    1. Annie O*

      I think it depends on your org culture and how much folks know about fashion, or care about formal professionalism.

      Personally, I think it’d be kinda cool to have French Connection glasses, but I do have a super old “hot as fcuk” t-shirt so I’m not exactly the paragon of propriety.

    2. Anonicorn*

      The logo is probably more subtle than you think, so people might not even notice it especially if you hair might be covering it.

      Otherwise, is there any way to obscure the logo? Rub it off/paint over it (so long as it wouldn’t look atrocious)?

    3. Lore*

      Unless the logo is in a really bright color, I suspect that what feels reasonably visible to you holding them up close to your face will not be noticeable to anyone respecting your personal space in a workplace context, especially since the vast majority of interactions with people occur face-to-face, rather than face-to-side-of-head. (If you sit next to someone on the train, you might be more likely to notice, but even so, I wouldn’t worry about anyone making a judgment based on it.)

    4. Alex*

      Test an inconspicuous area with some nail polish remover – if the frame doesn’t react poorly to it, try and use it to get the logo off the arms. I did this with a pair of glasses I had as well.

      If the fcuk logo is pretty large/visible… could be kind of awkward… my workplace wouldn’t care, but I wonder what clients would think.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I doubt anyone will notice, and if they do comment, you can explain it’s an acronym and “agree” with them that it wasn’t a very well thought out one, was it?

    6. fposte*

      Black Sharpie? If they’re black, I’d probably try that first–the worst that would happen is it wouldn’t work, so then you could turn to plan B.

    7. The Real Ash*

      You should also look into getting your measurements for your glasses and going to I’ve been buying my glasses from there for years and love it. I’ve never had a bad pair, and I’ve turned on lots of family, friends and co-workers to the site who love it as well.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I was going to suggest Zenni as well! I buy their glasses like they were candy. I just ordered a pair of prescription sunglasses for my mom for mother’s day. :)

        1. The Real Ash*

          That reminds me that I need to get some new ones! My Rx changed and the sunglasses I have are my old script. Thanks for the reminder. ;)

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        A second (or third or fourth) for Zenni. I just bought three new pairs of glasses for around $40 total. Plus, my vision insurance reimburses them at the out of network rate…. Which isn’t a ton, but whine they’re that cheap, it basically makes them free!

    8. Stephanie*

      I can commiserate. I usually need at least 52s in frames to prevent pinching.

      I usually get my glasses from Costco. Interestingly enough, Costco must stock the glasses based on store demographics. I went to a Costco in a whiter part of town and couldn’t find much over a 51. I went to a Costco in a blacker part of town and they had tons of 52s, 53s, and 54s.

      I feel like your average glasses logo is pretty minor, unless it’s in rhinestones or something.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I just quickly Googled and you can find instructions on how to remove the logo. You need things like an emery board, nail file, very fine sand paper. In the end it looks like you put nail polish on it so that it looks shiny like the rest of the frame.
      I just typed in “remove logo from eyeglasses”.

  17. Ali*

    Yay I get to be early today!

    I had a pretty good week. I went to my first yoga class on Tuesday and fell in love. I left class on a high note and can’t wait to go back. My only problem is what to do when I can’t make it to the studio or the Y, which also has yoga classes. I’ve tried out a couple of YouTube videos to supplement and haven’t been happy with either one yet, so I guess I will just have to keep looking. However, my class was small…only six of us plus the teacher, so it was nice to have more hands-on and personal instruction.

    My boss wants to change our schedule again, as our new hire is starting on Tuesday. I’m pretty happy with mine overall, though I have some personal preferences I asked him about…but I said I would understand if he couldn’t meet them. He is considering implementing rotating weekends, which I’m largely in favor of because it’s very obvious who never works the undesirable shifts. Haha. This would make it a little more fair.

    I’m still job searching and haven’t found much to apply for this week. I feel a little better than when I did last week when I vented about being average, but lately my news feeds have been filled with friends of mine who are getting job offers or experiencing another form of success. I just try to block it out, though, and focus on what I can do to improve my own prospects.

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m curious- how many jobs do you find to apply to per week? I’m not finding as many now as I was in the winter, maybe company’s budgets are starting to get tighter or summer is coming so they’re slowing down work. I only found like 2 jobs this week as opposed to 9 a week in January

      1. Ali*

        This week I applied to four jobs, but last week it was only two. I’d say an average of 2-3 per week with that in mind. I have not found much myself lately either.

        At the same time, I am being selective since I have a job at the moment, so not sure if that has anything to do with it.

    2. Stephanie*

      I wouldn’t get too worried. Sometimes there just aren’t that many new jobs posted, especially if you work in a niche area.

  18. LBK*

    Does anyone else here have a job that doesn’t require them to be busy all day? I’m in a sales support role where the majority of my workload comes from whatever the salespeople I support have for me on a given day. I have certain daily tasks I have to complete and I try to come up with other things I can do, but a lot of the time I’m sitting around waiting to answer questions or get tasks from my coworkers. A lot of the time I end up messing around online or leaving early.

    My manager has never said anything to me about it, so I guess it’s just an accepted part of the role, but I still feel like I should be doing something more productive a lot of the time even though I don’t know what that would be. Anyone else have a role like this? How do you keep yourself occupied?

    1. Alex*

      I used to be in that exact type of role – if you’re up for it, maybe strategize with your salespeople you support to find leads for them. If something comes of it, have them buy you something in return. I LOVE when my sales support people proactively find me leads, especially because they usually have great relationships with people and the leads are usually good ones.

      1. LBK*

        Part of my role already does include lead generation, sort of – it’s a weird spot because our clients are all internal. We specialize in shutting down 401(k) plans, so all our “leads” are existing clients of our 401(k) product and get passed over from the department that handles those. I am the person that follows up with the account managers on plans we think may be closing and then passes it over to the salespeople (who are really half salespeople, half short-term relationship managers/consultants).

    2. Mints*

      AAM! Haha seriously, I have nothing to do and fool around online all day. It’s really boring and I am looking for a new job.
      But if it’s not that bad, you could try learning skills, like Excel trainings, codecademy, industry articles.

      1. LBK*

        Heh, well AAM has helped me occupy my time since I discovered it :) I’ve also done a lot of reading up and practicing more advanced Excel work. I’ll look into codecademy, that could be interesting and help me learn some newer languages. Thanks!

      2. Sharm*

        See, I’m in a similar situation, but because of the way our cubes are setup, everyone can see what I’m doing. My company culture is full of serial interrupters — people just pop up behind you in your cube with no announcement. I can’t stand it. So even though I average about 3-5 hours I could fill a day, I can’t actually spend time on online courses (though I would LOVE to).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I just took on a project for another department. Unfortunately, they waited so long to give it to me that now I’m busy! Luckily, it’s a work-on-it-in-your-spare-moments type thing.

    4. Fish Microwaver*

      I have the type of job that can go from nothing to insane in minutes. I really enjoy my moments of downtime. I use them to check personal emails, read AAM or maintain CPD.

  19. IndieGir*

    Just a Friday gripe — why is it that my co-workers, who seem like such decent, hard-working folks when at their desks, turn into the most inconsiderate, selfish, and just-plain-filthy slobs when they step into our shared kitchenette? They leave coffee spills all over the counter, throw food into the sink (which doesn’t have a garbage disposer), and act as if replacing the paper towel roll (or napkins, or cups, or whatever) would cause their arm to break in half. Of course all this happens when there are no witnesses — when others are standing by, everyone cleans up after themselves like a good doobie. But come into that kitchen again 5 minutes later and it looks like a garbage dump.

    I’m betting that when someone is alone in the kitchen, Zuul pops out of the fridge and possesses them and causes mayhem. Maybe I should install a hidden camera to verify this . . .

    1. Celeste*

      Unless somebody’s in charge, nobody’s in charge. This is my rationale for why people do that. It’s like a management-free zone in the workplace.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I don’t get this either. I always wipe out the microwave if my breakfast or lunch bubbles over, wipe up my crumbs, and so on, but so many people don’t. I even wipe the counter in the bathroom if I splash water on it while washing my hands.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Someone here likes to splash around as though they’re taking a bath in one of the sinks. There’s water EVERYWHERE. I got tired of wiping it up, so now I just leave it.

        1. IndieGir*

          The one who really grosses me out is the one who leaves blobs of semi-used toothpaste in the bathroom sink after she brushes her teeth. Disgusting!

        2. fposte*

          The version of that that gets me is people who chuck the coffee grounds *toward* the trashcan and never notice if it all made it.

    3. HRNewbie*

      I have the same issue where I am. What gets me is when people walk past the empty dishwasher to dump their stuff in the sink, or settle for leaving their bowls on top of the empty dishwasher.

      My worst thing is empty milk cartons put back into the fridge – why do it? o_O

      1. IndieGir*

        I hate that one too, and don’t get it. It’s like they feel guilty they used up the last of the milk, so they’re going to pretend that because there are three drops left in the container, it’s not gone!

      2. Annie O*

        We have one of those k-cup coffee makers. For some reason, folks take out the used k-cups and leave them on the counter, even though there is a trash can right there. It is literally RIGHT THERE, not even one step away! And still they put the used k-cups on the counter. Why?!

        1. Noah*

          People in my office do this to, drives me crazy to walk into the kitchen and see a lineup of k-cups on the counter. It is like one person does it so then everyone else thinks we must be saving them for some reason.

    4. LizB*

      Ugh, the food-in-the-sink-without-a-garbage-disposal thing is the worst. I really don’t want to deal with your apple core and leftover bits of pasta anywhere in the kitchen, but I especially don’t want to deal with them when they’re soggy. Gross.

    5. Malissa*

      I am so glad to not be the person cleaning the kitchen anymore. five out of seven years at my last job I cleaned the kitchen. Why? because it was off the training room and I arraigned classes. It would be down right embarrassing to have a caterer or an attendee go in there and see the mess.
      After a few times of hours of cleaning before classes I just started a Friday routine. Anything left out and not washed got tossed. I said it the first week and tossed the first week. I tossed for three weeks straight. The kitchen was kept up much better after that first month.

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      The receptionist is the kitchen cleaner in our area, so I put up a sign in the kitchen area that said “Don’t make the receptionist angry. You won’t like her if she’s angry” with a picture of The Hulk for those who didn’t understand the reference.

      I don’t think it’s helped the kitchen be any cleaner, but I did give people a chuckle.

  20. lulululu*

    I’m extremely confused by a lot of job postings education/experience requirements. ‘Bachelors Degree or Equivalent’ Maybe I’m dumb but what the heck does that even mean? Or Bachelors Degree or equal experience- what experience is equal to that? And then later on it lists 6 years experience- does that mean with or without a bachelors? Any enlightenment on this would be appreciated

    1. Celeste*

      Lots of jobs will let you make your case that your experience is equivalent to what you would have learned in college. In my work I see ex-Navy get to use their nuclear sub background as equivalency.

    2. Anonymous Mouse aka Anonymouse*

      Universities in other countries have a different naming convention for their degrees. The “or equivalent” may refer to whatever the equivalent is if your school had a different degree system.

    3. Chinook*

      I have seen “or equivalent” to allow wiggle room for life experience such as military or another career. For example, DH was accepted into his police for who have a degree or equivalent requirement. He was a college dropout but retired from the army after 7 years. He was one of 2 in a class of 30 without a degree (the other an experienced tradesman).

    4. AndersonDarling*

      The “equivalent experience” also allows for internal candidates who may not have the degree to apply.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m sure that the calculus varies from company to company, but I’ve always presumed that a year equals a year, which means if you had no college, you’d need 4 years experience in a similar role to make it up. The only times I’ve ever seen it spelled out in the description, that’s been the case.

      But I’m presuming your better hiring managers out there would rather have someone with no college but 2 years in a similar role than have a bachelors but no similar experience.

  21. Karowen*

    Question! I know that Alison has had plenty of posts about gift giving in the office and always says that gifts should flow downwards. But what about bereavement gifts? Sadly a peer just lost her father so we’re all chipping in to get her some flowers, but it made me wonder about if that’s still okay for managers.

    1. Dang*

      Definitely.. I think bereavement flowers/condolences are a whole different story than holiday gifts, etc.

    2. BB*

      I think that’s fine. It’s not really gift that is rewarding someone for work or is attached to work in anyway.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, just make sure it’s optional donations. I usually just say “I’m sending a gift basket to XX. If you want to chip in there’s an envelope on my desk.”

  22. BB*

    Anyone have any insight as to what time of the year certain industries hire or don’t hire? I’m in marketing/project management and I feel like I’m not seeing as many jobs posted as I was a couple months ago. Curious for this industry or any industry really

    1. Children's Librarian*

      I’m a librarian and I see the most postings around October/November. It seems that a lot of libraries post their positions at the end of the year, because of people retiring after/during the holidays. That gives you hopefully an overlap to train the replacement. Oftentimes, it seems that a retiring person means a higher-level job is open so typically a lower-level person will get promoted and it sets off a domino effect. We seem to go through that every fall at my library (which is big).

    2. Kara Ayako*

      I’m also in marketing/project management. At our company, it seems we do more hiring in Q1 because that’s when our new budget starts and we get new headcount. Positions open at other times will be because of a new project starting with a CER to get new headcount or because of attrition.

  23. anomnomnomimous*

    I’ve been job-hunting long-distance, and I’m planning on going up to the city soon (about a month before I move) to hopefully have some informational interviews and make some connections. My mom (I know, I know) wants me to apply for some jobs in person while I’m there, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a company allow that.

    So my question is, what should I do to make the most out of this trip? How would you all start making connections or working towards a job?

    1. Sunflower*

      See if there is a networking event going on while you’re there whether it be your industry or university event. LinkedIn is always good for checking that out. Any way to get to know people in the area is always a plus

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Do you have friends in the city already? If not, I’d consider finding out what the local watering holes for your industry are in town, hanging out, and making some friends! Friends always make a move easier, and if they’re in your industry, they can help you make connections.

      But I might just be saying this because I live in DC, where everyone drinks and every company or organization has their bar they tend to hang out at. Not sure how true this is for other cites, though, or your particular temperament. :)

  24. Anonymous Mouse aka Anonymouse*

    Is it wrong that I feel slighted because my manager sent out a thank you email to the department and left out myself (a contractor) and another contractor?

    The company received approval from the FDA for the sale of a product; I worked for months in the lab in the development of this product. My manager forwarded the FDA’s approval letter and thanked the team for their hard work. I only saw it because a coworker forwarded it to me and the other contractor; at least SHE thanked us. Of course, I’m not going to say anything. Maybe I’m being petty. I know we’re contractors, but does that means we shouldn’t be thanked for our work?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Well, like I said in another response today, don’t assume malice where stupidity may suffice.

      Is it possible she just forgot?

      1. Anonymous Mouse aka Anonymouse*

        She may have forgotten to includes us, but she did remember to cc two members of the product’s team who are no longer in the group.

        Sigh. This manager tends to not include us contractors. We’re not usually invited to department lunches. Maybe she wants to create a distinction between the contractors and the real employees? I have no idea. It’s an uncomfortable environment.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah, that’s jerkish. I have contractors on my team and they’re just as much a part of the family as everyone else.

        2. Kara Ayako*

          My best guess is that your manager created a distribution list for herself to use and hasn’t updated it (which is why members who are no longer in the group still got the email).

        3. Not So NewReader*

          If she tends not to include contractors then this is more of that.

          I think that we are entitled to whatever feelings we have. But we are not entitled to act on those feelings all the time. I’d lick my wounds and then say “same stuff, different day”.

          Cheers for the woman who did say thanks. Maybe she bcc’ed her manager when she did that. Never know.

        4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I tend to not include contractors on stuff like that too. Which is not to say you shouldn’t be thanked for hard work, but I find it grating when contractors insist on acting like regular employees (not to say that you are, that’s just a hang-up of mine).

          I think there’s a lot of variance on this though. Obviously some people commenting above have a culture of including contractors on that sort of thing, but many just do not. Mine is in the latter category. We have many contractors, but it honestly wouldn’t occur to me to thank them for help on a project (unless I am supervising them directly, in which case I’d certainly thank them in person or via email, but would generally not on an email to other staffers), and we almost never invite contractors to lunches, happy hours, etc.

    2. Tiffany In Houston*

      I don’t think you are wrong or petty. I am a contractor as well but my boss has recognized me for my work in a group setting in front of my peers. It’s human to want to feel appreciated.

      Maybe you could mention it to your boss in an offhand way about getting the email forward from X co-worker and is there any other follow up that you should be doing? I don’t know what else you could really do.

    3. fposte*

      I’m with Katie, but my guess is that they have an email list pre-created for employees that hasn’t had contractors added to it.

  25. Esra*

    I got laid off yesterday. I can’t vent to the actual players, of course, but would still like to. So:

    Don’t tell your staff, for weeks, that you’re going to “take care of” everyone who gets let go and then give severance packages consisting of the bare legal minimum. Obviously I won’t, but I would love to ask the exec who repeatedly said this, what exactly he thinks taking care of people means in this economy.

    1. OriginalYup*

      Ugh, I’m really sorry about the layoff. That’s tough. And yes, I agree, “meeting the bare minimum” does NOT count as “taking care of your people.”

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, I’m sorry. That really stinks. If you can, take at least the weekend, and maybe next week too, to just decompress and pamper yourself a little bit to get yourself back into a job-searching state of mind.

    3. BG*

      I’m sorry :(

      I got laid off at the end of January with no advance warning (just showed up one day and a bunch of people were laid off) and 2 weeks severance. I was so scared… such an awful feeling.

    4. Esra*

      Thanks all, I just needed to whine a bit =].

      Luckily (??) they laid off enough of us that the bare minimum was two months severance, so hopefully I can find something quick.

      1. Maple Teacup*

        I’m so sorry. This is a frightening position to be in. Similarly, I was let go from my job this year. It was without warning and I was given the bare legal minimum of a weeks pay.

        I spent the next few days talking to my significant other about those damn Frey bastards and generally ranting about how unfair it all was. I also ate pho. Perhaps some verson of this can help you get through the weekend. :/

      1. krm*

        have you ever tried their wine? Dave teamed up with Simi, and the label is called dreaming tree! The cork even has a line from the song printed on it…the reds (a cab, and a blend called crush) are really good-fairly cheap too! I think only about $13/bottle…And now I want wine.

      1. fposte*

        I have one! I love it, and I know they don’t last forever in our area (it’s about 15 years old), so I’m anxiously awaiting its spring awakening.

        I would be a sycamore, I think. Kind of messy, not always graceful, but surprisingly tenacious with its own style of beauty.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I waited and waited for someone to ask me this. I was going to say “A mallorn tree, because it is the jewel of Lothlorien.” If the hiring manager knew what the hell that even meant, then I would know we’d get along fine. :)

      Nobody ever asked!!

    2. Katie the Fed*


      I think they’re the prettiest of the spring trees but they don’t get the glory that cherry blossoms do.

    3. Felicia*

      I would be a heart tree, because Game of Thrones reference. Also they do have magical properties, which is pretty cool

    4. Mephyle*

      I don’t know what kind of tree I’d be, but speaking of trees, let me tell you what I could bring to this job with my skills and experience…

    5. SCW*

      A quaking aspen–I actually have a really cheesy and applicable reason for this, but no one has given me the chance to share it. It would probably only teach them that I am super good at bs.

  26. Ruxin*

    I have a weird issue. I recently moved into a sales role and I like it so far. The team is growing and they are now hiring another person, which is great. But I have a feeling that the person is coming in making more than me. When I was in the interview process I was basically told that the base salary for the job is x, but with commissions the average is in the y to z range. I was fine with that, and because of how it was presented, I felt there wasn’t really room to negotiate the base since the actual salary would vary based on performance. One of the candidates knew a co-worker professionally and supposedly she would be great. He even said that “Its a matter of we can afford her” Well yesterday she was in again and they made an offer. While Im not privy to the actual conversation, I’m guessing there was some negotiating going on. Now understand, I’m not mad at her if she did negotiate more/better than I did. At this point, I’m not sure where it stands since nothing has been said to us. However, if the salary was presented to her in a different way, which I feel like it probably was, that angers me. And I don’t know what to do really because I can never really know the answer to that since I can’t really ask her or my manager. It just makes me feel like a less valued member of the team. Any thoughts, advice, or suggestions?

    1. Alex*

      Do we work together? ;)

      My thoughts, in a similar situation and role – I pushed and asked for more money, unsuccesfully, and also raised the point to my manager that I felt undervalued. It made no difference. I even asked if we could plan a roadmap for interval raises baised on performance. No. I asked what my future looks like at this company if I’m successful, and if there is a goal I can work towards to increase my pay. No, no, no.

      I think in your case, if you’re up for it, it may be worth asking for a game plan to increase your pay. You’ll have to justify your worth to the company regardless of what others are being paid, so maybe put together a presentation of “This is what I contribute and what I bring to the table”. If you get nowhere with it, like I did, then you’ll have to decide if you feel that you can reasonably stay at the company and accept your situation without feeling jaded all the time, and if not, then move on. Luckily, sales jobs are fairly easy to come by and often pay quite well.

      1. Laura2*

        I’m not in sales, but something similar happened to me – new people were coming in with higher salaries or being fast-tracked for promotion despite less experience and despite spending their first few months goofing around and not actually working. This was my real problem – they hired new people at entry level for a few months, then promoted them regardless of their track record (or their actual ability to show up at work for an entire day). It eventually became obvious that I was not ever going to get a raise or get promoted despite being constantly praised for my work.

    2. Kara Ayako*

      This sounds like a lot of conjecture based on a single comment by someone who was not the hiring manager. Given the information you provided, I don’t see any reason to think you were treated unfairly.

      If she’s receiving the same package you are, would you still feel you’re being paid unfairly? If the answer is no, then I would let it go for now.

    3. E.R*

      It’s best to put this out of your mind and not even think about it. If you do well in your role, you’ll have negotiating power for reviews or jobs outside the company. Focus on doing well in your job, proving your worth a lot of money, and take it as a lesson learned not to shy away from negotiation in the future and to be your own best advocate. Sales will help you learn how to negotiate really well :)

    4. anon-2*

      “Now understand, I’m not mad at her if she did negotiate more/better than I did.”

      Not at her – but you obviously are upset with the situation over the possibility that you are making a lower pay.

      This is a reality of the working world – many times, base salaries are not just established by one’s good work and merit, but also his/her ability to negotiate – and his/her general leverage in the marketplace.

      At least in my business – IS-IT – that’s how it works –

      How much do we have to pay to get Mr. X in here? *and*
      How much do we have to pay to KEEP him here?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          That’s plenty of time. With that you can add to my list below Lodhi Gardens and a big Hindu temple like Laxminarayan.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      OK, depending on what you like, these are my must-see places in Delhi:

      I’d actually recommend you book a guide for this – Delhi is pretty overwhelming and honestly, you’re safer with a guide. Viator is a good website for hooking you up with reputable local tour companies at really good prices – I did the “Delhi in a Day” there while my Indian friend was working, and it went really well. I gave the guide a list of my must-see places and he suggested some others that I wouldn’t have thought of, like a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) and a Jain Temple. Gurdwaras are great to visit – the Sikh religion is really interesting and they serve free meals that you can eat with everyone else on the floor.

      I would do some time around Old Delhi, starting with the Jama Masjid (Mosque), which is a Mughal Mosque and absolutely stunning. From there you can tour the shops and streets of Old Delhi/the Chandni Chowk. You might want to swing by the Khari Baoli which is a huge spice market.

      Humayan’s Tomb is wonderful – beautiful Mughal architecture. It looks a bit like the Taj Mahal but is spectacular on its own merits. Definite must-see.

      The Red Fort is cool but not my favorite – if you’re short on time I wouldn’t have it top of your list.

      My biggest recommendation would be to add a day and go to Agra to see the Taj. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. I have been everywhere in the world – 40+ countries and I’ve seen some of the greatest natural and man-made wonders, and the Taj Mahal tops them all. There is literally nothing so spectacular in the world. Every inch of it is perfect – it’s stunning. You won’t regret going, I promise. Agra is a dump, but the Taj is worth it.

      Oh, pack lots of immodium.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh I forgot the Lotus Temple – a Baha’i House of Worship. There are only eight of them in the world so it’s very important. It’s really beautiful and unique.

        Oh I’m so jealous. India is wonderful.

        I’ll probably think of more.

        1. fposte*

          I grew up near a Baha’i temple and thought that everyone had one in their neighborhood–it was quite a surprise to me to find out that that was not true!

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Hahaha. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood (I’m Catholic) and when I moved elsewhere in the US I was really surprised to find out Jews are a minority!

        2. Colette*

          Thanks so much! I’ll definitely look into all of these.

          Yes, I’m not going to be wandering around on my own – some of my coworkers have offered to show me around, but I don’t want to have to bug them every day, so I appreciate the suggestion about where to find reputable guides. (I’m in high tech, so I probably know 400 people in that area, but even so, it’s an imposition.)

          I definitely want to go to Agra, and I might make a trip to visit a friend in Nagpur (haven’t figured out the details of that yet).

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Oh you’re going to have so much fun! India is like nowhere else. If you haven’t been to the third world before, brace yourself. It’s a sensory overload and the poverty is awful. You will probably get unwanted attention from men, so be assertive and don’t be afraid to make a fuss if you feel uncomfortable. Just know all that going in so you’re not surprised.

            If you want to buy some good quality things to take home, go to the government-owned Central Cottage Industries Emporium. There’s no haggling but the products are authentic (seriously) and they support traditional crafts. You can get a real pashmina or good carpets and other things there.

            1. Colette*

              Yeah, I’ve been to parts of Africa (brief trips to Egypt & Tunisia, and two longer trips to Botswana) but nothing like India.

              Thank you so much for all of the advice! I don’t go for a few months (early August), but I like to plan in advance.

            2. wanderlust*

              Is that the same place as Dilli Haat? Because if so… that place is AWESOME. But take a local because they will try to rip you off otherwise.

              I’ll also throw out that I really enjoyed Qutb Minar in South Delhi. Again, if your coworkers are Indian nationals, they probably don’t mind hosting you because it’s just something that’s “done” there, and they will be able to possibly get you better pricing to everything. It’s like a dollar for an Indian to visit these sites, but when they see you’re a foreigner they jack up the price to about twenty bucks.

              1. wanderlust*

                Oh, no, google tells me that Dilli Haat is different… and it includes haggling but all my favorite India stuff was purchased there, so I still say check it out.

                Someone said pack immodium, but I always needed stuff for the other problem you can have there :) so I say bring both.

      2. Paige Turner*

        Awesome advice! I have no travel coming up but I’m adding your suggestions to my mental list since going to India is my number one travel ambition… I’d also suggest a few books/movies about Delhi to get you in the mood- Slumdog Millionaire or Q & A (the novel the movie is based on), City of Djinns by William Dalrymple, or something “light” but informative like Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald…I’ll stop here ;)

  27. Cath in Canada*

    I had to send a fax yesterday. A fax! I had to ask where the fax machine was; people were actually laughing at me.

    It was quite a long document. I hope the recipient had enough batteries in his Walkman to listen to a whole cassette while he read it.

    1. Annie O*

      That’s too funny.

      Confession: I don’t even know how to use the fax machine. And though I’m sure we have one at work, I have no idea where it is….

      1. Felicia*

        I don’t know how to use the fax machine either. I’ve never had to send a fax in my life. I sometimes worry that some day I’ll have to and people will laugh that I don’t know how :)

    2. Sunflower*

      HA! I have to fax credit card authorizations frequently and the first time I think I sent a blank sheet like 5 times. I had to ask someone in the office how to do it. I still dread doing it.

    3. CTO*

      I fax on a near-daily basis (to government agencies, so no surprise that they’re a little behind the times). There are online forms I could use instead, but they don’t really work very well and are such a hassle to use that handwriting a form and faxing it is often the easiest route.

    4. Purple Jello*

      Yeah, we have to send faxes occasionally – usually HR or financial stuff. If we don’t have an electronic document, we have to scan the hard copy before faxing it.

    5. Contessa*

      I constantly fax things. It’s the best way to prove I sent something ASAP to a large company. Faxes get me a response within a few days (I guess someone mans the fax machine and gets things where they need to go?), but emails to a general “customer service” address never seem to get me a response at all, either for my work OR for questions I have as a consumer.

    6. Fax Machine Hater*

      Hilarious! I used to work for state government. I had to fax my timesheet every 2 weeks. This caused me to stand next to the fax machine, trying to get it to work, wasting 30 minutes or so every two weeks. Of course, it was already on the computer and I had to print and fill it out. Instead of e-mail. I’ll never understand government offices…

    7. Nodumbunny*

      Yes! Colleges and universities seem to still be using fax machines- there was a form yesterday where my options were fax or snail mail….I started to explain why I don’t have access to a fax anymore (because most of us have moved on to the new century) but then dropped it.

    8. Cath in Canada*

      I wrote a long and splendid rant about how much I hate fax machines a couple of years ago:

      TL;DR version: not secure, email is much better.

      When I decided to get a tattoo a few years ago and was going back and forth with the artist on tweaks to the design, we had to do it by fax because she didn’t have email (or accept credit cards – I had to pay by cheque). The only fax machine I had access to was the shared one in my old office. My boss picked up one of the versions from the machine and brought it to me, asking what it was for. Not something I wanted to discuss in the office! Oh and then there was the time someone dialed the wrong number and sent a patient’s confidential medical information, complete with the patient’s full name and address, to the same machine. That was fun…

    9. Tasha*

      I’ve had to send a few faxes recently when getting time-sensitive signatures on things, but the more anachronistic part of the department’s operations is the registration forms that must be hand-delivered between 9 and 5 on one particular weekday, twice each year. (We’re a major research university and my work is based on computer programming. They’re Scantron sheets.)

    10. Noah*

      Maybe its because my company is related to the healthcare industry, but until the last year or so we sent faxes all the time. Now we have this encrypted email system that I loath. It scans your email/attachments for certain keywords and if there appears to be PHI in there it encrypts the email and forces the recipient to jump through hoops to read the email. I’m sure it was put into place as part of some HIPAA compliance plan, but I serious hate it.

    11. Mephyle*

      I think it was either Scott Adams or Douglas Coupland (or both?) who predicted exactly this, some 15 or 20 years ago (at a time when faxes were still fairly commonplace); that in the near future people who received or sent faxes would be mocked. Anybody remember, and can pull up the quote?

  28. AAA*

    Hi Everybody, happy Friday! Anyone out there with experience incorporating as a public benefit corporation? I’ve been toying with this idea of starting a small non-profit on the side (doing social and environmental impact consulting for small businesses) but now I’m thinking that a for-profit public benefit corporation model might be more appropriate.
    Anyone have any advice as to some of the potential benefits/pitfalls in this kind of incorporation? (Or links to same?)

    1. Annie O*

      Social enterprise?

      I know of a cool local organization that offers workforce development training. The tax status is 501(c)3 not-for-profit, but the org doesn’t take donations or grants. Instead, they sell their services and use the profits to offer the same services to low-income folks. It’s really run like a for-profit, with the exception of using the profits for the mission.

      1. AAA*

        Kind of like that. A public benefit corporation is a for-profit corporation that has a “triple bottom line” – e.g. not only is it focused on making profits (economic bottom line) but there are also social and environmental “bottom lines” that the company must strive for. These goals are incorporated into its mission, and the company must be conceived of as a public good. There is special legislation developed in several states to incorporate this way.

        I’m just curious if anyone here has had any involvement in this and what their experience has been. This is my first foray into entrepreneurship and I’m a little scared!

    2. OriginalYup*

      Incorporation type has major (MAJOR) implications for accounting and governance, so I’d encourage you to speak with an accountant and/or at attorney to get advice. If you incorporate as a nonprofit, you’ll need to form a board and will be responsible setting up the finances & reporting on them in a very specific way to the IRS. If you incorporate as a B corp or an L3C, that’s basically a C or S corp that meets specific criteria but still has to meet all the criteria of a for-profit business. IMO your first consideration should be about the nature of the work of this organization and what’s needed to make it a going concern. Incorporation type will follow (with the proper expert advice) based on what’s most sensible for the goals you’re trying to reach.

      1. AAA*

        This is exactly what I’m concerned about. Either as a non-profit or a B corp I’ll have to form a board, and one of the services this org will be providing is reporting (social & environmental reporting–with some financial) for small businesses, so having these reports for the org itself is a no-brainer and a must for transparency either way. Everything I have read points to incorporating as a B corp as my best option, but as this is such a new form, I’m still nervous that I don’t *fully* understand all of the implications. I think you’re right; I probably need an accountant or an attorney…or both.

        1. OriginalYup*

          And you actually have options beyond those two, as well. You could self incorporate as a one-person shop, you could be an independent contractor for an organization/company that’s already in existence, you could do some limited work as a volunteer for an existing nonprofit, and so forth.

          But definitely do your research before filing paperwork — you don’t want to end up on the hook for lots of regulations, forms, and fees unnecessarily, especially if actually works against what you’re trying to achieve.

  29. Mimmy*

    I have several questions this week–I have a lot going on.

    The first one is more of a rant, but any tips would be helpful:

    I’m in the process of applying for a graduate certificate program at a university in NYC. Maybe I’m just dense, but the process is confusing me a little.

    First, I have to get official transcripts from all previously-attended schools. The school I’m applying to has a form you fill out and send to the issuing schools. However, the issuing schools have their own forms! I emailed the prospective school, and they said it’s okay if I can’t use theirs.

    Second, I have to upload a resume. Actually, I do have a question about that: Would you lay it out the same as if you’re applying for a job?

    There’s also the personal statement and recommendation (one is required for this program). I do need to move my tail on all of this though as the application deadline for this fall is in 3 weeks. Oops. There goes my weekend :/

    But i wonder: Is all of this normal for a graduate certificate program? The program involves full masters-level 3-credit courses (as opposed to 1- or 2-day workshops). Sorry if this question is silly, but it’s been over 10 years since I applied to grad school for my Masters.

    1. Lucy*

      I also just applied to a certificate program and had to submit all transcripts, personal statement, three recommendations and had to take the GRE! It seemed like a lot of work for a certificate, but I hope it’s worth it. I uploaded a resume as I would for a job- highlighting relevant experience. Best of luck to you!

    2. kbeers0su*

      I would recommend using the same resume as you would use for a job. They may use this info in a few ways:
      – If they’re trying to build a cohort of students, they may be looking for students with a range of experiences. So if you offer something no other applicant has, that might boost your potential.
      – Some programs prefer folks who have work experience, especially in the area that your graduate degree would be in- i.e. you’ve done something with people if you’re getting a degree in Social Work.
      – Some programs have funding to give to students, so they’ll use your resume as part of that decision-making process. You could be offered an assistantship, internship, scholarship, research position, etc. (even if you aren’t explicitly looking).

    3. T*

      I would treat this process the same as applying to grad school for a degree program (maybe slightly less daunting and involved). There are books and websites that can help you with it. For the transcripts, you seem to have it figured out. I’d move on that right away because they take awhile to process your request. For the resume, it should be the same format as what you would use for a job. I think this may be one case where you can go over the 2-page limit (because you’re dealing with academia, and they like long CVs there). Don’t pad it, but make sure you include any experience, publications/presentations, memberships, etc. that seem relevant to the program. For the personal statement, I found the how-to-apply-to-grad-school resources really helpful. I also had my old adviser look over it and incorporated his suggestions. Maybe you can have one of your professors from grad/undergrad or someone else in your field look over your personal statement before you send it. I earned a certificate in conjunction with my MA, so I did not have to complete a separate application, but looking at the website for the program, it requires applying through the grad school, so your case probably isn’t odd. Since you’ve been through this before, I wouldn’t stress over it. Perhaps you can contact someone at the university to find out what they’re looking for in these documents.

    4. Schuyler*

      This is fairly standard at universities. As you mentioned, the courses are not differentiated from other grad courses; you’re taking the same courses as those who are entering a full two-year program, so it’s to be sure that everyone is prepared for the work. In addition to that, there are students who begin a certificate program and then decide to continue on to a full degree as opposed to the certificate.

      Lastly, directly related to my realm, many certificate programs are financial aid eligible. Some schools figure it’s easiest to have the same standards so there’s no questions regarding eligibility later.

  30. iseeshiny*

    I oversee the server uniforms for around 35-40 waitstaff. I have been having problems lately with people refusing to go up a size when they really should, and consequently coming to me multiple times in a year for replacements that have had seam/zipper failure. This would not be a problem except that I am on a budget and we don’t charge staff for uniforms. Most recently (two days ago) I had a repeat returner who the last time she came to get a new skirt I told would need to go up a size the next time it happened FREAK OUT and start crying about how she’s 51 years old and knows her size, running out of the back shouting about how I won’t give her a skirt, etc.

    I understand that this can be a delicate issue for people. I am not overweight but I’ve gone up a few sizes since high school and I know how much it sucks. Right now I am six months pregnant and, really, I get it. Nothing I own fits, not even my shoes. I have every sympathy but this has seriously ruined my week. I know she’s going to the rest of the staff and talking about what a bitch I am, and my manager has said that we will start charging staff but he’s been saying that for ages and does not want to be the bad guy and and and I’m just grrrrrrrr. What can I even do?

    1. CanadianWriter*

      Is it possible to change the uniform requirement so that servers can provide their own skirt/pants? Any work issued pants I’ve had to wear have fit badly in any size.

      1. krm*

        I’ve worked in a fairly formal restaurant for several years, and we’ve always had to provide our own uniforms- black dress pants, black button down, long sleeved, collared dress shirt. You get sent home if your clothes don’t fit properly, or are dirty/wrinkled. There have been a few women the past few years that have gotten pregnant, so they’ve obviously been given a bit of leeway as far as proper fit was concerned. I’d definitely suggest requiring everyone to provide their own uniforms, as long as your uniforms are pretty easy to find (like all black, or black pants/skirt with white dress shirt, etc).

      2. Kelly L.*

        This. And if this is happening to multiple people, is there any chance the uniforms just aren’t good quality?

    2. Colette*

      “Our supplier’s skirts/pants run small, so I’ll order you a bigger size than you normally take.”

      Or just take the tags out before you hand them out.

      1. Pip*


        Because this really happens. I was once in a uniformed job, and the company changed uniform suppliers all the time, and sizing was never consistent. Neither was the cut of the trousers. I took super good care of my old model trousers for years, because the “new” trousers were absurdly snug over the thighs. We’d have to try the clothes out every time we needed replacements because of this.

        So do have them try the clothes for size before they get them. Blame it on inconsistent sizing, new cuts, new suppliers, you name it!

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yup. At one old job, we wore these uniform jackets that were owned by the business and kept at the business. There was one jacket there that fit me like a glove. Another one, labeled the same size, didn’t come anywhere near meeting in the front, and I couldn’t move my arms. And I was really stuck if I was working the same shift as the other girl who was roughly my size and she got there first. And they wouldn’t order any more.

    3. AAA*

      I’d make everyone do a “professional fitting” (like with a measuring tape) when hired/new uniform request and correlate the sizes to the measurements. Don’t mention the size to them directly, just give them what you know will fit based on measurements and have them try it on before they leave.

      1. Jax*

        Tape measure. Then there is no “I wear a size 6!” grief. You’re a 26″ waist so we’ll order you the size of skirt within that range.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I had a uniformed position and the company changed supplier. Previously the supplier would attend the company several times a year so staff could try on the range to see which styles and sizes fit the best von individuals. The new supplier required that staff measure themselves and send the measurements to the supplier and the uniforms would then be sent out. The range of fits within the supposed same st of measure ments was ridiculous. I received a pair of pants that were too samall and another that you could have fitted two of me into. Only one pair was anywhere near the right size and they were pretty loose. The tops were fairly unstructured so they fit ok but the whole outfit looked apallingly badly put together.

    4. GigglyPuff*

      is possible to maybe institute a policy, giving people a limit on how many free uniforms are provided? and maybe make ordering periods seasonal, for example provide X amount of free uniforms every six months and they can order up until the X amount maximum. And in this policy, notice, mention that uniform sizes tend to run small, and maybe they can exchange the uniforms once based on incorrect sizes.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This is a good idea. I worked in a place that had a policy like that; you could pay extra if you just wanted to have extra uniforms so you didn’t have to do laundry as much or whatever, but when they got to be genuinely old and worn-out, you didn’t get penalized for the clothes having outlived their lifespan.

    5. Laura2*

      Can you institute a policy that says you will not replace zippers/fix seams more than X amount of times, and that waitstaff will be responsible for fixing any further damage after that? Helps if you have a dress code that says they can’t walk around with busted clothes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would do this and the other ideas mentioned above. But definitely this.
        I don’t know what to say about that employee’s behavior. When I shop, I find that sizes are terrible. I usually wear a 12 but sometimes a 10 is fine. Other times I must get a 14 to get the proper fit. ugh. I hate shopping. But I am surprised that this woman does not seem to be aware of the fact that sizing can be all messed up.

    6. Vicki*

      “These clothes tend to run small so you should probably order the next size.”

      “Yes, I Know, but I think they mislabel these.”

      “Everyone tells me these skirts tend to be at least a size smaller than the label says.”

      “I wish we could get more accurate sizing but this is where we buy the skirts and pants from.”

  31. Mints*

    Okay, I have a question! I had a couple interviews recently that didn’t pan out, and I’m kinda bummed. I know the main reason is lack of experience. But if I had to guess my biggest interview weakness, it’d be that I can be concise to a fault. So a two part question for the hub

    #1 Do you think these two might be related? Like that I’m too concise, and it gives the impression that I’m not confident in the experience that I do have? I think I could be selling a bit better. Has anyone seen this with young or entry level workers? I know it might not be related though, so…

    #2 Generally, I’ve had a few nice conversations, but the better interviews I’ve had, the interviewers ask more probing questions about widely varying things, so I don’t think I’m skating over anything specific, I just think I could be more expansive. How could I practice more in-depth answers? Just practicing isn’t super helpful because I just practice short answers.

    I appreciate advice! Thank you!

    1. Dang*

      I’m a little bit on the reserved side too, so interviews are challenging because I think I come across as… probably unengaged.

      Something that’s REALLY helped me is copy and pasting the job description in a word document before an interview and going point-by-point through what I might cite as experience for each requirement/aspect of the job. Then I go through common interview questions and type out what my answers might be, slanted as much as possible to the position. I’m a much better writer than speaker, so doing it that way has helped. Then I try to memorize it and say it to myself in the mirror so it doesn’t sound rehearsed.

      Then in the interview, I make sure to hit the points I REALLY want to hit in the initial “tell me about yourself” questions. Because then if the interviewer wants to know more about specifics that I’ve already brought up, they’ll know to ask. And I’ll know that some of the things I’ve really wanted to emphasize have already been touched on from the very beginning.

      Good luck!

      1. Mints*

        Practicing the “tell me about yourself” probably is the best use, since I’m almost guaranteed to use it. Thanks!

    2. knitcrazybooknut*

      Here’s my advice, in concise form: Tell stories.

      Here’s my rambly version: Interviewers are people, too. They get stressed about interviewing and tired of asking the same questions, and tired of hearing the same answers over and over again. If you’re answering concisely and thinking in your head, “Done!”, you’re probably not communicating as much as you could with each answer. When an interviewer asks you a question, they’re asking you to tell them a story about you, about how you are at work, and about your experiences around that question. Think of each question as a chance to tell them a story about you.

      “How would you approach a situation where you had a conflict with a coworker?”

      You have an opportunity here to tell a story. Start out with an overarching statement, like “I would talk to them privately and see if it was something we could solve internally.” Then you can talk about an experience in your past that matched this. “In X job, I wanted to do the teapot process by using Wakeen’s method, but my coworker Shasta didn’t want to use this process. We talked it through and were able to figure out a new method that had the benefits of both, and resolved the conflict, too.”

      There’s always a balance, and you don’t want to spend ten minutes on every question. The key is distilling each experience down to the important details and conveying who you are through those stories. Writing the answers out can help a lot, and point out where the excess details might be.

      I hope this helps!

      1. LAI*

        I have the opposite problem – I tend to talk a lot and give really long answers because I want to say everything I’m thinking of and not leave anything out. I’ve even had interviewers politely let me know that they’ve only scheduled an hour and we still have a lot of questions to get through! One thing I do is check-in after the first few answers, because I’m aware that this is an issue for me. If I think I’ve given a particularly long answer, I’ll say “please let me know if you’re looking for shorter answers and I can certainly be more concise”. Or if I’ve already answered a question and think I want to add more, I’ll say “I can expand more on this topic – would you like me to, or did I already answer the question completely for you?”

        I also think this advice to tell stories is great. As an interviewer, I find it really hard to get a sense of people when they give short, vague answers without details. I’ve changed a lot of my questions to start with “tell me about a time when…” to elicit more of a story from applicants.

      2. Mints*

        I forgot to respond to this, oops!

        I like this idea; I really think it could work for me. I have tons of stories, and coming up with one for each bullet point on the job ad will probably give me meatier answers.


  32. Chocolate Addict*

    Have you guys found that employers are accommodating with scheduling interviews around work hours (maybe 8 am or 5 pm)? What times do you usually schedule them?

    1. Dang*

      I’ve had extremely varied experiences- some will say “are you available at x time on x day” and then I’ve also had some who send me 5-10 slots and ask for my availability among those. I am only working part time and have flexibility so it hasn’t been a problem but when I was working, I was usually able to schedule for the beginning or end of the day without much of an issue.

    2. Chocolate Teapot*

      In my experience it depends. I had flexible hours, so would propose 4.30pm or 5pm or a meeting over lunch, if it wasn’t too far away.

      There was a funny interview when I emailed my application (as per instructed in the job advert) to a specific person and got their Out of Office. Several days later, I was at work and got a snotty phone call from another person who said “We have been trying to contact you for several days now, when can you come for interview?” She sounded a bit put out as I tried to do the Diplomatic-get-this-person-off-the-phone-I-am-at-work-so-no-I-can’t-talk-to-you conversation.

      “Well, I am available after 4.00pm” I said.

      “Right, so we will meet at 4.00pm”

      You know how the warning bells start to sound? Well this was one of those times.

      On the appointed day, I arrived, met the aggressive woman who had called me, and had the shortest interview I had ever had (10 minutes). It turned out she thought I had misled her on my CV by referring to certain skills (I hadn’t).

      I simply thought that if you were writing a job description which was incredibly vague, you only had yourself to blame if your candidates weren’t what you wanted.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Yes, and if she thought your CV wasn’t displaying what they were looking for, then why did they call you? Sheesh.

      2. fposte*

        Though I’m pushing back a bit on “‘Well, I am available after 4.00pm’ I said.’Right, so we will meet at 4.00pm'” being a warning sign. As has been discussed elsewhere, if I’m asking about your availability, I expect the time you offer me to be the time you’re available, not a time you’re not. I don’t know what “after 4:00” even means–4:05? 5? If the first you’re available is actually 4:15, say “4:15,” not “after 4:00.”

        1. Colette*

          I agree it would be clearer to say “I’m available at 4 or later”, but I also think that saying “We’ll meet at 4” as opposed to “Does 4 work?” is not the best way to handle that.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            True. However, as I said in my original email, it caught me off guard to be answering a call at work, and I think my then Boss might have been hovering in the background, which was even more of a reason to end the call quickly. Trying to take private calls is always tricky, and at my old job, the best I could do was a dash to the stairwell, which had a terrible echo.

            Also, I think I was going to say, “Well I am available after 4.00pm, so can we say 4.30pm?” but got cut off. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing!

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      Yes. I’ve had quite a few breakfast interviews at 8 or 8:30 AM — 5 PM doesn’t work so well in my industry because the workday is almost never done by then.

      Fortunately, interviewers know this and they know they have to deal with it. I realize I’m being a bit hypocritical, but I HATE interviewing people in the morning because I do CrossFit and I like to take class in the morning. So when I’m hiring, I do try to ask people to come in at lunchtime, but if they can’t and they really want a morning appointment, I’ll give it to them.

    4. Malissa*

      Actually I have seen that lately. It might be because they want to hire somebody already employed and know they are going to have to accommodate.

  33. Email Phrasing*

    I’ve got a question for nicely phrasing things.

    I finally got the results of my salary inquiry after 2+ years. I’m underpaid by about 17%, which they said matched their data in August. I met with HR and my boss this week, and they said that they had to do a whole wage analysis for our site and others and found gaps in many positions. They made recommendations that were supposedly not approved for the new year because there was not enough money to get everyone to market value (even those who did not request).

    They said they will make a list of key performers for each site and submit it at the end of May, with the results of who might get an out of cycle increase in July.

    I guess my question is, should I email them thanking them for their time and asking to follow up on the key performers and results of the July increases? I know I need to be looking more for a new job since 17% less than market value is quite significant, but I may still be around until July before I can find something good. I mentioned during the meeting that I was disappointed in the process and progress and felt undervalued as an employee (as it was 2+ years since my request and I was the only one follow up, plus they had rescheduled my meeting request last month five times until now).

    Any thoughts on phrasing (or if I should even send an email) is appreciated!

    1. Malissa*

      I would think at this point they know where you stand on the issue. You’ve made that clear. So I’d let it rest. If you have a review between now and then you might ask about things you could improve on or new projects. But other than that, just be a rock star employee like always.

      1. Email Phrasing*

        You made me smile with that rock star employee comment! Thank you for your advice – it always helps to get different opinions from different people.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I agree don’t ask them anything. They are telling you and sadly,they have been telling you for two years now.
      I would assume I am looking at their answer and make my decisions accordingly.

  34. Mimmy*

    Second question:

    I’m thinking of looking for part-time jobs, hopefully at nonprofits or university-based employers, to help support school and other activities important to my career. So, I’m going to need to update my computer skills. At home, I recently started using an iMac desktop and was able to get a Mac-compatible version of Microsoft Office. However, I assume that most employers use Windows-based PCs. If I start doing any sort of CBTs for Office, are there any major differences between the Apple and Windows versions?

    Also, given the types of employers that I hope to target, what, if anything, should I focus on with regard to specific functions in MS Office?

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t have experience with the Mac versions personally, but I know a lot of people who toggle back and forth with no issue.

      Obviously this depends on what kind of position you are looking at, but for most office jobs I get really excited about Excel skills. Word is so much easier to pick up that it’s easy to teach otj quickly. But more advanced functions of Excel like macros, pivot tables, queries…heck you wouldn’t believe how many people have trouble with sorting, filtering, and subtotals.

      Outlook is like Word – easy to learn. I’ve never worked at a place that used Project or One Note (and One Note fascinates me but I refuse to use it because I’m afraid I’ll like it too much and it will complicate my current system.) PowerPower point is something a lot of places want, although I’m not a fan personally it has it’s uses.

      Access is another good one to focus on if you will be pulling data.

      Access and Excel have such wide ranging functionality no one will ever fully harness everything – there is always some cool new thing you can learn. I fully believe one could rule the world with Excel.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I would add that Microsoft’s Access help files are USELESS for someone who isn’t a database expert and thinks SQL is a tiny forest animal. If I couldn’t figure out how to do something, I always googled it. There was usually a forum around somewhere in which someone had asked the same question.

      2. Windchime*

        Embrace the One Note, Jamie. I’m a huge fan and have used it on several teams in the past. My current team doesn’t use it as a team note repository, but I still use it for myself. It’s so, so useful.

    2. Lore*

      I’m on Mac Office 2011 at home and PC Office 2007 at work, and from what I can tell, the differences between the 2007/8 and the 2010/11 versions are much greater than the differences between Mac and PC. (I haven’t worked in 2013 for either; my understanding is that it’s closer to the 2010/11.)

      Not every function is located in the same place; if you’re taking a test that penalizes for every “wrong” click or menu exploration, you might be penalized a little. But if you have 2011 or 2013 on the Mac, you should be basically fine unless you’re being tested on 2007 for PC.

    3. Paige Turner*

      I’ve used both, and I’ve never noticed any differences (other than if I’m using an older version of Windows on the mac than on the PC, for example).

    4. Vicki*

      “Most” employers no longer use Windows. It depends on your industry.

      Software startups in Silicon Valley are almost entirely Mac-based.
      Established Finance companies use Windows.
      I’ve worked at Three pharmaceutical companies that all had Mac and Linux workstations.
      Large public tech and science companies (e.g. Yahoo!, Genentech…) tend to give employees a choice.

      > are there any major differences between the Apple and Windows versions?

      Mac Office does not include Access or Visio.
      Mac Excel does not have the same macro capability as WIndows Excel (and thus, also, fewer virus possibilities, but hey.)
      Mac Office used to have “Entourage” which was a cut down version of Outlook. It now includes Outlook.
      As far as I know MS Word is just as bad, erm the same, on both platforms.


      1. Vicki*

        Also, you can run Windows on Mac OS X (and not the other way around) and can run Office under Windows under Mac OS X.

        Finally – Yahoo! uses a lot of Windows (Word & Excel) Internally and no one really notices if someone created the doc in Windows and then modified it on a Mac. So unless you need fancy Excel macros or graphics (Visio), learning Office for Mac is pretty much… Office.

  35. Ruby Shoes*

    At my (generally great) nonprofit job, the staff is deceptively small and many current employees began their careers here. As a result though, job responsibilities have evolved according to need, rather than logic. For example: Sally is the sales manager, but she edited the annual report years ago when we were short-staffed … and now she is stuck with that job forevermore. At this point, some folks are juggling such an odd collection of responsibilities that it would be near-impossible to replace them in the future. A group of us (who all report to the CEO) is all on the same page here and wants to start a conversation. What’s the most productive, non-attacking way to do that? Thanks!

    1. CTO*

      I think you’ve phrased it in a very non-attacking way right here. It’s not about anyone intentionally messing things up, it’s just what happens at small nonprofits over the years when their resources are limited. Now that time has gone by, your organization is a little vulnerable if someone should resign/retire/get sick, etc.

      I’d have a plan in place before you go to your CEO. Have each person in the group write down what they currently do, what their “core” duties should be, and how they plan to pass off the extraneous duties to another person. Go into the meeting with really positive tone and an eye towards a solution.

      1. LMW*

        I think there’s probably also an opportunity to discuss leveraging everyone’s strengths and more evenly distributing work. (And if people are working on things that they are good at or enjoy more, the work tends to be done better and more quickly). You might also uncover some gaps in the skills on the team, which is always smart to know, even if you can’t act on filling them (either through training or new hires) right away.

        1. Ruby Shoes*

          I probably should add that someone on the senior team is leaving, so this is a particularly good time to re-shuffle! No one is really doing tasks beyond their personal skill set, but we have, say, people in marketing making programmatic decisions. So things that don’t make logical sense, and that a new marketing person would be really confused about handling.

    2. fposte*

      If the goal is to redeploy these tasks, can you include a proposal of how you all think the workload *should* go?

    3. annie*

      I know I suggested this on the museum question yesterday so I don’t want to sound like some kind of a shill for the strategic planning industry (ha), but I think it would be good for this too – find a grant to pay for you to do a strategic plan! I was on a board that recently did this, and we found it very helpful in many ways. Part of doing a strategic plan is looking at organizational structure, and you’ll come up with a list of job descriptions for each position as part of that portion of the planning. As you do that, you may decide to shift responsibilities to areas that make more sense as you grow, maybe add more employees in the next 3-5 years, etc.

      Of course you can also just do the last part too – everyone put together their job descriptions and see what makes sense to move/change/etc but you have to be careful to do that in a way that is non-threatening to your employees. I once worked someplace where the owner told us to submit our job descriptions pretty obviously for the purpose of figuring out who was going to be laid off – it was not a good place.

      1. Ruby Shoes*

        So funny thing: we actually are doing one right now! But it’s on an unrelated topic (ie: not infrastructure). So part of the reason that I was hesitant to bring up this issue was that it may look like “fix MORE things!” Comparing job descriptions makes a ton of sense though. Would you suggest doing that exercise as a group first, and then going to the CEO? Or does that come off a little conspiratorial?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If your boss is paranoid, then I would say stop and get her buy-in. If you have a sane boss, then my guess would be go ahead and do it on your own.

  36. Kate*

    Dear All,

    I’d like to ask your advice about something. I have a classic case of a ‘bad boss’ as my supervisor and I recently realised my behaviour at workplace was affected by her (lack of proper) managing.
    (For example, I tend to put off even time-sensitive things, because it would be a ‘huuuuuge problem’, however small it is, I have always ‘went the extra mile’, because that’s how I am, but since it was never appreciated by my current boss, after long months, I don’t do this anymore, and who knows what else I picked up along the way.)

    I’m moving to another company in a matter of weeks, and I fear this bad behaviour might stuck with me. Can you give me advice how to avoid bringing over bad habits from my old workplace to my new one? Even better if you can tell me how you overcame this! I’d really appreciate it, if you could give me some pointers.
    At worst case, I’ll have about 2 weeks of transition, in the best, about a month.
    I’m all ears (eyes ;) ).

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Katie the Fed*


      I’m not quite sure how to put this diplomatically, but I think you’re trying to blame your former boss for what you know was your own poor behavior.

      Just because you’re not appreciated doesn’t mean you’re incapable of working well. It just means you have to look elsewhere (like to yourself) for validation.

      So it sounds to me like maybe you had a bad boss, but maybe you were a part of the problem too.

      So with this new job – look at is as an opportunity to start fresh. Work really hard, ask for feedback, do your absolutely best. Don’t slack because you’re not being appreciated – ask your boss for what you need.

      Also – work on your writing. I’m not saying this as a nit-picky thing, but your second paragraph was nearly incomprehensible to me and I had to read it several times to understand what the problem is. You’ll do better at your job if you communicate very clearly and concisely. It will also reduce the potential for misunderstandings.

      1. Nodumbunny*

        Yes, I agree with Katie the Fed on both these points. I’ll add that I struggle with wanting to procrastinate on time-sensitive tasks I dread, and I deal with this in my three teenagers (who are still working on growing their own frontal lobes). The only advice I can offer to get over this is to 1) admit you have a problem (you’ve done this); and 2) push yourself over the hump every time using whatever means works. For example, I bribe myself – “nodumbunny, once you pay the d%$# bills, then you can read AAM and eat a piece of chocolate.”

      2. Karowen*

        In Kate (not the Fed’s) defense, I’ve been through this too and it can be hard to be motivated when you feel like your work is going unnoticed. Whether your extra efforts are being taken for granted or people who are doing subpar work are being treated the same as you are, it can take its toll. While I knew it was my problem and that I had to work on it, I definitely let some things slide when I shouldn’t have.

        That said, I agree with your points about starting fresh. For me it was *making* myself do x – I knew that if I didn’t deal with it as soon as I saw it, I’d flag it and somehow push it off for months. I don’t know that I bribed myself as Nodumbunny says, but I started reminding myself that if I didn’t shape up, I’d likely be out of a job.

        1. Anonymint*

          This is accurate – I had a terrible manager in my last position and lost all motivation – I’d put off EVERYTHING because I literally only had an hour of work to do a day, so I knew nothing pressing would come up and I could put things off until the last minute. My boss never communicated deadlines and would go for days at a time without acknowledging my presence (even though I was her admin and my desk was outside her office).

          I’ve been in my new job a month and I’m a completely different worker – motivated, enthusiastic, proactive. It’s all because of how my new department works. I’ve been given tools to succeed! If I feel like procrastinating now, I just think about how if I wait til tomorrow (or even an hour), other things will have to get pushed back.

          I would try my hardest, if I were you, to completely start from a clean slate. Once you start in your new position, you’ll have so much to learn that it won’t be as hard as you think to start over.

      3. Anonsie*

        Hmm. While this is definitely true, the way things like this get under your skin and changes your priorities is a lot harder to shake than that. She obviously gets that this is her problem to fix and that it needs to be fixed pronto, but it’s not as simple as just deciding to do it. If changing yourself was that easy, there’d be a lot fewer crummy people around.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Hmm yeah I guess this is a good point. I know sometimes I am as lazy as I can get away with, especially in school. If I had an inkling that I could wait till the last minute to write a paper, I would.

          But…some of it is growing up. And really procrastination is a habit – a bad one, but one that you CAN make a conscious effort to stop doing if you want to.

          1. Kate*

            Thank you for all your advice, I’m taking notes, so I can read them again.
            I’d like to point out that I might procrastinate in my private life, I never did with my work. I noticed this only recently and analyzed why would I do it. And arrived at the conclusion it was because of my boss’ reaction to everything.
            But I think you make a very good point, that with a conscious effort, I can stop doing it. And thank you for the tips from others on how to overcome this :)

            PS.: And I appreciate you pointing out the importance of clear communication – now I can work on it.

      4. Vicki*

        Um, no, I disagree. The manager agrees that she’s part of the problem.

        “as my supervisor and I recently realised my behaviour at workplace was affected by her (lack of proper) managing.”

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Put a little sticky note at the bottom of your monitor with the things you want to avoid doing/make sure you do. Kinda of like a mantra.

      I had a boss that was very much the classic micromanager and so ease things I had a little list that I checked before I did anything. It helped to get me in a routine that wouldn’t cause the world to blow up with her.

    3. Chrissi*

      Maybe you’ve heard that to overcome procrastinating (especially when it’s because the task is large or complicated) you should break the task or project into smaller chunks. Well, that never seemed to work for me and I figured out that was because the examples given were way too big of “chunks”. To get it to work, I tell myself that I’m going to do the very first part of the task only and make that task very small – essentially impossible to not do.

      For instance, if I need to write a long explanatory email (which I hate doing), my first task is simply to open a new email, put the email address and subject line in, and write the first line. At that point I’m “allowed” to quit without feeling guilty. The point being, you make the task so small that you feel stupid for not doing it. Now, usually at that point I continue to work because procrastination is usually all about just beginning. But it’s important that you truly do allow yourself to stop after each tiny task. If at that point I do end up stopping, then the next task to go on the to-do list for a little later would be to write the first paragraph. And you have a sense of accomplishment (a little one, at least) for having completed the first task that you set out to do and that usually helps you keep going too.

      Another example of how I do this is if I need to wash the dishes and there’s a ton of them, I set a timer for 5 minutes and tell myself to just wash dishes for 5 minutes. Anyone can do just about any task for just 5 minutes, so you feel silly not doing it. And, if you don’t keep going after that, you’re still closer to completing the task than when you first started.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        This is good advice. I’ve read the same thing about exercising and I try to do it – if I’m not in the mood I’ll tell myself to just do it for 5 minutes and then I can quit if I want to. And usually I feel like I want to keep going.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’m optimistic for you. I think your old habits will come flooding back to you. Maybe not the first day or second day but within a few weeks you will be you again.

      I think that one of the things you can ask yourself is “Do I like me this way? Do I like being a procrastinator?” And you can ask over-arching questions such as “How do I feel about myself and my work at Soon-to-be-Old Job?”.

      If you find these questions upsetting, there’s lotsa hope for you.

      It doesn’t take much for that switch to turn back on. Maybe the boss says thank you a couple times. Or maybe a coworker wants to grab a coffee break with you. Perhaps you show up the first day and you have no phone but you notice that a couple people are busting their butts to find one for you.
      Things happen and you get constant reminders that you are no longer at the Old Job. And you start to reclaim yourself.

      Get through the first couple of days by pushing yourself along- then see what happens.

      1. Kate*

        Thank you. Your words give me hope that a change in environment will help and my good habits and motivation comes back shortly. Until then, I’ll make a more conscious effort to make it happen.
        This actually sounds like a very good plan!

  37. Vee*

    Is there a standard acceptable earliest time to call people on their cell/home numbers for interviews or to return phone calls from the previous evening? I’m at work at 7:30 a.m., but for some reason I feel uncomfortable calling people at non-work numbers before 8:30 or 9 a.m. It could just be because I’d hate to get a call at 7:30, so maybe I’m just projecting.

    1. Dang*

      Depends on what the call is for? I wouldn’t generally call anyone unless they specifically told me to before 8:30.

      1. CalicoK*

        I think after 9am you’re always safe. Some personal advice, please check on the person’s time zone too. I have an East Coast number but I’m on the West Coast. I hate waking up to a phone call at 6am.

    2. AAA*

      I get to work at 7am, and I don’t even check my voicemail until 9am. I feel like 9am is an appropriate call-back time. I also feel weird calling people back early.

      1. Jamie*

        For personal or home phones I don’t call before 10:00 am, unless I specifically know it’s okay otherwise.

        For work calls I don’t call after 6:00 unless it’s an emergency or they’ve specifically made it clear that it was okay.

      2. GigglyPuff*

        I would second ten am also. When I had two part time jobs, I was never constantly awake at a set time, and one job the second shift didn’t end until 9pm, so I would sleep later the morning after.

      3. Vee*

        Thank you! I actually prefer to wait until after 10, but there’s been so many times that I’ve heard “Have you called them yet?” prior to 10 a.m. that I started thinking it was just me!

    3. JEC*

      I also get to work at 7:30 but I don’t call anyone until 9:00 (their time, of course) unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that’s at work. For home/cell numbers even calling before 10:00 makes me nervous if it’s someone I don’t know will be up, but I’d say for most people after 9:00 is probably reasonable.

    4. KellyK*

      For a complete stranger whose schedule you don’t know, waiting until 10 before calling their personal phone sounds good to me. I don’t think it’s out-and-out rude if you wait til at least nine, but why not err on the side of caution?

    5. In progress*

      If you call me before 9 there is a chance I’ll still be asleep, and I’d only be alert at 10! In general, I’m not a morning person, so I would not be at my best any time before noon. I can fake being awake and cheerful, but a little later works out better for everyone.

  38. Canadamber*

    Is it just my cat who’s extraordinarily stupid and spazzy, or are all cats like that? She’s super adorable and I love her SO much but she has so much trouble just… being a cat hahaha

    1. Chinook*

      That’s because some cats are not cats but dogs in a cat body. Or atleast mine is. He was raised by my dog and I never had a cat before, so I treated him like a dog. He didn’t even start meowing until we left him in a kennel for a week.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I have friends who named a cat Balto. Not sure if it was the name or his upbringing, but this cat is a dog in a cat suit. He wags his tail when he’s happy, even.

    2. Ryn*

      How old is she? My cat was very much a silly, dumb kitten when she was little, and she had kitten moments every now and then, but she grew up to be basically too bright for her own good lol even if she has her random freak out and runs up and down the hall as though something is after her sometimes

      1. Canadamber*

        Um, 2 or 3 years, maybe? I can’t remember how long ago we adopted her. I think that it might have been two Septembers ago, but she was estimated to be about one year and four months old then.

    3. KAS*

      Cats are all different. Some are smart, some are sofa cushions, some are active, some sleep all day. How old is she?

      1. Canadamber*

        Two or three years. She’s quite an active cat. She likes to talk, like a LOT, and she’s always ready to play fight (much to the chagrin of my hands!). Such a sweetie pie, but I swear that she’s actually a dog soul.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      My cat is completely nuts. Sometimes she sits outside and cries until I come out to play with her (this is if I get busy and don’t come out after she eats dinner like I usually do). Then when I go out, she runs around and rolls on the patio and won’t let me pet her. But if I go back in, she starts crying again. It’s like all she wants is an audience. :P

    5. knitcrazybooknut*

      I have five cats. They are all insane in their own ways.

      Camille is food obsessed and will run to the kitchen from a dead sleep if someone rustles a plastic bag.

      Julie hides in the closet on her bed most of the day until 10 pm, at which time she chases her tail, runs from room to room, and spins like a dervish.

      Heather falls asleep with her head on my husband’s leg and is constantly trying to escape the catio. (Tri color calico = wayyyy too smart) She also runs to the bathroom if anyone takes a shower, only to walk back and forth on the edge of the tub and meow.

      Charley will try to sit on my husband’s lap while he’s doing yoga stretches in the morning, and has surfed on his back while he does push-ups. He once destroyed a “cat bag” used by the vets to contain him, and once he was no longer restrained, calmly sat down and started grooming. If he hears a late seventies era doorbell ring on the television, he jumps up and runs to the front door. We don’t have a doorbell.

      Toby is a dog in a cat’s body, and will run from room to room “doing laps” in our 1500 s.f. home. He will also sit at the front door and meow to be let out, even though he has never once gone out the front door unless it was in a cat carrier to go to the vet (which he hates). He has caught two birds from inside the catio on the back porch. So basically, from inside his own cage.

      And just think! They are all rescues who chose us! I wonder what that says about us. (Actually, I don’t!)

    6. Cath in Canada*

      I have one normal cat, and one that’s spectacularly stupid even for a cat.

      The latter has fallen off the sofa several times; gets startled by her own leg; has fallen in love with a shoe; and once forgot how to lie down for several months (rather than go stand->sit->lie down->roll over, she’d try to get from standing to lying on her back in one movement. She’d put the back of her neck on the ground while still standing up, then stop for a while, looking confused, before giving up. This was only on the floor, though – she could lie down on the sofa no problem at all. She’s since remembered how to lie down).

      We got both cats at 8 months old (they’re sisters), and noticed that the stupid one has one eye smaller than the other. As she grew the difference became more noticeable – half her head now seems smaller than the other. So I think she’s legitimately “special needs”. On the flip side, she’s the nicest, snuggliest cat EVAH.

  39. chewbecca*

    I have an interview for an internal position this afternoon, and I’m freaking out. I have a HUGE case of impostor syndrome. I know I can do the job, but it’s a reasonable step up from what I’m doing right now.

    The other bad thing is, since I’m on the front desk, I get to watch all the outside candidates (as far as I know, I’m the only internal applicant) come in to interview and I have to be nice to them when all I want to do is size up my competition. The kicker is that they’ve all been friendly and appropriately dressed. How am I supposed to root against them if they’re nice to me?

    1. NEP*

      No need to ‘root against them’, right? Be as friendly as they, be confident in your own competence and ‘inside knowledge’, and may the best person be hired. (You can still size them up, as you say, while still being courteous and open.) Regarding impostor syndrome — I reckon this is more widespread than we imagine. I recall a chat with a colleague whose work I deeply respected and aspired to…he said every day he felt as if he was faking it and would be found out. I was astounded, and heartened. Go for it.

      1. chewbecca*

        Oh, of course I don’t actually actively want anything bad to happen to them. I’d just like them to not get this particular job. It was more of a tongue-in-cheek thing.

        I know the agency they’re coming from and it’s a really good, reputable one, so I know they’ll be great in the long run. Just not for this one. This one’s mine!

      2. chewbecca*

        Ack, I also forgot to mention that my insider knowledge is a huge perk in this situation, because the manager is going on maternity leave soon. Having someone who already knows the systems and procedures would be a huge asset when it comes to training before she leaves for however long she takes.

    2. Jamie*

      You aren’t rooting against them, you’re rooting for yourself. Huge difference. I am sure you wish them well and hope they find an awesome job, just not the one you want.

      If you secretly hope they never find work anywhere and die old and alone then you are rooting against them (and would be a horrible person) but I’m guessing that’s not the case. :)

      A little mental tip that helped me with imposter’s syndrome back when I was interviewing: I would run through an interview in my head where my old boss and mentor was the one interviewing me for this new job.

      He thought more of my abilities than I did of my own, so running through a pretend interview scenario starring someone I knew would hire me instantly really helped my confidence because I was able to focus on what my answers to the basics should be rather than trying to think of an answer while also worrying about being judged.

      Sounds convoluted but it worked for me.

      And when I asked him to be a reference my old boss told me anyone who wasn’t smart enough to snap me up immediately was someone too stupid to want to work for anyway – so I always replayed that conversation in my head right before walking in.

      It was totally hyperbolic and there are plenty of smart managers who would have legitimately passed me over for a better candidate – but focusing on that reality made me nervous. Knowing there was someone in the world who would unequivocally decide I was the best candidate regardless of the job just because I was me…that little bit of ridiculous bias shored up my confidence like nothing else.

      (And then walking in I’d give a little shout out to my dad, who had died years before, because he was the most brilliant man I’d ever known so I’d kinda call him down to come with me and in his invisible and not there way make people give me whatever I want. He did always like when people let me have my way. :) Just mind games I’d play on myself to lessen my anxiety.)

      1. chewbecca*

        Exactly, on the rooting for myself. Like I said, they’ve all been really nice, so I can’t exactly root for abject failure.

        I’ve had several people familiar with the position say I’d be good in it, so that’s comforting. Plus my boss has been incredibly supportive, which while welcome, is a surprise.

  40. Ryn*

    Okay, thing. Rant, if you will. If you’re the person who opens the building in the morning and for the last month, you’ve see roaches running to hide when you turn the light on in the freaking lunch room, will you please tell someone?! My desk is next to the lunch room and one of those horrible creatures ran all over my freaking desk, hiding from binder clip to binder clip and it was awful. I hate roaches. HATE. Don’t assume that people know that we’ve got a problem. /rant >:(

    1. Lizzy Mac*

      Sometimes we have roaches and one coworker never wants to kill them. She’ll try to trap them to bring them outside and not say anything! You have my sympathy.

      1. Ryn*

        uuuuuuugh gross. Our place is next to a field, so we do have field bugs that come inside and i’ll take them out instead of killing them, mostly because they’re huge and make a mess. But roaches? lol no. those things need to be killed. Plus, they’re just gonna figure out how to get back inside. That’s where they want to be.

        1. Windchime*

          Just the thought of roaches gives me the willies. When I moved into my current house, there was a field on one side of me. A builder came in and started building houses, and all the sudden I had a garage full of mice and a yard teeming with voles. That was bad enough!

  41. CalicoK*

    I just got a job offer (FINALLY!!!!), but we’re trying to work out my start date. I want to give my 2-week notice Monday, but I have jury duty on Wednesday. Should I wait until after my jury duty ends? I’m worried I’ll get summoned as a juror and I know my new company wants me to start asap. Advice?

    1. Traveler*

      I would just put in your two weeks. Jury duty is a government summons – you can’t help it, you can’t change it and your company will just have to understand. Also – you might be able to use the “this is my last two weeks at my company and I am essential” to get out of jury duty.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I postponed mine because it happened right when I started working at this job. I couldn’t afford to miss any training time, especially since people were going out of their way to do it. They granted the postponement but said I have to do it next time. Here’s hoping I’ll be long gone by then.

        I know it’s a civic duty, but I DON’T LIKE IT.

    2. CTO*

      In my county, you can postpone jury duty once or twice if you can make a case that it’s a really difficult time for you to serve. When my mom had to postpone, they even let her pick her own week a few months out.

      1. Sunflower*

        I would do this. Honestly, I’m shocked that more people don’t try to get out of jury duty and it seems like there are always enough back ups so even if you do get picked, you have a good excuse and a person to fill in for you.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, DC allowed for one postponement, I believe. Maybe your area will allow that?

        DC was the only place I’ve gotten called twice since the jury pool’s so small.

        1. Paige Turner*

          Oh yeah, once they realize that you’re a real, breathing person who will actually show up, you will get jury duty every two years ON THE DOT. Just hope you never get a grand jury summons that won’t exempt you for any reason! Oh the stories…

          1. Stephanie*

            Yup, I got another summons exactly two years later. I think DC even allows judges and lawyers to sit on juries.

            My coworker got a grand jury summons and had to go twice a week for like three months? Luckily, we worked at a government agency and had to get paid the entirety of jury duty.

            When I took a private sector job, we got like a week of jury duty covered. After that, you had to take vacation (to still get paid, that is). I probably would have pulled a Liz Lemon Princess Leia costume stunt to get out jury duty (although I think that doesn’t even work in DC!).

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think lawyers are usually barred from jury duty; it’s just that the case attorneys generally don’t want them on there so they exclude them or don’t pick them. My father was a juror about a week after he retired from lawyering.

              1. Stephanie*

                Oh, true. I phrased that poorly. I’m pretty sure lawyers and judges are allowed as well, but that most attorneys probably don’t want them on a jury. I meant that DC is starved enough for jurors that they’re not picky and won’t necessarily exclude lawyers or judges.

                I made it to the last round of voir dire once. It was kind of fascinating what the attorneys asked. I remember one attorney perked up when I said I had an engineering degree.

                1. Cat*

                  Yeah, when I got called for jury duty in D.C. (two years ago – sigh, I’m due), they asked everyone who was a lawyer, who worked in a legal environment, or who was related to a lawyer to raise their hand – basically every single person in the room did.

    3. anon-2*

      Most reasonable companies understand this — and jury duty is a LEGAL obligation.

      I once worked in a place where a new hire – between offering the position to her and her projected start date, she was called up for a two-week jury trial.

      So if a company does not understand the legal concept of jury duty, it might not be a good place to work. I was on a grand jury once – and a guy was serving. After two weeks, he went back to the DA who was in charge, and said “my boss tells me that if I do this any more, he’s going to fire me.”

      They got the boss’ name – and address – and gave said employee a letter – if he interferes with the juror again, he’s going to be arrested. Now that’ll learn ’em!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      On your summons there should be contact info for a commissioner of jurors (or similar title), call them and ask what can be done. Explain your predicament.

      You will probably get a waiver for this time.
      But you may get another notice inside of a year or two. So just be aware of that possibility. (This varies by state.)

    5. I'll think of something late*

      I had this situation in the fall. Jury duty would have been during my last week at old job. I called the jury duty office and asked to postpone my jury duty and they didn’t even ask for a reason just asked when would be better.

  42. Fermi*

    Does anyone have a task-tracking software that they would recommend? We put tasks into tracking tables on Excel spreadsheets…and we’re getting to the point where we need a Tracking Table for the Tracking Tables.

    It’s ridiculous and I know there has to be an easy fix, so tell me what you use!

    1. Jamie*

      Are you a Windows network? Because I love the one built into the companyweb intranet that comes with SBS and Windows Server 2012 R2 (may come with other versions – don’t know).

      You can make it as simple or complex as you want it to be, and you can set permissions so either one person can track progress, or everyone can do their own – it’s flexible. And has Gannt chart and I’m a huge fan.

  43. Audiophile*

    Yay open thread!

    I want to ask for feedback regarding my interview, since I’m sure I didn’t get the job. I’ve never done this before. But I’m a little nervous.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Frame it as “can you suggest any ways for me to do better or be more competitive in the future?”

      That way it’s less “you suck!” and more “here’s how to improve”

      I prefer to hear the latter. It’s also easier to tell people that.

    2. LAI*

      Also, you said you’re sure you didn’t get the job, but wait until they tell you that! Don’t ask for feedback before you know for sure.

  44. The Real Ash*

    I hate my job. Like, I really, really, really hate it. But I’m moving at some point towards the end of the year. Do I stick it out here where I’m miserable, or do I try to get another job that I know I’m going to leave after a few months?

    1. Bryan*

      I know it sucks but unless you let it be known to the new employer that you’d be leaving after a few months I don’t think it’s right to start a new job knowing you’ll be leaving soon. Considering the time it takes to start feeling comfortable at a job, it’s a big waste of the employer’s resources to start and leave.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      I would start focusing on finding a job where you are moving and put your efforts there. Keep up with your job of course but do just enough to keep your head above water and mentally move on. It’s how I’m surviving right now…

      Don’t leave without another job and if you’re moving anyway, that’s where your new job should be.

      1. BB*

        Yea I agree with this. Put efforts into networking in the new area and finding a job there. Good luck! I know it SUCKS staying in a job you hate but keep your head up knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel. That’s how I got through my last job- knowing I was leaving at a point.

        1. The Real Ash*

          Thanks to everyone so far. I’m definitely keeping the move in the back of my mind for my sanity, I just cannot stand this place. My “direct” co-workers are fine, but we just lost one to maternity leave, our supervisor left, and so did our file clerk, and as this is government, we aren’t going to fill those positions any time soon. Couple that with the fact that it takes forever to hire temps, and that we generally aren’t allowed to do so anyway, we will have five people doing the work of eight, which doesn’t sound bad except we are an incredibly busy facet of our department, and we just keep getting busier. Our management is awful and suspicious, the job is just a lot of busy work, and I am completely miserable. Oh well.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      You could ask around to see if there is a really good temp agency that could place you on a contract job until you move. I worked with a great, personalized firm that got me some great short term projects.

  45. Contessa*

    People who have jobs that require hostile (or at least tense) interactions with other people–what are some tricks/strategies you use to avoid taking things personally? I could do it when I worked in customer telephone service, but for some reason it really bothers me when people deny claims I make as an attorney (especially for really silly reasons–I get irrationally angry about it).

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Sometimes I try to tell myself that the people are somehow emotionally or otherwise stilted in their development and really can’t help it. Basically, I tell myself they’re so inept they don’t know any other way to deal with it. Then I feel a little sorry for them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This has worked well for me. I think of it as playing a role. Their role is to quickly say something negative.
        Sometimes I can get myself to a point where I am objectively critiquing their performance and admiring the ones who do well. This is interesting because I am still “playing” my own role and still disagreeing with them. But I do enjoy seeing a sharp mind at work. This is something that intrigues me. When I am dealing with a person who clearly has a good head on their shoulders, in the end all they do is sharpen ME! I am smarter/wiser for having entered into a discussion with them.

        You could also make a little game of it inside your head by saying to yourself “Is there anything I could have said preemptively in anticipation of this type of response?”

    2. Chrissi*

      I’ve found that by just accepting (to a certain degree) that this is the way I am, it actually lessens it over time. So instead of feeling silly and telling yourself that you’re overreacting, just accept that you are going to get angry about it and decide that every time it happens, you’ll do something practical like take a quick 5 minute walk, or go get a coffee. I feel like somehow by not fighting it, it makes the feeling go away more quickly. Btw, I do the “practical” break afterwards because I can’t work barely at all when I’m angry, so if you’re not like that, you might not need that part.

  46. Worker Bee*

    I have a question regarding to giving feedback to an rejected interviewee (?)
    What do you say, when
    a. the job ad sounds like much more than the job is, and we have do decline most of the candidates because we can’t afford them ( I know: Change the ad.. sadly that decision is not in my power)
    b. the reason is that the person looks like a job hopper
    Sunny greetings from Germany

    1. Katie the Fed*

      You don’t have to give feedback, so I would only do it with the people you think will benefit from it.

      With A – I feel like you should discuss it with them anyway. Maybe they’re willing to take a pay cut to have a better work environment. I’d be willing to take a pay cut if it meant I liked my job more, or had flexibility to work from home on occasion, or other things. I wouldn’t automatically discount them because you think you can’t afford them.

      With B – you could maybe say something like “we need someone who can really commit to this job for a few years, and it seems like you’ve moved jobs pretty frequently.”

      1. Worker Bee*

        Thanks Katie,

        I like your response to B.
        I also like your answer to A, but it is not really applicable.. The ad sounds like it is a senior roll when it is an entry level position. The people I’ll reject due to pay usually are asking for a range 2-3 times as much. I so wish I were allowed to change that stupid ad… I don’t understand the thinking behind this..

        1. Ash (the other one!)*

          This is why pay ranges need to be in ads. Plain and simple. Saves everyone so much time and grief.

      2. fposte*

        I might add/amend the B. suggestion to say something like “we were looking for people with a track record of longer commitment” so it’s connecting the record there in a way that rebuts “But I promise I’d stay!”

        1. Anonsie*

          Yeah, and it also gives them the opportunity to explain if they have an understandable reason (I was a military spouse/Had a family crisis/Had a health problem/whatever)

          1. Worker Bee*

            Great Point Anonsie and fposte! Thank you I appreciate it.. Believe me if I had my way the ad and the whole hiring process would look a lot different.. I have no experience in hiring, I am actually an accountant but since I became the office admin, it became my job. I treat it as my own little project, using all the knowledge I gained through reading AAM for 3 years now.. Sadly I have little to no say and only get to execute.. I wish I could just open the blog on my managers laptop or something… Sorry, just a bit frustrated right now..

    2. Vicki*

      Be cautious with b). I once interviewed a guy for a job where I was then working. I asked him about the long string of places on his resume. He told me most of those companies no longer existed. He wanted to work somewhere that would be around for more than a year or two.

      I think he was still there when I was laid off 5 years later.

  47. Traveler*

    How do you deal with a recruiter who is interviewing you for a position they know almost nothing about? They would ask me really detailed questions thatrequired full 1-2 minute answers – then would interrupt halfway and move on to another question, and they would have to keep asking me to repeat so they could take notes. It was frustrating because I really couldn’t explain my skills and use the professional vocabulary I normally would. Also, the answers where I was interrupted – if they pass on the half answer they were willing to take down before changing the subject, I’m worried the real interviewer won’t get a full picture of my experience. Is there any solution to this without coming across as rude?

    1. Worker Bee*

      If it is an inhouse recruiter, you might consider letting the company know, that he is not suited to do this. At least I would like to know…

    2. anon-2*

      Happens in my field all the time. Clerical people scan resumes for keywords.

      If you don’t code your resume correctly , you will drop through and not receive consideration – even if you are the best candidate.

  48. Chinook*

    Question – how should I approach a new coworker with a new Masters degree who doesn’t seem to realize that I know what I know because of my experience and having sat through the development of a process for the last year? I am not her manager and I am not an engineer like her but I am tasked with keeping everything within a certain standard and she has told me that I need to do things her way because not everyone will understand it my way (despite the fact that my way has to be understandable to auditors, field staff, contractors and engineers). Add to this mix the fact that her English is not strong and she has a very heavy accent (Cantonese, I believe), and I am trying to figure out how to handle this.

    Any advice?

    1. Worker Bee*

      She is not your manager either, is she?
      If she is, you will have to sit down with her and explain just exactly what you told us. Let her know the reasons behind your doing. Then it is up to her to make the final call (and take the responsibility for it)
      If she is not your manager, talk to her first and explain it as above. If that doesn’t help go to your manager and ask for help, telling your manager what you’ve tried to fix the situation and that you are unsure on how to proceed.

      1. Chinook*

        No, this new engineer (and she is an engineer-in-training) is not my manager and isn’t even in my part of the org chart. She works in the other department I work with (I was hired by Dept. A and answer to their Manager but am the nexus where a task moves from falling under the perspective of Dept. B to Dept. a and part of my job is to standardize how this task moves because we went from doing it 50 times a year 5 years ago to 150 times so far this year).

    2. fposte*

      Is she in a different position than you? Is there a reason that she cares, or that you need to care what she thinks?

      I’m thinking “Manager Jane is really good about hearing suggestions; if you think the org convention should be changed on this, she’s the person you should talk to. Until Jane decides priorities are different, though, I need to stick to the conventions we’ve decide to use.”

      1. LF*

        Agree with fposte’s advice, but wanted add that I think you should devote time and understanding to becoming accustomed to her accent. Working with people from diverse backgrounds is part of American life.

        1. fposte*

          Might be worth noting that Chinook is not in the U.S. :-). (Though it’s true of her country too.)

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          I think Chinook is from Canada, but your point about working with people from diverse backgrounds is still applicable :)

        3. Chinook*

          I want to mention the bit about accents – I work my office is includes people born in 6 different countries and, which is the norm for Calgary, and different accents are normal (to the point that I know the difference between Chinese, Mandarin and Cantonese). As well, I have experience as an ESL teacher (both here and abroad) and have family members who have different english-speaker accents from places like Ireland and Newfoundland (as in I understood my grandfather-in-law from outport Newfoundland better than DH). I brought up the heavy accent only because I may subconciously reading her abruptness as rudeness when it is language interference or cultural differences because she is not from Calgary.

          I don’t want to seem defensive, but I wanted to point out that you can be culturally sensitive while still recognizing that culture/language can cause a legit interference.

      2. Chinook*

        I care about what this engineer thinks because she feeds me information that it is my job to disseminate to others who are not engineers. We are running into problems because the number of tasks means we are coming into problems we never thought of when we created the procedures. Her solution is to insist on going back to an old way (from 5 years ago) that was decided was only understandable by engineers and office staff but didn’t work in the field. I do push back and explain that there was a reason why we do what we do and the decision was made by others than me (like her boss) and that, while there is room to change it, throwing out the current procedures wouldn’t work.

        The other part is that, if we are ever audited by the National Energy Board, which we know will happen in the fall, I will be the one feeding data to our bosses so I need to ensure the data is useful and consistent while, at the same time, be useable day to day by the guys in the field. She, on the other hand, is more concerned about making sure her data is in ordinal order and is understandable to only engineers (I suspect there may be a “class distinction” going on where those without the letters after their name are not considered intelligent/important but I don’t know her well enough to be sure one way or the other).

        1. fposte*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about the class/degree thing. I’m still not clear, though–do you have to do what she says or not? If the answer is that you don’t, point her to Jane and put on your invisible earphones. If you do, then you either need to do it or meet with Jane about the conflict.

  49. Gracie*

    This question is for Jamie and other IT people. So my company is revamping their website and each department has all these tasks for updating old content. My department’s workflow now has a major link in it because we can no longer copy and paste some data from the old site into the new site. The workaround involves lots of tedious searching and will probably make this task three times as long. My question(s):
    1. “Copy/paste” doesn’t actually break, right? That’s not possible.
    1b. IF copy/paste functionality did actually break, isn’t it an easy thing to fix? Because we’re all being told that our IT group “can’t” fix it so that’s why a manager came up with this confusing workaround.
    2. There’s nothing about this that makes sense, right???
    3. I should probably find a new job even though I’ve only been in this one for less than a year. This kind of nonsense is not unusual to my “new” workplace, unfortunately. D’oh.

    Thanks for listening!

    1. Jamie*

      Just be clear you are talking about copy and paste breaking as in not working correctly – right? Not about copying and pasting text into html and the breaks not formatting correctly?

      If it’s about the first one, there are times you can’t just select and right click to get the menu including copy and paste – but you can still do it with Ctrl C and Ctrl V. So I’d start there.

      Otherwise even if you can’t copy and paste from the screen (and I know there are commands that can mess with that functionality but I don’t use them so I don’t know what the code is for that) if it’s text you should always be able to do a copy paste from the source code.

      Right click the page and select source code – see if what you want to copy is in text or if it’s listed as an image file (.jpg, gif, bmp, etc. If it’s an image file you can usually extract text from images with an OCR tool (and if it’s a PDF you should be able to do it with Adobe or Foxit.)

      1. Gracie*

        I haven’t tried it in the last few days but I think it’s the second scenario that Jamie mentioned. But I don’t think I can access the source code. This whole website project is so messed up anyway that I’m not surprised something like this happened.

        1. Jamie*

          go to the website – the live one – and just right click and see if you can “view page source.” If so you can grab it and throw it in Word, notepad, or whatever editor you’re using.

          I’d really like to know why your IT can’t just pull the file and make a copy of it for you. It would take all of a few seconds.

          1. Gracie*

            “I’d really like to know why your IT can’t just pull the file and make a copy of it for you. It would take all of a few seconds.”

            HA HA HA HA. Me too, Jamie. Me too. That’s just not how they operate :-(

  50. Sandrine (France)*

    Before I can read anything, I just wanted to chime in with happy thoughts.

    Looking back I’m seeing that I’ve been quite unhappy at my job lately. It would show in my attitude, in the comments here, everywhere. And I felt miserable.

    For some reason, it feels my life is opening up to a much better world. I broke up with my boyfriend, since he pretty much lives here he talked the next day and I realized how much I mean to him. We’re giving ourselves another chance.

    Then a friend I actually met at work realized we were “friend soul mates” (for real) and told me I was a gift to him. We’ve known each other for a while now, but when he said that… I just cried because as much as I know I’ve been loved over the years, having it said that way was very moving.

    So, as much as I know my job still sucks AND I’m sort-of “under employed” … I don’t want to fight this battle anymore. I’m in a good place mentally, I’m building a new life full of nice things… so staying in this job for another year won’t kill me.

    (That, and I got my new Doctor Who shirts so of course I can only be happy. Ha)

    So there. I might be grumpy from time to time but it’s as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Bizarre, but pretty cool, and I’m hoping it stays that way… naaah, make that “I’ll work hard so it stays that way” .

    Yeah ^^

    1. The Real Ash*

      I’m going to give you some tough love here… It doesn’t matter how much you mean to your boyfriend, what’s important is what is best for you. What does he mean to you? Does he make you happy? Does he actually make you happy and you aren’t just automatically saying yes? You broke up with him for a reason, just because he needs you doesn’t mean you need him. If you two are serious about giving it another shot, you need to have constant and quality communication, and you need to make sure that he doesn’t get up to whatever behavior made you break up with him in the first place.

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Not tough love… logical thinking. Thanks ;)

        He does love me.

        The problem was, in fact, communication, and past experiences have made him unable to really communicate. I didn’t break up with him because I don’t love him… I really do. But sometimes trying to communicate with him was sort of like pulling teeth. I did hint, I did tell, I did show him how it could be possible but he just didn’t quite react the way I was hoping.

        So after a getaway weekend at a good friend’s birthday party, I realized it could not go on forever. So I told him. But then something I didn’t expect happened… see, none of my two previous boyfriends “fought” for me. The previous one has been telling me for the past year that he still loves me (and yes, both men know each other, so to speak) yet he has never tried anything.

        So when this one saw what was happening, he took 24 hours to think, but boy did he actually say more than I ever hoped he would. I did tell him we have a chance to build something really beautiful and while I’m not expecting him to be as talkative as I am, we need to work on communicating well and just… doing more/better things together as a whole.

        I feel lucky. He’s actually sweet, a hard worker, even a potential fantastic parent, to boot. He’s just as closed as an oyster at times… and he never had someone mean so much to him, either. So he’s not quite used to it. So we’re actually going on a fantastic journey together… I’m scared, thrilled, and everything else at the same time.

        Weird, I know, but for some reason I feel like I’m on top of the world right now. I’m at peace with everything *_* .

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Aww! And yay for Doctor Who shirts, btw! :D

          I’m going through this right now too–it’s hard to break old habits, but it’ll be worth it. While things are pretty static for me at the moment, I have a weird feeling that they aren’t going to stay that way.

          If your boyfriend understands what his challenge is and he is willing to do the work necessary to learn better communication, I don’t see any reason not to at least try.

          1. Sandrine (France)*

            Exactly, Elizabeth. That’s the thing ( , amongst many others… they change the designs every week or so, and it’s pretty neat even though it takes time to arrive… couldn’t be happier xD ) … he seems to understand so let’s just see how this goes and make the most of it while I still can :)

    2. C average*

      Awww, congrats. I’ve had some of those life-changing mind shifts in the past. Love them.

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Amazing how funny they can be, right ?

        I’m at peace with my job, happy with my boyfriend, and have made this fantastic soulmatey friend that just blows my mind every time I talk to him (and no risk of anything silly as this friend is gay anyway… met him when I was single before meeting current boyfriend and boy was I crushed when I realized he is gay haha) .

        That, and from time to time I also get to go gaga over my nephews. Babies = epic win. Cats, too, but at least babies don’t scratch like my current foster (eeek).

  51. Amaryllis*

    Does anyone’s workplace have a policy on staff selling items to other employees (during work hours)? It’s not that it would take significant time away from the work day, but I can see a potential issue with a person in a supervisory position trying to sell something because the person’s subordinates may feel pressured to buy.

    And would such a policy distinguish between selling for personal gain or charitable campaigns?

    1. Calla*

      Every place I’ve ever worked has had the rule (I don’t know if it’s a written policy) where you can leave something out and people are welcome to sign up/buy it but you can’t like, go cube to cube/office to office. There was, afaik, no difference between personal and charitable. I’ve seen people do kids’ girl scout cookies, benefit tickets, and I did chocolates once that way.

      1. De Minimis*

        Ours is simple, it’s just not allowed, period. I think it actually goes a little too far, since we have to sneak around in the parking lot if we want to buy things like Girl Scout cookies.

        I don’t know if it applies to all federal facilities or if our compliance person just has a really draconian interpretation of the rules….but I will admit it’s kind of a relief to not have to worry about constant fundraisers.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s how all my workplaces have been too. No cube solicitation but you were welcome to put stuff in the break room and/or make people aware of it. We always bought GS cookies from one woman at Exjob simply because it was convenient.

        We did have a policy against outside solicitors that went door-to-door. And none of those candy vending machines, either. I had to tell someone that once and he yelled at me. Jerk.

    2. Jamie*

      It’s absolutely forbidden here by policy – no soliciting even candy for your kids band. I love that – no pressure.

    3. GigglyPuff*

      Ugh, mini rant…my dad was a supervisor so my parents immediately cut the idea of me selling Girl Scout cookies at his work, i.e. me coming in and selling them.

      I understand the issues with kids selling stuff (i.e. time constraints, etc), but as someone who was forced to sell the Girl Scout cookies door to door, I am so much happier my parents did it that way. And honestly whenever I see the parent doing it, and I can’t think of a better way to say this, but I lose a little respect for them. It goes against the entire point of doing that, I learned how to talk to strangers politely, I respected myself more for having the courage to walk up to peoples’ doors, so I am just so disappointed when I see people giving our phone numbers to sell cookies, the parents filling out the sheets or giving out change. The entire point is to teach kids about money, customer service and to feel pride in the results they see from their hard work.

      So as one of those kids’ who was forced to actually do the work even though it was inconvenient for my parents (yes my mom had to take time to drive me around, and she would sit in the car as I would go up and down a street, or take me to my grandmothers’ condo complex, which btw total jackpot), please try to find the time and make your kid do it, in the short term they may hate it and you, but whether they know it or not, it does teach them life skills…and if you don’t get kids who sell you cookies at your residence and your coworkers’ kid does, maybe the coworker can tell you where the troop will be selling the extra cookies (like in front of the grocery store or pharmacy).

      1. anon-2*

        It can get carried away.

        The worst I ever encountered = contributions for a gift for the boss for her birthday (“suggested contribution $5”).

        Other weird ones – everyone contribute to a milestone anniverary dinner, but not everyone is invited; also, the boss’ favorite charity, even if you’re personally involved in other charity efforts.

        The strangest of all – which will be detailed in my “Dinner Table Stories” book someday – pressuring someone to give up a pair of event tickets to help sales, or because it’s the big boss’ kid’s birthday. But those were easy to turn down, as they were one-on-one requests.

      2. Anonsie*

        To be fair, though, you could do both– have the parent offer it at work and still have the kid also working on it outside.

        Also: If I found out someone I worked with had a kid selling Girl Scout Cookies and they didn’t give me the opportunity to order a pallet size pack of the things from them, I would be a very sad panda. I will buy those suckers at any given opportunity. I really wished last season that I had a friend with a kid that I could order through.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          I just think it’s unfair to your kid and the other kids in the troop because, I assume, they still give out prizes based on how much was sold, and the amount of joy/pride the one year I won (telling you grandparent’s living complexes are friggin’ gold mines, 7 floors of the elderly who were never visited by their own grandkids), especially knowing my parents didn’t help me when I knew others had.

          Ha! But seriously, I’d be annoyed to if someone didn’t tell me, used to get them through a neighbor, but they haven’t done it for last couple years. I totally stalked the pharmacy near my house for like two weeks and bought an entire case worth, which is why I don’t think it would inappropriate to send out a message, like “hey my kid’s selling cookies this weekend at so and so”, or “here are the weekends our troop will be at the grocery store selling cookies”.

      3. anon-2*

        I have something to add here. When I see Little Leaguers standing in front of a liquor store with a tin cup.

        Sorry folks – if the parents can pay, they should pay. If they cannot – the other parents should split the burden OR have some type of a fund-raiser – a lottery for a pair of MLB game tickets, a banquet, a car wash – anything other than begging on a street corner.

        I also had a beef with those groups – I am a member of a booster club for an MLB team. We used to offer a number of camping scholarships for kids – an essay contest. Mrs anon-2 and I went to a game, sought out the leadership – presented the brochure — and THEY THREW IT ON THE GROUND! So much for that, eh?

      4. Smilingswan*

        Girl Scouts aren’t allowed to go door-to-door anymore for safety reasons. It’s actually forbidden by the leadership. We live in sad times. :(

    4. Anonylicious*

      Ugh. A long time ago, when I was just PVT Anonylicious, we had a warrant officer in my company who was really into Mary Kay, and really into pressuring the junior enlisted females* to buy, even though it was a blatant violation of regulations. That woman was a walking violation of about every reg you can think of, though. It definitely reflected poorly on our leadership that no-one ever took her to task for her behavior.

      (*I don’t generally use the term “females” interchangeably with “women,” but I feel it’s appropriate in a few limited contexts, like medicine or the military.)

      1. Anonylicious*

        Actually, thinking back, I was probably PFC Anonylicious by then. Man, that feels like a long time ago.

    5. Cassie*

      We don’t have a campus-wide policy about staff selling stuff (that I know of), except if the staff/faculty member is trying to sell to the university – then that is a conflict of interest. But selling to other people doesn’t seem to be an issue. I know one person who sells cookies for his granddaughter and a lot of coworkers seem to buy from him. One coworker who didn’t want to buy any but felt bad so she did. When he asks me if I would like to buy some, I simply say “no, thank you” and he just says “okay” and moves on. I’m the kind of person that can say “no thanks” and not feel bad about it, but I wish I wasn’t put in that position.

  52. Ash (the other one!)*

    I am so grateful for this but also have to say “wtf, is this legal?”:

    So one of the positions I was a finalist for (was told by someone in the know they were about to offer me the position when this other guy’s resume came in) I found out I should be very glad I did not get. Apparently the offers for that position and some others were rescinded the day before the new person was supposed to start. Apparently new leadership with new priorities has taken over in the interim and is, in addition to these rescindments, laying off a majority of the staff. The guy who got the position over me had an offer in writing and had quit his job and so now has nothing! Even though I’m still sloughing through this job search, and hate my job, at least I have a pay check!! So, AAM, what’s the legal recourse here — can that really happen? You get an offer, quit your job, and then have an offer rescinded?

    1. fposte*

      It’s a civil action, and it’ll be a PITA that’s not worth it unless you’re talking big bucks. The usual tort would be detrimental reliance; there may be others.

      Basically, you do it to recoup money lost, not to get the job with them after all, and you’re obligated to mitigate your damages, so you can’t just sulk for a year until your case comes up and expect to get paid for the year.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        That’s awful. I’m so glad I didn’t end up in this situation — I almost did! This scares me to give notice at work though. If its a PITA to get damages for a rescinded offer, what’s really to stop more companies/organizations from doing this?

        1. fposte*

          I’d say three things: 1) there’s no real gain from doing it, 2) it hurts their hiring pool like crazy, and 3) most people aren’t jackasses.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Yeah, I agree with fposte. It’s pretty rare for offers to be rescinded anyway, and it s because a company doesn’t really gain anything by rescinding offers (except in emergency situations), and it has a lot to lose. It’s horrible to see it happen, but it’s not really worth worrying about in abstract…. You won’t see it coming, anyway!

  53. Lizzy Mac*

    I could use a little advice and a place to vent. I work alone in my department but there used to be three of us back here. The desks are still in place for three people. Other staff (mostly the front line staff who are public facing) have taken to using the other desks as their “breakroom” area.

    One has taken to coming back here to make her personal phone calls. A few weeks ago she was on her phone for a half hour pacing in the tiny space and yelling at some poor customer service person on the other end about a messed up order of something. After the call, I asked her politely to be mindful of my workspace and her volume. That worked for about a week, but the personal calls started up again. A couple of days ago she was yelling at a family member while I was trying to work and our manager came into my workspace and saw this. I went to my manager after and filled him in on the situation including that I had already asked my coworker to be quiet and that it was distracting and effecting my productivity.

    I got to work yesterday and my manager took all the chairs but my own out of the space. He told me he thought that would send a clear message. Nope. Today my coworker hopped up to sit on the desk itself to make a call. My manager saw it. How can I get my manager to address it? I love when my coworkers come visit me. I’m not some anti-social hermit and I don’t want it to seem that way to my coworkers or manager but I don’t want my workspace to be a breakroom as it impacts my ability to get things done. I was direct with my manager a few days ago but he doesn’t seem to want to deal with it.

    1. Bryan*

      Can you ask every time it happens (and be clear that it’s so you can work as to not turn you into a hermit)? It sounds like your manager is a wuss and doesn’t want to deal with it and if they do deal with it, it will be in passive aggressive ways that might make things worse.

    2. Traveler*

      I would just go to the manager and say “I really appreciate that you took the time and effort to move the chairs. Unfortunately, it didn’t work because now s/he is sitting on the desk. Do you have any other thoughts on how to address it?”

    3. LMW*

      In my office building there was a space like this, where people were making phone calls right next to a row of cubicles (this was before my time, but I would bet it was really obnoxious). After a few complaints, management put up signs (on every floor) saying “Please be respectful of people working. Do not use this area for making calls or having conversations. The Hubs area near the elevators is available for this purpose.”
      I’ve never seen anyone make a call there (and honestly, if it weren’t for the signs, I would have thought that area was perfect for a quick phone call or conversation — it LOOKS private and quiet)

        1. Lizzy Mac*

          We have a kitchen/breakroom space in the basement but cell service in the basement isn’t great so no one wants to go down there to make a personal call.

    4. Jamie*

      If someone came to me with this complaint I’d want to know that it was still continuing – or resuming. Your manager sucks.

      But the first thing I’d do is pull the phones.

      And then it occurred to me she’s talking on her cell and not the unused office desk phones…because apparently I’m new to this century.

      The only way to handle it is to address it every time, politely, but if she knows you will say something each time it will likely make her find a path of least resistance elsewhere.

      1. fposte*

        I’m not sure the manager sucks. I think this was a creative and reasonable solution attempt that wisely dealt with a situation that was created by the office layout by changing the office furniture, and it’s only been a day since it got tried. Maybe there’s something else, Lizzy Mac, that’s making you say that he doesn’t seem to want to deal with it, but this seemed to be a rather clever first try.

        I would go back to the manager and ask if you can put up a sign saying “Office area–please use xxx for breaktime and personal calls” (oh, LMW has covered this already) and store some company stuff on the desktops while they’re empty. But it’s not just one person being bad, and retraining people is likely to be more effective than just telling them not to do what they’re doing.

        1. Lizzy Mac*

          I got the sense my manager didn’t really want to deal with it based on our initial conversation. He said he didn’t want to create conflict between myself and my coworker. I pointed out that since I had previously spoken to my coworker about the situation that I was less concerned about that than I was about getting rid of the distraction overall, but my manager still seemed hesitant.

          In general he avoids dealing with these issues. The same coworker texts all the time in front of clients and when my manager sees it, he ignores it about half the time rather than manage my coworker’s performance. I stay out of it because it’s not my business but I’m aware of the fact that my manager avoids conflict when he can.

          1. Colette*

            Have you tried addressing it at the time – i.e. “excuse me, coworker, can you have this conversation somewhere else?”

            1. Lizzy Mac*

              The first time I had to because my office phone rang and I needed my coworker to leave/be quiet so I could talk to a client. The time a little less than a month ago when she was yelling at a customer service rep I said something as soon as the call was done. It changes things for a while but not forever.

              1. Colette*

                I think if you ask her to leave every time, you may be able to train her to call from somewhere else. And if she’s yelling or being disruptive, that’s very much not OK.

        2. Windchime*

          Maybe the OP can just start doing something noisy, like using an electric pencil sharpener (on many pencils) when the phone calls start. Because I’m passive-agressive that way. (I’m a little cranky. One of my coworkers apparently thought it would be cute to change her cell phone ring tone to the sound of a barking dog. She then left her phone at her desk for about an hour and got multiple calls. Grrrrr)

    5. Paige Turner*

      Also, do you WANT to be working in a big room by yourself? Is there anyone else (even from another department) who would like to work in a different space for some reason? I don’t know if this is possible, but it seems a bit weird to have all that unused space around you. If you generally like your workspace except for the issue you mentioned, disregard. But it seems like putting more employees in the room might possibly be helpful in more ways than one.

      1. Lizzy Mac*

        I don’t want to be in my space on my own and the space itself is pretty awful. Unfortunately I am the only person in my office doing my type of work and everyone else either has client facing duties meaning they can’t move or has their own office that they use for client meetings.

    6. EG*

      Can you unplug the phones if they’re not used? Then put the phones themselves in storage out of sight. No phones, no calls. If the coworker needs to make a call, she can use her own phone on her desk.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Tell her she needs to use the break room. “This is a work area, you need to take your calls in the break room.”

      Don’t take no for an answer. “I am expecting calls and you will be overheard by the caller. We cannot let this happen. You must leave now.”

      Because this has gone on for a bit, you will have to push back harder than you would like. But if you let it go on longer it is just going to get worse. You can point out that “other people seem to have no problem finding private space to make a call. This is not private space- this is a work area.”

  54. Omne*

    After reading the previous post about answering the phone I began wondering something.

    Has anyone else ever been distracted in a phone call and ended it the way you would with a SO when it wasn’t?

    In my case I was talking to a friend at work, opposite gender, about a group of us getting together after work. An IM popped up from my boss that distracted me. I started typing and ended the call by saying Bye, love you.

    Boy did I get teased about that for a while…..

    1. Katie the Fed*

      No, but my boss once text messaged me a message meant for his wife in the morning that said “I love you so much, can’t wait to see you!”

      I responded “Bob, we need to discuss professional boundaries.”

      I knew who it was intended for, but I still had to give him grief. :)

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        Ha. I’ve texted a business partner about missing my bus and telling him I love you thinking he was my husband. Oops. IT happens, but luckily it was with someone who could let it slide and only give me a bit of grief over.

      2. Mimmy*

        LOL!!! I’d be so mortified, but it’s great to see you both had a great sense of humor about it.

      3. C average*

        I once accidentally texted a colleague when I meant to text my husband and said something like, “Can you pick up milk and eggs on the way home? xoxoxoxoxo.” Awkward.

    2. IndieGir*

      I did the exact same thing! I’d been on and off the phone all day with my mother due to a family crisis, and ended the next call with “Ok, bye, love you.” The co-worker got a HUGE kick out of it. We are a close-knit department so yeah, he busted on me all day for it.

    3. Mints*

      Not exactly, but once I was on the phone with bf during a trip, and the friend I was sharing a room with said I could use her phone to call. I tried to get off the phone quickly to not use all her minutes, and then I was distracted thinking “I forgot to tell him about XYZ” and she said something, and I answered “What, love?” Haha oops

    4. Jamie*

      Yep. My network consultant is awesome, a genius, and his job is to save my bacon which he does in street shoes. Add in him being a great guy so I have no anxiety in speaking with him…sounds perfect.

      Almost. He has the same name as my husband, and a very similar voice. (Also very similar physically, which is creepy – but not relevant to the phone thing.)

      Yes, I have ended a call with “okay bye, (name), love you.”

      Just habit triggered by the name. Fortunately he has an excellent sense of humor.

      I double and triple check every text I send my husband to make sure it’s going to the right guy. I very nearly texted my network guy asking him to pick up some moisturizer while he was at walgreens.

    5. straws*

      I once accidentally texted “I love you” to my cousin’s boyfriend instead of my own. I introduced them and thankfully he and I are close enough that we just laughed about it. I was mortified though!

    6. TL*

      I have a good friend who always says “lol” out loud, phonetically, who shares a name with a new coworker of mine. I was at an adult shop one day and I texted my friend “they have paddles here that have lol on them. Leaves an lol imprint.”
      Three hours later, I think it’s weird my friend hasn’t responded; I double check and I definitely sent it to my coworker by accident.

  55. Recruiter*

    I’ve applied for a Senior Experienced Professional Recruiter position with McKinsey. Does anyone have an idea of what McKinsey’s various talent acquisition roles pay and how that varies by city? Salary isn’t listed on their website.

    1. Audiophile*

      I don’t know what they pay, but I know a few McKinsey people and was considering applying with them.

      Now onto your question,have you checked Glassdoor? I know it’s not the best or most helpful, but it’s something.

      1. Recruiter*

        I’ve taken a look, but as a recruiter I don’t trust Glassdoor. When I look up my organization on there, a lot of the salary info is simply incorrect. With their info, I can guess within 20K of what I could ask for with McKinsey. But that’s a big range.

        1. Audiophile*

          Oooh yeah, too wide a range. And Glassdoor is hard with salary, I’ve found for instance, that I get a wide salary range when punching in NY instead of NYC.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, the salaries are all self-reported. And with my past jobs, a lot of people had the same titles, but were paid different amounts based on experience. So you’d see salaries for Analyst at Chocolate Teapots, Inc. that ranged anywhere from $55,000 to $110,000. Not very useful in that case.

  56. TheSnarkyB*

    About Monday’s “Silent Treatment & Boss’s Romantic Conversations” post:
    Does anyone else want to further discuss the gender dynamics in that workplace? I have to admit, when I thought OP was female, I thought “Ok, this is not good, but I’ve *kind of* seen dynamics like that before.”
    But after I heard OP was male, that just added another intriguing layer.
    Anyone else interested in this?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah, I was kind of surprised that I assumed the OP was a female too. Then I felt bad about it.

      I feel like as a professional woman in a very male environment I tend to focus on other women’s professionalism as a matter of solidarity. Like, I do NOT want to see a woman having a meltdown here because I feel like it sets us all back. So I think I’m more inclined to look for it, if that makes sense.

    2. Sunflower*

      Yea this in general got me thinking about gender dynamics. I was thinking how in my office, men get outwardly more emotional than women. When the men in my office are upset, their voice gets panicky, they raise it and sometimes flail their arms. The women straight faced say ‘okay’ and then walk away and silently curse it. I think this is more in line with women are told to hide their feelings of anger and men are told to express it but it’s funny. Historically women have had to prove themselves as able to roll in the big leagues with men and it’s interesting to watch them come off as cooler and more confident than them.

      1. Jamie*

        I have seen that also, but I think it stems in part (at least in my office) from the different ways men and women tend to express anger.

        If I am angry at work I am absolutely stoic. It has nothing to do with me being better able to roll with the punches than someone who raises their voice, it has everything to do with the fact that I cry when angry. So when I’m that upset I am focusing hard on anything I can think of so I don’t start. Keeping it from starting is key.

        It’s not boo-hoo crying and it’s not for manipulative purposes, because I’d give anything to have a different default. It’s that when I am furious or frustrated beyond limits my body’s response to stress is to cry. This is not uncommon – I know a lot of very competent professional women who work to override this automatic reaction.

        I don’t know one man whose default response to anger is tears. I am sure there are some, just as I’m sure there are a lot of women whose default is to yell or slam something, but men who exhibit outward signs of anger (and not all do, to be sure) tend to raise their voices, swear, slam something down and those are all more socially acceptable in an office than crying.

        So often times women coming off as cooler heads during a crisis is because we’ve bypassed the default so aren’t crying and the best way to do that is to get unemotional and hyperfocused on the logic of the issue at hand – it keeps the emotional responses (and tears) at bay.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh God, I do the same thing, and I haaaaaate it. It really bugs me. It’s very hard to have an argument with an SO when that happens–here I am trying to make a point, and BOO HOO HOO HOO. Then the guy shuts down because he can’t deal with me crying. I always tell bfs, “If I’m crying when we’re arguing, if I’m still making sense then just ignore it. It’s when I stop that you need to run.”

    3. Mints*

      You’re right, it really surprised me to hear that OP was male. I think “silent treatment” is associated with women, even though it’s dumb and immature. Also, women/girls are raised more socially, so I think the idea of an emotional punishment (not abusive, but just like “you should feel bad about this”) is gendered. Though being social and emotional are not bad, the negative aspects are associated with women. Which is bad, obviously

      1. fposte*

        Do you know the relationship work of John Gottman? One of the things he talks about is stonewalling, which is basically the silent treatment; however, he notes that there tend to be gender differences in how people feel during stonewalling and how they receive the treatment, with men likelier to do it to calm themselves down and less likely to be bothered by a partner’s doing it, while being at the receiving end of it tends to send women’s heart rates (one of the things he measures) skyrocketing.

        1. Mints*

          Interesting, I’ll have to google him; this is relevant to me personally.

          Thinking a bit more, I realize that my mom does a version of this, but she’s doing it to gather her thoughts, and will come back to the person later with “This hurt my feelings because…” or “I don’t think this is a good idea because… ” and so her silences don’t feel like a “treatment” to me.

          Meanwhile someone else I know does it because of anger and a need to cool off, so doing a different activity for a little while then coming back with “Why did this upset you?” is more effective

          Thinking through that was introspective!

        2. Kelly L.*

          Interesting! My ex-BF would do this–clam up as a technique for calming down–and it only made me madder even though i intellectually knew what he was doing. It was an ever-present issue.

      2. Jamie*

        I think the silent treatment is more male, but not as a deliberate move, but just because it’s a response to an unpleasant mood or dispute. When I’m upset with my husband (or more rarely, he’s upset with me) I want to talk about it. I want to hash everything out and drain the abscess. I want to know everything he is feeling so I can assess the situation.

        He would prefer not to discuss anything unpleasant in that level of detail. He’s genuinely less bothered by stuff than I am so his MO is to give me space until I get over whatever it is, or (more likely) forget why I was mad to begin with.

        But it isn’t the silent treatment in the sense of him not talking to me, because he’ll be totally fine if I talk to him…he just don’t want to deal with me mining him for feelings about X that he just doesn’t have. He told me once that I over think everything so I assume everyone does, but “you are looking for me to explain thoughts I don’t even have.”

        The silent treatment as in snubbing is something I associate with girls about 9-14…for some it lasts a little longer.

        Maturity and ethics aside, as a strategy it doesn’t work. In order to be effective in the workplace the person being snubbed has to care enough about the other person to be hurting over the lack of connection.

        How often does that happen outside of family or intimate relationships.

        Kind of similar to with holding sex. It only works as a strategy if the other person is hurt by this. Otherwise it’s just not having sex with someone, which is what we all do with the vast majority of people in our lives.

    4. Cat*

      I had the same reaction as Katie the Fed. After I thought about it for a while, though, it kind of made sense to me: I think in some ways being single can be harder for men in our culture because our culture messaging is that adult men shouldn’t have close non-romantic relationships.

    5. The Real Ash*

      Wow, the OP of that was a man? I feel sort of bad about it, but then I still feel like either way, they were a huge whiny baby about it.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      BTW, did you guys all see that he came back late in the day with a REALLY great response to everyone? It was one of the few times I’ve been like “whoa! OP gets it!”

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            OP called himself “Question Asker” in the comments. His post down towards the end was really great. It would be interesting to hear an update from him someday.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Oh man, totally missed it. I really wish there was a way to know when the OP joins the conversation in the comments. And especially giving them a unique name identifier. Because that thing had 500+ comments, and usually searching by OP, which they use many times, doesn’t work since so many people use it in their comments.

        So a suggestion would be to communicate to OP’s to use a unique identifier if they join the comments, that is maybe added to the bottom of the posting, so people know…

    7. Del*

      I’ll be honest, it didn’t surprise me, because in my experience men can be a lot more emotional/dramatic about being single, and tend to take it a lot more personally than women do. (Notice my wording here: this is certainly not meant to imply that all men are/do!)

      1. Sunflower*

        I think, tying this in with Cat’s comment above about our culture rejecting men having close, non-romantic relationships, men don’t have the same outlets women do. It’s seen as normal for women to sit around and discuss relationships at length or make comments everyday how much being single sucks but I feel like men don’t really have that. I’m a woman so I can’t speak for what goes on at men’s get togethers but I’m not sure several of them shriek “I’m never going to find someone!’ as I’ve heard many women say at our outings. I get the feeling men express these things to maybe one or two other close guys so they don’t get as much feedback or self-assurance that they are normal, nothing is wrong with them, they’ll find someone etc. as women do

        1. Jamie*

          That was why I assumed the OP was a woman, not because men don’t have feelings about being single – but because ime it’s really rare for a man to be so open about expressing that.

          So the ease with which it seemed he was able to admit publicly that he was sad he wasn’t in a relationship was something I don’t see in the men I know.

          I think it’s great he is comfortable expressing it, and I feel bad for men that so many feel they need to present as if they are emotional teflon – it has to be hard at times.

          1. Anonsie*

            Man have you *been* on the internet, though? It’s like 80% 20-to-30-something guys talking about how they hate that they’re single and how it’s women’s fault. Reddit, anyone? Imgur?

            I highly doubt they say that kind of stuff a lot in real life, though, you’re right. This kind of stuff is how gender expectations screw everyone in both directions.

            1. Sunflower*

              Ah I don’t read Reddit but I wouldn’t be surprised if the internet was full of it since it’s harder to get that support IRL.

              I always find it amusing that the one sex always blames the other. Most of my women friends have the general consensus that it’s easier for men to find a partner and they just need to walk outside to find one whereas men argue that women could get anyone they want. I’m pretty sure neither of those things are but true but interesting

              1. Anonsie*

                I tend to avoid it for the aforementioned reason.

                That’s funny– I hear the same thing, but with women it’s more that they think it’s easier to find a quality lady than to find a quality guy (as opposed to just *any* guy). Which I don’t buy, since– let’s be honest here –most people are horrible, you just only notice it in the group you’re trying to filter through to find a good one.

                Though the same women I know who say men are awful are also the ones who won’t approach a guy and won’t make contact so he has to pursue her to “win” her, so I’m inclined to think they’re limiting their dating pool to primarily guys who see a woman ignoring them and think “oh yeah, I should keep bothering her.” And then the guys who complain about not finding good women usually pick a date based on looks and are then shocked and personally offended when they aren’t soul mates, so, you know.

    8. Anonsie*

      I had mixed feelings about commenting on it because I really don’t like encouraging viewing a person’s behavior through a stereotype lens, but at the same time it’s not entirely irrelevant.

      But I will say I had the exact opposite reaction from you– it made a lot more sense to me when it was a man, actually. As someone pointed out on the original post, men are a little bit more likely to feel like missing a relationship is the fault of external forces. It doesn’t surprise me at all that a guy who’s upset about his singledom would direct that outward rather than inward.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I find it easier to deal with when a woman does not speak to me than if a man does not speak to me. Maybe I get a better read on why a woman is upset? Or maybe I am biased because I think men are harsher when it comes to the non-verbal stuff? Not sure.

      However, I have equal opportunity contempt for this habit. And yeah, it’s a habit.

      John Gray did a similar thing as Gottman mentioned above. He was absolutely relentless in saying men have to have their time out. The way he kept saying it over and over it was almost like this time out thing is a crippling burden that men must carry. I lost empathy.
      I did not think it was right to present men as being incapable of talking through their thoughts/feelings without having looong periods of silence to figure out what their thoughts and feelings are. To me this whole concept seemed to degrade men. And this was written by a man. I know plenty of men that can sort through their thoughts in the moment and say what they need to say in a decent/respectful manner. I gave up with the book.

  57. scared*

    I got fired yesterday. I made a mistake out of carelessness and my boss thought it was serious enough to let me go.

    I’m struggling with it for the obvious reasons but the worst is that I thought I did everything right when my boss first confronted me two days ago. I apologized and found a solution to make sure it would never happen again, but a day later I got pulled into HR and got the boot.

    My boss started the talk by saying, “I wanted to pull HR into the situation that happened yesterday.” so I thought I was being written up or put on probation, so as my boss talked for 5-10 minutes and I tried to defend myself. I feel so stupid about that now because the decision had been made.

    1. De Minimis*

      Very sorry to hear this. I’ve been in a similar situation and it is hard even when you can see it coming, and it doesn’t sound like you did.

      It sucks. Sometimes you can do everything right and it still doesn’t work out. Best of luck to you…if it’s any consolation, and right now it probably isn’t, if they fire that quickly it doesn’t sound like a good environment for anyone. That type of behavior is the reason people tend to try to hide mistakes or avoid ownership of their work in general.

      1. scared*

        Yes, this. I understand that some mistakes are egregious enough that they warrant letting someone go, but it was more difficult because I mistakenly thought I had the chance to redeem myself.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      Go pig out on ice cream, or wine, or whatever vice tonight and leave thinking about this until you can clear your head of some of the emotions.

      Then, you need to think seriously about why the mistake was made, how you can avoid it in the future, and figuring out how to concisely explain this when you apply for new jobs. Talk with a mentor or another objective person.

      I’m so sorry this happened.

      1. scared*

        Yes, I’m doing some serious reflection on my mistake and am going to search the AAM archives on how to interview after being fired.

    3. C average*

      My sympathies. This sounds really hard. Try to be kind and forgiving to yourself as you think about what happened.

    4. CrazyCatLady*

      Ugh, how awful. I’m so sorry this happened and can’t even imagine how you must be feeling.

    5. Elizabeth West*


      Take some time for yourself this weekend. I would also apply for unemployment right away, since you have to wait a while for it to start. In my experience they usually don’t deny it unless a firing was for unbelievably bad reasons, but either way, if you can get it, you won’t want to wait.

      Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and recover from them in time, so don’t beat yourself up over it. *hug*

    6. Lucy*

      I would just like to point out one thing you said that might have made a difference so that you’ll know how to handle it in the future. You mentioned that you tried to defend yourself. The manager and HR may interpret that as you not taking responsibility for your mistakes (even though you apologized), especially if you tried blaming anyone else. Instead of defending yourself, you may have been better off by admitting it was a terrible mistake and that you have learned from it and would never do it again. I just say this because I have been the manager in a similar situation and HR planned to put the person on probation but because the employee didn’t seem to “get it”, they were let go. Had the employee admitted the mistakes and convinced us that it wouldn’t happen again, the employee would still be employed. The decision had NOT been made prior to the meeting. Hopefully you will never be in that situation again but keep in mind that if you are, admit your mistakes and show them that you take full responsibility. It will go a long way to convince your manager that you “get it”.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Really good advice. Sometimes bosses just suddenly decide this is over the top and action is needed. At that point, the only thing they want to hear is an apology and a willingness to fix the mistake as well a prevent future mistakes. That is all they want to hear.

        I have sat in the office and apologized for writing in blue ink when the boss wanted me to use black ink. Meanwhile, I have several problems in my work area that are at least three alarm fires if not five alarm fires. And here we sit discussing ink as if I committed murder 1.
        I kept the job. I am not sure that was an accomplishment.

        I am really sorry this happened to you. Keep reading AAM. Just read and read. Knowledge is power. Increase your knowledge about work places and take back the power you lost here.
        This is a pretty healing place to be. Stick around.

  58. Heather*

    For those of you who have dogs and work all day, what do you do with them? My husband and I want to get a dog, but we’re not sure if he would have the time over lunch to let the dog out. I work an hour away from our apartment, so me coming home for lunch is out of the question. My husband will be doing research this summer at his school and isn’t exactly sure about his schedule yet (flexibility in lunch times, ect.) So I guess my question is, do any of you leave your dogs home for 8.5 hours a day? Can a dog handle that long without a potty break. I would imagine they would need to be taken out every few hours just as humans do, but I’ve never had a dog so I’m not sure how much you can train them to “hold it” .

    1. Omne*

      I’ve had dogs for most of my life. I’ve never had a problem leaving them for 8-9 hours. Barring medical conditions most can go that long. There may an occasional accident but if they’re house trained it should work.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      Puppies require going out a lot more, so you will need to plan to get home once or twice to let the puppy out of the crate. Once the dogs are older they can be left alone. It is breed dependent though — some dogs are needier than others.

      1. Omne*

        I should have qualified it. I’ve always had rescue dogs that were older so I forgot about tiny bladders in puppies.

    3. LMW*

      Full grown dogs can easily go that long, but puppies can’t (and frankly, need more opportunities to work out their energy). When I got my dog, I was really lucky and my dad worked a few blocks away, so he’d come eat lunch at the house (I was renting his old house anyway, so he was doing this already) and let her out.
      When I moved to a different apartment, the problem shifted from her not being able to hold it that long to her needing more opportunities to burn off the crazy puppy energy (which last until they are about 2-3 years old with most mid-to-large breeds). Once she hit 2 though, she was perfectly fine all day on her own. In fact, I’m working from home today and she’s just going to completely ignore me and sleep all day, and when 5:30 rolls around she’ll come find me for her walk. Routine and exercise is really important to make this easy for them — if they get a chance to get out and do their thing in the morning and there’s a habit to how long it’ll be before they do it again after work, they will adapt to that routine.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      My dog stays in her kennel about 9-10 hours a day.

      I know some people will say that’s cruel, but she heads right to it after our morning walk and sleeps all day.

      I tried leaving her out of her kennel for a while, but she would be good for weeks and then one day get a wild hare up her butt and decide to eat a mattress or another piece of furniture, so now she’s in the kennel where she’s nice and safe.

      I figure she was pretty damn close to being euthanized at the shelter so being in a kennel sleeping for 9-10 hours a day and then getting 5+ miles of walking a day plus endless snuggles is a pretty good deal for a dog.

      1. LMW*

        I’m a huge advocate of kenneling and crate training. It a good way to keep your dog safe! I haven’t crated mine in years (she hasn’t touched anything that didn’t belong to her in about 4 years) but she loved her crate and I loved knowing that she wasn’t going to chew through an electrical cord or eat a box of lightbulbs while I was at work.

      2. Stephanie*

        Our dog was a rescue and he loves his crate. I’ll move it to clean and he’ll pop up like “Where are you taking my crate?!”

      3. fposte*

        That’s helpful to me. I have been thinking about getting a dog for sooo long, and yet it would be basically to install one in my house to be alone much of the time. I’d definitely be going shelter, so you’re making a good point about it being preferable to the alternative.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Do it! I could wax on for ages about how my dog made me a happier person during a very tough time in my life. I really credit her with a lot – she improved my mood and outlook so much and I think she honestly got me to a place where I was ready for a relationship again. They’re just amazing animals. I love my cat too, but you will never have an animal who worships you the way a dog does.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          @fposte- you should get a dog. You will have so much fun.

          They don’t really get into adulthood until 18-24 months. It’s work but it’s also a lot of learning and discovery for both the person and the dog.
          If you get a pup be sure to handle it a lot. The vet pointed out to me that if I handle the dog’s feet and mouth it makes his job so much easier to check teeth because the dog is used to having fingers in its mouth. If you handle their paws a lot it is easier to trim their nails. Use a silly/happy voice and play away.

      4. Anonsie*

        This is my dog exactly. Or is now– she’s getting to be an elderly girl and she’s gotten to that age where she’s out of effs to give, I think. She was exceptionally well behaved when she was younger, now she’s crankier and has more anxiety. The crate calms her down and makes her overall behavior better as a result.

        Also, anyone thinking of trying this: Try different crates. We got her a plastic crate and she hated it and got even more upset, but when we got a wire one she loved it immediately.

      5. KellyK*

        Most dogs can learn to be very happy with a crate, especially if they get really good treats while they’re in there. (Our current foster dog, a 2-year-old pit bull, comes running from the other end of the house when I say “Crate!” because he gets a peanut butter Kong. That dog will do anything for peanut butter.)

        I think the only way it’s cruel is if the dog has separation anxiety, or if they’re not getting enough exercise or attention when they aren’t in the crate. (Like, I wouldn’t crate a border collie for 10 hours a day, but then, I also wouldn’t own a border collie, because they have pretty serious exercise needs.)

    5. AAA*

      My dog typically is home alone without any accidents for 9 hours a day. I work 10 hour days, plus have a 30-45 minute bike commute each way, so when my partner is travelling (like this week) he is alone and without a potty break for up to 12 hours at a time. He’s totally fine. In fact, I take him right out when I get home, and he typically will still hold it for 1-2 more blocks until he gets to his favorite place to pee.

      I’d be much more worried about a puppy though. Even if you get an adult dog, just be prepared for a bit of adjustment time. If you can, take a few days off around when you get the dog and when you return maybe hire a dog walker for mid-day for the first few months. I also second the idea of crate training.

    6. The Real Ash*

      If you’re worried, either hire or a dog walker or get a cat. Crate training is fine, but that’s only if you actually interact with the dog *a lot* when you are home. My SO’s sister has a dog that is in the crate all day while she and her husband are at work, and most of the time when they’re home. The only time the dog gets to go outside is when they take her to the vet or out to potty. The sister is upset because the dog likes me better as I actually interact with her more, even though I see her a lot less than her owner does. It’s pretty sad.

    7. Heather*

      Thanks all for the advice! Like I said, I never grew up with dogs but my inlaws have been breeding hunting dogs for the past couple of years so that is probably the kind of dog we would get. (They’re french brittanies if anyone is interested.) The dog we would probably take is about 1 year old, so still kind of a puppy.

      My father-in-law eats lunch at home everyday so the dogs have never really had to go all day without being out, but they are trained to be in their crates for 5 hours at a time. In fact, they love the smaller kennels because it means that they are either going hunting or to the lake.

      Giving him attention while we are home will absolutely not be a problem. I have always been the first one to be outside playing with them or begging to take all the new puppies inside when they are little so I can cuddle with them. It’s a struggle for me to wait until they are several weeks old to take them away from mommy for more than a couple minutes. My husband is in school and studies a lot so part of the reason we want a dog is so I have someone to hang out with at night. The other primary reason is so we can take him to the lake on the weekends and go fishing.

      The only worry I had was whether they could handle being at home during the day. So thank you all for your help!

      1. Bryan*

        They are a more high energy breed. If they’re about 1 year old though you know their temperament better because there will be some that are more sleepy heads than others.

    8. GigglyPuff*

      Leaving it home alone or in a crate for the work day is pretty common, and most people will walk their dog every day then. So I’d think about that, can you/will you be willing to give the dog the exercise it needs after being crated for the majority of the day. Some dogs are definitely lazier than others, mine is the biggest bum in the world, all she wants is on the furniture. She can also hold her bladder for a long time, once when I was sick, I slept for fourteen hours and she didn’t bother me at all, but on the flip side she’s not 100% potty trained (believe her original owners just left her in a basement all day), when I would leave, and since she didn’t know when I would be coming back, sometimes she’d have an accident after two hours and others none at all after eight hours, but she’s completely crate trained.

      But if you can afford it, there are decent dog walking services with varying levels of “walking” (like playing in the yard for an hour versus just a quick walk around the block, etc), and then there is also doggie daycare, and while this can get expensive, on average $18/day, you certainly don’t have to take the dog every single day, but once or twice a week will give it plenty of exercise and socialization, which I really would recommend this is you get a puppy since they definitely need potty breaks, but also give the puppy time to adjust to the home environment before taking it to daycare.

      Seriously I would see people bring them in two days after they picked up the puppy on the weekend, and the thing would be freaking out, and would usually take longer to adjust than other dogs.

    9. Jamie*

      I have never crate trained, we’ve always adopted older dogs who were already trained – so I have no experience with puppies.

      A dog can hold it 8-9 hours – my husband had a dog before we married and he lived alone and he’d let her out before he left and then as soon as he got home.

      In my case my husband’s and my hours overlap so if the kids weren’t home and it was just us they’d be alone about 5.5 hours. But because the kids’ work and school schedules are staggered they are rarely alone more than a couple hours. So they are pretty spoiled in that regard.

      What kind of dog and how many is totally dependent on the situation and family, but the only time my husband had issues with a dog acting up and chewing stuff, getting into garbage, etc. was when he was alone and she was an only dog.

      We own one crate because one of our dogs had one from her former owners and loved it as her little den. Years later it’s still her place to hide her toys and bones – but there is no door on it.

      I’ve never crate trained, I have read a lot about it and I do understand that it’s not cruel – but if you adopt an older dog it may not be necessary – it wasn’t for us.

      When I say older I don’t mean geriatric – I mean past the puppy stage where they are housebroken and their temperaments are kind of known. Puppies are adorable and so easily adopted, I want to encourage those considering adopting to think about the dogs a couple years old, or older, who have so much to offer and so much love to give – even after the new wears off.

      Our eldest pup will be 13 this year. He is a Borador – part border collie part lab, and we adopted him from the shelter when he was almost 4. His owner had died 6 months prior and he was depressed and barely eating in the shelter. His healthy weight is 85 lbs and he was at 42 – you could feel every detail of every bone when you petting him. And he made no sound. They weren’t sure he was capable of barking.

      But our other dog at the time picked him. We took her to the shelter to meet some dogs and thought she would like a younger dog to mother but she took to this very skinny and silent gentle dog right off.

      We truly thought we were giving him comfort in his last weeks, he was so thin and his hair so sparse.

      Once he was home he quickly gained weight, his gorgeous black Collie coat came in in spades, and believe me – he knew how to bark. 9+ years later he’s getting up there, but still happy as a pup.

      Kind of like with a job – don’t just look for the dog that is the most glamorous – find the right fit. Temperament, lifestyle…and don’t overlook the older dogs. The joy they can bring a family – there are no words.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Completely agree with everything you said, but do try to keep in mind, the dog may be potty trained, but bringing it into a new environment and changing its’ schedule around, there will be accidents in the beginning. Other dogs, like mine, she spent a year living in someone’s basement and was returned to the rescue because she was too hyper (really, what did they expect there?), then she spent another year at the rescue facility, where they do not potty train dogs, it’s easier for them to just clean it up. On the other hand our third dog walked out of the woods couple years ago, around 9 months, ended up keeping him, and he is the best potty trained dog we’ve ever had.

        So just keep in mind with whatever kind of dog you get, there will be accidents, and some catch on quicker than others.

        1. Kelly L.*

          My dear late dog was 3 when I adopted her and we ended up having 9 years together. She was a great dog. There were a few accidents in the first week, because she had a noise she made that meant “I need to gooooooo!” and it took her a few days to train me in its meaning. ;)

          1. GigglyPuff*

            Man I wish my girl would make noise when she needs to go out, seriously she’ll hold it all day if I’m there, and it took me maybe three months to realize that her pacing was the, I need to go out now! signal. But our rat dog, barks up a frigging storm when he needs to go.

        2. Jamie*

          Oh absolutely – any kind of new environment is so stressful and I wouldn’t recommend adopting any animal and that same day leaving them alone for hours on end. But yes, of course there will be little accidents due to stress.

          From what I hear about housebreaking though, there is a big difference between starting from scratch and an older pup who just needs to settle in.

      2. Omne*

        Absolutely. The last four dogs I’ve owned were senior rescues, i.e. over 10 years old. I started adopting them when I found out that most non-kill shelters, at least around here, won’t accept them since they are so hard to adopt out. All four were going to be euthanized. Giving them a great life for their last few years was extremely satisfying and they were wonderful pets.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Aww, I adopted my 14 year old kitty 4 years ago for the same reason. No one else was going to adopt a 10 year old, matted, bitchy old kitty :)

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Like you are saying, Jamie, I never used a crate, either. And I agree it does sound like a good idea. My old dog, I had him forever, before crates were the “in” thing. I tried using a crate on this new dog I have now and it was a disaster.
        I have never seen anything as fierce and scary as this. My sweet, intelligent pup went in to such a tizzy, I thought he was going to give himself a heart attack. This is out beyond crying and wailing. His face and eyes were intense- he tugged on the wires of the crate so hard I really thought he was going to hurt himself.
        I took him out of the crate and the behavior stopped immediately. I tried a couple times and the intensity remained incredibly high.
        I checked with the vet and the vet said he had other people saying the same thing. It must have had something to do with the transporting. The pups were brought up from down south somewhere. It was a long ride for them. I don’t know what happened but it took me two years to break my dog’s fear of cages. I left a crate open in the kitchen. I put his food just on the inside of the door. Every time he went to eat, I tried to leave the room each time.
        Whatever happened to him in his first 9 weeks took two years to heal over. Finally, one day he walked all the way into the crate- looking at the walls and ceiling- just looking all over. He walked to the back of the crate and calmly turned around. He looked around some more and then calmly exited the crate. That is when I knew whatever IT was had become a non-issue.

        (I wanted him to work at his fear because if he ever has to stay overnight at the vets- I am sure they will crate him or give him a small fenced in area. I did not want him going into a heart event over that, especially since it could just be fixed by time and teaching.)

      4. Katie the Fed*


        Probably nobody is even still reading this thread but I had to tell my own story about adopting a slightly older (young adult, not puppy) pit mix.

        I was talking to a rescue about one dog, and they didn’t think he was a good match because he was a working breed. They asked me to come meet this new dog that was being pulled from a Southern shelter, and sent me a teensy picture. I wasn’t sure, because the dog looked like a pit and there was no way in hell I was going to own a dangerous pit bull (this is my first dog), but I figured I’d go just to be polite.

        So I go and meet the dog and I’m thinking immediately “nope. That there is a pit bull and there is no way on earth I’m taking her.” But the rescue woman wants to take her on a walk and the whole time I’m wondering how I’m going to tell her I can’t take this dog. But the dog was so sweet and eager and adorable. But still no.

        So we go back to the woman’s house and are sitting outside and I’m ready to tell her no and the damned dog walks up to me, climbs up just a little bit, and gives me the sweetest, saddest kiss while looking at me with these ridiculous eyes, and I was done for.

        And that’s how I ended up owning a dog I never thought I’d own. She’s still just as manipulative :)

        But yes, focus on temperament and finding the right dog, regardless of breed.

        1. Jamie*

          You didn’t find her – she found you. :)

          I know this sounds kind of woo, which isn’t like me, but when it came to adopting pets I never got intellectual about it. I just tried to be really open to figure out who really needed us – and would be happy in our family.

    10. Monodon monoceros*

      Crate training is a must. I have always lived in cold climates, so I was able to have my dog in his crate in my car. This is obviously not a solution if you live somewhere where it gets too hot to have your dog in the car, but maybe it would be OK for spring and fall? Having my dog in the car was great for me when I could not get home to let him out, but could take a 20 min break to walk him around a bit to pee, stretch our legs, etc.

      My biggest mistake with this was falling for those puppy dog eyes saying “I don’t need the crate anymore, I’ll be a good doggie”…and then I had to replace all 4 seatbelts.

    11. Mary in Texas*

      Yes, older dogs can stay in a crate for 8-9 hours. But you must make sure the dog “goes” in the morning and gets a good walk before he/she is crated all day. Dogs are den animals and my dog even goes in her crate when we’re home (sometimes). You can even give him/her some chew toys in the crate. Nylabone makes great chew toys for “aggressive chewers” and I buy them on There are tons of “toys” you can buy that willl occupy their time in a crate….and please rescue from a shelter!!

    12. Anonsie*

      Here’s the thing: Dogs are like people and they have different preferences, temperaments, and abilities. So the answer to this question is always “Yes, but…”

      Yes, a house broken dog should be able to do that just fine.

      But, you have to have the right dog, because they vary a lot. Since you’ve never had a dog before, I’d recommend you go get an adult one that you can know is ok with this arrangement and won’t get separation anxiety. It’s less an issue of “can they hold it” and more an issue of “will they get upset that I’m gone and rage poop on everything or eat my sofa or just be very unhappy in general.”

      Also be aware that, depending on where you live in the country, your local shelters & rescues might act like you’re some kind of wicked dog torturer for this arrangement and won’t let you adopt from them. It’s very, very regional– I’ve lived all over and it’s funny how The Way It Is for ok dog treatment varies extremely. The colder it is where you live, the fewer homeless dogs there are and the harder it is to adopt one, basically.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Rage poop! Lol, brings up memories of working at the dog kennel, luckily those were few and far between, but man, the rage pee-ers, you could be staring at the dog and he’d go, or you were letting them out of the kennels, the door to the yard would be wide open and they would wander around and end up peeing in another kennel straight into the water bucket or the other dogs’ bed. The aim on some of these dogs, you know they were doing it on purpose.

    13. KellyK*

      I have 2 dogs currently, and they both do okay for up to 9 hours. One has free roam of the house. (We used to crate her or close her in the bedroom, but when we give her free rein, she just naps in the bedroom anyway.) The other is crated. We do have them at doggie daycare once a week or so.

      These are adult dogs, not puppies. The rule of thumb I’ve heard for puppies is an hour for every month of age, more or less. So, if you’re getting a dog younger than 6-8 months, you’ll need some kind of short-term way of getting them out during the day.

      My understanding is that it’s better for a dog’s health to be able to go out every 4-5 hours, but it’s not an absolute requirement, especially if they spend a lot of the time they’re alone sleeping.

      A lot of pet-sitting/dog-walking businesses do quick “mid-day potty break” visits that they don’t charge too much for, so that might be an option. Especially if you find one that will do short-notice visits if you’re stuck in traffic or end up having to work late unexpectedly.

      1. Kim*

        Right. Most petsitters/dogwalkers will charge a very reasonable rate for a midday walk. You could hire one for a few weeks after the adoption and then phase out if you want, assuming the dog you adopt is full grown and can hold it all day once he/she’s comfortable in your home.
        I adopted a terrified 1-year-old dog and it took a few weeks to potty train her because I’m gone 10 hours a day. She’s had no accidents since, and it’s been several years. I treat her to a day at the doggie camp every so often ($20 or so) and make a big deal of giving her new toys, so she has things to occupy her during the day.

  59. Family Facebook Drama*

    Auuughshg. I know this ground has been covered over and over by Carolyn Hax and other advice columnists, but I just can’t figure out what to do with my effed up family on Facebook.

    Quick summary of the problem: There’s a wing of my family that is a little crazy. They moved to the mountains to go off the grid (because the terrorists are going to destroy the electrical grid, and they need to be prepared). They otherwise live normal lives. I don’t like them and never see them, but we are Facebook friends. They share a lot of outraged conservative stuff that I don’t agree with and ignore. We only interact to say “happy birthday” … or when they comment on something political that I post.

    I rarely post political stuff on Facebook (like ~5 times a year?). But when I do, they always comment, and it’s always rude or offensive (really – I’m not being too sensitive. A common theme is that I’m too stupid to understand the truth. Other common themes include racism, sexism, and homophobia). I never respond (except to say “I think I’ll sign off now!”) but it’s infuriating.

    The truth is that I will likely only ever see these people at funerals (they don’t travel, at all, so the only way I’ll see them is if I go there, and the only reason I’ll go there is because Life Rule #1 is Always Go To The Funeral). I would be delighted to defriend them on Facebook… except the drama of doing that would ripple out to other members of my family that I do love and respect. I don’t want my mom to have to explain why I don’t want to interact with my cousin. I don’t want my sister to have to apologize for my perceived rudeness to my aunt.


    1. Katie the Fed*

      You can set up groups on facebook so they can’t actually see anything you post. That way you’re still “friends” with them but they don’t see your posts and can’t respond.

      I have a wing of my family that’s a lot like this. My current issue is that I really don’t want them at my wedding but I’m really worried it’s going to create a rift in the family. Grandma just asked me if I remembered to send them a save-the-date and I had to dodge that question.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      This is where you need to set your post settings. Whenever you go to post a status, you can control who sees it, and it will default to whatever your most recent settings were. You can create a list that is basically everyone you know except those people. Then they won’t see it and, thus, won’t comment.

      You can also set your filters so you don’t see what they’re posting. I have a crazy uncle where I did this, and it’s so much better than ignoring. When you see stuff that you consider to be hate-filled nonsense every day, it takes it’s toll, even if you’re ignoring it. It feels so much better to just not see it!

      1. Mephyle*

        You can not only set up groups who can see your posts, but when you set the visibility for a given post, you can also at the same time exclude people or groups from seeing it. So you can set the visibility to a post to, for example: Friends, Except Nopols, Except Wayne (say you made a group of people you don’t want seeing your political posts, and you named the group “Nopols”, and Wayne isn’t in your Nopols group, but you don’t want him seeing that post either.).

    3. De Minimis*

      I have a lot of my family hidden from me on Facebook for similar reasons. I don’t see their posts unless I search their names out. Just found it easier to do that…

    4. fposte*

      Sorry that I’ve got no help, but I am laughing here at the “off the grid” family members who have a Facebook account.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I know people like this too, though! They’re holed up in their fortresses waiting for the zombie apocalypse…and they’ll live tweet it when it happens. LOL!

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha me also.

        I was imagining Maw and Paw on a peddle bike, powering a computer connecting to FB.

    5. KellyK*

      Filters are your friend. I have a “No politics and religion” FB group, and if I post anything controversial, it’s not shown to that group. That group consists of people who feel the need to argue about *everything* I post and can’t do it respectfully, as well as people who just don’t like seeing political stuff and have asked to be filtered.

      I’m fortunate in that I’ve mostly only had to deal with this from friends/acquaintances. I do have family members who are on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum from me, but we mostly just ignore what we view as the other one’s stupid posts.

      If they’re making inappropriate comments, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to tell them to knock it off (politely) and enforce your personal boundaries. Whether it’s worth it is a family dynamics question, and you’re probably the only person who can answer that.

  60. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I know that water cooler fights are common in the offices of Ask a Manager readers, so I wanted to throw out an idea that I didn’t even know existed until recently, but has totally solved our “who has to lug the water bottle from the kitchen to replace it when it runs out?” issues.

    Installed coolers! There are free-standing ones as well as countertop models. They tap directly into your water, and they filter and can serve hot or cold. The Cadillac model, which we got, even has sparkling water.

    And the best part is that it’s cheaper than delivered water bottles, and better for the environment (no deliveries, no bottles, etc). It’s amazing. The company we went through is IMC Water Coolers LLC. I highly recommend them, but they only serve the DC metro area. I’m sure there are similar companies all over the country, though!

    1. Rebecca*

      That would be awesome! I don’t mind carrying the water bottle and putting it on the cooler. What really irks me, to no end, is the people who take the last of the cold water, drain the reservoir, and slink away thinking the water fairy will magically appear and replace the bottle. All they have to do is say “oh, hey, can someone give me a hand? I used the last of the water and the bottle needs to be replaced”. I am so happy to do this. It beats being thirsty, and wanting a cool drink only to find a completely empty cooler.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      We installed 2 water filters that pour out hot or cold water. It solved so many problems. I think the water cooler will be extinct soon.

    3. Jennifer*

      I had one installed in our office and everyone loved it. Then we got a new manager who couldn’t be convinced that it was better than the cooler, so we had to go back to the cooler and bottles. Yes, even though it cost 2.5x more and is less environmentally friendly and takes up a lot of space in our break room, and yes he’s a tool.

  61. Victoria Nonprofit*

    A small happy note: Part of my job is coaching folks with job applications. This week I reviewed a members’ resume and gave him some tips based on things I’ve learned here (along with my own extensive experience in hiring). He soaked it up like a sponge – his resume was SO MUCH BETTER. I’m excited for him!

  62. Jen*

    I’m in my second week at a new job at a new company and it is so much better than my old job in every way, except for the health insurance! Insurance at my old job was entirely paid for and new job offers an option of three tiered plans all with pretty terrible mental health coverage. Basically I’m not going to be able to afford therapy anymore even if I chose the most expensive plan. My current therapist (who I love!) is out of network. And an in-network therapist is 2x as expensive a session as it was with old job’s plan. Meanwhile all the anxiety meds (which I only want to take in emergencies, not rely on every day) are free.

    What a frustrating, messed up system. Has anyone had a similar frustrating experience?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      My mother is a psychologist and hates insurance for this very reason… insurance sees more value in meds than in therapy.

    2. CTO*

      Are therapy services covered at the same level as other kinds of medical office visits? I believe that by law they have to cover mental health at the same level as other medical services, but I know that the details and implementation are more complex than that.

      1. Jen*

        Not at all! Only a $20 copay for any Dr’s visit but for mental health I have to pay 20% coinsurance. Which means I have to hit my $500 deductible first. Ouch. It’s just hitting that deductible that’s going to sting.

          1. Jen*

            There is a free high deductible plan available with an HSA but I selected the Standard plan for $15/month which only offers an FSA. I chose the standard plan because I like only having a $20 copay if I need to go to the Doctor for some reason and the lower deductible if the worst were to happen.

            1. fposte*

              Does your therapist know about this? She might be willing to go in-network or find another way to ease the burden.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                Ooh, this! Depending on whose network, many practitioners are really willing to get onto your network. It’s definitely worth the ask!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Have you talked to your therapist about the change? They may have a sliding pay scale. If you came in with insurance, they wouldn’t have mentioned it before. I know a handful of offices that offer rates based on your income. May be worth asking about it.

      1. SarahBot*

        I agree with AndersonDarling – ask your therapist. I was seeing mine out-of-network and paying full price out-of-pocket – that stopped being possible for me, so when I told my therapist that I’d have to stop seeing him for financial reasons, he let me know that he has a number of low-cost slots reserved for clients in need, and it took my costs down to a third of what it previously was. (I also started going twice a month rather than every week, which also eased the financial burden.)

    4. GigglyPuff*

      I feel like the FSA would cover that deductible pretty fast, but man I wish my deductible had been $500. It was HDHSA, $1200 and when I met it last week I almost hugged the pharmacist. It’s still the cheapest option when I figured out premium/deductibles, I take a non preferred brand name drug, that under any of the other companies plans would have never been covered by insurance, but with the high deductible, once I met it, my prescription went from being $160+ (with a coupon) to $10…seriously I almost cried.

      But I would make sure and call all the companies/company and ask about each individual plan to see what is covered and what isn’t mental health wise, because it might be never covered even if you meet your deductible.

    5. Dang*

      I’m only working part time and insured through Obamacare as of May 1. However, my deductible is super high.. it would take me a year of weekly therapy sessions to reach it.

      My therapist charges me less knowing that I don’t make a lot, plus it’s probably easier for her to not go through insurance… see if there’s anything your therapist can do.

  63. C average*

    Has anyone here successfully learned a foreign language using self-directed study tools (Rosetta Stone, duolingo, etc.)? I’m interested in brushing up on a language I studied in college but never gained real fluency in, and I’m interested in others’ success stories with self-directed study.

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      I learned German from casette tapes years ago when I had a 60 minute drive into work every day. They worked.

      And I recently discovered duolingo. It’s free to install on an ipad and it imposes a bit of discipline my reminding me every day to do my daily session. From what I’ve seen I think it’s better for bringing long forgotten languages back up to scratch than for learning new ones, but that may just be because I’m too lazy to look up new words.

      I’ll be including some duolingo language studying on my CPD return this year.

    2. CrazyCatLady*

      I was near-fluent in another language during college but then never used it. Duolingo helped me to brush up on it, but it seemed like it would be really hard to truly learn a new language using that tool alone.

      There’s a great blog out there – It has loads of resources and tips for self-directed learning.

    3. Paige Turner*

      Honestly, I think for what you’re trying to do (I’ve been in a similar situation) it’s better to pick up some textbooks from Amazon, library, etc and set a schedule to study every Thursday from 7-8 and Sunday from 10-11 or whatever. I think Rosetta Stone, livemocha, duolingo are only useful as a crash course for true beginners (but YMMV). I’ve also tried reading news sites/blogs etc and watching YouTube videos in that foreign language for more practice. I know people also recommend or similar in-person groups too, although I’m a bit antisocial and am not really crazy about that :)

    4. Just a Reader*

      I’m using Duolingo to learn Italian right now. I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to be consistent so that’s impacting my learning–but the way the app is structured is very conducive to learning because it uses a lot of different styles, tools and elements and it’s all building blocks.

      Love it.

    5. Kim*

      Your public library may have Pimsleur and/or other series in CD or downloadable audio. If not ask them to purchase some. Also make sure to ask about any language-learning databases they offer. All free and some are quite good.

    6. Mephyle*

      I’m using Duolingo to relearn a language that was my first language but almost forgotten. It’s the only method I’ve found that caters to a lazy learner who would rather do anything else than study.
      Once you’ve got up to the point where you can understand something, take advantage of the multi-media corncupia offered by the internet. You can find audiobooks on Youtube, for instance. And lots of movies in many languages with and without subtitles. I found audiobooks of all the Narnia books in my learning language and I’m rereading them by listening to them while I follow along in English in print.
      Another resource is language learning exchange websites where you can find native speakers of your learning language to Skype with, while you “pay” by talking with people learning English.

  64. Competitive Cookie*

    Any thoughts for dealing/managing a competitive boss? In general, I really like my boss but the competitiveness really bugs me. Some examples…

    Example #1: Boss constantly wins interoffice contests and it’s so bad that others don’t even want to participate anymore. Granted, the contests are fun in nature and not tied to work performance but when the same person wins EVERY TIME, some people (myself included) would rather not participate.

    Example #2: Boss will say things like “Ruby did a great job with Project ABC – Pearl, you should be more like Ruby.” Or “Sapphire always gets her reports in on time – Ruby, Pearl, and Diamond – you all should put a note on your calendar like Sapphire does.” Needless to say, it creates tension between the staff members.

    Example #3: Boss wants to have contests at weekly team meetings. Again, none of the contests are work-related.

    1. IndieGir*

      Can you convince your boss to run the contests as the umpire/referee/undisputed expert and not include himself as a participant? For instance, he creates the questions for a trivia contest? This could potentially allow the rest of you to have a fun competition and since he’s the undisputed expert maybe his need for competition will be sated.

      Also, just a thought about example 2. “Pearl, you should be more like Ruby” IS bad, jerky feedback, but “You should all put a note on your calendar” is in a different category and seems pretty constructive to me (especially if Ruby, Pearl and Diamond are not getting their reports in on time using their own method). We frequently have meetings where those who are more efficient in one area share their tricks with everyone else.

    2. Annie O*

      Yikes, this sounds so familiar. Do we work together?

      One of the managers at my job is just like this. A few years back, we did the Strengths Finder assessment. To no one’s surprise, this particular manager’s #1 trait was competition. The manager loved to compete, loved to create competitions, loved to win, and hated to lose. If he couldn’t win, he didn’t want to play – and didn’t want anyone else to play either.

      You’re right, it creates a ton of tension. And the general advice we got from the workshop was to not take it personally, stroke the boss’s ego, and let the boss win. Get used to saying things like, “I couldn’t have done it without you!” Or, “You’ve outdone yourself!” Talk about their hard work, perseverance, and fine-honed talents. If you want something, use competitive language. Such as, “I have a project idea that will help us *outsmart* our competitors!” If you’re really crafty, think of ways you can get your boss to compete with themselves. As in, “Wow, you did such an amazing job on X. Is it even possible to do better than that?”

      And good luck, because you’re going to need it.

  65. De Minimis*

    Echoing Kimberlee’s advice….I have a separate group for “Close Friends” and I limit a lot of my facebook activity to that group…

  66. Victoria Nonprofit*

    This is a silly question. I’ve been watching Mad Men lately, and it’s made me think a lot about how work has changed in the past 50 years. I’m in my mid-30s, so all of my professional experience has come in the age of email (I got my first email address when I went to college). For those of you who worked before email… what was it like?

    What I mean is: I spend virtually all day sending emails. I use email to set up meetings (and hammer out details). I use email to get information I need to write the things I need to write. I use email to share things I’ve written. If I had to make dozens of phone calls to schedule one meeting, walk to the library to get the information I need (and probably call another library, ask them to send a book to my branch, and wait several days for that to happen), and print and hand-deliver what I’d written I would get much, much less work done. Like, maybe a quarter of what I do now? Is that just how it was? I realize I sound super naive, but it’s so hard to imagine.

    1. Rebecca*

      When I started working in the 1980’s, computers were in their infancy. I had an IBM Selectric II typewriter available to me if I had to type and send a letter. We used carbon paper for copies, as making copies on the machine was more expensive. I had two typesets, Courier and Times Roman, if memory serves. I even used a mimeograph.

      Interoffice Memos were sent on 3 part preprinted carbon forms – we either hand wrote the memos or typed them. The writer kept the middle copy; the top and bottom went to the recipient. When they answered, they kept the bottom copy and returned the top copy, with answer, to the sender. All of this was coordinated in the mail room, and everyone had a slot with their name on it.

      To communicate with overseas partners, we used TeleFax. Every bit was precious, so we used shorthand, like the LOL’s and OMG’s of today. >F ETA P4/2 meant goods would exit the factory with an ETA port date of April 2. Y for Yes, N for No, and all sorts of shorthand worked out ahead of time. Otherwise you had to wait for airmail, which was expensive too.

      Yes, we made tons of phone calls to schedule meetings, and everything was much more cumbersome. We had a WATTS line to make long distance calls, and all calls were reviewed by someone every month. If you made a personal call and used the WATTS line, they made you pay whatever fee Ma Bell assigned to the call.

      Files were scanned and retrieved on Microfiche. That was fun.

      My first desktop computer had no hard drive, and used large floppy disks. Programs would stop in the middle and say “insert Disk 2”. When I got a computer with a 10 MB hard drive that could actually store Lotus 123 and Word Perfect, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Gone were the days of typing everything from scratch and having to retype it to make a change. My first OS was DOS. I had to learn printer strings to get things to print correctly from Lotus on my Dot Matrix printer.

      I didn’t get email until the mid 90’s, and while it was very basic, again, what a huge time saver.

      I would never go back to those days. Office work today is so much easier.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I was in the military and I entered in the late 90s (post email), but I remember one thing that changed. Apparently when you used to have to type performance reports on a typewriter, recommended changes to the reports were minimal. Now every single person who sees a report seems to have a suggestion the change the word “happy” to “glad” just because they happen to prefer one over the other.

      Whatever time savings found in being easy to edit a computerize document was swallowed up by the huge increase in the number of edits made to the document.

      Likewise I suspect when making slides to project to an audiance was hard, people made a lot less of them. Now powerpoints are used for what would have been just typed or handwritten in the days of stone knives and bear skins.

      TL;DR: I think we replaced that time consuming work (calling, researching ina library) with other electronic time consuming work that we don’t recognize as such.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oh, man. A few years ago I had to create a big document for a department, and the number of edits was insane. i’d make everybody’s edits, send out the new version, and the same people would have thought of ten more edits in the meantime.

    3. Just a Reader*

      I had email in my first post-college job but not in my internship or any job before that (which were also in offices).

      Lots of face to face meetings, lots of notes, lots of faxing.

      I love email.

    4. Colette*

      When I was a coop student at a telecom company (1993), employees had 2 email systems – one for people on Macs, and the other for people on UNIX – and IT was just figuring out how to send email from one to the other. (It didn’t work for my email account – if someone tried to send an email from UNIX to my Mac account, the server would crash.)

      That doesn’t really address your question, I’m just always amazed when I remember that.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      80’s to mid 90’s, fax machine.

      I faxed everything, to the point where I used fax like email. My BFF was also my work partner at the time and we faxed back and forth *just* like email. We both had dedicated lines at home.

      And I issued lots of memos to staff. It’s embarrassing to think the trees I killed with all of my MEMO TO:

      email, better, much.

      1. Windchime*

        But memos were really the only way to communicate things to staff in the days before email. I remember getting (and creating) lots of memos myself. I was in healthcare billing at the time and all the patient charts were in paper folders. There were teams of people employed to assemble the charts (things had to go in certain order) and to file and retrieve them. The doctor would mark up a paper charge ticket and people in my department would key them into the billing system. Payments from the insurance carrier would come with huge vouchers many inches thick, along with a paper check. We would have to batch and hand-key in the payments.

        These days, it’s all done electronically. Instead of having dozens of people to manage all the paper, now there are huge IT departments to manage the flow of electronic information. I’m not sure how much more cost-efficient that is, if at all.

    6. Vicki*

      My first job out of College was in 1984, but we used computers (terminals at our desks). I used email outside of the office (this was in the days before addresses) because spouse and I were and have been techies. In the office, we used memos. Paper memos. Lots of photocopies.

      @domains came in while I was at that job and our new sysadmin installed one. We had printers but they used carbon tape.

      Outside of the office, some people had email. Pre-AOL days but there were things like CompuServe and Prodigy. Dial-up modems.

      Paper memos in the next company too,as well as internal mail-like things. Apple had an internal system called AppleLink in the 80s and early 90s.

  67. Sunflower*

    I know what I’m looking for in a new job but having a hard time pinpointing things I don’t care about. I know I want a big company with growth opportunities and a somewhat flexible schedule(no clock watching crazies). As far as not important,I have health benefits(need em but don’t need anything great), personal space(don’t care if I have an office, cubicle, open space) but am trying to think of over things. Thoughts?

    1. Pip*

      At first I was like “Why care about what you don’t care about?”, but it is an interesting exercise. So here are a few more factors that you could care or not care about:

      * Location / commute. Complex question though. How long a commute can you tolerate? Are you willing to relocate? Does it matter if the office is in some soulless business park far away from shops and restaurants?

      * Morals – some people don’t want to work for companies involved with porn, gambling, weapons, alcohol, oil, strip mining etc.

      * Political affiliations – some companies take an open stand for political parties or in issues like same sex marriage.

      * Policies for parental leave

      * Policies for remote working

      * Required business travel

      * Pension schemes

      1. Sunflower*

        I mostly asked because I feel like the list of things that are important keeps growing and I’m worried I’m looking for a work place that doesn’t exist. Thought it might make me feel a little better if I thought of some things that other people might care about that I don’t!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How about limiting the list of must haves to things that influence the quality of life. If foregoing something is going to pull you down or detract from your life then it becomes something you must have.

          On the other hand, you could choose to list things that you see as current goals in your life. What meets your needs? What would allow you to start doing some of your wants?What type of a job would best get you there?

          Personally, I like the goal approach myself. It flexes as my goals change. It also keeps me feeling motivated and purposeful. It’s definitely a shorter list and I can kind of feel when I am done writing the list. Other approaches seemed to feel like I could keep making lists forever.

  68. Who Are You?*

    I’ve been waiting for this all week. :)

    I am currently a temp and was recently approached by my supervisor to apply for a permanent position. She had mentioned this months ago and I was patient and she finally posted the position earlier this month. She emailed me immediately to let me know that I should apply. I did. The application had indicated that the position would only be posted for a total of 5 days. As of today it’s been 15 days since I applied to the position and 11 days since the position was taken down. My question is this…should I drop my supervisor an email to ask if she’d had a chance to look at it? I know she got the application and resume because I had emailed her after I applied and she responded to let me know that she’d flagged it. Should I just be patient and have faith that she’ll email me when she’s ready to interview? We don’t work in the same location so dropping into her office isn’t an option. Advice?????

    1. Lizzy Mac*

      I wouldn’t. Things pop up and people get busy. You’ve touched base once already about the position and really you have to let the process happen. It took months from when the position was first mentioned until it was posted, so maybe your office is the slower sort when it comes to hiring.

    2. fposte*

      If there was no time frame indicated in the posting, you can inquire about time frame, but I’d wait another week.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Agh, we do a lot of temp to hire and I have a real heart for temporary employees and their state of flux. If it was me, I’d be happy to get your question and I’d be embarrassed that you had to ask.

      I don’t know if that is good advice, but none of us at Wakeen’s thinks twice when a temporary employee inquires about her possible perm status. It’s a logical question.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        I got my job last year after being a kind of temp. My boss told me about it in June. I applied when the internal posting went up in early July. In late August I have my interviews. I get hired in mid-September, and started October 6th. And I was the known quantity, front-runner candidate!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          We’re a smaller employer, fewer than 200 employees, so we don’t have to be as formal about it.

          Temp to hire, we make a decision within 3 months…from the start of temping. At three months, we make a job offer or we don’t continue with the person. It’s pretty rare for someone to make it to three months and not get an offer, meaning, we end their service earlier if we know we don’t want to make an offer.

          We take really good care of our temporary employees if for no other reason than you’ll lose the best ones to a perm offer elsewhere if you don’t.

  69. Elizabeth*

    So, does anyone remember the comment (I think it was a comment and not a normal post) about someone being forced to do a “Happy” video to welcome their new boss to the office?

    Well, as I was perusing Facebook this morning, I noticed that one organization (related to my profession) had posted a staff video to, you guessed it, Happy. I don’t think it was the same person, as this morning’s video seemed to be promoting their organization and not related to a staff member, but AAM was the first thing that popped into my head.

    1. Sunflower*

      Haha when I worked at a restaurant last year, they tried to make us a do Harlem-shake video and I was like UMM no thank you. Our bosses tried to force us to go with gift cards. The worst was we were a small local chain (4 restaurants) and we had to drive like 30 minutes away to another restaurant to do it. The video ended up being terrible SHOCKER

  70. Alex*

    My company just had a presentation with a slide that I was sort of shaking my head about – it was titled “How to identify Millenials” and had a picture of a young guy with arrows pointing to identifiers “Slim jeans”, “Messenger bag”, “Wears a vest”, “Rocks sneakers”… yikes.

    1. StaminaTea*

      Millennial stereotypes make me so mad! That sounds pretty unprofessional, too. I think the worst part is that age is not a protected category for under-40’s, so over-40’s feel free to harass away!

    2. Competitive Cookie*

      That’s hilarious!

      But I can’t help but wonder what would happen if someone created a slide titled “How to Identify Baby Boomers,” with arrows pointing to cat sweaters, Mom jeans, Eastland shoes and Members Only jackets. ;)

    3. Lizzy Mac*

      That’s too funny! I really get sick of Millenial stereotypes but this is awesome. “Rocks sneakers” Hee!

        1. Sharm*