open thread – May 30, 2014

Lucy appearsIt’s the Friday open thread — with a difference: This post is for work-related discussions only. Please hold anything off topic for the free-for-all open thread that’s coming this Sunday.

This is an experiment. My hope is that by confining this post to work topics, the number of comments will become more manageable and it will be easier for people to read and engage. But for people who enjoy the non-work-related conversations, you’ll get your chance with a separate post over the weekend.

So, have at it. The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that 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.

{ 1,046 comments… read them below }

  1. Bend & Snap*

    Any tips for getting happy at work?

    I used to LOVE my job, and then I went out on maternity leave and came back to a whole new set of clients who are all jerks and really hard to work with. My day-to-day challenges aren’t work related so much as people related.

    And, I have a potential raise/promotion hanging out there and am not sure I’m going to get it.

    My beloved boss is also leaving and nobody below director level is involved in the hiring process, meaning that a new boss is just going to show up one day.

    Those are the cons…the pros are that I work for a wonderful global company, have a fantastic team and many opportunities.

    I’m just looking to be as happy as I was before all these changes and am not finding a way.


    1. Ali*

      I am kind of feeling you. I used to love my job too, but having an unorganized manager (who I talk about a little below), not getting the hours I wanted and losing out to a new hire on those and just general boredom with the job has me going crazy. I’m also hoping to get an internal promotion, but haven’t been contacted for an interview despite the hiring manager saying he’d be in touch this week (just like external job hunting, LOL).

      I have mostly good coworkers as well and the overall culture company is still positive. But I have a volunteer gig on the side right now that could turn into a job, and honestly, I hope it does, even if it’s just part-time to start for extra money and eventually goes full-time.

    2. Matteus*

      Concentrate on the positives about your work. Don’t stew about the negatives.
      Venting is good, but make sure you vent to someone who absorbs your gripes and doesn’t echo back with their own, ’cause that can cause a vicious cycle of negativity.

      And if you find you can’t, I am sure everybody here would say, move on! There is no need to be somewhere you are miserable unless you have no other choice.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I think all jobs have blips, even the good ones. My department currently looks as if it is auditioning for Night of the Living Dead Chocolate Teapot Makers, and its companion work Revenge of the Zombie Administrator.

        Zombie Administrators aside, I think focusing on the good points of your job is important. Also, arranging non-work things in your spare time can be beneficial, so you have something to look forward to.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          This might be part of it–I have a young family and a long commute so I really don’t have any spare time. Running errands is my “break.” It’s been very isolating.

          1. Robin*

            Is it possible that this is really the source of your unhappiness, and you’re projecting it onto the other stuff you mentioned above? Maybe there is some way to address it — is telecommuting an option? Is there a satellite office that’s closer? More flexible hours so you’re not hitting rush hour?

        2. Sarahnova*

          On the plus side, CT, you most certainly have not lost your sense of humour, and picturing the Zombie Administrator lurching around your office is brightening up *my* Friday afternoon.

        3. Lizabeth*

          This +1000 Do something that makes you happy outside of work and it will spill over into work “most” of the time. I also write “Ask a Manager” letters that I never send to vent instead of using my poor SO as a sounding board – it helps to get my head back into the game instead of wanting to take a “clue by four”* to a certain someone in the office!

          *Louisville Slugger wooden baseball bat.

        4. Ruffingit*

          My department currently looks as if it is auditioning for Night of the Living Dead Chocolate Teapot Makers, and its companion work Revenge of the Zombie Administrator.

          Seriously, this made me laugh out loud literally. And I really needed that so thank you!

      2. nep*

        Agree with Matteus — there is real power in simply choosing not to dwell in the negatives. Sounds trite, but it really counts — making a decision not to be brought down by the negative aspects, the negative people…
        And best not to cling to what was — look at things in a fresh way and accentuate those great things that are positives for you.
        All the best.

        1. Julie*

          This is so true. Several years ago my office-mate and I would complain and focus on negative issues, and it took a while before I realized that it was making us feel worse. It’s so true that if you focus on the positive aspects of a situation, it will improve. You still might decide that you need to find a different job, but at least you can try to make the situation better while you’re in it.

          1. Poofeybug*

            A woman at our office, who used to be a real troublemaker ( a s***stirrer, we used to call her) one day just stopped being a troublemaker. Just stopped. We later found out that through her church she decided to live a more “peaceable life.” Those were the exact words she used to describe her remarkable change to someone.

            1. Poofeybug*

              Oh, didn’t mean to imply the OP was a troublemaker!

              OP, could it be the baby blues?

      3. Mallory*

        Back in January when I knew I was going to be facing a really tough semester, I made an “office survival list” of things that I could do to keep happy even though work would be stressful. It was just a bunch of little things that have reliably improved my mood before: listening to throwback, classic country music — Johnny Cash, etc. — in the car on my commute; taking a hot bath in the evening; taking a walk with a friend at lunch; eating some chocolate at 2:00 pm; reading a good book in my spare time.

        Since your commute is long, I’d look at how to turn that into some enjoyable time (see if you like books on CD — some do and some don’t; listen to music that you KNOW for a fact will elevate your mood; use the commute as quiet reflective time). I know some people can’t disengage from being frustrated about the traffic situation on their commute, but if you’re able to do that, it can be a good part of your day.

    3. Anon Accountant*

      Is changing departments an option? Do you think that’d be better?

      Are there interesting projects that you can work on to help you focus more on the positive aspects of your job again?

    4. C Average*

      I have no idea whether this applies to your work and your world, but it’s something that works for me when I’m feeling down about work.

      Sometimes I take a long lunch and go out walking or running on our beautiful corporate campus (we really actually do have a really nicely designed world headquarters, with lots of trees and a lake and architecturally interesting buildings) and think about what it was like eight years ago when I wanted to work here. Despite the fact that it’s not perfect working here, it’s often pretty great. Taking a step back and looking at it through the optimistic eyes of a prospective employee rather than a somewhat jaded longtime employee gets me energized about being here.

      I also never turn down a request to take a job-seeker on a tour. There’s nothing to get me excited about my work like talking about it to someone who is interested.

    5. Joey*

      Ebbs and flows. Jobs are like stocks in that you have to look at the happiness trends. That line rarely consistently goes up. There are dips, peaks, and valleys in every job over time. People come, people go, direction changes, sometimes good, sometimes less so. The key is the trend over time. Its unrealistic to expect that you’ll like every change all of the time.

    6. ella*

      I would say lower expectations, and try to not fall into the trap of comparing the current day-to-dayness of your job to what it used to be. I find myself enjoying myself a lot more if I acknowledge, in a moment when I’m feeling frustrated, “It is what it is,” and then move on. I don’t tell myself that I should be loving every minute.

      Buddhists have a mental trick, when you’re having trouble concentrating in meditation, of imagining that whatever thought is currently running through your head is getting trapped into a balloon and floating away. Or that it’s in a bubble and the bubble is popping and the thought goes with it, or whatever. I’ve found that trick really helpful. “Oh god, I’m so bored at work today and all my coworkers are annoying.” “Yes. That is true. Thank you for telling me this, brain, and now you can stop telling me.” And I imagine the frustration floating away, and I move on with whatever task is next.

    7. Just Me*

      I was in a situation where I loved my job but had co-workers who were very exclusive and treated me like I was a leper. There were days I would cry at my desk. But because I truly loved what I did, I stayed. Finally, when my fabulous boss left for greener pastures, I decided it was a sign that I needed to move on. I had gotten “comfortable” in my job, and also decided I had enough of the poor treatment and cattiness. I found a fabulous fit that is a promotion and a raise, and now realize that I should have left years ago. Sometimes the hardest part is just making the decision that perhaps it’s time to move on.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Consider the possibility that you have changed some how and perhaps it is time to move on. This happens and I think it is a part of growing professionally or growing our self identity, where we have a stronger, crisper idea of who we are and where we want to be.

      Isolation is a big deal. Don’t skate by that like it’s nothing. You have a long commute plus a new baby (congrats). When do you have time for YOU? Make sure that each week you are connecting with one of yours (family/friends/neighbors) don’t let the weeks go by without taking spending time with the people you care about. If we don’t do this, everything else gets to seem pointless. Then feelings of being robotic start to kick in. ugh.

    9. Koko*

      Take a stand for what you believe is best, but when you see something isn’t going your way, get on board as quickly as possible.

      It’s easy to fall into the extremes of miserable apathy (“they never listen or appreciate me so why do I care what they do next? it’s always something”) or being too angrily committed to your own position (“I told them this was going to be a stupid idea! I can’t believe they’re going ahead with it. It’s going to fail, just wait and see, mark my words!”).

      The real balancing act is learning to speak your opinions, make your best case for how you think it should be, but once you’re overruled, you shift to the mindset of, “OK, so maybe this is a stupid idea, but it’s going to be the best version of this stupid idea it can possibly be–what can I do to make this as good as possible?” If I’m working on a project and the entire time I’m annoyed because I thought it was a dumb idea, and on breaks I’m venting to coworkers about how dumb it is, I have realized I honestly won’t try my best at the work and I certainly won’t enjoy the time I spend doing it. But if I accept the project and focus on how I can make it the best I can, and stop kvetching with coworkers about being overruled, after a short while I can genuinely enjoy working on it and find it isn’t as horrible as I thought it was going to be (even if I still think my way would have been better).

  2. Ali*

    I guess I’ll go first since I’m actually at work this morning. I had something off-topic to say, but I’ll hold it for the weekend.

    So my boss told us the other day he’s going on leave for a month, and he’s already out. I’m actually kind of happy because he’s been making me batty, and I’m hoping his two stand-ins are better. So far, so good, as the one guy has been on top of things. The other guy is quiet, but he seems to know what he’s doing as well. I’m actually going to a dinner with my some of my coworkers on Tuesday, and both stand-ins will be there.

    That said, I’m not necessarily happy about the reason why my boss is gone. Just happy he’s out and hoping to have lower stress at work for a while. I feel bad saying that, though.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Not a great sign when you’re glad your boss is out!

      But this is an opportunity, yes? Do an amazing job in his absence and you may have a little breathing room when he gets back.

    2. Brittany*

      At my last job, everyone was thrilled when the boss was out. And she would be gone for weeks. The terrifying part was not knowing exactly when she was coming back.

      I say enjoy it.

      1. Ali*

        Haha my boss told us in a meeting the other day (which he called to basically repeat what he said in an e-mail) that he hopes to be back sooner. I’m just thinking…no really, a month is fine!

        I’m on the job search anyway, part because of him, so really the longer he stays gone the better!

  3. Matteus*

    I am relocating and switching jobs (using much of the good advice at AskAManager) . Got a good prospect right now, but I am at the “we’ll have an offer for you by tomorrow for sure” stage, but two days later am still waiting.
    I always read Alison’s advice about being patient, not reading anything into the delay and always nodded knowingly. “Yep, that’ll be easy”, I said to myself.
    Actually being in this position is an excruciating exercise in patience.

      1. Matteus*

        Thank you!

        I am continuing my job search, of course, but when a prospect is good, it’s hard not to obsess.

        “Maybe the HR director was in an car accident?? Should I e-mail and ask?” ha.

        1. Training Manager*

          I understand the frustration. AAM has stated in the past (and is 100% correct) that the clock always moves slower on the interviewee side than the interviewer side. There is also the paperwork process that usually takes longer than the hiring manager wants it to take as well.

          Hang in there.

        2. theotherjennifer*

          are you checking the local news for accidents involving said HR director?…I totally would be.

          1. Paige Turner*

            Ha! Glad I’m not the only one with an active imagination about this sort of thing ;)

    1. CTO*

      I hear you! It’s so much easier to think, “I would never hang all my hopes on one job application” or “I would never obsess over every word in a hiring manager’s email” until you’re actually looking for a job!

    2. Kristen*

      I hear you! I got a “we think you are a perfect fit and are just waiting on the budget, it will take 2 weeks” back in mid-APRIL. UGH. Hope yours works out way more quickly!

    3. Lucy*

      It really is! I had a phone interview that rapidly progressed into “homework” assignments and an in-person interview, and when I met with HR I thanked them for moving things along so efficiently. Hopefully that continues as the timeline progresses– it’s been so much easier dealing with responsive people!

      1. Matteus*

        Part of why my patience is being exercised (and why I am pleased by this job prospect) is that the process up to the verbal “we’ll have an offer for you” has been very smooth and quick!
        Now, there is an opaque delay and I am figuratively chewing my fingernails.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          That’s because the paperwork has become involved LOL .. hope they get back to you soon!

          I have been sending out a few apps here and there for a few weeks but just started in earnest this week. Have only heard back from one (no, of course). Not looking forward to the process!

    4. the gold digger*

      I had my first phone interview with a company the first week of February. Got the written offer on Wednesday.

      (Which unfortunately, is for less than my current job. I will no longer be shy about asking at the very beginning, “What is the salary range for this job?” I am not going to waste my time any more!)

    5. A Jane*

      I have a habit of not checking my voicemail since it’s usually spammers. While waiting to hear back from a job, I saw the voicemail notification and ignored it. Two hours later, I realized that it could be the company calling about the job offer! For whatever reason, I assumed I would get an email. It turned out well–it was the company and I did receive a job offer.

    6. Jackie*

      I find that 99% of the time, just when I start freaking out about something and go into anxious paranoia mode, whatever it is I was waiting for either happens or appears — completely oblivious to the meltdown I was having — and I end up feeling *really* stupid.

      I found the bit of advice about moving on as though nothing ever happened to be the best approach for this. I just had a position where I interviewed, everyone was really enthusiastic, I filled out the next-step secondary application….and then heard absolutely nothing for over a month. I got notice just a day or two ago that the position had been cancelled. >.<

      It's not yours til you've got it!

    7. anonness*

      Add another for sometimes it takes a while … got a positive thing about the job, never heard back until June, a good 3 months after the last interview. HR held it up.

    8. Suzanne*

      Again I am mystified at how hard it is for the hiring people to say “We would love to give you our decision in a day or two, but as things go, that may not happen. So, please be patient. We’ll let you know as soon as we are able.” See, not hard at all. Or shouldn’t be.
      If the job seeker said she could start ASAP, & the employer decided to hire her, but she refused to respond to their communications or said stuff came up and she actually couldn’t start for 8 weeks, what do you suppose would happen?

  4. Kacie*

    I’ve been asked to apply for a position. Is it weird to start a cover letter out with “I was so pleased to be asked to apply for the Head of Chocolate Teapots position.”?

    I’m so used to using more formal language, but I’m trying to make this letter more warm and engaging as Alison has suggested. I also know about half the search committee professionally and personally.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I think every sentence needs to add value–so “pleased” doesn’t really do that, but “When XX asked me to apply for the Head of Chocolate Teapots position, I was immediately interested due to X, Y and Z” and make those things skills/interests of yours and/or opportunities within the job.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yea I like this. Or even if you say ‘when x asked me to apply, I knew I’d be a great fit.’ and then go into your experience and interests

        1. Sadsack*

          How does one know she’d be a great fit though? That seems presumptuous. I think the bit about being interested is better.

      2. fposte*

        Agreed. “Pleased” is also a very social word, so it sounds a little like you’re accepting a wedding invitation.

        And congratulations! It’s great that they’re so interested.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          You could go stronger than “pleased.” I’ve used “delighted” in cover letters. It needs to be true, and it needs to fit with the rest of your overall tone, but I think it can convey real enthusiasm.

          For what it’s worth, Kacie, I don’t think your opening sentence is weird. I try to use short sentences, too, so you could easily use your first sentence and then follow it up with the explanation that Bend & Snap suggests.

    2. Fabulously Anonymous*

      I would start with: “Thank you for asking me to apply for the Head position.”

  5. Sunflower*

    Doing a lot of resume cleaning up lately. Still struggling a lot with listing accomplishments instead of duties. I have 2 related questions!

    1. Some of bullets end up sounding so lame since a lot of my job is just managing a lot of work and working well with people. My contacts all tell me I’m easier to work with than other planners or the person in my job before me. They tell me I’m more efficient, get things done quicker and am overall just more organized and on top of things so I’m trying to incorporate that in. Any ideas? Trying to use a lot of metrics and numbers though.

    2. Is there a good way to include that you were given extra work? On top of my normal 6 regions I plan for, I was given 6 more regions- including our 3 top producing ones. Should I just adjust my resume to include that I plan for 12 regions or is there a way to put in there that I was given more responsibility?

    1. JM*

      I am in the same boat trying to find a magical wand to convert my responsibilities to accomplishments.

      1. University admin*

        I’ve struggled with this, and learned to approach it with this question: “What is the outcome if I do my job well?”

        Taking an admin job for example – certainly it’s hard to quantify, as an accomplishment, the fact that you answer questions on the phone and at reception. But if you do it well, the outcome is that visitors/callers are given accurate information by a pleasant, helpful person. So, your resume could say “Ensured that visitors received accurate and up-to-date information regarding Chocolate Teapot Depot”

        Hope that helps!

    2. Bend & Snap*

      1) Can you tie those accolades to metrics? So if people are telling you this, what’s the end result? “Ability to work effectively with other departments resulted in X, Y and Z.”

      2) How about something like: Recent successes include doubling the number of regions supported from six to 12; this expanded support includes three top-producing regions

    3. Apple22Over7*

      For #2: “The number of regions under my planning responsibilities doubled from 6 to 12, incorporating the 3 highest performing regions” or something similar (the wording sounds clunky to me but I can’t think of a better way atm). Definitely highlight the increase in responsibility.

    4. Malissa*

      -Handle planning for 12 regions, twice the normal amount, including the top 3 producing regions.

    5. Anon*

      I love data, and I’m a big proponent of self-quantification. Many people only think to engage in it for health-related reasons–e.g. losing weight, running miles, tracking blood sugar–but everything you do in life is a data point and can be tracked, and the more data you have, the more easily you can identify patterns and make changes and set new goals. It sounds like you’re already starting to do something like this, but maybe knowing what to search for will lead you to sites and forums where you can find tools and suggestions for how to go about tracking those specific work-related items.

    6. Jubilance*

      I don’t think you have to give metrics for everything if you just don’t have the data. But for things like efficiency and throughput, can you find out a team average for things like time to respond or response delivery, and then say how your rates are higher?

    7. Anon Accountant*

      AAM posted in the last open thread to think of the minimum job requirements. Then consider what you’ve done that exceed those minimum requirements.

      Paraphrasing the advice but it’s a good start.

    8. Joey*

      Think about it this way- we’re not looking for what you did, we’re lookin for evidence that you did it well. So think about “evidence” that you might talk about if someone asked you how you were so sure you were actually good at it. If you think about it the same way managers set expectations, Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time (SMART) accomplishments I find this often helps.

    9. Jennifer*

      Hah. I pretty much have no way to quantify exactly how much of everything I do–it’s literally too much to keep track of, and I do it with two other people and god only knows whose count would end up in whose at this point.

    10. Oogledorf*

      The magical wand of how to make a resume better. I just re-did mine and I quickly wrote down all the boring, mundane things that I do and then went through the list and found verbs that gave my actions power. So instead of saying ‘works well with others’ it turned into ‘communicated objectives efficiently to increase productivity of department by 10% in a one month span’

  6. This is me*

    Hi all,

    I’m writing to ask for your advice on how to let my current manager know that I’m applying for a job I may not get. I’m applying for a government job, which requires multiple steps to complete. I’ve been in the process for about a year now, and have just started the background check phase. My current employer will definitely be contacted (as well as neighbors, friends, family, etc.) There is no conceivable way for me not to ask them to not contact my manager without a firm offer first as this job requires a security clearance.

    My dilemma is that even if I pass the background check, there are still several more steps to complete, some of which may take at least 6-12 months to finish. I’m concerned about letting her know now and being pushed out the door, but I also don’t want her to be blindsided when an investigator contacts her. Thoughts?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Do you have to say it’s for a job? If it’s a background check they might not say that–you can just say you’re being background checked for a personal matter.

      Not sure if that will fly as I don’t have experience with security clearance.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        No, they’ll say it’s for a security clearance because such-and-such person has applied for a job with the US government.

        What you MIGHT be able to do it not give the name until the clearance investigation has begun. What usually happens is you’ll meet with your investigator first, before they do all the interviews, then you can give them that information at that point. So that way you’ll know about when it’s going to happen.

        You could explain to your boss that it’s a long shot, but you put in for it a long time ago and it’s always been a dream of yours so you wanted to give it a shot.

        1. Yet Another Allison*


          This happened to someone I know and led to an awkward 6 weeks where he trained his replacement. He still ended up unemployed for about two months, but it was not a big deal in his situation so he didn’t try any exceptional explanations.

        2. littlemoose*

          I like this. Frame it in terms of a tentative possibility and reiterate that nothing will be changing in the short term. As long as that’s true, it should be reassuring to your manager.

        3. Maggie*

          “You could explain to your boss that it’s a long shot, but you put in for it a long time ago and it’s always been a dream of yours so you wanted to give it a shot.”


    2. De Minimis*

      Are you sure it’s the full background check yet—have you filled out all the paperwork and given out names and addresses?

      I know for ours at the beginning they only do a criminal background check/fingerprinting, which is enough for an interim clearance–the full background check does not begin until the person accepts an offer and starts the job. The agency has to pay OPM for the background checks so we don’t do them until the person is already hired and at work. Hoping that may be the case for you.

      And yes…in the past there have been people who started work and could not successfully pass the background check so they left after a few months…

      1. This is me*

        I am sure. I filled out a ton of paperwork, including having my fingerprints taken. This position is for law enforcement and would require me having to attend a training academy, so all background info would need to be completed prior to.

        And thank you all so much for your input! It is very much appreciated!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Could you say that it is for a contract job that you will be doing from home on weekends for a month? Yeah, its a stretch, but if it was something analytical it could be believable.

      1. Zillah*

        But then the OP ends up looking really bad if they take the job and have to give notice at their current one.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Yes. I wouldn’t lie about something like this. It will sour the relationship with the old job.

      2. Anonylicious*

        Don’t lie about anything involving a clearance investigation. It’s not a good idea.

        1. De Minimis*

          It probably wouldn’t be an issue as long as everything on the clearance paperwork checked out, but I agree the best advice is probably to say you applied a while back and it’s a long shot.

    4. Ms. Anonymity*

      In my experience, my husband was in the Navy for 10 years with Top Secret Clearance, they don’t contact everyone you supply them with information to. I’d take a gamble and let it ride. If they do end up contacting your boss, use the above explanation about it being a long shot and something you put in ages ago for. I’ve known my husband and been dating him all but 3 years since I was 13. I’m now in my early 30’s. They never contacted me as a reference for him in his 10 years of service! Also, he always listed the same contacts. Some of them were called every time he was up for renewal and some of them weren’t. Good luck!!

      1. Aisling*

        Most jobs don’t want personal references… you are (understandably) biased. Even if you made sure not to be, it’s a risk they can’t take.

      2. NavyLT*

        Um, yeah, it’s not a good idea to assume they won’t contact a reference. When I had my initial investigation, I drove out to the interviewer’s office (not a long drive; I lived in the city) and by the time I was home, the neighbors had already been interviewed (and I hadn’t listed them as references). Investigators don’t normally want to hear from family members, so it’s not all that surprising that you weren’t contacted, but saying that they don’t contact everyone is what we call bad gouge. It’s best to assume that anyone who isn’t a family member will be contacted.

        As far as the original question of how to bring it up with the boss, I don’t really have advice. I had quit my job by the time the background check came up, and I’d already asked my then-manager for a reference.

    5. Anonylicious*

      Look, you can explain the situation and ask that they not contact your current supervisor. Especially if you can give them other references. They might talk to them anyway, but they will not decide you’re shady and deny your clearance for a perfectly normal and valid concern like this. So it won’t hurt to ask.

      And otherwise, I would be as upfront as you think you can be with your supervisor. Try to spin the public service angle, maybe?

  7. Frequent Flier*

    I don’t know if anyone here has dealt with this situation before: I have a job that requires occasional, but not frequent travel (maybe 2 trips a year, a few days each). I’m a parent of young kids, and it’s not a problem, because my spouse watches the kids.

    However, we’re moving inexorably towards divorce. And once we’ve divorced, I’m not at all sure how to handle these travel situations. They happen during times when the kids are in school, so sending them off to their grandparents or even the other parent will mean missing school or else driving 30+ minutes to get there.

    I can’t be the only person ever in this position, but I’m honestly not at all sure how to deal with it. Suggestions?

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Can you have a family member stay at your house to help?

      Or start cultivating a trusted, paid babysitter for those times you’re away?

      I’m not divorced but we do have a high needs infant, so my mom comes to stay with us (she lives across the country) when I travel, to give my husband a hand.

    2. Powerpuff*

      My siblings and I travelled much more than 30 mins each way to/from school from the age of 5 and we had no problem with it. In fact, with a good supply of audiobooks, it was our favourite time of day and led to a lifelong love of reading :)

      If you can cover the petrol costs, I would consider leaving them with family.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yeah, that influenced my response below. We lived in the country and went to high school in the next town over. Lots of kids travelled more than 30 minutes to get to school every day. Not impossible expecially for only a few days.

    3. Artemesia*

      If you won’t be moving to another city with the divorce (or he won’t) why would the divorce change this? I would make this part of the divorce negotiation. i.e. his visitation or how you divide up time but also include how it will be handled when you travel. Many divorces agree that the non custodial parent will have first chance at times where the custodial parent needs coverage — approach this as Dad having more time with the kids and what is best for the kids — and make the expectation that his custody arrangement will include times when you travel (with appropriate notice).

      It is also of course critical that you line up a back up babysitter who can cover for such events.

      1. fposte*

        Exactly–Right of First Refusal, it’s called.

        From what I’ve seen, the more specific custody orders are, the better they work–it’s the vague “at appropriate times” and “generous visitation” stuff that bites people.

      2. Frequent Flier*

        The spouse will probably be moving around 45 minutes away from the school district, based on our early conversations, but a first-refusal clause is a good idea. I already know I’m going to need to talk to my management about needing more notice before travel, so I can line up proper care, but I don’t think that’s likely to be an issue. If it is, I will just need to start job-hunting again.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          I don’t know if you’re still reading this but even 45 minutes to and from school isn’t that big a deal. I’m a New Yorker and I had a 1hr, 10 min commute to high school on 3 subways by myself. It’s how a lot of people live and you’re talking about pretty minimal stints.
          If you’re planning on co-parenting, you may want to find ways now to have a fair balance in that. It sounds like your default was to just take on the problem by yourself, but that doesn’t have to be. Of course, if you’re planning on parenting alone, different story but I’d still go the family route and ask them to make the drive to school.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        I agree with this — specifically write it into the negotiations and make it part of the support agreement.

        If your ex complains about having to drive out of his way for a few days twice a year while you’re travelling, tell him to suck it up and deal with it. My husband’s ex picked up and moved to the north side of town (about 35 miles away) when my stepdaughter was pre-school age, and lived there until she was 14 and decided to move in with us full-time — so about 10 years. And every single week for 10 years, without fail, my husband drove up there every Tuesday to pick up his daughter and take her out to dinner, drop her off with her mom, and drive home. A 70 mile round trip each time. He can count the number of times that he missed dinner with his daughter on one hand, and they were always good reasons. Once it was due to a Storm of the Century type blizzard, once was when I was in the hospital when I was pregnant, and so on.

        Then when my stepdaughter moved in with us, and we told her mom she could have the same arrangement, after about 3 weeks she started whining about how inconvenient it was and how much money she was spending on all the extra gas. Guess how much sympathy she got from my husband? Zippo.

        1. 2horseygirls*

          ^ This.

          My EH has more or less been very accommodating as I moved (twice) since we got divorced. He’s changed jobs/locations as well, so sometimes it was more convenient, sometimes less, for dinners, weekend pickup, etc. This past year involved significant business travel for him, and he obviously missed a LOT of dinners, birthday, events, etc. I’ve been flexible in scheduling “make-up” weekends.

          I started indicating on DD’s calendar which weekends were with me, and which were with her dad last year, when she was 12/13 and to the point of scheduling things with friends, etc. so I felt she should know “the schedule”. They’ve been marked on our family calendar in a central location for years. When EH needed to switch or cancel a weekend, I would just verbally let her know. Now, EH had to discuss switching or cancelling with both of us; I wasn’t playing messenger anymore.

          LOL – was he shocked when she pushed back the first few times! (hee hee hee) ;)

          I don’t have concrete ideas regarding your particular situation, but can say overall that flexibility will be critical, and I wish you good luck.

    4. Jill-be-Nimble*

      My dad is a commercial pilot. When my parents got divorced, I lived with my dad to stay in my school district. During those nights, mom would come and stay with me in her old house. I’m sure that it was a little weird for her, but it was at a turbulent time for me, and I really appreciated having her there!

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        This is what I was going to suggest. I have also seen some high income parents or those that travel very frequently have “nesting” arrangements. Kids live in marital home. Mom has one room in marital home. Dad has another. Mom and Dad both have separate apartments/other homes in respective cities. Mom and Dad take turns living with kids in marital home and living in their respective home.

        I’ve also seen it done less successfully with just two homes. One marital one new. The parent with parenting time is in the marital home the one not using time is in the new home then switch. Etc.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I admire people who can make this work. It seems like it would require a lot of money (as you say) and superhuman maturity on the part of the parents.

          1. Jill-be-Nimble*

            We got lucky–of course, I was older (~15), so I could be left alone in the house for hours at a time after school, etc. My parents never really had to see one another to do hand-offs or anything, so that made it easier. Dad just left on a trip and mom came home after she was done with work.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … sounds like you will be the primary parent and the only one living in the school district. First if you have any control, try to time travel during summer when kids can miss school.

      Ideally you’d ask your spouse and have him manage to get them to school despite the distance or have him stay in your home while he watches the kids during school days. Both of these depend on a good or truly excellent relationship with your ex though.

      Could you have the grandparent (your parents) stay with the kids at your house so they are near shool? Or hire a nanny/baby sitter for those days?

      1. Frequent Flier*

        That’s correct. For at least the first year or two, I think my spouse will be living (and probably working) closer to family, around 45 minutes from the school district. My parents live a little closer, but it’s still a 30 minute drive from their home to the kids’ school before traffic. I like the idea of asking them to come and stay at our house, which is probably a compromise they’d be happy with.

        1. ANB*

          Does your children’s school have bus service in the area where your parents live? If so and they bus to school now, you can likely get permission to send them on a different bus for the time you’re away. I remember doing this in school.

        2. OhNo*

          Depending on how amicable the divorce is, you could also offer to let your spouse stay in your house for a few days while you are gone, to make mornings easier on him and the kids. But that would be very dependent on your relationship with him after everything is finalized.

          My parents used an arrangement like that a couple of times, and despite the fact that their separation was not friendly *at all*, they made it work for my and my brother’s sake. If nothing else, you could float the idea to him and see what he thinks of it.

    6. CTO*

      If family isn’t an option, there are also “temporary nanny” services that you can use for 24-hour care. The professional services aren’t cheap, but the nannies are screened, experienced, come with references, etc. If you think you might want to use this service, you could try hiring the nanny for an evening on occasion ahead of time to see how it goes for your family.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        If it is just a day or so there are also overnight daycares now for parents that work double or swing shifts. I think the pilot program started in response to paramedics who worked 2 24 hour shifts needing childcare.

    7. Jeanne*

      I sometimes do this for my sister now that she is divorced. Start talking to family members and friends that you trust. Then have a visit for them to learn the routine and where things are in the house. This gets the kids to realize also that this is who you trust and who will be in charge.

      Of course if your ex can step up and you trust him, then it’s easier. If you only travel twice a year, they ought to be able to give you notice.

  8. MB*

    I am in the middle of a job hunt (currently working part time retail and desperate to get out) and came across a job where the title looks interesting however the job description is horribly generic and doesn’t really specify what the duties of the position will be. I can basically figure out what they position would be doing because it’s at a private school. I was thinking of applying and trying to write my cover letter based on the title and finding comparable postings so I can try and address how I would succeed in the position and why I am interested. Would you all try applying even though you don’t really have much to go on and do you consider this a red flag?

    1. MB*

      Also there are no years of experience listed so I’m not sure what level they are looking for.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Not necessarily a red flag. Maybe the person currently in that role doesn’t know they’re getting canned, and they don’t want to make it that specific?

      You can always turn it down later, but I’d at least try to find out more.

      1. Kerry (Like the county in Ireland)*

        I’d write your cover letter as maybe more of a general pitch for yourself–I went to private schools and prep school, and we tended to have teachers who could do teach and do 9,000 other things. Being able to function in the environment was almost more important.

        Private schools, small communities, everyone uses all her skills–and that’s how an alum winds up hanging around teaching modern dance, general science and English, and why your Spanish teacher is a philosopher teaching his native tongue.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          +1. Make them interested in you and express your interest in the school’s educational mission.

    3. Juli G.*

      No. It might mean the HR person isn’t very good at recruiting.

      I very often have to punch up job postings for hiring managers. I’m better at for some jobs more than others.

      1. MB*

        They’re also hiring for a part-time HR director so I suspect this is part of the problem.

    4. Mints*

      I’ve applied for some very generic jobs, and I’ll send them my most generic cover letter. I know it’s not the AAM way, but usually I can get more info during the phone screen, and it’s not much of a time suck.

      I think it happens if the HR department is disconnected from the hiring manager, or if the position is new or newly changed, so they just post the basics

    5. Jenn*

      In my experience I generic posting means they don’t know what they want and you will likely be piled up with a lot of responsibilities that you didn’t sign up for. But, if you want to work there, go for it and in the interview process try to nail down specific duties. I would never accept a job without a specific list of expectations.

      1. MB*

        It’s slightly better than be a team player type things. More like, put on programming, assist in faculty development.

    6. Anony*

      Can I jump off of this for a minute (since we already have some great responses)? Is it a red flag if all of the qualifications listed for a position are all personality-based rather than skills-based (e.g., works well with others, open to new challenges and feedback) or vice versa? Sometimes I think it’s strange when there are no skill qualifications for an entry-level or one step up position, but not sure if I’m being too quick to judge.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It sounds to me like they don’t know what they want. You could get hired for X and end up doing Y. Sometimes that type of thing does not bother me and other times Y is something beyond my reach.

        I would still check it out- it might be interesting. But watch for inconsistency, or inability to describe what you will be doing and so on. Try to figure out why they have an opening, did the last person quit? If yes, why?

        Watch out for vague answers or canned answers.

  9. Anony Mouse*

    I’m transitioning into a new role in June, and had a pre-meeting with the contractor currently in the role this past week. Apparently, nobody told him that his contract isn’t being renewed. Sigh.

    1. Audiophile*

      Ugh I’ve been in that situation several times. Twice u showed up for training only for the outgoing people to look at me sides ways and then of course, take it out on me.

    2. cuppa*

      I had that happen to me once. I found out I was being replaced when they asked me to interview my replacement (it was a political situation, not performance based). Awkward.

    3. Anon*

      only slightly related, but that reminds me of when a former employer had me train a co-worker to do the stuff I’d been solely in charge of for a while. I thought it was for contingency purposes, in case I ever got swamped or couldn’t be in to do it myself. Turns out they were getting ready to let me go; once I trained her, they stopped putting me on the schedule.

  10. CanadianWriter*

    The resort I work at fired a bunch of year round employees “just to mix things up.” I’m seasonal and had previously wanted to work year round here, now I’m not so sure. What would you lovely readers do?

    1. Virginian*

      Keep my eyes open for another job. Who’s to say that they won’t eventually do that to you?

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Wait, what? They fired employees not for reason, or cost-saving measures, but simply….to inject some new blood into the place? Is that…common? Are you sure there was no reasoning behind it or poor employee behaviour at any time?

      I would not be applying for a year-round position knowing that. Not if management woke up and said “You know, I’ll just fire a bunch of employees for no reason.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It occurs me they could have had reasons (like slacking off) but chose to say it this way to put a scare into the other employees. I worked someplace where the CEO routinely used threats of cutbacks to motivate people. It was demoralizing and awful.

        Or they could just be jerks.

    3. Artemesia*

      Find another job and if anyone says anything at the old place (probably won’t) just say ‘I love working here but need a place where I can count on my work being stable.’

    4. CanadianReaderUG*

      If they fired them, just to mix things up I would definitely be concerned. I would stay seasonal and see if I could find a year-round position at another resort.

    5. CTO*

      Is it possible that there were legitimate issues with these employees, but the manager wanted to be discreet about that? (The “just mixing things up” was still a poor way to explain what happened, though!)

      Do you have a good relationship with someone in management there? Is there anyone who could give you a more insightful explanation of what happened?

    6. nyxalinth*

      I applied at a local no-kill animal shelter about a month ago, and was told “We’re firing the people that you would replace if hired. They don’t know it yet, and I can’t tell them.” I thought that was bad until I read this! (I was relieved that they didn’t hire me, btw).

    7. Cuddly Porcupine*

      I spent a few years working in hospitality (retail, restaurants and hotels) in a seasonal tourist town post-college.

      In that industry, there’s extremely high turnover with both year-round and seasonal staff. Because the workforce is in constant supply and is often transient, employers hire and fire all the time, sometimes for reasons that would sound absurd in a normal workplace.

      I think what you’re seeing is normal for most resorts. If you’re looking for job security in that industry, ask around and seek out a company with a reputation for it. Also try to work for an owner or manager who you already have common ground with (friends or interests). Not to say you have to literally hang out with them outside of work, but being part of the same general social circle in that town will work in your favor.

    8. Observer*

      I would not apply for a year round job with this place.

      Either they are just awful people – The idea of firing people with no real reason is horrible, and clearly they have zero respect for the people who work for them. Or they are incompetent and dishonest.

      I can’t imagine a good reason to work for such people.

  11. Cruciatus*

    What’s the best way to go about asking for a raise in a place that is not known for giving raises to staff (faculty, yes, staff no. I believe nearly all staff receive a 2.5% “cost of living increase” every July (but we’re not supposed to talk about it so I don’t know for sure)). I’ve been here over 3 years now. Started out at $8/hour, then $10 when I started the new position. I was fine with the $2 increase for a while (not that I can truly live well off it) but I’ve now been in my current position 1.5 years. Another staff coworker wrote a letter with her manager’s approval why she should get more (and I do believe she deserves it–her responsibilities increased when the company increased branches). She even works closely with the President on occasion but even so the president told her she’d “think about it.” It’s been 2 or 3 months now… Should I just forget about it since I am actively searching (even though nothing as yet has come from my searching?) I obviously want to make more money, but this is the type of work place where being under the radar is best. And I’m not sure asking for a raise would do that. Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn.

    1. Sabrina*

      Honestly I’d look for a new job that pays better because everywhere I’ve worked the last few years, 2.5% is a standard merit raise. I’ve never seen a COL increase.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Well, yes. But it’s not a good raise (for me). While I appreciate the extra $520 bucks I’ll get…that’s not really going to help me out in life! Sigh. Half day today so I guess I’ll spend the other half intensely job searching…

      2. Cautionary tail*

        No. If inflation rises 1.6% like it did between January 2013 and January 2014 and you got a 1% raise then you lost 0.6% with respect to what you can buy for your hard earned money. If you got a 1.6% cost of living increase then your buying power stayed flat and you effectively got no raise at all.

    2. Artemesia*

      Universities don’t even give raises to most faculty beyond some piddly 2% if they are lucky. A big shot who threatens to leave may get a nice raise, but most people who are not highly mobile don’t. I doubt if they have any budget for raises beyond the annual COL bump. Can you transfer internally to a better i.e. higher paid position? Usually salaries are linked to the classification of the position.

      Or find something in the private sector; those jobs tend to have fewer of the side benefits (flexibility of hours, in some cases, tuition reimbursement for kids, vacation time) but they do offer the chance for real raises.

    3. BRR*

      I would just follow the advise on here, check the salary tag.

      Also I want to point out that you are legally allowed to discuss salaries.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I know legally, yes. But people run scared of “the 5th floor” folks so they tend to stay in line (mostly) because you just want to stay under the radar.

    4. CollegeAdmin*

      I would LOVE to know the answer to this question. My place gave raises of 1% to 1.5% to the staff last year, and they just announced this year that staff will get 1.5% raises, but they will be one-time lump sum payments and not added to the base salary. (Faculty, of course, are getting larger raises that WILL be added to base salaries, in addition to their regular merit increases, etc.) Ridiculous.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Absolutely ridiculous. I’m in a smaller city, but at my “nonprofit” the top brass make $800,000 a year as a base salary–not even including benefits. (Since they are a nonprofit the local paper prints these salaries every so often. The head honchos are never happy about it!) Top faculty/directors/deans here earn about $300,000-400,000. And they’re making me feel like a jerk for wanting $25,000 a year!? And this college is increasing enrollment numbers, unlike some other local universities.

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          Yup, that’s how I (and my coworkers) see it too – a salary freeze and a bonus. We figure the higher-ups aren’t phrasing it that way to prevent a further decrease in morale, but the general consensus is that we’d much rather them stating it honestly than disguising it.

  12. Kai*

    How do you deal with a coworker who is always over-apologizing?

    I work with a very nice woman who does this. Almost anytime I ask her a question, she will give me the answer and apologize for not telling me before, even though there’s no way she would have known I had a question. Anytime she needs an answer or a favor from someone else, she apologizes continuously while asking for it.

    Saying “no need to apologize” never makes things better. I should probably just forget about it, but man.

    1. Stephanie*

      Chronic over-apologizer here. How close are you to this woman? If you’re friendly, you can do something goofy like a disincentive to apologize. My friend used to track it and said I had to give her a dollar every time I apologized unnecessarily.

      She (like I did) may not get how she’s coming across when she apologizes all the time. It took a friend saying “Apologizing all the time makes you sound insecure and uncertain, which I know you’re not. Plus, it puts stress on the other person to feel like they need to smooth things over before they can even respond to the original request.” Hearing something like really put things in perspective.

      1. cuppa*

        I am also an over-apologizer, and I have a friendly relationship with a co-worker. I apologized to him one day, and he just fired back (in a sincere, not snarky at all way), “no you’re not.” It totally made me stop for a moment and then I said, “you’re right, I’m not”. It made me realize how much I apologized for things that I wasn’t sorry for and really had nothing to do with me. So if you’re friendly, it might be another helpful tactic.

      2. Anon*

        I’m in the same boat, it took me a while to realize that over-apologizing rendered my apologies meaningless, and often put people in an awkward position. it’s still a habit I’m fighting.

      3. Career Counselorette*

        In my other life when I worked with elementary school-aged children, I had one repeat offender who would not only apologize for everything, but say “I’m so stupid!” when he made a mistake. I started telling him that every time he apologized when he hadn’t done anything or called himself stupid, he had to put his finger in his nose and hold it there for a whole minute. Eventually it did taper off. I’ve threatened that with my adults too- they won’t actually do it, but the idea makes them pay more attention to the way they speak.

        1. Windchime*

          I have a co-worker who does this (constantly makes comments about how stupid she feels she is, how she doesn’t know as much as the more technical folks, how she just “does as she is told”). It bugs me to no end; it puts me in the position of having to either constantly reassure her or ignore the comment. I usually tend to ignore because it makes me resentful to have to constantly reassure a middle-aged, salaried professional. It makes her look insecure and incompetent.

      4. Felicia*

        I’m also an over apologizer…it’s the only Canadian stereotype that fits me perfectly. And I think this is the perfect advice.

    2. Cruciatus*

      My old boss thanked me for everything. “Hey boss, can I leave early today?” “Sure. Thank you.” “Where can I find the blah blah blah?” “Oh, top shelf. Thanks.” I come in and bring him problems and he thanked me. (I know there are worse things bosses can do). Wish I had good advice. Maybe, as politely as possible when it’s happening, say “you don’t need to apologize for not being able to read my mind” or something like that. Repeat as necessary. Maybe she’ll eventually hear how often you’re saying that and tone down the number of apologies.

        1. SevenSixOne*

          Whoops, hit send too soon!

          I’ve worked customer service type jobs for my entire working life, and I’m an over-thanker. I also have some unconscious verbal tics (like “what I’m going to do is…” and “I’ll need you go ahead and…” instead of “I will…” or “[blunt command]”) because that’s how every job I’ve ever had has trained me to talk to customers.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            “I’ll need you to go ahead and…” reminds me of Office Space.

            Husband and I went to the movies on Monday, and the ticket guy handed us our tickets and said “You’re in theater 18 to the left enjoy your movie you’re welcome.” DH and I both did a double-take – It wasn’t like the guy was bored or annoyed at having to say the same thing 50 times in a row, his mouth just got ahead of his brain. It was funny.

            1. Arjay*

              Without fail, I respond to “enjoy the show” by saying to the theatre employee, “Thanks, you too!”

            2. Anonymous*

              I had that happen to me when I worked in a restaurant as a teenager. Too many stock phrases repeated too many times. I was terribly embarrassed when I said “would you like sour cream on that potato?” rather than “have a good night!”

    3. fposte*

      Unless you’re close to her, “forget about it” is probably the best advice. I wish people wouldn’t do this, because it doesn’t defend them the way it feels like to them, and I’d certainly counsel her on it if I were managing her. Theoretically you might say “Jane, it’s really uncomfortable for me when you apologize for asking me stuff that’s part of my job–it makes me feel like I’ve made it difficult for you to work with me.” But really, all that’s likely to get you is apologies for the apologizing when somebody’s that stuck in the mode.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      If you’re close to her, can you tell her, very kindly, that apologizing so much undermines her professionalism? It makes her seem unconfident and lessens people’s confidence in her, so she should try to minimize it. You can frame it in terms of “you’re incredibly competent and good at your job, so I don’t know why you always feel the need to apologize. I imagine it’s just a habit, but I’m worried that it’s going to make people lose confidence in you.”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh whoops, I see Stephanie said pretty much the same thing. That’s what happens when I get interrupted before I hit “submit”

    5. Blue Anne*

      I had a co-worker who did this. If she sneezed, she apologized to the room at large. If you did the two-step-which-way-are-you-going in the hall, she apologized. If she asked a question or thought she was a nuisance whatsoever, she said “sorrysorrysorry”.

      I just smiled and said “It’s okay, you don’t need to apologize for stuff like that!” on particularly egregious ones. She did get a little better.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I would try some of these suggestions here. If that did not work, I would simply say “stop apologizing” every time she apologized.

      It could be a matter of just speaking more directly. You can say this softly with a gentle tone of voice and still get your message across.

  13. BB*

    Any tips on how to stay cracked down on your job search? I have been slacking so badly- I don’t even recognize myself this is so weird for me. It’s like a nasty cycle- I have so much on my plate at work and I’m miserable here so in my free time all I want to do is relax and go out with my friends- not think and stress myself out more. I’m tempted to maybe just wait it out til the end of summer then get back on the grind but my boiling point at work is also rising. I’m trying to designate time slots but I end up making them too large- like 3 hours- and then my head hurts after 2 hours

    Any tips anyone has would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Stephanie*

      Three hours is a lot, especially if you’re fully employed! I’d figure out a reasonable, specific goal for each job hunt session, like “I will apply to this marketing job tonight and stop.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Seconding this. I try to just set aside one or two things I want to get done that night. I’ll bookmark three good jobs to apply to tonight. Or I’ll write that cover letter tonight. Or I’ll do an hour of interview prep tonight. etc.

    2. Lora*

      Depends on your computer access. Can you go anywhere with free WiFi for lunch, and look through job postings using a personal laptop? That’s what used to cheer me right up in crummy jobs–when I got a LinkedIn message from a recruiter, or sent off a resume to someplace that sounded like fun, it definitely put a smile on my face for at least half the afternoon. It was a little escape from the madness to do something productive and linear with a set of pre-defined outcomes (I get the job offer or not).

    3. Malissa*

      Look every night, that doesn’t take much effort. Then apply for one job a night, or schedule yourself an hour to apply for any interesting positions.

    4. ACA*

      Instead of a time slot, what if you gave yourself a goal of applying to a certain number of jobs (1 or 2 or 3, depending on what’s available in your field) a week? And if you happen to get that done on Monday night, then you can relax the rest of the week without feeling guilty.

    5. MaryMary*

      I gave myself a quota when I was job hunting. I promised myself I would apply for at least one job per day, and ten per week. If I hit my weekly quota early, I could take Saturday or Sunday off and have a day where I didn’t think about my job hunt at all. Applying for one job a day sounds easy, but you hit those stretches where it seems like you’ve already applied for everything that interests you, or you fall into a crazy application that takes three hours to fill out.

  14. Shell*

    Applied to a job on a whim. In my field, good fit to my skills, probably a 10K raise, cuts my commute in half and lets me save $30/month in bus fees. there will probably be seminars and some learning opportunities in there too. Sounds like a win, even though I’ll feel a little bad if I leave my current position.

    that said, i used to work for a direct competitor and I’m doubting myself because the old job burned me out and gave me an injury that took a long time to heal from. I can’t shake the feeing that I’m romanticizing the environment because I miss the field. is there such a thing as workplace Stockholm syndrome?

    on a different note, This was the first time I put Alison’s advice to use (I found this site when I wasn’t job hunting), and I must say I’ve never spent so long on an application in my life. And that’s WITH a master resume to trim down and adjust (the cover letter was from scratch). But it was easily the most personable cover letter/application I’ve ever written, so hopefully it will improve my chances.

    1. Shell*

      clarifying note: old job was in a different but related department. this job has entirely different duties and is unlikely to injure me any more than my current office job.

    2. Shell*

      looks like my phone cut off part of my question… anyway, i guess I’m looking for some advice on how to determine if I’m romanticizing the environment or not. I’ve queried a friend who works the exact same job at my old company and so far haven’t been dissuaded, but… I have a habit of self doubt.

      1. LMW*

        If you get an interview, that would be a good time to think of how you can detect red flags that would indicate it’s not the type of environment you want now. But, yes, it’s totally possible (but not necessarily true) that you are romanticizing your old environment — that’s kind of what nostalgia is, isn’t it? You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of returning to that field if the opportunity comes up.

    3. littlemoose*

      I think AAM has written a post about trying to ascertain a company’s culture as a job applicant. That might be helpful for you if you get an interview. Good luck!

    4. Sharm*

      To address this portion of your comment — Yes, I DO believe there is workplace Stockholm syndrome!

      I feel that way about my first employer, where I worked for five years. It was very prestigious, and always elicited an, “Oh my god, that’s so cool you work there!” reaction when I said where I worked. I miss that, especially since my company now is not name-recognized, nor does it do anything that is easily explainable.

      But, my old job had so much drama! Tears, fighting, bad management. I’ve come to realize this from reading the blog. I did very well there though, because I was NOT a drama queen, kept my head down, and did work. I survived a huge project as a brand new grad from college, and it bought my instant credibility and multiple promotions. But, I was always stressed out, and wanted to quit all the time. Now that I don’t have that stress, and am doing “just fine,” I miss it, and feel like I am wise enough to handle it better now. I don’t know! I miss it a lot, but it was so taxing on my psyche. I have to keep that in mind whenever I romanticize it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You’ve listed two reasons why Old Job was a bad choice. And you explained there is not potential for a repeat of the injury you had. Soooo that leaves the burn out question.
      Why did you burn out? Boring, repetitive work? Fast-paced with a work overload? Nasty coworkers/bosses? Not enough pay?
      Think about the things that burned you out- it was probably more than one thing. That becomes your check list of what to think about with this job.

  15. Annie Oakley*

    I’m looking for a bit of advice on a situation with a co-worker (a peer; I’m not a manager). Several months ago, we were pretty much forced to hire a guy whose father is one of the head honchos at this institution (a small, liberal arts college). Apparently, Junior has been bounced around here in different departments, and has been a royal screw-up in each one. He’s in a position of responsibility here: locking up the building at night, as well as supervising the student workers on his shift.
    We found out a few months ago that he was allowing a homeless woman to sleep in the building while on his shift, and wasn’t really watching what the student workers were doing. He was also letting one in particular perform most of the closing-at-night duties. Additionally, he’s got a tendency to call in sick at the last minute, forcing one of his peers to scramble to cover his shift. No one else gets away with this, I might add.
    We’ve moved said student to another shift (there were other issues as well). Our manager started documenting some of the screw-ups. However, he’s told me that when he went to OUR boss with Junior’s review, he had made specific “this needs to be improved” comments, and the boss made him remove them. Why? Because he’s friends with Senior. He ignores any complaints he hears about Junior.
    Here’s the thing: While I’m working with Junior, I’m noticing he is on and some other sites that have a lot of memes on them. And the ones he’s looking at often contain offensive words.I can see the screen clearly from my desk. Also, while looking for a web site I had visited in browser history recently (there’s a shared computer that he uses exclusively on his shift and I sometimes need it), I found a misogynistic site w/the word “bitch” in the title. It has a sister site with a racial slur in its title. I also found memes that I believe he created, all with offensive words.
    Is there any way I can point this out to my supervisor without seeming like a tattle tale? We would all (my boss included) like to see this guy get transferred out of our department.
    But considering who his daddy is, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I almost reported him for sexual harassment, and then I reconsidered.
    Please don’t tell me to tell this guy directly “I see what you’re doing on the computer, and it is offensive to me. Please cease and desist.” I’m afraid he will tell his father (he’s already played that card with my boss) and I cannot afford to lose this job.
    Thank you.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I’d find a new job. There’s really nothing you can do if this guy is protected at a senior level and nobody wants to confront it.

    2. CanadianReaderUG*

      I think it’s time to start job searching. Your manager isn’t being allowed to manage this employee. As you said above, your coworker has already said he will tell his father. Now I could be wrong, but I think your coworker is immature and judging by his behaviour he might turn this into a problem for you. The coworker could say that you were snooping in his computer. I don’t think you were snooping at all, I’m just saying that this could be something that your coworker could say. I completely agree that you should be able to go to your Supervisor about this but I don’t think your Supervisor is going to help. My best suggestion is to start job searching.

    3. LAI*

      If you’re not willing to risk your job to confront this yourself (and you shouldn’t have to – his boss should be doing that), then I think Alison’s advice in these kinds of situations is to focus on the things that affect your ability to do your work. If there are specific things he does that affect your work, bring up those issues to your boss in a calm, dispassionate “let’s solve this problem” way rather than a “I’m complaining about Junior” way. If it’s not affecting your work, then just ignore it as best you can. Or, as Katie suggested, recognize that your company has terrible management who won’t manage and find yourself a new job.

    4. Lora*

      Does your SLAC have an IT department who controls this computer? Even if it’s just one person, ask if they can put a NetNanny type control on it. Sounds like Junior is probably not smart enough to figure out a way around it.

      Also, since it seems like everybody knows about Junior, would it be possible to get an additional employee to do Junior’s actual job and have Junior get an imaginary title? Perhaps with Senior’s help?

    5. Lily in NYC*

      You can’t do anything about the computer stuff, it will just backfire and make you look petty. However, allowing a homeless person to sleep in the building is the thing that can get him removed. It’s time to go over the manager’s head to someone higher level than Senior Dad and let them know about it. It’s a huge liability issue for the school and needs to stop.

      1. Annie Oakley*

        The only person who is higher than Senior Dad is the president of this institution. I just don’t think I can go to him.

        Our IT department is pretty lax. They don’t have any type of tracking on the computers. I’m pretty low on the totem pole and I can’t really ask IT to do anything. Also, the boss of this department is the head of IT also. Big mess.

        1. Ms. Anonymity*

          Do you have interoffice mail? I once new someone in a similar situation. Daddy was a big wig and his daughter was a favor hire. She got bounced around, until the someone I mentioned previously, tracked her behavior with times/ dates/ offenses, etc… basically anything he could get his hands on that couldn’t be directly linked back to him. He then put it in an interoffice envelope with her dad’s name on it with “Personal & Confidential”, and sent it to him via interoffice mail. If you don’t have interoffice mail, I’m sure you could figure out another way to get it to the dad, or the president of the organization anonymously. It’s definitely a gamble and takes some guts, but it paid off in this situation because she was there one day, and gone the next!

          1. Annie Oakley*

            That is a most excellent suggestion! I will definitely mull that one over. Thank you so much!

        2. Lily in NYC*

          How about talking to the head of campus security? They probably don’t want homeless people sleeping in buildings and might not care about Senior Dad’s authority. Do it anonymously if you are worried about backlash. You said he sexually harrassed you – how about secretly recording conversations so you have real ammunition?

          1. Annie Oakley*

            Actually, the situation with the homeless person has been resolved (no thanks to Junior).
            I didn’t mean to say he had actually harassed me in the strictest sense of the word. But I thought that just displaying offensive stuff on a computer screen that others can see is considered harassment. He didn’t call me over to see it or anything. I don’t even think he knows that I was looking at the time (it’s kind of hard for me not to see what he is doing because of the way the desks are set up). That’s one reason I held off on reporting it. I really don’t want to see the guy lose his employment. We just want him to be someone else’s problem.

          2. CA Anon*

            Never record anything secretly. In many states, it’s considered an illegal wiretap and can get you in serious trouble.

            If you must record something, get the other person to agree to it at the beginning of the recording. Also, you have to turn it off if they ask you to stop.

  16. Sabrina*

    Another “how do I bring this up in an interview” question:

    How do you get at how someone’s management style REALLY is? Because if you ask “what is your management style” they always say that they are laid back and trust their employees to do their job, aren’t a micro manager, etc. It’s sort of like the “tell me your weaknesses” question. Are there better questions to ask to get a good idea?

    1. Artemesia*

      I would go immediately to a series of hypotheticals e.g. tell me how you would handle situation where a subordinate is chronically late meeting deadlines. (is sloppy about adhering to the schedule, often coming in late, taking long breaks or leaving early; or is not producing the quality of work you need; whatever particular situations will require effective management.

      not micromanaging and laid back is another way of saying ‘I don’t manage’ — and who needs that in a manager. we all know that micromanaging is usually ‘bad management’ — but not providing direction, feedback and accountability is also bad management. Let them demonstrate through detailed response to scenarios like this.

      1. JMegan*

        I dunno…I feel like asking those types of questions would raise a red flag to the hiring manager about *me*, you know? As in “Why is she so curious about how I handle missed deadlines? Should I be asking her how often this is likely to come up?”

        I think if I were a director who was hiring for a manager position, those would be great questions. But I’d be terrified of asking them if I were the one being interviewed!

        Not that I have a better answer to the OP, of course. This is something I’ve been wondering for a long time myself, how do I get at what I really want to know about the culture without making myself look like a slacker or like someone who only cares about the benefits.

        1. Sabrina*

          I’ve been concerned about asking it this way too. Because on the flip side if I have to do one of those quizzes asking 40 different ways how I feel about using drugs on the job and stealing from my employer, I assume that the company has a problem with stealing and drug use.

          1. Anx*

            If you answer that you don’t think most people steal, doesn’t that make it seem like you wouldn’t be very good about loss prevention? Or make you seem naive? But if you answer that most people would steal if given the chance, doesn’t that mean you yourself would steal if given the chance?

            Those tests. Ugh. I can’t pass them. I try so many different personalities and sides of my own, but my algorithm doesn’t line up. It’s so disheartening when in-store managers light up while talking to you, tell you to come in on ____, then try to pull up your application and rescind everything because you didn’t pass that test.

            1. Testmaster*

              I’ve actually worked on writing some of those tests– at least the initial personality ones. They’re usually designed to see if an employee would be good at a job based on personality, but they certainly should not be used to rescind an offer!

              An example from a now-defunct video rental store: The chain wanted to focus more on selling products and extras, so the test questions were focused more on finding outgoing, assertive applicants.

              So yeah, they don’t always seem to make sense, but it could be because the company wants some very specific traits that might not be obvious up front.

    2. Dan*

      “How often do you expect your employees to check in with you on progress updates?”

      Weekly = laid back
      Daily = micromanager

        1. kf*

          A “never” response in my experience signals a wimpy boss. One who won’t advocate for you or your department in the company.

      1. Esra*

        I actually had a new manager once come to me and say “You know, it’s okay if you want to check in with me every 15 minutes or so.”

        Epic, EPIC red flag.

        1. fposte*

          The combination of the interval and the passive-aggresive phraseology is like the hiss of a burning bomb fuse, isn’t it?

          1. Esra*

            I paused for a second hoping it was a joke (it was not) then let loose a “NoI’mfinethanks!”

    3. Anon*

      I get that, a lot of people claim to be laid back like that, but often it turns out that the manager either really is a micromanager or they’re too hands-off and don’t give you enough direction to do your job well. A similar conundrum I ran into in recent job searches: is the hiring manager someone who would tell me about problems with my performance before they get bad, or would they quietly note the problems with my performance and eventually decide to either give me an unreasonably short window to fix them or fire me without warning.

      Never really found a good way to word it in interviews, but next time I need to find a job, I may ask “I doubt this will ever be necessary, but if you did notice a flaw in my performance, how would you bring it to my attention?”

    4. MaryMary*

      You could try “what do you like most about managing people/projects, and what do you feel is your biggest challenge?” It’s a little vague, but you may find out some helpful things about the organization too.

    5. MJ*

      Ask for examples:

      “Can you tell us about a time where you had to deal with a performance issue of someone who reported to you? How did you handle it? Would you do anything differently in the future?”

      “How do you monitor the work progress of people who report to you? Give us an example of how this method works.”

      “What are the three most important qualities a good manager should have? Can you give us an example of an interaction(s) you have had with employees in your care that demonstrates those qualities?”

      1. kbeers0su*


        I think this would tell you a lot about what he/she expects and/or wants from his/her employees.

  17. Asalah*

    I wear hijab (headscarf worn by Muslim women), and it’s never been a problem for me in my professional life, despite what you might think from living in the South. However, an awkward situation recently came up and I don’t know how to approach it. I work at an accounting firm, but my job doesn’t usually involve much interaction with our clients, and I’m in a separate wing of the office from where our clients usually are. A few days ago, I was using the fax machine in the client section of the office, and I noticed one of the elderly clients staring at me with a disgusted look on his face. Then, he turned to one of the managers (he manages another department, not mine) and said “you hirin’ Muslims now?” Everyone – my coworkers and other clients – heard, but the manager didn’t say anything, and neither did anyone else. I felt a rush of emotions come over me, and I quickly left the room in shock and embarrassment. I was shaking, so I went to the bathroom to collect myself, and quietly cried in the stall. Nobody from my section of the office saw what happened.
    In the days since this happened, that manager never approached me to ask how I was doing, apologize for what happened, etc. I’m not the type of person to take things personally, but this has been weighing heavily on my mind, and I’ve been dreading coming into work because of it. I’m perplexed by why neither that manager, nor any of my coworkers, stood up for me in the moment, or offered me any sympathy afterwards. Whether it’s rational or not, it makes me feel like my presence was simply “tolerated” all this time, and that maybe everyone dislikes working with a Muslim. For the first time since I’ve been working, I feel like an outsider. I don’t want to go to HR and make a big fuss over something like this, especially since they might not get how hurtful it was to me. Any advice on how to deal with this situation (both with my manager/coworkers, and myself)?

    Hope that didn’t come across as self-pitying… :/

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      This is a sucky situation. I would go talk with you own manager. Although, in their defense, it can be hard sometimes to have the right response in those situations. I don’t think you ever expect someone to be blatantly offensive like that. Having something that appropriate to say to a client and roll off the tongue in the tongue in the moment is hard. All that said, someone should have said something.

      I doubt this reflects on how your coworkers feel about you. I would have a quip of your own prepared for next time because odds are there will be a next time.

    2. Anonalicious*

      That’s terrible and I’m so sorry that happened to you!

      Your manager should have had the guts to say something that shut down that attitude, but being that it came from a client, I am thinking he was too afraid of losing their business or something. Still, he should have come talked to you afterwards.

      I don’t have any advice for this situation, I just wanted you to know that I do not think you are being self pitying at all. That was subtlety offensive, but still very offensive, and you deserve some sort of response from your manager and/or coworkers.

      1. Artemesia*

        Nothing subtly offensive about it. It was vicious. The manager didn’t have the wit to come up with something on the fly, but certainly should be prepared in the future and should have said something. I would probably discuss with your own manager, but it is also reasonable to just wait and see how it is dealt with in future.

        He could have said something like ‘We hire the best applicants who can get the job done; we certainly don’t discriminate based on race or religion.’ or even just ‘We hire the best applicants.’ — but something to indicate that he didn’t accept the slur.

    3. Annie Oakley*

      Not self-pitying at all. That client was out of order. And IMHO that manager should have said something to you later. He could have at least acknowledged the event. *Someone* should have said *something* to you afterward.

      I’d be willing to bet that it’s sheer awkwardness and not knowing what to say that is keeping everyone silent. I don’t think they dislike you. If the area where you work is anything like the one where I grew up, they may not even know anyone else who is a Muslim. I am 50, and when I was growing up, I never met a Muslim, a person of color, a Jew, or anyone from a foreign country (except my great-grandmother, who had emigrated around World War I from Sicily). I lived in an extremely white, Catholic area. Now, we have people of all kinds from all over. And it has been an adjustment for me as well as many others.

      That said, please don’t take this incident personally. I’m sorry you were hurt by it. Some people are just plain rude, and sometimes they think they can say whatever they want in public to whomever. I hope that someone will step forward and offer some words of comfort to you. Hang in there. (((HUGS)))

    4. Sunflower*

      Oh my gosh, I feel terrible for you. This client is a pig- and that’s putting it very lightly. Unfortunately, some people have notions about others that aren’t right and they don’t care to change them.

      I don’t think anyone dislikes working with you because you’re Muslim. I think everyone was put in a weird situation and might have been so shocked that something so offensive could roll off someone’s tongue like talking about the weather that they froze. My guess is the manager and coworkers didn’t know how to react since it was a client and that is why he didn’t say anything. Also, he probably still doesn’t know how to address the situation so he’s ignoring it. I would talk to your own manager about what happened- I think that will make you feel better and he might know the next steps to take. I hope you never have to see that client again though

      1. cuppa*

        Ugh, my new hire that is supposed to start next week isn’t going to work out suddenly. It’s a decision we’re making on our end due to new-surfacing information that was miscommunicated on her part during the interview (that would have been vital to the requirements of the job). So I have to break the news to her and hope that our second choice is still interested, even though we already formally rejected her.

      2. Poofeybug*

        Absolutely. Your coworkers were caught flatfooted and didn’t know what the heck to say. But, yes, someone should have approached you later to discuss.

    5. Gwen Soul*

      That sucks. I bet they were in shock also and didn’t know how to respond and may not even realize you heard or if you had that you are upset since in their minds you should know it is not a problem since they work with you every day. (not saying this is correct just what may be going through their minds)

      Not sure what to do about it. Maybe bring it up sometime in a “can you believe what that guy said” type of way in a break room?

    6. MR*

      It’s quite possible that the people who overheard this were so taken aback, that they had no response for several minutes, until they were able to gather their senses about themselves. Then, one – or several – of them said something, perhaps even after you left the room.

      That being said, someone should have said something to you after the fact. It’s also possible that nobody is aware that you heard the original comment, and as a result, are not aware that you are so upset.

      So talk to your manager. Let him or her know how you feel. If your manager is worth anything, s/he will step up to the plate not only then, but in the future, and do the right thing.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, at my volunteer job last night one guy just said out of the blue that the entire management there sucked and nobody there knew anything. In front of the manager that he is usually buddy-buddy with while he’s here for class, and me that he was trying to pal around as well. I was just all “….oookay then.” He walked off and I looked around and everyone at the counter was staring in horror.

        What an ass. But what can you do with a rude customer? Beats me.

    7. fposte*

      Oh, ew. Why do people have to suck sometimes?

      My guess is that the manager is hugely embarrassed because she feels like she should have done something, and the co-workers didn’t do anything because the manager didn’t but are similarly feeling really awkward about it. Which doesn’t get your manager off the hook for at least addressing that with you afterwards–“I’m sorry, I was too flabbergasted to say anything, and I wish I’d stood up for our valued employee. Please let me know if you ever encounter anything like that again.”

      That’s harder to get by asking for it, but I’m with Totes in thinking that you might bring this up with your manager–“I know we can’t control clients, but the lack of response here has left me wondering. I felt that we got along pretty well here–is there a concern I should know about?”

    8. Jake*

      It did not come across as self pitying.

      I don’t have any good advice, but I thought you might want am unbiased opinion on that part.

    9. cuppa*

      That is horrible. And even worse with your manager. I don’t have much advice, but I’m really sorry that happened (which, is what your boss should have said to you, in the very least.)

    10. Colette*

      The most likely option is that everyone was stunned and didn’t know how to respond – and then that manager felt awkward reaching out to you afterwards. If you haven’t felt like an outsider before this, I’m sure that they have no issues working with you and that they’re not just tolerating you.

      So now the question is what do you want? Do you want the manager to acknowledge that they should have said something in the moment? Do you want the manager or the firm to come up with a plan for addressing these situations when they happen? Do you want an apology for not reacting better, or reassurance that they value you and enjoy working with you?

      (I’m sure what you actually want is for this not to have happened, but obviously that’s not an option, so what’s the next best thing?)

      Once you know what you want, then you can talk to your manager or the other manager to ask for it, but that’s really the first step.

      (I’m sorry you have to deal with this, btw.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. It makes a conversation so much easier when you know what you are looking for.
        Perhaps you decide “hey, can’t unring that bell, it happened and now it’s over.” Then that would mean that you are interested in finding out what the game plan is the next time it happens. Don’t single out that one client because we have more than one idiot on this planet. Ask the boss how this will be handled in the future, should a similar remark come from anyone.
        You could even ask the boss if he would consider coaching others on what to say so that they are not caught wordless again.

        For yourself, think about what you would say if you saw a coworker being insulted because of belonging to X group. I find that when I am faced with a tough situation, if I reverse the situation and pretend that I am the one who needs to do something or say something it really helps. My thoughts feel more collected and I feel stronger in a small but important way. It’s almost like finding a part of myself that I did not know I had.

        1. ClaireS*

          This is a really good strategy. I was in the managers shoes (somewhat) a while ago. A colleague was being sexually harassed by a client and I was so stunned I did nothing. I still feel horrible about it. But, after the fact I spoke with my colleague about how awful I felt and we worked together to map out a game plan of what we could do if this happened again. I also had the same conversation with the other colleagues present who also did nothing. I think we all felt much better about the situation knowing that we had a plan if it were to happen again. And, I hope this action helped the harassed understand that she’s incredibly valued and we recognized that our inaction was unacceptable and wouldn’t happened again.

          I’m really sorry this happened to you.

    11. Katie the Fed*

      Oh god, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I…ack….I’m totally speechless.

      Well personally, I think your manager is a chickenshit for not saying something in the moment, but I understand that he might have been so taken aback that he couldn’t come up with an answer right there.

      As for your coworkers, I’d try to give them a pass because they might have felt that bringing it up later would make things even more uncomfortable for you.

      If you have any close friends there, you might mention to them that you were hurt by the incident and maybe they’ll spread around the word. And if you like and trust your manager, I don’t see any reason you couldn’t mention how uncomfortable it made you and that it hasn’t felt like the same work environment since then.

      I’m really, really sorry that happened to you. I’m ashamed and disgusted by the way Muslims are treated in this country at times, especially when I’ve received nothing but the most sincere hospitality when I travel to predominantly Muslim countries.

      And no, it didn’t come across self-pitying. And even if it did, you’re perfectly entitled to feel awful about it.

    12. Stephanie*

      You didn’t sound self-pitying. So sorry to hear this happen.

      And actually, it wasn’t until my family moved to Dallas that I met conspicuously practicing Muslims.

      1. Arjay*

        Thank you for “I hope that jerk steps on a Lego.” I don’t wish to clutter my own brain with ill will toward others, even when it seems so well deserved, but stepping on a Lego is the perfectly appropriate amount of painful, yet not serious, injury.

    13. Crow T. Robot*

      Oh my. What a terrible situation to be in. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I want to echo what others have said: this likely does not reflect how your manager/coworkers feel about you. Everyone probably just feels really awkward and doesn’t want to talk about it. Not saying that’s the right thing to do, but that’s probably what’s going on.

      Also, screw that old dude.

    14. AndersonDarling*

      I’ll echo the other replies: talk to your manager. It is possible your manager has taken actions that you don’t know about. Outside of it being a terribly rude thing to say, there are major legal repercussions that could occur if your manager didn’t say something about the remark.

      An easy way to approach the subject could be to acknowledge that it was shocking for everyone and you would like to know how to handle the situation if it happens again. That could open the door for your boss to apologize for not handling it better.

      Sorry it happened. That guy is a jerk.

    15. Lora*

      I’m going to be the umpteenth person to agree that probably they didn’t know what to say and were shocked that anybody would be so rude. Also, given that it was a client, they probably didn’t want to tell him off for fear of losing his business (money is money even if it’s ignorant bigot money).

      It SHOULD NOT, in a just world, fall upon you to teach management how to deal with things like that, but unfortunately we do not live in a just world. Perhaps ask for a meeting with that manager where you can discuss possible responses to offensive/jerk-y clients with them? I mean, that is sort of a broadly-applicable type of thing, everybody has clients who are outstanding jerks and it’s nice to have some ready replies instead of gazing in wonderment on their asshattery.

      “Yes, Universal Accounting always hires the best accountants in the field”
      “Of course we do. Now right this way, Mr Elderly Bigot…why don’t you wait for Wakeen in the conference room where you’ll be more comfortable”
      “Indeed, yes. Mr Elderly Bigot, I would like to introduce you to Asalah, who has been handling the Important Stuff for several years now and has been critical to managing your account.”
      or, my favorite at the moment: *pitying look* “Well bless your heart.”

      1. Turanga Leela*

        +1. It shouldn’t be up to you to teach management how to respond, but that might be the reality. I agree with everyone that your coworkers may (wrongly) think that ignoring the situation will make it go away.

        This is horrible, and you’re not being at all overly sensitive.

        Also, I would be prepared for your manager not to feel comfortable calling clients on their offensiveness, period. Even if you help him come up with some helpful language, he may care more about protecting his client relationships than about protecting his colleagues. I hope that that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

        1. Lora*

          Also: You are the best judge of this as you know your colleagues better than I do, obviously, but when I encounter situations like this where I am the obvious minority, I try to be as straightforward with it as possible and steel myself for inevitable questions. It’s likely that your colleagues are also too embarrassed to say anything or don’t know what to say to you, if you haven’t said anything in particular about being Muslim.

          I realize this is kinda weird because obviously they KNOW you’re Muslim, right? But sometimes you have to say something about it, even if something fairly obvious (e.g. “I won’t be in on such-and-such a date, I’m using my vacation time for Ramadan”) so that they feel it’s OK to talk about it, and give them a contextual space in which you are comfortable talking about it. Like talking about what you’re doing for holidays, which restaurants have kosher/vegetarian food, stuff like that. And say it very matter-of-factly, just like they talk about their Xmas ski trip in the break room. Once in a while you do have to say, “hey, that is not cool” about jokes or a teevee show or whatever, but I find it helps people to know where things stand.

          [Dad’s side of my family is Amish. I get a LOT of questions and hear ALL the unfunny jokes. I try to answer as honestly as I can, and occasionally tell the jokers that I can’t possibly do anything on my computer today, it’s an Amish holiday.]

    16. anon in tejas*

      I am sorry that you had to go through that.

      If I were you, I would talk to my manager. I would say… “this made me uncomfortable, and made me feel unwelcome. I had no idea that any employee felt that way. If it comes up again, in this manner, I would appreciate if you…” and then I would document the hell out of the situation moving forward.

      Religion in a protected class, and “not doing anything” if the situation escalates can result in legal liability for your employer.

      Again, I am sorry that you have to go through this. And if you don’t want to confront it, you shouldn’t have to, but I hope that it doesn’t happen again or get worse.

    17. Aunt Vixen*

      Ugh. I’m so, so sorry this happened to you. I wish on your behalf that someone – anyone – had coughed up an immediate “I beg your pardon?!”

      If you can, I might go to HR and make a small fuss about it, so that there will be a data point if (or – ugh – when) something similar happens to you or anyone else in the future.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      Client = nasty jerk
      Manager = assuming he wasn’t just so shocked that he was literally speechless, wimp.

      I second going to talk to him. If that client has to come back, it might happen again, and I would want to know how he plans to deal with it. If the managers at this place let clients get away with shiz like that because they’re clients, I would seriously think about job hunting.

    19. Anx*

      I don’t mean to defend their lack of defense, but I think there’s a very good chance you aren’t merely tolerated by most of your coworkers. I think they were probably afraid of being fired or reprimanded for speaking up.

      I’ve seen people fired for defending women (who were also fired) who were being grabbed by customers at work. I know I probably have bit my tongue in times when I really wish I had said something because I couldn’t afford to lose my job.

    20. WhoaBuddy*

      I am so sorry that this happened to you. It doesn’t come off self-pitying whatsoever, what happened was messed up and unacceptable and had I been even just a co-worker I would have followed up with you to make sure you were ok. And, if I were a manager in a position of power, I would have let the client know in no uncertain terms that what he said was unacceptable.

    21. Ann Furthermore*

      That is really, really awful and I’m very sorry that happened to you. In my view, one of the most unfortunate after-effects of 9/11 is what it did to the perception of Islam in the US, and now, stupid people have ignorant, hateful, and (most of all) flat-out WRONG ideas about it, and just make all kinds of horrible assumptions about all Muslims. I have gotten into more than one debate (or argument) with people about this. I grew up in the Middle East, so while I’m certainly not a theological scholar or anything, I think I do know a smidge more about it than the average schmo. So when I hear someone spouting crap they clearly know nothing about, I’ll call them on their BS.

      All that being said though, I think the best thing to do is to talk to your manager. You were, when you get right down to it, harassed in the workplace, and the proper thing to do when that happens is to talk to your boss.

      And if you had never been getting bad/negative vibes from your co-workers before this happened, then you shouldn’t feel like you’ve just been “tolerated.” If that were the case, you certainly would have sensed that before now. I agree with everyone else that everyone who heard that comment was probably so appalled that they were speechless, and since it was a client who made that comment, they were likely unsure of how to proceed. Had it been a co-worker who made that comment, and no-one said anything, my advice would be to talk to HR to get the issue documented, and then start job searching immediately.

      I was pretty good friends with a co-worker a few years ago who was Muslim. He told me that he and 2 other people were in the office early one morning one day. 1 of the people (we’ll call him Bill) read some article or op-ed piece that got him all fired up. Bill was very conservative politically, and a bit of a conspiracy theorist. He started ranting about Islam being nothing but a religion of terrorists and saying some other pretty horrible things. Finally my friend spoke up and said, “Hey. Do you mind?” and looked at Bill rather pointedly. Bill muttered, “Well, I wasn’t talking about you,” and my friend replied with “Actually, you kind of were.” Bill skulked back to his desk and things were very tense for a few hours. Then around noon, my friend got up and walked over to Bill’s desk and said, “Hey, Bill, I’m running out to grab some lunch and pick up a new turban. Would you like me to get one for you too?” When he told me that, I laughed to myself for the rest of the day. He was able to diffuse the tension with humor, and also put Bill in his place at the same time.

      Maybe, if something like that happens again, you could have a response ready. Like, “Yeah — and they hire women too! What is the world coming to?”

    22. Anonylicious*

      That client is a failure of a human being, bless his heart, and your coworkers are cowards for not speaking up, but their silence now is probably a reflection of the fact that they *know* they should have spoken up, and not of their opinion of you.

      (And blessing the next jerkwad like him’s heart would probably be a great comeback, because as you probably know, it’s like the meanest thing you can say to a Southerner short of implying they drink their iced tea unsweet, and also it would probably break their brain to hear it from someone in a hijab.)

    23. StudentA*

      I think most companies are very careful about race, religion, and other protected classes that they err on the side of never mentioning anything that could ever possibly be a cause of litigation. Your boss may be thinking that if he brought it up, he would be calling attention to the fact that he didn’t stick up for you. For all we know, he could be very worried right now about potential discrimination allegations.

      At my old job, a woman who was fired for a stupid reason turned around and sued my former employer for age discrimination, when no one ever mentioned her age. Of course it didn’t go to court…the employer settled because it was easiest and quietest. Do you happen to watch House of Cards? If so, you might remember the Harvard alumnus who manufactured stories of pregnancy discrimination.

      I mention the above just to illustrate what a litigious society we have become, and to hopefully shed some light on why we tiptoe around certain subjects. Your boss doesn’t want to be in a position where he has to say something like: “I can’t talk back to my client, our company values him too much”.

      If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t mention it to my boss. Your coworkers have not given you any reason to believe they don’t like you. Be the professional you are, and ignore the remark. The remark came from an elderly man, and it was a racist one. But I really believe he is a product of his generation. As a member of a minority group that faces plenty of discrimination, I know the hurt this can cause and I send you virtual hugs.

    24. Observer*

      Your direct co-workers probably don’t even know what happened. Even your manager may not know about it, unless you told him. And I doubt it was a topic of much conversation, unless this client is one of the more difficult ones. I have no doubt that every one of the client facing staff have had at least one or two highly unpleasant client interactions, so this is not something that would make great waves.

      Many managers won’t slap down a client to defend an employee, especially if it is not not one of “their” employees (ie their report). And, people often don’t really know how to handle such off the wall comments. Nothing to do with your being a Muslim.

      As for his following up with you, you are not “his responsibility”, so he probably wouldn’t think that he needs to follow up with anything other than a truly extraordinary occurrence, and given how difficult some clients can be, this may have barely registered on his “obnoxiousness scale.”

      That doesn’t mean that he was not obnoxious. But the overall behavior doesn’t come close to some of the stuff that happens. (I’m talking slurs, name calling asking to be transferred to another person, and in one case in our office – someone actually physically attacked the receptionist for not speaking xx language.)

      Be glad you don’t work in customer service. I give lots of credit to those who do and do it well.

  18. TotesMaGoats*

    How irritated should I be that my annual review consisted of “don’t worry you are getting exceeds expectations and I just need you to sign the paper” over chat? Because that just happened to me. Even for my direct reports who are rocks stars, I do an in person review. My reviews are also never a month and a half late.

    1. Betsy*

      I would be pretty annoyed, at least. There’s this sense among some (bad) managers that the good employees don’t need your time and effort, that you should spend time trying to get the bad employees up to mediocre and the mediocre employees to better.

      Spending time on your best employees is a MUCH better investment, because not only do they get even better, they feel like they’re valued, so don’t leave, the way I would want to after that annual review.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Do you try to expand it – “Great, but I’d also love it if we could discuss where I could improve/my aspirations for next year”? Do you get good performance feedback/development discussions at other times?

      If 1) yes and 2) no then yeah, your manager sucks & you should be irritated. Well, you should be irritated anyway. I think your choices are largely a) keep pushing it – “Great! I’ve been thinking a lot about next year’s challenges and how I can keep improving, and I brought some notes for us to discuss!” and/or b) the old look for new job. Unless of course your manager is really obviously underperforming and you have strong contacts more senior than him/her you can raise it to.

    3. Sascha*

      Eh, it’s irritating, but I guess unless you take action, you’d just have to let it go. That has happened to me my last 3 years. My “reviews” are getting shorter and shorter. One review was a 10 minute phone call, and then I brought in my signed review the next time I was in the office (I work remotely most of the week).

      Is it annoying? Very. I’d love to have open and honest dialogue with my manager, but he is lazy, defensive, and makes empty promises. I’ve just given up, and I’m looking for a new job.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        You had a 10-minute phone. You lucky dawg. My phone call was only 5-minutes.

    4. Kacie*

      I’m a middle manager, too. When you put so much time, thought, and care into the reviews of your own staff, but don’t receive it from above, it’s disappointing. At this point I just say thanks, take a brief glance, and sign off on it. Not every manager is good at giving feedback, and you have to decide how big of a deal that is to you.

    5. Blue Anne*

      I would be pretty irritated about that. I look forward to performance reviews and they ought to be a great opportunity to discuss performance and goals. It sounds like your manager doesn’t share that view of them and assumes that you don’t either. :(

    6. CH*

      Yes, that is a bit irritating. Mine is due by the end of May, which by my calendar is—-today, but my manager hasn’t brought it up and he may have forgotten. I could mention it but I’m really in no hurry (our raises aren’t tied to our reviews). I wrote and turned in my part 2 weeks ago so I’m ready to go whenever he is. I expect it will be a very short conversation; it usually is.

    7. Rebecca*

      Be happy you even get an annual review. My last one was in 2010. I just have to assume because I’m still employed, and my PHB keeps dumping work on me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. That, and no one is screaming at me, so I guess everything is OK.

    8. Lily in NYC*

      LOL, that is my review every.single.year. Some years I don’t even get a review. But I actually prefer it this way.

    9. MaryMary*

      I feel like that tends to happen as you become more senior. The CEO probably doesn’t get a performance review (although maybe she should!). This year, I got a raise so I’m going to assume the company is pleased with my performance, but I did not have a formal review.

      You should give your manager feedback, though. Senior/middle managers deserve a pat on the back as much as anyone else. “That’s what the money is for!” only works if you’re Don Draper. And even if you’re a rock star, there has to be something you could work on over the next year. Constructive feedback is an important part of your annual review (and also something that can get lost as you move into more senior roles).

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Are you expected to sign a paper that has not been filled out?
      I hope not.

      My answer to that would be “I won’t sign an incomplete form. As soon as it is completed, I will jump right on it and get it back to you.”

  19. Russ*

    I’ve got a question for everyone about job titles on resumes/LinkedIn. A group I used to work for recently changed their name to something that is far, far more inline with what they actually do and how similar groups in other companies are named. Their mission and responsibilities within the company are fundamentally unchanged. That is, the only thing that has changed is the name of the group. Is it appropriate to change the group name on my resume/LinkedIn profile to reflect the new name of the group, or should I stick with the old name as it was when I worked there? If it matters, the name change happened about a month after I transferred out of the group. Thanks

    1. The IT Manager*

      Given what you said, I would lean toward using the new, more explanatory group name. I would not change job titles, but the group name is probably not confuse anyone so much that they say you’re mispresenting your experience.

    2. plain jane*

      I think for LinkedIn it would be appropriate to put in both group names.
      E.g. Teapot Glazing & Painting (was Graphic Elements)
      or Graphic Elements (now Teapot Glazing & Painting)

    3. Letter Owner*

      I would update your LinkedIn profile so that it reads “Old Group Name (now New Group Name)”. I think this connects old and new while making it clear that you worked there under Old Group Name.

      I’m not sure about making that same change on your resume, though. Interested to hear what others say.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      I’d use the title you prefer. I worked in state A which could people in my position x and then I moved to state B that called people in my position y. Whenever I told people in state B what I did for work at my old job they looked at me like I had 10 heads and asked what the job was. I finally just started telling people in state B that I had previously done y. Solved a lot of problems. My resume still used the correct title but I put (State A’s version of Y) next to it.

    5. Career Counselorette*

      I’ve done that too- a few of the companies I’ve worked for (including the current one) have gone through name changes, so my LinkedIn says things like “OMG Company (formerly BBQ Company), and it’s been clear enough.

    6. Russ*

      Thanks for all the feedback everyone! Here’s a related question. Supposed my title was Lead Teapot Programmer and the group I was in was called Teapot Programming. I would traditionally put on my resume/LinkedIn that I was a “Lead Teapot Programmer, Teapot Programming”. Since that’s so repetitive, is it okay to put “Lead Programmer, Teapot Programming”?

      1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

        Why not just Lead Teapot Programmer — and then that’s it. Or Teapot Programming Lead.

  20. CollegeAdmin*

    My performance review is next week. This is the first full review I’ve had – last year’s review was my 90-day probation review (at which time I got glowing reviews). But this one is more in-depth, and I’m at a bit of a loss.

    There’s a self-assessment form I’m supposed to fill out – one of the questions asks what I, my supervisors, or the institution can do to to improve my work performance and increase my job satisfaction? This feels like a trap.

    How am I supposed to answer this without a) implying that I don’t do my job well, b) saying that my supervisors and the college are not good support systems, and/or c) revealing that I hate my job and a lot would have to change for me to be satisfied?

    (Also accepting any and all advice/anecdotes about performance reviews in general. Thanks!)

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Professional development is always a good go to for those types of questions. Does your employer have any trainings you can attend to increase skills? Committee you want to sit on or project you want to be involved with?

    2. Blue Anne*

      You can absolutely be doing well but still have areas that you could be doing great at.

      And the same thing is true of the college!

      I’d read that question as saying essentially “If we assume that you, the college, and your supervisors are doing just fine, do you have any suggestions for what would be changed to make your performance or theirs GREAT?”

      As far as c)… personally, I’d put a happy face on it, but identify something that would help a bit and pitch it as “This would be really great” rather than “This is necessary”. But others might have better suggestions.

    3. LAI*

      That’s a perfectly benign question and there are a lot of ways you could answer it appropriately. Everyone, even the best employees, always have room for improvement. You might be fantastic at 99% of your job but have 1-2 things you want to work on or learn more about. And your supervisors might be fantastic at 99% of their job, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t do anything that would help you do your job better. In my experience, some of the best performers are the most self-critical and are constantly looking for ways to improve.

      The only way that I’d say it is a trap is that I’d be very suspicious of anyone who says that there is no possible way to improve their work performance because they are already perfect.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I just consolidated a bunch of review summaries into one document for my boss so I saw how this was answered by multiple people. A few mentioned that they thought that their presentation skills could be better and that they would like to take training offered by the company. Another talked about how she felt like she was ready for a leadership program we have for high-achieving staff. One guy wrote that he would like to be included in more high-level meetings related to his projects (we are super hierarchical here and our senior staff ltends to leave people out of meetings).
      There was only one that sounded bitter, but she was pissed because she wasn’t getting promoted. I have never met a more entitled person. She had been promoted 9 months before, and took 4 weeks off for a honeymoon. She came back and asked if she could take another 4 months off because she wanted to travel with her new husband. And then she came back expecting another promotion! She was furious when they turned her down and her self evaluation was pretty entertaining.

    5. 2horseygirls*

      Ugh! Six years in higher ed, and those dang things don’t get any easier. I thought my department co-workers were joking when they said they saved their self-assessments, and submitted the same one every year after changing the date – until I did it myself.

      To add to the fun, my boss fancies herself very in-depth and diligent + is embracing all things Disney-Institute/customer-service-YAY! :) However, I’ve just been ‘streamlined’ out of the department because she wants someone with the super-speciaized-and-particular training that she’s promised to send me to for the last four years, but never found the information on …. ? I will never understand higher ed, never. Good luck!

      I thought after North Shore real estate, this would be a walk in the park – ha!

  21. Frustrated in Pittsburgh*

    I just need to vent.

    I have explained something 3 different ways to my coworker, in as simple and plain language as I can. I even put together 2 simple examples to show how the data is getting skewed. Yet she insists on focusing on a point that while related to my issue, isn’t actually affecting the data I’m looking at.

    I know she’s smart so what the heck isn’t she getting?! Stop being a moron, Jane!!

    1. SandraDee*

      No suggestions, just sympathy, as I have been dealing with this same thing all morning. Finally got my point across, after multiple iterations. Some people hate to be wrong, and refuse to admit they made a mistake.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ask her why she is stuck on an insignificant aspect of the work.

      Some people never get it. For years I faced recurring problem X at Old Job. Since it did not happen every time, just sometimes, it was tough to nail down. Turned out that the person who did ordering did not realize there was a difference between part number 123 and part number 123a.

      It took YEARS to nail that one down.

  22. Anon for this*

    I mentioned this briefly a few weeks ago, but I’d like other feedback.

    The minimum wage in my province is going up 75 cents starting Sunday. My boss has mentioned to another coworker that he doesn’t think he “has to” obey this law, since we are commissioned salespeople–however, the law only applies to commissioned salespeople for whom the majority of their income is commissioned-derived (and I believe targets real-estate people, car salespeople, etc), which is definitely not the case for us.

    If in two weeks our next paycheques come up and he’s underpaying us, what is the best way to approach it? One of my coworkers says “straight to the Labour Board,” while I think it’d be better go “Hey, boss, I noticed on our paycheques that you’re paying us [lower minimum] as opposed to [new minimum]” and letting him hang himself from there, or try to explain. Is it worth it to get into an argument with your boss (who also owns the tiny company), or is this a straight-to-the-Labour-Board type thing?

    1. Anoners*

      You could go to your boss, or whoever is handling payroll, and let them know they aren’t adhering to the new minimum wage laws (arm yourself with the specific labour laws, and make sure you know for sure they’re in violation. These laws can sometimes be impossible to understand). If nothing comes of it, call the Labour Board and talk it out with them. You may even want to call them first and just go over the situation to make sure there’s a violation. Their contact centres can be a really great at talking out all the specifics of the law, without you having to actually file a complaint. Good luck!

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you! I may have to give them a call, I hope they’re useful to speak with!

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      Hi. Guessing you’re in Ontario? The short version is, yes, in general you would be making commission or minimum wage, whichever is higher. It is calculated daily, so if Wednesday your commission is higher that’s what you’re paid for the day, but if Thursday your sales didn’t work out and your commission for the day is less than minimum wage then you *must* be paid minimum wage for the hours worked that day. And yes, all your wages up until tomorrow will be based on the old min wage, but starting Sunday it must must must be at least $11/hr. Unless you sell houses, or cars, or are traveling salespeople with routes or territories.

      If your pay uses old min wage, start by talking to your boss rather than running to labour board. AAM has covered this before, if your boss has not complied with the new min wage. A very polite discussion to say “gosh, boss, since the minimum wage has gone up I think we’re actually entitled to $11/hr, not $10.25, on the days when our commission is less than min wage. I know we wouldn’t want to not follow the new regulations, so would you mind double checking the ministry of labour website? Thanks.” The key is to phrase it as looking out for the company and the team, not as a threat to gimme min wage or else. Good luck!

    3. BRR*

      I’d go for the pretend it was an accident. “Hey I noticed we were accidentally paid at the old minimum wage.” It’s far better workplace politic wise to start there.

      If the boss then says the commission thing you need to have the law researched before hand. “Oh I think that’s for people who’s commission is over 50% of their salary and our’s is only 5%.”

      1. BRR*

        I’d also like to add you give them one shot and don’t give them a long time to fix it. Check your local laws as to when they have to pay you by, if they keep putting it off they are violating the law by not paying you in the time your province mandates.

        1. Anon for this*

          Thank you! I like that way of starting it–and yes, I’ll definitely have everything calculated beforehand.

          I’m definitely going to give them one time to fix it. We’ll see what happens!

    4. Observer*

      Get the text of the law / regulation. If your check doesn’t reflect the new rate, go to him with the text in hand, and say “I think there is a mistake here. I pulled the text of the reg and it actually says that it does apply to us because xyz.” Then hand it to him. If he won’t correct the problem, then yes, go to the labor board.

    5. Felicia*

      Minimum wage is officially 11$ today, so I hope your bosses pay you accordingly.

  23. Ash (the other one!)*

    Ah Friday Open Thread.

    I’m sitting here waiting for my phone to ring with either a job offer or rejection from the interview I had last week. Every time my email buzzes I jump. It’s awful. I’m really hoping it comes soon. How long do I wait before I ping them? All they said was “we’ll let you know after the holiday.”

    Yet another person quit my organization this week. That makes 6 since the beginning of the year and we’re a small organization of 40. So, yea, this is a toxic environment I really need to escape.

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      I’m in the same boat – I had an edit test after the interview. I sent it in and followed up a week later, but I haven’t even gotten a reply confirming they got the file, and I can see from Google Drive that it hasn’t been downloaded. It’s been two weeks now since I sent it in and nothing. :(

      I hope you get out soon!

  24. JM*

    Is there anyone out there doing telecommute/work from home in the IT industry? How did you find such an opportunity?

    1. Anonalicious*

      I grew into it with my current company, but there are actually job search sites with specific telecommuting sections, or that are specifically for telecommuting type jobs. comes to mind and I think CareerBuilder has a telecomute filter.

    2. The IT Manager*

      US govt is really pushing telework so if you have any interest in working for the govt those jobs are advertised on USAjobs and usually mention work location “virtual” in job ads.

      1. Janis*

        OMG, IT Manager, I’ve been trying to get a fed job in DC for going on 2 years now. Please shine a light for me. I’ve applied to 12-14 positions, I’d say. I’ve received exactly 3 “No thanks” emails in all that time. All the rest still show on the application status page as “still reviewing” or “eligible, sent to hiring official.” Two of them have been close to a year.

        What’s the dang deal with that?

    3. Sascha*

      I work at a state university, and they started actively encouraging telecommuting/flex time options to all employees about 4 years ago as part of an initiative to save money and be green. They started it just after I began working there. I had to earn my telecommuting days – I work 3 days at home, 2 on campus.

      I work as a system administrator/application support/project manager/database analyst. Ah, the joys of working in IT…

      1. The IT Manager*

        State university. Do they still only hire locally and expect people to be able to come into the office on occassion? Just wondering.

        Honestly I have noticed that my organization which allows full time telework and has people living very far from an office doesn’t really have a great plan when those people have computer problems. (FEDEX the laptop and be out of commission for several days.) They still haven’t worked out the growing pains for that yet even though it has been going on for a while now. And there’s still the need (not likely to change) to get PIV/CAC card in person which can be promblematic too.

        1. Sascha*

          I think they mostly want to hire locally, but HR has allowed each department to determine its own telecommuting policies, so I’m sure someone out there is not local, but probably not many. That is mostly for staff, though. They have hired many adjunct professors and teaching assistants who are completely remote – they live in other states and sometimes other parts of the world. We have a pretty big online education program, so the university is open to hiring remote faculty.

          Ours doesn’t have a great plan for technical issues either, although the majority of my work takes place on web applications or I remote into my office desktop, so as long as I have a VPN connection, I can pretty much do everything I need to. However our IT department is very very slow on turning around problem machines, so people will delay contacting them for technical issues until it gets to where you just can’t function. In fact, I’ve been working on a laptop that doesn’t technically belong to me because my official work laptop crapped out and I installed the hard drive into a spare. Still haven’t taken in my laptop, because they’d want to take my hard drive too. It’s been over 6 months. :)

    4. the gold digger*

      My husband is a EE for a software company and has been working from home for years. He was with his employer in the Bay Area for several years. Told them he was quitting to move to the midwest. They asked if he would keep working for them but keep working from home.

      So – one way to do it is to work for someone for years and then say you are going to quit. :)

    5. Mimmy*

      My husband works for a major telecommunications company and he has gone from going into the office every day to working from home nearly every day. I can’t really say how exactly…it just slowly morphed that way for just about everybody in his division; it’s probably because much of the work (company servers) is remote and a lot of work is off-shored, so no one really felt the need to physically be in an actual office *shrug*

    6. PizzaSquared*

      “IT” is very broad, but you might check out

      I work from home in my current job, but it was a situation where it’s a very small company, they really wanted to hire me, and I convinced them that I could do it remotely. Kind of a one-off, not a general strategy.

  25. Holly*

    I posted a few open threads back about my new manager, who was deferring to me on all decisions and basically delegating everything to me to do – which is hard when it’s a department of one, not including him. Things haven’t changed at all, except now he spends his entire afternoons working on a proposal at the office of a partner company, so I only get to talk to him for half a day. Our marketing and sales departments, which he oversees, are basically running themselves since he isn’t around to do it.

    I’m mainly just ranting, because, as Alison usually says, there’s probably no way to change it but to find a different job.

  26. MissLibby*

    I just want to say that I hate casual Fridays at my office. My assistant is wearing what I would wear to a backyard barbecue on a weekend, but she is not violating our woefully inadequate dress code policy. While it is nice to be able to wear jeans once a week, some people take “casual” just a little too far!

    1. Rin*

      Why don’t you write a new policy? It may not be your department, but someone should, it seems. Maybe it’ll show you’ve got initiative?

    2. Stephanie*

      Weirdly enough, I would have preferred more formal dress at my last two jobs. Both were casual. It was just really hard some days figuring out what to wear, especially in the summer. I wear a lot of skirts and dresses in general, so that probably kept it somewhat dressy, but I’m sure there were a few days I looked like I was on the way to a backyard barbecue. I am definitely guilty of wearing Bermuda shorts to the office.

      I am still better than my coworker who would wear an entire sweatsuit to work.

        1. Stephanie*

          This was in DC, home of the Suit with a Backpack look. I’m sure I looked even goofier on the Metro with my Bermuda shorts and ID badge. I’d usually try to dress those up with a pair of wedges. I will be in for a last-minute shopping trip if I end up with a job that actually requires business casual.

          But yeah, I’ve seen what people wear to my dad’s office in AZ in the summer. It is interesting to say the least.

    3. Sascha*

      I love casual dress but there definitely needs to be an official dress code in place! My office is casual year round, so we have lots of offenders, especially in the summer. One woman lives in yoga pants, some of the guys love old, ratty vendor t-shirts, and another woman would wear actual pajama pants, an assortment of sorority shirts that were falling apart, and plastic flip-flops. That was her daily outfit. I love my yoga pants, but there’s a line!

      1. Rebecca*

        Along with this, sadly there needs to be some hygiene tips as well. One of my coworkers wears flip flops that are so dirty it’s hard to tell their original color, and her feet look like she has been trampling about in a barnyard in her bare feet for a week. It’s gross. Couple that with wearing spaghetti strap cami tops that are way far from size appropriate, and pants that don’t stay up because she’s simply too large for that size, and it’s just not acceptable. But, my boss hesitates to deal with any of it as to “not hurt her feelings”. Last year, this same coworker was regularly showing us her bare behind crack and my boss was more interested in who was complaining than dealing with the problem.

        I say there should be a set dress code and that should be it. Violate it, and go home to change, or be forced to wear a communal mumu for the day.

        1. Sascha*

          That is a fabulous idea. :)

          I’ve got that coworker, too. She’s the receptionist. She loves baseball and gets season tickets every year, and dresses for the game on work days where she goes straight to the ballpark. It gets frightening.

        2. Chinook*

          I never understood grotty feet when wearing sandals. In my mind, having them look clean and looked after (and for women, as minimally polished as your hands) is the trade off for not having to wear socks. Your feet are like your hair – if it can be seen, you have to keep it looking professional but, if you are covering it (whether with a hijab or hat or socks/shoes on your feet), it doesn’t matter as long as I can’t smell them.

          1. Rebecca*

            A few of us had a collective “EEEWWW” moment when we thought about what her sheets must look like, and we’re wondering if she bathes regularly, as if she took a bath or shower once per day, gravity would assist in getting soap and water on her feet.

      2. MissLibby*

        I guess I will consider myself lucky with the faded denim capris and meshy looking sweater!

      3. Happy Lurker*

        My summer intern just showed up in her “workout” wear, because she just came from a workout….? She apologized for the outfit, but didn’t change.

        1. fposte*

          Are you supervising her? Because I would either send her home to change or tell her that she can’t come in in workout wear again and if you do she’ll be sent home.

    4. Dan*

      Heh. I’ve had two different traditional office jobs over the last six years, and have worn jeans pretty much every day of the week.

      And that’s the norm.

  27. Malissa*

    Working from home\telecommuting
    So after a quick look working from home appears to be a thing for accountants. There are several companies set-up for this purpose.
    Anybody here have any experience in this area? I’m considering it for my next career move.

    1. Kalliope's Mom*

      I work from home answering phones for a computer company. I know that IT and technical support also can work from home, it just depends on what type of work that you are looking for. I heard a freelance positions for administrative assistant but have never checked it out myself. Good luck in your search!

  28. Anon for this*

    There have been some good recent discussions about bullying in the workplace. I’ve got a real-life bullying situation I’d love some advice on.

    I have a colleague who can be . . . challenging. She overshares. She’s socially awkward and doesn’t read cues well. She lacks confidence and apologizes too much. She carries with her a weird, sad, downtrodden kind of energy that’s difficult to be around. No one is eager to be this woman’s friend, though she very clearly could use a friend, because I think we all fear she’d be needy and boundary-oblivious. She’s a 12-year veteran of our company, but only came to our department about a year ago. I think everyone would agree she was better off in her old role, where her work was mostly technical and behind-the-scenes. (In the role she has now, she has to present often and represent our department in meetings, and it’s clear neither of these tasks are her forte or are comfortable for her, and she’s visibly struggled.)

    Her boss (who is my boss’s boss) was absolutely ruthless to this woman late last year, calling her out for very minor mistakes of the sort everyone else can and does get away with. It was obvious to everyone that her boss was trying to manage this woman out on a technicality. It was also obvious she wasn’t interested in helping her overcome her difficulties. The manager is an attractive, confident woman with a very impressive resume, and I’ve always gotten the distinct impression she just didn’t want someone unimpressive on her team. She wants a team of rock stars.

    So the picked-on employee took a health-related leave of absence, for unspecified mental health reasons. She’s due to come back next week, after six months away. No one has heard from her, no one knows why she left or if she’s doing better now, etc. How can we be generally supportive and kind to her upon her return without contributing to weird office politics and/or implying a level of support or friendship we can’t sustain?

    1. LMW*

      I think the first thing you can do is to stop by and say you are glad to see her, and if there’s anything specific you can say about where her presence was missed (something on the technical side or to do with her experience), mention it. It doesn’t need to be overly friendly or a big promise of friendship. Simply saying hello in a genuinely nice way can make a big difference.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was in the same boat. What helped me was when my co-workers acknowledged when the boss was out of line with me. (It can be hard to tell sometimes.) It was up to me to take action, but I knew they would back me up if I went to HR.

    3. Mallory*

      Well, I tend to keep work relationships at an arm’s length (professional but not especially warm or fuzzy) so I’d just greet her briefly with a smile, say it’s nice to see her back, and then carry on as usual. Not sure if that seems cold to others who may feel more comfortable than I do being warmer, but it’s what I’d do, especially if I didn’t want to encourage her to cling on to me.

    4. E.R*

      This is really awful. I mean, ideally, you would either reach out to the employee upon her return and help her re-integrate back into your role (mental health issues are so pervasive and destructive, and you really can’t be too kind to someone who is suffering from something like that) or tell your manager that if she wants a team of rock stars, bullying the low-performers is not the best way to go about it. Coaching, support, training, managing – those are all things she should be doing.

      But it doesn’t sound like you are in a position to do anything besides be kind and as supportive as possible to the returning person. Hopefully she is looking for a new job, or a transfer to another department. Ugh.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks, all. I think I will start with saying hello to her and letting her know I’m glad to see her back (which I can say with all sincerity, because I’ve been worried about her well-being during her absence). Once I’ve got a sense of how she’s doing, I think I’ll also proactively schedule a couple of meetings to catch her up on some projects my team has completed in her absence that will impact her work. I’m thinking I’ll keep everything very work-focused, but look for ways to connect with her.

        E.R., I’m relieved to say that her manager is not my manager. Her manager is my manager’s manager, so two levels above me. I definitely can’t get involved here; I don’t have the standing to do so. I just want to fulfill my obligations as a decent human being here.

        She has been seeking a different role in another department. I hope she can find something. She really loves this company and doesn’t want to leave, and she does have a lot of valuable specialized knowledge it would be a shame to lose. I think if she were in a role that better fit her skill set and where she wasn’t reporting to someone who had it in for her, she can and would be an effective employee here.

  29. what what*

    I’m so nervous!!! A previous boss and mentor came to me yesterday about an opportunity – and if I want it, it’s pretty much mine, but I need to decide soon. I like my company, but we’ve had some growing pains and were recently acquired. So I think I’m going to ask for a ballsy (but not ridiculous) salary and see what they say. I get really nervous about change, but I figure things are gearing up to change whether I leave or stay…and if I can get an awesome raise along the way, why not…wish me luck.

    1. Dan*

      I think you read is correct. I was recently laid off by a small company after they got acquired by a big company.

      Change is coming, one way or the other. But if change comes on your terms (finding a new job) it might be easier to deal with psychologically.

      Otherwise you can stay and lament about how things were better in the old days :)

  30. The Maple Teacup*

    How long do I have to stay in a job before I start applying for other positions? I don’t want to appear to be a job hopper or have hiring managers look at my résumé with suspicion.

    I’ve been at my current job 2.5 months after being let go from my job of 1 year and nine months. Suddenly propelled into unemployment, I took the first full time job in my field that was offered. It’s worked out well, and the company has a positive environment . However, it is not intellectually challenging for me. And the commute is lengthy. It isn’t a job I would have chosen if I hadn’t been unemployed. I’d like to work in an assistant or supervisor role instead of doing front line work.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think you can keep applying. Honestly, the job market is rough and who knows how long it can take to get another job. I’ve always said if you aren’t happy in your current job, there’s no harm in looking. Just because you’re looking doesn’t mean you have to leave. Depending on what your next job is, it could end up looking very obvious that this job was steps below what you were qualified for and that is why you weren’t in it very long. It’s best to try to stick it out for a year but I wouldn’t worry about it until a serious job opportunity comes up. IMO getting a job that is on your intellectual/experience level trumps staying just to avoid looking like a hopper. It would also be pretty easy to explain the short stunt on your resume.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it depends what field you’re in. If you’re in a field where some job hopping is acceptable and even expected, just start looking now.

      If, however, 2.5 months looks bad, I would stay at this job at least two years, unless you have had some lengthier tenures elsewhere. You mention you were at your last job 1 year, 9 months. What about the job before that (if there was one)? And the one before? If you had two previous jobs and were at each for 3-5 years, then these two blips might not mean anything in terms of red flags to potential employers.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        This. I’m not sure what you mean by “front line” work – are you a receptionist? Because job hopping looks terrible in admin roles (you said you might be interested in an admin job). I think it would be better to leave the job off your resume if you get something else pretty quickly.

        1. The Maple Teacup*

          I work in the helping professions as a support worker for adults with developmental disabilities. At Old Job, I worked with people who are homeless. Those of us who work directly with clients are called front line workers. There is a lot of turnover in this field. One shelter I know has 50% employee loss a year. I don’t have any other jobs besides this New Job and Old Job. (Other than retail work through university)

    3. Anonylicious*

      Depending on how long a gap it would leave, I might just leave your current job off your resume. That’s what I did with the security guard job I took for a couple of months between jobs in my usual field.

  31. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Should I cancel conference calls I’m leading when I’m sick and have a very croaky voice?

    Quick (and urgent – I need to make a decision in the next 30 minutes or so!) question:

    This afternoon I am scheduled to lead three hour-long conference calls. I have a cold and my voice is very low and croaky. I can speak loudly, and it doesn’t hurt to speak (and in fact I just feel a little run-down – I’m not yet in the knock-me-out part of the cold)…. but I sound as though I’m dying. Should I reschedule the calls (or ask someone else to lead them)?

    The calls are launching this year’s programming for an annual initiative. I am brand new in this role, so this will serve as my introduction to many of the people on the calls (in fact, introducing me is one of the key agenda items).

    1. BRR*

      If it will be easy to reschedule you can consider it. Maybe test call someone who is in your office and see if you’re understandable over the phone.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t cancel. If these calls are that high profile, I can only imagine how difficult it is to get everyone needed on the call. I’d just say something funny at the beginning so everyone knows this isn’t how you usually sound. My go to is, “Please pardon my Barry White voice today” and then keep stepping. Good luck!

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Whoops, meant to include this:

      Reasons not to reschedule: The calls need to happen by next Friday at the latest, and I’m not confident we can get them on the calendar by then. I also would hate to kick off the program by canceling at the last minute.

      Reasons to reschedule: I’m not going to make a strong first impression sounding like I sound today. I sound gross and can’t deliver the same level of professionalism and relationality that I normally would.

      Option: The colleague that I’m replacing could lead the calls. She’s already scheduled to be on them to essentially hand-off the relationships to me (and because she can answer questions that I can’t yet). She could lead the calls and I could be a quieter participant.


      1. Powerpuff*

        I’d say that you’ll make a worse impression by cancelling that by having a croaky voice. Just make sure to reference the fact that you are ill when you introduce yourself, or people might think that’s your natural voice!

      2. Artemesia*

        Well one impression you will make by doing it, is you are someone who gets the job done even when it is difficult for you personally. If you can be heard then excuse the croak, tell them you have a terrible cold and are fighting laryngitis but didn’t want to postpone because of how important the call is. And then do it.

        If this were in person you might be an infection risk — but as a conference call you will simply be a martyr to the needs of the organization. A saint if you will, who soldiered through even when under the weather.

        Looks like a good first impression to me if artfully managed.

      3. Colette*

        If they have to happen by next Friday, I’d definitely go ahead (just make a comment at the beginning so they know you don’t normally sound like that). Your voice might get better next week, but it also could be worse.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        If your colleague is going to be there with you, then I would go ahead and do them–just have her know to take over if your voice quits on you or you need to take a moment to rest it. And it’s fine to let them know you have a cold–everyone has been there. I’ve had to work when I had full-blown laryngitis and couldn’t talk at all! Most people are very sympathetic.

      5. Yet Another Allison*

        Agree with those that say don’t cancel. For those who have not met you, this is a fantastic opportunity to use humor to show that you can take things in stride.

    4. CollegeAdmin*

      I think if these are important calls and you feel well enough to do them, I would carry on. When you’re introduced, just say, “Hi, I’m Victoria Nonprofit, and I’ll be leading this call today about XYZ initiative. I apologize for my voice today – I’m coming down with a bit of a cold – but let’s get started.”

      That being said, if you do one call and then feel completely wiped out, cancel the following ones or ask someone else to lead them for you and chime in as needed.

      Hope you feel better soon!

    5. Sarahnova*

      My guess is that people will be sympathetic (not least because, over the phone, they can’t catch it!) If you are facilitating/leading, can you also focus on that and therefore speak minimally, or will you need to contribute much as well?

      Honestly, I’d rank the options 1) go ahead and do them if you feel OK, since I don’t think an apologised-for cold will hurt your rep 2) get someone else to do them if you REALLY can’t speak or feel ill 3) cancel only if you have no alternative. Scheduling these things can be a real pain.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Thanks all! I did the calls, and they went fine. And now I’m going to bed.

  32. Lauren*

    My work crush from several years ago died recently. I am not handling this very well. I think he felt the same way, we just never could admit it to each other. Kept in touch for years after I left working there, but didn’t know how sick he was. Wish I told him how I felt.

      1. Lauren*

        Thank you both, but I just want to cry all the time. He was more than a passing crush, I have had feelings for him for the last 10 years. I wish I didn’t let my fear keep me from expressing that.

  33. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This isn’t quite work-related, but it’s site-related and I’m exercising my owner’s privilege to ask this here:

    As I’ve mentioned, I’m working with the wonderful Laura Moore on a site upgrade. One thing we’re thinking about is replacing the stark white background with something slightly softer on the eyes. Creams looked too yellow and greys all looked sort of dirty, so we’re thinking about a very subtle background pattern to just soften the white a little. You can see a screenshot of the type of thing we’re considering here:
    (ignore the stark white on the right side of the screen; that part is the current site)

    In addition, we’re hoping to be able to implement collapsible comment threads, but as an interim measure are considering some comment formatting that will help “parent comments” (the first in a thread) stand out from replies. You can see an screenshot of what that could look like here:

    (There are two things going on there: First, the parent comments all have a bar around them to highlight them. Second, comment threads alternate between white and grey to help distinguish one conversation from another.)

    I’d love any reactions anyone has to either of these.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Love the comments and how they look. The background is a little too pink/red but maybe it just needs to be fainter.

    2. The IT Manager*

      The pattern background is fine – not annoying – although in general I am not fond of patterned backgrounds that’s very inoffensive. BTW I sure whatever you pick will be great since you’re actually spending time thinking about this before hand.

      I like the new comments too.

    3. CollegeAdmin*

      I like the background – it is definitely easier on the eyes.

      I’m not sure about the idea of alternating comment thread colors. Actually, I was kind of confused when I looked at it – I would expect all parent comments to be the same color (e.g., white) and then all follow-up comments to be another color (e.g., gray). That way, someone could easily scroll down and read just the parent/white comments, and if they found one particularly interesting, they could read the gray replies for just that one. I do like the box idea, though, around the parent comments to really set them apart – it looks nice.

      1. Del*

        Seconding this! I find the alternating thread colors a little confusing visually, but the rest of it is really nice.

    4. Stephanie*

      I really like the comment formatting!

      I like the background. It’ll make it a lot easier on the eyes to read on a mobile device. Speaking of which, were you thinking of doing a mobile version of the site?

        1. DNW*

          Please please please don’t force me to use a mobile version on my phone and iPad – give me an easy way to see the real site and make it stick!

          I’ve yet to find a mobile version of a site that does not suck entirely.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          PLEASE don’t do a mobile version of this site. It works/reads *perfectly* well on mobile as is. If that isn’t true for everyone, then I’m not going to step on their goes by saying don’t do it. But in my experience, there’s no way to get a site to default to desktop on an iPhone and I don’t want to have to redirect everytime, so my vote would be for no.
          Also, I can’t access AAM from work computers so 80% of my AAM time is from my phone. (I’m on it now)

    5. Kacie*

      I like the way the comments are split out, it’s easier to see the separation of topics!

    6. Evan (in the USA)*

      Site background: Either one is great; I don’t have any preference.

      Comment formatting: I think the bars around the parent comments are visually distracting. Especially when they show up in the middle of a white background (e.g. “The Other Dawn”‘s comment in the screenshot, my eyes are drawn to the bar immediately rather than to the comment. I think the alternating color will be enough to distinguish the comments without this.

    7. Anonalicious*

      I really like the comment changes, but I agree that it might be easier if the parent comment stood out more instead of alternating and that the replies had the grey background. I think the background texture dims the stark white without being obnoxious. It’s great to see such positive changes!

    8. hildi*

      I like both of the changes (background and comments). Not much else to add, but the changes are good. I didn’t realize how much of a difference a stark white background vs a subtle pattern is!

    9. Persephone Mulberry*

      Definitely yes on the subtle textured background.

      I think alternating colors + outline bar is overkill. I would *either* call out the top comment in some way – outline bar or different color – OR group comment families by color, but not both.

    10. Laurie*

      I like the background pattern! I clicked on the link thinking I wouldn’t, but it’s really subtle and does seem more soothing to the eye.

      On the comments, any way to highlight a comment thread with an AAM response?

    11. Mints*

      Huh, I don’t see the background pattern. I don’t think I’m color blind. Is it because I’m on my phone? (Using chrome mobile)

      I like the comments’ design though

      1. Chinook*

        I too don’t see the pattern in the background (using BB Playbook) but it is less glaringly white, so mission still accomplished. I do like the comment idea.

      2. Aisling*

        I’m not seeing anything different in the screen shot either, and I’m using Chrome on a desktop computer. I also tried it using IE on my desktop computer, and still didn’t see a pattern. Just white, like always. I do like the comments boxes.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I really like the background! Just please don’t change the text to gray too. The black is much easier to read.

      As for collapsible comments, I’m not all that fond of them (I hate clicking so much to read all the replies), but those look pretty easy to distinguish. I’m cool with it. :)

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I hadn’t thought about that with the collapsible comments. I’ve seen it done two ways: one where each comment is collapsible and requires a click (obnoxious, IMO), and one where one click on the parent comment expands all of its subcomments (reasonable and useful). Food for thought.

    13. Esra*

      This is pure design snob on my part: but I don’t think the linen-style background is a good idea at all. It’s super dated. Grey done well will not look dirty.

      If you’d like to stick with a pattern, monochromatic noise works well, or something very subtle/low-contrast and geometric.

      1. WhoaBuddy*

        I agree with these comments.

        I also really like the idea of breaking out comments and highlighting the OP.

      2. DNW*

        I agree. It looks dreadful and very distracting to me. I’d rather no pattern at all, it’s visual clutter that is making my eyes twitch when I look at it. A good choice of very light grey or cream works really well on loads of other sites, I can’t believe you can’t find one that would work here.

      3. AB Normal*

        I was coming to say the same thing — the right gray will not look dirty and linen-style background seems very dated.

    14. Camellia*

      Hmm, I’m looking at these using Chrome on a laptop and don’t see any background difference.

    15. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I like pretty much everything. Well done.

      I’m trying to think of “something else” for the box, but not coming up with anything. It’s a little odd how highlighted The Other Dawn’s post is in that example.

      Taking the shading of the box down 30 percent or so might help, if you see it as an issue also.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Uh, I feel badly saying this but for me the new background was super white and really tough on my eyes. I could not see any background print/texture. It was kind of like staring into a lighted bulb. It took concentration to be able to read the font.
      Probably because I am running XP on an elderly laptop… and wearing bifocals. Maybe it’s just me, though.

      The threads look great, though.

    17. Manda*

      The background looks much less harsh on my eyes but could be a little lighter; I’m not sure about the benefit of the changes to the comments – the ‘Reply to XXXXXX’ seems a bit too much although having a clearer split by using grey/ white may help some people but isn’t necessary from my point of view.
      Thanks Alison for all you do and for taking the trouble to try new things – I appreciate the need to manage the comments threads but the simpler the better for me.

    18. Anonymous*

      Loved the comments. Hated the pattern on the new background. I like having the plain background, whatever the color.

    19. Windchime*

      I don’t think I care for the cross-hatchy pattern behind the main post. That’s how it looks to me using Safari on a Macbook. I would definitely get used to it, though; it certainly wouldn’t chase me away.

      I think I like the way the comments are nested and the alternating colors. What I don’t think I would like is having to click to expand every parent comment. It seems like it would be tedious. If clicking to expand/collapse is part of the new design (I wasn’t quite sure if it is going to be or not), I would prefer that the default state be expanded with the option to collapse to make it easier to bypass a comment (and it’s child comments) more easily.

    20. C Average*

      I’m not crazy about the textured background. I’d rather see something subtly shaded but not patterned. It feels like it’s trying to hard to do something that doesn’t really need to be done. Kinda like fancy paper for a resume. :)

      I like the concept of collapsible comment threads, but it’s hard to tell how exactly they’ll work. Will the whole thread (comment and replies) expand and collapse with one click? If so, that’ll be GREAT. Will you add a title field, or will the whole comment be visible and then the click will display the replies? So many possibilities here. Fun stuff to think about.

    21. Observer*

      The background doesn’t do anything for me – at least not here. I REALLY like the alternating colors for comment threads. I like the idea of setting off the top comment, but the way you are doing it doesn’t feel right. As unintuitive as it sounds, I think that a full box might actually work better.

  34. Jubilance*

    I’m revamping my resume based on feedback from Alison’s most recent resume review and I’ve encountered a situation I’m not sure how to handle. In my current role, 100% of my time is spent supporting an extremely high visibility project in my company. Like, so high visibility that there are news articles about it. My work accomplishments all revolve around trying to drive improvements on this high visibility project, and i’m trying to share the results of those activities without giving out information that may be confidential. Certainly the issues we’ve had in this area are widely known, but what’s not known is specifics of what we’re doing to address the issues. Any ideas on how to share the results of my activities without giving away too much?

    1. Anonylicious*

      Is there someone in your organization who can screen your resume for information that should not be released? You can say you want to update your LinkedIn for networking purposes if you don’t want them wondering why you’re updating your resume. But if there’s information that is confidential, there should be someone who is in charge of making sure it stays that way, and there should be a policy in place about what you can and can’t say on a resume. If there’s not, then it sounds like y’all need one, at least for this project.

  35. the_scientist*

    I had a job interview on Wednesday (hooray!) for a position that I am tentatively very excited about. I think the interview went well, and the skills test went much better than I had imagined it would. However, it’s a very “output driven” environment, and when I asked about how performance would be evaluated, the manager focused only on output relative to yearly organizational goals. I don’t think that in itself is a bad thing, but I’m not totally interested in working in an environment where people are tripping each other up/ trying to “beat” their coworkers or otherwise make them look bad in order to make themselves look better.
    When I followed up to ask about what a successful first year in the role would look like, the manager couldn’t give me an answer. She mentioned some vague things about “every individual brings different strengths and experience” and “collaborative environment” and the organization’s yearly goals, and all I could think of was “but surely there are some thing YOU would like to see in a great employee?” Her vague answer has left me a bit hesitant as Glassdoor reviews of the company seem to indicate that your enjoyment of your job and degree of work-life balance is heavily dictated by the team lead/manager, and I’m concerned that she can’t articulate what “good at this job” looks like. Are these valid concerns? If I was to get an offer, what would be good follow-ups to ask?

    1. littlemoose*

      I don’t know if this was made clear to you or nt, but are the output goals purely individual, or team-based? If it’s the former, then yes, maybe there will be some competitiveness among peers. But if it’s the latter, then hopefully it is a more collaborative environment that focuses on the team’s productivity, even if individual contributions wax and wane for various reasons.

    2. Marina*

      I really like Allison’s classic, “Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?”

      1. the_scientist*

        It’s a newly created position, although there have certainly been other analysts on other teams!

        It was not made clear to me whether these goals were individual or team-based, or some combination of the two. Given the nature of the work (I personally believe that good science is collaborative) I would hope it’s team-based. That’s definitely an area I will probe more, though.

  36. Bluehouse*

    So, I hate to be the “is this legal” and/or “please read HR’s mind for me” person, but…

    I just got a raise (yay!) and at the end of the letter it says “Your hourly rate and percent increase are strictly confidential.” Does this mean that HR keeps my rate confidential, or that I have to keep my rate confidential? Don’t employees legally have the right to discuss salary?

    1. CollegeAdmin*

      Ahh, ambiguity. It should mean that HR keeps information about your salary confidential, but they might be saying that they don’t want you talking about your salary with anybody. The former is legal, the latter is not.

      I wouldn’t worry about it – if you want to talk to anybody about your salary and HR found out and tried to say something, just point out the ambiguity in the statement and say, “Also, it is my understanding that legally employees are allowed to discuss their salaries,” or something similar.

  37. Kaz*

    So, I just started a new job, and I thought it would be great at first, but it just keeps getting worse each day. I’ve been here about six weeks. The manager doesn’t know anything about what the workers do and does not care (plus he is the boss’s son), and they routinely do things that are borderline bad (more of a get-it-done mentality than is usual for my field.) I had initially been told I would be made manager after a while but now that’s being put off to some indefinite future date. But I feel really bad looking because someone else is leaving today, and they seem to be really hoping that I will work out. Any advice?

    1. Sunflower*

      IMO listen to your last words ‘someone else is leaving today’ and ‘they seem to be really hoping that I will work out’. Those words to be scream toxic. Not those words alone but combined with everything else you’re saying. They probably see you’re a good worker and don’t want to lose you since it’s possible they’ve lost a lot of other good workers. As I mentioned above, no harm in continuing to look. However, I’d encourage you to explore your decision to take this job. Looking back, are there signs you think you ignored or didn’t pick up on that would have signaled to a bad work environment? Things you should have asked? If you find a job that strike you, seriously consider the new environment, do your homework on it then worry about whether to leave or not.

      1. Kaz*

        I think mostly I was interested in the job because everyone seemed nice, they have relatively flexible hours, and I didn’t have any other bites – it can take a long time to find a job in my field and I had already been looking for two months!

        Most of the jobs in my area in my field are at big hospitals. This is a little stand-alone clinic, so I am hoping one of the hospitals calls me soon!

    2. CTO*

      It’s not your responsibility to derail your career because you “feel bad.” If they’re having troubles retaining their staff, that’s their fault, not yours.

      Last year I gave my resignation and three other people in my department of about 10 also resigned within the same month. (My boss knew I was looking and I also gave three weeks’ official notice.) I felt bad for my boss and my team because I really did care about them and didn’t want them to be overburdened by the sudden turnover… but ultimately, that wasn’t my problem to deal with. The issues that led most of us to leave (namely low pay) were beyond our team’s control. We weren’t responsible for the problems, but we were still each responsible for making sure we were looking our for our own needs.

    3. Artemesia*

      They apparently aren’t keeping the vague promise about management. They would let you go in a heartbeat if it worked for them. I would not hesitate in moving quickly and just dropping this from the resume.

    4. LAI*

      About a year ago, I was in the same position. I had just started a new job, I realized on day 1 that there were going to be some problems, and it just seemed to get worse every day. I started looking after a couple of months, but I was really picky (because I was very committed to making sure that I didn’t make the same mistake again!) so it took me about 6 months before I even found another job I wanted to apply for. Then the interview/hiring process took another 3-4 months and so I did end up staying in the old job for about a year anyway. I’ve been in my new job for about 2 weeks now and it’s fantastic – I felt badly even leaving after a year but it was definitely the right thing to do! And I worked really hard for the 1 year that I was there, so they told me that they really appreciated all of my contributions even though I was moving on.

  38. Not saying*

    I’m hoping someone may have some advice on how I should respond to a few e-mails I’ve gotten from a hiring manager, asking me to apply for a position that, on paper at least, I would be a pretty good fit for. The problem is that the position is with a pet company (although not directly working with animals – IT position) while I have very bad allergies to most pets. I’m not sure what to say in response. If I just say no and cite the allergies, they may respond with an offer to make accommodations, but I still feel there would be a culture issue where I wouldn’t fit in with the very pet-friendly staff. Any advice how I can approach this?

    1. JMegan*

      I would try it, and then ask some very specific culture-related questions in the interview. I think you could even go so far as to say “I’m not really an ‘animal person’ (or, “I have a lot of allergies”), and therefore I don’t have pets or interact with animals very much. Will that make me look like an outsider in this culture?”

      I’m guessing it probably won’t – even the most pet-friendly groups have other interests as well, and they can’t possibly talk about animals all the time. In any case, if you’re interested in teh postition, don’t write off the entire thing because of one hypothetical problem. Go as far as you can go in the interview process, and if you get offered the job, then you can decide if the pet-friendly thing is a dealbreaker for you. Good luck!

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      Perhaps something like, “Thanks for sending this along. Although the position sounds interesting, and definitely in line with my skill set, I’m not sure I would be well suited for a pet-friendly culture. I do appreciate you thinking of me, though, and I wish you luck in your search.”

      As an aside, I’m not allergic to animals, but I just don’t like them (or children, actually – I’m a horrible person, I know). I completely understand not wanting to work for a pet company for culture/common interest reasons.

      1. Kerry (Like the county in Ireland)*

        If it’s something you’d consider otherwise, I’d just say “I’m a little hesitant to apply though, as I have terrible fur allergies and would expect that Pet Company would be an animal friendly environment with dogs allowed to visit, etc. I wouldn’t want others to be deprived of a major benefit of working at a company devoted to pets!”

        Because face it, animal people like to be around their animals. I wish we had some feral cats around here I could watch.

    3. ACA*

      Do you need to give a reason at all? “Thank you for reaching out to me. I am not currently interested in [position], but I wish you the best of luck in the hiring process.”

      1. mess*

        Agree, if it is from a hiring manager I would just say you are not looking to move on at this time. If it was an outside recruiter and you wanted them to consider you for other companies I’d be more specific.

  39. Stephanie*

    I’ll post the link in a reply. The Atlantic had an article about vocal fry (that croaky voice affectation the Kardashian sisters use) hurting women’s job prospects.

    I don’t do it excessively (I think it sounds horrible when done to excess), but occasionally some vocal fry will slip out (maybe due to my lower-pitched voice). I usually hear it if I drag out a filler word like “Uhhhhhhhh.”


      1. Dang*

        I just spent more time than I’d like to admit saying “thank you for considering me for this opportunity” and trying to figure out if I do it or not.

    1. Artemesia*

      I had never heard the word before (and have never listened to a Kardashian) and so dialed it up on you tube. I am an old lady and my voice does this sometimes too. Hate it.

      If I were a young women in the workplace and this was something that happened often unintentionally, I think I would seek out a vocal coach. I often notice women with just awful voices. Screechy, nasal, croaky etc. Men with their naturally lower voices seem to have fewer incidences of grating and awful voices. Women often do. I often hear a young woman speak professionally and think — wow why didn’t her parents send her to speech therapy or a vocal coach. There are people that can help one use the voice more effectively and especially in professional settings it can save the voice as one ages and make for a more pleasant vocal sound. If you are troubled enough by this to write in here, I would seek out a vocal coach who can help you use your voice with less strain and more pleasantly.

      1. Stephanie*

        Luckily, the croak doesn’t come out very often! I just thought it was an interesting article.

        Actually, my big issue is speaking too quickly. -_- My best quick fix has been to over-enunciate (and to keep working on it). Taking public speaking and theater classes definitely helped to work on vocal tics.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, interesting, the Slate piece on this suggested that women were viewed more authoritatively when they’re doing vocal fry. (Amusingly, the guys on the podcast who were venting about the horribleness of vocal fry were deaf to the times they themselves were doing it.) Kardashians aside, I don’t think it’s an affectation any more than uptalk is–it’s just a cultural strain.

      I think vocal fry appropriateness depends on timing and use. I know one staffer who’s very prone and it makes her sound sleepy when she’s answering the phone, which isn’t good. I think for occasional vocal color on more casual expressions, though, it’s not a problem.

      1. Laura2*

        I wonder how many people who hate vocal fry had absolutely no opinions about it until a whole bunch of articles were written about it.

        1. fposte*

          You could replace “vocal fry” with many other things and the sentence would still remain true.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, uptalk just irritates the hell out of me. It makes grown women sound like they should be on the playground. Combined with vocal fry and that tendency to draw out vowels and Rs dramatically–it doesn’t sound professional at ALL.

      2. Mints*

        That article was really interesting. When I read the description of uptalk as paternalistic, I realized I know a few more people who do uptalk, but I had thought of it as “forcing listeners to answer questions,” and like it says, about dominance

        Cool read!

      3. Cath in Canada*

        I recently talked to a young, female grad student about not using uptalk in her presentations, pointing out that it makes her sound like she’s not truly confident in what she’s presenting, even though she knows her stuff really well. She was completely unaware that she was doing it – I felt a bit bad because I think I made her really self-conscious about it, but I think long term it’s good to let people know how it comes across.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been consciously trying to raise the pitch of my voice (and soften it–I have a tendency to speak loudly sometimes and I want to stop) so I don’t end up doing this. I think it sounds horrendous.

    4. araminty*

      Being aware of your problem is the first step to solving it, so well done :) Vocal fry decreases the impact of your voice, and can cause vocal fatigue. You could try taking some singing lessons, or join a community choir.

      Simple singing tips which might help:
      – support your breathing, especially at the ends of phrases
      – use a slightly higher pitched voice – vocal fry tends to slip in at the lower end of your speaking range
      – practice opening the throat – strengthen the muscles on either side of the larynx by “anchoring.” Imagine a Wagnerian soprano in horns – what does her neck look like? Aim for that :)
      – some people think it’s gross, but take a look at YouTube clips featuring the vocal folds operating normally. If you know what’s physically going on during vocal fry, you’ll find it easier to control. For example,

      Good luck!

    5. Jess*

      It is interesting to watch documentary footage of young women pre-1980 speaking. It’s amazing how different they sound from young women today.

      I know I’ve picked up a lot of vocal affectation, both vocal fry and it’s predecessor valley girl-type speaking, and I think it’s partially because I was often mocked when using my natural voice (which is quite high).

  40. b*

    I am an assistant, and my manager constantly asks other assistants out to lunch. It honestly feels a little bit exclusive, but I do tend to ignore it. Perhaps she’s just trying to keep her distance because I work directly under her?

    It just feels a bit weird, since these people are 3 levels below her..

    1. Aisling*

      Is she friends with the other assistants? If not, she may be keeping you in the office because if she’s not there, someone has to handle the work/answer phones, etc. It’s not fair to you, but if the others don’t work directly under her and you do, I would think that she’s just trying to make sure the office is covered, and probably isn’t thinking what it looks like to you.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      That does sound strange…it seems like there should be more information here. Are you truly needed for the phones? Does your manager need a second assistant and these lunches are putting out feelers? Are they all personal friends and you are the new person? It could be a very simple answer.

  41. Jen*

    I had my review about 3 weeks ago – received “exceeds expectations” on almost every category with “meets expectations” on the other ones. Boss was very kind and talked about how much he relies on me. He asked me for feedback or anything I need. I asked if I could have a title change that better reflects what I’m currently doing, outlining things he brought up in the review and how they aren’t currently a part of my job description but that I enjoy doing them and apparently are doing them well. He agreed that the title change made perfect sense. I also mentioend getting rid of one task that is no longer needed and adding another task to replace it. He said “This sounds great – put it in writing!” – So I did.

    I haven’t heard anything back at all. I know the “Ask a Manager” advice is to just go ask him about it. But I am not sure of what to say. Right now thoughts are “I wanted to check in and see if you’d given any more thought to my title change and whether there is anything additional from me that you’d need to begin the process.” but I’m not sure if that is too pushy?

    1. Artemesia*

      If more than a week or two has passed then that sounds just right to me. No one cares as much as you do about your own title and similar details, so the part about ‘what else do I need to do to make this happen.’ is spot on.

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      Thank you so much for posting this! As I mentioned elsewhere in the thread, my performance review is next week and one of the things I was considering requesting was a title change. The way you phrased it was quite graceful (and successful – congrats!). I might try to use this as a response to my self-assessment “is this a trap” question of how my supervisors and/or the college can improve my performance or increase my job satisfaction.

  42. mess*

    I’ve always worked at small companies and most of my growth has been during the past five years at a small biz that has ranged from about 30 peeps when I started to about 50 now. I am ready to move on and am interested in moving to a larger company (I am tired of the small biz roller coaster not to mention the below market pay) but wonder if my career at smaller no-name firms is going to hurt me. I’m in communications so managing a Twitter presence with several hundred followers is quite a bit different than hundreds of thousands, for instance. Anyone have any thoughts about this? Am I just overthinking it? I feel like I may have doomed myself to be in small business land forever.

    1. StudentA*

      I feel the same way. I can’t get the attention of large companies. Only small companies have ever responded to my applications. I want to work for a big company so I can build a career there, instead of remaining stagnant in small companies.

      I’m guessing because they are big and well-known, they get tons and tons of applications, so my applications get lost in the shuffle. Sorry I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to let you know I am in the same boat!

    2. C Average*

      I work for a big company that gets a lot of applications, and it so happens I spent the first few years of my work here in social media and have sat on several panels for social media interviews. I definitely have some thoughts on this.

      The best thing you can do is find a real-life connection within the company: someone who can vouch for you and your work when you apply. I applied for dozens of jobs at this company before getting a foot in the door, and the thing that really actually made a difference was learning that a friend of a friend worked there, was willing to chat with me about the job I was applying for, and was then willing to put a good word in for me with the hiring manager. I try to do this for people I meet who work here and seem like they’d be assets to the company. It’s no more than me shooting a paragraph or two by email to the hiring manager and/or HR contact for the job, but it makes so much difference to the applicant.

      Do you know someone there? Or know someone who knows someone there? Work any connections you have.

      If you want to work in social media, any relevant experience you can get, including that Twitter presence, is good. It won’t be enough on its own, but if you can point to a social media presence that you’ve maintained consistently and that’s shown a growth trend (and, of course, that’s appropriate to show to a hiring manager), that’ll definitely be a point in your favor.

      1. mess*

        Thanks for the tips! I don’t really want to work in social media – it was just a simple example of something I do for my company that I imagine is vastly different somewhere larger. Definitely not a desired area of focus but that’s the thing about working at a small company – I have to do EVERYTHING. But you are right, I need to work my connections (and make some better ones, probably).

  43. Cat*

    Okay, I have been waiting to pose this one: let’s say you have a friend who works in your industry and who is in a bad job situation. She’s looking for a new job with some urgency. You’ve found out, though, that she’s dressing a lot less formally to interviews than is industry standard. (Your friend is incredibly competent but not necessarily good at picking up on unwritten social expectations like that.) This is really in two parts – (a) she’s not wearing a full suit when everyone else does in this field; and (b) other items may be of the right “type” but are much more casual than you see in interview settings normally (i.e., a plain t-shirt under a jacket instead of a blouse or shell).

    Would you say something? Or would you figure this is who she is and you shouldn’t torpedo her confidence in her appearance?

    1. Artemesia*

      You’d be doing her a kindness and perhaps soften it by suggesting it is a new expectation in a tight job market.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Close friend who isn’t likely to get mad? I’d say something.

      Acquaintance-level who is super sensitive? No.

    3. Claire*

      If she’s a close friend, I would tell her. Not in a “oh my god you look like crap you’ll never get a job like that” way, obviously, but I think “Hey, friend, I know you’re really eager to get a new job – you know, I’ve noticed that everyone in our industry wears a full suit for interviews, so I’d definitely try that!” would be welcome. I would want a friend to tell me (and yeah, my feelings would probably be hurt, but I’d be grateful in the long run. My boss recently told me not to wear colorful socks to work anymore which…I thought was kind of dumb, tbh, but if it was something that would bother her/she thought was important, I’m happier knowing)

    4. plain jane*

      Say something. Perhaps an offer to help pull out her best go-to outfits & practice interview questions?

    5. MaryMary*

      Maybe send her a couple professional style blog posts? Corporette and CapHillStyle are two of my favorites. They both have a couple specific How to Dress for an Interview posts in their archives, you could forward them to her with a “anything that helps!” note.

    6. Diane*

      Say something. Offer to go shopping together if that’s the kind of thing she’d respond to.

    7. Observer*

      If she is really a friend, rather than just someone you know, you should definitely point this out to her. Not “you look terrible” but “You know, there are some dress expectations in our field. It’s not terribly logical, but people tend to notice and it affects how they see your competence if you don’t conform.” then give her the basics.

  44. Content Marketers?*

    Anyone here in a content marketing or brand journalism role?

    I work for a large B2B company and it is considering adding this role to the marketing mix. I’d like to be as informed/educated as possible about this discipline, and position myself as a good internal candidate. Hoping someone has personal experience, advice, etc. Thank you!

    1. LMW*

      I am a content marketing manager for a B2B Fortune 500 company. I’m happy to answer any questions. What do you want to know?

      1. Content Marketers?*

        Thanks for your reply!

        Would you mind letting me know:

        1. What is your company’s team structure? I.e., multiple writers, someone to push out via various channels, etc. Basically, who does the ‘content’ and who does the ‘marketing.’

        2. What in your mind, are the basics to get started? Right now at my company, we don’t have a content strategy, but we do have a content calendar of ‘blog here,’ ‘whitepaper here,’ etc. It seems strange to me that the calendar precedes the strategy.

        3. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you began?

        Thank you again!

        1. LMW*

          Here we go:
          1) Right now I am the only person who works specifically on content marketing, so I manage the strategy, the editorial calendar, production and distribution. I rely heavily on freelancers and outside agencies for actual content creation (and am lucky to have a budget that allows that), but I am very closely involved in editing and general direction (I come from an editorial background, not marketing). We have different areas within marketing that are responsible for product marketing, market intelligence, PR, digital and social, as well as a separate company strategy team and sales enablement/field marketing team. It gets a little confusing sometimes! Especially since I am the first person to hold a role of this sort at the company.
          Ideally, the way it would work would be that appropriate people would tell me our product agenda for the quarter/year, big events we’ll be at and their themes, overall themes or messaging based on strategy, etc. Then, I would work out an editorial calendar to tell stories that jive with those big themes and events and would work well along side our product marketing efforts. After the content is created, I’d coordinate with our digital and social teams to distribute via our website and social channels. I’d also work with our PR team and event people to make sure our people are talking about the “thought leadership” topics in our content when they present at conferences or speak with the media, so we’re presenting a cohesive message. We’re evolving towards this, but it’s been slow — mostly because we’ve been very segregated in our areas and have being undergoing a reorg for almost a year.
          2) We started with a calendar too; I think it’s fairly normal. I had to start our strategy at a very basic level: educating people about what content marketing is and how its different from other kinds of marketing or communications, doing a thorough evaluation of our current state of content marketing (very scattershot) and what we need to do to improve, outlining a mission and vision, etc.
          For an actual strategy, I have a pretty in depth process/cycle I’m trying to implement, that starts with analysis, and walks through setting objectives, determining targets, timing, tactics, etc., creating and executing on an editorial calendar, sharing an “iteration framework” that shows how key messages are being shared in different formats (papers versus infographics vs presentations), engaging with audiences via our distribution and social channels, and reporting on results. Here’s a link to a rather lengthy Prezi I created when I first started 18 months ago:
          Our strategy has evolved a little since then (I no longer have such a strong sales enablement angle in my role, and I can use other resources to manage the engagement portion of the process), but it was a good place to start.
          3) I wish I’d started with the knowledge that most people don’t understand what content marketing is and why it should be part of a formal unified marketing strategy. That most people don’t think in terms of stories that interest our customers — they think in terms of product features. I spent most of my first year doing white papers and blogs as requests rolled in, which really interfered with my ability to get a formal strategic program rolling. Now that we’re finally formalizing our efforts I’m getting really exciting about what we’re working on.
          Let me know if you want any more info. I get super geeky about this and am happy to talk to interested people.

          1. Content Marketers?*

            All I can say is WOW. Thank you, so, so SO much for the sharing the great prezi and advice. It will take me some time for this to sink in – my brain is about to wonk out on all the strategy goodness.

            Agreed about knowledge of what it is – I’m worried it’s thought of as the ‘new/hip thing we should be doing’ and considerations of hard costs, boots on the ground to do the work, etc, aren’t considered.

            Thank you again and hope you have a great weekend!

        2. C Average*

          I’m going to throw something semi-related out there, too: if you have a client- or consumer-facing team, work closely with them to create awareness of your initiatives and your overall calendar. My company now does a great job at this, but it’s taken some time to evolve to the current state. If your Brand Marketing team is creating something it knows will make a big splash, know that your customers will be talking about it and your front-line service/support staff will need to be knowledgeable about what you’re saying, and may even need specific talking points. It’s great when it’s a coordinated effort: maybe Brand Marketing comes in a month in advance to present, and then Support asks questions like “can people in Australia participate in that fun contest you’re setting up?” or “if someone in the Twitter promotion you’re doing wants to be removed from the feed for privacy reasons, do we have the technical ability to do that?” (I’m not sure what Brand Marketing looks like for you, but for us a lot of it is interactive/experiential, so we really need support resources aware and on board for what we’re doing at any given time.)

          For us, there’s usually an in-house lead for each brand’s marketing team, with writers/producers coming from both in-house and the agency side, mostly the agency side. The in-house lead works with the other brands’ leads to make sure the calendars are aligned, and then the writers/producers carry out the strategy. The lead works with the product teams (to know what’s releasing when and how to strategize around that) and the event teams (again, for planning and strategy), as well as the teams that create and evolve our mobile apps, which often feature touts and other tie-ins for any marketing effort we’re doing.

    2. CLM*

      LMW has given you a really comprehensive answer, but I wanted to toss a few useful links your way. (I’m a freelancer who writes case studies, ebooks, and blog posts, so most of the people I work with are using the content I write for content marketing at their companies.)

      The Content Marketing Academy group on LinkedIn has been very useful to me, to getting a handle on what questions content marketers are asking each other, and what issues are important to the industry.

      Also, Kapost has a free ebook you can download, The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook. It’s written for people who want to do the hiring, so it provides a lot of insight on what those hiring managers are looking for in candidates.

      1. Content Marketers?*

        Thank you everyone for your comments and advice. So much to consider – it will take some time for all of this to sink in!

        1. LMW*

          I love Kapost. We used them last year and the software was great — part of the reason I went with them was because they practice what they preach: They do content marketing on content marketing! And their material is pretty solid.

  45. I need a vacation*

    How much do vacation days mean to you? I just interviewed (phone screening) for a position that is entry level, though I have 4 years of experience. The range is about $12K less than what I’m currently making, so about $15 less than what I would like to be making.

    The good thing about this position is that you automatically get 4 weeks of vacation PLUS 2 weeks of the organization (education related) being closed. Meaning – 6 weeks of paid vacation.

    But the salary is so much lower! Probably not a good move, but I am tempted with the vacation time! Your thoughts?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      In my 20s, money was more important. I worked all the time – overtime, weekends, holidays. Not just for the money but I loved my job and the money was nice.

      But I realized there was such an opportunity cost to that – I was miserable and overworked and burnt out.

      Now I actually take my vacation and plan lovely and exotic trips, not to mention random staycation days just because I feel like it. I think I’m much happier now than I was before.

      It really depends on what your priorities are at this point in your life. But I think there’s a lot to be said for taking your vacation.

      1. LAI*

        Agreed, I think this really depends on your stage of life. I’m thirty and don’t have a family so money is much more valuable to me than vacation days. I don’t even use all of the vacation days that I have. By the way though, 4 weeks is not that uncommon in the educational world so it’s entirely possible that you could find another job that pays better and offers the same benefits. And I’d also recommend confirming that the 2-week closure is paid vacation time – at my university, the campus closes for the winter holidays but staff have to either use their vacation days or take it as unpaid time off.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Can you afford to make 12K less? That’s a big chunk of change…especially if you have to pay for part of the health insurance that’s provided.

    3. Jubilance*

      Well this is really going to depend on what’s more important to you. Could you maintain the same lifestyle on $15k less? What would a $15k paycut do to your future earnings? Are you the type of person who uses all their vacation time every year or do you let it build up and roll over?

    4. cuppa*

      It would depend on your financial situation. But if I could pay my bills and live decently, I would take it. I have four weeks now and it has come to mean a lot to me.

      1. Ali*

        Vacation days are pretty important to me now. I burn out on my job easier and get more stressed. I used to not care as much when I was in a lower position since it was non-stressful but I have higher expectations these days.

        I’m going to visit family next weekend and my dad says, if you’re working you can come in to town earlier. No thanks Dad. I already called off for that weekend. What’s the point in going out of town to visit relatives or even house-sit and explore a city if I know I have to work?

    5. Sunflower*

      I think you would need to weigh out your other options. What is the likelyhood you can find a job with similar(or slightly less) vacation time with a salary closer to yours? How terrible is your current vacation policy? For me, 12k is a good chunk of money to lose for a couple more days. Right now, I only get 12 days total(5 pto, 7 sick) and it’s not great. What other companies are you interested in that you think you’d have a shot at securing a job with? Try to find out their vacation policies and see if it’s something you might be more interested in.

    6. The IT Manager*

      Lots of vacation days mean a lot to me. I value them, but only you can weigh the impact of the pay cut (it wouldn’t bother me personally but I live well below my means happily and only my savings would notice a pay cut like that) and entry-level level of responsibility.

    7. CollegeAdmin*

      The $12-15K would absolutely mean more to me than the extra vacation time. I don’t really go on vacation – in the last year, I’ve taken maybe 6 days off, and half of those were personal days that I’d lose if I didn’t take them. In fact, my plan is to carry the maximum amount of vacation days possible so when I leave this job (which I’m planning on doing after I finish my masters degree), I get them paid out in a lump sum. Maybe if I traveled frequently, I’d want them, but I’ve made paying off my student loans my priority.

    8. Rebecca*

      The fact that I receive 20 paid days off, plus 11 paid holidays per year is what is keeping me in my job right now. I value my paid time out of the office more than anything. There are very few job opportunities in my area, so while I really dislike my job, at least I get paid days off that I can actually use.

      I’d make sure before you accept this that you can really take all those days, and it’s not one of those places that puts a guilt trip on you not to take them, or somehow you end up working anyway.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, this. Make sure you can actually take the leave first. A month of vacation isn’t that useful if the TPTB will never approve the leave.

    9. Stephanie*

      Depends on your financial situation. I had a decent-enough salary that a $12k hit could be workable. I’m also young and okay with living (sort of) like a college student with roommates and lots of budgeting. I also worked across the country from my family and a lot of friends and hated that I never had very much vacation to visit them or take any overseas trips.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      1. I’d ask if current employees are encouraged to take their vacation time. If they give the time, and no one is allowed to use it, that is a bad sign. BUT if everyone does use it, it could be an indicator that they have a fairly laid-back culture. Big plus!

      2. Do they have a cash out policy? If you don’t use your time, the company will buy it back from you. Your unused time may end up being a big bonus!

      1. Lucy*

        I get 29 PTO days a year, which sounds generous, but when I leave, I have to give 29 days notice and will not be paid out for unused days. Most people probably do not use up nearly the amount of time they are allotted- in this case I would prefer a higher salary!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      They mean a lot to me, more than in the past. But I’m actually making more money, so I can do things on my vacation days that I couldn’t before. If I just had to take staycations, I might as well just be at work.

      You really need to weigh the lower salary against this. If it’s enough that cutting it might cause problems down the line, then I’d say the vacation isn’t enough of a perk.

    12. Aunt Vixen*

      At my present job, I make close to $20k more than I did at my last job, but I get about half the leave. In my ongoing search, I am generally making it clear that I will be happy to take a significant pay cut (not down to where I was, but $10k-ish below where I am now) if the leave and benefits are right. (And I have gone so far as to ask my manager if, next time evals roll around, I can ask for an extra two weeks of leave rather than a 2% COLA. Better for me and cheaper for the company. Probably won’t get it, though.)

    13. Dan*

      What’s standard in your industry? My vacation time (and the ability to use it when I want and plan way ahead) is sacred to me. I get 4 weeks vacation and make a healthy salary (not quite six figures and I live in DC). Would I take a $1k/mo paycut for an extra two weeks of vacation? Hell no.

      If industry standard was say two weeks vacation and I could trade $1k/mo for an extra month of vacation? Maybe, just maybe.

    14. StudentA*

      It would depend on the job itself. If I liked the industry and everyday tasks of the job, that would mean more to me than the extra vacation.

      6 weeks of paid vacation is exciting. What about sick leave? Make sure the vacation is not generous because no sick leave is offered.

      Find out of you can carry vacation time to the next year. If you don’t use a week of vacation in the calendar year, is it gone forever?

      But yeah, I think it would depend on your career goals as well as your personal finances.

  46. Claire*

    How do I request an office when I don’t have much seniority?

    Context: two members of my dept (one brand new) have been moved to a different part of the building, both in small offices. Word on the street is that my whole dept might be moved back there (which is me + the dept asst)…there is one more small office and two cubicles in that corner, and I would much prefer to have the office since I’m a writer & it would help me concentrate. It seems to me like that makes more sense, but the dept asst has been here significantly longer than I have, and I don’t want to look like I’m dismissing/trying to leapfrog her if I try for it. (This is all theoretical at this point, but I’d like to be prepared with what to say if the move does happen!)

    1. Artemesia*

      Writing and needing quiet is a plausible reason. Seniority isn’t if the role is AA which arguably is well placed in a more public space. (unless she is handling a lot of confidential material)

      This is one of those ‘you snooze, you lose’ situations. I would make the request of your manager asap focusing on your need for a more quiet space since your job involves writing and intense concentration. Hesitate and it will have been promised to someone else. I would not even mention that you know there is an office, just that you hope with the move it will be possible to have an office where writing would be more productive.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      What is the current arrangement – are you in an office, a cube? If you and the AA are both currently in offices, I can see them deferring to her seniority and giving her the extra office, so you’ll need to be able to make a clear case for why you deserve it. What about “being a writer” makes an office more desirable – for example, is noise an issue, or is it being able to avoid interruption by shutting the door? Do you REALLY think being in an office will make/keep your productivity, or is there a status thing? (I only say the last because I’m currently in an office but I’m going to be relocated shortly, and if they stick me in the cube farm, I’ll feel demoted even though it won’t really impact my ability to do my job.)

      1. Claire*

        We’re both in cubes, and the coworker who was recently moved was also in a cube. I work on a main drag right now and there’s a LOT of background noise/a lot of people who stop to talk to me/my neighbors (and a cube neighbor who talks to herself…) and it does make it difficult for me to focus on detailed tasks (I have recently switched roles/been promoted from marketing assistant to copywriter, so previously the bulk of my job was data review/things I didn’t need as much concentration for). I also would, given my own space, be able to read some things aloud quietly to myself, which I find helps my proofing/word flow but I wouldn’t do in my current location. I’ve never had an office, though, so I will admit it’s possible the prestige of a door might be having some sway on me ;)

        …so, I should probably just say all of that to my manager! Thanks for helping me think out/phrase why I think this would be a good move for me!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Good luck! It might be worth asking–you have a good reason for needing quiet.

      I wish I could have an office–it’s hard to edit sometimes when people are doing phone support all around you. Headphones help a little but not that much. I often glance longingly at our sales rep’s empty, dark office!

    4. Cuddly Porcupine*

      Document several solid business reasons for you to have your own office and present them to the decision-maker in the context of business value.

  47. New HR*

    I recently started working at a software company that is transitioning out of being a start-up. My job is to start setting up a more formal HR department. Previously (when the company had 10 people, we’re now well over 50 people), all HR and Recruitment was being handled by the VP of Marketing. This particular person has a very strong personality (many in the office refer to her as the “Alpha-Female”). She’s used to running the show and having her opinion trump everyone else’s. She’s also a victim of bad interview advice (some of the interview questions she thinks we should use make me cringe), and is constantly reading and referencing articles like the ones that are often panned on this comment board.

    I’m trying to step in and create a functioning and effective HR department, particularly as we’re doing a high level of recruitment and on boarding, but I’m having trouble getting this VP to back off. She encourages me to take initiative, but then chews me out for scheduling meetings or starting to create process without asking her permission first. My thoughts are that as one of the original employees of the company, she’s having trouble letting go of her broader responsibilities and focusing only on one area.

    Any advice on strategies of how to phase her out of this area would be greatly appreciated.

    (additional background: while I am tasked with setting up the department, I have a very junior sounding title, so I don’t hold much weight in that respect. She is also the kind of person who reacts very quickly, and often negatively, but will then go and think things over and back track on her answer and be more reasonable, but the initial reaction is usually pretty aggressive. I don’t report to her, but am expected to seek her guidance during this handover.)

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I would do as much as I can ahead of time. Then when you pitch an idea and finally get approval it doesn’t take much time to implement since you’ve done all the legwork.

      1. New HR*

        Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        I’ve already tried doing this, but if I start doing the legwork without her involvement, she gets angry and acts like I’m trying to cut her out (really, I just like being prepared when I go into initial discussions, so I do as much fact-finding or other prep as I can beforehand).

        I guess what I’m asking is if anyone has a diplomatic way of a) approaching her to discuss her reactions to my work or b) presenting ideas to someone who seems to think only their ideas will work.

    2. BRR*

      Do you report to her?

      Maybe as a casual type conversation say, “Isn’t it great the company is expanding, now I can take this off of your plate. I bet you’re relived to not have to do all that HR work. “

    3. AVP*

      As the new HR person, is there any reason except circumstance that you’re reporting to a marketing person? Is there any way to get the CEO to reorganize so that you report to the COO or someone else? It just seems at odds, as she’s clearly not an expert in your area, and I agree that she’s having some issues letting go and giving up some of her influence.

      1. AVP*

        If that doesn’t work, though, my boss is also similar in that he only responds well to his own ideas. Some suggestions on dealing with that:

        – Find a way to lead into conversations and tee up your own ideas so that he thinks they’re coming from him.

        – Focus on her in any conversation, particularly how HER ideas helped you come to this solution that SHE helped identify and you would only like to help HER solve the problem. Even if it’s all bullshit, she’ll be flattered into agreeing with you when it comes to how great SHE is for coming up with this solution.

        These are not for the faint of heart and might make you cringe while you’re doing them but they really do work, if that’s what you need. And I wouldn’t worry that she’ll take credit for your plans and ideas – this method is blatantly obvious to anyone outside the conversation and it’s usually clear whose ideas are whose.

        1. New HR*

          Thanks for this! I really like your second point, I think it’s something she’ll respond well to.

      2. New HR*

        Sorry, I guess this wasn’t clear.

        I don’t report to her, I report to the VP of Operations (who has made it clear he wants to be very hands off).

        She has taken over HR as she’s been with the company since the start and volunteered to run it. This worked fine when the company had 10 people and didn’t hire for 2 years, but now we’re over 50 employees and hiring an average of 8 new people a month. So while I don’t report to her, she still wants to be involved. She represents this relationship as her “mentoring” me and being there for help, but in reality she gives orders and expects me to take them and not give any input.

        I should also mention that the 3 top people at the company (including her and my manager) are founders of the company and best friends. I’ve tried bringing this discussion up with my manager, but he sees the Marketing VP through a friendship lens and doesn’t recognize how controlling she’s being.

        1. Mephyle*

          Revisit the discussion with the manager framing it as concern that she is putting too much on her plate – spreading herself too thin (in areas, not just in time) by not taking fuller advantage of being able to release responsibility for HR to you?

  48. Lizabeth*

    I’ve come to the sad conclusion that no matter how great my boss is, there is a big lack in her dealings with the product development/stylist lead in our division. It’s basically her trying to teach a pig to sing situation; it annoys the stylist and frustrates her to no end. How do you tactfully tell your boss that it’s time to let this person go even tho she helped start the division? We’re 6 people in our division and this stylist impacts everything that’s done. There’s no formal reviews, HR, PIP or anything to fall back on. Based on what I’ve seen/heard, the stylist would have been fired by now if not for my boss going to bat for her time after time. TIA

    1. Artemesia*

      I know a business that just let someone go like this after employees started pointing out to the boss how detrimental her work was to the business; overnight, the place is transformed and much more productive and the business just may not go under as a result.

      I don’t know how you get it done but these employees gave the boss clear feedback on this and eventually he did the hard thing and fired 3 people who were ineffective including this one person who was much like your stylist — actively undermining the work of the company. It is helpful if he hears it from several people.

  49. MandyBabs*

    My boyfriend starts a 12 week internship after being underemployed for 2 years – which is great as it will relaunch him into some new options, but he was also up recently for a stellar role at another organization. We were hoping the other org would offer him a job before he started his internship, so I advise him to email saying he had another offer (which was somewhat true). They never got back to him and now I feel super guilty that maybe they were just moving slow and we should have waited it out versus trying to push for something.

    So it’s not like he doesn’t have anything, but I was hoping he would get something better. I’m trying to look at this as a blessing in disguise, that maybe there were other problems – but we’ve both been on the the constant job hunt – landing interviews though no offers.

    Anyway, this is a self-pity rant that maybe I should have been more patient, but right now between my own work stresses I’m feeling frustrated and saddened by how long we have to wait until our new opportunities finally arrive.

    1. BRR*

      If they wanted to hire him they would have responded. Don’t feel bad. It’s polite to inform people you have another offer (I’d consider it an offer).

      1. MandyBabs*

        Thanks for your response. I was also thinking that as well – which also bummed me out thinking he wasn’t a contender. But it is what it is in that case.

    2. Artemesia*

      If they don’t reply when you indicate this, you are probably not in the serious running. Nothing is more frustrating than lots of interviews and no offers. One of my adult kids just went through this and I was beginning to wonder if someone in her references was knifing her when finally a firm she had been a finalist for and not offered the job, reached out and hired her in addition to the first pick.

      It is a very competitive market and everyone in it needs to be telling themselves every day that they are doing great to get interviews, to get this competitive internship, etc etc and not to look back. And the internship should put him in a position to make contacts for something permanent. When he has been in the internship for awhile he should sit down with his boss to work out an explicit strategy for employment (either at that firm or with the boss’s help elsewhere) Most intern supervisors are happy to help interns they think highly of make the next move.

      1. MandyBabs*

        True! It couldn’t been a more extensive process – again it goes back to the plight for those on the job hunt that you interview, follow up to see what next steps are, and never hear back. But in this case we do have an answer of no response. Thank you for your response and those are great tips for his internship!

  50. Audiophile*

    How much prep do you normally for interviews? I feel pretty prepared for most interviews (mainly because I’ve been interviewing off and on for a while now) but yesterday, I had a phone interview with two people. And I felt like one person responded positively and the other seemed less impressed. They pushed back a little with some of my answers related to my experience. I didn’t walk away feeling good about it.

    1. BRR*

      Sometimes they push because they want to make sure they find the best candidate for the position. It’s also super hard to read into people’s behavior on the phone so it’s best to avoid that.

      1. Audiophile*

        I completely understand that. I don’t want to wind up in another job I’ll dislike, anymore than they want to be saddled with a new hire who’s the wrong fit. But it definitely rattled me.
        The job was listed as sort of a dual purpose role, but it turns out since the office is so small, they’d also like it to fill an administrative purpose as well, which was not mentioned in the job posting. And I don’t really have traditional admin experience, so that’s where the pushing came in.

  51. ACA*

    At the very beginning of April I applied for a job at a company I’d interned with in college and still freelance for; I knew I was probably underqualified, so I wasn’t going to be too upset if I never heard back, although that didn’tt stop me from checking the application regularly to see if the position had been filled. Earlier this week, I checked the application status…and it’s changed from “In Process” to “Interviewed”! Given that I haven’t been contacted by them at all, this is probably a mistake, but it’s possible they meant to select “Interview to be scheduled” or something. If I don’t hear from them by Monday, do you think it’s okay for me to reach out to my old manager and see if she knows what’s going on?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think that’s a totally logical thing to ask about. But whatever you do, don’t be like that person Alison posted about a few weeks ago who shot themselves in the foot when they thought they’d been eliminated from consideration when in fact they had been bumped straight to the second round. ;)

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          But don’t be too self-defeating, either. If/when you do reach out, I’d avoid phrasing it it as “this is probably a mistake, but…”

          I’d go with something like, “I noticed in the applicant portal my status has been changed from X to Y, even though I haven’t been contacted directly yet. Can you give me any insight on where they’re at in the hiring process?”

    2. AVP*

      You may have just been passed through the first round because they already know you and don’t need to do a phone screen.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d be indirect in the inquiry i.e. not remark on the ‘interviewed’ posting but ask where you were in the process or when you might expect to hear something. Hope you are now ‘interviewed’ based on your freelance work and in fact passed to the second round. Wouldn’t that be great?

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’m concerned that “playing dumb,” when her application status is readily available (even if it might be wrong), might backfire. She already has a relationship with the company, there’s not really any benefit to being circumspect.

      2. ACA*

        It would be great! :) The job I applied for is actually in a different department than the one I interned in, so I probably wouldn’t ask my old manager questions that specific. But she would be able to tell me if they’d hired someone, which is mostly what I’m looking to find out.

  52. Maggie*

    I sit at the reception desk of a large company, frequently people come in to apply for a job. Most people dress appropriately but some look like they are taking a break from mowing their yard on a hot day. A few smell like it too. Ugh. The stinkers are the worst. A bar of soap is cheap, there is no excuse for smelling like rotting garbage!

    1. Audiophile*

      This is why I’m thankful that my company has a very clear policy, that they don’t all walk-ins. I had one person come in with their baby, a few who came in dressed pretty inappropriately.
      What perturbs me is the ones who will argue: “is HR back there? Can I speak to someone? You didn’t even pick up the phone to ask?” I don’t need to ask, I know what the answer already is.

      1. Artemesia*

        “I’m sorry, I have been directed by HR to tell all walk ins that they only meet with those they have scheduled for interviews. You need to submit an application on line and they will contact you if they want to schedule an interview.”

    2. Elizabeth West*

      We used to get this at Exjob all the time. We took walk-in applications and every once in a while, the shop manager would interview someone on the fly if he was around. I always flagged their app if they made the effort to dress up a bit when applying, or were extra polite. :)

      And when I was job hunting, I always put on nice clothes to go apply for jobs because you never knew when someone might pull you in like that.

      1. Katie*

        This happens all the time at work. Have some respect when you go and apply for a job.

  53. De Minimis*

    Found a posting for a great job at my current agency in a location where I’ve always wanted to live. It’s the same job as I have now, so I’m pretty well qualified for it. It also has promotional potential. I applied to it last night, so now the waiting game begins.

    Even better, they are hiring two people so my chances may be pretty good. And they can pay relocation, which I’ve only seen for my type of position in really out of the way places like Alaska.

  54. MuseumGirl*

    Hi All –
    I have a question I wanted to run by the group. I’m a regular reader in AAM, but have never commented before. I work in a museum, and am applying for another position. I have a contact at the new museum whom I’ve worked closely with on city wide projects over the years. I would like to send her an e-mail letting her know I have applied for a position there – something like “Just wanted to give you a heads up that I’ve applied for this position. If you feel inclined to put in a good word for me, I’d appreciate it.” However, the institutional structure is somewhat unclear and I think it is possible she may actually be the hiring manager (but I’m not sure)! Any advice on how to handle this? Thank you!!

    1. Kacie*

      I don’t think I’d include the statement to put in a good word for you. You might instead ask to meet for coffee, drinks, or lunch to see if she can share insights on the position and the museum organizational culture.

      If she’s the hiring manager, she’d tell you at that point. If she’s not involved in the hiring process, it’s up to her if she’d like to put your name forward as a reference.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Hi, fellow museum professional!

      Could you start the conversation with questions about the museum/job just to gauge her response? Something like, “Hey, I saw the posting for [job] on your website. It seemed like a good fit for me; I was wondering if you could answer some questions about [the office culture, position responsibilities, etc.].” Then see how she responds…if she is the hiring manager (or involved in the decisionmaking), she may tell you straight out, or she might frame it as “we’re looking for…”. Heck, she might even offer to put in a good word for you without you having to ask. Anyway, if on the other hand you get the sense that she has some distance from the position/process, then you can ask her to put in a good word with the appropriate people.

      Just my thoughts!

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I was in an almost identical position, and I sent an email very similar to what you’ve written, and it was very positively received. My contact appreciated the heads up and also informed me that she was, in fact, on the hiring committee for the job. She was awesome about keeping me in the loop on the hiring process and, while I didn’t get THAT job, this contact has in fact become a real advocate and is actively working on helping me find a job at her company.

    4. BRR*

      I like how you worded it. I’m assuming the job posting didn’t say who the person was reporting to. You could also see if there is a staff listing page that is organized in any sort of fashion.

      It’s no big deal if she is actually the hiring manager. If so it could possibly be even better. Even if it’s a completely separate department so many people know each other at smaller organizations that an internal reference can be super helpful.

    5. LibrarianJ*

      I would also be hesitant to ask your contact to put in a good word — but especially if you are friendly with her at all and are regularly in contact, it’s a very good idea to give her a heads up.

      When I applied for my current job, I had a contact in another university department — I’m an alum, so, a former prof I had worked with pretty closely. He was actually on my reference list (as an extra, since he’s not in my field), but I emailed him to give a heads up. He ended up calling the committee directly with a glowing reference — which was wonderful, because as I recently discovered it really put me over the edge for getting an interview, and since he was so far down on the reference list they likely never would have contacted him otherwise.

      TL;DR: Never hurts to let a contact know you are applying.

  55. Admin*

    TL;DR Is there a way to discourage casual touching by a coworker without outright saying it? Or should I actually be talking to someone else about this situation?

    I work in a pretty familial, laid-back environment (also fairly woman-friendly- the majority of upper management are women, as are like 80% of the staff) and have several bosses who I do admin stuff for. One I’ve had a rough time with because he (metaphorically) pushes all my buttons. He’s blustery and bumbling and takes 5 minutes to do/say what we could get done in 1 or less and he “checks in” multiple times a day (even if he has nothing to check in about) . My big boss has actually moved me to be away from him (I was formerly right outside of his office), either because she knew that I had a tough time working with him or she knows that he is hard to work with (I’ve been told as much several times by other people). I have always tried to be professional/cheerful/friendly with him but I guess sometimes the strain gets into my voice? I can see where there have been times when I’ve been strained. Anyway, despite this and his only review of me being that he wishes I were “friendlier” (NONE of my other bosses said this), I thought things were getting better and I’ve actually been able to be genial with him because it would supposedly help my job. And so now he’s started, like, touching my shoulder sometimes? Which, I mean I work with a lot of people in a family-friendly environment and this social touching is not new to me (despite the fact that I don’t like it, I tolerate it because it’s not worth caring), but I really REALLY do not want him doing this. I’m not scared or intimidated, I just hate it. But I also know that if I called him out on it he would apologize for 15 minutes and act like I yelled at him or pressed charges or something, and generally act hysterical. (side note- I am quite young and he is quite old)

    I guess I just wanted some outside perspective to see if it’s me being over-bristly (which I can be) or if this is actually something I should try and figure out.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      I was once asked not to touch someone. I’m a woman and it was another woman. I used to be a touchy talker. She just pulled me aside one day and said “hey, I really don’t like being touched. It’s just a thing I have. Nothing personal. Thanks.” I was kind of shocked but glad she told me privately and I made a point thereafter to touch everyone less and her not at all.

      I’ve also been the recipient of unwanted touchy talkers and it can really be awkward.

    2. Mints*

      If you think saying it directly would be badly, could you try nonverbal distancing? Like shrug off the hand or just stand farther away? I don’t know if that’d work; he sounds awful

    3. Yet Another Allison*

      Based on the timeline you presented, the big boss probably would not be surprised to hear this is going on. Mention it to her and she can address it with him before it escalates.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      I have a (very nice) female coworker who’s very touch-feely. When she passes my desk when she’s leaving for the day she’ll sometimes lay her hand on my shoulder for a second or two when she says goodbye; if we’re standing next to each other in the elevator or whatever, she sometimes bumps hips with me while making a joke. I’m not a touchy-feely person and it makes me feel very uncomfortable – and I can definitely imagine my reaction being amplified if it was a guy, and even more so if he was difficult in other ways. So no, I don’t think you’re being over-bristly at all.

      (I’d been trying to figure out what to do about it for a while (she’s very sensitive), then once when she put her hand on my shoulder, I startled really badly. She’s never done it again since then – problem accidentally solved!)

    5. Observer*

      It doesn’t make a difference if you are being “over bristly” or not. If you don’t want to be touched, then you don’t have to allow it. But, you can’t go to someone else about it, unless and until you deal directly with the person who touches you. Of course, if you had specific reason to believe that the conversation would turn abusive, or the like, that would be different. But, expecting an unpleasant conversation is not a good enough reason to do that.

  56. Paloma Pigeon*

    So I have gone from ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ to my 3rd in-person interview coming up some time in mid June (all together now: AL-I-SON! AL-I-SON!) after my initial phone screen was last week in April. It’s been so long since I originally applied for the position that I’m finding it hard to still stay excited about the job – especially since Alison’s advice is to move on mentally until you have a written offer. Anyone else ever deal with this?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Yup. And then I didn’t get the job after count it, 5 interviews and a writing test. This was last year. I applied in October, first interview in November and finally got rejected end of January.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Can you take a mental break from it until a week or so before the interview? Don’t research the position, don’t review interview questions, etc. Maybe that time away (even if it’s just a week) will give you a chance to refresh.

      1. Paloma Pigeon*

        It’s hard because I keep getting ‘hang in there, we still love you, you’re in the mix!’ emails, but the timeline has shifted from May…to June…to July. I’m getting antsy because they have massive fundraising goals for this position for events that are held in August/Sept, and that’s two months of work that isn’t being handled. I know I shouldn’t worry about it, but I can’t help but worry about it, since I know it will make the job tougher the later the start date.

  57. Canadamber*

    If you’ve broken up with your ex, who works at your work, and he’s being subtly annoying (i.e. making strange jokes, and just generally acting jerky)… but… no one who hasn’t seen the other incidents, or who doesn’t know the context of the relationship, would understand?

    I’m considering finding another job because of my stupid ex. I’m 6 years younger than him and he’s less mature than me. But of course since he’s not outright harassing me, I can’t do anything about it…

    Anyone ever dealt with this? Is there a way to tell him to stop without him being able to just go, “Hey, I was just joking?” Seriously, it’s so subtle that I’m convinced that I’m just going crazy.

      1. JMegan*

        Ugh, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I think you have a couple of options here:

        A. Tell him to stop. Clearly, and use the word “stop.” As in, “these types of comments are inappropriate. Please stop saying things like this.” And if (when?) he says he’s just joking, just keep repeating “It’s not appropriate. Please stop.”

        B. Ignore him completely, if this is an option. Do you have to work with him directly, or are these “hallway comments” and emails and so on? If you have to work with him, then stick with Option A above. But if you don’t work directly with him and there’s no reason for him to be contacting you otherwise, then ignore, ignore, ignore.

        Don’t get into a discussion with him about why it’s inappropriate (he knows!), or whether or not you’re being too sensitive, or whatever. Just keep repeating as often as necessary “Please stop saying things like that.”

        1. Canadamber*

          I get flustered stupidly easily, so… I’ll try to switch into serious mode and go, “Please stop,” if he does it again.

          The problem is, I work at the cash register. And I can’t leave. So he can pretty much come up and say whatever he wants and I can’t say anything back to him. He works in the produce department, but will generally come to my till on his breaks. (He wasn’t allowed to while we were dating, but started doing it literally as soon as I broke up with him.)

          There was a text conversation that happened…
          Him: Yo sup Canadamber
          Me: Just making food… you?
          Him: I see that you were vandalizing tables at work Tisk Tisk
          Me: That was … He tried to steal my wallet so yeah
          Him: Don’t you try and blame this on poor

          This other coworker is extremely obnoxious, which he KNOWS, and he doesn’t like him. The backstory is that the guy tried to steal my wallet, so when I took it back from him, he wrote my name on the table in Sharpie marker. Most people thought it was really funny, and my ex’s comment was the only rude one. This had happened a few days before the whole text conversation. I stopped replying after that. I feel like freezing him out is a good idea, because he hasn’t texted me too much for a while now.

          You know, I told him that we could still be friends at the time of the break up, but he turned into a total jerk. I don’t want to be friends with someone like that.

          1. Katie*

            I like AAM’s strategy for appearing politely confused if/when you are unable to not respond in the first place. Sounds like a lot of his behaviour depends on you being in on the “joke”, as it were – if he’s asked to explain himself it won’t be as rewarding for him.

            I worked in a job where for one day the clients involved me in an elaborate charade with their children that involved treating me as an outsider (too long to explain here). They also knew my parents and made suggestive remarks (that looked perfectly innocent on paper) about them. It was the longest day of my life. I can’t understand how you must feel every day. I hope your situation improves.

          2. Katie*

            And no, I wouldn’t waste time worrying if you should try to be friends with him at this point. What sort of person treats another person this way? Even after a break-up? What an ass.

          3. A. D. Kay*

            Save that text convo! You might need to show it to your manager, with context. And don’t respond to any more of his texts and calls. This fool needs to be shut down!

          4. Artemesia*

            If he was not ‘allowed’ at your till when you were dating, that should go double for after you break up. Can you ask your manager to require him to stay away from you at work? (When Fred and I were dating he was not allowed to hang around near my till; now that we have broken up he loves coming by to needle me, could we have a policy that he cannot hang around me while I am working?’

            I always sympathize with secretaries, cashiers etc who are stuck in place and have no way to easily avoid obnoxious customers or co=workers. It is entirely reasonable for you to ask that an ex not be allowed to hang around your work station; anyone ought to recognize why that is inappropriate. You should not have to provide examples of his inappropriateness, just that he is hanging around and needling you. ANYONE should understand that dynamic.

            Be businesslike and straightforward but ask that he be instructed to not hang around you at work. The produce guy has no reason to be at check out.

            Ignore things like his remarks about the table when generally made, but you don’t have to have him hanging about.

          5. Observer*

            Not responding to texts and emails is a good start. If he comes to your till just tell him you are working and can’t talk, and keep repeating this. If he keeps coming / won’t stop talking to you, you go to your manager and tell him that ExBF keeps coming to your till and trying to make conversation and although you’ve told him to bug off he comes coming over, although you find it distracting.

            Oh, and don’t respond to out of work contacts, either – except PERHAPS once to say that you’ve decided that you can’t stay friends. If you do that, though, don’t go into explanations, and don’t let him try to argue with you or guilt you into responding.

    1. Colette*

      If it’s just annoying (which it sounds like), your best bet is probably to ignore it or respond only when it’s work related.

      If it crosses the line into harassing or threatening, then you’d need to go to management.

      1. fposte*

        Though I might tell my manager, if I had a good relationship with the manager. “Just FYI, Bob and I were going out, and he’s been a little weird here since we broke up. I think it’s being handled okay so far, but I wanted to let you know.”

        1. Canadamber*

          I feel like that might not be necessary, but I definitely don’t trust him. I’m seriously worried about being done work around close (10 PM) at the same time as him, because I don’t trust him not to follow me to my car or try to scare me or something. I don’t think he’d hurt me, but he once asked me for a ride home from work (“Hey, wanna wait half an hour and drive me home?” “I can’t, sorry. I have to get up early tomorrow.” “You can; you just don’t want to.” Ugh), and since my car opens all of the doors when you turn the key, there would be nothing stopping him from getting in.

          I feel like I might be being a little bit paranoid, but I don’t trust him. He was pressuring me for sex during the relationship, and obviously I can’t tell coworkers that, because it sounds weird. So far, I haven’t been scheduled for close around the same time as him… but I do worry. :(

          1. JMegan*

            In that case, I would like to revise my opinion above. Ignore him as much as you can, with the “please stop” (including eye contact and serious voice) when you can’t.

            But honestly, I think you should tell your manager at least a little bit. It sounds like they know you were dating, correct? So talk to your manager, and say that he’s been acting strangely since you broke up, and his behaviour is making you uncomfortable. And specifically ask to *not* be scheduled to close at the same time he is, so you can avoid this situation entirely.

            You don’t have to go into details, but I think it’s important (and not at all paranoid!) that you don’t trust him, and a good manager would want to know that and do what she can to make you feel comfortable.

            1. Artemesia*

              If you have to close at the same time, see if you can have security escort you to your car if there is a security guard or if someone else might do it.

              If you are not able to bring yourself to do it, then pay attention. If he accompanies you to your car, then turn around and return immediately to the store and ask for assistance. This is nothing to mess with. Men who behave like this are those who objectify women and feel they are entitled to be catered to. They can be dangerous when they don’t get what they want.

          2. ella*

            I would definitely tell somebody at work. Preferably your manager. Or a coworker that you trust who is assertive and can do some subtle cock-blocking, who will walk you to your car and make sure you don’t get left alone with him. It sounds like it’s already crossed the line into harassing, at least to me. I can’t imagine that he thinks you’re totally cool and fine with all of this. Tell somebody. Please, please tell somebody.

            And if he gets into your car when you unlock it, don’t get in the car with him. Shut the door and walk back into the store, or to a nearby gas station, something. You are under no obligation to be polite to him, or to let him push you around. Your only obligation is to keep yourself safe.

            1. Canadamber*

              Well, he’s not making creepy sexual advances now – thank God! – but, yeah, this is kinda keeping me on edge because I trust him about as much as a mouse trusts a cat. Aka, not at all. I don’t think he’d try anything, but I can’t be totally sure that he wouldn’t be all horrible, at the very least!

              I.e. I give him a ride home, he starts teasing me or talking about the relationship… what the heck am I supposed to do then?

              1. ella*

                Pull over and tell him to get the hell out. Also, I’ve found that the act of dialing the police (sometimes without even completing the call) to be a really effective “get the hell away from me” strategy.

              2. Artemesia*

                DO NOT GIVE him a ride home. What are you thnking? If he says, ‘you could, you just don’t want to’ then say ‘Yes, that’s right’. But don’t offer someone you are afraid of a ride in your car. Women have been socialized to be doormats, but it never gets them anything but this kind of harassment. Do NOT give this jerk a ride home. WHY. Because you don’t want to. I don’t want to is the only reason any woman every needs for refusing her favors, her company, her transportation to a man pressing her.

                1. Canadamber*

                  Oh no I would never!!! Thankfully, I am smart enough not to drive him anywhere. :)

              3. fposte*

                Canadamber, I’m seconding Artemisia *big time*. Don’t give him a ride home. Don’t text to him. Block his texts. He isn’t a friend, he doesn’t like you, you’re not socializing with him, you don’t owe him anything. If he’s not asking a work question, he needs to step away from your till, and you need to make sure you’re not “feeding” him when he comes by by talking to him. (That’s where the manager might be helpful, too, since I doubt his job is to hang around your till.)

                I don’t actually think it sounds like you’re that much at risk myself, but I think he’s annoying and that the more you can train yourself to completely disengage and let go of the “make nice” model the better it’ll be for you now and the better practice this will be for you in the future.

                1. Canadamber*

                  Well, he comes on his breaks to buy stuff… he doesn’t come around randomly.

              4. Observer*

                Don’t give him a ride home. Don’t have anything to do with him after work. Period. And don’t have anything to do with him at work, other than that which is required by your job.

                He doesn’t like it ? That’s HIS problem! Your problem is to keep safe.

                PLEASE document his behavior. If you ever need to get help, the more specific information you have the better off you will be.

          3. A. D. Kay*

            HOLY CARP!! Yes, for sure, let your manager know he’s making you feel unsafe. He is committing sexual harassment, plain and simple.

              1. A. D. Kay*

                Maybe it’s not overtly sexual, but it’s still harassment, and it’s in retaliation for your breaking up with him. Ugh! Please stay safe and give us updates.

              2. JMegan*

                You don’t need to talk about the sex part. But this is what worries me:

                … generally come to my till on his breaks. (He wasn’t allowed to while we were dating, but started doing it literally as soon as I broke up with him.)

                It’s not sexual harrassment, but it is harrassment, and it is deliberate. He knows exactly what he can get away with, and he’s using that to his fullest advantage – including the fact that he can walk up to you any time and you can’t walk away. That kind of behaviour is really, really not cool.

          4. Not So NewReader*

            Car: Is there a way that you can get your car programmed differently? Press the button and only the driver’s door unlocks? Maybe you could look into that or maybe someone here knows the answer.

          5. Observer*

            Do NOT ever explain or excuse yourself when you are turning him down for anything. You do NOT owe him anything, and you should keep that in mind. The appropriate response to “Yes you can, you just don’t want to” is either silence, a shrug or “So?” The subtext is that the answer is still no. Don’t let him embarrass you into tolerating is misbehavior.

            You might want to read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker (

            By the way, there is NOTHING weird about not trusting someone who was pressuring you for sex. It’s just not something that most people need to know. On the other hand, if you do need to talk to so-workers or management about the issue, you might want to stick with “He didn’t respect boundaries when we were in a relationship and now he’s being pushy.”

    2. Katie the Fed*

      “Joking or not, I’d like these comments to stop.”

      Be completely, dead serious when you say it.

    3. A. D. Kay*

      Ugh, what a jerk… so sorry you are dealing with that. A lot of times, harassment takes just the form you describe–it’s subtle and flies under other people’s radar. My suggestion is to Use Your Words, as Captain Awkward says. Clearly call out the specific behavior that makes you uncomfortable and tell him to stop. If he does say, “Jeeeez, can’t you take a joke”? respond with something like, “If it’s a joke, why isn’t anybody laughing?” You might want to do some searches on It has a lot of great advice on shutting down verbal bullies. If speaking to him doesn’t work, definitely escalate to management (unless, of course, your management sucks).

    4. Cuddly Porcupine*

      I would look for another job. Not much good can come from working with an ex who you don’t get along with.

    5. CanadianWriter*

      You need to tell your manager! If you’re not comfortable talking to your manager, talk to another one in the store. If you’re lucky, they’ll take the harassment seriously and fire this loser.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is what bullies do. “Oh, I was just joking.”

      “Fine, whatever you call it, just stop.”

      Or “The correct response to a joke that is not well received is to say you are sorry. The wrong response is to keep doing it over and over.”

      BTW, yes, bullies want you to think you are going crazy.

      As long as you have any level of contact with this guy, he is just going to keep doing this. If I am recalling correctly this has been going on for a while now. Time to change what you are doing, because he is not going to change what he is doing.

    7. CLM*

      Honestly, it sounds like he *is* outright harassing you. And the way he does it subtly, and when no one else is around, making you doubt your own perceptions? That’s textbook gaslighting.

      Don’t ignore it. Tell him to stop. If he doesn’t stop, go to management. If management won’t do anything about it, look for another job. This guy is out of line, and I worry that he will escalate things.

      1. Canadamber*

        Well, there are customers around… that neither of us will ever see again.

        And it’s just because I REALLY don’t like him, and my friend tells me that I am spiteful about him (which mostly started when he started being a jerk after we broke up), that I’m kinda doubting it.

        Also, how can such a seemingly nice guy be so mean? Honestly, I knew that he didn’t like a lot of people, and sometimes he talked about the fact that he would like to be rude to people that he didn’t like. I never knew that he actually WOULD until he started doing it to me.

        Maybe I’m the crazy one. Maybe my dislike of him is keeping me from thinking about this rationally. Or maybe he specifically is doing this to keep me thinking about him, and drive me crazy. He once asked me if I hated him, citing that a coworker thought that I was being hateful to him after a little incident in the break room. I told him no, of course… because I don’t. I just, urgh. I have a tendency to worry A LOT and overthink things, and I think that that’s what I’m doing here.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is what he wants you to do- over think things until your mind breaks. Stop. Just stop.

          Normal people in healthy relationships of any sort do not require this much work. This dude is one heck of a lot of work.

          You are not responsible for his emotion of the moment. Do not allow him to make you feel responsible for it.

          “Honestly, I knew that he didn’t like a lot of people, and sometimes he talked about the fact that he would like to be rude to people that he didn’t like. I never knew that he actually WOULD until he started doing it to me.”

          People show us how they will treat us in the future by how they treat others right now. The next time you hear this from a person say to yourself, “This person is showing me how they will treat ME in the future.”

          I have a friend. Let’s call him Sam. Sam found a new friend, “Tim”. Tim bragged to my friend Sam that when he gets mad at people he stops speaking to them forever. Tim went on to brag about how it does not take much to tick him off.

          Fast forward two years later, Tim stops talking to my friend Sam over a matter that could have just been discussed the way any two ADULTS would discuss a problem. Sam misses his friendship with Tim. They did fun things and interesting projects. My friend, Sam, never saw this one coming. Just like you are saying here. But, Tim DID tell Sam at the very beginning of the friendship how things go in Tim’s world.

          Report this man to your managers. And inform this man that if he does not stay away from you then you are going to the police to get an order of protection. He violates the order he will be in court, for sure.

        2. CLM*

          You’re not crazy. This is calculated behavior on his part. You are not responsible for his emotions, or his actions. However he may choose to treat others, right now, he is *choosing* to treat you poorly. There are plenty of ex-boyfriends in the world who choose to treat their ex-girlfriends perfectly well; politely, and respectfully. This guy is choosing to do neither.

          1. A. D. Kay*

            “Or maybe he specifically is doing this to keep me thinking about him, and drive me crazy.”
            Yes! that’s exactly what he’s doing! Like CLM said a couple days ago, this is a technique called “gaslighting,” named after the classic film starring Ingrid Bergman

            If you read “The Gift of Fear” and watch “Gaslight”, you’ll have most of the tools you’ll need to shut this type of person down and hopefully not get involved with them in the first place.

            1. Canadamber*

              Although I haven’t seen him lately – I last worked on Tuesday, and don’t have to go back in until this Wednesday – I will be sure to keep these in the back of my mind, just in case I see him again and he bugs me. However, he hasn’t really been on my mind too much, ever since I got all this off my chest. So, thanks for that, all of you lovely AAM people! :)

  58. Elizabeth*

    I have a job interview this afternoon! If anyone wants to send good vibes my way around 3PM CST, they’d be much appreciated!

    It’s for a development position at a performing arts organization whose shows I grew up seeing, so I’m a big fan and already know a lot about them going in.

    My current workplace has burned me out over the past 9 months or so–a beloved boss and mentor left, as well a fantastic co-worker. New boss(es) handed off all of said co-worker’s duties onto me with no plans in sight to hire a replacement and increased my work week to six days. Add in a couple other factors (a meddling co-worker, mass disorganization) and I’m thinking it’s time to move on.

    I try not to get my hopes up about any job, the market being what it is, but I’m hoping it goes well.

    Hope everyone’s having a great Friday!

  59. University Career Counselor*

    Our office is trying to create some helpful guidelines for employers writing job descriptions for entry level positions. We’ve seen a few too many posting come away that are over a page long, overly technical/jargony and cause confusion among our students about the nature of the work. While we coach students to learn about their industry and how to glean the important details from postings, some are just over the top. Any ideas/suggestions for employers? Or things we might be overlooking when we try to provide advice?

    1. BRR*

      I’m not sure how you will go about suggesting employers rewrite their positions. Is it cold contacting them? Honestly, I might be a little offended if a university contacted me to tell me my job description wasn’t well written.

      That’s not to say of course that they’re not awful, but it might hurt your students. Could you have professors help explain some if they’re technical?

      1. MaryMary*

        I agree it may be problematic to tell employers they need to rewrite their job postings. It’s actually really possible that the hiring managers aren’t crazy about how the job posting is phrased either, but it’s not within their control to change it. Some job postings are written by committee, sometimes the internal job description is used (which is often where the jargon comes from), sometime there’s a game of corporate telephone where what the hiring manager asked for only vaguely resembles what’s posted. Particularly at larger companies, there isn’t one person who can listen to your feedback and update the job posting. There are usually multiple people and sometimes layers of bureaucracy involved.

        If there is a campus recruiter you have a good relationship with, or a company who hires a lot of your graduates, or maybe an alum who has reached out to you for candidates, I think you could share specific feedback and suggestions. But if you don’t have an existing relationship with the employer, I think you’re better off teaching your students to work through confusing job postings (a valuable real world skill).

  60. GracieLou*

    I recently (about 3 months ago) started a new, part-time job. At the time that I started this position, I was employed with another organization on a part-time basis and was working from home. About a month into working my new job, the department manager asked me if I would A)be willing to take on more hours and b)if I would want to quit my second job and how many hours would I need to make that feasible? Fast forward to about two or three weeks ago, I get a phone call from another manager telling me that my hours were getting bumped up (to the number I had originally needed to quit my “at home” job). I was thrilled, but after really crunching numbers and talking my boss for my “at home” job, she said she wasn’t opposed to having me work on the weekend, in order to allow me time to focus on my new job during the week. I’ve been commuting about an hour to and from for this new job, but will be moving into town soon. So, although I’ll be saving money on gas, I will be in a college town where apartments (even a small one bedroom where I’ll be) are very pricey.

    There is no way, given what I’ll need for basic living expenses, that I could give up my “at-home” work, at least not without gaining more hours at my new job ( there have been issues in securing an apartment, personal “stuff” going on, etc). I’ve been asked by my direct manager and the dept. manager if I’d gone ahead and given up my “at-home” job, now that I have more hours there. I told them both the truth; that I would rather hang on to it a bit longer, as I’d like the additional source of income. NOW, I’m wondering if I’ve shot myself in the foot by doing this. I DO NOT want to be perceived as someone who is manipulative and I’m afraid that by saying I’d need X number of hours to quit my first job and then turning around and keeping it does not reflect well on me, as a person. Granted, neither manager seemed taken aback when I told them and seemed more than understanding…but I’m still paranoid it may have put a strike against me. Should I just let it go and assume it’s not as big a deal as I think it is?

    1. CTO*

      As long as your at-home job isn’t interfering with your availability, energy, etc. at your day job, I don’t think they’d really care that you’re still working there. I’ve often had two jobs (pretty common in my nonprofit field) and no one looks down on it. But they do celebrate people being able to quit their second jobs because that’s what most of us eventually hope to do. So they might be asking in either a “just showing interest” kind of way or because they hope to congratulate you. I doubt they’re upset that you kept your second job, since your new organization got what they wanted: more of your time, and your full weekday availability.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You should be fine. It sounds like you have good control over your time, which is probably their primary concern.

      I work a couple of part time jobs and my bosses are very cool about everything. They do ask how I am doing. And that is because they expect if I get something different they will have to replace me. They have been totally clear about this. I take them at their word.

      I think they admire your honesty. You could have lied. Continue to be honest. Make sure that if you say you will do X that X gets done. Never promise anything that you cannot accomplish or are unsure if you can accomplish. If you are unsure say so. I think that it will go well for you.

  61. ryn*

    Okay, so applying for a job when you’re not fully qualified for it. How do you make your case without sounding super…whiny about it? The job is what I’m wanting to move my career towards – and my boss was somewhat helping me with that, but things are super rocky here at the moment and I don’t get to work on certain aspects of it as much as I would like to.

    They want 3 years experience in this role, but I’ve got like 3 years doing some parts, 2 years doing others, and various small amounts doing the rest, some not at all. I do have nearly 4 years working with quirky system that they use that they called out by name in the ad. Do I even have a case to make? Is it worth it?

    1. Lucy*

      Apply!! Job descriptions can be difficult to interpret- I would emphasize your greatest strengths and willingness to learn.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, you have a case to make. And what’s the worst that could happen—you don’t get an interview?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      No need to whine. Just describe your experience to them. Then let them decide.

    4. C Average*

      Consider how things would go if you got the job and needed to start being proficient in all aspects of the role right away with minimal training and oversight. Could you? Would that be realistic? Those are the real questions you need to ponder.

      My company’s very sink-or-swim with new hires. You would NOT want to indicate proficiency in a task or system here unless you were literally ready to use that system and perform that task on your first day. Make sure that’s a standard you can hit.

  62. Julie*

    Hi Alison, I don’t know if someone else already mentioned this, but in the second paragraph of the open thread intro, it says, “But for people who enjoy the non-work-related conversations, you’ll get your chance with a separate post over the week.” I think the last word should be “weekend.”

    I’m looking forward to reading the comments. I think this is a good idea – keeping the work-related and non-work-related conversations separate. I hope it works how you hope it will.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I think so too! I tend to miss a lot of the work ones on the open thread because they get lost. Though I kind of miss the other stuff–it made my Friday less of a drudge. But it’s nice to have the free-for-all to anticipate over the weekend.

  63. Stephanie*

    I had an acquaintance who’s a recruiter do fake reference checks for my previous employers. I’ve been interviewing, but not getting offers, so I was wondering if former bosses’ references might be hurting me.

    The report back was interesting. Also, from her recounting, it sounded like it didn’t take a whole lot of prodding to get past the initial “Stephanie worked here in [role] from [date] to [date].”

    FirstBoss was like “I’m not comfortable going into the particulars of Stephanie’s performance [that job was admittedly a poor fit], but I will say this job has very, very high turnover, is in a super narrow field, is a production-based environment, and the majority of new hires find this isn’t a good fit. Stephanie was a very smart and friendly employee.”

    SecondBoss was like “Stephanie was a hard worker and smart, she was just a lot less experienced than most of our employees. She probably could have benefited from additional training since she was a Teapot Designer working as a Teapot Salesperson. She was one of my better writers.”

    I was expecting both bosses to say I was the worst employee ever (it felt that way at times!). So while neither is a glowing reference, it’s good to know the references are at least neutral.

    1. Traveler*

      Do you have other positive references to add to these? I think its great to have a balanced view of an employee and not paint it as rainbows and sunshine (it makes the positive things they do say have a little more weight), but I think I’d be scared to not have someone saying that I was “freaking amazing!”

      1. Stephanie*

        I do! The “freaking amazing” ones are from volunteer work, so I just wanted to check on the professional references as I figured those would be given more weight.

  64. hildi*

    Is it a bad thing for my future if I am happy to stay in the organization I’m in, and never really advance in my positions? This conversation from yesterday gave me pause that maybe I should be steadily advancing and progressing in my positions? (

    The thing is that I am very happy to keep doing what I am doing, and there really is no advancement opportunities for my specific position. Aside from that, at a certain point here I”m going to reach the max amount they’ll pay for my position (I’m in government) so it’s not like there’s much room for growth that way. I have absolutely no desire to move up in the ranks to management or climb the ladder. I’m all fine with this now, but I wonder if this is hurting me in unforseen ways?

    1. De Minimis*

      I think as long as the salary is meeting your needs there’s nothing wrong with staying put. The vast majority of people at my workplace [also gov’t] do that.

      That is one great thing about government employment, if people want to move around and advance, they can do that but it’s perfectly okay to remain in your current role long-term.

    2. EAA*

      Not everyone wants to be a chief. My husband works in state government and has had the same position for 22 years. He’s the expert on his subject and controls most of his work schedule. While he would be quite capable of higher level management he has no interest in the politics involved. Ans even having the same position doesn’t mean that that there aren’t changes and new challenges.

  65. New HR*

    I am always hiring in a job market where there are plenty of jobs and not enough people to fill them, which causes job seekers to be very lazy to say the least.
    I continuously get replies to my job ad that is just a paragraph on why they should get the job. If I like what I see based on that paragraph I reply by e-mail to ask them to send a formal resume. If I don’t receive one within a week, I move on. I also screen resumes for our Shop Foreman. I passed along one of the paragraphs and he called the school the candidate went to and now he wants me to call the applicant and remind him to send in the resume or set up an interview anyway.
    I absolutely do not want to do this. Besides not having enough time, I think it makes us look needy and if he is not willing to do the basic to get a job now, what would he be like on the job?

      1. New HR*

        I ask for them, I just don’t get them. People in this industry believe that they do not need them if they have experience.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I agree with your reasons for not wanting to do it, but I think you should defer to the hiring manager’s requests. With the information you shared about this one particular candidate, we don’t know if he forgot to send the resume, was on a vacation out of the country, or already took another job. I don’t think there’s enough to say he’s lazy or wouldn’t perform well on the job yet.

    2. BRR*

      My fiance’s mom is head of HR at a factory with a constant need for employees. Whenever they hire anybody who can’t start out doing easy, basic things (like show up for an interview) they always get fired quickly.

      Can you point out to the foreman past people you’ve had to chase and how they haven’t worked out?

  66. anon in tejas*

    I am considering a career change that would move me from an office setting where I am one of several persons on a team who come in with some strict hours/time off requirements with little travel to a working remotely for a state-wide organization with several partners in my city, but my main boss being in another city.

    I am wondering what major things will change and how to anticipate them.
    For example: I know that I like the social aspect of seeing and interacting with my coworkers daily. I know that will change significantly. How do I combat that?

    I also know that I will have a hard time sticking to a regular work week when working from home. I am a bit of a workaholic, and like leaving my work at the office at the end of the day. Suggestions on how to deal with this issue?

    are there other issues I am missing and may not foresee?

    1. AVP*

      I don’t know what your living situation is, but it’ll be really helpful if you can set aside an office or a table that is your “work” environment – do not sit there unless you are working, and make sure you’re sitting there while you’re supposed to be. I used to freelance from home and it all started to go downhill when I took the laptop into bed with me.

      And then at the end of the day, have an activity that’s your “end of day” thing – walk the dog, go for a jog, grocery shopping – just something to get you out of the house and out of work mode so your brain gets used to the idea of “work is over for the day, I’m doing something else!”

    2. WhoaBuddy*

      The cafes I manage have a lot of people who are doing the style of work that you are. We are there workplace, and as long as you are respectful to the staff, tip well, and buy something every hour or two, you should be able to find a situation like this that would work for you.

      The other solution I can think of is one that two of my friends are currently doing: one is a lawyer and one is a marketer, and they both rent workspaces in larger communal offices. Neither of them had luck working inside their homes, even if they had specific work areas, and this was their solution. In larger cities, these spaces can be really cool — the one gal’s office has a different food truck every day of the week — but I bet you could find a simpler sharing situation in almost any-sized city. If you find you can’t work at home, that is!

  67. Traveler*

    How do you respond to a situation like this in an interview:
    Interview A: Melting the chocolate for the teapots is so difficult.
    Interviewer B: Getting the chocolate the right temperature to melt for the teapot molds is going to be the most difficult part of this position.
    Interviewer C: Yeah, melting the chocolate is going to be crazy. Very very difficult.

    (end of interview) Interviewer C: So what do you think? Do you think melting the chocolate will be difficult for you?

    I couldn’t help but feel like this was some sort of weird behavioral test, and as it wasn’t something I had practiced/expected I kind of flubbed my answer. If something like this comes up again – any good advice on how to tackle it?

    1. anon in tejas*

      I would address by answering what you know about melting teapots and how you deal with repeated stressors. It sounds like that is what the question is trying to elicit from you, and something that they have had an issue with in the past.

    2. fposte*

      “Here is how I’ve dealt with melting challenges and other similar obstacles in the past.” “I think it’s always tricky, but I’ve been able to get past the difficulties before and I expect to be able to do it here as well.”

    3. Cuddly Porcupine*

      It sounds like it’s a test of your attitude. I would say, “It’s not going to be difficult for me! I’m great at melting chocolate for teapots!” Then, so they know you’re being realistic, describe a time when you found it challenging and how you overcame that.

  68. last week's "anon for this one"*

    Thanks to Alison and the commenters who gave advice in last week’s open thread about moving from a non-profit job to the corporate world. It definitely gave me more to think on and consider!

  69. pizzagrl*

    Hi Lily In NYC,

    Sorry I missed the open thread two weeks ago (I was getting LASIK) and it looks like you were out on MDW. Anyway, I was hoping to get your advice on what it really means to be an executive assistant, what kind of skills a good EA needs, and how to develop them when they aren’t your natural strong suit. Thanks!

    1. b*

      it basically means you manage someone’s life, calendar, write correspondence for them, etc.

    2. AVP*

      I think the biggest skills are organization (!), time management, great at dealing with people (some of whom you’ll be having to turn away or turn down on your executive’s behalf, without burning bridges), and having a good sense of priorities (able to sense when Task B is becoming more important than Task A without having to ask or be told). Also, discretion when needed.

      I don’t know how to develop those, they all seem kind of innate and I’ve had a terrible time trying to train people into roles like this when they don’t have those skills.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Hi pizzagrl!
      I hope your LASIK went well – it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

      A good EA needs to be detail-oriented and organized. Very reliable and prompt. Able to keep your mouth shut, no gossip. Able to handle lots and lots of distractions. A good writer who uses proper grammar in emails.

      Some EA jobs are heavy on projects and some are strict admin. I find that the higher-level positions working for a top executive tend to be less project-based. The main component of my job is calendar management, which is much harder than it sounds. Scheduling meetings that involve 8 top executives with packed calendars is like working magic. I also do things like travel arrangements, expense reports, resume screening, and lots and lots of random stuff that just comes up during the day. Some jobs have a lot of personal work (scheduling doctor appts, hiring nannies, paying bills, etc).

      To work for a high-level person, you need a mix of being smart and type A with a dash of being willing to swallow your pride quite a bit because there are always people who treat you like you are beneath them.

      I am not a naturally organized person, nor am I that detail-oriented. I am lazy and type B to the max. But I have a strong work ethic and force myself to be organized and manage my time well. The work bores me to tears and it’s not a natural fit for me. I do it because I make very good money and have good hours and 5 weeks vacation. I make more doing this than I did as a manager at a top sports magazine and there’s a lot less accountability (meaning I don’t stress about work when I go home).

      Also, having a good boss is essential. When you are someone’s assistant, you just can’t escape them. Good luck to you!

  70. Ruffingit*


    What was the worst part of your week and what was the best?

    1. De Minimis*

      Best—the job vacancy I mentioned earlier. It would make everything we’ve gone through since I took this job worth it.

      Worst–lots of house expenses going on right now, seems like every other week we find something else wrong.

    2. Claire*

      Best: Hosting two college friends this weekend & flexing my tourism muscles to give them an awesome city experience (hopefully!)

      Worst: Have to send out all 4 of the newsletters I’m now in charge of, in a brand new format, in the next week or so, and none of the templates are set up yet!

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Best: Second-row, behind-home-plate seats for the Brewers-Orioles game on Monday.

      Worst: Sick today!

    4. Stephanie*

      Best – As I mentioned upthread, I figured out what my past managers were saying about me to a potential employer. The references weren’t “she walks on water”, but they were way better than my paranoid self would have guessed. So I feel a lot better about that aspect of my job search.

      Worst – I found stopgap work (kind of) at the fulfillment center of Everyone’s Favorite Online Retailer. So it’s money, but not very much and even the orientation made the job sound terrifying. (And I don’t think I’d list it on a resume, unless I was applying to a logistics or operations job.) Like I was watching the orientation video and there were talking heads saying “I was in incredible pain the first two weeks, but after that, it got really easy!” or “I really love the mandated stretch breaks!” The “worst” part is that even that job is so swamped, that they only had four days of work for me, a month out, in a fulfillment center that’s a 100-mi round trip from my house (heh, which is just going from one side of the metro area to the other). Factoring in traffic and the start time, I will probably need to leave home around 5 am to get there in time. I am beginning to debate if the four-day assignment is even worth it.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Wow yeah, I don’t know if it is worth it. Four days that require 400 total miles. You might spend more money in gas than you would make. And even if you’re not driving, that sounds like a lot of time commuting for not much money.

        1. Stephanie*

          Good/bad news. I got a call today (yep. on Sunday) that the assignment had been cancelled. So no schlepping out to West BFE for a 7 am start time, but then no money. Of course, I am still on call technically, so this could change at any moment. =/

    5. Mints*

      Last week I was panicking to finish my first ever cosplay costume
      Best: I’m really really happy with the way it turned out! I did a super hero who’s fairly popular, and I was the only one at the con who did this specific cartoon version, and one of the few cross gender ones for his character
      Worst: The job hunt suffered greatly during my arts and crafts time

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Any chance that you’d post a picture of the costume at least? Sounds really cool!

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      Worst: Got thrown under a bus via email for something I did not do and was not responsible for. I did some damage control, but I’m still ticked.

      Best: I looked at the calendar and figured out that starting in the middle of next week, DisorganizedBoss will be so consumed by conference travel and off-campus meetings that if you tack on the 1 vacation day I’m taking and the day conference I’m going to, I basically won’t see her for three whole weeks. I’m THRILLED.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Worst: ALSO gettting thrown under the bus. I issued a report, and my annoying coworker sent a mass emailing saying I was wrong and in a very a$$hole way. Something like “AnotherAlison said in the report issued on May 28 that XYZ was not likely to have bid and cleared, but actually this is incorrect. This April document from XYZ said they were indeed bidding. . .”

        Best: Vindication – Confirmation that XYZ did *not* bid or clear. Coworker is an idiot.

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          Yes, the vindication always helps. In my case, I support a grant program run by three people. Someone wrote to the three people asking for an update on her application, and one of them wrote back (reply-all, plus adding me to the loop) and said, “Oh, I’m surprised you haven’t heard back yet. We decided last week and Person2 told CollegeAdmin to contact you.”

          Person2 (my supervisor) had not told me anything, and in fact I had reminded her about the applications several times, including earlier that day. So I wrote to Person2, cc’d Person1, and said, “Last I was told, this was still being discussed. What was finalized?” Person1 wrote back and directed her attention to Person2, so I’m off the hook, but still.

          I figure that for every time I know my supervisor has thrown me under a bus (this is not the first time), there are two more I don’t know about. People, this is not how you should treat your assistants. If you’re a great person, I don’t mind taking the fall for you once in a blue moon, but only if it’s not a regular thing and if I know you’d do the same for me.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Yuck. That’s even worse, when it’s your manager throwing you under the bus.

    7. Trixie*

      Best – I decided to move forward on Les Mills instructor training once I learned it’s basically paid for by my gym. And I sold a large piece on Craigslist, tripling my original investment.

      Worse – My Subaru runs beautifully but will probably need a new EGR valve before long.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Best: I had to burn some PTO before year end (technically work-related, haha), so I took Tuesday and Wednesday off along with the Monday holiday. It’s a very short week for me. Will save the mall/shoe story for the free open thread.

      Worst: I’m at the front desk and someone stuck me with the ergonomic keyboard that has the sticky space bar. Arrrgh!

      Also dentist office stuff, but I’ll save that for the free-for-all.

    9. SD Cat*

      Best: I’m getting better at approaching people at networking events. The one I went to last night went a lot better than some of my previous ones.
      Worst: Haven’t heard from anywhere re: job hunt this week

    10. Yet Another Allison*

      Worst: The meeting I am wearing a suit for got cancelled, so I am stuck in a suit for no good reason.

      Best: My boss just told me that he wanted us to start going to San Diego about once a month. Oh darn!

    11. laura*

      Best: Done with Open enrollment.. 34 programs in 2 weeks. Feedback from management was great.

      Worst: Intimidated by talking with our ED… he mentioned to my boss that I seem eager to please and to make sure I know my stuff. Ugh. Talked with boss but she says not to worry about him; that I’m doing a great job and it’s just how he is. But still feeling like a total doofus.

    12. Ash (the other one!)*

      Best: Being out of the office for a conference Wednesday and Thursday and Monday being a holiday!

      Worst: Still not hearing from job I really want. Feeling dejected and like I took a horrible wrong turn taking my current job and that I’ll never be able to recover.

      Sigh. I’m really depressed right now. I know AAM’s advice, but I feel like if I didn’t hear about the job by today, they offered it to someone else. I just want to go home, curl into bed, and cry.

    13. Felicia*

      Best: I saw Flashdance the Musical and it was so amazing! I liked it much more than the movie, probably because of singing.

      Worst: Friend cancelled plans with me at the last minute, which is becoming a bit of a pattern. It may be time to let that friendship go which is hard. We were supposed to go to this awesome comedy show together, and no one else can go since it’s last minute. I may go myself.

    14. Trillian*

      Best: Survived generally crazy week with two job interviews, dental work, and presentation.
      Worst: I lost at nearly two days to all that and dental after-effects and need to catch up, and this weekend is forecast to be beautiful, and it’s nearly June, but summer has barely begun, and it’s so short … I miss school holidays! I’ve never quite grown out of the expectation that one ought to get summer off!

    15. Mimmy*

      Best: I got into the Graduate Certificate program that I talked about previously!!! I start in the Fall.

      Worst: I’ll save that for Sunday since it’s non-work.

    16. Skye*

      Best – not work stuff, so saving that.

      Worst – we have new Chocolate Teapot forms that are going to increase everyone’s workload and are missing Chocolate Teapot ID Numbers – or rather, have entirely NEW Chocolate Teapot ID Numbers without any reference to the old numbers. (Also, no one who is a Chocolate Teapot owner has a job. Or a phone number. Or is related to anyone. Yep.)

      And we have several Chocolate Teapots that are almost identical and sometimes only differentiated by the ID Numbers. So much for keeping everything organized and in it’s proper place.

    17. Julie*

      Best: Putting in my 2-week notice and then getting an invitation from my new employer to attend a big event for free on my 2nd day at the job.

      Worst: Old boss, who I told a month ago that he needed to reassign some duties from me, complaining that it took 3 people to agree to cover the work I was doing. Go figure no one else was going to take all that work on after seeing my decline in the last 6 months. Then Old boss told me he wasn’t really going to promote me so it was good I was moving on. I get that he’s annoyed his babysitter is leaving but act like a grown man.

    18. Windchime*

      Worst: I’ll be attending training next week near Seattle. With no traffic, the drive takes about 1/2 hour each way. In rush hour, it will take over 90 minutes each way. I’m looking forward to the training, but not making that drive all week.

      Best: Springtime! It’s so much easier to get up for work when it’s light outside and the birds are singing.

  71. AnotherAlison*

    I just noticed the summer intern’s cube has been turned into a dorm room! (lots and lots of pictures with friends, some other decorative items)

    Do others agree this is a no-no, or am I just turning into a bitter old woman?

    I’m fine with a few pictures and personal items, but I don’t think your office should look like a dorm room, family room, or preschool art gallery.

    1. ella*

      I’m sure it depends to a certain degree on workplace culture, but as long as the intern is getting their work done, what’s the harm? I think it’s actually a positive sign that they feel like they have ownership of the space, and will be more likely to want to contribute to the organization in a positive and meaningful way–you don’t want somebody who never unpacks their bags (so to speak) or stabelize themselves at the office because “they’re going to be gone in three months anyway so why bother,” right?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Culture is probably a big part of why I feel the way I do. I’m in engineering and construction. 1.) Most employees are men. They might have a family picture or two. 2.) The employees who do have this kind of cube decor are usually young, inexperienced women in the less technical roles, so by doing the same, it seems like a statement that you are a young, inexperienced woman. 3.) My department stays put, but over 50% of the staff is on project assignments and move around every 12 months or less, so people tend to have stark cubes/offices anyway.

        I haven’t personally worked with her. I’m sure she’s doing fine, and I’m not judging her peronal work or professionalism for it, but if she was my daughter (or son), I’d tell her to personalize a little, but not too much.

    2. Sunflower*

      I bet she read an article about what to do at your first internship and I bet there was a bullet in there about customizing your space and make it your own- she just went a little overboard. I would need to see the space to see if you are bitter or right. If you walk into her cube and you would think it was her actually her desk in a dorm room or you couldn’t recognize it has a work space, then yeah that’s a little too much

    3. krm*

      I totally agree. I have a couple of pictures, and “fun” office supplies-patterned binders and folders, a decorative pen holder, a desk calendar that is a bit more interesting than the company provided one, and I’ve found that those items are more than enough to liven up my environment. I would say something to them, just to let them know that your company tends to keep those items at a minimum, and they are making themselves stick out (and not in a good way) with all of the decoration.

    4. Lo*

      As someone who is not far out of the world of interns, I would just want to mention that this person is probably just a bit overly excited about their “first real internship” or whatever it may be. Unless this impacts their work, I don’t think it’s a big deal–at my company, there are some people whose cubes are filled to the brim both with papers and work items as well as personal stuff…radios, posters, pictures, paintings, lamps/lighting… I think it’s more of a personalization thing that anything about moving in. If they’re a good worker, don’t worry about it! Plus maybe this means they’re really invested…you never know!

      1. Ali*

        I don’t really think it’s a problem unless some of the pictures and other things are offensive. I didn’t really have my own desk at my first job, so I couldn’t do much decorating. (We had to alternate cubicles for a while and when I could settle in, there wasn’t much space.) I kinda miss having my own desk in an office to decorate, as my desk at home doesn’t allow for much personalization.

    5. MaryMary*

      I saw a similar discussion on another blog, and they recommended never having more personal items at work than you can easy pack into a cardboard box and carry out of the building. A little pessimistic, but practical.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve heard this, too. I’d be in big trouble. I have a little cube-type shelving unit, drawers full of various teas, tons of books (work-related, but still). If I got let go, it would be a couple hours of tearful packing to get out of there.

  72. Kaye*

    I work as a web developer (one of two) for a shop that is currently going through really a series of cutbacks to lower the debt they have (the owner routinely comes through the shop and gives anybody within earshot an update on how much debt the shop is in).

    They are cutting back on spending/expenditures and are not firing people, but rather when people leave for a better job, they are just not hiring new people to replace them. Most people treat this place as a stepping stone to get good experience and then leave for a better place to work.

    The thorn in my side is coworker (who is in sales/works on the floor) just got another job offer but the owner offered him a raise to stay even though we are in a freeze.

    His raise would put his pay above mine, even though my work is more valuable due to my skill set and duties (we all send end of day emails, so we know what everyone else is doing and the work they accomplish).

    I know I shouldn’t base what make on a co-worker’s pay but come on! Should I try to ask for a raise (leaving out the knowledge I have of the offer they made him, of course. I should also say I get paid waaaaaaaayyy under market value. I’ve been there for a little over a year, and they always praise the work I do, and have even called me the best worker that’s come through there) or just wait it out and keep hunting for another job? Or both?

    1. Marina*

      Absolutely ask for a raise, and base your ask on market value and your contributions to the organization rather than your coworker’s salary. It can’t hurt–if you don’t get it then keep hunting.

  73. Tasha*

    My college aged daughter started a (paid) summer internship this week. The orientation paperwork is claiming that in order to set up direct deposit of her checks, they not only need her account & routing numbers, but also a voided check. Well, being a 21st century person, she never ordered checks, of course. (She doesn’t have customized deposit slips, either.) My advice was to give her employer the bank numbers and just tell them she doesn’t have checks. Why would the payroll department of a relatively large company insist on getting a voided check, other than to verify the numbers? (Alternatively, if you do supply a voided check, you shouldn’t have to fill out the additional form with the routing and account numbers . . . .)

    1. Marina*

      She can order a single check from her bank, most banks provide a certain number free. It is standard enough to ask for a voided check that it would seem weird for someone to object, although I don’t know why it’s necessary.

    2. Shell*

      you don’t even need to order a check, at least not where I live. I just walk into sent branch of my bank and ask for a direct deposit form. they print it off for you for free on the spot and it has all the info a check does.

      I’ve always stapled one of those onto my file and not even bother filling out routing information by hand. it’s all on the form anyway

      1. Felicia*

        That’s what I used to do before I got checks – just walk into whatever your bank is and ask for a direct deposit form. They’ll know what it is and have them. I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t require a voided check for direct deposit (though of course they accept direct deposit forms too, the just ask for a void check first)

    3. CollegeAdmin*

      I have CapitalOne360 (formerly ING), which has no physical branches, and I didn’t have checks for the longest time. There’s a place on the website to print out a voided check just for this purpose. She could see if her bank has something similar.

    4. Cuddly Porcupine*

      A voided check is required in order to set up direct deposit. That’s standard. Banks provide single voided checks for that purpose. She can go to her local branch and ask for one, or possibly order one through the bank’s website.

    5. Onymouse*

      Also, to save you an extra trip to the bank that I once had to make, some employers/payroll processors want a bank stamp on the direct deposit form, so it probably doesn’t hurt to ask for it on the first go.

  74. Maddy*

    In a slightly different approach from the person who asked a similar question above, how long should you stay in your position when you’re a senior-level director? I’ve been a department-head with my current organization for a year and a half now and I’ve known from the start that it’s just not where I want to be long-term. The culture is disorganized and directionless and I just don’t enjoy going to work every day like I did with my last position. The pay and benefits are great, but I just know I want to leave sooner rather than later.

    So should I suck it up and wait for the 2 year mark (or longer) before seeking out a VP position elsewhere, or would Presidents/CEOs not care about a 1.5 year tenure? (my previous position lasted for 4 years, though I had a few promotions within that timeframe). I have had several major accomplishments within the last year and a half, definitely enough to have some impressive resume bullets.

  75. Marina*

    tl;dr, question about how to protect myself from a PIP while dealing with medical issues

    I am really worried there is a PIP in my near future. My supervisor has been overall very supportive but has made it clear, informally, that I am not meeting expectations. On the one hand, I agree with her–I’m missing maybe 25% of my deadlines by a couple days to a week, and that’s just not acceptable. On the other hand, I’m 7 months pregnant and have also been diagnosed with prenatal depression, so a) there’s medical reasons I’m not performing at my usual level, and b) I’m going on maternity leave in 2 months anyway. I’ve told my supervisor (and HR) that I’ve started medications that will hopefully improve my focus and energy but may take a month or more to take effect, but she doesn’t seem content to leave it at that and let it go. I can see her point, she does need someone in this position who can fill all the job requirements without accommodation, but is there anything else I can do to protect myself while still realizing I may not be back up to par before I go on maternity leave?

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      If your employer is large enough to fall under the ADA you should request reasonable accommodations. State law may protect your pregnancy as a medical condition but the ADA does not as far as I know. Depression, however, can be a disability. Not all medical conditions are disabilities. But, if you say the key words you may cover your butt. Accommodations, again, must be reasonable and you must still be able to perform the essential functions of your job with those accommodations.

      1. fposte*

        Though as Marina notes there may be no reasonable accommodation–they’re not required to accept lowered performance. I agree that it’s worth bringing the discussion up, however.

        Back to you, Marina–are there things you could do to minimize the slippage? Do you know where and why it’s happening? I think it might also help to share your plans for methodologically addressing the situation with your manager, so that you’re not just waiting for things to improve but actively working to minimize the effect of the problem.

        1. Marina*

          Absolutely, I have been doing some things and feel that I am improving somewhat. I’ve been setting daily and weekly priorities and keeping a daily log of what I spend my time on, I’ve been able to move from a cubicle to an office which has improved my focus, and I’ve gotten better at prioritizing and delegating. The part that hasn’t improved yet is how, on bad days, it takes me 15 minutes of staring at the computer screen to write a single sentence, or the intense anxiety about starting a project that I don’t fully understand, or that I can’t remember the details of an assignment 30 seconds after discussing it. (I have also gotten better about asking my boss to slow down when verbally requesting things enough for me to write them down.)

          I have an appointment with my therapist next Tuesday and will be bringing her ADA forms to see if she can suggest any reasonable accommodations, but like you said, I know “lowered performance” is not a reasonable accommodation. Plus my supervisor has a meeting with HR scheduled on her calendar this afternoon so now I’m totally going to freak out about it all weekend, gah.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that sounds really sucky, and the memory thing is intensely annoying. I’m sorry.

            How long were you there before all this hit? Is it enough time for you to have a good track record of achievement as a majority of your tenure there?

          2. Case of the Mondays*

            I’m totally speculating here and not trying to armchair diagnose. But, if you have ADD and took meds pre-pregnancy that you can’t take during pregnancy but will resume taking when you return from leave you might want to consider bringing that up. You can assure your manager that your performance will return to stellar when you can take them again.

            Also, I disagree that reduced performance is not a reasonable accommodation. You have to be able to perform the essential functions of the job. If deadlines are Friday and you used to get things in by Tuesday and will now get them in on Thursday and that has no impact on manager making Friday deadline then accepting your work on Thursday is a reasonable accommodation.

            1. fposte*

              The thing is, it’s not what you think is reasonable, it’s what the employer and the EEOC think, and they’re not required to accept a lowered rate of meeting deadlines. The EEOC is very clear that an employer does not have to lower performance expectations for people as a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

              They can choose to accept whatever performance they wish, of course, with or without the ADA claim. But the ADA doesn’t require it.

            2. Observer*


              ” If deadlines are Friday and you used to get things in by Tuesday and will now get them in on Thursday and that has no impact on manager making Friday deadline then accepting your work on Thursday is a reasonable accommodation.”

              This is just not how things work. If someone needs your work to get their work done, then getting it to them later than before will certainly have an impact. Sometimes it’s manageable, and others it’s not. But, it always makes a difference unless someone built in a huge lead time (highly unlikely) or someone else is also delayed.

    2. MaryMary*

      You could look into FMLA as well. It sounds like your medical issues are related to your pregnancy, a leave of absence may be helpful for you. FMLA doesn’t guarantee paid leave, and going on leave now may impact your maternity leave, so this is something to talk through with your doctor, HR, and your family. FMLA also allows intermittent leave, which some other individuals with depression have used to create flexibility for doctors appointments and those days when things are particularly bad.

  76. Seattle Writer Girl*

    Bah! Always late to these things being on the West Coast and all….

    My question is about getting credit for your ideas in the workplace.

    I frequently submit ideas to my boss about how to improve the business. Usually at the time of submission, I’ll get the brush off or excuses as to why we couldn’t implement–only to hear the idea announced a few weeks later at a company meeting with no heads-up or credit given to me at all (i.e. I don’t get to own my own projects).

    I appreciate that my ideas are being heard and put into action, but I’m worried that come review time I’m not getting the credit I deserve for these contributions. The feedback that I got at my last review was that I don’t do a very good job of pitching ideas to my boss (yet he continues to implement at least some of the projects I pitch him and even passes them off as his idea sometimes).

    Any suggestions on how to take credit for ideas without seeming like an attention hog?

    Any tips on how to present well to your boss?

    1. Claire*

      Can you submit them in a trackable way, like sending him suggestions in an email so you have those messages to present as “evidence” at your review? Obviously that doesn’t solve the larger problem of you not getting credit/any ownership of your ideas, but it could at least be a start to help at your review?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely. I would print them out and put them in a folder.

        I am surprised by how much of this is going on. I can’t be sure but there seems to be even more the past few years. I think people are distracted and not able to keep track. Try saying it under the guise of “Not sure if you remember but these are my ideas that I have submitted to you this past year.” And give him copies of what you have.

  77. Jenn*

    I started a new job (after 9 months of being unemployed) and for the last two weeks I haven’t had any work to do! My supervisor said he’s not allowed to give me any new projects since I’m in “training” but they’re not actually training me on anything. Every once in awhile something will come up, but basically I’m playing around on the internet all day. My supervisor apologized and said he doesn’t want me to be bored and I said I don’t want to look like a slacker. But, how can I not? I don’t have anything to do. Should I just enjoy it and collect a paycheck or look for ways to be proactive?

    1. Former Usher*

      Don’t just “enjoy” it. Even if they’re not training you, ask your supervisor if there any self-training activities you could do. I don’t know what field you’re in, but it could be as simple as reading old reports your group has produced. If your supervisor isn’t assigning tasks to you, you need to take the initiative.

      1. Jenn*

        Thanks. Good advice. I think there are some online training things I could check out.

    2. CTO*

      Proactive is great, but sometimes it’s impossible to be proactive when you’re still learning the job. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

      Could you tour the building, read up on your company/industry/job, arrange short introductory meetings with co-workers, learn or improve your skills with on a particular software program, take a webinar…?

    3. Trillian*

      Read the manuals – or on-line equivalents – of any software packages you’re going to be using. I remember working my way through Word and Excel tutorials during downtime. And figure out the photocopier, the printer, the phone system, etc.

      Do you have access to industry journals or professional society websites? Are there regulations governing your industry that would be worth studying?

  78. Sabrina*

    OK Another question, if you will all indulge me.

    I’m a large person. Vertically and horizontally. Suits, forget it. I don’t own one. I know they make plus size suits, but in addition to being plus size, I also have a long torso and long arms so suit jackets don’t fit. So to interviews I wear black pants and a black jacket that actually fits my gangly arms. I don’t feel like I have many options. I’m not applying to jobs in areas that would have formal dress codes, but I know you always want to be nicer in an interview. So… OK? Or not?

    1. BRR*

      I don’t know if they do this for women but there’s been a ton of websites for men pop up where you send in your measurements and they make a suit. It’s semi reasonably priced (well-priced for a custom suit) and they do a remake if it doesn’t fit.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think it’s okay, if the dress codes aren’t formal and assuming the pants and jacket are professional and fit. If the pants are old faded cotton that are slightly short, and the jacket is really a fleece jacket, then no!

      I would not do it for a finance-related or consulting company interview, where suits could be the normal daily attire.

    3. Stephanie*

      That sounds fine to me. Just make sure the blacks “match” as that can made you look a lot less put together.

      1. Stephanie*

        I don’t know why I used scare quotes. Just make sure the blacks are the same shade, weight, and thread pattern. I’d also make sure to launder the whole outfit together so it fades at the same rate.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        +1 to this. If your blacks don’t match, or if you’re just looking for ideas on other options for interview wear, I’d suggest moving away from the “almost a suit” and mix it up a bit. There’s no rule that says you have to wear a suit to an interview, particularly if it’s a field that’s known for being more casual. I’d look for things like:
        –a contrasting blazer
        –a cardigan with a belt
        –3/4 or elbow sleeves

    4. krm*

      I have a similar problem- I am quite tall and have broad shoulders. Suits just don’t work on me- jackets in general make me look like a linebacker. I don’t work in a formal industry, but I’ve had success with nice, work appropriate dresses (shifts, wraps, etc) with a cardigan if needed, and also nice dress pants or pencil skirt with a conservative blouse.

      1. Jackie*

        Same situation here. I have a pair of black pants and pink top that flatter me well, and they’re my go-to for interviews. What you’ve got sounds just fine.

      2. Robin*

        Nice dress and blazer will dress it up one degree above dress and cardigan. You can also focus on nice accessories — jewelry, purse — and that will dress your look up more, too.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I think that’s fine. I have very long arms and legs and have the same problem–I lucked out to find a black blazer that fits and have an unrelated pair of pants that is the same shade of black. So it looks like a suit, even though it isn’t actually one. I second what Stephanie said about laundering them–that was a good point. You don’t want one to fade out faster than the other.

      You could even wear different neutral colors (i.e. black jacket and gray pants, for example, or brown and khaki) as long as it all is neat, pressed, and clean.

  79. ella*

    I just, about two months ago, finally went from juggling two part time jobs to having one part time job (with benefits and everything). Rejoice! Problem is, I’m still entry level and not using many of my skills, so I’ve been keeping an eye on listings for opportunities. (I work in a library, currently, but I don’t have an MLS so unfortunately, full-time postings are much rarer than part-time ones, at least in my city.)

    A really interesting job was just posted last week, in a public library in a nearby town, that would use a lot more of my skills than I’m currently using. The district I’m currently in also just posted a position for a position that is basically one step up the ladder from the one I currently have. The problem? Both these positions are part time.

    I’ll probably apply for them both, and it’d be amazing if I GOT them both because of the substantial increase in income, but oh man, I’m so tired of juggling multiple jobs.

    1. SCW*

      We have a full time paraprofessional position open in our library–and it has been a pain to fill. We need someone who speaks Spanish, and apparently there was only one person who applied internally who speaks Spanish, so now it is posted for anyone to apply to. So if you are looking to move far away (assuming you don’t live nearby) openings are out there!

  80. Call Girl*

    Is it wrong to lack ambition?

    I don’t want to be the senior vice president of blah blah blah or invent a longer lasting light bulb.

    I just want a job where I do my job well and go home and do other things. I don’t live for work, I work to live but I find there is so much pressure to be super awesome at everything.

    1. BRR*

      I think a lack of ambition and complacency get confused. People assume that if you don’t want to move up you will just stop doing your job well. What they forget is that you can still take pride in your work without wanting it to show people how you’re ready to move up the ladder.

    2. Stephanie*

      No. That was a plus in my old line of work. I don’t mean that in a snarky way, actually. In those roles, it was better you became an expert at your task as the companies were set up to have one or two managers and a lot of lower-level people who were good at their jobs. And it was common that people avoided management as it required a totally different skill set. You can be good at your job and not want to be the CEO.

    3. LMW*

      Honestly, finding people who are good at their job and happy to stay in that role is awesome. It means you have reliable people who are content to be a team pillar. Pillars are just as important as leaders. They’re the foundation of a good team and a pleasure to work with.

    4. Beth Anne*

      I am totally like this! I even tell people if I were rich or married rich I wouldn’t work if I didn’t have to…I’d rather stay at home and do other projects or travel..and people think that is weird!

    5. shaky bacon*

      I wouldn’t call that lacking ambition. It’s more that your ambitions are outside of your working life and that’s perfectly fine.

      I’m similar to you and find that it’s difficult to explain this to people who are very ambitious when it comes to their careers. Heck, I have issues filling out “Career Development Plans” at work because to be honest, I don’t feel a connection with what I do; I just do it because I’m good at it and they pay me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t give 100% (or 110% when needed) at work – I have a very strong sense of accountability and do a good job – but it’s not a defining part of my identity nor is it a top priority in my life. Just leave me on the individual contributor track and I’m happy to continue producing results.

      So, go on and continue being awesome at whatever it is you truly enjoy!

    6. LAI*

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with not wanting to climb ranks or move into positions of authority – I don’t want those things either. I’m perfectly happy in the job I have, and I could honestly see myself working in this job until I retire. But I do think that most people want employees who will constantly seek to improve their performance rather than just reaching a “good enough” level and then staying there.

  81. Lisa*

    I work in a small medical office (about 17 staff members). One of my front office staff members recently had her husband sign up for military service. She’s in her early 20s and is having a REALLY hard time dealing with being alone while he is away at basic training. This leads to at least daily breakdowns into tears at the office.

    I have tried being compassionate: I’ve given her over a week off to try to adjust and relax, I’ve given her contact info for local enlisted spouse support groups, I’ve taken her out after work to talk to her and try to perk her up, but nothing helps. She often just bursts into tears and leaves the front desk, or has to go home because she cannot control her emotions. I don’t want to be cold-hearted, but it’s time to suck it up. Our other employees and patients are always on egg shells around her or wondering what is wrong, and she shows no passion in her work anymore.

    We sat down yesterday and I asked her if there was anything I could do to help. She has no suggestions for anything that will help. I explained that her situation is not going to change any time soon, but her attitude and performance at work absolutely MUST. I cannot have a front office staff person either exuding misery or just away from the desk. I’d really appreciate any help on what else I might try.

    1. BRR*

      It sounds like you’ve done all you can. It actually sounds like you’ve done more than you needed to. You need someone who can do their job and she’s not cutting it. Give her a deadline to improve by.

      1. Lisa*

        I’d forgotten about our EAP; thank you for the suggestion. I’m printing a flyer for her right away!

    2. CTO*

      You’re doing the right things by being as flexible and compassionate as possible. Now it’s time to be a little firmer by making it clear how her behavior is affecting clients, what needs to change, when you need to see those changes, and what the consequences will be if you don’t. It sounds like you’re already working on all of that.

      Ultimately you’re responsible for making sure the front desk runs well. Her struggles sound extreme (as in, many people in the same circumstances would have adjusted well enough by now to perform adequately at work). Sometimes people are just… beyond help, at least for a while. You can still be compassionate towards her personally while ensuring a professional office place.

      I used to have a co-worker that everyone really liked, until he started having some mental-health issues that really affected his performance at work. Our boss tried very hard to help him keep his job and regain his health, but eventually the impact on our workplace was too much and he had to be let go. It was done with great sensitivity and kindness. Ultimately the time off helped him get back to a healthier place, he found another job, and he’s doing well and keeps in touch with our boss. But he needed the wake-up call to realize that his problems had started to get out of control.

    3. ella*

      The sudden bursting into tears for no ostensible outside reason used to happen to me. Turned out to be a side effect of medication I was on, it made me super edgy and all of my emotions rode really close to the surface all of the time. It completely sucked.

      Which is to say, yes, if your workplace has an EAP she should definitely contact them, or her doctor, or something. Even if she’s not currently on any medication, it sounds like she needs a place to vent and cry, and to figure out how to compartmentalize her grief so that she can let it out at appropriate times and places, and not at work.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      I have an issue with one thing and it is not personal to you, just life – we as a society, me including, are uncomfortable when people look sad, unhappy, sick, in misery, etc. But, isn’t that our problem and not a performance issue if she is otherwise doing her job? Leaving her desk and going home and sobbing at work are not acceptable. But, I know people have been told the fact they “looked depressed” at work was a problem. Or that they “were looking too sick” or “looked in pain” was presenting a not professional image. But these people were sick and were in pain or were depressed but still performing their job. Why should we expect people to hide their struggles to make us more comfortable?

      1. CTO*

        I hear what you’re saying, and I think it’s very true in many circumstances. But I think it’s fair to hold staff to a higher standard of looking and feeling cheerful in this particular case—when they are a receptionist in a medical office.

        It’s reasonable to expect that a front-desk staff member interacting with the public can portray a cheerful, calm, and friendly demeanor at nearly all times. It’s their entire job to “make us more comfortable,” particularly since this is a medical office where the clients may not be feeling well themselves.

        A good receptionist is usually a pro at handling stressful situations while hiding any negative reactions to the stress. It’s not as incidental to the job as it might be for someone in a less public-facing role, where appearances or demeanor might be a little less important.

        1. Jennifer*

          I have to be SUPER PERKY at my work, and anything less than smiling and perky at all times when dealing with customers has gotten me in whopping trouble. I not only have Bitchy Resting Face, but I have Bitching Resting Voice as well. Oddly enough, I haven’t gotten in trouble since I started SUPER PERKING. It is fake as hell if you know me, and inwardly I’m gagging like hell at myself, but it’s a requirement of the job.

          And in this case, if the woman can’t make it through a day without sobbing publicly at work, she’s not up to doing the job.

      2. Observer*

        That’s an interesting discussion, but not really relevant. This woman is not just “looking depressed”. She sobbing at her desk or leaving altogether. And, in her position sobbing at the desk might be even worse than leaving. This is totally not about having unreasonable expectations around emotions.

    5. OhNo*

      Wow, that’s rough. It sounds like she is having a really hard time coping, which isn’t really something you would be equipped to help with. I know you’ve already done a lot for her, but here a couple more last-ditch suggestions if you have the resources. Obviously, these are all at your discretion and dependent on the needs of your business.

      – Create (or modify) a small room or space where she can go to calm down if she starts crying at work. At the college I went to, we called these “freak-out rooms” and they were mostly used by people who were having a bad trip, but I’ve heard that they can be helpful for emotional issues too. Just knowing that you have a safe space in which to cry if you need to can help you keep calm.

      – Try scheduling more breaks for her, and stop sending her home. Get her used to holding her emotions in for periods of time, then gradually lengthen the time. Maybe start with a short break every hour or two, then gradually work your way back up to whatever her schedule was before.

      – Talk to her about future plans, and get her excited about them. Suggest that she plan a mini-vacation for when her husband “graduates” from basic, and maybe even suggest that she take an extra day off for it. Same for when he is home on leave, or right before he ships out. If she is worried about his safety, focusing on the future projects an attitude of “he will be fine, and he will come home again”.

      – Try to be accommodating for things like mental health days (it sounds like you’ve already been very generous on this score), time off for therapy appointments, or schedule adjustments to give her time to skype/call her husband when he is available (since he may be somewhere that doesn’t sync up with standard work hours)

      And please consider that losing her job (or being afraid of losing her job) would be piling more stress on someone who is already overloaded. Not that you should keep her on if it’s bad for the business, but having an honest conversation about the likelihood of that happening may help her put things in perspective.

      Give her deadlines for improvement, but recognize that with all things mental health, there may be setbacks. Check in regularly about those deadlines and adjust them as needed, if you can.

    6. Diet Coke Addict*

      As a military spouse: you’ve done the right thing. Referring to an EAP if you have one (I see you do!) is the right thing as well. There’s an adjustment period for sure, but this does not sound like an adjustment period–it sounds like she has something deeper going on that this is exacerbating. Because there are plenty of 20something military spouses who manage this all the time–yes, it is frequently crappy, and there is definitely adjustment times that may involve edginess or being emotional, but really: that is not your, the employer’s problem.

      If you really want to go above and beyond, which it sounds like you already have, you can see if the enlisted spouse support group has any kind of resources on hand that you can refer her to–a therapist or counselor who works with these issues. You are completely within your rights to require her to change her attitude and performance at work, since it’s starting to negatively affect other things that are going on.

      Good luck. Keep us updated?

      1. Lisa*

        The employee took the step of contacting a therapist from our EAP, who was surprisingly able to work her in this afternoon. I gave her permission to go to the appointment and then take the rest of the day off, but reaffirmed that starting Monday I need her to meet the expectations we previously discussed (positive demeanor for our patients who are here in pain, meeting work deadlines, and remaining composed during work hours).

        I really appreciate everyone’s advice! It helps to know that I’m on the right track and not a “monster” boss for feeling like it’s now reasonable for her to be ready to adjust and perform her duties for the office.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Keep insisting that she do things to help herself. But stay out of the choices she makes. Just remind her that she has to keep helping herself.

          Frankly, I think if she gets to leave work a lot she will never learn what it takes to stay at work.
          Try planting the seed that “time at work is time out from ‘at home’ worries.” Just like time at home is time out from “at work” worries.

  82. Mimmy*

    Not sure if this will fit within the “work-related” rules, so Alison, if this is inappropriate, please feel free to delete–just let me know and I’ll re-post on Sunday. But I couldn’t wait to ask this question!

    What do you guys think about college/university career services offices charging alumni for some of their services? GradSchool makes it virtually impossible for alumni to get any real help unless your graduation was very recent. Whereas UndergradSchool says they welcome alumni to use their services and resources. What I’m particularly irked about is that at GradSchool, if your graduation was over a certain number of years ago, they charge you $100 to see a career counselor. I know *private* counselors may charge, but when associated with a major university, I think it can discourage alumni from seeking assistance from their own alma mater. I can’t explain it…it just feels wrong to me.

    1. Jackie*

      Charging = EXTREMELY lame…especially given that the quality of “help” the offices give is typically abysmal. No joke: I’ve gotten way better advice and help here than I’ve ever gotten from either of my schools. In fact, they loaded me up on stuff I learned here wasn’t just wrong, it was dead wrong. And outdated.

      I love both of my schools; the quality of education was top-notch, but for career stuff, you’re better served by saving your money and sticking with someplace or something where current career advice and strategy is their only focus.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing- the advice I have found here has totally changed my approach to job hunting. (Change was hugely needed, too!) I am much happier now.

        Stay with people in the working world. They know what is going on and they know how to handle the quirky things that come up. Schools can’t do this. They don’t know how.

      2. Jennifer*

        I honestly don’t think career counseling is worth it if you are going to your college for help. They don’t know anything about getting jobs in “the real world,” do they, because they are at college. Doesn’t sound like it’s worth the money.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oh, it’s totally to discourage alumni from using the services. My alma mater cut back free services for alumni from three to two years past graduation when the economy really tanked. Past that, you get three appointments (in the summer only) and a Myers-Brigg Test and Strong Interest Inventory (and there’s an extra fee for the tests).

      The staff were very nice and if you got a good working relationship with a staff member, they could be helpful. But honestly, my alma mater’s career services center is not worth the extra fee. They really just functioned as a placement office for students interested in certain fields.

    3. Mimmy*

      Whew, glad to know I’m not crazy! I may have to either use UndergradSchool’s services or just buy a career assessment book :P

    4. Sunflower*

      The way my school does it (I think) is the first year after you graduate is free and then you have to start paying. Yet if you join the alumni association(we are dues paying) than I think you get the help for free. Or get limited help? My college had a really good career center but they kind of hold hostage all the alumni information. Our alums love other alums and will help pretty much any alumni that contact them. They have a huge database set-up that has alumni info- like their job titles, work addresses, industry they work in- but you have to join the alumni association to use it. I think the dues are like $50 a year so I’ll probably join- plus a lot of networking events are free for members but $10-25 for non members so it’s probably worth it.

      I mean, if they didn’t charge, I don’t think they could handle all the people who asked for help. But most career centers are crap and even mine I would only use to get the alumni contacts

      1. Onymouse*

        To be fair, forgetting the “alumni” part, paying (not overly exorbitant) dues to an association to be able to access its members actually seem pretty reasonable.

    5. LAI*

      Wow, you are all lucky. At my institution (a state flagship), free career advising services end the day you graduate. As far as I know, this is common in large public institutions. They are understaffed for serving the current students; there’s no way they could accommodate the needs of all 100+ years worth of alumni that we have. Basically, the idea is that you are supposed to take advantage of their services while you are there, and be ready to start applying for jobs on your own by the time you graduate.

      1. Mimmy*

        That’s actually how GradSchool is–they are a state university, and require payment after, I think 6 months post-graduation. The amount increases every couple of years until 5+ years out–then it’s out the nose. If you’re saying it’s common in large public institution, then it totally makes sense. UndergradSchool is a private university, so that’s probably why they’re more open to help alumni, although I haven’t even set foot in the career services office in 20 years (I graduated in 1995), so I have no idea how good they are. I might give them a shot.

        1. De Minimis*

          Both my undergrad and grad schools offered free career services for one year after graduation, after that there was a charge. I guess it’s not a new practice, I finished undergrad nearly 20 years ago.

  83. Jackie*

    I just had something rather awkward just happen: what do you all do (or suggest one do) when applying for multiple positions at a place that only lets you use one version of your resume and cover letter at a time? I just got turned down for an invite-only fair, and I have this horrible feeling that the application site was one of those.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Consider first, are you qualified to apply for all of those positions? Like actually qualified. If there are 3 opening for Chocolate Teapot Maker, that’s one thing. But applying for Teapot Maker, Manager and Caramel Analyst isn’t.

      1. Jackie*

        LOL, I love it! ^^

        They were pretty similar positions — Chocolate Teapot Maker and White Chocolate Swirl Teapot Maker. :D But they were with two different companies, and had two different (of course!) cover letters. I’ve got this awful feeling that when I applied for the second position, the site replaced the cover and resume I posted first…so Company 1 would have gotten this lovely letter going on about how I’d love to work for Company 2.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Ok. I see. It’s possible it was just a glitch and that would suck majorly.

          1. Jackie*


            I have seen something like this in at least one other place, so I’m pretty sure it isn’t a glitch. I wish they’d warn you first, though!

            If the two things are quite different though — say for example, I’m working on a new degree in something technical, but my background is in customer service, so I apply for one of each in the same organization — whaddya do there if only one resume and cover can be used?

  84. Anonie*

    I want to move forward in my career. I am a fundraiser whose primary priority is grant writing. I am ready to move to the next level as a Director of Development. Unfortunately I am finding this to be difficult because potential employers seem to see me only as a grant writer even though I have have been involved in other areas of fundraising. Everyone is telling me I am ready for the next level including my former boss who I speak with regularly. I even had an interviewer tell me I should be looking at Director of Development roles but I could not afford to work there because the salary was 50k and I was at 70k at the time and now just under 80k. It seems like the agencies who are paying considerably less are interested in me as a candidate but taking a 20k-30k paycut just seems like the wrong thing to do. Plus I don’t want to take a pay cut. I have student loans to pay off.

    The agencies that are paying in my current range or higher seem to want more experience than I have. They call me in for interviews but then start asking out experience in areas that I have some experience in but are not my primary responsibility like events and individual giving. There is always someone else in these roles. I think one of the reasons I get the interviews is because I consistently raise 1-2 million in grants every year.

    A friend says that I will probably have to take a pay cut to get the title and more experience in other areas but I’m struggling with the idea of taking a 15-20k paycut. I might be able to swing it financially but I am afraid it will affect me in the future where employers who ask for salary history see that I was willing to take a major cut and will not offer me a higher salary.

    It feels like a game of chutes and ladders. I really want to move out of my current role and get on the director level/senior management track. It is not going to happen at my current job. The director of my department has major micromanagement issues and their is no growth potential here. I have to leave to move to the next level but I don’t know if I should sacrifice my salary to get there.

    1. Former Usher*

      Is it possible to make a lateral move with a similar salary, but to a place where there is opportunity for growth?

      1. Anonie*

        So far I have not found anything like that. I thought my current employer was going to be that opporunity. It is a two person department. That was the primary reason I left my last employer. I worked in a six person department and everyone had an assigned role. I had to participate in many functions of the team and stepped into projects during maternity leaves etc but there was no room for growth.

        I thought there would be room for growth with my current employer because is was only the Director of Development. That hasn’t happened I am basically pigeoned-holed into just writing grants, she tries to block or micromanage any opportunity I get to do something else (Usually the CEO suggests I take something on and then she tries to steal or micromanage the project). I need to move on this job has been horrible since the first month. The only upside is that there are some really nice people here, they pay me well and I get support from the executive leadership. That is the reason I am still here.

        It really is time to go though……… I really don’t like working with the director. I have never disliked a person I report to until this job. It has been a major learning experience for me.

    2. BRR*

      In addition to grant writing did you interact with representatives from the foundations?

      I can see an employer’s primary concern being “you’re a writer.” Highlighting the face to face interactions could help calm their concerns. Hopefully you find a position in which your old boss has a connection and can put in a good word.

      1. Anonie*

        That is the one good point about my current employer. I interact directly with Foundations now. I didn’t get to do that very often with my last employer. She was a great boss in a lot of ways but she always wanted to be the primary contact so I was left out of meetings with foundations. At my current job I am the primary contact for Foundations, which has been the one “plus” of this job.

        1. BRR*

          I would try and play that aspect up. Eventually you’ll interview somewhere where they realize talking to a foundation board member and talking to an individual donor isn’t really that different.

    3. CTO*

      Do you have any volunteer experience in fundraising or events that you could draw on? Or could you take a lateral move and then get some volunteer experience to position you better for a future promotion? I know it’s not ideal, but some smaller orgs without a robust development team will give talented volunteers pretty big responsibilities that could look impressive enough on a resume. Perhaps some contract work would fulfill the same gap.

      I wonder what your former boss could do to help. Could they help you network into the right role? Give you a short-term contract role to help your post org with a big event?

      1. Anonie*

        That has been suggested to me before. I think it is a good idea. I do have event and fundraising experience I have headed up events and worked as part of a team but I don’t have years of experience in those areas like I do with grants. I definitely need to look for volunteer opportunities where I can focus on other areas. The only problem is when people find out I am a grant writer they get stuck on that…………

        1. araminty*

          Change your tense! When you meet new people, and you introduce yourself, instead of saying, “hi, I’m Anonie, I’m a grant writer,” say “I’m Anonie, I work in development.” If pressed, you can say, “I’ve written grants,” and add your other experience as required. Such a small thing, but self determination is so important!

          1. Anonie*

            I don’t introduce myself as a grant writer when I meet new people. I generally say I am in fund development because when you tell people you write grants they start asking you if you can write them a grant so they can get a house or they ask if you can help this little nonprofit they are involved get money. Grant Writer is not my title at work so I don’t introduce myself that way.

  85. Mints*

    Oh, I have something to share!

    I was monitoring the job posting for our internship, which requests a cover letter and a resume. We got a cover letter that was literally four sentences and ended with “I want to chat on the phone rather than write a cliche cover letter.”

    I was so flabbergasted! I mean, everyone wants a phone call, that’s second round. Resume and cover letter are first round, you don’t get to leapfrog for no reason. Oh, and there was a typo in the letter.

    He did not get a call

      1. Elizabeth West*


        I thought of Daffy Duck saying “I WOULD LIKE–” then he breaks the fourth wall and says to the camera, “I would like. I would like a trip to Europe!” and then goes on with what he was saying.

    1. WhoaBuddy*

      This reminds me of a cover letter a friend from another coffee shop told me about: in the letter, the applicant said that he has been teaching ASL to his regular customers so that he can get their orders when they are stuck in line behind newbs! That’s paraphrased, but oh, I laughed so hard.

  86. Melly*

    Let’s talk about Exit Interviews. How much do you say? I have a bunch of reasons why I’m leaving, but doubtful that what I have to say will have an impact. So, do I bother providing feedback, or just keep it to the barest of minimums?

    1. Former Usher*

      Say the minimum. The problems at your soon-to-be-former workplace are no longer your responsibility. Besides, speaking from experience here, you may wish to return at some point and it’s best not risk burning any bridges.

    2. Cuddly Porcupine*

      I’d give feedback that they might be able to benefit from and withhold anything else. And definitely frame anything you say in a trying-to-be-helpful way rather than sounding like you’re venting. If you give them valuable information that they wouldn’t get from a current employee, you won’t be burning bridges.

      Just CYA and leave out any names. Phrase things in terms of practices you observed, not people.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah, saying “I think it would be helpful if the training process included XYZ in the future” sounds really different from “I wasn’t trained well.”

        And if there’s anything you can say objectively, like “we’ve had five managers in the last year” or “we have six Associates, when the guidelines would suggest we should have 14-16 Associates.” Definitely mention those facts

    3. MaryMary*

      When I left my last job, I completed an exit survey providing feedback on the items that I thought might be changed. I also made it a point to list things that were NOT a factor in my decision (for example, my manager was awesome and I wanted to say that the “people quit managers, not companies” was BS in this situation. I was also well paid and that could not convince me to stay). A few weeks after I’d left, I actually got a call from HR asking if I had anything to add. Specifically, if there was any one person who had caused me to leave. I had difficult working relationships with a few individuals, and while it was not fun, it was the accumulation of multiple things that caused me to quit. I told HR as much, without naming names, and I never did figure out which specific person they thought had made me quit.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you don’t think it will have any impact then don’t bother.

      You know, there is something really liberating by saying “I truly learned a lot here at Chocolate Cup and Saucer and I enjoyed my time here.” Then wind the conversation down and leave.

  87. Beth Anne*

    YAY Open thread! I missed these while I was traveling in Europe for 3 weeks. I’m back, school is over and back on the job hunt!

    I really hate job searching. It makes me question EVERYTHING – my life, my job, my location. Anyone else struggle from this and have any tips?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yay Europe! :D

      Yes that TOTALLY happened to me. I just had to keep it separate as much as possible. Like say to myself, “Right now, I need a job to pay the bills. That is not about me as a person.” It didn’t help that I was trying to decide about school at the same time.

      One thing that was a big help was setting a time to stop looking each day. I would do everything in the morning, and then between one and three o’clock, I was finished (unless I had something scheduled for later). The rest of the day was for ME. That way, the entire day didn’t become all about the job hunt and it kept me from getting too stressed. I also got up at the same time every day (not too late).

      1. Beth Anne*

        Well after I posted this I got a call for an interview next week! YAY! It’s a contract job but the recruiter seemed to think they almost always go permanent after about 6 months. Works for me.

        I think the big struggle I have is I have no idea if I want to live where I am living. My mom moved here 3 years ago and since I was making minimum wage I moved with her and I have really struggled to find friends/people my age here….but finding a job in another city is HARD.

        My biggest struggle when job searching is making sure I get dressed and leave the house but then there is the whole no money and what do i even do thing?!!? Oh well I’m doing a lot better this time than I have previously.

  88. Eclipse*

    I’m wondering what people think of this and if anyone else does it at work. I work in IT and have one colleague who is far more into fashion than most of the rest of the people in the department. She keeps about 10 different pairs of high heeled shoes in the office. They were on top of a supply cabinet until building management insisted she move them so they’re now on a shelf inside the cabinet. She spends most of her time sitting at her desk working at her computer so doesn’t have any work related reasons for changing her shoes during the day. She’s at the same level as me and I know it’s no business of mine to say anything about it but I think it gives the impression she’s more interested in shoes than doing her job.

    1. fposte*

      Do people need that drawer space for something? Is there someplace closer to her desk/non-communal that she could be keeping them? I keep all kinds of crap at my workplace, but I have an office so nobody knows about most of it.

      I think she shouldn’t do it in shared space, but I also think that if it’s not interfering with your work you just shrug and let it go.

    2. Who are you??*

      Wait…she’s got a shelf for 10 pairs of shoes at the office?!?!? Yeah…that’s weird. I used to keep a pair of dress shoes at an office I worked at but that was only because I wore sneakers to work and would change into dress shoes once I got there. They were basic black heels and went with everything I wore. Occasionally I’d have an outfit they’d clash with and in that case I’d carry a second pair of shoes with me. But never 10.

      1. OhNo*

        Yeah, I’ve known plenty of women who leave a pair of shoes at the office (or two – one black, one brown) because they walk/bike/take the bus/etc. But ten pairs? That seems excessive. If you’re at the same level, maybe you could ask her in a friendly way why she keeps so many shoes at the office. If she has a legit reason (whatever it may be), then let it drop. If not, maybe just offer a one-time comment on how it seems out of line with the company culture?

        You’re right that it’s not really your responsibility, but you could at least check and make sure she knows how it is coming across to coworkers, in case she cares enough to change.

      2. Beth Anne*

        That is kind of weird…does she ever wear them in or out? I’m seriously intrigued as to why she has so many pairs at work.

        Although this kind of reminds me of the coat closet at my first job. People would wear their coats to work and put it in the coat closet that was in the back. By the time we all left work it was usually warm out (Texas in the fall/spring) and you didn’t need a coat so a lot of people would forget their coats and before you knew it some people had 3-4 coats at work.

        They’d come to work coatless and be all I have no jackets at home…I guess I need to bring one home! LOL

    3. ACA*

      I commute via public transit and trying to strap-hang in heels is treacherous. I keep 3 or 4 pairs in a drawer of my desk and change my shoes when I get to work so that I don’t have to carry them in my purse every day. Keeping 10 pairs at work seems excessive, though.

    4. CollegeAdmin*

      I have a coworker who keeps maybe 3 pairs of shoes in the office, but they’re on a shelf under her desk in her own cubicle – doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I know someone else (who has her own office and practically her own building – a cultural house on campus) who has a whole 12-pair shoe rack that was full or overflowing the last time I saw it. I thought it was a little odd, but it’s her own space, so whatever.

      I think the main issues here are whether her shoe storage space is public use space, and if her shoe storage looks messy. If it’s public storage space, then that’s ridiculous – she shouldn’t monopolize the space, especially for non-work items. Or, if it’s her own space but it looks messy, it sends a message to the office and/or to visitors.

      Don’t get me wrong – I love shoes. I’m known around the office for the super tall heels I wear. But I keep them at home, where they belong, when they’re not on my feet.

    5. LV*

      Unless the quality of her work is suffering because she’s too busy lovingly caressing her shoes and whispering endearments to them, I don’t see why you care at all. Yeah, 10 pairs is more than the typical white-collar employee keeps at the office, but… so what?

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Maybe she is short on closet space & figures why not keep them at work since that’s where she wears them?

      I never thought about keeping shoes at work, but I did have a bunch of semi-work-related books here for a while because I didn’t want them cluttering up my house.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      She may have foot problems. One day the blue shoes work and the next day she has to have the red shoes.
      I can start out in the morning with one set of shoes and by afternoon I have picked the wrong set of shoes for the day, AGAIN.

      On the other hand some people are just crazy about shoes. Look at Carolyn Hax.

    8. Observer*

      Why do you care? If she’s using up the limited closet space, then that’s one thing. Otherwise, what difference does it make?

      And why should it affect how you see her work? Does she show up – ready and able to do her job? Is she responsive when she should be? Is she aware of whatever she should be around work?

      Why is it that being interested in shoes is more of a problem than being interested in golf, or hunting, or sports?

    9. Cat*

      I probably have 7-8 pairs of shoes at the office. I keep them in a hanging closet organizer in a tiny closet that I have (it’s in my office; not shared space). I walk/bus to work and I’m not going to do it in heels; and it’s a lot more efficient to keep my office shoes at the office.

      This isn’t that unusual among women I know in D.C. I would submit that it’s more common in places where a lot of people commute via public transportation.

  89. Who are you??*

    I’ve been trying to stay on top of keeping my resume updated. Right now my job is too new to have anything to add to the resume beyond basic responsibilities. My volunteer activities are a different story completely. Is it weird to highlight the ever increasing responsibilities I’m taking on in the volunteer positions I have in my community? (Girl Scout leader, PTO co-chair, and library volunteer) The things I am doing in those positions are completely unrelated to what I currently do and are skills I’m happy to learn and eager to share with others (event planning, scheduling, volunteer coordinator, community liason, etc)

    1. Cuddly Porcupine*

      Are you sure they’re unrelated? The things you’re learning might not overlap with your current job duties, but could you combine them in some way at some point in the future? I would find a way to include your volunteer activities while making them seem relevant to your overall career path.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The common thread is that this is YOU.

      There is general learning that goes on in community work. Believe it or not, it will make a difference in your work life. You will find yourself navigating situations more easily, finding solutions more readily, you’ll catch yourself fitting in with groups of people quicker, etc. The volunteer work exercises the brain “muscles”. Never a bad thing.

  90. Anonymous7*

    I’ve been offered a slight change in position for my job right now – possibly switching managers if I want. Supposedly it is a good career move, but my title would stay the same. However, my workload will probably increase since I would have additional responsibilities.

    However…this is also after having asked for a salary raise over 2 years ago and just being turned down last month. (Well, not really turned down. They said they would evaluate key performers each year and choose a % to increase based on company performance, which is soon coming up). I am already about 15-20% underpaid.

    I suppose I am just looking for opinions on what to ask for around this position – should I ask about reviews/workload/recognition/salary? I think it’s an interesting opportunity, but I’m wary of taking on more work when I’m very underpaid and have been looking for another change (job).

    1. Melly*

      I’m in the same boat as you. Definitely ask about reviews/workload/recognition/salary. You already have reason to be skeptical and it’s a totally valid thing to inquire about before making a change.

    2. WhoaBuddy*

      I can’t imagine waiting two years to hear about a raise! Did you get reviews on performance during that time period?

  91. Otter box*

    First time commenter here. I just kind of want to vent about my job search so far. I’ve been looking for a new job for a year and a half, and I’m trying to move out of an operations role in a retail sales environment to an operations role in a non-profit or corporate office. After finding this blog and adjusting my application materials using Alison’s advice, I’ve had multiple interviews at several employers. When I interview, I consistently hear from my interviewers that I interview very well, that my cover letter and resume are very good, and that I am a great candidate for the role. But, I also keep getting told that even though they’d love to hire me, there is always someone with more experience, and that person always gets selected instead. It’s really nice to get great feedback and constructive advice, but it’s kind of demoralizing to have that always accompanied by a rejection.

    On the bright side though, I am getting good interview experience and making connections, so that’s something! I got another one of these rejections yesterday and mostly just wanted to vent a little bit. Thanks for reading, if anyone made it this far!

    1. WhoaBuddy*

      Hang in there. You are getting interviews, which is great, and you’re completely correct that the practice doesn’t hurt.

      1. Otter box*

        Thanks for the encouragement! The hard part is that, despite my best efforts, I always get my hopes way up and then feel crushed afterward. I just feel so trapped by my current work environment and really want to find a new position so that I can leave.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you have any volunteer work experience? That might help you to show exposure to the NP environment. Maybe you can get a leg up that way.

  92. Sharm*

    What is the deal with job postings that are incredibly brief and give you no idea at all what company/organization the job is with? How can you even write a cover letter for these?

    I guess the answer is, you probably wouldn’t want to work for a company that’s so opaque about who they are, and sometimes what they do. Jobs in my industry are rare where I am, so I feel like a beggar going for scraps. There was one that came up like this a few months back, and I didn’t even know where to start with it. I didn’t apply, but I wondered who exactly the employer expected they’d get with such a pathetic description. Are there are legitimate reasons for doing this?

    1. WhoaBuddy*

      Would it be far out of line to call a number (if provided) to perhaps get some more information from an HR representative? You’re probably right though: it’s likely not the job you want if they’re so half-hearted about forming and filling positions.

      1. Sharm*

        Since these are usually on CraigsList (another sign!), they usually don’t have a number. I wouldn’t even know what to ask!

        I feel like they’re doing a disservice to themselves by not being more open.

        1. WhoaBuddy*

          Yes, definitely. I don’t like Craigslist for job searching because of this (and many other) reasons. I always suspect the really short ones are fakes or scams, though I never know what the aim of such a scam might be beyond capturing emails.

        2. Stephanie*

          Craigslist has some legitimate postings–I’ve seen smaller companies or startups use it to avoid fees from the bigger job sites.

          If an industry board’s like the Neiman Marcus of job sites, Craigslist is just the thrift shop of the job boards: you’re going to have to dig through a lot of junk, but you very well may find something.

          1. Sharm*

            Oh, true, of course. I think all my jobs were posted on CraigsList at one point (though they posted on other sites as well), and CraigsList was always what I’d cite. But it is so much scammier than say, Indeed, just because of the volume of stuff on there.

    2. Robin*

      I would file this under “you don’t want that job anyway.” If they are this clueless about hiring, they probably aren’t succeeding in recruiting the most talented candidates in general.

      1. Robin*

        Just wanted to add, if your type of job is really specialized, you probably want to be focusing on networking your way into a job, or looking at specialized job sites, not craigslist.

        1. Sharm*

          I dipped my toe for the first time into professional networking (I’ve always hated it, and it still makes me uncomfortable), but your’e so right. There were tons of people there from organizations I’ve been looking at for years. Not that it means a job is forthcoming or anything, but it feels like such a black hole applying from the outside, and all of sudden — BAM! These people are right there for you to talk to. It was nice to see this piece of advice get validated for me for real, because I have been so hesitant to get involved. No I really have no excuse!

    3. De Minimis*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but one reason is often for smaller businesses/offices that cannot afford to have a ton of phone calls [or even people coming by] interfering with their business. This is especially true in areas with tough job markets where any vacancy gets a deluge of responses.

      I got interviews through several anonymous Craigslist ads over the years, nearly all of them were small companies that had maybe 1-2 front office staff at most.

      Granted, these were all for accounting positions and they did at least give enough info to where you knew what the position involved. I have not really seen any other than th