open thread – May 9, 2014

photo 2-4It’s the Friday open thread!

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

{ 1,513 comments… read them below }

  1. LBK*

    I have a success story I wanted to share! I have been feeling very undervalued in my position lately – I work in sales support, which can be a demoralizing role because the glory and the big paychecks always tend to go to the salespeople. The final straw came this week when we had our quarterly division meeting and despite basically revamping everything our department does over the last quarter, I still got no recognition or any mention while the salespeople I support all got awards.

    It was really tempting to either stop putting effort into my work as retaliation for never feeling appreciated or to blow up in my boss’s face about how he had hurt my feelings, but then I thought “What would Alison do?” So I took a few hours to calm down and consolidate my thoughts into concise, business-focused points, and then pulled my manager into a conference room to discuss. I laid out how I was realistic about my role, but that I also felt that there was no effort being made to recognize or compensate me for my performance since it couldn’t be measured in sales dollars. I asked if either I wasn’t being clear enough when new initiatives were my idea (since I tend to be shy about taking credit) or if I was actually overvaluing my contributions, and what I considered exceptional work was just par for the course in my manager’s eyes. I also brought up that I had been holding off on discussing compensation since we’re behind on our sales goals, so it didn’t seem justifiable from a business perspective to be asking for more money.

    The response was fantastic. My manager said I was an integral part of the team and the division as a whole, and that he wished he had an easier/better way to reward me for that but he honestly didn’t know what I would want. He told me to come up with a few options for what he could to to make me feel more appreciated (higher salary, better bonus plan, department-wide recognition, etc.) and bring them to him, and he would talk to the head of our division to see what could be implemented. He was also impressed that I had weighed the business’s needs when deciding if I should say something, and that I was always welcome to bring these issues forward at any time even if any changes would have to be postponed until sales went up.

    I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Alison and the AAM community – I absolutely would not have had the courage to bring this up with my manager directly or the means to approach it in a rational, non-emotional way if it weren’t for everything I’ve read here over the last few months. So thank you all! You will be receiving your consulting fee checks in 6-8 weeks once my raise kicks in :)

    1. Betsy*

      That is fantastic! Good for you for taking the initiative, and good for your manager for recognizing your value and taking steps to give you the recognition and reward you deserve.

          1. Laufey*

            Oh, those are by the register, so you don’t forget them when you check out.

    2. Sydney*

      That is awesome! Congratulations, and it’s a wonderful thing you will get the recognition and rewards you deserve!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        This is what I’m planning to do in my new job, when it starts and hopefully it will go as well as this :)

  2. Elkay*

    I have a cat feeding question based on your sponsored post – did you have any trouble getting your cats to switch from dry to wet? Mine just licks all the gravy off the pieces of meat then turns her nose up at the food even if we mash it up. Any hints gratefully received, she needs to put on weight.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I didn’t, but my cats have always loved wet food and seen it as a treat. However, there are some types they don’t like as much, like the cans that are sort of meat slices with gravy; they like the ones with the consistency of chopped liver much better. So you might try different types and see if you can find consistency that go over better.

      Also, they adore Tiki Cat chicken, which basically looks like shredded chicken that a human would eat; it looks nothing like normal cat food and I refuse to believe any cat would turn it down.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Our two are just the opposite. They prefer the meat with gravy to the pate. Our vet even has us mixing a little extra water into the gravy, so they get a little extra moisture.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Yes to the extra water. We used to give our cat dry food and learned they can’t get enough water that way so now we add about a teaspoon of water into the canned food. In the wild cats get a lot of their moisture from their kills and since we have a killing cat the dry food wasn’t all that much of an issue. I have a photo of the Easter bunny’s internal organs spread across my driveway after my cat was finished with it so I apologize that forthwith the role of springtime egg carrier will need to be passed on to some other cute furry creature. A ferret perhaps?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Alison, I’ve increased wet feeding based on your post, and I think I’ll try the Sheba. Hopefully it’s not as expensive as the freaking special stuff she likes. She can’t eat the cheap crap–it makes her barf.

        She does get dry food mostly, but it’s grain-free. And did I mention expensive? Damn cat eats better than I do. :P

        You should see her eat–it’s hilarious. If I go out to fix her bed while she’s eating, she talks with her mouth full and dribbles kibble everywhere. :D

          1. C Average*

            Actually, it sounds like the cats and dogs conquer.

            (Sorry. I know we’re not supposed to pick on spelling/grammar stuff, but this one is funny!)

    2. NotMyRealName*

      Do not feed the “meaty bits” just the pate. One of mine will just lick off the gravy and leave the rest to rot (yuck!). But with the pate style, she has to eat the meat to get her favorite part. Not that mine needs to gain weight, unfortunately.

    3. Cruciatus*

      Are you using shredded bits or “pâté”? My cats love wet food, but tend to only lick the gravy off shredded bits. But even with the pâté forms, they can be picky. I believe they like captain’s choice and the supreme supper in the Friskies brand, but tend to dislike the turkey and salmon ones. So, my only advice is to keep trying different ones/brands until you find the one your cat loves. Though it’s possibly your cat just prefers dry stuff. There are different varieties with different caloric values. Maybe talk to your vet and see if there’s anything they recommend either wet or dry for adding weight.

      1. Elkay*

        The vet’s suggestion was “Uh maybe feed them separately” (boy cat is on the verge of chubby and bullies his sister out of food) but that’s not a feasible solution because they both freak out if they’re shut in anywhere.

        1. GigglyPuff*

          what about a cheap baby gate? we use that to feed our dogs separately…assuming they eat it in one sitting (which I know is much healthier for dogs weight wise instead of grazing all day, no idea about cats though)

          1. De Minimis*

            I have to stand there and supervise our dogs’ mealtimes, our dachshund will push her way into stealing the other dog’s food. Of course, it’s easier to keep dogs from doing things than it would be cats, or at least the cats I’ve known….

            1. GigglyPuff*

              Yes, luckily we have a hallway with a door, so we use that sometimes too. There are three dogs in my house, and usually the rat dog gets growled at first because he finishes and then walks around. But my dog specifically, will bite the others if they actually try to take her food.

              We’d had my dog and the rat dog for a couple months, and I got them a treat ball. Mine got the concept straight away, while the rat dog just tried to chew through the ball to the treats. Mine spent maybe 30 mins. trying to get the last treat out of the ball, and didn’t realize it had come out onto the carpet, so the rat tried to sneak up and take it, my girl whipped around and totally bit him on the ear…the rat didn’t stop shaking for two days, and now has a raised scar on his ear…upside he’s never tried to steal her food again, (only our third dog, who luckily just growls at him since he wouldn’t dare stop the vacuum that is his mouth while eating)

          2. Elkay*

            They’d jump it, currently both can and will jump 3-4 feet to get up on top of our tall bookcases.

            1. fposte*

              Can you shut in the one getting fed and leave the other one to roam? Food might be enough of a consolation.

        2. Cruciatus*

          The bullying thing…does the other cat just edge her out of her food dish, or is he actually attacking/hissing, etc.? She may just be afraid to eat in general and brand/type of food becomes moot. I don’t know if something like Feliway would help with calming the bully cat. But I am unimpressed with your vet!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              An ex and I used to have a gelding that would do that. We had to feed him first and then feed the mare really fast, so she could get some grain while he was chomping on his. Then he would amble over and shove his nose into her dish.

        3. EchoSparks*

          One of my cats eats on top of a short bookshelf in the dining room, the other eats on the kitchen floor. Floor cat is not allowed on that bookshelf, period. Every one in awhile he’ll still try to sneak on and eat bookshelf cat’s food, but for the most part he knows he isn’t allowed up there.

        4. The Real Ash*

          Can you set down wet food in two separate bowls and then monitor the cats? I had two foster kittens that I had to feed that way because one of them would crowd the other one out. And then of course he would go try to eat his sister’s food instead of his, even though it was the same thing…

        5. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          I have cats with a similar dynamic. I feed the fatty by the bathroom sink, and the girl up on the kitchen counter. He will come over and look at her food, but I can hear him jump up and take the plate away.

          I also bought them a CatIt bubble fountain, and fatty especially likes that (he also likes to drink out of the shower faucet).

      2. Elkay*

        D’uh should have said we try to feed her the wet stuff when he goes out for his morning constitutional, she doesn’t like the great outdoors.

    4. Hous*

      I have a related cat-feeding question! I have two cats. One is quite slim, the other is just getting fatter and fatter. I’m planning to switch them to wet food this weekend, but does anyone else have any tips on trying to make one cat slimmer without punishing the one who naturally eats less?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I worry one of ours, Lucy, doesn’t get enough food, largely because massive Sam scarfs it all down first, but Lucy is also the only one who jumps up on counters. So I sometimes put a dish with extra food on the counter for her, knowing that she’ll be able to eat it in peace. Would something like that work?

        1. Hous*

          It might! At the moment the slimmer cat is the only one who gets up on the counters, but I’ve been trying to break her of the habit. Since that isn’t working anyway, maybe I should just lean into it and put her food on the counter and see if it helps or just encourages the other cat to start jumping up there as well.

          1. theotherjennifer*

            I love that – “lean in” to the cat on the counter…whatever works. Maybe the other guy will lose weight trying to jump up!

      2. LBK*

        How picky are they about their flavors? Can you test out different ones and see if there’s a flavor that the fat cat won’t eat but the skinny one will? Even when my cat was overweight, she wouldn’t touch any fish-based wet food.

      3. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Avoid true free feeding. If you feed them at specific times then the skinnier cat is actually hungry when the food is presented and she’ll eat.

        We split the difference in our house. We have out a minimal amount of dry food all day, but feed the wet food at specific times.

      4. EchoSparks*

        The biggest thing you can do is switch to wet food and feed them separately. If they can graze on dry food all day the overweight cat will never lose weight.

        An 8lb cat should eat a 5.5 oz can of wet food per day. Cats should have 30 calories per pound they weigh per day, so you use that as a guide for scaling up or down for your cats. However, you should be feeding overweight cat based on what she *should* weigh, not what she actually does. My cats are 8lb and 9lb, they both have one 5.5oz can a day; 1/2 in the morning before I go to work, 1/4 when I get home from work, and 1/4 before I go to bed.

      5. Persephone Mulberry*

        Our cats need to be on separate foods, and we feed them in separate rooms – one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom/bathroom with the door shut, and we pick it up as soon as they’re done eating. We trained them to this routine by dishing out their allotted servings, putting down the food, and picking it up as soon as one or the other indicated they were done (skinny cat has a very short attention span), then putting it down again 2-3 times at 20-30 minute intervals. We kept an eye on how much food they were eating at a time, and as they caught onto the routine they started eating more per interval so that now we only have to separate them once in the morning and once at night.

      6. Seal*

        At one point I had a pair of elderly cats and a 4 month old kitten with an appetite. One of my old guys was on a special diet for kidney issues, which was quite bland, so he was always after the kitten food because it tasted better. Since the kitten would eat anything, he wound up in the bathroom while he snarfed down his moist food; his dry food was up on the counter where the elderly cats couldn’t get it. In their prime my old guys were big jumpers and climbers, but by the end of their lives they were quite content with laying on the couch in the sun. After a few days the kitten knew he’d get his wet food in the bathroom and ran in to wait when I got the food out.

        My elderly cats passed away within 2 weeks of each other – one of kidney failure, the other of a broken heart. The kitten – by now 7 months old – had always been very deferential to them, happy to snuggle with them but rarely tried to wrestle or play because they made it clear they weren’t interested. The first few days after the second one passed, the poor guy was confused because he didn’t have to eat in the bathroom anymore. He also needed a friend, so I adopted a female about his age. Now they’re both young adults; he still inhales his food, while she nibbles until he comes over to steal what’s left of hers. Ironically enough, he’s very slim and she’s a bit heavier – go figure.

      7. Monodon monoceros*

        When I needed my skinny old lady kitty to eat more, I mixed some tuna water into the wet food to get her to eat it. She also is picky about eating the same food too long. She will eat the pate style for a few days, then suddenly will only eat the kind with the chunks, then wants the pate again. What a princess…. but anyway, try mixing it up, both with tuna, and with different types of food.

    5. Meredith*

      Our two leaning-toward-senior cats have always just had two dishes of dry food out for them to eat whenever they want. (I probably would not have done this, but they were my boyfriend’s cats for about 10 years before I met him and that’s what he has always done.) One is a chunk, and the other is kind of boney even though he eats a lot. The skinnier one also has a pretty sensitive stomach that leads to some fairly gross litter box productions, so I’m concerned that wet food would really set him off. We found a dry food that seems to agree with him a lot better, and we buy pretty high-quality food. I’m not sure how well they would tolerate a change at this point, because they are definitely grazers and eat multiple small meals per day. They don’t seem to get in each other’s way (one doesn’t crowd the other out). However, I am a bit concerned about the heavier cat, as she is pretty sedentary and could be heading on the road to diabetes because food is always available to her. They have a vet appointment this week, so we’ll see what happens.

      Do cats just not register thirst the same way, and therefore don’t drink as much as they should? They do have plenty of water set out for them at all times.

      1. Anonylicious*

        Well, cats’ digestive systems are actually pretty good at conserving water. They get a lot of the moisture they need from their diet, especially if you feed them wet. (I don’t, because I’ve found a specific dry food that’s the only thing that agrees with my cat’s stomach, and now I can never switch.) Even though my cat eats dry food, she still doesn’t drink a whole lot of water. As long as your cats are peeing regularly, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just keep the water fresh and they’ll drink when they’re thirsty.

        1. Meredith*

          Yeah, that’s kind of what I thought. They seem to be using the litter box just fine. I would prefer to just keep them on the dry food they’re on, because it agrees with both of them.

          1. mina*

            Take care – until recently we were a dry food only household. Two bouts of constipation later, we are now wet food only, with a very expensive but worth it water fountain with twin waterfalls, the Drinkwell Pagoda. This is what not enough water consumption leads to!

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              Also male cats are more prone to developing crystals in their urine, and then getting urinary blockages, which is life threatening. One way to avoid this is more moisture in their diet, so wet food is great for male cats.

    6. samaD*

      I’ve had one cat who was incredibly picky about canned food – he wouldn’t eat pate, would only lick the gravy off the other kind, and wouldn’t consider touching anything from any can that had been opened and refrigerated. He’d scarf dry though, and loved sliced liver.

      Other than that, I’ve had very good luck with kinds that are just shredded chicken (though read the can, because some of them aren’t a complete diet) and anything that doesn’t have fish.
      Just try her on a variety, and hopefully you’ll find one she loves *fingers crossed* (get the wee cans while trying if possible – it’s more expensive per can, but you end up wasting less)

    7. Haley*

      We had a big challenge switching one of our cats from dry to wet food. The bottom line is that once they get hungry enough, they will eat what’s there! To transition, it took at least a month, but please stick it out – it really is worth it for their health!

      What we did: start by giving a tiny bit of the dry food your cat likes with an even tinier bit of the new wet food. You can hide the wet food under the dry food at first. This will get him used to the flavor and texture of the wet food. Continue doing this and gradually increase the ratio of wet to dry food until it’s all wet food.

      By the way, after I saw a post on here a few months back about Sheba, I thought I’d try it. It is WAY less expensive than the other grain-free stuff out there. Our cats have loved it ever since!

    8. Feed Fido, Feed Fluffy*

      I’d second Tiki Cat, esp. the seafood variety. I think it’s crab surmi. My cats tend to lick the gravy (ick) off the food too. They seem to do better with the shredded formula and, again, Tiki is chunky and gobbled up fast. Choosing a pet food is difficult, especially cat foods as I haven’t found a good guide to them. I learned from the Blue Buffalo site (pet food company) that the top 10 ingredients usually comprise 80% or more of a dry pet food’s entire formula and give you a real insight into the formula’s overall quality. And I know meat ( as first ingredient, not corn), not byproducts, is best for our furry family members.

      1. Elkay*

        I think we may have hit on something with chicken pate mixed with the chicken yoghurt she loves.

    9. Hcat*

      After a real bad illness, my cat had no appetite, and made even worse by the antibiotics I had to shove down his throat every day for weeks. Anyhow, he needed to eat, and I didn’t know what to do, so I took him to the vet and he gave me some appetite stimulants. It worked like a charm, he started eating, and getting stronger and healthier. I did it for a few days and once he started eating on his own, and getting into a routine again, I stopped. While medication is not the best route, being malnourished is far worse. Just another option.

  3. Who are you?*

    WOO HOO! I’m in early!!!

    Is it appropriate to call the person who interviewed you for a job when that person is your supervisor at the temp job
    you’re currently working at? A little history: I have been a temp at a fantastic company for over 6 months. Several
    months ago I was notified by my supervisor that a postion would be opening soon. I had told her that I was interested,
    followed up appropriately when I noticed that the job hadn’t been posted in the time frame she’d indicated, and was
    notified when the position was posted and urged to apply. Approximately 3 weeks after filling out the application I was
    contacted for an interview which went rather well! That was 2 weeks ago.
    During the interview my supervisor mentioned that they were looking to fill this position immediately and she even
    mentioned wanting to do it before the next pay cycle. A pay cycle has come and gone and my anxiety is high. Would it be
    all right to drop an email asking for an update? I know that there were several internal candidates being interviewed as
    well. It’s possible that I was passed over for them. The thing is, there’s another position opening soon and I’ve been
    approached by several people to apply for that one.
    I don’t know what to do. Advice? Anyone??

    1. fposte*

      I’d drop her an email rather than calling her and ask if she has an idea of the hiring time frame. If she doesn’t answer, don’t ask again.

      And go ahead and apply for the other job. Don’t wait for this one. If you get an offer from the other one and you’re still interested in the first one, you can let them know that you have another offer, indicate your interest in their position, and ask if they expect to make a decision by [time that job 2 needs to know].

  4. Katie the Fed*

    OK, more wedding talk. I like you folks because you seem practical. The wedding boards scare me.

    Wedding favors – yay or nay? If we do them, would probably be something consumable because really nobody keeps the souvenir stuff. But is it worth the effort?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I agree with the consumable gifts. The last thing anyone needs is a plastic mold of the bride and groom.
      But I don’t expect a favor, and I wouldn’t miss it if I didn’t get one. Actually the best favor I got was the floral arrangement on the table. The bride said we could decide who at the table wanted the flowers.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        BTW, I totally missed the part about the plastic mold, ha. We could have ourselves made into action figures!

        I’m going to do that with the flowers – I don’t need 10 bouquets when I’m prepping for a honeymoon and trying to finish thank-you notes :)

        1. Jessa*

          There is a really cool company that does head sculpts for various sized action figures. You COULD actually do that. It’s a bit pricey though.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      I have never noticed if the couple didn’t do favors, and honestly most of the time they are things I don’t need. So, I’d lean toward no.

    3. Betsy*

      It seems dumb, but people really do like them. I wouldn’t put much effort into them, though: a little tulle baggie with some Hershey kisses or the like. You don’t need to buy custom ones with your wedding date printed on it or anything.

      If you want to leave them out, you can, but they provide a source of interest and conversation while people are waiting for the wedding party to arrive. I think every wedding I’ve ever attended, there has been some conversation, either about the favors or the lack of them.

    4. Anne 3*

      I think they’re cute! If your guests are flying in, make sure they can take the consumable treat on the plane though!

      1. Anne 3*

        The last wedding I went to, they gave out mini jars of honey and homemade vanilla extract.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, and I travel carryon only, so I’d have had to toss those. That would have made me sad!

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I can’t imagine they were larger than the 3 oz. limit. I really like this idea!

            1. fposte*

              Ah, I thought Anne 3 meant that they were larger. If they’re small enough, I agree totally that they’d be delightful.

              (I’m still smarting over the pear jam I had to jettison in the Quebec airport.)

              1. A Bug!*

                Tiny jars of honey should be fairly easy to source if you can find a restaurant supply company that’s willing to sell to the public (or a connection in the restaurant industry willing to order for you). I have one in my cupboard that I got from a hotel breakfast buffet. I think they’d make excellent wedding favors.

                (I tried to eat it one day but my partner threw a fit because he wanted to keep it as a souvenir. :( He won’t even let me eat the honey and carefully preserve the jar. Same for the tiny glass bottles of ketchup we boosted from a bunch of spent room-service trays. Whyyyyyy)

                1. Jill-be-Nimble*

                  I went to a great wedding where the favors were tiny jars of a special loose-leaf tea blend chosen by the bride and groom (symbolizing the “blending” of their families!) It was delicious and adorable. (And I stole far more than my fair share, but shhhhhh…)

        2. Diana*

          We did the mini jars of honey at our wedding for favors and it went over really well. Turned out to be a decently fun craft for the wedding party to put together. Design your own label (super easy) and if you want to go the extra mile, source it locally.

    5. Kai*

      I’ve decided against them for my upcoming wedding. My sister and I spent hours putting together cute little favors for all 150 guests for her wedding last summer, and most of them were left behind. My hunch is that people won’t even notice if you don’t have them.

      1. Lucy*

        OMG, I have ended up on some of those wedding boards and they scared me off!

        My cousin got married in April, and they had coozies made with their names and the date. What was nice is that they were included in the welcome bags in the hotel rooms, with bottles of water inside- so you got a favor but didn’t have to remember to pick it up at the end of the wedding night. Generally though, I would say it’s not worth the effort!

    6. Who are you?*

      I did favors at my wedding and it wasn’t worth it. If you wanted to do a favor, what about opting to send a slice of cake home with your guests in a cute little box with your wedding date and names on it? That way it also frees your guests up for more dancing at the reception and really, isn’t that what guests love about receptions???

    7. Stephanie*

      I like consumables! My friend got married in Atlanta and gave everyone Vidalia onion jam or peach jam. It was a nice local touch and delicious. Just make it small enough that people can bring it back in their carry-ons.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I like that because it’s local too. At first I thought you were going to say they gave everyone a vidalia onion – that would be awesome :)

        1. saro*

          I had to sell Vidalia onions to raise money for JV soccer. I still think this is a great idea. :)

        2. A Bug!*

          You could feature vidalia onions in the centerpieces for the tables. I would be really delighted at something like that, but then, I like the smell of fresh whole onions and I think vegetables generally are nice to look at.

      2. Wren*

        My fiancee is from Walla Walla, so his family would DIE if we used Vidalias. I’m giggling just thinking of the freak out.

    8. LBK*

      I went to a wedding where they had the favors all on a table on the way out, so if you wanted one as a keepsake or whatever you were welcome to take it, but you wouldn’t feel obligated like if it were sitting on your plate at your reception table. I think that’s a good compromise.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        A friend of a friend got married and put out a big table with all the couple’s favorite local food stuff: jellies, local cheese, honey, apples (it was a fall wedding), and I think some other things. There were reusable grocery bags with the couple’s names on them, and people were encouraged to take whatever they wanted. I love this idea–I would actually take a bunch of stuff–but I think it was expensive and a lot of stuff was left over.

        1. Jessa*

          But the advantage is if it was all their fave stuff, they’d probably use it ultimately if it was left over. I think the idea is good but someone should be at the table helping people out so people won’t be all “omg what if I take more than I should.”

    9. AdminAnon*

      I’ve been to 6 weddings since January and 4 of them have involved favors. I only kept one of them (etched shot glass). In my opinion, keep favors either consumable or practical. If it’s something that I can use after the fact, great. Otherwise, I live in a tiny apartment and it’s not worth storing. For me, it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort or expense. Just my opinion :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto for me. I don’t want house clutter. I cannot tell you how many weddings I went to growing up where my folks were sent home with glasses that had gold writing. It looks cute in the store, but not so much after twenty years on a kitchen shelf.
        Now if there is a favor for the guests, my heart sinks a little. I catch myself saying “They could have used the money on something that matters.”

    10. Elysian*

      I wasn’t going to do them for my wedding, but my grandmother insisted. So, she got to do them. I never notice or care about favors when I attend weddings, so it didn’t matter to me.

    11. Katie the Fed*

      So what I was thinking of is little jars of Old Bay seasoning because it’s in Maryland and there will be crab cakes at the wedding. So that’s consumable but doesn’t have to be immediately consumable. I also don’t know if I care that much. There are LOT of wedding things I don’t care about. When people talk to me about themes and colors I want to jam a dessert fork into my eye.

      1. krm*

        I think thats a really cute idea. It is also something you could easily delegate to an aunt or someone in your life that wants to be involved in wedding preparations but doesn’t know where to start.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Please be clearer. I read the comment as it would be cute to jam a dessert fork into my eye and that’s a task that could be easily delegated.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            Lol! I’d designate the pushy friend of the family, but put them in a room far, far away.

      2. Aunt Vixen*

        We’re not doing favors. When the subject came up, we couldn’t think of anything we really thought would be us-specific, and we sure didn’t want to do it just because other people have done it before. We don’t expect anyone to notice, or if they do, to care.

        True story: we booked our venue five and a half months out, because that was how much time we had, and the coordinator there said sometimes a quicker planning period is better – she had a couple who booked more than eighteen months out and between then and the wedding the bride changed her theme four times. We kind of looked at each other and back at her and said “I’m pretty sure our theme is going to be ‘We’re getting married today.'”

        We did have to give the florist some color-scheme ideas to work with, but beyond that, the theme is “wedding”.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah for flowers I’m just doing fall palette – I actually found some I really like at costco and fiftyflowers.

          1. Steph*

            We learned in planning our wedding that some things are important to a couple and some aren’t. And to focus on the stuff that matters to you and don’t spend a lot of time focusing on the stuff that doesn’t because it isn’t worth it.

            Personally, I worked at a florist shop in high school, so flowers were the one thing I did want to do well.

            My husband scheduled like 10 cake tastings for us because he wanted to pick out a really really good cake (also, he got excited after finding out that the cake tastings were free, lol).

            Some of our friends are big foodies, so their wedding had super pricey caterers.

            My sister, who is getting married this fall, wanted a destination wedding that she didn’t have to worry about the details for, so she spent a lot of time figuring out locale and selecting a good planner who will do all the rest for her.

            The only thing I would say is usually a important for all weddings is a good photographer. I’ve seen what happens if you don’t get a good one (not our wedding but a friend’s).

            1. Katie the Fed*

              The photographer was pretty much the only thing I REALLY cared about – she was the first thing I booked after the venue/food.

        2. Chinook*

          My wedding was only 3 months after the engagement, so time to prep was short. DH and I went with bookmarks because we are readers and didn’t mind if we had extras left over. We were also able to be flexible on what it looked like because we had no wedding colour pallette. Frankly, with all the groomsmen in different military uniforms (Cdn air force colouration do clash with the army ones), I just told the women not in uniform (we had one female groomsmen) to wear a certain style of dress in whatever colour they wanted and chose whatever flowers were available.

          1. Arjay*

            We did bookmarks, mostly because I loved them, hershey kisses, and a handful ot trivial pursuit cards. I met my husband playing trivia, so it was meaningful to us and worked as an icebreaker at the tables.

        3. C Average*

          My husband and I had talked many times about getting married in Boston at his parents’ house. We go there for the marathon every April, and figured we’d just do it then. When we got engaged in December, we initially planned to get married two Aprils later, i.e., a year from the next April.

          But the more we talked about it, the more we didn’t want to wait. So we decided to just do it. We got engaged in December and got married in April, just four months later.

          Admittedly, not everyone can do this. Our wedding was really small (immediate family only). No attendants, no venue. I made my dress. His father performed the ceremony. We had dinner catered at his parents’ house. His sister arranged the flowers and cake. We had no invitations, no favors, no photographer, no musicians. (His brother-in-law took some great snapshots, and we played a mix we’d made of our favorite songs during dinner.)

          It was intimate and lovely and one of the best days of my life. I’m really happy that I didn’t spend a whole extra year of my life sweating details that didn’t matter, and that instead I got to spend a whole extra year of my life MARRIED!

          1. Jax*

            Love this story.

            My cousin had a small wedding (25 guests) at a local mansion/museum. They had the service in the gardens, and an old fashioned luncheon reception afterward. It was beautiful and perfect for the couple–they are both history PhD’s.

            My aunt planned it and I’m sure it wasn’t cheap, but it looked simple and cozy and somehow better than a big church blowout.

          2. Windchime*

            My son and his fiancé are doing something similar. They have been engaged for about a month. Yesterday they set their date for about 4 months away. They’ve already booked a nice small, casual venue. She will either wear her mother’s dress or buy a white sundress. They will each have one attendant each and it sounds like the reception will be very simple. They are choosing to have a simple wedding so they can have a great honeymoon.

            I would be super surprised if there were favors or a “theme”. Maybe I’ll try to find some M&M’s with their initials or something.

      3. Lamington*

        I would take the Old Bay for sure. I will suggest ypu order less than you need so you don’t have left overs. our theme was love birds so we bought nice Christmas ornaments in the shape of birds we ran out thankfully.

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Ooh, how about you put a six pack of Flying Dog Dead Rise ale on every table? (It’s a summer ale made with Old Bay!) :d

      5. saro*

        I really like this idea. It’s also dry so it’s good for those traveling by plane to your wedding.

      6. TotesMaGoats*

        Maryland in the house! Did you know that you can buy Crab Chips from Utz by the crate? That might be a fun option as well.

        I honestly can’t remember if we had favors at my wedding or not. 9 years ago now. I should be able to remember that, right?

        Everyone devoured our cake, so there really wasn’t a need for anything else. Sugarbakers in Catonsville, if you haven’t already found a bakery. My mom and I help arrange weddings, if you have any questions or need help. We don’t help you pick flowers or colors or anything like that but we do have a great spreadsheet that keeps track of everything and a down to the minute schedule.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Thank you! The bakery is the next thing I need to find. We’re doing pies but may also have a cake (thinking maybe a Smith Island Cake)

          1. TotesMaGoats*

            The only thing I was adamant about was having chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Had one baker say it would photograph bad and wouldn’t do. Sugarbakers did and it was awesome. The only cake that was left was the topper that was saved for us. And we ate that in about 3 months then got the one they make for your 1st anniversary. We had 300 ppl at our reception, so that was a lot of cake. A pie buffet would be cool.

            I don’t get the wedding cake and then dessert table thing. Seems like overkill.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I just looked up the bulk Utz crab chips – I think those’ll be perfect for the out-of-town welcome bags :)

          1. Stephanie*

            Man, this thread is making me miss MD food. Can you incorporate pit beef somehow as well? :)

      7. Muriel Heslop*

        As a former event/wedding planner, I would say: scrap anything you aren’t enthusiastic about including. I didn’t have favors because I had limited time and energy and I realized I didn’t care.

        We DID do personalized boxes of sparklers because when we left we had people wave sparklers instead of throw rice. If people wanted to keep that as a favor, I guess that might count.

      8. Elizabeth West*

        OLD BAAAAY

        Love that stuff. There was a post recently on Buzzfeed of all these different things you could put it on. I tried it on avocado toast and it was very good.

      9. Sasha Fierce*

        I love local and usable. We are in the Phoenix area, so we gave out lip balm and suntan lotion (sample size) that is locally made. It was affordable (we just plopped a ribbon with our names and date in the bag), and easy to put together. Plus, my dad freaking LOVES that lip balm (me too), and we were both happy to keep the left-behinds. My sister gave out little jars of M&Ms and those were popular!

    12. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No one cares. It’s extra work for you, and one more thing to stress about dealing with on the day of. Skip it, and just feed people well.

      That said, we did fancy macaroons in fancy boxes, but we delegated the entire responsibility to a friend or otherwise it would not have happened at all.

    13. Celeste*

      I would only do them if there is something you really want to incorporate into the event. I definitely agree that if you do something, it should be consumable. I’ve seen chocolates and coffee packs. I’ve seen sooo many left-behind items, like crossword puzzle books and figurines.

      Otherwise, I’d use the money elsewhere.

    14. Celeste*

      Also, I don’t expect them and wouldn’t miss one. I usually bring only a small purse to these things and it can’t hold much extra.

    15. Anne-Cara*

      We did donation favors instead of an edible/physical favor! Very little effort, and definitely worth it (for me, anyway, but I didn’t hear any guests complaining).

      1. the_scientist*

        I went to a wedding that did donations for favours- they donated to a local charity that provides social support and activities for kids with autism and put a little card at each place explaining the donation. I thought it was a nice gesture, and more useful/practical than mints/bubbles/whatever.

      2. ANB*

        This is exactly what we did. We showed a short video during the reception so people knew what the organization was about. We also printed up thank you cards for each place setting. I didn’t receive feedback either way on whether they liked the idea.

    16. Jubilance*

      I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you do it, definitely do something consumable and cheap for you. I wouldn’t do anything time consuming or that was costly.

      Since I’m getting married on Pi Day, we’re going with little mini-pies as the favors. Cute, fits the theme and who can resist a little mini-pie?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oooh fun! We’re having pie instead of wedding cake actually. A big selection of pies. Pies > cake.

        1. Jubilance*

          My fiance and I both want cake, hence why the favors are the pies. He’s currently lobbying for a groom’s cake that is a 3-D replica of Wayne Mansion cause he’s a big Batman fan.

          *sigh*Hence our nerd wedding…LOL

          1. fposte*

            Oh, now I want him to have that cake too, just to see it.

            Anybody familiar with Edible Book Festivals? People basically make literary themed foodstuffs, often cakes, and you get some amazing puns and also some extraordinary designs. (I remember a gorgeous chocolate gothic house with cutouts of Betty Grable on it–it was the House of the Seven Grables.)

          2. A Teacher*

            my sister’s best friend did a ghostbuster groom cake…it was pretty spectacular.

          3. Kelly O*

            Do you need a new best friend? Because between Pi, pie, Batman, and nerds, you are one hobbit, a direwolf, and Neil deGrasse Tyson away from me moving in next door.

    17. Elkay*

      We did two chocolates in a box with our names and the date on. The company we bought them from did everything we just gave them to the venue to put on the table.

    18. Anonie*

      A candy bar is always fun. You don’t have to put anything on every table. Just set up a candy bar with little baggies and let the guests pick there favorites. I would get little bags so people can’t over do it (even though there is always those that do!) but it can be fun. It can be expensive depending on the candy and how much but you could set a budget and stick to it. Some people do candies from back in the day and other’s do candy in the color of the wedding.

      1. Mallory*

        I was at one wedding where they had a make-your-own-favor table, and it was a lot of fun (and probably pretty cheap to pull off, too). They just had pretty glass bowls filled with all different kinds of candies (M & M’s, Jelly Bellies, Twizzlers, mini-pretzels, Hershey’s miniatures, etc.) and little plastic baggies with twist-ties for guests to fill up and take home.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Or a cookie bar, Pittsburgh-style. (Although traditionally the guests in Pittsburgh bring the cookies.)

        All of these are great ideas so long as the couple is enthusiastic about it. I wouldn’t do any of this out of a sense of obligation.

    19. Bryan*

      I think it’s really just up to you if you want to do them. I agree something consumable. I’m debating using little bottles of flavored olive oil from a local shop. That being said it’s a wedding so people are going to be divisive and very opinionated about whatever you do.

    20. duschamp*

      If you do favors, I would absolutely go with consumables.
      As for whether or not to do it – if you don’t do it, only the etiquette fascists will care. If you just go with something standard (sugared almonds, etc.), people won’t be upset but probably won’t remember it either. If you can/want to, I would try to pick something both consumable and personal to one or both of you. At my wedding (my family is from Ohio, and my husband’s is from Yorkshire) we had buckeyes as the favors and pork pies along with the champagne at the reception. We still get compliments for both of those. Likewise, at a friend’s US/UK wedding which was on the 4th of July, they had an evening buffet of hot dogs.
      While I’ve strayed away from the favors question, I think the most important thing is, no matter what you do, to make it personal to you guys.

      1. fposte*

        I’m guessing you mean candy buckeyes, not the absolutely inedible buckeye buckeyes. (My family roasted them experimentally once, because in my region they’re called horse chestnuts and my father thought you might be able to eat them like other chestnuts. You can’t.)

        1. duschamp*

          Oh yeah, defiantly the candy ones. They were a beast to make ’cause at the time peanut butter was really hard to get hold of in the UK (I actually had my sister bring jars of it in her checked luggage).
          Was your father OK? I have no idea if this is true or not, but in Ohio buckeyes (the nut) have a reputation as being poisonous.

          1. fposte*

            Father, hell–he fed them to us! He was actually a very careful parent but had a certain experimental zeal that must have overridden that.

            They tasted so horribly bitter that none of us ingested enough to hurt us even if they are poisonous. Looking it up, I can see that they do contain a substance that’s poisonous if eaten raw. Ours weren’t raw but were too revolting to eat, so I don’t think we were in much danger.

    21. Turanga Leela*

      No one will care if you don’t. I certainly wouldn’t put a lot of money or time into it. Folding little gift boxes is not a good use of your time.

      If you want to do something but don’t want to put in the effort, make a charitable donation. Donate a chunk of money, then put a note in your programs or a small sign at the reception that says something like, “In lieu of favors, Katie and Katie’s spouse have made a donation to Heifer International.” Everyone will be happy.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh, funny story on Heifer. My parents jokingly paid his parents a dowry of a Heifer International donation of a goat. :)

    22. KTM*

      I always enjoy the favors we get at weddings (especially when it is something local/personal to the couple) but I have never cared if we didn’t get anything if you want to opt out. For our wedding our ‘escort cards’ were pictures of each of our guests with magnets on the back so they doubled as take-home gifts (it’s been really fun after the fact to see them on our friend’s fridges!)

    23. Ash (the other one!)*

      We did cake pops — figuring people who may have been drinking would appreciate some food on their way out.

    24. Brett*

      We did kazoos. It made for a noisy reception, but people really liked them and did actually keep them for quite a long time.

    25. Jennifer*

      I think nay. At most weddings, I don’t take them. I’m sure you’ve got lots of other things to spend time and money on. Best wishes!!

    26. Algae*

      Nay – I feel like it’s an idea whose time has passed. (Besides, what are we going to do with two giant diamond-shaped paperweights?)

    27. JC*

      I didn’t do them at my wedding a few years ago, and never thought twice. If you want to, I definitely vote for consumables. I hate getting stuff to take home from weddings, especially stuff with another couple’s name on it. But everyone loves food.

      I went to a wedding recently where they wanted to do the trendy “candy bar” thing, and turned it into make-your-own-bag-of-candy favors. Was into it.

    28. LV*

      My cousin had little jars of organic honey as her wedding favours. I thought it was cute, but a lot of people didn’t take their jar with them and I ended up with about 2 dozen. It worked in my favour, but from the couple’s perspective it was a bit of a waste of time/money/effort since so few guests seemed interested.

    29. Addiez*

      Not to advertise another blog – but have you seen A Practical Wedding? They address stuff like this all the time :)

        1. chewbecca*

          Those two are the only sites I’m looking at for sundry wedding planning advice. I’ve gotten a lot out of them! And I’ve never once felt judged, so I stay in my happy little wedding planning bubble and ignore anything else.

    30. Kelly L.*

      I don’t think they’re necessary, and I agree–something consumable. It can be an extra logistical issue to take a souvenir item along as you leave, especially if it’s breakable and you have a long trip back home.

    31. Gilby*

      We went to a wedding there they gave out can koozies with the bride and groom wedding date and name. Cute idea and different idea.

      Not everyone uses them but still it is a competely functional party favor.

    32. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think wedding favors are silly. Who wants a pint glass with someone else’s wedding date on it? And sure, cookies are tasty, but having just fed your guests (presumably) a dinner and dessert, that hardly seems necessary.

      My husband felt strongly that not having wedding favors was tacky, so we did it. But my preference would have been to skip it. We made little bags with food from the various places we’ve lived (Nut Goodies, Tasty-Kakes, moon pies, etc.).

      1. Gilby*

        I agree with most of the stuff that is engraved with the couple and wedding date is silly.

        I saw the logic with the can koozies as the whole family and friends all camp, fish, hunt and all that so really they’d come in handy. Who cares if they got dirty or torn?

        But I agree for the most part. I’d take a little bag of M& M’s over just another knick-knack.

    33. Kelly O*

      We did little take-out boxes with a cupcake and goodies from the baker in them, and people seemed to really like it.

      Our wedding was small enough that I ordered extra boxes, and people could use them for proper take-out from our reception if they wanted (and we had so much food, it saved us from dealing with a huge mess of stuff.)

      Oh, and totally agree with you about the wedding boards. If/when you decide to procreate, stay away from the pregnancy/baby boards. I seriously wonder how some people manage to actually get a baby fed sometimes… it’s a miracle so many survive to adulthood although it does explain a lot.

    34. Clinical Data Coordinator*

      We did wedding favors, but it was partly because at the time it sounded like fun (shrug).

      One thing that some friends of ours did was make a donation to a charity of their choice in lieu of favors. Then they printed out a little sign that they placed on each table letting people know (like ‘In lieu of favors, a donation has been made on behalf of all the wedding guests to _____.’)

      1. Steph*

        Whoops — it has been awhile since I posted I guess. :)

        Anyways, what we did for favors was use some paper that wildflower seeds in it (like these:, made boxes (stamped them with our name / date), and filled the boxes with some candy. It seemed like a happy compromise between something really tacky that nobody except our moms would want to keep and just candy. :)

    35. Eden*

      I just don’t understand wedding favors. I have been to many, many weddings in my time, and aside from the personalized box of matches, have never been enthused about/used any favor. Does anyone really care about these? I really feel like they are something that could be phased out. Spend those extra bucks serving better food, is my feeling.

    36. cuppa*

      I felt an irrational need to give out favors, for whatever reason, but I also hate all of the stupid trinkets and don’t care if there is a favor when I attend weddings.
      We gave out our favorite cookies from a local bakery. It was extremely popular and very reasonable price-wise. Some people ate theirs before dinner (they were sitting at the place settings). And, I did not complain one bit about getting the extras/ones that were left behind.

    37. EmmBee*

      I say skip. We made two donations in lieu of favors. Seriously, except for mothers, everyone throws out favors — if not immediately, the next time they do spring cleaning or whatever.

    38. Kay*

      For my wedding last year, I did old school stick candy (you know, like the ones in Cracker barrel and shows like Little House on the Prairie). I found a company to order from, ordered boxes of only the flavors I liked (because I assumed there would be leftovers) and wrapped about 5 sticks together with ribbon and a little note that said something like “Thanks for ‘sticking’ around” because I’m punny like that.

      Also, join the Offbeat Bride Tribe (even if you don’t consider yourself “offbeat”) They are the nicest most helpful wedding planning community I found and it doesn’t matter what you’re planning or why you’re doing it that way, they are SUPER supportive

    39. 2 Cents*

      For my wedding, we didn’t have individual favors. I set out short vases filled with Hershey’s kisses at each table for people to snack on if they felt like it. I didn’t hear from anyone that they missed a favor. At weddings I’ve been to, consumable favors are my favorite, but I don’t miss them when they’re not there. (Anything that’s a “gift” or “thing” I have to schlep home either ends up forgotten at my table or thrown out about 6 months later.)

    40. Hlyssande*

      My friend had her wedding in December, so they gave some tiny traditional Norwegian ornaments that were made from straw (or something similar). Incidentally, they were also very cheap. And cute. I still have mine.

    41. Unmitigated Gal*

      We made candles for everyone, by hand. They were lovely. It was a lot of work! I believe they were appreciated, but who really knows??

    42. Minnow*

      At my wedding we took the money we would have spent on favours and made a donation to a charity that was meaningful to us. They gave us little cards we could put on the table saying that a donation had been made in our guests’ honour. It went over really well and it was nice to be able to give back a little bit.

    43. kbeers0su*

      We had a semi-destination wedding because we wanted to get married where we live (Maine) but most of our family is in the midwest. We opted to not do favors for the reasons many others posted (get left behind, people don’t always want something personalized with another couple’s wedding date/names, cost) we opted to do welcome packages for the guests who traveled from out of state. We included water, snacks, small jars of blueberry jam, a guide to the local area, some info about Maine, and some Maine postcards. We made one box for each room of guests, and the cost was less than it would have been for favors.

      As someone else mentioned, we also had potted plants as centerpieces and we didn’t want or need 17 Hercura plants. So we sent them home with guests, which ended up being most of the in-state folks. So in the end most people got something, just not a favor per se.

    44. Robin*

      I did some “I went to Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” t-shirts. My MIL was a little scandalized, but they were a big hit.

      1. Robin*

        Obviously, substitute my and my husband’s names there, just keeping it generic.

      2. cuppa*

        I’m halfway debating getting married again just so I can steal this idea. :)

    45. junipergreen*

      If you have lots of out-of-towners, maybe consider putting out “care package” type gift bags at the end of the night, or handing them out to the hotel to give to people at check-in. Having a bag of pretzels/chips/animal crackers, a bottle of water, and some candy is a nice post-wedding snack when people get to their room tuckered out from dancing and drinking. We did this with simple paper bags. We heard from some of the folks who were too hungover to show up to breakfast the next day that the snacks were very welcome ;)
      (best part – with shelf stable snacks you can do this weeks in advance, and it’s relatively quick and cheap with a cost co run and a friend to help you out)

    46. Mephyle*

      A mother-of-the-bride here: My daughter and son-in-law (both mathematicians) got wire puzzles – the kind where you have to try to disengage two complex closed loops – in their theme colours for the favours. There were about 5 different designs, so some people had the same ones as people seated near them, some had different. They turned out to be a great hit, because after the meal, people were playing with them trying to solve them, and comparing them with each other.

    47. Ruffingit*

      I had a magnet with a cute saying that went with the theme of the wedding. I’m no longer married to that guy but people still have the magnet on their fridges. :) That said I don’t think they’re necessary so no big thing if you don’t do it.

    48. Sandy*

      I don’t think anyone will notice if you don’t have them. I always forget that guests get favors at weddings and am always surprised to see them at the place settings. But if you want to get wedding favors, the last wedding I went too had glass coasters with LOVE engraved in them and they were placed in sheer little bags (2 coasters per guest in one bag). I thought those were really nice since they were both pretty and could actually be used and not just set on a shelf for decoration to collect dust.

      I don’t think favors are necessary though, you are already feeding the guests at the reception.

    49. samaD*

      go with your preference!

      we had sugar almonds and little cones of local lavender to toss, a friend had fridge magnets with local scenes and the centrepiece if you wanted it, someone else was a recent ecology grad and gave saplings of a local tree.

      if you want, something small and local and representative of you – I think I read downthread that you were thinking of a local spice mix, which sounds perfect….but only if you want to! :)

  5. AndersonDarling*

    Yes, I was stalking the thread so I could get my question in early. :)

    I wanted to ask the group about something that has been annoying me.

    We have had some applicants come to their interviews, check in with the receptionist, sit down, open their laptops, and then ask for the WiFi password.

    I guess this isn’t a big deal at other organizations, but because of the nature of our business, we have a super secure network. Guest passwords have to be custom built for the individual by a member of IT.

    If the applicant was interviewing for a marketing position, they could need access to pull up their portfolio. But the receptionist doesn’t know who is coming in for what, and she doesn’t want to be rude and quiz the applicant on why they need access. If she can find an available IT member to set it up quickly, all the applicant does is check their email/play games for 5 minutes before their interview. In the end, the applicants who are asking are interviewing for entry level positions or internships.

    I feel like this makes the applicant seem a bit immature… they are confusing the office lobby with a Starbucks. But maybe they are thinking that it makes them look professional because they are “important” and have to check their email every chance they get.

    Does anyone else have an opinion on this?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m with you, it feels like a presumptuous and unnecessary request to me. What can they do in the short amount of time before an interview that they can’t do with a cellular data network on a phone?

      As a candidate, I would assume that any wifi network is for the use of employees and clients, and would not ask to use it myself.

    2. Stephanie*

      That’s odd. OldJob was the same way with wifi (you needed a special password from IT), so I’ve just assumed no wifi will be available. Plus, who wants to drag a laptop to an interview? I barely want to carry my purse.

    3. BCW*

      What is your issue? That they are asking for your password or what they are doing once they get it? I mean, if someone is waiting, they could just as easily do the same thing on their phone. Would you judge them as immature for that? If its a wi-fi thing, maybe just have a blanked policy to not give it out, and make sure that when marketing people are coming in, they know that they need to have things on a USB drive or something because they won’t be able to use the internet.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I think it is the asking for the WiFi that annoys me. But it may be because everywhere I’ve worked we have had secure networks without guest access. I would think that when someone tries to access the WiFi and sees it is locked, they should let it go unless it is for something important.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If I found an office door that was locked, I would not ask for a key. You just don’t do that.

          Maybe they are assuming there are different levels of access and you would be telling them a password for low level access?

        2. Vicki*

          Not all companies are like this.
          At my last interview, I was early, so I sat in my car, pulled out the iPad, and connected to the open guest network for 15 minutes.

        3. Ruffingit*

          I usually let it go if I see it’s locked, but I also know some places will give you the password if you ask. I wouldn’t judge someone for this personally. We’re such a wi-fi world now that this just doesn’t faze me. I don’t think they’re trying to look important. If it bothers you then put a sign up saying WiFi is not available to guests and be done with it. I wouldn’t read much into this.

        4. The Other Dawn*

          I’m with you, Anderson. I would be put off if an applicant asked for WiFi access. There just isn’t a need for it if they’re arriving within a few minutes of their interview time. If they need it in order to pull up a portfolio, I think they should have had the forethought to put it on a USB drive or something.

          And since it takes at least one person’s time to set up an individual password, I would just tell people that it’s company policy to not allow visitors to connect to the company’s WiFi.

      2. anonness*

        OP posted this: “Guest passwords have to be custom built for the individual by a member of IT.”

        So it’s a security thing, and the interviewers are wasting the office’s IT time to setup something that they won’t even use for that long.

    4. OriginalYup*

      It seems like the simplest thing to do is empower the receptionist to say to everyone, “I’m sorry, our network is restricted to employees only so we don’t give out the password to visitors. Thanks for understanding.” Any reasonable person should understand the rationale. For the marketing candidates, presumably they’ll get any needed help to access the network for their portfolio it once they actually begin the interview (as opposed to when they’re sitting in the waiting room).

      1. Kelly O*

        Or perhaps have what they need physically on the device?

        I mean, not a marketing person, but it seems logical to not make assumptions about available wi-fi, and have as much actually on your device as possible to be prepared for that. (Because realistically sometimes the wi-fi goes down, or there are so many people on it things run slowly, or any number of other things that could make dependence on wi-fi an unreasonable assumption.)

    5. fposte*

      Are they asking if you have a guest password or just asking how to get on the wifi? To me those are somewhat different.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        In these cases, they have tried to access the wifi then were asked for a password. I only know about this because in one instance the applicant was really persistent and wanted a guest password. That was when the receptionist called me to find someone to help.
        In the end, the applicant was coming in for an internship and didn’t have a reason to access the wifi. But 3 people had to jump to help them.
        Part of the issue is that we haven’t thought about how to handle these situations.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, that applicant sounds obnoxious. And I think a general policy of “No, we have no guest wifi” is fine.

          I’m thinking more of what my disapproval level would be–somebody asking “Does your office offer guest wifi?” doesn’t bug me, but somebody acting as if they’re entitled to its use is another matter.

        2. Observer*

          Now, that’s different. If the receptionist told the person that there is no guest password, and he kept pushing it, that IS absolutely out of line. And, if it were me, it would be a huge mark against hiring that intern. It’s not the initial request that’s a problem. It’s the refusal to take no for an answer.

        3. Ruffingit*

          3 people didn’t have to jump to help the person. They could have just said “I’m sorry, we don’t give out the password.” Unless a gun is being held to the head of those in control of the network, there is no “have to” help. Also, if someone is persistent after being told no, that is valuable information about that person in terms of whether you want them on your team or not.

          Bottom line is you’re not obligated to give out the password and there’s no reason for the receptionist to do so. Put up a sign in the waiting area that says you don’t give it out and if someone asks for it, the receptionist can repeat that. I don’t know why she’s running around trying to get someone to set it up and why the IT people are doing this. It’s a waste of their time. If you don’t want random people accessing your network, don’t let them.

      2. Jamie*

        Are they asking if you have a guest password or just asking how to get on the wifi? To me those are somewhat different.

        This exactly. If you don’t have a guest connection just tell them that, but I would think very differently about the applicant – unless your IT named the restricted segment Company Guest or something similar to lead them to believe you had one available.

    6. Jubilance*

      Why not just have a blanket “there’s no guest Wifi available” and leave it at that? As a jobseeker it wouldn’t even occur to me to ask for the Wifi password for a private company, I would assume it was employees only.

    7. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t see the problem – mainly because most offices DO have a wifi password for visitors to use.

    8. Colette*

      I’m surprised the receptionist/IT is willing to set it up at all – I’d say no.

      Maybe you should let them know when they set up the interview that they won’t have access to the network so that they can figure out how to provide access to their portfolio without it.

    9. Bryan*

      I think it’s completely ridiculous if they are asking for the password to occupy their time for 5 minutes before an interview. I second originalyups, “I’m sorry, our network is restricted to employees only so we don’t give out the password to visitors. Thanks for understanding.” If someone genuinely needs it for their interview then make special arrangements. I’d also be weary interviewing and having a crucial portfolio online only. What if the internet is down?

    10. C Average*

      I’ll bet a lot of these folks are just used to being online all the time, and it wouldn’t occur to them that wifi ISN’T available in a semi-public place. Just tell them, “No, we don’t have public wifi here.” I’m guessing they’re just asking because they assume the answer is yes, but I doubt a “no” would be any big thing.

      1. Chriama*

        I totally agree. Especially if you’re in a huge office tower, they might think there’s public wi-fi access. Just tell them you’re not set up for guest wi-fi and leave them to play candy crush saga on their phones.

    11. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I understand what you’re saying — if a company doesn’t have a public network, some people might assume that they do not provide guest access. However, my company is in an office building in a downtown area, and because of that (and possibly because we have a competitor right across the street), we have a guest network that requires a password.

      I don’t think it’s unprofessional to ask, but I would probably just use my cellular data myself, or if I asked, I would say “Excuse me, do you allow guest access to the TeapotsGuest wifi network?”, instead of just demanding the password. And if they told me that IT would have to assist me, I’d be mortified and tell them to please not bother themselves with it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I would not ask until I got into the interview, if I needed it for my portfolio, etc. And I would have an offline backup, in case it was down or they didn’t have it. There’s just no way I would ask simply to check email before an interview–that’s what my phone is for.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, I know, I think it’s a little odd, and you should be prepared for every contingency when going to an interview. But my point was that the asking itself, if done politely and considerately, while it seems odd and unnecessary to me, wouldn’t bother me by itself.

    12. Apollo Warbucks*

      Maybe you could set up a less secure guest net and change the password weekly that what my firm has set up and it works well.

    13. Observer*

      In most places either there is a “guest” wifi password or not. That’s what we have. If someone asks for wifi, that’s what we give them, but all it can access is our internet, nothing on the network.

      If that’s not secure enough for you, then it’s perfectly appropriate to have the receptionist say something like “We don’t have a guest password. Is there a specific reason you need access?” At that point, it’s on the person asking to explain what they need. Only someone that has a reason related to their appointment gets a password.

      I don’t think it’s immature of the people to ask. They have no way to know that it’s going to cause extra work for people. And, it’s common enough now, that it makes sense to ask.

      Now, if the receptionist says “Sorry, we can’t do that” and the person doesn’t react well, that IS immature – and it tells you a lot about the person.

    14. Elkay*

      I think unless it says “Guest Network” you should figure it’s not for visitors.

    15. kas*

      I wouldn’t have the nerve to ask. I’d rather sit there bored out of my mind than ask for the password and sit on my phone/laptop.

    16. Daisy*

      If it was a marketing interviewee who might need access to the internet for the interview, I think it should be up to the HM or HR to provide it to the applicant prior to coming in.
      Otherwise, I’d say no guest access. Can the receptionist be provided a list of interviewees so that s/he knows they do not require a PW?
      And I find it odd that someone can’t sit 5 minutes without going online. I mean, I find it hard not to when I’m waiting but I resist when I’m waiting for an interview.

    17. Eden*

      It seems unprepared to go into an interview or presentation assuming internet access. Why do these folks not have a copy of whatever it is saved locally on their laptop?

    18. JaneJ*

      I would judge them. I would think they’re fussy or needy or unprepared. I’m not saying I wouldn’t hire them because of it, but if there were other clues in the interview to support this theory, it would color my opinion.

      People who do this need to have a better “sense of occasion.” Realize you’re not at Starbucks, like the OP said. If you have a genuine need for use of the WiFi, explain that when you make your request – your ultra-polite request.

  6. TK*

    Getting this in early: How do I go about applying for a position (i.e., how do I discuss it in my cover letter, or do I at all?) that is the junior half of a 2-person department, when I just was interviewed for the more senior position 3 months ago?

    Context: I’m an archivist. The only university in my hometown, which I’d very much like to move back to, has a 2-person archives department at its library. Both are professional positions (i.e., require an MLS or equivalent) and the job descriptions/qualifications listed in the postings overlap substantially, but one is senior to the other. I applied for and was phone interviewed for the more senior position in February. I knew it was a stretch for my level of experience but the qualifications they listed were less than I expected and I’m highly motivated to relocate, so I applied anyway and got a phone interview. They ended up hiring the hiring/promoting the junior person in the department to this position. This being a public university, maybe this was the plan all along and doing other interviews was just a perfunctory legal requirement, but whatever. I knew it was a possibility going in. I thought my interview went well, though.

    Now, unsurprisingly, they’ve posted the more junior position. I don’t think it’s at all a stretch for someone with my experience, and I’d certainly be interested in it even if I hadn’t applied for the other job. I assume but don’t know that some of the same people will be involved in the hiring, though of course the person hired for the other position (direct supervisor for this job) will probably be in charge. Unlike the other position, this is technically a staff rather than a faculty position (most notable difference on the application end is that it requires just a resume rather than a full CV). So I assume the hiring process will be less complex. Regardless, I have to somehow mention that I just applied for the other position in my cover letter, don’t I? How do I do this so that I show I’m just as interested in this job as I was the other, and don’t have any problem working under someone whose job I just applied for? Any advice about this situation is appreciated.

    1. GigglyPuff*

      Uh, not sure if this will help since I’ve only been through one round of applying for professional jobs once, but I know for a couple of large organizations/govt. positions, I have applied to the more professional one and then the staff level one. I never referenced it in the cover letter though, I just made sure to make them each different.

      I don’t think it would be that much of a big deal, but that’s just my thought on it.

    2. Chriama*

      Did you keep in touch with your interviewers? I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t reach out to you when they posted the new position if you already interviewed with them.

      If you’re comfortable with the idea, I’d reach out to whoever you did the phone interview with and mention that you know the senior position was a stretch but you see they’ve posted a junior position and you’re interested in applying and are wondering if they think you’re a better fit for this one.

      Whether or not they reply, your cover letter should mention that you applied before and make sure to include what you learned about the organization during your phone interview that makes you want to work for them.

      1. TK*

        These are good thoughts. Though I may be wrong, my sense is that sort of “reaching out” to people informally only happens in academia and academia-allied fields when you’re a) a Really Top Person or b) you have an actual networking relationship with someone beyond just having interviewed with them, neither of which is the case with me.

        I’m pretty sure that if I emailed the chair of the search committee from the previous position, I’d get some generic reply like,”Well, we were impressed with your qualifications/interview and you’re certainly welcome to apply for this position.” I hadn’t thought about specifically mentioning what I learned from interviewing in the cover letter; that’s a very good idea.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s fine to mention in your cover letter how impressed you were with the institution/library in your prior contact–I don’t think you have to go into the position level thing in the application stage. I think I’m with you as far as reaching out–I don’t think it really gets you anything in this case, and I don’t think we’d do it from the search side unless it was somebody who was already in our circle, so the absence of their contact doesn’t say anything bad about your candidacy.

          However, I will tell you that I’ve had unsuccessful applicants in searches I would be absolutely *delighted* to see reapply for another position, and you could well be in that category.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Agreed with this. Also, in your cover letter, you could phrase it as, “the opportunity to interview for the XYZ position a few months ago reaffirmed my desire to join Supercool University’s Whatever Department.”

        1. Kay*

          Now I wish my degree was from Supercool University!

          Definitely mention in your cover letter something to the effect of: “I recently applied and was interviewed for XYZ position in your archives department and after seeing this ABC position, I believe it may be a better fit for my skills” (Then you can mention any other positive interactions/perceptions you had).

          Also, since the positions do sound like the overlap quite significantly, I don’t think it will be a big leap that you’re applying for both or odd in any way.

            1. TK*

              I’m almost certain they’re going to A LOT of the same applicants as for the other position. Despite one being more senior to the other, both were listed as essentially entry-level: no professional work experience required beyond a degree. Those jobs are very hard to come by in archives, so I’m sure hordes of the same folks have applied for both.

              So no, it won’t be odd that I’m applying, but most of those applicants didn’t make it to a phone interview like I did, which is why it’s trickier for me to discuss it. But you all’s advice is great.

    3. Scarlet*

      A fellow archivist! Though I have not completely been in your position, the situation dealt with a part-time library organization that I took in addition to an archives assistant job, I know how insular the archives profession can be.

      Typically I don’t mention that I interviewed for a different level position, but I can see why one would. However, those situations have been when I knew the committee would be completely different due to new hires. In this case, it is plausible that most of the committee will be the same. Mention it once and move on. Highlight your experience according to what they are looking for in the new position and write your materials like you would if you hadn’t applied for the other position. If this university if like everywhere university I have applied for, staff positions tend to be much more heavily screened through their application system. Think of the resume as the cliff notes (that still show how you meet the requirements) of your application for those who view it if it makes it past the designated screeners.

      Good luck!

  7. Betsy*

    Today, I’m wearing dark denim jeans and a shirt that’s a step up from a T-shirt but a step down from a blouse, in honor of my company’s casual dress Friday.

    How do people feel about casual Fridays? I’ve heard some people who really like them, some people who hate them, some people who will take advantage of them but feel they’re stupid, and the whole gamut in between. Is casual dress Friday a real perk? Is it good for businesses? Bad for businesses? Discuss.

    1. LBK*

      Personally, I think they’re one of the best perks because they cost the business absolutely nothing and (generally) improve morale. Everyone wins. If for some reason you don’t like them, no one’s stopping you from still wearing a suit!

    2. Who are you?*

      I love casual Friday. I honestly believe how I dress should have no bearing on how I function in the workplace. I don’t think that a suit makes me any more capable to do my job than a pair of jeans and a cute top would. I’m lucky that my company is fairly relaxed and allows jeans everyday there isn’t a sales meeting going on.

    3. AdminAnon*

      I work in the national office of a non-profit, but we don’t get visitors very often so our version of business-casual is more casual than business. We do have “casual Fridays,” though, which basically end up with everyone in jeans and a t-shirt (usually from our events or with our logo, but not always) or a sweatshirt (often a college or sports team, but again, not always). I personally love casual Friday, but that’s mostly because I’m a fairly recent grad and my work wardrobe is limited, whereas I own at least 8 pairs of jeans. So it just makes Fridays a little easier in terms of dressing myself :)

      1. Ali*

        I work from home so every day is casual Friday. :) My boss has shown up for conference calls in wife beaters and baseball caps before. (Yeah we are pretty laid-back where I work…)

        I do appreciate it in offices though since I don’t particularly love dressing up or wearing high heels. I was not good about it when I first got out of school and had a summer job in school, as I thought flip-flops were appropriate for casual Fridays. Whoops!

        1. AdminAnon*

          I want your job! Actually, no, I really like my job. But working from home would be amazing.

          1. Ali*

            Haha it is not as fun as it seems trust me. I am job searching and would love to go back to an office again. It was nice for a while but it gets lonely pretty fast, not to mention I’m experiencing job burnout as a result of my career choice.

          1. Ali*

            My boss wanted to do a video meeting with me once, but he was working from home (which is fine; I work remotely as well and even the office employees have the option to work from home if they choose) and apparently it didn’t occur to him that he might want to put a shirt on before he goes on a call with one of his only female employees.

            I think he got the hint that I was giving him a WTF look b/c he remembered his shirt for the next meeting.

              1. Ali*

                It was terrible! He’s younger than me so it’s not like he was horribly out of shape or anything like that. But it was still beyond weird…

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I like them, because I don’t like to be bothered with dry cleaning and I like to be comfortable (I’m also a bigger girl so business clothes tend to be less flattering/comfortable).
      But yes, people ALWAYS take them too far. Always.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      I for one am SO GLAD that I work in an industry where casual everyday is normal, unless the clients are in, and even then it’s mostly business casual.

      There are a few companies in my field who prefer that you wear a more standard corporate look every day, and honestly I’d have to be pretty unhappy where I’m at in order to take a job at one of those places, because I would really hate having to rework my entire wardrobe and relegate all my jeans and T-shirts to weekends.

      (Drives my husband crazy…he doesn’t have to wear a full suit to work, but he does have to wear suit pants and a dress shirt, and he loves to say of my work clothes “I wouldn’t dress like that to paint the house!” :P)

    6. Jen RO*

      For me, a Casual Friday would indicate that I don’t want to work in that company. I want Casual Every Day! (I’m wearing flats, slacks – or something? the terminology is beyond me -, a blouse and a cardigan and I’m feeling all dressed up!)

      1. Betsy*

        This is kind of my sentiment on it, too: if the business dress isn’t important to the company, then it shouldn’t be required other days. If it is important, then it should be important on Fridays, too.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I generally love my casual Fridays… but one of our upper VPs hates them and will nit-pik about what people are wearing. Those pants are too short, that shirt is untucked, those shoes too high… it sucks the fun out of it.

      1. AdminAnon*

        Oh my gosh, my roommate’s office is insane. They have a very strict dress code (which was just recently implemented–she has been there for 3+ years). It’s worse than high school. They dictate shoe styles/heel height, skirt length, material. It’s insane. And no one in their office is customer-facing, either. It’s a home health agency and their office provides back-end support for the service providers. I couldn’t work there. Of course, they also have very strict rules about everything else–cell phones, strictly scheduled lunch breaks, etc. They mainly hire new grads and have had problems in the past. My constant diatribe is that if you treat your employees like children, they will act like children. But that’s just me.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          What kind of office is it? My guess is law firm or management consulting. My sister was offered a $$$$$ consulting job but turned it down because they said you even had to wear panty hose on the subway during your commute because you were a representative of the company. It was Arthur Andersen (consulting company that was a casualty of the Enron scandal, IIRC).

    8. Rebecca*

      Our office is casual all the time, like jeans, even tee shirts, etc. We’re not allowed to wear tank tops, jeans with holes in them, that type of thing. We rarely get visitors, and when we do, we know ahead of time and everyone dresses up. No one can see me, and when I’m communicating remotely with people in other states or even other countries, it really doesn’t matter if I’m wearing jeans or dress pants. It’s the quality of the work that matters most.

      I like it because I’m comfortable, my clothes are low maintenance, and actually, most of my clothing can be purchased at Goodwill at very low cost.

      If we had visitors or regular people in and out of the office, totally different story.

    9. Stephanie*

      Both jobs have had completely casual dress codes, but both did have very little client interaction. I think it’s a good morale booster (and money saver for employees). However, people always took it too far. I had a coworker who’d wear an entire sweatsuit to the office (like the generic one you’d find a Walmart).

    10. C Average*

      I come to this discussion as an outsider. I’ve spent my entire professional career in a very, very casual workplace. Our everyday workplace dress is so casual that if we were to institute casual Friday, we’d pretty much have to show up in our bathrobes.

      (By the way, this isn’t to say we’re slobs! There’s a significant contingent of really fashion-forward people here who take pride in dressing well. We’re just not formal.)

      It’s wonderful to be able to wear things that are comfortable and reflective of my personal style. I’d have a hard time working in an environment where it was a privilege to get to dress like myself one day of the week! I’m glad more businesses are moving in the direction of embracing casual dress, even if it’s in the context of a perk.

      1. ali*

        our support team has taken “casual Friday” and turned it into “pajama Friday”. They are pretty much the only people in the company who have to work on site on Fridays, the rest of us work from home. Every other day is super causal, most people in jeans. Unless we know in advance that customers are coming in, but that’s maybe twice a year.

        My whole career has been this way too. I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I couldn’t wear jeans to work.

        1. Ali*

          My old job had no formal dress code and we had a pajama day once! This was a call center and we were going to have client visitors at the end of the week, so our managers were giving us a break before we had to dress up for clients. (That was the only time business casual was required.)

          It was one of the only things I liked about that job too.

    11. Annie O*

      I’m not a huge fan. I’d prefer an all-week policy that allowed for jeans if the overall look was business casual. In other words, take a business casual outfit, replace the trousers with dark jeans, and change nothing else.

      Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of folks think casual Friday means casual-casual. I’ve seen yoga pants, jeans only suitable for yard work, grimy sneakers, etc. It just looks sooo unprofessional.

      1. Judy*

        Our casual Fridays are what you list, jeans with shirts and shoes that fit our “rest of week” outfits. We do have some days that are called “free dress” which allows for sneakers and t-shirts, but they’re usually for a reason, like the day before Independence Day, or NCAA finals or last game of world cup, and they encourage a theme, “red white and blue” or colors of the teams in the game.

    12. Lily in NYC*

      I probably should have put this in last week’s “work sins” thread. We don’t have casual Fridays even though we are business casual in general. When my new boss started, I told him we had casual Fridays (I could have come to work in a bathrobe and he wouldn’t have noticed). People in my dept. started wearing jeans on Friday. It started spreading to other depts. All of the old bosses left (lots of turnover here) and now the entire 400-person office thinks we have casual Fridays, including the president’s office. Lily for the Win!

    13. Algae*

      I love them. We’ve just finally started Casual Fridays around here and it’s so nice to know that I can relax a bit. (Granted, we’re business casual the rest of the time, so it’s not a huge difference…)

    14. Mike C.*

      It’s bullshit. If you can dress casually and not harm the business, then you should be allowed to dress casually whenever you come in to work.

      1. Joey*

        Not harm the business is open to interpretation though. How can you say with any certainty that it doesn’t impact (or does) the customers perception? Most employers who don’t like casual Fridays would rather not take the chance that it harms the business.

        As an extreme say I worked at the Ritz Carlton as a housekeeper, how easy would it be to say that casual Fridays won’t harm the business? It doesn’t impact my ability to clean rooms. Guests probably won’t noticeably stop coming. But it could down the road contribute to a perception my customers have that very well may harm the business.

        1. Betsy*

          I think (though I don’t mean to put words into Mike’s mouth) that the issue here is more one of: “If the business has decided it’s not harmful to wear jeans on Friday, then why is it harmful on Wednesday?”

          1. Joey*

            Same issue though. The harm might be bearable for one day, but two days is too much harm. Its so open to interpretation.

      2. Windchime*

        I agree with Mike C. If it’s OK to wear jeans on Friday, why not always? Unfortunately, it’s a moot point for me because we don’t have casual Fridays. I think I must work in the only IT department in the world (or in Seattle, at least) that doesn’t allow jeans. We are business casual, with varying degrees from smartly put together to leggings-as-pants. Not sure how skin-tight leggings is better than jeans, but somehow that’s what management has determined.

    15. Lizzy Mac*

      I’m not a fan. I like my work clothes and while I guess I could wear anything I want on a casual Friday I always feel like I would highlight a cultural fit issue if I don’t at least make an effort to look more casual that normal. So I go along with it to fit in but I’ve never been a fan. Almost everyone who works in my office is client-facing and I think it looks sloppy.

    16. Tinker*

      Us QA folks are trying to get Hawaiian Shirt Friday to catch on. To that end, I’m wearing a red shirt with flowers on — fortuitously, my company just changed its official color to red (same as my previous company, hence the shirt).

      I’m not big on “Casual Friday” for a few reasons. Primarily, it has ominous implications regarding what Monday – Thursday are not. At this point in my life, I’m not awesomely into notably formal clothes without a specific reason, and I work in an industry and region where non-casual dress codes are something of a minor red flag.

      Also, although heaven knows I’m not perfect about this, I’m a bit leery of cases where a day is a working day yet one that is less-than such that usual standards (even if I don’t like them) don’t apply. I think that in general if you show up to work, you should show up to work.

      Then, finally, introducing the notion that on some days you “are allowed” to wear certain styles of clothing “as a perk” crosses a line in my head regarding acceptable degrees of arbitrariness in dress codes — it’s too much like high school “hat days” and the like, which (occasional nightmares of missing finals while naked aside) is something I feel I’m done with by now.

      1. C Average*

        Well said. There is something kind of hat day-reminiscent about adults getting a yay-we-get-to-wear-jeans! day in an office.

        I think there’s also something a little obnoxious about things that the workplace positions as perks even though not everyone feels they’re perks. You feel like a party pooper if your outlook is “eh, thanks for the Kool-Aid, but I’m really more a water kind of person.”

        My office actually has something called Fun Committee that does things that are supposed to be morale-boosting. Most of them involve food and/or sports, and a lot of them are kind of innocuous but dumb, and it all feels a little juvenile to me. Which makes me feel like a curmudgeon. I think I’d feel the same way about casual Fridays if that was a thing here.

    17. The IT Manager*

      I much prefer casual everyday.

      We can wear jean, but no athletic shoes or t-shirts. I like these limits.

    18. SaraV*

      I started at previous job as a temp, and we were allowed to wear jeans on Friday. It was nice to know I could just roll out of bed, throw on a halfway decent top and jeans, and be on my way. (Oh…yes…I did shower) The company got a new CEO, though, and casual Fridays stopped. It wasn’t a HUGE deal since we were business casual the other four days of the week, but I did like that perk.

      I’ve never been one to complain about dress code…you usually know what it’s going to be when you apply/interview. (Unless there’s some radical change after you’re hired) The one time I did have a problem was when I worked in the loan ops department of a bank here in the Midwest. Their policy was sandals only between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Of course, this didn’t account for that freakish 94° day in April, and I had to walk 3-4 blocks from where I parked to my office. Once I left for the day, I got back to my car and took my shoes off and peeeeeeled my socks off. Drove home barefoot. I wish the policy was more “If the forecasted high for the next day is >85°, then you’re allowed to wear sandals.”

      I know…there’s many an office that doesn’t allow sandals at all. I just wish the policy was written/implemented a bit better.

    19. Kelly O*

      I like it, but our office does not participate in that. The regional offices do, but not individual stations. Our now-former HR person was very, very adamant about that, and I’ve yet to see any “give” at all.

      It can depend on the person running things, so when we get new management in, we’ll see what happens. Personally, I stay in an office all day with the door closed, so I don’t think it’s a huge deal to wear a dark rinse jean with the same button-down instead of dressier pants and shoes.

      Although I will say it does depend on the industry and your clientele. We have international clients who come in on Fridays in full three-piece suits for meetings, so our environment is a little different. And I admittedly got spoiled at OldJob, because we could wear jeans every day.

    20. She is Me*

      Ive never really ‘got’ casual Fridays. Either something (jeans, khakis, flip flops?) are appropriate for your workplace, or they’re not. I mean, if it’s good enough for Friday, why not Wednesday? And if they are considered inappropriate for regular wear, how are they magically appropriate one day a week? Like another commenter here, my office is casual every day, unless we are having meetings or otherwise expecting VIPs. That makes more sense to me than an arbitrary day to ‘dress down’.

    21. Graciosa*

      There have been a lot of comments about why Friday casual should be every day casual, so I wanted to share a possible reason for the distinction. We have business casual Monday through Thursday, and casual on Friday. Meetings with anyone external to the company tend to be scheduled other than on Friday. This allows us to present a professional image to the world, but also “let our hair down” a bit one day a week (conveniently just before the weekend).

      There are companies where presenting a more professional image to outsiders is not really an issue due to the nature of the work, so I think the “Why not every day” argument has more validity in those cases. However, every company does have its own culture, and dress standards are part of that – another reminder of the importance of finding a good fit.

      1. Tinker*

        Part of the thing I have with this is — where I am, me wearing jeans is fully professional. There’s not this thing of “I guess we can let you” or “Well, we can compromise on one day at least” or things like that — it’s a proper way to dress for someone in my role.

        However, I see — here, but I also have met some people in person who have this perspective — folks who really don’t think that way. I think the last time this came up there was a person who drew a parallel to wearing pajamas to work; at the very least, I’ve seen that comparison made before. There, some given standard (say, the common definition of “business casual” where the bottom rung is polos-and-khakis) is the base standard, and whatever else — say, jeans-with-hawaiian-shirt-and-tacktical-boots — is below the normal standard.

        In that case, I’m not so wild on taking up offers to come in “below the normal standard” during an ordinary work day — I’d prefer not to work for people who get their noses up and see jeans as unprofessional, but if I do have to do that I don’t see “you can wear things that we have a negative opinion about around us sometimes” as a particularly appealing option. It’s like the kitten belly trap in that regard.

    22. Anon today*

      My company has went from professional every day, to casual Fridays. Then a couple of years ago went to casual daily and jeans Fridays. Now we went to jeans daily but professional or casual if the situation calls for it on a certain day. Everyone loves it, but I still tend to dress casual most days because I only have 3 nice pairs of jeans. I need to go shopping, but have really stocked up on the nicer clothes so I hate to waste them.

    23. Aisling*

      I think it depends on the type of office. I work in a public library that’s open 7 days a week, and we have Casual Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, though business casual Monday through Thursday. I prefer wearing jeans, because you never know what we’re going to have to do: I’ve crawled around on the floor trying to fix computer equipment, I’ve had to clean up spilled drinks and other assorted messes, I’ve had to fish dusty books out from behind an old bookcase, etc. Even on business casual days, I’m generally in khakis or something like that.

    24. Hlyssande*

      When my division moved to our current office out of the other division’s building, they took away our Casual Fridays. As justification, they cited that the new office is in a fancy office park, so we needed to match… except that on my first Friday lunch trip, the majority of the people I saw were in jeans. All of the other local divisions still have Casual Fridays.

      We also lost the on-site cafeteria with good prices (I could eat a good breakfast + lunch for $10/daily).

      Gained: Covered parking garage, free coffee (via keurig).

      It’s been two and a half years and I still miss being able to relax a little more on Friday.

    25. Sharm*

      I’ve never worked in a place that had a very stuffy, business dress-code, so for me, I’m very indifferent. I find it weird to come in to work in a t-shirt and jeans; wearing work clothes is kind of like wearing a costume to me in that helps get me “in character” for the work day.

      Having said that, I happen to like fashion and dressing well, so at my current office (which actually has a written Casual Friday dress code), I’ll wear skinny jeans and a cute fitted tee. It still feels dressier than a baggy t-shirt and sweats, which I could just never wear to work.

      Based on past experience with clothes/appearance on these boards, I think I’m in the minority on liking fashion, but there it is. Even with a Casual Friday policy, I’m going to step it up, so I don’t really care either way for it.

      Now, I imagine if I worked corporate law or for some of those uppercrust financial firms, I’d feel differently, but I doubt any of them get Casual Fridays anyway. (Yay for working on the West Coast and in the Pacific all my life!)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        We have casual Fridays – jeans, t-shirts, casual shoes etc – except when Very Important People come and visit and then it’s normal clothes. I am not very casual as up until recently (as in the past month) I didn’t own a pair of jeans – I’m much more of a dress & tights kinda girl :)

    26. Mary (in PA)*

      I am in an office where casual dress is the norm (like many others in this thread), but our art department does Formal Fridays, where they wear suits and ties.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Heh, some of the guys I work with do that, but they call it “non-casual Tie-day”. People wear jeans Monday – Thursday and get all dressed up on Fridays. It’s kinda awesome!

    27. Puddin*

      I hate it but not because I don’t think jeans are appropriate. Our policy is business casual Mon-Thurs, and jeans on Friday. Why can’t I wear jeans any other day?Why are they ok on one day of the week but not others?

      In addition, we often have charity fundraisers where you can wear jeans on certain days if you contribute. So now I can wear jeans about 35% of the work days, but not the rest. We are also told to always dress appropriately if we have outside guests coming in for meetings. This means on some days you have to forgo the jeans that you might normally wear. Why can’t that be the policy – just dress for any meetings you may have and business jeans the rest of the time.

      I don’t even care about wearing jeans that much, it just seems like the policy is controlling and juvenile.

      /end rant

  8. Cruciatus*

    Is there much point to applying through the same online university application system for the same job I was already rejected for but in a different department that has been newly posted? I was rejected through the system the first time very quickly–my guess is because I had to choose “no” to questions they wanted “yeses” for. I’m certain they didn’t even make it to my resume or cover letter. If I did reapply I would maybe tweak my cover letter a bit. I’d still have to choose “no” to those questions on their system (“Do you have experience with our blah blah program for students?” No, I don’t, though I read all about it on the website. And it’s something I could learn, dammit!) I’m sure it never hurts to reapply but, realistically, is it worth the effort of tweaking things a bit and trying again when it’s probable I’ll just be rejected by the supplemental questions (for the first application in a different department I applied on a Friday evening, was rejected by Sunday night)? There are other jobs to apply to elsewhere, though I think I would actually make a good fit for this one. Anyone out there have personal experience with online university application systems?

    1. fposte*

      I don’t have personal experience with the application systems, but I know different departments can be very different even with jobs in the same class. I think when in doubt, apply.

    2. Bryan*

      Ugh that happened to me during my job search. They wanted 5 years experience doing chocolate teapot making for a position that would only be making the handle (which is quite rare in my profession). I had 2 years experience doing handle making but no other experience so I had to answer no do their 5 year question.

      I would apply again but put in the minimal effort to change things.

    3. Sascha*

      As a person who has hired at a university with one of those atrocious systems, I say yes. At my university, I get to see every application, even if the system “rejects” it because you answered “no” to some of those questions. I still have the power to make a judgement call based on your resume and cover letter. I’ve even hired some people who were rejected by the system when they applied, and they turned out great. So I think it’s worth applying, because you never know what hiring manager is looking at the applications. Good luck to you!

      1. C Average*

        This comment gives me hope! I’m not applying to any such jobs, but it’s really nice to know that a living human capable of making informed judgments sees these applications.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Thanks, Sascha. You give me some hope. I applied for the same position but at a different university just seconds ago and was rejected immediately. I hate that I feel like I wasted the entire weekend (my fault for getting too serious about applying) only to be rejected seconds after I clicked “Confirm.” I’ll just have to hope someone will choose to read my cover letter any way!

        1. Sascha*

          I’m sorry that happened. :( Hopefully their system will allow someone to review every app, and not just the “passed” apps. With every round of hiring we do for the positions on my team, we get lots of people who “pass” the questions section, and it becomes abundantly clear when reviewing their resumes and cover letters that they have no idea what job they just applied to (we have a tendency to get cover letters for the wrong job, sometimes the wrong university, or resumes with experience in totally different areas). If HR only let us see those people who answered “yes” to everything, we’d rarely hire anyone!

    4. Lia*

      I work at a university, and YES, apply again. The questions may not be a dealbreaker for the other department.

      I can’t speak to other universities, but at mine, if you apply in my area and six others, I can only tell that you have applied for the job I am hiring for, not the others.

    5. Polaris*

      I only have experience with one university, but different departments may use different supplemental questions. Also, job duties for the same title can vary across departments. If you are interested in the job, apply. If you get a second quick rejection, that may be an indication not to try a third time, but I would not give up just yet. Good luck!

  9. SD Cat*

    Summoning energy to write more cover letters! I just finished my student job yesterday, and am hoping that post-graduation unemployment won’t be too extended. Any advice for sounding less stilted when talking about yourself?

    1. LBK*

      Write it exactly like you would write an email to a good friend or a family member, then polish up the professionalism as needed. You should find that easier than starting professional and then trying to inject friendliness/personality into it, which almost always comes across forced and awkward.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      1) Use contractions. “I’ve” instead of “I have,” and whatnot.

      2) Use more colloquial language, and don’t use fancy words unnecessarily. It drives me nuts, for instance, when applicants say “utilize” instead of “use.”

      Other than that, try to write just like one small step up from how you talk. Minus any swears. :)

      1. Kelly O*


        I reviewed a cover letter and resume for a former coworker, and it sounded as though she’d gotten a brand-new thesaurus and couldn’t wait to use it. She acted a little upset when I told her that it didn’t even sound like her, and it would be worse when she got in an interview and her “voice” didn’t sound the same, so we made some changes.

        (And it worked – she got the job. I am great at other people’s resumes, just not my own…)

        1. Ali*

          I almost feel like asking if you can help me with my resume! I re-did it a couple weeks ago and posted it in the resumes subgroup of the AAM LinkedIn group and got no feedback. :( But I understand if you wouldn’t want to help an anonymous AAM reader!

      2. Sharm*

        God, this goes against everything I was taught in school. I’m (heh) not disagreeing with you at all — finally giving in to using contractions has (in part) made me cover letters so much better. But it’s amazing how getting yelled at about using “I’ve” can stick with you for decades!

    3. Judy*

      Read it out loud a few times, and adjust the language to closer to your verbal tone.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      Have a trusted friend with a good eye for editing look it over and circle anything that sounds jargony.

  10. Anne 3*

    I accepted a new job today! In a different country! I have worked for this person before but everything else will be new.

    It’s an internal transfer, I won’t be going until the end of July, but still, aah!

    If anyone has any tips on working with French people (heard they’re very formal and intimidating) or looking for apartments in cities you don’t know, I’d welcome them :)

    1. nep*

      First piece of advice about working with French people, or any people — best not to go into it with preconceived notions and generalisations. Congratulations and all the best. Bonne chance!

      1. Anne 3*

        Haha, thanks. It may be more of a company, too – I currently work for a subsidiary of the French headquarters, so all I’ve heard may be very biased against the ruling powers :)

      2. Grey*

        Great advice. Maybe they’ve heard that all Americans are lazy. Would you want them to assume that you are?

        1. Anne 3*

          I’m not American, I’m from a neighboring country of France.. Like I said to nep, it might be more of a company thing, I don’t mean to generalize.

    2. Cautionary tail*

      Some real experiences in Paris. Our group consisted of Canadian French speakers from Quebec so the general language was not an issue.

      (1) They are very proud of their language and want you to pronounce things correctly. Several times we asked for directions and the person would not give us directions until we pronounced our destination a half-dozen times correctly to his satisfaction.

      (2) Drugs were slipped into the soft drink of a person in our group.

      (3) The Metro ticket agent purposely gave us incorrect directions on which train to get on/which direction to go.

      (4) We were mooned, and it wasn’t even dark out.

      (5 ) A stink bomb was detonated on our Metro subway car.

      Far outside of Paris the people were much warmer and more welcoming. Warmer to the point of hugs.

      Bon chance !

      1. Anne 3*

        Thanks for this! I currently work in another European capital so these experiences are not completely unfamiliar to me, unfortunately :)
        I am a bit scared about the language thing, I speak French to a degree (use it in my current job almost daily and I get by) but I’m nowhere near fluent. But I suppose once I’m there I’ll get much better in a few months.

    3. AVP*

      I feel like I’m always recommending this book here, but it’s pretty informative and not as depressing as it sounds. Paris I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, by Rosencrans Baldwin, is a memoir about leaving NYC to work for an ad agency in Paris (and it’s pretty funny). He goes into a lot of detail about the world culture, how the lunch system works, things he was surprised to learn, etc.

    4. L'anglaise*

      I found my colleagues in French companies quite the opposite: warm and welcoming.

      Importantly, be prepared to greet everyone with “Bonjour” the first time you see them each day, and shake hands (or after a while perhaps ‘faire la bise’ if you are friends and contemporaries – but wait till they initiate it).

      As it sounds like a large company, there may be a committee providing facilities and perks for employees, such as a library, reduced gym membership, outings and trips, workplace choirs, etc. This can be a great way to start engaging with colleagues.

      Going together to the (generally subsidised) company canteen is another good way.

      In a shop or asking for directions, always start with “Bonjour Madame” or “Bonjour Monsieur” – not to do so appears impolite, so it’s not so surprising if they are rude back.

      Use ex-pat websites to gather info on apartment-hunting. Anglophone churches often have general notice boards where jobs or accommodation may be posted and can be a good center for finding out where to start. Be prepared to either pay higher prices to a landlord willing to let shorter-term to foreigners (word of mouth can be good for this), or get a local guarantor and gather the enormous amounts of paperwork needed for a standard long-term rental. Required paperwork might include the last 3 months’ pay slips, bank statement, letter from employer confirming permanent employment and salary, letter from previous landlord (in French) confirming you have always paid your rent on time, AND the same again from your guarantor…

      Good luck, and have a wonderful time. I did!

      1. Anne 3*

        I’ll keep that in mind, thanks! Are there other French posters here? Maybe we should plan a meetup :D

  11. Ali*

    Yay early today!

    I am starting a social media internship role not this coming week, but the next. I took an internship because I have never had social media experience in a professional position before. Of course, I am not quitting my current job for this, as it’s not a paid position, but there’s a possibility that it could turn into paid work in a few months…part-time then full-time if all goes well. Even if it turns into nothing more, though, I am happy to get the experience and have something to boost my resume.

    Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t get my job search and is like you’re trained as a writer and editor; you don’t need all those other skills! What else do you want to do? Yes, Mom I was a communications/journalism major but just writing and editing is NOT enough these days. I swear I will just stop talking to her about my job search. It kind of upsets me that my family won’t support me in my quest for other skills/another field because they feel I should strictly be in journalism/writing only.

    I am also planning to start a health and fitness blog soon, as I’ve been trying to lose weight for about a year and have a Zumba license that I really want to start using. I’m no expert or anything, but I have decided to start my own project and really want it to take off.

    Things are mostly well this week, but parents and job search…ugh.

    1. Anne 3*

      Aaah I feel you :( I have a degree in Journalism and now I work for a bank. I’m very happy there but people definitely questioned it a lot at the beginning. Don’t listen to them too much and do what you think is right for you!

      1. Ali*

        What do you do at the bank? Are you in a marketing role there?

        I keep up with a former staffer of our school paper on LinkedIn, and even she isn’t in newspapers anymore. She did start there but I think now she works for a government organization or a nonprofit.

        1. Anne 3*

          I’m currently a process manager! It’s not at all what I thought I’d be doing when I was 18 but I enjoy it and it pays my bills, so I’m happy.

    2. editor for this*

      I know it’s easy to say, but it would be great just to let their doubts or confusion about your quest be their problems, not yours. Not that anyone else’s opinion matters in what you do, including mine, but I’m completely with you about adding those skills; taking the internship is great initiative. I’ve worked as a journalist and communications consultant; for many jobs in this field these days, indeed one must be competent in social media. (We’ve got some things in common — I’m also working part-time in fitness, going for some training certifications.) All the best.

      1. Ali*

        What certifications are you going for? I would like more eventually but want to get my Zumba business and fitness blog going before I keep jumping in.

        1. editor for this*

          Initially personal trainer certification — I’ve got an opportunity to take a course where I’m working part-time; I’m not sure where it falls in the rankings of cert programmes, but I want to seize all opportunities to build my knowledge base and glad this came along. I plan to do a training for TRX as well. Look forward to checking out your blog.

    3. C Average*

      How does your mother figure working in social media ISN’T journalism?

      I worked in social media for several years and it’s NOT just hanging out on Facebook having fun all day. It’s listening to your audience, tailoring content to them, responding with agility to emerging information, controlling spin, fact-checking, research, writing, editing, proofing, collaborating, localization, change tracking, branding, tone, style, and lots of other tasks and considerations that a background in journalism prepares you to do.

      The biggest thing your journalism background will help you with in social media? Producing ephemera and doing it well. People who perceive themselves as writers want to create great content and know that it has some meaningful shelf life. People who perceive themselves as journalists know that even if the content they create is great, it’s unlikely to remain relevant for more than a few days. It can be challenging to keep producing great content with this realization, but good journalists do. A good journalist’s mindset is a huge advantage in social media.

      1. Ali*

        My mom is a nurse and hasn’t searched for a job in about eight years. I think that explains everything.

        She also doesn’t understand why I want to quit my current job b/c she’d never do that and that’s not how she was raised. Even though I gave her the AAM line of how I am not planning on leaving until I have a job offer, she still believes it’s outrageous and thinks I should stay because I work from home and the pay is decent. Right because that will automatically fix every other problem I have with my job that’s causing me to search.

        As far as my field goes, it’s really important to be versatile these days. So many communications jobs want you to know PR, social media, web design/maintenance, video editing and so forth depending on the job title, employer type, etc. My mom thinks all that’s important is being a writer and editor and that I don’t need anything else. My older sister (who also has a stable job as a teacher) thinks that I will never get a job that doesn’t require second-shift hours and insists it’s mandatory in my field to work late and on weekends and be on call. While yes I am OK with occasional overtime and weekends, I’m not OK with what I’m doing now…which is working largely evenings and having to to work full shifts on two of the three weekend days. There has to be some balance I feel.

        1. C Average*

          Survey of one says you’re exactly right on this one and should listen to your instincts. No matter where you go, the skills you’ve mentioned will be a huge asset and will give you more options, including some that have more traditional hours. Stay the course. You’ll be fine.

          You’ll also gain the critical skill of dealing with unwanted and unhelpful feedback (which, alas, you’ll need in social media and pretty much everywhere else) by dealing with your mother and sister’s advice. “Thanks. Mom. I’m glad you love me and want me to have a successful career. In this case we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I need to chart my own course based on my own knowledge of the job market and the industries that interest me. I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes, but that’s how you learn, right?”

          [I used a variation on this script for quite a long time. I love my folks and admire the success they’ve had on their own career paths, but they’re hopelessly naive about what work actually means now.]

      2. EmmBee*


        I’m a senior director of social. Sometimes people think I’m just in Facebook and Twitter all day, but it’s so so so much more than that. Most of my work is about strategy, and there’s tons of writing (I run our company blog, which is where a journo background is awesome), tons of idea generation and brainstorming. It’s also lots of customer service. And of course, lots of technology know-how — I have to know the ins and outs of every platform, I have to keep my eye on emerging platforms, etc.

        1. Sharm*

          Kind of a side note, but would you ever be open to discussing your career path and what types of things a more junior person should be doing to get where you are?

  12. Stephanie*

    I saw a job posting in Doha, Qatar and am intrigued. It’s a research opening at big US university.

    Anyone have any experience there? It seems like it’s one of the more stable countries in that region.

    1. the gold digger*

      I have been to Dubai twice for work. Not my favorite, but there are a ton of expats working there.What I don’t like about Dubai is that it is a very unequal society – almost 80% expats who can never become citizens. It is a dictatorship, which I guess is OK if you agree with the sheikh. (Not sure what the political system is in Qatar, but the expat situation is similar.)

      I lived outside of the US for two years and was surprised at how hard it was to live outside of my own culture, but there were not a lot of expats around, as there would be in Qatar.

      My parents worked in Saudi Arabia for five years. I don’t think it’s like this in Qatar, but they lived on a compound with other expats. My mom was not allowed to drive, so her employer had to provide a car and driver to get her to and from work.

      It might be a good thing to do for a short while to save money. It used to be that if you were working outside the US for a certain amount of time, you didn’t pay US income tax. Not sure what the rules are now.

      1. Jules*

        Not anymore. As long as you keep your US citizenship, you pay US taxes. And it also depends if the country has tax treaty with the US. We pay for tax consultants for our expats.

    2. Bryan*

      This is all second hand but I’ve heard while they’re doing exciting new projects it’s still a semi boring city. I’m assuming by your name that you’re a woman and I’d be a little nervous about that. I would also check out the country’s laws and their might be some deal breakers there.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yup, female (and American). I’m also black (if it’s not clear from my Gravatar), if that’s at all relevant.

        1. the gold digger*

          Again – I haven’t been to Qatar, but I did not see many black people in Dubai (if any – trying to remember). I noticed a lot of Filipino women and my cab drivers all seemed to be Pakistani. The professionals I worked with there are almost all Indian.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh, I don’t necessarily care if there are tons of black people (because that would eliminate many US cities even), I was just curious if that would change things at all.

            1. JBeane*

              I’ve never been to the Middle East so take this with a grain of salt, but I think being black might make a difference in how you’re treated there. Some friends of mine traveled to that region a few months ago and the two black members of the group definitely noticed they were treated more poorly. Enough so that they everyone left a few days early. Again, I’ve never been there and this is secondhand information of just one trip, but I’d advise you to research this via other ex-pats of color before taking a job there.

            2. Anonymous*

              It will. I’d recommend finding another black person who has lived there for firsthand details, but my experience in other Arab countries has been that they look down upon dark skin and there is overt discrimination against anyone who is not European or Arab.

    3. the_scientist*

      This article is a fascinating read:

      People go there and make tonnes of money and don’t pay taxes, but forget that they’ve sacrificed many of the rights available to them in democratic countries- not necessarily an issue if you’re just planning on working for a few years, making bank, and getting out, but worthwhile to keep in mind. Also, you’d have to be okay living in a city/economy that’s practically built on slave labour.

    4. Blue Anne*

      My cousin (female thirty-something) and uncle work there. I’ve never gotten the impression that they had any real concerns, but they definitely have some funky stories.

      Best one from my cousin: At a party, all expats. One of her male friends is in town, staying at a hotel, and comes to the party. He hits it off with a woman there and they go back to his hotel. Five minutes after they get into the hotel room, they get a call from the front desk – they saw the woman coming in with him, they know he’s not married and if she doesn’t leave in ten minutes they’ll be sending up security. The two of them can’t quite believe that so they ignore it and continue with, er, what they’re doing. Fifteen minutes later security knocks on the door and escorts her out.

      So. Be aware of the cultural norms.

        1. CA Anon*

          The crazy part of that story: the woman was arrested at the police station when she was there to report her rape. In Islamic law, it isn’t rape unless you have 3 male witnesses who’ll testify to the fact. Otherwise it’s adultery or extramarital sex, which will get you arrested and punished.

          1. A Non*

            Yep. Apparently you need multiple male witnesses to prove rape, but her claim that she was raped is enough evidence to convict her of extramarital sex. This has happened to tourists multiple times in the last few years.


            1. A Non*

              Aack, my formatting didn’t work very well. Those links go to three different stories of three different women who were in Dubai for work or vacation, were raped, and were sentenced to jail time for it. Most of them got enough of an international outcry to get out.

    5. CA Anon*

      Keep in mind that in Qatar, foreigners working there have to get their employer’s ok to quit their job or leave the country. There are also minimal protections (if any) for foreign workers. If you’re seriously interested, do some in-depth research on the laws there because I’ve heard some absolute horror stories.

    6. Lluviata*

      I spent one week in Doha visiting with a group of US students from a big US university for a school project. I can give you some first impressions on the country.
      I also have some details on the perks of working as an expat in Qatar. One of my friends went to teach in Qatar for a year so I know a few things about living and working there from him. I don’t know if your specific job will contain these perks, but this way you’ll know to ask about them when you’re deciding.

      First impressions:
      -Doha looks rich, mostly because it is. There are beautiful flowers planted along all of the public areas, huge mansion-like houses, opulence everywhere, gold decor, great museums, personal drivers for each family, etc. There are parts of the city that don’t look expensive too but it seemed to me like there were more rich areas than not. And there is LOTS of construction going on in the city.
      -Many of the Qataris are doing well, but not everyone in the country is. Immigrants from nearby countries will come to Qatar to work. My second-hand information is that these immigrants are generally treated poorly and that the immigration system tends to exploit people.
      -Women do NOT have to cover their hair or wear a burka (which is not called a burka, it’s something else). Remember, I went with a group of 6 women from the US. None of us covered our hair, and no one looked twice at our standard American clothes. This was really a non-issue.
      -However, the cultural attitude toward women is still mildly sexist. It’s not like women are second-class citizens, but rather that women there are 1 and 1/2-class citizens. My experience is that the women students were expected to work harder than the men for the same recognition and be better than the men for the same recognition, but they weren’t held back directly or told that it was inappropriate for women to do the same things. I don’t know how safe is it to be a woman in Qatar. I would suspect it’s about the same as being in the US, but that’s worth a little research.

      -Working a job there can be a great way to make money temporarily. My friend lived in a complex with other American teachers (these tend to be gated) when he worked in Qatar. The house was nice, and either cheap or free with his contract. Your pay would probably be better than in the US (1.2 or 1.5 times), you have subsidized housing, and sometimes subsidized transportation. The details of your job would of course be different, so be sure to check!
      -A lot of expats socialize within their compound. So there’s a built-in community for you if you are interested in it.

      Doha can be a very nice place to live and work. You may (or may not) be able to save a good amount of money if you get the job. The culture would definitely require an adjustment, but may in the range of what you are looking for.

      1. Jules*

        “My experience is that the women were expected to work harder than the men for the same recognition and be better than the men for the same recognition”

        Unfortunately, I see this happening in the US too. But maybe because I work in Midwest.

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        My dad worked in Doha for a while – but I was quite young and don’t remember much about it, other than he had to wear factor 50 sunscreen all the time.

        Isn’t Dubai “dry” or strict on alcohol/drinking?

  13. Allison Mary*

    I saw this article this morning on LinkedIn, and I had to share it. I may be a little biased with my own situation right now (I definitely feel like my manager falls into the category of men described in this article), but this feels SO TRUE to me.

    It’s worth noting that the author of this article is a man. :)

    What do others think of this?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ooof, I hate that kind of gender-based crap. So many incompetent people become leaders, not just men. Most of us would find this hugely offensive if he were writing about women; it’s no difference just because he picked a different sex.

      1. Allison Mary*

        That’s very true. I think that the overall themes of how we tend to mistake confidence for competence is true though – and it can certainly apply to either gender.

      2. The Real Ash*

        I agree. It can be said about anything based on race or sex, it’s more about the person themselves than the category they fit into.

      3. A Non*

        I think there’s a point in there that our culture gives men more leeway to be arrogant/demanding/self-centered than women. That plus humanity’s chronic inability to distinguish competence from hubris results in some of the gender imbalance that shows up in leadership positions.

        That said, I really dislike how that article was written. I don’t think it made its points clearly.

    2. Annie O*

      This reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about lately, which is: there is a real difference between a good leader and a good manager. Every personality test I’ve ever taken has told me I’m a natural leader. And it’s true; I can take command of a room or a group with little effort. That said, I’m not a great manager. It does not come easy for me and the skill sets are not the same. I can take control of a group and get us to the finish line, but that’s not the same as developing the people reporting to me. I’m not sure how this plays out with the gender differences the article discusses.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s the difference between what a leader does and what a manager does. Think CEO vs Store manager. There is knowledge over lap there but the difference is scope.

        Nope, it has no bearing on gender differences.

        Not all leaders can manage well. They can make it work if they surround themselves with people who do manage well and if the leader is willing to listen to those people.

    3. Joey*

      I’m surprised there wasn’t a slew of commenters telling you how sexist and unfair this is. What gives?

          1. The Real Ash*

            Probably because a lot of people don’t care what happens to men. They’re allowed to be punching bags. It’s unfortunate, but true.

              1. The Real Ash*

                I didn’t say “women don’t care” I said “people don’t care”, meaning both men and women. There are definitely male readers on this blog, but I don’t see them commenting on this either. Don’t pretend that only one sex is ignoring the issue when it’s society at large that doesn’t really care what happens to men.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Not that I can tell. I think you just don’t see the same reaction to this because this kind of thing is far more troubling when it’s directed toward a group that’s been historically and systemically marginalized. It’s problematic either way, but one has far more wide-reaching ramifications.

                1. Joey*

                  I agree with that, but then let’s not kid ourselves and pretend we don’t differentiate when we say we say we have a problem with sexism. What we’re really saying is sexism against women is a bigger sin than sexism against men.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think we’re saying sexism hurts everyone, but institutionalized, systemic sexism is especially damaging and worth attention.

                3. Joey*

                  What does that mean though? that if I discriminate against women I should be treated differently than if it were men?

                4. winona*

                  Joey, I would argue that sexism against women IS a bigger sin than sexism against men (and not to get all pedantic about it, sexism isn’t just a matter of unequal treatment, but institutional power PLUS prejudice, which means that, arguably, one cannot be truly “sexist” against men). Someone openly criticizing men — even unfairly — does not speak to an ongoing societal bias against them. Men are still in a greater position of power than women, they are often taken more seriously than women, especially in the workplace… The list goes on.

                  In addition, I was reading your earlier comment, where you were surprised people didn’t come out of the woodwork to talk about how “unfair” the article is, to men — it sounded like, underneath it all, you were kind of annoyed that people come forward all the time to call out the articles aimed at criticizing women? Maybe more people should think about why it’s only unfair treatment when men are getting the same “short end of the stick” that women receive ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME.

                5. Joey*

                  Maybe if I provide some context it will help you understand my issue. Let’s say one of my employees illegally discriminates against women. Is it justifiable to be harsher than if it were against men? Or against whites? I’d have a hard time with that.

                6. Shell*

                  Joey, I would argue that the remedial actions (stern talking to, PIP, other repercussions) be the same regardless of who was being discriminated against (in your example, white people vs. POC, or men vs. women, or insert comparisons of your choice). But because there is a systematic disadvantage to people of colour, women, etc., it’s at least natural to hear more outrage about those issues, because they’ve been treated more poorly for a longer period of time.

                  If you’re in a position to do something about it, I would say you shouldn’t treat them differently in your actions regardless of who is being discriminated against. But in terms of gut reactions? It’s natural to be rather different there.

                7. Joey*

                  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though. The seriousness of the action helps determine the consequences. If I’m more outraged that’s an indication that I probably consider it a worse offense.

                8. Shell*

                  Seriousness of the action should determine the consequences. But I’d say while seriousness of the action often correlates with level of outrage, it’s not directly related. You can dole out punishment equal to the crime whether or not you froth at the mouth about it. Outrage is more of a gut reaction; doling out punishment should be a measured, rational decision.

                  In this case, I’d argue that despite whatever level of outrage one musters against discrimination of A vs. discrimination of B, the punishment should be the same if the infraction was the same (so…hate speech and death threats to both would be treated the same, but death threats vs. cutting in line at the microwave…perhaps not).

                9. Joey*

                  Wait, that means that having a different level of outrage is an understandable, yet irrational reaction?

      1. Allison Mary*

        I go back and forth with this – I think that parts of it have valid points, but parts of it are definitely sexist. For instance, this quote:

        “But a much bigger problem is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men, and the fact that we tend to equate leadership with the very psychological features that make the average man a more inept leader than the average woman.”

        To me that definitely has a sexist skew. I think it would be more accurate if it were written to say simply that there is a lack of career obstacles for incompetent people in general, and those people often wind up in leadership when their confidence is mistaken for competence. That being said, I don’t find it offensive or sexist merely to observe (in academic studies, etc.) where certain traits tend to fall more in one gender than the other. I think drawing generalized conclusions from that data like, “men tend to be incompetent leaders” is where it gets really dangerous.

      2. winona*

        Joey, the reason why people aren’t falling over themselves in support of public criticism of men (no matter how off-base in this context) is that women have to deal with that kind of thing the majority of the time. A one-off article about the incompetence of many men in leadership just isn’t the same thing, particularly because studies have been done showing that, from childhood onward, men have been told repeatedly that they’re excellent and rewarded for traits which are discouraged and devalued in women. I mean, this article is already being brushed off as poorly written and inaccurate (which I agree with, by the way), and one article slamming men’s competency in leadership isn’t exactly adding to the sexism that men face every day in the workplace (which, you know they don’t). If this was written about women? Well, it’d just be reinforcing an already-popular negative framing of women in the workplace, which, yeah, is underlined by sexism that men just don’t face.

        So forgive us if we’re not rallying behind the cry of “WHAT ABOUT THE MEN????”

        1. winona*

          …I don’t even know what happened to my first sentence, sorry. Try, “people aren’t falling over themselves to debunk public criticism of men.”

        2. Joey*

          So you’re saying I should be treated differently depending on who I’m discriminating against?

          I’m not trying to be argumentative here I just don’t see how one is a bigger sin. Does that mean if I as a minority discriminate in favor of minorities its not as bad as if I were white. That seems sort of hypocritical.

          1. winona*

            Obviously, you shouldn’t be discriminating against anyone? But yeah, in my opinion, discriminating against people who have less privilege and less power in the grand scheme of things is pretty much worse than the other way around. Contributing to the ill treatment of historically oppressed groups is a lot more serious than people — usually members of said oppressed groups — making generalized statements about people in higher positions and privilege.

            “All men are incompetent managers and all around terrible people” is clearly a load of crap, but if I go around saying that to everyone, it’s not reinforcing a lifetime of societal prejudice against dudes. If someone came up to me and called me a “cracker” it’s obviously not the politest thing in the world, but it’s not contributing to a lifetime of societal prejudice against white people. On the other hand, I can’t count the number of articles I’ve had to read about how women are useless in the workplace. Tons of people still talk about how women shouldn’t be elected President of the US because, har har har, nobody wants a lady to have the nuclear launch codes when she’s on the rag! Even on the internet, when women blog openly as women, they’re subject to a kind of harassment and invalidation that men are much less likely to face — maybe try googling “blogging while female”? Threats of violence against women with unpopular opinion and outright dismissal of their viewpoints (“Looks like SOMEONE needs a midol!”) is commonplace and you can’t tell me that kind of thing is gender-neutral.

            Like I said in my first comment, studies have shown that certain qualities are lauded in men from an early age and discouraged in women. Assertiveness, dominant behavior, a fully-formed sense of self worth. That list, too, goes on. Similarly, certain qualities are discouraged and devalued in POC while they’re celebrated in white people. The “angry black man” trope is bandied around as a negative while similar behaviors in a white businessman might get him labeled as “intense” or “a go-getter.” You absolutely cannot say that there aren’t horrible double-standards in play all over the place, and that writing a critical (even scathing) article about men or white people is in any way as problematic as writing one about women or minority groups. Is it hypocritical? I don’t know. It is fair? Probably not. But it’s funny to me that when people have things to say about those hysterical womenfolk~, men are either silent as the grave or willing to chime in only so far as how it relates to them — “NOT ALL MEN think that way! NOT ALL MEN are disrespectful to women!” — as if the original speaker really, truly, and literally meant that all men ever are prejudiced against women. And what’s more, men are so much more likely to cry out “it’s not fair!” when faced with exactly. the. same. thing. that women are subject to on a regular basis.

            Like, in all seriousness, Joey — do you really think your life is impacted, daily, by the knowledge that some women are frustrated as hell about this inequality and are making unfavorable (and yes, generalized) statements about men?

            1. Joey*

              Philosophically I get it. I’m tired of it and disappointed that people still hold onto outdated or ignorant views. But I can’t bring myself to hold all of that baggage against each and every person that does wrong. I can’t justify punishing someone in part based on what violations someone else did. I look at the actions individually and base my decisions only in regard to what that person did. The historical part to me only comes into play on addressing it on a more broader scale.

              1. winona*

                Well, you know, I’m glad you have that luxury, but to the women who are dealing with this constantly and having to hear people imply that they’re punishing individual men for the actions of the whole (btw, if the individual men would like to take other men to task for their sexist behavior, that’s fantastic, go you, but know it’s RARE) — well, forgive us if we’re not gonna look at this stuff from the same, oh so lofty point of view as someone who’s removed from it.

      3. fposte*

        Because Alison hit it first post out, because the author of the article isn’t posting here, and there are 500 other posts in the thread to read anyway.

  14. abankyteller*

    Yay! I need advice. I’m leaving my job at the end of the month and will give notice next week. I’m leaving because New Job has a better schedule for the same hours/pay. I’ve been looking for a while because my manager has made multiple comments to me about my age that leave me feeling like I’m being discriminated against because of my age and that’s why I was passed over for full time hours (those went to a new hire who had only been with the company two months and didn’t have industry ed experience). What do I say when people ask me why I’m leaving? Making it about the schedule throws my department manager under the bus when really it’s her boss that I have the biggest issue with. Please advise!

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If it’s just casual conversation, I’d say something like “It was just time to move on to something new.”

    2. Ms. Anonymity*

      Just say that an opportunity too good to pass up came along, and not surprisingly, you couldn’t pass it up. Best of luck in your new position!

    3. Annie O*

      Could you say you’re looking for opportunities for full-time hours and career advancement?

      1. abankyteller*

        New Job is part time also. It’s just more hours over fewer days so it’s so much easier with a set schedule. I have two kids, one with special needs, so lots of appointments to work around.

        If this opportunity hadn’t fallen into my lap I was going to transfer to another office anyway–part time still, but different people and an extra day off each week. I’ve been working New Job a little on the side and I feel great about it. I never felt this way about Current Job. Maybe rose-colored glasses but maybe something more. =)

    4. Chriama*

      Just tell them — better schedule for the same hours/pay. Leave them to draw their own conclusions (or not). A good manager will want to keep good workers and will investigate, a bad one won’t investigate but they won’t feel personally slighted.

    5. Celeste*

      I would say, it’s a better schedule for my life and I need that right now with my kids. That way, it’s about you and not about OldJob.

  15. a.n.o.n.*

    I finally have some news about my situation.

    I mentioned last week that someone I ran into at a seminar emailed the CEO of the company I’m pursuing and told him I’m awesome and he should hire me. Weeks earlier I said that the CEO told me he couldn’t hire me right away, but we would talk in a couple months. Well, I didn’t have to call him. He called ME! He left a voicemail saying he didn’t have any further updates, but to definitely keep in touch and hopes I’m doing well. I plan to call him back today. It’s a relief to know that he doesn’t hold the two prior rejections against me and doesn’t think I’m flaky.

    I finally broke down and told my current boss how I’m feeling about the job. I got the perfect opening because she wanted to give me my three-month review. She asked how things are going and I was 100% honest. I told her how, after my prior company went out of business, I thought I knew what I wanted and didn’t realize until I got here that I didn’t want to go this direction. I explained the emotional toll it’s taken on me to have chosen the wrong path. Told her how terrible I felt that this happened and that I was totally convinced I wanted this job. She was actually very understanding and started talking about ways we can incorporate the things I want to be doing in order to make a better fit. She felt I was having a reaction to the fact that I’ve been doing the job of someone else the whole time (we just finally hired someone for that job!), but I told her that the main part of the job I was actually hired to do gives me pause. I told her the best I could say right now is that I’m not actively looking for a job, I haven’t called the CEO of the other company back yet (yes, I told her the WHOLE saga), and I’m in the middle of buying a house so I have no intention of going anywhere at least for a couple months. That will give me a chance to see how things work out here.

    Many people told me not to say anything to my boss, but when faced with the direct question, I couldn’t lie. I really respect her and I didn’t want to lead her on. As a former manager, I would want to know if my employee felt the job wasn’t a fit and might leave. And I told her that. I told her I didn’t want to blindside her by giving two weeks’ notice. She was happy I told her.

    In other news…we got the house we bid on! So, I’m moving. As long as the inspection doesn’t turn up anything too big. I’m so happy! My husband and I both feel it’s “the one.” There’s lots of room for family, and a beautiful, spacious property for family picnics and such.

    This might sound corny, but I firmly believe that good things happen when you do the things you’re supposed to do and do them right. Meaning, I feel that if I lied to my boss yesterday and didn’t come clean, I might have lost the bid on the house. Karma, I guess.

    I also believe that things happen in the order they’re supposed to happen. The CEO of the other company isn’t ready yet, so that gives me time to close on my mortgage and get moved. It also gives me a little time to see if I can turn the situation at this company around.

    1. Mimmy*

      Sounds like you have an awesome boss! In my opinion, the best managers are those who make it safe to have those kinds of honest conversations. Sure, sometimes they can be tough conversations, but it is such a relief when it’s off your chest.

      1. a.n.o.n.*

        Yeah I told her I feel much better, but I figured she didn’t. We had a few laughs about it. She said we’ll try to rearrange things and make it more palatable. Then we’ll see if I “hate it as much.” She wants me to keep an open dialogue with her. She was a total pro about it. I’m so glad I said something. I’m sure some people know how awful it is, and the emotional toll it takes, when you pick the wrong job. It’s so exhausting and emotionally draining.

  16. BCW*

    I posted this in a thread earlier this week, but it seemed to have died by then. There have been quite a few questions this week dealing with the comfort level of one person (or even a few) vs what others want to do. Namely the speedo, the bobblehead, and the music. What I was wondering is what is the cutoff percentage (for lack of a better term) to where the people in the minority need to just suck it up and deal with it something because in the situation it is socially acceptable to the majority? In all of the examples I mentioned, most people in the office seemed ok with something, and one person wanted a change. In my opinion, the one person kind of just needs to deal, assuming its not blatantly offensive to the average person or a medical issue (ie if everyone loves peanuts, if one person is severely allergic then that trumps everyone’s love). But where do people think the line is? I get if its 50/50 then the behavior/issue should stop because half of the people have a problem. But to me, if 60% of the people are fine with something (again not like racist/sexist behavior or something) then they should be allowed, such as the music issue where 2/3 of the people wanted their music and 1 didn’t. Thoughts?

      1. MJ*

        I would say company’s interest rules. Obviously, having happy employees is in the company’s interest, so having a majority in favor of something is a consideration. But it doesn’t trump. An employer also has to consider productivity, direct or indirect costs, whether the customer is affected, which decision is likely to cause the most turmoil, relevant research on determinants of a healthy work environment, business norms vs what is being asked…

        In group decisions, it is often best to aim for consensus rather than democracy or unanimity or some contrived compromise. In consensus, you look for the solution that everyone can live with. It won’t be everyone’s preference. Occasionally it even means an extreme minority (as on one person) may “win” because the issue is something they feel SO strongly about.

        1. BCW*

          Yeah, but even that, if one person is just louder and better at arguing, I don’t know that it automatically means they should “win”.

          1. MJ*

            Not saying they would “win” because they are louder or better at arguing. They might “win” because they feel very strongly about something that others feel moderately about. For example, if the majority of the office thought that adopting a cat was a great idea, the rest of the staff had no opinion and one person felt strongly that having a cat padding through his cubicle would be completely unsettling to him, that person might “win.” Maybe the majority would like to festoon the office with Christmas decorations and one person feels strongly that they do not want to work amidst tinsel and flashing trees for reasons that may have nothing to do with personal religious beliefs. Echoing a conversation from AAM a couple weeks ago, the majority might like to work in the dark, but one person might have serious non-health-related objections to this.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’d say majority rules or if it’s a pervasive cultural thing (like in the case of the music).

    2. Betsy*

      This isn’t relevant to all of the cases, but is to some: in my opinion, there’s a distinction between what my son’s school calls “have to’s” and “want to’s”. Regardless of the proportions, if everyone on one side is a “want to” and there are any “have to” people on the other side, the “have to” people should win.

      So in the case of the music: music is pleasant for some people to have, and they want it because it’s nice. But if it’s making it impossible for another person to do his job correctly, then he is a “have to”, and his needs should trump their desires. The case with the lights on/off people is similar. If 99 out of 100 employees want the lights off because it makes the office more relaxing, but that one other person needs lights on because otherwise they can’t see the papers they’re processing, then that need trumps the desires.

      I would include in that category of “have to” a person’s need to feel safe at work, so issues like overt racism or sexism would also fall in that box. You cannot do your job appropriately if you’re constantly feeling attacked and degraded by the environment you’re in.

      Again, this only applies in cases where there aren’t conflicting needs. And if the issue is only about desire on both sides, with no safety, legal, or personal need issues, then I’d say majority probably can and should rule.

      1. BCW*

        But even in the case of the music, I wouldn’t call that a have to for anyone. Some people work better with music, others work better without. I hate total silence, some people hate any noise. So neither is a must, thats why I think majority should rule.

        1. Betsy*

          If people have to be on the phone taking customer calls, I would say that is a need to. I don’t think it was a need to in the case of the temp who just didn’t like it.

    3. fposte*

      I think it’s case by case and office by office; I suspect any rule I’d come up with I’d then be able to think of an exception to.

    4. Del*

      I think it’s a lot more complicated than just “how many people want this?” There are also concerns like what’s the overall impact between the two sides — something like what Betsy said above about “have to” versus “want to.”

      Additionally, I think the right response in most situations should always start with “is there a way to accommodate everyone’s comfort?” As with the music question, why aren’t the people who want music wearing headphones? I feel like unless the issue is truly extremely trivial, immediately defaulting to “suck it up” is a pretty terrible attitude. With the lights on/lights off debate, people pointed out that cubicle shades and cube-mounted lights are both solutions that don’t require one side or the other to just deal with the situation and be uncomfortable.

    5. Betsy*

      New post on the same comment, because I had another thought. When you’re saying “majority rules”, make sure it’s really actively something the majority wants, as opposed to something the majority isn’t objecting to aloud.

      There’s a phenomenon where a group consensus often comes to something no one actually wants, called the Abilene Paradox (

      In it, everyone assumes that what they want is not the majority opinion, so they sit back and don’t say anything. One or two voices end up being accepted as the majority, even when they’re not.

    6. Chriama*

      I honestly don’t believe that you can assign a numerical value to this. It really depends on the relationship between the people, the impact on the business (general ick factor of the speedo vs. a real productivity decline due to the music) and other factors.

    7. Joey*

      I don’t think there is a clear line. So much of it depends on the strategy you use to try to get what you want. Its a game of persuasion. If you’re good at it the line moves in your favor.

    8. BCW*

      Interesting comments. I know the “suck it up” line is a bit harsh, but I really think at some point if the majority is in favor or even indifferent to something, at some point shouldn’t the vocal minority just realize that this is the “culture” of where they are and take it or leave it? Again, I fully admit there are certain factors (medical, discrimination, and the like) that make it a very important issue. But many of these, such as being mentally grossed out by a speedo or saying that you can’t work if there is any noise, really comes down to just preferences. If your preference doesn’t fall in line with the preference of most people where you are… then you are kind of SOL in my opinion.

    9. Sydney*

      Betsy’s “have to’s” and “want to’s” sum it up pretty good when the wants vs. needs are clear. Like in the case of a severe peanut allergy, one person could cause a no-peanuts rule.

      When it’s more subjective like the music or lights, I’d say it could be as split as 51/49 majority rules. I’m trying to imagine a scenario that could be this divided that wouldn’t have some sort of exception, but I’m falling short.

  17. Laufey*

    When do most people know what sort of vacation time they can take at holidays?

    I know it’s not my company’s fault that my family lives several states away and it’s not my company’s fault that plane ticket prices are rising so rapidly, but I need to know what days I can take off before I can buy tickets. I want to know what’s reasonable before I shift from “casually asking in passing” to “it’s reasonable to know by now in the world outside this firm”.

    1. John*

      I think the best strategy is to put in for it early. Just ask. Obviously, it works differently at different companies, and seniority can play a role. But, at the very least, putting in your request might force the issue.

      In making the request, I would state that you will need to book your travel ahead of time. Also, if it’s true, point out other holiday times that you are willing to cover so your colleagues can be with their families (the day after Thanksgiving and days around New Year’s) so you show that you want to be a team player.

      1. Laufey*

        Generally we don’t have issues finding coverage, and I have already offered to work several holidays. I have put in for the time I want, but management keeps not approving it. Most people at this company are local, so they have generally aren’t concerned with buying tickets, booking hotel rooms, etc.

        1. Chriama*

          Have a conversation with your manager about how you’d like more advance notice on vacation approvals because of the travel arrangements you have to make, and you’d like to know if they can work with you. Mention that your last few requests have been rejected, and explain the timeline that you usually have to work with when planning travel.

          You’re in a different situation from most people, and while they aren’t obligated to accommodate you, it’s a nice thing to do (and nice companies retain more loyal employees).

        2. John*

          Have you clearly stated that you need to pull the trigger on plane tickets and that you’re worried that you won’t be able to go because you will get priced out?

        3. AVP*

          Agree with the above – I would try to have a slightly bigger-picture conversation with your manager about when he thinks he might be able to approve your request, or if there’s anything particular standing in the way of getting approval (and when he thinks that might clear up).

          I know when my direct reports ask me about vacation time that’s more than a month away, I often can’t approve it because I need to wait and see what projects we have coming in that particular week. Of course, if it’s a major holiday it’s different, but it depends on the company.

          Either way you should get some clarity – and then at least you’ll be able to make a decision about buying tickets or waiting and sucking up the higher fees!

    2. Traveler*

      I don’t know that there’s a standard. It’s been different between companies, and between branches within companies. Sometimes its a seniority thing (we are waiting on Director, Manager, etc. to pick before we can tell you when you can) and sometimes its a we don’t know what the projects will be until 3 months out, so we can’t let you know, and other places just block out the entire holiday season for work for people to take off.

    3. Del*

      I’m in the same situation, and what I’ve usually done has been to put in my request as early as possible, and then at some point have a conversation with my manager where I point out that I need to book plane tickets while they’re not exorbitantly expensive, would there be any way to get an early confirmation on my holiday request? A lot of times they have been very reasonable about this.

      Typically, I’ll get my Thanksgiving/Christmas request in by March or April, and unless told otherwise I expect to know by midsummer whether I’ve been approved or not.

      1. Ali*

        I always put in for vacation as soon as I know the dates. I am taking a few days off in August and they are already in the request doc.

        I wish I could call off early for holidays, but my family never knows plans until late in the holiday season and/or they tend to spring last-minute surprises on us. (Example: announcement of a gathering three days before it’s scheduled to take place, and by then, everyone has made plans and can’t necessarily be there.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I HATE that–my family does it too. A week before, I’m asking people, “Are you going?” I usually don’t go for Thanksgiving unless everyone is coming. Otherwise, it’s a four-day weekend with my parents. 0_0




    4. SevenSixOne*

      Your employee handbook may explicitly spell this out– mine says employees must give their direct supervisor at least 48 hours notice for a single day, at least 2 weeks for 2-7 days, and at least 30 days plus approval from the department head for more than 7 days. I think that’s reasonable if your firm doesn’t have anything in writing.

      BUT! I think there’s such a thing as too much notice, too. One employee at OldJob claimed the entire week of Thanksgiving every January, and something about that really rubbed me the wrong way.

  18. Rebecca*

    How do your companies handle smokers and their breaks? There are a lot of bad feelings in our office regarding the people who smoke and the number and length of smoke breaks they take.

    The smokers go out every hour or hour and a half and smoke, usually in a group. The rest of us work and take our 2 assigned 15 minute breaks, plus 30 minute unpaid lunch break each day (it’s an 8 hour work day, sometimes overtime). We are all hourly workers.

    So, it’s start work at 8 AM, smoking at 8:45 or 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, you get the picture. It really adds up. They also take time to eat lunch.

    Our manager is of the mindset that the smokers need to go outside to smoke to calm their nerves. The rest of us are expected to be at our desks, working, and take only our assigned breaks.

    Has anyone else run into this, and how was it handled?

    1. BCW*

      I haven’t dealt with that in a professional setting, only back in the high school days. In my jobs where people smoke, no one was really monitoring your breaks. I’d go out with the smokers sometimes if I wanted to get away. However, I don’t think its fair if they are saying non smokers can’t do those same things.

      1. Rebecca*

        I don’t smoke. My feeling is if I’m supposed to take my 15 minute break mid morning, lunch break at noon, and 15 minutes mid afternoon, then the people who smoke should be held to that standard as well.

        I’m bringing this up because our manager just lectured us on time wasting, and told us if we were honest with ourselves, we could identify 15-30 minutes per day that we were wasting and not working. That was stunning to me, in light of what goes on every day that she doesn’t address.

        1. Mike C.*

          Did you tell your manager that this discussion was taking up those 15-30 minutes?

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Right? No fooling, I once had a medium-term temp job where the manager called us all in for a meeting in which he spent 45 minutes complaining about how productivity was down. Everyone else was long-term temp-to-hire (there may have been one other short-timer there besides me), so I had the least to lose by being the one to finally raise my hand and say “In that case, wouldn’t it be better if we got back to work?”

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I think I read once that in an average 8-hour work day, most people only get about 5 hours of work done. That sounds about right to me.

    2. Anne 3*

      The company where I interned handled it the same as yours – badly. They’re just creating resentment amongst the non-smokers.

      My current company uses a badging system for the building, so people who go outside to smoke aren’t paid to smoke, and there’s no problem. I also don’t think they’d mind if someone just went outside for 5 minutes to clear their head and not smoke.

    3. Jen RO*

      You manager sucks :) In my company, breaks are not timed, as long as you’re getting the job done. Non-smokers often go out with the smokers, just to get some (smokey) air or clear their heads.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      That is WAY too often in my opinion. They should get no more than two breaks.

    5. GigglyPuff*

      That always kind of annoyed me at my old job, most of the people there were smokers, including the manager, so they would frequently go outside and smoke, and oftentimes together. When I took my breaks I would always read for a few minutes in the break room, and keep a very good eye on the clock, but the break room was situated so it got some high traffic to reach another part of the building, so whenever my manager or another employee would come by, I always felt like I was slacking off. Or my manager would ask me to do something, like I was just sitting there like a lump.

    6. Jennifer*

      At OldJob where we were in a similar hourly situation, you were not allowed extra break time for smoking. You got your two breaks and your lunch and that’s it. At first, smokers were allowed to take a break, but once someone really looked at how much time they were taking, it was stopped. Luckily BigBoss was a fair person and stopped rewarding them for taking off what added up to be a day per month each. We had a badge controlled area, so it was easier to provide proof of the time used up. I heard that there was one guy who tried to get around it, but was fired when he was caught. At NextJob, smoking wasn’t allowed on the campus at all.

    7. abankyteller*

      I’ve never been a smoker but I once worked in a hospital kitchen that had a lot of smokers. We had to sign a sheet to leave the building for breaks. Probably 3 times a day we ALL went outside and the smokers smoked. This was in addition to regular lunches and breaks we all took together. It was so awesome.

      I your situation I’d want to passive aggressively Institute Fresh Air Breaks for non smokers. I wouldn’t do it but I’d dream about it.

      1. kbeers0su*

        I once had a summer job where the non-smokers did exactly this. Then the company/campus went smoke-free and all the smokers quit/moved on.

    8. AAA*

      Wow! Those are a lot of breaks!
      If I were you I would take a break for an equal amount of time to “calm my nerves” every time a smoker is taking a break. I’d call it my smoke break, even if I wasn’t smoking. If you got all of the non-smokers in the office to do this I bet management would get the picture pretty quickly that it’s an unfair practice to give some nicotine-addicted people more breaks than others.

    9. Muriel Heslop*

      My company is very anti-smoking and does not allow it on company grounds. People have to cross a busy street or leave campus to smoke so it cuts down on breaks and diminishes committed smokers as employees.

      1. cuppa*

        My husband has the same situation, but he said he hates it even more, because the smokers still go, but they take an even longer time now.

    10. chewbecca*

      I feel you on this. I sit at the front desk with the elevators, and we had one employee who seemed to be the ringleader of hourly smoke breaks. She was an unpleasant person all around (one of the “look at meeeeee!” people who was always complaining about how busy she was). I did the math one time and realized that 8 smoke breaks a day @ 15 minutes each time worked out to be 2 hours out of the day she spent away from her desk, on top of her hourly or longer lunch breaks.

      She’s luckily no longer here and I’ve noticed that the rest of the smokers have cut way back on their frequency.

    11. Apollo Warbucks*

      In my office no one is supposed to be clearing off in work time to smoke. There’s an hour for lunch and if anyone needs a smoke break during the day they are expected to take a shorter lunch break.

    12. some1*

      I’m a smoker and I think this is ridiculous. But then, I’ve never needed company to smoke, so I I take less time.

    13. JaneJ*

      Don’t think it should be about nerves, or adding up time, or any of it. It sounds like you’re all hourly workers on the same team. Is that correct? If so, as long as the work is being split fairly (meaning the smokers and non-smokers are held to the same production quotas and standards) and it’s all getting done within the requisite time, then who really cares about the breaks?

      It seems to me that managers should hold everyone to standard using the one thing they all have in common: production. If everyone feels like the work load is fair, then they shouldn’t care about what other people are doing in their down time.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      At Nonprofit job, everyone always took smoke breaks all at the same time so we could gossip. ;) The advantage was we did it at the same times every day, so everyone knew where to find us if they needed us.

      Disclaimer: I don’t smoke anymore, not since about 2008 or so.

      1. cuppa*

        I don’t smoke, but at one job, they allowed one smoke break in the morning and one in the afternoon. Everyone took a “smoke break”, whether they smoked or not. Others would get coffee, gossip, etc. Essentially, they could have just taken the ‘smoke’ part out of the break term.

    15. Anon1309*

      I have a pack of cigarettes in my bag.

      Whenever I need a break, I light one and just hold it while it burns. I also practiced some smokers talk (“I really want to quit, but I’m on a diet and can’t handle both right now”).

      No one ever notices that I don’t actually smoke my cigarette :)

      1. Butt in Chair*

        I did this at my first job! I was the only person there who didn’t smoke, and I resented the hell out of my co-workers for getting to take a break every hour or so when I didn’t, so I started taking “smoke fakes”.

    16. Grey*

      It makes me feel old to remember the days when I could just light up right there at my desk and no one cared.

      And I’m only 44.

      I really need to quit. I won’t even smoke in my house anymore. The smoke just turns everything yellow and nasty after a while.

      How many other smokers felt the need to go out and have one after reading this topic?

  19. Eric*

    Advice on feeling bad at your job (impostor syndrome? I’m not sure)

    I’ve been with my company for 3.5 years. The first 3 years I was in a position where I feel like I did good work, excelled, and was generally respected in my department. I took a promotion 6 months ago, and after a big screw-up in January and a couple little ones, I constantly feel terrible at my job and every time I talk to someone in my department they seem very dismissive of me.

    It’s probably all in my head but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. A good part of this job is marketing I’ve discovered, and I don’t like marketing and I’m not good at it. I don’t know many people outside of my department and constantly feel like I don’t know why I’ve involved in meetings. And communication in my company is pretty bad and people make decisions for my program without telling me.

    Basically, I feel like I’m drowning. I don’t want to give up on this job just yet, because I’m not sure if 6 months is enough time to truly know if this is right for me, even if it was an internal promotion and not a new job at a new company, but I don’t know how to get out of this. My boss and I have a pretty good relationship, I’ve thought about bringing up some of my concerns with her, but… I don’t know.

    Any thoughts are appreciated.

    1. money lady*

      I think you should talk to your boss. You may not be doing as badly as you think and she may be able to help you get through this phase.

    2. Jen RO*

      I think you should talk to your boss, but don’t break down in front of him. Do you have formal reviews? If not, maybe you can suggest an informal performance review, since you’ve been there 6 months?

      1. Eric*

        I was thinking that. We’re not due to have performance evaluations until July-August, and 6 months is a good “excuse” to ask for an informal one.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think six months to a year is pretty normal. My current job I spent the first few months saying “I will never, ever get this.” About month number 5 I thought “hey, I am getting this.” Month 6 the wheels fell off and I was back to “I will never, ever get this.”
      What saved me is people in other locations with the same job said, “What you describe here is totally normal for our work. You’re on track keep going.”

      If you don’t want to talk to your boss immediately, find someone you will talk to. Don’t allow yourself to go through this alone.

      I’ve been at the job for almost a year and a half. I have grown used to not knowing what I am doing because I now see that is inherent in the work. My boss is hugely helpful in keeping me going forward-she’s very supportive.

      1. C Average*

        Cosigned. Even 2+ years into my current role, I on occasion feel incompetent. Hearing from my peers that they, too, struggle on occasion is really reassuring. When we share these areas where we lack confidence, we can reassure each other, ask questions freely, and get better at what we’re doing.

    4. Jules*

      Try listing out the competency needed for the job and tick off the ones you have. Try finding training for the remaining competencies. Everyone need some soft skill as well as technical skill training every once in a while. If your company has internal training program, leverage on them.

  20. Jen RO*

    I was stalking the open thread too, hoping it gets posted before I leave work.

    Sooo I start my new-old job next week. (I quit a couple of months ago and now I’m going back – with a title bump and on a different team.) I wasn’t crazy about working with my new team’s leader, but I very recently found out that it won’t be a “problem” for much longer, since everyone in their location is getting laid off. Yikes! I feel bad now – I will be (re)joining the company a few days after the layoff announcement, and the laid-off coworkers will have to train me… I can’t imagine how much that must suck.

    On the other hand, from a professional point of view it will be a good thing for me – I will get to guide the new joiners in my location and I will get to be involved in a lot more (I will probably need to implement the processes we had in my old team, and I kinda missed that!).

    And yet.. they must know they are getting laid off partly because of us – we are in a country with lower salaries and we are less experienced, so we are way cheaper… I feel a bit guilty. I know it’s not my fault and the big evil corporation would have hired someone else, but still.

    In happier news, if anyone remembers my cats (a few months ago I needed advice about introducing my adult tomcat and my new kitten), they are getting along great now! I don’t think they’ll ever be BFFs,but they play all the time and they are never aggressive towards each other or towards me! (I was the older cat’s preferred victim before I got him a play buddy.)

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Good luck with the new job!

      I went through something similar recently with the guilt over people being laid off – my predecessor was also being laid off and had to train me (he did find a better job in the end, but didn’t know that at the time) and I did feel really horrible about it, I didn’t feel there was a way to bring it up so didn’t.

      I tried to tell myself the same thing at the time, that I didn’t create the situation and it wasn’t my fault, and whatever the reasons for the redundancies in each individual case (which I didn’t want to know) they were nothing to do with me. But I did find it easier to look at that way when the only person I knew personally who was being made redundant was someone with performance issues and was also my “bitch eating crackers” as per someone’s post below. The more I got to know and like the people on my new team who were being made redundant, the worse I felt about it and it only really went away when my predecessor got his new job and another woman I’d spent some time with got extended by another six months.

      I don’t know why I never asked for tips about survivor’s guilt on an open thread here at the time, actually. maybe because I tend to get to them late and it would have got lost.

      It probably didn’t help that one of the managers had publicly blurted out something about how she’d got one person on her team who was being made redundant, had to train someone who wasn’t being made redundant and really wasn’t happy about it. She’d let enough slip that I knew who she was talking about, (she didn’t name the person but it was possible to work out) and although I knew it wasn’t my predecessor (not being a woman managed by that manager, he didn’t fit the description) it did reinforce the idea in my mind that he might feel the same way as that person.

  21. Calla*

    I just have to vent! Someone just sent an extremely rude email (“you need to find time IMMEDIATELY”) to me because they want two people I support on an email either today or Monday, and it’s currently scheduled for later next week. This is important, sure, but it’s not an emergency, and these two people are doctors (so they’re only in our office half the time, the other half they’re at their respective clinics) AND one is currently out of state and the other is OVERSEAS. I am livid that she is essentially yelling at me via email (with other people copied!) because I can’t physically force these guys to get on a call at like 5am in the morning or 11pm at night for something they don’t think is an emergency.

    1. IndieGir*

      How rude. And the fact that the two folks are doctors makes it even ruder. She must know that their schedules are probably 1) insane and 2) incompatible — when one is free, the other is probably busy.

      I’d say keep your cool and just lay out the facts for her. Don’t worry about her copying in other people. It is always the person who uses CAPS that looks like an idiot in these situations!

      1. Calla*

        Yes, exactly — their clinic schedules don’t match up, so even during a time when they’re not traveling (like they both are right now), they are only in the office at the same time on two days of the week!

        I am letting one of my bosses handle it though. He wasn’t happy with her tone either, ha!

    2. Anonsie*

      Oh lord. I support a group of physicians and we occasionally get these people who are just sure that if they ask me enough times, suddenly a new spot will open up for them.

      I’ll tell them that each doc gets two days a month booked for admin time and all of every other day of the month is OR or clinic and not available. I’ll tell them the open times and let them know that’s all they’ll have for the next month, two months, whatever. But they’ll repeatedly ask me for other time. “Oh no no, not those days. What about this day at 10:30am?” They will be with patients on that day and every other day that isn’t on the list I gave you. “Well that doesn’t work for me. What about the afternoon the day before?” NO.

      1. Calla*

        Yeah, this didn’t do that because she had someone else asking for times, so she just went off when she saw it wasn’t scheduled soon enough for her, but I’ve had people do that before too!

        One guy I had that exact conversation with– “Can Dr. X go on this trip with me?” “Well, he’s going to be at clinic at that time.” “Can he move it?” “I don’t manage his clinic schedule, you’d have to ask him, but he’s going to be seeing patients at that time.” “What about [other day I said he had clinic].” Me internally: “WHAT DON’T YOU GET about ‘no, he’s seeing patients and your last-minute trip isn’t more important than him seeing patients’??”

    3. Sadsack*

      Forward her email to them and copy her with a simple note to the doctors: “Please see below.” They can see it first hand.

      1. Calla*

        They were copied on the email and fortunately one sent a nice stern reply back!

  22. Lily in NYC*

    So, I just started screening resumes for two open positions in our most competitive dept. I received a cover letter written in the third person. It looked like the dude just cut and pasted his bio. To me, that’s enough to put him in the “no” pile (he resume wasn’t good enough anyway). But what if he had a great resume and a third person cover letter? Would you still consider the candidate? I’m really picky when I screen – something as minor as an extra space on your resume or cover letter will get you put in the no pile. We cannot have people here who aren’t detail-oriented.

    1. IndieGir*

      A cover letter in third-party form is weird, but if the resume were great I’d give it a pass.

      In terms of the rest of your thoughts, are you a design firm? If not, I think you are probably missing out on a lot of great people by being so picky. Some folks are not great at design and won’t even be able to see an extra space on the resume, and it doesn’t mean they are not detail-oriented. I hired a guy who is super at programming but lousy at design, and everything he lays out looks like crap. But that’s OK, because he has brilliant creative solutions to programming problems.

      Of course if design is part of the job, then yes, you are right to be picky about extra spaces, etc.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        No, it’s high-level strategic planning for the the Mayor. We don’t mess around. If an employee goes to City Hall with a typo on a powerpoint, it’s a Very Bad Thing. One tiny math mistake can really cause problems. My boss is awesome but very demanding of his staff. Someone was 10 minutes late for her interview last week and didn’t apologize or explain – my boss refused to interview her and sent her on her way. We get hundreds of resumes from highly qualified candidates, so it’s yet another weeding tool.

        1. IndieGir*

          Well, a typo is much different than an extra space. On is barely visible to normal people, the other is an actual error. And being late for an interview without an excuse is also an actual error (as well as rude).

          But if you feel that your department is that desirable a place to work for, then you have your answer already, don’t you?

          1. Lily in NYC*

            You seem annoyed with me for some reason unless I am reading that last sentence incorrectly. I wasn’t asking for advice about typos. Just about the cover letter. I wrote back about the extra space because you asked about it.

            1. IndieGir*

              Not annoyed — just wondering why you asked. Your first post seemed to be asking “Am I too picky?” and your response seemed to be saying “We have valid reasons to be very picky.” So, if you have folks beating down your door and valid reasons to be very picky, you can and probably should be picky.

              Sorry if I sounded annoyed, that’s one of the challenges of communicating in writing. I will admit, I did find the part about the extra spaces a bit over-picky and off-putting, which is why I responded to it. Had you said typos to start with, it would have made more sense to me.

              1. Lily in NYC*

                Well, to be honest, I wrote that because it was the last resume I screened before I came to this thread and it was in my brain. She had 5 different places with extra spaces and it stood out to me. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if it had just been one and now that I think about it I’m not as nit-picky as I seem. For example, I’ll sometimes fix margins for people if they look off or if there’s a page break in a weird spot (because I can’t tell if it’s their fault or the despised Taleo’s). At least I haven’t seen any ALL CAPS cover letters this time.

                1. IndieGir*

                  Yeah, if it was in five different places, then I’d find it annoying too!

                  And wow — cover letters in all caps, that’s just nuts.

                2. Onymouse*

                  Is it random or was there a pattern to it? I’m told there’s a certain (relatively old-school) convention to always double-space after each sentence.

                3. Lily in NYC*

                  Onymouse, there’s no “reply” under your comment so I don’t know if you will see this. It was random – like a word, then a space, then a comma. Definitely spaces that should not be there. I don’t think twice about two spaces after a period because a lot of people here still write in that manner.

    2. MJ*

      I usually make an “on hold” pile. If I don’t get enough resumes in the “interesting” pile, I will go back and look at the “on hold” pile.

      I have also asked people to re-write their cover letters before, so that’s an option. I told them that I needed an additional sample of their writing and that while their original cover letter was fine, I would like them to submit a new cover letter that did XYZ so that their resume would not get lost in a pile of applications which had more “personable” (choose your own adjective here) cover letters.

    3. Bryan*

      Depending on the position, if the resume was great I’d move him to a phone screen.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Maaaaaaaybe I’d consider him if his resume was really a standout. Otherwise, what? No. That’s weird. That’s not how cover letters work. If he doesn’t know that (or doesn’t care), I don’t trust the rest of what he knows/believes/does/etc.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Hey Lily, I’m with you on the spacing – I see it quite a lot at work reading reports. And also a full stop and the next sentence without a gap at all is common.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Hi Carrie, It surprised me to see it on the resume earlier today because she sent it in Word, which marked them as mistakes with that squiggly red line we all know and love. I think that’s part of the reason I considered it a red flag.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            I’m now so attuned to trying to spot spaces (unlike Word, the system I read reports on has no such wiggly line) I now automatically look for them without realising.

    5. Jill-be-Nimble*

      Oh, man! I had a cover letter that’s too good (read: bad) not to share. An acquaintance really wanted to apply for my company and there was an entry-level temp communications job that I thought she might be interested in. She sent me a cover letter for review. It was filled with typos and improperly used punctuation, including in the line that talked about her “great attention to detail.” The kicker? It started,

      “Dear Public Relations Hiring Guru,” and immediately said “Jil-be-Nimble [name misspelled], a contractor for your [division I contract for at a different company] recommended me for this job…”

      I couldn’t back away from that letter fast enough. It was really hard because I knew that she didn’t have a chance at the job and felt bad for her, but I also didn’t want to be associated as someone recommending her since she had such poor skills. But I also didn’t want to correct her cover letter so much that it seemed like she knew what she was doing, and then got an interview because I “recommended” her!

      (I ended up correcting her biggest mistakes, gave her some general pointers on writing better cover letters, and asked her not to drop my name because I didn’t know anyone in the department and it wouldn’t help–also saying that I couldn’t recommend her because I don’t know her work well enough.)

  23. badger_doc*

    Anyone else in the situation where you live on one city and your significant other lives in another city 2 hours away? We both just started our jobs within the last year/year and a half, so neither one of us can really leave without really good reason. We see eachother every weekend so far but the time in between just sucks, especially since we lived together briefly before his job change. I would like to stay at my job because I love it, and would like to at LEAST commit 3 years to it. I’m looking for advice on how to make both our relationship and careers work under this living situation. He is THE ONE. :-) We are serious about eachother and have talked marriage, so giving up on our relationship is not an option in my mind. Thanks all!

    1. matcha123*

      Well, my boyfriend moved to Tokyo to work and I’m 4-5 hours away. I haven’t seen him for close to a year :p

      Personally, I’d say that every other weekend is great! If you guys plan something fun and of course continue to talk/chat in between, it’ll give you something to look forward to.

      Maybe because I’m in Japan, but here it’s really common for the husband to move overseas for an undetermined amount of time and leave his family in Japan for years!

      If you guys talk about your goals, make concrete plans to meet (and keep them!) I think that you’ll be able to make things work out :)

    2. LMW*

      I did something like that for a while (It didn’t work out for various reasons unrelated to the distance). In addition to weekends, we’d often pick a place in the middle one night a week and meet for dinner. We got to know the teeny tiny old school diners in that area pretty well, but at least we got to spend time together.
      We also used it as a chance to get all the errand-y type stuff done during the week and hang out with friends, do volunteer work, spend out quiet alone time etc. during the week, so when the weekend hit, we were ready to focus on each other.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I did this for about 4 years. It does suck, but we eventually did end up in the same city (yay)! I think one of the most important things we did was make time to talk every day, even if there wasn’t anything all that interesting to “report”–it helped us feel connected. Use technology–we texted a TON, just random little asides throughout the day. We emailed, sent silly songs on Grooveshark. And if there’s an issue in the relationship, talk about it before it’s a BIG issue, which I learned from a different LDR years ago.

    4. Bryan*

      Can you live in between? I know an hour commute each way can be brutal and if there’s traffic it could be worse.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          Houses aren’t prisons. Uncle Vixen owns a house, but when we were ready to move in together, we realized his place wouldn’t work for both of us – but he doesn’t want to sell it. We rent a place together and he rents his house out. It is possible to live somewhere other than in the house you own, if you decide that’s what you want.

    5. Chriama*

      1. Determine your priorities between work or the relationship. What are you willing to give up in one area order to make the other area work?

      2. Have a conversation with him about where your relationship is going. Include what your priorities are and ask him to think about what his are.

      3. Brainstorm together and explore all your options. Obviously 1 or both of you will have to move. When will that happen? Research your options (e.g. get transferred to a different office, start networking in a different city, start looking for a house/apartment). Make a plan!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Geez, with my LDR, we only saw each other every three MONTHS. Every other weekend would have been great! (We did talk almost every day)

      Though it probably would have ended quicker, which might have been a good thing in the long run. :P

    7. The IT Manager*

      Because of my previous job I did a number of LD relationships. Two suggestions: 1) call everyday to chat and keep up on the day to day of each other’s lives as if you saw each other every day. 2) Set an end date to the LD (and maybe a destination if one you is totally set on your home city). After another year and a half when you both have 3 years at your jobs for example, you each start job hunting in the others town. Whoever gets a good job first moves to be near the other.

    1. Lamington*

      I have a good one. Antonio Banderas’ luggage was lost and my friend deliver it to his hotel once they found it with a fruit basket.

      1. samaD*

        I have this wonderful image of his luggage trying to have a quiet weekend with a fruit basket in a private little hideaway :D

    2. Jen RO*

      Mine is very tame – last week Austrian Airlines sent a smaller plane (instead of 2 rows with 3 seats each, it had one row with 3 seats and one row with 2 seats), so I was stuck on standby. I didn’t even know that could happen! They did find me a seat in the end, but now I’m feeling a bit sorry I didn’t take the 250 euros to leave the next day.

    3. Annie O*

      I posted mine yesterday, so I won’t repost it. But I would be interested in hearing how folks worked towards a resolution with the airline. What worked? What didn’t? Any special tips?

      1. AVP*

        Okay, so I manage a LOT of travel, much of which gets booked last-minute and is on all different airlines. Here are my tips.

        1) Book directly with the airline, not with a discount site. Often the prices are not that different, if you start out by searching on Kayak, and it saves a lot of headaches if you need to change or fix something later. ( is an exception to this rule, they’re pretty good.)

        2) If you have a problem, get someone from the airline on the phone. The people at the ticket counter have less information than the people on the customer service phone lines, as they usually have shitty internet and their computers are not updated as often.

        3) Be NICE to the people you talk to. As the ‘Sins’ discussion pointed out, the people you speak with have a lot of power over how things go for you. If you treat them well, as professionals, you’ll end up in a better situation than if you’re irrationally yelling.

        4) That said, know when to hold and when to fold. Is it a giant emergency if you get stuck for a day, or will it be okay? Proceed accordingly, and make a rational argument to the representative based on that. For example, I’ve said things like, “you know, I really need to have this sorted out right away because we’re an event team producing a $200K event that starts tomorrow so all of that will literally go down the drain if we can’t get there in time.” Or, “You know, this is my honeymoon and we’re going to miss the cruise boat if we can’t fly out some time tonight.” Conversely, if it’s not a big deal, don’t try to make it into one. “I don’t feel like standing here anymore,” is not a great reason for someone to go out of their way to fix you, or bump other people so you ca get on the flight instead of them.

        1. AVP*

          One more thing – being flexible will buy you a lot of patience and good will, and will get you better results. Instead of castigating the people who lost your luggage, if you can suggest a few alternatives, you give them something to work with and react to.

        2. CC*

          Also, what exactly do you need to hold on, and what can you be flexible with? I was once flying to a friend’s wedding, and my second flight (a small plane) ended up cancelled completely. The airline offered a rebooking for the next day at the same time; I told them that with that schedule I’d arrive after my friend’s wedding was over; were there any other options, other than giving up and flying right back home? After a bit of discussion, they offered me a rebooking for that evening but to a different city about 3 hours drive away from my original destination.

          Long late night drive, had to change the rental car booking to a different pickup location, but I got to attend my friend’s wedding, which was the point of the trip.

          1. AVP*

            Totally. Last week I had 12 people flying into LA from 5 different cities on the day that southern California had a major radar outage – disaster! Half of the flights were just cancelled entirely, others were delayed, and delayed, and rebooked, and delayed more.

            So, about 8 of us (including me) were on a layover in Vegas when it all happened. When JetBlue started to talk about getting us hotel rooms, we immediately rented SUV’s and decided to drive. About 4 hours, but the Mojave desert is beautiful. It was actually a great trip.

            Three others were delayed and diverted but eventually made it in that night. That was fine.

            And then one of them was on an airline that just wouldn’t make a decision and eventually moved him to a flight the next day, which would not have worked, schedule-wise. Since he was already at the airport, he was able to walk around to the ticket counters and found that Southwest had a flight that was definitely leaving on time. He just bought a ticket, assuming the company would pay him back, and it worked out perfectly – the original airline gave me a refund (after a phone call a week after the original flight), the new flight was the same price, he arrived on time. And I gave him cash the next morning.

            Lessons learned: you have to ask for refunds, they won’t give them to you automatically, even if they strand you and you don’t take the flight. Ask for your refund AFTER the final leg of the trip, or you might get accidentally bumped off your return trip by the computer system. And fly JetBlue if you can afford to, their customer service is almost always great.

    4. Jubilance*

      The only and only time I’ve ever flown Spirit. This was back in 2005 so still their early days. I had a Friday evening flight; I checked in online and printed my boarding pass at home. Got to the airport, got scanned in, on the flight, yada yada yada. I have never been on a more cramped plane – everything was even more narrow than regular planes, and it was very uncomfortable.

      Fast forward to Sunday, I show up at the airport. They don’t have any kiosks yet so I have to stand in the line and check in, and it takes forever because they have 2 ppl checking in about 40 people and being very slow. I finally get to the front and the agent tells me my reservation was cancelled because I didn’t take the first leg of my flight. Excuse me? How do you think I ended up in this city, did I teleport? I show her my boarding pass from my original flight which was initialed by TSA. She’s just staring at me blankly, then she goes off to get a manager. I’m freaking out cause I’m fresh out of grad school with no money to afford an emergency one way flight back home. She’s gone for a while and I’m also freaking out because security in that airport was a monster and I was in danger of missing my flight. Finally a manager comes out and just hands me a boarding pass and tells me to run for my gate. I run over to security and plead with the man at the first class line to let me in so I don’t miss my flight. He thankfully does, and then I sprint to the tram to get to my concourse…then run through the concourse to my gate. I make it, but I’m hyperventialing from the stress and the run. Luckily someone gave me some water which helped. I get on the flight and sit in the middle seat in the last row and spend the 2 hours vowing to never ever ever give money to Spirit again.

        1. Cody c*

          Ha I used to work for an airline and even in a small airport I could easily tell 100+ stories about everything from flight attendants joining the mile high club to passengers accusing me of losing their family members or ruining their disneyworld surprises.
          And this was the job after flipping off Sammy Hagar!

    5. C Average*

      Some years back, I was in upstate New York pacing a friend in a marathon and was scheduled to fly out shortly after the race on the last flight of the day.

      DURING the race, the airline called to tell me my flight had been canceled and that they could put me on a competitor’s flight, which left before my scheduled flight. I’d need to arrive about an hour before I’d initially planned to arrive. I didn’t get this call because I was running a marathon! I only got the voicemail in the taxi to the airport after we’d finished, and by then it was too late to make the alternative flight.

      So I wound up sleeping on the floor of a small regional airport in upstate New York after running a marathon. I was unshowered, sore, and didn’t have anything packed that was warm enough to sleep in without covers, so I spent a very chilly, uncomfortable night.

      To make up for the inconvenience, the airline put me in first class on the flight the next morning! There I was, grubby and smelly, wearing my marathon finisher shirt that I’d slept in, surrounded by nicely dressed business people in first class.

      Even as it was happening, I found myself thinking, “This will make a good story.”

      1. Turanga Leela*

        SUCH a good story. And that’s a great perspective to keep during a delay.

    6. GigglyPuff*

      For the most part, it was an incompetent travel agent who screwed up. I was going to London for study abroad for a month with a massive program (i.e. multiple subjects being studied, kids from all over being flown there), for one of course despite living in the city of practically the biggest international airport, I had to fly down to Miami to get to London.

      Everything went fine, and we were about to land, when all of the sudden we get diverted to Tampa. Turns out the power was out in the American Airlines section of the airport in Miami. So I call my mom, who let the travel agent know, because there were so many people in the airport I could hear anything. Well the travel agent tells my mom, the airline has no record of me ever being on that flight, and my mom was like “then how did she end up in Tampa?”, seriously I started to wonder how often that happens.

      We ended up getting sent back home, and it just turned ugly! after that, but all of the travel agents’ fault. I understand she was probably stressed, holiday weekend, trying to get a large amount of people to a foreign country and many of the main flights (i.e. the flights from Dallas, New Orleans, Miami), were delayed because of bad weather…but it just got so ridiculous…the travel agent had said let her handle it, so we did, and she scheduled me for a flight the next day flying out of Dallas to London, (yes, I had to got further away first), we left the airport, go home, and about an hour later go to check in, because it’s within the time limits. She had never booked the section of the flight from my airport to Dallas, and by the time she tried there were no flights available, and I’m pretty sure something else happened like she left for the weekend or never returned our calls after that.

      So anyway my mom, who is freaking awesome like this, calls American Airlines, and after spending probably 3-4 hours on two different phone calls and four people, finally gets a manager who books me on a flight leaving my airport straight to London the next day, yay! Go to bed that night thinking all is good, wake up the next morning and go to check in for the late afternoon flight…totally got bumped at 2 a.m., despite the flight not being sold out.

      So we spent another couple hours on the phone with American Airlines, and it turns out British Airways, who they were partnering with, bumped me because the tickets were part of a large group packet, which means they were sold at a cheaper rate, and BA was trying to get last minute higher prices for the seat, which according to the manager at American Airlines, was completely illegal and against their contract with British Airways (awesome!). So after trying every possible combination, they finally find me a flight from my hometown to Chicago to London…catch it was like in totally two hours, decent traffic, holiday weekend, and international airport with massive security lines. At this point rushing to the airport, me and my mom agreed that if I didn’t make the flight, the entire thing was off, it was just completely ridiculous.

      Luckily I got there, I used the side security checkpoint, many people don’t know about, and was all good. And when I got to Chicago, the program leaders in London, which the program had started the day before, told me, they were sending a car to pick me up, which was great, since in the handbook they sent, had said if I didn’t arrive with everyone else I’d have to find my own transportation to the college.

      Overall, next time, even if it is cheaper, if I end up traveling with a group, I would definitely arrange the airline travel myself, and I would never willingly travel American Airlines again.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Oh and because the airline didn’t have a record of me on the initial flight, while I was waiting in Tampa, the travel agent didn’t believe my mom, so she booked me on at least two flights leaving my original airport, while I was still in Tampa and then traveling back to my original airport!

        I think my mom was ready to strangle that woman by the time this was over.

        1. cuppa*

          I wasn’t going to mention the airline, but I decided to now.
          An American Airlines agent once accidentally booked me backwards on a flight (leaving from my destination), and I didn’t notice until I checked in at the airport I was booked to fly to (I ALWAYS double-check now!). The gate agent looked at me like I was crazy and gave me a number to call, and when I finally got a hold of someone and explained my situation, she told me “Well, what do you want me to do about it?”. I was shocked and appalled.
          I was so offended I told her I just wanted my money back, hung up, marched over to United, and immediately got booked on a flight with them. I was standing in the security line and telling my mom the story over the phone, and the guy in front of me turned to me after I hung up and said, “Let me guess, you were trying to fly on American?”

            1. Anonylicious*

              I am so upset about the US Airways/American merger because US Airways always has the cheapest flights to my hometown and I’ve always had good experiences with them, but I hate AA.

              1. Annie O*

                Ugh, I know what you mean. US Airways is the only airline that offers a direct flight from my current city back to my home town. But I hate AA.

        1. Del*

          Haha okay, here’s the story.

          The flight was one of those multi-stop ones, and I was supposed to be getting off at the first stop. But then the pumps used to refuel planes at that airpot were hit by lightning (yep, not joking) so the airline’s response was basically “Ok, we’ll skip Washington DC and go straight on to New York.” Since it was late at night, they wouldn’t be able to put us on a flight down to DC until morning. Adults got put up in a hotel, but apparently the airline didn’t want to take on responsibility for putting me alone in a hotel room. So they had this thing called the “Unaccompanied Minors Room.” We got into JFK airport around midnight, and they shut me in there until the flight at 6am the next morning. By which I mean the door was locked and I had no way to contact anyone if I needed to get out for any reason. Good thing I hadn’t had any liquids in several hours!

          The room had a bunch of metal folding chairs, a crappy dial TV that got one staticky channel full of children’s programming in some language I didn’t recognize, and a basket of toys suitable for the preschool crowd. No bathroom. I was a pretty head-in-the-clouds kid so I just sat and read books until they came for me, and didn’t really realize until a few years later just how appalling the whole thing was.

          Honestly, I still don’t know how they got away with it! I was a pretty head-in-the-clouds kind of kid, so

          1. C Average*

            Wow, what an insane story.

            Total tangent: some time back, This American Life did an episode about the unaccompanied minor room. They described how, during a big blizzard, a whole bunch of children of divorce who were headed to their other parent’s home got stranded in the Denver airport and all had to hang out in the unaccompanied minor room together.

            I actually had to look it up to make sure I didn’t imagine it. It’s Episode 175.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My comprehension must be turned off today… so they locked an underage person in a room with no food, no water, no bathroom, no bed OVER NIGHT?

            I cannot fathom…

          3. Nina*

            That really is crazy,and unacceptable. I never saw the UM room when I worked as a gate agent, but I was told that it had a bed, a TV or some toys and access to a bathroom. It’s scary enough to be away from home in a strange place (or a strange land) but no bathroom would have me going crazy.

    7. Tinker*

      I don’t think I’ve seen any airline employee as sheepish as the flight attendants who had to demonstrate the use of the oxygen mask to the folks on the flight that had been rescheduled because the previous attempt had lost cabin pressure over the Rocky Mountains.

      Got a free mojito for that one. :D

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think I’d be tempted to go all Southwest on that one and say “I know a lot of you already know this, but…”

        1. Tinker*

          That was pretty much what they did — they got through the stuff beforehand, and then they got up to that point and there was this awkward silence…

          … all of us looking at them…

          … then they said something to the effect of “And as you know, but we have to say it, in the event of loss of cabin pressure…”

          I kind of joked about how I wanted my money back — actually ended up getting a voucher for about half the price of the ticket. The “having air” half, I guess.

    8. Turanga Leela*

      I was supposed to fly out of a small airport during a heatwave, and they told the passengers it was so hot that the runway was melting and we couldn’t take off. They put us on a bus and drove us to a larger airport an hour away. I guess it was cooler there.

      1. Traveler*

        a melting runway? that is so traumatizing and how did that even make regulations??

          1. Traveler*

            Scary. I think I remember hearing that before now that I think about it. I must have blocked it out.

        1. fposte*

          A very frequent flying net-friend of mine once boarded a plane where the condensation was so bad that the passengers were all given umbrellas.

    9. Sascha*

      I was flying back from India to Texas, with only one stop in Frankfurt. I have a terrible time getting comfortable on flights or sleeping so I was exhausted from the first leg of India to Frankfurt. We had a layover in Frankfurt for a few hours, so I got a sandwich. And I also got food poisoning. So for the Frankfurt to Texas portion (~8 hours), I was vomiting, and uh, other things, the entire flight. I even vomited during landing and had to use the little bag. I wobbled off the plane and then threw up in a trash can right at the gate in front of everyone waiting for their loved ones.

        1. kbeers0su*

          +1. This might make me never want to fly (or eat in an airport) ever again.

      1. Anonylicious*

        I flew from SC to Seattle with food poisoning once. I threw up once on the carpet in the security line, and then I don’t know how many times in the barf bags. It was miserable.

      2. Windchime*

        This isn’t my story, but my son’s. He was flying from Seattle to Ukraine for a mission trip. His flight leaving Seattle was late, so he missed his connection from London to Kiev on the last flight of the day. The airline instead routed him to Germany, where he would catch a connection to Kiev. They gave him food vouchers for his trouble. Because of the stress of the flight, lack of food and being awake so long, he got a migraine before he landed in Germany. So there he was with terrible visual aura, trying to make a phone call to his contact in Kiev on a German pay phone (he doesn’t read German at all) while he could barely see because of the aura. He knew it would be a mistake because after the aura comes nausea, so by the time he was on the flight to Kiev, he was barfing into a bag as the plane was ascending.

        The migraine was over by the time he arrived in Kiev, but the guy who was picking him up didn’t get the message that my son was on a later flight and had already left. An English-speaking taxi driver kindly loaned Son his cell phone so he was able to call the guy to come back and get him. Oh, and because of all the re-routing, only one of his bags arrived and it was the one containing mostly gifts for his host. So he wore the same clothes for a week.

    10. chewbecca*

      We took a trip from the Midwest to LA in February. We booked non-stop out, but we had to take a layover in Denver on our way back.

      Our flight out incredibly smooth. We landed in LA 45 minutes early, which shocked the crap out of us.

      Our flight back was another story. Fifteen minutes prior to boarding time we find out our plane is still on the runway in Las Vegas. I think our flight ended up being bumped about an hour and a half.

      Luckily they held our plane in Denver, which ended up taking off only a couple minutes late since we had a comfortable layover time. Since the flight had already boarded we ended up having to sit apart, which sucked, but the plane was AMAZING. It felt like were in a spaceship.

      They ended up losing our bags, so we didn’t get them until mid-afternoon the following day. It wasn’t a horrible experience, but I don’t travel much.

      There was one flight to Phoenix I got seated next to a guy who didn’t understand the concept of personal space. I spent the flight trying not to stare at his artificial leg (it was in my line of sight when I looked down) and avoiding stepping on the gum that someone thoughtfully left on the floor.

    11. Annie*

      My worst one is flying from Seattle to my in-laws house over Christmas. We scheduled a red-eye flight through Chicago to South Bend. It takes about 3 hours to drive to my in-laws from Chicago, and 30 minutes from South Bend, so based on that, we figured it would be a little easier getting in and out. I wasn’t able to sleep on the red eye flight, and by the time we got into Chicago, they said our connection to South Bend was delayed, and it would be a 4 hour layover.

      At that point, we could have driven from Chicago, and been in bed before we got on the flight to South Bend. If we could have done that without our flights home being cancelled, I would have driven in a heart beat. Lessons learned, always fly direct, and never do a red eye unless absolutely necessary.

      They also lost our luggage on the way home, didn’t tell us until about an hour after it didn’t show up on the carousel, and then returned it to us at 2 am 3 days later.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        If it ever happens again, take the drive and call the airline to tell them that you will miss that leg of the trip, but you will still be using your flight home. I’ve done it and it has worked out fine. I did it on Southwest once, and they even gave me a voucher for the flight I cancelled.

        1. Annie*

          Yeah, I think if renting a car in Chicago wasn’t so much more expensive than in South Bend, along with a drop fee, we probably should have done that. I’ll keep that in mind for the next time I forget how awful red eye flights with connections are, and end up in the same predicament.

    12. Anonsie*

      I once saw Delta bump one parent and one toddler off an overseas flight but allow the other parent and the other baby & toddler on. They were at the gate around two hours before the flight, same as me, so I can’t imagine how that happened unless it was random selection. The Delta folks couldn’t/wouldn’t pick a different couple to boot, so they had to offer credits to get someone to volunteer their seats. But the next flight was a day later and this was early in the morning, so no one wanted to take it. They ended up having to raise the credit offer to something like $800 per seat before anyone volunteered.

      I would have taken it if I didn’t have an urgent need to get where I was going in the same day– seems like a win-win to give someone the seat they need and get a free plane ticket out of it. Seems like that kind of thing never happens when you actually have a flexible schedule.

    13. rollcake*

      I flew from Japan to Australia on China Southern Air. The flight from Guangzhou to Australia was 9 hours or so, but by hour 5 there was NO paper of any kind in any of the toilets! I’m talking toilet paper, tissues, seat covers, paper towels – everything had been used up by desperate passengers. I went to the flight attendants to ask about replacing the paper and they couldn’t understand me in either English or Japanese (despite using these along with Chinese when making announcements and serving food). Not only did the paper never get replaced, but the toilets themselves began to stink noticeably in the cabin. It was just awful!

      For a good experience, I once got upgraded to the newfangled “Economy plus” section by All Nippon Airways because I had requested an aisle seat in economy and they couldn’t fulfill that request! So instead I got boosted to the slightly wider seats and fancier food section to make up for what I hadn’t even considered a “must have.” So sweet :)

    14. Mints*

      This was our fault, but a couple family members were visiting us from out of the country, and their flight back home was right after midnight on, let’s say, May 12th.

      So May 12th everyone packs their bags, we get to the airport early, snack, have plenty of time, go to check in around 10 or 11. (Did you spot it?) We were 24 hours late! Totally missed the flight!

      It was fine, we were rescheduled for the next evening and nobody really had to be home urgently. But it was so flabbergasting when it happened. Like ten people read the ticket info (all my us, plus the people picking them up after the flight) and nobody noticed. It’s a classic funny story now

    15. C.C.*

      Flying to Australia from the US to see my family for Christmas and introduce my fiancee to everyone. First leg was 2pm on Dec 22nd which would have us arrive early on Christmas Eve.

      We were pretty excited so we arrive at the airport at 11am and head to American Airlines kiosks. Kiosk reports to us that it can’t print our tickets and we need to see an agent. No problem, we line up in a ridiculously long slow line (it is Christmas after all!). Get to the front and the agent says we missed our flight. We had been rebooked on an earlier flight that morning because our flight was over sold.

      Me: “But nobody contacted us?”
      AA Agent: “You should have checked online.”
      Me: “I did. I chose our seats last night”
      AA Agent: “Your travel agent confirmed the changes”
      Me: “We both have different travel agents” (because we booked at different times) “Neither of them contacted us”
      AA Agent: “I’m sorry I can’t help you and we are very busy”

      So we frantically call our (seperate) travel agents. They both have us confirmed on our original flight, including confirmed ticket numbers and everything. Return to the front of the line. “We have confirmed ticket numbers from our agents”

      The agent wouldn’t even look at us let alone respond. We stand there waiting, pleading, crying, yelling, bargaining for more than two hours before someone acknowledges us with more than “we can’t help you” or “not our problem”.

      Finally a manager comes out (15 minutes before the scheduled flight time). Manager: “The flight is over sold. Nothing we can do”. We ask to speak to the manager’s manager. They get them on the phone but won’t let us speak to them.

      Finally almost an hour after the flight was supposed to leave, the original agent comes back, hands us two tickets and says condescendingly to my fiancee “No need to cry honey”.

      To top it off because that first flight was late we missed our connection to Australia and had to get on a later flight to a completely different city in Australia and get another connection (arriving 8 hours later) and they lost our luggage so we didn’t have clean clothes until after Christmas.

      Never again.

      1. C.C.*

        Oh I forgot to mention that two seats they eventually gave us on that first flight were the two I chose online the night before!

    16. Wander*

      The worst airline experience I had was with United. I was flying from Sydney, Australia to LA – a 13ish hour flight. I was in coach, and the coach section of that plane (actually, of all United flights I’ve ever been on) was super cramped. Every seat on the plane was full except two of the four in the row in front of me. The seat directly in front of me was taken by a man who immediately reclined all the way. After he ignored the announcements about seat up, tray up for take off, I asked him if he could please not recline his seat. He complied (snottily) and then immediately lowered it again after we took off. I was exceedingly uncomfortable, but fine, reclining his seat is his right.

      Except remember how I said two of the four seats in front were unoccupied? I don’t know if he bought them beforehand or if it was just a coincidence, but regardless, a couple hours in he switched to the middle seat. He then proceeded to lay down across all three, with his feet on the seat directly in front of me. It was still fully reclined.

      After an hour, when it was clear that he was asleep, I paged for a flight attendant. It took 45 minutes for one to get there. When she did, I asked if she would please raise the seat in front of me, since it was very uncomfortable, and he wasn’t sitting on it. She refused because “his feet might get pinched.” They were on the cushion, well away from the moving part. I pointed that out, and she still declined.

      So I spent a miserable 13 hours unable to cross my legs or lean my head forward, all so some guy could have his foot rest reclined. Towards the end, he woke up and sat in the middle chair, so nothing at all was on the seat in front of me. It remained reclined, and my request to move it forward was again denied. It finally went up when we were landing and the flight attendants were doing the final checks.

      I refuse to ever take United for long trips again and will only use them for short trips if I really don’t have another choice (which has only happened once).

    17. fiat lux*

      My girlfriends are I were visiting NYC. When it came time to leave, we called a cab to go to the airport. Cab gets stuck in horrendous NY traffic, but luckily we get to the airport with just under an hour before our flight is set to leave. We go to the Delta self-check in counter, but as we try to select the option to check our bags, we receive an error message stating we cannot check bags. We get a Delta employee to help us, and come to find out, Delta has a policy at this airport that you can only check bags an hour or more before your flight is scheduled to depart. We are there and ready to go, but are told it’s too late to check our bags. We ask the Delta employee for alternatives – can we send our bags after us on another flight? Is there any way to carry our bags on? Anything? We are offered no alternative. We have to miss our flight and book the soonest available, which was the next day and involved 2 connections. We spend the night at the airport, lulled to sleep by Muzak. UGH.

      1. laura*

        This happened to me in London. Had to go standby to chicago and then on to San Francisco. Blargh!

    18. fiat lux*

      I see a commenter above shared their best, so I’ll share my best, too. I was traveling around the holidays and one of my flights was overbooked. The airline asked for volunteers to be booked on later flights with the incentive of a $500 travel voucher for the airline. I volunteered and they rerouted me in such a way that I only got to my destination a few hours later than I would have originally. And, they bumped me up to first class, where I sat next to another young woman, drank free beer, and made a new friend :-)

    19. Jules*

      American Airlines – Due to ground crew incompetence, I was stuck at LAX for 12 hours because they refuse to let the passanger with connecting flights to go to their boarding gates. He wanted us to pick up bags and fly on. Well, all of our bags (there were a group of us going to Florida) was checked through. I hated all the ground crew I had to deal with. But that is LAX for you.

      Delta – We bought my parents international tickets online on Shouldn’t be a problem right? When connecting with Korean airlines, they asked my parents to pay additional baggage fees. We told them that Delta had said they were eligible for 4 bags but they refused. I called their call center and they refused to help. I called the supervisor and she said that it’s not their problem despite me telling them that we bought tickets though

      I was in tears since my parents were not travelling with a lot of cash. They only had their final destination currency for a cab thereabouts. The supervisor said that she was older then my parents and they would be fine. Like WTF? Let me strand you in a foreign country with no money, no access to credit card and you don’t speak the language you piece of $%#$^#@

      My husband called them back and had it sorted out with the tech guys in no time. A techie himself, he figured it was a system error and dealing with customer service was fruitless.

      Next time I flew international I still went with Delta and they did not pre-order my meals on their partner’s connecting flight. They told me to contact Korea air myself. I did and Korea air told me that they only do what their partner told them. So I’m like @#$%#@#$. On the way back, we had our meals because on the previous flight a really awesome Korean Airlines air stewardess order the meals for us.

      I am going to start flying with other airlines. Delta has gone pretty bad and I can take my money elsewhere. I miss Northwest though. They are amazing with international flights.

      1. Windchime*

        I miss Northwest as well. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I always fly Alaska Air if I can and have never had a bad experience with them.

        1. samaD*

          if I have a choice, I pretty much always pick Alaska. WestJet’s been good too.

  24. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    A fun question for Friday: Hiring managers, do you have any pet peeves?

    I thought of it earlier when I noted that it drives me nuts when candidates write “utilized” instead of “used” in cover letters.

    My bigger one, though, is “apart” versus “a part.” “I’m so excited to be apart of your cause.” It’s a fundamental error…. that sentence now means the exact opposite of what you intended!

    And it’s even worse because at least one person makes that very error in literally every hiring round I’ve ever been a part of.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Because “use” means the same thing and sounds much less awkward/pretentious. I’ve never (in my memory) read a sentence that used the word “utilize” that sounded better than if they’d just used “used.” It’s super buzzword-y.

        Example: “In my previous position, I utilized critical thinking skills to solve problems.” “I utilized our database to write queries,” etc.

        Actually, all those sentences sound pretty bad anyway. But they still sound better with “use.”

        1. Joey*

          Maybe it’s just me but when I hear utilized depending on how it’s used I might interpret it as to take advantage of . That might indicate resourcefulness (or not). Use doesn’t convey that.

      2. Annie O*

        In many usages, “utilize” is just unnecessary pretentious. Like in marketing materials. If “use” has the same meaning, use it!

        In rare cases, “utilize” can have special definitions that are not wholly synonymous with “use.” As an example, “I was unable to use the new computer program for my analysis.” Versus, “I was unable to utilize the new computer program for my analysis.” The meaning changes, depending on which word is used. The first indicates that I didn’t have access or knowledge to use the program; the second indicates that it wasn’t effective/productive for the analysis.

          1. Annie O*


            Another good usage for utilize is when you’re talking about converting something for another purpose. As in, “I couldn’t find a screwdriver, but was able to utilize that butter knife.” Sure, you could still say “use” here, but utilize is technically more correct.

            1. Vancouver Reader*

              That’s the definition I was told, that you use utilize if the object you’re using isn’t being used for its original intent. So like your example, it’s perfectly fine to say you utilized the butter knife as a screwdriver, but you wouldn’t utilize a screwdriver to screw a screw.

      3. S*

        This is one of my pet peeves too actually, even though I’m not in a hiring capacity (although I do occasionally help with initial resume screenings). It just comes across as very pretentious – it means the exact same thing as “use,” but sounds more technical. In business writing, that’s a huge negative, because the entire point is to convey concepts concisely and clearly, and substituting “utilize” for “use” undermines both of those goals.

        Also, I’m sure this is industry-dependent, but I think a lot of hiring managers look for fairly casual/friendly/personal cover letters, and using technical-sounding language can come across as a bit uptight or awkwardly formal.

      4. Ash (the other one!)*

        I guess I press on people’s pet peeve’s then, but I like the word “utilize” more than “use”

      5. MJ*

        Agree! It may be more formal than “use” but I would not call it pretentious. The English language is vast; we should utilize it fully!

        1. LAI*

          Actually, I think the point is that utilize and use do NOT mean exactly the same thing, and most people are using it incorrectly (see, if I had said “utilizing it incorrectly” there, that would be weird and wrong, right?). The word utilize has an implication about efficiency or effectiveness. See Annie O’s post above about when “utilize” might be more appropriate than “use”.

    1. Vera*

      I work in a technical field, so if people make these types of errors I usually let it go. But it does really bother me if the candidate shows up to the interview and embodies every stereotype of people in my field.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I think it’s moreso that it CAN be correct either way, depending on context, so spellcheck and autocorrect can’t really catch it. Though autocorrects are becoming smarter… I’ve certainly had mine catch the wrong “they’re/their/there” once or twice. Which is pretty cool.

        1. LV*

          My phone autocorrect catches me when I misspell a keyboard shortcut, which is cool to me. I have it set so that I type “idk” and it turns it into “I don’t know” – but it does it even when I accidentally type “isk” instead.

    2. cuppa*

      My pet peeve is when people don’t double check the position and write the wrong place, position, location, etc. in their cover letter.
      Also, my institution uses an online application system that asks you to attach or cut and paste a resume. At least once for every position I have hired for, someone has simply written, “I don’t have one.” in the resume box.

    3. Marcy*

      My pet peeve is when the applicant doesn’t bother filling out the application. I get that it is annoying to repeat everything when you are submitting a resume with the application, but it is required by HR. I hire for lower-level positions and the application asks for number of hours per week for each job, which HR needs to determine if the applicant meets the experience requirement. I get a lot of partially filled out applications but I use those to weed people out because if it is too much trouble to fill out the application then they won’t like entering data in the database on the job.

    4. Windchime*

      I’m not a hiring manager, but I see this one all the time and I’m not sure how/where it originated: People using “of” instead of “have”. Example: “I wish I would of said something”. I’m guessing that they are spelling “would’ve” phonetically. It bugs me because “would of” makes no sense if you think about it.

  25. ryn*

    Say you’ve been told you’ll be getting a raise. How long does it usually take for you to actually receive it? Just, ya know, wondering.

      1. ryn*

        Awesome. Awesome. I didn’t get it last pay check, and from what I’m understanding, I’m not getting this coming one, either. :/

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Ideally, they would tell you when it was effective when they tell you about it. If not, that’s the time to ask. But it’s fine to ask now, especially since you can say that you were expecting it on your last check.

    1. Sascha*

      Depends on how it was worded. In my experience, when my boss says “You’ll be getting a raise,” that means he has the intention of securing a raise for me but because of all the bureaucracy and politics at my workplace, it could be 3 months – 2 years. If he says “You got a raise,” then it was finally approved and I can expect it in my next paycheck.

      P.S. I work for a state university so everything moves as slow as molasses.

    2. rollcake*

      If possible, see if you can get a time frame to expect it taking effect. One of my friends was told: you’re getting a raise and it should be on your next paycheck. When it wasn’t in either of the next two pay cycles, she was given back pay for them when the raise was finally applied to her paycheck.

    3. Joey*

      Depends. Annual raises might become effective at some future trigger date like The start of your fiscal year. Regular ol off the cuff raises probably a paycheck or two depending on how your payroll runs and when the raise is data entered. I’d ask

  26. Loux*

    I have reached a bitch eating crackers level eith my boss and now that I was involved in a car accident is worse. He couldn’t even wish me well, just if I would be at the office the next day.

      1. Del*

        It’s a someecard graphic/general internet saying. As I recall, it goes something like, “When you dislike someone enough, every single thing they do annoys you. Look at that bitch eating crackers like she owns the place.”

      2. A Non*

        It’s that stage where you dislike someone so much that everything they do bothers you, even if it’s totally innocuous things. For example: “Look at that bitch over there eating crackers like she owns the place.” Not sure how/when it became a slang expression, but there it is.

  27. AdminAnon*

    I have been trying to connect with the assistant of one of our high-level Board members for over a month to get some information that I need for an upcoming event. I have tried emailing and calling, but she has not returned any of my messages. She has responded to several of the emails, but never with the information I need or even an acknowledgment of the request. We have worked well together in the past, so I’m not sure what the issue is this time around. My question is: would it be appropriate to email her (again) and copy her boss and/or my boss? This is a very important event and the information I need from her is vital to its success. Our bosses are in charge of the event (translation: I’m in charge of it), so it would be in everyone’s best interest. However, I don’t want to overstep or make it seem like I am trying to make her look bad. My boss knows what’s going on, if that helps.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      If you are in the same building, I would stop by the assistant’s desk and ask about it. The situation may be to complicated to type up, or something may have come up that they don’t want a paper trail… “I asked Mr. Smith 5 times for this information but he won’t answer me!”

      1. AdminAnon*

        Unfortunately, we’re not even in the same state or I would’ve done that ages ago.

    2. Jennifer*

      Call one more time saying YourBoss and I really need this info to make the event a success for YourBoss and HerBoss. If that doesn’t work, email and copy your boss. If that doesn’t work, email again and copy your boss and her boss. Be kind but direct. That way no one can say you didn’t explore “every diplomatic option”.

        1. Chriama*

          I definitely agree that you should reach out to her by phone or email and “name drop” your bosses, but I would ask your boss before cc’ing anyone. You don’t want to step into a political etiquette war zone.
          Tell your boss you can’t seem to get this information and you were wondering if it’s appropriate to ask and cc her boss, or if there’s a more sensitive way to go about it.

  28. Tiffany*

    I’m young in my career (under 30) and recently expressed interest to my boss about someday moving up in my company, and that I’d like to move into another role in my company in 2-3 years. Later that day my boss and my boss’s boss sat me down and told me there was an opportunity within the department they’d like me to take- a promotion, actually.

    After the surprise of it all, I came up with multiple reasons why I’m not interested in this role. I’m not sure I’d get along with newboss, or new co-workers. It’s not far enough of a departure from what I’m doing now – I was hoping to someday work in a completely different department. Co-worker that’s currently in the role is being forced out of this one and into a new role, and I think he might be put-off by me taking this role. Finally, I feel a little odd taking this role since my degree is in a totally different field (I’m trying to come up with a good comarison but nothing is coming to mind).

    Well, everyone I’ve spoken to about this says that no matter how uncomfortable I am with the idea of this position, I have to take it. They think that my management would balk at me turning it down and would be weary of giving me opportunities in the future. I think they are right but I’m feeling a little trapped that I can’t say no. Thoughts? Advice?

    1. LMW*

      I would consider having a conversation with the managers and frame it with your long-term goals. Can you say to them that you appreciate their response to your conversation, but you really want to build your career in X area and Y job seems doesn’t seem like it will help you move in that direction?

    2. Chriama*

      I can see 3 different concerns here:
      1) Relationship/politics (what if you don’t get along with new coworkers? what if previous employee resents you?)
      2) Long-term alignment (this might take you off the track for your long term goals
      3) Competency (you don’t have a degree in this new role)

      You should definitely talk to your boss, but the level of candor really depends on your relationship with him.

      Reason #2 is a totally valid concern and should definitely be mentioned. I like LMW’s suggestion of framing it in terms of long-term goals. You really appreciate the opportunity and are definitely looking for room to grow, but this is your long-term goal and you’re worried that this position won’t put you on the right track.
      Reason #3 may or not be worth mentioning. They offered you this role so they think you can do it. Not all degrees have a corresponding job type (unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc), so your academic background may be irrelevant. If you think the lack of background will affect your ability to do the job, it’s ok to ask your boss what it would take for you to be successful in that new role and figure out if that aligns with your skills.

      Reason #1 is only worth mentioning if your boss is politically sensitive. You can mention that you feel weird about the cultural dynamic you’d be walking into in that new role. Can they give you advice on how to handle it?

      This advice is moot if your organization is the kind where you either take the promotion or start polishing up your resume. If you think there’s a significant risk to questioning or refusing this promotion, you’ll have to decide whether the potential discomfort in your new role is worth being pushed out of the organization. I only mention this because you said it seems like the previous employee was also forced into his new role. You know how your organization works.

      1. Tiffany*

        Thanks so much for breaking it down into smaller chunks. This is very helpful and clarifies the issues at hand.

        Reason #2 – Maybe the issue I’m having with it is that it’s not the path I identified for myself, and so it makes me a little uneasy.
        Reason #3 – I’m an engineer and they want me in a marketing role. I just feel like it doesn’t get more polar opposite than that, although many people say that I’m a natural with marketing.

        I’ve already talked with my boss a few times about all three issues but they haven’t given me much guidance on how to navigate. I get a lot of empathy that this role change might be difficult for the reasons stated, but that I’ll get through it.

        I haven’t seen a situation at my company like this. I’ve definitely seen what’s happened if people aren’t successful in roles. I’m kind of thinking that I have to take it (if offered) and if it doesn’t work out, jump ship and join a new organization.

        1. Chriama*

          I think you should break down the issues for yourself, and decide what sort of answers you want to hear. For #2, if it really isn’t in your career path and will totally derail you, explain that to your boss and ask to be kept in mind for roles with a focus on x instead of y.

          However, you sound more like you’re open to the idea but are worried about succeeding. Your boss keeps saying you’ll be fine, but you’re worried that you might not have the right skills. This requires that you talk to the manager in your new role and establish expectations and priorities early on. You could ask your boss now. Say something like “Before I commit to taking this position, could I meet with manager Jane and discuss her expectations for this role? I want to make sure that I have the skills she needs and that I understand what she’s looking for in the role. I would also feel reassured to hear what strengths she’s identified in me that would benefit her if I took this position.”

    3. Diane*

      It’s possible your bosses see this role as a stepping stone to the path you actually want to take. It may not be significantly different from what you’re doing now, but there may be small projects and opportunities that lead to something bigger.

      It’s also perfectly natural to come up with a dozen reasons you don’t want to do something now that you just said you wanted to do some day. Unless you see screaming red flags, though, really consider taking this opportunity, and let your bosses know what kinds of specific skills you want to develop so they can lead you to more opportunities.

      1. Tiffany*

        Thank you for this very helpful and supportive advice. I think their intention was to give me something to grow in and to provide me with even greater visibility than I have already.

        I feel like I’m living the book Lean In, and if I don’t take this position then I’m doing some sort of disservice to all women everywhere!!

        1. Kate in Scotland*

          Late to the party here, and maybe I’m reaching but do you feel like they think you are ‘a natural at marketing’ because you are female? I certainly have seen places where they seem to like to shunt the female engineers into non-engineering roles, which can be limiting long-term even if it’s a promotion in the short term. (I apologise if your aim is a non-engineering role or you don’t think your gender is coming into play here.)

          1. Tiffany*

            Kate, thanks. You might be right. I know that marketing is far more than what most people think it is, and what I tend to be good at is making things look nice and pretty. Also in my industry, we have several very different customer bases, and I know how to tailor things specific to each one.

            I’m currently not in a full-on engineering role (design), and I don’t ever plan to be in one in the future. I’m really liking the roles that require engineering knowledge or training, but you’re not necessarily applying that every day. Not sure if that make sense. I’m really happy in my current role so I haven’t really been thinking through my 5-10 year plan.

  29. Chriama*

    Question: I’m about to graduate school and move halfway across the country. I made some semi-professional relationships here that I would like to maintain (professors and company contacts I worked with as a student club exec), but I don’t know how to do that.

    I’m moving back home but I don’t plan to stay there forever. In 2, 5 or 10 years these people may be valuable contacts. But they’re across the country in a city I’ll have no reason to visit once I’ve finished school.

    How do you keep in touch with people when you may never see them again?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Make sure you’ve connected on LinkedIn. Also send periodic emails reaching out for advice.

      1. Chriama*

        How do you word one of those emails? As professors they’re all heavily involved in research and I’m going to be working in a company so there isn’t a whole lot of career advice they can give me.

        Also, how often is “periodic”? Every 3 months? Once a year? Does it make sense t0 be more frequent in the beginning and then taper off as time goes by?

        1. Ash (the other one!)*

          I reach out to my old profs from time to time to let them know of something that has happened and to thank them for their contribution in it. Really, only email them if you have a specific reason to, but always bring it back to them. I wouldn’t put a set time frame on those emails either.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I send emails letting them know what I’m up to: I just finished a big case about X, I just moved to a new city, etc. For the ones I know well, I add personal stuff as well. It always feels funny to me that they would want to hear these things, but they seem to appreciate it. I also send congratulatory notes if I hear about papers they’ve published or anything like that.

          I aim for every few months. This is something I’m working hard to get better at.

          1. Chriama*

            How do you hear about papers they’ve published?

            This situation is just weird because I don’t think there’s anything specific that they did that contributed to my career. I liked their classes, but that isn’t what I’m going to be working in; I just like them as people and want to keep in touch.
            But since our relationship in school wasn’t that close, it would be weird for me to start emailing them so often asking about their kids or whatever. On the other hand, I feel like it would be disingenuous for me to ask how their research is going when I’m not working on that subject.

            If I had a reason to go back to that city I would obviously email them and ask to meet up for coffee or something, but other than that I just don’t want them to forget about me. A little selfish, I guess

            Is there an art to maintaining a casual acquaintanceship with someone long-distance?

            1. Turanga Leela*

              If you’re feeling like it’s selfish, remember that professors want to know they’ve had a positive impact, and they benefit from having students who are out in the world doing interesting things. Many of them like being able to tell current students what alumni are up to. At its most basic, think of it like an e-blast: you just want to check in and let them know that you’re still at X job, you really like it, you finished off a big project about Y, and you hope all is well with them. Personalize slightly for different professors. If you have questions they can actually help you with, include them.

              I usually find out about publications through alumni magazines, but once I saw a professor’s book cited on a blog I read. I thought that was cool, and I told him so.

              1. Chriama*

                The alumni magazines are a good idea, thanks. Your description makes sense. Checking in and letting them know what I’m working on at the moment and wishing them well is a good idea.

                Thank you!

  30. Ash (the other one!)*

    Question for Feds (calling Katie the Fed!)

    I made it through the USAJobs vortex and have an interview next week for a federal career position. I’ve heard that decisions are usually made really quickly after interviews at the federal level since you’ve already been culled to the cert list. True?

    Also any specific advice pertaining to federal interviews?

    1. Mimmy*

      No advice, just wanted to say congrats on getting through that “vortex” and getting an interview. Good luck!!

    2. De Minimis*

      Another federal employee here…

      Unfortunately it’s hard to really give a useful answer, different agencies have different practices, and even within an agency things can different between location and depending on the type of position.

      It’s been my experience that if it’s a single position at a single location, things can move a little more quickly than a case where it’s a wider level hiring for multiple positions at multiple locations, like when the IRS does a mass hiring for entry level revenue agents. For my position I got a phone call with a tentative offer the day after my interview. Part of that might also be that my position was a brand new one and I wasn’t replacing anyone, so there might have been less involved in filling it.

      I’ve had a number of federal interviews…some have been structured where they give you pre-selected scenarios where you have to say what you would do in certain situations, and others were more similar to private sector interviews. There have been others where they would just go over your resume and ask for more detail.

      I will say also that a lot of the bureaucratic slowdowns occur prior to the interview stage [often even prior to the job being posted] so you’re right that things can move fast once interviewing begins…although again, not so much in cases where a lot of offices are filling positions at once.

      Have you gone to Federal Soup? Sometimes you can find pointers there if it’s an agency where there are a lot of commenters, although trolling is also an issue on that site.

    3. JC*

      I’m a former fed and my husband is a fed. Timelines and interview experiences can vary a lot by agency. In my old agency we did need to have interviews and make decisions relatively quickly after we got the cert, because it would expire if we didn’t. By “relatively quickly” I mean “quickly for the government.” I think the last time we hired in my old office the job ad closed in June, we got the cert in August and immediately started scheduling interviews, and let people that we hired know they were hired in early September. We needed people to pass a background investigation before they started (for no good reason, it wasn’t a security clearance or anything), so it took a couple months before they could start.

      So generally things in the government can go verrrrry slowly, but sometimes hiring needs to go quickly if you’ll lose the ability to make your hire if you didn’t go quickly enough.

      As for interviewing experiences, that definitely varies. I see people on AAM talk about hiring by committee and people being read questions off of a pre-approved list. That was not my nor my husband’s experience for our federal jobs. I think we both had a half-day interview with a handful of management types and current staff. We both weren’t local, and they paid his travel expenses for his interview but my agency did not for mine.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      It’s really going to depend on the agency. It’s true that we might make a decision quickly, but then you have to go through the magical mystery machine that is HR. And with funding issues right now at a lot of places we put hiring on hold so there are people stuck perpetually in the hiring process until billets open up.

      So…it might be a crapshoot. The managers may decide that day that they want you but it has to be cleared by HR and legal and god knows what else.

      My advice on the interview – make sure you answer the question. It sounds basic but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t actually answer the questions we ask. You can bring a pen and paper and take notes if you need to – if it’s a two part question make sure you answer both parts. The interview process is very regimented and we fill out paperwork after them explaining how we reached our decision. So it could come down to something like “answered question 3 more thoroughly.” So just make sure you answer all questions so they can put it all on the paperwork.

      Definitely show enthusiasm for the job. I always ask some variation of “why do you want this job” and you’d be amazed at how many people seem stumped by that. Have a good answer on that.

      Also, some general advice a friend gave me one here – have some vignettes on hand about how you’ve dealt with various situations so you can easily draw from them. A time when you’ve dealt with a difficult situation, things like that.

      Good luck and congrats for making it this far! You’re probably one of less than 10 culled from several hundred, so that’s something to be very proud of!

      1. De Minimis*

        See with ours there won’t even be a job posted unless the funding is already there, although most of the time we are replacing people who leave so it would rarely be an issue anyway.

        I used to think government jobs had low turnover till I started here!

    5. Ash (the other one!)*

      Thanks all — super helpful! I’m surprised I actually got the interview (it’s for a GS-14) but the job sounds amazing and right in line with my interests and experience, so I’ll give it my all and see where things end up. The job listing only closed one month ago (4/6) so it does seem like they’re moving quickly (for Fed at least).

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Nice! Keep in mind with a GS-14 you’re probably competing against a lot of internal candidates, because the number of available 14 slots is WAY lower than 13s, so all the 13s are going to be clamoring for it.

    6. Anonylicious*

      I’m trying to remember how long it took from interview to offer last time I went for a fed job (that I wound up not taking). This was a couple of years ago, and it might vary by agency (this particular job was with DHS), but I think it was like two or three weeks from interview to offer? Maybe a month at most. Which is pretty quickly when you’re talking about a fed job.

      Congratulations and good luck!

    7. College Career Counselor*

      Can’t speak to all federal positions, but at least some federal FINALIST interviews are conducted entirely over the phone (< 30 mins) with an offer made 2 days later after that. The candidate asked about meeting people and was told something like "no, that's not how we do this." The candidate (who was already in a federal agency and thought this was beyond bizarre) then declined because she wanted to, you know, meet the people she would be working with. Major red flag there!

      1. De Minimis*

        Maybe, maybe not. I’ve had a few other federal interviews and never met anyone other than people who might have been my manager or perhaps my manager’s manager.

        A lot of agencies are big on security and as a non-employee they want your time in non-public areas to be severely limited, especially in cases where they deal with confidential information.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I hear you. However, this was not a security situation, and the candidate didn’t meet ANYbody, not even the person who would be the supervisor.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I got a phone call within a week of my interview telling me on the down low that I got the job. HR contacted me a month and a half to two months later with the offer. So depending on the job and when the interviews are scheduled I think they make a decision fairly quickly, but HR moves slowly.

  31. Mimmy*

    It’s amazing how this thread explodes to 100+ comments in just the first 15-20 minutes. lol.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share some of my recent successes since I’ve been mentioning them so late on Open Thread days.

    1. I was appointed to state-level council directly related to my areas of interest. I am so, so excited and am greatly looking forward to the trainings (they’re aiming for something in July) and the work. Really, really hoping this will help get my career back on track as I haven’t had a paid job in several years (I know, I know…..)

    2. I am in the final stages of submitting my application to the graduate certificate (masters level) program I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I submitted the actual application online; now I’m looking over a colleague’s Letter of Recommendation, which she will then submit hopefully in the next couple of business days.

    Please please keep your fingers crossed for me that things are finally starting to come together for me! I’m still not ruling out the PhD (I wrote about that under my old username)–I just have some lingering qualms about it that I need to work through.

    1. fposte*

      Definitely crossing my fingers for you, and many congrats on the council appointment!

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        It’s always great to hear success stories. Congratulations and keep us informed on how things go.

  32. KTM*

    My husband’s last day at his job was yesterday and he will be starting an exciting new position next month! I sent him a lot of AAM articles over the course of his job search/interviewing and used a lot advice that I’ve read here, so a huge thank you to Alison and the AAM community!

  33. Malissa*

    What would you do?

    I’m up for a professional certification. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and finally got all of my paperwork together. I submitted everything in March for review with the state board. They found one mistake, that wasn’t under my control, sealed letters and all that jazz. I got it fixed and my app got delayed until April. Review day came in April another mistake was found. I was urged to fix it as soon as possible so as not to delay my certification further. Got it fixed according to instructions in 2 hours.
    Fast forward a week and I find out that the hurry wasn’t justified and now certification isn’t likely to happen for another month. The person that urged me to hurry is also the person that should have caught the second mistake when they caught the first one. And also the person I had to pull the information out of to find out my certification has been delayed another month.
    Would you write her supervisor so this doesn’t happen to other people? She did not say at any point that she was sorry for anything.

    1. Jamie*

      I wouldn’t write one word until you got your certification.

      In an ideal world sure, people can try to correct problems by informing those in the position to do so but certification can be so politically…complicated…I’d be as cooperative and accommodating as possible until you get it. Then try to figure out based on other dealings with them if it would be to your advantage or not.

      1. Malissa*

        I will not do anything until that certification is in hand! that is for darn sure.

    2. Vera*

      I don’t know. When I review stuff at my company, I try to catch everything in the first pass, but inevitably on second pass I do catch a few more things.

      Now, when other people review my work, and have seen the piece 6 or 7 times and choose to comment on the final draft something that’s been present in all 6 previous drafts, that does drive me up the wall and indicates the person wasn’t even really looking before.

      In this case, it sounds like the former, so I’d cut her a break. I know it’s frustrating, though.

  34. CLM*

    Anyone have that one company that they just keep applying to, and can’t get any traction with, at all? For me, it’s fairly decently sized research university near my house. Every once in a while, they’ll post jobs in my field (editorial/communications, staff, not faculty), and I will tailor my cover letter and tweak my resume and apply.

    Even back when I wasn’t looking for a job in earnest, if I saw a job at this place, I would still apply. And I’ve never gotten so much as a phone interview with this place. Just form rejection after form rejection.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Do you know anyone who works there? Try building your network out so you have some support from within.

    2. Annie O*

      Public universities in my state are required to post all positions externally. (I can’t remember if this is a state law or just a policy of the university system.) An unfortunate consequence is external job postings when an internal candidate has already been selected.

      1. Sascha*

        Yep, I work at a public university and even promotions have to be posted externally for something like 5 days. I think it’s ridiculous. So you will see jobs with extremely specific descriptions pop up from time to time, stay open for a few days, and then close. I feel bad for people who apply to those jobs.

    3. Chriama*

      At this point you should be networking. You’ve gained absolutely no contact going through normal channels, so you need to start building some personal relationships. Obviously networking is a long-term strategy that doesn’t help if you need a job today, so unless you’re really dedicated to this organization I’d say widen your job search.

      2 possible strategies (I don’t know if they’re a good idea, someone with more hiring experience will need to weigh in on it):
      1) If you know the name of a hiring manager who received more than 1 of your applications, email them and ask if they have any feedback for you.
      2) If you know anyone who works at the university, ask them for an informational interview or to review your resume. Be careful not to treat it like a shortcut to an interview — make sure it stays at the level of “I’ve applied here in the past and never had an interview, so I was wondering if there’s something fundamental missing from my application that you can spot”.

  35. mango284*

    This is going to sound really stupid…

    So I mentioned last week that I accepted a really great job offer! I’m beyond excited and I start on Monday. The only problem is… I don’t remember how to get to my department’s area in the (very large) office. This is especially bad because I was there on three separate occasions for interviews. During those times, however, I would wait at the receptionist’s desk until someone came to walk me down to where the offices are located for the interviews. I was always so nervous and hyper-focused on the interview that I never paid much attention to all the turns we made in order to get from the lobby area to this particular department’s offices. But I did this THREE TIMES!! You would think that would have been enough times to pick it up… I mean, the office is big with lots of hallways and turns but still…

    My plan now is to just walk right in on Monday as if I know where I’m going and hope I’m able to find my way to my office… I think it should be okay unless I happen to walk past someone I know (from one of the interviews) and they say, “Hi _____! Where are you going? Your office is in the other direction…”

    I feel like SUCH an idiot… like the lost new kid in school except I’m an adult and should know these things. :(

    1. Jen RO*

      I would wait at the reception, honestly. I have been at my current job for 6 months and I found out *yesterday* where the downstairs kitchen is. Before this, I was too embarrassed to go look for it. I completely understand how you’re feeling!

    2. LMW*

      Every job I’ve ever started has had me stop at reception to check in with HR, fill out paperwork, get any IDs etc. Are you sure you don’t need to do any of that?
      Even if you don’t, you could still check in with reception ask if you need to do anything or if you could go right on up and ask the receptionist to direct you (receptionists are the best people to build relationships with anyway — they usually know everyone!)

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Receptionists are the best. The ones at my office have all the good coffee and biscuits, the keys to the stationary cupboard and no end of other useful things.

    3. Vera*

      When you get there on your first day, just tell the receptionist, “Hi, I’m ____, it’s my first day working here. I’m working with _____, do you think you could see if he or someone in his group is available to show me to my desk?”

      I mean surely, you’re not coming in on day 1, logging into e-mail, and going. Someone has to show you something on your first day!

    4. Traveler*

      Just ask the receptionist or someone for help. People should be understanding about this in a big office with lots of twists and turns. I know three times seems like a lot – but if you’re focused on other things (like your interview!!) its really not. I’ve been there though – you have my sympathy.

    5. Pip*

      You could also lurk around near the entrance until you see someone you recognise from that department and follow that person. ;)

      But seriously, just ask the receptionist for directions. You are going to have to swallow your newbie shame a lot in the coming weeks, so get used to it ASAP! And congratulations on the new job!

    6. Judy*

      Most times I’ve started a new job (all engineering in F500 companies), I’ve been given an assigned time to show up for the first day. If usual start time is 7:30, the assigned time was 8 or 8:30. The first morning was with HR signing papers, getting ID and signing up for benefits. At some time in late morning, either HR would take me to work area, or the manager was called to take me to work area.

      Most places you can’t get past the receptionist or security guard without company ID.

    7. Celeste*

      Like the others said, they’ll want you in a holding pen until HR is done with you (can take hours!) and your supervisor is ready to come get you and show you where to sit, etc.


    8. Anonylicious*

      I’ve been at my job for four months, and twice this week I’ve turned the wrong way leaving the restrooms to head back towards my desk. It’s not a large office.

      Don’t feel bad about asking the receptionist. It’s so much less awkward to do that than to try to find your way yourself and wind up massively lost.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Just to make you feel better: I worked in a much smaller place. It was a weird building. If you drew the hallways on paper, the hallways would look like the capital letter “I”. It was one floor. Everything was labeled.

      People got lost all. the. time. Visiting people, new workers, contractors, you name it- they all got lost. We were all used to finding lost people on our way to the restroom- it was never a big deal. Just find out where the person needed to be and walk them there. (This was doable because the building was not big, just confusing.)
      I am sure your NewJob has a similar culture in place and people are very used to seeing a person looking confused in the hall.

    10. Apollo Warbucks*

      I wouldn’t worry about it you can always ask for directions and a tour of the office people won’t be expecting you to know where everything is on your first day

  36. LV*

    I’m slightly upset/annoyed. A few weeks ago I had a great interview for a position that I really wanted and did not get an offer. Through the magic of LinkedIn I learned that it went to an acquaintance of mine. She’s a recent grad (as in, she finished her coursework just days before the job started) and her only experience in the field is a 10 hours/week 8-month internship. I had done the same internship previously and also have 2 years of full-time work experience in that field. (The job description called for 2-3 years of experience.)

    I know that she is an intelligent and capable young woman and that there are other reasons she was chosen which I’m not aware of. And I certainly don’t want to get all bitter and petty and jealous over this – especially since I ended up getting an offer from another org shortly after. I’m just a bit miffed because I fit the job description better and I wish I knew what the hiring committee based their decision on.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      You never know what the other factors are — she has better connections, she was more personable in her interview, they could pay her less… time to just move on and keep looking.

    2. IndieGir*

      Ohh, that sucks. I’m so sorry this happened to you. You’ll never know what they were thinking — maybe she had an in somewhere, or maybe the hiring manager felt threatened by you for some reason.

      I recommend the immediate application of chocolate and a big glass of wine.

    3. Jen RO*

      It was probably a matter of money – she is less experienced and asked for a lower salary.

    4. LMW*

      There have been a few times where I’ve seen a company choose a less experienced candidate because they think it’s better to start with someone with less experience who might stick around a bit longer, rather than someone with a bit more experience who might want to move up and out of the position in a year or so.
      Actually, I’ve seen this happen repeatedly with marketing coordinator positions — they say they want someone with 2-3 years experience, but all the people with experience actually seem ready/able to take a position at the next level. So they hire a new grad with just an internship because they think she has great potential and will be a contributing team member for longer.

      1. LV*

        Sticking-around-ness was not a factor in this case because it’s a temporary position to replace someone who was going on maternity leave (1 year). The pickings are slim in my field at the moment, unfortunately – it’s mostly short-term contracts like this one.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          OOOHHH. My guess would be they felt you had more experience and would probably leave before the year was up.

          I got a job over another more qualified person because the boss was betting I would stay at the job longer than the other person.
          Boss felt that the other person would leave at the first offer.

          In your case, it could be a backwards compliment.

    5. Chriama*

      It just shows you never know from the outside whether you’re the best candidate. Possible reasons she was picked over you from off the top of my head
      – she interviewed better/ was more personable/ built a good rapport with a key decision-maker
      – she had lower salary expectations
      – she had some unrelated skill that they didn’t think about when posting the position but realized they wanted when they heard she had it
      – she knew someone who pushed her application in front of the right people
      – she knew someone who forced them to hire her
      – her promotion track happens to align well with current employees (e.g. she’ll stay in the role for 3 years before wanting to move up and someone higher up has mentioned wanting to move on in 3 years, meaning there will be room for her to advance while staying in the same company
      – she’s junior, so they’ll be able to keep her longer

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I want to echo the thing about skills they didn’t realize they wanted. We’ve been hiring recently, and one candidate jumped out at us for having experience that would be really helpful but that we hadn’t even thought about when we wrote the job posting. His background made us think that he could serve a slightly different role than we had anticipated. It wasn’t a knock on any of the other candidates, and it wasn’t something anyone could have predicted or seen from the outside.

    6. College Career Counselor*

      I just participated in a round of candidate interviews as the 3rd/outside person in the interview process. In 3 out of 4 of the candidate interviews, I had the polar opposite reaction to the other interviewers. What I found to be vague platitudes, they found to be markers of enthusiasm and passion. In one case, they rejected the candidate with previous formal training and experience doing the job because they thought him to be inflexible. (He happened to be the candidate who answered the questions with concrete examples.)

      I’m not the person who has to work with the successful candidate, and the other two know the organization well, so I’m certain their take on who typically is successful has merit. All of which is to say that sometimes it’s more about [perception of] “fit” than experience. You never know what a search committee or hiring manager is going to seize on as being important.

      1. LAI*

        This happened to me too! I was asked to serve on the hiring committee for a position in another department, and I (and one other person) had opposite reactions to the rest of the team. But I knew I wasn’t going to be working with the person on a daily basis so I didn’t feel like I could argue for my opinion very strongly. They ended up hiring the candidate who I thought was awkward and had the least relevant experience…

  37. Elkay*

    I was posting a few weeks ago about going for a new job. I decided in the end the job wasn’t right for me as there were a few red flags and I felt that within 6 months I’d turn into a miserable she-devil. Anyway, as part of that I “networked” with someone who used to contract at my old job who dealt with the company, this was a big, scary step for me because I get quite anxious when interacting with people. The upshot is I ended up with a “Actually you’d be great for my current company, let me know if you’re interested”. I’m currently not interested but it’s always nice to hear nice things about yourself. It’s all thanks to reading AAM too.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That’s cool. Good for you- it’s a real boost to hear those kinds of things.

  38. De Minimis*

    A job came open with another agency and I’m about to apply….it has promotion potential [my current one does not] and will be located in the same city where I live. It also seems like a better use of some of my experience and background [it’s an auditor position, and although I’ve never worked as an auditor it will be a better way to use my CPA license than my current position, which is more of a glorified bookkeeper and doesn’t really involve a lot of professional judgment.]

    People here will not take it well if I get the position, but I have to do what’s best for me. The commute for my current job is really wearing me down, and I really need to find something that at least has the potential for a higher pay grade in the future for the sake of my retirement.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Do it. In the end your current agency will survive without you and you have to do what’s right for you. I have to keep telling myself this, too.

    2. Traveler*

      Seconding the do it! A long crappy commute can make even a good job not worth it after awhile.

      1. De Minimis*

        I’m going to at least try it….not sure what my chances are since it’s technically a different job series but I am hopeful. At least I’m a local candidate!

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Good luck! And really, who cares if they don’t take it well. You’ve put in your time.

      1. De Minimis*

        I actually have no real indication they will be upset, but I know it will be a major problem. I was hired to replace a retiring employee, have been trained by her since I started, she has finally announced her retirement at the end of the fiscal year and now there’s a possibility that I’m leaving. She and I are basically the entire finance department.

        So I can’t help but feel a little guilty, but the truth is that there will never be a good time to leave this job due to how it’s staffed, so if there’s a better opportunity I need to at least look into it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure what “people won’t take it well” means. It could be that they will be sad/upset to see you go. Am guessing that it’s more like they will be mad at you.
      Oh, how professional. (NOT)
      If they do get mad at you just tell yourself “reason #25 for leaving”.
      They are just proving you made the correct choice.

  39. Sadface*

    The office I work in is owned by 2 different insurance agents – I’m the only employee for agent A, and agent B has 4 employees. We all work in the same two rooms, and know each other/get along well. Last December, agent B decided to have a Christmas party at his house – and only invited *his* 4 staff members. This normally wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, except for the fact that he openly discussed his Christmas party right in front of me, going around asking his staff what their food preferences are, etc. To make things even worse, after the party was over, he said I could have some of the leftover food he brought and put in the fridge!

    A couple of weeks ago, only 2 of his employees were working that day (I was working alone as usual, since I’m the only employee of agent A). Agent B decided to buy burgers and milkshakes for his employees – he got takeout, brought it into the office, loudly called his employees to the break room in the back, and they all sat and ate/talked/laughed together while I sat there by myself, embarrassed and feeling very hurt. I actually ended up leaving work early that day because I wanted to cry (which I later regretted since I should still focus on my work for agent A).

    It seems like agent B thinks that because I don’t technically work for him, this somehow gives him a pass to exclude me openly and without any shame. He cannot spend a single dime on me for anything whatsoever. It’s apparently *too much* for him to invite me (ONE PERSON) to his Christmas party, or buy one more burger and shake. This isn’t an issue I can even confront him about, but I at least want to hint that it’s extremely rude to do things like that, especially since I’m by myself (not like I have coworkers of my own to be left out with).

    Any advice/tips/thoughts? How do I stop caring so much? How do I let them know that I’m unhappy about this behavior (though it seems like common sense/decency)?

    1. Sadface*

      Oh, I also wanted to add — back in September, agent B’s daughter had her first baby (his first grandchild), so I bought him and his daughter a gift. When my birthday came around at the beginning of this year, he didn’t get me anything or say happy birthday – nothing. Now, I didn’t get him the gift with the expectation of wanting something in return, but it did strike me as a little uncaring to ignore my birthday after I made such an effort to congratulate him on his grandchild. Added to his other rude behavior, it just makes it even worse :/

      1. Jennifer*

        Wow, what a rude jerk! I’m so sorry for you. Even if there were some technical reason to exclude you, it’s just completely lacking in basic etiquette and common courtesy to be so blatant about it. I hope your boss notices/cares.

      2. Vera*

        I think you’ve got to let this roll off your shoulders. This may just be the nature of this office. To me, this is equivalent to a director taking the entire team out to lunch and they all sit in the same cube aisle as me. I think it’s just more of an issue for you since there are so few employees in your office. Some people in my office do nice things for other people for their birthdays (set up balloons in cubicles, bring in cake, etc) but I won’t be at all shocked if nothing at all happens for my birthday. I’m sad to say it but you’ll have to begin lowering your expectations and frankly, expect to be left out in this case.

        1. Sadface*

          It’s more of an issue because I’m the *only* other person. I’m not another “group” or “team” or even 2 other people – it’s just me. So when I get left out of things like that, it’s not only more apparent, it also seems more intentional. I don’t see how one person is an inconvenience to include, even if I technically don’t work for him. Shouldn’t basic manners take over this situation, because I’m by myself? I know if the roles were reverse, I’d never exclude someone who was alone, and even if I felt like it was no big deal, I wouldn’t walk around discussing the events they’re not invited to (or eating meals I didn’t include them in) right in their face.

          But I do agree that I need to lower my expectations of people. I guess they’re just so high because I have high expectations of myself…

          1. Vera*

            Actually, yes, I think it is a big deal to include just one more person. It could be financial, but it’s more likely simply business. If Agent B starts including you, then Agent A will have to start including all of the other employees that work for Agent B if he every does these types of activities.

            I agree it’s rude to discuss particulars in front of you, but you all work in the same space. Would you rather him send an e-mail to everyone letting them know there are burgers and milkshakes, they all mysteriously disappear, and then you have to find out what was going on all on your own? If they were going to exclude me no matter what, I’d rather it be out in the open then them feeling like they have to walk on eggshells and keep secrets so that I’m not offended.

      3. Traveler*

        There are just people like this out in the world. They just don’t understand those social cues, or realize they are there. I doubt he means it personally – its probably more of him being focused on what he can do for his team to increase morale. You’re not on his team so buying you food or inviting you to parties is not going to benefit his work process in any way. He’s probably seeing those things as business transactions, not as a slight to you. I know it still hurts though and can feel personal.

        1. Chriama*

          I agree that it’s probably less a deliberate exclusion than just a lack of awareness. He doesn’t assign you work or pay you, so you aren’t on his radar. The burger and milkshake/Christmas party thing was a company thing, and you aren’t part of his company.

          The birthday thing could go either way. A grandchild being born is a much bigger milestone than a single birthday. It would have been nice for him to remember your birthday, but the events aren’t equivalent. Also, did he know it was your birthday? Is there a reason he should have known (e.g. it was on the calendar in the shared kitchen, or you’d mentioned it to him less than a week ago)?

          Overall, it sucks. This would totally bother me too (I actually experienced the same thing with my roommmate — when my parents came to visit me they took us both out for breakfast, but when her parents come they barely say hi to me) but I don’t think there’s anything you can do. If your boss is getting invited to theses things you could maybe mention it to him.

          1. Sadface*

            To Traveler and Chriama:

            That’s what annoys me about all this. The fact that it’s “purely” business without any regard for human feelings. Sure, business-wise, I’m not his employer, but human-wise, I’m a person who’s by myself most of the day, and excluding me from things like that is really obvious since it’s just me. Shouldn’t there be some basic decency involved here? Is it really going to cause that much trouble if you invite one more person to your Christmas party, or you ask me if I want something to eat with you? Or at the very least – don’t boast about all these things to my face? We all get along and I consider us friends (agents and staff), so I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal to include me in “agent B” events.

            I know it sounds childish, but it really freakin’ hurts :/

            1. Traveler*

              I just don’t think there’s anyway of addressing it with him that won’t come off on the bottom line as “You should spend money on me”, even if that’s not at all what your issue is. It doesn’t sound childish – I’ve known people like this most of my life in both business and personal, and I’ve just come to terms with the fact that some people aren’t and probably never will be “thoughtful” in that way. That said – I wouldn’t be buying him gifts either.

            2. fposte*

              Can I gently address the “I consider us friends” thing? I think that may be part of the problem here, because you’re not friends–you’re co-workers who get along. That may be the same to you, but that’s not the norm or something you can assume they share. I think one reason for your disappointment is that you’re considering this relationship to be something that the other people involved don’t, so you’re feeling like you’ve been let down in friendship terms in a situation isn’t a friendship to them, even if you want it to be.

              So maybe it’s about adjusting to the fact this isn’t a bad friendship but simply a business relationship, and adjusting your expectations for social interaction accordingly.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Ah the difference between being friends and being friendly. One does not equal the other.

            3. Aisling*

              Would you expect your agent to include 4 other people? I get that it’s awkward, and Agent B really shouldn’t be talking about it in front of someone who isn’t invited, but that’s the only problem here. It sounds like your agent doesn’t do stuff like this, while the other agent does, but the other agent is not obligated to include you.

              I don’t mean this to sound snarky, but – this isn’t the playground, where if you don’t have enough for everyone, you shouldn’t bring anything. This is business, and he’s probably treating his employees out of his pocket. He’s being rude to talk about it, but as for not being invited – you have to let that go.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t have any advice, but I wanted to say that that does suck.

      I would feel like crying too, especially if it was after a tough day/week and this was the last straw.

    3. MJ*

      While you are not technically part of their team, you might promote yourself as part of the social group by doing things for the group, like bringing in bagels for everyone every once in a while or bringing in cupcakes on your own birthday so everyone can celebrate with you. (This is not to suggest that you are responsible for his being a jerk.)

      1. Sadface*

        I have done that many times before! I’ll get donuts for the office, candy, etc. We’re a very small and friendly environment, it’s just that when it comes to things related exclusively to “agent B,” he seems to never include me because of technicality.

        1. MJ*

          I couldn’t leave one person out either, but as it is upsetting you so, can you find a way to frame this for yourself where you can take it less personally? If you were to imagine the other boss was trying to come at this with positive intent, what might that intent be? Maybe

          – he thinks your boss does nice things for you and he doesn’t want his team to be left out
          – he thinks if he includes you then your boss will feel like he/she would have to include all of HIS team when the situation is reversed
          – there is an agreement among agents that this is how it is supposed to be done
          – he thinks you would not want to be included in their work conversations
          – he is trying to build morale in his group by investing in a bonding experience, and bringing in an extra person makes the event social instead of business, when he is aiming for business

    4. Canadamber*

      Oh my God, that’s just the worst. :( I’m pretty sure that I would actually cry, in this case. Just leave, get into my car, and bawl my way out into traffic and out towards home.

      1. Sadface*

        I did actually cry lol. I just waited until I actually left the office to do it. I didn’t wanna bust into tears at my desk, so I got out of there as fast as I could!

    5. Colette*

      I don’t know – I don’t think he’s obligated to offer the same things to non-employees that he offers to his employees. It’s a little different in this case because you all work in the same area – but it’s not unusual for a manager to do something with just her team, even if there are others who sit nearby who aren’t invited.

      1. Sadface*

        “OtherS”, plural, yes. One person – that’s just mean. At least that’s how I see it. :/

        1. fposte*

          I understand that your feelings are hurt by it, but would you feel the same if he gave out a cash bonus to his employees but not to you? This is in the same vein as that–it’s a perk for the people who work for him, not a social thing for the people in his space.

          1. Sadface*

            It’s not the Christmas party or the burgers/shakes in and of itself, it’s HOW he’s doing everything right in front of my face without any regard for how it would make me feel. It’s one thing to not invite me to your company party, but it’s another to go around talking about it all day, asking people what they wanna eat, etc. I personally would never do that because [I thought] that was common sense/courtesy. Never mind the fact that he offered me leftovers. Um, no thanks, I don’t want leftovers from the party I was clearly not invited to.

            1. Colette*

              But you’re taking it personally, when it’s not a personal invitation. It’s a business invitation.

              Would you feel the same way if he talked about a meeting he was inviting his employees to?

            2. Windchime*

              I would try framing it differently, honestly. How is he doing it “in your face”? You’ve mentioned that a couple of times. Is he coming up to your desk and tauntingly talking about the party while smirking at you? That’s what I think of when I hear “in my face”. Or is he simply talking to his employees about it in your hearing? If it’s the latter, then I would really try to frame it differently. This is a business thing, and these are his employees. You’re not being excluded because they don’t like you; he’s just having a team function and since you’re not part of his team, you’re not included. It’s that simple. Try not to see it as a personal thing and maybe that will help?

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, I think this is reading the personal into work. The guy is spending his own money on his own employees and addressing his own employees. That’s utterly appropriate. His goal is the work with his employees, not the morale of his non-employees, and buying him a present won’t change that.

        I do understand how disheartening it can be not to be included–I once spent an afternoon gardening across from a neighborhood barbecue that didn’t include me, for instance (I barely knew the hosts, so it was utterly fair, but still made me feel self-conscious), and I think it’s fine if he does invite you. But I don’t think of this as an exclusion any more than his not hiring Sadface is an exclusion. This isn’t a clique–it’s a category that she’s genuinely not in.

        1. Sadface*

          Again, not a matter of what, but how. We can agree to disagree, but if the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t exclude one extra person in the first place (just to be a good human being, no matter what business technicalities there are), and even if I did, I wouldn’t rub it in their face.

          1. fposte*

            Sadface, you’re still talking about *social* manners for a workplace thing. (Does he invite your boss to stuff, by the way? If not, then you’re not the only one excluded.)

            I’m not saying you can’t feel sad or excluded–just pointing out that what he’s doing isn’t actually rude, no matter what you’d do in his position, and maybe if you think of it as his work relationship with his staff, it won’t hurt your feelings as much.

            1. Jennifer*

              I disagree that it isn’t rude. I think it’s terribly rude. Common courtesy and good manners are very important in an office. I’m sorry that this other agent doesn’t get that. Even if he didn’t do it all the time, once in a while would be nice. I would also stop bringing things in for everyone. If your courtesy isn’t being returned, then just stop extending it. I’m not saying be rude in return, just stop including them if they’re not including you. Do his employees even care? My office is configured where there are two teams (mine is one of them) and then 3 other people who are “solos”– their teams are in other parts of the country. The two managers in the area include everyone for everything. We celebrate the “solos” birthdays and invite them to our holiday parties. It’s no extra effort and worth it to promote a congenial atmosphere in the place we spend 8-10 hours per day.

              1. Sadface*

                That’s honestly how things should be done, Jennifer. I don’t like this callousness I see so often in business settings, where nothing is “personal, it’s just business.” I may or may not be in the minority here, but if I had to choose between “business” customs or just “being a decent human being,” being a decent human being wins out every time. Though I will concede that I need to lower my expectations of people and not go out of my way to be courteous to people who obviously don’t appreciate it.

                1. fposte*

                  This isn’t callousness or not being decent, though, and I think you’re talking yourself into nursing the hurt by categorizing it as his moral failing and your higher standards. What if you let go the idea of his wronging you and instread shrugged, saying to yourself “It’s not like I invite him out to lunch either”?

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I want to totally echo fposte here. You’re applying social manners rather than professional manners to this situation. This is no different than a manager taking her whole team out and excluding someone not on her team — that’s just how this stuff works sometimes. I understand it doesn’t feel great, but I think you’re actually making it a lot worse on yourself by not choosing to just tweak your perspective on it a little.

              1. Sadface*

                I know on one hand I just need to adjust the way I look at things, but on the other hand I still don’t think it’s right. Even the manager example you cited – if I had a team of people, and *one* other person in the entire office who wasn’t on my team, I’d rather include that person out of basic decency, rather than exclude them for “business” reasons. Granted, other people may be less sensitive to these sort of things than I am, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just being a good person.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  The problem is that you’re defining “being a good person” in ways that not everyone agrees with. This guy really isn’t doing something heinous, but you seem really, really bothered by it.

                  There’s a lot of “I must just have really high standards for myself” and “it’s just basic decency” all over your comments here and, well, I think it’s misplaced. Sure, I can see why this stings, but your reaction to it seems disproportionate and heavily invested in them seeing the relationship as something that many people don’t see workplace relationships as, and it makes me wonder what else is going on there.

                2. Colette*

                  What about if inviting that one person made the event more than you’re willing to spend? Should you cancel the event for everyone, or just keep it to the people on your team?

                  What if the intention was to have your team members do something fun together to build relationships between the team? Would you still invite someone who wasn’t on your team?

                3. Aisling*

                  It doesn’t matter that you’re one person, and it seems like you’re stuck on that. It matters that you don’t directly work for the other agent. It’s rude of him to talk about it in front of you, but it’s not rude of him to not include you. That’s just business.

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  @Alison. Exactly. We are not talking about what this guy did that was not inclusive of our OP here.

                  This is why our words are of little consolation.

    6. Cautionary tail*

      Your situation is similar to that of contractors in some offices I’ve been in. We work side by side & we all go out together for personal lunches, but when it comes to company sponsored events like holiday meals, team spirit building activities, group training where an instructor is being brought in, etc. they are intentionally excluded.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I think this sucks, Sadface.

      But, it does not matter what I think. This guy is just going to keep doing this.

      I think as another poster said that you should stop or greatly reduce the amount you give these people. You are too heavily invested in them. Stop. I not saying be mean to them but for heaven’s sake quit buying them things.
      You buy some goodies once a year that is plenty. Baby presents? No way. Just NO.

      Another part that I see here is that you are saying your own boss is not around much. I think this could be key. I would absolutely hate that. I like having my boss bubble to the surface on a fairly regular basis. (My boss generates most of my work- that is how the work has to flow. No boss, not much work.)

      I find it interesting that your own boss does none of this stuff for you but it’s the other boss that ticks you off. Why not put the blame where it belongs? Would it kill your boss to bring you a coffee and a donut once in a blue moon? Oh, wait. He isn’t there much. So let’s see, you have a boss that is never there and does not show much appreciation?

      I know one thing. If I had to sit and keep working while everyone else was whooping it up- I would just call my own boss and say “They are having a party here and I can’t concentrate on my work. I am going home.” If he pushes back, then you add, “Well, I have to make phone calls and clients can hear them over the phone. I don’t think this is a good idea for me to be doing.” Or something similar to back up your first statement. Then do it, go home.

      Another boss is not going to show you the appreciation that your own boss should be showing.

      Sadface, if you cannot find a peaceful place to rest this load then it might be new job time. Because the road you’re using is only going to get tougher.

    8. samaD*

      You say the office is owned by two different agents – are they one company or two?

  40. CalicoK*

    I turned in my two weeks notice a week and a half ago. Since I’ve turned in my notice, I’ve been miserable. My boss is giving me the freeze and my VP (I sit outside their office) has not acknowledged I even quit! Yes, my VP knows I’m quitting b/c she told certain staff members I’m leaving in a email I wasn’t cc:ed on. I’m done with all my work and I’m just sitting here doing nothing. Is it unprofessional to leave before the two weeks are up? I hate the two hour+ commute to and from work to basically do nothing while everyone gives me the cold shoulder. Any advice?

    1. Sadface*

      My sister was in a very similar situation. She gave her two weeks and NOBODY acknowledged it until the last day. I say – it’s just two weeks, tough it out. You don’t wanna burn bridges or leave a bad final impression by quitting early. Maybe you’ll get the acknowledgment you want on the last day like my sister did, and if you don’t, oh well, you’ve got a nice new job to look forward to! You can do it :)

      1. Adam V*


        Tough it out unless it gets worse – the cold shoulder is much better than being told “you’re being disloyal for leaving” or being outright abused.

        At the moment, you’re getting paid to sit there. Enjoy it while it lasts. :)

        1. CalicoK*

          I’m going to do my best to stay until the bitter end. I’ll don’t anticipate things will get worse… I’ll probably just become more invisible as my final day gets closer.

      2. Chriama*

        I mentioned below that you’ll look bad if you leave. If they’re planning something for your last day, it would look even worse to leave before then. Seriously, it’s a couple days. Stick it out and spend as much time as possible daydreaming about your new job.

        1. CalicoK*

          LOL, no one is planning anything for my last day. There’s only four people in my department. Half of them will be on vacation on my last day.

    2. Chriama*

      I’m a little hazy on the etiquette surrounding notice periods. Why is someone supposed to acknowledge you’re leaving to your face? If you were close, I guess it would be hurtful that they don’t offer you congrats on your new position, but if the relationship is purely professional it could be that they’re so caught up in preparing for your departure (reassigning your work, etc) that they just haven’t thought about it.

      Overall though, I’d stick it out. You have a couple days left and they aren’t being actively disrespectful, so you have more to lose by not being the bigger person than you have to gain by leaving right before your notice is up.

    3. Colette*

      Have you asked either of them what they’d like you to get done before you leave?

      I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to acknowledge someone was leaving if they hadn’t told me themselves – I’d feel odd bringing it up.

      1. CalicoK*

        When I resigned, my boss was at a complete loss. She didn’t know what she wanted to from b/c she said she’s never had anyone resign while she was manager. Luckily, I already had a transition plan ready b/c I wanted to make sure my coworkers weren’t scrambling to figure things out after I leave.

        I asked my manager how she wanted to handle telling people in my department about my exit. She said she wanted to do the telling. I work pretty closely with my VP so I guess I’m surprised that she didn’t want feedback as to why I’m leaving? She asked everyone else that left before me (there’s been a mass exodus over the past year).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Tough out the two or three days you have left. You gave your word that you would work, honor your own word. If nothing else you will have your own self-respect intact as you walk out the door the last day.

          I said something similar to another person above here: Tell yourself that the Big Freeze Out is just more proof that you made the right choice to move on.

          As an aside maybe the VP has heard all she wants to hear about why everyone is leaving. Probably everyone is giving similar reasons.

  41. HRNewbie*


    I have a ‘am I being paranoid’ question.

    The company I work for has just merged with another company. They do the same sort of thing as us and have a similar set up. Up until now I have been told that the ‘me in the other company’ wants to step back from HR and concentrate on Office Management and that I would be taken over HR for whole company.

    But, recently, as the merger has reached a staff integration level, the lady who does the same job as me over there has become incredibly distant. I have just found out that there have been emails to Directors naming me specifically as being involved in/aware of financial arrangements which have gone wrong which I have not been anywhere near. My boss is refusing to get involved in this as he ‘does not want to upset the apple cart’ and is avoiding doing my appraisal where he would have to tell me where I would be in the company when it merges.

    Alarm bells are starting to go off regarding the lack of support, but, I am not sure if I am just being jumpy because of the uncertainty with the merger.

    What would you advise?

    1. Adam V*

      Prep your resume and your network – if things go south, it may happen quickly, and you’ll want to be able to jump straight into your search.

      Also, see if you can get current coworkers to vouch for you. It doesn’t sound like your current boss would be a great reference at this point, so it’d be good to have other people at the company who’d be more positive about your tenure there.

      And last, but not least, if you’ve got any way to prove you’re not responsible for the financial arrangements they’re talking about, it might be enough to get you a pretty decent severance while you search. However, it sounds like you’ve got a target on your back for some reason – so even if your proof *could* save your job, it might be best to start looking anyway.

      1. Adam V*

        And no, you don’t sound paranoid to me.

        Do you know who the emails are coming *from*? Did you get copies of them?

        1. HRNewbie*

          I have been forwarded the emails from the other person who seems to have a target firmly on his back but was copied into the email. It seems there is a personality conflict with one of the Directors and my boss, which is coming through to his direct reports who handled and conquered difficult situations leading to the merger.

          The emails are coming from the woman who does my job in the other office, and the direct reports of the Director.

          It seems to be the roles that are duplicated or can be merged between offices – or there is some form of competition (pathetic I know) – mud is beginning to be slung from the other company.

          I can easily prove that I had nothing to do with the agreements, emails, jobs, calls, conversations etc. and the fact that there would be no reason for me to be involved in them. The feedback I am getting from managers other than my Direct Manager is that I am doing well and reliable, but this sort of thing makes me really uneasy.

          It is so frustrating as the amount of time, effort and skill that went into getting through this both morale and admin wise has come down to who can make what stick.

          1. The Real Ash*

            I would definitely hold on to that documentation just in case, all the while I was working on a resume and putting out applications.

          2. Adam V*

            Your boss may be unwilling to offer support if he’s worried about his own position, but ideally the two of you would be able to go to someone at your own company and say “I’m concerned with some things that [employees at other company] are saying; apparently there’s been some miscommunication, and they’re of the opinion that we were responsible for [snafu], when that’s not the case at all [as can be proved by these emails].”

            You can probably leave it there, and they’d get the message – “We don’t want higher-ups to think we’re incompetent and should be replaced by our opposite numbers at the other company”.

            But again, it sounds like people are playing really dirty pool, and you may be best served by getting out before the company can let you go for “cause”.

          3. A Non*

            Grr. Your boss really should be going to bat for you here. It sounds like you’re getting caught in a political crossfire. Not fair at all, but it happens sometimes. I agree that this is a good time to prep your resume and put out feelers. At the very least, it’ll remind you that you have options and help you feel in control.

            Are any of the managers that like you hiring?

          4. Not So NewReader*

            Who initiates the emails? Who is making the accusation? The lady who does your job at the other office?

            1. HRNewbie*

              Yes. Apparently following a structured ‘for the avoidance of doubt I [paraphrased] I had nothing to do with decision making regarding the Chocolate Teapot contract, please see emails 1,2 & 3 for confirmation as to my dealings with the Chocolate Teapot company.’ I was able to dig out emails from both the past and recently to the lady in the other office clearly saying several times that apart from calling for an engineer and taking messages I had nothing to do with the details of the contract.

              After that email, there were several responses profusely apologising for the misunderstanding and promises that if she had any questions regarding my involvement she will call to check information.
              Apparently my boss also called the other office when he actually read the email, and understood why we were so concerned.

              Have a feeling this is just going to be one of many things I am going to have to bat off.

              Thank you all for your advice, I have updated my CV and forwarded to contacts, as well as approached a few companies that I would really like to work for.

  42. Trixie*

    Considering getting certified with Les Mills Body Flow. Anyone familiar with the program have recommendations or cautions?

    1. Ali*

      My gym has the Les Mills programs, but I’m not certified in any of them. I could just tell you about the process from what I’ve researched (I’ve considered the Sh’Bam certification for when I get more experience teaching Zumba; figured it would be best to get familiar with a less demanding program first), but that’s probably not what you’d be looking for.

      I go to BodyPump 1-2 times a week and I really want to try Flow, though! I’ve also done CXWorx a little bit.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Loooooooooooove BodyFlow. But no idea about the certification process. I just like to take classes. :)

  43. Managing interns*

    I have a question regarding managing interns. I’m currently working with an intern who is rather combative when it comes to taking instruction and a general know-it-all. As in if I ask him to edit a design or make improvements to a text or critique his work in any way I have to quantify why these changes are necessary. Now I have no problem with this, particularly when working with someone who has very little work experience and may not actually understand why we operate in a certain way. I also have no problem listening to well-thought-out critiques or ideas to improve how we work. However, in 9/10 cases this guy is not able to back up his suggestions with any evidence. In fact, his opinions are largely based on him “not thinking it should be done that way” or how he “doesn’t think this way will work.”

    This has been an incredibly frustrating thing for me to deal with and is really causing tension between me and this intern. On the one hand, I want our interns to be able to operate in an environment where they feel as if they can speak up when they have ideas, but on the other this intern makes me want to rip my hair out. How do you tell an intern that there is no way we are going to change the operating systems of our organization based on their gut instinct?

    I think this would be less annoying if the work he handed in was excellent and that he’s always on top of his tasks, but he is a mediocre worker (at best) who tends to blame any errors in his work on everything and everyone but himself.

    1. Adam V*

      I think you need to stop discussing it with him and tell him “moving forward, if I ask you to do things in a certain way, I’m going to need you to understand that there’s a reason behind it, and even if I don’t tell you the reason, and even if you disagree with it, I’m going to need you to do it that way.”

      If he continues to argue, you could say “I’m sorry, but if you can’t complete the work, I’m going to need to pass it off to someone else and we’ll need to discuss whether we’re a good fit for your continued internship.”

    2. Colette*

      I think those things are related – people who do excellent work tend to be people who are open to feedback.

      I’d suggest a big picture conversation – i.e. “When I give you feedback about your work, you immediately get defensive. I need you to take the time to think about the feedback. If you believe that there is information I don’t have, I’m open to discussing that, but otherwise you need to focus on the changes you need to make. Also, I like to hear your suggestions about how the business can change. However, in order to evaluate whether we should make the change, we need to understand what issues the change will solve, as well as how much time and money it will take to do. Please give some thought to what problems you’re trying to solve and what you believe the benefits will be before suggesting change.”

      1. fposte*

        Aren’t there a dozen AAM discussions of this? Here’s one that has some relevance, though I know it’s come up more recently (perhaps in open threads):

        But basically, frame it as a behavior that’s hurting him and that you’re requiring him to curb. He’ll likely push back when you say that, and you can point to that as an example right there that it’s a kneejerk habit rather than a considered response, and talk about it in those terms. You’re not trying to keep him from ever giving you feedback, you’re redirecting him from a problematic habit, so you might consider offering an alternative feedback stream that he can use *selectively*–“If you use this every time I’m closing this loophole, but if after a night’s sleep you still have a concern that’s particularly important in an individual case, you can email it to me,” for instance.

    3. Traveler*

      +1 to what the others said. I would also try to find a tactful way to remind him he is doing an internship to learn how its done in the business world, and this is one of the aspects he’ll have to learn.

      1. fiat lux*

        Yes, and if the intern is still in school or a recent graduate, it would be good to have a general conversation about different norms in the working world vs the classroom. His habit of discussing and debating everything probably served him well as a student!

    4. Chriama*

      I think you have a lousy employee. It could be immaturity or it could be who he is (we all know awful coworkers).

      It really depends on how much responsibility you want to take for making this internship a learning experience. You could have a conversation with him about the pattern of behaviour you’ve noticed, describe how this will affect his career, and tell him what you expect him to do going forward. Be specific and give examples (e.g. If you have a suggestion for how the design should be better I need you to present specific evidence that justifies your position.)

      1. Managing interns*

        Thanks for the advice and link to the old post — it’s always helpful to see examples of how the conversation could go. I don’t think I’ve been as direct as I need to be, so I’m going to work on changing that. I also think the comment about the different norms between school and work is an important point that I hadn’t considered. Thanks again!

  44. AAA*

    Hi Everyone! I have a really specific question but figure I’ll throw it out there. I’ve noticed that there are quite a few regular commentators on AAM who have PhDs. I’m hoping some of you who are working outside academia might be able to help me.

    I have a PhD in Anthropology (finished Dec 2012) and I’m looking to transition into a non-academic role within my field of study. I’m wondering if anyone has any advice as to how to package the kind of skill-set required of [social science] PhDs, e.g. independent research, critical thinking, writing, project management, etc. as something palatable for a business audience. (I’ve already mined Versatile PhD and like sources—that’s how I found AAM!)

    I think my problem is that my degree is in Anthropology, which makes people think “bones” or the “unga-bunga people”–not strategic business insights. I actually did my fieldwork examining ethical corporate practice. My dissertation examined for-profit programs for positive social and environmental impact. I would like to break into working in this field or the non-profit sector.

    I think I’m stuck in the simultaneously under-and-over qualified bubble–plus I think I’m confusing people when my degree is in Anthropology, my work history is mostly teaching and administrative, but I’m applying for entry level jobs in supply chain management or corporate reporting, or something else that sounds unrelated but that I actually know quite a bit about.

    I have 5ish years of (mostly academic) work experience and a few internships plus my fieldwork experience. I’m looking for anything entry or just above entry level, but have gotten feedback that I’m overqualified, though I definitely don’t have the experience within the field to go for higher-level positions. I’m mostly interested in research and analytical roles, as I think those are the ones I’m most qualified for.

    Any advice on how to package myself?

    1. Stephanie*

      My buddy swears by the Professor Is In:

      She seems like an Alison for graduate students. She’s also just a good writer–I’m not even in the academy, but I find her posts really interesting.

    2. Annie O*

      Entry level? F* that.

      I’ll share my experience, for whatever it’s worth. I couldn’t even land an interview for an entry-level or mid-level position after leaving academia. So I started applying for director positions, and then I started getting calls.

      Stop saying anthropology, unless you’re putting the word “applied” in front of it. Stop using academic lingo when there are business equivalents available. And start thinking about concrete ways that your education and experience will bring value to the business. Don’t focus on your qualifications, focus on the value you bring!

    3. JC*

      Hi AAA,

      Welcome to the non-academic world! If you haven’t already, I’d suggest looking at It’s a website that concentrates on PhDs looking outside of academia. Sometimes the forums there aren’t the most useful, because the posters haven’t left academia yet and so don’t know more than you do, but there are nuggets of great advice. And if you’re university subscribes you will have access to a section of the site that has other people’s success stories, examples of their resumes, etc.

      I don’t have concrete advice for you, but wanted to let you know I’ve been there. I got my PhD in psychology 5 years ago and now work as a researcher in a nonacademic organization, but in a topic unrelated to what I did in grad school and using methods I did not use in grad school. I think it’s definitely easier to sell yourself for a role doing research, even if the research is far from what you used to do, because the people involved will speak a language closer to what you’re used to.

    4. Mimmy*

      I’ve been thinking on-and-off of getting a PhD, but can’t seem to make myself take that leap of faith. First, it does seems like many PhDs are expected to stay in academia. I guess it depends on the field (I’d most likely do social work), so I am pleased to see resources for those who don’t want to go into academia as that seems to be the most common post-doctorate route. I do remember seeing a couple of these when I’d asked about this last year.

      I hope this is okay, but I have my own question: One of my lingering qualms is that many PhDs seem to travel, whether it’s to present at conferences or as part of research / other major projects. I just don’t think I have the mental endurance to do all that traveling, especially since it’d entail me being away from my husband a lot (no, he would not want to travel with me). Is this an expectation of PhDs? Again, I imagine it depends on the field, but I look through bios of people in my areas of interest, it seems like they have an extensive background of presentations and projects–I can’t imagine it’d all be local!!

      1. fposte*

        Do you mean traveling while getting the PhD? I would say that yes, it’s an expectation that you’ll travel some to conferences; other travel will depend on what your actual research is. You’ll probably start with less travel and then it’ll ramp up, since it’s not likely that there’s an expectation for you to travel to tons of conferences you’re not presenting at, which you won’t be right at the start. I wouldn’t go in expecting fewer than three or four conferences per year during your peak research years in my field (though it wouldn’t invariably happen); however, that’s often only a couple of days for a domestic conference, since you don’t often have to stay from start to finish.

        Is there a doc student in the local program that you could have a coffee talk with about the experience? They’ll have better insights about qualify of life than the professors.

        1. Mimmy*

          I was thinking more in terms of after getting the PhD and active in your field but NOT as a member of university faculty.

      2. AAA*

        It definitely depends on what you get your PhD in. You probably wouldn’t have to travel too much (outside of conferences) for a PhD in social work. But I love to travel and it was one of the reasons I chose Anthropology–for a PhD in Anthro you’re expected to conduct 1-2 years of fieldwork, usually abroad. (Not always though; some people choose their fieldwork close to home.)

  45. The Real Ash*

    Alright, so I turned down the interview that I had scheduled for this week. And I turned down the two (!) other interviews I was called about on Monday. Why couldn’t these jobs have come around last year?! Oh well…

    Oh the personal front, a move date has been set, so things are a lot clearer in that regard. Now I’m going to spend my remaining time donating / sorting / packing / junking all of my stuff, as well as working on a new version of my resume and looking at jobs in the area. :)

    1. Bryan*

      I’m happy to hear the move is set so that you have more certainty about the future.

  46. Ali*

    Did anyone else read about the blogger who sent in a bikini photo to Shape and was denied having the picture published in her success story?

    I feel bad about admitting this, but even though I think it’s incredible how much she lost weight, I don’t think she looks as good in a bikini as she believes she does. As someone who has a decent amount of weight to lose (I officially need to lose 80 per BMI guidelines but would be happy to lose 50-60), I admit seeing all her loose skin doesn’t really motivate me. It scares me to think that could be *my* body when and if all that weight comes off. I know this woman was just trying to be “real” and is getting a ton of praise, but I would never put myself out there looking like that. But then again, I’m sensitive to criticism about my looks and body type. I feel like she could’ve just chosen a different picture if she really wanted to be featured, or sent in more than one to begin with.

    Again, she obviously accomplished a lot, but I’m not totally on her side here.

    1. Audiophile*

      I completely understand how you feel. I need to lose about 80lbs to really fall into the healthy spectrum. And I was really shocked when I scrolled down and saw her loose skin. I certainly commend her for taking the initiative and losing all that weight. But I know my own comfort level, and I’d never be comfortable in a bikini.

    2. Del*

      Honestly, I think things like that are really valuable. The images of “perfect” bodies that we are fed are very unrealistic, and I think it is a good thing to be more realistic both about what human bodies look like and about weight-loss outcomes.

      1. Del*

        To add to that — what you feel comfortable in is up to you! I applaud her for wanting to put bikini pics out there, but it’s definitely not something you should feel impelled or driven to do.

        I don’t think there should be a bar for “if you don’t meet the following aesthetic, don’t wear a bikini.” The only bar (other than “is it appropriate for the situation” which has nothing to do with the body of the wearer) should be “do you feel comfortable wearing this?”

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I saw some minor British royal of late middle age getting body-shamed on a blog for her post-childbirth loose skin in a bikini shot (which, by the way, was a casual swimming shot and not a glamour pose, so it might not even have been taken without her consent in the first place). It made me pretty furious.

          I love those occasional slide shows that appear showing celebrities’ unretouched images vs. their retouched images. It is amazing how conscious you can be of the prescribed concepts of beauty and still get misled by the fantasies we see all the time. I think anybody can keep their body private if they wont, but I don’t think bodies have to earn their right to be seen by aspiring toward that airbrushed idea.

          1. fposte*

            I mean that the royal’s picture might not have been taken *with* her consent. It seemed like a nasty pap snap.

          2. Del*

            Absolutely! I’m a flaming advocate of people being at liberty to wear anything from a burqa to a bikini regardless of their body shape, scars, size, what have you.

            1. fposte*

              I’m really impressed by which is where women post their post-pregnancy bodies. It’s something people really don’t get to see much, and there’s a mixture of people whose bodies have been altered by the experience and those whose haven’t; I think it’s really a relief for women not to feel like their C-section scars and dangly bits don’t have to be their shameful secret.

    3. GigglyPuff*

      I think it really depends. I wasn’t that shocked because I have watched one of those weight loss reality shows, the one that does an individual for a year. But I need to lose 100 pds to be healthy, and no matter what, I know in the end I’ll still look better.

      But I think it depends on how old you are, how much weight you lose and how fast you lose it. For me, when I started losing the 60 pds. I lost last year, I didn’t really notice a change in how I looked physically until I took a break for a couple of weeks, and I definitely noticed afterwards it had given my body/skin time to adjust to the weight I was losing. If your skin is elastic enough and you lose weight in a healthy way and a healthy timeline, I doubt the skin would be that much of an issue. But if it is, you can have it removed, that was what happened at the end of the year in the weight loss show (I really can’t remember the name), if they met their goal weight, the show paid for them to have the excess skin removed since they would lose the weight so fast. And if the skin actually gives you health problems, I could think insurance might actually pay.

      1. Audiophile*

        Was it “Extreme Weight Loss”? I’ve seen that one and a few of the people had the skin removal surgery.

    4. Blue Anne*

      Yes, I saw that too and I kind of agree. Partly. I dunno, it was… she obviously managed a huge accomplishment that was the result of a ton of hard work, but I didn’t feel like there was much effort put into the actual photo. It kind of bugged me that her bikini top an bottom didn’t match, more than anything else, honestly.

      But then I sort of feel like a horrible person for that. So I dunno.

      1. samaD*

        and her posture! if she’d been standing up straight and placed her hands lower it just would have been a better picture in general. Not contorted to show no sag, no sucking in, no half-turns or anything, just the standing up straight one does when checking yourself in the mirror before going out and slouching the rest of the day….

        I guess I should feel bad that I’m commenting on the aesthetics of the picture, but….that’s the only thing I have a problem with! It’s wonderful she lost the weight and put a ‘post-loss’ picture out there, and hopefully it will help others to feel less distressed if they’re a bit wobbly after weight-loss too, and she looks great! ….but it’s just a bad picture. Surely the magazine could have arranged a professional shot (not retouched), or just asked for another (un-awkwardly-posed) shot?

    5. Stephanie*

      First, I wouldn’t get too hung up on BMI. It’s more just a general guideline. If you’re really muscular, you’ll have a higher-than-average BMI. Also, some ethnic groups tend have BMIs that fall outside the range more (blacks tend to have higher BMIs; Asians tend to have lower BMIs).

      Second, unsure. I didn’t think the picture was super-flattering, but I liked that it was realistic.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t think it’s about “she doesn’t look as great as she thinks she does in a bikini.” I’m sure she knows exactly how she looks and what people think, and I think that’s the point. Extra skin IS a reality of losing a large amount of weight, and one that fitness magazines/blogs/websites tend to gloss over BECAUSE it’s not pretty and shiny. Kudos to her, IMO, for being brave enough to put herself out there and for not backing down.

      1. Nina*

        I agree. She knows how she looks and the excess skin isn’t sexy or flattering, so the magazine won’t publish it. Health magazines love to promote the idea that when you lose the weight, all is well and there are no other issues to worry about. The excess skin is the honest side of what can happens after a dramatic weight loss, but that won’t bring in the consumer dollars SHAPE is after. They’re a business first, and health promoter second.

    7. The Real Ash*

      I don’t think she looks as good in a bikini as she believes she does

      Such incredible bodyshaming here. Just because she doesn’t fit what you think is appropriate for a bikini body doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t be allowed to feel good about wearing one. As a fat chick myself, I understand the internalized “Oh my god look at the fat person!” hate that I think a lot of fat people share, but you should be applauding her, not judging or shaming her.

      1. winona*

        +1! The only requirements for having a bikini-ready body are a body, a bikini, and the desire to combine the two.

        1. rollcake*

          ++1! Not only is this a realistic depiction of a potential effect of massive weight loss, but telling her she shouldn’t appear in a bikini *now* is the same sort of body-shaming that makes people say fat people shouldn’t appear in bikinis. You don’t get to dictate how someone dresses based on how you think they should dress.

      2. S*

        I mean… yes and no. I don’t think that saying “she doesn’t look great in a bikini” (a matter of personal taste) is the same thing as saying “she shouldn’t wear a bikini.” Personally, I think that the magazine’s decision is understandable, because most people don’t want to look like that (and from what I understand, losing weight in a slow, steady way will generally not result in large amounts of excess skin) so that particular photo wouldn’t be as inspirational to a lot of people as other shots might have been.

    8. C Average*

      I admit I was startled by the picture when I first saw it, just because I’ve never seen such an honest post-weight loss photo. (It’s made me realize many of the post-weight loss photos I’ve seen probably involved some cosmetic changes either to the image or to the body in the image.)

      I think it’s really valuable and I’m glad the woman in the picture chose to share it, and I think it’s kind of awesome that she did so without apologizing, explaining, or attempting to frame the image as some particular phase of her weight loss story. She didn’t say she thought she looked good. She didn’t say she didn’t think she looked good. She just said, “I lost a bunch of weight, and here’s a picture of me now.”

      Good luck on your weight loss journey.

    9. Sydney*

      To me, that photo of her isn’t about looking good. It’s about strength, dedication and truth. Losing a significant amount of weight in a healthy manner is incredibly hard, and now she’s sharing her success story with the world.

      I find our looks-obsessed culture obnoxious for two reasons: on principle for trying to shove a bunch of squares, triangles, stars, etc. into round holes, and on a personal level because I don’t agree with the uniformity. Attraction is subjective, whether or not Hollywood+ wants to admit it. I think a person should be able to change physical characteristics about themselves if they want to, but it shouldn’t be due to a societal pressure to look like a child’s toy that doesn’t even have human proportions.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      The picture doesn’t bother me, but I can definitely understand why a magazine would say no to it: it’s too realistic and “real” doesn’t sell magazines.

      I had gastric bypass surgery in December and have lost 93 lbs. so far (I blog about it; click my avatar if you want to read about my random thoughts). I have about 50 more to go and that still puts me at the top of the “overweight” BMI c