open thread – June 13, 2014

photo 4-5It’s the Friday open thread. This post is for work-related discussions only. Please hold anything off topic for the free-for-all open thread that’s coming this Sunday.

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

{ 1,085 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    My manager hired a third person in our department about three months ago. They frequently clash, with accusations, angry tones, slamming keyboards, and under-the-breath swearing. They’re both nice people when working with me, but neither seems to be willing or capable of compromising with each other. I mostly keep my head down when they’re battling it out.
    The new hire frequently comes over to me and asks my opinion on the error, delay or exchange. Initially, I dismissed his worry and said that it’s our boss’s job to be concerned about certain things. I’d explain he hadn’t actually delayed my work significantly and our work process (which includes somewhat tight deadlines) would continue smoothly. That was assuming the issues were because he was new and the tensions between them would die down when he got a better handle on his new position. Well he hasn’t, and I feel uncomfortable saying those same things now for fear of undermining my boss. Clearly, something isn’t working.
    What should I say to him that shows I understand he’s trying hard, but doesn’t excuse him or dismiss my boss’s concern? Hmm. “I understand you’re trying hard. Do your best.” ?

      1. Stephanie*

        They did, actually! The man had worked remotely with my boss for at least three years and she’s never previously had a problem with his work.

        1. AVP*

          Ah. I was gonna say, that sounds like a lot of angry escalation for two people who just met.

          Maybe after working remotely from each other all that time they just had very different expectations of what the new relationship would be like.

        2. Maggie*

          Wow, I totally pictured your boss as a man before this comment (hello, bias!). I wonder what happened after your new hire/boss left his last company. Perhaps there is miscommunicated animosity from a previous slight, some festering resentment from a project communication gone bad. Is it possible to get him out of the office socially (I’m thinking happy hour) and get him to spill what he thinks the issue is?

          Either way, your colleague needs to find a better way to communicate his dissatisfaction. And your boss needs to put her big girl _____ on and remind your colleague that her decisions are final for a reason and then start writing him up if need be. (I am unusually harsh this morning. Need coffee.)

          1. Stephanie*

            Honestly, I think both me and the new hire are waiting for him to get fired. My company has no problem letting go, so I’m not sure what’s going on in the background for that to not have already happened. It would make the atmosphere a lot more pleasant.

    1. Sunflower*

      Wait the manager and new hire are having problems or the new hire and the other guy on your team?

      1. Stephanie*

        It’s just my boss, the new guy, and myself. My boss and the new guy can’t seem to make it work.

        1. Trixie*

          This is a great interview question, and my worse nightmare. How to get folks (who won’t report directly to you) how to focus on the work. Its hard enough when its a random performance issue but personal animosity (if that’s what this is) is another level altogether.

          1. Trixie*

            And this doesn’t read like animosity since it hasn’t been an issue in the past. Just how to get them on the same page.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yeah, I have no idea if there’s more to the story because I try not to overly involve myself when tempers run high. I may be missing big parts of their issues.

    2. Celeste*

      If you want to help him, you can see if the issues seem to be falling into certain categories. Is there software that he could use help understanding? Does he not have the “big picture” of what the goals are? Is he not prioritizing something appropriately for the deadlines? Has he done this sort of work differently someplace else and is fighting the new regime?

      I have no idea what is going on with the two of them in their interpersonal relations, but I don’t think the angry drama is helping to get the work done.

      1. Stephanie*

        That’s a good idea! I think part of it is the different way they approach edits back and forth between themselves (we work in publishing). The new hire seems to have less of an understanding of online editing applications. I worry that me offering to show him some tips may be brushed off or cause offense, though. Understandably, I think it embarrasses him to ask for help from a female nearly 40 years his junior.

        1. Celeste*

          Hmmm, I think he is just having trouble being a subordinate then. He may have been a lone wolf for too long.

          To intervene, I would go to the boss and say you have noted his issues with the online editing, and that he’s not getting it. See if she would like you to work with him. If the boss says yes, then it’s on her and not you if he is offended. At some point this has to get fixed, or she isn’t going to be able to keep him around. Surely the edit program will have changes made to it, and if he can’t work it now, it will only get worse.

          Good luck!

        2. Meg Murry*

          Offer it as tips you’ve learned from working with your boss. As in “I’ve learned Boss likes to get edits using method X, through this path in the software. I know there are other ways to get it done, including [A, B and C which coworker is doing now], but if we don’t do it in method X, boss is just going to go ahead and do it that way, so I’ve found it saves time for all of us to use method X.”

          Alternately, could you ask boss if he wanted you to train newhire in the software? That way, you the underling aren’t offering it to newhire, but boss is telling him to learn it from you. Even if you are 40 years his junior, you know the software and he needs to learn it, so just set that aside and teach it to him. The new guy isn’t just going to learn it by osmosis. Now if he pretended to know how to use the software before being hired and in fact doesn’t beyond the very basics, that’s a whole other kettle of fish …

        3. Observer*

          If that’s the case, then I’m going to amend my advice. Next time he comes to you point out that you think he’s not getting how your workflow works with the software and tools you use. So, you are offering to spend a bit of time going through this with him. Again, don’t make the offer more than once, although you might occasionally remind him that your offer still stands, if applicable.

          If he’s offended, that’s on him. Don’t be apologetic about your offer. And do NOT act as though there is anything offensive about it. There is not, as long as you are polite and not condescending.

          1. Stephanie*

            I think going to my boss to get more specifics about what he’s not understanding with the system and how I could help is an idea. It’s difficult for me to talk with him on his own, as we have an open office floor plan and our boss is always within hearing distance. As much as I don’t want to involve myself at all, it’s gone on for so long that I don’t feel anything will change on its own. It’s also very difficult to stay focused around them.

            As long as I don’t feed his complaints, which, with the various wording options here, I think I’ll be able to handle this well!

            1. Stephanie*

              I spoke with my boss. She was very grateful and nice about my offer to help. BUT apparently he’s completely proficient on the system. He just prefers a different one and is refusing to follow our company set-up.

              1. PJ*

                Ah. You’ve just been advised that this is a performance issue, and you need to step out of it completely. Let your boss handle her problem employee.

                1. Stephanie*

                  Definitely. I am taking a firm step back and will not engage when he tries to vent about the “unfairness.”

    3. A Bug!*

      You could kind of say what you’ve said here, with a few tweaks.

      “I’m sorry, I can’t be your second opinion anymore. I had thought you just needed some reassurance until you adjusted to the job, but it’s been three months and these issues are still happening.

      Obviously, Boss still has some concerns with your work, and I’m really not in a position to contradict those concerns. I realize that the two of you don’t get along famously, but you’re going to have to figure out how to discuss this with Boss if it’s ever going to get properly resolved.”

      1. fposte*

        I’m liking this–it’s just too easy to get sucked into the “I must help fix this!” mode when what’s really needed is to get out of the fixer role.

        1. ClaireS*

          I agree whole-heartedly. Remove yourself from the situation. Until it starts directly impacting your work, I’d defer with either the open and honest wording above or something more generic along the lines of “I’m sorry. I’m not the best person to address this. You should talk with (boss).”

          You may have to refuse engagement a few times before they get the hint that you don’t want to be involved.

        2. Stephanie*

          That’s so me, too! I always stress about how I can help out with things that may not always be my place to step in on. I’m trying really hard to step back on this issue to some extent.

      2. Stephanie*

        That’s a really great suggestion! I struggle with phrasing and often come off as harsher than I intend. I will likely go this route. Thanks so much!

    4. Observer*

      I would just tell him that you know that he’s doing his best, but you are in no position to comment on the Boss’ concerns. But, it would be better for everyone concerned if he avoided the screaming, slammed keyboards, muttered swearing, etc. It doesn’t make a difference if the Boss does that too – it’s still inappropriate and disruptive to you. If he quits the screaming etc. and she doesn’t he can take it up with her or go up the chain.

      But, you say this only once. After that stick to the “I’m in no position to get involved.”

      1. Stephanie*

        You make a really great point. It’s up to every individual to be professional, even if those around them aren’t. I can’t feed into his frustration. And above all, I have to stay apart from the issue.

        “I’m in no position to get involved.”
        “I’m in no position to get involved.”
        “I’m in no position to get involved.”

    5. Ruffingit*

      Tell him you’re not comfortable commenting on the issue and then don’t do so. It’s not your job to make this guy feel better about his performance or to give him validation of his issues with the boss. Make a point to stay out of it. Nothing good will come of getting in the middle.

  2. Random Reader*

    Just need to vent for a second about a coworker…

    He projects loudly throughout the cubicles and it’s impossible not to hear him. Examples include:

    • Bringing up the many, many times he would be drunk by third period in high school. His parents wouldn’t lock the liquor cabinet (or forgot to) and he would put his drink in a water bottle
    • A client was MIA and he had just recently gotten in contact with her. After getting off the phone with her, he muttered/said, “B****, I don’t care that your dog died, I need clients.”
    • He sings. Constantly. Out loud. Not just a humming, but he’ll sing a couple bars of a song.
    • He and a couple of coworkers in my department will go out for drinks after work. I am not included in this group. He’ll shout over the cubicles, “ARE WE GOING OUT AFTER WORK????” Others seem to have a bit more discretion and don’t broadcast.
    • The running commentary. About everything that he’s thinking, or cooking, or going to cook, or thinking about cooking. Every single freaking thing.

    Venting because this guy makes $15,000 more than I do and goofs off all the time, when he isn’t talking about drinking or singing. For reference, he’s in his early thirties.

    1. cuppa*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that. I had a co-worker who would talk to himself or make noises to himself constantly. There were some mental illness issues and it was difficult to resolve. Drove me nuts.

    2. LV*

      I have a coworker who’s not quite that bad in terms of inappropriate content, but she is extremely loud. She seems unfamiliar with the concept of an indoor voice. She laughs a lot, and her laughter is this horrid sonic boom of a cackle that’s like nails on a chalkboard to me *shudder*

      1. ClaireS*

        Eek! Sometimes I worry this is me. I have a loud voice and I do laugh a lot. I try to be conscious of it because I work in a somewhat open office area (think cubes and pods). I am also a stomper; everyone knows I’m coming.

        Just know that not all of us loud-types are boorish and a lot of us are quite self-conscious about it and do our best. That being said, I’m open to someone telling me to pipe down politely. I’d rather that than for people to sit their and stew.

        1. Cube Diva*

          I’m like this, too! I always tell people to tell me to shut up, because sometimes I don’t realize I’ve crossed a decibel line, or even a “length of conversation” line.

          (And we have the same name– maybe that’s it) :)

        2. samaD*

          just a thought – could you give people a sort of script for asking you to pipe down? I’d rather not sit & stew but sometimes I do because I don’t know _how_ to mention it – everything I can think of seems rude or mean to me, because I know people sometimes get loud and don’t realize. Having a sort of pre-arranged, pre-cleared phrase that, said in good faith, would be ok would be a kindness :)

          1. Janis*

            Well, you have to know the others pretty well and all be willing to accept it and move on, but we adopted something from “The Devil Wears Prada.” Emily Blunt’s character wants Anne Hathaway’s character to shut up so the makes a hand movement like a quacking duck and says, “I’m hearing this [duck movement], when I want to hear this [hand stops suddenly].” We make the quick hand stop movement, sometimes with a faux-glarey look. Works every time and makes people chuckle.

            1. ClaireM*

              Brilliant. I always want to do that but don’t have the guts to.
              I also want to say “that’s all” and spin round on my chair.

    3. Kai*

      I sympathize. A guy I work with is always whispering pretend rants at people he’s mad at. I think we’ve all been there, but when it’s every day and I can see him whispering and gesturing at the culprit du jour, it gets exhausting.

    4. Sascha*

      Wow. I wish I could fire him for you. All of those things are definitely problems to me. Does he do excellent work? Friends in high places? Ignorant management?

      1. Random Reader*

        He does ok work. Everyone’s numbers are down (more or less) so it’s hard to say if it’s him or the economy that’s more sucky. I think management is just frantic to get the numbers up and doesn’t have time to pinpoint and/or fire.

    5. Blue Anne*

      Ugggghhhh. He sounds like a bit of a manchild. Sorry you have to put up with this crud. :(

    6. Maggie*

      Um, does his first name start with a D? I swear I worked with that guy and NOTHING HELPED. Eventually he left the company.

      That said, I did pull a prank on him (my staff were complaining about him singing and rapping to offense lyrcis) so when he had left for lunch and didn’t lock his computer, I logged in as admin and turned off his speakers. He couldn’t figure out how to turn them back on. The silence was golden and the staff around him were incredibly happy.

      You really can’t do much, unless you want to put in the hard work of building a bridge and creating a good relationship with the guy so that when you do eventually give him ‘advice’ about his unprofessionalism, he’ll take you seriously. Other than complaining about him (since he has continued his behavior I am assuming the Boss doesn’t care), there isn’t much you can do, outside of pranks that make you feel slightly better. Ha. (I’m not proud)

      1. Lulubell*

        Wow, the whole time I was reading this, I was thinking of a guy in my office who fit this to a T, and his name also starts with D. Same one? This guy was fired from my office. From drinking on the job, by the way. Multiple times. It took the third offense to finally fire him. He was also a singer (not professionally) and continues his rambling streams of consciousness on Twitter.

        1. Maggie*

          Dear lord. He sounds like a mess. And yes, my “D” thinks he’s a great singer. But I think he did it more to annoy people more than to elicit praise. Just be thankful he’s gone, like I am. Haha

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I had a colleague who sang to himself, but it was funny. He’d make up words. I’m afraid I encouraged him by laughing.

      As for the rest, it’s perfectly okay to ask him to keep the volume down. Repeat as necessary.

    8. TaterB*

      My sympathies. I used to have a co-worker who made this noise every morning…I guess the best description would be the sound people make when they are dancing disco. My sister thought it was hilarious, but it shredded my last good nerve.

    9. Anoners*

      Wow, we have the same coworker. I feel your pain! I wish I wasn’t so passive and could be more confrontational with them.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      Can you tell him to keep it down because you have to concentrate on your work and his behaviour is making it difficult to do so? Or can you put in earplugs?

    11. Treece*

      My boss does this every day. He is in a cube next to me. Just this morning 2 different songs and a dance. And that was in front of the director of the dept who thought it was funny. If can be funny, but some of us need to concentrate to work. He was attempting to use a cartoon voice to speak to a colleague on the phone today and the person hung up on him. Think he’d get a clue. And he goes on about the drinking too. I guess they are everywhere. And since it is my boss I won’t be saying anything.

    12. Jamie*

      I can’t comment on this one as I’m in favor of capital punishment for anyone singing at work – I can’t over come my raging bias to even pretend to be reasonable.

      But he’s a horrible person and you’re a saint to have not already clocked him. Those are facts.

  3. Sunflower*

    For anyone long distance job hunting or who has long distance job hunted- how long did it take for you to find a job? Did anyone decide to quit their job, move and then find a job when they got there? I can’t decide what’s a worse situation at this point- long distance job searching or quitting my job, moving and getting a job to pay the bills (waitressing) while job searching locally.

    1. Stephanie*

      I have yet to see any of my friends, including very well qualified ones, able to successfully job hunt long distance. There’s so much extra risk and effort involved for a company, which is why I think most employers just throw out those resumes.

      I moved long distance a few years ago and struggled to find a job. I ended up taking a very low paying job at a grocery store to pay the bills. It gave me that extra time necessary to fall in love with my new region and find a better paying job!

    2. Jubilance*

      I did a long distance job hunt a few years ago, and it took me about a year to find a role. In my case, I wasn’t trying to get to a specific city, instead I had a list of cities that I was looking for jobs in. Moving and then job hunting locally wasn’t an option for me due to my circumstances (plus I was looking at several cities) so I just kept applying to things until I found a role.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      My last job search, I opened up nationwide. I did not identify a specific area, so my situation may be slightly different from what you are referring to. But to answer your question, it took me roughly 4 months. I had offers for positions in 3 different cities, had several interviews in a 4th city that did not culminate in an offer, and had travel scheduled to a 5th city that I canceled after accepting my current job. It was a lot of traveling – most of it at the hiring company’s expense, but there were a few times that I had to spring for my own travel due to delays and scheduling (I once got stuck overnight in Boston after one interview, and had an interview the next morning with a different company in Chicago at 9am… the company I interviewed in Boston with graciously put me up in a hotel and rebooked me the next day, but this obviously didn’t work… I ate the cost of a $700 ticket on a flight that did actually leave that evening, and made it to Chicago on time. To add insult to injury, I didn’t take either job!).

      I would never advise moving without a job. Even simple things like getting an apartment become challenging if you do not have a current employer. If you are finding difficulty getting interviews because you do not have a local address, I’d urge you to consider a PO box.

    4. Jubilance*

      I will also add that I was searching long distance is a pretty specialized industry and the job I wound up taking was in MN, where people aren’t as enthusiastic to move to (but I love it here). I’m sure that played a part as well. I think my search would have been 10X harder if I was in an industry that had lots of local candidates.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m originally from Minnesota! It’s a great place that’s definitely undervalued by people in other parts of the country.

        1. OriginalEmma*

          I would love to move to Minneapolis! I’ve heard great things from current and former residents, and I loved my brief time there.

    5. Celeste*

      The smaller the area, the harder it is. It got easier when I just got up and moved there. I was getting married, so I had a place to go. But yeah, nobody was paying attention to my resume from almost a coastal difference.

    6. Sam*

      My coworker found a job in another state within a few months of looking. A local address on your resume and being willing to go to the town for an in-person interview are really helpful.

      1. EmilyG*

        Oh my, I’m finding this thread depressing. I moved for work to a location that isn’t clicking for me and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get back.

        I work in a tight-knit industry. I could put a family member’s address in my desired city on applications, and I’m willing to travel for interviews, but in my case people may know who I’m working for or where I live, so it would probably be weird, right? I just wonder if putting a local address on your resume could backfire when people realize (or already know) it’s not accurate.

        1. Paige Turner*

          My fiance moved for work and ended up not liking it in New City as well (I moved too). He’s also in a tight-knit industry, so what he started job searching again, he applied for numerous jobs back in Old City, had several interviews, and recently accepted an offer :) Not that everyone will have the same experience, but I think that long-distance job searching is (relatively) much easier if it’s somewhere you used to live and where you have a lot of contacts for networking.

        2. Marina*

          It wouldn’t be weird- you can always say that it will be your address when you move and that you wanted to get an indication of which area of the city you would be in.

    7. Turanga Leela*

      My close friend moved without a job and then successfully job hunted locally. She had a job within a few months. She did a lot of research before moving and really used her network–had lunch with friends of friends in the industry and so on. I think it helped to be in the city where she was job hunting.

      Two major caveats: she was a very good candidate (moving from a more competitive market to a less competitive one), and she was laid off before she started job searching, so she didn’t quit a job to move.

    8. cuppa*

      I moved without a job once, and I was able to get a temp job at first (this was before the economic downturn). It actually got me my first permanent job here. I’m not sure if things are quite the same now, though.

    9. Dan*

      It honestly depends on what your field is. Out of grad school (STEM discipline), I had 8 interviews all over the country, and two offers, neither of which was local. I did have an interview with a local employer who said they basically expect to fly in all of their candidates.

      When I was applying for entry level customer service jobs, yeah, they won’t look at you unless you can walk in with an application. I was relocating from one coast to the other for school, and got an interview (and offer) from one place. The HM said to me, “I got this application from a guy 2500 miles and couldn’t figure out what he was thinking, until I realized he walked it in and must be moving.”

      To directly answer your question — out of grad school, it took 4 months to secure both offers.

    10. Jen*

      I’ve done long-distance job hunting twice. I’ve been able to get a few interviews from a different state but never a job. Once I moved it took me around 8 weeks to find a permanent job.

    11. Malissa, CPA*

      It took me about 9 months to land a job. Are you looking at a larger city? My experience was, the smaller the town the more likely they were to call an out-of-state person.

    12. Maddy*

      I successfully long-distance job hunted landing a job in Chicago while living in Washington DC. I wasn’t necessarily looking to move, but I have roots in Chicago so it made sense and I was able to highlight that in my cover letter.

      I think what really helped me is that I have a specialized degree and experience in some high-profile DC organizations that are way more impressive to a Chicago company than a DC one (where all the applicants have those same credentials).

    13. Dang*

      I’m from the northeast and was hired easily in the Midwest. I decided to come back a year ago without a job and still haven’t found one.

    14. Stephanie*

      I’m probably going to buck the trend here. I haven’t landed anything yet, but most of my interviews have been long-distance. I haven’t had a ton of luck finding leads locally, actually. One I used a friend’s address and flew there last-minute, but aside from that, I’ve used my home address.

      I think it’s a couple of things—my skillset is narrow enough relative to the postings that the companies would conduct a nationwide search. Locally, the big industries in my area are cyclical. One in particular, aerospace/defense, is reliant on government contracts and continued military operations. There’s also a very large state university pumping out graduates every semester (and another very large state university pumping out more a couple of hours away), so the market’s flooded with entry- or early-career candidates.

      That being said, I have received pushback wrt to being long-distance. For a job in LA, the interviewer kept asking if I had thought through living in LA (“I saw you used to live on the East Coast. It’s a lot less denser here, traffic’s worse, and it’s just as expensive.”) I interviewed for a job in Michigan and the interviewers kept asking if I’d be ok with the weather.

    15. Chloe*

      I’ve done it twice, and I can say that it definitely depends where you are in your career. Entry-level, you are (most likely) not going to get a job long distance – there are too many local candidates and it’s too much work for the prospective employer to invest in you (harsh but true). I moved from Boston/RI to DC and worked two retail jobs after I’d saved up a little with a little help from my parents to sublet a place pretty much fresh out of college, then got a paid internship and worked 6.5 days a week at that and the better retail job. Did that for four months and my internship hired me full-time, was there for 3.5 years and then moved again back to Boston. Mid-career, I noticed more of an upswing in people noticing my resume (I used a local address and was a little vague about the relocating bit until I received a phone call) and I did have some bites, but nothing concrete until I physically moved.

      Basically: If you have the funds and the drive, move to where you want to work. You’ll have a MUCH better chance at getting a job. Weigh the pros and cons of getting constant flights/hotel rooms, etc. and give yourself reasonable timelines. Also: Network your butt off before you move to said city; you never know who can be a connection and help you out. Lastly, if you haven’t already (and are in the position to do so) make sure to update your LinkedIn to reflect your NEW/wannabe city. Recruiters will be able to find you that way and are more likely to give you a call – you can put something in your info about relocating, or as your header, etc.

      Good luck!! It’s tough, but worth it to get where you want to be.

      1. Sunflower*

        Thanks this is a lot of good info! I’m in Philly but I’m looking at (in order of interest) 1. NYC 2. Boston 3. Chicago. NYC is no problem to get to, Boston is a bit of a stretch and Chicago I’d obviously have to get on a plane. I’ve gotten pretty much zero response from anywhere, even NYC when I explained I have a place to crash and I could even commute for a couple weeks until I found a stable housing situation. It took me about a year to land my job now and I was waitressing before that which I wouldn’t mind doing until I found something but I’m worried I’ll be stuck at that for another year. I’m about 3 years into my career so it might help if I use an NYC address. I only worry about the Linkedin Header as I don’t want my company to know I’m job searching. But I think networking might be the best way to go. Thanks!

        1. Dang*

          Boston is a really tough market in my experience. I’m in metro NYC and haven’t had luck locally either. Chicago im not sure about. I think the big cities are just.. Tough. We think of them as having lots of opportunity and that’s thue, but I find that they’re super competitive.

          1. Dang*

            I hope that didn’t come off as discouraging! Just letting you know you’re not alone in the having trouble with the long distance search. Keep us posted!

      2. SherryD*

        Thank you for that post, Chloe. I have been doing a long distance job search for 2 years, and I’m ready to give up and relocate anyway, and continue the search in that city. I’m really scared to quit my current job, because I’ve known talented people who have stayed unemployed or underemployed for way too long. But I think it’s time to say this (the long distance search) isn’t working, and it’s time to try a new approach. It’s scary! I don’t know if quitting my job and moving is brave, or just foolish.

    16. periwinkle*

      Network, network, network. Attend events and conferences held by your professional organization. See if the chapter in your target city has their own website with job postings (these tend to be supplied by local members; the ones on the national org’s board might just be autogenerated links from big job board searches). See if your alumni office has any way to connect grads.

      If there’s some sort of connection, it might be easier for the hiring manager to consider interviewing you even though you’re currently long distance. I met a manager in my field at a national conference, and applied when his group had an open position (in my ideal region of the country) a couple months later. He’s now my very awesome boss.

    17. Sarah*

      It took me about three months of long distance job searching. I got about 5 interview w/ different companies (Skype, over the phone, and two in person) and 2 job offers. I am very young in my career, had no networking connections in the new city, and don’t work in a highly specialized role (though I do work in the nonprofit sector- so fairly high turnover rate). Just wanted to pop in with a success story because people can be really negative about long distance job searching.

    18. Kelly L.*

      I moved without a job last June. Ideally I had wanted to get the job and then move, but some personal stuff went haywire and it happened the other way around. It took me until September to get a “just to pay the bills” job, but then I got a job in line with my actual career in December. (I’d actually applied for it in June!) The caveat I’d give you is that it might take longer than you expect to get the waitressing job, not because of anything intrinsic to you but because it can sometimes be hard to get those jobs if they’re already flooded with applicants or they think you’re overqualified.

  4. Jill-be-Nimble*

    How much weight do you put on Glassdoor company reviews? I once passed up an interview because the company had terrible reviews–it turned out that the guy I would have worked under was turning all of that around, and the real problems were in another department. I really regret not giving it a shot.

    Now I have an opportunity at another company. It’s a 1.5 hour commute from here in another city that I have no interest in moving to, doing something with a subject matter I’m not all that enthused about–but they company pays pretty well and I could use a good salary! It’s been too long scrimping for me. But the Glassdoor reviews across the board are appalling. There are lots of them, and it’s a “37% approve of the CEO”; “DO NOT WORK HERE, IT’S TOXIC!” tone to all of the reviews. Would you take the opportunity or let it slide? (I’m not desperate for a job–I’m steadily temping–but I’m definitely tired of temping and want something real, soon.)

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m really torn on them – they really, really suffer from “the truth is in the middle” syndrome. I knew a lot of folks at the old job who have their reviews removed because they were too negative.

    2. Sunflower*

      On glassdoor in general- I wouldn’t let a glassdoor review make your opinion. I see a lot of people say to use what you see on glassdoor and have the company kind of address it. Like if glassdoor says ‘they work you into the ground’ ask during the interview ‘what does a typical day look for someone here’.

      However, you seem to only be interested in the job because of the salary and that is what I would tell you to really think about. An 1.5 hour commute- that might even out the extra salary you’re getting. You seem to be not at all into this job except for the salary so I’d think about that more than just the glassdoor review.

    3. Hummingbird*

      Hmmm, your question seems to be familiar from another open thread?

      Anyway, I have not used Glassdoor for my job searching, but I have researched my company on there. The company has quite a few negative reviews – both from the level I work at and from corporate. There are some good reviews slightly mixed in, but when you look at the overall rating, the company is showing a poor average.

      As someone who works there, I mostly agree with the negative reviews, and sometimes I think the ones on my level are missing a few key points that if I was bold enough, I would put on there. I know it’s anonymous, but I stop myself because I worry if I’m the only person who thinks a certain way and can be picked out as the one who wrote it. However, I find it very interesting when someone from corporate writes in, usually someone who has left. While most of us down the ranks from corporate realize corporate is doing a sub-par job, we can get a small glimpse into what some employees have seen and gone through up there.

      I don’t see how going on the interview can’t hurt. You might see something that Glassdoor mentions or you might not see anything at all. I don’t know how many people really know about the site; I only learned about it from reading about it here. What did people do before Glassdoor?

      I hope you get a good job soon. Good luck to you!

    4. Jubilance*

      This can be tricky, people usually leave reviews when they hate a place, not when they love it. Do you know anyone who has worked there previously? Try searching the company name in LinkedIn & see if any of your contacts pop up – you can reach out to them and ask for their perspective of the company.

      Overall you don’t sound very enthused about the role. Remember, money is great but it can’t make up for all the other things that go along with a job.

    5. GrumpyBoss*

      Some of the reviews can give you valuable insight, but some of them are just gripe sessions. If I see a very consistent theme throughout, that is something I’d put weight on. But at the same time, I will ignore several reviews in their entirety because they are petty. And I’m not really interested in what a low level employee thinks about the CEO, not sure why that’s even a question they ask.

      A couple years ago, I was interviewing for a very large company that had a massive art collection that they put on display throughout their various buildings. I read a scathing review on glassdoor about this company because the reviewer didn’t like the art that was chosen for the cafeteria in his building. It was so over-the-top ridiculous, that I immediately dismissed any of his other points, even if they were valid.

      1. Lisa*

        CEO % – Its a reg question if you post a review there, to calculate the % so its on every company profile now.

      2. Windchime*

        Hey, I think I know the company you’re talking about, maybe the one in Wisconsin? I’ve visited that campus and it’s amazing. However, the reviews that say they work their people to exhaustion is correct. Many people are hired right out of college when they are fresh and enthusiastic, and they are burned out and gone within 2-3 years for the most part.

        But yeah, super cool campus and most of the people I have worked with from there are really, really smart.

        1. Research Assistant*

          Would that be the software company in a suburb of the capital? I’m originally from that area and I know a number of people who worked there. Almost everyone hated it and was burnt out really fast. The only people I know who lasted more than a few years and were happy were a pastry chef and one programmer who has been there 15+ years. The money is good, but it’s a hard place to work

          1. klaygenie*

            If it’s the same company I worked at (likely if in WI and software and huge with a nice campus). I loved all of it. Burn out was common but I’d put a lot of that blame on college kids not really knowing how to make work/life balance work.

    6. Betsy*

      I would say treat it as a red flag, but not as your only source of data. In fact, I might even ask the interviewer about it: “I reviewed the glassdoor reviews of your company, and they’re fairly negative. Most people seemed to think that upper management wasn’t really in tune with the workforce and that internal politics could get ugly. Do you think that’s a fair assessment? Are things improving? How do you deal with the environment?”

      If they get angry that you ask, then the reviews are probably fair. If they’re shocked, then the reviews may be off-base. If they say, “Yeah, unfortunately, that’s been true. I try to insulate my people from the worst of the politics, but projects do get impacted,” then you have some information about it.

      1. Mints*

        I don’t think I’m gutsy enough to directly ask about Glassdoor, but I think it could give you ideas what to so about. If people are complaining about teams or support or commission, I take it as a heads-up to ask about those things
        My companies so far have been too large to give me accurate reviews on anything useful on our particular site though

    7. Trixie*

      The flip side is ending up at a company with the same general comments from employees that never ended up on Glassdoor. You’ll always have a few of them which seem to get more attention that positive or neutral attitudes. I think a bigger statement is if the company is always hiring. Ideally they’d be promoting within but most likely high turnover. I find Glassdoor most helpful with the interviews section/tab, getting a really good idea what folks experienced when they applied, timeline, interview itself, etc.

    8. Rana*

      I’d take them with a grain of salt – happy employees aren’t going to post those reviews, generally. Instead, I’d look to see if there’s a theme to the complaints; if they’re all specifically referencing the terrible HR department, for example, or the high-stress culture, that’s useful info. “It sucks here!” – not so much.

    9. Dan*

      I look for recurring themes and a little bit of substance. I ignore “this place sucks” reviews if they don’t have any further facts to back it up.

      I’ve read the glassdoor reviews of my former employer, and they’re spot on.

    10. Sara*

      Hmmmm. I actually looked up my company after I had been laid off. I was horrified actually at what I found; the reviews were horrible and I couldn’t disagree with them.

      But in all honesty, I’m glad that I got to work there. I did experience the same negatives as in the reviews, but on the other hand, there were some benefits to me that outweighed the drawbacks so I’m glad I hadn’t checked it out first and possibly missed out on what I felt was a great experience-building and learning opportunity. (The $$ wasn’t that bad either–not that great by industry standards but it was the highest I’ve had with the most likely chance of going permanent).

    11. A.*

      It depends on what the comments are saying. I try to weed out things that I find petty. My best advice is to see if there’s a pattern and if people provide actual examples versus vague complaining.

    12. Ash (the other one!)*

      It’s the same thing as Yelp. You only go there if you have something to complain about; you never know the back story.

      That being said, I do give weight to friends of friends and colleagues who can give context to their critiques of an organization. I wish I had done more searching for this before my current job since my current organization is a mess and everyone knows it. I would never post it on Glassdoor since my org would likely know it was me and they could screw things up later (references, etc). So, no to Glassdoor, yes to talking to people!

    13. Cruciatus*

      On the flip side, what about when all the reviews are glowingly positive? I looked at this place and it wasn’t on glassdoor but it did have google reviews or whatever popped up when I searched for it online. All were really positive and happy…but they were all posted within the same day or two, nearly 2 years ago. The photos of staff online showed that everyone seemed happy, and on their Facebook page they wished staff members a happy birthday by name (so it at least looks like they value the staff–they all had cakes and balloons, etc.), and it says they “work hard but have fun.” And maybe it’s all true…but 5 glowing reviews made me suspicious! I wish that weren’t so, but…

      1. AnonForThis*

        I worked for a content generation company that was paid to write fake positive reviews for a company on Glassdoor because apparently the ones real employees had left were so terrible they couldn’t hire.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wow. Well, I guess we all learned something about Glassdoor right here. Thanks for sharing that.

    14. NK*

      I assume that they skew negative, since people are more likely to post when they have bad things to say. But just like I do with Yelp reviews, I look for general themes and take those into consideration. I also consider the type of workforce. I work for a company that is only about 10-15% office workers, so I would be much more interested in what they have to say, since I’m in that bucket as well.

    15. CAJ*

      They can be gamed, for sure. My former workplace has great reviews, but I suspect at least 50% are fake and/or coerced by HR out of loyal employees.

      The place has major turnover and *most* folks are generally burnt out and or unhappy. We also signed some docs making us promise not to disparage the organization so I think most people just shut up and move on.

      So, take ’em with a grain of salt and try to independently verify.

    16. Lisa*

      I wished I had taken glassdoor seriously, cause I took a job that turned into a nightmare. I feel bad by not putting my own review there since the job was so bad and i was the 2nd person who left the position after only a few months. I was worried to write a review since my job was a unique title, and didn’t want to risk alienating my network.

    17. Zuckerman's Famous Pig*

      As someone else has stated, I tend to believe also that people generally won’t make an extra effort to sing the praises of a service/product/employer, but they will to complain about said service/product/employer, so I expect that pretty much all the reviews are going to be skewed towards the negative. Having said that, I have looked at Glassdoor to check out potential employers and have looked at the reviews for a previous employer of mine, and those reviews were pretty much dead on.

      Also, the 1.5 hour commute is a relative thing. When I lived in Ohio, I would have never considered a 1.5 hour commute. I now live in the Metro Atlanta area, where if you live in the suburbs and work regular day shift hours, you are going to commute 1.5-2 hours one way. It just doesn’t seem as appalling when everyone else is doing it also :)

    18. Stephanie*

      I look for themes and use those to guide my questions. It was very accurate about my last job, actually. I’d imagine for a big company, it’d probably be more accurate (more data points).

    19. SnoopyDance*

      Personally, I like Glassdoor and the service it provides. You have to do a fair amount of ‘reading between the lines’ in some instances, but in general, it can provide a good amount of information.

      Case in point: I was interested in a position at a company I really, really wanted to work for. I searched Glassdoor for info about the company’s culture and their interview process. Overall, it was a mixed bag – lots of general “it’s great working here!” stuff but a few tidbits of useful information as well.

      I ended up getting an interview with the company and my interview experience was pretty poor. I re-read the interview section on Glassdoor and discovered that others’ experiences were identical to mine.

      I also read about some unsettling things about the culture there, and my red flags were confirmed a few months later.

      If the feedback on Glassdoor is pretty specific and you see a pattern, it’s a decent indication of what it’s like to work there.

    20. laura*

      For one of the companies that I worked for recruiters were required to have a certain amount of positive reviews posted from their new hires each quarter, and a lot of them were fabricated. So.. it depends.

    21. Anonsie*

      I wouldn’t turn down an interview, but I’d be on the lookout for the things in the reviews.

      FWIW I’ve found them to be a lot more accurate than you’d think. It’s true that only angry people take the time to review, but odds are good you’ll brush up against whatever it is they’re angry about.

    22. periwinkle*

      Leaving aside the issue that you’re considering an opportunity that involves a lousy commute in a location where you don’t want to live, doing work you’re not terribly enthusiastic about doing…

      I read Glassdoor reviews the way I do Yelp reviews. If the review is a ranting screed about how horrible everything is, I ignore it. If the review is negative but the tone is reasonable and there’s some sense of balance, I’ll take it more seriously. If there’s a clear pattern after a couple dozen reviews are posted, and the pattern exists across multiple job functions, I’d take it very seriously.

      I like what Sunflower posted about using those negative reviews as a basis for your interview of the hiring manager. How that person responds could indicate that things are not so bad, they’re bad but improving, or the reviewers were right and the place is run by idiots/yellers/blame-passers/rabid squirrels.

    23. Tinker*

      I take the ranty negative and content-free positive reviews with a grain of salt, and look for themes where the positive and negative reviews agree — like if the positive says it’s “stable” and the negative says it’s “deadly boring” or the positive says “exciting and dynamic” and the negative says “completely chaotic”… well. Are there themes by location or position? Does it fit with other information about the place? That sort of thing.

      The former employer that I did this on, for instance, is a Bell System descendant, and the reviews more or less converged on “smart and friendly coworkers, bureaucratic, has a problem with siloing, goes through good and bad cycles, generally good attention to work/life balance”. In fact, the good and bad cycles were apparent in the history of reviews — there were a lot of ranters coming in at about 1-2 year intervals who cited rampant layoffs.

      With that in mind, I went with them having an idea in mind that these things might come up — and sure enough, it was pretty much precisely that right down to the “layoff” bit.

      Also tried it on a friend’s company — read their reviews, said to him “It sounds like you’re great with X and have problems with Y, also you have a ranter who it sounds like got sacked as a persistent misfit.” His response was that this was pretty much precisely correct with regard to both the company and the ranter.

      Of course, the trick with that is that the company has to be large enough to get a good spread, and I’m not sure I’d take that alone as a deal-breaker, but as far as getting a sense of the room I think it works.

    24. Candy Floss*

      I read the reviews for my company and they are accurate twhen evaluated in sum. For example, we pay well for our industry and there are no negative comments about low pay. We have good benefits and that is mentioned a lot. But the issues that are mentioned frequently are the things we struggle with. I dont think any indiviudal review can tell you what the place is like but if you read 50 reviews and see the same issues crop up over and over and over again, I’d say it’s a real issue.

    25. Puddin*

      I don’t let it stop me from interviewing. But I do look for common threads in the rants and raves. What is ‘everyone’ in agreement on? Can I live with those things? How do I see those things played out in the interview process?

      My current company got consistent low marks in Glassdoor for the HR dept. I had no idea what that meant though. Now, unfortunately, I do.

    26. azvlr*

      As one who thrives on feedback, I am one of those weird people who will take the time to leave positive comments. Having experienced what a bad economy can do to a business, I am a big believer in “pay it forward”. Thinking about Yelp, if I have a great experience somewhere and I can influence others to patronize a business, then I will post comments. The same way with negative comments. If you were able to look at the sum total of all my comments on Yelp, you’d see that I love some places and others, not so much. So, as others have mentioned, I think taking the reviews in total is more valuable than reading single reviews.
      I haven’t seen anyone mention that reviews are often bad or good based on the department or type of work a person is in for a company. Just because the call center has a bad manager, doesn’t mean you will have a bad experience in the IT department. People tend to be very myopic in their reviews.

  5. Babe?*

    I can’t decide if I’m reading too much into something or not and hoping y’all can give me perspective.

    I was talking via our company’s internal messaging program with a co-worker. He’d asked for help on something. Once I finished I let him know. The exchange went like this:

    Me: All done!
    Him: Thanks
    Me: No prob Bob [note: not his actual name, just playing on the childish statement]
    Him: You misspelled babe
    -pause as I consider what he said-
    Me: [sent him a picture of the pig] you mean this one?

    It caught me off guard and I’m not sure if I’m reading more into it then there was. Part of it is because I know his personal situation – we live on the east coast of the US, a year ago his wife decided she didn’t like it here and moved back with her family in Canada. He’s clearly lonely but I could be letting that influence my impressions of what happened.

    I don’t really want to do anything about what he said but I can’t get it out of my head and guess I need validation that it crossed some line, if only slightly.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Consider yourself validated. Slight line-crossing is a good description. I think you handled it well. You might need to shut him down more explicitly in future (e.g. “That’s not appropriate”), but you’ll see over time if that’s the case.

    2. ClaireS*

      I agree with all others here. Not a horrible line cross but it would make me extra conscious about shutting down anything else that comes forward later.

      Also, I love your response! Perfectly diffused the situation.

    3. Sara*

      If this was the only type of exchange you’ve had, I woulnd’t overthink it. You shut it down but in a funny and not really awkward way.

    4. Chriama*

      I think if you feel it crossed a line, then it did. In other circumstances or in a different relationship, I think the comment would have been fine. But if it made you uncomfortable, that’s perfectly valid. I like the way you handled it, and I might recommend being a little more careful around him for the next couple weeks (e.g. don’t volunteer personal information about your weekend around the water cooler). Just to set the tone of your working relationship, you know?

    5. Mints*

      I love your response! Slightly off in your relationship, and you give a “nope but we’re still friends”

  6. Breaking up with your job*

    I work for a small company (4 people) and have been here 5 years. I’m unsatisfied with my current role and have started the job search. I’ve had a few phone interviews and in person discussions, so things seem to be going well while I look for the right fit.

    The issue is that I’m terrified that 1. My job will find out I’m looking and 2. That I will eventually have to tell them I’m leaving. We are close-knit, and sometimes I feel relieved if a job doesn’t work out because I’m SO scared of change and letting down my bosses. It’s going to be incredibly awkward when I leave, especially because we’re so small. How can you break up better?

    1. Ali*

      Oh I know. I’m in the stages of applying for an internal role, which would put me on a different team, and I’m kind of dreading what happens if I get it and I have to leave my current team behind. They’re all great, even if my boss can be unorganized, and we’re fairly close knit. (Even though I don’t live near the company’s office, I was invited in last week for dinner.)

      I always fear too that my search is going to be found out. Sometimes I’m posting something here and I’m like what if Boss and Colleagues read AAM and they know that I’m searching?

      I don’t have any advice. The best thing I do now is remind myself of the reasons why I’m searching, none of which have to do with having bad coworkers (albeit I have kind of a clueless job) and know that all good things must come to an end.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Just remember, if they decided they needed to eliminate your position, they might feel bad, they might offer you some severance, but they’d still let you go. You can give them more notice, offer to train your replacement, etc, but you’re an employee, not family, so just treat them the way you’d want to be treated. And if you really are that close to the rest of them, you can always keep in touch after you leave.

      If it doesn’t work out, and they try to guilt or shame you into staying, they’re being unprofessional, and it should make you feel better, not worse, about leaving.

    3. spocklady*

      I am working my way through some of those same issues! In fact, my work best friend just had her last day before she moves to a new job with better benefits that will pay significantly more, and she wrestled with those problems too!

      I like what Ali said, and the way it helps me to think about it is this: we’re not here because we all love hanging out so much. We’re here for the paycheck – if that stopped coming, we’d all stop showing up. If I’m unhappy about the work, the political structure, the management, whatever, none of those are solved by working with really nice people. They’re only solved by me getting out of Dodge.

      There was a lot of guilt applied, and “it’s not too late to change your mind!” comments made, when work best friend announced that she had accepted another offer. I kept reminding her that *they’re* the ones making it awkward and painful, not her. What they should be saying is, “Congratulations – we’ll miss you, but we’re so happy for you!”

      Good luck!

    4. Treece*

      I know this isn’t the case with everyone but I was very nervous when I gave my notice at oldjob last year. I wish I had planned out what I was going to say before I talked to my manager. I told her, ” I have to give my 2 weeks notice today.” She thought I meant that I was being forced to give my notice. It was funny in retrospect but embarrassing in the moment.

  7. El Presidio*

    What are some of the best things one can do when going on an extended leave? I’m going on maternity leave in December and I’m trying to make the leave period as easy as possible on my coworkers and my manager.

    1) Managers: what do you look for in terms of preparedness?
    2) Coworkers: what makes this better/less stressful on you?

    1. NylaW*

      For #2 – Good documentation of your processes. You might have some time to train a coworker on how to do a task, but if they don’t do it frequently or haven’t done it before, they may have questions. Since you won’t be around to ask, you should document as well as you can so they have something to refer to.

        1. NylaW*

          Yes! And don’t just print out one copy of the documentation. Ideally your department would have a place where this type of thing should go so anyone can find it if they need it.

    2. Celeste*

      As a coworker, I tied up every last loose end that I could. Turn in whatever is done, see who else can take up the slack while I’m out if something is going to be due, change my voicemail and email to “out of office”, and give a status to my boss of where I am on everything before I go. IMO you can try to project what you will do when you return, but in reality things may come up while you’re out that change these plans.

      Ideally you can do this in stages and get yourself to where you have less to do right beforehand just in case labor starts earlier.

    3. Clinical Social Worker*

      You could always ask them this question. I’m sure if you share your current plan to help and invite them to let them know what else you could do they’d be willing to tell you.

    4. Traveler*

      Seconding the good documentation, and being available to answers questions when absolutely necessary assuming your coworkers won’t abuse thise. There were some things even despite documentation that when coworkers would go on extended leave I needed to clarify.

    5. Bend & Snap*

      Super thorough handoff. I went on leave 6 weeks earlier than expected and a couple of things had to be picked up in the middle without context. I know that was difficult for my coworkers.

      I would make sure to start documenting everything, ccing people as appropriate and be ready for baby to arrive early just in case. Keep a running list of your projects, status, people who are working on it with you etc. and document any previously unwritten processes.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, as I got closer I started making a point of making my desk and files “transition ready” so that if something happened in the night and my leave started the next day someone could at least have a clue what was going on.
        If you work on long term projects, ask if the people likely to be taking on your work should start to be cc’d/invited to meetings now or in the near future so that they can have the appropriate background info necessary when you are out.
        Do everything you can to avoid having people have to call you when you are out on leave, and don’t make unrealistic promises like “oh, I’ll start checking email after a week, and be available for conference calls after 2 weeks.” Unless you are Marissa Meyer, with an appropriate sized personal staff, you will need to focus on taking care of yourself and baby during your leave, not your office.
        One thing I did when I was on leave with my first son was that I came back to the office very slowly. At 6 weeks, I came in one afternoon for our departmental staff meeting and then a meeting with my boss, to get a high level update of what was going on while I was gone. The next week I came in for our group weekly meeting, and one other day to start going through my emails and get caught up. Then at 8 weeks I came back for 3 full days, and 9 weeks came back full time. The easing in was good for me to get used to being away from the baby and to get back into the swing of things, and we didn’t tell any of my clients I was back until 9 weeks (and I didn’t answer the phone when it was an outside line, or turn off my out of office email or voicemail until then).

        1. NylaW*

          This, so much. Make sure you take the time for you. Work will survive. If you need to, talk to your boss well in advance about what the plan would be if you needed more time off, if there were other issues, etc. You can plan for a baby all you want, but they often have their own ideas. :)

        2. Bend & Snap*

          Lawd yes. I was 100% on leave, no questions, and I stuck my work phone in a drawer. It was amazing. I can’t imagine having to field questions while juggling a new baby.

          I like the transition advice above. I came back full time at 12 weeks and it was terrible. I was just sitting at my desk thinking I was in the wrong place and how could I leave my baby…while people were hugging and going ZOMG you’re back and handing off projects. Very overwhelming.

    6. Megan*

      Documentation, and having your coworkers actually *do* the processes themselves a time or two before you leave. I’m actually working on learning some new processes for a coworker’s leave right now – every Thursday is my day to run all of her reports and practice, and she doesn’t leave until mid-July. By the time she goes, I’ll be up and running.

      1. Lucy VP*

        I think this is really important. A slower more managed transition is so much easier than working all your duties until your last day and then handing them over.

    7. Pepper Pot*

      I agree on the documentation – written procedures, notes on where you are in ongoing work or anything pending will make your coworkers’ jobs much easier. My department depends heavily on our electronic procedures folder and all procedures follow the same template layout so we can pick up routine tasks for one another fairly smoothly.

      As for the manager’s side, I have a fabulous boss, and I told her about my pregnancy as early as I felt comfortable so we could start working together on a general plan. I took 12 weeks leave, so it was helpful that we had months in advance to consider the department’s workload, and it took a lot of stress off of both of us. We delayed and/or reassigned a couple of less essential projects so we were covered in the case of early labor. The best part though was that it gave me the opportunity in the last couple of months to focus less on routine tasks and more on coaching my team members in work they’d carry on while I was out. That was rewarding, because it’s something I always want to do more of, but it was also a more relaxed way to work through those last weeks because I was really tired and uncomfortable by then, but I didn’t want to take leave early and then have fewer weeks to spend with my baby.

      Also, congratulations!!

    8. Anonsie*

      Tell all your contacts who will be filling in and when exactly you will be back, what that person normally does and what they will be doing while you’re gone.

  8. Ali*

    On Monday, I sent a follow-up e-mail about the position at my company that I was interested in, since it’d been about two weeks and I hadn’t heard anything. Well, yesterday, the hiring manager got back in touch and I have a phone interview this afternoon! My boss is on medical leave right now, so I let him know about the interview (he was OK with me applying for the job; we discussed it before his leave) and he gave me some last-minute pointers on how to talk to the HM, as they have different styles.

    The scheduling issues in my current role are unfortunately continuing. One of our coworkers, who has been on the team less than six months, is getting married next month and on top of taking three weeks off, he’s also been asking for coverage and switches frequently. He’s asked other team members to cover for him about three times in the last month. I know it shouldn’t be my problem, but I’m constantly asked to do it, and it’s getting annoying, especially since Coworker can never cover for me when I need it. I finally spoke up about it yesterday to our stand-in team leader, and he said he can understand why it’s a bad look to the rest of the team.

    My friends who are married have mostly said this guy has no choice and has to take a ton of time off because that’s normal when you get married. I’ve always tried to be flexible and cover shifts for others, and it just drives me nuts that this guy who’s been with us for less than a year is taking off left and right because of his wedding. I guess the honeymoon and ceremony were set when he got hired, but everything else is just a hassle.

    Is it fair that I’m annoyed with him?

    1. NylaW*

      I think it’s reasonable that the company agreed to give him the time off for the rehearsal, ceremony, and honeymoon (though 3 weeks seems a little long to me), especially since it was all booked before he was hired. But the other instances where he’s off and needing coverage are an issue to me. Yes he has obligations and things to see to because he’s getting married, but the way you describe it seems a little excessive.

    2. Jenny S.*

      It’s understandable that you’d be annoyed. It’s an inconvenience for you and probably seems unfair since this guy is so new. On the other hand, a wedding is a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event and if his managers are ok with him taking all this time off, and in fact agreed to a lot of it when they hired him, there’s not much you can do about except grin and bear it. And be pleasant to everyone in the meanwhile. After he comes back from his honeymoon, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him to cover for you if you need it – if he is like every other self-aware person, he will recognize that he now has to be a team player.

    3. Matthew Soffen*

      Its been 23 years since I helped plan my wedding I do NOT remember anytime that I need to take time off work for the wedding planning. My (now) wife gave me specific tasks that I did at lunchtime. And the few times when we needed to talk with people (baker, invitations, etc.) we scheduled those appointment for after work hours.

      Why can’t he and his fiance try to schedule more things on the same day instead of needing to do 10 different days for 10 different things ?

      I can’t fault you for being a bit annoyed. And after he returns from the honeymoon, will things change (Or will he be accustomed to being able to ignore the schedule).

      1. Ali*

        My worry about this coworker is that he got off on a choice day that me and my friend (a guy who is more senior than me) were asking for. My more senior friend got the day off, which is fine because he works hard as well and has been in the role longer than me. However, I have to work on this day (at an undesirable shift no less) while New Guy gets it off because of his appointments. I told the stand-in team lead that I’d like to have this day off again (or at least a better shift) once New Guy is married but that I’m concerned he’ll like his schedule too much and won’t budge on it. (He also was handed two of my shifts that I considered more ideal and I got stuck with his old hours.)

        Stand-In can’t veto anything on the schedule or make it; that’s all up to my boss, who is out. When Boss made the schedule, he tried to please the whole team, and in doing that, he made people unhappy with him, especially since he was giving a new hire better placement in the pecking order. We all know he is getting married, but it’s hard for some of the more senior members on the team to empathize with him and be understanding when we see what he is getting and asking for.

    4. Bend & Snap*

      Um yes it’s annoying. I planned my wedding from another state and took like 3 days off in the 10 months of the planning process, all pre-scheduled.

      Unless the couple doesn’t have their act together, there’s no reason to be taking that time off at the last minute.

      Can you say no when he asks?

      1. Ali*

        I switched with him once in January, but the other times I ignore him because he’s asking for times off I already have a shift or he’s asked off at bad times for me anyway. (He got Mother’s Day off, and my mom was in the hospital the week before, so I wanted to have time with her…it was nothing serious, though. I also had to do stuff with my dad’s family. He also requested a switch on Father’s Day.)

        I don’t know if I want to say the couple doesn’t have their act together. I do know they’re young and not overly far into their 20s. (She’s in medical school.) He’s dropped comments at work that have made me raise my eyebrows, but I won’t repeat them here b/c I don’t want to come off like I’m judging their readiness to get married or their character. He even told me that oh he was sorry I didn’t get the hours I wanted, but he has “appointments” and that’s why he needs the time.

        I think at this rate, I’m counting down to his wedding more than he is!

        1. Ali*

          Detail left out: He was gone Mother’s Day because of his “bachelor weekend,” so he was out Friday-Sunday. In that month since, I believe he’s asked off two or three more times.

    5. Natalie*

      “My friends who are married have mostly said this guy has no choice and has to take a ton of time off because that’s normal when you get married.”

      Ugh, I hate this attitude. Other than getting a license, possibly a blood test depending on the state, and spending 15 minutes with a judge, every other part of getting married is a choice. That doesn’t make those different things *bad* choices, but (g) you gotta own that.

      1. MJH*

        Yep, I took almost no time off until two days before the wedding, and an extra hour one morning to go get the marriage license. That’s really all that you need.

      2. NylaW*

        Same. That attitude really irritates me and it’s unfair to those who make other, perhaps less traditional, choices. I did a lot of stuff over lunch, or I came into work early so I could leave early. When the time came, I took 2 days before the ceremony off, and I was off through our honeymoon for a total of 12 days. This guy should be able to manage helping his fiance with wedding plans without it seeming like he’s abusing PTO or screwing over his coworkers.

        I’d be interested to see if this type of thing continues after he’s married, but with other seemingly valid excuses.

      3. spocklady*

        Agreed – I actually had a pretty traditional wedding that I arranged from out-of-town. I *did* take some time off for planning/picking up my dress/other stuff, but it wasn’t at others’ expense, and I tried really hard to minimize the impact on my organization. Just because a person is getting married, doesn’t mean they need to be a pain in everyone else’s butt!

    6. Diet Coke Addict*

      No way do you have to take that time off, nor is it normal. When I got married I didn’t take a honeymoon, so I was off three days surrounding my wedding, and I took off exactly zero days for planning. Wedding vendors are very, very understanding that most people work, and are 95% of the time available evenings and weekends for just that reason.

      So no, not a good excuse.

    7. Sunflower*

      I think it’s fair. My sister is getting married and she seems to have a lot of random appointments in the middle of the day and makes her fiance tag along sometimes. HOWEVER, they work at the same company and it’s a totally different atmosphere. There are no shifts/needing to cover people, frequently work from home and summer is so slow they are encouraged to take lots of time off. My guess is if they both didn’t have this flexibility, neither would be taking so much time off and she wouldn’t be making him come to so many appointments with him. I would maybe follow up with your boss and say you understand that they worked out these agreements but attempt to get some reassurance that once the wedding is over, he will be in the same boat as everyone else

    8. M*

      Totally fair that you’re annoyed. Esp since your workplace (sounds) like it relies heavily on the seniority structure.
      I’m planning my wedding (3 weeks to go) and I’ve only taken 2 days off in the last 6 months. I’ve only had one vendor who wasn’t able to meet during evenings/weekends.
      Hope it’s over for you soon! Or atleast your boss comes back.

    9. LCL*

      Your boss needs to decide if you guys are shiftworkers or not. If you are, he needs to set up some rules for more fair shift rotation. It sounds like your work just sort of evolved into shift work, so you don’t have rules. Or you don’t have the right ones. When your boss returns you will have to address it with him. If you have time, come up with some suggestions to help him implement this.

      Next time Mr social life begs you to cover for him for some oh so urgent appointment, ask him why he doesn’t use his time off in the middle of the week for his appointment. If he doesn’t get it, ask him if he has a copy of the schedule. Ask him if he has considered having his work schedule in his hand when he makes appointments. I have done this for coworkers who needed the reminder. And it usually makes them mad, but tough. They are inconveniencing the rest of the group because they don’t think they should have to plan ahead.

      In the meantime, talk to the fill in person. Ask him to explain his policy for time off. Tell him how you have been jobbed because of new guys’ constant appointments. It sounds like he is making a classic mistake often made by people responsible for schedules but it isn’t their primary job-he is granting leave requests in order of perceived importance. Big mistake. People who ask for constant appointments for personal business never stop, they only get worse, and this conduct shouldn’t be rewarded.

      1. Ali*

        I have always had a shift, so it’s not like we were all 9-5ers who suddenly became shift workers. We work in an industry (media) that is 24/7. When my boss wanted to implement a new schedule, I told him my hours were fine as is and made a couple of preferences known, including the choice day off I wanted. I don’t know why he took my shifts that I said I liked and gave them to Wedding Coworker. My coworker, like I said, claimed “appointments” when he knew I was disappointed and that he felt bad. I feel like going back to him and saying if you feel so bad, give me back my hours after your wedding and honeymoon are over!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think the ball is in your court. You can say “hey, I have helped out Groom during his (epic) wedding. (Don’t say, epic of course.) Now it should be my turn to get a slice of the pie. I don’t mind helping but I think everyone should have their fair chance to have a schedule they can work with. I would like to have X and Y. Can we do this?”

          1. Ali*

            That’s what I plan on doing. He’s getting married in about a month, so hopefully I have some say afterwards. I tried talking to my boss about this and found he was generally useless/wanted to dismiss it when asked, though, so I’m not sure how much luck I’ll have. His stand-in listened better.

    10. Candy Floss*

      It seems to me you’re over-thinking this. It’s immaterial whether someone wants time off to plan a wedding or sit on their ass watching L&O reruns. If you can say “no” to covering or switching unless you want to do it, I don’t see the problem.

  9. Turanga Leela*

    Inspired by one of today’s letters: does anyone have great stories about religious accommodations at work? Have you figured out unobtrusive or helpful ways of handling religious restrictions on yourself or coworkers? I find this totally fascinating, and I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with it.

    1. Sascha*

      What kind of religious accommodations? We have a few Muslim employees in my department and we usually just have to accommodate dietary needs when ordering group meals, but that’s easily done, unless we order from some place that feels the need to put bacon on everything, ever after we asked them not to. Those places usually get on a “no order” list if they do that.

    2. NylaW*

      I think it’s very important to be upfront about the expectations of any job, but especially those where there could be sensitive situations relating to any protected statuses or potentially inflammatory issues (thinking political or social issues that are still existing in gray areas just as same sex marriage, gun control, etc.). That way staff can decide for themselves if they can accept those expectations and if the job and company culture are a good fit for them.

      As far as I understand, you can’t discriminate on hiring, but the person has to be able to do the job with reasonable accommodations. For example, in the medical field staff are expected to deal with patients of all genders, races, etc. If someone’s religion does not allow them to touch women, but they are someone whose job it is to perform medical procedures on men and women, it’s not likely that you’d be able to make a reasonable accommodation by having them only ever do procedures on men. You don’t control who your patients are.

      AAM probably has a better handle on what you might be required to accommodate and what you don’t.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Yeah, I’m asking less about legal accommodations than social ones. The particular situation I was thinking of was the one in this morning’s letter, where a woman didn’t want to meet one-on-one with men. (I’m oversimplifying, and we don’t know that it was religiously motivated, but it might well have been.) Similarly, I’ve known Orthodox Jewish coworkers who didn’t want to shake hands with people of the opposite sex. We’ve also had discussions on AAM about how to handle work cocktail events if you don’t drink but don’t want to call attention to it.

        I’m really interested in how people handle that kind of religious restriction on social/professional behavior without becoming “that Orthodox girl” or “that Mormon guy” at the office.

        1. ClaireS*

          I can speak to the “no drinking” thing. I work in a traditional industry that values drinking. I am not a big drinker because it upsets my stomach. I’m also a young woman so not drinking automatically gets the “you’re preggers” side eye. I fake drinking all the time.

          But, I have noticed that’s it becoming less and less of an issue. One colleague doesn’t drink but you’d never know if you didn’t pay attention. He always just casually orders a non-alcoholic beverage and no one gives him grief.

          I think the biggest thing is to make it a non-issue. Have non-alcoholic drinks available and say nothing when someone chooses that option

          1. Del*

            As another non-drinking young woman (and for religious reasons, not pregnancy ones), making it a nonissue really seems to be the best path. If anyone does comment on it, I just tell them I’m the DD or I’m driving myself home — I don’t need to get into my religious beliefs, and I’ve found people tend to feel judged for their own drinking if I do.

          2. NoPantsFridays*

            I don’t drink either due to what I’ll call personal psychological tendencies. I really do not want to broach the topic in the workplace. Several coworkers like to drink heavily– to the extent that they have to call in “sick” the day after company events. Some coworkers have taken my silent non-drinking as commentary on their own drinking, which it’s not (my personal tendencies have nothing to do with them), but thankfully most of them have treated it as the non-issue it is. I don’t raise the issue, and neither do they. I’m new to the company presented myself as the non-drinker I am from the beginning, so hopefully as I continue to not-drink in the future, it’ll only become even less of an issue. And coworkers would not attribute any other reason to the non-drinking, because they would’ve always known me as a non-drinker.

        2. Observer*

          A lot of this is just being polite. For instance, you simply don’t comment on someone’s choice of drink or food, or lack thereof. And, you don’t make a big announcement that you can’t have x, y or z. For the rest, it’s generally about not making a big issue. For instance, “Oh, I don’t shake hands with people of the other gender. Do tell me about the project you were working on.” In if you are on the receiving end, you just get on with the conversation.

        3. OhNo*

          Gloves are magic if you have reasons for not touching others. There is one man – not a coworker, but someone who works for a transportation service I take frequently – who either wears a pair of thin gloves constantly, or pulls them on just before helping/touching someone. If you don’t draw attention to it, and you do it often enough, it tends to fly under the radar. Of course, this may be a lot more obvious in an office environment than it is in a profession that requires you to work with your hands.

          Also, I’m not sure what the rationale is, but one of the offices I work at is very much a no-handshake environment. I have no idea how it started, but it is true to the point that I find it very weird when someone offers their hand for a handshake at that office. We tend more toward a nod and smile type of greeting instead.

        4. Joey*

          A religious accommodation that breaks another law (ie treating one sex differently) is an undue burden and therefore doesn’t have to be accommodated.

          I’ve done accommodations for people who fasted and prayed at different times of the day. It’s not that big a deal really. It’s just figuring out how and if you can work around their religious needs.

    3. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure exactly what religion my company president is but he doesn’t drink or eat pork. He can be a jerk but is pretty understanding about these norms. We don’t serve pork at any of our events but we do serve alcohol and he encourages us to get drinks at dinner if we want to. Some mornings it’s really hard to go to our events at the hotels and smell the bacon down the hallway though….

    4. MaryMary*

      I worked at a company that provided a room for Muslim associates to pray during Ramadan, and set out matzo in the cafeteria for Jewish associates during Passover. They were good about providing a vegetarian lunch option year around, but there was a definite increase in fish dishes on Fridays during Lent.

    5. OriginalEmma*

      I don’t have a personal story but one from a relative. She’s a realtor in an area with a large Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish population. Orthodox and Hasidic men cannot touch women, and vice versa. My aunt, having worked with the community for years, was cognizant of this religious restriction and so would not shake hands with the men who came into her office. She didn’t say anything to highlight the fact and would otherwise behave congenially.

      One customer had come in with his son and thanked her for not trying to shake his hand because it saved him the embarrassment of having to be rude by refusing. Possibly also because he didn’t want to have to behave rudely (to majority American culture) in front of his kid.

  10. Lils*

    How could management compassionately handle this situation?

    A few weeks after starting a new job, a woman gives birth to a special needs baby, who must be moved to a hospital across the country. Almost a year later, the baby has had many setbacks, is still hospitalized, and the parent has not returned to work. The job requires specific skills and the organization needs someone doing the work.

    If you were the manager, what would you do?

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m not sure on the compassion part but I think she needs to be let go. I’m shocked she isn’t trying to move across country. not sure what country you’re in but is she still getting paid all this time?

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I would imagine that after a year, she is no longer on a paid leave. The only thing I would do as a manager is attempt to fill the position. If that means keeping a seat warm for her if and when she returns, that would obviously be my first option, but after 1 year, I would no longer keep 1 head count tied up on her.

    3. Betsy*

      Oof. Yeah, that’s really hard.

      I think you probably need to be clear with her about what’s going on. “I know this is a really difficult time, but we do need to talk about what you see as your future with the company. We’re in a position where we really need someone in your position, and while we’re glad to work with you to find a solution, we need to be able to move forward with our business, as well. Can we establish a timeline, and say that by X date, you will either return to work or resign?”

      Before doing this, look into how easy/hard it would be to find a contractor for the time frame you’d be offering. If it’s just impossible to hire a temporary person, X date has to be pretty soon. If you can hire a 6-month/9-month/12-month contractor, you may be able to offer more flexibility.

    4. Celeste*

      First, I can’t imagine our HR letting her go a year without some resolution. That said, it is probably time to contact her and kindly explain that you two should talk and re-evaluate the situation. I think it’s okay to say, here is a date that I need your answer by on whether you will come back to work for us the following Monday. We do need the work done, and we understand that you cannot be in two places at once.

      Hopefully she will thank you for having kept her job open this long and bow out on the spot so as not to have to have an open item. It’s fair to ask for what you need.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is the one thing I was stuck on, the uncertainty. If she thought she could be back to work even part time in a few months, I might push to get a temp to cover for her for a while longer. Despite the mention of specific skills, there are probably people looking for work who have those skills and would take a temp assignment, and besides, the company has done without her for a year already. Ideally we would have asked her this six months ago, as IMO six months is pretty generous, as it’s twice what FMLA requires.

    5. Jubilance*

      Wow that’s tough. Is this a large corporation that has an office in the city the employee is now in? Is she able to work part time or remotely while staying with her child? If those aren’t options, I see no other alternative than having the conversation with the employee and explain that they can no longer hold her position.

    6. Bend & Snap*

      Are you in the US?

      My sister in law was out for 9 months with a brain injury and her employer gave her a generous separation package when they let her go.

      You have to do what’s best for the business. Give her severance and a good reference if she deserves it and fill the role.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband was let go just before the end of month number three. His boss was really upset, you could tell. ‘But the boss said that he would help my husband find a new job somewhere in the company if he came back. It was clear to us that was a personal offer of help and not a company promise to re-employ my husband. No doubt in my mind that the boss would have provided great references, too.

        In short the boss followed company rules and then added in what he was willing to offer personally.

    7. Lils*

      I don’t work for the same organization, but it’s in the US and it’s a public institution. I’m sure she’s not on paid leave anymore. She can’t do this work from a distant location, or not much of it anyway. She says she’s been “fired” and some are saying that’s not fair. However they gave her a month before the separation date and are working with her on her baby’s insurance coverage. I’m not sure what I would do differently. Is her management team being horrible or unfair?

      1. Sunflower*

        Well FMLA only protects your job for 6 weeks and this company, IMO, has been more than fair leaving her job open for this long. At this point, I don’t see how she could even realistically come back to work and I think she knows it. It sucks- she is in a really tough position but I think she knows that there is no way this is going to work out. Is she maybe able to transfer over to a differnet department where telecommuting is an option? To me, offering her that is really the only thing the company could have done. Maybe she was hoping to leave on her own instead of being asked to leave?

        1. Arjay*

          Not that it makes a difference in this specific case, but FMLA covers up to 12 weeks or 480 hours of leave.

      2. Biff*

        I don’t know what you are accustomed to, but in my industry they would have likely not given her nearly the same amount of consideration. I think she would have been let go with no cobra coverage very early on in the process.

      3. fposte*

        It doesn’t sound like they’re being unfair to me.

        I get that life is being unfair to her, in that she has a seriously ill child and lost her job. It’s also possible that the workplace didn’t manage expectations well on this, in that they may have sounded really generous until they couldn’t be generous any more.

        But if the company kept her on the the rolls for longer than FMLA, they’ve been fair and more. This one of those turnabout things–if they couldn’t pay her for a year that she was actively doing her job, would she think it would have unfair to leave?

      4. Not So NewReader*

        While I will quickly agree that it is not fair, I can also say that this is ordinary and to be expected.
        Maybe she can negotiate something for rehiring in the future?

    8. Joey*

      I’d tell her we sympathize but have business needs and can’t wait indefinitely. And if she can’t return soon we need to fill the position and she should come talk to us when she’s back in the job market. Of course the specific verbiage would be more sympathetic.

      And fwiw I’ve held jobs for that long for people and they’ve totally understood when I did this.

      1. BritCred*

        agreed – boss recently had to refill my position because it was a one man role that needed constant attendance and a very structured person in the role.

        Business needs were discussed, I openly admitted that I realised I couldn’t fill them or give an expectation of when I would be able to.

        We left with the HR manager, the MD and my Boss all saying “call us when you are well.”

        No bad feelings and HR admitted that that was the easiest “firing” they’d ever done.

        I am not a *normal* employee though… In the sense that I often put the company above me and often took the company side over the personal side.

  11. Meghan*

    I had an informational interview back at the end of an April for a position that wouldn’t be available for 2-3 months. The company’s HR person reached out to me to come in for this via linked in. Last week I emailed her via our linkedin thread to ask if she had an updated timeline but I haven’t heard back.

    At this point, would it be out of line to email the hiring manager to ask about an updated timeline?

    1. Stephanie*

      I think it’s reasonable to ask now. It’s been several months with no word and a solid week since you last reached out. (I personally think LinkedIn is less reliable for contact.) But I have no experience on the issue…

  12. Stayc*

    It’s been a crazy week…job interview, job offer, counter offer from my current job. I accepted the counter offer then the new job came back with 5k more, but I ultimately decided I was happy with my current job (and new 45% raise!!) that I would stay.

    I know there is a lot of advice not to accept a counter offer, but I think I made the right decision. I got a fully approved counter offer from our main office (we were just acquired) in under 5 minutes. And the COO and CEO came to talk to me about how important I am to the org…Just hope I don’t regret my decision in a few months!

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I don’t know, I think 45% is enough for most of us to overlook the (very valid) advice on not accepting a counteroffer.

      Can’t speak for anyone else, but my #1 motivator is money. Challenge of the position, growth, fun work environment, that is all very important. But it isn’t anywhere near the weight I place on pay.

      Congrats on your new found success :)

      1. Stayc*

        In this case, it was all about the money. I recently got engaged, am planning and paying for a wedding, and want to buy a new house in the future.

        Other than that, I enjoy my work/environment, coworkers, and now they’re promising me telecommuting too.

        And thanks :)

        1. Janis*

          Stayc — Maybe I’m looking at this from a different direction, but if your present employer *could* have paid you 45% more, and it took you nearly leaving for them to pony up, then maybe, in reality, it’s not such a nice place to work. If you’d said 15%, or possibly even 20%, I might agree but 45 flippin’ percent?? I think that speaks volumes on how much they underpay their staff.

          1. Stayc*

            In general they aren’t bad, but I started here 2 years ago with only 1 year experience out of college. I was promoted last year with about a 20% raise, but as I got more experience in my current role, a salary adjustment was definitely warranted. Does it suck that it took going this far to get a raise? A little. But I’ve now doubled my salary in 2 years, am well within the market range, and will be set for several more years with the usual 3% increase or so we get.

    2. Calla*

      Congrats and hope it all goes well!

      When I gave notice at my last job about three weeks ago, one of my bosses asked if I would be open to a counter-offer. I declined to open that discussion up, but I have to admit, I’m really curious what they would have come up with to offer!

      1. Matthew Soffen*

        Keep this in mind though

        They may have done the 45% raise to keep you there because you’re valued…

        OR..

        They “could” be doing this as a way to get you to stay working there while they find a replacement for you (and they fire you for whatever reason they want -You’re probably in an at-will work location.

        1. Stayc*

          Yeah, and that’s definitely something that could be happening, since we are moving into our busy season. But I don’t believe so because they’re also working on a retention bonus if I stay a year.

          At the same time, you can move to a new company and they can go under/have a terrible environment, so either way it was no guarantees.

      2. Stayc*

        They asked originally if I’d be open to a counter, and I prevaricated, knowing that my boss’s boss (who happened to be on vacation) didn’t believe in counter offers. But when they came back with a firm number so quickly, I opened up to the idea. And when my boss’s boss found out, he was SO GLAD they countered and I accepted, and just wished I had come to them sooner before I accepted the other offer.

  13. MB*

    I am currently job hunting and have a networking contact who I’m pretty sure knows the hiring manager for a position I am interested in (they work for the same department at a college but in two different buildings, they have both been there at least 8 years). I was hoping for some help phrasing “hey do you know this person?” Also should I email my cover letter and resume along with the initial email or wait to see if they know the hiring manager.

    1. Trixie*

      I think in the past AAM has encouraged job hunter to include letter/resume with inquiry. Saves the contact from having to reply back, ask for it, etc. Can you reach out by phone before emailing? Or tell from LinkedIn?

  14. Katie the Fed*

    Question for those who do hiring:

    How big of a deal is if you have a candidate who was fired from a previous job?

    I’m asking because it comes up in discussions here a lot? I havent’ actually been fired (nor do I plan to), but I was just wondering what impact it has on future employment generally?

    1. BRR*

      It really depends on the reasons. My previous position was a combination of A and B. I was fired for poor work at A. I applied for positions that only did B and my manager for my B work gave an incredibly strong reference for B. I now work at a more impressive organization doing B so my guess is my firing from before should not be too much of a hindrance after I build up time here.

    2. BB*

      This would depend. Like if they are applying for a project management job and were fired from a sales job for not meeting numbers- that I wouldn’t worry too much about. Or even lack of fit in the previous job- if they can explain why the fit there was wrong and it seems like your organization won’t have the same problems I wouldn’t be worried too much. I would focus on the reference. If the job was clearly only a bad fit, most managers can still say good things about the employee.

      On the flip side, if you were fired for misconduct or breaking rules, I’d be a little more hesitant. If it was the first job out of college, I’d be a little more lenient though.

      1. NylaW*

        This. I don’t do hiring, but I think in the case of a firing it would really depend on the references for their work in that position and if the previous company would rehire them. They might not have done a good job with X, but they would gladly require them to do Y, which they excelled at.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      Unfortunately, most companies won’t go into detail on why someone was fired. If I call to check, it’s usually just, “John Doe separated from us on 1/1/11 and is not eligible for rehire”. So I’m left to interpret the situation just based on what the candidate tells me.

      I hate making decisions with only one side of the story. So for me, a firing is a huuuuuge deal, unless I know someone at the company that can give me the full story and it ends up being something that I can live with.

    4. AVP*

      For me it really depends on the reasons for the firing and the way the person talks about it. Did they learn anything? Are they defensive or angry? Does the story make sense? How long were they there for, and were they fired due to a lack of fit, or did they do something egregious? Does the reason for the firing bear out over any other concerns I have with them, or does it seem like it was corrected?

      It’s not an automatic out, but it’s definitely a red flag that needs to be delved into carefully and fully understood, and I think it raises the bar for how perfect you have to be in every other way.

    5. anon in tejas*

      I think that this is intensely fact specific situation, dependent on the candidate, field of work, industry, etc.

    6. Tiffany In Houston*

      I was fired from my last full time job because of fit. I was hired by one boss and got excellent reviews (and a raise) from that person. My old boss moved into a new role and I got a new boss. I could tell it wasn’t going to work almost immediately. I got written up about 3 months into the tenure with the new boss and I was fired about 6 months after that. In that time period, I sought advice from employee relations for ways to manage the relationship with my new boss and got written up again (for nitpicky items). Things did not get better. When I got fired it was a relief. HR paid me out in lieu of notice, extended my benefits for a month and marked me eligible for re-hire.

      I really suspect many people get fired because of fit but it’s difficult to explain that in an interview because all a hiring manager is going to focus on is the “got fired” part.

    7. MaryMary*

      I would be wary of hiring someone who was terminated for misconduct. I want to think that everyone is capable of change, but if someone was fired for something illegal or unethical, I think they’re likely to exhibit the same behavior again.

      Shortly before I started at my current company, they fired their head accountant because she embezzled (in the six figure range). This individual had been fired from her previous place of employment for theft, but she swore it was a misunderstanding and begged our CEO to give her a chance.

      1. littlemoose*

        Oh my gosh. That sounds like some negligent hiring for sure. Especially for a position like accounting that requires handling of funds!

    8. Joey*

      It’s going to take a really believable story that checks out and an otherwise good track record for me to keep you in contention.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I know employers around here look at the company that fired the employee. Some companies excel at firing, more so than their actual business. Even the unemployment office has a list of employers that are just bad actors.
      There might be instances where you will recognize a company name and know the story before even asking about the firing.

  15. Blue Anne*

    How long do you think is a good length to stay at one employer, in the happy medium between “too short, you’re a job-hopper” and “too long, you won’t function anywhere else now”?

    I keep seeing talk about how these days no one has the kind of job you stay in for 40 years and then get a gold watch and retire, but I don’t know what the “new normal” is.

    I do know it varies by industry – my husband is in tech and has been happily hopping every 1.5-2 years, which I don’t think I’d be comfortable doing in accounting/audit.

    Thoughts?

    1. cuppa*

      I think it’s definitely an industry thing. I used to be in IT recruiting and the person who had been there “forever” was at their 7-year anniversary. My current industry has more longevity, and it isn’t uncommon to stick around for 10 or 20 years – plus. I’ve been with my company for six years and I feel like I have enough experience to find another position, but not too much that I’m stuck here and look like a dinosaur.

    2. BB*

      I agree it depends on the industry but I’m saying somewhere between 4-7 years is the golden period.

    3. Jen*

      I wonder the same thing myself. I work for the government so people tend to stay at least 5 years just because of good work hours and good medical benefits.

    4. BRR*

      Related question. How do you factor in promotions to this? Does the clock move back or start over? Or does that depend on the positions.

        1. Ali*

          Me too! I’ve been at my current company for four years (in my current role for about a year and a half, though) and might get a new role/promotion.

      1. cuppa*

        I never thought about that. I’m not sure that I would consider a promotion a reset of the clock (I didn’t in my case above), but I would take it as a good sign that a person is willing to seek new skills and experiences.

      2. BRR*

        My though is the bigger promotion the more time resets. Like if I’m a chocolate tea pot maker on a team of 5 chocolate teapot makers. If I get promoted to senior chocolate teapot maker that takes a little but if I moved up to manage the team of chocolate teapot makers or moved to chocolate teapot design I get more time at an employer.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        I think this is hugely important. Not necessarily promotions qualify as a “reset” – in my field a level 1 and level 2 could be doing the same thing, but taking on new roles. I mentioned below that I’ve been with my current company nearly 10 years. I spent the first 4 years in two distinct positions, and then the last 6 in one role, and it. is. time. to. move. on. (Will know by the end of the month on an internal move.) You just need to evaluate if there’s more growth left in what you’re doing, or if you’re in a Groundhog Day scenario.

    5. Mike C.*

      I work in aerospace and there are tons of folks here with 30+ years in the industry. The whole “you’ve been at one place too long” thing seems really silly to me.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I agree with you, Mike. I’m in energy, on the engineering and construction side.

        When I started working, I bought into the whole find-a-new-job-every-5-years thing. I didn’t love my first company, so I did happily find a new job right at five years. I’ve been here almost double that now. It seems fairly common to stay 10-15 years (or more) in one place for my field. I don’t think a long tenure is a black mark, unless you’ve been in one position that long (qualifying that to say technical experts might do exactly that and be fine). Locally, there are 3 big employers and a few smaller ones. You don’t want to burn up all your local options too soon.

      2. Joie de Vivre*

        I agree with Mike as well.

        I’m one month shy of my 20th anniversary at my current company. I’ve had 6 distinct roles in those 20 years and my success in the role I have held for the last 6 years is largely due to the knowledge I’ve built up over the years.

        I’m well paid, have flexibility, a decent commute and a supportive management team. Not that there aren’t frustrations, but there will be frustrations in any workplace. So I guess I just don’t see a purpose in changing company just for the sake of being able to say that I haven’t been in one place too long.

      3. Joey*

        That’s code for you might not have the same breadth of experience that comes with working at different companies.

      4. periwinkle*

        Another aerospace person here. Some of my colleagues have been here 20+ years, but thanks to the company’s size and very generous education benefits they’ve changed career fields at least twice during their tenure. The hazard is that you’ll fall into the company’s mindset and it might be hard to go elsewhere if you are too thoroughly ingrained with that approach. That’s something I need to be wary of…

      5. Windchime*

        Yeah, I work in IT at a medium-sized medical facility and there are lots of people who have been in this department for 15+ years. I tend to change roles every 3-4 years but stay within an organization for a long time because I like the security. Moving around a lot seems to be common in IT, but it’s not as common in our shop.

      6. Mallory*

        I thinks it’s different at a large university, too. Many of my coworkers have been there for over twenty years (just the staff, not even counting the faculty).

        For example, one started about twenty years ago as a clerk making IDs in the campus card office, then became the room reservationist in the student union, then got a position as a worker’s comp administrator in the HR department, then became an academic advisor in our school, and is now the director of student services. She’s been in our school for about twelve years.

    6. CH*

      This is something I have been thinking about, having just passed my 4 year anniversary. I don’t consider that so very long, of course, but I am in a place where there isn’t any way for me to advance. (I’m the purple unicorn in a herd of zebras; they look at me with awe, but I’ll never be a zebra). But, I’m still liking the work, the culture, the people. I have a great commute for the DC metro area and my research says I’m not going to make a lot more money elsewhere. And I’m getting to learn new skills. So for now I have no plans to look–but eventually I will want to advance. I guess I’ll revisit at my next anniversary.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I’m the purple unicorn in a herd of zebras; they look at me with awe, but I’ll never be a zebra

        Words cannot describe how much I love this sentence.

      2. Mallory*

        I’ve been in my position for eight years now as the assistant to the head of my university department. I’ve had one promotion without ever even changing positions.

        The dean’s assistant (the queen of awesomeness who presided over us benevolently prior to the one about whom I make occasional bitter complaints in the comments section here) saw that I was doing more complex duties than those outlined in the job description, so she called an HR auditor to review my job. He came over and interviewed several of my coworkers, observed me for a couple days in my job, and asked lots of questions about what I did. He then asked my boss whether he would expect the same level of performance if I left and they hired a new person, or if he would just let the job go back to the way it was before. My boss said he’d never go back to the way it was before, and — voila! — my position was reclassified to three grades higher.

        1. Mallory*

          Oh, then I got a new department head, and getting a new department head feels like starting a new job.

          I’ve started to wonder if I should look to move on (mostly just from comments here about staying in the same place for too long), but I’m still happy where I am. I’ve loved both department heads that I’ve had so far. My current head has one more year left, and we will start a search for his replacement this fall semester. So summer 2015, with a new department head starting, will seem like the beginning of a new job to me. I will completely adapt (again) to how a new person does things, and everything will be all shiny and new. As long as the new person is not an asshat.

    7. Sharm*

      I worry about this a lot. I am 31, and despite having a 5 year stint out of the gate, I’ve had a one year blip, and am itching to grow from another position where I’ve been for a year. It makes me happy to see folks here saying they’ve been at a place for a while; as a creature of habit, that is absolutely my goal. But so many mentors/elders have told me having blips on my resume is “no big deal” these days, because of the way the economy has turned. Most of my career was in SF, so that may be a part of it too, given the nature of tech life out there? (I worked in marketing, but in the arts, not in tech.)

      I know plenty of people who’ve job-hopped to no real consequence, but I want to start putting down roots at a place and get promoted to a higher level. I worry that having a couple of recent job-hopping stints is going to be a black mark on my resume for another 10 years.

      :-\

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve mainly worked in education, so I would say 3-5 years per school/position. Not sure if that translates to accounting or not, though.

  16. cuppa*

    I have a new manager and there have been some concerns. She makes offhand comments about staff members to other staff members, and it’s at best uncomfortable and at worst completely unprofessional and inappropriate. There’s a bit of paranoia amongst the staff about what she’s saying about everyone to other people. None of us feel comfortable reporting it to the higher ups, as we could see her being vindictive. Is there any way to remedy this?

    1. Blue Anne*

      When she makes that kind of comment to you, maybe say something like “I’m not totally comfortable hearing that kind of comment about my co-workers from you.” Could soften it with a “sorry” or a self-deprecating tone.

      Actually if *everyone* started saying pretty much the same thing at about the same time, it’d send a pretty clear message… if you’re comfortable coordinating like that with other staff?

    2. NP*

      I had a manager who did this. She’d say disparaging things about other people to me, and I’d be surprised if she didn’t also say similar things about me to other people.

      I ended up mentioning it to another manager (I work in consulting, so I work for a different manager for each project) and he encouraged me to put it in her upward review at review time because he agreed that it was inappropriate.

      I agree that you should start telling her that you don’t believe it is appropriate for her to be sharing her personal opinions about other staff members. If that doesn’t work, definitely raise the issue with her boss.

    3. Mallory*

      Oh, that is so damaging. That’s what our recently-former dean’s assistant (the one about whom I make occasional bitter complaints, as mentioned upthread) did.

      It starts to take a toll on the relationships between coworkers. As in, one starts to wonder who’s entertaining catty comments from her about oneself.

      One person on our staff, whom I considered a good work friend, was also pretty friendly with the dean’s assistant, and she listened to A LOT of gossip from her. It started to make me uncomfortable around her, because I wasn’t sure, when the DA started talking about me, whether my friend shut it down or listened to every word.

      Whenever the DA would try to say negative things to me about someone, I would always shut it down and say something to defend the person. I’m still not sure if I was the only one doing that or if my co-workers were getting their ears full about me.

  17. AnonymousOne*

    I was referred to a job posting from a friend who works at the company, and the hiring manager emailed me with links to other job postings that I might be qualified for and told me to apply for those as well. Now I’m being brought in for an interview for those jobs she linked me to, and I’m worried if the interviewer asks “why do you want this job?” (or something along those lines) that I won’t know what to say. I only applied because the hiring manager emailed the links to me, so I didn’t necessarily seek those jobs for any other reason. What can I say in response to that question?

    1. Traveler*

      Find a reason. You need to research the company and find out something that would be appealing to you or make you happy. This is important not only for answering that question but for accepting the job if it’s offered. Did your friend have good things to say about the culture, the opportunities, etc?

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      You applied to work at the company originally, so why did you do that? That’s the question you need to answer — you admire their work, etc. etc.

    3. rek*

      Well, when you read the job descriptions in those links, what appealed to you about those jobs? What made you think they might be a good fit? Those would be your reasons. Don’t phrase your answer in terms of how you learned about the positions; that’s not relevant to the question. Instead, concentrate on what “clicked” when you read them.

    4. Alabama Job Vet*

      “Traveler” & “rek” seem to hit the nail dead-on. Research the company and find YOUR fit in it. Good luck!

  18. Jessica the Researcher*

    I receive tuition remission as a part of my benefits package. I really want to take advantage of this, but I’m not sure what field would help me advance my career the most. I’m a prospect researcher for institutional advancement, but I would like to get more into the data analysis side of advancement. Statistics is an obvious choice. OTOH, I was thinking about taking classes in a more IT related field so that if this prospect research thing doesn’t work out, I have that to fall back. Any other suggestions? To head it off – I already have an MLIS. Thanks!

    1. Sascha*

      Many schools are now offering business intelligence degrees and concentrations, I might look for something like that.

    2. BRR*

      I’m also a prospect researcher. It really depends what your institution offers. With the field introducing more and more big data I would go with something related to that although it depends on what your choices are. I have a colleague who took a statistics bootcamp type thing in my office that was covered.

      1. Jessica the Researcher*

        I work for a large state university, so I have access to pretty much anything via the university and luckily my department has a budget for outside educational resources (which makes this that much harder to narrow it down!). I’ll look into statistics bootcamps and the big data courses that my university offers. Thanks!

    3. Jen*

      Is there a way to figure out what position you would ideally want in a few years and then either talk to someone with that role or talk to the overall department head to say “This is where I want to be, how do I get there from here?”

      I get tuition remission as well and I met with my department VP and said “I eventually want to move into a director position. What skills do you think I need in order for me to get this position” and she told me that based on my experience, she wanted me to get a more well-rounded education in all aspects of marketing and communications so I am getting a degree that will give me that experience.

      1. Jessica the Researcher*

        That’s great! Tuition remission is a dream. Ideally, I would like to be the director of a research department. I’ll ask my department head about what skills he thinks I should acquire. Luckily, he is very supportive of continuing ed. and does a good bit of the data analysis in my department, so he has offered to help me gain those skills through whatever means – classes, conferences, etc.

    4. Lia*

      I know several prospect researchers doing Northwestern University online predictive analytics master’s degree. They all speak very highly of the coursework.

      1. Jessica the Researcher*

        Predictive analytics sounds like a lot of fun to me! Thanks for the tip.

    5. Amanda*

      I’m in the Master’s of Science in Predictive Analytics program at Northwestern. It’s online, so you can do it anywhere. I really like it and think it will open up a lot of career options.

    1. AVP*

      My boss let us leave at 4:30 yesterday to watch the game at the bar across the street! So exciting as I had joked that we should have a company afternoon holiday but didn’t think anyone was going to actually make it happen.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      Walk around my office and everyone has it streaming on their iphones. We’re having a pizza party to watch the noon game…

    3. Cath in Canada*

      It’s being streamed onto the projector screen in the lunchroom, so people can dip in and out for a few minutes at a time or watch for longer on a break.

      I just completed the paperwork to take Thursday off so I can watch the England-Uruguay game properly – hooray! There’s a grant deadline the following day, but we managed to get it in a week early, in part because I told the prof that I was hoping to take the day off to watch the game. Yay for colleagues from other football-crazy countries who “get it”, even if they’re not big fans themselves and their country isn’t playing!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          yeah, my office learned its lesson from the Olympic hockey! Everyone watched the women’s final surreptitiously at their desks, but we were all given away when we cheered very loudly when Canada won.

          For the men’s semifinal the next day, they surrendered to the inevitable and screened it in the lunchroom. The result was that more work actually got done that day because no-one was trying to work while secretly watching the game, and we all worked extra hard before and after the game.

          1. Mallory*

            . . . we were all given away when we cheered very loudly when Canada won.

            That’s really funny! Probably anyone who understood what you were cheering about was watching it, too, though — so what could they do? ;-)

      1. AB Normal*

        Same here! I’m in the U.S. and we have a big screen on the kitchen. I stay there with my laptop working when my team is not playing. When it’s playing, I’m not even pretending to work, so my laptop stays at my desk, heh.

        It’s been fun, everybody is still being productive but we get to watch the games

    4. Windchime*

      If our IT department hasn’t blocked it yet, I’m sure they will soon. They had to block all the local news channels after the Super Bowl because people were streaming local events and it brought our network to a halt and work-related data couldn’t get through.

  19. Diet Coke Addict*

    Does anyone have any positive stories about small family-owned businesses? Because the one I work for is crashing and burning spectacularly. Five employees who are ALL dissatisfied and looking for work, a boss/owner who refuses to listen to any reason (and hits every single point on Alison’s “ways you are disempowering and hurting your employees” lists), the boss’s wife is “HR” despite working for another company entirely and never being present, the list goes on. It’s really scaring me off of working for small companies in the future, and family-owned ones seem to be a source of drama and issues. Are all small family-owned businesses dysfunctional in some way?

    1. AnonymousOne*

      I work for a husband/wife team as well and it sucks. There’s no organization, no professionalism, no structure – basically nothing good, and no HR department to complain about it to. I would’ve left a long time ago, but I need the money and don’t want to go (possibly) months without finding another job. I’m sure there are people out there who don’t have such a negative view on small, family-owned businesses, so this is just my personal take on it. I would recommend that people work in a company that’s large enough and structured enough to meet the needs of its employees. DO NOT WORK FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T HAVE A REAL HR DEPARTMENT! lol

        1. Becca*

          Are you my former co-worker? This sounds exactly like my old job and I told her to read this blog :P

          Husband and Wife teams…….ick. In my experience, at least.

          1. Mallory*

            Husband and Wife teams…….ick. In my experience, at least.

            One of our professional advisory board members was telling us about working for a husband/wife who had a very public split (marital and professional) a few years ago. As in, their bitter fight was in the newspapers 2 – 3 times a week. She said that when husband/wife teams are working well, it can be really nice to work for them, but when things go bad, it is WAY, WAY worse than an ordinary business failing.

            The same night after she told us that, I had a dream that I was driving home from work and was approaching a horse-drawn carriage coming toward me. My boss was driving it, and his wife was beside him. They both gave me the friendliest waves and smiles. It took me a couple of days to connect that dream to what our advisory board had said about working for husband/wife teams. At first I was like, “what the hell did that mean?!” Then it dawned on me — I think that my boss and his wife would be great to work for. (I work only for him now; they have a private practice of 20+ at which they are the founding principals).

      1. Observer*

        I hate to burst your bubble, but plenty of large companies are quite dysfunctional, as well. Remember, HR’s job is not to make the employee’s life easier. When it’s competent, it’s job is generally to keep the employer out of trouble. When it isn’t it’s generally “How do we keep the boss happy?” or “how do we cover our own rear?”
        \

        1. AnonymousOne*

          Yes, but not having *any* HR department to go to, whether they’re effective or not, sucks. At the very least, even if HR at a big company isn’t very good, you have the ability to document your grievances, figure out procedures, go to higher-ups etc. Working for a small business like the one I’m at, there’s zero outlet to address a problem through a (supposedly) neutral third party, and your boss is every department lumped into one. Definitely not the same degree of dysfunction.

    2. Celeste*

      No positive stories here. My mom did and my niece does work for one now. They have crazy ways of doing things, and there is a different standard for the non-family to meet.

      Sorry.

    3. NylaW*

      My mother is part of a family owned business with her two brothers. It really comes down to conducting yourself professionally as you would at any other company of any size, being a decent person and a good manager. Small businesses and family owned businesses don’t have to be that different from larger companies because the principles of good leadership are pretty universal.

    4. Celeste*

      FWIW, that Robert Irvine show “Restaurant Impossible” probably would not be on the air if not for the endless supply of dysfunctional family-owned restaurant businesses.

      1. Dan*

        Same with Hotel Impossible.

        Although, I did work for a mom and pop restaurant when I was a kid, and it actually went ok. Certainly didn’t sour me on “mom and pop” operations.

    5. Sunflower*

      I think all small, family owned businesses are dysfunctional somewhat. I work for one and the extra work the team has had to put in in order to accommodate family members who come in- I can’t even say they do nothing because they mostly make work harder for us. My mom works in a small business that is not family owned and she really likes it. Very flexible, she has a lot of power and her boss basically trusts her more than he trusts himself. It can be frustrating though because she sometimes feels like she is babysitting him. Every business has their problems and small bushiness bring in a certain set. I can say I don’t think I’ll ever work for a small business again- at least not until things like a ton of flexibility become very important to me.

    6. AVP*

      From the other side of this…my dad owns a business which employs my brother, and my cousin is a major investor and frequent advisor.

      I would never work there myself, but from where I’m sitting it seems to be reasonably well managed – they’ve been in business for years, they have longstanding employees who aren’t related and seem to like working there, my mom has no interest and stays far away. It’s not the most professional environment, but pretty standard for a company of their size in their location, and I don’t hear any of the horror stories that come up on here in similar situations! (I’m assuming my brother would tell me if there was anything dramatic.) And they’re going through a big (positive) expansion at the moment! So there’s one out there, I guess.

    7. Jess*

      I worked at a place that wasn’t “family-owned” per se, but they had a bad habit of hiring almost exclusively by nepotism which created all these unnecessary, weird Survivor-type alliances. It was really messed up. I firmly believe it is much better for everyone if no one is too firmly ensconced in each other’s lives outside the workplace.

    8. Jess*

      On the other hand, my husband works for a small, husband/wife owned business and they are quite successful and treat their employees very fairly from what I can see. I think the wife has mostly relinquished her role now though in order to be a full-time mom.

    9. NavyLT*

      I used to work for a business that was founded by a husband and wife and their friend. The married couple eventually bought out the friend, and by the time I started there were about 10 employees. It seemed functional enough. We all got paid on time (and I got several raises over a three-year period). There weren’t any other family members involved in the business, though, just my boss and his wife. I can see family drama getting in the way when the inlaws get involved.

    10. Stephanie*

      My sister worked for a small, 5 person family-owned business. The owner, my sister’s boss, would frequently have her son re-do my sister’s advertising and marketing work. Did I mention her son was 10 years old? My sister eventually gave up and just followed her boss’s order’s, making everything in pink/purple comic sans text for a month until she found a new job.

    11. Kristin*

      I worked for a smallish family owned business and it was both the best and the worst. The best in that I really made some leaps there. It was so small I had the chance to lead projects and take on tasks I was woefully unqualified for and succeed.

      But working there? It was a horrible environment: think yelling and constant turnover and no HR and family politics spilling over into the business ones.

    12. Hummingbird*

      No. Sorry. I worked for one back in high school. They had some problems:
      -Husband and wife didn’t know the other’s rules.
      -They were not in tune with the employees and common sense. For example, my grandmother died early in the morning, and they still expected me to be there that afternoon for work. I got a small “I’m sorry for your loss.”
      -There were plenty of other issues, to say the least.

      I quit when I started college. The store didn’t last for more than a year after that.

    13. EG*

      I work for a father/son owned business that was small when I started here almost 5 years ago (about 20-25 employees). Now there are about 60 employees and it’s been a good experience. I think the key is to find a family owned business that understands at least the minimum needs of their employees, such as a real HR person.

      1. Janis*

        I have a good friend who has worked for a husband and wife owned company in Dallas for more than 20 years. I think it’s been great for him and I admit to a certain amount of envy over the course of his career. They treated their senior managers like gold (very nice salaries, bonuses, sometimes went on vacations together) and most of them have also been there 10-20 years. Over time the husband retired and in the last year, the wife started limiting her time there too. Eventually, they sold it to the senior managers! I couldn’t follow all the financial arrangements, but my friend is now a partner. Mr. and Mrs. X did very, very well by their staff and are much beloved.

    14. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’ve read all the other replies and, ouch.

      I worked for a small family-owned company for 7 years. The family member employees weren’t treated any differently than the non-family staff. (If anything, the family employees were held to a higher standard than everybody else.) It all comes down to the boss choosing to run their business like a business. A lot of people who decide to start their own businesses probably shouldn’t.

    15. Anonymous*

      Yes, but it’s my own family (I don’t work for them anymore). It works because they stay very small.

      Bringing new people into a family-owned business is like trying to fit new people into a family’s relationships. It’s hard to pull off.

    16. Ornery PR*

      I currently work for a married couple, and her sister works here too. I can’t say there is a total absence of dysfunction, but I really enjoy it here. I like working for small companies where I can wear lots of hats and feel valued, rather than just being another cog. While it’s not perfect (I don’t think any place is), I’ve worked in far crazier places that weren’t family owned. Ask a lot of questions about culture and turnover rate in your interviews, and you’ll be fine.

    17. Windchime*

      I worked for a family-run business for a year early on in my career. It was a small chain of family-owned grocery stores (4 or 5 stores). We didn’t have a real HR department but there was a small group of office staff, including the owner. Several of the owner’s children also worked at the company. It was in the days before direct deposit, so there were a couple of times that the checks were a day late but nothing major. I only stayed there for a year, but I would say that it was mostly a positive experience. I left because I got a job with better hours.

  20. Jen*

    A couple question that I have been saving for open thread Friday.

    1) Should I keep pushing if my manager has decided to exclude me from a major department project (re-hauling all our computer systems and processes)? There are 4 people in our department (including my manager) and I used to be involved in the project but once the 4th person came back from the maternity leave, my manager said that there are too many people involved and took me off the project. My only concern is that the whole department keeps talking to me about the various software they are considering and asking me about it but I cannot contribute to the discussions as I have no idea what is going on with the project.

    2) A new co-worker joined our department 5 months ago, and she keeps telling me that she is bored. She keeps asking me how soon she will be promoted to another position (I am not even her manager or supervisor) even though I told her already that people do not get promoted that soon after being hired. Is there another way to tell her that she will most likely not get promoted soon?

    1. nep*

      Re 2) — Perhaps if you could get across to her that repeatedly asking you about it is not going to bring it about, no matter whether or not it’s likely to happen. At least she might stop bugging you about it, even if she continues to yearn and wonder.

    2. Traveler*

      #2 – Can you give her some data that is more tangible than just the statement? i.e. examples of years put in before promotion for specific employees (not that you have to name them if that’s a problem) I’ve noticed some people need to see numbers/actual examples rather than just being told.

    3. NylaW*

      I have been in a situation like #1. I wasn’t directly involved in the project but I kept getting pulled into things, asked questions, etc. I’d be honest with your coworkers and tell them that without knowing the status of X or what they plan to do about Y, you can’t answer to the best of your ability or put forth the best work. Sure you can answer general questions, but especially with a full system overhaul, it’s really important to be privy to the whole plan. I would hope you are being looped in to the changes as they roll out though, otherwise I’m not sure how they expect you to do your job.

    4. BrianA*

      Could you tell her that she should meet with her manager/supervisor about her interest in moving up, and get guidance from them on professional development and how to improve herself for a promotion? It would (hopefully) get her to stop asking you, and hopefully it would be a more productive avenue for her to understand areas that need work!

    5. Darth Admin*

      For #1, that’s tough, especially if you’re still being asked about it. I don’t know that you can keep “pushing” as you describe it, but you could let your manager know you’re still sort of being asked to “shadow contribute.” Something like, “Jane, I realize I’m no longer part of the Chocolate Teapot Re-engineering Project, but I’m concerned that I’m still being asked for input by Becky, Chad and Wakeen and I’m not sure how to respond” and then see what she has to say?

      For #2, I’d say something like “Sorry, I have no idea since those decisions aren’t up to me. Have you tried talking to (your manager) about it?” with a big fat smile, and repeat as needed.

  21. Allison*

    Stomping. So much stomping. My desk is in a high-traffic part of the office now and at least once every hour or so someone passing by will be shaking the room with forceful steps. I get that people are in a hurry, I get they’re busy, I get they’re walking with purpose, but I remain unconvinced they need to walk like they’re trying to hammer nails with their feet.

    Guess I’m just venting, as I’m not sure there’s anything I can actually do about it. Does anyone else feel like they work next to an elephant race track?

      1. Angora*

        I used to work the front desk at a job; and my office was the walk through near the elevators. We had a group of individuals that were heavy smokers and would come through giggling, etc. (These were some of the same women management had seperated when we moved into a new space … because of their volume when talking together).

        I had asked them to be quieter when the come through .. nicely … (there are two other exits) … their reaction was to get louder and stomp through. One woman lead this group. They took more than 2 breaks a day so it was a constant loud interruption. We do not work with the public. This was a secure building; and we had to buzz in deliveries and fed ex.

        They did it when I was on the phone with one of the vice presidents; and she asked me who it was and how many times they walked through my space/office. They stopped going through my space after that on their way to their “multiple” smoke breaks. Do not know what was said … but would have liked to have been a fly on the wall.

        The leader of the group was written up or something a few weeks later for something else. All I know is that she was on the verge of being fired … too many smoke breaks and coming in half drunk; not performing. Bad attitude all around. She resigned and than turned around called a couple of weeks later wanting her job back; their answer was “no.”

      2. Janis*

        I work with two people, a male and a female, who wear cowboy boots. They sound like Elephant Herd #1 and Elephant Herd #2 when they walk down the hall. I can even differentiate with my door closed between the male elephant and the female elephant because her stomping is ever so slightly lighter. What can you do?

    1. AnonymousOne*

      Not this exact scenario, but I do have a similar problem that I can’t really complain about to anyone. My boss’ desk is next to mine, and he has this extremely annoying habit of SIGHING really loud every 2 minutes, for no apparent reason at all. I’ve never heard sighs that loud in my life. The other day he was across the room and walking towards me, and he sighed (one sigh) the whole way over (?!?!?). Not like I can say “hey, can you please stop obnoxiously sighing for no reason every 2 minutes?”. LOL, one of those situations where you just have to grind your teeth and let it go!

      1. Kelly L.*

        I used to work with someone who both sighed constantly, and hummed in a monotone whenever he walked across the office! Gaaah!

      2. salad fingers*

        The man that lives below me is a constant yawner, loud enough that I can hear it clearly through the floor. I actually think it’s sort of cute at this point, but it would be super annoying at work, so you have my sympathy.

    2. Celeste*

      This and the comments you have (and the comments you’ll get) make me wish I could just be in a Cone of Silence.

    3. Anonalicious*

      YES. I work in a medical clinic, and right above my office area is a hallway and the entrance to the OB/GYN department (exam rooms and ultrasound, not labor and delivery). We hear kids running down the hall, stomping around bored in the waiting room with their parents, people dragging chairs and equipment across the floor, IT NEVER ENDS!

      1. Eden*

        It could be worse. This happens to me in my apartment. People who live on top of us stomp, pound, and generally make more noise than a pack of clogging elephants. I am typically non-confrontational but had to pound on the wall when they decided to use their treadmill, which is located right over our bed, at 1 am one night.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, I feel you–I work under a busy first-floor office, and the package delivery sounds like a bomb going off.

      I think it’s mostly an architectural flaw rather than a human one, though, like those buildings where somebody’s cat overhead sounds like a raging bear.

      1. Allison*

        Possibly, I do wonder if the floor just isn’t very sturdy. But the floor doesn’t shake for everyone.

        I’ve been a dancer for years, and even before that would walk around on my “tippy toes” a lot as a little kid, so maybe I just distribute my weight differently than most people. But it can’t just be as simple as all light-footed people are dancers and all non-dancers stomp, so there must be something else going on.

        1. fposte*

          Right, but good floors don’t shake for *anyone*. It’s still a floor problem, not a person problem.

    5. AVP*

      Right now my desk and computer are shaking due to construction on the street outside, and have been for weeks. And we’re on the 7th floor! I hate it.

    6. BRR*

      I also have a high-traffic location. My bigger problem is that people stop and talking right outside my cube. I really want to get one of those no stopping or parking street signs.

      1. Natalie*

        AAAARGH, so annoying. One of my co-workers likes to pace in front of my cube while he’s on the phone, and I only have a short wall in the front. And he is ALWAYS ON THE PHONE.

        (I’m definitely more annoyed than I would be with someone else because he reached bitch-eating-crackers territory with me a looooong time ago.)

      2. Windchime*

        My office did post several signs near the time clock and the restrooms. I don’t remember the exact wording, but something similar to “Please remember that this is a working area. Keep conversations quiet to avoid distraction.” I don’t know if it helped or not but it is a good thought.

    7. ClaireS*

      Admitted stomper here. First, I am so sorry. I know it’s irritating for people. Second, I can’t help it. I tried for years to be more light-footed but it’s an exhausting and impossible task (for me anyway).

      I used to be really self conscious about it but I’ve had to get over that. I stomp. It sucks and I can’t change it. My only consolation is that I’m not quite as loud as my sister.

      If any former stompers have successfully lightened up, please share your strategy.

      For everyone else, my deep apologies

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I stomped for years, but now I try to walk more lightly. My biggest noise-making thing now is the bottom of my jeans going whish whish as I go up the cube aisle. I TRY to not do that but it’s hard!

      2. Natalie*

        I would love strategies on this too. I’ve always had a heavy step, and whenever I’ve tried to work on it I get so focused on my footfalls that I end up tripping or walking into things.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Would it help to walk more slowly? Because like Allison said, most of these people walk around in a rush and that tends to bring on a heavier step. If you’re slowly walking, your steps don’t have to be as hard and you’re more mindful of how you’re walking.

        2. fposte*

          Oh, I’m doing a lot of gait analysis after an injury. It can be really tough to change your gait, especially in short-term walks like inside an office.

          That being said, it’s possible that you’re hitting your feet too squarely and not getting enough forward impulsion to keep the shock rolling. I find that deliberately adding a little spring to my step helps me on the forward motion, and making sure that I get plenty of extension (your heel stays on the floor until your body is well forward of that leg) helps spread the shock out a little.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Years ago, I read that native cultures would walk silently by putting the heel down first and rolling on to the upper foot- where the toes connect. This made them move about more quietly. The author said that European cultures tended to put the toe end end down first and roll to the heel.

          I hope I am explaining this well. Picture walking on tip-toes vs putting your heel down first.

          I have no idea how true this information is. Maybe it is dated and has been proven wrong? Maybe you have to be in flats to do it?
          I have tried it and thought I was a little quieter but not a lot.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      Not exactly the same, but I’m pretty annoyed with the person next to me who wears flip flops on Friday and gets up to walk to the printer about 100 times per day (past my office). Even “dressy” flip flops seem office inappropriate for noise alone, but I also don’t want to see your toes. Seriously.

    9. HM in Atlanta*

      I’m with you. I’m across from “hoteling” space – which is basically a narrow room with tables and telephone. People yell into the wall as they talk on the phone. Even better, when they are on their cell phones they will move outside the hotel space and pace – like no one else needs to concentrate.

    10. OriginalEmma*

      +1000. I think it’s because I work in an earthquake-resistant building now, so everything’s more flexible? I’ve never dealt with this level of vibrations and shaking in any other location, including at OldJob at a majorly busy New York City agency. Anyway, when I first a) moved to this new earthquake-alicious state, and b) started my new job, I was convinced we were having multiple tiny earthquakes a day until I put two-and-two together.

      tl;dr – I feel your pain, fellow high-traffic resident.

  22. Kay*

    Need to vent about my crazy job/boss right now. I’m an office manager and I do everything from payables to billing to payroll for a small office (<10 people). For some reason my boss doesn't communicate when projects are beginning to me. I don't work on "projects" per se, but I do create them in our accounting system which allows the other employees to bill time to them and for me to generate invoices to clients. He copies me when he sends out proposals to potential clients, but MANY MANY of these are sent out and I never know when or if they will be accepted. I'm stuck feeling incompetent because I lack the psychic skills to figure it out. It's really annoying and is one of the many reasons I'm currently job hunting :-(

    1. cuppa*

      Is there a way you can set up a process that would assist the workflow? I worked in a job once where my tasks required a lot of input and notification from a bunch of other people. Balls were constantly being dropped. I made up a form and a checklist where I could track each project and made it clear that if someone didn’t fill out the form, my part wouldn’t happen. It helped immensely.

      1. Kay*

        I wish I could take a stand on this because if I could run the process how I wanted, none of these things would be issues. Unfortunately, it’s my boss (who is the president of the company) who is the worst offender of not communicating effectively. I don’t know that I can change his habits.

        1. cuppa*

          I had the same situation — it was the owners that were the problems. But I think if you just present it in a way that says, “I need this to do my job well, and get you what you want”, they might be amenable to it.
          I’m not surprised that this is happening to you. A lot of times in these smaller companies, these processes just aren’t set up. Things that used to be handled by one person suddenly have three or four people involved and things get dropped and lost in the shuffle.
          Can you maybe just jump in on the first step? Ask him if he can be sure to send you an separate email when the proposal is approved? Let him know that even if it means an extra step for him, it will ensure that you can get things rolling on your end more easily. Good luck!

        2. BritCred*

          Could you ask for access to the bosses email box? or ask them to use a specific email address to send proposals that have been issued?

    2. Turanga Leela*

      Have you spoken to the boss about it? This might require a fairly serious conversation. I would frame it as, “Hey, I’m having a lot of trouble knowing when to set up the billing system for projects. I know when you send out proposals, but I don’t know when they’re accepted. This has meant that people aren’t able to bill time on projects when they first get started. Could we come up with a system so that I know when projects are beginning?” See what he says and have suggestions ready. Maybe he could just re-forward you the proposal emails with the word “go” when they’re ready.

      Of course, all bets are off if he’s toxic in other ways.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Make it all about being in his best interest.

      “Gee, Boss, I did not know whether Jones had accepted the contract or not. I sent out the bill like I have been doing. Apparently Jones did not accept the contract and we are looking pretty foolish/insulting here.

      Since this could happen again, I think we need to have a plan so as not to embarrass the company any further.”

      Conversely, you could just stop billing until you get verification. Riskier choice, though. If you had a system set up, you could just say “We need to do X and Y. We do not look professional sending bills out to people willy-nilly.”

      Make it all about how the company looks to outsiders.

  23. Felicia*

    So I’ve just started a telemarketing job out of necessity for money, and I absolutely hate it. It is primarily inbound calls with some outbound calls, and I hate the pace, how many things you’re expected to do at once, and how there’s so little time to think. I am generally not a phone person, although I’m ok making phone calls because there’s time to think/compose myself. There was/still is a tiny bit of training, but it’s mostly a throw you to t he wolves type system. I’ve been having trouble sleeping every single day and when my 8 hours are up, I want to cry. I also hate the hours (Thursday-Monday, 2-10, and a slightly over 1 our commute each way).

    So basically my question is, how do I cope with a job that makes me feel like this until I can find something else? How long will it make me cry every day? I really want to just quit, but I’ve struggled to find a job for so long so my belief in my own abilities is shaky, and I could use the money. My parents are mostly supporting me and happy to do so, but I just wanted a job that paid me money, even if I kind of knew it was against my strengths and personality when I was interviewing but I was so desperate. Yesterday was the beginning of my second week and I’ve never dreaded anything so much every day.

    I do have 2 interviews on Tuesday, so that’s good, but I also worry I won’t have the time/energy to prepare.

    1. cuppa*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I know how awful it can be.
      Be kind to yourself in your off hours. Find something that helps you relax and incorporate it into your routine. Don’t think about work when you’re not at work; stewing about it makes it worse. Eat well and get plenty of rest. Try to exercise a little. And keep sending out resumes — don’t get discouraged. It will happen.

      1. Felicia*

        Thanks! I think part of it is I can’t stop thinking of work when I’m not there…i’m not sure how to stop my brain from doing that. I need to try to do something else.

    2. Clinical Social Worker*

      You can fantasize about escaping and getting out. Make sure that your off hours are not spent dwelling on how shitty your work place is, but on taking care of yourself and doing things to rejuvenate your energy. If that’s walking, do it. If it’s long baths, do it.

      I feel you. I’m currently in that situation. I dread coming into work as it’s a rough place (high security prison) and becuase my coworkers are incredibly pathological.

      Remind yourself that you *choose* to do this for income. It’s your choice to go in, you’re not chained to the desk or the phone. You’re also making choices to help yourself leave. But anything you can do to feel less trapped will help.

      1. Felicia*

        It’s definitely a bit of a trapped feeling…I mean I suppose technically I can leave at any time, and I’ve noticed no one seems to last very long in that job, but then it makes me feel like a failure to not be able to even last a month. The pay is actually good for a call centre, though I don’t get paid for the first time until Monday.

        I hope you get out soon too

      2. OhNo*

        Sorry this isn’t related to your question, Felicia, but I spotted the word “prison”…

        Clinical Social Worker, I would love to talk with you about what it’s like working in a prison. There’s an entry-level job in my field that is reposted every year or so that is in a prison, but I’m really hesitant about working there (or even applying) without knowing what I’m getting into. If you would be willing to share any knowledge or advice, I’d love to hear it.

        1. Clinical Social Worker*

          There’s a reason that position is posted every year. Most prisons have a high turn over unless someone is a “lifer,” so to speak. I’d be willing to let you pick my brain.

          1. OhNo*

            That’s kind of what I assumed. If you’re comfortable with it, I can give you one of my email addresses. I mostly am just curious about safety stuff, the stress of working there, and that kind of thing.

    3. Traveler*

      I’ve been there, when I was younger. It wasn’t telemarketing but it was phones, and I cried almost every day. It was constant abuse from callers, screaming at me, demanding things, really horrible expectations and that thrown to the wolves stuff you mentioned. Honestly, I just couldn’t take it. I quit after a few months and spent through my savings until I found something else a couple of months later. Looking back I’m not sure how to feel. On one hand, I wish I would’ve stuck through it. I received major disapproval from my parents, and I was young so that mattered. On the other, remembering how depressed it made me, it was probably the best for my mental health. My advice would be to stick it out and until you are absolutely certain you can’t take it anymore.

      1. Felicia*

        Sometimes callers are nice! There are a lot of the abusive ones you mentioned though and you never know which it will be if you answer. I know my parents won’t be disappointed, but it’s still a feeling of disappointing everyone if I can’t do it. I feel like I can’t take it right now, but it’s only been two weeks. A few months seems to be how long most people last there, at least that seems to be how long most people I’ve met have been there. Someone else who started the same time as me is so much quicker and more effective, and we are judged on quickness to an extent. I am still so slow and clumsy at it so I worry about sucking too. Maybe some people have a personality where they can never handle telemarketing ? I haven’t cried at work yet but I feel like it’s coming! I also struggle with the level of multi-tasking – I’ve had to multi-task before but never to this level without time to even breathe. Like I will be starting one thing and then the phone will ring 3 seconds later and I’ll have to deal with another thing. and another thing. In other positions, even the one that involved somewhat frequent phone calls, but outbound to think, I at least had time to finish one task (especially short 10 minute tasks) before moving on to the next one. I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to task switch that quickly, which means customers have been on hold too long or I haven’t gotten to calls quick enough, which I haven’t really been reprimanded for , but “reminded of” this Sunday (which was my 4th day)

        Wow sorry for the novel, I must really hate this.

        1. Felicia*

          Aaand off to work now. Hopefully I can wait until I get home to cry. Though I will admit I cried thinking about it while writing my original post.

          1. Janis*

            Hey, I had that job! I was the one, several weeks ago, when the topic was if it was ever okay to cry at work and I said something about once having a customer service rep job and the phone never flippin’ stopped ringing. Especially for the first few weeks I cried every night when I got home. I was so miserable. Look for another job, everyone said. Hell, I couldn’t get arrested let alone another job. (Oh, the interviews I went on!)

            Dear girl, it will get better and even more than that remember this: This is just a stop on your journey. You have many jobs yet to experience.

        2. Traveler*

          I managed to never cry at work, thankfully, but I would cry when I got home because all the pent emotions I was holding in while I was pleasant on the phone would come out. There are for sure nice people, but it is easy for them to be overshadowed by the complainers/screamers.
          I know what you mean about time – so many of those phone centered jobs require being fast, and when you’re new its hard. You might feel a little bit better when you’re able to do things faster and 2 weeks isn’t that long, but definitely be careful. Its obviously better to stay employed but definitely not worth the cost of your mental health.

    4. Anon at the moment, sorry*

      Oh no, that sounds terrible. I’ve had jobs like that, and honestly, the most helpful thing was to speak to my doctor about depression. It’s very normal to be depressed during stressful times, and my doctor was able to prescibe some short-term medication that really helped–made a world of difference.

      And it certainly helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel (interviews, job leads)! I also surfed LinkedIn for opportunities on my lunch break.

      1. Felicia*

        On my lunch (well dinner break!) I just want to get out of the building and breath deeply.

        I think I’m also having a hard time doing other things because of the non typical hours that I’m still not used to. They are good hours for seeing the doctor! But I am also missing my family and friends who all work normal hours which does not help. I can’t even take lunch break with my co workers and I imagine isolation makes things worse.

    5. A.*

      I’ve been in your shoes! I worked as a troubleshooter for a high speed internet service provider, and it was absolutely terrible. We had four weeks of training then were thrown to the wolves. It was the most stressful, demanding job I’ve ever worked. Just try to remain positive, focus on what you have more than what you don’t have, try to have fun or relax during your time off, and most importantly, remain positive! Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. Don’t start to allow self-doubt to manifest. You WILL get through this and land another job. Just think, you have two interviews lined up and there are people out here who can’t get one. Stay encouraged and be easy on yourself. I wish you good luck!

      1. Felicia*

        Thanks! I wish we got 4 weeks of training. We got 3 hours each day of training for the first week, and then for the other 5 hours were thrown to the wolves.

        Getting interviews is something I’ve always been good at :) I have had a LOT of them. They just never translate into jobs until this one, which I’m hating.

    6. cuppa*

      I thought of one more thing…. find something, anything, to get out of this job to apply to your future work experiences or career path. If you can feel like you are doing something to build your skill set it will help it feel less pointless.

      1. Felicia*

        Well most things I’m actually interested in do require some portion of talking to other humans nicely. Not quite like this and it wouldn’t be a primary part of a job I’d want, but I can say it’s customer service experience!

    7. "Call" Girl*

      Don’t feel bad. I did that type of work for years and it’s very stressful (crazy metrics, inhuman pace, multitasking for 8 hours a day, micromanaging) and most people cannot hack it. A lot of people cry at the end of the day. Or drink, or eat or smoke a lot of weed. All these feelings are normal.

      1. Felicia*

        It does make me feel better! I have no idea how my coworkers feel about it but it’s nice to think it’s not just me, and I’m not the only one who might be bad at this.

        1. "Call" Girl*

          It’s an odd occupation, until you put on the headset, you have no clue how insane people are these days.

          1. Felicia*

            most of the customers weren’t even that bad…though the assholes do suck when you aren’t used to that. For me what i hate is the crazy metrics, inhuman pace and multi-tasking for 8 hours a day ( a level of multi tasking that I don’t think exists in any other job). Those 3 things I also haven’t gotten the hang of so maybe that’s why it feels like failing.

            1. Call Girl*

              It takes a good 2-3 months of using the tools efficiently to get good at it. Callers used to joke about multitasking but they don’t have to run 6-10 tools at the same time, write notes in notepad (that will help you a lot!) and talk to the customer at the same time. It requires an insane amount of concentration and mental energy. Definitely a learned skill.

    8. Vancouver Reader*

      Big hugs to you! I’ve had a couple of jobs where I dreaded going to work everyday and believe me, crying is much healthier than having 2 giant martinis and a half a bag of Pirate Booty on an empty stomach.

      I think you have to remember this isn’t forever and that you’re more than just this job. Do you do any yoga or any other type of exercise that’ll help you with your sleep? Do any of your co-workers have any tips on how to manage the multitasking? Maybe if you do have to stay in this job for a few months, it’ll get better once you’re more used to it.

      Good luck with the interviews!

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Thank you! Although I have to say, after my “incident”, I haven’t been able to buy Pirate Booty again and it’s been a good 6 years.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I had a job like this once. I cried going into work and cried all the way home. It’s THE job that I compare all other jobs to.

      Try it for a month. If you are still crying- get out. Better to be unemployed than have a job that makes you sick.

      I did my nightmare for almost a year. That was too long- I should have gotten out long before then.

    10. Windchime*

      You’ve done better than I did. I lasted one day at my telemarketing job. My then-husband was so mad when I quit but I couldn’t take people yelling at me and hanging up on me.

  24. Beebs*

    I have been job hunting for 16 months now, submitted over 100 applications and only had a few interviews. After grad school, I worked in research for a few years until my last contract ended, but it’s not what I want to do so I am pursuing work related to my degree, as well as in another field that I have a lot of high level volunteer experience in. I know that my field is competitive and I do have peers in very similar situations, but I feel like I am near the end of my rope. I really do not know what else to do.

    I read AAM religiously and follow the sage advice. I see an employment counsellor and have had my cover letter, resumes, LinkedIn profile, interview skills, etc. reviewed all resulting in great praise and very positive feedback. I network, I reach out to people in the field(s), I currently hold a high level position on a board of directors for a national non-profit, and I routinely volunteer for things related to the career path I am seeking. I have a multidisciplinary background, strong profile and skills, and I keep being told that I am doing all the right things and just need to continue being patient. I tend to have a realistic and positive outlook (not taking things personally), but my patience is running thin and frustration is building.

    Any advice on how to keep persevering in this climate or what to do differently?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      No advice, but sending good vibes. In a similar position but haven’t been looking quite as long. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll get something.

    2. fposte*

      I’m sorry; I know that’s really hard.

      One thing that strikes me is that “great praise and very positive feedback” about your cover letter and resume is not the same thing as “better than just about everybody else’s who’s applying for the same job.” That’s what you’re going for in a competitive field. You’re getting some interviews, so it does sound like it’s pretty solid, but could you talk to somebody who hires in the field (like somebody on your board) about what you could do to lift your application package into the irresistible?

      It might also be worth thinking about the interviews themselves, since you’ve had a few that didn’t result in jobs. Have you done mock interviews to see if there are areas you could be stronger in?

      Just some thoughts; good luck!

      1. Beebs*

        Thanks! I have done the mock interview and again was told everything was great. The interviews that I have had were for pretty large organizations and their HR is more of a machine, so feedback was difficult to get. That being said, I have a friend who has great industry contacts and I have been getting more interviews without contacts, I take that as a positive sign that my CV stands out. Also, I assume what Allison often states, that even though I am a strong candidate there are so many others probably with the exact experience they are looking for and that data point is what the decision is made on.

        I had an informational interview and was told the same old story, keep trucking along, keep volunteering, it’s a tough industry and tough times. I keep hoping there is a piece of information that I am missing, such as what to do to make it an irresistible application, but I haven’t discovered it yet.

    3. StaminaTea*

      I get frustrated too by people that say to “be patient.” Being patient doesn’t pay the bills. Remember that you’re in good company and you’re doing everything right! Definitely cultivate mentors in your field if you can, and be sure to have good friends you can vent to now and then.

    4. azvlr*

      Beebs,
      I see you mention networking, but to what extent are you doing this. Talk to EVERYONE. Seriously. Not just people who you think might be able to give you a job, and not in the “I’m begging for a job.” sense, but just having conversations and really connecting with people. I have had some amazing opportunities just by engaging the people I share an elevator with. Plus it’s great practice for the proverbial elevator speech and you never know what you will discover about yourself. The best of luck to you. Keep us posted.

      1. Beebs*

        Thanks! I do, it comes up very easily and agree that it’s not about begging. I explain my transition and my areas of expertise, and I have received a lot of support and people wanting to be able to do more for me. Even people I have met along the way and don’t know well at all, have reached out to me to try and help, but it has not produced employment results yet. Hence my incredible frustration at this point.

  25. Sara*

    Does anyone follow Humans of NY? (for those who are unfamiliar, a photographer goes around NYC and takes pictures of people and asks them questions..he posts the pics with quotes.

    Today, he featured a woman who said “I’m a little headstrong at work, which can get me in trouble with my manager. But if my way works just fine, why do we have to do things his way?”

    and well, the first thing I thought of was “What would Alison/the readers say?” :-)

    1. Sara*

      I should add: I know this is the work related open thread, but even though it came from FB I thought this related to work life….

    2. Sunflower*

      I love HONY! But I think this is working related. I was reading an article about interviewing and one popular interview question is ‘what do you do when you disagree with the way your boss wants to do something’. The answer they say to give is ‘I do things the way I want and the result is the same so we both win.’ I have no idea if this answer is right but it does kind of make sense!

      I think it’s important to look at all the ways to do things though and not be stuck in a way just because it’s how you’ve always done it

      1. AVP*

        That would not be a right answer if you were interviewing with me! I don’t necessarily mind being wrong about the best process, but I think collaboration is important and if you’re going to do something a different way, I’d like to at least hear your thoughts on why. (That said – I am a very open person and actually do accept ideas and changes from reports and interns all the time! Lots of managers don’t and would bristle at this, I know.)

      2. fposte*

        I’m with AVP–I’m plenty open to alternative suggestion, but silently doing things your way instead of how I told you to do it would be a problem for me.

        And really, you could turn that question around–if it gets the same result, why not do it the boss’s way? Is there an answer that isn’t “because I like to do things my way and I think that’s more important than being collegial”?

      3. NavyLT*

        Generally I just tell people that I want result X, and I’m not going to dictate how they do it. If I do tell them how they need to do it, there’s a reason for that, and if they have a different way they need to discuss it with me. “Whatever, I do what I want” isn’t necessarily the best way to deal with the boss’s request.

      4. Observer*

        Who on earth gives that advice? That’s a good way to insure you do NOT get the job. If you disagree with your boss then (assuming your boss is a reasonably reasonable person) you make your case – and the DO WHAT YOUR BOSS SAYS!

      5. Another J*

        I had someone working for me who did things her own way and it caused a LOT of problems. I told her that if she needed to use a form that was available to everyone on the same network but she copied a form and saved it on her computer. She missed all the updates that we had made to the form because it would change from time to time (with clients addresses, contact names, etc.) and we would spend a lot of time untangling the messes that she made. She then badmouthed everyone else in the office to people we worked with and said that we were always on her case (because of things like this that she did). I wasn’t allowed to fire her or write her up, I just had to report it to my boss who would always say that he would speak to her about it. Eventually, she moved on and the office settled down.

      6. Kay*

        For me the answer depends on what the process is and why it is in place. If my boss wants it done a certain way and I prefer another, I’m likely to ask why they want it done that way and how they figured out the process. I would do this in a way, not to suggest my way is better, but to glean more information. Then I can in turn present my way and ask what doesn’t work about it. It needs to be collaborative and have everyone on the same page.

        1. Jamie*

          This. Totally depends on the process and I even had the same print analogy in my head when I read the top of the thread.

          A lot of things I don’t care about as long as they work, however those things aren’t something I’m instructing them to do a certain way. If it’s a Process – capital P – i.e. part of the QC system then if you have an improvement I’m all ears. We’ll talk about it and if it is truly an improvement and still meets the standard I’ll revise the Process. Until then – the Process stands and is non-negotiable.

          But to Kay’s point I’m always happy to explain the process (big or little p) so people understand the whys. But typically if I’ve bothered to show you how to do something a specific way I have a reason for it and don’t appreciate people deviating without clearing it with me.

    3. cuppa*

      My husband is like this and we have a lot of discussions about it. I think that there are types of jobs and environments that suit this personality trait better than others. I’m more of a “drink the Kool-Aid” person, but I realize that innovation sometimes doesn’t happen without someone speaking up about it.

    4. BRR*

      I think it depends if someone is trying to improve a procedure or if it doesn’t really matter which way it’s done. Like if I hit ctrl p to print and my boss clicks on print there’s no real difference. Sometimes when someone is doing something that’s “just fine” it might be slower and outdated.

  26. Leeloo*

    Like Stayc just above, it’s been a very crazy week for me. On Wednesday, my supervisor announced she had taken an offer elsewhere. Not 15 minutes later, her boss pulls me into her office and offers me my supervisor’s position on a temp to possible perm basis (academia, have to do the whole thing of posting the job publicly, due diligence, etc.).

    I finished my degree in this field two years ago and have been part-time and temporary at a number of places since then, with several glimpses at the full-time permanent light at the end of the tunnel that didn’t pan out. This is the organization I would pick over almost any other, a position that will be a great fit for me, and a director who I respect deeply and who has been clear that she believes in me as a fit for this position and has my back.

    It’s a bit of a back out of the fire, but still in the frying pan situation, to butcher the saying. I’m balanced right between thrilled and overwhelmed, but it’s very exciting!

    1. Betsy*

      Ooooooh! Congratulations! Just remember, overwhelmed at the beginning is normal. You’re ready for this step (or they wouldn’t have offered it to you) but you’ll be doing a thing that’s new for you, and you will make some mistakes. This is called being human, and doesn’t mean you’re not totally awesome for the role.

      Good luck! :)

      1. Leeloo*

        I think you’re spot on. I’m definitely dealing with some impostor syndrome in that I’ve been saying to myself and others that “I have this degree, and can do these things, I can do them really well!” and now I actually have to back that up. At the same time, it’s a great setting to do that in.

        Thank you for the thoughtful, encouraging reply!

  27. Gallerina*

    I’m from the UK, recently moved to the USA and have been applying for jobs over here. It’s been going very well so far, but I’m honestly at a loss about what to do about companies requesting to know my salary. I tried leaving it out, but have had emails requesting my salary history, but it’s all in £ so isn’t really comparable.

    My last job was also very badly paid but extremely perk laden – 90 minute lunch breaks, free lunches, use of a business taxi account, huge training budget – how are you supposed to factor that kind of thing in? In the total? As a list of benefits?

    I’d really appreciate any suggestions…

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      AAM’s suggestion is to say “salary is negotiable based on total package.” I HATE that companies demand salary history — they should pay what you’re worth to them, not what you were worth to someone else…

      1. Gallerina*

        I tried that, but I have had two places email be back to say that I won’t be considered unless I provide a number. Even though that number is completely meaningless!

        I’ve been providing a list of my benefits at my last job for context, but I’m not sure if that’s uncalled for or obnoxious.

    2. AVP*

      Can you try saying, “I made __£” which converts to __$? Or is the system so different (benefits, taxes, etc) that it really doesn’t make any sense to try?

      Also…are you applying at galleries in NYC? I’m in a sort of peripheral field with a lot of friends who work in fine art, and my impression is that the reason they ask that upfront is that the starting salaries are quite low and they want to nix everyone with high expectations before wasting a lot of time.

    3. ACA*

      For your salary history, can you list the actual salary in £ and then put the USD conversion in parentheses?

      Senior Teapot Manufacturer: £33,000 ($55,948)
      Teapot Manufacturer: £30,000 ($50,861)
      Teapot Trainee: £27,500 ($46,623)

    4. BRR*

      Can you put the USD amount and go with the current conversion rate or does that really mess with your salary? Would it work better to use the rate at the time you ended? I know it sucks to lose the benefits but that happens here as well. When negotiation an offer you could always bring up different tax rates (not that I know if that makes a huge difference).

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        As a US citizen who has lived in the UK, let me urge you not to just plug your salary into a converter and use that figure. There is just no comparison. A job that would pay a recent US graduate something in the mid-40’s in Washington DC would pay a recent UK graduate *maybe* 18k in London, which at present exchange rates is something in the high 20’s in the US. Everything is different – taxes are different, cost of living is different, purchasing power is different.

        Gallerina, if they’re asking for your salary requirements, I’d think about doubling your most recent GBP salary and rounding up a bit for optimism. If they’re asking what your most recent salary was … I might do the same thing but not round up? Giving them the actual number in pounds might run you the risk of their converting it to dollars and thinking they can get you for a pittance, and you deserve better.

    5. Mints*

      Do they actually need your last salary? I’ve been asked lots of times for my salary history and instead say “I’m looking for a range of $X-Y” which I realize is dodging the question, but works fairly well since I’m giving them a number.
      I might also say “£X, but that wasn’t in the US, so there are some differences. For this role I’m looking for $X-Y” and don’t bother with the conversion. That’s assuming they won’t pry too much though

    6. HM in Atlanta*

      If you have to provide a number (which is nuts!), I would provide only a total package #.

  28. Ash (the other one!)*

    When it rains, it pours.

    So after my lowest low last week of not getting the job I really wanted, I have received two calls — one from the same organization as the aforementioned job wanting to create a new position for me and one from a colleague I worked with at my previous job with whom I spoke over 8 months ago about interest in coming to his organization who also wants to create a position for me. Nothing is definite, but I kind of feel bad that both are actively looking to create something new for me and I haven’t mentioned the other possibility. I know which one I would take if I had the choice (aforementioned job), but I would graciously take the other one.

    I’m also worried that “other one” will come through before aforementioned job and then I’ll really be stuck.

    Should I mention it to aforementioned job that I am being recruited for other job? I’m worried they’ll say “oh well, then nevermind” so leaning towards not for now, at least until something happens with either. I just will feel bad that other people put in so much work without me taking the job…

    1. Stephanie*

      Gasp, I would be struggling too! The big thing here is to not get that “oh, well forget you then” reaction. If they’re making a position, it’s because they need it. So if you end up leaving quickly for a more wanted job, they’ll just find someone else. It’s not ideal, but it’s life. Look out for yourself first!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      They shouldn’t be creating the job for you personally. They should be creating the position because they need someone to help with particular aspects of the work.

      No, do not mention these potential employers to each other. Just don’t. They are not telling you about the 2-3 other people they think can do this position that they are “creating for you”. No worries.

      Start now thinking about these three positions and see if you can figure out your preferences. Try to look at each one as objectively as possible.

  29. BB*

    I just commented upthread about the golden time between job hopping and being at a place too long. Maybe it’s because I’m young but I can’t imagine staying at a job for 4 years. Compare expected job tenure to the length of an interview process- I mean, how in the total span of 5 hours can I make a decision that I want to spend the next 5 years of my life in one place? If I find a place that I like and feel I can really grow at, that would be great. But I just don’t see that as being realistic.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t either, but it’s mostly because these days, companies don’t hang onto anyone like they used to. I think maybe it helps to think of it in general career terms–like, “I’d like to be doing X, Y, and Z in five years,” whether it’s at that particular job or something else. You can sort of tailor that answer to the company you’re interviewing at, if you’ve done your homework and know something about them.

    2. A.*

      If you and your employer are a good fit for each other, why would it be hard to stay at a place for more than four years? I’m 26 and have been at my current employer since I graduated four years ago. It took me a solid year to fully settle into my role; three years later and I’m still learning. Trust me, staying in a position for more than four years is very doable and realistic.

      1. AC*

        I’m 29 and will be with my current company for seven years come November. I never would have imagined that at 20.

    3. Anoners*

      I don’t really thing you can tell from the interview process if you’re going to be there for 4-7 years. You probably want to focus on if the job is a good match for you, and stay there as long as it makes sense. So much can change in the first year or so of a new job. I think (I could be wrong) that a lot of people in that golden range are in jobs they somewhat enjoy and have just stayed at because it was a good fit. I went through a few yearsish tenures before staying anywhere for 4 years.

      1. Stephanie*

        I think it depends on both the company and industry, I’m 26 and at my current job, 1 full year seems solid to me. Most of my friends in the industry move every 6 months. I’d like longer, but don’t know anyone who’s found a bit where that is workable.

        1. Anonsie*

          Dang, what do you guys do? I don’t even feel like I know a place until you’re getting up to a year.

          1. NZ Muse*

            I’d say very common in media/creative.

            Take my previous jobs, where you could be working on/steering the website on day 1 or day 2. The role-specific/technical stuff was actually pretty minimal. The real valuable stuff was very much individual – as a journo or a PR person, that’s your contacts, networks, knowledge of your specific niche. You take that stuff with you to each new job and apply it in that new context.

            My current (new) job is in some ways very different to previous roles and conversely involves/requires a lot of organisational knowledge. After nearly 2 months I’m still learning every day and can see how it could take a year to get up to scratch in some jobs. For the first time I truly get why they say that the true cost of replacing someone by hiring a brand new person is actually equivalent of a few months of salary.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Shhh. Don’t tell anyone. The real answer is LUCK!

      Seriously, I don’t think many people plan on staying with a company for x number of years. I think it just happens.

      Get through the first year. Just focus on learning the job, the people, the culture. That will keep you plenty busy. If you get vacation days the second year, you’ll find it easier to stay for that.
      Just go one step at a time. It’s much easier to think about it that way, too.

  30. Malissa, CPA*

    I have a second interview today! I’ve never done a second one before. Any advice?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Come up with new questions to ask. This is the hardest part for me since I likely already asked the questions I really wanted to know (and obviously not the ones like salary and such).

      1. Hedgey*

        I like focusing my questions on job fit and the team for which you would be working. What’s the manager’s managing style? How does the team collaborate (if they even collaborate) on projects? Is the team very social outside of work?

    2. Malissa, CPA*

      I went and it’s got to be one of the weirdest interviews I’ve had. The were very upfront about the challenges that could be in the position. But they really don’t know what position I would fit into. They advertised two positions and I kind of shot my resume right down the middle. I was over qualified for one position and under qualified for the other.
      But I do know that I am making them rethink just how they are staffing every thing. So I know that they like me, it’s whether or not they find a place for me that works.
      They say I’ll know something on Tuesday.

  31. Gallerina*

    Also, an observation – the US and UK really are two countries divided by a common language. The entire job hunting process is so different here, figuring out the rules is almost like being a new graduate again.

    I could not be more grateful to AAM – its been an invaluable tool for a baffled ex-pat.

  32. The one with the creepy coworker*

    Last week I wrote about the coworker who is obsessed with another that is leaving. I don’t have much to report but getting the feedback was an eye opener for a few of us. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how weird something is until people outside of the situation comment on it? So we’re not rising to his bait anymore at least. He was nearly in tears yesterday talking about her leaving whereas people who are her work and outside-of-work friends aren’t nearly as sad (not happy, but excited for her new adventure). His manager won’t do anything and higher ups were notified the last time when he actually put her in the uncomfortable position of asking where their relationship was going and nothing was done. Then he didn’t speak to her at all, but always seemed to pine from afar. But most of those I shared the post with and the link someone included have opened their eyes to the situation. Next week is her last day. He’s already been trying to chat with her more than he’s chatted with her in the entire last year. But there is always someone around to run interference (fortunately she works in a well traveled area. And the last few days she’s been away from her desk for various work reasons). I understand it shouldn’t be this way but he hasn’t actually done anything except talk to her with others around. I don’t know that “But he’s talking to her more than he did in the whole last year” will be a good argument for the dean at this point and time. But tomorrow is the send off party that many from work are going to. And as I said, her last day is next Friday. We shall see if I have more to say then (I sure hope not!)

    1. Celeste*

      Wow, what an update!

      I wondered about the timing, and would she already be gone by the time the letter came up here. You are all awesome to look out for her. Too bad he can’t be deployed somewhere for her last day so nobody has to worry about his actions, and she can leave in peace.

      1. The one with the creepy coworker*

        I really don’t think it’s the reason, but I don’t think she’s complaining about leaving him behind. Her husband just found a better job in another state, which happens to be one she loves.

    2. Anonsie*

      Wow, I didn’t see the earlier parts to this, but holy god. Can I get the cliff notes of the background?

        1. Anonsie*

          That’s exactly what I was picturing already. Exactly.

          I’ve known guys like this and they’re difficult to deal with because, as you say, they have no idea how they come off. But it’s because of this that they can be a huge liability, because they can quickly jump from hovering around to touching her or following her home while still seeming to think there’s not anything weird about it.

          1. The one with the creepy coworker*

            Oh yeah. We are roughly the same age, but he often has no idea about social norms or even typical words and phrases that I often get into the mindset that he’s much younger than he is (not that it’s a great excuse). Like he doesn’t know the phrase “are your ears burning?” when someone was just talking about you a second ago and then you pop up. It’s like Temperance Brennan on Bones, “What’s that mean?” But my point is it leaves the impression with me that he’s clueless, harmless, etc. But then he tries to be manipulative. He’ll start a convo with you about one thing, then somehow you’re talking about the object of his attention…and you’re like “How did we get here?” But he will attempt to see her often around the building. The men’s restroom is on the other side of the glass window she works at and I’ve noticed he seems to have to pee a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. And she leaves earlier than most of us, and she also walks out with a coworker she’s friends with who happens to be male. Well, Creepy Coworker thinks (or thought) because they did this there was something untoward going on. So, I guess when he worked across from her he badgered her about it and it’s the one time she got really pissed and said “I’m not discussing this any more!” Well, even after he started working elsewhere in the building, just around the time she always leaves he’d try to find a window to watch her leave out the parking lot. He’d flit around from one to the other…unfortunately (or fortunately) all the windows are near AAs desks and one (bless her heart, and not in the sarcastic way!!) told him “No.” She had been phoned ahead he was coming. He said “But I’m worried.” And she told him she didn’t want to hear about it. And that ended that. It really should have been our first clue to be more forceful with him to shut him down. And there haven’t been any reports of anything beyond our company walls (though there is the party tomorrow…NOT at the woman’s house). He has been relatively normal this week. Except for the tearing up part. Oh, what will next week bring….

            1. Anonsie*

              Guys (and gals) playing the innocent and clueless card are usually pretty damn good at using that to manipulate people into letting them get away with way more than they should. They’re partially unaware of how they come up but partially they seem to know that other people won’t like what they’re doing, so they’re good at hiding it when they need to as well.

              Maybe I’m biased because I’ve seen this go awry before, and I’ve never been in management so I may be way overreacting… But I would really, really want this guy out if he was one of my employees. Once the other staff has to keep an eye on him, he’s gone way beyond any acceptable level of awkwardness.

            2. Kiwi*

              This guy is The Missing Stair* of your workplace.
              Someone needs to fix that stair.

              *Google is your friend.

  33. Audiophile*

    It hasn’t been a great week. Was supposed to have an interview but transportation difficulties got I the way and I requested to reschedule, so that was a big set back. Lesson learned.

    Here’s my work related question – DM from my company came in the other, and sternly said he had seen my name come up several times for discrepancies. Two seconds later, when he saw how seriously I took it, he said he was just kidding. I, did not find this very funny.

    I brushed it off and tried to act like I didn’t care, I think I said “oh well”. But I wasn’t amused.

    It’s kind of still bugging me. But I’m not sure why.

    1. LQ*

      Some people do stuff like this in an attempt to bond or create a connection. My experience is this happens in 2 kinds of cases.
      The first, the employee is really stellar and the boss feels like the employee knows and so happily calls out tiny tiny little mistakes and makes a big deal of it. Oh LQ misspelled something in a scribbled rough draft of a thing she turned around in a third the time asked! Hang her! This is supposed to be a compliment. The only thing we can find wrong with your work is so minor etc etc.
      The other is a weirdly passive aggressive. It is kind of I don’t have the ability/skill to sit down and have an adult managerial conversation with you about this problem I have so I’m going to joke about it.

      Either way it is weird but if it is the first just let it go, if it is the second try sitting down and having a conversation. “Do you have concerns about my work on X?”

    2. Audiophile*

      I can acknowledge that tardiness has certainly been an issue for me in the past, a lot of time it’s really out of my control, but I’ve been making a concerted effort to correct this. My whole commute is parkway/highway. So if there’s an accident or a stalled vehicle, I’ll likely get held up. Not much I can do about that.

      Before someone says leave early, I’m usually leaving an hour before my shift and I’m up at 5:30 for a 7:30 start time to begin with, so that wouldn’t work. I can’t do anything if I come in early anyway, got reprimanded for that when I started this job and was told not to start early.

      This job is unusual in the way it works, the client can write discrepancies for tardiness or other things, as they see fit. So for instance, my start time is 7:30 but I didn’t get to the desk until 7:32, they can write that up. Whether my company chooses to follow up on that is there choice.
      But I haven’t really been getting written up.
      So this was a weird statement.

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      Did he not think you’d take it seriously? First of all, know your audience and second of all, “joking” about something that could be a work problem is not funny.

      1. Audiophile*

        This is what I was wondering as well. I found out through talking to my supervisor, that he did the same thing to him as well.

        As usual, I can’t wait to get out of this job.

        It seems unfair to be written up for, what amounts to taking two minutes to walk somewhere. Especially since I have to go to the first location before going to the second – the desk.
        I’m willing to acknowledge my faults, but this “big brother” feeling of being watched all the time is wearing me out.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s a trust issue. It’s not appropriate for managers/bosses to joke about errors/paychecks/write ups etc.

      So now you are stuck trying to figure out if he is joking or not each time he mentions something. Know what? I would just play it straight each time. If that means he has to explain he is joking that is on him.
      If he comments that you are serious, just tell him “When a boss tells me something is wrong, it’s my job to take the comment seriously.”
      I would laugh at things that were clear cut jokes, though. Just not stuff pertaining to my work.

  34. EduStudent*

    No questions off the top of my head this week, but I start a new job on Monday – eek (excited/nervous/all the emotions)!

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Congrats! If you don’t mind answering — since you’re “EduStudent” and I am in a similar field, what kind of job is it — in education or outside?

      1. EduStudent*

        It is in education, but not in teaching; it’s more policy-/research-oriented. Does that help? (And sorry for the late reply – hope you see this!)

      1. EduStudent*

        Thank you both :) I’m sure I’ll have questions for you all on next Friday’s open thread about whatever will have happened…

  35. anonbb*

    I just had my annual review. There are 6 people in my office: 5 have been working here for 10-20 years. I’ve been here for going on 2 years.

    While my boss stated in my review that she thought I was great at my job, smart, efficient, and a great resource, she finds some of the questions I ask “concerning” and stated that they “worry” her. The example was 3 months ago (in our only staff meeting ever because I requested it) I asked some questions about specific dates that, according to her, I “should have known already.” Then she said that doesn’t mean I should stop asking questions, but still–the fact that “so much” time has passed and I still don’t know things needed to be addressed.

    I was so taken aback, but I just said, “yeah I see what you’re saying…” except we literally have no training manual, documents, etc where important information re: processes and dates are housed. I brought that up in the staff meeting where I said “everyone just sort of “knows” things because they’ve been here for many years. Is there anyway we can create a FAQ document or manual not just for my benefit, but if someone is out we know exactly what to do in their absence without hesitation?”

    I don’t even have a question, really. I just wanted to vent.

    1. Biff*

      Ugh. I don’t know that you stated your concern as diplomatically as Alison would usual advise, but I see your point and your boss should have too.

      If she didn’t, she MIGHT have a vested interest in keeping certain things undocumented. I had a boss like that, and frankly, when I kicked off a flurry of documentation his actions toward me because utterly tyrannical. He was used to being able to just change targets and berrate us to keep his position and unpaid overtime flowing. Being a bottleneck on documentaion of processes, calendars and deadlines gave him a ton of power.

      That he shouldn’t have had.

      If there is someone above your boss (there wasn’t at my company) you need to roll your concerns up to them.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Uh. You are supposed to ask questions that you don’t even know what the question is….

      That could be tough.
      You’re right though that is what happens when people have been doing their jobs for a looong time. Things get to be second nature.

      I think you did well with it- you offered a solution. You want to make it better. I would guess that she doesn’t even know how to fix this one. Gather up a few questions and take them to her and ask her how she would prefer you find answers. Or just wait and see if she complains about this again. You may have made your point.

  36. AnonyProf*

    Advice for a college adjunct?

    My chair still hasn’t given me a class for the fall. Usually, for the fall semester, I know by mid-March. Here it is mid-June, and I am still quite unsure if I will be teaching in the fall. And the majority of the classes have been doled out to other professors – both full-timers and adjuncts. It might have something to do with my flexible schedule and allowing others to get their picks first, but that has never been an issue before as I would get my assignment(s) with everyone else.

    Questions:
    1. It’s been a month since I last communicated with him. Do I keep up my once a month communication to keep reminding him?
    2. Is he telling me something by not giving me a class? My evaluations are all top marks all three years. If he is unhappy with me, I don’t know why.
    3. Should I ask him if this is a reflection against me?

    If I sound like I’m freaking out, it’s because I am. The income is supplemental and very much needed. I don’t know if I’m reading something that is not there.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Stay calm and follow up:

      Dear Chair,

      I wanted to check in again regarding classes for the fall. In the past, I have typically heard about my assignment by mid-March so I am a bit concerned. As you know, I have consistently received high evaluations for my courses and very much wish to teach again.

      I look forward to hearing from you,

      AnonyProf”

  37. the_scientist*

    I’ve had two interviews in the past two weeks at two different companies- hooray! The first went okay- the interview was extremely technical, I didn’t answer one question as well as I’d like and there was a programming/stats test afterwards. I’d initially been very worried about the test but it was quite straightforward. I left that interview with a bit of trepidation about the environment and the job and feeling OK but not terribly pleased with my interview.

    I had an interview yesterday that as far as I can tell, I nailed! I had great answers to every single question they asked, they praised the questions I asked and some suggestions I made. The interviewers were friendly and welcoming and we seemed to have a good rapport and I left thinking “I REALLY want this job”. It seems like I have the skill set they are looking for and they are very invested in employee advancement and professional development. All good things. AND I have several upcoming opportunities that I feel confident about with respect to getting an interview. Feeling pretty good about getting out of this dysfunctional place ASAP! There are three full-time staff here right now; we’ve all been her for about 1 year. One is leaving in two weeks, the other has been looking for other jobs as well. It’s time for me to go.

  38. E.R*

    There’s obviously nothing I can “do”, but..
    My boss is getting married at the end of this month. We are a company of about 10 people, and while it’s not one of those “we’re a family!” companies, we all work closely together, and I have particularly strong relationships with my co-workers because of my role, and I’ve been at the company for almost 2 years.
    Anyways, my boss (the CEO) invited all the full-time staff to his wedding, except me. It’s weird, but I feel kind of hurt by it. Its not a mistake ( I congratulated him, sincerely, on his upcoming wedding and he was like “oh, thanks!”) but it’s especially awkward when my co-workers ask who I’m bringing to the wedding, what I’m wearing, etc. and I just say “Oh, I won’t be attending” and try to change the subject.

    Anyways, I’m just putting it behind me and pretending like it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I know his wedding isn’t about ME. But it’s weird. Anyone else ever experience something like this?

    1. Celeste*

      Hmmm, I think you feel close to the staff, but in 2 years the CEO doesn’t feel as close to you. Are you the newest person?

      I’m sorry for what surely feels like a snub.

      1. E.R*

        Well we’ve had pretty intimate conversations about family and stuff before. It feels weird to go into the details of those but they happened. We’re a very small company and I report to him directly. He’s invited people who have been here for a much shorter period of time then me. I know 2 years isn’t a long time at most companies, but here is actually is. Of the 10 people here, only 4 have been here longer than me.

        Oh well, I can accept that he doesn’t feel close to me, or perhaps doesn’t like me much as a person. Thanks for your insight!

        1. Cloudy*

          This happened to me. It wasn’t the CEO who was getting married, but it was someone very well liked at the store where I worked, and everyone was invited except me! I did feel weird, and so did some of my coworkers. Some of them even offered to take me as their “+1”. What was even weirder was that I was invited to the bridal shower! Anyway, I decided to just shrug it off. In my mind, it was her loss, as I am an excellent wedding guest, and a generous wedding gift giver. So I feel for you, and I’m sorry that your feelings are hurt. My advice is to try and forget about it, and if your coworkers bring it up, do as you’ve been doing and change the subject.

          1. E.R*

            Thanks, Cloudy! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this awkward experience. If I ever have a wedding or other personal event, I’ll be sure not to do this (exclude only one person from a particular group) because even when you think the person won’t be bothered by it, they obviously are!

            1. Cloudy*

              Well there’s a silver lining – you are learning something good from this! Also, if after the wedding people bring in pictures to show you, be sure to oooh and aaah as appropriate. You will then be greatly admired for your graceful handling of what could have been an awkward moment. :)

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Are you SURE you were purposely not invited, and that it’s not something more innocuous like your invite getting lost in the mail? Unless you have some other concrete proof, (I don’t see how “oh thanks!” translates to “ha ha, you’re not invited to my wedding”?) I’m worried you’re jumping to conclusions.

      1. Marcy*

        Oh, shades of 30 years ago for me when my childhood friend was getting married. I knew her sister would be the maid of honor, but I just knew I’d be one bitchen bridesmaid. Nope, cake cutter. Cake cutter and plumed-pen holder for the guest book. A close friend of mine, Rob, who has a good singing voice, was asked to sing. Rob and childhood friend had met 3 or 4 times. Net-net: Rob was more involved in childhood friend’s wedding than I was! Maid of honor wasn’t her sister, but a high school cheerleading friend who (literally) joined a cult and hasn’t been seen in 29 years. Childhood friend and me? STILL friends, although I never ever brought up how much it pained me at the time. So it happens and it’s aways awkward.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Can you pick out one person who could go to the boss and say “Is there a particular reason why you did not invite one of your staff?”

      It seems to me that the guy does not mind having conversations so maybe one of your coworkers can pull this one off?

      It would be a crying shame if your invite was stuck between the console and the passenger’s seat in his car.

  39. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I have a draft commenting policy here:
    https://www.askamanager.org/how-to-comment

    Feedback is welcome.

    There were two points that have come up a bit in the last week that I originally was going to include but ultimately didn’t, because I think they’re both probably far enough out of the norm that it’s weird to have special rules about them. But I’m pasting them here and am open to hearing that either has been a chronic enough problem that it should be included:

    * Letter-writers have different writing styles and give different amounts of information. They are here seeking advice for a problem. It’s fine to ask for more details from the OP or to say that you’re not clear on this or that. But don’t do this to them: “Are you sure it’s X? How do we know? You don’t give any examples. Give more examples or we won’t believe you.”

    * It’s absolutely useful to point out things the letter-writer may have missed. But if you’re speculating about context that isn’t in the letter, it’s one thing to say “is it possible that…?” or “Is it worth looking at the broader context this happened in, because there are some circumstances where this might be more understandable?” It’s totally different to say, essentially, “I am sure X (which is not in the letter happened) and therefore you are in the wrong.”

    1. Annie O*

      Thanks, this looks great!

      I especially appreciate the advice to not engage with rule breakers. I’ve noticed a recent trend where one person will attack the LW, but then there will be dozens of commenters attacking the attacker. It derails the conversation and doesn’t offer much useful advice for the LW or the readers.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Thank you for this, Alison. Going forward, would you like commenters to message you if something egregious pops up in the comments, or do you plan on being active enough in the comments yourself to nip this kind of thing out? I’m sure you don’t want 150 emails tattling on someone being nasty in the comments, but do you want any sort of notification from commenters?

      It is really difficult to write in and see the criticism that can pop up in the comments, so thank you for pointing out that a good-faith effort by all can help fix a lot of issues.

    3. Ash (the other one!)*

      Thanks for doing this Allison… and cool, I didn’t know you could use HTML tags in the comments!

      woohoo

    4. BRR*

      The new rules look like they address the recent problems that have come up.

      Should there be something in there about hypotheticals for any missing parts from the LW. Because at that point, people (including myself) are making up facts then answering based on those “facts.” I believe this is a sub-point for your getting off topic bullet.

    5. Audiophile*

      Slightly related: I’ve clicked in the subscribe to all comments, and I get “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it.” It’s happened repeatedly with different browsers, so I don’t think it’s just me.

        1. Keri*

          I wouldn’t worry about too much, it just means there isn’t style sheet associated with it, which is not necessary for an RSS feed to be valid. Yours checks out fine. There are a few feed validators out there that give detailed information about errors if you ever have a concern though. I like this one: http://feedvalidator.org

        1. Audiophile*

          To answer your question, I was seeing it in more than just Chrome, but thanks for that link.

          Just something I wanted to mention, in case you didn’t know.

    6. NylaW*

      I think it’s super. Thank you for this site and your efforts to keep it friendly and useful.

    7. Natalie*

      I like it. I appreciate that it’s framed as guidelines, and that you get into the reasoning behind each guideline a bit. I think this will help people understand the spirit of the law, so to speak, and hopefully head off the rules-lawyering that can sometimes happen when you set firm rules.

    8. Jennifer O*

      Thank you , Alison. Clear concise description of respectful commenting behaviour.

      Personally, I would be inclined to include the two additional points that you mention above. While the last few days seem to have been particularly problematic, this behaviour has been slowly increasing over the last few months. By including them in the blanket guidelines, it gives a clear indication of what’s expected. (You could even couch them as you did above, in that they’re weird but not unknown issues.)

      (I’d edit the second point, though. The last sentence isn’t clear.)

    9. Jennifer O*

      Thank you also, Alison, for maintaining the integrity of this blog and its comments section. As ever, I appreciate how you model good management for us (as you handle issues such as these).

    10. Tinker*

      Looks like an excellent commenting policy.

      Maybe a bit of a nitpicky thing — is the motivation behind aggressive devil’s advocate behavior important? That is to say, is it acceptable to engage in that same behavior not “for the hell of it”, but rather because you feel as if it’s an important and useful thing to do?

      Reason I ask is, that sort of behavior can sometimes be an identity thing or at least something that the person feels called upon to do — “I’m telling you important truths that other people don’t.” In fact, I want to say I’ve seen folks who have contributed to that sort of event here state explicitly that this is how they feel.

      I don’t know if that’s really an important enough distinction to worry about, but I have a bit of a danger-Will-Robinson dingle bell in my brain about speaking to motivation.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s the one I was debating myself on, actually. I do think some forms of devil’s advocate can be useful, but it so depends on tone and approach. For instance: “I think X makes sense here, but I supposed someone could argue Y. Would it be worth thinking about how you’d approach it if Y were in fact the case?” And I know that I personally like to test for holes in my thinking by thinking about what the argument is on the other side.

        It’s when it gets aggressive or when someone is doing it for sport that I think it starts to have a negative impact.

        1. LBK*

          I would think that falls under your first point in the two you left out – dissenting opinions/opposite viewpoints can be helpful, but only as a consideration for the OP, not as a statement of wrongdoing.

          To use an example from yesterday, BCW brought up a pretty valid point that from the man’s perspective, there didn’t necessarily have to be any ill intent in the way he was talking to his manager – he brought up possible explanations that didn’t involve the employee hitting on the manager. Then it got derailed into a general discussion about intent vs. perception and that was no longer really related to the topic at hand.

        2. Tinker*

          Hmm.

          “Aggressively and persistently playing devil’s advocate in a manner that is confrontational to letter-writers or other commenters”? “Aggressively and confrontationally playing devil’s advocate?”

          Though, really, it’s probably the sort of thing that will shake out in practice anyway.

      2. BRR*

        I think the recent issue with that is that it can really go of course and take up a lot of space and is a turn off for many readers. It’s more about people not to keep poking which seems to be just to keep poking.

      3. Jamie*

        Regarding feeling called upon to do something – yes, there are times where there is a weird but real internal need to sometimes address something.

        I’ll do it any time someone suggests that creepy coworker might have autism or be on the spectrum – because I can’t let that stand as if it’s the blanket excuse for all socially odd behavior.

        However if someone else beats me to it I’m happy to not comment (Wakeen’s teapots and I tend to tag these things when we see them.) I just don’t want potentially damaging information out there without a counter point. But that doesn’t mean arguing the point – I’m happy to lay it down and walk away and people at least have seen this isn’t a universal truth.

        Same with when people claim that it’s illegal to forbid salary discussion at work I will always kick in a link to NLRA where it outlines who is protected and who is not. I think that’s appropriate here – but if someone else does it I don’t bother.

        Same when people reference FMLA as if that’s paid leave or whatnot – I do think for workplace stuff people have an obligation to correct factual errors from other commentors because you don’t want someone acting on that. But it doesn’t need to be argued.

        But I’d do it if I were in Alison’s living room, nicely, but yeah I’d correct those things if I heard them. That said, if Alison asked me not to do it here, I wouldn’t. Her place, her rules…but if I felt it became a place where I was uncomfortable because people felt it was okay for creepiness to equal autism I wouldn’t be comfortable. That would be my choice to leave, still wouldn’t give me the right to dictate how she runs her site.

        And yes, hyperbolic examples – but my point is I don’t think we’d have the issues we do if people made the point they felt compelled to make – once – it’s the ongoing arguments and clearly it’s shown that some things once they are brought up are too incendiary for many to ignore.

        1. CA Anon*

          I think that’s fair. I think there are some really harmful misconceptions that can be easily handled with just a “here are the actual facts, but I don’t want to derail, so let’s not discuss it further” message and then left alone. It means that harmful messages don’t stand, but that we don’t spend too much time focusing on something OT.

          At least that’s my read–I’m happy to alter my behavior if Alison disagrees with this take.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s not that no side conversation can ever happen or that everyone might stick strictly to the OP’s letter without an inch of deviation. That would make for a more boring discussion and I hope you know I’m not that rigid. Rather, it’s about the side stuff that gets heated and goes on and on and on.

    11. A Previous OP*

      TY Allison. I sent you a question not too long ago and I intentionally kept my letter brief, both to avoid revealing PII and to keep the focus on my question, which was something like, “how can I accomplish XYZ goal at work?”

      Your response was very helpful, but I felt chastised in some of the comments: “How you can say you want to accomplish XYZ when you didn’t do ABC first?” I was accused of wishful thinking, not being a hard worker, expecting others to read my mind and not being proactive – none of which was true, as I actually HAD done ABC already. I simply omitted it from my question as I didn’t think it was relevant and the background behind it would have made it possible for me to be identified in RL.

      The entire experience left me feeling rather negative toward this site and I didn’t return for some time. Even now, I’m back, but I would never submit another question again as I don’t want a repeat of what happened before! That goes for supplying an update as well.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        The funny thing is that if you do put all those details in, there’s a good chance you’ll get called out for being too long-winded or boring, or people will start their advice with “This was too long so I skimmed, but…” Oddly enough you can have both things in the same post; the woman with the parking situation had both “this is too long-winded” type comments and “but why didn’t you think to try X, Y and Z?” type comments (where an update made clear that the OP had tried X, Y and Z, or they were clearly not relevant, and just hadn’t written all that into the already-long letter).

        I’m really hopeful this comment policy update will move us away from that kind of thing, so I’m very grateful to AAM for writing it up so clearly.

      2. LBK*

        On the flipside of this, though, I think most commenters here ask those questions genuinely. Unless someone actually says “You’re a bad, lazy worker”, you don’t necessarily need to infer that asking “Why didn’t you do ABC first?” is a call out or a negative attack. Even saying that you can’t expect people to read your mind seems like an acceptable statement to me – often, people really don’t realize that they’re not expressing themselves as clearly as possible.

        I guess my point is that this is a community based on conversation, not commentary – when questions are asked in the comments, they’re generally meant to actually be answered by the OP in order to gain more information and get a better perspective on the situation.

        1. Kelly L.*

          “Why didn’t you do ABC first?” is assuming something negative of the LW, though. You could ask for the same info by saying “Have you tried ABC?” and it doesn’t sound as confrontational.

        2. A Previous OP*

          I was told I was bizarre, making up stories, and behaving badly. One commenter said she “feels for anyone” that would ever have to work with me. I don’t believe these are attempts to gain more information and a better perspective.

            1. Ruffingit*

              Seconded. It stinks to feel attacked like that and I am truly sorry it happened to you. :(

      3. Ruffingit*

        This reminds me of something I mentioned to someone today. People just cannot seem to answer what is asked and leave it at that sometimes. For example, if I ask on Facebook whether any of my friends is a notary, I will inevitably get things like this “You can find a notary at the bank/Realtor’s office/lawyer’s office.” Yeah, I know that. I’m not asking where to find a notary, I’m asking if any of my friends are one. Just answer that and don’t tell me things I didn’t ask for.

        This also applies with actually reading and comprehending what is being said, which many people miss as well. I posted something on FB once about needing to buy a new paper planner because I had lost mine and had to recreate everything. I mentioned that I don’t like using computer apps for this, I prefer paper. Someone commented “They have this thing called a smart phone and it has a calendar…”

        Yeah. I just said in my comment that I do not like computer planners.

        So I think many issues could be avoided if people would read carefully and answer only what is asked and move on. Not saying this has to happen all the time or that extraneous info/conversations are bad. Just that it does get out of control and it can be harmful as A Previous OP’s story demonstrates. It’s not about whether you did ABC first, etc. You were asking about XYZ. Sticking to just giving you advice on XYZ would have been fine.

    12. Joy*

      I think it’s spot-on. The “don’t be harsh with letter writers” part encompasses the “don’t turn threads into hostile interrogations of the OP” point, so I agree it’s not necessary.

      I’ve also seen occasional instances of comments judging others for their private lives (polyamory a few times, diet, etc.) but that probably falls within the “don’t be harsh with fellow commenters” part.

      I like the analogy you’ve used about this site being like your living room and expectations for behavior being the same as if we’ve been invited to your home. Maybe that would be a good preface or footnote to the policy.

    13. Kerr*

      The comment policy looks great. The two points you left out seem like they’d be a little more confusing to a newcomer; the existing policy seems to cover the gist of it.

      Thanks for going the effort to keep the comments section a courteous and helpful place! It’s become more cantankerous lately, but you’ve been addressing it. As a reader, it’s really appreciated – nothing is worse than a comments section that gets completely ignored by the blog owner.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        OH BOTHER. My clever strategy for showing the tags didn’t work at all. I hope you’ll forgive me for doubling up and delete my earlier attempt as soon as possible.

        Someone else made the point about devil’s advocacy “for the hell of it” that I was going to make, so instead I will say just this:

        1. Awesome. Here’s hoping it sticks.

        2. w/r/t HTML, I believe I’ve read elsewhere online that while it’s true the [b] and [i] tags give you bold and italics, so do the [strong] and [em] tags, respectively, and the latter are preferable for those who might be using some adaptive means to participate. Screen readers, for instance, may have ways to recognize strong or emphasized text but not know what to do with, and therefore just ignore (or even skip over) plain bold or plain italicized text. May I suggest recommending [strong] and [em] instead of [b] and [i] ?

        Also, your sample underline and strikethrough text doesn’t look underlined or struck through at my end. :-/

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          (Thanks for the fix. This goes with the blue-box Comments On The Commenting Policy, for late-arriving readers. :-) )

    14. Joey*

      Something about consequences. “Ie if I find that you’re comments are off track I’ll ask you to stop. Repeat offenders will be asked to…..”

    15. Mimmy*

      This is good Alison–I like the tone (written as guidelines rather than “You must…!!!”) and they are very reasonable.

      As for your additional two bullets: I think the first one (about LW’s styles and clarifying info) would be a good addition. The second one is a little unclear.

      Finally, I have a question about editing your own posts: I agree with your point about not needing to correct spelling or grammar mistakes (I’m guilty of this for sure), but what if you think the error/typo clearly affects the context of what you’re saying?

    16. jennie*

      ooh I love that you added no need to post comments correcting typos in your own comment because those are a pet peeve of mine.

    17. SambaQueen*

      “Typos

      Reading copyediting corrections gets very boring, so please don’t feel like you have to post comments correcting your own spelling or grammar. We believe that you know the difference between “your” and “you’re” and will just assume that your fingers typed it wrong.”

      Is it going to be a problem if people choose to still do this? As in, is this genuinely a “don’t feel you have to” or a coded “don’t do this”?

      I am deeply uncomfortable with leaving my typos uncorrected, and it would make me very anxious to feel I couldn’t correct myself. I’d prefer not to comment at all if that was the case.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Good stuff. You drilled through a lot of posts to narrow it down to this. That was a lot of work.

      For the *’s I would definitely put them in. Let’s not go through this again.

      Going forward we can assume the OP has made a reasonable assessment of their situation. If the OP says “No, I do not believe my coworker will punch me.” We need to roll with that and assume he has basis for saying that. We don’t need proof and we don’t need to tell OP he is making his coworker want to hit him.

      We need to stick to the facts as presented and not plug in random details as if the details were part of the truth.

      I tend to think that frustrated people write long and people who do not want to say too much identifying information will tend to write short. (Frustration loosens up inhibitions.)

      Unfortunately, that long, frustrated explanation can appear to some as being whiny. Which brings me to my next thought- can we just assume that Alison has done her utmost to vet these letters? She has avoided the whiny people and she has skipped the liars/shams. When someone says “OP is lying,” I tend to think that if that were true Alison would have twigged that. We would not even be seeing this letter. And we already know Alison doesn’t have time for whining.

  40. Malissa, CPA*

    Here’s a question for the group:
    Is it okay to say you left a job because of ethical concerns if you are in a field that values ethics highly?

    1. Jamie*

      As long as you are able to explain in a neutral tone the nature of the concerns.

      I would respect someone who did this, as ethics are a big deal for me, but I’d want to know that they were legit. That you understood the difference between legit ethical concerns and stuff people may think is unfair, but totally legal.

  41. Michele*

    I am having a bit of a dilemma. I am in the process of looking for a new job and have been looking outside NYC. Well a company on the west coast is flying me out next week to meet the team. I am not sure what to tell my boss. When I have been in this position before I was contracting or not working so it wasn’t a big deal. I am working for a small family business right now and I hate to use the my Grandma is sick. Technically I am not going to back to my home state but I will be close. Any ideas.

    1. Sunflower*

      I would say ‘I need to take an emergency trip to the West Coast to take care of some things. Don’t worry- I’m fine and my family is to, I just need to take care of some stuff. These are the days I’ll be out’.

      If they keep pushing things, just smile and say ‘I’d really rather not talk about it’ and tell them not to worry. That will cover a range of anything really and usually by saying ‘I’d rather not talk about’, people will assume it’s something that they don’t really want to hear about anyway. Good luck!

      1. Michele*

        Thank you! I was kind of leaning towards saying that but was afraid it would bring up more questions.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        This is going to sound bizarre, but I handle this sort of thing by imagining that I am doing something else–not job-hunting–that I wouldn’t want to talk about. For example, you could imagine that you are going to the west coast to get a nose job. Don’t lie to people about what you’re doing, but when you have the “I’d rather not talk about it” conversation, put yourself in the mindset of what you would say if you were getting a nose job. Or imagine that you are in the preliminary stages of separating from your spouse, and you have to travel to a meeting with a lawyer. The key is that it’s something private enough that you wouldn’t talk about it, but not anything you would feel bad about taking time off for.

        When I keep an alternative situation like that in mind, it helps me convey an attitude of “Let’s not talk about this” with more confidence and less feeling like I’m sneaking around. It also helps me remember that there really ARE a lot of situations where I might need to take time off discreetly and on short notice.

        Sunflower’s wording for this situation is excellent.

        1. Mints*

          Haha at this job, when I had to go to the doctor to renew my birth control prescription, I was very vague and felt kind of awkward. But once that happened, I felt like white lies and vagueness about job hunting were a lot easier

          I like the idea of pretending (to yourself) that you’re getting plastic surgery

          1. Michele*

            I do too! I am already playing the scenario in my head. I am just waiting for the final travel details. Ugh! I hate the waiting!

          2. SherryD*

            Yes! At my work, people usually share the reason for their absences — dentist, knee surgery, meeting at their bank, their kids hockey tournament. Which is totally fine, but I know it makes it a little awkward when you need time off for a reason you don’t want to blab to the whole office — psychiatrist, plastic surgery, job interview, etc.

            1. Christine*

              I am trying to break that habit now. I had a dental appointment the other day and just mentioned that I had an appointment. It raised some eyebrows and I know there were a few whispers. I mentioned something briefly about the hygienist the next day. I’ll alternate post-mortem revelations with none, until they’re used to me taking time off for appointments with no additional explanation. Let them get worked up for nothing a couple of times and then they’ll stop getting worked up.

        2. Ruffingit*

          I do that same thing and in fact, recently employed it (pardon the pun) when I went on job interviews this week. Sometimes you just have to lie. I’m comfortable with doing that now. It’s a necessary evil.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      “I need to take a few days of leave for a personal issue.” followed by “it’s a personal issue, I’d rather not go into details” if they ask follow up questions.

  42. KTM*

    I’m hoping for some crowd-sourced suggestions… My sister just finished her MSW (Masters in Social Work) specializing in at-risk youth this past month and is currently job searching all over the US. I’m in engineering and couldn’t be more clueless about the field. I was wondering if anyone here would be willing to share some good job searching sites, tips, advice, etc (hell – I’ll send you her resume if you want!). I’m trying to help best I can. Thanks :)

      1. Mimmy*

        I second the suggestion for looking at Idealist. There are lots of community nonprofits that serve at-risk youth/adolescents. Some off the top of my head include Catholic Charities, Big Brother-Big Sister, and maybe the YMCA. But there are plenty of smaller organizations too.

        She can also check with the university she got her MSW–the school of social work might have a bulletin board of posted positions. Network with other alumni too.

        One important reminder: Your sister needs to get her license (the name of it varies by state–in NJ, it’s Licensed Social Worker), if she isn’t doing so already. This is necessary for many social work positions.

        Hope this helps!

    1. NylaW*

      Definitely check with hospitals and other healthcare organizations. social workers don’t have to do just counseling type work. We use them to liaise with patients, assist with setting up placement in aftercare, counsel and support cancer patients, case management, and work in community programs through our behavioral health center.

    2. OhNo*

      Did she do any internships as part of her program? All the MSW people I know got jobs either at the location they interned, or through their internship supervisor in some fashion. (I’m sure she’s already thought of this, but it can’t hurt to mention in case she hasn’t seriously tried it yet.)

      1. KTM*

        She did do a few internships but unfortunately, for various reasons (including funding falling through, toxic work environment, unpaid positions) none of them are feasible for a full-time position.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Look for listings at schools and juvenile detention centers. Both of those should be happy for someone interested in at-risk youth. Look for job listings outside of major cities–rural areas, small cities, and Native American reservations are often seriously in need of good social workers, and they have a harder time attracting people than big metro areas. It might be easier for her to land an entry-level job in, say, rural Wisconsin than in Chicago. (Just buy a good coat and a reliable car.)

      1. KTM*

        That’s a great point – thank you! She is in a snowy climate right now anyways so she’s got plenty of heavy coats :) I would imagine it might be harder to search for those types of listings? Or she might be able to cold call/email in small cities she has interest in moving to.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I would pick some regions that look interesting and look on their school district and local government (county, municipal, and tribal) websites for their job listings. It’s labor-intensive but sometimes the best way to find things. If there are specialty social work job boards, websites, facebook groups, etc. I would haunt them as well. Sometimes you can find niche things. I’m not a social worker, but I learned a while ago that Native American legal jobs reliably get posted on the Turtle Talk blog. There might be an equivalent in her field.

        2. OriginalEmma*

          If she like snowy climates…there is a great need for mental health services among adolescents in Alaska, especially among the Alaska Native population. She might look to the Indian Health Service for jobs around the country (which also have a loan repayment program), or tribal agencies like Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, any of the hospitals around the state, the state department of social services, etc.

    4. College Career Counselor*

      Assuming not already mentioned/known to your sister: socialworkers.org has a career section with job listings. I would also look at opportunityknocks.org and counseling.org for listings. But I second the advice to look at organizations in areas where your sister is interested in being (“nationwide” job search usually means several areas all over the country, not ANYwhere in the U.S.) such as hospitals, prisons, schools, social service agencies, skilled care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, etc. Good luck to your sister!

    5. Alabama Job Vet*

      May I also suggest she look at State personnel department listings. Where I’m from is obvious (smiles) and there is always a “register” for social work positions.

  43. Receptionist*

    I’ve been with the same place of employment for nearly ten years. In all of this time, I have not been able to go up even one level.
    For the first six years I would ask at each yearly review what I needed to do. I even asked in between reviews, to ensure I was on track. Each year even if I did achieve the goals set, the goal would change and I would be told ‘next year’. I stopped asking the last few years, it just seems pointless.
    Now the people who started years after me make the same as I do, so it seems to be that what I make is our ‘standard’ more than a reflection of my abilities.

    I try to not get discouraged, but it does get me down, yet, at the same time, I’ve assumed I am just not as ‘good’ as I thought I was. Despite the positive feedback from most seniors, the admin people I work with just don’t seem to see it the same way. I’ve tried to get critical feedback, and the most helpful advice has been to ‘look for work outside the company’ or to let me know the few people who have damaged my reputation. I should say that any mistakes I have made are minor, some spelling mistakes in an email sent to an admin lead, not knowing how to hook up to a printer, that I can think of. Of course, I make other mistakes, but these are the only ones that have been pointed out to me. They seem really petty.
    There are over 500 people now, when I started there were about 250. I’ve been working in one of our smaller office for the past four years. I have taken on many more duties here, yet, the same as in the larger home office, for every duty I take on, I am told it is ‘my job’ even when it was clearly someone else’s duty that they asked me to take on. Again, I’ve given up arguing.

    I stay here as nearly everyone BUT a very small admin group, are nice to me, yet sadly these admin hold a lot of power. Before you suggest I go to the office manager, you should know that he would simply defer to his admin. All of the most senior people do this, and it gives their admin a great deal of power. In general they are careful to not cross the line, and even if they do, HR has been poorly managed and they don’t keep the paperwork to document this type of stuff. I know this as I’ve talked out side of work, as friends, to people in HR and they say that is a failing of the companies, and leaves them open to legal problems.

    I’ve been here a while and have made many friends and I do have my fans. I did receive high praise from someone very very high up my first year,our global president, and I have been told this has done two things, ensured they can’t get rid of me easily, and it has also caused no small amount of jealousy. yet that seems to petty to be true…again, a few people outside of work have said this.

    Now, my big question is, how normal is this?
    I often think of leaving, but, then something happens and brings me so low I just can’t find the energy to leave, or things are going well and I tell myself that I am over exaggerating how bad it is here.

    Plus the benefits are good, and while I have not has major raises, I am still making (due to the industry I am in) top dollar for what I do. And I am comfortable with my duties, and I actually do a really good job and I am appreciated by the majority of people.

    When I think of leaving, I tell myself it is probably not that much better out there, I will just trade one headache for the other.

    I struggle with how unfair it all is, and, again, I tell myself not to be a baby, life is never fair.

    And yet, I wonder, again, IS this normal? Is it just me? I’ve never experienced this before, and I have been employed for nearly 20 years. with half of my employment history being here.

    I have learned a lot and grown since I first started here. Maybe they just can’t see that in me?

    1. Celeste*

      That’s hard. What is the position you would want to move up to from Reception? Is there anything you can do to show how motivated you are, such as any training you can get? Is there any way that you do something that would get you more acclaim like you got your first year?

      This sounds incredibly frustrating, if others at your level get promoted but you can’t.

      1. Receptionist*

        Originally there were a few roles I could see myself in, I chose EA as the role to go after. I was told that was not going to happen as I was seeking tooprestigious of a role. I did try for some other roles that were suggested to me, and, it went very badly, from being told at one point I had ‘betrayed’ my new supervisor, and made her ‘waste her time on me’ with training (that I did not get) and in the end she left for a new internal role within the next six months, and I did not get the job I applied for. I could go one with how messed up the process was, but I won’t.

        After typing this entire missive out, I think I realize that unfair or not, this is what it is here. I guess I just needed to vent, and in the end only I can decide to leave or not. It just gets a bit crazy making at times, and I need a reality check.

    2. HAnon*

      It sounds like you’ve repeatedly communicated that you’re interested in growing in the company/moving up/taking on more responsibility/for the past 6 years, and done everything possible to grow yourself at this company. It sounds from your description that it’s a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation — meaning, you’re not doing anything wrong, they simply don’t care to promote you or give you an advance for whatever reason. I know it can be really discouraging being in a place where you don’t feel valued as an employee for what you bring to the table, especially for several years in a row — but believe me, you do have a lot to offer and there are other companies who will appreciate your experience and enthusiasm in taking on new challenges! It’s easy to think that things are going to be just as bad anywhere, but that’s not guaranteed. You might find a new job in a great company that appreciates your contributions. You have nothing to lose by venturing out and looking for something else — at least you will know what’s out there, and then you can make a decision. My self-esteem took a real blow when I left my last company — I didn’t feel valued at all, and I had to “fake it till I made it” in the confidence arena for quite some time in order to land a new position. But I kept at it, and my new job is great. My boss is very appreciative of my hard work and willingness to grow and take on new challenges, and I got a significant raise when I started here (30%). It is possible! Best of luck to you :)

    3. fposte*

      First, a question–have you actually applied for any other jobs there? Like if a position opens at that level above have you put in for it? That’s a much more active way of stating your desires.

      But it seems to me that there are two main possibilities. One is that they’re happy with you in that role and not interested in putting you in another one. Another is that the errors that seem minor to you aren’t minor to them, at least not cumulatively. In both cases I think it means you’re not going to get a promotion there. If it hasn’t happened in a decade, it’s not likely to start happening now.

      So if you knew things would be exactly the same in ten years, would you stay? It sounds like there’s a lot about this job that you do like, and there can definitely being some satisfaction in expanding laterally rather than upward and being the receptionist who’s the linchpin of the office. But I also understand the desire for promotion and growth, and only you know how important that is for you and whether that’s worth going elsewhere. (I don’t actually think the president’s comments are likely to be a factor here, by the way. I think this is about how they see you after ten years in the same job.)

      I think the work world is too variable to say whether this is normal or abnormal, but I do think that people who are really intent on promotion would likely have left this position a few years back, which probably helps them believe that you’re fine where you are.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, sounds like you may have applied more directly and that it didn’t go down well. So I think you really are at the fork in the road where you need to decide to stay and stay in the job you have or to leave there to do something else.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree.
          Ten years from now you will still be in the same spot you are now. And it could be as simple as you do your job too well and they do not want to break someone else in.
          At this point, though, the reason why does not matter because the net result is the same. It seems that you will probably stay put.
          So, opportunity for you to figure out- Ten years from now will I be happy I stayed here or will I be kicking myself for not leaving ten years ago?

          (It does sound like a place where people get into a position and they get glued in place. Could be their choice or it could be management’s MO.)

    4. NewGirlontheBlock*

      I apologize for the late reply…but have you thought about seeing a therapist?

      It sounds like you’re struggling with a few things here, and an outside source might help you to work through them.

      I would have left long ago, to be honest. I understand you’re well-paid, but for me personally, a challenge is more important than a high paycheck. That, however, is something you have to decide yourself.

  44. ZSD*

    I work for a public university, and we never get raises unless the whole university system gets a cost-of-living increase. We’re talking 1-3%, and it doesn’t happen every year. Almost two years ago, the head of my unit told me that I had a great deal of expertise, and “Now we need to be paying you for that expertise.” But nothing has been forthcoming! After two years! At public universities, it seems like nothing can be done to give someone an actual merit increase.
    Thus, I’m toying with the idea of leaving for a private, for-profit company. But first, I want to know this: how often do people in private companies really get merit increases? Is it possible to make a case for a 10-20% raise and really get it? Or is that just a myth or relic from a bygone era? I don’t want to leave for the private sector and then find out that raises are just as rare there. Any help from private-sector employees, please?

    1. Megan*

      Yes, yes they do. I’m in a public-sector job now and I feel you on the lack of raises though!

    2. stellanor*

      No advice, but I used to be at a public university, and at the time I was working there no one had gotten a cost of living increase for 8 years. :/ Public universities are nuts.

    3. HAnon*

      I’ve only worked for a handful of companies, but they’ve all been private, for-profit. In my experience 3-10% is not too difficult to negotiate for internally if you have a proven track record of excellent work (and if the company is doing well and wants to retain good employees), but 10% is at the higher end, unless you are moving into a new role and taking on more responsibility. A side note, I’ve heard the “we’ll give you a raise in 6 months” pitch many times in an interview, but it has never actually happened for me…I think they usually say that to encourage people to accept a lower salary with the promise of a higher one, but at this point, I assume that what I’m being offered in the interview is the number I’ll be stuck with for at least the first year. However, I have been able to jump 10 – 30% in salary by moving to a different company a couple of times, and that is fairly common. Hope that helps!

    4. AVP*

      It’s possible but doesn’t happen often. I’ve gotten pretty big raises twice (in the 10-20% range). Both times I had prepared a pretty serious case for myself, and once it came with a promotion/title change. These were about 2.5 years apart from each other, at the same company. I don’t think I’d be able to pull off another one without leaving, though.

    5. Annie O*

      If you can prove that your salary is far below market value, you might be able to make a case for a large raise like that. But from what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t expect 10-20% unless you’re getting a promotion or changing companies.

    6. ZSD*

      Thanks for the responses, guys! This gives me useful information to consider as I ponder my future.

    7. doreen*

      It’s probably going to depend a great deal on what business the private company is in- my husband has never gotten a 20% raise, but at one point business was so bad that everyone took a 20% pay cut.

      I’m in the public sector as well, as just found out yesterday that I will be getting my first actual raise since 2008- it’s a whopping 2%. I’ve worked for both a state and a city government and neither system had provisions for a merit raise. Either there was a progression of steps to the top pay, or an increase based on longevity or sometimes both, but nothing based on merit. But you may have another option- to either have your title changed to another pay grade or to have your actual position changed to another title. For example, let’s say your title (Flunky 1) is in pay grade 6. It may be that over the years the duties and qualifications for your title have changed and are now more similar to titles in pay grade 9. You might be able to get the title upgraded to grade 9 Perhaps the duties and responsibilities of most Flunky 1 positions haven’t changed- but your duties more closely fit the responsibilities of a Flunky 2 grade 9. You might be able to have your position reclassified as a Flunky 2 position. If you belong to a union , talk to a rep. They will know if this is possible and the procedure,

  45. HAnon*

    I have a quick question for the IT and web developers! We are about to launch a new website (created in partnership with an ad agency) and I want to make sure that we have all of the necessary controls to maintain and transition the site as needed. The ad agency who created the site is hosting and has all admin permissions, etc. I want to make sure we have access to anything we would need in the event that their web developer is out for the day/quits/we decide to move to another agency/etc. to make sure that our bases are covered and that the website is safe and protected. What do I need to ask for? Aside from domain and hosting info…? Thanks a bunch!

    1. Kristin*

      If it’s database driven make sure you have the passwords to those (usually mysql or postgres). Also, FTP passwords and/or server passwords. If the code is being backed up on Github etc maker you have admin access to those accounts.

      1. Jamie*

        Yep. And pull a copy of the entire site down through ftp so you have a backup in case the server goes wonky.

        Make sure the hosting site and domain info is in your name and not the developer. You don’t just want the info – you want the passwords and login information as Kristin said.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Is the website created with some kind of Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal? If so, they can make you contributors without giving you full admin access to the site. That said, it seems a bit odd that you wouldn’t have full access to your own site.

    3. Keri*

      In addition to what has already been noted, if the site is a CMS, I would also grab a back up copy of the database when you’re ftp’ing the site, like Jamie suggested. That will get you as far as the day of the back up, but it is much better than nothing.
      Also, since this is an ad agency, I would imagine they’re reporting on the performance of the website and marketing it. If they set up things like Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google Plus (if you’re a local business), social media, etc, try to make sure it is set up so that you are the owner of these accounts, and not that they own them and have just invited you to the account. It can be a pain to get ownership of some of things afterwards.

  46. stellanor*

    I’ve been doing lots of phone screens and this week two people I phone screened and declined to bring in for in-person interviews tried to add me on LinkedIn.

    I am SO CONFUSED. I don’t even know how they know it’s me on LinkedIn, since they’re agency temps and never had my contact info and have only talked to me over the phone. And what can they possibly hope to gain? All I can really say about them to any potential network contacts is “Oh yeah I interviewed her once, she looked good on paper but couldn’t back it up on the phone.” (This wasn’t even a case where they were good but we had better candidates — they were totally unqualified for the job.)

    They’re both through the same agency, so I suspect the agency recruiter put them up to it, in which case what is the agency thinking?

    It’s just… so totally inappropriate.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      I have a few recruiters on my network. They do it for two reasons — to have access to your network and to also keep you in their “Rolodex” if a good fit comes up later. I find it beneficial since if a job comes up from their company or one they represent then I can reach out to them directly. Very little downside to doing this…

      1. stellanor*

        This wasn’t the recruiter, though, it was the candidates. :/ And I don’t necessarily want sub-par candidates having access to my network! Both of them had major issues that would make me unlikely to recommend them to someone else.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      If they have your name, your company name, and/or your phone number on their caller ID, finding you on LinkedIn probably isn’t that hard.

      As for WHY, they probably think that they are demonstrating their interest in your company and think if they are connected to you on LinkedIn, that will give them a leg up in case they ever re-apply with you. I don’t know that I’d consider it “totally inappropriate,” but naive, definitely. And of course, you’re under no obligation to accept their requests to connect.

  47. Megan*

    Would you say anything to a supervisor if you *knew* that a coworker was abusing time off to the point where they bragged about not having any PTO left, but had suspiciously completed all of their work for Friday *and* Monday before calling in sick for Friday?

    (No, I’m not stewing because I can’t afford to take unpaid vacations on a gorgeous weekend or anything.)

    1. NylaW*

      Is the supervisor really totally unaware, or are they aware and just not doing anything about it?

        1. NylaW*

          Either way you’re coworker is still being a jerk about it by “bragging” that they’re gaming the system.

    2. Del*

      Honestly, unless the supervisor brings it up first, I wouldn’t. It doesn’t sound like it’s directly impacting your workload (if they’re completing their work ahead of time rather than foisting it off on others) and at that point it’s really none of your business.

      (Also, it’s worth considering that someone who feels they are starting to get ill or is considering taking a mental health day in the near future might legitimately try to get ahead on their work to decrease the pressure on themselves. I know I’ve done it before.)

      If your supervisor were to bring it up in some way, that might open the door for “Yeah, I heard Wakeen say…” but I would not start that conversation if I were you.

      1. Megan*

        Tasks that could be done ahead of time were completed, but our positions are mostly a customer-service oriented “bottoms in seats” type job. Someone else has to pull double-duty to cover the desk when she’s not here.

        1. Julie*

          I’ll just say that the last time I had this happen two me there were 2 different reactions. Boss #1 said “I don’t care who does the work, so long as someone does” which meant every freaking Friday I had to be at work because my 2 backups were all abusing PTO. I also had a customer-service role where someone had to be there and I was the “lucky” someone.

          Then I got a new supervisor for my team. She wrote performance improvement plans for those 2 co-workers. 1 of the workers really just needed a reason to come to work and immediately improved. I was thrilled to death. The other ended up fired, then rehired because apparently my employer didn’t think never showing up or working while at work or sleeping on the job were actual reasons for firing. So I ended up leaving. I couldn’t handle working for a place that allowed one employee to be treated like I was while rewarding the other. I got a better compensation package out of the new job but I’m still hurt how it ended up.

    3. Anonsie*

      No. They completed all their work, what do I care?

      In fact, if it directly impacted my job, I would really love it if someone got way ahead on their work.

    4. Sunflower*

      I would pull an Allison and just respond with ‘Wow’ and that might get him to stop bragging. This guy is an idiot. Most people who are playing hooky and calling out go through hoops to make sure no one knows about it let along bragging.

    5. Ruffingit*

      Tough call, but probably no I wouldn’t say anything. I’d desperately want to though. On another note, what the hell is it with these people who brag about the craptastic shit they do at work like this situation and the previous post about the paycheck envelope opener?? If you’re going to abuse time off policies, open people’s paycheck envelopes or do something else that is ethically wrong and possibly illegal, DON’T BRAG ABOUT IT.

    6. C Average*

      Whenever I have thoughts like this, I imagine my second-grade teacher telling me, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” That’d be my recommendation.

    7. BritCred*

      Since he openly brags about it its a different thing but….. I used to be very careful about getting every possible scrap I could off my desk when I knew I was in a period where I was struggling with health.

      So its not *always* delibrate and they could be doing as much as they can to assist despite their issues.

  48. Georgina*

    Anybody have any suggestions for how to deal with an organization that lacks leadership? I’ve been here almost two years and have really never gotten clear direction from my boss or the President, which in turn makes it very challenging to lead and motivate my staff. In all honesty, I don’t think our President or board really care much for what my department does (working with the public) and only really care about the research end of our cause.

    I’m finding that without somebody pushing me to stretch my goals (which I had at my last job), I’m feeling decidedly unhappy in this job and just trying to get through my days, rather than working passionately. I know this isn’t a long term position for me, but I do want to make my time here count.

    1. Betsy*

      Have you explicitly asked your boss for more direction? It may be that she doesn’t know that you’re feeling adrift. If you haven’t talked to her, I’d talk to her and say, “I’m struggling lately with how to place our work and priorities in the context of the organization’s larger mission. Can you give me a sense of how the board views our contributions?”

      If you still can’t get anything good out of her, I’d say invent your own meaning. Imagine yourself as the president and picture what your group can do to best aid the mission as you see it. Then present that to your boss, with a frame of “This is how I view my group’s mission and priorities over the next year. Are there any changes you feel are needed before I share it with my team?”

      Don’t take it to your boss if she is prickly and likely to be offended. Just keep it as your own personal rule of thumb and pretend it’s been sanctioned. They can’t justly complain you’re following the wrong path if they haven’t given you a path.

      1. Georgiana*

        Yeah, I’ve asked my boss several times for more clarity on how he envisions my role (a new version of a previous job held by somebody else), at all my formal appraisal meetings and every now and then throughout the year. His response is always the same, you’re responsible for X, Y, and Z — which is all well and good (X, Y, and Z are things I have a lot of experience with and enjoy), but he doesn’t go the next step and share any vision for what we should be accomplishing or metrics for measuring our success. He’s supportive of changes I’ve made, but his toned-down demeanor (and I mean REALLY toned-down, it’s almost like working for Eeyore) just saps my energy.

        I’ve been trying to motivate myself to create my own approach to my work, but I think I’m finding that I need somebody pushing me in order to actually do that. It probably doesn’t help that the couple of times I’ve introduced a new process or goal for my team, the President or HR announced something totally opposite a couple of weeks later that my boss didn’t know about — which all just ends up with me looking like I don’t know what I’m doing and me feeling totally demoralized.

        I’ve been thinking that I just need to move on to another job and be really careful about picking a boss that will energize me and an organization that’s supportive of the work I do.

        1. Betsy*

          Yeah, that sounds like a no-win scenario. The reality of your department is that your priorities are pretty much, “Be invisible, don’t get in our way, and support us in whatever we’re deigning to tell you today.” They’re not really fun priorities, and I’d be looking for a new direction as well.

          I will suggest this, though, for short term: is there anyone you know who might be willing to be a mentor for you? That push to improve doesn’t have to come from your company’s hierarchy. I’m like you in some ways, in that I have a hard time finding internal drive and satisfaction, but I have a lot of people outside of my company who take an interest and hold me accountable.

        2. Ruffingit*

          I’ve introduced a new process or goal for my team, the President or HR announced something totally opposite a couple of weeks later that my boss didn’t know about — which all just ends up with me looking like I don’t know what I’m doing and me feeling totally demoralized.

          The thing is, you don’t know what you’re doing and that is the fault of management. You are trying hard to give some solid structure to Jello. It just isn’t going to work long-term. And working for Eeyore? UGH, yeah that would sap my energy too.

          I’m thinking this is a situation where you find satisfaction outside of work as much as possible and look for a new job. Do what you can at work, but start to disengage emotionally and look toward moving on.

  49. Sarah*

    I am married and go by a double last name – Sarah Chocolate Teapot. For my salutation, I usually put Mrs. but I’m wondering if I should put Ms. Any thoughts? (I work in nonprofit fundraising)

      1. Sarah*

        Because I am also the grant writer, I often am required to put a salutation into their online forms.

        1. AVP*

          Oh interesting! I think the only time I ever need to use one is buying an airplane ticket, they so rarely come up in a business setting for me.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      Well, you can go by the historical that Mrs. should never be used with your first name. Technically you are Mrs. George Teapot. Mrs. meant in past generations “Wife of.” Traditionally, only divorcees went by “Mrs. Sarah Teapot.” This is also why on wedding invitations Mr. and Mrs. George and Sarah Teapot doesn’t work, but I digress…

      In modern days it really doesn’t matter, but I have to ask. Why are you putting a salutation at all? Mostly salutations are for others addressing you. In my signature I don’t put Dr. Ashley Anonymous, I put Ashley Anonymous, Ph.D. I would just drop the salutation altogether.

    2. Natalie*

      If you don’t especially care, I would probably switch to Ms. For whatever reason, Mrs comes across and old-fashioned and almost a little stodgy to me.

      I suppose if you mostly fund raise from wealthy dowagers, that actually might be an advantage.

    3. Annie O*

      You can really do either; it’s up to your personal preference.

      I’m married and have a PhD. I generally avoid a salutation if I can. If I need one, I go with Mrs. Some folks insist on calling me Dr., but I don’t refer to myself that way.

    4. D*

      I always use Ms. just because I don’t think that my marital status is ever important in business communications.

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      I go by two last names as well – Mariel Heslop Van Arkle. I use no salutation at all, respond politely to Mrs. or Ms., and immediately say, “Please, call me Mariel.”

      1. Sarah*

        No one can usually handle my double last name (second name is really ethnic). I usually do the same as and ask people to call me Sarah. But it’s really just the online forms for grants that require a salutation that throw me.

  50. ZSD*

    Another question, this one for people who work for public universities like I do:
    If you can’t get a raise, have you ever been successful in negotiating for other perks? Such as additional vacation days, or some other kind of nice extra compensation? Other perks you’ve been able to get?
    Thanks!

    1. Annie O*

      Some perks may be limited by your job type (staff or faculty) or if there’s a union.

      For staff, I think extra vacation days, work from home, flex scheduling, and paid trainings are possibilities.

    2. SevenSixOne*

      Not at a university, but… NOPE.

      It makes me want to explode when career/finance advice types insist that you must get something of value from a raise negotiation, even if it’s not a higher salary. I’ve never gotten any non-monetary perks this way, and I didn’t even bother to ask at one ultra-bureaucratic job because I knew that just was Not Done.

  51. Canadamber*

    Calling all accountants!

    I am going to school for accounting next year, but I am just wondering. What is it like, the first few years on the job? Are the hours really as crazy as they say? What are the busiest times of year (dunno if it varies from the US to Canada, but I am in Canada), and when is it not quite as busy? Do accounting companies generally offer good benefits, and how’s the pay?

    Sorry for all the questions… :)

    1. Natalie*

      A lot of this is going to depend on what subfield you end up in – for example, if you’re in tax in the US, busy season is Jan-May. If you’re in certain finance sectors, busy season in September. I’m in property management and our busy season is June & July because that’s when we do budgets.

      Do you have an idea of what kind of accounting you want to do?

    2. BRR*

      My best friend is an auditor at a big 4 and I’ve gotten texts from her 11pm 1 am saying she’s just leaving work. When she got promoted from auditor to audit senior she got a 10% raise. They also cover a lot of food and I believe cabs late at night.

    3. CPA Sarah*

      I work in the tax department of a regional public accounting firm in the U.S. I am currently in my second year on the job.

      So far, it has been difficult but interesting. Hours vary widely based on where you work (public vs. private, big 4 vs. regional vs. small local), but for me, this year I worked every Saturday beginning at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb, and every day straight for the last month of busy season. Earlier in spring busy season, I worked as little as 55-60 hours a week, but by the end, I was doing closer to 75-80. People who work at the big 4 work much more.

      In the summer, we stay surprisingly busy (though rarely work over 40 hours a week), as there are a series of deadlines in the U.S. For example, the individual tax returns are due April 15th, but not for profit returns are May 15th, and second quarter estimated tax payments are due June 15th. By the beginning of August I will be working every weekend again, as the two major extension deadlines are Sept 15 and Oct 15. Between Oct 15 and January, the office is completely dead, and no one works more than 40 hours a week. A lot of people take a lot of vacation.

      Accounting is difficult in two ways– first just in the day to day grind of spending so many hours at the office while your friends are out having fun, and second, because the work is extremely complex. A basic “beginner level” understanding is apparently reached around the third year of doing the job. I feel stupid every day, and after a lifetime of being an excellent student, etc. that can be frustrating.

      That said, I get great vacation, decent benefits, and the pay is good too. I got my first raise after 6 months, and another one at the 12 month mark. I’m now making 10% more than my starting salary.

      1. Canadamber*

        Oh, wow!!! Good to think now if I can actually live with that. I mean, I really like my high school accounting classes and I think I could really get into it, so I could probably deal with that, but does it get really tiresome to be so busy all the time?

        This… hasn’t actually turned me off of doing accounting! Haha. I suppose that I will see through university if I really like it.

    4. Pushy penguin*

      I started in manufacturing accounting and the hours were pretty normal 40-50 per week. That said the pay matches the hours – it is still pretty good but lower than big four. In manufacturing the busy season is usually at the end of the year during budget time but there is also a lot of project work. I think the cool thing about accounting is you can find a field to fit what you are looking for- tax, audit, finance, operations- they all offer different things in terms of workload, compensation and benefits.

  52. Phyllis*

    So this happened. We conducted interviews Wednesday and yesterday for a new student support position in our district. We were giving folks a little leeway yesterday because DOT was paving directly in front of the school & if you’re not from the area, you wouldn’t know the right side streets for access. The third appointment of the day was over 15 minutes late, so I called her, thinking she was driving in circles. She wasn’t even in town, and said she had not received the appointment letter. Since then, her boyfriend called his dad, a principal in another district, who then called his cousin, who works in our district (with no connection to the hiring process–it’s a small state, btw and this is not unusual) to see if the interview could be rescheduled. At the end of the day yesterday, I get an email from the applicant, saying she just received the letter and what could be done.

    Here’s the thing. I googled the address she used on her resume because it didn’t seem to be a residence address. Turns out, it’s a medical office with a Dr there with the same last name. I think she was using her parent’s office for her mail & hasn’t been checking it timely. Since everyone else obviously received their notification, because they showed up, I’m really not inclined to reschedule her. Just wondering what the hive mind thinks.

    1. Canadamber*

      Hmmm. Maybe she expected an employer to email or call her? That could be a factor. Maybe she doesn’t get too much mail, or her parents usually give it to her. Was the mail notification the only one you gave?

    2. Celeste*

      Her resume would have to be so super stellar for me to reschedule her. In her situation, she should have either been checking, or gotten a PO box.

      I would move on, unless she is so connected that you think it is worth the karma to book it.

    3. HAnon*

      I think the address isn’t the issue — we don’t know what her living situation is; she may be in between leases and wants to make sure that her mail reaches a safe place, so she’s using her parent’s business address for the time being…who knows. So I wouldn’t rule her out on that particular factor…the other things I can’t speak to, but I would say that as a frequent applicant, it would be strange to me to receive my interview appointment time via snail mail instead of in an email of a phone call…I have never gotten a letter in the mail for an interview before. Did the applicants know to expect an interview time via letter? I can’t really tell from the description if she made her best effort to contact you directly or not when the mixup occured, but it seems like a brief phone call or email would put things in order and help clear up any miscommunication that may have occured.

      1. Phyllis*

        It’s standard procedure in our district to send snail mail letters with appointments; in fact, it’s policy. I’ve suggested we also email applicants, but I can’t just unilaterally start doing that. The rationale is that every step has to be documented, which, you have the time-stamped email you can print and attach to the application. But change is slooow in the public sector.

        1. Anonsie*

          If the applicants don’t know that in advance, though, that’s a problem. I would never expect to get a letter after a job application– I’ve heard of it happening, but I would not be checking my mail for it just in case.

        2. Eudora Wealthy*

          @Phyllis: Do what you can to change the policy. Your district is losing candidates by having such an absurd policy. I never would have even imagined that an appointment letter would have been sent through snailmail. Email is the way to go. Or call her and send a follow-up email.

      2. Anonsie*

        This is what I was thinking. I’ve had a number of little break periods between leases or in the process of new-city (or new-state) moves where I couldn’t give a really accurate address. If she wasn’t even in town, it’s likely that she’s in the process of moving there and can’t check mail at her new address yet.