open thread – June 27, 2014

photo 2-9It’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.

{ 959 comments… read them below }

  1. Weasel007*

    Is it ethical to “pre-vet” a candidate for references? I have a hard to fill position and a strong candidate skill wise. However he may have a deal breaker come up from his last job (fired for cause – I worked with him previously and am only 80% sure on this). I’d like to vet him outside of the process before I have HR handle him. Is it okay for me to call for references at his last job (ask the standard employment dates, salary, eligible for rehire? Depending on what they say, then I’d decide whether or not to put him through the process. He’d most likely be the person I hired if I did.

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      To me this is exactly what references are for. I’ve had employers call mine between say the second and third interview, for instance. I don’t think there’s an expectation that you won’t call them until they are in the “official” process…

    2. Questioner*

      Question – Is any firing for cause an automatic dis qualifier for hiring at your company? Or are you trying to determine the reason (if he was) so you can put him into the process if it won’t be a problem. And while being fired is usually not a good thing why would that fact alone be an automatic no?

      1. Weasel007*

        Original OP here…what I think he did IS a deal breaker. Not only is it cause for him to be fired, but he may be under scrutiny legally. He misrepresented his legal status to work in the US. I believe that he did this for years (he came over as a student from another country 16 years ago and just stayed) but it finally caught up to him.

        I live in a big city, but the tech community is small so I hear about it. I am torn about this, because I have worked with him before and my project now really needs him. But there is this too….

        1. Stephanie*

          Oooh, but couldn’t you or your company get in trouble for hiring someone working here illegally?

          1. Weasel007*

            He may have resolved that, but that is why I want to get more info. I wouldn’t touch him if he were still not legal.

            1. Stephanie*

              E-Verify? (If you’re in the US.) I’ve never used it, so unsure of its efficacy or ease, but I think that’s supposed to be there to check legal status. Of course, you would need to get his SSN/Alien Identification Number to use that…

              1. Weasel007*

                He came over as a student during a period where they issued ssn numbers. He just overstayed his visa and kept checking the “I am a naturalized citizen” box on applications. No one checked, until his last job. Of course, I’m only 80% sure of this, but I’d like to know for sure I put him into the process. It will look bad on me if I submitted him and this came up.

                1. Onymouse*

                  Only you know your workplace, but I don’t think you’d be expected to know the candidate’s immigration status.

                2. Observer*

                  Yes, it would look bad. The truth is, even if he has resolved his issue, it would probably look bad if this is why he was fired and you don’t let your HR people know up front.

                  From the other side, why would you have him start going through the process if you know that there is a strong chance that there is a real deal breaker here?

                  Do everyone a favor and see if you can get the truth.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          Why not ask to see his green card or other documents that prove his right to work in the US as part of the application process? That way it you can make sure he’s not going to cause you any trouble, and give him a fair chance, maybe the rumours you’ve heard aren’t accurate.

          1. anon-2*

            If I understand the laws — you are MANDATED to ask for the paperwork when the guy shows up for work.

            A green card — or if the person is a naturalized citizen, that certificate — or if the person has a U.S. Passport – we’d prefer that. Birth certificate, etc.

            This is applicable to most employers — if you employ over a certain number of people.

            You cannot ASK that during the interview cycle or application process. Once upon a onesome, I interviewed a fellow from China – he was on a fellowship that was about to expire — and he was obsessed with the number of people the company employed.

            I said “I think I know where this is going… we have four people in the office, but over 300 people in the company, and I think I know what your next question is going to be.” He got up, shook hands, thanked me for my time — and left.

            I also worked with a guy back in the 80s – an overstayed visa situation – went to another company. He was sent off on day 1, our HR hadn’t put the paperwork through so he could legally come back.

            1. meg*

              I think you *can* ask whether the candidate will require sponsorship from the company. Or did you mean you can’t ask if they are working here illegally?

              1. Ruffingit*

                I’m guessing it had to do with the size of the company because a smaller company would not require the I-9 form? I don’t know though, I’d like more info on this too.

                1. anon-2*

                  At the time, if you only had x number of people (I think it was 5 or 7) – you do not have to ask for proof of legality. This was derisively called the “Nanny Exemption” at the time. Meaning, if you were staffing domestic help and only needed three or four people? No green card? NO PROBLEM.

                  But this poor guy didn’t have the documents. So, while he wasn’t here illegally, it would be illegal for him to come to work for us unless we willing to sponsor him, which, we were not in a position to do.

        3. Ruffingit*

          Go ahead and fry me to a crisp, but am I the only one who thinks this isn’t such a bad thing? I mean, I get that he lied on the apps, but at the same time, he was working and paying taxes so…I don’t know…I just don’t see this as a horrendous crime. Now, if he hasn’t fixed the problem, that’s altogether a different story, but if he’s gotten it together legally and is otherwise an excellent worker, I wouldn’t look at this as a horrible thing.

          1. C Average*

            On principle, I agree with you. (I’ll spare the community a soliloquy on immigration law in the United States; suffice it to say, I have plenty of opinions and they’re all solidly on the left.)

            In actual practice, though, couldn’t knowingly hiring someone of dubious immigration status expose the company to legal risk?

            (Of course, if he has “gotten it together legally” and can prove it, yeah, I agree with you: hire him!)

            1. Ruffingit*

              Yeah, I would never suggest hiring anyone with immigration issues. They need to get those resolved before hiring is even on the table. But once they have them resolved, I would not take their lying on the application as an issue for future employment. It’s not something you should do of course and I don’t condone it, but I also don’t think it should be a barrier to employment either.

          2. Observer*

            The issue is not if he is a moral monster. The problem is that it presents a legal risk for the company. And, of course, there is also always the question of what other paperwork he might consider cutting corners on, even if he’s gotten his paperwork in order (assuming that we’re not talking a life or death type of situation.)

            1. Ruffingit*

              It shouldn’t present a legal risk for new company if he’s gotten his legal issues resolved and as I said, I wouldn’t bother with him at all until I knew that was the case.

              I wouldn’t be that concerned about what other paperwork he wants to cut corners on if he’s been a stellar employee other than this situation, which he presumably did to allow him to continue to work. I wouldn’t say someone doing this is a gateway to cutting corners elsewhere. This particular “corner cutting” had a very specific purpose. One could always check with his employers to see if he was a corner cutter in other ways, but I’m guessing not since the OP said the tech community is small and she’d consider hiring him but for this issue. That to me says he’s got a pretty good rep otherwise so I wouldn’t be all that worried that cutting corners is his modus operandi in general.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      The concern about this is you don’t know how discreet he is or isn’t being with his job search. If you call for standard employment dates, etc, I’d worry about tipping his hand. I personally wouldn’t want to cause problems for someone who I decide isn’t someone I even want to put through the process!

      1. Weasel007*

        He is no longer working at this company that I want to call and I wouldn’t be tipping anyone off to any job search. He is open about looking for work, but honestly I think he is hoping to land an opportunity that won’t look that deeply. He avoided companies that did the everify for years, now everyone does it.

        1. This is me*

          I wouldn’t recommend asking to see specific documents for identification. Why not just ask him during an interview or phone screen if he can provide proof of eligibility to work in the US if offered the job?

          1. Mpls*

            This. You actually can’t ask to see specific documents for the I9, which is the form that represents the employer’s verification of work status. He has to provide one acceptable combo of docs listed in the, but you don’t get to decide what they are.

    4. Annika*

      Don’t bother. A false claim of U.S. citizenship is not something that can be “resolved”. It is an automatic unwaivable lifetime ban to U.S. immigration. Seriously.

      “The most serious of all immigration violations is a False Claim of United States Citizenship. This acts as a permanent bar for any form of immigration relief. This fraud or willful misrepresentation, which involves making a false claim of United States citizenship for any purpose or benefit under United States immigration laws or others laws, renders the alien inadmissible pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act section 212(a)(6)(C)(ii). If substantiated, the alien in most cases is not able to obtain: admission into the United States; a visa to come to the United States or remain in the United States; or permanent residence. The only possible waiver available is for situations where the alleged False Claim of United States Citizenship occurred on or before September 30, 1996.”

    5. Sarah*

      Given the rumors about him, yes, I think it is perfectly acceptable to pre-vet him yourself. There is nothing illegal about checking with past employers and in this situation it seems like the right thing to do for everyone – you will avoid wasting HR’s and the candidate’s time if it turns out that he was fired for lying about his immigration status. Probing for immigration info or asking for documents on your own could become sticky in the event of a discrimination claim and is probably best left to HR.

  2. Ash (the other one!)*

    These days, I really rely on these open threads, so thank you Allison for maintaining them.

    I am really torn today. I am waiting on what potentially could be a really good opportunity, but is taking forever. I’m not counting my chickens though and have two interviews later today. My problem is I feel very disingenuous going to these interviews. The positions are okay, but by no means my first choice and I would feel perfectly okay if I wasn’t selected for them (unlike the many others I have interviewed for). I feel bad wasting their time but feel like I can’t, to use yet another cliche, “look a gift horse in the mouth.” I’ll do my best at these interviews, but I’m worried that if they were to offer me the jobs I would end up turning them down in hopes of this other opportunity working out. If I’m feeling that way should I just cancel these interviews?

    My worry of course will be I turn down an offer and get no others and I’ll be totally screwed. Ugh.

    1. Celeste*

      Sounds totally normal to me. It’s hard not to worry about being left empty-handed in the hunt.

    2. Calla*

      I would say go unless there’s something that’s a major dealbreaker. If you’re just ambivalent (especially if it’s mainly because of the other opportunity), there’s no reason not to. You don’t have to commit to accepting a job before the interview even happens! There could be something in the interview that changes your mind.

      This was kind of a dilemma in my recent job search. I had one job that I really, really wanted and I thought I had a very good chance–I was very qualified, I had connections and a referral inside the company, and then I had a phone interview. I turned town a couple interview invitations because I was waiting on that one to pan out (though I was employed while searching, I never would have done that if I was unemployed). I did go on a couple other interviews though, just to see. One was with a similar company, and after the first interview I was unsure if I wanted the job. I ended up accepted a second and third interview though, and really connected with the interviewers (who I would be working with) in those.

      The first job, the one I was waiting on, never panned out. I followed up, never got a response, and then I saw the job posting close. And now I am currently in that second company!

      So the lesson is… don’t feel like you can’t go on these interviews, and you don’t have to be sure you want them, but be open-minded.

      1. Dan*

        Yes, and along the same lines, when an employer interviews a half-dozen candidates for a position, you can be darned certain they’re not dying to hire every single one of them.

        An interview isn’t a promise to work there, it’s an exploratory conversation.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Not only this, but I’ve been on interviews for a job I thought might be awesome and then found out in the interview (or at the offer!) that the pay was crappy, the benefits were crappy, the office was crappy, etc. And then there’s the “no such thing as a dream job” deal. You just never know.

    3. Mimmy*

      I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for you Ash!

      I’d say go on the interviews. Then, if one (or both!) of then offer you a job, let them know you have other irons in the fire, so to speak. Then, contact your first choice prospect to let them you know there’s another offer on the table, and to ask for the status/timeline.

      I totally understand what you’re feeling; I think it’s always better to have several options open, rather than just one.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        Thanks so much!

        I can’t believe its July. I was sure I’d be out by February. It really sucks.

        1. spocklady*

          Good luck! I’m kind of in the same spot – I had a job turn out to be not what I originally thought, so I’m glad I’m not doing that, but I definitely thought I would have found a new position by now.

          Keep fighting the good fight!

          1. spocklady*

            Er, that is, a job opportunity. I got through the phone screen, which gave me misgivings, so I’m glad it didn’t go further.

            But I still seem to be stuck in my current job after three years, which is getting long.

    4. nep*

      Agree with the other commenters — esp Dan, good point. Neither side is making any promises at this stage. You don’t lose anything by staying open and putting yourself out there. Best of luck to you.

    5. Anx*

      I’m a desperate job seeker, and even I feel this way sometimes. I absolutely feel bad for ‘wasting’ others’ time.

      But maybe it would help if you considered the interview an opportunity to –to use interview speak–be ‘wowed’ by the position or company. I’m sure they interview people all of the time that they are only lukewarm about and are giving a chance to be ‘wowed’ by.

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Unless you are absolutely POSITIVE that you wouldn’t work there, and it’s a big inconvenience/expense for you to go to the interview, I’d say go ahead anyway. There’s some chance – maybe a small one – that you will be pleasantly surprised. If not, you’ll at least get some free interview practice.

      Interviewers know that you aren’t 100% sure you’d accept the job just because you show up. It’s probably not their favorite thing to have an offer turned down, but it really should not be a huge deal to them or ruin their day.

    7. C Average*

      Worst-case scenario: You get some practice interviewing for jobs you really do want. (I don’t get the impression you’re traveling far for these interviews or taking time off an existing job to schedule them. That would change the picture a little bit.

      I don’t think you have to be crazy excited about every job opportunity you pursue. It’s kind of like applying to colleges: you have a dream school and a safety school, and probably a few more in between.

      (By the way, having been on the other side of that interview table, we know we’re not always the interviewees’ first choice, and that a few of them are there just in case something better doesn’t come along. Some of these people we’re ambivalent about ourselves, but need a certain number of interviews for the role; others, we’re really excited about and hope they’ll choose us.)

      Hmmmm. Maybe the better comparison would be to online dating, now that I think about it!

  3. Cruciatus*

    There is an administrative assistant position at a university for the language department that I’m interested in. I fit the basic qualifications but don’t have experience for one of the preferred qualifications (and probably one of the more important aspects of the role, though I am confident I could learn), but I do fit the preferred qualifications for having studied and traveled abroad. Though the position probably wouldn’t require anything regarding the foreign languages of the department, would it be totally weird to write a sentence or two in German in my cover letter? (I minored in German and studied abroad there and lived there as an English teacher volunteer). I was thinking just the closing line or something. I don’t know who will first read the cover letter (if anyone, damn automated online systems!), but I am a big proponent that everyone at some point should try learning another language.

    1. Andy*

      I’m an admin in the Mech E department and I think my boss would have thought it weird if I had attempted a display of ME knowledge. Like some type of equation. I did express interest in sciences…I just didn’t make a demonstration.
      That being said, I know a lot of faculty who are quirky and who like a little quirk in their admins, and who would think it was just fine.

    2. Maggie*

      If I was hiring for the position, I would have adored this. But — you don’t know your audience. They might not appreciate it. Perhaps you can relate your skill elsewhere?

    3. Blue Anne*

      I’d think it was pretty odd for there to be actual German included in a cover letter. But it sounds like it would make perfect sense for you to mention your fluency.

    4. CollegeAdmin*

      I think writing a sentence in German might be a little odd – depending on how it’s carried off – but you should absolutely mention your experience with the language (assuming this is for the German department).

      1. Cruciatus*

        It’s for the entire department–not just German. But I was thinking it would just show that I do appreciate foreign languages. But sounds like it might be better to just state that all in English!

        1. LAI*

          Ah. See, if it was the German department, I think it could possibly have been a good idea to include your closing in German or something like that (again depending on who reads it) but since other language programs are also in this department, I would not do it. But you should absolutely mention why you are interested in working in this department specifically, including your interest in and knowledge of languages. You may even want to mention something about why you think learning languages in college is important.

          Also, I work in university administration and even entry-level jobs are fairly competitive. You say that you “don’t have experience for one of the preferred qualifications (and probably one of the more important aspects of the role” which makes me think that this is going to be a long-shot for you. Do your best to tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight all experience you have that is relevant, and use any other opportunities you can to network and build connections on the campus.

      2. Dan*

        One sentence would be odd, but if you could write the whole letter fluently in German, I’d be a bit impressed by that.

        The thing with one sentence is that 1) They can be pretty short and not really give much insight into your candidacy, and 2) These days, you can just google it. 3) You have flow issues in your letter unless it’s the greeting or closing.

        An entire letter written proficiently in a foreign language, well that would get my attention. If I were hiring and didn’t know the language, I’d be humored enough that I’d have a prof translate it for me.

        1. trish*

          I would definitely not write the letter in German, particularly since this is not the only language offered in the department, and even if it were you don’t know the proficiency of the person reading the letter. I think it’s better just to explain, in English, your proficiency in the language and you can always demonstrate it in an interview, if necessary. It would be more interesting anyway to hear about your passion for languages in a cover letter, than to have one sentence in another language.

    5. Clara*

      I think that would seem a bit odd. By all means, mention your interest and experience in learning languages, that’s likely to be relevant and meaningful to them. But don’t throw another language in just to prove you can.

    6. Midge*

      I’m kind of a fan of parentheticals in cover letters that show your enthusiasm or expertise in something. So if I were you, I might say something about living and teaching in Germany and then add a parenthetical sentences like ‘And my German improved so much chatting with local students!’, or something along those lines, written in German.

      1. Mints*

        Oh I like this idea. Add it in right after your talking about fluency.
        Although you could probably just leave it out, if you’re iffy

    7. Language Lover*

      I majored in a few foreign languages and love them but even I’d find it a bit odd.

      This is for a whole language department so the person hiring might not have a background in German. They may not like having a sentence on the cover letter they can’t understand.

      If the person reading the cover letter does understand German, the few sentences you write better be absolutely perfect. I find this is sometimes harder than it seems even with all the online support that exists.

      But you never know, the person reading it just might love it. I’d err on the side of caution, though.

    8. College Career Counselor*

      I’d consider putting my salutation and/or closing auf Deutsch (e.g. “Lieber Herr Professor Schmidt”/”mit besten Gruessen”) IF:
      a) it’s the German department
      b) you have a reasonable idea that this will be viewed with favor (if you know people who have worked with this dept. before, ask them).

      I wouldn’t do a whole sentence, as I think that’s a bit jarring. Also, if it’s the automated system, it’s entirely likely that it will be sorted by whether you meet ALL the required criteria (so make sure that when you apply, you meet the minimum reqs, otherwise, your application is stopped). It’s likely then sent to the hiring manager for the position. HR may never actually read the letter.

      I wouldn’t

      1. robot chick*

        this just in: the proper salutation here is “sehr geehrter…”, not “lieber…” – way too informal! ;)

    9. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      It’s a risk. Someone might love it, but it might come across as so odd that it could hurt you. If the German is a plus, they probably want to know that you are fluent, not that you can write a sentence or two. I’d skip it.

  4. AVP*

    Did you guys see this article about the problems with people pooping in the hallways at the Denver EPA office? I’ll post a link in a comment below…I have noting to say expect:

    1. EW.

    2. If you’re out there, Hallway Pooper, do you want to anonymously come clean and tell us why? I feel like there should be a good story there, but the correlation between public defecation and AAM-readeing is probably small.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      On a similar note to this, there was an article either last year or the year before about someone doing the same in the library in the town I grew up in. And not just once, either!

      1. MaryMary*

        Poor librarians. They put up with a world of crazy, between odd members of the community who like to spend time at the library, and dumb people who think the library is a great place for rude pranks (squirting condiments into the overnight book return is NOT NICE, people).

        1. MJ*

          I used to work at a library, and I was amazed by the things people used as bookmarks: a slice of cheese, a baby wipe, raw bacon, credit card statements…

          You definitely get to see a wide variety of humanity at the public library.

          1. Canadamber*

            Haha, yeah, my mom works at the library right downtown in our city. They ended up having to switch out the comfy chairs for less comfy ones because homeless people would sneak in and sleep on them at night. O_o;

            1. Simonthegrey*

              We had to do that at the bookstore I used to work at, but it wasn’t sleep. It was pee. People peed in the comfy chairs. More than once.

    2. Celeste*

      Between shootings and poopings, we have people going out of their way not to use their words for their strong feelings. I don’t like it.

    3. Stephanie*

      There is something screwy going on at that agency. My good friend used to work there (not at the Denver office) and had some crazy stories. We all thought he was exaggerating until we met one of his coworkers who corroborated everything.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        A friend of mine (who no longer works at the EPA) apparently knew the porn addict who was watching 2-6 HOURS per day at work. Ugh….

        1. De Minimis*

          I don’t understand how someone can even do that at work, unless it’s on a personal device. Do they not have even some kind of basic filtering software? I can’t even look at NPR’s website at work here due to it having streaming media.

    4. patricia*

      I think workplace poopers are sadly not rare, I’ve encountered two:

      1. At my first office job there was a hallway pooper, the poop was generally restricted to the bathroom floor but sometimes it would appear in the hallway outside . Everyone had an idea of who it was but had no proof. They put my desk adjacent to the hallway outside the bathroom, and I was supposed to covertly monitor comings and goings and bathroom cleanliness. I was hired for data entry but had very little work to do so I think I really was a poop monitor. I’m not sure if they ever caught her, I quit after 3 months. The company manufactured industrial air conditioning units so whenever I see the logo I think of my summer of poop monitoring.

      2. My workplace shares a bathroom with several other businesses, there is an occasional obviously intentional mess in the bathroom. I know none of my coworkers are guilty as the problem predated our being in the building. It happens once or twice a year. The current theory is that it’s someone who infrequently visits the building, someone in another office keeps track of who is in the building when poop happens.

        1. spocklady*

          Oh, yes please! For instance, how were you supposed to monitor the hallway “covertly”? Like, what if you actually saw somebody in the act (ugh trying to get that image out of my brain) – what did they imagine (or tell you?) you should do about it?

          I don’t know if it’s weird but I just went right to, ok, logistically, how would that even work?

          1. Eden*

            So were these poops, uh, produced right there in the hallway, or transported from a more secret location?

            I am having real trouble imagining how no one would ever get caught in the act unless there was some form of poo-poo choo-choo action going on.

            I kind of can’t believe we’re talking about this.

      1. Maggie*

        I just cannot seem to understand this. For one, it’s already uncomfortable to do it in the right….location. Straining to adjust … targets appropriately seems like so much work. And seriously — what if someone walks in? How would you even get out of that?!

      2. Jess*

        I temped somewhere where they had somebody doing this. It happened one time when I was there – in the kitchen!

        I have absolute no idea what the motive behind this behavior was. I was really shocked when I found out who it was because they seemed like such a normal person (though I didn’t really know them that well). The story was they couldn’t fire this person because they were too high up.

        1. Artemesia*

          Wow. what a perfect example of pathetically inept management. No one is ‘too high up’ to fire if they are pooping in the hallways.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            I’m dying. Totally true. Did you ever think you’d have to write that sentence, though?

        2. Mallory*

          This phenomenon of pooping where no poop should ever be pooped is really weird. My aunts and uncles talked about finding that in department store dressing rooms at their post-retirement store-cleaning gig. I had to google up “Why do people poop in public places?” and judging by the articles out there about it, it really is some sort of thing. My curiosity as to why the hell remains unsatisfied.

    5. Claire*

      We had a Phantom Pooper at my high school! I’m both relieved and distraught that it’s more common than you’d think…

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        At my old workplace someone used to leave them “floating” in the toilet and not flush. ICK.

        1. Eden*

          Ugh, I hate finding this! I also hate whoever you are that stands above the seat, rains down your #1, and leaves it there for me to sit in. One day I’ll find you, and there will be trouble.

          1. Tinker*

            In my dictatorship, seat pissers will be put in the stocks — ones that are conveniently installed in the dictatorship’s dog park.

            The incident that takes the cake for me is the time I was between classes and rather in a hurry, I rush into the bathroom, see a person exit a stall, go into that stall, sit down aaaaaaaaand… the entire seat. Soaked. WARM. I made eye contact with the person. She made eye contact with me, knowing what she DID. She looked like a normal person even, not some sort of madman or serial killer.

            I do not understand people sometimes.

            1. Esra*

              Tim Horton’s bathroom. One stall. This woman comes out, dressed to the nines, perfect hair, perfect makeup. EYE CONTACT. She goes to the mirror and starts checking her makeup, I go into the stall and she has squatted and peed all over the seat. I recoil, back out of the stall, and look at her and she just keeps fixing her makeup, totally nonchalant!

    6. LD*

      There used to be a bathroom in one of the stores I shopped in, but they closed it after someone left such a mess and stopped up all the toilets…in both the men’s and women’s room. Obviously vandalism, but the store didn’t have any way to identify the creeps. So they just got it cleaned up and repaired and closed it to shoppers. I just don’t understand what motivates people to behave that way…

      1. Kat*

        Yes! I worked at a big blue electronics store in NYC. We had large bathrooms (4-5 stalls each) and allowed customers to use them. Suddenly we started having all sorts of problems, someone tp’ed the ladies room, customers were using the restroom to steal and leaving the evidence, baby diapers hanging out, people were drinking and getting high. The icing on the cake was someone smeared poo all over the men’s room, then came back (we assumed) and hit the ladies and men’s room. The best part was my older Caribbean coworker found the ladies room mess. She ran out adjectives for the situation and culprit.

        At the end of it, we just resorted to telling people it was out of order or not for customers , which opened another can of worms.

    7. Sigrid*

      Wow, that tops even my wife’s story! (Her previous supervisor was fired because he was peeing into a cup, then dumping the cup into the office’s potted plants instead of going to the bathroom.)

    8. smilingswan*

      The logistics of this are baffling. Do they wipe? If so, do they bring their own toilet paper? If not, whoever smells like poop for the rest of the day is probably the culprit. I’d hate to do their laundry.

  5. Anon*

    I’m looking for some advice. I work in accounting for a small(ish), publicly traded company that is being acquired by another, slightly larger public company. When the potential deal was announced, many in the corporate accounting and finance departments started looking for new jobs (we are centralized, shared services and expect that, eventually, our jobs would be taken up by the central accounting group of the company buying us). To stop the steady flow of people leaving, the CFO came to all of us individually (20+/- of us) and offered a retention bonus (around 20% of our base salary) for staying through a fixed date after the acquisition and guaranteed if we are let after the acquisition, but before the retention date, without cause. These conversations were a bit over a month ago, and the speculated close date on the deal is about a month away, and we’ve not heard anything else and, most importantly, haven’t gotten anything in writing since. As a group, we’re starting to get antsy and not sure how we should proceed? Reach out the CFO who talked to us individually? Trust that HR is just slow with the written offer and it’s coming? Assume that we are getting jerked around and resume our job searches? Anyone thoughts would be welcomed. Thanks.

    1. AVP*

      I would:

      1. Follow up with the CFO politely and see if he has a timeline for the paperwork. Write it as if you’re assuming it’s just a paperwork question, not re-questioning the offer.

      2. Keep up your job search anyway. Definitely until you see paperwork, and even then keep it alive, if on the back-burner. You never know how long something like that is going to take, and you can always turn down an offer if they need you to start too soon. Better to have something in your back pocket.

      1. G*

        100% agree with AVP. I am (was) in a similar situation.

        At my company, we were offered a 35% retention bonus if we worked until a certain date (several months into the future). This was actually in writing, but nothing in the bonus agreement promised that we would actually be employed until that date. If we are let go before that date, we would get the bonus. But if, for example, we were let go in 2 days, we would get a generous bonus…but be suddenly unemployed.

        When asked, leadership was continuously (deliberately) vague on timeline.

        I kept job-hunting, found a great job opportunity, and accepted the job offer.

        Keep job-hunting.

    2. Helka*

      Well, there’s nothing that says you can’t continue searching for jobs — just that if you want the bonus, you can’t start in a new role until that date has passed. Considering how long job hunts can often take, I would keep right on searching if I were you.

      How long are you expected to stay on the job after the acquisition is complete? Are they asking for a month, six months, a year…? And if you’re offered another job… you still have the choice of deciding whether the bonus or the new job is better.

      1. Anon*

        It’s a two part bonus, both about 20% (so over 40% in total). The first date is about 2 months after the current expected close date, so to me its a no brainer to stay for it. The next is about 12 months from now, which is harder. In moving to a new job at my level, I’d expect a salary bump, but not near 20% (I’d be ecstatic with 10%). So my plan is to sit for the time and start looking after the first date. My group is likely to be involved in the data integration, etc and that takes time so I’m not imminently fearing for my job, more concerned about the bonus since I’ve been passing on headhunters in expectation of at least the first bonus and am trying to avoid any “we need you in 2 weeks” when I need 2 months type situations.

        1. Helka*

          Huh, that’s not too shabby.

          Honestly, I would be up front with the headhunters. “I’d love to talk to you, but just so you’re aware, I’m committed at my current position at least through [date] so I wouldn’t be able to talk about offers that need a start before then.”

          1. straws*

            Being up front like this can sometimes work out really well too. We had a candidate once who was really interested in our position, but couldn’t start until a couple of months after we needed someone. A few months down the line, we had another opening (even more suited to her background) and immediately thought of her.

  6. Ali*

    I had a bad week at work. My workload has been high, with a lot of big projects coming my way, we are having a busy time in general and people have been coming in and out of PTO. I feel worn out right about now, and I still have two more shifts before I’m off Sunday.

    Also, yesterday my boss announced his resignation. He’s been out with a health issue (injury, not sickness and he didn’t need to be in the hospital or anything) and he called a meeting to basically say that he’s doing better but if he comes back to work he’ll never be 100% so when his short-term disability is up, he’s leaving the company. It was kind of weird/awkward, especially once he talked about sending his contact info so we could all keep in touch. There were a lot of non-reactions and confused faces from my coworkers.

    I don’t know who our new manager will be, but I’m still job searching anyway.

    1. Maggie*

      That’s a bummer. As someone with a chronic condition, I totally feel him.

      Yes, getting yourself out there is a good thing.

      1. Ali*

        Yeah…I think I know who will end up taking over, and it’s nothing against him…he has nothing to do with why I’m job searching. It’s more like I’m tired of the long hours, having to work most of my weekend and on holidays and being turned down for a different position, then being told we don’t know if you’ll be able to ever take a different job here.

        I don’t see myself much keeping in touch with my departing boss; however, he did offer to be a reference for me some time back. I know Alison stresses the importance of keeping in touch with former managers, but I don’t really have much desire to in this instance. He is not a bad person, but I was not crazy about the way he managed, even if he is not the worst boss I’ve ever had.

        1. Laura*

          I would tend to keep in semi-idle touch in that case. You don’t have to exchange weekly emails or become besties, but the occasional note and having his contact info if you need a reference could be valuable, if he is ready to be a good reference for you. Especially if you jump ship fairly soon after the change in managers, prospective employers would probably appreciate someone who managed you for longer, and he’s unlikely to tell the company that you’re looking if he gets called for a reference.

    2. Jess*

      Just want to say, I’ve had a really bad week, too. I’ve been working my butt off (more so than usual) and it seems like random people have just been nasty to me all week for no reason. Like I accidentally sent an email to the wrong person and get this back: “Please take me off your list. I am not involved in this process.”

      If it were me, I’d just be like, “Hi, I think you might have sent me this by mistake.” It was ONE email.

      Maybe I’m too sensitive but it seems like some people can’t wait to jump down other people’s throats.

      Anyway, hugs to you, Ali.

      1. KerryOwl*

        Ah, you shouldn’t ascribe nastiness to that email, I don’t think. They said “please” and were just being brief. It’s hard sometimes to tell tone via the written word! Don’t let that instance get you down further.

        1. C Average*


          I would totally send an email like that with no ill intent whatsoever. I tend to err on the side of crispness when dealing with people I don’t know. It’s not personal at all. (And after what you’ve said, I’ll probably think twice the next time I’m inclined to be crisp to a stranger, and try to be a little nicer instead. So thanks for the reminder that a little bit of nice always goes a long ways.)

      2. Artemesia*

        I just don’t see this as a nasty response but a perfectly appropriate one. It is the problem with email — any kind of clear terse message will be read as ‘jumping down my throat’ by fair number of people. Since you will be getting emails that have this vibe to you all your career long, it is really a good idea to reframe this sort of thing as ‘efficient’ rather than ‘nasty.’

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          Plus the recipient might have had a crummy week of his own and your one e-mail may have been the nine thousandth misdirected e-mail he got. The last straw is still just one straw, dontcha know.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          Agreed that terse =/= snappy but can read that way. My boss is super-succinct, and it took me forever to get used to it. Now, if I get an email that just says “OK,” I know that he literally means that things are OK. He doesn’t like to waste time writing emails.

          1. Jamie*

            That I totally get – don’t read into short OKs because that’s just efficient.

            But I am with Jess in that it would have rubbed me the wrong way. Something that formal sounding and terse I would send after I asked a hundred freaking times to be removed from the thread.

            One errant email and I’d be like – “Hey – was this meant for me?” Or if I could tell it was misdirected (clearly to James and not Jamie because of the topic, for example) I’d shoot back – “Hi – think you meant to send this to Jim.”

            And when you’re having a bad week everything is seen through the filter of crap. Hope next week is better, Jess.

      3. Lara*

        I think you are definitely assuming nastiness where none is likely to have been intended. I could easily send an email like that, especially if I did not know the other person, without meaning anything bad. In fact, it would be because I was trying to be clear direct and polite but not casual, since I don’t know you.

        If you are reading nastiness into things like this, I’m not really surprised you’re having a bad week. Maybe it’s your perspective/attitude?

        1. AB Normal*

          Like Jamie described above, this type of email would have rubbed me the wrong way too.

          Perhaps the perspective/attitude of people writing this sort of formal and terse note should also be adjusted. One can be short and objective without making it look like it was a huge inconvenience (“please take me off your list” seems to indicate “you’ve been bothering me so much that you obviously have me on a list I don’t want to be a part of”).

  7. GrumpyBoss*

    Oh so glad it’s Friday. Need some help.

    Have an employer who is a pretty strong player but has a knack for causing drama then pouting about it. There are times I think that he is more trouble than he is worth, but my boss thinks he walks on water and turns a blind eye some of the difficulties. So I do what I can to use correcting actions and coaching to put him in positions where he looks good and his drama doesn’t weigh the team down.

    Only problem – he has a new charming habit of threatening to quit whenever things don’t go his way. You pull that card with me once, and I may sit up. You do it half a dozen times, like this guy has, and I’m of the mindset of, “OK, I accept your resignation. When is your last day?”. However, my manager has held me accountable to make sure we retain him – regardless of the cost. Since my manager and I aren’t on the same page, what is a good way to get someone to knock it off with the threats?

    1. Celeste*

      I hate saber-rattling. I want to call people on it. I finally get to a place where I say, you’re always talking about that but you never do it. And just let it sit there. And say it again next time. The person always stays until they are ready to go, FWIW. They just like to have tantrums in the interim. I feel all I can do is take away their audience, and NOT go on about how awful it would be if they left.

    2. Dawn*

      Ya can’t, and ya won’t. This guy sounds like Mr Prissy Pants, and if your manager insists on keeping him there’s nothing you can do.

      Have you documented all this stuff and confronted your manager with a list? Basically doing your due diligence to point out the problems this worker has? If not, that’s about the only thing you could do… but sounds like your manager wouldn’t care even if you did.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Oh I have documented and presented. I’m pretty sure if I went over his head or to HR, I’d garner additional support. But my manager is pretty much awesome in every other way, so if this is the only thing that I have to gripe about, I’ll suck it up and deal with my primadonna.

        But asking around subtly, it seems like my manager has a history of doing this before I even came to this company. He falls in love with certain aspects of some employees and ignores overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            +1. this sucks. You should not have to retain someone like that. I’m sorry.

            Even so, good for you for continuing to give feedback. BEcause of the terrible position your boss has put you in, maybe you can’t do the normal thing and respond directly to his “threats”- I’d say something neutral, like “it sounds like you’re ready to leave over this. We’d like to keep you because x, x, x, but either way, x is how things have to be.”

            I wonder if you might also directly address the comemnts, but not in a “then go pack your bags” way – but instead saying “I hear you saying pretty frequently that you’re going to quit when I give you feedback. What’s up with that?”

    3. Abby*

      You are in a non-win situation. If you are being told by your manager that you are responsible for making sure this employee stays, that employee has now been given all the power. He will keep making threats because he can.

      No one employee should ever be that important to a company.

      1. Dan*

        And one employee rarely is. The proper statement should be, “No manager should ever believe that one employee walks on water and cannot be replaced.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Yup. But can’t change the manager. I’m trying to focus on what I do have control over.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Well, that’s enough to make me grumpy.

      I think I’d have to push back at management on this one. You need to be able to call somebody’s “gonna quit!” bluff, at the least.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        The only thing I have to cheer me up is that today’s threat was in writing instead of verbal. It was more subtle, like “If you don’t plan on fixing this, let me know so I can make the move that is right for me”. But still, perhaps now that it is in writing, my boss will have to pay attention.

        If not, it goes into my “evidence” folder.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Have you felt that your boss doesn’t believe you before? If so, then you might have your answer – keep that e-mail like you said, and also, when appropriate, attempt to have similar interactions via e-mail so that you have more stuff in writing.

    5. danr*

      At my old job, a person, no matter how high or low *never* threatened to quit over something they didn’t like, since the president of the company would accept the offer immediately.

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah – I don’t get why people do this. Do not point that gun unless you’re prepared to pull the trigger.

        I threatened to quit once – well, actually no, I did quit. I gave my resignation and was talked out of it…but it wasn’t a threat because I was totally prepared to go.

        Prepared in the sense I was pissed and ready to leave – not prepared in the sense of having another job or winning the lottery or anything.

        I think stuff like that all the time – but if it comes out of my mouth my personal stuff is already in my purse, and office key, credit card, and phone are in one location ready to be turned over.

    6. J-nonymous*

      This person sounds like a total PITA, but may also be burned out by other aspects of the role than what he is very skilled at. It’s possible that what is behind the burnout is what’s driving the increase in bad behavior.

      It’s risky I suppose, but you could address the problem directly with him without specifically accepting his resignation. You could say something like, “On three separate occasions in the past month [or however long and however frequent] you’ve stated you want to quit your job because of X, Y, and Z. What can we do to address this? You’re very strong at [skills!] and I genuinely want you to have job satisfaction in your role. I can work with you on addressing any ongoing challenges you’re facing with finding job satisfaction.”

      Maybe if this person really is facing other underlying challenges that are getting expressed as “This didn’t go my way; I want to quit!” those will come out, can possibly be addressed, and a better pattern forged.

      It’s also very possible (maybe probable) that the employee knows your boss thinks he walks on water and therefore can get away with whatever he wants. In which case, I am deeply sorry for you.

    7. OriginalYup*

      Is this based on some special skill or knowledge that the problem employee has? I ask because I wondered if your boss was overly impressed with something that’s replicable. Like if Problem Employee does something super special with spreadsheets that the boss doesn’t think anyone else can do, make sure that at least two other people in your group know how to do it — and then get that work in front of the boss pronto.

      I personally have no truck with ultimatums. They’re manipulative bullsh*t. If your boss wasn’t tying your hands, I’d agree that you just accept his resignation and not deal with the nonsense anymore. But since that option is off the table, I think you need to focus on undoing whatever spell your boss is under before the problem employee gets any more off the rails.

      Also, I think you’re already doing it right in correcting and coaching the employee. Do you think it’d break through his diva-ness if you just called directly ask him why he threatens to quit every time he’s upset about something?

      1. Artemesia*

        You are in a no win situation. If this were me my top agenda item would be making sure that whatever this guy brings to the table is duplicated. If that means training someone else in a technical skill then have that done. If it means during the next hire, seeking someone who has his skill, do that.

        Once you are very confident you have the job covered, consider escalating with your boss as in ‘Fred’s constant tantrums and threats to quit are bringing down morale and making it harder for our division to get the job done. Cleo is up to speed on teapot whistle technology and I think for the good of the company we need to take Fred up on his threats to resign next time he makes one. Allowing him to ride roughshod over everyone every time he doesn’t get his way is not healthy for the company.’

        1. Artemesia*

          FWIW I did this once. Made sure cross training was done and that someone else had mastery of the technology that my PITA employee was using to hold everyone hostage and undermine the supervisors authority. Then I fired him when he failed to respond to attempt to change his disruptive behavior. He was ‘irreplaceable’; we never missed him at all.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            I love this. Some of the most irreplaceable coworkers I’ve ever had were total PITA. And when they left by some strange miracles the companies were still running. And the department even doing well without the PITA employee.

    8. Malissa*

      My script for this is, “Okay, I hear that you are not happy. Now let’s focus on X and get this done.”
      Acknowledge it and push it to the side so you can stay on track.

      1. Windchime*

        One of my kids pulled something similar once. It was the old, “OK, if you won’t let me do X, I’ll just go move in with Dad.” I replied with all sincerity, “Oh, that’s too bad….I would sure miss you.”

        The conversation was done and he didn’t move. So next time this guy threatens to quit, you could just say, “Well, that’s a shame. We’d sure miss you.”. You’re not exactly accepting his resignation but you’re letting him know that you won’t be blackmailed.

    9. IndieGir*

      OMG, you could be me. I was in EXACTLY the same situation for years. I wound up leaving the department, and Ms. PITA wound up working directly for Boss. She drove him nuts, but he put up with it for years. When I later returned to the department, he eventually made her report to me again, which made her find a job in another group, and by this time he was happy to see the back of her. Then she quit for another company. (I hear she’s still not happy b/c they don’t appreciate her either.)

      Wish I had more helpful advice here!

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      What if you told your boss that if this guy won the lottery, he’d quit on the spot anyway? At least if he quits now, he’d have to give 2 weeks notice which gives you time to find a less diva-ish replacement.

      I like Original Yup’s comment about finding someone else in the group who can do the job as well or better than this guy. It’d be a good way to show him that he’s not as special as he thinks.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Do you write his reviews? You could put some of this stuff into his review if you are able.

      I would be tempted to tell him that if he is indeed resigning he has to give his resignation in writing to your boss. Then go into the little boy who cried wolf parallel. “I have heard you say that so many times, I presume it is just a style of speech. Just so you know, it’s very unprofessional to keep saying that. It indicates a lack of commitment on the part of the person saying it. For purposes of clarity should you truly want to resign you will need to go see Big Boss.”

      Then go to the Big Boss and say “Pouty Employee is threatening to quit every other day. It is detracting for the work we are doing. [You don’t have time to beg him to stay every day.] Since I no longer believe his threats to quit, I told him he has to give his resignation to YOU in writing, if there comes a point that he actually decides to move on.”

      Just an idea. What you want to do is come up with a game plan that reduces his threats to be on a par with talking about the weather. Try to seem bored by it all, and insist on the work focus as others have mentioned here.

    12. Rayner*

      You need to gather that extra support from your HR etc and inform your manager that this employee’s next resignation is going to be accepted, or that you’ll need to have a frank conversation with him that may lead to him putting in a resignation which you will be excepting. Your manager has put you in a position where you cannot do your job (manage your staff) because he doesn’t want to pull his finger out and find a new person or tell the toddler in the department to grow up.

      You need to find out why this person is so important as OriginalYup pointed out. Is he super skilled with clients? Is he familiar with a particular program that nobody else can figure out?

      He can be replaced – he can always be replaced. It might take time, it might be that his role would need to be split between two people until you can find someone, or it might be that you have to raid networks. But it sounds like your manager is too scared to get rid of a problem employee, or too invested in him to actually consider what value he brings to the company and whether that offsets his constant drama.

      (Hint, no value offsets drama).

      Because seriously, he has now been upgraded from a primadonna to a problem with a paycheck that you’re not allowed to manage. The cost of keeping him might be marginal at first in terms of money, but it will demoralise other staff, and make them stressed and frustrated to see a badly behaved employee who throws tantrums is rewarded and cosseted by senior management.

      And then they will leave. Can you really take everybody in your department phasing out within three years? Or reducing their output until it’s exactly what it should be and no more? Or putting in requests to transfer?

      Your manager might be the best manager in the world, but he’s hobbling you which in turns ruins your ability to effectively manage your team, which includes hiring and firing. And that’s kind of not AAM kosher.

  8. Curiosity*

    I gave out information about raises to my staff this morning. All the rates are insultingly low, and even though I did some behind-the-scenes appealing, I couldn’t get them nearly to where I think my staff deserves. One woman flat out told me she’ll need to start looking for another job, and another started crying.

    Today, I hate being a manager.

    1. BB*

      I’m sorry- this is a terrible spot to be in for everyone. But if it makes you feel any better, it’s nice to hear that there are still managers out there willing to go to bat for their employees and that truly care about getting them what they deserve.

    2. Dan*

      Yup, ouch.

      At my last job, I went three review cycles before getting any raise whatsoever. They brought me in at a good salary, and I knew it. Review #1 (Jan 2010): “The CPI is negative this year, it’s a good thing we don’t give pay cuts here.”
      Review #2 (one year later): “We have this new comp structure in place, you’re at the top of it, and you will not ever get a raise until you get promoted.
      Review#3 (one year later): I got my promotion and a 7.5% raise. I worked my tail off that year, and had I not gotten promoted, my manager would have gotten the “I’m outta here” speech from me.

    3. Maggie*

      BEEN THERE. I’m so sorry. That was one of the reasons I moved on and decided not to manage anymore. Oddly, I miss it. Thank you for the reminder…

    4. Rebecca*

      I’m sorry they feel that way. My company was purchased by a company whose policy is not to give raises. We might get a small bonus in December, we might not. I’d be thrilled with anything at this point. Due to health insurance premium increases, I’m back to 2008 wage levels. Oh, and my work load has almost doubled, and overtime has been reduced or eliminated here.

      In my book, something is better than nothing. That’s why I’m looking for another job.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’ll bet those at the top are getting either ginormous bonuses or raises though. The current US business model is that ALL profits go to the CEO or to the stockholders. The people who do the work are just replaceable cogs.

      2. chewbecca*

        My company (or maybe it’s just my department) doesn’t do merit-based raises, either. I’ve been here 4 years and have gotten 2 small COL increases, but that’s it. It think it’s why they don’t do performance reviews. It’s hard to give someone a glowing review and not do anything to recognize it.

        1. Rebecca*

          Same here – no reviews or evaluations. The handbook says that merit increases are based on evaluations. No evaluations? No merit increases. It’s really hard to stay motivated, other than I need money to keep a roof over my head.

    5. GrumpyBoss*

      Feel for you. Once I worked somewhere that had a formula based on company performance to determine raises, and then you had a modifier based on performance (but the modifier was low and had no real impact). You essentially had to have a PhD in economics to figure out the formula. All I know is when the numbers went in and the raises came out, I had a raise of $80 to give to one of my employees. No, I did not forget a zero.

      I refused, but ultimately ended up doing it anyway. The guy was a real good sport, knowing I was just a messenger. But god, I hated my job that day.

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I’m sorry. Have you ever read The Carrott Principle? It won’t address your immediate problem, but they have a ton of great ideas for providing positive feedback and reinforcement even when you don’t have a lot of (or any) money. In my nonprofit world, these techniques have been a lifesaver for retention in lean years (it’s not geared toward nonprofits). They also present a good bit of convincing evidence that positive feedback and very small rewards can really help with job satisfaction and employee retention.

      Also – I get that people may feel a sense of panic or upset. At the same time, if you’re a great manager, and they like other things about their job, they might feel better when the shock of expecting something they didn’t get is over. It might take days or weeks, but if you can find other things that help people feel valued, you might be able to keep your team in tact. Even if there’s more money elsewhere, people will stay for a great place to work.

    1. Trixie*

      For graphic designers/artists applying to agencies (as in this case), much more of an option to consider than the rest of the field.

    2. Anonylicious*

      This would only work on me if it was *good* beer. Though I do appreciate the pun. I love bad puns.

    3. Chuchundra*

      My wife used to read slush (unsolicited manuscripts) for a well-known SF & Fantasy publisher. One such submission which dealt with, I think, vampires running a winery or something, came with a bottle of wine in an ornate, wooden box from the fictional winery in the novel.

  9. Ali*

    Also, I have a question and am looking for some advice on this. Even though I’m employed, my job search hasn’t exactly been a picnic and there aren’t many positions that have fit my level of experience/what I’m looking for. However, these last few weeks, it seems like everyone I know is getting a new job and it’s hard to stay positive. My friend got a job she desired and is in training and enjoying herself, while my sister got a new position with better hours (no weekends, no holidays) and I’m stuck still working bad hours with no end in sight. And my team has been going through a decent amount of changes these last couple months, as we’ve had two people get fired and now my boss is leaving and we have to hire again, plus I have to adjust to a new manager. Furthermore, with people all taking PTO, my schedule keeps getting shuffled. I have no prospects. The last two companies I heard from, one rejected me and the other decided not to fill the position, so at least that one wasn’t my fault.

    I’m worn out, and it’s so hard for me to focus on myself when it seems like I’m constantly around people who are getting jobs and celebrating, or even getting strong professional development to continue their careers, like my older sister is doing.

    I was named intern of the week at my internship, but with the stress of my full-time job, it’s easy to forget about even though my supervisor keeps complimenting me.

    Any ideas?

    1. Dawn*

      1- Other people’s success in no way, shape, or form is a reflection of your own worth. Print that out and tape it to your bathroom mirror.
      2- Everyone is happy about their new job when they just start. Who knows, for some of these people they might end up frustrated just like you are. Things change… your job changed and now you don’t like it, their jobs might change and they might not like it. Remember that good and bad are two sides of the same coin.
      3- Distance yourself from these situations as much as possible. Be polite, but don’t follow these people on Facebook, don’t get into long winded conversations with them at work/home/social gatherings, etc.
      4- Be extra nice to yourself during this stressful time. Make sure you’re not becoming a twisted ball of stress worrying about what could happen or might happen. Keep up with your hobbies/ exercising/ being outside and away from work/ eating good food/ etc. If you can’t change your job right now, you CAN make the rest of your life away from your job as nice as possible.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Try and focus on the fact that your supervisor is giving you positive feedback rather than on what you didn’t get.

      Give yourself a treat every once in a while, be it an extra piece of chocolate or whatever it is that makes you feel happy. Spend time with positive people, just stay away from talk about work.

    3. chewbecca*

      I feel you, especially on the positions that fit experience.

      My fiance got a promotion at work a couple days after I found out I didn’t get a job I really wanted. I struggled to keep a happy face on and be happy for him. He was actually a little nervous to tell me because of my problems finding a new position.

      I can’t really offer any advice, but I commiserate.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Stop comparing yourself to other people. Seriously, until you stop doing this you will continue to have waaay too many heart breaks on a regular basis.

      Next week/month/year, friend X gets TERRIBLE ILLNESS (heaven forbid) are you still going to keep comparing your life to friend X? Probably not. The comparisons only serve for you to beat yourself up with. Stop beating yourself up.

      I know. For years I compared my life to other people’s. Then one day it just stopped. I decided that if I had the problems other people were facing I would not be able to get out of bed in the morning. At least with my own familiar problems, I would roll out of bed and face my day anyway.

      Interestingly, this may be key to getting some movement, that you want to see, going on in your life. Let yourself up for air and see what happens next.

    5. spocklady*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this – that’s really tough.

      Dawn, you had a lot of good points (I’m printing out #1 for my bathroom mirror, myself!).

      It sounds like you are getting some professional development opportunities at your internship? Maybe? Will focusing on that help?

      The thing that’s helping me cut myself slack right now about not being where I want to be, is reminding myself that the new skills I’m trying to learn right now are HARD, and it’s ok that it’s taking me a while to learn them. Maybe that’s applicable to you, too?

      One other good thing – you have a job that’s making you unhappy, but you aren’t giving up and letting it grind you down! Some people get stuck in those jobs they didn’t like and that’s really unfortunate. At least you’re trying to do something about it.

      1. Ali*

        My internship is covering an area I had no previous professional experience in, so that helps. That’s why I took it, even though I hesitated b/c I’m older already and not really “intern age.” But I get along good with my supervisor and enjoy the work, so that’s a plus. I’ll try remembering that.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          No idea if this is appropriate in your situation, but could you let your internship supervisor know that you’d like some help? Especially if you’re really appreciated there, she might be willing to keep her eyes peeled for you. I know I often hear about openings that aren’t public, and I’ll pass them along if people (interns, friends, etc.) have told me what they are looking for/that they are looking. Anything you can do to tap into the world of available jobs that aren’t posted publicly can be really helpful.

          It helps me sometimes to realize that timelines in our lives can be kind of random. Just because someone else got a job before you doesn’t mean that they are the better employee or smarter person – it’s just that because of whatever random series of events, the job that matched them was free earlier. It’s kind of the same way with getting married (for those who want to) – I wouldn’t assume that a friend who got married at 23 was more appealing and got “snapped up faster” than someone who got married at 26 or 36. I also wouldn’t assume that an unmarried person had less value, or was less desirable. it’s just the order of things, and it’s beyond our control at some point.

          1. Ali*

            I have been at my internship a month now, so within the next couple weeks, I’d like to at least approach my supervisor to mention that I’m looking for new challenges in my career, want to consider staying with that company, etc. I’m an intern through the end of August, but I’m part of a fairly large group (there are more than 10 interns at the company, but I don’t work with every single one of them; we’re in different segments/departments) and I know competition for jobs will probably be intense. So, I don’t want to wait *too* long to express my interest in case other interns are in line for jobs, want to stay as well, etc.

            I realize nothing is a guarantee, but I also figured there’s no harm in trying either.

            I like your marriage analogy there. It’s a good way to look at things for sure.

  10. Anonypants*

    Rant #1:

    Am I the only person who hates making doctors appointments at work? I mean, I don’t have an alternative, these stupid offices are only open when people with 9-5 jobs work, so you need to either call at your desk or step out. Maybe go to your car, but y’all, it’s hot out, I’ll pass. But anyway, you’re on the phone making a personal call, which is unprofessional as hell, but again necessary if you want to see your doctor, and you’re probably disclosing super personal information in a place where someone in your office might hear.

    Online appointment systems might be a better alternative, but most offices either don’t have them or have really awful systems where you have to pick a date and time (even if you really don’t care and just want best available) then wait 2 days to find out if that time slot’s even open, and if it isn’t you have to repeat the process. Or they don’t have one at all and you have to make a phone call. A personal phone call. At work.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      I hate making any sort of personal phone call at work, or taking them. Even calling to make a hair appointment on my lunch break, I hate. Hate hate hate it.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        and then it’s awkward to come back to work in the middle of the day with your hair different than it was at the beginning.

    2. AmyNYC*

      Also when apartment hunting! Brokers call at anytime – I feel like I have to answer any unknown number or risk losing out on an apartment.
      I go in the hallway or (preferably) a conference room and make it as quick as possible.

      1. Anonypants*

        Yep, that was me last summer. I ended up going outside to talk to the agent. Or realtor. Or whatever he was. He found us our apartment, but I still felt guilty calling him from the office.

      2. AVP*

        How anyone in NYC finds an apartment while having a job is a mystery to me. They only want to make appointments at 3pm on Tuesdays, and if you ask if you can come at 6:30 after work the apartment is taken already!

        1. Tris Prior*

          And yet they won’t rent to you if you are not employed fulltime! Which presumably means you can’t randomly leave in the middle of the day with no notice!

          (In Chicago, not NYC, but yeah, I ran into the same thing all the time. How we found our most recent apartment was nothing short of a miracle; I happened to be stalking Craigslist on a Saturday afternoon mere moments after my landlord listed the place.)

          1. AVP*

            That’s how I got mine too! Saturday morning Craigslist, it was a few blocks away from where I was living, I was the first to see it and signed on the spot. It’s a miracle that so few people end up in places with no working heat/water/etc, with the kind of due diligence that you can do on that schedule.

          2. AVP*

            Also, it’s lucky that you’re Tris Prior and can just jump off a train into an awesome underground home without too much worrying.

    3. Stephanie*

      No, not just you. OldJob was like mausoleum quiet, so I had to step away from my desk to avoid passive-aggressive glares.

    4. Jen*

      Yep, hate it. Especially when I’d run off to a private conference room and would have to leave a message and then they’d call back when I’m back in my cubicle and I have to whisper. Sucks.

    5. Sascha*

      I don’t like it, either. At my current job, it’s much easier – I work from home most of the time, but even if I have to call up at the office, there are some private spaces I can get to easily. At my last job, there were absolutely no private spaces and I hated it. One time I had an issue with my mortgage and had to call the bank and was basically taking and making calls all day. Thankfully my manager was very understanding about the situation, and the crazy director was out for the day, so I was able to take care of things. I felt kind of bad for not getting much work done but it was urgent! I needed my money! :)

      1. Mallory*

        I hate it too. Fortunately for me, my boss is very infrequently in his office and he has a small conference table in there besides his desk, so I go in there when I need to make personal calls, and he doesn’t care (he actually seems happy to share).

    6. Anonsie*

      I spent all week trying to get a prescription refilled because I had to call while I was at work and there’s nowhere private to do so, then they called back and wanted to know what side effects I’d been having before vs my other prescriptions we’ve tried. Not having anywhere private to discuss my GI issues made it a big dumb problem.

    7. Beth Anne*

      YES! I have friends that have these awesome doctors that have hours on SATURDAYS and until 8pm on weekdays. Where do they find these doctors? I’ve yet to find anything like this. Taking off work to go to doctors is super annoying. Sometimes I would make my mom make my appts for me since she has a flexible schedule/her own office.

      1. danr*

        You move out of the city. Our doctors have evening hours and Saturday hours. They are also on call for emergencies.

    8. danr*

      Time to bring back phone booths. My old company had the phone booths built in. The phones disappeared when everyone had a cell phone, but the booths came in handy for those private calls.

      1. Anonypants*

        oh my god, yes, actually, these should be a thing! And they could be in public places too, so people who need to make calls on the go can do it in a quiet space where they’re not bothering anyone. And maybe the booths could have charging stations.

    9. Jamie*

      Hate, hate, hate making appointments at work.

      I have mild phone aversion – so hate making calls period.

      This week long story short my doctor left and need new one – took dh hours with insurance to get a list of in network people and then called and found out not all of them were – ugh. Anyway – he gets off earlier than I do so he did it all for me.

      I have a private office, but shutting the door makes everyone need me for something immediately and sometimes on hold for 45 minutes and then just as they pick up someone comes in my office.

      “Can you wait while I speak to my gynecologist?” isn’t something that rolls off the tongue.

      1. Jess*

        Also, I’ve had to make a few call this year where I had to give my credit card number over the phone out loud during business hours. Get with the internet, people!!!!

        1. EE*

          I gave out my banking details on the bus recently! I can just hope that by the time people heard me say “password is abc” they had missed me saying “access number is 123456789”.

          I was on the bus to an outlet where I intended to spend a few hundred euros, the smart bit of my phone wasn’t working and I hadn’t moved cash from saver to current ahead of time. Only option was to phone somebody and ask them to do it for me.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve been putting off making a colonoscopy apt just because I don’t want to talk at my desk or squirrel away to a conference room where I don’t have my calendar on my screen.

      I had a obgyn that would guess why you were calling so you didn’t have to say it. “Are you calling for an exam? OK. Just routine? OK, here are some available times.” That was wonderful.

    11. Rebecca*

      I hear you! I am so lucky my doctor’s office has online appointment scheduling and hours until 7 PM some evenings. I can either call from home, or log into my health portal and make an appointment.

      When I had to do this at work, invariably someone would hear me. “Are you OK?” “Is it anything serious”? Nope, it’s OK, I just have a giant boil on my butt – wanna see? I so wanted to say that just to give the nosy nannies something to talk about. Ugh.

    12. Artemesia*

      This was one thing I hated when I was a teacher for a few years — yeah love to call your gynecologist from work with either the office secretary listening to every word or your colleagues (all male in my case) We didn’t have cell phones then and the only phones were in the teacher’s lounge or the office.

    13. This is me*

      I don’t actually think that making a personal appointment at work in unprofessional. People have other commitments that sometimes need to be tended do during normal business hours. As long your not swearing/yelling/taking forever to make the call/ignoring some aspect of your job that requires your immediate attention/making frequent calls throughout the day I’d say your fine.

      1. Anonypants*

        This is true, reasonable people who know what professional, competent, hard worker you are won’t care. But the general rule is that you don’t make personal calls at work *ever*, and it could look bad to someone who doesn’t work with you, especially if they’re visiting the office, which could reflect poorly on the company as a whole.

        1. SherryD*

          Call me old-fashioned, but I *like* this rule. Unfortunately for me, none of my coworkers have apparently heard of it or care about it, and I overhear a lot of non-work calls for oil changes, concert tickets, doctor appointments, hair appointments, waxing appointments… surely 99% of these calls could be made on your lunch or after hours, no?

          Anyway, that’s my little pet peeve, and I keep it to myself at work.

          1. Anonypants*

            It’s a nice general rule, but unfortunately needs to be broken sometimes. Yes, hair appointments can usually be made after work, same with some car-related appointments. Doctors appointments not so much, and concert tickets seem to always go on sale at 10am during a weekday, so if you need to call to get them, yes, you need to call right at 10. And sometimes people need to text or call for last minute lunch or dinner plans that can’t wait until a break or dinner.

            Again, I think the rule make sense, in that people should at least try to avoid making personal calls at their desks, and aim to make those calls during breaks, at lunch, or after work entirely, but sometimes the call can’t wait.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I hate it too, since it’s usually REALLY quiet in here. They passed around a cube etiquette thing not long ago, and it advised that we pretend we didn’t overhear anything. But you know people remember stuff.

      People usually go to the stairwell, but that is kind of a pain if I need to look at my work calendar or something on my computer. Plus because it’s kind of a shared space, you have no expectation of privacy if (I’m) doing stair climbs or someone is traveling between floors.

    15. MaryMary*

      Ugh, I hate it too. I really hate the automated phone systems that make you talk to them instead of pressing two and the pound sign. There’s nothing like reciting your social security number, loudly, precisely, and repeatedly trying to get to the next branch in the phone tree.

      1. Eden*

        This is The Worst, because they always make you say stupid phrases, loudly and distinctly, several times (“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. If you’re calling about an appointment, please say, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. If you’re calling about about a billing problem, please say I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY BILL…”)

        God bless all systems that permit you to press keys rather than say awkward phrases repeatedly in front of others.

      2. Mallory*

        Gah, the customer-service-avoidance sysyems that are put into place, invariably, to “allow us to better serve you.” You want to better serve me? Answer the damn phone!

    16. spocklady*

      Nope, I hate it too. I am terrible at making appointments for stuff like this (doctor, dentist, hair cut, car repair, etc.) for this exact reason.

      1. Annie*

        Imagine having a new doctor, a new prescription, at a new job only to find out that some how they organization put you on the “cancel insurance” list 2 weeks after you got insurance – the day before you leave for a 2 day charity walk 2 states away!
        I remember walking in to my manager’s office completely red faced saying I had to handle an insurance issue with HR I spent from noon until 4 pm trying to get everything sorted out running between HR, answering the office phone for the insurance company, pharmacy, and doctor’s office (crappy cell service in the cubes) and having to explain to the people who’s cubes are on either side that you will be on the phone with your gynecologist and then repeating your name and the name of your birth control prescription ad nauseum to get everything covered so you can not only get your prescription but make sure that you have insurance if you turn your ankle during the 39 mile walk… ugh… worst ever.

    17. C Average*

      I used to hate it, but now I have a system that lets me end-run around most of this kind of nonsense.

      I have a zillion hours of unused PTO and am forever running up against our 300-hour cap (we stop accruing at 300 hours). So I made a deal with my manager to take the last Friday of every month off. Originally it was just to burn up PTO, but it’s become my de facto get stuff done day. I schedule all appointments for that day. and I make as many appointment-related calls as possible on that day. I just about never have to deal with doctor-related calls at the office, for which I’m immensely grateful.

      One dubiously good thing in my office is that my manager is utterly indiscreet about taking personal calls in hearing range of everyone. I know about the goings-on in the lives of her mom, sister, dermatologist, accupuncturist, and therapist. On one hand, I think it’s made the rest of us more discreet about taking our calls in an empty conference room or other quiet area; we don’t want to be like the manager! On the other hand, we know we could never be any less discreet than she is, so the bar for embarrassment is set pretty high.

  11. Sunflower*

    Does anyone have advice on how to enact changes and grow in a position when the company has no interests in changing? This job is a stepping stone job- I’m here at a small company to get experience before moving onto a larger company with more opportunities. I want to take advantage of being in a small company and enact some changes and fix problems that have been going on for a while. For what it’s worth, these problems are ones that the company openly admits need to be fixed but when it comes down to fixing them, even if someone else is doing the leg work, they have no interest. For example, at all of our events, we give out promo items that no one wants and are just a waste of money. I’ve looked into other options and even put together a plan addressing why so-and-so is a cheaper, better solution and I’m getting ignored. The company cries about how they are having a hard time keeping people connected after networking events yet when I propose ideas to keep them connected, no one has time to meet. Me plus 5 other people have tried to schedule meetings to talk about these things and had it’s almost regarded as a joke- the higher ups just don’t show up or cancel last minute. My ideas aren’t even getting shot down- they aren’t even being heard. It’s well known that the company isn’t interested in change so I shouldn’t be upset but I’ve put a good amount of time and effort into these things and it’s frustrating to see it ignored. Beyond that, I want to be able show on my resume that I didn’t just sit at my desk and do the minimum. Any advice?

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      Sounds like your roadblock is with influence. You have identified issues, and more importantly, you have identified some proposed solutions. For that alone, you should be getting a pat on the back. So many people can point out problems, or have an idea for an awesome solution so go looking for a problem. Kudos to you.

      But I think what may help you in the short term is getting someone who is higher up on your side. Where is your manager in this? Is she one of the 5 other people? If not, start with her. Bring a problem/solution up in a one on one. Say you have a lot of suggestions, and you really just want an audience. Push the issue, ask for feedback on your ideas.

      1. Sunflower*

        My boss sort of doesn’t really care. Most people have been here on the upwards of 10 years(both of my bosses included) and they have just adjusted to the fact that nothing will ever change so they don’t see the point in trying. The other couple people pushing for it are all somewhat around my level- a couple supervisors but no real decision makers. I think I will try to push my own boss a little and like you said, just kind of present that I have ideas. I think trying to go through him might be a good idea.

    2. Golden Yeti*

      No real advice to offer, just sympathy. Not too long ago, we had a, “Why aren’t sales higher?” meeting. Management decided it was the sales team’s fault. I had just had a customer complain about pricing, so I brought up that some people aren’t satisfied with our pricing. Management considered the option for maybe one second, then said, “No, pricing is fine. It’s the sales team.” Sometimes people really just don’t want to hear something that doesn’t suit them. While I do agree with GrumpyBoss’s advice–if there is an alternate channel you could go through, it’d be worth it–it is also possible that there’s nothing you can do that will make them want to hear you out. If things get bad enough and they seem particularly desperate, it might give you an open door to present your ideas again. Until they decide they need advice (even if they’ve needed it all along), you may just keep hitting the same wall.

    3. matcha123*

      I don’t have any advice, but I feel you.
      My last job was like that; I’d propose to clean up something and get shot down. (“We don’t need to translate new info for the English page.”)

      If you’re putting pen to paper and doing the majority of the work needed (ie- It’s 90% done, and you need them to sign off on the remainder.) and they are ignoring you, I say, leave them. Jot down your ideas, flesh them out and keep them to yourself to use at a new place.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could try changing what types of problems you focus on fixing.

      I would try looking for situations that are influenced by external forces and therefore change is not optional. For example: A new law is passed that the company now must keep records on xyz. OR
      Perhaps there is a safety issue that you notice a couple people have been injured in a short time.
      OR Client Bob decides that he is going to look at a competitor because your company doesn’t offer ABC (where Client Bob is a bigggg client).

      Your management has become complacent. They will not move unless forced to move. So figure out what forces them to move.

    5. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Could you volunteer to do something related? If you’re in marketing or sales, lots of nonprofit would be happy to have you volunteer to help with fundraising. And it’s totally reasonable and normal to be really specific about how you want to help (if it doesn’t work for them, ask if they know of another nonprofit that could use that type of help). You could put these accomplishments on your resume, and perhaps even tell your boss about what you’ve been doing and how you’d like to transfer that learning to benefit the company. If you’re not in marketing or sales, write back and I’ll make a more specific suggested based on what you do.

  12. Diet Coke Addict*

    Here’s a horrifying development at my job. A shipment arrived damaged to a customer, and rather than taking it up with the shipping company, my boss opted to send the customer replacement parts and paint so they could fix it themselves. He told our technician to call the end customer to discuss the parts and process—and our tech flat-out refused to do so. Said “No, I don’t want to.” My boss’s response was “Well, when you can, give him a call.” Later that day, our tech falsified records in our database to make it look like he had called despite not having done so. My coworker brought it to my boss’s attention, since this is fouling up her job, and the boss’s reaction? “Well, I don’t understand why he would lie to me!” And yet he’s still employed, without even a write-up for 1. Refusing a boss’s demand, 2. Lying to the boss about it, and 3. Falsifying company records.

    I understand nothing here.

    1. Steve G*

      Not such a crazy occurence. I catch coworkers making mistakes quite often, and they often get brushed over and not addressed, I guess because overall we are doing good. It does not make me happy, because yes, we are doing good, but we could be doing better financially.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        The thing is that this wasn’t a mistake–it was a deliberate lie and falsification of records. If it had been a mistake, it’d be one thing–we screw up, it happens, whatever. But usually I don’t find that mistakes are comparable to lies in mindset and action.

    2. Mimmy*

      Do you know for a fact that he hasn’t been written up? If memory serves, Alison has written before about how you don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes between boss and employee.

      But yeah, that’s pretty rotten!

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Yeah, he told us so, bragging about how he gets away with doing nothing and our boss won’t say boo to him.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      These two are well matched.

      The boss gives out instructions that are… disturbing.
      Employee decides not to follow the instructions and falsifies records.

      Here is a boss that is getting the employee he asked for.

      On some level the boss knows that he is making poor choices so therefore he cannot write up the employee for failing to comply.
      Not only have I seen this one, I have been that employee. I knew what the boss was doing was not a good choice (unethical) and I just said no. The boss could not write me up.

      Watch the process though– Coworker comes into inquire about Ridiculous Situation and the boss throws up a hurdle that has nothing to do with anything. “Well, I don’t UNDERSTAND…” It’s not Coworker’s job to make the boss understand, it’s only her job to do the follow up work. So this leaves Coworker confused, which is what the boss wanted to happen. By adding unnecessary layers of complexity the boss has effectively isolated himself from the problem.

      Five year old children are good at this.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        +1 My coworker is between a rock and a hard place, because she’s doing her best with the client and trying to smooth over things as much as she can. My boss is creating problems for himself and her by extension, and every time we discuss it, I remind her “it doesn’t matter if he understands, the only thing that matters is that you do your job to the best you can and make the boss aware of what is happening as best you can.”

        What a cluster.

    4. spocklady*

      I don’t understand this either. I suspect (not sure, hard to document) that at least one of my coworkers has lied, more than once to my supervisors. I understand from one of said supervisors that they believe this to be true. In the same conversation, supervisor closed by saying, “well, it’s just really important that we all feel we respect each others’s work.”

      It’s crazytown. I feel you.

  13. anon123*

    I don’t really have a question, just more of a bit of a concern that I want to get out anonymously. My boss doesn’t track our vacation, the work just needs to get done. We work hard in my group, so as long as people aren’t taking discretionary vacations during peak times, he doesn’t ever turn down vacation requests. That being said, officially, we get 15 days of vacation a year. I have a coworker who seems to be taking advantage of his generous policy. We’re halfway through the year, and she’s already taken a couple week-long vacations and has another planned next month, as well as quite a few days here and there. I realize it’s none of my business and I don’t really care – she’s actually quite a hard worker and is very reliable. But she clearly takes advantage of my boss’ flexibility more than anyone else, and I worry at some point it’s going to come under scrutiny by him – or worse, his boss, who is very focused on productivity and efficiency these days – and we could end up losing that benefit of being in this group.

    1. Dawn*

      Is she “taking advantage” or does she just have a different situation set up with your boss? Even though there’s a policy on the books that you only have 15 days, perhaps this worker puts in so many long hours and is so productive that your boss wants to make sure she doesn’t burn out and is happy to give her more days off.

      If you’re worried about it, just ask your boss “Hey, I know that we have 15 days on the books but you’re happy to reward vacation days above and beyond that based on productivity. I just want to make sure that’s still the policy!” Don’t make it about any one particular person in your office… and, I would personally advocate for you to focus on your own work, productivity, and vacation days instead of anyone else’s!

      1. Who are you??*

        I agree with this.
        My husband “officially” gets 20 days a year but he works ridiculous amounts of OT so he ends up with more vacation time than others in his position. (time is accrued based on hours worked). A co-worker of his recently complained about the few days of PTO my husband took and it was pointed out that he’d earned it. It could be that this woman has an agreement with your boss that you aren’t aware of.

      2. anon123*

        Knowing her and my boss pretty well, I’m confident there’s no actual arrangement…we don’t even ask for vacation, we just put it on the calendar and include the boss on the invite so he’s aware (and could say no at that point, but again I don’t think it’s ever happened).

        In any case, I’m certainly not going to say anything about it, kind of just wanted to get it off my chest. She actually happens to be my favorite teammate, professionally and personally. It’s just this one thing that has recently made me raise an eyebrow a bit.

    2. LMW*

      If it’s not impacting work, I don’t think you can say anything about it. I have a similar situation in my area, and honestly, it’s the type of thing that can change in the blink of an eye for almost any reason (company-wide policy, new person in key role, any given person not being available when a crisis comes up regardless of how much vacation they’ve taken, etc.).

      1. Artemesia*

        My worry would be like yours. She overreaches and suddenly everyone gets micromanaged on this instead of just the one who overreaches.

    3. Maggie*

      15 days is generous? This country sucks.

      That said, maybe she’s not getting paid for the other ones?

    4. Anon456*

      “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it never gets you anywhere.”

      1. Ali*

        Yeah my company is kind of like this too. They never say no to vacation requests. Only problem is, sometimes they let too many people off at one time and then are scrambling to cover. I had to work one night when there were three people off and my manager had already made plans of his own and wouldn’t step in. I know I’m not supposed to worry about it and make it my business where others are, but it does get annoying. And considering I’m still working lousy hours, it’s not like all my willingness to help in a pinch has been rewarded…

    5. Not So NewReader*

      There is always one in a group, isn’t there?

      I would say nothing. I have found that if I say something that only accelerates the whole process and we reach Feared Response sooner rather than later.

      Enjoy your lax PTO and realize that sometime it might go away. Don’t be the accelerator.

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I can see why that’s annoying. My policy with lunch is to tell people not to ask me how long our lunch “officially” is, because then I will have to be specific, and nobody will like the answer because they all have different preferences. It’s rare that someone takes advantage – people work at their desk someday, and when their mom’s in town, they take a three hour lunch. Or whatever. I also take random times for lunch. When someone is abusing it, I point out that we can’t be so flexible unless everyone is a good sport and stays in the realm of reasonable – which means not leaving work for someone else, and evening out to a total of 40 hours a week over time (these are exempt people). I feel the same way about arrival/departure time. I recently had someone who was abusing this (leaving really, really early all the time)- my strategy is to wait a week or so for them to complain that they have too much work to do, and then I offer to take a look at their schedule and see where their time is going. This almost always puts and end to the problems – both the leaving and the complaining

  14. BB*

    I’m asking this for a friend because she’s asked me my opinion and I really don’t know.

    My friend took on a 3 month temp position about a year ago for a fashion company that she has always wanted to work for. The hiring seems to go that you come on as a temp and after 3-6 months, get promoted to a permanent position if all goes well. After her position ended, they transferred her into a different temp position and told her she could continue interviewing for perm positions. Since then, this whole cycle has continued for the past year of her being moved into different temp positions every couple months while continuing to interview. I’d say at this point shes interviewed for at least 15 permanent positions within the company. She’s asked what is going on and they are telling her the job wasn’t a right fit and beyond that, there just aren’t any jobs available right now. There are temps that started after her in a closely related department that are now permanent which isn’t a huge red flag but dose pique my curiosity. She has continued looking for jobs elsewhere but we are not in any fashion capitals so opportunities are really limited in our area. She really doesn’t want to move but if nothing pops up at this company then she doesn’t really have a choice. Plus, while she doesn’t like the company, she really enjoys the people she works with so she is a little hesitant to leave. I don’t know what to say because it seems like this is panning out more and more to look like they aren’t interested in her but curious what everyone thinks

    1. LMW*

      This is a frequent occurrence with companies that do temp-to-perm, regardless of industry. If you aren’t in exactly the right position at the right time, you just don’t get the permanent gig. It happened to me (although my temp terms were longer), and I got great reviews from my bosses, but the budget-hiring freeze-reorg stars just never aligned. The experience I gained helped me get the position I have now, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I worked at a fashion house that would do this with temps and with their “express college grad executive program.” They would take the temp/grad and fill them into spots that no one else wanted (vile bosses, mind numbingly boring work, night schedules) and dangle the carrot that something good will be available soon.

      1. BB*

        I think she is wondering if this carrot is real or not. She’s borderline desperate for this to work. She was in LA for a while and hated the area. Then went to NYC and wasn’t wild about her job. Getting this temp job was her dream and she thought it would be her ticket into exactly what she wanted (a job in fashion, in the city she wants to live in close to her family) so I think she is trying everything to make this work but unfortunately she keeps interviewing and not getting anywhere. She hasn’t told me who is getting all these jobs she is passed over for but that is the part I’m most confused about

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          It’s hard when you know that the pattern is that the temp jobs turn perm, but it’s not happening for you. Maybe the company likes having someone they can keep moving around? Who knows. Could be back luck, but at this point, I’d assume it’s not going to happen. If she can be happy as a temp, great – if not, start looking. There might be something nobody is telling her – which is tempting with a temp (no pun intended) – the manager might avoid sharing hard feedback if they’ll just be gone soon anyway.

        2. puma*

          This sounds so much like my current employer that I wonder if it’s the same company. I know two people who were in a similar situation to your friend. Both were contracting for over a year and interviewed for more than one position before eventually getting hired on permanently. The positions that they were passed over for went to internal candidates. This company does heavily rely on perma-lancers, more than anywhere else I’ve been. The hiring process is much more drawn out than I’ve experienced before. If your friend really wants to work there, I’d say try sticking it out for a bit longer.

  15. AmyNYC*

    I like my job, I just don’t love it. The work is repetitive and not very creative (a lot of basing work on previous project in the office – literally cut and paste then edit), I’m still early enough in my career that most work needs to be checked by someone above me so there’s some “hurry up and wait” to it, and I find myself counting the hours until I can leave (which only makes the day seem longer)
    I’ve spoken up to my boss once or twice which helps keep my busy but doesn’t make the work exciting. My previous two jobs were short stays, so I’m going to stay here for a few years, and it’s not a bad job – the pay and benefits are good, the people are nice, the work is steady, just boring.
    Can anyone offer tips on staying focused at a boring/just ok job? How can I get more engrossed in my work?

    1. Steve G*

      Well if you rush, then are waiting for hours at the end of the day, maybe you are rushin too much. I think it is fine to “drag out” your work until the end of the day. And it is also OK for your supervisor to come to you and ask when xyz is going to be done and respond “well I didn’t want to rush it because that’s all I was doing today”….I think, well at least once…

    2. Sunflower*

      When I was really bored in our slow time, I thought of issues the company/I was having and if there were simple ways to fix it. I would start off by asking yourself ‘Is there anything I can do to make my job easier’. I discovered that a big problem in my org is that no one ever has the same information and so much time is wasted by calling others to check on things. It turned out everyone was using their own documents to keep information so I just created one office wide one that everyone updates and it makes everyone’s job way easier.

      Are there any other glaring issues that need to be addressed but no one seems to have time to tackle? Beyond that, keeping yourself up to date with industry trends and staying involved in organizations is a great way to keep building your skills up for when you leave.

    3. Laura*

      Not knowing the nature of your job, is it one where they *expect* you to be constantly busy, or is it a “constantly there” expectation where you act when they need you to?

      If it’s the latter, you might ask your supervisor if it would be okay for you to read appropriate books, or take online courses, to extend your knowledge (ideally knowledge relevant to the job, it will look better to them). (For online courses, there are a number of sites that offer free college-level and even postgraduate-level material.)

  16. Holly*

    I miss when I wasn’t the only writer in my entire department.

    Right now it’s me and my boss, who can’t write using proper grammar to save his life. I’m in Marketing, doing copy, but for most of my time at this company I had one or two colleagues to help me out. Sigh.

    How do you all handle a situation where you’re pretty much the only person who’s been in a department consistently, because there’s a lot of turnover, and the higher-up comes to you and asks why something hasn’t been done in 6 months? (answer: I was told priorities had shifted and was directed to work on other projects. And it’s just me.) I got raked over the coals hard for that … because, I guess, priorities suddenly shifted from my projects back to the blog, except if I work on the blog they’ll ask why other projects (my current stuff) isn’t done, and…

    I can only do so much. /overwhelmed

    1. Clinical Social Worker*

      You need to point out the bind to your boss (or bosses). “If I do Project A then I will not have time to devote to Project B. It seems that I am told to direct my energies to a particular project, so I do so based on company priorities, and then I’m asked why I wasn’t working on something that was obviously back burner, because I cannot do both. How would you like me to proceed?”

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Agreed. It’s totally possible they don’t realize this keeps happening or that it’s impacting you so much.

    2. LMW*

      Do you have a production calendar for all these projects? I do mine quarterly and share it for approval with the hire-ups. If something comes up later, I can point back to the calendar and say “You approved this. If you need a new white paper now, you either need to give me additional resources, or I have to delay something until there’s more time or money to hire a freelancer. I’d suggest ___, but let me know your preference.”
      It took me a long time to learn to be firm on that. People think that writing and other marketing materials can spring forth fully formed in mere hours and fighting that perception is a hard one.

      1. Holly*

        We don’t have a production calendar, unfortunately. We had a general marketing plan at the beginning of the year but it got rejected and we’ve been free-floating. But even when we had a marketing plan approved, it was very common for that plan to only be relevant for a month or so before priorities magically changed dramatically from what was on the plan.

        Also, we refuse to hire additional help, including a freelancer. The response I’ve gotten to that is “well, what are you actually doing all day?” Sigh.

        I’m thinking I’ll hold firm with the “you wanted me to do X/approved me completing X, and if you want me to do Y, I will need to drop work on X because of limited time and resources. What do you prefer?” Because yes, there is a very strong perception across the company/leadership that writing and marketing materials should take hours or less instead of days or a week.

        1. Maggie*

          “well, what are you actually doing all day?” My answer after that would be LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB, but in my head. Asshats.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

  17. Anonypants*

    Actually this is less of a rant, more of an “is it just me” post . . .

    Ever since I started working internally for tech companies, I often find myself walking through the front lobby on the way to the bathroom and have an office visitor stare at me expectantly. I try to be polite, give them a smile and maybe a “hello,” but I get the sense most of these people expect that I’m either in an administrative or external/guest relations type role, and they seem slighted when I don’t greet myself, shake their hand, and begin leading them to whoever they’re going to see. Or they ask where the front desk person is, and get cranky when I answer (honestly) that I don’t know.

    I’m not in any kind of front-facing/client-facing/candidate-facing role, and there’s a reason for that, I’m intelligent and skilled but not a people person.

    When I’m just heading out to the bathroom, or to get food, or whatever, is there more I should be saying to the people in the lobby? Or should I start using back doors to avoid offending people with my whole “being female but not taking care of guests” thing.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yes! It might be worth mentioning it to your manager. You’ve had this happen multiple times, and you’re not sure where the front desk person is during those times. If they can’t put 2 and 2 together to realise this is probably happening because you’re female, and that’s a problem, I just don’t even know.

    1. Felicia*

      When I’m waiting for an interview I kind of look expectantly at anyone who walks past, just because I’m nervous and I don’t know what teh person I’m supposed to see looks like, so anyone who passes could theoretically be the person I’m supposed to see (especially if I’m meeting both a man and woman). I imagine that these people are looking expectantly at everyone until the right person comes out. Or in offices where there is no designated receptionist, they may not know who to talk to to announce that they’re there. So I doubt most people are expecting anything from you other than you could possibly be the person they’re waiting for (because anyone could be until that person introduces themselves)

    2. Anonsie*

      I could go on for days about the way I’ve upset people by sitting at the first desk in the office but not being a receptionist.

      What really grinds my gears is the way people are so rude to me until they find out I’m not a receptionist or admin, and then suddenly they’re nice. People will frown at me and not engage until the person they’re there to see actually tells them what I do and then suddenly I’m a human! Woo! Like really? You treat admin staff poorly because… ?

      1. Artemesia*

        Businesses really shouldn’t put women in offices or desks in this position who are not receptionists. I have worked in several settings where a female professional was driven to distraction by having every office visitor approach her as if she were a receptionist. This happens much less to a man in an office near the entry or in the first cube.

        1. Anonypants*

          At my last job, if a delivery person needed someone to sign for the packages and the front desk person wasn’t there, he’d walk down the hall to my office and have me do it. Without fail.

        2. Brit*

          Really? Because I’d say we all need to stop assuming that all women out front are receptionists.

      2. Jamie*

        I upset people by not being the receptionist because I don’t know anything.

        Do you have outgoing mail? I don’t know? Which dock should I pull into? No idea. Do you have a package to go by messanger to Customer? Beats me, want to help me look?

        I don’t say this stuff out loud and I try to be helpful – but I was bad at reception when I did it in the beginning of my career and I’m worse now.

        I’m just trying to fix the front desk computer, or install a wi-fi booster – I don’t anything beyond that.

        Although I want to know why the cleaning crew thinks just because I’m the only one here I can answer questions. I don’t have the slightest idea what anyone is talking about ever – I need some kind of invisibility cloak for working late.

    3. Jubilance*

      I’d say you’re handling it correctly, and these visitors need to join us in 2014 and realize that there are women in non-admin roles. I wouldn’t stop to help or anything unless they asked me a specific question, and even then, I’d lead with ‘I’m not the admin, I’m an engineer (or whatever your title is)”.

    4. Jamie*

      Your office needs a backup to handle visitors when the receptionist is away.

      You have to be buzzed into our building, so if I see someone sitting there looking lost I know someone let them in, so if the receptionist isn’t there I ask them who they are waiting for and then just check and make sure they know their visitor is here.

      We’re a small office and it’s easy to do – but if we had doors where just anyone could walk in uninvited I don’t think I’d make the offer to everyone – because with my luck it would be someone trying to sell IT stuff cold and I’d have to pretend I was someone else.

    5. AVP*

      Yeah, I don’t think it has anything to do with you being female, more about lost visitors not knowing who to expect or when they might appear. I’ve been stuck in that sport of situation and I’ll look expectantly at anyone who walks by, male female CEO or janitor, if it seems like they know whats going on and I don’t.

      1. Felicia*

        I do that too :) Usually in offices that don’t have a dedicated receptionist or there’s no receptionist there I do it even more. But if I don’t know what the person I’m meeting looks like or I’m meeting many people, it could be anyone.

    6. ElinR*

      I would generally say something that
      1. Acknowledges that they look like they need help
      2. Let them know who/what will be helping them.

      This does 3 things: you’re being polite, lets them know what they should be doing (waiting most likely), and tells them that it isn’t your role to be doing helping.

      This could look like a couple of things depending on your office setup
      “Hi, it looks like our receptionist has stepped away at the moment. They should be back shortly to help you.”
      “Hi, if you haven’t already, you can use the phone there to alert the person your meeting with to your presence and they will be by shortly to help you.”

    7. Maggie*

      “Someone should be right with you” said with a smile, is what I would say. And then keep on walking.

    8. Sharm*

      Huh. My experience is different from the comments here. I wouldn’t even see it through the gender lens (but I’m less inclined to do that than most people here anyway). A large reason why is that this is part of our company culture. Our receptionist is usually ON IT, but if she ever steps away and there’s a visitor at front, whichever staff member is up front will ask, “Hi there! Have you been helped?” More often than not, the guest will say they have been helped, and they’re appreciative we didn’t just blast right them. On the very rare chance they haven’t been helped, it really doesn’t bother me to see where the person they’re looking for is.

      Different perspective.

    9. Student*

      You’re screwing up one particular part of this human interaction. When you see people openly languishing in the lobby, or one of them directly asks for help, you are supposed to get the situation dealt with so that your customers are happy, no matter who you are in the organization.

      You do not need to solve their direct problems for them – I understand that isn’t your job. You DO have an obligation to find someone who can solve their problems, and direct that person to the guests in the lobby. You have this obligation as a responsible member of this company, and you share this obligation with everyone who works there, from CEO to janitorial staff. You wouldn’t walk by a broken water main without calling building maintenance (I hope). You wouldn’t walk past a theft-in-progress without calling the cops. You shouldn’t walk by distressed customers without calling it to the attention of a customer service person.

      They ask you, a woman, because you aren’t as intimidating as your male colleagues. They’re feeling vulnerable because the interaction with your company has gone off-script, and they are looking for someone who won’t make things worse. It’s a dumb but very normal reaction. it sucks. Do the right thing, get the attention of someone who can help the customers and tell them to get off their butts. Talk to the front desk person’s manager if you need to. The men ought to be addressing this problem too, but likely don’t notice it as much because they are less likely to get accosted about it.

      All you are obligated to do is assure the customer that you’ll get someone to help them, then make one quick cell call to the right person.

      1. SherryD*

        I totally agree. EVERYONE in the organization should be responsible for giving great customer service to clients and visitors, not just the designated front-end staff.

  18. omnomnomimous*

    So I have to have a mini-rant/pity party. I’ve been interviewing and completely clicked with a particular company. Everything about the job was exactly what I was looking for, and jobs of that variety are very hard to find. They let me know I was their choice, proceeded with the background check…and then funding fell through. The job is now “on hold.”

    I’m so depressed! This job was perfect (or as near to perfect as you can realistically be) ! Luckily I have another offer, but the first job is superior in every way (commute, benefits, coworkers, actual work I’d be doing…). I’m not in a financial place to turn it down, but in the back of my mind I’m still hoping that the first job will get back on track and I can work for them, which I know I shouldn’t do as it very likely won’t happen.

    Any tips for getting over jobs on hold? :(

    1. Colette*

      Well, one thing to consider is that it’s better to know now that there’s a funding issue than to find out week 2 on the job, or when your paycheck doesn’t appear.

      It could be just “reevaluated our direction/priorities”, but it could also be a sign that there are bigger issues and this isn’t actually somewhere you want to work.

    2. Riki*

      This has happened to me TWICE! It is so frustrating. All you can do is keep moving forward and try to focus on the positive. This company may seem great, but if they can’t afford to pay you, then it really is not the right fit.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Let them know how much you really wanted to work for them (be specific about why), and that you’d love an opportunity in the future. Don’t say this in a rote fashion (it will just sound like a cursory communication) – have an actual conversation or give detail. They might feel bad enough about it to remember to call you next time they have an opening. I’ve “fast-tracked” people in a hiring process for a later position when this had happened. I already knew I wanted them.

  19. Sandrine (France)*

    Hi all!

    Yesterday, I got my phone stolen AND I got a firing notice (here, before you fire someone, you have to send at least a notice letter AND you have a meeting with HR) .

    They claim it’s a performance issue from March to April 2014 (as if I was on a PIP in the US sense and didn’t know) and that my attendance didn’t help… well, well. I can’t argue with their arguments save for the fact that everyone has known what has been happening for over two years, I tried everything I could but the bottom line is, they haven’t done anything other than tell me I’m a good agent no one wants to lose. I listened to what I was told, I applied the advice I was given, but it didn’t quite work. Since the real issue was productivity and not quality, my boss didn’t insist that much, and just tried to up productivity a little.

    So a part of me is mad because “How DARE you fire me… incorrectly” and a part of me is SO relieved. I was with a friend, saw the email pop up, read it, put the phone down, got it stolen, and I am probably too blasé about it since I was joking and my friend was fuming on my behalf (she even tried to run after the thief but that’s another story).

    So yeah. Soon enough, I will REALLY be rid of this nightmare, one way or another!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Boo for phone stealing! >:(

      Yay for being out of there, even though it’s not the most pleasant way to end it. After the shock of my unexpected layoff wore off, I remembered how much I had grown to dislike it there and was actually kind of relieved myself.

      Off-topic, but I went by my old work last Friday to see if they had any scrap materials I could have, and WHOA the office looks way different. An old employee who had left while I was there had returned, but I didn’t recognize anyone else up front (those I knew had already left for the day). I remembered when I started that people worked through their shifts, but toward the end they would all flee the building at or before five o’clock like it was on fire.

      I’m so much better off now, I can’t even tell you, and you will be too! And I hope your phone makes it back to you somehow.

    2. Jamie*

      I’m sorry about the phone – and I hope you find a better fit for your next job.

      How long will you be working there, now? I thought I recall something about you work out the notice period, but maybe I’m wrong. Before you leave if I were you I’d talk to some of the managers who said you were a good agent and ask them about being a reference for you.

      I am assuming you guys use references similar to how we do?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, and let someone there know you had your phone stolen so if they try to contact you they know what is up. Maybe a friend from work would be “ears” for you on this matter?

        1. Sandrine (France)*

          Not So NewReader, I happen to work for my cellphone provider, so the friend who was with me called her own team supervisor, who put me through a coworker cause he had to dash to some other task, and she blocked the SIM card and sent a new one over ^^ .

          It’s about the only good thing to come out of this, next step is the insurance. That’s the scary part o_O (because at least the cop yesterday was cute).

      2. Sandrine (France)*

        References, I’m not sure, it’s not that often, they usually call peeps from each job.

        Right now there’s just one job no one could talk to them for, and it’s the Disney job, but yeah for this one I think I can go to my supervisors and ask.

        If I’m really fired, there is no real notice period to speak of, the only thing is I will have to backup all my professional e-mail. Which, thankfully, syncs with Thunderbird on my computer so I still have time to get what I need. Whew.

        Since we have the right to be assisted with any person of the company (coworker, boss, union person, whoever) I’m at the stage where I wonder who I’ll ask.

  20. Clinical Social Worker*

    I’m not a patient person. I’m waiting to hear back from HR in a state government system about whether I’ve been selected for a position. I tried transferring but couldn’t because of stupid rules.

    How do you maintain patience? What makes it harder is that I know everyone involved in this process (at least at the facility, none of the higher ups that might need to stamp paperwork) and it takes all my will power not to pester them via email all the time.

    1. Jen*

      I hear ya. I had an excellent employee review in May and I asked for a title change – semi-promotion. My boss verbally agreed to it. I asked a few weeks later for a status, was told it would be a little longer and now I haven’t heard anything and it’s really hard for me to not bug him every single day about it. So no advice, just commiseration.

      1. Jamie*

        No advice but sympathy – this is one of those things that some people don’t think is a big deal but would totally bug me, too.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m not a patient person either, so I can definitely emphasize! I’d love to see the responses you get because I’m struggling with some of this now.

      1. Clinical Social Worker*

        I’ve tried meditating. Distracting myself. Focusing on my job at hand (very difficult, hostile/toxic work environment). Reminding myself that the first time around it took FOREVER to hear back but they were able to have me start the job immediately.

        What complicates things is that I hae to move for this job. My partner is moving for a job and has to start July 14. I’m hoping to start downstate there (at what was my old job) at the same time. Meanwhile I have a tons of crap to move in the meantime…

        …and I haven’t sealed the deal. I know the UC personally, he said he’d love to have me but there is tons of red tape between me and that job.

        All right and now I’m rambling.

        1. Celeste*

          That’s certainly a lot. Maybe it’s time to focus on decluttering, packing, maybe even paint chips. Anything to keep from stressing about what is out of your control.

          I’m hoping for the best here!!!!

          1. Clinical Social Worker*

            We’re slowly moving down (long story, the home is within the family). We’re moving our artwork, which we never truly unpacked 10 months ago when we moved. I’m fantasizing about hanging up my art.

            Thank you for the kind words.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Lack of patience seems to bring a lot of excess energy. Channeling that into a non-related project can help. Taking walks in the morning or evening can help. Basically, look for positive ways to tire yourself out a little bit and disperse that extra energy.

    4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      plan something fun that you can look forward to – a dinner out, a weekend hike, whatever is fun for you.

  21. ser4ph1m*

    Suggestions for wording would be awesome.
    My husband has a bachelor’s in business (management of information systems), he’s been working as a pest tech for the past 5 years and really wants to get back into office work. The question is how to word his skills and accomplishments from a ‘blue-collar’ job to be appealing to a ‘white-collar’ position.
    He has not managed any other employees. He is consistently the most referred, positively reviewed tech in the company (to the point where he has multiple customers who request him by name and don’t want any other tech servicing their house). He represented the company in the local BNI group for about 2 years, is the most senior (non-family member) employee. Incredibly reliable and hard-working.

    1. Abby*

      I actually think you worded this pretty well. I would list those accomplishments just like you said. Then, in a cover letter, I would have him highlight the specific things he does that results in clients requesting him.

      One definite way to differentiate him from other candidates is the cover letter. I am hiring for a professional position at my office currently and I hardly ever receive an actual cover letter.

      1. ser4ph1m*

        Thanks! That’s what I tell him but he’s so convinced that his last 5 years working a service position discounts him that it’s hard to get him to put much energy into it.

    2. ser4ph1m*

      And if y’all could settle this between us, he’s sure that because he’s been working service that working there for 5 years is almost a black mark on his resume. I told him that someone being only 27 years old and sticking with a job for 5 years is a *good* thing.

      1. JoAnna*

        If he has any skills with writing out invoices, accepting payments, and etc, that would be good to add as well (speaks to organizational skills as well as software skills if the invoices are generated by him using specific software).

        I think his job permanence is an outstanding quality, and I don’t think that his job is a “black mark” at all.

  22. Helka*

    Oh good, Friday! I’d love to get y’all’s thoughts on this.

    I’m a junior employee in my department levelwise, though in terms of seniority I’m about in the middle. I recently acquired a new job function that involves error-checking the rest of my team, and alerting them to items that need correction.

    The folks who came on after me are fine about it — they seem to recognize just fine that when they get an email from me going “Hey, here’s a list of items that came up mismatched, can you please correct?” that it’s nothing personal, this is really just strictly work stuff. We do error-check each other on occasion. But the folks who have seniority over me have been getting really defensive and touchy, and it’s driving me nuts. I’m using the calmest, most impersonal, and most non-accusatory language I can come up with, and they’re still acting like cats backed into a corner over it! “Are you sure? No, I did it right. Do you even have access to this system? I’m not going to do anything until I can double-check your work.” I’ve brought it up to my manager and he suggested I CC him on the emails I send with items to correct, but that’s just made people more upset and defensive.

    I don’t want to give up this function, because I actually really enjoy the checking and balancing, but the older coworkers are making it really hard for me to be effective. I’ve started dreading every time I need to send an email out — and one of the worst offenders for exaggerated defensiveness is also one of the ones with an absolute laundry list of mistakes.

    1. H. Rawr*

      Would your boss be willing to lay this out to the team as a new team process? He could reiterate that you are doing it as a QC measure as part of your job duties and aren’t making any judgement calls about their performance, but you’re there to make sure no bad data gets through with their name on it (on a related note, want to come check all my work for me? I’d love knowing I’m not the only one responsible for anything that goes wrong!). He could also outline the expected response process (ie check the info, if it’s wrong, fix it, if it’s not, respond with why for future use).

      1. Helka*

        He’s given it a fairly casual go at a meeting (basically “Helka’s going to be checking mismatches from now on, when she sends you items to correct please take care of them and respond to her within a day”) but it really hasn’t solved anything.

        Unfortunately, he’s the kind of guy who really doesn’t like being bothered with what he considers “trivial” problems, and I’ve burned most of my political capital with him on other things, so I’m reluctant about pushing on him too hard with this.

        1. LD*

          Sounds like a tough spot to be in, a role that has responsibility but not authority. Maybe it would help to have individual conversations with each of the more senior (longer-tenured) employees to discuss what you’re doing. Although you wouldn’t have been given the task if you weren’t really good at it, they may be resistant because they see you as someone with less experience doing QC on their work and they feel insulted by that. Maybe you could have an individual and casual conversation with each of them such as, “Hey, I know it might feel like it’s criticism, but it’s not. It’s just another way of proofing what we do to catch unintentional errors in the data. So I hope you’ll just think of it as a good thing that someone else gets to proof to make sure everything is correct. Thanks for understanding.” I don’t know that it would work, but often just talking to people one-on-one can help with making them more comfortable or at least less openly resistant to your new role. I wish you success.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            yes. I’d talk to them directly. “Hey – it seems like you are uncomfortable with me sending corrections to you. What can I do to help?”

    2. AndersonDarling*

      We track correction times and employees are accountable for how long it takes to do their corrections. As a last resort, this may be an option for you.

    3. BadPlanning*

      Could you swing by each person’s office that is inclined to get defensive and play some mind games on them (in a positive way). Maybe something like, “Hey, I’m about to do another round of error checking again. Thanks for being so responsive last time. I know it feels nit picky, but Manager says we have to do it. Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up in case I have to send anything your way in a couple of days.”

      Imply they were good and helpful last time (even if they weren’t) and that this is an assigned job — not some crazy quest you put yourself on.

    4. Laura*

      Definitely keep your tone as friendly and non-commital as you can.

      Also, is your boss having assigned you this task something that’s in writing, even if it’s only email?

      Because years ago I got the assignment from my boss to review everyone’s work on a periodic basis and advise them if there were violations of our standard or issues.

      And one person had way more errors than others, and I sent the email with the info each time.

      And he filed a harassment complaint on me with HR. I told them my story and they told me I needed to not “single him out”. (Um, I reviewed the data en masse and figured out who made the change if I saw a problem, so I wasn’t. The emails were pretty much the same no matter who they were to.) My boss didn’t go to bat for me as far as I ever knew. I told him I didn’t feel comfortable continuing the task under those circumstances, and that was the end of it.

      And I still get twitchy any time I think about that sort of activity, even though the guy who complained to HR is gone. Luckily we have a new process for detecting errors that is formalized and documented and spreads the load, but – it took me a while to recover and be willing to provide feedback that wasn’t explicitly requested to, well, just about anybody.

  23. Jamie*

    I know this is one of those non-problems – but my super big twice a year project has been moved to end of July due to reasons totally beyond my control (production schedule) and so now I’m facing shutdown (we shut down the week of the fourth – which means skeleton crew) with actual time off.

    I’ll have to work a day or two doing some thing – but on my own schedule and either from home or alone in the office in yoga pants and slippers – so – yay! I have 9 days and I don’t know what to do with myself, because my whole schedule and to-do list was based around this project which is now moved.

    Weird thing is – you’d think I’d be happy at having time off – and I totally am – but when told initially it bummed me out. I was so geared up for this – and it was rescheduled last minute. It’s weird I don’t react well to change initially, even when it’s positive?

    I have a lot of things on my list of stuff I’d like to spend some uninterrupted time doing – but when I work shut down and take the comp time I can never take it in big chunks like this – I do a 4 day weekend here and there and just end up cashing out my vacation pay end of year since I hate using it.

    I like having time off, I hate taking a day off and being bothered by work all the time, so it’s usually not worth it to me. Also, I forget to take time off.

    So I’m going back and forth between wanting to work the solid week and get a ton of stuff done and ahead of the game because I love the office when it’s empty…or taking off until Wednesday – working one day – and taking off until the following Monday.

    And this is all me – my boss couldn’t care less. If I want to work and get the comp time for later, fine – if I want to take off and just do that minimum to close the month – fine.

    I just think it’s weird that part of me is so excited to have some significant time off in a block – but the other part of me feels like it’s such a waste of the opportunity to get stuff done without “the others.” I think I’m uncomfortable with downtime. I like the concept, but I’m bad at it.

    1. Colette*

      We shutdown next week.

      In my previous role, I used to work shutdown, and it was nice – the building was quiet, the lighting wasn’t as bright, my inbox didn’t fill up with email.

      Now, I take it, and even though I miss having that quiet time at work, it’s awesome to take time off when the rest of the company is also off.

      I’d say work one day if you really, really want to, but take the rest of the time and relax.

    2. Trixie*

      If I remember correctly, you were geared up for this work project for a while. If I were me, I’d want to get going on it already!

      1. Jamie*

        Yeah – it’s the same thing twice a year so I’m not reinventing the wheel – it’s just scheduling is a pita and it’s stressful and I was all set to go and then the delay.

        And at the end of July I’ll need to do in 2 days what usually takes 5 so there’s that. :)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Nah, I totally understand–you’re all ready to go and then they shuttle it off to later and you’re left regrouping. But yay for quiet yoga-pants workdays!

      We’re officially past the fiscal year deadline for PTO, so I won’t get any more days off until September. I hope this summer goes by fast, and my holiday goes by slow. >_<

  24. Anonymous for this one*

    I’m having trouble deciding what to wear to an interview for a position that’s located within a federal library. I have a business suit, but I hate wearing them because I feel uncomfortable and them (and they make me look frumpy). :/ Would wearing a sheath dress and a blazer be acceptable?

    1. Clinical Social Worker*

      The suit is less risky. A dress is a risky play for an interview. Is there anyway to make yourself feel more comfortable in the suit? Wear a really playful but appropriate blouse?

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I would say that would be fine. I’ve lots of suits that are a dress and jacket. Still counts as a suit in my opinion as long as they go together.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I agree. A sheath dress and matching (or complementary, but that’s slightly less formal) blazer is a suit as far as I’m concerned.

    3. Clara*

      I think the dress and blazer would be fine, and better than a suit that you are not happy in.

    4. rek*

      As long as the dress and blazer are on the conservative side, I think they would work well for your interview. I have something of the same problem – I’m short and not exactly sylph slender, so I look like a fire plug in most traditional suits. I usually put together a tailored outfit that looks polished and adds to my confidence instead of making me less confidant, which a suit definitely would do! Sounds like what you’re doing, and I can tell you it has worked well for me even in conservative venues.

    5. Eden*

      I would say wear the dress and blazer. I find that feeling comfortable helps my confidence immensely; wearing something ill-fitting or frumpy is just a distraction, and this is one time I don’t want to be distracted. As long as you look polished and professional, I can’t imagine what would be wrong with a dress/blazer combo.

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      That’s what I wore to my last interview. My main thing was to make sure I wore shoes that were fairly comfortable and I wouldn’t end up tripping in.

    7. LD*

      A sheath dress and blazer can look very professional and should be fine as long as the dress is not too short. It looks more up to date than a traditional suit and a sheath dress shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless you KNOW that the staff prefer traditional suits. Good luck!

  25. Audiophile*

    I finally, finally have some good news!
    I have a second round interview next week for a communications/social media related job. This is the interview that got rescheduled due to transportation problems. I was convinced there was no way I could even slightly redeem myself, I even debated withdrawing my application.
    So excited and hopeful about this second round.

    I haven’t had a second round in ages – all my last few jobs have been one round and resulted in a quick hiring decision, sometimes hours or days later.

    For any one who’s had a second round any tips? I’ll be meeting with a few people this time, though not sure if they’re going to interview me as a group or separately.

    I want to thank the commentors here who encouraged me to start mentioning my social media volunteer and to feature it more prominently on my resume.

    1. Felicia*

      I don’t know how it works in that position , but for a lot of second rounds for communications/social media roles I’ve had they often make you do some sort of practical test, so that could happen. A lot of the time I’ve been asked some of the same questions, so don’t be afraid of repeating yourself!Good luck!

      1. Audiophile*


        I have a feeling, since I only met with one person the second time, that I’ll be asked the same, if not similar questions.

        I’ve only ever had one second round before and they offered me the position half-way through and admitted they hadn’t invited anyone else back. I felt a little guilty turning them down a few days later.

    2. Sharm*

      Be innovative. Do your research on what’s new in the field, and show that you understand how those efforts are being monitored and proving to be successful ventures.

      I say this because I think this is why I lost out on a final round interview for a similar job. My social media ideas weren’t revolutionary enough. The hard part is, I’m more of a person who gets things done than the person that has the vision, and I am starting to feel like I don’t belong in this field because I’m not a super creative type.

      Good luck! I am sure you’re in a much better place than I was, given your volunteer experience. I’m still working on that for me. :-)

      1. Audiophile*

        It’s hard to be innovative. I feel most of the time I have a hard time showcasing my creative side.

        I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, I’ve managed to get things done – bringing growth and awareness of the company. And finally getting the followers to engage more and comment. But trying to wrap that up in a neat little package and claim it as a vision=extremely difficult. I guess that’s where my confidence will come into play.

        1. C Average*

          Social media is an interesting area. There’s always a lot of buzz around what’s “innovative” in that space, but the truth is that the companies that are “innovating” in social media are still pretty focused on the meat and potatoes. They’re just innovating AROUND the meat-and-potatoes work.

          My company gets a lot of press for our social media work. We have an insanely good response time! We engage! We surprise and delight our followers in creative, news-making ways!

          BUT we can do that because our social media management team has selected (and consistently worked to improve) the software we use to manage our social media channels. We’ve found creative ways to leverage our global teams to make sure we’re truly getting 24-hour coverage. (Our channels are set up to route inbound contacts meeting certain content and language parameters to the EU team during US sleeping hours; this gets flipped during EU sleeping hours.) We’ve made a case to the business for a surprise-and-delight budget and have a process by which front-line social media agents can apply for and get quick approval for creative ideas they generate.

          In other words, the stuff that reads as “creative” is really just hard-working people with a keen eye for process. Once those systems are in place, there’s room for creativity. If the structures and processes aren’t in place, the creativity can’t happen consistently and in a brand-appropriate way.

          As far as I’m concerned, even with all that’s changed in social media, “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and “Groundswell” are the seminal texts in social media marketing and support, because they nail the “why” as much as the “how.”

          1. eemusings*

            *slow clap*

            Well put.

            I love that you guys are pushing for a ‘surprise and delight’ budget.

            Hadn’t heard of those manifestos – going to check them out now.

      2. eemusings*

        I’m much the same – doer rather than strategist – struggle with that and similar feelings a lot. No answers, just sympathy.

  26. social media woes*

    Is encouraging/pressuring employees to use their personal social media accounts for promoting things happening with their jobs something that has become a mainstream with the influx of smart phones and an international internet obsession or is it limited to some offices in various sectors? I work for a non-profit in DC that is constantly asking us to tweet and promote things related to work on Facebook and Twitter and it drives me insane. I know there are people who like doing this both in corporate and nonprofit settings but I’m curious as to whether this is the new norm.

    1. Sunflower*

      I think it depends on the company- a lot of my friends who work for start-ups are always tweeting and facebooking things- but I don’t think you should force people to do it. IMO, unless you’re doing it from a page strictly work based, it blurs the line between personal and business too much. I’ve been one of those people who have maybe deleted fb friends for posting too much ‘Check out what we’re doing at my job!’ links and luckily it’s only been people I don’t know that well. It sounds kind of silly but I’d be a little upset if someone deleted me over something work was forcing me to do

    2. Dawn*

      Absolutely the new norm, doubly so in tech. Stupid and invasive? Yes. I just ignore all requests to do so.

    3. Marina*

      It’s the norm in my nonprofit. It’s not enforced or anything, but definitely encouraged.

    4. MaryMary*

      Have you thought about having a work/personal account and a personal/personal account? I have a friend who has a twitter account with her real name that she uses to establish an employer-friendly twitter presence. Then she has a private account that has no identifying characteristics that tie back to her that she uses for anything that might be controversial: politics, religion, profanity, etc.

      1. social media woes*

        I tend to just ignore it, my boss is incapable of using most of it and has decided if he can’t make it work then he certainly won’t ask me to,(while I just don’t want to I do appreciate this) but I have thought about a personal vs work one. Then I consider the fact that I barely update the ones I have and it would be too much work for two.

      2. Sharm*

        My problem is, I’m pretty active on all the major social networks on a personal level (though my accounts are private and locked down as much as possible), and having to open up all separate work accounts is too exhausting. It’s hard enough to stay on top of the personal ones.

        I work in Marketing though, so it’s tough, because I have to show social media chops, but there’s no way I’m making any of my accounts public. A conundrum.

    5. LD*

      Yes, it’s a thing with some organizations. I don’t mind using my LinkedIn account, but I do not share on my other personal accounts like Twitter or Facebook.

    6. azvlr*

      I think it depends on the job. Didn’t Allison post about this a while back. If I remember correctly, if your job and/or company is very media focused, and especially if you are working for a non-profit, you may be expected to post things because it’s assumed that your social persona and your work persona are similar.

      That being said, I think it’s not cool. And employers who expect this should spell this out during the interview phase.

  27. Malissa*

    So I got a job offer. 9 days after they told me they would be in touch and way below what I asked for in pay. It’s got to be the strangest offer I’ve ever received. They spent time talking about an area of my experience that would be a great asset to them. But then they low balled the offer. I didn’t say no, as things at my current job are rocky. Some paycheck is better than no pay check and there is room to grow.

    Mean while I had a great interview for a fortune 500 company. I’m hoping to actually get an offer from. So I’m going to email the hiring manager there and get a feel for the situation today. Please send me good luck vibes!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Fingers crossed, positive vibes sent and voodoo dolls at the ready in case the Fortune 500 company doesn’t come through with good news. ;)

    2. LD*

      Can you negotiate with them for a higher salary? Alison is always advising us not to feel we have to accept the first offer unless we’ve somehow made the mistake of indicating that the lower offer would work. Try going back to them with something like, “I was really expecting an offer more in the range of $$$$$. Is that something you could meet?” It might not work, but then again it might!

  28. Iggy Azalea Love*

    Has anyone taken advantage of their tuition reimbursement programs at work? I’m seriously considering going back to school to get my MBA and my employer will pay up to a certain amount of tuition per year.

    On a related note – those of you who went back to school for your MBA, was it worth it? FWIW – my BA is in Journalism/Ad/PR. I love business and wish I would have gotten my undergrad degree in it, but honestly, I didn’t think I was intelligent enough at the time to get into my school’s program.

    1. Trixie*

      How much are you paying, and will an MBA help or hurt you down the road? My sister did this because her company helped pay but $60k later it was a huge mistake in her case. And did nothing for her career. Consider carefully.

    2. Various Assumed Names*

      I have my MBA from a top tier institution and I can say that, for me, it has not been worth it. Some things to consider:

      How good is your employer’s reimbursement? If they cover 75% or more, definitely worth it. If less than that…
      Do you know exactly what yo want to do in your career?
      – If yes, can you get there by following a career path without extra schooling? Or do you absolutely need an MBA (like in Consulting or maybe some finance jobs)?
      – If not, don’t just get an MBA. It is expensive and will not necessarily help you in your career.

      An MBA was not essential for my career but I was young and eager. I got a marginal pay raise but not enough to make up for the $60k in debt I now have (an additional $40k was paid out of my own pocket). My employer did not cover any of it.

      Oh, also, most employers have a policy that you have to stay with the company for, say, 2 years after the last tuition reimbursement, so don’t forget to look into that. Of course, if you get a much higher paying job, it would be financially worth it to break that agreement, but that is far from a guarantee.

      Sorry, I know this answer is getting long, but are you looking into part-time or full-time? While the part-time program looks just as good on your resume, it is not generally good if you are looking to switch careers and they usually have very limited recruiting opportunities for part-timers.

      Finally, I had a lots and lots of fun while getting my MBA. I made a ton of friends, went to happy hour three times a week, and learned a lot from great professors. So it wasn’t totally worthless but, looking back, I didn’t need to pay $100k for friends and intellectual stimulation. I wish I had taken improv classes instead.

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      I did. I worked at a university where tuition reimbursement was a perk (and if the class was required for my job, I’d have got the hours back as well – alas, that was very hard to demonstrate) and I did a whole graduate degree that way. The perk only covered one course’s worth of tuition per term, so it took a wee while, but I did it. I was fortunate to have a team that was willing to be flexible in the occasional semester when I simply had to take a class during normal business hours – but mostly I was able to do it evenings. Professional degree programs are often helpful like that; they assume their students also have day jobs.

    4. Dan*

      Alison’s advice about grad school (and she’s right) is go if you know what you’re going to do with it.

      Even if your employer is paying for it, it’s still a time sink.

      I have a quantitative masters degree from a business school, and it’s certainly been worth it for me.

      If you’re trying to leave your current job, an MBA is likely going to help you only if it comes from a top-10 school. If it were required for your current employer, then any one will do. But if that’s the case, you’d know it, and wouldn’t need to ask.

      I’ll also say I’m a bit ignorant as to what MBA’s actually do. These days, I think many business functions have become specialized — accountants account, marketers market, and the quant guys do quant stuff. TBH, if there was a huge demand for MBA’s, the employer market wouldn’t limit themselves to top 10 programs.

      I realize you’re in the exploratory stage, which is good. But the advice “only go if you know what you’re going to do with it” holds true. If you come away uncertain but “hopeful” then don’t go.

    5. Language Lover*

      I second Trixie’s advice to think carefully.

      Is business related to what you’re doing now? Will it help you progress in your career or are you looking for a career change? An MBA could be a valuable addition to your resume if it goes along with practical business experience but if you don’t have experience, it’s significantly less valuable. In most cases, experience is going to trump education.

      If it is a career change, you may want to check with your employer whether or not the tuition reimbursement will apply. My employer offers reimbursement only if it’s related to my position.

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      I’m currently working on my master’s in data analytics and using my employer’s tuition reimbursement to do it. I take two courses per semester – it will take me 18 months and my employer reimbursement covers just about half the cost. If I took one course per semester, it’d cover just about the whole thing, but I don’t want to wait that long.

    7. Riki*

      My friend did and it worked out great for him. Nearly all of the senior execs at his company have advanced degrees, so, it was a no brainer for him (he’s in finance). However, he was required to keep his GPA above a certain level and had to stay with the company for like 5 years after receiving his degree. There’s usually a ton of fine print on these agreements, so, read them very carefully. Exactly how much are they willing to reimburse? Is it the same percentage no matter what, or is there cap on the actual dollar amount? What will YOU have to give/do in return? What happens if you get fired or laid off before you complete your program? Are there any requirements to qualify? Are the agreement terms realistic for you?

      As for whether or not it’s worth it, ITA with Various Assumed Names. Is this something you need to advance your career? What do you plan to do with your MBA?

    8. Anx*

      Piggy backing off of this:

      Once you go back to school, doesn’t that make it hard to do your job? So how can they pay for you to go to school if you need to take time off?

      1. Anx*

        I just realized that there are fields where you can take online classes or night classes. Nevermind!

  29. Emma*

    I’m having trouble keeping my head up at work. Management is letting positions expire by attrition, so when people leave, it is extremely difficult to refill positions. This means that while I was hired as a “special events coordinator,” my role has become more and more general office admin – answering phones, scheduling meetings and other tasks I was not prepared to do. I’m starting grad school this summer, so I know I will be busy- it’s just hard to stay motivated when I feel like I’m being demoted in the interest of “everyone has to pitch in.” Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Dawn*

      Do as much varied stuff as you can and write it all down- then be prepared to talk that up on your resume/cover letter/ in interviews when you leave for a better job. It will show that you can work outside of expected norms, can pick up other work quickly, are a “team player”, don’t complain when someone asks you to do something not in your job description, and are humble enough to do the “lesser” tasks of answering phones etc. It might be a royal PITA right now, but it will be a great talking point and a feather in your cap in your future.

      I say these things because I’ve been in your situation and that’s what I gleaned from it, hope it helps you too!

  30. LV*

    A coworker has taken to asking me for help with his computer issues. I have no idea why – I’m not very tech-savvy and I don’t even use the program he’s having problems with! I keep telling him he needs to talk to IT and he goes, “But I don’t want to talk to IT.” Ugh, just go away.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m sorry, I know this isn’t funny – but I’m laughing at him.

      I had someone who would always ask HR about computer stuff, because he knew her better than he knew me. Hmmm – that doesn’t make her IT, does it. She was his liaison twice and then I told her I wouldn’t do things by proxy anymore and next time he asked she should just point to my office.

    2. Marina*

      I have a coworker who does that. I’ve just started saying, “Gosh, I don’t know” over and over until she lets me walk away.

    3. Celeste*

      I would say, let me write you a prescription. I would get my post-it notes and in big letters I would write, CALL IT, and hand it to him.

    4. Rebecca*

      Oh, I see the problem – it’s that big folder there that you don’t need. I think if you just delete that “Program Files” folder with all those bytie things in it, you should be good.

      1. LV*

        “Oh, I’m familiar with this bug. What you need to do is delete system32. That should fix it!”

  31. stellanor*

    This week I am super irritated that I devoted half my week to training a new hire only for that new hire to decide the job was not what they expected and walk out without notice. May I just suggest that YOU NEVER DO THAT?

    What annoys me extra is that the chances of any other prospective employer hearing of this are like nil, because it’s not like they’re ever going to put a job they worked at for less than a week on their resume. Heck, this person could have done this five previous times and we just never heard about it.


    1. Sascha*

      I feel ya on that one, similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago. We hired a guy who was actually really reluctant to join us – he turned down the offer, and after some begging and pleading from my manager, accepted it. It was clear he did not want to be there, but had just moved to the area and needed a job. Stayed for two weeks, I spent the entire two weeks training him, and then he called in one day and said he wasn’t coming back. I guess it’s nice that he at least called us?…

    2. Anonsie*

      Oh my god I just did this earlier this year and I’m still mad about it. I spent the better part of three weeks on the urging that once I trained her, I would have a smaller work load, so it wasn’t a big deal if I got a little behind because I was dedicating all this time to training her.


    3. April*

      On that note, I just started a new job and am on my third week. I hate going to it and don’t mind doing it. I just don’t want a normal job. I feel like it isn’t a good fit for my family. But I feel bad for just walking away now or even in 3 to 9 months. Is it better to do it earlier or later?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If you know you going to leave in three months, leave now. They’ll still have candidates from when they hired you, and they won’t have put more time into training you.

  32. Stephanie*

    Picked up my paycheck from the Large River Fulfillment (well, technically I’m an employee of the staffing agency). For whatever reason, they cut me a live paycheck instead of loading it on to the paycheck card. In order to get the check, I had to sign a statement that I wasn’t injured on the job that week.

    So, I’m sure this is legal, but that seems pretty shady given how injury-prone that place is (the safety sign constantly said “0 days since last workplace incident”). They’re basically coercing people to not file workers comp claims by threatening to withhold pay.

    However, that was my first time working in a warehouse (in a non-volunteer capacity). Maybe this is de rigueur?

      1. Dan*

        One of the reasons these kinds of things get contracted out is so the subcontractor can do all kinds of shady stuff and Deep Pockets Corp can claim ignorance as to what went on.

        P.S. “These kinds” of workers get stepped on all the time because 1) They’re afraid to speak up, and 2) They don’t know how to.

    1. Mints*

      That’s so shady! I agree to call the labor board (you’re done working there, right?)
      I should probably have called OSHA about my retail job that stored boxes in front of the emergency exit and the bathroom (which didn’t have a toilet lid, so microscopic toilet splash got on new clothes [which is a thing]). Don’t be me. Call!

  33. SouthernBelle*

    I’m in a tough spot and it’s really starting to wear on me. My current job is pretty much over (the company’s financial situations mandates a shutdown) and, although I’ve been aggressively searching since last year, I don’t have a new position lined up. I’m due pay for part of May and all of June, but once that’s received, the well will be dry. Unemployment is also not a viable option because I have no proof of income since we haven’t received pay stubs since last year and pay was handled via counter deposits at our banks (I know); so when I say dry, I do mean dry. I have three positions that, according to the ATS, are in the consideration stage, one of which for a few weeks now. I’d love to find out their timelines for hiring (these positions are with two different companies) but I’m not sure if this is wise and, if it is, I’m not sure how to tactfully do it. What do you think?

    1. AVP*

      Have you tried applying for unemployment anyway? That seems like a technicality, if you’ve been paying into unemployment taxes. (Or do you mean it really, truly, was untaxed under the counter income?)

      1. SouthernBelle*

        Oh no, it was legit pay. The pay received was net and was calculated using last years’ tax deductions as a guideline (I am/was a salaried employee). However, I do know that the owner has not paid any payroll taxes for this year, so I’m wondering how that would play out (and how it will affect my filing taxes next year). I haven’t tried applying yet, because of that hurdle, but another coworker did try and that was the obstacle presented.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You don’t need to show pay stubs to collect unemployment (at least not in any state I know of). They have the payroll records. If your employer was illegally not paying in, they’ll go after them.

  34. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

    I just need to vent–one of my coworkers is taking every weekend in July as a 3-4 day weekend, and currently has 2 of 4 weekends in August marked as the same. It is really inconvenient for ME because I have to cover her location. And because I would like a 3 day weekend or vacation before September.

    1. Various Assumed Names*

      Ugh. If one person has to always be in to cover, that’s really inconsiderate of her. Your manager should be making sure that everyone gets a chance to use their vacation time.

    2. Harriet*

      Can you not do it the other way, so if she’s got Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can book Saturday, Sunday and Monday? Then you can get some three day weekends too.

      1. Greggles*

        When did she schedule her time off. I am in a situation where my desk has to be covered. I plan time off at least 6 months in advance. I asked my co worker to schedule summer vacation in February. They waited and waited and waited. June fist I looked at the calendar and they hadn’t so I went through and took what i wanted. They will have to get what’s left over.

  35. Jamie*

    Fellow Chicago ITs out there – need suggestions for recycling old computers, equipment, etc.

    Our neighborhood at work used to have a recycling center for old electronic equipment so when I had old computers, printers, UPS, etc. I’d call them (after removing our data) and they’d come pick them up.

    They don’t do this anymore. Best Buy will take them, but the one here you have to park in a parking garage so I took them to the one by my house and they charge to take stuff. They did it for me once, because I’m a business customer, but I don’t want to keep doing that if I can avoid it and it’s a pita to load up my husbands truck and he ends up hauling it out for me – I hate to make more work for him.

    So what do you all do with your stuff? I’ve called a few places who do this but they all work in bigger volumes. I’m talking about maybe 4 computers a quarter and various peripherals. Not a huge amount, but enough I want it out of my office.

    Ive put it off and just cleaned my office so the front of my desk on the floor there are now 9 computers, 2 monitors, 4 printers, and 2 UPS which are 50 lbs each – the big ones.

    I look like I’m having the world’s geekiest yard sale in my office.

    I know I can ship the computers back to Dell – but I really want a solution where I can get rid of the everything together, properly.

    I’m near Sox park – back of the yards. Anyone know a recycler nearby? They don’t have to pick up – I can have the driver drop it off if it’s local.

    1. Rebecca*

      I live in a rural county in PA – our county landfill (sorry –
      Waste Management Station) has an electronics recycling area open during the week and on Saturday mornings. If you are a county resident, you can drop off electronics free of charge. Perhaps your county or municipality has the same service?

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      You could be like my IT dept and just pile and pile equipment on a skid in the warehouse until you need a second skid and then when you try to set out a second skid for equipment listen to me yell for 20 minutes about how you better damn well find a better solution because you are clogging up space that is needed for actual merchandise and working areas for things we are actually making money on and then, after the 20 minute yell, tell me calmly that xyz charity is coming on monday to pick everything up and then (mostly likely what happens next) go to call the charity to finally pick up the stuff you have been stock piling in the warehouse for months on end, piling so high at some point it was all going to tumble over on somebody’s head but no, you don’t do anything until I actually come to yelling about it.

      Or, you could try Best Buy.

      1. Variation*

        When you’re at work, do the dulcet tones of the Benny Hill Show theme song play softly in the background?

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      I know where my sister is, the university there has a once or twice a year where people can drop off as few or many of their electronics as they want.

    4. EG*

      Goodwill takes any electronics, working or not. At least that’s what the ones in my area advertise. They also accept random electronics cords. Now if I could find that box of “spare” stuff to donate, since I never use any of it…

  36. dahanaha*

    First of all THANKS AAM I start a new job July 14th and your advice was super helpful in the interview and negotiation process!!!
    Next my questions does anyone know laws in Ontario Canada for when an emplyer decides to move and office 30 km away and not give employees compensation for it? Or a good website to look up Ontario labor laws… This is for ex coworkers I’m just trying to help out.

  37. AnonJustForToday*

    I am stressed about a coworker. She has been Type 1 diabetic since infancy. She has had two episodes at work now where her blood sugar plummets so low that she passes out. The second time it was so low that she began to seize.

    Part of the issue is that she will prioritize staying in a meeting, etc. over doing what is necessary for her health (leaving to eat or monitor). Another part is that she doesn’t want to be fussed over about it (who would?). The final part is that when she finally does go to seek juice or food, she doesn’t tell anyone she is feeling poorly and she uses the stairs, where if she passed out somebody might not find her in time to call help, as well as be injured. I don’t know her thinking on any of this, or if once she is low and feeling badly, she doesn’t consider the safety implications. I just know she is not one to speak up.

    I find myself worrying a lot. My husband is her supervisor, so anytime EMS has to be called for her, of course he has to stay to make sure she gets care. He doesn’t like the situation but thinks nothing can really be done. I’ve asked him if maybe he can change how he schedules meetings that he calls with her, so they are shorter and not close to lunch or the end of the day (ie the next mealtime). But the nature of things is they are not always his meetings. He’s talked to her and said everybody cares, and nobody wants to see her have these problems, and to please take the time she needs. But nobody knows if she will heed it the next time.

    I’m not sure there is an answer, but I find myself worrying about this a lot so I guess I’m venting about that. She lives alone and has survived this far, so I guess that bodes well?

    1. ZSD*

      Wow. How awful. That must be terribly stressful for everyone involved.
      Are these meetings long enough that it would be reasonable to habitually provide snacks and/or drinks for all attendees? If everyone in the meeting was snacking on pretzels and OJ, maybe this employee would do the same.

    2. Colette*

      This is really hers to manage, but it sounds like she’s not doing that.

      The only other thing I can think of that your husband can really do is suggest she bring snacks to a meeting (or carry one in general) so that if she needs to eat, it isn’t a big deal.

    3. Anonsie*

      I get why that would unnerve you, but keep in mind she’s been dealing with this for a long time. She knows what she’s got to do, and she’ll be fine.

      I’m not diabetic specifically, but with chronic illnesses sometimes you have an unusual bout with it that isn’t mediated by the same measures you usually take, and you have to recalculate. It often scares the crap out of other people, and it’s common for people to think you’ve lapsed in your self care somehow to cause it to happen. And sometimes you do push the boundaries with no issues, then one day suddenly it’s a problem. But you keep trying because you want to see how close to normal you can stay.

    4. BRR*

      I’m also a type 1 diabetic. Would it be a problem for her to carry some glucose tablets and take a couple during a meeting?

    5. AnonForJustToday*

      Great points all around; I appreciate the listening ear. I’m going to mention the group snacks idea, and try to chill out that maybe it was just a couple of bad days. I think my attitude as an analyst is to look for trends, and maybe I was just projecting that it can only get worse (if that makes sense).

      1. BadPlanning*

        You could also consider asking for a group break — in a meeting that’s obviously going long (sometimes hard to gage, I know!), ask to take a 5 minute break (guarantee someone else is hoping for a restroom break) so people can hit the bathroom or get a water. Or bring in a small snack yourself if the group snack doesn’t catch on. Lead by example in a way.

    6. Sabrina*

      I’m going to be the bad guy and the voice of dissent. I worked with someone similar and it became clear that she was using her health issues to get out of work. It started like this, passing out now and then, having paramedics called because she’d “forget” to go to lunch or whatever. It escalated to where she’d have an incident that involved an injury that would put her out of work for months at a time. Always right before a big projects or just in time for summer. I guess I’m jaded because of her, but I’d keep my eye out.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I married into a family of diabetics. And this type of thing concerns me because sometimes it is preventable.
      Part of holding down a job is being prepared for work. For a diabetic that means additional planning- food, meds, whatever else.
      That’s the part that gets me. It sounds like this woman is not planning for potential needs that could arise. A big no-no.

      To be fair, it could be that she is on a new med and that new med is not acting the way it should.

      Does your company require notes to resume work after being out? What about after an ambulance ride, does the company want some verification that it is okay for the person to be working?

      And, uh, no, it does not bode well that she has survived this long. It’s a slippery slope that picks up speed as you go along. She has been very lucky so far that is the only thing we can be certain of.

      Negative Nancy. I’m sorry. For whatever reason this woman is not dealing with the reality of her situation. But encourage your husband to read up on assisting someone in seizure or high/low blood sugar. It sounds like the company is just going to leave him there to deal with it. Get familiar with the early symptoms and have an idea of what to do. This can be scary even if you know what to do.

      Encourage your husband to document everything he sees and what he says to her. No, not because of lawsuits. Rather so he can show his boss the effort he has put in. Prepare as if the situation will not clear up/go away and all the while, hope-hope-hope it does clear up.

  38. Dan Crawford*

    I’m working with a developer to roll out a new website at work (I’m a librarian and can do some of the work, but none of the server configuration stuff). Due to a variety of reasons beyond my control, this project is severely delayed (almost a year at this point…), mostly because it’s low priority for the developer. At this point, relaying updated timelines to my superiors is almost a joke, because they always go longer, even if I pad them. I ask the developer how long it will take to do xyz, and then usually add on a few weeks. I feel like I’ve lost all credibility and it’s just frustrating because I’m reliant on another person to get this done. Does anyone have any advice on how I might rebuild my reputation after this?

    1. Various Assumed Names*

      I know this doesn’t address your question, but why is it so low priority for your developer? Are you paying this person or is it pro bono? Just from a general project management standpoint, it sounds like your superiors expect you to manage someone over whom you have no authority. Can you get a new developer who respects timelines?

      As to your question, I’m not an expert on this, but you could do a project closeout, including lessons learned and a plan to avoid similar problems in the future.

    2. Snork Maiden*

      Is there any way you can make it higher-priority for the developer? I work in a manufacturing industry where we often have jobs like this drag on as the process encounters multiple hurdles.

      I have a lot to prioritize so I take the lead from the customer – firm dates, prompt emails and followup get higher priority over ones that go for weeks without updates. I am not suggesting that you aren’t taking it seriously, I am just wondering if you could ride herd on the developer more closely and have them sit up a bit?

      Other than that I would also emphasize the parts of it that are beyond your control and to keep working on it but not to let it define you.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Who does the developer answer to? Your bosses? An outside company?

      If the developer is taking less pay because he is working for a library that may be why this is happening. Sometimes when people take a lower price for work that work goes to the bottom of the pile.

      I really think that if things are ever going to speed up that your bosses need to step in.

  39. TotesMaGoats*

    Not so patiently waiting to hear if I made it to the second round. Will hear either today or Monday.

    In other news, consistently being sidelined and persona non grata in the office. This sucks. I literally have NOTHING to do. I’m being excluded from projects I used to work on that are still in progress and meetings that (at my level) I should be included in. What’s worse is that other departments are noticing that I’m not around and asking me about it. Which makes me feel good and missed but doesn’t help.

    Fingers crossed that I get a good news email today. Plus only 4 working days until vacation.

  40. Labratnomore*

    Do you think it would be a horrible idea to ask a former manager that still works at your current company to be a reference? I have been at my company for 13 years and had the current manager for the last 5 years. I still work closely with the manager I had prior to this one so she not only knows about my work from then but she also sees my current work as well. I am afraid that as a manager in my company she may feel obligated to tell my manager that one of their employees is looking for a job elsewhere. But at the same time I have no former managers to be I can use as a reference since I have worked here for so long, and I am worried that could hurt my chances.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      That’s a big old, “it depends”. I did this once early in my career, and the old manager had moved to a new department. He was so detached from the old team that he not only was a good reference, but gave very sage advice during the interview process. But I’ve had other situations where I wouldn’t have chanced it. Is your old manager a company woman or a lifer? Have you stayed friendly with her? How is her relationship with your current department? All these will factor into what she may or may not do.

      When in doubt, go with your gut.

    2. Various Assumed Names*

      I agree totally with GrumpyBoss. I think it depends how close you are with her. Are you friendly? Does she have an inkling that you’re unhappy in your current position? Maybe you could invite her to lunch and ask for general career trajectory advice. Her answer may indicate if she’s a company woman or more understanding that you have to do what’s best for you.

  41. Katiss*

    Not wanting to ask for advice here, just wanting to vent but:

    Previously I worked for a company where tons of workers go for a more “alternative” look. Lots of tattoos and unnatural hair colors. Anyway, I have midnight blue hair because of this. On Sunday I re-dyed it, leaving the dye in almost all day so it’d be particularly bright and would last longer than usual before having to re-touch.

    On Monday when I went in I was laid off (along with a bunch of others). So now I have very bright unnaturally colored hair that would be hard to cover up, especially since I’m naturally blonde, and I need to be job searching. Since I don’t have much savings, I really can’t afford to go to a professional to get it back to a normal color.

    The timing just really sucks, along with everything else that comes with losing your job of course.

    1. Celeste*

      Hang in there, and good luck with the search. I hope you find someplace soon, and that they accept you as you are!

      1. Katiss*

        Thank you for the kind wishes! I’ve got a lead from a friend for a place that definitely wouldn’t mind, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

    2. Sascha*

      I’m sorry! That really sucks. Are willing to dye it black using box color? Black covers all…although I would probably use a cooler, blue-black shade as opposed to the warmer “natural” black.

      Midnight blue sounds awesome. Best of luck in your search!

      1. Katiss*

        I definitely would if needed, though I’d hate it as it would look awful with my skin tone. But I’d rather have hair I hate for a bit and a job than hair I love and no job, obviously.

    3. Calla*

      I’m so sorry, that sucks. I don’t know where you are so you might be in a more conservative region, but I just went through interviews with purple/pink hair and no one had an issue with it! (Either they or I mentioned it in the interview, because I’m not going to bother with some place that would ask me to change it.)

      1. Katiss*

        I’m in Chicago so luckily not TOO conservative as long as I’m not looking at a generally conservative business (and I wouldn’t). Glad to hear you did well though, that’s reassuring!

    4. Stephanie*

      Could you try a wig? That may or may not be cheaper than a professional dye job (especially a good wig).

      Or if you do need to get it dyed, you could try somewhere like the Aveda Institute (or other beauty school) to get a discount.

      1. Katiss*

        I hadn’t thought of Aveda, excellent suggestion! Thanks!

        For now my plan is to go to interviews as is and get a feel for how people are generally reacting. And of course mention that I am happy to change it if necessary if an interview seems to be going well. Oh and will definitely cover my tattoos so I’m just not looking EXTRA alternative.

        1. Jamie*

          I don’t know where you are in Chicago but there is Niles Beauty School in Niles and also Mario Triccoci Academy has campuses in the city, Glendale Heights, and Bridgeview.

          1. Katiss*

            Thank you! I’m in the Roger’s Park area but am in the burbs all the time as my boyfriend lives there, so Niles is pretty convenient to me.

            1. Jamie*

              You can’t miss it – it’s right down the street from Booby’s Ribs and the sign is in your face.

              Not a typo for you non-Chicagoans – it’s Booby’s. And we go to the Serbian deli down the block every few months to stock up on chevabchichi (Lalich’s – best in the WORLD – and don’t forget the bread and gibanica – and now I’m hungry)…anyway I still laugh at the Booby’s sign like I’m 12.

              One of those business naming things – what were they thinking?

              1. Mints*

                Oh man, if I ate there, I might accidentally on purpose get bbq sauce on my boob and laugh about it all day. I’m super mature

                1. Jamie*

                  Or do a work lunch order from there so you can ask people in the office, “how do you feel about boobys?”

                  I am also very mature.

                  And it’s my last day in the office for 9 days, as it is for everyone, so we’re all squirrely like kids the final period of the day right before summer vacation.

                  My brain is done for the day – I’m just here another 18 minutes until I can lock up the office – I’m just mentally chasing butterflies and wondering about oddly named restaurants.

                2. Mints*

                  I’m wondering if someone’s real name is Booby, or it’s just about Boobies.
                  My friend’s sister was called “Paula,” but apparently her parents never fixed the typo on her birth certificate, and her official name was “Pabla” her whole life until she changed it herself in her twenties.

                  Maybe Booby was supposed to be Bobby, but he embraced it

            2. Schuyler*

              Since this is so long ago (catching up since my summer course is over), there’s a Mario Tricoci in RP across from Loyola, I think. I looked into going there for something a few months ago (I’m in Ravenswood). I’m pretty sure I saw them there when I was heading to class once.

    5. BadPlanning*

      Maybe go with conservative hair styling to balance out the odd color. Like if it’s long enough to put in a sleek bun?

    6. Snork Maiden*

      I had dark purple hair for a job once, but with a very conservative haircut. Shockingly, few people noticed. If you are able to, I would suggest a conservative updo/hairband/wrap/French twist etc. if you are not able to procure services of a salon/wigmaker etc.

      1. Katiss*

        I’ll definitely be doing this. Luckily my haircut is pretty conservative now by nature of it being me just trying to grow my hair out, and can be put into a bun or something similar for interviews.

  42. Beth Anne*

    So last week my moms friend is all I want to help you with your resume..I got some books and know what they are looking for. I agreed. So I met with her and she’s all well your resume looks great! It’s set up just like all these books say. Why yes it is b/c I follow all the advice I receive on :) She did try to get me to put an objective statement…yeah not happening.

    So right we’re trying to get me an admin job with the school district. I have 10 applications in that all close on Monday. I’m hoping I hear from someone.

    I do have a phone interview for a job up in Virginia on Wednesday…so that should be interesting. I have no idea what I am doing anymore LOL

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Best of luck! It’s tough being in this position of looking for work but I’m sure you’ll get something that’s a good fit.

      1. Beth Anne*

        Thanks! Right now I feel like I’m up against all these temp agencies…90% of the jobs in my field are posted by temp agencies which is FRUSTRATING. blah

  43. the_scientist*

    I have a question that I was thinking of submitting directly to Alison. We have a student volunteer working for us this summer (this is really common in a research setting; I prefer to pay students but don’t have a say in the budget) and for a variety of reasons, the care and feeding of this volunteer has fallen to me. So, now in addition to my regular duties I now have to co-ordinate her work assignments. This is a great responsibility for me to take on and I welcome the challenge and the opportunity. This volunteer is very bright, takes direction well, and works independently. She had glowing references. But, something about her manner is sometimes grating to me and she’s made a few off-colour remarks that I think I need to start addressing. For example, complaining about our IT department because “they don’t speak English” and referring to her former boss as “flaming”, which is gross and inappropriate in a professional setting. I don’t think she means to be offensive or that she is racist or homophobic, but these remarks are not acceptable. The thing is, that without a script, I can come off as very abrupt when addressing things like this, so I need a couple of scripts as to what I can say the next time she says something.

    1. Various Assumed Names*

      “You probably don’t mean to be, but comments like that can come off as offensive, especially in a professional environment. You need to be extra careful about what you say in the working world.”

    2. Celeste*

      Maybe she’s racist and homophobic, maybe she’s not. But she’s sounding pretty snarky, and that is the opposite of respectful office behavior. Sometimes young people think they’re being funny or creating rapport, when they’re being offensive. You could start with that, giving her the benefit of the doubt, and asking her to check herself. If it continues, let her know that you may not be able to give her the recommendation she wants because of her snarky mouth.

      1. the_scientist*

        I want to give her the benefit of the doubt because she’s young and inexperienced. I also think that she is speaking to me in this way because she sees me as a peer (and in a way I am, as I’m not important enough to act as a reference or give her a grad school recommendation, officially- although I’d probably end up writing the letter on behalf of my boss). I like the way Various Assumed Names has framed it as being a suggestion for how to present yourself professionally and then being firmer if it continues.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Peer or not, it’s unprofessional and no matter what her intent, she will come off as racist/homophobic in work contexts. You’d be doing her a huge favor to help her nip this in the bud now.

    3. Jamie*

      I wouldn’t have an issue with being abrupt for either of the comments you mentioned.

      About IT – “Did you need something from them that they couldn’t give you because of the language barrier?” “No? Then that comment is wholly inappropriate in a work place.”

      The other one – about the flaming former boss – I’d address that as I would if she came out of the ladies room with her skirt tucked into her pantyhose. Shocked and immediately let her know that that she can’t walk around doing that. Explain to her directly how work is different than being with her family or friends and she has to conduct herself in a professional manner or she’ll have trouble keeping a job due to being a liability.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Catching it the moment it is said really helps. Yeah, presence of mind and all that.
        Definitely talk to her about it. Then commit to yourself that the next time you hear something like this that you are going to say something in the moment you hear it.
        [Instant- in the moment- feedback can really get people’s attention.]

  44. MrChit-Chat*

    A couple of us at work have been debating this issue, wondered if anyone else had any thoughts.

    We have a group of hourly employees, who job it is to input forms into the system. The expectation is that they input 200 forms a day. Most employees can do 250+. We have been giving extra training to those not meeting the expectation. What we have come to observe is that this group of employees is not making it due to their co-worker chit-chat. We are at the point where the average worker is now only getting 170 done a day. We are discussing using a formal process to discipline workers who are caught chit-chatting for a specific amount of time, say like 5 minutes. The discussion comes in that there will be no chit-chat policy for the salaried employees, since they work till their work is done. Is it too unfair to have this policy for hourly workers vs the salaried workers?

    1. Sunflower*

      Hmmm I would suggest not enacting any sort of policy restricting them from chit chat and enact a policy for the forms. Chit-chat is hard because sometimes it can be about work, then sway to personal then sway back to work. A chit-chat policy seems kind of micromanaging to me. Focus more on the forms. Make it clear that 200-250 forms/day is the expected and if that level is not met in their allotted hours, there will be consequences.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree with all of this. If chat is excessive and work is not getting done (and we all know this can be very irritating to non-chatters trying to work) definitely address it. But don’t put a limit on it like that – or a policy per se.

        Because then you’ll get into semantics of whether it’s 5 minutes constant – but if people do that and take a couple minute break for silence and chat again it’s not solving your problem. Or if a really good worker happens to have something to say to a coworker do you want to have to write her up for the no chat policy lest others thing you’re being “unfair.”

        Address the productivity and the distraction issue – totally valid.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      OMG. Don’t do this. Just talk to them. “We’ve documented that production had dropped below acceptable levels. You need to be inputting at least 200 forms a day. You have X number of days to remedy this situation or be put on a PIP.” and possibly add “We believe that the amount of chit chit is the reason that production as dropped. If you can’t work and talk, then you need to stop the chit chat.” Or something to that effect.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yes. So much this.

        I worked at a place once that timed everything you did in the computer system. You had to be very exact about your login times and break times, and if your system was idle for too long, a manager would come over to see what was going on.

        Once a manager came over for that reason and asked if I knew where the girl next to me was. I didn’t – I’d been too engrossed in my work to even notice she wasn’t there. But apparently she hadn’t been for about 15 minutes. Her coat was still on the chair, she hadn’t said anything to anyone, she… just. left. She never came back. It was that bad a workplace.

        Similarly, I once went off for my exactly-15-minute morning break, and came back to my workstation to find a note on my keyboard from a manager: “The system shows that you logged in 90 seconds late this morning. Please take care that it does not happen again.”

        Don’t go down that route. Just don’t. That job gave me a better appreciation for Karl Marx than my Philosophy degree ever did.

        1. Audiophile*

          I shouldn’t be laughing but this has me envisioning those cartoon scenarios where a character runs off and leaves dust in their wake.

          Ok that must have been a really bad workplace to leave your coat behind. Just wow.

    3. LMW*

      Personally, I would look at the consequences for not meeting the form quota, instead of making a policy around the chit chat. I’d discipline the people not making the quota, instead of timing conversations — which will definitely come across as micromanaging and has the potential to be based in chance (you might observe one 10 min conversation, but if you miss another one, your staff is going to see that as unfair). Plus, it sounds like you have a method of easily auditing how many forms people are doing? Are you actually going to devote time to timing conversations?

    4. De Minimis*

      I worked in a similar environment once [data entry] and although we had no set production amount, we did have an overall “no talking” rule. It wasn’t due to any direct effect on productivity, just that it was distracting to others. Maybe you could have an overall policy based on that….to reduce the possibility of distraction.

    5. Andy*

      There are performance goals not being met. Frankly I would leave the convo there.
      “These are the expectations. You aren’t able to meet them recently. Please adjust and improve. I will check back with you in a week to look at your numbers.”
      If there is a process on chit chatting it really won’t address performance. Just chit chatting…which is only one element to the equation.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit*

      It sounds like the chit-chat isn’t the problem, right? The actual problem is that they aren’t meeting their quotas. (If they were chit-chatting but still knocking out 250 a day, how would you feel about their performance?)

      So you should address that with them: Here are the expectations, I notice you haven’t been meeting them, what’s going on, does this sound like something you can do, etc. I suppose you could mention the chatting (“I’ve noticed that you and Jackson spend a lot of time talking with each other. I’m not going to police your conversations, but that may be a part of why you’re having trouble getting to 200.”)

      1. De Minimis*

        That may be the best way to go about it. I think the chatting should be mentioned since there seems to be a connection between chatting and lack of production. There should be some kind of suggestion given on how to solve the problem, although people are right that a formal no chatting policy is probably the wrong way to go.

    7. cuppa*

      I would probably leave the formal discipline to the not meeting expectations (entering 200 forms) rather than the chit-chat.

    8. Becca*

      Personally I would feel slighted at. Especially if it’s written that it’s due to chit chatting and then I see salary people able to do it.

      But it’s a tricky situation…I would maybe be a bit more firm on your expectations with the ones caught chit chatting, and frame it more as “your work isn’t getting done. We expect you to meet 200, you are only meeting 173. Please figure out the way to correct this.” Those that care about their jobs will limit the chit chatting, I believe. This way you’re treating them as adults and not as children who need to be told not to talk.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This way you’re treating them as adults and not as children who need to be told not to talk.

        This. A chit-chat policy would be too kindergarten for my taste. I used to work temp for a factory that made bath products. Most of the time, I spent eight hours standing on a mat in front of a huge table shoveling colored, scented Epsom salts into little plastic bags. They absolutely let us chat if we were actually working. And they let us chat even when the entire complement of workers were packing the bath salts on the assembly line. We would have fallen asleep from boredom if they hadn’t.

        We had some of the greatest conversations I’ve ever had in a workplace–and we all worked our butts off. I liked it there so much that I requested to be sent back. During this last layoff, I went back to that same temp agency and was sad to learn the place had closed.

    9. MrChit-Chat*

      Sometimes we have to treat these individuals like children. We have treated them like adults for the last 6 months, and they fail to grasp time management. This group of people are very HR trigger happy, so anything we need to enforce has to be a blanket rule. It’s going to be more of a not in your assignmened workstation that just a chit chat rule.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        No. You don’t have to treat them like children. You have been and they are pushing back just like kids do, so obviously that’s not working. Treat them like adults. Explain the problem. Give the solution and consequences for not solving the problem within the expected time frame. If failure to do so happens then it’s PIP or fire. And of course document, document, document.

        1. MrChit-Chat*

          I don’t see any difference between writing someone up for not meeting an output expectation vs writting someone up for not meeting a workplace expectation.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Because the “workplace expectation” in this situation (assuming you mean the chatting) is something you don’t need a rule about. You do need rules about work output. Why would you not just require them to meet output standards and then go the PIP/firing route if they don’t? This seems so basic that I’m wondering if there’s something else going on there.

        2. Sabrina*

          Agreed. They are failing to grasp time management because you allow them to. You’re letting them go six months without seeing the consequences of their inaction. Treating them like children will get them to act like children and drive away the only good employees you do have.

          1. MrChit-Chat*

            The problem is that this issue has been going on for atleast 6 months, prob longer. I have been assigned to get this deptartment back up to running at full speed less than a month ago. The company has a strict policy on the PIP, someone has to under perform for 5 months before any real action can be taken. And it all must be super documented. If someone violates office rules then action can be taken sooner. Being away from their workstation is technically already a office violation, we were tossing around making more specific then start enforcing it.

            The main issue is that these task have to be done and overtime is required if we fall behind, which this department does all the time.

            1. Elysian*

              Do you have other types of discipline at your disposal than a PIP? Can you move them to the bottom of the overtime list, or give them some kind of reprimand, or something else?

              The ultimatum of “meet your quota or I’ll write you up for a dress code violation/being away from your workstation/whatever” is underhanded and while it might get rid of your bad employees, your good employees won’t respect you and their productivity may drop. Or they’ll quit because they’ll never know which rules are actually being enforced and how strongly.

      2. Helka*

        The blanket rule is “You need to be working 200 forms a day.” Why do you need a separate one? That is the problem. The things that are keeping them from working the forms are not the problem — they could be reading books, napping, doing their nails, daydreaming, or reading AAM, but the point is, they are not doing the work they need to do, and that’s what you need to address.

        1. MrChit-Chat*

          on the same point, if i cought someone reading a book or napping or doing their nails on company time, They would instantly be getting a corrective action issued to them.

          1. Elysian*

            Honestly, this is starting to remind me of that episode of the Office where Jim accuses Dwight of being a “time thief.” Jim follows Dwight around with a stopwatch recording all the sneezes and yawns as “personal time.” Eventually Dwight ends up peeing in a soda bottle under his desk to avoid being branded a time thief by going to the bathroom. Jim doesn’t get any work done the whole day, because he’s so busy monitoring Dwight.

            Of course there’s a line you have to draw. But drawing it at “chit chat” is vague and confusing, and its going to feel draconian. It will also be really hard to enforce. They can work just as slowly if they’re spending all their time looking over their shoulder in fear instead of chit-chatting. It’s really best to focus on how they’re not getting their work done.

          2. YALM*

            Late to the thread here, but…

            You want to regulate workplace behavior, even though the workplace behavior you want to regulate isn’t the problem you need to solve. In short, as you admitted, you want to treat your employees like children. And, if I read your responses correctly, you want to do this because to solve the problem correctly–by holding employees accountable to a clear, measurable, target–will take too long because your company’s HR department has ineffective policies about PIPs. So, you want to penalize your good employees because of poor employer policies? That’s the message you think will incentivize your employees? Are you familiar with the expression “the beatings will continue until morale improves”?


            Start the clock fresh on Monday. Reaffirm the targets your employees are to meet. Review performance regularly–daily or at least weekly–with employees. Talk with employees who don’t reach the target, and document it diligently. And yes, talk individually with employees who are chatting too much and working too little.
            Also, talk to HR about their useless policies. They are not helping you do your job, and HR+management need to fix that.
            And, look at overtime. Are some employees in this group working the system to get overtime? Are your worst performing employees the ones who are getting the most overtime pay? If so, you need to put a stop to that.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Sometimes we have to treat these individuals like children

        If this is actually true, you need to either fire them or fire the people managing them.

        Probably both.

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I would never do this, never ever. If I had job I had to institute a no chit chat police, I’d quit it.

      I feel that strongly about the issue.

      You are in a golden position here because you have performance metrics. This is all you need.

      When you counsel people who are not meeting their performance goals individually you can tell the individual that you’ve observed her spending time on chit chat that she just can’t afford to do while she is under performing. Ask her how you can help.

      What you might hear back is that she doesn’t want to chat but (fill in the blank). Then give her tips on how to shut down or disengage from conversation.

      A “no chit chat” policy, official policy, is pretty much guaranteed to destroy your culture and moral and make it impossible to retain good people, leaving you only with poor performers who can’t get jobs elsewhere. It’s really that serious.

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Why would you ban chit chat rather than addressing the root issue, which is that they’re not meeting your performance metrics? Hold them to those metrics. If they can meet them while chatting, great. If they can’t, then the not-meeting-them is the issue, not the talking.

      The chatting policy would be a huge turn-off to any good employee, and its also totally unnecessary if the manager is, you know, managing.

    12. matcha123*

      I used to work part-time at a library and our manager decided to enact a rule like this.
      She blamed us for things that were out of our control, ie- They increased the number of books in circulation without increasing shelf space which led to a backup of books in the backroom. Then, blamed us for not getting books out fast enough.

      There were many other things, too. But, it really sounds like you have no respect for the part-time workers. Tell them the expectation is X. Talk to the offending coworker. Please do not say, “No talking.”

  45. Shell*

    Per Alison’s great advice, I’m reworking my resume. I’d like some help on phrasing something.

    At my last job, I was at a company that analyzed (say) widgets. I had discovered a systematic error (essentially, certain people on my team weren’t following SOPs correctly) that could make a good amount of data for that particular widget test wrong. A CAR was issued. I ended up doing the data recheck at the behest of management and the client managers and wrote up the internal report for my investigation. I say internal, because my report used phrasing and pointed out specific tools that were absolutely meaningless to anyone outside of the company–the client managers/management probably reworded it before they presented it to the clients.

    I think this was a pretty big accomplishment, because I had to go through a lot of data for it, I was a lowly worker, and it all started because one line on a spreadsheet looked funny to me. But I don’t know how to condense all of the above into a bullet point for my resume.

    1. Andy*

      As a “title” I noticed inconsistencies in the testing data for “widget” and, with follow-up and support from my supervisors who immediately recognized the potential for loss, corrections were made that allowed confidence in the process that was previously misplaced.”

    2. Jamie*

      In the course of X (task) scrutinized (Y) thing for Z (error you found and others.) Resulted in subsequent investigation and CAR and audited (issue) upon correction – resulted in resolution which resulted in A (positive end result – saving $, time, benefit to customer, whatever.)

      Wording may not be the best, but I’d do something like that.

      The data recheck you were asked to do at behest of management is an audit – you aren’t representing yourself as an auditor (I’m assuming you’re not) but you still conducted an audit which is not only formal but also means a methodical examination and review. (Went to Webster to make sure the usage was okay without formal training.)

      1. akl*

        I have also used “audit” in this to describe a data review similar, I think, to what you are describing.

        As long as it is clear it is not a formal, accountant-style audit, it gets across that you went through a very detailed-oriented review with an eye for errors and systemic issues. I would say something like “identified potential systemic error in X data, and conducted an audit leading to discovery of error in X and new training” or whatever happened as a result.

  46. Ellie*

    what do interviewers think when you tell them you have another job offer? do they think “oh wow you must be an awesome candidate, everybody wants to hire you” or “eh, not interested in competing, see ya”. I got a job offer, had to email company B to be like “I am interested in you more, can we speed up the process” and they basically told me “can’t speed it up, decision makers out of town until July, let us know if you still want an interview, congrats on the job offer.” I am going in with this final interview with them anyway and hope they are still really interested in me.

    1. Riki*

      It probably depends on how and when you bring it up. Most would likely consider it a bit of information to factor into their hiring timeline and not much more. I once interviewed someone who bragged about all the other job offers she had and that was an eye roller. However, it was the bragging that turned me off, not the fact that she had other offers.

    2. Sunflower*

      I don’t think they think either- I’m not sure it’s going to make them think you are more stellar of a candidate but no one sane is going to fault you for applying to more than one job. It sounds like in the spot you are in, you brought it up because you have an offer and want to know if the company is still interested so that is totally normal and makes sense. I think they are still as interested in you as before and no sane company is going to tell you ‘well we really like you so please wait til the decision makers come back and don’t accept the other job.’ That would be a huge red flag. The interviewiers have no idea what this other job is(it could be totally different) so in their head, the fact that you are wanted for another job, doesn’t really mean anything. This is one part of the work world that doesn’t mimic the dating world IMO.

  47. Ash (the other one!)*

    Candidness in talking to network contacts interested in a job posting at current organization —

    I’ve had this situation come up twice now and wondering how candid others would be. As everyone who knows my desperate search to get out of my current position like knows, my organization is completely disfunctional. It’s why of an organization of ~40, 8 people will have resigned or have been fired (1 of the 8) this year by the end of this month (and that doesn’t even include me). There’s no room for growth as a younger person and generally the organization doesn’t know what it wants to do with itself. It is a bad environment and everyone who works here knows it.

    That being said, the organization is of course trying to fill the positions for those who have left. I have been connected to two folks I don’t really know via network contacts who are applying to open positions. I have already responded to one and meeting with the other next week. I was candid with the first as I have met her once or twice and know she’d be miserable in that position (it was also way too junior for her to consider). I’m wondering if I should be candid about the fact that I’m looking to leave with this second contact who I don’t know at all and was connected via a very loose network connection.

    What do people think? I know I would’ve been so appreciative if someone clued me into the organizational dysfunction before I took the job, but is there a downside to this?

    1. Angelfish*

      I think it’s dangerous to tell the second person you’re thinking of leaving. The person doesn’t have a close enough connection to you that you can reasonably expect confidentiality, and if they’re applying to your workplace, are likely to be in touch with people you don’t want to know about your job search.

  48. Elysian*

    I was reading this article the other day – – and it discussed how Silicon Valley hiring is perhaps too insular. I found it really interesting, and wanted to share it. It emphasizes in part how hiring other people like you, while we as humans tend to do that, may not always be a good business decision.

    1. OriginalYup*

      What’s fascinating to me about this article is that it’s true far beyond Silicon Valley. I had a job once that was exactly like this in every respect. The entire management team was doppelgängers of each other — physically and mentally — and they honestly couldn’t see it. I literally could not tell some of them apart when I started there (and I got several of them confused with each other for years) but they would probably set themselves on fire before admitting to any biases about appearances.

      1. Elysian*

        I agree! It is true beyond Silicon Valley. I think the odd thing about tech is how clear it is – its mostly male, white or Asian, under-30 years old. Lots of people with a similar upbringing.

        It makes me wonder about “Culture.” We talk about it a lot here. Is it possible that lots of good companies are losing good people because they’re not a “culture” fit? I think it’s reasonable to try to find a place that is a good fit for you as an employee – but when we do that, are we self selecting into places that aren’t as diverse as they could be?

        Even though the world is more open to us now than ever, it’s very easy to surround ourselves with like-minded people and start to forget that there are others in the world. I wonder sometimes if the workplace would benefit from a little less fit and a little more friction.

        1. OriginalYup*

          Yes, I totally agree about needing a little friction. Cultures built on homogeneity can’t see their own gaps. And people need to be real about identifying & articulating the strands of culture, determining which elements help the organization versus harm it. If the culture is just a collection of ossified bad habits, then perhaps we should fix that? The former job I mentioned above was unshakeable in their determination to hire/promote people who protected the status quo, and then everyone sat around wondering why we had the same organizational problems on a repeating loop.

      2. Sarah*

        I had a couple of recruiting clients like this. One’s hiring process was literally like choosing fraternity pledges (except with an IQ test) – they wanted all-American bros with prestigious educations. Another didn’t require that you be Skull and Bones material, but you did have to be young, hip, and attractive. To complicate things, this was all in a field where the vast majority of the work force is foreign, and many natural-born American workers are nerdy or are workers with untraditional educations who joined the profession in its “wild west” days when you could teach yourself the skills and get a good job. We were literally turning down 95% of prospects for not being American, young, or cool enough.

    2. Mints*

      Oh, bookmarking this to read later. From your post though, I think I’ll agree. My manager’s favorite employee is very weirdly similar to him. Not in background so much, but in current lives, yes. Their kids go to the same school and they’re neighbors, and they go to similar events in their free time. It’s one of the first things I noticed when I started (which I hated)

      I think it’s fair to consider “getting along with coworkers” in hiring, but if everyone they get along with is this similar in so many aspects, that’s a problem.

  49. Making Myself Anonymous For This One*

    ​Question about a troublesome coworker:

    I started a new job recently with an organization that I admire and respect and had been interested in for some time. After spending four years in a pretty toxic workplace, to say it’s a welcome change would be an understatement. But I’m having trouble with a new coworker, and would love some thoughts on how to handle. Brief explainer:

    On our team, myself and another coworker work in somewhat parallel roles that require quite a bit of cooperation. We were hired within weeks of each other and have wildly different skillets. My coworker’s background is academic — for​ example, my coworker has written books on the subject matter we deal with and is frequently called upon as an ‘expert’ for analysis. By contrast, my experience is more hands on and practical. I’ve spent time doing field work in the area we work on, and have worked for some time in related fields that play into our day to day work. My understanding is we were hired because our skill sets are complimentary and we both bring different and good perspectives to the table. And I think that’s a good thing.

    We also have two different titles. Coworker’s title is Lead Analyst (changed to preserve anonymity) while mine is just analyst. Coworker has taken to assigning me tasks, asking me to be accountable to him and reprimanding me/offering critical feedback on my work. Brought it to my manager, who said that in these situations I should refer said coworker to him, which is what I’ve been doing. My manager also made clear that the coworker and I are to work together, and that I do not report to said coworker.

    Other than following my boss’s instructions (which haven’t frankly made much of an impact on the way I’m treated), is there anything I can or should do differently? I really didn’t relish having a conversation with my manager about a workplace issue so early on in my time here — but he asked me directly about our working relationship after a tense conference call, and I felt it was best to be honest.

    1. Celeste*

      Could you find a way to have a conversation with your coworker in the moment? “Doug, I honestly feel like you think I’m your assistant when you assign tasks to me. I’m your coworker. I have my own assignments, which I get from Boss.”.

      1. Making Myself Anonymous For This One*

        Thanks for the suggestion!

        I’ve tried to say that in specific instances. Such as, “Doug, I really have X, Y and Z on my plate right now that our boss has assigned. Maybe the three of us can talk together about the best way for all these things to get done.”

        Your approach is far more direct though, which I like.

    2. Jamie*

      My manager also made clear that the coworker and I are to work together, and that I do not report to said coworker.

      Did your manager make it clear to you, or to you and your co-worker. Is it possible he doesn’t know your positions are lateral? Because the titles would suggest there is a hierarchy.

      And this is why I get so irate when people act like titles don’t matter. Badly titled positions can create a lot of confusion.

      1. Making Myself Anonymous For This One*

        This is totally something I was thinking about. I stupidly prided myself in not getting hung up on the difference in our titles as the job is a huge step up for me professionally/came with a big raise.

        The conversation happened in a chat with just me and my manager, as opposed to a conversation with all three of us (me, manager, coworker). This situation, I realize, is also tough because coworker and I are not based in the same office and so communication is often difficult anyway.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe you can treat it as a work flow question, which would tend to down play everything and perhaps bring it to a resolve.

          Your work assignments come from your mutual boss, period.

          Once your coworker is aware of this, he should be able to adjust what he is doing accordingly. (Ideally, your boss would tell him that.) If not, then you have to revisit the question.

  50. I Quit Today!! (But...)*

    Today, I gave notice to my toxic, sociopathic boss. She was super (fake) nice about it. I told her I needed to take this higher paying job since my husband just started school and she said “Of course, and once he graduates, if you want to come back, just shoot us an email. Seriously, please.” (Outright lie. Seriously, I don’t know what she’s talking about; I’ve been on a continuously-extended PIP for almost a year.)

    Anyway, after she was done being fake nice, she started grilling me about the vacation I have scheduled week after next. There is a complicated policy here. 4 weeks notice is required to get paid out. You’re not allowed to take vacation after you’ve resigned, but HR told me that it had already been approved, it was allowed. My boss says I got bad information and I can’t take it.

    But, like, I’m going to Italy for a wedding, so… I mean, worst case scenario, my last day will have to be next week, but obviously I’d rather get paid to be in Italy than not. And I have earned that vacation time, trust me. I also have 10 days that I was not allowed to take last year that I will not be paid out on per policy.

    My boss suggested I resign after my vacation instead, which I guess would work for me, but then I’d have no incentive to give the full 4 weeks since (a) I will have used all but 2 of my payable days in Italy, (b) my employers do not give references at all ever, (c) my new employer is expecting me to start on a certain date, and (d) I honestly don’t want to work here a single day longer than I have to. I want to take the high road but I have been pushed around here for 3 years and I feel like they’re just trying to stick it to me one last time before I leave. There’s no reason I couldn’t wrap up and transition my work in under 2 weeks.

    I should feel free but they have a way of ruining everything around here. Anyway, I’m going to talk to HR again, and I’ll figure something out one way or another, but any input is welcome.

    1. Celeste*

      If it was me, I’d focus on Italy and leaving and not really give a damn about her pettiness. She is about to become nothing but a memory in your wonderful life.

    2. CLM*

      I would deflect deflect deflect when it comes to talking to your boss about this specific issue, and make your own decision based on what HR tells you. And see if you can get terms in writing, not just verbally.

  51. Christy*

    I recently interviewed with three companies. One found me on LinkedIn and asked that I come in. I didn’t even apply for a position there.

    After the interviews, I sent my follow-up/thank you notes and then another message around the time they said they expected to make a decision. Of those companies, NOT ONE replied or got back to me. Not even the guy who recruited me online and said he was “very impressed” and would be in touch. How is this the norm now?! Is there no business etiquette at all for candidates?

    Not hearing back is worse than getting a rejection because I cling to hope, and then feel stupid for doing so, plus it sucks to feel like I’m so insignificant that they can’t even take two seconds to reply to my follow-up email.

    I’ll be posting reviews on the “Interview Experience” portion of Glassdoor, or wherever. I don’t even care if they tie it back to me. In the LinkedIn case, it will be obvious. Has anyone else done this? I’m talking about a calm review, no angry rants or anything.

    1. B*

      Yup, completely normal for them not to get back to you. It’s horribly rude but they don’t seem to care anymore about being rude to candidates who spend their time, energy, and money to be there.

    2. Marina*

      What would the purpose be of leaving a review? You’d definitely be burning any future bridges with those companies, so is what you’d get out of it worth it?

      1. Christy*

        I suppose there really isn’t a purpose other than not feeling powerless and leaving the information for other candidates to see. It’s not so much a review as it is an overview on how the interview went so other candidates can prepare.

    3. Sunflower*

      I don’t think the company will trace is back to you as long as you don’t put anything too identifying in there but in this economy, an interviewer not getting back to a candidate after any interview, is probably not a deal breaker for most people. I doubt anyone is going to look at the review and think either 1(as a candidate) I won’t apply here or 2(as the company) oh we must start sending follow-ups now! If you want to write a review of your overall interview experience (types of questions they asked, the overall style of it) that’s different but writing one just on that reason alone isn’t really worth it.

    4. Dang*

      I love writing glass door reviews! It has been super therapeutic for me and I highly recommend. :)

  52. De Minimis*

    Ugh….I like a lot of things about my job, but sometimes things happen that just drive me crazy.

    We are just now getting feedback from our regional headquarters about something we’ve been doing for well over a year–they are not happy with it, but don’t seem to be offering any feedback on how to improve.

  53. a.n.o.n.*

    An update on my saga (chose the wrong job): Yesterday I emailed the CEO of the company I want to get into (the one I turned down TWICE) with an update as to what I’m doing, that I’m still interested, etc., and also spoke to him today. He wants me to come down and talk in person very soon. He asked several times as to what I want to do next, what’s my timing, etc. (I’m in the process of buying a house. Closing is very soon.) I got a strong sense that it’s just a matter of me deciding when I want to make the move to his company. Last month he told two mutual acquaintances that he loves me and wants me to work there. So effing happy!! :D Hoping to get out of this company soon and into the one I should have gone to in the first place.

      1. A.n.o.n.*

        Thanks! It’s done wonders for my state of mind this weekend. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  54. Stretching*

    My company has been having some difficulties lately and there is renewed focus on metrics. My boss has determined that all of our targets need to be “stretch goals” without any allocation of additional resources. Now all my goals seem overwhelming and unattainable. I’m having trouble staying motivated, and it’s not clear what’s going to happen if I don’t reach the new goals. Anyone been in this situation and have advice to share?

  55. Diane*

    This is my last day. People are still frantically calling me for help. The person who will oversee my department first contacted me Tuesday and wants to meet today. He’s known I’m leaving for 2.5 months. Rhymes with flustered duck.

    I so hope they don’t abuse my offer to answer emergency questions.

    1. Anonylicious*

      If they do, explain that you regretfully don’t have the time for pro bono consulting and let them know your hourly rate.

    2. Julie*

      10 minutes before I left my last job (with 3 week’s notice and 6 weeks notice that I would not be doing all my *bonus* duties anymore) my boss told me I needed to train a different employee because he had changed his mind about who would cover 1 of the 3 jobs I was doing. I said “No, 2 others in this office know how and can show her the ropes” and felt so much better.

      I took 2 days off before starting my next job. It took 42 minutes into that first day off before someone called for help. If they had waited till the next week, I would have helped but within those 2 days, the only 2 days I’d had off in a year? No way.

      Good luck to you!

  56. B*

    Is LinkedIn Premium worth paying the extra price or do hiring managers not care about that sort of thing? Supposedly, it highlights your resume and puts you to the top of the email chain. But I also wonder if that makes someone look desperate.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I used it while I was searching for my last job, and I think I did get higher up in the search results. But what I really liked most was you saw everyone who looked at your profile. It was a useful aid in a job search to see what hiring managers looked at me in LinkedIn.

      I don’t think it looks desperate. I know lots of people who have the membership even though they aren’t looking. I turned mine off because I have better uses for $10/month, but there are options there beyond just job searching.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I enjoy the additional metrics, like being able to see who has viewed my profile and the “you’d be in the top 25% of applicants based on your profile” type info when I look at job listings. But if I were an employer, I wouldn’t give any weight to a “premium” applicant, so I pretty much write off that “benefit.” And I really, really don’t think it’s worth the full price charge. I like to sign up for a couple months at a time when they email me the half-off offers.

  57. AyBeeCee*

    My coworker and I are the other two people that do our particular job. She has been in the position less than a year and it is understood that it takes about a year to be considered fully up to speed on all the different types of tasks we deal with, but she has at least gotten basic training on everything.

    My concern is that for every single task she has to do, she either sighs, makes a face, or verbally complains about it. I understand that part of the comradery of coworkers is complaining about this or that, but to me it comes across as a bit juvenile to be doing it constantly. Also, she looks younger than she is so she’s not doing herself any favors by acting this way either.

    I’m not her superior but since I’ve been in the position longer she looks to me for advice on particular assignments or asks me how best to respond to an email (and I will ask her to read over my stuff when I’m feeling frazzled and I’m not sure that what I mean is translating properly into what I’m saying on paper). I’m not really sure how to bring this up with her though, or if I even should. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

    1. Jamie*

      I totally feel for you because I hate this SO much! I had someone who could do competent work when she chose, but everything was a sigh or an eyeroll.

      Once, when giving her something which was totally and 100% her job, she said “sure, no problem, I’m everyone’s admin bitch.”

      Uhm – no, however you are the admin and this is your job so…

      And I’ve worked with others who weren’t as bad but still annoying. It’s passive aggressive but I played dumb. I didn’t ignore it, but every time I’d look confused and say I’m sorry I didn’t mean to bother you with this, whose should I give this to? Because I’m going on the premise that it’s not their job.

      them always: oh no, that’s my job…
      me: oh…I wondered because you made a face and sighed like you were annoyed I was asking you to do this so I assumed it wasn’t something you handled.

      A couple of times and they’d wait until I walked away to sigh.

      Now, my position is different and even if they don’t report to me – they do when it comes to my tasks so I address it directly. It’s only happened once since – I just asked them to come into my office and explained how X is part of the job and making people uncomfortable asking you to do things which are your wheelhouse isn’t okay.

      Better words – but that kind of thing.

      And one person it wasn’t just the eye rolling and sighing – but she’d staple stuff so hard I can’t believe she didn’t hurt herself. And slamming the phone into the base – then I’d go out and ask if she was okay – she always said yes – then if you’re okay this needs to stop and if you can’t then why don’t you go home for the rest of the day and we’ll discuss it with (their boss) tomorrow.

      Always stopped.

      Key is not showing it rattles you even when it makes you want to roll your eyes so hard they freeze that way.

      1. Ruffingit*

        It always amazes me when people get angry about having to do the job they were hired for. If you hate it that much, then quit. Someone else will gladly fill the position. The eye-rolling, phone slamming, stapler abuse just makes no sense to me. It’s juvenile and ridiculous. Insert eye-roll and heaving sigh here over this behavior.

  58. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I’m leaving my job soon, and we have in-person interviews with my prospective replacements coming up Monday and Tuesday. I’ve got 4 really exceptional people that I’ve reviewed their resumes, given them an exercise, and did phone interviews with.

    I’m just super nervous that somehow all four of them will fail and we’ll somehow be back at square one. Like, by wanting them all to succeed so much, I’m dooming them to failure. I don’t think any advice is needed… I just need to chill out. That’s what Open Threads are for, right? :)

    1. Jamie*

      My very first interview and hiring experience was hiring my own replacement and it’s really hard. Because you know the job so well and you want to leave the position with your people in good hands.

      This is a hard one.

      1. Jamie*

        Hey Kim – where is your next job?

        Weird and kind of off topic random neural firing – the first time I ever emailed Alison personally was to ask if she knew if Kim was located near me because we were looking for a new HR and I liked her take on so many things and she was looking I wanted to reach out to her and see if she would be interested.

        But Kim was very rude in not living in Chicago – and deciding to take a better job elsewhere. Some people.

        And as long as I’m off topic I’ll say this and jump right back on topic – doesn’t Olive look shocked as if she’s saying, “Why do so many people talk to much about work?!” Like she’s judging us for not spending our days napping, eating, and being adored.

        (Although if a gig like that ever opens up I’m so applying.)

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Alison actually hired me again! I’ll be working at The Management Center, doing a lot of writing, which I have dearly missed doing.

          So I’ll get to have Alison as my actual Manager, and I presume just ask her all my work quandaries in person. Or go anon and ask them here. :)

            1. Celeste*

              Is it wrong of me to think of an AAM version of House of Cards? Because I totally am!!!

  59. abankyteller*

    I do a lot of work on the phone. How bad would it be to bring my knitting with me to work? No one else in this office does phone work.

    1. Jamie*

      In my office it would be a death sentence. I know it’s not reasonable since if you were sitting there and doodling or surfing the web during downtime most wouldn’t care – or even doing homework if in night classes…but knitting is too obvious a “not work thing” to fly in a lot of places.

      I know knitters say it can enhance attention – as I know doodling does – but it just rubs too many people as disinterested.

    2. rkflower*

      If you’ve been there a few years, I’d run it by your supervisor first. If not, I wouldn’t do it or even raise it as a question.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I had a receptionist job once where they didn’t care what I did as long as I was there to answer the phones (we didn’t have direct lines, so all calls came through me). I asked them if it was okay if I did some knitting, and they were fine with it (we didn’t get a lot of walk-ins or in-person visitors at all in that job). At my next receptionist job, however, I had more responsibilities than just answering the phone and sending out the occasional information packet, and it never would have worked.

      Ask first.

    4. EE*

      Probably wouldn’t be looked on kindly.

      Perhaps relevant:
      In my husband’s first post-college interview, he talked about his experience working on phones during summers, and mentioned that he did puzzles while he worked to keep himself focused. He didn’t get the job and was told that the interviewer wrote him off immediately for the puzzles.

  60. B*

    I work for a nonprofit. I did something that a person we serve found to be inappropriate (coworker opinion is divided, I tend to agree that I acted not-fantastically and I have apologized several times). My boss and I had a meeting with this person to discuss the incident further and this person used the meeting to basically abuse my personality, saying things like “you are not as good at this as [other co-worker]” (we have completely different work responsibilities) or “you are just like [former co-worker that no one liked].” My boss pretty much let this stuff slide and I’m having a hard time getting past my hurt feelings. Did my boss have some sort of responsibility to step in in that situation? Am I just too sensitive for nonprofit work? Does it matter that boss and person who insulted me spend social time together outside of work?

    1. Marina*

      What was the purpose of this meeting? If it was just to let the person vent, then I’d let it slide. If it was to reach some sort of resolution, then it sounds like that didn’t happen and it’d be worth following up on with your boss.

      1. B*

        I guess venting was the main purpose, but we are going to have more meetings with this person to address similar concerns and I’m worried that it’s going to be the same thing all over again.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I would be uncomfortable here.

          You might want to think about saying something to the effect of “comparing me to a person who does different work or to a person who was not well liked is not productive commentary. I would like to see this conversation go in the direction of what can be done to fix concerns in this matter.
          I have apologized several times. [Don’t apologize again.] I am sincerely interested in moving forward in a pro-active manner. I am not the type of person who generates problems on the job, so this not a process I am familiar with. I would like to be sure I leave nothing undone in rectifying this past issue and I would like to set a good course for going forward.

          TBH, I would be very surprised if you have many or even any more meetings in this matter.

          If you sense that there are no more meetings on the horizon, go back to your boss and try to close the matter up.

          The two of them being friends socially might work for you or it might work against you. That one can go either way. Since the boss was silent, I would optimistically read that as the boss was not in agreement with what the friend was saying or the boss felt the friend took the meeting down the wrong road.

          Which is basically the problem here. The meeting went down the wrong road. Having done my share of sit-down chats with people I have never once likened an employee to another coworker for any reason (likability/productivity/etc.) There is just no need to do that. The reverse is true, too, I have never been told that I am just like so-and-so when sitting with my boss.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Totally agreed with all of this and I just want to emphasize the part where you offer no more apologies. Doing so puts everyone in the mindset of what you did wrong (yet again) when it needs to be moving forward. Use NSNR’s verbiage about how to get the meeting moving in a better direction.

  61. Marina*

    I’m looking for suggestions on how to cover my butt with a PIP.

    Trying to keep this short… I had multiple performance issues during April and May, but after multiple conversations with my supervisor she agreed with me that they were due to a major medical issue (I began therapy and meds for depression in late April) and and that I was demonstrably improving, and wouldn’t require a PIP. Unfortunately one of those mistakes has had repercussions with upper management and now the PIP is required, which I do understand and have not pushed back on. However, I do want to cover my butt in case it progresses any further. Both my supervisor and HR know about my depression diagnosis but I don’t have any written documentation on file because I have not needed to request any ADA accommodations. The other complication is that I’m going on maternity leave in three weeks.

    My plan A is that my therapy and meds will continue to help and that I’ll come back from maternity leave and be a complete rock star. However, just in case I want a plan B. It seems like between the medical diagnosis and maternity protections I’d have a pretty good case to push back against any further repercussions, but what do I need to do now to get documentation in place just in case?

    1. TL*

      I’m not sure about documentations – though I would get some paperwork down documenting a medical condition – and I would talk to HR about the possibility of needing ADA accommodations.

      Also, I’m not a doctor and not qualified to give medical advice, but if your maternity leave is because you’re giving birth to a child, it sounds like you might want to prepare for the possibility of PPD – you’ve probably already talked to your doctor about this and whatnot if it’s relevant – but I would really get your ducks in row at work in getting your depression documented and preparing HR for the possibility of ADA leave, maybe with a conversation? (“This is my diagnosis; currently I don’t require any accommodations but I want you+manager to be aware of the possibility.)

      Also, congrats on starting treatment and best of luck with it!

  62. Catalpa*

    One of those is it legal questions…

    The company I work for docks your pay $1 for every minute late. This is for hourly workers.

    We’re a farm, so employment laws are a little wonky. Regardless, I am pretty sure this is illegal.

    How do I find sources stating one way or the other? And then, how do I bring it up with management?

    1. TL*

      Google “docking pay laws + your state” for a start! Or see if there’s an employment lawyer that’ll do a free consult.

    2. Rebecca*

      The first company I worked for issued attendance points. Up to 3 minutes late, 1/4 point. 1 hour late, 1/2 point. All day? 1 Point. 12 points in a rolling 12 month calendar span = fired.

      There was no sick time, vacation was 1 week for the first 2 years, and 2 weeks at 10 years. Of course, 8 days of the 10 days if you were lucky enough to have it was mandated to be taken in July and December. Holidays = New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

      This applied to hourly workers only. This is one of the main reasons I left. It was draconian and awful. If you had a sickly child, you were almost guaranteed to be fired.

    3. Jamie*

      Department of labor website and search for farm workers for your state.

      I don’t know how it works in agriculture – but normally you need to pay all non-exempt workers (I’m assuming you mean non-exempt when you said hourly) for all time worked and docking of wages is allowed in very rare and specific instances.

      Now, they certainly don’t have to pay you till you get there if you’re non-exempt, unlike exempt staff – but docking in either instance is highly regulated and this wouldn’t meet the standard in my industry.

  63. TL*

    So the “flexible” hours that were promised with my job have changed to “we need you to be here for standard hours (think 9-6:30, 7-ish” + “we really appreciate you coming in on weekends and evenings and want you to continue doing that as necessary.”

    I have my 6-month review (probably going to get meshed into annual reviews) coming up and I think I’m going to ask for a raise since I’ve basically lost flexibility. Does this seem fair?

    1. Jamie*

      Fair – yes. But fair isn’t always enough.

      Sure – mention the change but when you ask for the raise make it about what you bring to the table work-wise.

      You would like to discuss more money because of how much of a kick ass employee you are (bring specific accomplishments) and then mention the change in schedule and additional weekend stuff as an item – but not the main reason.

      1. Dan*

        I get Jamie’s point… But $ is only one part of an overall compensation package. Benefits, flexible hours, etc also come into play here. When I negotiate a job, ALL of these things factor into whether or not I take the job. Changing flexible hours into rigid hours is changing a material part of the compensation package.

        The subtext to these conversations is always “make it up to me or I might quit.” If you do quit, now that you’re a known entity, they might say “so long, it’s been nice knowing you.” So you certainly want to be an employee that they keep happy.

        1. Jamie*

          She hasn’t even been there 6 months, though, if I’m reading this correctly.

          She has a 6 month review coming up so that’s usually not enough time to cement yourself as a known entity.

          And I totally agree with you that the hours are part of the package and can’t always be compensated with money. Unfortunately I’ve yet to see employers be as moved by that kind of thing as they should be.

  64. trish*

    What are the pros/cons of doing a fully-funded phd in the humanities? And “fully-funded” as in would bring in more per month than what I cuurently make. The biggest downsides I read to a phd generally involve money and time, so I’m really just wondering whether — with the money factor not an issue — it ever makes sense to pursue one. Thoughts?

    Also, if anyone has tips for interviewing for this type of position, that would be useful as well.


    1. Ellie*

      What are your career aspirations? Is your dream to be a professor? Or something else that requires a PhD? If yes, then go for it. A PhD requires you to do research and if publishing lots of research isn’t your thing you might be bored to tears for the next 5-6 years.

      I have a lot of people who wants me to get my PhD in Education (have my master’s) but the only thing you can do with that is become a school superintendent so it’s kind of worthless.

      1. Ash (the other one!)*

        It’s not totally true that the only thing you can do with a PhD in Education is a superintendent… you can do research or policy work, too…

        1. Emma*

          yes! My friend is getting her PhD in urban education and has been getting involved with educational technology work as well- really exciting :)

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      The only way to do a PhD is if its fully funded…

      That being said. Why do you want a PhD. That is the question you have to answer. Especially in the humanities, it leads to one path (academia), which has few jobs for the number of PhDs that come out each year. There are whole books and blogs about making yourself “transferable” after the PhD, but most employers will be skeptical if you are a PhD in English that you are both under and overqualified.

      It is one reason I’m starting to leave my PhD off my resume…

      1. trish*

        It would be a phd in visual media studies — particularly on the use of online image-based campaigns as a tool for empowering marginalized populations. I’m not sure if I want to go into academia, but I think the topic of research can be transferable to non-profits or other campaign-driven positions.

        I currently work in media policy, but in more of an administrative /communications capacity. I would like to do more on the research/policy side of the field, and a phd would certainly help develop the necessary credibility to do that.

        To clarify, it would be a 4-year position that is completely funded, my biggest concern is more the transferability. I would hate to spend four years on this to find out that I would have been better leaving it off my CV. If it matters, the position would be in Europe, where it tends to be a bit more common to get a phd, at least where I am.

        1. ZSD*

          Can you really complete your PhD in only four years? It took me seven years to get mine (though I was working full-time for the last year and a half of it), and my husband just defended in his ninth year. Maybe PhDs can be acquired more quickly in Europe, but if it’s going to take you more than four years, what will you do when your initial funding runs out?
          I’m not saying you shouldn’t get the PhD. I’m just saying that the funding for years 5-7 is something you should consider.

          1. Stephanie*

            My insanely smart college classmate did a bioengineering PhD in 3.5 years (in the US). He is definitely an outlier, however. I’ve heard of engineering PhDs being completed in 4 years, depending on the advisor and particular research (although 5-6 sounds like the norm).

            1. ZSD*

              Yes, STEM field PhDs are often pretty quick. Social sciences PhDs (like mine) take somewhat longer, and humanities PhDs are usually the longest.

              1. Stephanie*

                I’ve heard that. My friend is starting her sixth (seventh?) year in an art history doctoral program.

                Can you shed some light as to why those usually take longer? Just curious.

          2. Cb*

            European PhDs are really strict about timing and don’t typically have the coursework / comps that North American degree programmes do so 4 years is really reasonable (UK PhDs are 3)

    3. PhDnonymous*

      What are you hoping to accomplish by getting a PhD in the humanities? You really do need to be aware that the job market for humanities PhDs is catastrophically bad and has been for awhile. Both the AHA and the MLA (history association and literary-studies association, respectively) are trying to come up with plans for training PhD students for a broader range of jobs (i.e. beyond being a professor), but it isn’t clear that there are enough of these jobs to absorb the already existing pool of grad students/PhDs; also, both organizations are encouraging PhDs to consider jobs in fields that are also struggling to place their own graduates/practitioners in jobs (like librarianship, archives, museum work).

      The Chronicle of Higher Education ( and Inside Higher Education ( are starting points for familiarizing yourself with these kinds of discussions. Also check out the professional association for the humanities discipline — I know the AHA ( has information on strategies for applying to and navigating history graduate school.

      1. Anx*

        It seems to me that the biggest issue for PhD graduates isn’t garnering the transferring skills themselves, but being able to convince potential employers of them.

        I hear a lot of people talk as if PhD students are just academic students and don’t realize how much grant writing, project management, pr, presentation, management, and problem solving can go into those positions.

        1. Dan*

          The thing is, that might be true for some PhDs but not all. In my line of work, I know a few PhDs (students and otherwise) and I never hear them talk about grant writing, project management, pr, presentation, and management. (Problem solving… well it’s a core part of the field.)

          But what are you actually managing? If it’s just yourself, it doesn’t count for a whole lot. *Every* student manages them self.

          Even then, though, the issues with “transferable skills” in this economy surround the issue that most employers are getting plenty of qualified applicants with relevant experience that they don’t have a need to “stretch” and look at outsiders who might be able to transfer in.

          1. Anx*

            It’s entirely field and topic depended. Even in the sciences there’s a big difference in being handed a project to work on and having to design your own project.

            When I say manage, I am talking about managing undergraduate researchers/techs, the students in your classes (if you are a T.A.) and of course the material of the courses. There’s also event coordination when doing cooperative extension work and professional conferences, establishing online and local professional networks.

            Many graduate students are experts of doing more with less and having to raise funds every year, and I would think that’s a valuable skill, no?

            Doesn’t everyone have to start somewhere? Wouldn’t someone with a experience of creating and publishing a research study, building relationships between different stakeholders on a topic, and having to find a way to continue research with there’s no money have some valuable experience for entry level work in many fields?

            1. Dan*

              “Managing” students in a classroom is far different than managing subordinates in the real world. You’re not held responsible for their productivity and performance. If they fail a class, theoretically that’s not a reflection of you.

              “Doing more with less” is a meaningless term in the real world. Well, almost. What it means is your boss is going to lay off people and tell you to pickup the slack. I wouldn’t call it a skill, however.

              Then we get to your final question, “Wouldn’t someone… have some valuable experience for entry level work in many fields?”

              Here’s the funny part. You’re not describing entry level work. Entry level work is “do what you’re told.” You *are* describing skills that are more appropriate for managers. But management jobs aren’t commonly handed out to people with no real-world experience.

              So now you’re in a classic over/under qualified position. You’re over-qualified for true entry level work, and you’re under-qualified for management level positions that require real world experience, and rightfully so.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Seconding these last two paragraphs, loudly.

                PhDs can be a hindrance in getting work in a lot of fields and with a lot of employers. You don’t want to get one with the thought that it will give you marketable transferrable skills; too many employers won’t see it that way. Get one only if it’s required or highly useful for your career path.

              2. Anx*

                I disagree that real-world experience that’s not professional track is irrelevant (that’s probably why I’m still underemployed, though). I interact with many professionals who probably could use a little experience in fake-world customer service positions.

                I agree that education isn’t a substitute for experience and I don’t know anyone that would think it is. But I don’t understand how having those extra experiences makes you less capable of doing that entry level work of being told what to do. If you need experience to start a job for the inexperienced but even the experience you have doing both grunt work and managerial work won’t help, what else can you possibly do to get started?

                Also, as a minor point, of course you aren’t managing students the same way you would subordinates. I meant that you do have to organize their records. I’m pretty naive and always thought that managers were pulled in more than one direction at times and responsible for others’ work.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Organizing students’ records is really a very different thing than managing employees. Managing students in that context and managing employees is not something I’d say is similar.

                  The issue with the “extra” experience/education making you less qualified is that employers assume that you don’t really want the job they’re hiring for. And sometimes they assume that you’re going to bring habits/approaches/assumptions from academia that they’ll find annoying.

                2. Anx*

                  I wouldn’t say it’s similar to managing employees. I’m saying that it’s work.

                  The assumption that you don’t want the job they are hiring for is the thing I don’t understand. If you are applying, aren’t you interested?

                  I know several doctorates who love their fields and their work, but are looking for something more stable now that they are older. They dream of becoming an admin or working in a support role and having 9-5 hours and benefits and would gladly trade doing more specialized work for more stability and a pay raise.

    4. Questioner*

      Why do you want a PhD? What would you do once you’ve got the degree? If it won’t help your future plans why do it?

  65. Ellie*

    I have an interview coming up in a few weeks. I have worked as a freelancer for the past few years so going back to the office would be a change for me. I really value having freedom and independence to work. I have worked in offices where I had to check off all the work I did and hand it into management at the day’s end… I couldn’t stand it! I want to ask in my upcoming interview “So, are you guys going to be micromanagers, or let me have room to do my thing?”

    What are the best questions to ask to get a feel for this kind of culture in the workplace? Thank you!

    1. Jamie*

      I wish I had a clearer answer for you – but I left a job working for a micromanager to a job where he didn’t want to micromanage ever and I found he vetted me for it in the interview.

      The micromanaging guy set of my spidey sense with his micromanagey he was even in the interview and very focused on the confines of the job. My current boss – anti-micromanager made a joke in my interview that I’ll know I’m doing a good job when he forgets he has an IT department.

      But his interview was very focused on the autonomy of the job.

      When I sit in interviews I stress that as well – questions are welcomes, training is provided, but I make it clear hand-holding and shoulder-looking-overing (it’s a word) isn’t going to work here.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I was at an interview the other week and the subject of culture game up. The hiring manager ask about a project I’d taken on and the process I’d followed in particular what involvement my boss had with the approval and planning, it turns the two firms operate in different ways, my current place is very laid back where as the new firm is more structured and has a very formal process for project approval.

      You could ask something like “when I’m making a chocolate teapot what sort of process would I follow?” Then you can listen out for things like being expected to be check in with management, attend weekly meetings, submit work for regular review or any thing else that diminishes your freedom.

  66. De Minimis*

    No word on the job I applied for….I know it’s government and am well aware of how slowly my agency’s hiring process can be, but can’t help but be a bit disappointed because I had been contacted and interviewed for my current job around this time.

    No reason to expect it would be the same here, since it’s a completely different position in a different region, and I’ve seen firsthand how long it can take to fill a position even when it needs to be done ASAP, but I can’t help but be a little worried. I hope they contact me at some point….

  67. Intern ?*

    I work at a small ad agency (30+ people). We’ve had an intern here for a few months who’s a relative of one of our clients. She’s really nice, but painfully shy (she’s also young — only 18 or 19). She’s been given real work to do in what she’s interested in, but in our office environment, you have to be a somewhat quick witted, outgoing individual to make it anywhere — volunteer for projects, interject a joke, make sure people pay attention to you once in a while. In the 6 or so months she been here, there’s been none of that. I’m sure it’s part of her personality (I’ve talked to her a few times and helped her with a few things), but since she’ll be leaving us soon, I want to make sure she’s gotten the best experience from this and that her supervisor(s) only have fond memories. *I’m not her superior or manager or have any pull whatsoever. I’m just a concerned employee.*

    What should I do? I’m afraid if I pull her aside to say “Hey, make sure you speak up in the studio once in a while” or “try to hand in your work periodically throughout the day” or “join us for lunch and network” isn’t going to make her cry. (She seems that sensitive.) On the other hand, I don’t want her to leave here thinking the last 8 months were a waste. What to do?

    (FWIW, I know her supervisor(s) should be more hands-on…but they’re just not. I can’t do much about that.)

    1. Jamie*

      Pick a couple of the more doable suggestions that aren’t asking her to revamp her personality.

      Turning in work periodically and lunch from time to time is good – be more quick witted and outgoing would be way too daunting.

      Everyone has different temperaments and she’s so young she probably doesn’t have the skill (wrong word, but can’t find right one) she needs to drop herself at the door a little bit and conform to a more outgoing culture.

      Keep in mind that an internship teaches a lot more than tasks and she is probably learning right now how this culture works and how to recognize that if she wants to screen for or against it in the future.

      Your workplace sounds like a place many would thrive – and a nightmare for someone like me (and possibly your intern) but learning to deal in environments that don’t suit your personality is a huge skill she’s going to learn just by hanging in there.

      and make sure you explain what you mean with the lunch thing – at 18-19 she may not know what you mean by network. I probably would have thought it was a what can you do for me now thing at that age – and not a professional relationship building thing.

      And she may surprise you – it’s possible she is getting more out of this than you think.

      1. LizNYC*

        Thanks, Jamie. I realize that I kinda did ask how to “revamp her personality,” which in hindsight, wasn’t what I meant. (Whoops.) She may be getting more out of this than I can tell, that’s true. I’ll try to make more of an effort to get her to join us in the lunchroom and to include her in team stuff. I think I forget what it’s like to be 18 or 19 (or even 25) in an office.

        1. Jamie*

          FWIW I think it’s awesome that you’ve taken an interest in her and want to help her. Letting her know she has someone in you she can come to for the kind of soft questions about culture or workplace stuff that she might not think are work related but so are – that’s huge. You can be such an awesome resource for her.

    2. Chloe Silverado*

      I would recommend speaking with her. Be kind and patient when you do, and as Jamie suggests, don’t focus in on her natural attributes. If she’s shy, she’s never going to be the team member cracking jokes during a meeting, but she may not realize she’s welcome to join your team for lunch or volunteer for a project. She may be under the impression that the intern should be seen and not heard, or just be nervous about making a cultural misstep that could lead to judgement or embarrassment. Letting her know she should hand in her work throughout the day or that her suggestions are always welcome during meetings could be the “permission” she’s seeking to contribute more to the group.

      Also, remember that 18/19 is really very young. Even if your team is primarily made up of 20-somethings, at 18/19 I felt like 25 year old professionals had it all together and that I was just a kid with not much to contribute in comparison. (Now in my late 20s I have to laugh at this!)

      There’s a possibility she may take your suggestions the wrong way, but if you give her some specific actions to take I think she will appreciate it. Also, I tend to be very shy in a new environment until there’s someone I feel relatively comfortable with – then I can be a bit more outgoing with everyone. If you make her feel comfortable with you, that may help her open up a bit more to the whole group.

      1. LizNYC*

        Thanks, Chloe! I think I’m forgetting what it was like to be the intern and thinking that everyone older than me had their stuff together (when, now that I’m the person who supposedly has it together, I know that’s not necessarily true 100% of the time, despite outward appearances).

        I’ve tried being a person she can feel comfortable with, but I admit I’ve not dedicated my best effort. I’m going to try to make it my goal, now that it’s summer, you can actually sit outside to eat lunch and work has slowed down ever so slightly.

  68. Persephone Mulberry*

    I feel like I’m in a career hole and not sure how to get out. I’m 34 and have been in the workforce for almost 15 years in an administrative capacity. I currently am about as far as I can go on this career path without going the EA route (which I do not want to do). I’m TIRED of being an individual contributor. I want to lead teams and help shape strategies, to give direction instead of always taking it. I’m just not sure how I’m going to get there from where I am now.

    1. Sabrina*

      Some companies have “Administrative Managers” where basically AAs have managers who are also AAs. The people the AAs support is completely different from who their boss is. My old company did this, but I don’t think they do any more since getting bought out. The downside is that you’re a manager AND an AA and from what I’ve heard, the pay doesn’t necessarily reflect that. Could you see about going into doing whatever the folks you support do and go from there?

  69. Amaryllis*

    For those of you who manage your boss’s emails (or have someone manage your email for you), does the assistant sign their name or the boss’s name when sending out emails from the boss’s account? I read somewhere that assistants should put their own name because it shows that your boss trusts you and has given you permission to send out emails on his/her behalf.

    1. lachevious*

      I always used my own name. The only time we’d ever sign anyone’s name would be when we had written authority to put their e-sig on a document.

    2. trish*

      I send e-mails on behalf of my boss and the signature is entirely dependent on the content of the e-mail and who it is going to. I think this is one of those questions that is so subjective that there is no uniform answer aside from ‘ask your boss what his/her preferences are and do that’.

    3. Mallory*

      When my boss tells me to send an email from his account, he means that it should appear to be completely from him over his signature, and I’m just the ghost writer.

      When he tells me to send other messages on his behalf, I send a “boss wants everyone to know such-and-such” email from my own account over my own signature.

      If he doesn’t specify, I send the latter type; I only send the former type when he specifically says, “send this from my account.”

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’ve done both. If my boss asks me to respond as him, I do so, and if he asks me to respond as me, I do so. I will say that I won’t send stuff from his account unless I’m sending as him (it’s easy to switch between accounts in our mail program, so I’ll just pop over to mine if I’m supposed to respond as myself).

    5. Mallory*

      I’ve also sent emails where I’ve split the difference. Like my two bosses wanted to make an announcement that came from both of them, and they had me send an email (to faculty, staff, alumni, advisory board members, and community supporters) from my email account over a joint signature (Interim Dean So-and-So and Department Head Whats-it).

  70. Marcy*

    Just looking for a sanity check here…6 months ago I interviewed for a position very similar to the job I had before my current job. My field is very small and specialized, and requires special education/licensing. Since it’s such a small industry, my old boss and colleagues knew the hiring manager and all the people in the new office and put in some good words for me. I passed a screening test, got 2 interviews, and was asked for my references for the final check. My references called me back to tell me they had given me great references.
    After two weeks of silence, the hiring manager called me to say he was very impressed with me, but they were going with a candidate with more experience, but with my permission, he would pass my resume on to his colleagues at Company Y in case they had an opening. I was disappointed and a little surprised (because the advertised position was for someone junior-mid career, and I was on the higher end of the experience spectrum) but expressed my thanks for the follow up and wished him luck. I then found out from my network that they had hired someone from within the company, who did not even have all the required licensures to do the job. I thought it was weird they bothered to call my references at all if they had intended to hire from within, but chalked it up to bureaucracy, and it only increased my respect for them that they hired from within.
    About a week ago I was having coffee with someone from my network and found out that the company was re-advertising the position because the internal person had not worked out. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but does it mean anything that the company is re-advertising the position instead of reaching out to the 2nd person on their list (me)? Does this mean I wasn’t as strong a candidate as I’d thought?

    1. lachevious*

      Are you sure that you were second in line? Even if you were told that by the hiring manager or whoever does not necessarily mean that it is true. When I first interviewed at my current job, I was told that I didn’t get the position I interviewed for because their previous secretary returned, later found out that wasn’t the case. I got a different job here, though – but it was still odd that they made something up instead of just telling me they found someone more suitable for the first position.

    2. rkflower*

      They probably assumed after 6 months that you moved on. Why not reapply if you’re still interested?

      1. Angora*

        Please reapply. If you’re interested in working for that company follow through. It can be red flag if a position opens up withing six months sometimes. But since it was internal applicant they may have felt pressure to hire within and promote an established employee that they knew had a good working reputation.

        There is another possibility … they can get by with paying an internal applicant less, especially if they hired an individual without the cert’s. It could have been a budget item also.

      2. Calla*

        Agreed, that’s a long time! If you found out they re-posted after the first choice declined the offer or something, that would be one thing, but this has been half a year.

        I don’t know if you’d need to actually re-apply though, this seems like a case where you could shoot the hiring manager an email (since you’ve already had good interactions) and say something like I saw this position is open again, as you know I interviewed previously which went very well, and I’m still very interested in this.

      3. Marcy*

        Thanks for the advice, guys. I will definitely re-apply, and send an email follow up when I do to express that I’m still interested. Just a bit paranoid, I guess, as this will have been the 2nd time that I’ve been runner up after a positive but very time-consuming interview process and I was beginning to doubt my ability to gauge social reactions there. I definitely owe my references/network coffee and chocolates for how supportive they have been. And of course, (e)cookies for the commenters of this blog as well.

  71. CollegeAdmin*

    Another position should be opening soon at the college I work for, and I’d like to apply. However, I’m very concerned that my supervisors will find out.

    First, all positions have search committees that often include people outside of the department – in fact, a position I considered applying for a few months ago ended up having one of my supervisors as a search committee member. How can I politely (and confidentially) inquire as to who is on the search committee? What should I do if my supervisor is on the committee – just not apply and wait for something else?

    Secondly, one of my supervisors works very closely with two people in HR – the office assistant (who I don’t trust to keep quiet) and the head of HR. I know I can request that my application be kept confidential, but is there any legal requirement? (I don’t think so, but I thought I’d ask.)

    Also, as a worst-case scenario, if my supervisors find out that I apply for it and ask me about it, what can I say? It’s the same title and very similar responsibilities – the only reason I’m looking to leave is that I can’t stand working for these two people. I figure that’s not a good answer.

    1. Angora*

      As a college admin I hear you. I’m searching and live in fear she’ll find out and fire me just to get the first shot in.

      I would ask, but if it’s a small campus things have a tendency to leak out. If this is a promotion … if they find out … you can tell them you are seeking a higher paying position. They shouldn’t blame you . . . but some faculty are not “managers”

    2. Anx*

      I say this as someone whose been applying for staff work at a university since I graduated:

      Higher education is weird.

  72. Angora*

    I am the OP that wrote about the co-worker bad mouthing my boss.

    I have since written about the suspected listening device in my office. I have started job searching. If I stay at this location, my department chair’s reputation precedes her so I am not worried about the dreaded “Why are you searching for a new position so quickly?” if I stay here. I can say it’s not a good fit and not have to worry about further ?’s. But there is one concern I hate to bring up during the interview process. There are two programs that I am supposed to have been trained on by now (been 3 months) and she’s refused to grant me access. I can share that here … but if I go to another state university; I’m not sure of what to say .. and what to put in my resume … I’m leaving the software out of my resume, but I feel it’s a red flag.

    She is refusing the training because she hired someone a couple of years ago and they left after three months. She told me the young woman just wanted a foot in the door, turned around got the training and left. She thinks holding me back will prevent someone else from wanting me since I’ll be training through their department. I have gone to HR … and they said I have to tell her that I need the training as part of my job description that I was hired under. Well she blew the job description off. I all ready stood up for myself when she was bullying me (she forgets what she tells you & than gets ugly). When I politely told her that I do not appreciate her getting upset with me because she doesn’t remember things; she turned around and said she made a mistake in hiring me. I thought I would be gone that afternoon. She’s under pressure from the faculty to keep an admin person because she keeps running them off. But I do not know how to handle this during an interview. advise?

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Do you need formal training for this software, or can you learn it on your own? Do you need it to do your work because if you do, how can she prevent you from having access? Do you have a basic working knowledge that you can bring to a new job at least?

      1. Angora*

        She has to sign the authorization for me to get access, which is required for the training and she refused both times I asked. I have gone to HR … and it’s presented to me that I have to point it out as part of my job description. She redid a half ^&% job performance plan that was half incomplete … etc. It’s one it because I asked her to put it in it. HR has to ask for the performance plan etc … after I said I never got it or the formal job description. But they put it back on me to ask for access.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “I was not able to access training for those programs.”

      “Training for those programs was not made available to me.”

      “I inquired about training for those programs but I was led to believe it was postponed.”

      Any follow up question that is too revealing just say “I’d rather not talk about it, as I am uncertain of everything that was going on in the background at that time.”

      I would redirect the question:
      “Do you have training on X, Y and Z?”

      “No, the training was not made available to me. However, I am rock solid in use of A, B and C. ”

      Just point to something else. It could even be a successful project you did. All you want to do is divert attention.

      1. Angora*

        Thank you, I love your recommendations. I found out Friday … by accident that she couldn’t limit my access as much as she wished. I have access to part of the program … to do something she has no desire to do … so I have full access and am going see about getting the training. She thinks handicapping me will hurt my prospects but her reputation is known.

        I went to a training session and one of the woman doing the training ( I knew her years ago). She asked where I worked, told her and she said “with (*& and started laughing.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          People like your boss tend to unravel themselves. It takes time, though.

          Handicapping you will not hurt your prospect and it WILL motivate you in extraordinary ways. Very short -sighted boss.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          I hope you get the new job. Your boss is toxic and hopefully won’t be in her role for too much longer.

          1. Angora*

            Thank you all. I am job searching and there are limited opportunities here so I may transfer to another university. It may take awhile, but I am going find something.

            Right now I’m trying to find ways to handle the stress and stay motivated to come to work. Am back to speed walking, etc.

  73. Left after layoff*

    Just wanted to get another opinion here –

    My company is going through a RIF. Unfortunately, one colleague in my department was included. He was well-liked and respected among us. Morale was already low, and this makes it worse.

    TBTB sent an email to the team, saying this person was ‘leaving to pursue other opportunities,’ which we all know is code for layoff.

    However, now TBTB are verbally asking in every group setting how we feel about it, do we have any questions, etc. But, we’re too freaked out to even ask for fear of being next.

    Am I wrong to think this is not the way to go about communicating? Mainly the part about asking in group settings how we feel about it, even though the answer is always a canned response?

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Yeah, it sounds like they’re putting in an effort, which I can appreciate, but they don’t realize they’re making making things worse. And to their credit, I think it can be really hard to know how to approach that… In the past, I’ve listened to the rumblings happening in my office when someone was fired or quit, and then gave my boss advice on how to communicate about the change to the staff. He follows the advice, and then… the reaction is still bad. Like, now people are nervous about a totally different aspect, even though the concern I thought was most prevalent is now addresses.

      I don’t want to say there’s not a better way to handle it, but when people are scared for their jobs, I don’t know that there is a way to remove that fear, other than 1) telling them their job is secure, which is problematic if it’s not, and 2) handling layoffs themselves well, with severance and whatnot, which is not something you can go back in time and do well if you biffed it before.


  74. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Y’all, so many exciting things are happening behind the scenes! Collapsible/expandable comments are almost ready (they should launch sometime next month), a pretty exciting thing that I can’t talk about yet is likely to happen (won’t affect readers, but will be a good thing for the site), a better mobile version of the site is coming, and all sorts of other developments.

    1. MaryMary*

      Will we be able to edit comments we post? I know you say the other posters will forgive our typos and misspellings, but it drives me nuts when I find a typo in my own comment and can’t fix it!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Possibly! We’re playing with a feature that would allow a comment to be edited for the first five minutes after it’s made. I have mixed feelings about this though, so I’m still deciding whether to include it in the final roll-out.

        1. Mints*

          Why do you have mixed feelings? I’d really like an edit feature. (I have typos everywhere!)
          Do you think people would use it to change their comments more significantly?

          1. Windchime*

            I think that’s why many sites don’t allow comment editing. To me, the comment section of a blog is a little different than a forum (where editing is often allowed). I’m not sure why I feel that way, though!

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, what I’ve read from other bloggers about this is that it causes problems like (a) someone posts something inflammatory, others respond to it, and then the person edits it to look less inflammatory, which renders the responses inexplicable, or (b) someone posts something, others “+1” it or otherwise agree, and then the person edits it in a way that changes the meaning, and now those replies look like they’re agreeing with something they don’t agree with, which causes a mess.

            I’m not sure that giving people the ability to fix typos trumps those concerns. These are blog comments, the vast majority of which are intelligently written and easy to understand; it’s okay if they have occasional typos.

    2. Lara*

      Please make it so the mobile version is not forced on us! I hate it when a site won’t let me use the regular version, which I prefer.

  75. robot chick*

    How does University lecturing look on a resume when looking for a non-academic job? To mix up the schedule a little, my department often lets Master’s students hold intro courses on their specialities, and I’m thinking of doing just that next semester while writing my thesis… my gut feeling is it can’t hurt, but since the lecturing in and of itself probably doesn’t reflect any transferable skills to my desired future job, I’m not sure (because it is a lot of work for frankly miserable pay).
    Would you be impressed, kinda meh, or even bothered by something I’m overlooking?

    1. cuppa*

      I think it depends on the job you were looking for. Teaching and public speaking would be transferable skills for certain positions, and being an evaluator wouldn’t hurt either, but again, it would all depend on whether or not your future job would require those skills.

      1. robot chick*

        well, I’m angling for (a specific kind of) analyst, so I anticipate lots of data crunching but little contact to people (which is fine by me, because outside of teaching, I wouldn’t say public speaking is my strong suit).

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I would be impressed, especially if your future involved explaining things to people on a regular basis. I’d also see the public speaking as a long-term plus. That said, teaching is a lot of work for crap pay and your thesis is your biggest priority. If you question whether you can do both concurrently, keep your focus on finishing the thesis.

  76. blinking cursor*

    Today has been a fairly good work week I think all in all. I am slowly acclimatising to my new job, staying in to eat lunch with my coworkers etc – helps that the weather is colder than it should be.

    My title is “clerical assistant” and the way it was put to me was that I would support a particular person & their work but also that I would go to whoever/whatever dept needs help. However, twice this week I have been referred to as their secretary – which I don’t think I am, although I am the closest thing they have to one…

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      My advice, is, let it roll off. Clerical assistant, administrative assistant, office assistant, secretary – for most people not actively IN one of those roles, the terms are used interchangeably (whether we want them to be or not).

  77. De (Germany)*

    I just came back from my company’s annual “outing”. As much as people here often seem to hate this kind of forced activity with coworkers, I really enjoyed it. We had breakfast, then built a raft, spent about two hours on a river with it, then a barbecue, playing beach volleyball,… Lots of fun. Most of us are software developers, but as consultants at various projects, so it helps build a sense of belonging to the same company when depending on the project we don’t see each other that often.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That sounds fun. One place I worked had a mandatory outing where we went to a riverboat show. A long bus ride, marginal food, and I was super depressed at the time and hated every minute of it (though the dog act was cool). I’d much rather have gone on one like yours. That would have cheered me up some!

    2. Anx*

      I actually really like retreats and things like that.

      What I’m not a fan of is structuring every activity within a retreat.

      Some structure is great because it gives you a thing to do when you’re a little shy or uncomfortable. But the most team building I ever see comes not from rope walks or rafting or trust falls but just talking to people.

      1. De (Germany)*

        Totally! Other than the rafting, we just hung out in various groups of coworkers. The volleyball was of course optional – and lots of fun as we are all software developers who don’t really do that much sports. So we were rather bad at it :-)

      1. De (Germany)*

        Of course, totally understandable. This counted as 8 hours of work.

        I remember being totally shocked when I was told to log 2 hours of work for a non-mandatory evening spent at the Christmas market where our food and drinks were paid by the company. I love my company :-)

    3. Lara*

      Glad you had fun! That would have been my idea of hell and I would have bitterly resented every second.

  78. Agile Phalanges*

    Woo hoo! After five months, applying for 30 positions, interviewing for six positions, receiving two offers, and having one offer rescinded for daring to ASK about increasing the PTO since the salary was lower than we’d discussed, I have finally received an offer and accepted it, and I start Monday. Woo!

  79. Sparrow*

    Does anyone know anything about professional resume help?

    I’ve helped create (or, I think, substantially improved) resumes for a bunch of friends and relatives, and several people have said “oh, you should charge for this.” I know that’s just a thing people say, but on a whim I did a little looking to see what was out there, and the people who charge for it are TERRIBLE. I cringe to see the examples they put online of their finished products. I know I could do a better job. (I’m sure there are people who are very good, but my cursory search didn’t turn them up.)

    Is this a crazy thing to do? It seems like the advertising would be a big pain in the butt. (I’ve never worked in HR, but everyone whose resume I’ve done has gotten a job, though granted that’s more due to them than me).

    1. Mints*

      What are you trying to do? Like charge friends of friends and acquaintances $50 for a review? Or actually create a business? If it’s an extended network type thing, I think it’d really easy to quit if you get overwhelmed. I have several friends who do side jobs like makeup and baking who basically only have clients through friends of friends and facebook “advertising” (aka status updates like “If you have a party coming up, let me know if you want me to do your makeup!”) Some have been doing it for awhile, and have a nice extra gig, but others just quit by fading out. You could probably get a feel for what that’d be like by starting small.

  80. Is This Discrimination?*

    I recently applied for a position located about an hour south of where I currently live. I received an email from the HR Manager essentially asking was I sure of my interest in the position. She cited she saw I was based in L.A. and noted that the position is based in Newport Beach, CA (thanks, I read the job description but continue) and that there’s no telecommuting or relocation assistance available. She then asked did I have plans to move to the area? I responded saying yes I know the position is located in Newport Beach. I’m a huge fan of the brand and for this opportunity I’d be ok with relocating at my own expense. Same for interviewing – I’d drive down on my own. Then I think I went a step too far. I followed up by saying I saw that she’s based in Chicago and wanted to give perspective that Newport Beach is actually just an hour and change (in heavy traffic) from my current place of residence in the El Segundo section of L.A. I’m not sure if she knows anything about SoCal geography or more relevant, LA traffic. Basically I was implying that the commute wouldn’t be bad even if I decided to stay in L.A. After all that’s MY choice if I want to commute 38 miles daily. My current commute is actually 45 miles and probably 20 minutes longer than the proposed new commute. My point/question is do I have grounds to say I wasn’t considered as a candidate/discriminated against based on my geographical location? She never responded to my email so I can only conclude my application is dead in the water. It really annoys me because SHE made the assumption that it was too far or that I wouldn’t move. I wasn’t trying to be snotty in my response. I just thought her assumptions were a little unnecessary.

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Legally? I doubt that geographical location is a protected class. So, I don’t think you’ve got much leverage there. From the hiring manager’s position, while you might not mind the drive I would wonder if you would be able to consistently make it in to work on time.

      I recently had to hire positions that were customer facing/building opening. So, people had to be there at a certain time every day. HR was sending me people who by mileage weren’t all that far but required being on the DC beltway and then back roads at rush hour. A solid hour and a half on a good day. Could be twice as long with accidents or bad weather. I needed people who lived closer that I could call and know they could get there in 10-15 minutes. Thankfully I had a big pool of local talent, so I didn’t feel bad about knocking out those that lived further away.

      And it’s entirely possible that your tone was not appreciated. I don’t know. I mean I live on the east coast and have a pretty good understanding of CA geography and traffic issues.

    2. AVP*

      No. Geography is not a protected class.

      Also, I worked on a project that was taking place in Foothill Ranch and had to bring down a few people who live in LA, and got *so much* shit for it from them. She might be asking you out of her experience with others, or because she’s hiring to replace someone else who couldn’t handle the commute. She’s likely just doing her homework.

    3. Calla*

      No. Commute length/ease is certainly your choice, but it’s also something the employers can decide they don’t want to deal with. For example, I once had a 1.5-hour commute each way, and I did it just fine everyday, but if the train broke down, I was an hour away and couldn’t just call a cab to make it into work on time, like someone in the city could have.

      I think the only time there’s further investigation warranted — not necessarily discriminatory in itself– is if the geography is connected to another protected class (i.e. company has 50% qualified applicants from Beverly Hills and 50% from Compton, and conveniently only hires people from Beverly Hills who happen to be mostly white. I very vaguely remember a case like this but I can’t find it.)

      1. Career Counselorette*

        Yeah, I was going to say, we just attended a discrimination training at my org (which does deal directly with job readiness and placement) and they were saying that many employers will find subtle ways to mask their discrimination so it looks like something benign. Like if they say, “We don’t want anyone from this zip code,” and that zip code is predominantly Black and Latino and low-income, you could attempt to make a case for that, but it would still be difficult. I’m sure you weren’t trying to be snotty, but even the fact that you had to throw in an aside about “I read the job description, thanks” suggests that you could probably do with some tone modulation, or at least a better gauge of the power differential in an interview.

    4. Jamie*

      Those are totally reasonable questions. So many times people who are desperate or really want a particular job convince themselves the commute will be fine but after they settle in they leave – because it’s not working for them.

      My commute is 40 minutes in the middle of the night zero traffic and between 1-2.5 hours in rush. My boss asked about it and made sure I was really okay with it and that was totally appropriate.

      And tbh people with long commutes tend to call in more – and request to work from home more, even if that’s not part of the position – and weather is more of an issue. Not everyone, I am one of the not everyone, I like a long commute personally as it’s the only alone time I get and I enjoy the drive (barring hellish traffic some days) but I cannot tell you how many people end up being unreliable or quitting because they underestimated the impact of the commute on their lives.

      And just because she works in Chicago doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a feel for traffic given a branch of her company in in California. And if half of the tone in this post came out in your discussion with her of course she passed – it’s a lot of umbrage for a really reasonable and typical line of questioning.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I agree with all of this. Even in DC, the people who work in our office that live in Virginia or Maryland are far more likely to not come in when it’s raining, for instance.

        For most jobs at my office, this is totally fine. But commute is one of those things that you’re willing to promise when you’re desperate and need a job, and then once you’ve been at that job a year, you’re complaining that your job isn’t more flexible about working from home, because don’t they realize you live SO FAR AWAY?

        (Totally not everyone, and totally not relevant to a lot of jobs. But I can easily see a hiring manager that’s been burned by this before just not wanting to go through it again).

    5. IndieGoo*

      No, it’s not discrimination. No, she wasn’t wrong to ask the questions. And yes, your responses went way too far, and almost certainly hurt your candidacy.

    6. Sarah*

      Not only is geography not discrimination, it’s a standard thing to filter by. Usually by considering local candidates versus nonlocal rather than looking at commute, but it’s not sketchy unless they are looking at your specific neighborhood and making inferences about your race or other protected class attributes. In my experience, when a move is involved, the candidate is FAR more likely to back out on the job before starting.

      This company has probably hired many people from LA who wound up being unreliable, leaving for shorter commutes, asking for adjusted hours to avoid rush hours, burning out, etc, and they’re gun-shy about it. Chicago is a big city with some sprawling suburbs too, so I’m sure it’s not beyond the recruiter’s comprehension that people can commute 40 miles to work. Also, as someone who does have personal knowledge of socal traffic, I wouldn’t exactly look at your address and think “40 miles down the 405 at rush hour – that’s no big deal at all!”

  81. Chicken*

    Question: How much time do you spend working during your workday? (Think work vs chatting with coworkers, browsing the internet, checking personal email . . .) And what type of job do you have?

    1. AVP*

      True answer? Probably 5-6 hours. But I also check my email all night and do things on the weekend, so I think it all works out.

    2. Ash (the other one!)*

      Current position… maybe 3 hours. Maybe.

      Previous position? 8 solid hours plus on-call nights and weekends.

      1. De Minimis*

        Same here. Much busier when something comes up or near a regular due date, but sometimes not that busy at all and I can just work on ongoing tasks like data entry.

    3. Anx*

      In my last job, the entire shift. I was a server.

      In my current job- I’d say about 95% of the time. I work in education and sometimes when they are working out a problem I don’t have enough time to take meaningful notes or find the next assignment so I just organize things, straighten up, or review notes instead.

    4. Mints*

      Like 1-2 hours (two is a good day). People think I’m joking when I say “I don’t have anything to do at work.” I’m not. You guys, I need a new job

      At my last job, like 7 hours (out of 8). 8/8 was a bad day; I’d be fried

  82. Rebecca*

    I work in a remote office branch, and communicate via phone and email. Our head office has decided that we will all have corporate photos taken, and we need to add them to our email accounts.

    I dread this. I am a plain Jane sort of person, no real hair style, I don’t wear makeup, I’m over 50, and I’m going to look very out of place next to the hip younger set in the company.

    Right now I have a picture of one of my cats in my photo box.

    I have no idea why this should be a requirement or why this is a good idea. It just makes me anxious.

    1. Jamie*

      Hugs – I hate having my picture taken so much that it borders on phobic, although it’s not a fear as much as just a horrible aversion.

      Most of the time I think I look cute in my head – and some of the time I’m okay with how I look in the mirror. I haven’t liked how I look in pics since I was 10. I resent having to do the company thing – although I’m in the back and you can barely see me – still hate it.

      Individual pics I might think of leaving over – although I’d probably talk myself down – that would be my gut reaction.

      This is my ID pic for work:

      Apparently the policy is vague on whether IDs require an actual photograph for certain positions. I wonder who wrote that policy.

      My own bias aside – I never understood this. Whenever someone hands me a business card with their pic on it I feel like I’m in 8th grade trading school pictures before summer break. I don’t want to see people looking at me from email sigs – and never once have I gone to a companies website and given a rats ass what their staff looks like. I don’t get it.

      I am not advocating people wear makeup if they don’t want to, but you might want to consider it for the pic. I don’t mean to glam it up – but some BB cream on your face or a little light lip color can still have the appearance of no make up but you won’t look washed out – that’s why men who go on camera do this too. It’s not about looking made up – it’s about brightening skin tone because the camera will flatten it.

    2. Celeste*

      That does sound stressful! I guess since you have to get through it, all you can do is wear something on picture day that you like and makes you feel good, like a favorite color, or something you’ve worn that always gets compliments.

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      I would say this isn’t all that unusual for geographically separated offices. I know it really helps a lot of people to put a name with a face. Is it going to hurt you for one photo to style your hair and put on some makeup?

      1. Rebecca*

        Probably not :) But I’m not sure how helpful it would be. I haven’t worn makeup since I was in my 20’s, but I could possibly tame my hair into something presentable!

        1. Jamie*

          If you want some basic tips on makeup:

          – BB cream (I love L’Oreal Youth Code)
          – concealer under eyes and lids if you have dark circles (I love L’Oreal Visible Lift)
          – neutral shade of eyeshadow (I’m pale so ivory is neutral to me – but something close to your skin tone)
          – subtle mascara – not so you look made up but one light coat makes your eyes pop (top lashes only if you’re going for subtle.) I’m a big fan of L’Oreal Voluminous original, but Lash Out Butterfly is my new favorite.)
          – lip color a shade or two darker than lips – burts bees has some nice balms with tint. As long as not glossy or frosted will be subtle – stay away from matte or some of the long last things as they can be super dry and age the mouth.

          a little more color L’Oreal has a Visible Lift blush that gives just a hint of pink without making you look like you have blush on – it just makes me look like I go outside once in a while.

          Oh – and it’s so worth it to go to a salon and get your brows done, if you don’t already. It’s less than $10 (before tip) and well defined arches give such a polished look – and if your brows are super light eyeshadow 1-2 shades darker than brows applied with a super fine brush (angled and firm, not the floppy pointy kind – you can get a selection of 5 for under $5 – don’t have to splurge on the spendy ones) work the shadow in lightly and it will give you more definition without the dreaded pencil look.

          Together this won’t make you look made up at all – just a little more polished than no makeup and will counteract the washing out of the camera.

          1. Sarah*

            Your idea of “a little makeup” involves getting your eyebrow hair pulled out? I can’t imagine. I hope no one feels like they have to do that just to have a picture taken.

            1. Anon*

              I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having a unibrow in photos. Pretty easy to DIY though.

            2. Jamie*

              I don’t think anyone would think they had to do anything based on a posting of an internet stranger – I was just suggesting ways you can wear makeup and not look like you’re really wearing it in the picture.

              And the brow thing was just a suggestion since it’s a way of polishing without wearing any make-up at all. And “getting your eyebrow hair pulled out” isn’t a radical suggestion – it’s a pretty common practice.

              1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

                Getting my eyebrows done is the only beauty thing I’ve done reliably for 15+ years–I have fierce brows otherwise and it makes me look 100% more polished, even with my dark circles and gray hair.

                1. SherryD*

                  As beauty tips go, a professional brow shaping is almost a magic bullet. It’s cheap ($10-$30), and it’s amazing what an effect a shaped brow has on the face.

            3. robot chick*

              yeah, I can count the days on one hand that I’ve worn daytime make up since high school (I had bad skin and was self concious, okay?)… But plucking a few errand hairs every other week is such a small thing and I feel like on me it makes the difference between “natural” and “doesn’t give a sh*t”. Then again that could all be in my head, so if you don’t do it, more power to you.

          2. Rebecca*

            You gave me a good idea! One of my coworkers does theater things, like costumes and makeup, so she could probably help. She’s my age and I’m sure could help me so I don’t look silly. I feel much less stressed about this now. Clothing isn’t a problem, and I have some nice jewelry that I wear for special occasions.

        2. Celeste*

          I can see where you wouldn’t want to buy a whole raft of makeup just for this one picture (especially if you will never wear it again), but maybe getting your hair done would make you feel better about the whole thing. It sounds like you’re kind of down on your looks right now.

          1. Lisa*

            As far as hair – most salons will do a simple blowout (shampoo + blow dry) for a lot less than a haircut or complex updo. There are a couple of places now -Drybar is one – that only do blowouts, and if you tell them what your goal is, I’m sure they will be happy to make you look like a more polished version of you, not some stranger…

        3. JoAnna*

          A lot of makeup counters at department stores offer free consultations, where they’ll make up your face for you (in hopes that you’ll then purchase the products they used). Maybe do that right before you have the picture taken?

          1. Jamie*

            They are onto this and a lot of times they will only do half of your face and finish only after you purchase x-amount.

          2. Windchime*

            Also, be sure you go to a reputable place. I was shopping with friends once and they came back from the makeup counter looking like clowns. They got seriously bad makeovers.

      2. Becca*

        This! I just started my job and I was having a lot of trouble remembering names. One of my coworkers suggested I just look them up in Outlook and then I can see their picture. It’s been super helpful for me.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        I will say that I once met a woman in person who I only knew by her online picture, and I did not even recognize her. She was very plain in person, when compared to the heavily made-up picture. This was not good because the mental image I’d always had talking to her via email didn’t sync up with reality. I would go the route Jamie suggested, just some foundation to not look like you’re washed out with two black eyes (ahem, that’s how I look) and call it good.

        1. Jamie*

          Ha – yeah, I’m of the “OMG are you okay? you look tired, aren’t you feeling well?” variety when sans make-up.

          I’ve used this when I was super busy and needed people to leave me along – nothing like looking like you’re coming down with something to get some space.

    4. Sparrow*

      Ugh, that sucks and would make me anxious too.

      At my company, the pictures on our ID badges show up in the corporate directory. We were notified of this change in advance and luckily had the option to remove the picture. Or if our ID badge pic is over 10 years old we have the option to submit our own picture. My ID pic is horrible and is 14 years old so I quickly selected the option to remove my picture.

      Since it is in the online corporate directory, someone would have to specifically search for your name if they wanted to see your pic.

      My company has locations across the country and overseas. There have been times that I’ve worked closely with people for years and have never met them in person. Even though we are geographically diverse, there is very little travel budget so I rarely interact in person with people in other offices.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I hate it too. I submitted a studio photo of myself for mine when I started at CurrentJob. It’s one picture of myself I can actually stand. It’s so rare for me to look good in photos (though for some reason, my passport photo turned out really well, yay). I always tell people I look better in person.

      Jamie has some good suggestions. So good, in fact, that I’m going to save them. You wouldn’t want to slather yourself with makeup, especially if you don’t wear it often, but a little spruce-up will make you feel better about the pictures.

    6. Windchime*

      Our pics have recently started appearing on our emails. We have security badges with photos that serve as our keys to certain buildings/areas, so that’s the picture that’s appearing on the emails now. It was taken on the first day of orientation, before anyone had the guts to refuse to have a picture taken. I am anti-photogenic, so I totally get the reluctance. My work badge doesn’t look horrible, but my Costco card looks like a prison mug shot.

  83. matcha123*

    I was wondering if any of you posters come from low-income families? In what ways did that effect your work experience, etc.?

      1. matcha123*

        I actually had that thread in mind!

        Until reading that post/thread, I’d never thought that socioeconomic background could have such an influence on how you work. I’d always assumed that as long as you work hard and are professional that you’d get ahead.

        It was that thread and the replies that really got me thinking!

    1. Celeste*

      There is a film series about a group of children in England. Every 7 years they are interviewed about their lives. The first is called “Seven Up”, and so on for each subsequent 7 years. The filmmaker has been interviewed about it, and he says it’s been absolutely striking to have the proof that your socioeconomic family status can make all of the difference for how far you get in life.

      We are absolutely shaped by these forces. It’s not impossible for someone to rise up from poverty and make a better living than the one they came from, but it is the exception rather than the rule.

      1. Jamie*

        I remember reading somewhere that we’re the first generation (mine – X) not to do better than our parents as a whole.

        For generations it was the rule more than the exception.

        A comfortable upbringing absolutely has advantages and opportunities – there is no question – but I think it’s defeatist to think that it’s rare better your circumstances. Upbringing and family financial security is definitely part of the equation – but I think our eventual success is far more determined by our own actions and choices than circumstances of birth.

      2. JoAnna*

        One of the guys from that film was on the NPR show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” last weekend!

      3. De Minimis*

        I love that series….they just finished 56 Up and you can still see it for almost all of the participants. There are a few who have turned out to be outliers, but very few. And although some of the kids have gone further than we might have expected, none have gone further than the kids from the upper-class background.

        1. Felicia*

          I love that series, and you can definitely see the way money and class background played a role!

          They’ve done versions in other countries too, though I think in the US they stopped at 21 up.

          1. De Minimis*

            I also like how in many cases the participants’ attitudes toward the filmmakers change from film to film–and sometimes people will drop out for a few then return.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came from a low-income background and bounced in and out of the foster system. At some point, someone told me that going to college would be one of the only chances for me to get out. That’s really the first place I learned about work ethic and professional norms. In the professional work world, I’ve never really felt like I fit in with coworkers who’ve had such different experiences. I’ve become adept at code-switching, but neither feels 100% natural any more. One of the positives is that I have an amazing sense of self-determination.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Just adding to the mix: I read recently that eventually many wealthy families move back down the income ladder. So it appears as spikes where several generations do well and then after that the people are average or even low-level income.

      I am also fascinated by what our family/friends teach us that influence our ability to succeed. Some people are fortunate enough to find new people that they decide to emulate. A friend decided to copy the employees at school, they seemed successful so she decided to learn from them. She was pretty young so her choices are interesting considering her age.

      In short, I think there is more than one type of poverty (financial, physical resources, attitude and others?) that holds people back.

  84. MaryMary*

    Have you all seen the letter a little girl wrote to Google asking them to give her Dad a day off from work? I’ve seen it pop up several places this week.

    It drives me crazy that so many of the articles reposting the letter think this is adorable. It’s sad! Well, letters written by small children in crayon are always cute, but six day work weeks and a workload that prevents people from taking a vacation are not (and I’m assuming someone who works at Google has a decent amount of PTO, but is too busy to use it). Given that Google’s response was sent to the little girl on her letterhead, it seems like they were not against is being made public. That completely baffles me. Publicizing that employees may get a week or vacation if their loved ones beg for it seems like it might hurt recruiting.

    1. Stephanie*

      I thought it was sad, too! I found publicizing the whole thing really icky as well.

    2. Jamie*

      That’s kind of gross. Leaves me feeling yucky the way I did when I’d watch undercover boss and some struggling min wage employee was given a bajillion dollars and a trip to Paris…sure, they had a sob story but so do all the others and what about making some real changes that would affect the work place at that level and help everyone. Not just you’ve been working so hard without a vacation and you won’t the saddest story contest so you get to be on camera and then take 2 weeks off.

      While nothing changes for anyone else.

      Although if this shit works I’m picking up a box of crayons on the way home – maybe my kids can get me a raise.

      1. MaryMary*

        If someone you managed showed you a letter like this, wouldn’t you feel like total crap? I wouldn’t write a response on company letterhead, I’d go home and try not to cry into my glass of wine. After the tears and wine, I’d start updating my resume.

        1. Jamie*

          Yeah – that conversation would open with why he was telling his kid I didn’t let him take any time off, because if he has time on the books and puts in a request he gets it…so yeah.

          If I worked in a place where I had to work people without vacation and 6 days a week indefinitely I’d join you in the wine (as long as you make mine a french martini) and tears – then we’d be updating together.

          1. MaryMary*

            I used to work at a company where 60, 70, 80 hour weeks were the norm, and PTO freezes were not unheard of (I knew a woman who rescheduled her wedding twice due to project deliverables, but that’s a special kind of dedicated/crazy), so that’s where my mind was. Otherwise, you’re right, it’s poor form to blame your boss for not letting you take PTO if you have the time and haven’t requested it.

      2. Mints*

        I was JUST ranting about undercover bosses. Did you see my comment the other day? I had a similar rant. I’m not accusing you of plagiarism, haha. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was angry for the same reasons

      3. Stephanie*

        Ugh, I’m glad I’m not the only one who dislikes that show. The sob stories make for good TV, but they never address the systemic issues. I also wonder (1) what happens after the worker gets back from Paris, spends the $25,000, etc (because more often than not, there rarely seems to be any sweeping changes) and (2) how the other employees in similar situations feel. Re (2), I’d be pretty grumpy that someone else suddenly got schooling paid for, a free trip, whatever because they “lucked up” and were featured on the show.

        Just the whole show seems like a giant PR campaign for the companies and CEO.

      4. Stephanie*

        Although if this shit works I’m picking up a box of crayons on the way home – maybe my kids can get me a raise.

        I’m going to get my five-year-old cousin to write me a job recommendation in crayon with with appropriate poor penmanship and spelling. “Mr. Hiring Manager, I really want Stephanie to come visit me, but she said she can’t because she is short on money. Can you give her a job at your company so she can bring candy and her dog to visit me?”

    3. Sascha*

      I saw this on a friend’s FB page and it bothered me. It definitely made me rethink applying to Google. Which I have been, because both my husband and I are trying to get new tech jobs.

    4. manomanon*

      I’ve seen this as well and wonder if it’s a department thing. My coworker’s boyfriend works at Google and he’s required to take some percentage of his vacation time every year not for auditing type purposes but because it feeds into this culture and mentality where it nobody takes it so they all look SOOO BUSY. ALL.THE.TIME

    5. Sarah*

      Am I the only grinch wondering how, exactly, the letter got from the little girl to the manager?

      Given that she writes “Dear Google Worker,” she probably didn’t send it herself to the correct person! Hopefully Dad is professional enough not to use a crayon-written letter as a guilt trip bargaining piece when asking for time off. My guess is that the time off was arranged without any children’s letters needed, but the kid wrote it and it was cute, so the guy showed it to his boss and they made it a nice little publicity thing.

  85. Maryann*

    I am looking at applying for a company with 2 job openings, one at a lower level position and one for a team-lead position. I know that this is early in the game, but I was thinking about applying for the lower level position with the team-lead position in mind. Would it be bad form if I were given a job interview and I bring up that I am interested in the team-lead position when being interviewed for the lower level position?

    1. Malissa*

      I just did a similar thing. I wrote my cover letter to actually shoot between the positions. They basically offered me the lower level position with a promise to move up to the upper one.

    2. Jamie*

      Why would you apply for the lower position when you want the other one?

      If you brought that up in an interview my first question would be if you were interested in that why did you apply for this? As long as both were posted before you applied – I can see this if you applied and the other one you felt you were more suited hit later.

      I think you should apply for the position you want. I would think people would be more likely to suggest a lower level position if they saw your resume and it didn’t fit the higher one than vis versa – because there would be a question of confidence and wondering why you shot lower.

      1. Angelfish*

        I’m with Jamie on this–by coming in as an applicant for the lower position you’ve “level-set” yourself at that rank/skill (basically a negative “halo effect”). Far better to apply for the top position and have the lower one suggested but them think of you as in the running for the top.

  86. GoingAnon*

    Some regulars may recognize who I am; I just wanted to anony it up a little out of paranoia. . .

    Over the past two months, I have been working on an internal transfer. It would be a project management position at a sister division (legally different entity, but really the same part of the corporation). I approached this the right way: started with casual conversations with a friend in the department who suggested there might be mutal interest, discussed it with my manager, my manager pinged that department manager (Dom), informal interview, formal interviews. It’s a good fit, they’re excited and I’m excited.

    Last week, Dom met with my boss’s boss (Bob). My boss had let him know what was going on, but screwed up the details. Dom set Bob straight on the details, but Bob concluded that it would be “a long transition period” and they’d have to hire someone to replace me, etc. I work as an analyst on the business side of our division (not a financial or marketing analyst). This is an unusual role in my industry so not easy to fill, and my one colleague within our division is extremely difficult to work with, so doubly not easy to fill this role.

    Bob also wanted to meet with me before anything progressed futher. He’s an SVP, so due to his travel, we didn’t get to meet this week. He just offered to meet with me on SUNDAY, which is kind of alarming. Sunday wasn’t great for me, so we’re meeting Monday.

    No real question here. . .just general WWAAMRD (what would you all do).

    1.) I’m definitely done with the market analyst role. I want to do stuff, not just support others. I’m concerned he will try to keep me permanently, or just much longer than I want to stay. What’s my obligation? I’m afraid the SVP over Dom at the other division could get into a pissing contest with Bob, and I don’t want to burn bridges, as I have a ~10 year professional relationship with both SVPs and both think highly of me.

    2.) If I’m offered another role on the business side (a real promotion), I might consider it, but I’m concerned that the roles would be to travel heavy–I’m at 25% and other roles that I could move to would be like 75-90%. I’m genuinely worried that I could get into some sort of internal counter-offer situation, and I don’t know what is the best for my reputation.

    Feeling very frustrated that this didn’t get resolved this week.

    1. GoingAnon*

      ALSO: 2 other things that are adding to my frustration

      1. It’s worth mentioning that I haven’t had an “annual” review since Nov. 2012. My recent annual self-evals mentioned wanted to look for my next step, but I never got to have the convo with my manager. He is only in our office ~3 days/mo, and he’s often booked up those days. I asked our dept admin & she said he didn’t give anyone formal review meetings last year.

      2. It’s also worth mentioning that I asked Jan. 2012 and Jan. 2013 to hire a third person in our group at a lower level who could take over some of my more repetitive tasks. Bob (who’s giving me a hard time now) was the one who said no. Hmm, yeah, they would be up to speed by now.

      3. I do a lot of work for Bob directly — more than I do for my direct boss. I answer all his questions about developments in our markets and write the presentations that he gives at executive meetings. He can’t stand my coworker, so that’s part of why I’m worried about this. He leans on me heavily.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      How soon does Dom need someone? Does Dom have pull with TPTB? Who makes the final decision? Do they all vote on this or is one person the final decision maker?

      These other positions that require so much travel. I think you have already answered yourself on those. I know I would hate that.

      Your obligation is to you. If they are going to glue you in position until you retire that is something you need to know so you can figure out what you want to do next. I would ask for a time frame. You can’t control what they chose, but you can control your response to it. How long are you willing to wait to transition? How long would it take you to find a job somewhere else? (Second question will help you in figuring out what is reasonable for you to endure.)

      What is best for your reputation ties into your obligation to yourself. Do things with integrity and sincerity. No matter how this plays out sane people will see your integrity and sincerity above everything else. And that is true reputation control. (Don’t talk one way to one person and use a different talk with another person. Be consistent. Refuse to get involved in secrets, backbiting and so on.)

      1. GoingAnon*

        Thank you for your response! Good advice.

        The good news is that I did have the conversation with “Bob” today, and it went better than expected. I will be in my current position through the end of July, so I probably won’t be involved in the search, hiring, or training of the next person in my role. I am writing the job description & advising them on the qualifications/where to look. There was no talk of getting me to stay or other roles in this dept., which was a relief.

        Also, fwiw, I think this is exactly what happened. . .
        No matter how this plays out sane people will see your integrity and sincerity above everything else. Spot on!

  87. Relosa*

    I have so many Work Issues I want to talk about and seek advice on here. It feels like a hundred issues I just don’t know how to deal with. So I’ll just ask about the most pressing one because I can’t do anything about anything else (i.e. new job?) until I have this resolved.

    TL;DR: how do I approach my boss about a raise, in this crazy complicated situation?

    Preface: I’m a manager at an entertainment venue. We work with well-known talent. Small team, about 25-30 total, including managers. Owners run other venues far, far away. They’re not here very often. We also report to senior managers that run other venues but have more corporate authority.

    1) We recently had a huge change in management – our GM was fired in May. That left two managers, myself and K. We now have a new GM, S, who worked with this place before. Right now we are all hourly. No benefits, no PTO, non-tipped. When OldGM was fired, Owner-Boss gave K and I a raise so that we were at equal pay. This was a 20% raise for him, 4% for me.

    When Owner-Boss gave us this raise, he talked about how it was mostly temporary until he settled in with a GM decision and everything – this raise was given right before we brought back NewGM to replace OldGM. Owner-Boss said he wasn’t sure if he’d place one or both of us on salary or increase our rate again at a later date, but didn’t say when. This was the first week of May.

    Our workload has essentially doubled. My role changed and I now handle a whole different aspect of the business. Previously I was our floor manager and handled pretty much our entertainment operations and nightly talent relations. Now I handle daily business stuff, group sales, social media, everything related to our box office, daytime talent relations, and total office and personnel administration – this includes our managers’ office and ALL of our filing and paperwork. On top of that, I do a lot of daily errands and such for Owner-Bosses (they are husband/wife team) and I’m generally on-call for pretty much everything. I’m expected to answer about half of the incoming emails and all calls when I’m not in the office and the expectation is that while I set my own schedule (M-F days, thank the work goddess) I am still supposed to keep it open and flexible in case something happens or we get busy/there’s an emergency and I’m approved for overtime.

    I make $13 hourly doing this. For many reasons I already feel I’m underpaid – there are a few perks but nothing very substantial. I know my price/market value but I know he would never agree to that, essentially though I’d like to ask for a $2ish raise, or move to salary. I’m kind of unsure how to approach him on it. We mostly communicate via email (half of our team is based internationally so it’s the easiest way for all of our management to stay up to date). I have no idea when he’s coming back to this venue. He’s a fair person and I know he’d consider if I could get his attention. Just not sure exactly how to ask/propose – I’m thinking a formal written proposal.

    Any advice? Besides “look for a new job” because I can’t actually afford to right now, though that’s on my list.

      1. LCL*

        Don’t ask to be put on salary unless it is a substantial raise. You are already expected to flex your schedule for this business, and it only gets worse on salary. Which may be worth it, but for a lot more than 13$ an hour.
        Take the paragraph you wrote describing everything you do on the job, expand and polish it. Then ask to have a meeting with him and present it to him. He may not realize all of the duties that you have.

        Decide ahead of time how much of a raise you will ask for. Be willing to negotiate. Aim big-consider asking for a small share of the company. I never did that, because I wasn’t smart enough to when I worked for an owner run business.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You need an assistant to run the office and do some of the smaller tasks. You also need benefits.
          I agree about having a price range in mind when you negotiate- also get them to agree that just because you are salary it is not going to turn into a 24/7 /365 job. Because that sounds like what it will work into.

          I am wondering wth the other two managers do.

          Also look for job opportunities as you go about your day. I know you said that you can’t job hunt right now- but I encourage you to look at everything with fresh eyes. Maybe there is an opportunity right near by and it would require very little effort to investigate.

          1. Relosa*

            I am actively hunting and applying because of the length of the process, but I’m just not in a position to actually leave without an insanely good offer. I’d be grateful to not hear from a possible job for a couple of months because I just have so much going on outside of work.

            The other two managers…one of them is the night time floor manager. Our main business starts operating at 4pm until midnight or later – it’s live entertainment. So floor manager handles all the night time operations. Outside of showtime hours, he also handles food inventory (beverages are left up to our lead bartender, but K double-checks it – all 3 of us managers have authority on it if he’s not available, but it’s primarily K’s responsibility). He also handles all the A/V and showroom maintenance.

            The last manager is the GM-in-training. Right now he’s in the process of taking over media tours (not the social media I do, but with the actual talent we hire), makes final decisions, handles everything K and I don’t have time to do, first contact from Owner-Boss, and generally the final say in just about everything.

            I genuinely like my job and my work, and while my boss is crazy and probably not the best boss ever, I like the guy. But I recognize a sinking ship when I see it. The company has succeeded and will continue to grow, and I’m interested in a career with it – but it could grow better and faster than what it is right now. It’s just seriously dysfunctional to the point that I while I know Owner-Boss wants what it is I have to offer the company, he either isn’t aware of what it will take to get it there or isn’t willing. It’s out of my control.

            Thank you for your response!

    1. Marina*

      Am I correct that new-GM is your direct supervisor right now? If so, I’d talk with them first about a raise. They may have more of an idea what future budget plans are than you do.

      If Owner-Boss is still your supervisor, don’t ask for a raise over email, ask to set up a time to talk over phone. I’d use a phrase something like “to discuss my future career path with company” or along those lines, something to give a heads up that you’ll be asking about a raise.

      If the answer is no right now, ask for a timeline for when it might be considered.

  88. Dustbunny*

    Ugh. This week I
    a) applied to a job I’m really excited about and then
    b) had to email one of the likely interview panellists about an issue to do with my current job and in the process came off as a bit of an idiot.

    Feeling quite imposter syndromey!

  89. HR Noob*

    I’m in the process of redesigning our new hire orientation because our current process sucks–lots of nitty-gritty policy detail that no one needs to hear on their first day and a lack of information about what makes our organization tick. I’m thinking of cutting some of the policy stuff and adding an overview of our organization’s mission and goals, plus some things about organizational culture (like conference room lunches and happy hours). Does anyone have any suggestions on what makes a good orientation, or things an HR rep can do to make new people feel welcome?

    1. Colette*

      Explain policy and culture – benefits, vacation, dress code, etc. – not in great detail, but with enough information that they know where to look.

      Tell them who to ask for what (i.e for HR questions, go here; for IT, go here, if you get locked out of the building, go here ).

      Encourage questions.

      1. azvlr*

        Yes. Encourage questions, but perhaps include a piece where people can ask questions anonymously. There are probably many people with the same question, but don’t want to ask openly for fear of appearing too concerned about “what’s in it for me”.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Some info about IT systems you use
      Where to find office supplies
      Where to get lunch
      Brief outline of what each department does
      How to send out going mail

  90. Blergh*

    I’m in a rotten morale situation at work. Long story short: I’ve had talks with upper management (at their request) about my manager. We even have a supervisor feedback session coming up. I would really like to see them get rid of my manager, but I think they plan to counsel her instead. She’s unprofessional and says inappropriate things. She’s rude to our customers. She isn’t going to change, so I just can’t see any course of action that would rectify the situation other than firing her. Unfortunately, since no one wants her job, I think they are going with the counseling route. Her manager even asked me this week whether it was too late to start over. He told me that he believes you can always start over.

    This job was a career change for me and I have only been in the position for a year and a few months (I was hired under a different manager, who I liked quite a bit). I don’t feel that I have gained enough experience to find another job in this field, but I’m not sure I can go back to my old field after having been away for a year. Also, going back to my prior career would mean a significant drop in income.


    1. AMD*

      Do you know what they meant when they asked if it was “too late to start over?” That sounds strange to me.

      1. Blergh*

        My understanding of the question was whether it was too late to start over with my manager. He had recently sent out a Meyers-Briggs email about who each personality type clashes with, and prefaced the question by saying that one of his annoying traits is that he believes you can always start over.

        He (manager’s manager) is new and is doing side-by-sides with us to help him understand our roles. He was sitting with me when he asked that and my manager happened to walk in right then, so my response was flustered. I know that another coworker was asked the same question. She replied that it was too late.

        1. AMD*

          At least it sounds like new manager is genuinely interested in improving relationships between you all… Hopefully he will also recognize if and when things are too far gone. I can understand wanting to give people a chance to improve though, especially with new management that might hold them to a higher standard.

          1. Blergh*

            I agree. The new upper management has been very supportive. I definitely think they see the problems and it’s just a matter of making it through to resolution. Some days that is very hard!

    2. Laura2*

      That sucks. I was in a similar situation where several of us were asked to speak separately with management about our boss. Nothing changed.

      1. Blergh*

        Oh, that’s so disheartening!

        Just when I resign myself to live with the situation, something else happens and I wonder how no one else can see that the situation is getting worse instead of better!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You CAN start over. But you have to WANT to.

      If a person does not want to, that is the end of that.

      I guess my question to your boss would be about time frame. How long is he willing to wait to see if she will start over? People can change for a week or two, but sustaining those changes is a different story. How long will he wait to see if she is going to sustain those changes?

      How much effort/time is he willing to sink into a person?

      Is nice to believe that people can change. But if you cannot rehab someone at the expense of your staff. Just because he wants to work on someone to be a better employee does not mean his whole staff wants to take on that project, too. (And they will be forced to.) That is not what they were hired for.

      I have seen managers hang on to a person too long because they were going to fix that person. What actually happened instead was the manager lost the respect of her staff.

  91. Relosa*

    IMO the nitty-gritty kind of has to be covered. I think it’s a good idea to start with culture and the uniqueness of the organization, but it defeats the purpose of orientation if these people’s jobs depend on them following and understanding general policy/SOP if it wasn’t covered on their first day. Not that they’re expected to memorize it, but that puts them at a disadvantage.

    1. HR Noob*

      I see what you’re saying, and we’ll definitely be covering the general employee code of conduct, but the sections I’m thinking of cutting are things like mileage reimbursement, which in my opinion would be better referred to on an as-needed basis rather than gone over in excruciating detail on the first day of work. Of course, please correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. De Minimis*

        I would cut things that they aren’t likely to need for a while, but would give them an idea of how to find out the information when they did need it.

        This stuff is really important, it is so frustrating to be a new employee and have no guidance.

        1. HR Noob*

          Would it be helpful to give a super-short overview, then flag the relevant sections in their copy of the employee handbook for their perusal? I’m trying to find a balance between not telling them anything and telling them so much that they forget everything by the time they need to know it.

          1. De Minimis*

            That would be good. The main focus could be on the things they need to know/do right away, and maybe some kind of general outline of the rest of it.

            The worst is when the whole day is spent going over a lengthy handbook page by page…

          2. Daisy*

            Definitely ensure that they know where to find the information, whether it’s on the intranet or a specific department. My current coworkers do not seem to know where to find the online version of the handbook and I know that some of them were given a physical copy (because some were in my orientation day).

            But I agree, they need to know policy and what could get them fired (we fired someone this week for using company property for personal use. I’m being vague about this purposely).

  92. AHK*

    I don’t have much longer to deal with it this time around, but how do you deal with very invasive or personal comments from coworkers during pregnancy? This week, I’ve been asked–since I’m getting close to my due date–if I’ve had any signs of labor. And then this morning another coworker asked me when I was planning to start maternity leave; my response of “when I go into labor” was not enough, because he followed up saying that he wanted to check, because some women like to induce. When people have said these things to me I usually just say something non-committal and walk away or just shake my head and walk away. But clearly that’s not enough, because it keeps happening. Any advice?

    1. Celeste*

      “That’s a personal question, and I’d really rather not discuss it.”

      As far as the questions about when you will be gone, “You will hear about it from my supervisor after I’ve gone; I hope that will be sufficient for you.”

      Sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s one thing to wonder how long to expect you to be gone (since some people do work out a longer time), but nobody should be asking you about signs of labor or induction plans except your doctor or husband!

    2. JoAnna*

      “Why do you ask?” in a bland tone. Then follow up with, “That’s a pretty personal question, don’t you think?”

      1. AVP*

        Yeah…I like “why do you ask” because then if there’s a legitimate business need for him to know (he’s planning to cover part of your role and needs some prep time or something like that) he can say that. And if not, it’s obvious he shouldn’t have been asking.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I like “that’s none of your business”, but I’ve never actually said it.

          “Why do you ask” is great, though. It would be fun to hear how some people justify their bad manners and outright nosiness.

          1. Mallory*

            I have, upon a couple of very egregious invasions into the personal by an already-annoying colleague, responded with a chilly, “Well. That’s MY business, isn’t it.”

            But I would’t use it very frequently or broadly.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      The invasive questions really suck–but the one about starting mat leave I think is different. Many women I’ve known have chosen to stop working a few weeks or so before their due date, just to have some downtime and to have a firm deadline to finish up projects, etc.

      The other questions are for sure out of line, to which “That’s pretty personal” is a good response.

    4. Sabrina*

      One of the etiquette columnists once said that a good response to invasive questions is “If you’ll forgive me for not answering that question, I’ll forgive you for asking it.”

    5. Rebecca*

      Very timely. The lady in the office next door just had a baby on Wednesday, and worked until Tuesday afternoon. There were a few people who were constantly badgering her, so some of us took them aside and basically told them to knock it off, and reminded them that our coworker didn’t need any extra stress and it’s none of our business.

      She had been training people to cover for her for 2 months, so it’s not like it was a huge surprise. There was no work related reason to question her.

      1. Mallory*

        I picture the constant badger-ers like the kids in elementary school who couldn’t stand to not know what was going to happen next, so they were always going to the teacher’s desk and saying, “Mrs. Whatsit, when is such-and-such going to happen?” and “Mrs. Whatsit, what are we going to do after [recess, lunch, social studies, etc.]?”

        I always wondered what they were going to do with the information. I always felt comfortable kind of going with the flow, and felt no worry whatsoever that, whatever was “next”, I would take it as it came and handle it then. Some people always seem to be so worried about what’s next, like their big worry in life is some vague “Next”. Turns out my 13-year-old son has always been kind of like that, so I’m starting to understand that it’s an ingrained personal orientation that, baffling as it’s always been to me, the person who has it can’t help.

  93. Treece*

    I always update my resume when I start a new job but this time I am concerned about my recent work record. Last year I left a position (let’s call it job A) I had been in for 18 months for a job that I only stayed at for 2 months (job B) and then I started my current job in December (job C). 3 jobs in 1 year but no gaps between jobs. I’m not sure how to explain it if I ever needed to. I left job A because it was a very laid back environment and I didn’t have much to do (and job B paid a lot more with more responsibility). The reason I left job B was because it was a very stressful environment that had no on-boarding for new hires. It was in the health insurance field and I was working in IT on the Affordable Care Act software update for our company. While I was there people would come and go quickly. One person stayed 2 days, one stayed 2 weeks and another one stayed 1 month (and there were many more that left quickly during my 2 months there).

    It I say I left job B because it was “not a good fit” I think that could indicate to some interviewers that I was under performing or fired. That is not the case. Is it really ok to say “The position was too stressful due to the fact I was working on the affordable care act implementation. Employees were starting and leaving at a rapid pace which never allowed for the transfer of knowledge” (or something to that effect)? I did use that as a reason for leaving to get the job I have now but this was a special case. I had applied for it early in 2013 and didn’t hear back from them until November so they excused the fact that I was jumping because this is a top employer where I live.

    Recently I heard one of my bosses say she doesn’t have any work to do and it made me think that my job could be in jeopardy. So I want to be prepared just in case. It may seem that I am overthinking it but my instincts are good and they tell me to be prepared.

    1. Perplexed Ex-Percolator*

      Wow, you and I are kind of in the same boat, except I haven’t found my Job C yet. In your case, you could say quite truthfully that the job environment not at all what you had been led to believe, so you decided to move on. You can provide further details if the interviewer asks.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t think you need to go into that much detail. I think “the job was extremely high stress with almost no onboarding or support for new hires, and I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be a good fit for me” is sufficient.

      Unless the next job you apply for is also in healthcare, I would not even mention that you were doing ACA-related work (unless asked directly). Too much of a hot button.

  94. Daisy*

    Have a rant…
    I applied to a company and they contacted my current employer despite me saying not to contact. Thanks for potentially jeopardizing my job! You know what this does? Makes me think of ways to lie on my application about current employer. Although really, the cat is out of the bag now.

    1. Anon1234*

      That sucks. I’d never want to work for them. I had someone do that to me- I rejected the interview and kept looking. They suck.

      1. Daisy*

        Yeah, I’m not sure I want to work there regardless of this nice little incident.
        I have these scenarios in my head where I give them what-for.

  95. Perplexed Ex-Percolator*

    Resume and interview questions here. What are the implications of leaving your last job off your resume, if you were only there a couple of months?

    Recently I left a contract position with TeapotsR Us and, on a referral, accepted a promising-sounding full-time job with Percolators Plus, Inc. Unfortunately, I soon found out that the work environment and job duties were not even remotely what I had been led to believe, despite my due diligence. For example, we were stuck with a vendor who kept sending us defective percolator parts, and then would lie about doing so. The team lead would get into shouting matches with them on the phone for two hours at a time–all about four feet away from me. I let the lead know that the job wasn’t what I expected and I was seeking other employment, and I was let go at the end of their standard probationary period, much to my relief. It was such an unpleasant experience that I do not list the position on my LinkedIn profile: I don’t want to keep seeing Percolators Plus employees pop up in the People You May Know section, nor do I want to be contacted for other positions that require percolator experience.

    I don’t want to list the job on my resume either, but I’m concerned that if I don’t list it, the interviewer will ask if I’m still with TeapotsR Us, and then I will have to explain that no, I took a job with Percolators Plus that didn’t work out, it lasted only two months, etc. etc… It will sound really hinky, as if I’m trying to hide something. What does everyone suggest?

    1. Trixie*

      No need to include. If it was contract work at TeapotsR Us, I think that’s pretty self-explanatory. Did the contract come to an end on its own or did you resign specifically for new position? If its the latter, just be prepared to explain why you left a contract job and what’s you been doing since then. Searching for full-time employment, etc.

      1. Perplexed Ex-Percolator*

        I resigned the contract position specifically for the percolator position. In retrospect, I just realized something: the way I listed my TeapotsR Us employment dates on my resume actually DOES make it look like I’m hiding something–I had left the months off and just listed the years. I just fixed that.

  96. Bend & Snap*

    I have a question–how important is email management for an employee?

    I have an employee on a long vacation who didn’t put on her out of office. I had to get her password and check her email for any requests that may have come in and not been answered.

    She’s been having performance problems to begin with (including dropping the ball on assignments)–and I found a complete mess of an inbox. No filing system and there were 35,000 unread emails.

    I realize everyone handles their mail differently but this looked like total chaos and I don’t feel confident that she’s equipped to stay on top of things.

    My boss thinks that it’s her email and her business, but I’m appalled.

    Am I overreacting?

    1. AVP*

      It totally depends…my email might look disorganized from the outside, but it makes perfect sense to me and I can find almost anything immediately upon request. But I don’t have performance issues. In this case, it may be a factor in the problems you’re having with her, so it seems totally legit to bring up. In fact, if this is part of her problem, it’s a pretty simple one to fix so you might be in really good shape for having noticed it. I would work with her to get it organized, follow up to make sure it stays that way (i.e., she’s not just fixing it for your benefit this one time), and then see if you feel any more confident and if she’s performing better.