open thread – July 11, 2014

Olive upside downIt’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.

{ 949 comments… read them below }

    1. Ali*

      I’m starting to use Wunderlist, though that’s more of an App. I’m not sure if it’s available for Windows, but I need help managing my workload, and a contact encouraged me to start making a schedule every day so I can stay on point. I heard of Wunderlist through another site originally, so I put the app on my comp and phone and am using that. You can check off what’s done as you get through your list. I’ve only been taking my contact’s advice for a day, so no success story yet really, but it seems effective!

      1. Relosa*

        we use Wunderlist religiously – but I don’t use it as a calendar either, just a task/project list

    2. Labratnomore*

      We use Cozi for our personal calandar at home. It works well because you can have the entire family in it and see everyone’s schedules. I think it would work for samll businesses as well, but it certainly isn’t designed to be used by large groups of people. We have Lotus notes at work.

    3. Im Awesome*

      I use the sunrise app but i think they have a desktop version now..it does link with google calendar and ical though…I like it…when apple updated their calendars i hated it so I use this now.

      Another cool feature is super.cc you forward emails with events to an email address and they put them on your calendar for you so you don’t have to get out of your email to do it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I use something at home called VueMinder Lite. That’s the free version, but it has a paid one as well. I like it because it does popup reminders like Outlook, though it’s not hooked to my email.

      I also like that it adds geek holidays. So Pi Day, Star Wars Day, Hobbit Day, etc. all show up. And phases of the moon. :)

    5. C Average*

      This is interesting. Do you all use Outlook and/or Google as well? We use Outlook for email at work and do our calendaring there, too. I don’t necessarily love Outlook’s calendar function, but I don’t think I could keep two calendars straight. Do the other calendars sync with Outlook?

      A related question: Does anyone here still use a paper planner? I used to use one, and I remember feeling more on top of things. I’m thinking of getting one again.

  1. MMouse*

    Does anyone here work in regulatory affairs? Specifically post-market regulatory for medical devices? I’d like to hear what it is like at other companies. :)

    1. Stephanie*

      I don’t, but I’m interested in that area, so I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread.

      1. MMouse*

        I’m fairly new to medical device regulatory affairs, but if you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.

        1. Stephanie*

          Thanks for the offer! If you’re still open, you can email me at stephanie dot m dot jennings at gmail dot com.

  2. Stephanie*

    I’m feeling a bit attacked at work. For some reason, everything I say is criticized as “too mean” or “too offensive.” I was even spoken with once by my boss (who only did so at the request of her boss who happened to overhear the conversation). That time, though no one was offended, I was told to be more watchful about phrasing just in case someone did get offended.

    That’s fine. I know right word choices or perhaps a tone can be perceived in an unintended manner. But that was nearly a year ago and ever since then I’ve tried to be hyper aware of little things because, to my knowledge, though people often say rude or even mean things to me publically, I’m the only one to be chastised.

    But most of the incidences aren’t for things I deserve to be spoken to about. Here’s my most recent example. A co-worker said goodbye as she walked toward the elevator. Twenty minutes later she walked by my desk and I said, with a surprised tone, “I thought you went home!” Another co-worker made under-the-breath comments about me being “overly sarcastic” and how she tries to “keep snark to a minimum.”

    How do I respond to things like this? It’s an open office so I can’t pull someone to the side and say, “hey, I don’t think I was being rude and you’re hurting my feelings by judging everything I say negatively” without it being REALLY public. It feels like my only other option is to just…stop talking.

    1. Ms. Anonymity*

      There’s a really good book out there called How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you haven’t read it, it’s a must read. I too struggle with coming across negative as I see things in a very black/ white way. I’m also very unemotional at work and expect people just to do their jobs and not become offended at every little thing. People have definitely taken offense to the things I’ve said/ done when I’ve in no way intended offense. That book has really helped me change my way of thinking and the way I interact with people. Good luck!

      1. Stephanie*

        Thank you! I’ve heard of it but not read it. With such a positive review, I’ll have to look into it.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          This book has been a must-read for several decades (I think it was first published around 1940). It stays relevant because it addresses the basic how-to steps in good communication. You can get it from the library – it’s still on their shelves.

      2. Puddin*

        To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink is another book source. It focuses about how to motivate people to see things ‘your way’. But I think there are some good ideas about how to approach people and how to be approachable.

        good luck!

        1. C Average*

          Dan Pink is wonderful!

          His book “Drive” is a favorite of mine.

          He also did this fantastic series of podcasts called “Office Hours.” He used to produce them regularly; now he only updates once in a while, on no apparent set schedule. They’re basically extended interviews with business thought leaders (ugh, that phrase!), and they’re really interesting and well done.

    2. Jennifer*

      This sounds like one of those “bitchy resting face” sorts of things. I have been having issues with that.

      I hate to say it, but you might have to act more “girly” and friendly and smiley when you are spreaking. And…well, just plain talk less. Because I’m with you on “I thought you went home” isn’t offensive, but the offense is in the eye of the beholder and not your intent, unfortunately. And once you get the bad reputation, everyone is always nitpicking you about it. :(

      1. Stephanie*

        It’s true I do have resting bitch face and I have tried hard to counteract that by being friendly and complimentary to my co-workers.

        It’s those darn times when I’m not feeling angry or super happy that seem to catch me. I’m not sure if my current problem stems from the fact that I’ve already got the angry face or if it’s because they expect me to always be overly sweet now.

        1. Lisa*

          I had a co-worker from the mid-west that I thought she was snooty, but it was just a tone that I wasn’t used to. Are you not from the area where you work? Also, you might have been pegged as negative and might not be able to get away from that no matter how hard you try. Because one bad day or one more comment in a year of overt sweetness and careful kind responses is all it takes for an old reputation to be viewed as ‘continuous’. If you are still being spoken to, you have to ask your bosses if they recognize the effort you put in to not rock the boat or are they still only recognizing when you slip. If its the latter, you are prob hurting your chances of promotions, raises, and good work. Might be time to start fresh elsewhere if you can.

          1. Stephanie*

            I’m from the midwest and working on the east coast! That may be part of it, I suppose. I’ll admit to looking elsewhere, but I’ve started wondering if I can expect anything different if I did switch things up. Every office has it’s issues and mine could be a lot worse, I suppose.

            1. Lisa*

              Yup, I am in Boston and I totally took her mid-west accent / tone to be snooty and once I got to know her, I realized it wasn’t the case just how she conveys things in a slower, careful manner. I thought it was condescending, because I was used to straight forwardness / get to the point.

              But it could be dif, cause you are aware of it, but with no ‘negative’ history that can be brought up again and again.

            2. LBAI*

              I have the same problem. Only I’m a Midwesterner who relocated to the South. The expectations down here (especially of women) are so different than the Midwest. I’m not the smile pretty and clutch your pearls type, so it really tends to “offend” most (especially men) in my office. I just try to smile and bite my tongue a lot.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Could also be that nothing you say or how you say it will change anything. You may be a victim of what I like to call annoyance breathing. People got offended (fairly or not) by what you said previously so now ANYTHING you say is taken badly. It’s like when you dislike someone and suddenly everything about them is annoying, even the way they breathe. In that case, you might consider job hunting because it may just be a bad fit that can’t be fixed.

          1. Jean*

            I _love_ your expression “annoyance breathing.” So true and so sad to be stuck with this attitude.

      2. Relosa*

        This. I’m dealing with something at work that is pretty much the result of a terrible culture and out-of-control gossip. It’s gotten to the point if I mention a certain person’s name – no matter what it is – it’s immediately seen as me being negative about this person. To the point that for the past couple months people have been starting rumors about me. I work by myself during the day and only mention this person in passing with no negative intention or disrespect. Done with it.

      3. Vicki*

        “you might have to act more “girly” and friendly and smiley when you are speaking. ”

        I’m gonna go with “not talking”. It’s simpler.

        When you get to people complaining that Stephanie is so quiet, she never says much, you’ll win.

    3. Kay*

      This is a time when tone and inflection can make ALL the difference. “I thought you went home” with a downward inflection and/or a suspicious look can come across as snarky where “I thought you went home” with an upward inflection sounds like a surprised question.

      Also, the under-breath “I try to keep snark to a minimum” should be called out. If she does it again, I would call her out and say something like, “I would really appreciate if you have a problem with something, if you would say something to me directly instead of making rude comments under your breath.” But I would do this directly to her, and not in public, but pull her aside.

      1. Cat*

        This sounds like a tone and inflection issue to me too. I work with someone who makes everything sound like an insult (e.g., “You’re wearing summery colors today,” sounds like “I can’t believe you’re wearing that ridiculous bright sweater; how unprofessional.”) I don’t think she’s trying to be insulting, though, to be honest, I’ve never been entirely sure. I think what’s going on is that she’s not aware of how she’s inflecting what she says. But man do you always feel attacked when you talk to her.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Someone here is like that–I can never tell if she is being snarky or not. She reminds me of queen bee types, but if she is one, it’s very subtle. I’m just nice and sweet and friendly to her all the time, in case she ever turns on me.

      2. Stephanie*

        There is mostly one main woman who adds her comments or makes me second guess everything I say. I did, once, have the opportunity to say something privately about not liking her comments and she laughed it off. “Oh, you know me! So full of snark!”

        There’s not really an HR to discuss this with either. I think my main option is to speak less, which is not ideal for a place I spend most of my waking hours…

        1. fposte*

          So it’s either this one person or that specific incident with the boss’s boss (was that a comment to that one person)? Then I’d put my energy into my relationships with other co-workers and keep her at a cordial professional distance with no spontaneous remarks.

          1. Stephanie*

            It’s mostly the one woman who takes offense on behalf of everyone else, but that’s not to say one or two of my other, mouthier co-workers, don’t also make comments to me. The incidence last year didn’t involve her at all though.

            Honestly, maybe they’re kidding? It doesn’t feel like it and their tone doesn’t imply it, but with how often they’re casually rude or “jokingly” offensive, I don’t understand why they would honestly find my benign comments distasteful.

    4. fposte*

      Consider also the possibility that there’s a balance issue going on–that it’s not that what you say is so negative in its own right, it’s that you don’t have that many outright positive interactions with people to frame such comments as innocuous. (You also have no idea if you’re the only one to be chastised or not, because that’s the kind of thing that often happens privately.)

      I like the Dale Carnegie idea and maybe some other suggestions will come up as well; I think it would be good for you to think of this as getting some important information about an area you’re not succeeding in at work rather than people misconstruing you. It feels a lot more powerful to say “I can change this” than “People are picking on me.”

      1. MaryMary*

        Balancing your interactions occurred to me too. If you’re pretty self-contained and the only time you talk to people is about serious topics, then you’re more likely to be perceived as mean or cold. Make an effort to say hi to people when you pass them in the halls, make small talk with your coworkers, ask how their weekend or vacation was, etc.

        1. Stephanie*

          No, I’ve been told I’m one of the friendlest people in the office. I work hard to seem interested when talking to co-workers about their babies and dogs, etc., both of which I’m not personally interested in.

          Actually, perhaps they feel they hear too much of my voice, which is where the aggravation comes from? I dislike lengthly, repeated, confusing emails when a 5 minute conversation takes a quarter of the time, so I’m the person who tends to just get up and walk the 15 feet to the other person’s desk….

        2. Angora*

          Sometimes it’s hard for someone who doesn’t like socializing at work with others, wants to keep on task and get home to their family to cross over into friendly territory.

          I had a boss like that, a few people were afraid of him. I thought he was fine but he was one of those that wouldn’t open up until he knew you for six months or so. Sometimes all you need to do is bring in donuts every 3 – 4 months. Sometimes a small gesture will help others warm up to you.

          But each office has a personality, and you’ll have particular individuals where they bleed their negativity or happiness all over the place. The happiness is great, but a constant sour presence can eat at morale.

    5. Snork Maiden*

      If you are an under-35 woman like me, sometimes, I think there is a gender and age factor in this, in that younger women are socialized to be pleasant so any comment that isn’t immediately interpreted as nice tips the scale to Defcon 5.

      You have two options here: either you are unintentionally coming off as bitey – (I have this problem too, people have said I’m too mean or attacky when I think I’m just having a spirited back-and-forth) – or the office has decided you are going to be the target for displaced irritation. If it’s the first you have to recalibrate your internal snarkometer (or find people who have the same sarcasm level as you) and if it’s the second, well, AAM has some advice for that ;).

      1. Snork Maiden*

        ETA, if it’s just the one person who is “snarking” you in her own words, I second the suggestion above about pulling her to the side. It’s not cool to let her think that it’s ok to treat you that way.

      2. Lisa*

        I don’t think there is a age limit to this at all. I think a lot of women are treated this way for when you give constructive feedback as a manager and suddenly deemed ‘bossy’ / defcon5. Like doing your job by managing = bossy. And bossy tends to = negative.

        I love that defcon5 ref, I will totally use it from now on.

        1. Snork Maiden*

          Oh for sure! I didn’t want to generalise to all women because my experiences are limited. I should have put “and/or” in there.

      3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        yes. yes. yes. yes. I really want to believe that we are past gender issues at work, and i try to not think about those things. but I’ve heard negative feedback about things I’ve said, and then later heard a man in a similar position say something similar but in a more direct/rude/assertive/non-inclusive way and thought “I could NEVER get away with that”. It’s frustrating. And – I really want to believe that these aren’t gender issues, but there’s some element of that for me, at least.

    6. OhNo*

      Is this the kind of office that would respond well to calling out those comments, or no? For example, in the situation you mentioned, if you said out loud, “Sorry, (person who mumbled under their breath), I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic. I was just surprised because Jane had said goodbye to me already.”

      It sounds to me like part of the problem is that people aren’t saying this directly to you, and instead are going to your boss and complaining. If they confront you directly, it is much easier to say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound mean/offensive/sarcastic, I was just surprised/in a rush/being silly. I’ll try to be more careful how I phrase things in the future.”

      I wonder if part of this is, as Jennifer suggested, the verbal tone version of “bitchy resting face”, and your coworkers just aren’t used to your personality and way of speaking.

      1. Stephanie*

        I guess the whole thing is a bit confusing for me. I’ve worked here about 2 years with all the same small people. There’s maybe 10 in-office. It’s true, in the last year I’ve let more of my “outside” personality show through in the workplace in response to my co-workers doing the same. Mostly just joking comments and never something that is mean or joking bullying. I actually work hard to still maintain a professional image.

        That’s looking to be a bit of a mistake. Any small sign of weakness is still weakness…

        I’ve got a male co-worker who jokingly, publically calls me a bitch for minor things like saying I don’t like going to the beach when we discuss weekend plans. I’ve never spoken like that to a co-worker, so it confuses me that everything about me seems meaner than someone like him making comments like that. Somehow, how I am perceived seems to have shifted and I can’t quite pinpoint why.

        1. OhNo*

          Wow, that is really weird. This sounds more and more like some weird culture mis-match that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I’m going to second what fposte said up-thread: if there is one specific person who is the one taking offense so frequently, try being as professional as possible around her and not engaging in anything that might be misconstrued in any way.

          As for everyone else making comments… yeesh. You are clearly more forgiving than I am, because the first time anyone called me a bitch, joking or not, I would go through the roof.

          Just a thought, but is it possible that your coworkers think you are stuck up or rude because you don’t joke with them the same way the joke with you? (Not that you should mimic their joking style, because calling a coworker a bitch is just… so not okay. But I wonder if your non-participation has them thinking of you as an outsider.)

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, it’s a tough one, because another possibility is that she’s making jokes that co-workers aren’t finding funny, much as she didn’t find it funny when her co-worker called her a bitch. (And agreed that this is deeply inappropriate whether as a joke or not.)

        2. Jazzy Red*

          Don’t let anyone call you a bitch. They might pretend they’re joking, but they’re not. It’s a nasty word and is always insulting (and it’s always meant to be insulting). Frankly, I think the next time he calls you that, you should call him out on it, in front of everyone (“what did you just call me? Why would you say something so insulting to me?”).

        3. The Real Ash*

          Whoa, he calls you a bitch at work? And has done so more than once? You need to shut that shit down immediately. That shouldn’t have happened more than once (let alone at all ever). It doesn’t matter if it’s a joke or not; that’s a gendered insult and doesn’t belong in workplace conversations for any reason.

          The next time he does it, you need to very specifically say, “Do not call me a bitch. That is unacceptable and I do not appreciate being insulted in the workplace.” If he tries to turn it around on you by saying common stuff like “I was just joking / lighten up / can’t you take a joke?” that people do to women all the time, you need to shut that down too. “Jokes are supposed to be funny / insults aren’t jokes / etc.” Then I would report him. And then I would get the fuck out of Dodge because that place sounds awful.

      1. Stephanie*

        She hates her job. It’s true, that kind of issue can bring out a lot of mean while at work.

    7. Bea W*

      WTH is that? I’ve said the same thing, and never gotten that response. I usually hear something like, “I forgot my phone.” or “No, I’m here until 4:00. I just had to run to the store for a minute.”

    8. snapple*

      Unfortunately, I can’t offer any advice but I can definitely empathize. I went through the same thing at my old job. I consider myself a kind person but when people ask for my advice or opinion, I don’t mince works and say what I think (i.e. When asked, I’ll state why I don’t think a new proposed process is efficient.). Apparently for my coworkers at the time, that was considered being too mean. My boss even told me that I was too direct because I didn’t use filler phrases like “um” or “lol” in conversation or email and that I should start adapting my communication style to the culture. I immediately left that place.

      1. MandyBabs*

        Good call. If a boss ever told me something like that, I’d leave too. “Oh could you please put some non threatening fillers that society dictates women should have, but then we call out for not being strong/assertive enough? Mkay, thanks.”

    9. soitgoes*

      It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn too. Basically, don’t say anything unnecessary. You shouldn’t have said, “Oh I thought you went home already!” at all. Don’t pick apart the nuances in inflection. Simply avoid saying it. People kind of freak out about observational stuff like that. It makes them feel like you’re watching them too closely or expecting explanations for stuff that isn’t your business.

      My mom used to do that to me. “Oooooooh, you’re dressed really nicely. Are you going out? Who with? Where do you kow them from?” etc., etc. It made me avoid sharing anything with her for a long time because I knew the conversation would never end with just one question. And even though the statements were technically neutral and spoken in a cheerful tone, the experience was negative for ME. You might be very nice, but you’re coming on way too strong and possibly showing too much interest in things that aren’t your business.

      1. Stephanie*

        That’s certainly something to consider! Though the person who made the negative comment to me wasn’t the one I’d made the initial comment to (I commented to worker A and worker B made the remark), perhaps she was being defensive on behalf of co-worker A? Maybe she felt like was was being too nosy in general.

        This is a really good point.

        1. fposte*

          Another possibility–are you at a reception desk or other location where people have to walk by you a lot? Do you need to ignore them more often when they do? A lot of people really start feeling uncomfortably observed if they can’t go to the bathroom or the door without getting commented on. (One of my major receptionist skills was looking pleasantly away from people as they wandered to and fro in the hallway.)

          1. soitgoes*

            Yeah, that’s actually how I learned not to comment on other people’s normal actions. You can’t even say “hi” and “bye” to your coworkers as they come and go. People react really negatively to the expectation of a conversation when they’re not prepared to have one.

            1. Stephanie*

              No, that makes complete sense! I’m not in a main area or functioning as a receptionist, but I’ve felt a bit annoyed with a co-worker in the past always commenting on my comings and goings.

              1. soitgoes*

                Ah, so you’ve been on the other side of it. That can be helpful when correcting your own flubs. I wouldn’t beat yourself up over this though, since it comes from a place of friendliness. It’s just how office cultures are.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Your work sounds like it’s full of immature idiots. And that bitch comment should have been addressed right off. If he says anything like that again, please promise me you’ll call him out on it. “Dude, really? What did you just call me?” That is uncalled for and unacceptable.

          1. PJ*

            This. Really, it sounds like you work with a bunch of crazies. Stop trying to make them happy. Nod, smile, and keep your head down.

      2. In progress*

        Oh, interesting! This is the kind of stuff my mom has encouraged me to do since I’m very reserved. She wants me to build a rapport with my co-workers so she thinks I should comment on stuff like this and get to know them. Which feels uncomfortable to me. I prefer to stay polite and professional. On the other hand, I’ve been warned I come off as aloof.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      A couple of thoughts:

      How about Toastmasters? If you go, tell them that you think you should learn to modulate your voice better and have tighter control over your inflections.
      If you do this, I would mention it to the boss.

      This woman that was in a lather about your comment to the returning employee- is annoying. I would be inclined to say “No, that is not where my head is at. I am not being snarky. In the future please ask me what I mean by something, don’t assume you know.
      Or tell her, “Gee, person A did not seem offended by it?” Then turn to person A and say “I did not mean anything offensive.” In other words cut her out of the loop. You were not talking to her in the first place. With this attitude, this woman will absolutely shut down all conversation in the office when she is present.

      The bitch comment. Well. It could be that this person talks to everyone that way. Sometimes I put it in context and just decide it’s not a battle I want to get involved in. Some work environments see a lot of that type of remark. The next time you get a bitch comment try something along the lines of “oh well” and walk away. Let him see the convo ends when he uses a cuss word on you. Or you could go the opposite way and say “Just because I don’t do x does not make me a bitch.”

      I have hit those work places where people just complain and complain. It could be that you need to move on. One place I worked I was in one department. I got along well with everyone. Then I got a promotion to another department and the wheels fell off. Every. Single. Thing. I said resulted in the boss sitting me down. Honestly, I never worked in a place where saying “Good morning” was an issue before this.
      The punchline of my story is that the boss had me in a place where I would never, ever do anything right. I knew my words would not hold up to this scrutiny. Things got twisted around to infer something that I never even thought of. Who thinks of this stuff?
      I got out. It was a quality of life issue at that point. I went to work every day with my stomach in knots.

      Reading your post here, I am wondering if your immediate boss might work into an ally if you bring him in the loop at some point.

    11. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      There are a lot of really helpful comments here, and I think it’s awesome that you’re taking them to heart. I also want to add to the mix that sometimes people just get painted with a certain brush because one random person starts it (because you remind them of their ex, or grandma, or dog sitter, etc), and then others can become pretty dedicated to seeing you that way too, without really thinking about it. There might be an element of the feedback you’re hearing that’s a trend or contagious thing in your office. Maybe there IS something you can do to change it, but don’t lose yourself, your personality, and what makes you unique in the process. In any case, I’m sorry. This is stressful.

  3. Ali*

    Has anyone else ever felt like it’s hard to focus at work when you know you are looking for a job and want to get out of your current position? I’m going through this right now. I made up my mind in April/May that I wanted to look elsewhere, and ever since then, I haven’t been able to focus much. I kind of want to do the bare minimum and not take on anything extra. But at the same time, I can’t let my game slip because we get performance reviews every few weeks and continued improvement/consistency are expected from my managers. If I start slacking, they’ll know something is wrong, even if they don’t come out and ask if I’m job searching.

    My schedule also keeps moving around with people on vacations, including the fact that Wedding Coworker (who I’ve expressed my annoyance of many times) has finally left for his wedding and honeymoon. It’s hard to maintain any kind of rhythm, and it’s another reason why I want to quit.

    No one at work knows I’m job searching, and yes I know I can’t quit until I find anything else. How can I keep my energy up when I feel like I’m halfway out the door?

    1. LCL*

      Performance reviews every few weeks!? Continued improvement expected from your managers?

      The place you are working is insane. If you can look at your job as a temporary assignment, that might make it easier to stay motivated.

      1. Ali*

        Yes we have reviews every three weeks/twice a month. I want to note for clarification that this is not only me that is on these and I’m not on any kind of PIP. Everyone on my team goes through this and areas for improvement are noted for the next cycle. When I didn’t get another job within my company, one of the managers who does the reviews did mention that I should be taking my reviews to heart and that sometimes I’m “inconsistent.” I’m an editor so inconsistent for me is having one good review, then a few days later, I got e-mailed b/c I left behind two typos in a piece, and another manager was CC-ed on the e-mail. These typos were nothing damaging to our brand or majorly out of place, but I got notified anyway. It can be stressful because not even editors are perfect, but I feel like I have to be as close to it as possible or else I’m hearing about it.

        1. Managee*

          I think if you reread this note for attitude, you might find a bit of where your negative review comments are coming from. It doesn’t matter whether the typos were damaging or major, they were there. You’re an editor, and catching them is your job.

    2. Jennifer*

      Well, technically you’re NOT halfway out the door. You are firmly behind the door, which is locked at the moment. I think you just have to remind yourself that for right now you’re stuck and you need to focus on keeping the job that you have. Reserve those thoughts for after 5 o’clock.

      1. De Minimis*

        I’m in a similar position, just not really into my job because I’m waiting to hear about another position.

        I’ve decided to just try and “fake it” and maybe push a little harder while I’m here, to avoid the impression that I just let everything slide right before I left…and if I end up having to be here longer than I’d planned, then no harm done.

      2. Xay*

        Exactly. I’m in a similar position and I have to constantly remind myself that I can only work the job I have. I also want to make sure that if/when the time comes to move on, I can leave with a good record and no loose ends.

    3. Labratnomore*

      This is a great question; I have the same issues (thus why I am reading AAM rather than working right now). I don’t have much for solutions though, but I do try to set a minimum amount of work I expect to get done in a day and force myself to stay until it is finished. That helps a little, but mostly just makes we work faster at the end of the day. Good luck!

    4. Elizabeth*

      Yes. Yes. Yes. I have a job interview today (third/final round, between me and one other candidate), and it’s taking all I have to focus on my current job duties.

      Even worse is the guilt. My boss was just asking me earlier this week to take on new duties. While I appreciate that she trusts me with it, I’m obviously actively looking and hope to have a new position in the near future, and it’s not the type of environment in which I feel comfortable having a candid discussion about job searching. I tried to delegate it as much as possible (“I’d be happy to coordinate–in fact, [part time employee] Apollo has mentioned he has an interest in teapot flavoring–perhaps we can work together on it.”

      Anyway, sorry for the personal aside. I would say, if you’re a list-maker, create daily lists of tasks and stick to them. It’ll make you feel like you’re getting stuff done. If you have free time, begin paving the way for your exit, creating documents of procedure, passwords, and other info that you manage.

      Good luck.

    5. Relosa*

      I’m in a similar position – my best advice is to remember that the reference is worth the effort. Think about why it is you’re leaving, and why it is you accepted the job at the outset. Try to focus on the things you do like about your work and what initially brought you to it (even if it was just a paycheck). That’s what I do with mine. I know that while I’m committed to leaving here and moving forward with my career, that this is a very valuable business relationship and I definitely do not want to burn bridges or leave a bad taste in my boss’ mouth when I am finally able to turn in my resignation.

      Like Alison has said in the past, they are still paying you right now to do the job they’ve assigned you, and you owe it to them to continue doing it. It sucks, but I have to remember that too.

      Hang in there!

    6. spocklady*

      I guess I’m thinking about it as, I’m emotionally disengaged, and I don’t labor under the misapprehension that I can change things anymore, but. A) I don’t know how long it will be until I can find something new (could be two months, could be a year), and B) my resume and cover letters will look much better the more projects/successfully completed projects I can talk about. So that’s kind of helping.
      I guess I’m looking at work now as an investment in my future more than I’m looking at it as what benefits MPOW, which makes me really sad, but it’s helping me keep my head in the game.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      If I know my mind/heart is not in a job anymore, I make myself check everything twice before I pass it on. I call it protecting myself. I don’t want to leave with a list of a thousand problems that I caused. (Problems real or imagined- does not matter.)

      Do what you got to do to protect your good name.

    8. C Average*

      I wouldn’t assume that no one at your work knows you’re job searching. Colleagues can be amazingly adept at sensing lowered engagement and picking up on subtle cues. I can’t think of a single time a colleague has left my workplace that I’ve been truly, completely, caught by surprise. There are always telltale signs.

      I find that the most powerful incentive to stay engaged in my work when I’ve mentally moved on is to think about the problem from an integrity perspective. I was hired to come to work and bring my best attitude and capabilities. As long as I’m collecting a paycheck, I need to keep doing that. My employer is holding up its end of the bargain. I need to hold up mine, too. I try to keep that mentally front and center. If that fails, I think about all the unemployed people who’d line up to apply for my job if it were open. Then I let the guilt motivate me!

  4. learning*

    Has anyone done a degree entirely online? Do you think it was as good as doing the degree in person? Good schools like Queens University offer online degrees so I was considering going somewhere like that.

    I’m also curious about continuing education certificates (also online) Are those useless? I want to switch careers.

    1. cuppa*

      I’ve done solely online classes, but not an entire degree online. There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks, and it’s not for everyone.
      It’s good that you are checking the quality of the school before you consider it.
      I was working two jobs when I got my degree, and probably the best part about online classes is that you could do your work whenever it was convenient for you. I could do schoolwork at midnight, or two in the afternoon, or whenever. Usually you had a week or two to complete your lessons or assignments but when you did them during that week was up to you. However, you really have to be self-motivated to keep up with the work and some people can struggle with that.
      The biggest drawbacks are the lack of face-to-face interaction and learning. If you are someone who has trouble retaining information you have read, it will be a struggle. Most classes have discussion boards to mimic the class discussion, but to me it just wasn’t the same.
      I don’t know a whole lot about continuing education certificates. I think it would depend on the field. I would look at job descriptions in your chosen field and see if they require a certificate to get a better feel if it would be useful to you.

      1. Kayza*

        On big improvement I’ve seen over the years is a huge increase in various forms of media available. For some classes I had to find it myself, but for others it was part of the course. So even though you weren’t in a classroom, you could listen to or watch an instructor go through whatever it was.

        I’m a reader, and do very very well with that in most cases. But, for one course, I didn’t do any reading at all. I downloaded a set of podcasts (from a different college on the same course) and listened to that on my commute for a few weeks. It saved me TONS of time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This helped me a lot with my last class–the design one. The instructor made videos that we accessed through the Blackboard site. It was a great supplement to the reading, because the static images in the book weren’t conducive to my understanding. But her videos used different examples and she explained it a little more plainly than the book, so I was able to see what the text was talking about much better. And when we were doing the InDesign unit, the step-by-step helped a LOT.

          You can always email with questions, but it’s a toss-up whether you’ll get a professor who answers them in a timely manner.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I did half of my Master’s online. I only switched because my circumstances changed and I had the opportunity to reduce tuition by going in-person to a state school. (So, I have the pleasure of having the perspective of pursuing the same degree both online and in person.) I enjoyed the online program and enjoyed the flexibility of being able to do the work and watch/read the lessons on my own time. So long as you are comfortable with the technology and have the discipline to do the work on your own, I feel that it was just as educational as the in-person program. A lot of grad work, in my opinion, is that you get out of it what you put into it. (To be honest, the online program was significantly more rigorous than the in-person, so I think I would have actually learned more if I stayed in the online program.)

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Obviously (from my username) I’m not in the US, so I am not sure if it works the same way as over here (it’s probably quite different to be honest but oh well!) but I am currently studying with the Open University for a degree and I am enjoying it very much. There is a combination between online resources and tutorials and sometimes tutorials or day schools where you meet somewhere in real life (tends to be a Saturday). I also found the fb groups for my courses valuable and I know of some people studying the same thing around the same place meeting up between themselves (rather than an “official” tutorial).

      1. Lisa*

        I did my Master’s with the OU and enjoyed it thoroughly. I really do think the world has come around to recognizing those degrees as valid. Plus, I really liked the asynchronous communication and not having to go sit in a classroom was a huge benefit, as a working professional with a travel schedule…

    4. JMegan*

      I did part of a degree online. That is, the degree program itself was entirely online, but I didn’t finish it.

      It was a Masters program through University of Victoria (BC). I really enjoyed it – I liked the combination of structured work and working at my own pace, and I found it very easy to interact with the professors and the other students. I live in Toronto, and there were even enough people here to set up an in-person study group, but of course YMMV on that last part.

    5. Dan*

      I attempted one, then figured there was no market for the degree so I quit.

      Now, I gotta ask, what makes you think Queens University is a “good school”? I’ve never heard of it. Suffice it to say though, really bad schools are unaccredited by a regional accrediting authority (national accreditation is a joke, and is only taken seriously if it’s ABET or CSAB). For-profits aren’t held in the highest light either.

      I’ve taken online-only classes and in-person classes. My in-person classes (when I went to them) were more rewarding than online only. On that basis, I can’t say that an online-only degree is as good as an in person one. You can get away with online only if you are currently employed and trying to check a box that your employer requires.

      If you are trying to switch careers, you want to be more picky about your continuing education. In person makes it easier to network with classmates and profs, which is a HUGE source for job leads.

      Certificate usefulness is industry specific. Some technical fields like them, and others don’t. I have no idea what you’re trying to get into so won’t make too many blanket statements. Keep in mind though that in many fields, the required and nice-to-have education is specified in terms of degrees. If a “Masters is preferred” then a certificate won’t check that box. You might edge out a candidate with just a BS/BA, but I wouldn’t count on it.

        1. Felicia*

          Queen’s University is very well known in Canada, and it’s widely considered a very good school, and it’s super hard to get into. Canada has no equivalent to Ivy League, but I’d say Queens is close, since you need a really high average to get in and it’s very old and has a somewhat prestigious reputation. It’s definitely a good school and many Canadian employers would regard it highly if they cared about such things

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              Not quite–she went to Redmond College (which was an expy for Dalhouse University in Halifax). Queen’s College, in the book, was a preparatory school in Charlottetown–a teaching college, today. Queen’s U is in Kingston, Ontario.

        2. Dan*

          Crud. I just assumed it was a regional school of sorts in the Queens borough of New York City, perhaps part of the CUNY system. Shows what I know.

          All my references above to accreditation are US based, so not applicable in Canada.

        1. Felicia*

          Yes! I think Online classes somewhere like Queen’s would be regarded well just because the school itself is too. Also in my experience, if the school granted the degree (especially if it has a good reputation like Queen’s) employers don’t care how you got it

      1. fposte*

        Queen’s is a prominent Canadian school that’s decent if not spectacular in world-class university rankings. It’s a good school.

        I would say that this issue is really field-dependent and program/school-dependent. We have an online graduate degree program, one of the oldest around, that really is the equivalent to the on-campus program. Find out how an individual institution’s degree is received in the field you want to work in. For that matter, the same goes for any certificates–they’re just too variable to say broadly.

      2. Cucumber*

        Yep, Queen’s University is considered an excellent school in Canada, especially its law school and medical school. That and McGill.

        That said you had some terrific advice about checking out the accreditation, because indeed, there are some awful schools out there. Unfortunately, there are also some crappy masters’ programs offered outside traditional channels at very prestigious schools, too.

    6. Xay*

      I’m working on my master’s online right now. In my case, online is as good as in person because my institution is very well respected, this degree program is very well respected and I already have several years of work experience in the field.

      Although the lack of face to face interaction is hard, my program encourages a lot of group work (for better or for worse) and has 2 on campus sessions during the program to allow for some face to face interaction and networking.

      With certificates, I think you really need to research your field to see how certificates are viewed.

    7. GigglyPuff*

      I think if it’s an online program that is also taught by the same people who do in-person classes, that would make a difference to me.

      I ended up having to do part of my Master’s online for an out-of-state internship, and due to my personal preferences and abilities, completely hated it. I need the extra push of having things scheduled, and with ADHD, it was too easy to just do the bare minimum. Plus I do better learning visually instead of auditory, so it made it harder to pay attention to the online sessions.

      I’ve also thought about continuing education certificate, and like the same thing, I’d probably only do it, if was available through an institution that offers the full degree, and only in an area that was completely lacking in my Master’s program.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        I will also say, I was out of state, so for many of the group projects it was more difficult because we couldn’t meet in person, making the entire project stilted with online communication, instead of meeting in person and getting that back and forth and being able to read people by their body language and facial expressions.

        If you’re unsure if you think it is a good fit for you (not just is it worth it), maybe take an online webinar or two in your field, if they have them. They are a lot like that, with just hours of homework tacked on. (At least in my field).

    8. Shelley*

      I did my masters entirely online and I LOVED IT. It was the best experience. I met people in classes via the message boards and projects and have ended up facebook and networking friends with several. I didn’t really miss the face to face aspect at all. I was able to attend classes from work, in the middle of the night, etc, which worked well with my life (there was a lot of family medical drama during my degree). You do have to be self-motivated, but it’s not at all self-directed; there are still deadlines and weekly check ins just like an offline class. I attended a well regarded school, despite never stepping foot on campus, and no one has ever questioned my resume.

    9. OhNo*

      As long as you are getting your degree from a well-known and well-respected school, I can’t imagine that doing degree online would be a bad thing. I prefer in-person programs, but that is just how my personal learning style works best.

      If you can, try to get information on how to learn best and get the most out of online education programs, since it can be hard to keep your focus when you’re not sitting in a classroom for hours everyday.

      Also, maybe double check the online program’s rates of acceptance, graduation, and the average length of time it takes students to complete the program. If those numbers seem abnormal, it may be the sign of a less-than-stellar program.

    10. Trixie*

      If things work out with a job at a university that offered tuition waiver, I would seriously contemplate finishing my undergrad degree online. I’ve got about two years done so it wouldn’t happen overnight. I appreciate online programs for folks who have full time jobs and/or family commitments they’re trying to work around. Definitely keeping this in mind.

    11. Chris*

      I have done an entire bachelor’s degree online. Honestly it depends on you if it runs smoothly as doing a degree in person- can you function after a full eight hour working day doing another eight hours of homework?
      Can you navigate having group projects with people that
      you cannot physically see to make sure they are working on their portion of a project?
      Handle teachers that aren’t as involved as others, leaving you to figure out solutions on your own?

      I just signed up for a certificate course, so I can’t comment on experiences with that, but after talking to people that work in that field, they have all recommended the certificate. Just ask in the career you want to focus in if they are truly helpful.

    12. Bea W*

      I have a friend who did two Masters degrees online. It was quite challenging and she got a lot out of it. I think this works better for some majors than others. I also think it depends on your learning style. Some people get more out of the classroom time and face to face interaction and wouldn’t do as well with online classes. Try a class, and see if it’s for you.

      If you get your degree from a reputable accredited school with a break and mortar presence, it really does not matter if you did it all online or in person. No one will actually know which path you took to get there.

    13. hildi*

      I have two master’s degrees: one that I got in a traditional evening class on campus way and the other I got online. And I have to say that I think I got more out of the online course. It was pretty rigorous from the standpoint of interaction: discussion questions weekly, required # of interactions with classmates, and a project for each class. I found the projects and the work and discussions to be highly relevant to my work. A big disclaimer from my experience, however, is that I had money leftover in my GI Bill and wanted to use it before I lost it. I wanted to get some more education in the field I was currently in and plan to stay in. My point being that I had the luxury to choose for interest in the topic, not because I needed to position myself better to get a job or something…if that makes any sense. But overall, I feel like I really got more practical knowledge from the online masters versus the traditional masters.

    14. The IT Manager*

      I did an masters degree entirely online and was unimpressed with the lack of academic rigor; however, it was no worse than the in person professional masters program I almost completed for academic rigor.

      I would find out how they run their online program. Whatever software they use dictates how they teach. Is there any virtual classroom session where you are being lectured to by a preofessor? Are there videos? How do they test? Who are the inctructors and do they plan their own ciricullum or follow a standard one set by the school? etc

    15. T*

      I think it has everything to do with what you will be studying and what sort of jobs you are interested in after grad school. My suggestion is to ask some people in you desired field, especially those that make hiring decisions. Like you’ve done here, ask some people about their experience with online degrees, but try to find people who have come through the program you are considering.

      I completed my MA last year, and there is no way I could see it having worked as well as an online program. I had a lot of seminar type classes, which would have lost something by online discussion. We also had a class projects that entailed meeting with people from outside organizations and making site visits. For me a large part of the experience involved making connections and establishing working relationships with professionals in my field (which sometimes uses the term community to describe itself), so that not only those relationships, but the how of making and using connections, was a big part of my learning. I have recently met someone in the same field who did all his coursework online through a different university. He never once went to the school’s campus. When comparing our experiences, he wished he had gone through a traditional program rather than the online version. His decision for distance learning was based on a need to remain in the location where he already lived and not having a similar program available there.

      I guess what I’m saying is to factor in how face-t0-face interaction and making personal connections matters in your field. Some courses of study, such as accounting, probably would be fine online.

    16. Kayza*

      Yes, I did. SUNY / Empire State. They use the same curricula and materials as the other SUNY colleges. They don’t have “class time” but and there aren’t tests per se, but you do have to do the reading, and you do have to do the exercises (and they do assign stuff where you can’t look at the back of the book) etc.

      Some of the classes were fluff – but that’s true in any school, even the good ones. (I looked at the information a lot of schools post about their courses.)

      It needs to work with your style. Some on-line courses do have class time. But, for me, being able to totally work whenever I wanted to was a big plus.

    17. Anon For This*

      I did my masters mostly online at a well-respected university and program. In my field, it’s now the norm for people to get their masters degrees online.

      Even so, if I could go back, I would do it in person. I got a good education academically, but there’s a lot you can only get from interacting with other students and professors in person, and not just at residencies but for the duration of the program.

      There’s also a strong stigma against online degree programs. A lot of employers view them as less legitimate, even when they’re from a top university.

    18. Loose Seal*

      I’m doing a Master’s degree online right now from a state university. It’s 100% online except for the internship semesters. And that even has all the professor/advisor interaction online; we just have to do our internship in a licensed facility under someone with a license.

      I think some people in my program might have taken the required statistics course on campus, if they lived close enough to the school, or took it in person at a university close to them and transferred the credit. That’s the only class that they let us do that with. Perhaps because it’s difficult for some people (like me!) to learn math online. Plus, the lowest level stats class will probably be similar no matter what university you take it from.

      Personally, I love doing the online degree much better than an in-person one. We have access to all the journals in the library online and we can get interlibrary loans mailed to us, if we need them. The only thing I don’t like is that each teacher really wants to try to force our using the discussion board as one would an in-classroom discussion. However, it’s very stiff, not at all like a real conversation. They tell us to make a post on whatever the topic is and then make substantive posts to two of our classmates. You can imagine, I’m sure, that no one posts anything more than the three posts — not so much a discussion, just going through the motions to get the grade.

    19. Ann Furthermore*

      I did my MBA all online and absolutely loved it. I think it depends on what kind of person you are. If you like alot of interaction with people, then you probably won’t like the online format. If you’re a bit of a loner like me, then you’ll probably enjoy it.

      What I liked most is that the classroom discussion is in a forum/chat room format, so everyone has an equal opportunity to have a voice and participate. When working on my undergraduate degree, it seemed like in every class there was at least one windbag who thought he (it was usually guys) was brilliant and took it upon himself to bestow his great intellect upon us, and would therefore dominate the conversation. In an economics class once, some idiot would yammer on and on, using the terms “cost” and “price” interchangeably, and doing the same thing with “profit” and “margin.” One night in class I couldn’t take it anymore and finally said, “You know, those DON’T mean the same thing!”

      That dynamic is greatly minimized in an online setting, which was one of the things I liked most about that format.

    20. Cucumber*

      I enrolled in a local master’s degree program, over a top ranked school’s online program, because I wanted to meet other students and professors, and better network in a new field. To my shock, most of the classes I was going to take were offered online, so about half my degree was done that way. The rigor was definitely there – but if you gained a lot in school from meeting other people in your profession, then you might want to do it only partly online. If you’ve already got a broad number of contacts, maybe it won’t matter, but you mention switching careers. I would pick an online program that has some sort of in-person opportunity so you can meet your professors and classmates at least once, or so that you can get help finding that new job.

      My husband, by the way, took some community college classes before moving to change fields a bit – accounting, economics. Some of those classes were held online too. He felt that he wanted an in-person experience at least part of the time – the students in his grad cohort do do projects together remotely sometimes, as does my friend in an online MBA program. She was telling me about trying to work on a project with a classmate who was in Mexico and using his cell phone to send her files – so that’s another consideration. Do you have the best equipment at home? Not that you need to shell out huge amounts of money, but are you certain you’ll be able to pick up the pace technically?

      Before you enroll somewhere, check out OpenCourseWare at MIT and the Coursera courses that are MOOCS (huge classes that are held online). Test it out by doing the homework and problems. You’ll be able to get a feel for how well it works for you.

  5. Audiophile*

    Maybe I’ll be first??

    I was offered the job and accepted! I asked for time to think it over, and accepted the next day. I didn’t attempt to negotiate, since I felt I didn’t have any real leverage and the benefits are amazing.

    I want to thank all the commentors for their invaluable advice. I also want to thank Alison, for her thoughtful notes on my resume, and for creating such a great site here and offering up such excellent advice.

    I can’t wait to start my new job!

      1. Audiophile*

        Thanks! It’s social media/communications, so it’s exactly what I wanted. I’m still in shock that it’s finally happening.

          1. Audiophile*

            Yes, I’m so glad it worked out this way. That I didn’t get the other jobs, which in hindsight I can admit I didn’t really want. At the time it was frustrating but this feels like a good fit. I hit it off with the team and I feel like I’ll be successful there.

            The benefits are amazing, that I was ok taking the salary they offered.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Congratulations! I hope that this new job is a positive step for you going forward.

  6. C Average*

    I found yesterday’s discussion of salary negotiation very interesting, and I’d like to talk more about that.

    I’ve never even considered negotiating my salary ever, and I probably won’t start now. In trying to figure out WHY I’d never consider negotiating for higher pay, though, I’m unpacking a lot of baggage, and it’s kind of interesting to sift through it all. I’m wondering if anyone else here has a similar viewpoint.

    I think some of my resistance comes from my small-town, Protestant upbringing. I’ve always had it drilled into me to be grateful, not greedy, and to not ask for more than I need. That’s translated into “you’re lucky to have a job–don’t rock the boat” mentality throughout my working life.

    As a liberal arts grad who’s had a winding career path featuring plenty of minimum-wage gigs to keep the rent paid, I’ve also spent enough time feeling desperate having any job at all that I think part of me still believes the job I have is the only one I can get, and that if I were to ask for more than I’m making, the manager would shrug and say, “Plenty of other people with English degrees and some basic html could do your job. We’ll go find one. Here’s your severance.”

    Finally, as a Gen Xer who was around before the interwebs, I didn’t grow up with the background awareness that people DO negotiate for better pay. It just wasn’t on my radar. I wasn’t reading things like AAM, where it’s discussed as a normal feature of the workplace.

    I’m glad this blog and other career-related resources are helping to normalize this process, especially as it relates to gender. I’m 40 years old and unlikely to start negotiating my salary now, but I think it’s good that younger people are starting their work lives with an awareness that this is something one can do.

    I’ve recently become aware that my role is being upgraded from a geo-specific one to a global one soon, and that there’ll be a pay raise to go with that recognition. Although it’s in many ways a long-overdue recognition of what I actually do, part of me was uncomfortable with accepting more when I feel like I already have enough. Reading these discussions helps me frame it as fairness, not greed, and for that I’m . . . wait for it . . . grateful.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I see some similarities between us, although I have a decade plus on you, so how can I go out and use this new knowledge when I know companies don’t want to hire old geeks?

      I do a good job once I have it. I’m just a lousy negotiator. So I get less pay because I’m not good at one skill, something I use very rarely. And now that I’m reading AAM, I see some ways how to improve that skill, and it’s probably too late to use it much. (It’s similar to word processors, something that started to exist right after I wrote my last term paper using a typewriter — bad timing!)

      Ah well, I get enough, even if it’s less than others with my experience. There’s a lot more to a job than just money, and I’m grateful for the one I have, too.

    2. sophiabrooks*

      I am also of a similar background and feel the same way. I am also an admin at a University, and I don’t know that there is much room for negotiation. A few years after I switched departments and exactly the same salary, I was talking to my boss (who does not decide my pay) and saying I should have negotiated, and she let me know that if I had they would not have let her hire me and she in fact had to fight to pay my “high salary” It was $12.00 per hour.

      1. DL*

        It so dependent on the university and the situation. Generally the higher up the admin position is, and the more degrees and expertise required, the more leeway there is for negotiation.

        For a program manager position, I was able to negotiate the salary offer up 15%, double the moving expenses, and add an opportunity for a review and promotion after a certain amount of time.

        Being promoted or transferring within the institution there is a definitely a limit on how much the salary can increase.

        1. Windchime*

          Agreed. I have a great manager and we were talking just the other day about salary inequities between men and women, and he agreed with the general notion that, in order to get a significant pay bump, it’s often necessary to move to a new organization.

          I tried to negotiate when I got my review this week. He said “3.5%” and I asked if there was room to negotiate; the round-about answer was no. Times are tight right now, and honestly I’m fine with the 3.5%. But as a woman, I didn’t negotiate in earlier years because I was at a job where there was no such thing as negotiation; now I feel that I need to make up for it. Nobody is going to take care of me in my retirement so I need to get as high a wage now as I can.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      I’m pretty bad at negotiating too. My biggest weakness in it is that I always wait until things are so bad at my current job that I MUST GTFO! I think rule #1 of job hunting is to not do it when you are emotional. Since I don’t follow that, when I get that new job, I am not prepared to walk away if the salary isn’t where I want it to be. I find for negotiations to work, the employer really must feel as if there is a realistic chance that they won’t close the deal with you if they don’t come up. Instead, I give off the idea of, :well, thanks so much for the offer, can you come up another $10k? If not, I’m going to accept regardless”. So I strike out.

      On the other hand, I’ve hired over 100 people in my career, and almost all have tried to negotiate. I know what works, and I know what doesn’t. I just never find myself in the state of mind where it will work for me.

      1. C Average*

        I like the philosophy of not job hunting when you are emotional, but how does that work in a practical sense? Job hunting seems so fraught with emotion. You’re often emotional going into it (because you’re jobless and scared, or because you’re employed but unhappy or dissatisfied), and even if you’re not, the cycle of effort and rejection seems designed to make a reasonable person emotional.

        How can one remain dispassionate?

        I probably have the best possible scenario in terms of job hunting. I’m employed and don’t dislike my job; I’m just a little bored, plus my role has evolved in some directions that make it less appealing than it initially was. My manager knows I’m looking and supports the idea of me taking on a different role; she’s even approved a stretch assignment when/if I find one. In the meantime, I’m on a team of pleasant and capable people. I’m only considering internal positions, and there is no pressure of any kind. And I STILL find that the process of putting myself out there brings up all kinds of baggage related to confidence, fear, and other thorny emotional stuff.

    4. Academic Advisor*

      I’ve struggled with this too. I don’t like negotiating, and I wonder how much of it is because I am a woman or because of my cultural upbringing. Like yours, my family raised me with a mentality of “work hard and keep your head down”. But I definitely don’t think that it’s because I’m afraid of losing my job or think I don’t deserve it. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am and I think I’m good at what I do; however, I also think that I am fairly compensated for it already and I don’t feel the need to ask for more.

    5. Jennifer*

      I am just not high-powered enough to have the power or be a “superstar” enough for negotiations to work, I think. That to me is to people who have bargaining power, which I don’t.

      Though to be fair, I work in a set salary field so negotiating wouldn’t really be an option anyway.

    6. Lisa*

      I have an issue with authority, where even if i am good at what I do I don’t know how to express it when a boss does the initial blocking of any request. In my experience, my past bosses always have better reasons of how I ‘need to learn more’ as the excuse of no raise in 4 years. I realize now that I just had terrible bosses, they don’t want to pay talent and more importantly give raises and promotions to only men. Its them, not me. But having a history of ‘keep head down, so dad doesn’t verbally abuse me’ makes me treat bosses like they are going to start screaming at me, or tell me to get out / deal with it.

      It is not too late to ask for what you are worth, what happens if that global job comes with no raise? Are you going to do more work and not say anything? Don’t assume its coming down the line either. Ask for a job description and what it means to be successful, and what the new pay grade range is to get them thinking of that.

      1. C Average*

        In my company, pay bands are pretty firmly set, and being global anything puts you in a different pay band than a geo-specific version of the same position.

        So a bump to global always comes with a raise here.

        Good call on the job description, though. I’ll definitely want to know what specific expectations come with the new title. As it is now, I lead initiatives and then delegate specific tasks to my geo counterparts. I’m not sure whether the expectation will be for me to perform those tasks myself rather than delegating, or to keep doing what I’m doing.

    7. The IT Manager*

      Did y’all discuss this last week? http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/07/02/327289264/episode-550-when-salaries-arent-secret

      In most workplaces, salaries are secret. But what if they weren’t? What if everybody knew what everyone else made?

      On today’s show, we visit a company in New York that practices pay transparency — and we hear how it changes the dynamic between employees and the boss.

      I think it’s great, but I have always worked for the government, never had the opportunity to neogiate, and anyone can figure out my salary if they know my grade and how long I have been in the job. I would neigiate badly and end up on the low end of the pay scale. It’s fairer to be open about pay and pay people what they’re worth rather than rewarding the best neogiators regardless of their actual job skills.

      1. C Average*

        I dunno. I’m torn on this one.

        It seems like it would put a lot of pressure on management NOT to accede to negotiations, but instead to simply say “people in X position make X amount, full stop.” Otherwise, you’d forever be getting questions from those who experienced a disparity with their peers, and every time someone successfully negotiated you’d probably wind up bringing all their peers into alignment with their new salary (or doing an awful lot of explaining).

        I’m frankly not against the no-negotiation mindset in this kind of environment, though. If the pay aligns with industry standards and people come into the company knowing there’s a policy of pay transparency and also a you-get-what-you-get-and-don’t-get-upset policy, it could work well.

        Aside: I’ve seen this kind of thing firsthand a little bit. My dad was a federal government employee for close to 30 years (USFS) and would frequently mention that so-and-so was a GS-10 and made more than he deserved, or so-and-so was a GS-5 and how does a person even live on a GS-5 salary, anyway? What was fascinating, as I think back on this, was that it was always personal. I never heard him say, “I don’t think assistant chocolate teapot makers should be graded as GS-12.” Instead he’d say, “Apollo, the new assistant chocolate teapot maker, is the laziest SOB I’ve ever met. I can’t believe he’s a GS-12.”

    8. Girasol*

      It just seems so wrong to me to spend four hours of interviews putting my best foot forward and trying to be the sort of great person anyone would want to hire, and then switching over to needy bitch mode at the end. I understand most managers aren’t so prejudiced that they see a woman negotiating salary in that way. But I started job searching in the 70’s and I was brought up with those prejudices myself. It just seems wrong. (Then again, I read an article recently that suggested that women really could throw a job offer by being too hard-nosed in negotiation. Go figure.)

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, when I was having a conversation with my (male) boss earlier this week, he said that women traditionally don’t negotiate as hard as men. Probably true; but when we do, we are seen as being “bitches”.

        That doesn’t stop me, though. I didn’t negotiate for Current Job because I had a figure in mind and that was the figure they offered, so I didn’t see the need. But I’ve negotiated since I got here (at promotion time); sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But a girl’s gotta try!

    9. matcha123*

      I feel the same way.

      It’s further compounded with my families lack of resources and always having to feel grateful to someone for being “nice” enough to give us clothes or food. I never feel like I am good enough to try to negotiate anything.

      Earlier this year, I talked with two recruiters about a job and they both laughed at my salary request, which was not outrageous. Both were women. Bad feelings…

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      In my experience, the employee who continually has the lowest performance doesn’t last. They’ll get pushed out in some way.

      Unless it’s a manager, in which case there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll get promoted. ;)

    2. This is me*

      I find this article to be incredibly patronizing. They make it sound like Elliott was incapable of improving upon his performance, so they just gave him superficial assignments and wrote him off as an “idiot.” I think this was a terrible team with a terrible manager who either didn’t know or didn’t want to manage performance issues. And the author comes off like a total asshat.

    3. hildi*

      The only part I paused a bit at was this one: “Every team, no matter how smart or how dumb, has someone at the lowest end of its bell curve (whether you measure that by IQ, productivity, or something else)”

      This seems a little too black and white to me? I don’t know how to articulate it, but it seems not quite right. I don’t really think there’s anyone on my team that is overall bottom of the barrel. Each of us suck in our own way in different areas….but isn’t that completely typical? Maybe I’m saying the same thing as the author.

      Either way, I do totally agree that the teams where everyone cares for and appreciatees each other will always be more successful than the teams that gang up on one.

      1. fposte*

        Right, I agreed with that point, but I didn’t agree that every team has somebody who’s dead weight, and I wondered why managers were tolerating all this dead weight.

        1. Windchime*

          I wish I knew the answer. We have a couple of “dead weights” on our team and it’s a mystery to me how they remain employed. One of them wiped out three weeks of work yesterday. Yes, it was in source control but it wasn’t a simple thing to recover. It cost two of us each nearly an entire day to fix. The person who caused the error took started her weekend early by leaving at 11 today while we stayed and fixed the problem.

      2. Befuddled Squirrel*

        Yeah, there’s something a little creepy about identifying someone on your team as “on the lowest end of the bell curve”. Even creepier to reference IQ, since that’s not public knowledge in most workplaces.

        In reality, everyone’s performance fluctuates. The strongest performer this month could be the weakest next month. The weakest overall could become the strongest when given projects that require different skills. Deciding someone is “the lowest” by nature is gross.

    4. Andy*

      I’m so happy that everyone there made a wonderful friend, but I reject the supposition that by pandering to this person’s lack of value in the work environment they were expressing their own value as human beings.
      Kindness is very important, but no more important than being able to perform the task at hand well.

  7. bassclefchick*

    I’ve been a temp for three years now. Lucky for me, I’ve had three long term assignments at two different companies. Both wanted to hire me, but didn’t have the head count available. And one company had internal politics that worked against me. I have cleaned up my resume using all the great advice on this site and I am getting interviews, but no offers. Do you think hiring managers are looking at the fact that I’ve been with a temp service for 3 years without being hired and wondering why no one else is hiring me? I’m afraid that they’re thinking if I can’t go “temp to perm” that they don’t want to take a chance on me either.

    1. Gene*

      Not all temps are even going for permanent; there are many people who temp by choice. My first wife was like that; she loved the new challenges that a fresh assignment posed.

      Nevert say or imply “didn’t get the permanent assignment.” Make sure you list your employer as the temp agency with the different jobs listed as assignments on your resume.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Thanks! That’s a perspective I hadn’t thought of! My current boss has been helping me with mock interviews and told me I shuoldn’t use the phrase “just a temp”. He’s right, of course. I list my work like this:
        Shade of Green Staffing Agency
        Accounts payable clerk (major food manufacturer) feb – present
        401 (k) specialist (major credit union insurance company)
        Which I think has helped streamline my resume just a bit and allows me to name drop two of the biggest companies in my area.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          When you’re a temp, your assignments have a beginning date and an end date. I had a few long-term assignments, all in a row with no down time between them, and I was questioned about it in interviews. I stressed that the assignments were each for a specific time period, and when the end date was near, I had the agencies find me another assignment.

          I also listed the names of the companies on my resume, along with the agencies’ names. They were all higher level admin jobs, so the bosses’ titles were also included.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t hire, but the situations you explained are the situations I would expect… “I thought I would be hired by my long term temp employer, but they didn’t have the money.”
      It is definitely better to be temping over not working at all.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I totally agree! I may not have PTO or great health insurance, but at least I have a job and the bills are getting paid!

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      There are many reasons that you may not have gone permanent in this time, so there aren’t any red flags waving furiously in the air that you’d be a bad hire. You said yourself the companies that wanted to hire you just didn’t have the ability or you didn’t like the company. That’s one of the things about temping is you’re able to pick and choose if you want to stay with a company if they’re hiring. If the companies that are looking at you are leery, it’s probably due more to the fact they’re wondering how much of a ransom they have to pay to your agency to free you. :)

  8. Diet Coke Addict*

    If you could tell your boss anything, without repercussions or any danger to your position, what would you tell them?

    I’d tell mine that he’s a terrific engineer, but terrible at running a business. And that a bottle of cologne has more than a single application in it.

    1. Dan*

      I’d tell my org chart boss and my project manager to get on the same page with their technical priorities.

    2. PX*

      Although I think he’s getting better, there are some areas where my boss could manage things a lot better. Also, he does the thing which is one of my pet peeve’s – telling me things he’s already told me before again and again. I’m getting better at interrupting to say he’s already told me (luckily he’s not one to get easily offended).

      Lol at the cologne comment :D

    3. Anon for this*

      Hmmm.

      I’d tell her I don’t want to be her friend on Facebook because I feel like I can’t be myself with her potentially watching.

      I’d ask her to talk more about work and less about her personal life.

      I’d tell her I dislike the nickname she’s given me and cringe every time she says it, and I want to just be called by my name.

      I’d tell her it’s awkward when she tells long stories with no apparent purpose when I’m trying to work in our open-plan space. Am I supposed to drop everything and pay attention? If it becomes obvious at some point that the story has nothing to do with work, how long do I have to keep paying attention?

      Finally, I’d thank her for stepping in and better allocating my team’s workload. She’s fantastic at the workflow management aspects of her role, and she’s made a huge impact on morale here.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        “I’d tell her I dislike the nickname she’s given me and cringe every time she says it, and I want to just be called by my name.”

        If you haven’t already, just ask her not to call you by that nickname and that you want her to use your name.

        This is one thing you should be able to change.

        1. Anon for this*

          I know. It’s so silly. She’s been calling me this for a year and I just can’t figure out how to have this conversation.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “Boss, I know this has been going on for a while. I should have said something sooner. But I have decided that I like hearing my given name ‘Mary’, I would prefer that you use that rather than ‘Marsey’. Yes. I know. It’s been a while. I am one of those lucky people that just happens to really like their given name.”

            Focus on how you like your given name. If you feel awkwardness setting in maybe explain to her “this is what my friends and family call me, also.” OR ask her what she prefers to go by.

            Don’t apologize. It’s your name.

            1. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

              +1 On telling her you want to user your real name. Good advice.

              It’ll be a few moments of awkward conversation, and then you’ll be done with it. Maybe find a way to get her to say your name towards the end of the day, so you can mention it to her and then be out of there for the day?

              I had the same thing happen to me, only I let it go on for 6 sad years. Even 2 years into that job, I thought “What’s the point of saying anything? It’s been so long already.” The point is that it continued to irk me *every single time* she said the name until I left the company, another FOUR YEARS later! I always kicked myself for not speaking up.

              Before I left, we hired a new girl, and the woman started calling New Girl by a different version of her name, too! I advised New Girl to nip it in the bud, no matter how uncomfortable it seemed. Fortunately, New Girl heeded my warnings and, after several awkward petitions of increasingly-serious tone, the woman got the message and dropped it. It was resolved within 2 months.

              You can be free of this name you don’t like, you really can! And, Oh! How it will be worth it. :)

      2. JMegan*

        On Facebook, it’s easy to block her from seeing your posts, and to hide her from your feed so you don’t see hers. I do that all the time with people that I don’t want to see (or be seen by), but who I can’t unfriend for whatever reason.

      1. Eden*

        I wanted to tell a previous boss that ‘irregardless’ is not a word. She clearly thought it made her sound smart. Can you use the word around her in a way that demonstrates the correct pronunciation without calling attention to it? I have done that and when people say, oh, is that how that’s pronounced? I just say yes, very low-key. Works for me.

    4. LQ*

      Honestly I’d love to tell my boss he does a really good job because he tries so hard. He would benefit from a few little things but overall he’s a good boss, but it is so clear that he works so incredibly hard at it.

      (I have told him some but it would be weird I think for me to say to my boss, Great job on being a boss!…so weird…)

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I don’t think that’s weird when phrased correctly. I’m sure he’d love to hear it. Maybe after he handles something well you can send him a quick email saying he handled it well and complimenting him on other things he does well as a boss. So not just, “thanks for being a great boss,” but something more specific like, “I think you do x, y, z well and I enjoy working with you.”

    5. Jen*

      I’d tell him that he has two ears and one mouth because listening is twice as important as talking. He needs to realize he’s not always the smartest person in the room, just the loudest person in the room. And if he listens a bit more, maybe he’d realize how much experience and knowledge he has on his team and he’d stop being condescending. I’d also tell him that he’s creative but he needs to be more big picture – more directing the department and less taking all of the fun tasks for himself.

    6. GrumpyBoss*

      I’d pose a question about something that he does that annoys me.

      “Why do you always ask me things in a way that assumes that I haven’t done my homework/tried basic things/used common sense before I come to you? If I say, ‘I’m having trouble with X’, before I can even explain the trouble, you are already responding with, ‘Have you tried this ?’. It makes me feel like you don’t have faith in me, or worse, that you think I’m stupid”

    7. AVP*

      Similar. Dear boss, you are an incredible artist, but a terrible business owner and manager of people.

    8. Elizabeth*

      I’d tell her that the person she’s unofficially designated as her second in command is a micromanaging control freak, and that I’m having trouble getting my own tasks done because I have to do everything twice–one in a way that’s standard for my area of specialization (and more natural for me), and one following her self-created procedure. She has no educational or professional experience in the area I work in, but constantly tries and do my job for me–and my boss lets her, even though we’ve tried it her way and it doesn’t work (ie, ideas for events that attract literally 3 people).

    9. Bea W*

      Email rules! Email rules! Email rules! Email rules! Email rules! Email rules! Email rules! Email rules!

      I think her life would be a bit easier if she could make up a bunch of email handling rules so that she can just focus on the important things that she needs to address and not all the other filler.

      1. anon for this*

        I would tell my boss that she should be give me the same amount of face time as she gives the other 8 employees on the team. I am placed at an off-site hospital location for the past three years and the only contact I have with my boss is 5-10 min per month by email to answer any questions I have. No talk occurs about how I am doing and if I need help with anything.
        Although all of us are paid the same (Unionized positions), my boss expects a very high standard of work from me but the others are not doing half as much.
        She knows I am job hunting and said she will give me a great reference. But she won’t do anything to change the situation to make me stay. I am now convinced she prefers having only average performers on her team.

    10. Jubilance*

      “You are a great project manager but your management skills need serious work. Your team feels bullied, micromanaged and undeveloped.”

      1. Ali*

        I have a new manager, so it’s too early for me to answer this question for him, but here are some things I would’ve said to my old boss:

        -You need to actually concern yourself with the larger issues on our team rather than focusing on playing and organizing team-building games on our conference calls.
        -I really wish you wouldn’t chew gum or eat your lunch while meeting with me 1-on-1. I don’t eat in front of you.
        -When someone mentions a possible conflict, don’t just brush them off. Listen, even if your hands are tied and you can’t do anything.
        -In feedback meetings, focus less on the nitpicky/tiny things and spend more time on areas for improvement, what was done well, etc.

    11. Kay*

      Oh so many things…

      I would (and have told) that timesheets and billing are the bane of my existence. However, I would follow it up with the reason they are is because HE doesn’t make them a priority for the employees, and since I have no actual control over them, all I can do is pester them and sometimes waste half a day to get draft invoices run. This stuff comes from the top down. If he regarding billing as a SCHEDULED priority and not an “inconvenient thing we have to do to get money”, things would go better.

      I would also tell him that there is a timeframe for things to get completed. I can not magically produce an hours worth of work in 5 minutes and when you interrupt me 10 times, it goes even slower. I will do what you ask, but I’m not a magician!

      Also, (because I’m quitting this job in the next couple weeks), I would tell him that I hope his business fails if he can’t accept the first two and that I pity whoever ends up in my role if it doesn’t.

      (Thanks to Diet Coke Addict, I really needed to get that off my chest).

    12. PitaChips*

      (Anon for this)

      Supervisor 1: You’re a giant fraud and I hope that one day it catches up with you. I’m keeping track of what you’re plagiarizing and the lies you’re telling.

      Supervisor 2: Stop being a martyr. No one thinks it’s impressive that you stay so late, work every weekend, and never take a vacation.

    13. Woods-comma-Elle*

      Please consider your tone before speaking to people. It’s very frustrating when you ask a question and the response is snappy/makes you feel you are stupid or both. Being patronising is not constructive.

      Making jokes about diligent people not working hard enough/trying to avoid work is not funny and just makes them feel self-consciuous.

      Yelling at people is not constructive.

      (for the record 99% of the time my boss is great, but the other 1%… oh man!)

      1. Relosa*

        I feel bad about this because I have a mild form of aphasia and sometimes when I speak, it’s incredibly frustrating and takes a lot of effort for me to speak, so I come across as sounding very annoyed or frustrated. I’ve finally figured out to give new subordinates and associates a disclaimer if I know I’m working with them for a long time.

    14. NOLA*

      I’d tell my boss to please stop switching into micro management mode of your team’s deliverables just because you are stressed with your own individual work. You are just going to make yourself more freaked out (again).

    15. Tricksie*

      I’d tell her that she IS racist, although she continually proclaims she isn’t. :S Complaining about how students of color run to the Provost (of color) because they will always take his side and the only thing he cares about is race? Yeah. That’s racist.

      Other than that, she’s a great boss and I like working for her.

    16. The Real Ash*

      I would tell her that while it’s nice for her that her husband has a lot of money, no one cares how much her clothes / shoes / jewelry / home renovations / etc. cost and that it’s upsetting and annoying that she’s always going on about material things.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I would also like to tell my boss this. He told a coworker a few weeks ago “I started this business to make a lot of money for a lot of people, but it seems like I’m the only person making a lot of money. It’s weird.” And he brags about how much everything costs–the boat and ATV and expensive summer camps his kid went to, his in-ground pool, and so on.

        It’s wildly cruel to do to your staff who make minimum wage.

    17. manomanon*

      I’d tell him that giving me feedback, both positive and negative,regularly (particularly when I ask for it instead of brushing me off) would help us both. And that actually reading the emails I send him would mean he wouldn’t give our Executive Director out of date or just plain wrong information.

    18. Puddin*

      I have many talks with various levels of mgt on the way home from work most days. Of course they are not actually in the car with me, but I chat anyways. The most common topics:
      1. How do you think it makes your employees feel when you refuse to invest in resources that would make their jobs either easier or the results smarter? If you value me and my work, why do I not have better tools to accomplish my tasks? Your lack of investment causes waste, inaccuracies, and redundancy and then you wonder why we are always behind the eight ball.
      2. Stop hiding information and essentially lying to save your axx. You do harm to the company by only presenting good news. The areas where we do not meet our goals are the ones we should be spotlighting and fixing. Stop sweeping it under the carpet and life will be less stressful – I promise. Oh, and you are really not fooling anyone.
      3. Thank you for treating me like an adult. I appreciate your flexibility, maturity, and calm. You make me want to earn your respect and make you proud.
      4. HR dept – you’re fired.

    19. De Minimis*

      Please, please, please take a course in budgeting/accounting.

      Please learn to say no to some of these requisitions.

      1. De Minimis*

        Oh, and just because I’m the accountant doesn’t mean I can do any kind of work that involves money. I don’t know squat about medical billing, batching, etc.

    20. HAnon*

      I would tell my boss…that I wish the company could have been more flexible. There are a lot of good things about my job, but the company moved shortly after I accepted their offer (this was not disclosed to me while I was applying) and doubled my commute time, and they refuse to offer flextime or telecommute options, even though I brought it up a couple of times.

      I would also say, although I appreciate the high marks on my quarterly performance reviews, the pressure to “improve”on skills and etc I gained in the previous quarter is unbearable, as I am already rated as “exceeds expectations” in every category. I understand year over year improvement, but every quarter? Causes me so much anxiety. :(

    21. Girasol*

      I’m usually quite skilled at finding something to grouse about in any situation, but I’m stuck. I’d tell him he’s terrific. I was in a really rough place in my last job and afraid I was heading toward being fired as a poor fit, when my new boss asked me to interview and brought me on. I fit, I love the team, I have great opportunities, I have support, and I can’t even think of a teensy annoying habit to complain about. If you’re in a bad place, take heart. Luck can strike when it looks impossible.

    22. Lily in NYC*

      I would ask him to stop with the constant adjusting of his “junk”. It’s so gross.

    23. Anon*

      “You’re a great boss, and I really enjoy working for you, but I’m bored. I need more challenging work or I’ll leave and go to another department, or even a different employer.”

    24. Mallory*

      I like my boss a lot, even if he does have his faults. I tried to think of anything I’d like to say to him that I haven’t already, and I can’t really think of anything. I pretty much say what I feel I need to say to him, and that’s because he makes it safe for me to do so.

      If I see him making a decision that I think seems hinky in light of what I know, I’ll ask him questions about it (taking care to be very ginger and respectful about it) and then tell him what I’ve seen on my side that made me think I should ask. Sometimes it turns out that I knew something that he wasn’t aware of, and he always respects me for keeping a good ear to the ground and looking out for him. Sometimes it turns out that there’s something I don’t know and he has the situation completely in hand (when that is the case, sometimes he tells me what it is, and sometimes he’s very circumspect about it).

      Okay — while writing all this, I did think of something I would say to him. His term as department head ends at the end of May 2014, and he has a private business across town from the university. If I could say anything to him, it would be: “Take me with you! Hire me at your private firm when you leave and pay me twice my current salary!”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Boss, if you ever reach a point that you think you need help at Private Business Across Town, I would like the opportunity to throw my resume in for consideration.”

        1. Mallory*

          I think I really will look for an opportunity this academic year to say that. He’s already mentioned that the thing he’s most going to miss about being department head is having an assistant (his office across town is a small design firm that he runs with his wife, and he doesn’t have an assistant there). I think his wife is tired of doing assistant-type duties, since she’s a designer, too. I’ve worked with her on receptions, etc. that we’ve held at their house, and I like her a lot, too. I think I could support both of them if they ever wanted to flesh out their super-lean office.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Say that. Tell the boss that you think you can work to support them both. Perfect.

            1. Mallory*

              Thanks, Not So NewReader. I love this group for getting an outside opinion on what may be just a wild idea of mine but could be totally valid.

    25. StudentA*

      “And that a bottle of cologne has more than a single application in it.”

      Oh my goodness.

      1. Mallory*

        I’ve had to have that exact conversation with my 13-year-old son about his spray-on Axe deodorant. Has anyone ever noticed that all the products targeted primarily toward teen boys are VERY heavily scented?

    26. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Dear Boss: if you would loop me in, I could proactively troubleshoot potential problems before we commit to something, many, many things would be better.

      Love,

      ExceptionToTheRule.

    27. Ann Furthermore*

      My boss really is pretty awesome, probably the best one I’ve ever had. But there are 3 things I would like to tell her:

      (1) Don’t believe everything someone tells you about someone else. Someone will fill your ear with one side of the story, and you don’t always keep an open mind and then get preconceived notions that take a long time to go away. Like remember that one guy who quit about a year ago? He didn’t “bitch, moan, and complain all the time,” like you were told he did. He was really great at his job, but was very frustrated and was trying to ask for help to do it better, and his manager (your friend) dropped the ball.

      (2) The person on your team that you think is so brilliant and can do no wrong is actually rude, condescending, annoying, and not as smart as she wants everyone to think she is. No one on the team likes working with her, and she makes things much more difficult than they need to be.

      (3) Don’t take it so personally when someone decides to leave the company and pursue another opportunity. They’re not betraying you, they’re doing what is right for them, their careers, or their families.

  9. Dan*

    Ok…

    Piggy backing off of a thread a week last week where we were complaining that employers who claim they offer “excellent benefits” rarely do….

    In previous comments, people have written that they have “excellent health insurance.” If you think your health insurance is excellent, please tell me more about the particulars (premiums, deductibles, out of pocket maximums) and on what basis you think your insurance is excellent.

    For example (and I’m making this up): My employer pays all of my premiums. I have a high-deductible health plan. It’s excellent because… well it was better than my last job where we had to pay premiums.

    1. Jennifer*

      I don’t pay anything when I go to the doctor’s, they take something like $8 out of my paychecks to cover for it, and they cover almost everything you’d ever want. Their therapy program isn’t great because you can’t go very often and have to go out of town so I see someone privately on my own dime, but that’s about it. Everything else is great coverage.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Not my current job, but former job with excellent benefits:

      Health insurance, fully paid by employer, with a brand that was accepted everywhere and had an excellent network, fast reimbursement turnaround, and very low deductibles, and included 100% coverage for things that often aren’t. Dental and eye care coverage, fully paid by employer, with 100% coverage of nearly everything.

      Flexible spending accounts for health, money-purchase pension plan (vesting was long, but it was cash rollover when you left), short and long term disability insurance, life insurance, some tuition reimbursement, and immediate accrual of PTO days (meaning that you earned more time every year up to a max limit, instead of waiting years to get another chunk).

    3. Jamie*

      I have mine through my husband – he pays < $100 per month for our family of 5, we have a $100 deductible for outpatient surgery, none for inpatient, $10 co-pay for all doctor visits except follow ups which are $0, prescription coverage is $7 for generic and some weird sliding thing for non-generic but as an example only one person in our family takes a non-generic med and retail it's typically between $300-380 per month for this dosage and we pay $14.

      When I had surgery last year I was in a top rated hospital for 2 days and it cost me $17. $10 for the pre-op visit and $7 to pick up the pain med prescription.

      It's one of the biggest insurers, certainly the largest in my state, and it's accepted at places more often than not.

      Our vision is through another carrier and we get one eye exam and one pair of lenses per year, totally covered. We get one pair of frames every other year totally covered, but they have to from a certain group (not the high end) but not too bad – we can choose from over 50% of the store.

      Downside they don't cover scratch resistant coating so we pay for that separately.

      Dental kind of sucks and is really complicated to figure out what they do and don't cover. We get one checkup and cleaning every 6 months – but for the extra it's like 10% of this and 80% of that if the moon is full, and 80% of the first $5 dollars and 5% of the next zillion – I don't know. It's better than nothing is all I can say. Braces for the kids were about 8k without insurance and we paid a little over 6k each with coverage. It helps – but not great.

      A few years ago we went from $3 co-pay to $10 but even I didn't complain, because I'm lucky. Still – I used to be able to take all 3 kids to get their school physicals and still get change back from a $10.

      Insurance is the one thing his job does well.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      Health insurance at last job had low-to-average premiums for an HMO with very broad coverage (including reproductive health services before they were required), which was accepted everywhere in town. I could go directly to specialists without going through a primary care doctor. Co-pays were low. I had a great dental plan that cost a few dollars a month.

    5. Betsy*

      I would say mine is… very good:

      My employer pays around 3/4 of my premiums. They have a choice of 5 or so different plans and providers, ranging from HDHPs to HMOs. At the HMO level, there are both national and local providers, so you can decide how much you care about coverage on travel. You can decide to pay more for the plans with broader network/customer service or keep costs low with the cheaper plan.

      I like the choice: it always frustrated me when either my employer plan didn’t cover what I needed or was way more expensive than what I’d want to pay for. It’s more like a real marketplace.

    6. De Minimis*

      Wife’s former job had health coverage that only cost around $100 a month to enroll both of us in a decent HMO that had everything we needed in-house.

      My current job’s health coverage isn’t anywhere near as good, but still better than many private sector jobs. We pay about twice as much as with my wife’s former job, and have to research and figure out who is in-network. The co-pays can be lower, but I sometimes have to pay out of pocket depending on what’s being done, and that was never the case with my wife’s coverage. Unfortunately my current state just doesn’t have as much available as far as good health coverage, but paying just over $200 a month in premiums I gather is still not too bad, but I’m probably going to stick to the bare minimum as far as doing medical stuff for as long as we’re living here.

    7. Shezza*

      I consider mine excellent – they pay 90% of mine, they cover 90% for everyone in the family, I do have co-pays but they are only $20 for doctors and $5 for meds, and my therapist was really impressed with the mental health coverage. I pay extra for dental, but vision is included.

    8. Anonylicious*

      I pay something like fifteen dollars a month of my premiums, everything in-network is covered and like 80% of out-of-network is, and I have an HRA that covers my deductible.

      The dental coverage is not great, and all the prescriptions I’m on were prescribed by the VA and are thus free for me, so I don’t know how the prescription coverage is. The website is not helpful in figuring out how much my meds would cost me.

    9. Lora*

      1. Employer pays for all of it. I don’t pay a dime.
      2. I don’t get any arguments about what is covered and what isn’t. I don’t have to re-certify every six months that no, I don’t have any other insurance that would cover this (and a hearty Eff You to BCBS). I don’t get into arguing about how the office filed it as a code 123 when it should have been 122 and maybe they just checked the wrong box but they need to re-send it. I don’t get any “we decided to renege on your coverage for (expensive test) because of reasons” nonsense. I just show up at the office, the doc does her thing, and I go home.
      3. It’s a PPO, so out of network is not an issue and I don’t have to be pre-certified to go to a specialist or anything like that. If I get hurt or sick out of state, still covered 100% just as it would be at home.
      4. All my scrips are covered. No shenanigans about “can’t you take a generic”. No, no I cannot, and I know a LOT about why the formulations are different between the branded and the generic, so shut up and gimme my pills.
      5. I think there is some sort of out of pocket maximum but I forget what it is. I remember looking at it and thinking that it wouldn’t break the bank. (And another hearty FU to BCBS, whose out of pocket max on my last plan was $10,000.)
      6. Includes dental & vision.

    10. Anon Insurance User*

      Premium for an individual is anywhere from $40-79/month is based on pay level. Most people pay $62 or less. I like that. I think it’s fair. At any level, the premium is super inexpensive compared to what you’d pay elsewhere. Family plans are based on the number of people insured and range from $100-197/month for an employee + 1 child to $270-$531/month for employee + partner/spouse + 5 or more children (premium still based on pay).

      Deductable per year: none in network or $500 (employee only)/$1000 (family) out of network, $500 hospital
      Out of pocket max: $1000/$1500 in network or $2500/$5000 out of network
      No co-pays for preventive care and immunizations
      Office visits are $15 regular or $20 for a specialist
      Inpatient services, labs, and x-rays 90% covered in network or 75% covered after deductable if out of network.

      Scripts are $15 for 30 days from the pharmacy or $20 for 90 days supply by mail order. If the cost of filling the script is less than $15/20 you pay the actual cost. Filling a script for drugs made by the company (it’s a Big Pharma) is free. Scripts filled by a non-participating pharmacy are not covered at all.

      Vision insurance for an individual is $2.02-2.28/month.
      Eye exam: $20 co-pay in network, plan pays up to $32 out of network
      Eyeglass lenses: $20 co-pay in network, $100 allowance out of network
      Frames: $130 allowance then 20% discount on remaining balance in network, $100 allowance out of network
      Contact lenses: $130 allowance then 15% discount on remaining balance in network, $100 allowance out of network
      *You may only use the benefit toward contact lenses OR 1 pair eye glasses, but not both.

      Dental for an individual is $4.75-6.50/month.
      $2000 annual max
      Preventive and diagnostic services: 100% covered, not subject to deductible.
      Basic services: 80% after deductible
      Major services: 50% after deductible
      Deductible for above: $25/$75
      Orthodontia for children under age 20: $50 deductable, 50% coverage up to $1500 lifetime max

      1. Anon Insurance User*

        I have craptacular vision and the lenses on my glasses alone run $500+. So coming to this company and now only having to pay $20 is super awesome! That applies only to the first pair, but their is some kind of nice discount on subsequent pairs. I got two pairs of glasses for less than what I would have normally paid for one pair! It’s great to have a spare now!

    11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I pay around $100/month for coverage for both my husband and I. There’s no deductible and everything in-network is covered 100% (including most prescriptions). It’s pretty great.

    12. Anon for snark*

      I pay almost $200 because my employer offers zero benefits. Despite working two jobs, I make “too much” to get a lower rate, so if I wanted a plan that was anything more than catastrophic coverage and would provide as much of the full spectrum as I could get, I have to pony up 15% of my take-home pay every month. I figure either pay $100 a month only for when I’m literally dying or almost $200 and at least get half of my eye coverage done. No dental, though. SWEET.

      And now I can’t afford the co-pays or any prescriptions I might need, lol go figure. Much less have even the low deductible that I purchased the plan for. Didn’t have insurance until it was mandated because I couldn’t afford it, still can’t afford it even though I’m required to have it, and I need to go, but I still can’t afford the care. Because my boss thinks that I cost too much on payroll anyway (yes, seriously. He thinks he overpays me). I’ve had my insurance since May and haven’t been able to actually go in for anything. I’m 27 and have serious dental issues, I need grief counseling, and just a regular ol’ checkup and physical that I haven’t had in about 10 years since before I started college.

      I’m not bitter.

    13. Illinois RN*

      Our employer (a health network) is self insured and provides health, dental, and vision insurance. It’s under my name and costs about $150 per pay check (paid bi-weekly). Employer pays the rest, which is about 75% of the monthly cost. There are two types of plans that we can choose from, a high deductible that comes with a special FSA account and no co-pays, and our regular plan with small co-pays for each visit. Both plans can have an add on HSA as well, or a limited FSA for dental and vision items only. Either plan, after deductible, is covered at 90/10 for in-network and our hospital, and 80/20 for anywhere else. There is a yearly max amount you will pay, after which insurance 100% covers it, but I don’t recall what that amount is (I want to say it’s like 5K?). Last year when I had my son, it only cost me $1800 in total expenses, counting all co-pays and the hospital visit. That was spread out over the entire 9 months. Dental has a max of $2500 per year, minus orthodontics for children which are fully covered, which you can kill off pretty easily. Luckily our family has minimal dental issues and we take good care of our teeth. Vision you get one order of contacts per year paid for, glasses every 2 years with frames and lenses, minus special coatings or Transitions lenses. Exams for dental and vision are always 100% covered and required yearly. (I’m full time so what I pay per check is base don that. Part time pays about $100 more.)

      In short, I love our insurance coverage. That and our vacation time are two of the best benefits we have and a large reason why I’ve never really thought to look for work elsewhere.

    14. manomanon*

      My office pays all of our premiums for regular medical, prescription, and dental insurance though they don’t offer vision. BUT… I badly injured myself last fall, it involved a trip to the ER, an orthopedic surgeon, two surgeries and physical therapy. I paid 50$ for an ER copay, 20$ for the first visit to the orthopedic surgeon and nothing for 2 months of PT or the various meds I was on after surgery… I looked at the original billing information from the hospital and the surgery alone was about $50,000- well more than I make in a year. I could go to any hospital I wanted and see any doctor or PT I wanted- it was amazing.

    15. littlemoose*

      Relatively low copays ($25 for specialist office visits), no need to get a referral from a primary care provider to see a specialist (good for me and my chronic GI conditions), tons of providers covered, and expensive non- generic meds covered without any pushback.

      I work for a very large organization that offers about 12 different health plans with various insurance companies. I am fortunate that I was able to pick one suited to my higher need for health benefits.

    16. LiteralGirl*

      Wow! I thought I had fantastic coverage! I guess I do; it’s just that some people have even better.
      I work for a staff model HMO that I love. I pay $198 a month for my family of 5 (one is my 25 yo stepson). We have an individual deductible of $100, $200 family. Copays are $15 and there is no coinsurance on top of that. Basic dental coverage is free but I pay $55 a month for an upgraded plan that will pay for the majority of my daughter’s braces. I have vision, including $150 per year toward glasses/contacts.
      I feel very lucky to have my health insurance benefits.

    17. Omne*

      Our plan is pretty good. I pay about $120/month for family coverage. Office visits cost$22, preventative care is free. Durable medical covers 80%, which includes hearing aids every 3 years. Prescription coverage is $10, $16 or $36 depending on the drug with a maximum of $800/yr then they’re free. ER/facility copays about $100. $140 first dollar deductible and about $2K maximum out of pocket per year.

      Single coverage for employees is free and pretty much the same but a lower maximum out of pocket and first dollar deductible.

  10. Melly*

    So I have a job offer coming my way soon! I am really thrilled about this job, it’s a great next step in my career It’s a new position and there’s so much potential to make it awesome. Here’s the thing: my current job has been pretty toxic the whole time I’ve been here, and especially in the last year or so. I have had like no responsibility, this after 3 years of busting my butt with a demonstrated record of success. It’s all politics and I’m so happy to be leaving.

    I’d love some advice on how to re-energize and re-focus for my new position. Just the act of getting the offer, resigning and starting somewhere new will be helpful of course. But there’s probably some residual bad habits (and confidence issues) I’ll need to shake off to be really effective and et a great start at my new job. Any thoughts?

    1. Snork Maiden*

      It doesn’t work for everyone, but I find physical changes (new haircut, wardrobe, a new favourite piece of jewellery) to be effective aids in reminding yourself to change your mindset.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Similarly, using a new briefcase, portfolio, etc. can be a good reset.

        Consider using this time to set some good habits in other ways as well. For instance, I always wish I were better about filing important documents–maybe make a point of being super-organized and filing your new hire paperwork. Or set a bedtime for yourself when you start the new job. A shift in your lifestyle can help remind you that you’re in a new (and better!) place.

    2. Frances*

      If you have the opportunity to arrange for a gap between your last day at your old job and your first day at the new one, take it. I stupidly did not do this, and because of the delay in accruing vacation at the new job and the way new job’s busy periods shook out, I went almost a year without any significant time off (which is the longest uninterrupted break I’ve had since I started working). Not only was that mentally taxing, but I think some of my work-PTSD from my previous job would have affected me less if I’d had a few days to decompress and get a definite mental break between jobs.

      1. WanderingAnon*

        +1000 for this. I had 3 months off between an 8 year-long job and my current one. It was exactly what I needed. Try to take at least 2 weeks off between jobs – a month if you can.

  11. manomanon*

    I need to escape from my current job in the very near future. I’m in nonprofit development in DC and I’m running out of places to look for job postings. I currently look at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Idealist, LinkedIn, the Washington Post and the various university and hospital job boards but I feel like there are other places I can be searching that I either haven’t heard of or am just overlooking. Does anyone have suggestions?

      1. Audiophile*

        I highly recommend the link HigherEdAdmin posted, I used that quite a bit, even though I don’t live in DC. They list jobs in NY and other areas.

      2. HigherEd Admin*

        I don’t know where you are in your career, but a friend of mine just posted a Coordinator position at a nonprofit in NoVA that reports to a Director of Development. Happy to send you more info/connect you, if you’re interested.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      It sounds like you’re mostly covering your bases. Are you thinking at all about leaving DC?

      1. manomanon*

        I can’t (careerwise) afford to leave DC- I moved here about a year ago and while I’m young and have no real responsibilities another big move will start looking bad.

        I’m looking in the whole region that’s accessible by metro/commuter rail though.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Do you use Indeed? I find that it often pulls from smaller websites that you might not be posting on the larger non-profit websites.

      1. Annie*

        Indeed! I’m in the northern DC area and you can limit it by area, key words you want in & out of the list, all kinds of ways- it also pulls from EVERYWHERE (I’ve gotten a few from the local new paper listings that haven’t shown up in my Monster listings). Another one is ZipRecruiter- it depends on the field and keywords you’re using but I’ve gotten some good leads from them too.
        Good Luck!

    3. manomanon*

      Thank you for the blog link! I’ve tried Indeed before but always get frustrated by it since it pulls from so many places. I may have to get back on it though.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Yeah, it’s definitely a lot to sort through and there’s a lot of rough to search through before you find a diamond or two. That said, when I have the time to sit down and go through it, I regularly run across stuff on Indeed that I don’t see posted anywhere else other than on the website of the organization or some obscure professional association.

        Oh, also, it sounds weird, but Craigslist! I got my current non-profit job through CL. It seems to be weighted toward social service organizations, at least in my city, but there are some development jobs there.

    4. manomanon*

      Thank you saf and Alison!
      I just checked out the Public Affairs blog and I’m in love!

    5. littlemoose*

      Does DC have a business journal or similar newspaper publication? I used to see a lot of positions in my city’s business journal that I didn’t see posted anywhere else.

  12. Its Friday*

    I’m giving notice at my job today. They are going to BLOW A GASKET. I’m really nervous (but the abusive behavior is one of the biggest reasons I’m leaving).

    No question, just please keep me in your thoughts today!!!

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Good luck! Please let us know how it goes–and think how much better you’ll feel once you’re at the new position!

    2. OhNo*

      Good luck! I hope it goes smoothly and that you can get out of there ASAP with a minimum of fuss.

    3. Frances*

      Good luck! Just remember, any comments about how hard this is going to be for them are not your problem to solve. Don’t let them guilt trip you into any arrangements you aren’t comfortable with (i.e., being available to your replacement after your last day).

    4. Its Friday*

      I haven’t been able to get ahold of my boss to tell him yet. I’m sick to my stomach, I can’t wait to get this over with :(

      Also, I’m embarrassed that I forgot the apostrophe in the “it’s” in my name, but I’ll leave it as it is now.

      1. Stephanie*

        Glad to hear!

        (And yes! I was about to mention that video if someone else didn’t.)

  13. Apple22Over7*

    Ooh I have a question and I’m not too late to the party! Yay!

    Basically – should I offer to coach a co-worker?

    I have a co-worker, C, who frequently expresses her frustration to me about aspects of our job (we have the same role on the same team). Whilst I sympathise with her, I don’t have the same issues as we have very different approaches to our work. C’s approach is causing her to fall behind in some of the work we do, which is making her even more frustrated and unhappy in the role.

    I know she’s jobsearching and wants out as soon as she can, and I don’t blame her as the job isn’t the right fit for her. I’d like to help her in the meantime to manage her workload so she’s not feeling quite so helpless. However, she’s not directly approached me for help in the matter, and our boss (who is aware of the situation and appears to be ignoring it) hasn’t asked me either.

    Would it be appropriate for me to directly offer to help C in changing her approach to the work so she can manage better, or would that be overstepping some line and I should wait for her to ask me directly for assistance (if she does at all)?

    1. PX*

      I think you can make the offer of help once (along the lines of, ‘If you want I can tell/show you what works for me – maybe it’ll help you?’ or something similar) and see their reaction. If they brush you off, then you’ve tried, if they try it and it works/doesnt work – you’ve done your best.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I’m a nice person, much like yourself apple and in my previous job was the “go to” person for showing new people who to work the system/how to format various things/be on hand to answer questions. I didn’t mind doing it (because the management….wasn’t great, shall we say) because I knew what it was like. I would make the offer but if she doesn’t bite, then I don’t think there’s much else you can do.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I wouldn’t volunteer it out of the blue, but the next time she is venting at you, I’d say, “Do you mind if I make a couple of suggestions that I’ve found helpful?” Note: don’t say “that might help you” because that’s emphasizing her inadequacy and will probably make her defensive. Phrasing it as “that *I’ve* found helpful” puts you on the same side, as it were.

      1. Mints*

        Agree with this and PX above. Make it clear you’re happy to help, but then don’t push it

      2. hildi*

        I totally love this comment. “I’ve found helpful” vs “you’ll find helpful.” Perfect!!

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Yes, as is the casual observation “oh yeah X. When I started I found X difficult until I learnt….(insert helpful tips here)”

  14. Stephanie*

    Any AmeriCorps alum here? I’ve started looking into it, but was curious to hear others’ experiences. Starting to lean more and more toward grad school, so I was looking at that as a possibility where year-long duration was expected.

    -How’d you manage the stipend? If I lived at home (*sigh*), I could make the stipend in my area work. Unfortunately, I think I might be disqualified from receiving SNAP (based on my initial research) because I have assets I don’t want to liquidate (namely a paid-off car, some retirement accounts from previous jobs, and some stock).
    -Did you find it at all helpful career-wise?

    1. Dan*

      Not specifically a response to your question, but… when I was an undergrad, I taught under-performing children in the DC Public Schools System how to read. The actual tutors were work study students making $10/hour.

      The actual site coordinator was an AmeriCorps person who I believe was going to school full time. The program was administered through some non-profit in the city. The funniest thing was that the non-profit person would say “We really want to thank all of our volunteers for the dedication to this this program!” Um, this was the best paying work study job on campus, and only one person in this room counts as a “volunteer.” Always made me laugh.

      Over to your question though, I think you might want to ask about people’s career paths after AmeriCorps. I can’t say I know a whole lot of engineers who did AmeriCorps and continued in engineering.

      1. Stephanie*

        I had one college classmate who did work for the Clinton Foundation doing energy assessments and building retrofitting (she’s a civil) and does that now on a non-AmeriCorps basis. But I agree that she’s the exception.

        If I did do that route, yeah, it would have to be something to do in a gap year and just cross my fingers that I get into school for the following year.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I think finding something reasonably related won’t be too difficult. Even if it’s something like housing or environment, there are ways to make it work. Good luck!

      2. Anx*

        Was this recent? Maybe work-study pay has improved. I did the same work in 2004 and made I think minimum wage (6 something)

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I did Teach for America, but not regular Americorps, so I’m not sure my experience will be helpful.

      Vehicles are often exempt from the SNAP asset test, depending on your state. But yeah, they really make you spend down everything you have.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ah ok. My friend lived in Rhode Island and did AmeriCorps and said her benefits were greatly reduced because she had a car. She said the transit wasn’t good enough to get her to work on time, so she needed the car, which put her in a difficult spot.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Definitely check on the rules for your state. I don’t know Rhode Island rules or when that was, but SNAP rules are very state-specific and may have changed since then. Also, check to see if your retirement savings are excluded from the asset test. I don’t know the details of this (and the FNS website isn’t working for me at the moment), but I vaguely remember that some retirement assets may be treated differently from cash savings.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          The important thing to always ask when you hear personal stories like that is *when* they had that experience. Policies can change yearly, so most anecdotes are pretty useless in determining things for yourself.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I did HealthCorps, which is a subsidiary of AmeriCorps in 2012/2013. I absolutely loved it. But there were two main reasons for that. First is that the position I was offered was exactly what I wanted. It was a direct health education job, offering clinical experience and volunteer management as a regular part of the job. It was the perfect combination of everything. My manager was horrible, so being able to focus on the amazing career opportunity was what got me through.

      The second reason I was able to love it easily is that I’m partnered, so the money was a non-factor. In fact, we used my stipend for our savings account. Now, I had lots of friends who were actually living on the stipend, and it’s definitely possible. Tough, but possible. It is a good idea to have some savings or an in-case-of-emergency person that has access to $500 or so. Car repairs, medical bills etc. One girl was so stressed out because she went to the doctor because her hair was falling out and the dr. ordered over $700 worth of labwork, and she was stuck with the bill, and had no savings or someone to pay.

      But really, you’ll most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits. Each county/state is different, but there have been big changes lately for the asset clause, because policy makers realize the idiocy of making someone sell their car before feeding them. So I would talk to a program coordinator about it before you rule out the possibility. I was eligible for $200/month. But to be fair, we had no money in savings (spent $6k on moving to the new location) and my car wasn’t in my name at the time.

      The best way to think of it is that you’re just being super frugal. You’re not making $12,000/year, you’re making over $17,000 and saving $5,500 of it, which you can then use for education. It’s really nice at the end seeing your student loan balance drop so instantly.

      1. Anx*

        It’s been a tough week for me. I should be excited (I have a job offer for a new fast food restaurant opening in town, and had a job interview for another restaurant job). But I can’t help feeling really down about these prospects.

        Neither would start for at least several weeks. The one I have the offer for starts in August. There’s no signed contract, either. I keep sensing that they’ll never call back when it’s time to start or something else. I applied for SNAP yesterday and was denied. It took me a long time to apply because I have a lot of shame about it, but I eventually decided I’m just want the program is there for: someone who needs a stopgate to keep them from long term health issues over a month of two of having no money. I did not qualify (I don’t make enough).

        My boyfriend’s job should stopped paying him this week, but that should start again in August. He’s a student though, and in a weird catch-22. His tuition reimbursement doesn’t cover student fees, which are higher than my current tuition (1K). He can’t enroll until he pays that, but he can’t pay that until he gets paid. He can’t get paid until he’s a student. I would hate for him to have to walk away from 7 years of work over 1K, but I don’t know how to raise the funds in less than a month with no income, on top of regular bills.

        We are trying to find me babysitting jobs to hold us over, but I can’t find anything. I don’t think my laptop would sell for much (2008 with signs of petering out). Craigslist and care.com haven’t helped at all. Flyers haven’t worked. I don’t know many people here except for other students and underemployed people. Does anyone have any tips for snagging odd jobs?

    4. Anx*

      Not all states apply the assets for SNAPS. There’s been a trend to waive them since the asset limit made it impossible to escape poverty (not allowing you a small savings, cash to move to a better area, etc.)

      I had kept a modest stock that I have been using to pay for rent [funny how they didn’t allow you to keep more than 2,000 cash, but a house doesn’t count as an asset]. My debt also exceeds my assets. I put off trying for a long time in part because of shame and part because of assuming I didn’t qualify because I wanted to keep my stock.

      I just went in yesterday. My assets weren’t a problem. I finally caved as I was started to pick and nibble at my skin and I knew something had to give. I was denied because I’m taking two classes. Ugh! I guess they figure if I have money for school I have money for food. But I had income when I applied, and that was before my boyfriend’s summer stipend was reduced to his formerly monthly stipend. I don’t understand how I could have paid 500 dollars to go home on a mini vacation, but buying classes is a big no-no…even though I’m doing it to try to expand my network and brush up on lab skills (I hadn’t been in a lab since 08).

      Student status is pretty complicated. I don’t qualify because I took classes (but the rest of the government doesn’t consider me a student and I can’t get aid because I have a degree). But if I was never laid off and also managed to work 20 hours a week, I would qualify. Or if I was on work-study–which I can’t be because I have a degree. But then I wouldn’t be so poor! Doesn’t make any sense to me. So now I have to see if my advisor will give me permission to drop so I can qualify. My new job doesn’t start until August and that’s IF they are ready to start training by then (it’s a new restaurant).

      Meanwhile my boyfriend had his pay cut in May. His summer stipend is under 2K. That right there is something sucky about grad school- grappling for funding every 6 months. And being expected not to work (it’s really frowned on at his school) but also not making anything close to a living wage. Anyway, he doesn’t qualify because he doesn’t make minimum wage. Perhaps he could try to claim a lower number of hours to make his pay seem higher. But some schools make you sign that you only work 15 hours or something. So it needs to be more than 20 hours but less than the 60 he actually works.

      I’m pretty sure AmeriCorps structures its pay so participants do qualify for SNAP, though. Have you read that, too? Or am I completely mistaken.

      Sorry this was so rambly. I have to go to volunteer shift soon and I’m in a rush.

    5. CTO*

      I did Lutheran Volunteer Corps (a FT volunteer program through which I received an AmeriCorps education award) right after college. At that point in my career, the experience was really helpful because I didn’t have much experience in my field (social services), just some internships. I definitely credit my LVC year with getting me into my field and to where I am today.

      It seems that AC volunteers often got higher-level duties in their placement than they would have been able to get hired for at a full salary, if that makes sense. For instance, getting hired as a case manager right out of college is really hard because the org could get someone more experienced for that same salary. But getting hired as an AC volunteer for a stipend is easier because most of the candidates will be similarly inexperienced. I left my volunteer year being more competitive in the job market than many of my peers (but it was still hard to find a job because it was 2009!). Many of my friends who did FT volunteer programs did get hired as full staff at their orgs when their term was up.

      Your motives for doing it would probably be a little different since you’re more mid-career and not planning to use it as a direct entry to a job. So make sure that whatever your goals are, the program will fulfill them.

      As others have mentioned, SNAP asset limits vary by state (there are none at all in my state) so look into that carefully. Also find out whether or not your particular AmeriCorps program permits volunteers to hold a second job during their term or not. Some do, some don’t (like VISTA), and I know plenty of people who broke the rules anyway.

      There are a LOT of FT volunteer programs out there that are privately run but still participate in the AmeriCorps education awards and benefits. Some provide housing and/or better benefits and stipends than the straight federally-run AmeriCorps programs. Public Allies, the Catholic Network of Volunteer Services (not just Catholic programs, incidentally), etc. would be worth checking out.

    6. Kelly*

      I was a VISTA in 2007/08 year. It was both a rewarding and extremely difficult experience. Living at the poverty level is nothing to sneeze at and the lessons from that have certainly stayed with me. I did have food stamps for that year – since I had not have income (your stipend doesn’t count as income), I qualified.

      Aside from the poverty level learning curve, I’ve always felt my VISTA year compressed everything you needed to learn about working in the real world that takes most people years, into one very intense year. I learned a ton about myself, and now several years later can look back and say it was a worthwhile experience. At the time I certainly didn’t think so.

      Can’t speak to the career development – I did Disaster Services, which is rare and specialized. Sadly, I have now found myself pigeon holed into a career I hate; partly of my own doing. If you decide to do it, focus more on learning about yourself and what you are capable of while giving back to a community. If you do that, you are bound to come away with a worthwhile experience that you can point to and be proud of.

    7. Former AmeriCorps Volunteer*

      After I graduated from undergrad, I spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Camphill Special School in PA. My experience was pretty different than most AmeriCorps volunteers: since Camphill is a residential school for children with developmental disabilities, (and since Camphill is a European-based organization and most volunteers are young foreigners looking to experience the USA), room and board are provided as part of the commitment. Therefore, I didn’t have to worry about stretching my finances or applying for benefits like most of my counterparts. I then used the education bonus to help pay off my master’s degree in education, which I used to teach high school English for 5 years before moving on to get my PhD. I’m not sure if the experience has directly contributed to me getting hired anywhere, but working with children with disabilities has certainly shaped the way I think of and interact with students (of all abilities!) in my classroom.

  15. Persephone Mulberry*

    I am working on a cover letter for a new job and I’m struggling with making it personal. I have, of course, read all of Alison’s archives on the subject (and actually had a letter featured once – which sets a REALLY high bar, let me tell you). The new job is an industry I worked in several years ago that I’d love to get back into, but a) it’s a different side of the industry – commercial real estate vs residential, so I’m afraid it might come across as naive to suggest that enjoying one translates to enjoying the other – and b) quantitatively, I wasn’t that good at it back in the day. I royally sucked at chasing leads, and negotiation gives me anxiety. I was awesome at the back end, marketing/coordination piece, which is what this job entails, but that feels more like an interview conversation and not something I want to try and explain in a cover letter. Thoughts?

    1. spocklady*

      This is a little more general, but I’ve been finding that for any given position, I have to write one crappy, dry, boring cover letter to start with. Then I can cut most of it and replace it with more engaging text that sounds like me. Maybe I just need to get the boring junk out of my system?
      Anyway, if you’re struggling to make it feel personal, that’s been working for me.
      More specifically, maybe you could talk about what you loved about back end, marketing/coordination, and why you’ve missed it.

    2. Eden*

      If the part you loved about your old job is a big part of the new job, I don’t see why talking about it in the cover letter is not germaine! That’s totally how I would approach it, expecially if you can point to some accomplishments in that arena.

      I think if you can convey enthusiasm for things you know are part of the new job, and interest in learning more about the commercial side of things, your letter won’t come off as naive.

      Believe me, I understand exactly what you mean about how hard it is to write a smart, tailored, personal, yet engaging and succinct cover letter. This site really raised the bar for that, but it pays off!

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      I think showing some background in the field and enthusiasm could go a long ways to getting you to the next stage. Maybe also show how your work experience since leaving that field has given you skill sets that can translate into the new job.

      In an ideal environment, it’d be great if we could throw our cover letters into an area where other readers could read and review for us because so many people here have so much knowledge and experience that could help us design the ideal cover letter. I think it’s kind of like cleaning house, it’s easier for me to go into someone else’s house and help them clean up because I’m not emotionally attached to it. Same thing would go for cover letters.

  16. Cruciatus*

    Have you ever found only pros for a job and still find yourself saying “meh”? But I don’t know if it’s Imposter Syndrome/fear of the unknown or not. I don’t love my AA job now but I’m good at it, the boss likes me. I like people I work near/with. I can handle it and forget work every day when I go home (not that I’m miserable). But there’s no growth. Bad pay. I interviewed this week with the city manager to work in her office. I’d basically be the city manager’s administrative assistant’s administrative assistant. I don’t think I want to do AA forever and wasn’t super excited about taking on another AA role but I haven’t been getting offers anywhere else as it is (mostly applying to universities–academic advisor, etc.) If I am offered this job (and take it) I’d get $3 more an hour. Better benefits. And something that would look a bit more impressive on the ol’ resume (my friend that left the job was getting all sorts of interviews. She could just be a good writer or have better skills than I do, but I feel like this position has some mild prestige). I’m sort of figuring that since I’m not getting other jobs I’m going for, why not do this one for a couple of years and make more money sooner. And I could always bid on other county jobs and be in a better place for them if I wanted to.

    But the job kind of scares me, though the woman in the position before did it for 4 years (and since I know her I was able to get some details). The job would focus on some AA stuff I haven’t been doing (because it hasn’t come up). I therefore don’t even know if I’d like doing it. I don’t think I would fail at the work exactly. But I an nervous about messing up something. If I do it now, no real biggie–easily corrected. But it’d be more nerve-racking in the city manager’s office (but also, more exciting–but I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not!). What if I don’t know that so-and-so is a bigwig and I do the wrong thing?! Or whatever it might be. And another downfall is no guarantee I’d still have the job if she is not re-elected in 2017. Imposter syndrome?

    Don’t really know what I’m looking for. Advice? Support? Thoughts? Concerns? How could so many pros be outweighed by nerves!? Any county/city government AAs out there who can chime in?

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Not a county/city government AA, but as someone who was an AA for a long time before breaking into higher education (as you suggest you want to do, with your academic advisor applications), I just want to send my virtual support. FWIW, academic advisor positions can be really hard to break into and often require previous counseling experience, so though much of the role can be administrative, you really have to be able to demonstrate the ability to advise, guide, and connect with the student population. Good luck!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Thanks. I even tried for administrative positions at these schools hoping maybe I could start there and then work my way up (or maybe over-ish?) since I do work in a higher education environment…but not exactly like a normal college/university (a med school). But nothing happened with that either. I’m slightly anxious about the idea of leaving this education environment for one that’s government. I don’t know if it would be hard, later on, to come back from that or not.

    2. Bethy*

      Ahh this is exactly what I’m going through–been an admin in the same department for 5 years, want to do something more, can’t figure out how to get there. I interviewed for a logical-next-step position within my organization this week, and while I don’t know what the salary increase would be yet, I don’t think it would be high enough to convince me to leave…I could tell the interviewer had some reservations, and I thought during the interview “This isn’t the job for me” but there are so few opportunities to move up in my company (and I really want to stay here)! I can’t tell if I’m just nervous about the change or if I really would not be a good fit for this job.

      Anyway, I guess I’m piggybacking off the request for advice or support…I am not unhappy in my job, really (thanks to a recent leadership change) but I feel like I’m running out of time to move on. I don’t want people to think I’m stagnant.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I do wish you luck! Hopefully there will be more comments/advice posted here over the weekend.

        But yeah, I don’t know if I should just stay put and keep trying for a job I’m more excited about or make the jump for now, do the best I can (make more money, get great benefits, push myself) and then see where I’m at in a year or two. Gah!

    3. Mints*

      (AA means administrative assistant, right? Assuming yes,)
      Count me in a similar boat. I’m in a job that’s really boring, and I’d like to get a job that’s somewhat administrative, because that’s what I can do, but I’d like more responsibility and more interesting work, so I’m applying for jobs in that gray area of just enough familiarity while also stretching a little, trying to hit the sweet spot.

      I think if you’re fairly sure it’s a step forward career-wise, you should go for it.

      For imposter syndrome, there’s some good stuff in the archives, but what’s helped me is to aim to be honest in interviews about what I haven’t done, and then try to trust that the interviewers know whether that’s enough. I think they’re unlikely to give me a job after hearing I’d be terrible at it, so I put the qualified question in their hands. I still have criteria about other things, but I try not to internalize that aspect.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I think it will be a step forward career-wise…but then I don’t know that I want this type of work to be my career, you know? Oh, and yes, I meant administrative assistant. The job I applied for hits some familiarity but will definitely take me out of the comfort zone (at least for a while). I’m just afraid of hating the out of comfort zone stuff!

        I feel I was pretty honest in my interview without selling myself down the river. I don’t feel I overstated anything. They asked about my writing because I might have to do some press releases (ya know, “no big deal”!) and I don’t really write much. OK, right now I am…but at work I just write emails and that’s about it. But I guess the first step is to see how I feel if I am offered the job. Or even if I’m not. Maybe I’ll be relieved.

        I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you should try it, if offered.

      Working for municipalities can be very interesting. It can expand your awareness of what is going on out there and you will meet A LOT of people. You’ll learn all kinds of interesting stuff and gain insight into how our government works and how decisions are made.

      It shouldn’t be boring, at all.

      As far as messing up- that is generic to all jobs. Any new job one could argue “I am afraid of messing up.”

      Mr/Ms Bigwig? Uh, all these folks put their pants on one leg at a time just like you and me. Talk to the part time worker in the same tone you talk to the mayor. Treat everyone with the same level of respect and decency. That will remedy most of that concern. If you mess up explain you are new, apologize, and let them know you will fix it right now. (Tip, most of them will not bat an eye at this. They have all been new, too.)
      Because you are an AA’s AA, your work will probably be the more straightforward/less involved stuff. Decide that if you find something that does not match the rest of what you see, you will ask about it. For example, if you are doing taxes and everyone’s seems to be in a given range, then suddenly you find one person taxes is 2 or 3 times anyone else, ASK about it. “Is this correct?” (Bad example but it’s the best I can drum up right now. Question things that seem out of sync with everything else.)

      I think you should go for it. To me, it seems like you are fighting boredom more than anything. With boredom comes complacency. It is easier to stay in place. “I have this comfy spot and if I move to another spot, I might not be comfy.” That is true, too.

      Very seldom do I regret the changes I have made in life. I do, however, regret some of the opportunities I let go by me.

  17. Blergh*

    It happened. After weeks of low morale and getting on again off again hostile vibes from a coworker, I exploded emotionally in a staff meeting yesterday. I cried in front of all of my coworkers and ended up in heated conflict with said hostile coworker. She rolled her eyes and muttered and drummed her fingers on the table, while I sat there sobbing and trying to get my points across.

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this. I’m mortified.

    1. danr*

      Don’t be mortified. You did it. Now put it behind you and watch for reactions from your coworkers. Unless the rest of your team is clueless and hostile, her reactions should reflect poorly on her, not you. For the future, and this is hard, your interactions with the coworker should be totally professional. If she rolls her eyes when you talk to her, stop talking and wait until she’s done, then continue. Folks like this thrive on driving someone else to distraction. And, there is no way that you can respond in the same way. She’s had much more practice doing this stuff.

      1. Blergh*

        Thanks for the advice! My manager called me in to talk about Caring Confrontation today, so that I will handle conflict better in the future. We are to wait a few days and then sit down and talk it out. I know it needs to be done, but I can’t help but be leery of sitting down with this person when she has been so openly hostile to me.

        1. danr*

          Hopefully the ‘caring’ is for both sides. You’ll be calm and state your position. If she rolls her eyes and drums on the table, wait. Don’t react. If there is a third person in the confrontation, they should respond to her hostility.
          Good luck.

            1. Anon for this*

              I do hope you have a mediator to help facilitate. From what you’ve described, I’d worry the hostile coworker wouldn’t take it seriously or handle the meeting calmly without a mediator.

              1. Blergh*

                I agree. She said we both had to agree that we wanted her in the room. I think I will advocate for this.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This. It’s like waiting for a kid to stop whining. That will make her look like the idiot, not you. And I hope you do have a mediator–I would ask for one.

    2. Jen*

      Oh I’ve done this! I’m sorry. When I first started out I was at a terrible job and I’d get so so so frustrated and burst into tears.

      Last time I did it was about 2 years ago when I returned to work from maternity leave after 10 weeks at home with the baby and was told I needed to go to Denmark for a full week. I was hormonal and upset at the idea of having to be away from the baby for a week and was stressed about pumping. I went to a meeting right afterwards and burst into tears. Fortunately that meeting was full of women and no men and they all understood what I was going through.

      1. Blergh*

        Oh no! That’s terrible. Did you still have to go to Denmark?

        Thanks for commiserating with my teary outburst.

        1. Jen*

          I did not go to Denmark. The company had recently been sold so I was already looking for work and had no intentions of staying long term so I told the I could not travel due to the fact that I did not want to and I found a new job a month later.

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      At my last job I finally lost it in the third of a series of meetings (over about four or five days) in which it seemed to become clear to me that the project we had been working hard on (and of which I was quite proud) for about five years was of no use to anyone but us. There was more to it than that, but that was the message I really felt like I was getting. On top of which, I was about four months into what turned out to be my father’s year-long terminal illness, so my nerves were probably not optimally suited for bad news of any kind.

      So I just started crying and couldn’t stop. Marbles everywhere. Fortunately, the meeting in which this happened was just me and three of my most trusted senior colleagues, mentors, etc.; one of them got up and closed the door, and they carried on with the meeting as if I weren’t sobbing in the corner. I e-mailed them all later to apologize and assure them I was all right, and they were understanding and very kind.

      1. Blergh*

        I’m so sorry to hear about your father.

        Thank you for commiserating with my tears. I talked to my manager about the crying and she was fine with that part. She just wants me to stop bottling up my feelings so they don’t all come out at once again. Meanwhile, I’m going to focus on looking for another job!

    4. short geologist*

      I’ve cried on the phone with a client, in front of subcontractors, and in small groups (less than 5) at various times when I couldn’t escape. But not in a big meeting. I’ve found that getting a good night’s sleep, having a plan for resolving the problem, and being as professional as possible in future interactions all help.

      Management may propose solutions that treat the aggressor the same as the victim (anger management classes t for both, etc). This is not the time to complain – keep your head down and show that you can rise above the other person.

      1. Blergh*

        Great advice!

        Fortunately (or unfortunately?), we are a small staff. One staff member was out of the office and one was on the phone, so they missed my hysterics for the most part. Only three people were present to witness my sob fest.

        In my head I keep wondering: How does no one else see how hostile and disrespectful she is being? So it’s interesting that you pointed out that the solution may be the same for both parties. When I was presented with the Caring Confrontation tips this morning, I made sure to ask that she also be presented with the same information.

        And reading everyone’s suggestions, I will be requesting that my manager act as mediator when we finally do sit down and talk.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In all likelihood, they do see it and they are totally disgusted with her.

          I had a situation just recently. I can’t go into details here. A group of professionals had a meeting. These are people that work on their own but get together to share knowledge and resources.

          One person in the group was carrying the heavy end of the work load for the group. There were a few people in the group that were disrespectful to the heavy lifter. You could see the storm had been brewing over months. One night it happened. Heavy lifter blew up. Most of us totally understood why. But since this is a professional group, no one said too much in front of everyone. No one really stood up for the heavy lifter. (I was the lowest ranking person in the room- I did not say one word.)

          Here’s the key part. People that were not even at the meeting understood why the heavy lifter blew up! Did they agree with everything that heavy lifter said? Probably not. But that did not matter. The main points were right on target.

          After that the story went around and the group fell apart. No interest. Key people quit, etc. Very sad but understandable.

          Just as you want folks to give you a chance, you can also give them a chance. You might be surprised by who agrees with you.

          I come from a short-fused family. I tell myself that I know me and I know the types of things that rattle my cage. If I am angry/crying that is because I have waited too long to do something. I should have asked/intervened/other actions before now.

          I think this will boil down to right message but badly delivered.
          You aren’t the first person and, most certainly, you will not be the last person to have this happen.

          1. Blergh*

            Thank you for sharing your story. It truly helps.

            I’m certain I could have handled my message better. I shouldn’t have been bottling up these feelings for the past year. I can only try to repair the problem at this point. Hopefully we can both listen to one another when we finally do speak again. (Our manager tried today to get us to engage in conversation. I tried, but it certainly seemed like the coworker was still nursing her wounds and unwilling to participate. I suppose we will try again next week.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You have done your best by showing willingness to work at the situation. The rest is beyond your control. The boss is fully aware of the differences in behavior between the two of you. Hang tough, stay the course.

    5. Anon For This*

      I’ve had a few moments like that during my current job. Management is very hands-off, and it’s an environment where you can gain a lot by manipulating and competing with your co-workers. I’m lucky in that I have no aspirations of rising to a position of power within the department. So I just mind my own business and do my job. But I have one co-worker who makes my life difficult because he sees my position as a threat to his own status.

      I’ve tried all the nice, professional ways of handling it and nothing works. So I’ve snapped at him a couple of times, fortunately only in private. I feel horrible about it. I’m usually a calm, polite person and don’t have a temper. But this guy is really difficult . . . I’m taking it as a sign that I just need to get out asap and find a better job.

      1. Blergh*

        This is exactly how I feel. I have very little work to do, and I have expressed my frustrations over this to management and to the hostile coworker. She still grabs every project that comes through and is completely unapologetic about it. It feels like a competition. She works long hours, while I twiddle my thumbs. I am beyond frustrated and that is what came out yesterday and led to tears.

        I am in agreement with you, though. It’s simply time to look for another job – jobs where we will be appreciated for our strengths and not feel as if we have to compete!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is the real problem right here.

          No one wants a job where they feel they contribute very little.

        2. Anon For This*

          Yes, that’s exactly my situation! Every time I start a new project, this person finds a way to take it over. Then he gradually abandons it about half-way through without communicating and I later have to explain why it didn’t get finished. When I do something from start to finish, he finds a way to claim credit for it. On top of that, he’s always bragging about how well-connected he is, how much money he makes, how big his apartment is, etc. The only saving grace is that he’s remote so I rarely have to see him in person.

          I’ve tried being nice to him, having an open conversation about things, distancing myself, asking other people for advice . . . Management is partially aware and partially in denial. They don’t want to do anything about it. Other co-workers have seen this side of him, but they don’t work with him as often as I do so they don’t know how bad it is.

          Fortunately, the reason I applied for this job in the first place was because I’ve always wanted to work in another department in the company, one that rarely hires externally. So I’m just going to focus on that and try not to lose my temper again.

  18. Aunt Vixen*

    Friends, I am getting out of this job. Hurrah!

    A few weeks ago a friend contacted me about a vacancy in his office. I interviewed for it and was the leading candidate – until the boss two rungs above the hiring manager thought, Hmm, but we really need someone with this completely other skill set as well, and they went back to the drawing board. Le sigh. Then last week my friend contacted me again to ask if I was still interested; they’d apparently realized that to get people with both skill sets was going to involve hiring two people, which is also sensible because the skill sets represent (what I view as almost completely) unrelated tasks. So they’ve hired someone to do Y, and would I still like to come work with them to do X?

    We got together on a salary that’s less of a pay cut than I was expecting to have to take, and as soon as some background-check stuff goes through, I am out of here. Which is awesome, because while what I have now is a well-paying job that I’m good at, I don’t feel comfortable here and never have. Most of the people are fine, and my specific tasks are no problem, but they’re in support of a mission (a word I hate) I don’t care for, and on extremely short-term contracts that I think would lead to a lifetime of ulcers and teeth-grinding if there was no stability ever. (Some people find that exhilarating. Not me.) The new gig is few or none of those things, plus it’s closer to home – once we move to our new house I’ll be able to walk to the train and take the train in, instead of driving myself 20+ miles each way.

    I am over the moon.

    1. Dan*

      I understand why you want to leave your current job. I used to work for a federal contractor, and while I generally liked the “mission” the work was generally rather short term (less than a year) and of a technical nature that I didn’t enjoy.

      It was really starting to suck.

  19. Mints*

    I’m having trouble finding the post(s) about what to do when you’re applying for a job where a friend works. I should apply online, then send my friend a heads up email, right?

    1. MaryMary*

      Ask your friend what would be the best approach for her company, it will vary based on the employer’s size and method of doing things. For example, some companies pay a referral bonus, and at OldJob, the applicant had to be referred through an internal system. If the applicant had already applied through the external site, the current employee was not eligible for the bonus.

      1. Mints*

        Oh interesting!

        I haven’t seen her in a while, so I was a little wary about forcing a referral on her in case she didn’t want to pass it along or had no idea who was hiring. But maybe I can send her an email like “I saw this posting online which I thought I’d be a good fit for because (a couple sentences). I’m planning to submit the online application this week. Let me know if there’s anything else I should do!”
        Hmm I feel really awkward at this. What does the hive think?

        1. BRR*

          When I feel awkward about something I give them an excuse built in when I ask. It’s kind of the opposite of how Jamie approaches accountability where she stopped giving excuses for people to use. When I know it’s something someone doesn’t have to do and it puts them in a tough position, I want to make it easy for them to politely say no.

        2. Befuddled Squirrel*

          Just let her know you’re applying and ask her a very general question about the company or the position. Something that someone could answer without feeling like they’re giving you an unfair advantage over other applicants. At that point, if she wants to help you out, she can offer to be a reference or help in some other way.

          Don’t hold it against her if she doesn’t help out, though. A lot of people have ethical qualms about referring friends who they haven’t actually worked with, or the company might not have a referral process, etc.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          My first thought was does she like the job/company? I think I would ask a broader question. Send the post and say something like “I have applied for this job. Do you have any tips or pointers that I should be aware of?”

          I am saying this because you haven’t seen your friend in a while. This would cut her some slack if she has nothing positive to say or if she is feeling burned out.

  20. Laufey*

    I got a new cube at work! This one has a nice big window, so I want to get a plant.

    Needs to be an easy keeper, stay more or less in its pot (i.e. no vines), and like sunlight (south/west side of building). Any suggestions?

    1. Jen V*

      I have tried a few plants at work and I am finding my jade plant very easy to take care of. It does not grow too fast and no flowers, just in case anyone in the office is allergic to pollen.

    2. Stephanie*

      Succulents. I second the jade plant. Or you could try some kind of cactus. I’m horrible with most plants and managed to keep my jade plant alive.

      1. Mints*

        Cacti are succulents! You could get a cute pot that has a few different types of succulents, including some cacti. You could do it yourself if your handy? My local Home Depot had some cool potted arrangements

    3. OhNo*

      Aloe plants are pretty low-maintenance, I believe. And they are useful if you ever burn yourself or have a painful sunburn that is distracting you at work!

      1. Betsy*

        Seconding the zz plant. I have a 3-year old one in my (windowless) office. I sometimes forget to water it. For months. And yet here it is, putting out new growth. Those things are unkillable save by fire, I think.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      Spider plants! I guess they have the occasional vine, but you can prune those. They’re well-behaved and easy to care for.

      1. Snork Maiden*

        And almost impossible to kill, too. **glares at spider plant colonizing the dining room**

        1. Omne*

          I have 2 cats that managed to kill one. Why they keep eating it and erping it up again I have no idea. Easily amused I guess….

          ( regular checkups and they’re in excellent health)

    5. hermit crab*

      Jade plants are great. For some more excitement, try a Christmas cactus, or grow an avocado from scratch, which is really fun and easy! You can also turn a lot of vines (philodendron, devil’s ivy, etc.) into really nice houseplant by just winding the vines around themselves inside the lip of the pot. They’re super low maintenance and fiddling with the vines gives you something to do if you need to clear your mind for a minute.

    6. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Mother-in-law’s tongue (also known by the less-interesting name of snake plant)– also supposed to be good at cleaning the air!

    7. Celeste*

      Snake plant. Very easy care, and in time when it’s gotten good and happy you will see a rare but pretty bloom.

    8. HigherEd Admin*

      I think the plant I have is called a Fittonia? Doesn’t need much sun/water, and quite nice to look at.

    9. Another English Major*

      Lucky bamboo plants are easy to take care of. Just make sure the pot is always filled with water and it should be fine.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      Peace lilies are lovely too and also help to clean the air. If you google office plants, there are lots of good suggestions.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Pothos are really easy. I throw water on mine once a week and they can handle damn near anything. They even deal fine with fluorescent light. You’d have to jump up and down on it to kill it.

      1. LV*

        I have one of those that I bought for a previous job and then took home with me when my contract ended. In 2 years it’s grown almost five feet – it’s on top of my bookcase and the tendrils trail down almost to the ground. I love it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Mine’s name is Horace, LOL.

            I used to have one at a previous job that grew really long tendrils that I draped around the top walls of my cube. :)

    12. Alice*

      Careful that you don’t get a plant that leaks sap. One of my mate’s coworkers has a veritable jungle, and when one of the plants drips sap, its annoying for all.
      One suggestion could be a mint plant? Then you can also make a nice mint tea! It requires a little bit of maintenance (occasional trimming if not pinching leaves for tea). Needs to be watered regularly, but likes sun. I have one here at my house, but I think I would like one at work for a nice mental break when trimming/watering/fertilizing. (note: I think someone else already mentioned not getting something overly fragrant, I don’t think mint is, but its good to keep in mind).

  21. JamieG*

    How do I break out of retail? I’ve been with my current employer for over two years, and while it’s not terrible most of the time I really want to move on to something different. I don’t have any office experience, though, and there aren’t really any accomplishments that I could put on my resume; I do my job as well as I can, but there just isn’t the opportunity to be demonstrably better than is required. Can someone who’s been in a similar situation give me some guidance?

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      It is tricky….When I first started working I went from bars, to retail, to a library, and now do admin-type things.
      In my retail job(s) there was the whole – stocking in the order they are supposed to be in, ordering stock, customer ordering, dealing with difficult questions and so on. Is there anyway you could do more office-y things in your retail job? I know my friend helps with the ordering of shop stock once a fortnight. I bet, if you’ve been in your job for a while that you have a rapport with certain customers, and you know what they are looking for/what to suggest for them/go out of your way to chat to right? I’d say that’s better than required! Do you have to “upsell” anything? You could say “beat target of x to reach the highest sales on a Saturday” or something similar…?
      Otherwise, perhaps do some kind of basic computer course perhaps, to show that you can use various packages, or if you’ve done them through college etc?

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        This is great advice, similar to what I did myself.

        I pointed out my work in the inventory and cycle counts. I picked out my individual sales scores (does your store give you access to these? Can be useful) for profitability across hours worked. I figured how much more productive I was than the average (by examining other workers’ scores and the company averages). I stressed my speed, accuracy, and attention to detail (and gave examples in my cover letters). I volunteered for extra shifts and extra, random-type duties, going above and beyond (in fairness, many times I was looking for something to do at work, but it shows initiative) in looking for extra work.

        I know AAM has covered this in a few questions before–try searching “retail” in the archives!

        1. JamieG*

          I’m going through the archives now; thanks for the idea! I don’t have any metrics for me that I can look at; it’s not a commissioned sales sort of thing, and I rarely cashier so my numbers would actually look really bad.

          I know I need to boost my resume, though. I have yet to get so much as a phone interview for anything not direct customer service, so there’s clearly a problem. (I just hope it’s fixable outside of somehow getting a new job…)

      2. JamieG*

        Unfortunately it’s a major corporation, so my ability to get involved with more behind-the-scenes stuff is pretty strongly limited. I do pride myself of giving excellent customer service, but that’s hard to put on a resume since I know it’s pretty subjective.

        1. Betsy*

          If you’re having a hard time with it, I’d suggest looking at a transition plan, instead of just making a jump. Look for smaller shops that would need more help with support, or stores that require different skills (I’m thinking things like Staples, where you may be able to do some office-ish copying jobs). Consider trying to get a job in customer service in a retail chain.

          Any of those would be jumps that more directly use your current experience, but move you in the direction of an office-based position.

    2. The LeGal*

      When I was in your situation during undergad, I started taking on things outside of my job description that were skills I could add to my resume. I also looked for a bridge job – a job that was till in my field (customer service); however, it used some skills I needed for the future (I transitioned from a major chain salon to a privately owned health club, but still initially had the same position at the new company as I had at the old company.) The transition to a small business turned out to be the smartest thing that I did. I found that small businesses are less rigid than larger companies, and were more likely to let me take on tasks outside of my job description. I went from front desk work to – over time – doing plenty of HR work and employee training. Those were skills outside of my job description, skills my company badly needed, and I was looked at as a gem b/c I was always willing to take on extra work. Good luck!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I found a great staffing firm and they found me my first semi-professional job, it was a temp-to-hire. The staffing firm saw that I had the professionalism and the basic skills, so they were the ones who pitched me to the employers.
      In today’s competitive market, it is something to consider.

    4. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I found it was easiest to apply my retail skills to receptionist positions, because they’re so customer-service dependent. Dealing with problem customers, answering phones, problem-solving– all things that I needed in both jobs. Once I got receptionist, I was able to move to administrative assistant positions, and then to where I am now (which is a glorified admin role, but hey, at least it *is* glorified).

      You also need to make sure that your computer skills are up to scratch. Get your typing speed up to at least 50 or 60 words a minute if it’s not already there (I learned to type using a combination of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and a lot of instant messaging-type things– okay, fine, it was a chat room on a local BBS– that encouraged me to get my speed up), and if you’re not already quite familiar with Microsoft Office, do as many online tutorials as you can. Learning Quickbooks and some basic HTML wouldn’t hurt, either. Learn how to use basic office equipment, too– like, maybe go to several different libraries and/or copy shops and spend a few bucks using their self-service copy machines, so you can figure out how things are usually set up. I’ve found that being able to figure out how to use copiers and faxes on my own without having to ask has been a huge help.

      Once you’ve got some good skills, go to an administrative temp/staffing agency. They’ll test you on your typing speed and computer skills (and make sure you know how to file things, probably, so make sure you know the alphabet and standard filing procedures) and hopefully be able to place you in some temp jobs that will give you experience. If you’re lucky, you might even get a temp-to-hire gig, and then you’re golden.

    5. Anon For This*

      I made the transition from retail to professional. It was challenging at first, but this is what helped:

      1) Working at a call center. The qualifications are minimal, but it’s office work.
      2) Volunteering. In fact, I’m still doing this to broaden my skills and further my career.
      3) Going back to school for another degree.
      4) Applying for professional jobs relevant to my degree while in school.

  22. Jen V*

    I am struggling with whether to submit my tuition reimbursement. My company reimburses tuition for my courses (about $5,000) if I pass, which I did but I am not sure if I should ask my manager to approve the reimbursement because I am looking for a new job. My parents are telling me not to ask for reimbursement especially when I want to leave and my manager does not know that I am job searching. On the other hand, I have friends telling me that since corporate policy is to reimburse an approved course, I should apply and I am not obligated to stay at a company since I did not sign a contract.

    P.S. I love this week’s cat picture

    1. OriginalYup*

      Two questions: Is it a job-related course only (like certification to do something work-related) or something separate (like a required course in a degree program), and does the company have a policy requiring repayment if you leave within a certain timeframe?

    2. Tina*

      What does the company policy say? I’ve been at companies where they’ve said you have to stay employed there for X amount of time after being reimbursed for a course, but others don’t say anything about that.

      1. Anonie*

        If you are leaving the company, I don’t think it is right to ask the company to pay for it. Companies pay tuition reimbursement because they want the skills you learn to benefit the company and help you do your job better. If you are not going to stay it is not right to ask them to pay for something that will benefit another company.

        That is just my opinion……………………..

        1. Dan*

          Honestly, I’d go with whatever company policy said. At my last job, the “payback period” was only 6 months. Most I’ve seen is a year.

          I’ve had employers pay for classes for me that really had nothing to do with my current job, and likely not going to advance me within the company either. So ethically I guess I shouldn’t have asked them to pay, but it was a stated benefit and approved so I did it anyway.

    3. Jen V*

      Clarification:

      It is a course for career development (company is focusing on employee development) and it was approved by my manager and the vice president last year.

      The corporate policy does not specify anything about having to stay with the company. The only requirement is to obtain manager’s approval prior to signing up for the course and that the manager has to sign the form for reimbursement.

      1. IndieGir*

        I’d say submit for reimbursement, b/c you don’t know how long it will take you to get a new job. For all you know, you could be there another 6 months to a year.

      2. OriginalYup*

        Then I’d submit it. It sounds like they’re doing this as part of a broader development/retention strategy, which is the spirit in which you took the course. And you don’t know how long it will be til you find something new, so it could be a decent period of time before you leave. Also, you could always hang on to the reimbursement til you resign, in case you leave within three months and it becomes a thing.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      Unless you think this would totally burn a bridge if you left, I would submit the reimbursement. This is a perk that your company offers, and it’s normal to use it. Also, realistically, how close are you to leaving? If you’re just starting a job search, it could take you months or a year before you start your new gig.

    5. The LeGal*

      Look at your company’s tuition reimbursement policy. Companies may require that you stay in your position for a period of time after receiving the reimbursement. My company required that I stay for six months after the company paid for my class. If I left early, I would have to repay it back. My company had a sliding percentage scale for the amount that I’d need to pay back based on the number of months that I was there. After looking at the policy (if one exists), decide if you still want to do it. I used mine for law school, and I’m glad that I did. I thought that I’d leave, but I ended up staying with the company and using my skills there. I just looked at it as another benefit provided by my company. I would not forego retirement benefits or medical insurance simply because I was leaving. Plus, you never know how things will work out. I was lucky enough that my employer ended up valuing my skills. Good luck!

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      Follow-up question (if you don’t mind the slight hijack, Jen V!);

      Where do you find information about the payback policy? Our HR website has the tuition reimbursement info (eligibility, amount, etc.) but nothing about a payback period. I’m a little concerned that if I ask someone, they’ll figure out that I’m planning to leave after getting my degree.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You could ask if there are any restrictions on the tuition reimbursement that you should know about.

    7. Sabrina*

      I’m willing to bet that your company lists tuition reimbursement as part of your “Total Rewards” – they see it as part of your compensation whether or not you use it. So use it. I used it for 2 semesters, but my company made it so difficult to do it and nearly caused me to be dropped from a class AND had me sent into collections, so I stopped doing it. Figured it wasn’t worth the effort.

    8. soitgoes*

      Just because you are job searching now doesn’t mean you will be working somewhere else any time soon. I’d get the classes paid for.

    9. Betsy*

      Would you have taken the course if it wasn’t for the company’s reimbursement policy, and did you know you would be changing jobs when you took the course? If no, I say you are ethically fine with submitting for reimbursement. If yes… it’s a little hazier.

  23. tj*

    Good morning,

    I was wondering what the appropriate approach to a company relocation would be. Our company is moving about 12 miles over to the next town where the owners have purchased a building. It will increase the driving time for about 80% of the staff. We have announced the move to employees, offered a map and photo of the new building, and we are planning a breakfast for the first day we work from there. Do you have any suggestions on other thing we could be doing?

    Thank you,
    TJ

    1. Anon7*

      I’ve never been in this situation, but is there any chance of doing a tour or walkthrough of the new building with staff before everyone moves out there? That would give people a chance to figure out driving routes (if they go in their own cars), and make it easier to find things once everything is over there.

      1. Managee*

        This! I wish I had been able to get a good look at what my workspace would look like before I was in it every day.

      2. tj*

        The building will be ready Sunday afternoon and we have posted that employees can check out the company Facebook page for times of the tour and walk through. We’ve already lost about 5 employees with the move and we anticipate more will leave soon.

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          I don’t know if this is possible for your company, but if you’re worried about losing employees because of the move, could you offer telework days or some sort of flexible scheduling to make up for the extra commute time?

    2. CTO*

      Could you help organize a rideshare program, provide discounted bus passes, or (like someone else mentioned) offer more flex time or work-from-home? Also, I assume you’ll be hiring a top-notch professional moving company to minimize the time, stress, and lost productivity employees experience from the move.

      If I were one of your employees, I would find it really helpful to hear management acknowledging what a hardship this move could cause. I’d appreciate really clear information about why this move was necessary, what the benefits will be, and how the company will help its employees adjust. Companies are not obligated to do these things but it certainly helps.

      1. tj*

        The majority of our employees work full time and have to be in-house to perform work duties (M-F 8 am – 5 pm). We’ve hired moving companies to help make the transition as smooth as possible. We also purchased employees welcome bags and planned a free breakfast for the first day of work.

        The move is due to the company experiencing rapid growth. We have out-grown our previous location and the new location offers more opportunities for future expansions and hiring more staff. Also the city the company is relocating to is booming with business! We can really become a staple in the community.

        It has been a set back to lose employees with the move. We anticipated a few but not as many as we have had and is trying to recovery for it while still boosting employee morale.

        1. CTO*

          It sounds like you’ve done what you can to make the actual move painless, but not really addressed the underlying inconvenience that employees are subject to. A breakfast and welcome bag don’t fix the fact that the an employee’s commute just got 12 miles longer. If there aren’t any ways to mitigate that, then you might just be stuck with the inevitable attrition.

          Has your management been approachable, empathetic, and open with employees about the move? If not, then a breakfast will feel like an empty gesture from people who don’t realize or don’t care that an employee’s commute (and therefore childcare, family time, hobbies, evening classes, workout routine, public transit, whatever) just got upended.

          1. Befuddled Squirrel*

            +1. Find out how it’s actually impacting people and try to help out in those areas.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            This.
            Here, 12 miles is 35 more minutes in good weather. In bad weather it is 2 hours.
            My insurance company sends me letters every year to check my mileage to work daily.
            If I was working a part time job, I would probably not be able to keep the PT job.

  24. Anonymouse Typo*

    Going anon for this: how would y’all suggest dealing with the guy who literally e-mails every single higher up he can every time he catches anyone making a typo? My boss now has to go into meetings with the big boss to account for us making typos.

    Ironically, this dude is literally the worst at making typos in the entire office–about one out of every four things he sends us has incorrect information. He claims to “spot check” and blames it on the people who send them to him, but he has to retype his information and that’s all on him. He has a PhD and is higher up than us lowly clericals. Basically, we can’t yell at him to check himself (or even ask him to) or pull the same crap. My boss is annoyed, but it seems like something we just can’t do anything about. She suggested that we have her e-mail the higher ups every time he typos, but so far she’ll only do it if he makes a huge mistake rather than the usual “wrote down the wrong number” crap, because we look petty if we complain. But he doesn’t.

    Grrrr.

    1. fposte*

      The problem isn’t this guy, the problem is that he’s having attention paid to him. And a big side-eye to your boss’s suggestion–that is only going to validate the notion there’s a problem.

      Your boss should be able to handle this with her boss (are you cc:ed on the typo emails, btw? Or is she telling you this, which she probably shouldn’t be doing?). Either the typos are normal, in which case she waves the big boss off saying that Guy doesn’t grasp what a rate of acceptable error is, or Guy has a point, in which case she needs to deal with the problem. Assuming Guy reports to her and it’s the first category, she can also tell him to knock off the over-her-head emailing that misuses somebody’s time.

      But I’m thinking the real problem is how people are dealing with Guy rather than Guy himself.

      1. Anonymouse Typo*

        Clarifying for AAM before she answers it (go ahead):

        PhD guy is not my boss’s direct report–he has another supervisor entirely who isn’t involved in this to my knowledge. She has no control over what he does. He is cc’ing my boss (which is appropriate) and then her two bosses above her, who come down heavy on my boss because we have to be absolutely perfect. She’s defending us and keeping us out of the direct line of fire. He’s not cc’ing any clericals directly, but yes, we had to be told what he was doing so we know to watch ourselves. There is a lot of stool pigeon reporting on people going on here :(

        Does he have a point? Yes and no. There were a couple times where a typo was a big problem–but it was fixable and not a huge enough problem that required e-mailing the heads of the office. But he’s reporting on everything even if it’s minor. It’s akin to calling the police and the sheriff’s office and the mayor on a noisy neighbor instead of just talking to the neighbor and/or the landlord. It just feels nasty and vindictive. But in the end, I suspect there is nothing we can do about it other than to be perfect, of course.

        1. Lora*

          1. Why doesn’t his supervisor have any control over what he does? She had better get control of what he does, because he’s embarrassing her. Big time.

          2. As fposte said, why is anybody paying attention to this guy at all? Why hasn’t anybody said, “Dr. Arrogant, the CEO does not give a flying about a typo even if it’s in the Bible. You need to quit bothering him and everyone above your boss and if a typo is a big deal, let your boss handle it IF it even merits handling. Welcome to the world outside of academia, son.” I suppose they could say it nicer than that, but it seems like Dr. Dude is a bit socially awkward/uninformed to begin with, so bluntness might be required to get the point across.

          How is he ever going to handle colleagues for whom English is a second/third/tenth language?

          1. Anonymouse Typo*

            I don’t think his supervisor is being told about this stuff, as far as I know (my boss hasn’t mentioned her being in the e-mail loop). I doubt she’d put the hammer down on him for it though., she’s one of the stool pigeon reporters.

            This guy is a bigger deal than the clericals, that’s why. And in an industry where we are called and complained about constantly….

  25. Anon for this*

    I’ve been with my organization for years, and recently switched to a new position. I recently found out that because I switched positions, they don’t intend to give me a raise for this year, even though I worked for the organization all year. And the kicker? Had my start date in the new dept been ONE BUSINESS DAY earlier (which was entirely doable), I would have gotten the raise. My new boss didn’t know any of this, and was shocked and appalled that this was the case, he even put in the recommended raise for me. There’s another employee in my office in the same position. The boss is trying to do something about it, but we’re not optimistic. I’m having a hard time getting my head around an organization doing that to loyal, long-term employees.

    1. Frances*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. That sounds a lot like my old employer, which was way more concerned with (often arbitrary) rules than employee morale.

    2. Academic Advisor*

      Yeah, my organization has something similar. In order to qualify for a merit increase, you have to have been in your current position for a certain amount of time – it doesn’t matter if you were in a different position in the same company before that. I have never had a problem with it though because a new position usually comes with a salary increase already (or at least, it always comes with the possibility of negotiating a salary increase).

      1. Anon for this*

        Unfortunately, there was no increase – in fact, the new boss had to argue for them to even match my existing salary :(

        1. Befuddled Squirrel*

          That can be a sign that the company is struggling. I’d look out for other signs and start thinking about a backup plan.

  26. Cupcake with Sprinkles*

    I had a second round interview for an internal position today. It went okay (it was more of “getting to know you” type of interview rather than “let’s dig into your skills and experience”).

    I like my current role alright. I really, really like my current supervisor too.

    There are two main reasons I’m looking: 1.) money (Long story short, but I took over my former supervisor’s responsibilities several months ago and thus was “promoted” to the next level up. Basically, I am now doing manager level work but don’t get manager level pay. I didn’t ask for the promotion – it was handed to me without asking me if I wanted it. The pay raise was very slight, and I expressed my displeasure to my supervisor. They have been “working” to get my salary up for the past six months, but nothing yet.)

    2.) I don’t know how well I really fit in with my current team’s culture. It’s in sales (but I’m not a salesperson) and there is an expectation of partying. I don’t drink and I very much value my free time outside of work. I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the past year and it’s kind of gotten old.

    The position I’m interviewing for is a newly created position in a newish part of the company (the area is 1 year old). I’ve been in a similar situation before and suffice to say, it was the worst job ever, so I’m a little nervous about.

    I liked the people I interviewed with alright. They seemed nice, intelligent and professional. I’ve been in my current role for four years and feel like it might be nice to work in another part of the company for experience/exposure.

  27. haru*

    If a job description requires 3-5 years of accounting experience, would you count internship experience towards those years ? I have 2.5 years of work experience, including 3 busy season, and if I added up the internship experience, it would be 3 years. I’m not sure if that’s too much of a stretch though. Would it be better to wait to apply to those jobs in another 6 months?

    1. Im Awesome*

      I would…I count my accounting internship as experience my problem is it was only a year so it gets overlooked :(

      1. De Minimis*

        Was one of the internships during busy season? If so, I would count that time…otherwise I might not depending on what the internship involved. Sometimes “summer internships” don’t require a high level of work and I would be hesitant to include those.

        A lot of accounting employers do consider the number of busy seasons you’ve worked to be as important as the number of years, so it would be good to point out that you’ve worked 3 busy seasons.

        1. haru*

          Thank you for your suggestion! The work I did during my internships was mostly entry level accounting work that their staff accountants used to work on before it was passed down to the interns.

    2. Trixie*

      I think its okay to apply based on 2.5 years of professional experience while still including the interns on your resume. Intern experience can mean anything from 8 hours a week for two months to FT over three months or longer, and you wouldn’t want to mislead a prospective employer.

    3. Mints*

      I’d definitely apply. Even if they don’t interview, it’s close enough that they won’t think you’re ridiculous. Nothing to lose!

      1. littlemoose*

        Agreed. You’re in the ballpark of the experience level they’re looking for. If you put together a great cover letter, I think you can be a good candidate.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Agreed 100%! If they want 7 years and you’ve got 2.5, that’s probably a stretch. But they want 3 and you’ve got 2.5? Go for it!

    4. Betsy*

      I’ll go a step further: even if you didn’t have the intern experience, I’d still say apply. The year-experience ranges are usually there to indicate how senior a role the job is: if you think you can operate at the level they’re asking for, I say go for it!

      The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no.

      (Note, this may be informed by the fact that I’m in software, where a list of requirements frequently reads like those fairy tales about the suitor being given 3 impossible tasks before dawn: “Find me an engineer with 8-10 years experience, including 3 years experience in teapot engineering and 4 years experience using chocolate; expertise with Peruvian, Lithuanian, and Bengali chocolate;experience manufacturing teapots in dark caves; experience building teapots alone, in groups, in groups with off-shore members, and in groups with small furry mammals; and a cheerful and optimistic personality”).

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Ah, I’m so close! I have 9.5 years of applicable experience, but only have Bengali and Peruvian chocolate experience (although I’ve also dabbled in Zimbabwean chocolates and have Lithuanian butterscotch experience); I’ve only worked in dark caves with bodies of water; and my teams with non-human members has been with amphibians, not mammals. However, I’m optimistic that I could do the job, and the salamanders will claim I’m a joy to work with.

        (And with software, that would disqualify me as not what they’re looking for.)

    5. Befuddled Squirrel*

      Internship experience counts, and it’s ok to apply if you have slightly less experience than what they’re looking for. You might still be their best applicant. There could be other things that make you stand out as well-qualified.

  28. JMegan*

    (I have two questions today…will post them separately so they don’t get tangled up!)

    How do you respond when your manager asks “Are you happy here?” Especially when the answer is no?

    I am under-challenged and underpaid (almost $9k/year less than my previous position, for doing the exact same work). My manager doesn’t know how to manage, and my team members barely talk to each other – we all just sit at our desks in silence and go home at the end of the day. And I’m actively looking for another job.

    But obviously I can’t tell her all that! Most of it she can’t control, and even if she could it would take a massive amount of change for me to be “happy” in this position. And she often asks me when we’re on the subway on the way to an offsite meeting, or in some other situation that doesn’t really lend itself to having an honest conversation on that topic. So far I’ve really just been nodding and smiling, but I’m wondering if there’s anything else I can do or say when she brings it up.

    1. fposte*

      The two main possibilities to me: one, your behavior and performance suggest that you’re not happy, and you’re getting an important work alert; two, your manager isn’t happy herself and is taking people’s temperatures.

      You can always ask “What makes you ask that?” to find out more.

      1. KarenT*

        For me a third possibility would be other team members have expressed that they are unhappy and the manager is following up with the entire team to see where everyone is.

        1. JMegan*

          Thank you both. I think all of those possibilities are equally correct. I know that everyone else on the team is actively job searching, and I have seen the manager browsing job ads as well (which I know doesn’t necessarily mean she’s searching, but.)

          I’m trying to find the balance between “how honest can I be, without jeopardizing my relationship with her?” What is worth bringing up because it might be fixable, versus what do I just have to put up with? Right now I’m leaning towards lying through my teeth and putting up with everything, but I’m wondering if there’s a better approach. :)

          1. Befuddled Squirrel*

            I think the best strategy would be to mention the frustrating things about the job that she’s dealing with as well but emphasize that you still like your job (even if you don’t) and are making the best of things. For example, “Well, the out-dated software and lack of a break room isn’t ideal, but I really enjoy XYZ so I’m not letting anything get to me.”

            That way you give her a chance to commiserate or even advocate for improvements in the workplace without labeling yourself as someone with a negative attitude.

  29. limenotapple*

    Has anyone had a useless manager? My manager has terrible memory, doesn’t understand any of the jobs for the people s/he supervises, and doesn’t appear to do anything. This person gets confused easily and hyperfocuses on strange details rather than the things that really seem to matter more. S/he has no feeling of the big picture. It’s frustrating, because I’d like some more support, but I mostly just avoid all contact because I know it won’t end well. S/he also is not dependable to be here regular hours. Anyone have any ideas on how to make this better? I feel like I need to hold my manager accountable, and since I make half the salary, this doesn’t seem fair.

    1. Ali*

      Ha…my manager who just resigned was pretty well useless. I wish I had advice for you, but with me, follow-up e-mails after my manager didn’t respond after an X amount of time or being clear and firm in what I wanted seemed to help. I’d also ask other senior coworkers for advice on things they might be also to weigh in on. It was tough because most of us knew how unorganized Ex-Boss was and we didn’t think there was much we could do.

    2. hildi*

      I don’t have any practical advice and am not even sure if these two books address the nature of your situation, OR if you’re the reading type, but if you are, then here are two suggestions:

      Working For You isn’t Working For Me by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster

      It’s Ok to Manage Your Boss by Bruce Tulgan.

    3. Rebecca*

      1. STOP WHISTLING WHEN YOU WALK AROUND IN THE HALL!!

      Seriously – I want to smack her silly when she mindlessly whistles and walks around.

      2. Use the computer tools you are provided. If only there was a way to communicate something to the entire team, all at once, so everyone has the same version at the same time. Oh, wait, there is, it’s called Outlook, and you send an email. What a novel concept! Stop walking from office to office announcing we’re having a meeting at a certain time, repeating yourself a dozen times, when sending 1 single meeting announcement with the details would suffice!

      3. If you don’t want to handle something, just say so. Don’t tell me “send me an email about it so I don’t forget” and then ignore the email for 18 months, pop into my office and say “remember situation X, I believe that’s fixed now”. Yes, this happened, and no, the situation wasn’t fixed.

      4. Stop criticizing your top performers for tiny things, and covering up for your friend when she screws up week after week after week. It’s getting really old.

      These are just the top 4. I have more.

    4. EmmBee*

      Document everything. I literally kept a running email draft of my former boss and all his failures, which were numerous (where I could quickly jot down what he did that day) in addition to just saving all of his wacky, inappropriate emails in their own separate folder.

      I eventually, after two years, began calling annual meetings with him directly in which I expressed frustration and raised a few key examples of how his lack of work was hurting me and the department. Now, at this point I wasn’t even reporting to him anymore – we were equals but on the same team – and I confessed that I was about to take a job elsewhere (true) and it was partly due to him. (I don’t recommend saying this; it worked out fine for me but that’s because this guy was so ineffective that it wouldn’t even have occurred to him to take that information to our boss.)

      I began raising my issues with him to my boss (also his boss). It took about two years for anything to be done, but he was finally let go. Life is now amazing.

      Seriously though…all you can do is document and also begin making suggestions to him to make it clear that his work is affecting yours. (Like saying “I’m concerned that you don’t remember the conversation we had about x. Is there something I can do to help trigger your memory of our projects better?” I find playing the helpful card helped him realize how bad he was being.)

      Good luck!

    5. So Very Anonymous*

      This could be my boss, except that all of my “teammates” love that our manager is this ineffective and useless because they can get away with not doing anything. I want to tell the manager that the management adage “hire good people and leave them alone” isn’t supposed to be taken 100% literally (has forgotten major things, I have to handle my own paperwork, etc., and yes, is relying on my sense of responsibility). Taking it that literally also seems likely to drive away good performers who don’t want to work with slackers… at least that’s the case with me. I know the situation can’t be changed from my end. I’d be gone by now if the job market in my field weren’t so terrible.

    6. spocklady*

      Possibly we work for the same person! Sometimes my supervisor does ok with the big picture, but mostly this is spot-on.

  30. WillowTree*

    What does proper, effective delegation look like from a manager?

    The reason I ask is, I feel like my manager “Jane” over-delegates to me and my team, and it feels an awful lot like we’re doing all of her work for her. I work on a specialized IT support team, so most of our work is user support and system administration, with some projects thrown in. Jane has us doing things like writing emails for her, taking care of projects assigned to her, and following up with people she’s supposed to be working with (she does not have an administrative assistant of her own). She prefaces these requests with “You’re so much better at this than I am, can you please take care of it?” I get that it makes sense to delegate projects and tasks to your team, but then I hear her reporting back to our director about these tasks as if she completed them herself (“Yes, I installed that last week” or “Yes, I talked to this person about blah blah”).

    Also adding to the mix, on several occasions, I’ve received emails from people she was supposed to contact asking if she will works at our organization, because weeks and sometimes months have gone by without contact from her. My director has more than once reassigned projects to me that had belonged to her. Me and my team are frequently reminding her about things she needs to get back to us on, and she also asks us to remind of her of just her own projects, sort of like we’re functioning as her calendar keepers.

    So I’m just trying to gain some perspective on this. I know she may have a lot of things to do I’m not aware of, and this could be totally normal. It just feels…off. I’d like to get a good picture of what effective delegation looks like so I can compare. Thanks!

    1. Eden*

      My experience is the opposite of yours–I frequently am delegated tasks that I don’t really have enough information or expertise to complete. I don’t ask for clarification anymore because I don’t get an answer, so I just do my best and send it off. I don’t get it sent back ever, so not sure whether I’m knocking ’em all out of the park (unlikely), or if it’s just enough for the person who gave it to me. Maybe this is what effective delegation looks like, from the other side, but it doesn’t look that way to me!

      I would really resent hearing her claim your tasks “I installed that last week.” It does sound like the director is aware of the problem, and with any luck, something is happening behind the scenes. I had a manager once get fired and none of us saw it coming at all. We figured she could get away with murder.

  31. Temp Jobs*

    How do you put temp jobs that last less than a month on a resume? I want to include it because it’s actually IN MY FIELD but it’s only a month long and nowhere near the 3-5 years experience most companies want :(

    #Frustration

    1. Befuddled Squirrel*

      If it’s less than a month, it probably shouldn’t go in the Experience section. But you could incorporate it into a bullet under Skills (“Chocolate Teapot Making – practiced during temp assignment at The Edible Teapot Factory”)

  32. MaryMary*

    I work at a family owned company with around 100 employees. We don’t have a lot of structure. One of the areas that has traditionally been very gray and variable is compensation. Currently, bonuses are paid out in July and January but there is no formula. If we’re having a good year, people get money. If revenue is down, people get less money or no money. The owner of our company has asked me to design the bonus structure for my own role (I am currently the only one in my role). He is looking for something where the incentive is strongly tied to results and deliverables (he even suggested X dollars for successfully completing X project). At the same time, he has admitted that he’s asking me to design a formula because he doesn’t know how to do it. We have no HR staff. A couple other people are working on bonus formulas for other roles, but they’re being protective and I haven’t been able to see their proposals.

    Any idea on resources to look at regarding bonus formulas? I would feel more confident if I could cite something. At OldJob, we were eligible for a certain percent of salary based on a combination of individual performance and company performance. How do I tell what is appropriate for my role and experience? I’m a mid-level manager with both internal and external projects. None of my client work has P&L responsibilities, and I don’t have any direct reports.

    1. Anoners*

      I don’t really have anything to cite, but where I work we come up with goals at the beginning of the year (mostly meeting target/project deadlines, or whatever is going on that year) and assign a potential value to each out of 100. It’s just a conversation with my manager, and the goals are debatable. At the end of the year we tally up the results. We can miss a target, meet a target, or exceed a target (exceeded targets count for 10% more). It basically works out to be 5% of your pay if you meet everything. If you exceed everything you get 7.5%. These are separate from our regular job goals we come up at the same time, which pretty much work the exact same way.

      It’s a pretty good system, and it’s nice to be able to come up with your own goals, instead of being voluntold.

    2. Betsy*

      A previous employer had a bonus system I thought was pretty awesome. They set company goals and department goals. Bonuses were a percentage of your salary (in their case, up to 10%).

      The structure of the bonus was something like this: 40% was based on how well the company achieved their goals, 30% department, and 30% individual.

      So if the company scored 75% on their goals, your department scored 50%, and you scored 100%, you’d get (.75*.4) + (.5*.3) + .3 = 75% of a 10% bonus, so 7.5%.

      I liked that because it emphasized being a star in your own right, but also contributing to your team and your company.

  33. JMegan*

    I’m wondering about both the etiquette and the how-to’s of checking in with recruiters. There’s one in particular who specializes in my field, and who helped me get my previous job. And as I said above, I’m actively looking for a new one, and hoping she can help me.

    It feels sort of abrubt to say “Hey, how are you doing? Just a reminder that I’m still looking for a job, let me know if you hear of anything.” But on the other hand it feels too obviously like “networking” if I say I’d like to meet her for lunch or something, partly because I don’t really have anything to offer her other than a warm body for her staffing pool.

    I’ve worked with her before, so I’m not coming to her out of the blue. But how exactly does one maintain this sort of relationship?

    1. Befuddled Squirrel*

      Make it an update. Mention that you’re still at your current job, and then tell her about any new skills you’ve gained since you last talked and how you’d like to use those skills at your next position. Also say something about the type of position you’re looking for.

      Keep in mind that this is helpful for her too. Recruiters need to know who’s looking and what their current skills are.

  34. The Maple Teacup*

    Some good news to share.

    I applied to volunteer at a museum (collections area) and I was accepted! This is thrilling to me because collections has been an area I’ve tried hard to get into in the past. This is also good because I have a limited job history and few references. Volunteer work can count as a professional reference right? :)

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      That is outstanding and I would love to do something like that! You’ve inspired me to put in some volunteer applications this weekend!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Well done! That is great news! And yes, I would say that the volunteer work is a professional reference.

    2. duschamp*

      Congratulations!!! Waaaay back in the day I did an internship in the collections department of the university museum where I did my undergraduate degree. It is one of the most fun departments in any museum, especially if you are of an object-oriented personality. Possibly more important though, its operations are central to all museum operations. As such, the skills and training you will gain are useful in nearly all museum roles, and there should be loads of opportunities to network and make the most of your experience.
      I’m super excited for you! Enjoy it!

      1. Temp Jobs*

        GL! I have a temp job making collection calls and I’m not a fan but I don’t really like talking on the phone. #introvertproblems

        But volunteering is something I want to do more of I just need to find some organizations to help. Sometimes it’s hard to find connections in a new area.

    3. Queen Victoria*

      Congratulations! I just got accepted as a volunteer with the Humane Society to assist with animal adoptions. It’s so fun getting a volunteer position in an area you’re passionate about :)

    4. Oh anon*

      I would love an opening like that! I graduated right after the economy crashed and all the entry level museum openings seemed to disappear, so I took a far different career path (totally unrelated). I’m no longer in the same area, amd will be a stay at home wife for a few months, so I plan on emailing some local museums this weekend regarding volunteer opportunities. Hopefully, I will end up with something! I hate feeling like I wasted 4 years and so much money.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        Thanks everyone!

        Try not to feel like you wasted 4 years and lots of money Oh anon. Its a feeling I know very well myself.

        BA in Sociology/Psychology/Biology
        BSc in Primatology

        I’m now working as a support worker for adults with developmental disabilities. Graduated from my first degree during an economic crash and was totally confused what I was to do now. So I went to work at a homeless shelter. I’m not sure how far a “totally unrelated” career path is from what you studied. But what I’ve done post school is a stretch from what I studied. Volunteering at a museum is the closest I’ve come to classroom knowledge. I’ve learned to dislike the question “Just what exactly are you going to do with that degree?”

    5. Anonyby*

      Congrats!

      I recently started a new volunteer gig myself. Last day of orientation was yesterday. I’m with a local no-kill cat rescue, and I’ll be offering socialization to the cats in the rescue owner’s garage-turned-shelter. Most of these cats have a much harder time being adopted out because of health problems, but are such sweethearts! I know I’ll have a good time with them. I hope you have a good time with yours as well!

  35. thingy*

    I just started a job at a restaurant. Most of the employees there speak Spanish to each other, and some of them don’t speak English very well, or at all.

    I can understand a little bit of Spanish, but I can’t really speak it. Does anyone here have similar experiences, and how have you dealt with it?

    1. OhNo*

      If any of them are friendly towards you, would you feel comfortable asking them to teach you a few words? It’s been my experience that most people who speak another language really like it when you express interest in learning it. And many of them REALLY appreciate when you try to speak it with them, as long as you do your best and are respectful about it. Plus, sharing language with each other can be a fun bonding experience.

      It also can’t hurt to learn a few key phrases before you start. Please and thank you, how are you, maybe the names of a few key dishes or items (sandwich, cake, plate, silverware, refrigerator, things like that) – anything that might make it easier to communicate with the people who don’t speak much English at all.

      1. thingy*

        Thanks for the advice! I probably will ask them to teach me a few words.

        Most of the time I won’t actually be interacting with the employees who don’t speak English, because they’re in the kitchen and I’m on guest service, but it can’t hurt to try to speak Spanish with them when I’m around them. (It’s fast food; the orders are all sent electronically.)

        It might be silly, but part of the reason I’m a little nervous about trying to speak Spanish is because I speak French pretty well and I feel like I’ll end up substituting French words or speaking Spanish with a French accent.

        1. OhNo*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about your accent. No one really gets the accent right when they are first learning, so I don’t think they will be too surprised if you pronounce a few things differently. Think of when you were first learning French (or English, whichever was your second language) – you probably didn’t pronounce everything perfectly right at the start. Same thing applies here.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          You’ll know you used French by the puzzled looks on their faces.
          I say go for it.

          People who speak multiple languages often grab the wrong word from the wrong language. Just laugh, and move on.

          1. thingy*

            Okay, I just got back from work . . . and I actually did substitute French for Spanish. A customer came in, asked for “ocho tacos y papas fritas grandes,” and I went, “okay, c’est todo?”

      2. Snork Maiden*

        If you have a smartphone, I am enjoying playing Duolingo, a game that makes it easy to learn a second language.

        1. Helka*

          You have to be careful though, because Duolingo (like a lot of language-learning programs) is actually not that great of a teacher. It doesn’t have the flexibility to reflect how people actually speak on a day-to-day basis, and when I tried it out, I found that its vocabulary wasn’t always correct.

          There’s really no substitute for actually learning a language from another person who speaks it fluently.

    2. Felicia*

      I’ve had a similar experience at a former job, and I don’t think I handled it well….All the employees except me spoke Hebrew (I don’t speak any at all). When they were doing it in meetings, I’d just be like “If this is work related, I’d appreciate it being in English, so I can follow what’s going on!” When t hey’d do it in the lunchroom when I was sitting right there I’d feel really left out and lonelybut didn’t say anything because I didn’t know how without being rude, though that was why I was never beyond strictly professional with any of them. Then I wasn’t 100% sure whether or not it was work related which I probably think would always be your situation. I’d just try to engage them in English just so that they’d remember that I work there too and have no idea what they’re saying. I’d also try to ignore it and try not to take it personally. They are probably not talking about you (except for that one time when I heard my name amidst all the Hebrew)., and it probably does feel like they’re deliberately leaving you out of the conversation which can sting, but they probably don’t mean it. It’s definitely hard to constantly hear conversations around you that you will never be included in by not speaking the language. I tried to focus on work

    3. Mints*

      If you’re friendly and enthusiastic, people are generally happy to speak Spanglish at your level.

      I also suggest learning these phrases, specifically:
      Hola!
      ¿Cómo estas?
      Muy bien.
      Más o menos.
      Estoy cansado/a
      No entiendo.
      ¿Qué es –?
      Mi español es malo / mi español no es bueno
      ¡Mi español es perfecto! (as a joke)
      Me gusta —
      No me gusta —

      Also, assuming you have a smart phone, Google translate works pretty well for things you want to say on the fly. Like
      Está muy caliente hoy
      ¿Mirastes el juego de béisbol?

      Mr. Mints can hsve a petty decent conversation with my mom with the above list and just a little more vocab

      1. Mints*

        Wow, that was long

        I forgot to add–I used “tu” in ¿Cómo estás? which is the informal you. Formal usted would be ¿Cómo está?
        Although I’m really awkward about usted so I use plural whenever possible ¿Cómo están?

      2. cuppa*

        The only thing I would watch out for is saying “estoy casado/casada” instead of “cansado/a” (“married” vs. “tired”) and do NOT use embarazado/embasrazada for embarrassed (it means pregnant. I don’t recall what embarrassed is.).

  36. 360 Evaluations*

    Every year we are asked to do 360 evaluations of Senior Management. The COO says they are confidential but we know they are not. Last year one of the Senior Managers actually confronted three staff and told them she knew what they wrote about her. She said our comments are written word for word and it is easy to tell who wrote what especially if it is specific to one persons job. So now everyone wants to boycott doing the 360’s. People have said they are just not doing it. How should we handle this? I want to boycott too. I feel like they are waste of time. Nothing changes.

    What is the best way and best mind set to take when you are doing a 360 evaluation of a senior leader when you a) don’t want to come from a place of I just don’t like that person so nothing they do will ever be right in my eyes; b) don’t want to seem petty or juvenile; c) know that nothing is ever going to change because the same people get away with the same thing year after year; d) truly know that it is not anonymous and don’t want to be called out on it because what good will that do!

    I feel like we should just go to the COO and say it is not anonymous and we are not doing it but I think everyone wants to just protest by not doing the evaluations. Because we are not putting our names on the 360’s there is no way for the COO to know who didn’t do them there just wont be as many as there should be.

    1. OriginalYup*

      360s, when done properly, can be a great tool for getting honest feedback from a range of perspectives. I’m really sorry that your company is handling them so badly. My 360s did show people’s comments verbatim so in theory, yes, I could figure out who said what if they referenced something specific or used a phrase that only they use, etc. But the Sr Manager was way out of line in confronting people about it — that’s totally contrary to the spirit and purpose of it.

      Usually employees aren’t in a position to just opt out of participating. You can certainly something like, “I’m concerned about the fact that our feedback isn’t confidential based on XYZ, which makes me wonder why we’re using the 360 approach instead of a different format.” But if management insists on keeping the current process, then you can consider writing comments as objectively and non-confrontationally as possible, and in semi-flattering ways. Examples: Instead of “Joe is disorganized,” write “Joe’s strength is visualizing the big picture rather than managing the details.” If you feel like you’re in a 100% no-win situation where anything you write will be held against you negatively, then leave free form sections as blank as possible or only write very vague positives like, when asked about Sally’s management effectiveness, write ‘Sally is a very cheerful person to have in the office.’

  37. Vanilla*

    I have a tricky situation at work and was wondering if you all had any experience/advice. We have an open position (junior teapot maker) on our team. (I am not the manager for this position, but the junior teapot maker would report to me for some duties). Three people are in the running for the job:

    1. Candidate A – I actually recruited this person. He works with a good friend of mine, who highly recommended him. Candidate A has met with my manager, who LOVED him and would have hired him on the spot if they could have. Candidate A has an excellent background and seems like they would be a very natural fit for the position (in ability, experience, and culture wise).

    2. Candidate B – I know very little about this person but he has been highly recommended by several people that my manager knows. Seems to have very good transferrable skills that would be helpful for the junior teapot maker position.

    3. Candidate C – This person is currently working in our department, but not on our team. I am friendly with this person and really like them a lot personally. However, Candidate A and Candidate B have much stronger skills in one particular area that are very much in demand for the junior teapot maker position.

    I know we have to handle this very delicately. I’m worried that Candidate C will be upset if they don’t get the position and things will be awkward for our team because of it. Has anyone else dealt with this?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Ditch C, there’s no need to bring a less qualified person just to pacify office politics.

    2. LMW*

      I’ve been candidate C before, and I can tell you that actually saying something about the experience difference to the candidate can make a huge difference here. And if you actually want to retain C, what can they do to give themselves a better chance next time? Is there a path forward for them, or do they just have to wait until someone leaves and hope that next time there won’t be a candidate A or B?
      In my case, my boss just announced that they hired someone else to the whole team at once and I didn’t even get an interview, even though I had been referred internally. Since the hiring manager never said anything to me, it took me longer than it should have to realize that they really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snag this employee (she was pretty awesome and had a lot more experience than me — she’s actually become somewhat of a friend and given me great career advice). Had they just addressed that directly, I probably would have gotten over it more quickly. (As it was, I did get two promotion in rapid succession to get me to an equivalent position. But I had no idea that was coming at the time.)

    3. fposte*

      Is C less competitive or genuinely not even interview-worthy? I can’t tell.

      Anyway, overall I’d say you deal by being straightforward (“We love your work for the organization, but we had to go with somebody who had several years of spoutwork”) and by realizing that it’s on you (well, the hiring committee) to set the tone and minimize awkwardness by acknowledging the situation rather than ducking it. Hopefully also C’s manager or somebody would be prepared to talk to C about ways toward growth in the future, since it’s clearly of interest.

      1. Vanilla*

        Candidate C applied to the position without mentioned it to the manager or even discussing it/asking anyone on the team questions about the position. It’s my understanding that Candidate C is unhappy with her current manager (as many others in his department are btw) and is looking for a way out. Candidate C likes our manager a lot and would love to report to them. I know Candidate C likes to lead and take charge, and this role (junior teapot maker) is more about reporting to others/not making decisions. I think Candidate C *could* have an issue with this.

        Basically, our manager is interviewing Candidate C as a courtesy and I know will be fair about the entire process. The manager did ask Candidate C directly why he didn’t come to them and express interest before they applied, to which Candidate C shrugged and said they didn’t know. Deep down, I think Candidate C knows they are probably more qualified candidates out there, but they really don’t like their current work situation and want a way out.

        We’ve been told by upper management to take really good notes through the interview process and be prepared to back up our reasoning why we choose who we end up choosing.

        Like I said, I like Candidate C a lot on a personal level. However, his skills set is just not on the same level as the other two candidates.

        1. fposte*

          Some of this is out of your control, but I’d make very sure Candidate C gets personal treatment on the rejection–no form notes, and an offer to talk face to face.

    4. CTO*

      It’s not worth it to hire a less-strong candidate just because things will be awkward if you don’t. The rest of your team’s morale will suffer if you bring on Candidate C and he doesn’t do a very good job.

      There’s lots of advice in the AAM archives about how to turn someone down for an internal promotion. Maybe your boss could offer to be Candidate C’s mentor, or discuss other growth routes, or do something else to help Candidate C feel respected and hopeful even while getting rejected.

      If Candidate C doesn’t handle the rejection professionally, then than just tells you that Candidate C wasn’t ready to move up anyway. At some point, he would have faced a tough situation in the new role and maybe wouldn’t have handled it well.

    5. Kelly*

      I’ve been C. I applied for, and interviewed for an internal position that I would have loved; even spoke to the hiring manager ahead of time about the position. The hiring manger decided to go with an external applicant who “had more of the right skills”. To the hiring managers credit, they did sit with me and explain the areas I could work on to be more competitive in the future, etc. I greatly respect them for doing that.

      The ironic part of that is the person they hired is struggling with all of those skills, and my attempts to follow up on the advice and improve have gone no where.

      Having been on that side, be honest, but don’t lead C on.

  38. Darcy Pennell*

    Thanks in large part to the excellent advice from Alison and the commenters on this site, I just received a job offer! It’s a job I’m thrilled about, with a company that’s known as an excellent place to work.

    I have a couple of questions: first, one of my coworkers at my current job is, to be blunt, bad at his job. Rarely meets deadlines, constant careless mistakes, not open to feedback, defensive & rude about correcting errors. This person is probably going to be taking over my projects, at least temporarily. I don’t want to prejudice people against him — I’ll be free of him, no need to kick him on my way out the door — but should I warn my contacts to check things carefully? How do I do that without getting into a “let me tell you how much coworker X sucks!” conversation, which I don’t want to do. Or should I just leave it alone and let them figure it out for themselves?

    Second, my current job is at a non-profit, and my new manager is concerned that I won’t be able to handle the shift to a corporate environment. Should I be concerned too? Is it really that different? What should I look out for?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      For the first thing, I’d appreciate a heads-up if it were me. You could just say to some key people, “Hey, I’ve noticed a few issues with Bob’s TPS reports; you might want to double check them when you get them.” Don’t email it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I would ask the boss how he wants to you to handle the transitioning of your projects. Do what she says.

      Yeah. I think there is a difference between NPOs and for profits.
      I might be imagining it but I thought we just had a discussion on that a few weeks ago. The part that stuck with me is that if you worked for a dysfunctional NPO, then changing to a for profit is a bigger deal.
      I guess the one thing that I saw in the non-profit was there was no rush to do anything. Ever. Deadlines were meaningless. Regulations and forms were only used part time. I could go on. For me, the for profit sector just feels more goal oriented and more motivated.

      1. Darcy Pennell*

        this is very helpful, thank you! At the place I’m leaving deadlines are sometimes firm, but more often there’s little to no accountability. It’s one of the things that frustrated me, that I would work hard to meet my deliverables and if others on the project didn’t meet theirs, it didn’t seem to matter. I will pay extra attention to deadlines at the new position!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Now that I have had a minute to incubate all this I would describe it as “everything was optional”, answering emails, returning calls, etc.
          I think you will be fine. Be the worker you want to be.

  39. Meghan*

    I’m being offered a new role within my company within the next couple of weeks, which is very exciting. Except, I was just diagnosed with breast cancer and I don’t know what to do.

    Obviously, I’ll talk to the director and manager about this, but as a hiring manager, would you prefer I not accept it given the anticipated time I’ll be out for surgeries and treatment?

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I wish you well in your treatment Meghan. With your conversation with your director & manager, could you maybe see if they will “hold” the position until you are in remission?

      Take care of yourself and all the best.

    2. fposte*

      First, good luck to you and hope treatment goes smoothly!

      As a hiring manager on an internal search, I would prefer that you discuss it with me rather than just turn it down. I may not find that a problem, or I may have options that you don’t know about that would find satisfactory ways to deal with the situation.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I would actually talk to your doctor first. Figure out what the likely plan of treatment will be for the first 6 months, ask if you can expect to work and what do they think of you taking on a new role etc. Then you can use that information when talking with your employer. Ie, my doctor advised against starting a new position right now, but the hope is that treatments will be more manageable in X time. I’d love to take the position, is there a way to make it fit into that timeline?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely collect up enough information so you can have a good sense of what the right route is for you. Develop your own idea of what is doable.

        Wishing you a speedy and thorough recovery.

    4. The LeGal*

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

  40. De Minimis*

    So I finally could not take it anymore and e-mailed the HR contact for the job I’d applied to back in May. She told me she’d referred my resume to the selecting official and I should be hearing something by the end of next week. We’ll see….USAJobs does not show that anything has been updated, but I’ve had years of experience with that website and know that its status updates don’t necessarily reflect reality—I’ve heard of people who had been selected for a job long ago but USAJobs still shows their status as “Application Received…”

    Making some early preparations for an interview, just in case.

      1. De Minimis*

        What drives me crazy is that they are two hours earlier than I am, so in theory they could call well into the early evening hours….if they call. For my current job they e-mailed to set up a phone interview.

  41. HigherEd Admin*

    I am hoping to move to the Raleigh-Durham area in the next 6-9 months. Feeling a little [read: a LOT] stressed out over the job search. Right now I live in a major city with several universities and a lot of turnover, which in the past has opened up a lot of opportunities for me to find interesting and available positions. In the Raleigh-Durham area, I’m looking at only 3 major universities, with what appears to be a staff full of people who don’t intend to leave their jobs. (I hope to be like them one day..)

    I am struggling with ways to make my candidacy stand out for the very few applications I am able to submit. I know I’m already at a disadvantage as an out-of-state candidate. I would love advice from my fellow commenters!

    1. Eden*

      HigherEd Admin, I work at one of those universities, and depending on what you are looking for, I might be able to help you. I am a higher ed admin at light blue university and have a contact at darker blue university’s HR department.

      There is actually a lot of turnover at my U, and I know of open positions right now. It tends to be very word of mouth “Oh, do you know anyone you can recommend for XYZ position?” around here, and it took me a while to land this job (I had to move first, I got no nibbles as an out-of-state candidate).

      You can email me if you’d like. I also just moved to this area at the end of last year, so I can advise you on that as well perhaps.

      1. Trixie*

        I’m looking at this area as well and wasn’t sure what to make of the open positions at U. Could be high-turnover or maybe ample opportunities for internal movement. I keep an eye on Glassdoor reviews but as discussed on other threads I don’t want to read too much into the negative comments. I like to think non-academic employment with a university would offer a certain amount of security.

        1. DL*

          It’s so unit dependent that I wouldn’t really trust online reviews of an entire university.

          Some of the turnover is people having to find a new position to get a raise. University admin salaries are not great in the area and most all were frozen for a few years.

        2. Eden*

          Yeah, what happens IME is that people move around a lot internally, mostly to get the raise they’ll never get by staying in one spot. Once you are in the door, moving around becomes much easier. Raises are pretty much non-existent now so be happy with what you are offered, because it may stay largely the same for a long time!

          I would say there are pros and cons to this kind of workplace just like any other. I have lots of co-workers who are very fed-up with the bureaucratic nonsense, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that while that’s a barrier to efficiency (and sometimes just incomprehensible), there are many positives, like the hours, benefits, and the fact that at least where I work, you’d have to openly murder a co-worker in order to be fired. Great job security!

          1. Trixie*

            Been there, I had a similar employer at my last job. Our running joke was, “Park Here and Get Hired.”

            The upside to this is that I’m already in the state and relatively near by. Was hoping to find something before making the move but may decide to make the jump first.

        3. Eden*

          Definitely keep an open mind about reviews. If you asked any three of my co-workers to rate this job, you’d get three very different answers. Some people have been here for a very long time (their entire careers, in some cases), and really don’t know how good they have it, comparatively. It is indeed a very secure job.

      2. Eden*

        Oops, I thought if I entered an email it would show up. It’s eden dot gifford at gmail dot com.

        1. HigherEd Admin*

          You are wonderful! Thank you so much; I’m shooting you an email right now :)

    2. DL*

      I definitely agree with what Eden said. There are a few educational program manager/director type positions posted online at the blues right now, and you’d be much more likely to get an interview with a contact.

      There are also government facilities in the area that might have openings, so be sure to check USA jobs. Plus a number of smaller colleges.

  42. Geegee*

    So one of the VPs sent me an email asking me to prepare a detailed report. My boss who’s also a VP was cc’d on the email. I didn’t respond immediately and but I started crafting a response. My boss had spoken to me about this in passing about this but we hadn’t talked about the specifics. My boss called me into her office and she was annoyed that he had asked me to do this. She sent him an email directly to him saying that she had already spoken to me about this. She then turned to me and said that should get the point across and that she didn’t want him telling me what to do. She’s a little bit protective of me some times so it’s kind of funny… now it feels kind of awkward. So should I ignore the email? Should I respond?

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Can you acknowledge that you got his email and your boss told you she’d talk to him about it. That way it’s not like you’re ignoring him but you’re not doing anything your boss doesn’t want you to do either.

  43. AAA*

    Hi everyone!! I just finished my last day at my old job yesterday and I start my new *awesome* job on Tuesday!! I just want to say thank you to Alison and all of the commenters here! I have learned so much and I don’t think of have been nearly as successful at any stage of the job application process (especially negotiating salary!) without the advice here. So thanks everybody!!

  44. Anon for This*

    My company has decided to base health care premiums on participation in a (IMHO useless) program. The difference in rates is significant, $50/month for participating and $150/month for opting out. If you want your partner or dependents to receive the discount, they also have to be registered in the program. The requirements are

    1. Health screening – which consists of disclosing vitals and BMI and test results for glucose and cholesterol.
    2. Health assessment – you complete a survey which then gives you a score
    3. Call with a health advisor to discuss the results of the above 2 parts.

    I find this extremely invasive, and particularly for partners and children who do not even work for the company but would still have to participate in order to qualify for the lower rate.

    I have also already participated in the assessments, and found that the way things are assessed and the focus and definition of what is “healthy” is not appropriate for my needs and gives an incomplete picture of my overall health or anyone’s overall health and risk. The interpretation I got form the website was incorrect and the advice I got beyond staying active was completely inappropriate.

    This pisses me off. I am trying to decide if it’s worth $100/month to opt in. Some of the required tests are not even recommended or done on an annual basis as part of a physical. My doctor does not test cholesterol every year. It’s not necessary! He never tests specifically for a glucose level either. There is no reason to do that unless you suspect diabetes or some other issue with blood sugar levels.

    I appreciate the intention – to make people more aware of their health and to encourage them to get regular preventive screenings and make life style changes that improve their health, but it’s personally invasive, and IMHO has the potential to be discriminatory. There is also the danger that some people will get bad advice, like I did, and not realize it is bad advice. The only person who should be giving anyone health advice is their own personal physician who is familiar with the patient and medical history, not some website spitting out canned responses based on incomplete information.

    For people who are living paycheck to paycheck, $50 vs $150/month (individual) is a huge difference. How many of the lower paid employees and their families will be essentially forced into participating on account of the price difference?

    The company is using “Obamacare” as an excuse for these changes, claiming that it had to make changes in its coverage. I call BS. It’s more of the same suits in a room making budget decisions based on the company’s bottom line. Our health coverage as always been “Obamacare” compliant and comprehensive.

    1. Anon for This*

      (or not so much anon since I forgot to delete my email, but at least people can’t search by name!)

    2. Treena Kravm*

      I would figure out just how invasive it really is. As your HR department how this info is collected–is it covered by HIPPA regulations? If it’s information that the insurance company collects independently of HR, they will not release it to anyone at work. In that case, then it’s not really less private than labwork with your regular doctor. It sounds like you would maybe have to speak with a different medical professional for step three, which can be sucky, but think of it as getting paid $1,200 for a consult with a different provider.

      PS definitely not required by ACA, aka Obamacare. Insurance companies may be creating programs on their own, but not as an actual mandate.

      1. Anon for This*

        They claim it is all private and not disclosed to the company, but it’s out there, and I worry that especially if I ever access the website on the company network that someone could still get that information or down the line, they may decide to change the policy and start pushing “voluntary” access to your actual health information. In general the impression I am getting from folks at work is sharing their health info with anyone other than their providers or their insurance company makes them uneasy. I know it makes me uneasy, especially when it’s an employer based program.

    3. MaryMary*

      Your screening and assessment results should be covered by HIPAA. If your company is doing this properly, a third party is the one who sees the detailed results and who the health advisor works for. You employer (or at least the HR staff) will see if you are participating and if you completed the screening, assessment, and your advisor session, but they won’t have access to any of your medical information. A lot of people are skeptical around if their information really will be kept private, but there are hefty HIPAA fines if it is not.

      Some insurance companies offer lower premiums or a “wellness stipend” if employers participate in a program like this. The Affordable Care Act did provide additional regulations on how these programs should work and how much more employers can charge employees who do not participate. The ACA does not require that employers implement these programs.

    4. LMW*

      My company does something like this (although there are multiple options for the activities you can choose to do for the discount). They don’t have access to any of the information on us as individuals though — they only know if we’ve completed the requirement.
      Personally, I think it’s a useless time sucker, but I do it anyway for the discount.

      1. Anon for This*

        That’s the other thing – useless time sucking. I like some things about the program website, like being able to choose activities and choose your own path, but as someone already under a physician’s care regularly, it’s redundant and one more thing to add to my to do list.

    5. GigglyPuff*

      Honestly it doesn’t seem like that big of an inconvenience, it seems more like you just want to change things back, and that your assessment wasn’t accurate, and you are worried for coworkers which do have a health risk, which is understandable.

      I would just make sure the results really aren’t being shared with your employer, and possibly let the HR health benefits person know how inaccurate the assessment results were, and if you know of a coworker(s) who has a health risk, and if their results were inaccurate also, suggest they also let the HR person know. It’s possible it might be the third party company they selected for the program isn’t great.

      This is just my opinion based on personal experience with a major health problem, but cholesterol and blood sugar problems are so wide spread and can sneak up on anyone, even if they don’t fit the traditional risk factors, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to get tested for that, as part of a wide spread blood panel.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        After re-reading again, I guess I should also ask, is it taking anything away from what insurance covers, like regular doctor visits? Because hopefully (we all hope anyway), if the person doesn’t know the results are inaccurate, they would bring it up anyway at their next doctor’s appointment, and get the correct information there.

        It might be worth suggesting, a disclaimer/clarification by the company to let employees know this isn’t professional medical advice, and isn’t completely accurate or reliable, and to suggest scheduling a doctor’s visit, if something in the assessment was pointing towards poor health.

        1. Anon for This*

          Insurance covers the same thing, but you bring up an interesting point. I wonder if people would use this as a substitute for their regular physical, especially if they use the company health care centers to avoid having to pay additional fees for tests that aren’t normally done on an annual basis. The annual physical is no charge, but lab tests cost money, and insurance may not cover them at that frequency without a medical need.

          My test results are accurate. It is the conclusions and advice that the website spits out or that is on handouts that are inaccurate. For example, my last total cholesterol was 203, which is considered “borderline high”, but that does not tell the whole story. My LDL (bad) is actually very low and my HDL (good) is high. I’m not overweight. My other lab values are good. Based on the whole picture of my health and life style no medical professional is concerned with that result, I get dinged points based on the 203 number alone and then I get terrible diet advice that is not appropriate for my needs.

          I have to check the site again, but I don’t recall any disclaimers. Even with the disclaimers, I really don’t think it’s appropriate to be giving any advice based on a really incomplete picture.

          The call with the “health advisor” is new. I have not done that yet. I can’t say I’m excited about it, because my providers are already my health advisors. This is great for people who don’t have a relationship with a health care provider already, but a waste of time and kind of unreasonable for people like me who do have a regular physician. It’s like the assumption is that no one is already getting health advice and counseling from their own doctors.

          I think a better idea would be to give employees the option of either using the employer provided service or having their own physician just sign off on sheet of paper once a year confirming you have seen them for an annual physical. That ensures that people are getting health screenings and health advice one way or the other. I don’t like that I have to do these things on top of what my doctor already does. It’s only useful for people who don’t get regular preventive screenings on their own.

      2. Anon for This*

        For the testing – what I think is unreasonable is to require it at a greater frequency than recommended by actual physicians / medical groups that makes those recommendations. For instance the recommended health screening for a woman my age is

        BP – every 2 years unless it is 120-139/80-89 Hg or higher, then every year
        Cholesterol – recommended every 5 years for women over 44, unless you have heart disease, diabetes, or some other condition that requires more frequent monitoring
        Diabetes screening – only if your BP is above a certain level or there is some other reason to do this
        Physical exam – every 1-5 years.

        I’d be okay if all they required is a physician sign-off saying you’ve completed your annual physical. I don’t see the need to collect the actual test results or require specific tests on an annual basis. Those are decisions that really should be made with one’s physician. If my doctor tells me I don’t need to test for cholesterol or blood glucose every year, it’s not reasonable for someone else who is not my doctor and not even a medical professional to ask me to have it tested every year. Unnecessary tests add to the cost of health care. I would hope everyone (especially the suits crunching numbers) would be on board with discouraging unnecessary tests and office visits.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m wondering if you work for the same company I do, as we have to participate in the same thing. We also have to to an attestation about tobacco usage last year, and it’s an extra $50 per month if you use tobacco. For this reason I’m now on day 12 of the nicotine patch.

      Anyway — it’s annoying, but I didn’t even go down the “is it legal” road because I work for an enormous multinational corporation, and I’m pretty sure this was given the blessing by the Legal department before it was rolled out.

      This is an annual thing we all have to do. I am not comfortable with some random nurse or physician’s assistant taking this information from me in a huge room with 50 other people having the same thing done. There is an option that you can have your own doctor do your numbers, and then you upload the results to the website. That’s what I’m going to start doing this year.

      1. Anon for This*

        We don’t have the tobacco thing, but I know other companies that do that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they add in that piece at some point. Does your insurance or your employer at least cover the patch or any other aids to help you quit?

        You can take the form to your own physician, but a number of them may bawk at having to do blood sugar and cholesterol tests every year when they wouldn’t normally advise it. I know mine will. He’s not a fan of unnecessary anything, and that is part of why I like him!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My doctor and I had a good laugh over ours the other day. I had an appointment anyway, on the day after our health screening. Their silly miscalibrated machine actually said mine was 161/101! Um, no, I don’t think so! My normal BP is actually fairly low! I made them do it again and it was closer to normal, though still high (at the doc’s office, it was quite low). According to my coworkers, it measured everyone’s BP as high. It bothers me that their information can be so inaccurate (don’t even get me started on BMI) but they still record it anyway.

        2. Anon*

          My former boss used to offer employees cash – $300 out of his own pocket – to quit smoking. One person took him up on it. Another refused. It was funny to see him continue to approach her and offer her money, and to see her turn it down. Some people love their tobacco!

    7. hildi*

      This is EXACTLY what my organization requires. I play their dumb game because I want health coverage. I ignore the health coach’s calls (seriously, I can ignore phone calls until the end of time. No one should ever try to outlast me on that one). I have found the yearly health screening to be useful – I keep my old copies and like seeing the changes or stability over time. I do like that aspect of it. The health assessement? Please, I whip through that as fast as I can and ignore the results. I know what my own damn health issues are and a computer spit out won’t change me. So…..I dunno. I hate games, but for this one I just play it becuase the alternative seems like more pain to me. But I totally understand where you’re coming from.

      1. hildi*

        I suppose one good aspect of these requirements is the screenings help identify if you are eligible for an additional condition management program. Because I had preeclampsia when I was pregnant I am forever marked as at risk for HBP. But you know what? I get yearly free cardiac screenings because of it, so hell yes I’m going to do it. I figure it’s preventive and why not? For some reason I am not as worried about it feeling invasive and random people having access to my health stuff. Either that’s an after effect of being military property for several years or….I’m naively trusting? But anyway, I do think the prevention testing and screenings they pay for are worth it.

  45. Treena Kravm*

    Right now I’m in a solid public health education career, but as I advance, I want to fine tune it and I’m not sure which track to take. I could very easily continue on health education programming and implementation and that can easily take me 10 years to get to a level that I’d want.

    But I can help but wonder if I’d be more suited and more engaged in either research tracks or policy. It feels like I would be “doing more” in those tracks long term.

    So for anyone in public health in any of those three tracks, what do you like and dislike about it? What are some of the quirks of that track that make it unique?

    1. OriginalEmma*

      I have no advice for you, so I apologize, but I do have a question. What kind of work do you do? I focused on health education in my public health undergrad, but unfortunately could not get employment in the field when I graduated (2009). I am in a different field now (public health preparedness) but would love to get my foot in the door in health education/health promotion.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Not a problem. I used to do nutrition education, and now I work in reproductive health. Up above, I give a little bit of detail about how I used AmeriCorps to get my career started. It’s really invaluable and relatively easy to get a position that gives you 1 year of FT experience.

  46. Anonymous*

    I need some advice. I have been at my new job now for five months. I am an admin for faculty doctors at a large state university’s school of medicine. I currently support four doctors and one nurse practitioner, and the process is underway to hire another doctor in my division, who will also be my responsibility.

    My workload right now is fairly light, and I have been asking around to see if I can help out anywhere. I know this is a temporary situation as one of my doctors is clearly a ‘mover and shaker’ and will need much more support as time goes on, plus the new hire is an unknown quantity.

    A few weeks ago, I was internally recruited for a different position, working solely for one doctor, who is a big deal and well-funded and has his own program here. The position is opening because the current person is leaving on Monday. I declined at the time because I am still very new and I like my group, and the other position sounded like a lot of work even for an experienced admin, and I’m still learning the ropes.

    A temp was hired for the other position, and promptly quit because she was overwhelmed. That was a week ago. Two days ago, I was pulled into an office and told I was chosen to take on the temp’s duties, in addition to my own. I don’t know by whom I was chosen, and the people who gave me this assignment are executive assistants, not my supervisors (I don’t really have a direct supervisor, no one is currently in that position).

    My concern is that this is going to end up a tug-of-war between my group and the new group, and I will lose, by doing a terrible job for everyone I work for. This arrangement is supposed to be temporary, but the conventional wisdom here is once you touch something once, it’s yours forever.

    I can’t really complain about the extra work, because I have been asking for more to do. I’m worried though that this is much more than what I will realistically be able to handle, given that a temp for whom these tasks were her sole responsibility has already become overwhelmed and quit.

    My sense is that I should wait and see how this plays out, before freaking out about it, but I want to have a plan for what to do/say if it becomes overwhelming. Another important point here is that I don’t really have a supervisor; the acting supervisor is an accountant and doesn’t do many supervisory things. So I don’t have a clear point person I could speak to about it, although generally here, the doctors advocate for their admins.

    What do all you think?

    1. Sadsack*

      I would at least have a discussion with the acting supervisor and maybe at least one of the other doctors about it. They have to at least be made aware that you have been given additional responsibilities by the executive assistants, if they are not already aware. You could ask if they are aware of this new development and see how that conversation develops. That’s where I would start. Good luck!

      1. Anonymous*

        Thanks, that sounds like a plan. The way this was handled is weird to me, so it isn’t a stretch to wonder whether my docs have even been told.

  47. Academic Advisor*

    Does anyone have tips/suggestions for working with a large(ish) team? I have about 10 years of experience in my field, but always on teams of about 6-8 people. I started a new job a few months ago on a team of about 20, and am trying to figure out how to navigate things, especially communication. In our line of work, we mostly work independently but it is important that we all have the same information and are following the same processes. How to you communicate with this many people in meaningful ways, especially when the topic may require explanation or conversation? We already get so much email that I’m reluctant to rely on that all the time. To be clear, I’m just a new member on the team so I don’t have any authority to implement changes or anything like that, I’m just curious about how I can communicate well with my coworkers effectively.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      That sounds like something where a wiki to share information could be useful. Of course, that depends on whether people are on board with something like that, willing to check it regularly, willing to update it as needed.

  48. Dolly*

    I’ve been getting really frustrated with my HR team recently. Any other managers out there have tips for working with HR staff that aren’t at all in tune with the managers they’re supposed to support?

    My team doesn’t like to give managers much freedom over how they manage their staff. In their minds, PIPs will solve everything and no other avenues for improving employee performance should be explored. I would really like more support from them when dealing with specific staff issues other than just, “put them on a PIP,” but they just don’t seem to have anything.

    1. Malissa*

      So what would you suggest I have them do if I put them on a PIP?

      Make them think beyond the obvious answer and give substance.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      How about: “If I were put on a PIP, I would take it as a sign to start job searching. This is an otherwise good employee who I don’t want to lose. A PIP is too blunt an instrument here, and it’s not at that stage. Do you have advice on coaching and developing this person?”

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      (That said, I wouldn’t in general rely on HR for this kind of thing. It’s often not what they’re there for. You might need to explore it on your own.)

      1. Dolly*

        Thanks for your suggestions!

        Our HR staff likes to get super-involved in staff morale and performance improvement stuff (20 page evaluations twice a year — ick!) so they’re pretty strict about what we’re allowed and not allowed to do (I’ve gotten a “talking to” by the VP for HR for writing my own version of a written warning without talking to them about it first). Yet there’s nothing in the handbook or in orientation for managers regarding what our disciplinary process is, I’ve just been told to put people on PIPs whenever I’ve asked.

        I like the language about a PIP being too blunt an instrument — I’ll see if that conveys what my words have so far been failing to do!

  49. Curious*

    I am just curious – is it very hard to get a federal job?

    I hear that they ask many questions to determine your skill level. If you rate yourself too lowly, does that affect your chances?

    1. Ash (the other one!)*

      So I’ll let Kate and others speak but I am a former fed and trying to get back in as well…

      The short answer is, yes, its almost impossible to get a federal job unless you area veteran or have a disability (which gets you preference). Pretty much the common wisdom is if you cannot rate yourself as “expert” on everything in a questionnaire (and back it up in your resume) you won’t make the cert list. And yes, people fudge the truth all the time on them. Your resume needs to be tailored to the specific job with as many of the keywords from the job ad in your resume as possible.

      1. Anonylicious*

        It’s almost impossible even as a 10-point vet these days, at least in my field. There’s a whole lot of us running around with similar skillsets. :(

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          YES to this.

          I know someone who had contracted for a year, and his boss literally wrote a job just for this person, including obscure qualifications and experience. And he still wasn’t among the most qualified.

          Part of the problem is that the qualifications are done via a questionnaire, and I’ve heard that some HR departments don’t even verify if you’re being truthful.

      2. Curious*

        Ah, okay, that makes sense. I think they tell you not to fudge things on the questions, so it’s a bit odd rating yourself as expert on everything imo (unless you’re awesome at everything)!

    2. Anonylicious*

      That’s kind of like asking “What color are birds?” It’s almost impossible to answer without knowing your field, experience, location, and what position you’re going for. Competition for any open jobs will be high, but that’s probably true for most jobs these days.

      And underrating yourself will hurt you in an applying for almost any job, but that doesn’t mean you should exaggerate your qualifications, either.

      1. Curious*

        I’m in the scientific field. I think there’s a fine line between rating yourself in federal jobs though, since it seems they only choose the ones that rate themselves highest on the multiple choice questionnaires. But maybe that’s not really true, I don’t know!

    3. Stephanie*

      My former agency wasn’t that hard to get into as they go on mass hiring sprees and there’s TONS of turnover. It had a pretty extensive training program for my role, so they were ok if you had no experience, as long as you met the educational requirements (they were strict about that). Thing is, the hiring sprees come and go, so it was all a matter of timing about when you got your application in.

    4. kdizzle*

      Federal employee here. It is difficult to get a federal job, but not impossible. My circumstances were: No vet status, 37 applications, 7 interviews, and 3 offers. I move dollars and cents around for a living.

      If you’ve read the description and you’re confident that you could do the job well, you must rate yourself as an expert in most things in the questionnaire. The application phase is not the time for modesty, and a high rating on the questionnaire is essential to being on the cert list. I found that it was helpful to apply for jobs that were in DC and for which they were hiring multiple people from one advertisement (they hired a team of people when I came aboard…4 in total, 3 vets and me).

      I think the important thing is…don’t give up! It’s a long process, and discouraging at times, but there are federal jobs out there for the taking. The largest federal employee demographic right now is of people who are nearing retirement age, so bonne chance!

      1. Curious*

        Ah okay. I looked at one job description which had a questionnaire asking if you were an expert on this or that, but it also told you not to lie and warned that they would check your background.

        But this is really useful to know, thank you! That you must rate yourself an expert, that is. I would probably have been much more careful (since it’s for a federal position) in those types of questionnaires.

        1. kdizzle*

          I wouldn’t suggest that one outright lie, but considering yourself an “expert” is a pretty subjective measure.

          For example, do I think I’m an expert at using Excel? Personally, it’s hard to call myself that, because I’m learning things about the program each day, and there is a ton of functionality in it that I know little about.

          But am I better at using Excel than 98% of the people I’ve come across? Sure. So even though I feel like there’s certainly room to grow in my skills, I feel comfortable calling myself an expert on the questionnaire.

          Of course, self evaluation of skills as the first benchmark is a silly system that rewards dishonest and unqualified people with moving on to the next step. If you’re an honest person with solid skills, there’s no reason not to rate yourself highly.

    5. littlemoose*

      Really depends on the agency you’re applying to. If the agency has higher turnover or is in a hiring spree for whatever reason, it’s easier to get on board. Also, some professional federal jobs do not have a veterans’ hiring preference (mine is one of them). I would encourage you to apply for postings for which you may be qualified – everyone was new to the federal govt at some point.

  50. the_scientist*

    I’ve spent most of my morning at work fighting back tears. I still have not heard back from a job that I had a really promising interview with…..nearly a month ago. They said “mid July”, so maybe it’s still early, and I know they move slow, but they haven’t even made contact regarding references. I applied to two positions in the government, had a colleague who worked there look over my resume and was assured I’d get an interview and…..I didn’t. I applied to a different position, had another colleague look over my resume and was assured I’d get an interview, and they re-posted the position this week. Safe to say I didn’t get an interview, then. I’m beginning to feel like I’ll be trapped in this horrible job forever, falling further and further behind my peers in terms of taking on interesting, progressively challenging projects. I’ve had multiple people in my field review my resume and cover letter and at this point I just…..don’t know where else to go or what to do. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, or what I could be doing better. My current job is frustrating the hell out of me, and both of the other full time employees are leaving- one has already left, one handed her notice in on Monday. A month ago I was feeling confident that I’d be getting off this sinking ship soon, now I feel horrible.

    1. Eden*

      I completely understand how it feels to start losing hope. It’s a very dark place, and it’s hard to feel good about anything.

      My advice to you would be to focus on broadening your job search, and try to do as many non-work-related, life-affirming things as you possibly can outside of work. In my soul-sucking job hunt, it was very important to me to remember that I am not my job. I’m a wife and friend and sister and aunt and daughter. My worth is not measured by whether I get this or that interview. I would get such tunnel vision I would lose sight of what makes life worth living.

      I can see some positives in your situation. One is that you are currently employed. I can tell you it’s bad when you’re feeling like you do but also watching all your savings disappear.

      Another positive is that you have found this site. Reading the advice and really trying to follow it made all the difference in my job search. I was sure I was doing everything right, and I finally had to acknowledge that I wasn’t. Taking a hard look at your resume, rewriting it to make it accomplishment-oriented, and writing good cover letters is NOT easy.

      You will NOT be trapped in your horrible job forever. It sounds to me like you should take some time to rest, recharge, do something to remind yourself that you are a worthwhile, valuable human, and then come back to the job search when you can work on the advice here on AAM. I know from experience it is very hard to write engaging letters when you feel depressed and worthless. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  51. Kay*

    So I received a cover letter that was word for word a copy of one that aam has featured. How would you guys deal with it? It irks the shit out of me but I’m not sure if it’s my place to teach this guy about plagiarism or if it would affect anything.

    1. Laufey*

      I would definitely root for calling him out on it. I have no qualms about shaming plagiarizers.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Dear Wakeen Doe,

      Your cover letter appears to be plagiarized from https://www.askamanager.org. As such, your application has been rejected and you will not be considered for future positions at Chocolate Teapots, Inc.

      Sincerely,
      Ann O’Nemity

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What I’ve done in the past is this:

      This letter appears to be copied word for word from the one here:
      LINK

      Are you the original author of the letter?

      (By the way, I’d be glad to email this person personally and tell them to stop stealing copyrighted content from my site. I don’t consider myself the real copyright owner of that letter — obviously it belongs to the letter-writer — but given that it’s published here, I feasibly have standing to tell the person to knock it the hell off.)

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I especially like that, because if he isn’t knocked down hard on this, he’ll just move on and try it elsewhere.

    4. Frances*

      I would definitely let him know you noticed, because he clearly thinks that no one will.

      Years ago I edited a small online fiction journal and someone “submitted” a story that our own journal had published about a year earlier. The editor who spotted it called the submitter out on it, and he gave her some huffy BS about how it was some kind of experiment to prove that journals like ours published the same thing over and over again, but he clearly didn’t think we would notice.

  52. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

    I am really happy at the moment because an event (not a huge one–a presentation by a local group for a program my library organizes) is coming together nicely. This includes the fact that the woman who is speaking is bringing her dog who is the subject of one of our handouts–holy accidental cross promotion! And we have almost 40 people registered with 2 weeks to go FOR A SUMMER PROGRAM IN PHOENIX.

    It’s going to be so much fun.

  53. Ann O'Nemity*

    How do you contribute to a more positive team environment when you’re NOT the manager?

    I’ve worked for my current manager for a year and he’s hypercritical. Little to no positive feedback at all, and any success is met with demands to do more, better, faster. I have a thick skin and have gotten used to it. But recently we hired two new employees who are awesome at what they do but are appalled at the amount of negativity. Our team wants to create a more positive environment, but I’m not sure how – if? – we can do it with such a negative boss. Any ideas?

    1. MaryMary*

      If you’re in a position to do so, you can make an effort to give positive feedback to the newer hires. Assuming you’re directly involved in their work, I’d say to do it formally – email them the feedback and cc your boss if you’d think he’d be receptive (sometimes it’s nice to go back and read good things people said about you).

      If you’re not directly involved with the new hires, you can still be positive about what you do see, like putting in additional time and effort. And share with them the ways you’ve learned to work with your demanding boss. It will be an adjustment for them, but hopefully you can help the transition be a little smoother.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes! I’ve been trying to offer more positive feedback and general advice. I’m nervous about doing it in front of our boss though, since any big success is used as an opportunity to move the yardsticks and demand even more. I’m not kidding. It’s like, “Wakeen, I see you got historically high results last month. Next month you need to get those numbers at least 20% higher. I don’t think you’ve been challenging yourself.”

    2. just laura*

      There’s a good podcast called “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge” — it’s the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks, I’ll check it out.

        I don’t want to take over management, though. I just want our team to be happier. We’re doing some really great work and I’d hate to see our manager scare off the new employees.

  54. Preparing for Kids*

    I’m an attorney who worked at a large law firm for about 18 months before leaving to work at my current position in higher ed (for context, I always planned to make this transition after bit of time at a firm). After accepting my new position, I found out I was expecting (my boss knows and has been very supportive). I’ll have been in the new position about 8 months from my start date. Though I like my job, after paying for childcare I’ll barely be breaking even each month, especially after I factor in commuting time and costs. Family assistance for child care is not an option. We can support ourselves just fine on my husband’s salary. I’d like to consider taking a year or two off while the baby is young and then re-enter the workforce in a similar role to the one I have now, but I’m afraid of being viewed as a job-hopper. Should I stick it out at my current job after the baby is born? If so, for how long?

    1. fposte*

      I think in general time off for kids is a good defense against the “hopper” perception, but I think the field transition here complicates things. Are you okay if you basically reset to zero on breaking into the field again? Is it easy enough that you could safely assume it could happen twice?

      1. Preparing for Kids*

        Thanks for the feedback. I agree that the field transition is what complicates it. I’d be happy to reset to zero, but the field can be hard to break into as there tends to be very little growth or movement. I’d also be willing to search for a related field that requires similar skills. I would plan to volunteer, maintain my license and professional connections and even look into part time work in the years I am at home.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      If your primary motivator for staying home is because you feel passionately about being a stay at home parent for the first few years of your child’s life, and the cost savings is merely a bonus, then do it. If you are on the fence about staying home and the cost factor is a significant motivator, I’d reconsider. I took a LOT of Cheryl Sandberg’s Lean In with a grain of salt, but I did appreciate her perspective of paying for childcare as an investment in your career.

    3. Clever Name*

      Only you know what is right for your family. Many people have Opinions about what you should be doing, and they are all valid, but ultimately, the only opinions that matter are yours and your partners.

      That said, I ended up taking off 2 years when my son was born, and I’m really glad I did. I wasn’t intending to do so; that’s just how it worked out because we moved to a different state just after my son was born, and it didn’t make any sense to try to look for a job with a 3 week old. We structured our lives in the new state so we would be comfortable on my husband’s salary alone.

      Childcare does get less expensive as your baby gets older, so there’s that to consider. Do you like your job? Do you like working? Even if you would barely break even for a while, it may be worth it to keep working. On the other hand, if the thought of going back to work after your baby is born, listen to that.

      1. Clever Name*

        Hmm, the last sentence should read:

        …if the thought of going back to work after your baby is born fills you with dread, listen to that.

  55. Ash (the other one!)*

    I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for the two offers that were promised last week (see last open thread). So frustrating — neither has given me an offer just the verbal assurance that the offers are on their way.

    So here’s this week’s two dilemmas:

    1) I think*** I’ve decided which I’d prefer pending the offers being high enough in salary. Should I get the other offer (Job B) before the one I prefer (Job A), should I email Job A to tell them I got the offer but depending on the package would prefer to go to them? How do I phrase that email so they don’t go “okay never mind about us then”). Job A likely cannot move on the turn of a dime, and I will likely need to get back to Job B quickly. I don’t want to turn Job B down if Job A isn’t going to come through!

    2) Meanwhile, I’ve been invited to do a full-day interview for yet another job (Job C) on Monday. Since I have neither offer in-hand I cannot turn it down (remember, I’m fairly desperate to leave my current job) but I feel really guilty knowing if either Job A or Job B come through I will not go forward with my candidacy with Job C and will have wasted a lot of people’s (including my own! I have to write a job talk this weekend for it) time.

    Cross your fingers that I get some news today. I’m way way too anxious and its starting to effect my sleep. I’ve resorted to moving my phone out of the bedroom because I’m too eager to check if I have any new email!!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Good luck! I think it’s a good dilemma to have. When you get your offers in writing, the ball’s in your court and how long you take to make up your mind is up to you isn’t it? I know the employer would be anxious to get an answer back ASAP so they can proceed, but you need time to weigh out your options. Can you tell Job B that you need a bit more time to think things over?

      As for Job C, you have to do what’s best for you.

    2. Windchime*

      Wow, good for you for having so many irons in the fire. Hopefully you’ll have several offers to choose from.

      You’re not wasting Job C’s time. Right now, even though things are very promising, you have zero job offers so you can attend Monday’s interview guilt-free. Who knows; maybe Job C will turn out to be the one you really want!

  56. AMD*

    I’m a new manager, going in to talk to an employee about a performance issue for the first time ever this afternoon.

    She is a pharmacy cashier, and often will sigh or roll her eyes when patients ask for things or have complicated issues, and make comments within their hearing like “Oh gosh, I thought we were done, they have *more* prescriptions?” or “Don’t put any rush on his prescriptions,” etc. She will occasionally put on this attitude with me (she announced she could not stay one minute longer than the scheduled hour for the staff meeting, and if management kept talking she’d be out the door, then rolled her eyes when I told her firmly that I needed her to be willing to stay for the entire meeting.)

    I have told her in private at least once in a firm, no-nonsense way that I need her to be respectful to our patients regardless of their behavior, (she reacted by crying and leaving the pharmacy for a few minutes,) but the attitude continues, so this is now an informal conversation with another member of store management present.

    Any advice for me as a new manager dealing with this? Any sample “scripts” I could use when talking to her?

    1. Anon*

      Ugh, I struggle with this sometimes too. It’s so hard to offer concrete examples of what you don’t want them to do when what you really want to say is “just get a personality transplant, that should do it!”

      Some people are just not suited to customer service, but aren’t bad enough to get rid of for that reason alone — it’s a tough situation to be in as a manager. Especially when HR isn’t supportive of your authority.

    2. fposte*

      Any reason why this is still an informal conversation, since she’s been spoken to about this once? Her behavior is unprofessional and acceptable, and it’s not that hard for her to get it right.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’ll firstly say that I’m not a manager…but it seems like this is a situation where you’d want to bring up what you told her before and the instances where you noticed that wasn’t being met and maybe ask why this has continued to happen. “Last month we discussed how your behavior wasn’t respectful to patients. I’ve noticed many instances of it happening again. What’s going on?” It could all be said somewhat kindly, but I’m thinking maybe she isn’t the right person for that job (unless she has some sort of facial/eye rolling tic disorder). But it sounds like it’s time for this to be a formal warning with the next step being fired. If my pharmacist/cashier acted like that with me I’d be pretty embarrassed and then pissed and would probably take my business elsewhere. I don’t know why this is being allowed to continue.

    4. AVP*

      You need to say something along the lines of, “In the past we’ve discussed your attitude, and I’ve noticed that these issues are still ongoing. Here are the actions that are necessary for you to be employed here [fill in: helpful, cheerful, etc]. Here are the things that I’ve noticed you doing hat do not live up to what I need [mention specific examples]. If you cannot perform in this job up to what we need from you, then we’ll have to talk about whether this is the right job for you or not.”

      And then hold her to it, including calling her out if you see her repeating the same behaviors next week, the minute after the customer leaves the area.

      This might sound harsh, but trying to be “nice” to her and sugar coating it a) won’t get you the results you want, and b) is less kind to her in the long run, if she thinks she can continue to get away with her attitude and then gets fired out of the blue.

    5. Christine*

      I’m a new manager too, with several people like this that I inherited. The script that I try to keep in my head when talking about anything like this is that what you are talking about is a condition of their employment. They are being paid to fulfill a job that requires them to be respectful to the patient, regardless of the patient behavior. If they cannot fulfill this requirement, there will be consequences.

      I would hope with another manager sitting in she will realize that this is a serious aspect of the job, and that she is being expected to hold up her end of being employed. And I would clearly outline what happens from here and ask them to think about what will have to happen if you have to pull her aside again. Good luck!

    6. LAI*

      I’m confused about why this is an “informal conversation”. After the first time or two that she did it, I could see having an informal conversation then. But it’s now a pattern and you’ve already talked to her about it once — I think this is a very serious FORMAL conversation now. As in, last warning before firing. Her behavior sounds completely unacceptable to me and it’s also completely within her control to change, so I can’t see any reason to keep her if that doesn’t happen immediately.

      1. AMD*

        Thank you all for your advice!

        The company we work for has a multi-step process for performance issues, and this is the first step before actual disciplinary stuff is on her file. Having it allows me to try to get her to improve, but to more quickly fire her if she doesn’t.

        Old, beloved manager who got abruptly fired this summer was kind of a jerk and may have encouraged her bad attitude and participated in mocking patients etc., so I want to give her a chance to see this is no longer the case.

        1. Chriama*

          Then you still need to tell her explicitly. If this behaviour was tolerated in the past, acknowledge that to her. “The conditions of your job have changed. It is no longer acceptable to mock, chastise or deride customers. Your attitude needs to be professional and respectful – no eye rolling, etc. I’m having this conversation with you ‘off the record’ so you know where things stand. I expect to see immediate improvement. If not, I will be following a more formal discipline structure and the next conversation we have will go on your employee file.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, this is it. Tell her as clearly as you have told us. Use these examples like you did here. You expect her to be professional. Then point blank say this is part of an on-going conversation, it will not be going away. Tell her that her actions since the last conversation indicate that she may not realize that these changes must happen.

            I would definitely start following your formal plan. She sounds like she is burned out at the job and probably will not stay. Don’t drag this out. The customers already see all the problems.

            The only thing that bothers me here is did you tell her exactly what is wrong, like the examples you gave here? Or did you just tell her she needed to improve?

      2. LAI*

        I wanted to add that I understand why this conversation will be hard, since you said that you are a new manager and this is the first time you’ve had to do this. I was so nervous the first time I had to talk to an employee about performance issues that I barely slept the night before. I think it helps to approach it with an attitude of trying to helpful to the employee – it’s not that you WANT to fire her. You want to help her do her job better so that you don’t have to fire her. Language like “This position requires a person who is able to do X – do you think you can do that?”. And you should also be clear in your mind that if she consistently doesn’t meet minimum satisfaction criteria for her job, then you do have to fire her.

        1. fposte*

          This might also be a time for Jamie’s “We talked about this, and I told you I expected X. What was the reason for you doing Y?”

    7. Trixie*

      I think you’re looking for AAM’s Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results. (See button above.)

    8. cuppa*

      I feel for you. I hate these conversations.
      “I am concerned that x is still happening even though we had a discussion about your need to change/improve/etc. on (day when conversation happened). This needs to change because of (expectation). Is there any reason why this hasn’t changed yet?”
      After that answer, I would try and find a way to fix it (do they need customer service training? Do they need to shadow someone? etc. I would probably mention also that if it continues there will be progressive discipline.

      Good luck!

      1. cuppa*

        Another thing is that I would probably mention if necessary: “I take customer service very seriously. I expect everyone on the team to provide friendly, helpful, and polite customer service at all times.” Maybe because the last manager didn’t take it seriously, she still needs to understand that this is serious.
        I’m glad that you have a track to eventually let her go if it doesn’t work out. Unfortunately, sometimes these skills just can’t be trained.

    9. GigglyPuff*

      I agree with what everyone else has said, it definitely should be more formal.

      I’d also like to add, as someone with health issues, and multiple medications, and some of the shame that comes with my condition, the slightest improper comments from the pharmacy staff would really cause some shame and depression. I understand customer service can be a difficult position, it was the hardest job I ever had to do, but as someone with medical issues, I feel like pharmacy staff should have a higher professional stance than other positions.

      And unfortunately I have been in this situation before, because the pharmacy I use, uses interns from the nearby college that offers a relevant degree. I’ve had a negative comment on the price of my medication, watched one of the interns seem completely uncaring that they had given the wrong medication to someone and almost killed them, when their coworker told them, and other instances.

      Ha, mini rant. I just want to say, please don’t take this lightly, because while some comments seem inappropriate to people in a general way, but in a customer service situation like she is in, they could be completely damaging to the person overhearing them.

      1. AVP*

        I can so empathize with that! I once got a weird look from a pharmacy assistant while ordering Plan B, and I don’t go back to that location anymore.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        +1000. If a cashier were behaving that way to me, as a patient, as someone in a vulnerable position (as we all are when filling prescriptions, since that means we have some issue or another!), I would be so upset.

        And while you want to take her aside for a longer conversation after catching her in the act, please apologize to the customer she insulted. Do it immediately and warmly. It will mean a lot.

      3. Liane*

        I think it was also mentioned above by the OP, but in this case “informal” isn’t the everyday English adjective. It is the name the company uses for this early step in their formal, progressive discipline procedure. MyJob has a similar first step–a verbal talk with another manager present–although it is called something else.

  57. bluephone*

    I’ve been in a new job for almost a year now and I mostly like– it pays less than my old job but the commute is better, the net pay is actually higher (less stuff being taken out), it’s more in line with my degree, etc. I guess my biggest concern is that apparently, my predecessor was not well-liked by the team, to the point that they had a secret nickname for her, based on an annoying TV character. Fine, whatever. Except that she’s been out of this office for over a year now and they still randomly bring up, “that time [X] did this” or “remember how X used to…?” Also, the person who brings up this ancient history the most is also the one who complains the most, and about everything. She’ll even complain about when other departments email our team to say congratulations or thank you for a project.

    My question is: am I the only one who thinks this is kind of weird? Like that maybe, a year-plus is too long to still be going on about this FORMER employee? And that either way, it’s just so unprofessional? I kind of feel like, if I had people reporting to me and they were acting like this, I’d be justified in saying, “put the [TV Character Nickname] nonsense to bed already or your future here is going to be in jeopardy.” But maybe I’m the jerk here.

    1. Amanda*

      I took over from someone who was scatterbrained and not terribly well-liked. It’s a small town, so she’s still around. It’s been a solid 2 years since she left and people still talk about her, though it has eased off considerably in the last few months. It’s one thing to hear in early days – and to hear yourself compared favorably! – but yeah, it does get weird and tiring.

      1. bluephone*

        Phew, so it’s not just me! I also have a feeling that the coworker doing all the rehashing doesn’t like me very much, either. I can’t necessarily do anything about whether or not she’s assigned me a pejorative nickname but it’s frustrating when she seems to straight up ignore me in meetings and conversations.

        It would be nice to not have to switch jobs for the second time in two years.

    2. Karowen*

      It’s certainly not the most professional thing to do, but I have to admit that we do that in my office. We had a string of employees that were less than stellar and every once in awhile we’ll talk about them again. Typically, though, it starts with something happening and then devolves into storytime. Like when I fall down (which is sadly frequent), I’ll re-tell the story from 5 years ago about that one time I fell over and pulled the filing cabinet down. If someone comments on a co-worker’s appearance, I’ll re-tell the story of our bad employee awkwardly commenting on our CFO’s height, and refusing to stop when he got angry and flustered. Similarly, everytime I see my father I try to get him to tell one particular story because I find it absolutely hysterical. I would chalk this up to them getting the kick out of telling the same stories – it never occurred to me that our [comparatively] new co-workers would think it weird or tiring.

      As for the nickname – Is it possible that other people in the office have had nicknames from the same show? I know that may sound odd, but my co-workers and I, including ex-boss, started naming each other after the 7 dwarfs. Ex-boss was never seen without a cup of coffee in her hand, so she was Sleepy. One co-worker liked to dispense health advice, so she was Doc. I sneeze loudly and frequently, so I’m Sneezy. One decided that he wanted to be Dopey, so Dopey he is. Once ex-boss started becoming a truly awful boss, we started referring to her in code and to some extent it stuck.

      To be clear, I’m not excusing the nicknames, just saying that they might have come from a good/not-necessarily-bad place, and might have even been condoned by the former co-worker.

      1. bluephone*

        I’m 99.99 percent sure that the former employee didn’t know anything about the mean nickname but I think they still focus on it so much because it distracts them from other less-fun aspects of the job/company. I get that– I just have this pet peeve about coming into a position and having to hear about my predecessor all the time. I was at my previous job for four years and up until the day I left, I kept hearing about how great the previous person was (with the undercurrent of “you suck by comparison). Live in the now, people!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If they are doing it in front of you, that could mean that they are relieved you are there now.

      For me, it took over a year for the after effects of my predecessor to dwindle down. Probably you do agree that the stories are not good.

      I guess I would just grin and say “Aren’t you glad you have someone like me now?” Rinse. Repeat.

  58. aproprose*

    Any tips for applying for jobs from across the country? My dear friend is applying for jobs in Chicago from the Northwest. She and her husband desperately want to relocate here to be closer to family and friends. She is a teacher, and not in a high demand area. (The arts) But there are actually a lot of openings currently that she is very qualified for!

    In my job I do a lot of resume screening, and as a rule of thumb I tend to throw out any resumes from candidates not in our region unless it’s an executive or specialty role. I’m not in education though, so I don’t know how willing employers are to consider teachers from out of the area. Other friends have suggested that she use a Chicago address (like mine or her family’s) when applying for jobs, but I tend to think that could be problematic if/when she makes it to the interview stage. Would love to hear some others’ thoughts on this! I know she’s fantastic at what she does, and would love for her to live in my city, so I want to help as best I can!

    1. Anonylicious*

      She should probably mention in her cover letter that she is already looking to move there.

    2. Queen Victoria*

      Your friend should use the Ask a Manager search bar for long-distance job search tips. Alison has accumulated quite a few helpful articles on the topic!

  59. Marcy*

    I was hired for a job that turned out to be completely different from how it was described during the interview. I brought it up to my boss numerous times, and he was sympathetic and confessed that the department is a catastrophe and I’ve done more to fix it than any of my predecessors. I tried to be a good soldier and have been here more than a year, but I’ve done all that I can do and the higher ups are not giving me the support I need to really make any more changes. Recently two job opened up in another department that I’d be qualified for. I talked to my boss about it and he was understanding and said he would not block my move, even though he thinks my leaving would mean the department would fall apart (his words, not mine). I talked to his boss’s boss, at his request, and also got the go-ahead. Everyone knows about the problems at this department and nobody blames me for wanting out.

    Now…I talked to my dotted-line boss and he said they just can’t lose me. He offered several unviable solutions that I shot down. Finally, he asked me to stay for six months and give him an opportunity to fix things. Frankly I do not think these problems that have been going on for years can be fixed in six months, but I told him I would think about it if he gave me a concrete plan and assurance that the position I wanted would remain available to me after six months. Now I am wondering if I’ve just shot myself in the foot. If I promise to stay, how can I be sure that I’ll be allowed to move in six months? Would asking for something in writing be too pushy?

    1. fposte*

      It’s not that I think asking for it in writing would be too pushy, it’s that I think it’s not going to make any difference. It’s not going to bind him to anything, and if he wants to block you he’ll block you.
      I could see emailing him a followup with the plan outlined, but I don’t think it means a guarantee. (How can he even make sure a position stays open for six months? That seems odd.)

      I would definitely start polishing up the resume and looking around, too, because there may be better options elsewhere, and you’ll be better able to choose and negotiate internally if it’s a genuine choice and not just an escape route.

      1. Marcy*

        I don’t think he can guarantee it…he just sort of boxed me into a corner when I pointed out that I couldn’t give him six months and lose out on the current job opening. He promised to make sure the position remained open, so I pushed back I said I’d consider it if he could absolutely guarantee it. Probably should have just said no but I was warned that he could make this process a living hell so I was trying to play nice.

        I am definitely continuing to look around, and actually have a couple of really good leads that could pan out before 6 months. This is just a big name company and I wanted to show that I could stick it out for more than a year so I didn’t look like a flake who couldn’t cut it.

        1. Windchime*

          This is so frustrating. Blocking promotions and transfers is how companies push their high-achievers out the door.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Oh, I so totally relate, and I’m mad on your behalf. My internal transfer happens in 3 weeks, but I was in your shoes a couple weeks ago. New boss had talked to my current manager’s boss, and he was pushing back. Similar to you, the new role would be better for me and everyone knew it. It wasn’t “fair,” but manager’s boss said “some people don’t even let their employees interview in other departments or divisions.” (My thought: great way to send your in-demand employees running to competitors).

      One thing that came out of my situation is that the my old job will be restructured. My position will be split into a higher level role who will manage my former department and a lower level “coordinator” type role who will do all the crappy reporting I was stuck with for no logical reason (things bolted on to my job that had nothing to do with my other work).

      It sounds like you’ve already been through a ton of options with the manager, but I wonder if you could propose that what he really needs is “a person who can ___” if there’s the possibility that someone else could really help turn the disaster around. If he could shoot for having someone hired in 2 months, maybe your new position could hold it open that long. It just doesn’t seem right to keep you there for the sole purpose of holding things together. It’s not really effective for anyone.

      1. Marcy*

        Thanks, it’s good to hear that I’m not the only one going through this. I mean…I know I’m not, but I can’t talk to my coworkers about it and I don’t want to bring it home with me, so my head is like a bag full of cats over this situation.

        I don’t think I can really offer him suggestions for a replacement, because we already hired a junior person that I’ve trained in all the processes. Theoretically she could fill in for me while they hire someone with more industry experience. I’ve also offered to train the new person and be available for the transition but he doesn’t want that because “things are a mess right now.” Well, things have been a mess for years. Things are going to be a mess in six months. Arg…anyway, I guess all I can do now is wait and see if my direct bosses will fight for me. I’m keeping my eyes open for external opportunities as well in case things don’t work out and chewing tins of rescue remedy pastilles in the meantime.

  60. Another English Major*

    I need to rant.

    My firm is taking away the wastebaskets at our desks because it takes too long for the cleaning crew to empty them all and it costs too much money. So now we have to throw away our trash in the break rooms. Uhg, this is so inefficient-I’m going to be hoarding all my trash at my desk to I don’t have to keep getting up every time (we produce a LOT of paperwork).

      1. Another English Major*

        I would if I thought they wouldn’t take that away too. I’m just going to use one of the lids from the boxes the copy paper comes in and empty that periodically.

        I still think it’s stupid though.

      2. Celeste*

        Seconding this, but maybe make it a little wheeled cart so you can get the day’s worth of paper in it and make a run either at the end of the day or the beginning of the next. Since you would own it, get one you like to use after you are no longer subject to this policy, or on weekends. Container Store has some cute ones, or Staples has a $20 collapsible plastic teacher box with retractable handle.

    1. OriginalYup*

      Ugh, the faux cost cutting decisions are the worst.

      I’ve just kept a stash of grocery bags under my desk and used those instead. The paper ones stand up well, and the handles make them easy to take to the break room when full. (How did I learn this? Worked for a place to cheap to buy desk trash cans for 10 employees.)

      1. Another English Major*

        Yeah, that’s pretty much my plan, except using a cardboard box instead. I get that it costs $ (we have over 500 employees), but I feel like having a bin is pretty basic and there has to be a better way to save.

        1. OriginalYup*

          Yeah, I foresee problems with their approach, full stop. The break rooms bins are always full, so people can’t throw away the stuff from the fridge, which creates another thing, and then clients come through for a visit, and so forth.

          Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, I’ve just never had policies that reek of cheap end up in a good place. I still get rage flashbacks about one CEO memo that asked us to consider whether we really needed to make so many copies, in an industry that required a certain type and amount of paperwork for regulatory compliance. Maybe you could repurpose the trash as origami cranes or something?

          1. Another English Major*

            The overflowing break room bins are already a problem now. They aren’t big enough and are full by 1, I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when everyone starts throwing all their trash in them since they won’t be emptied until the end of the day.

            This is coming from the same manager who when I suggested the paper towel dispenser be re-filled at 2 (the time we always seem to run out), said they can only be refilled at the end of the day because it costs to much to refill twice. The paper towels are locked away so we have to have our own if we want to dry our hands anytime after lunch.

            1. Nina*

              The break room bin getting full too fast was my first thought as well. Management might change their minds when they see trash spilling out onto the floor because no one has a freaking wastebasket at their desk.

              Seriously, what a dumb idea.

        2. Celeste*

          Uh yeah, that doesn’t sound sustainable for even a day. Do they not recycle? We have giant blue recycling bins for paper, located by the copier/printer/fax units. We also have a box for stuff that gets outsourced to a shredding company, because we deal with sensitive information.

          It seems like they could even get one of those dumpsters outdoors for paper, and MAKE money from recycling, or even donate the proceeds to a charity. Our school district has a paper dumpster at every school.

          I hope they find a better solution for you.

          1. Another English Major*

            We have one recycling bin in one building (we are spread out over three buildings in one lot). I have suggested something like what you have, but was ignored.

            1. Celeste*

              Well, once it’s overflowing in the break rooms, you can alert the Fire Marshal in your area to come and do an inspection. That’s a fire hazard as well as a hazard to egress.

    2. Daisy*

      How about suggesting one main, larger waste basket in your work area? I used to pull mine out from under the desk to next to it to make it easier for him to collect; that’s an option but I think they’d say it doesn’t reduce enough time.
      (I admit, if this happened to me, I’d probably spend the first day throwing each piece of trash away as it came up LOL)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        We don’t have bins in our offices in my new workplace – first time I’ve ever seen this. My office-mate has a plastic bag that she puts rubbish into and I’ve copied her and just put all my paper/post its/chocolate wrappers etc, basically anything that isn’t food related and empty the bag on a weekly basis.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      OMG I hope no one else from my company reads this, they might get ideas. Meanwhile this place is about to tip over because it’s so top-heavy with directors who don’t do anything, and are just holding out for retirement. Ugh.

    4. cuppa*

      I heard rumors about a large corporation that would make you bring an old pen to the supply room in order to get a new pen.

      1. Windchime*

        Ha, it’s kind of like trading in your printer cartridge when you buy new ones. I wonder if there is someone in the back room, injecting ink into tiny pen tubes so they can be re-used.

    5. Another English Major*

      Thanks all for the commiseration and suggestions! I’ll update in another open thread once they put in place.

    6. The IT Manager*

      At my old office, they told us we had to empty our own trash cans. I didn’t realize I should be gratefu that they didn’t take them away from us!

      In our new offie where we rent, someone comes to empty my trash can twice a day! totally crazy.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not the right attitude for me to have but when I see stupid ideas like this at OldJob, I”d get this smirk on my face and think “I can’t wait to see how badly this plays out.”

      So 500 people taking their garbage to the break room once a week. Let’s say it takes them 4 minutes each to do this. That is 2000 minutes per week or 33.3 hours.

      Wow. This company is going to save soooo much money. It will be able to pay off all its debt. /snark.

      When companies start reaching for ideas like this, I tend to think of a sinking ship.

      1. Another English Major*

        Not once a week, daily! Those were my exact thoughts too-it’s a waste of manpower

  61. Amanda*

    I’m hoping for some suggestions on managing post-burnout. About three weeks ago, a massive, massive work event that I have been planning for 18 months happened. It went great! It was such a big event that of course there were problems, but nothing above the level of minor annoyance. I got tons of compliments.

    I basically worked or stressed about work 24/7 for 3 months before the event. I am a fairly high octane person and function very well under stress, so I was cheerful and fine throughout. Now, on the other side of the event, I took a few days off, then got back to work, and I can’t seem to get my brain back on track. It keeps fizzing out. I don’t have energy or motivation at work or at home, and I’ve had at least two not-small anxiety attacks over stupid tiny things.

    I’m struggling a bit with some deadlines at work because of this, and it’s starting to weigh on me. I’ve always been the kind of person who gets energy from *doing.* I had two days completely off at home reading books and hanging out with the puppy, and that still didn’t detox me. Usually after two days of doing nothing I am climbing the walls! Any ideas?

    1. fposte*

      Start with the easy answer–can you take more time? Two days isn’t very much after something of that intensity.

      1. Amanda*

        Not really, unfortunately. :( We are short-staffed to begin with, and I am in a particularly tight department. There’s also a sort of weird zero-sum game played with time off, and I am not good at those kind of mind games!

        1. fposte*

          Would even early afternoon departures be impossible?

          In the meantime, I’d do a lot of scheduled walks during the day, in building or without, to break up the locked-on-the-screen mode, and I’d make sure I was feeding myself at reasonable intervals and not overdoing the caffeine.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            And my answer it everything is just Moar Coffee!

            :)

            Seriously though, fposte’s advice is, as usual, high quality.

            I relate to you, Amanda. I’ve had some concentration issues myself lately because the last year has just been crisis after crisis and then explosions of busy coupled with crisis and just go go go go rise to the occasion. Our last busy season tailed off about a month ago and my concentration just went down the toilet.

            Natural cures aren’t usually my choice (see: More Coffee!!), but when more coffee didn’t work, I’ve seen some success with exactly what fposte has advised here.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Watch that roller coaster- for some people if they go high then later they go low.
      The anxiety attacks could be from fatigue, massive fatigue. Which would match not being able to get back into your other work.
      I did not start having anxiety attacks until I got into my 30s. I thought I should just be able to keep going and going and going.

      That is not reality and there was a huge difference from when I was in my teens vs twenties vs thirties. Each decade I noticed more and more symptoms.

  62. Chris*

    So I had a great interview in April in a field that I have been trying to move into, and was bummed to hear back from her that her manager decided to alter the hiring timeline and not hire until July. She asked if I would still be interested in the job (YES!) and that she would get ahold of me sometime between June and beginning of July. I sent an email around June 19th to reiterate my interest and….nothing.

    I know from reading here that I shouldn’t be a pest, after all something else may have come up or she’s been super busy or…she found someone else. But I feel kinda awkward as I never sent a thank you email (she called twenty minutes after the rejection email to make the verbal offer for July) and I’m torn about when/if to email her again.

    Should I wait until August? Or because we talked over the phone, should I not worry and skip the thank you email?

    1. Stephanie*

      Well it is July, so…. I’d make a stronger effort if your last missive was unanswered. And by that, I mean reach out again. It’s close to being annoying, but she SAID July. I feel like you may be close to missing out entirely.

  63. anonintheuk*

    Got turned down for a job I interviewed for on the (probably accurate) grounds that I could do it standing on my head, the company has no growth potential at the moment, and I would be bored.
    Now just irritated. I already have a job, but there is no promotion potential here (lots of new and different kinds of work at no more pay, yes. promotion, no.) and it seems to me it is time to go.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Well, it sucks you got turned down, but it sounds like a good thing. You may have been in a worse situation with the new job. I’m kind of in that position now; I feel very under utilized.

  64. MSWIntern*

    I’m finishing up an amazing internship and applying for a permanent job here. It’s an internal posting so I’m basically competing against other interns. All the feedback I’ve gotten from clients, supervisors, and co-workers is that I’m doing an amazing job, BUT, I don’t speak Spanish, one of the other interns does, and we have an increasing number of clients who are Spanish speaking. The job listing said Spanish-speaking is preferred.
    How do I address this in the interview? Is there any way to overcome this or should I just resign myself to the fact that, if she applies, language skills will trump awesomeness?

    1. fposte*

      Unless you’re in a Spanish class right now, there’s not much you can do to address it. There’s a skill they’d like you to have that you don’t have. It’s not even trumping–it’s whether that skill is necessary to be awesome for this particular job. Just go forward and see how it plays out. (And if this is representative of the field and area that interests you, a Spanish class might be a good idea.)

    2. CTO*

      I think you have a huge advantage here being an internal candidate (even if the other applicants are as well). They know your work well and might be more willing to forgo the Spanish skills if they see how awesome you are in other ways.

      Have you had any encounters with current Spanish-speaking clients? Any stories you can share about how you creatively managed to at least meet their basic needs (ie by helping the connect to a Spanish speaker, by teaching yourself a few basic words of Spanish, etc.)?

      1. Anon*

        If you’re interested in learning Spanish, you could bring that up in the interview and mention some strategies you might use.

  65. Kou*

    Is there any way to list languages that you’d need to brush up on in your resume? In a situation where it may actually be useful for the opening because it requires a decent amount of international travel.

    I grew up in an area that predominantly spoke one language and studied another in high school and college. I hasn’t used either in years, however, when I have needed them (like on a trip) they do come back with some brushing up and exposure. That’s a lot better than zero language skills, I feel, but I also don’t know how to describe that in an application.

    1. nep*

      Could you put ‘Basic [Language]’ or ‘Basic Proficiency in [Language]’? I’ve also seen ‘Functional Proficiency’. You’re not saying ‘Fluent’, but indicating you know the fundamentals and could get by in it.
      How great it would be (in my view, anyway) to have a gig that calls for some international travel. Bonne chance.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        My “skills” section in my resume is actually “skills and languages”. I’ve got it separated into three sets:
        Strong proficiency in X
        Other languages studied formally: A, B, C, D, and E
        Other languages studied with a consultant: Y and Z

        I don’t make any claim to my skills in languages A-E, Y, or Z, but I do have exposure to them. In your case, you could probably say “proficiency in [whatever language]” and as long as the job isn’t, like, translating technical documents from [Whatever], no problem.

    2. Anonylicious*

      I have “Limited working proficiency in German” on my resume. That did lead to one of my interviewers for my current job switching languages mid-conversation! I guess I did okay, because I got the job, but it was a bit nerve-wracking. So that’s something to be mindful of if you put it on there.

  66. Mints*

    I have an epic rant about a terrible phone screening this week

    First, I got a cold email in response to a public profile online. The email was like two sentences and didn’t specify the job. So I emailed back asking what the job was, he didn’t answer, but told me to call him any time.
    So I called three times without reaching him, including twice when I told the receptionist I’ll call back at X time, and she said it worked. (I’m already annoyed by this point)
    Finally, we talk on the phone.
    He spent 5-10 minutes on small talk before telling me what the job was. The small talk was painful.
    He was complaining about his commute, and said my commute must be bad too, and asked “Who do you live with? Alone or with family?” I think he meant to ask “Why don’t you move closer to work?” but asked in the creepiest way possible.
    Then he was reviewing my experience, and the phone cut out and I heard “25 or 26 probably?” and I said “Oh my salary?” and he said “No you must be 25 or 26?” I said “Oh my age.” And he said “Yeah” and I didn’t respond (I was thinking, wait should I tell him he guessed wrong? Why would he guess that? That’s illegal. Wait the question itself isn’t illegal. Then he said something else)
    Later he asked about Spanish fluency, a normal question which I answered. And he said “We have a lot of Latinos who work here” and I said something like “That’s not a problem; I’m really comfortable speaking Spanish.” But then (completely unprompted) he goes “We’re really diverse here” and lists the nationalities of like a dozen staff. I was like “Uh cool”
    All of this, and he barely talked about the job itself, even when I asked for more details.

    It was so so painful, and I sent an email withdrawing. I’m glad I’m not so desperate I took the job

    1. Geegee*

      Good for you for not having to take this. Honestly, I would have hung up the minute he asked my age. Umm… no thank you just no…

  67. Miss Fritz*

    Help! My boss is excluding me from important meetings.

    I started at my current job 2 months ago. It is a small 3-person (the 2 founders and me) tech start-up. Today, the 2 founders are going on an “off-site” meeting to brainstorm ideas for our new product. I was deliberately told “we are having an off-site and will not be in the office tomorrow” (i.e. I was clearly not invited to the meeting and was granted permission to work from home instead).

    I would like to be invited to these meetings and contribute more to our projects (vs. just doing what I am told after the decisions have been made). Any suggestions?

    I realize that the easiest solution would be to just talk with my boss about how I want to be more included. Except I already did that, for a total of 2.5 hours over 3 occasions, during the interview process less than 3 months ago.

    Is this a man/woman thing? A youth thing (i’m 30)? Is there some approach I am missing? Is it not considered rude in business to interrupt meetings you are not invited to?

    1. LF*

      Well, they are the founders and the owners. That means they are entitled to make business decisions without your input. That said, I wouldn’t venture to give you any other advice without knowing your specific role in the organization.

    2. CTO*

      Would these meetings be a distraction from your other work? Are you completing your current workload well and on time?

      A lot of people who start businesses are really, really attached to their work. It might be hard for them to welcome someone in to give away some of their duties around “their baby.”

    3. Eden*

      I would be patient, and try to learn all you can. If you’ve only been in the position a couple of months, you may not really be ready to contribute on that level. I agree with LF, this is probably the founders’ baby, and you may have to spend some time being great at the rest of your job to be trusted to be part of the big decisions.

      Especially if you’ve already expressed to your boss that you’d like to contribute more, I would not press the issue further, for fear of coming off as entitled.

      Without details, being hired as the only other person in a two-person start-up sounds like you were hired to assist, not to lead. If you prove through your assistance that you are great at what you do, you may find those doors opening up. But my main advice is patience.

    4. Anon*

      Couple of questions: Are you usually busy? Have you said that you wanted to participate in this since the interview? They might think that they’re sparing you from spending time on these meetings. There could be this or some other completely innocuous reason that you’re not invited.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I understand that you want to be included, but what is their motivation for including you?

      I don’t know if you can or can’t make valuable contributions after only 2 months, but it usually takes longer than that on a job to be able to and meetings will drag or grind along if one person needs to be caught up to speed and/or educated on why XYZ won’t work and ABC isn’t feasible.

      After you’ve been there long enough to have some good ideas (or, now, if you have them now), why not submit them outside of a meeting structure. If they are good, what likely happens next is “Oh that Miss Fritz, she’s on ball, make sure she’s in our next brainstorming session.”

      Advice though: submitting a bunch of ideas before you really have your feet wet in a venture can backfire if the ideas are badly out of tune or off key due to factors not yet known.

      You can almost always count on people to act in their self interest. If PTB believes it is in their self interest for you to be in the meetings, there you will be.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Are they arguing with each other and do not want to expose that to you?

      It’s pretty normal for the higher ups to meet alone. I think I would stop asking. It’s not a gender thing, not an age thing. I am not clear on the question about rudeness- I think you are asking if you can interrupt their meeting. No, I would not do that.

      You have only been there 2 months. You are their first employee? You have done well so far.
      If you want more work then say that. If you have ideas for projects already in motion, mention that.

      Take a deep breath. Let your actions speak loudly. Do a bang up job with what they give you.

  68. a.n.o.n.*

    So it looks like I won’t be getting the job I want after all. I talked to the CEO of the other company a couple weeks ago to let him know that I’m ready to close on the new house and will be available very soon. He told me to call him to set up a meeting. We played phone tag for a bit. I then got hold of him the other day. He told me he knows I’d be fantastic and wants to hire me, but he doesn’t have a position open right now. I also found out the position is the same one I turned down the first time back in September, not a new position as I was lead to believe. His reasoning for not hiring me is that his senior people feel he would be doing something shady by letting the other guy go and brining me in. So, yeah, apparently I’d be replacing the guy they hired when I turned them down the first time. He asked me to email him explaining the kind of job I’m looking for and will keep me in mind. So, I was pretty devastated the other day. I thought I would be getting out of a job I dislike, that’s the wrong job for me, and now I’m not.

    I was feeling like something was “off” about this whole thing after I talked to him, but thought maybe it was just me. But then two friends said that they think it’s odd, too. When the guy called me in February, right before I came to this job, he made it sound like it was a totally different position. I had no idea it was the same position I turned down in September. But we didn’t talk all that much about it so maybe I just didn’t have enough information. Back in February he had mentioned that the new guy needs some oversight; another reason why I thought for sure it was a different position. Now he says it’s the same position and his senior officers are holding him back. They feel he’s doing something shady by letting the other guy go. My gut tells me to forget about this company and look elsewhere. Something just doesn’t seem right.

    As far as what to look for next, to be honest I just don’t know what kinds of jobs to apply for. Sometimes I think I want to totally change careers and go drastically in left field, but at the moment I can’t afford to start at the bottom with a huge pay cut. I guess concentrating on the upcoming move and getting settled will give me time to think about it. Now I have to start from square one again and figure out what kinds of jobs to apply for.

      1. a.n.o.n.*

        Now that I think on it more, I’m not as upset as I was. The way it finally played out just kind of rubs me the wrong way. Seems a tad shady. And now that I know it’s for the job I originally turned down, I’m not sure I’d be better off going there anyway.

        For now I’ll focus on the big move and look around to see what’s out there. Maybe I’ll find something even better that will be closer to the new house.

        1. a.n.o.n.*

          Thanks. :) Yes, I’m definitely stressing with the move, so I guess it’s best that I don’t worry about work at the moment.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think that it’s shady that he told you one thing and his board a different thing. He wants you to supervise this guy? Then he tells his board that he wants you to replace this guy?

      THEN, he tells you all this detail???
      Nice.

      You would have been there eight months and he would have moved someone else into your job. I bet he has done this before.

      Am sorry that it did not work out for you, but I think you will find something more stable than this place.

  69. Mr. Slyvester*

    Using my cat’s name to go anon for this.

    I’m getting a ton of wildly over-qualified candidates for an entry level contract project management position. I’m talking PhD’s in Organizational Management that have managed large infrastructure and change management projects. I even stated that funding was only guaranteed through the end of the year.

    Normally I wouldn’t even interview these folks because…all the normal reasons. Would be bored! Will leave immediately! Won’t fit into the culture of the project teams because they are used to operating at a different level!

    But I week after week I read comments from folks here who just want a chance to prove themselves and consider leaving their degrees off their resumes…

    On the third hand, I can’t interview everyone.

    Any feedback for me?

    1. fposte*

      It’s your job to find the best person for the position, though; make sure you’re not prioritizing giving people a chance over searching for the position. So do they have a shot at being the best person for *this* job? Are there other people who’ve done this exact job while dealing with the stressors of being lower in the hierarchy and having limited power?

      And if you do bring them in, ask them about that. It is really different to be in charge than to be the implementer.

    2. BRR*

      I think you should consider some but I would look at each one and ask why they’re looking? Can you figure it out by their resume or do they address it in their cover letter? If some make it past that just flat out ask them during a phone screen.

    3. Eden*

      Please don’t assume someone with more experience/higher degrees will be bored, or leave immediately, or won’t be able to fit into the culture. I got zero responses probably because of this, until I left my degrees and some experience off my resume. I am very happy in a position that some might consider lower than what I should shoot for, I have no plans to leave!

    4. Gwen Soul*

      I know a few people who wanted to take on less responsability later in thier career or needed less stress so a step down would have been prefect. You may at least want to ask anyone who really stands out.

      1. cuppa*

        Yes to this. I always ask, “why are you interested in this position?” which gives a lot of good insight into these types of things.

  70. Louise*

    Hello! I don’t often comment on here, but I love reading these open threads. Hasn’t exactly been my week. I’ve been at my current job for about 8 months and while it’s definitely been a huge learning curve and a job I’d struggled with (first job out of college, small company, a LOT of responsibility for an entry level ) I’ve always received pretty positive feedback. Until yesterday when I was informed that it wasn’t a good fit and I hadn’t made the progress in the last few months specifically to justify keeping me on. I was pretty blindsided but to be fair I think the nature of the job made it harder for management to spot problems and always give accurate feedback as the problems tend to manifest themselves later if that makes sense. Soooo happy Friday! I’m back to job searching. Again. The company has generously let me stay on for two weeks and offered to treat it as a lay off for references and to tell my coworkers that I’m resigning. So can’t complain under the circumstances. But I’m really dreading these next two weeks at work. Any advice on how to make the most of these two weeks and the best of a kind of sucky situation? I realize they’re being generous, as my boss has offered to give me a very positive reference. I don’t entirely agree with their assessment of me of course, but I know I can’t let any bitterness or anger show. I’m just planning to make as much progress in my job search in the next few weeks I’m getting paid and hope for the best. I guess I’m really dreading having to go to work and be surrounded by people and an environment and job I mostly really liked. Today has just been hard to look around and know I’m losing all of it in a couple weeks. Okay, not too positive for a Friday. Sorry guys! Any advice would be really helpful!

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Well, that really stinks, and I don’t think they handled it well. It sounds like the only feedback you got was positive — which is always nice to hear — but it’s the feedback about what you need to improve upon that is always the most valuable. It sounds like you didn’t get that.

      As for how to handle the next 2 weeks, try to focus on the positive, which is that they’re letting you stay, so you’ll be getting a paycheck while you regroup and decide what to do next. And you’ll be getting a good reference too. Since it was initiated by them, I would imagine that they would be OK with you doing some job searching during the work day (although I would get that OK’d first) and trying to set up some interviews.

      Before you do that though, I would take the high road and make sure that anything you’ve been working on is completed, all loose ends tied up, and so on. Make sure you hand things off to the people that need them, and so on.

      And best of luck in your job search!

    2. nep*

      It sounds like you’ve already got a good attitude and are set to handle things professionally and maturely. All in your best interest in the end, for sure.
      Sorry you’re facing this. Sounds trite but when one door is closed, many more are opened. Who knows what lies ahead.
      Agree with the other commenter — focus on the positive and be your own best friend in how you relate to people in these last two weeks and in the job hunt. Good luck.

    3. BRR*

      I’m really sorry to hear. I am a fellow victim of an only positive review firing. I would be careful to not sign anything saying you resigned so that it’s not used against your unemployment claim.

      There also might be a problem later on that your reference might not be good (that’s only a might but I just want you to be prepared). Also figure out how to phrase why you were let go. I found a better job 5 months after being fired due to having some full-time experience, having a good explanation why I was let go, and having an amazing reference who was my manager but wasn’t the reason I was fired.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Mmmm, I’m truly sorry.

      I’ll tell you what’s weird, letting somebody go because of these stated reasons, but then having them work for a couple of more weeks.

      It’s just, weird.

      What’s common is to give a couple weeks severance, but I’ve just never heard of having the person continue to work for you. First of all, it’s awkward and second of all, if the reason is that they can’t cut it on the job, why would have them continue to work. And third of all: it’s awkward!

      My point would be it makes me question their judgement overall.

      Anyway, I am sorry that you are back to looking for a job and hopeful that you’ll find a good one quickly and this is a “hey, there was this really weird thing that happened once” story in short order.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Really good point. Louise, check in with them and ask what you can do over the next two weeks that would be helpful to them.

        They probably actually like you. It could be that someone else is taking your spot (nepotism?). I tend to think the real reason has nothing to do with your work.

  71. Ann Furthermore*

    Yesterday I spent a great deal of time compiling all my random notes from the project I’m working on into a OneNote notebook. I feel so much better. This is a huge project with many moving parts, and things are changing constantly as I get more information about requirements. It’s a relief to have everything compiled in one place that will be easy to keep updated going forward.

    Nice way to wrap things up before a week off!

    1. A Jane*

      I like doing that as well. There’s times that my focus is all over the place and so I’ve gotten myself to just stop and clean something. Whether it’s my desk, or my millions of notes, or just the project plan. It helps me clear my mind and focus. I then feel accomplished that I completed something simple.

  72. stellanor*

    Any hints about a new hire who doesn’t seem able to follow directions?

    The job we hired her for requires you to be extremely detail-oriented (we work with fussy equipment), and she seemed like she’d do well both from her resume and from interviews. But now that I’m training her, she’s a big mess. She keeps making errors on small things she’s been repeatedly instructed on, and making the same errors repeatedly.

    For instance, I’ve told her several times that if the equipment does X, JUST WAIT. Do not do Y. Do not do Z. Wait. Within 30 seconds it will return to normal. Unless you do Y or Z, in which case it will be a big mess.

    So the first time it happens, she does Y. I’m next to her and I say, don’t do Y, just wait. It’ll fix itself if you wait. If you do Y we have to start over. So just wait.

    The next time it happens she does Y again. I correct her again.

    This has now happened half a dozen times. She does Y EVERY SINGLE TIME. And this is just one of multiple issues. She does this on multiple fronts. She keeps asking me the same questions, and I keep asking her if she looked at the reference materials she was provided. She never has. I remind her the answers are there, but she never, ever checks there before asking me.

    WHAT DO I DO? I’m not even a manager, I just accidentally ended up training minions.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      This seems like something you should escalate to her manager, especially since she’s still in the training phase. Would it be possible to meet with her manager to raise your concerns?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      1. Talk about her about the pattern, not the individual occurrences.
      2. Tell her it’s a serious issue that she needs to fix immediately to be successful in the job.
      3. Start preparing yourself for the possibility that this is not the right fit.

  73. Sarah*

    A bit of a silly-sounding question…

    Do you think it looks unprofessional to eat snacks at work when you work short shifts? I’m in training right now and I feel a little unprofessional trying to eat while someone is instructing me or I’m doing a timed exercise – plus it seems like an adult with no health concerns should be able to plan their meals around a 4 hour shift. However, I wind up going 5-6 hours between breakfast and lunch and I get so hungry, I can’t even run errands after work without feeling faint. I’m a slow eater and need my short breaks to use the restroom and stretch my legs a bit.

    Please reassure me that it won’t be seen as unprofessional to have a snack at work as long as I do my best to pick an opportune time. And what healthy, inexpensive, vegetarian snacks do you find to be the least disruptive? (No sticky/greasy fingers, not smelly, fill you up, etc.)

    1. stellanor*

      My favorite work snack is almonds. A little baggie of almonds is minimally disruptive, healthy, and filling.

      I think whether it’s seen as unprofessional probably depends on the office. On my team it’s just known that people are going to have crazy days and not get a chance to eat, so no one’s fussed if you eat in a meeting.

    2. fposte*

      I wouldn’t eat while someone was instructing me–that’s not likely to look good. Not sure what’s meant by a “timed exercise” here, so I don’t know about that, but in general, if you can confine a snack to a time when you’re not engaged with another person or delaying something necessary it shouldn’t be a problem.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      Honestly, yes I would think it’s rude and unprofessional in an instructor-led training situation, if they are providing short break times. It is distracting, and then everyone will be wishing they had a snack. It would be hard for me, if I were the instructor, to imagine that you couldn’t use the restroom, eat something like a granola bar, and make a lap down the hallway during a 5-10 minute break.

      That said, I’ve gone to a lot of paid software training sessions and they typically provide morning or afternoon snacks for the whole group. They might prefer you eat them at break, and not at your computer, but they are there.

      You might also try a bigger breakfast with more protein and fat to keep you full longer.

    4. Cat*

      I guess I’m in the minority – eating while being trained seems totally normal to me.

    5. Astor*

      You might also find it worthwhile to go the smoothie route. Yogurt, tofu, or homemade (unstrained) nut milk to get in some protein, and add some fruit or veggies for the yummy aspect. A drink can look less disruptive than food, depending on the environment.

      But, yeah, I’m super thankful to having a job where it’s okay if I eat at my desk, because I don’t do well with long stretches without something. Good luck!

    6. StudentA*

      I have to eat every 2 or 3 hours, so I get it. I also know that it does bother some people. Some people have no idea what it’s like to have to eat every couple of hours, so they’re sort of regarded me as a weird food person.

      I do agree that if it is an instructor-led situation, that it looks unprofessional to snack away, unless it’s break time. What about drinking a lot of water and diet sodas throughout the work day? That should fill you up some, and doesn’t look nearly as bad.

  74. Rebecca*

    Random, and I apologize if this has been discussed before.

    We are in an open office plan and one of my neighbors has some very annoying habits. She is loud in general but there is one habit that I’m wondering if it’s ok to say something about.

    She smacks gum constantly and the sound is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’ve tried wearing headphones but sometimes I can still hear her. Plus, I can wear headphones at my desk but not in meetings.

    In case it’s relevant, she’s older than me. If it was someone younger (say, a recent college grad or someone in their first office job), I’d have no problem saying something like, “You know, you might want to get rid of the gum before meetings. It can be perceived as unprofessional.”

    Anyway, has anyone ever asked a coworker to chew their gum more quietly (or some other similar habit)? How did you phrase it? Or is this something I need to just try to ignore?

    1. fposte*

      But even with your hypothetical younger worker, the problem isn’t that she might be perceived as unprofessional, the problem is the noise she makes is a disturbance for you. Don’t disguise it as helpful advice when it’s just a request for her to quiet down.

      I think if you otherwise get along with her you can try a friendly “Hey, I know this is probably a hard-to-break habit, but there’s something about the acoustics that bounces noises around in here, so when your gum cracks it’s really loud on my side. Is there a way to avoid that?” But if this is just one of many things about her that annoy you, mindfulness and earphones might be a better plan.

    2. nep*

      I worked in an open office area with a young woman who popped and cracked her gum like crazy. I was writing and editing so I had to concentrate and work on a deadline. I am quite ‘live and let live’ and I do not like to impose on people, but I was unable to tune it out. I said, ‘The gum popping is quite distracting.’ She didn’t do it in the office anymore. (Note – She’s younger than I but was also in a ‘lower’ position. Certainly not a novice though. I don’t know if age would matter to me as much as rank; I might have a tougher time knowing how to handle it with a higher-up.)

      1. Windchime*

        What is “gum cracking”? I know about popping and snapping the gum (kind of like making a bubble, only snapping it inwards). But I’ve not heard of “cracking”.

  75. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Here’s an update on the changes to the site that are in progress: Expandable/collapsible comments are likely to roll out at the end of this month. Decided against editable comments for the reasons discussed here last week. Getting a better cover design for the ebook (no one cares about that but me). And signed the contract yesterday for a partnership that I’m really excited about that will launch later this summer.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Yey, collapsible comments! Can’t wait for the new changes to kick in. Thanks ever so much for making it a lovely place to be part of.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I for one can’t wait to see the updated cover!

      (And also collapsible comments)

    3. Mimmy*

      Is this new partnership the one you were debating about a couple weeks ago? (If you can’t say right now, that’s ok)

          1. Manda*

            That’s great – I’m glad you’ve come to a decision that you’re happy with and I appreciate the care you take of the site’s look and feel.

      1. Windchime*

        That would be awesome. There could be fruit-snack comments tucked amongst the other comments. Perfect for reading AAM on breaks!

  76. Newsie*

    Fingers crossed… I just applied for a job at a different department in my office! I feel like I get too invested when I apply for jobs and then I get crushed when I don’t get them… well. We’ll see. I used AAM’s tips to spice up my cover letter and resume so clearly they’d be silly to overlook me. Heh.

  77. Ms Scotland*

    (semi-anon)
    So….I’m almost 6 weeks into my new job. I’m still not sure what I think about it though. I am the only “me” so there is nobody to really ask how to do various procedures. The previous person left some notes about my main responsibility but not nearly enough. And, as it’s summer vacation, the person I am mainly supporting is on holiday until August. I don’t think it has helped that it has been ridiculously slow and I have been begging for work from the 2 other depts I support (but on a lessor scale) but even still, it has been a slooooow week. I don’t know, I keep telling myself it will get better when term starts again and the work picks up.

    1. SherryD*

      I don’t know about your workplace, so this is from my own experience: It’s pretty common to have a light workload for your first couple months on the job, as your manager doesn’t want to overwhelm you, or there are procedures you haven’t learned. And, yeah, summers can be slow in some offices. But if you’re reliable, you’ll almost certainly find more and more work delegated to you as time goes by.

      Can you dig around in the files (paper or computer) of the previous person who held the job? I’ve done that at a couple of jobs when I was the newbie and hadn’t been given a lot of work, and it definitely helped me learn about the company and my position.

  78. Reidi*

    Advice appreciated! I am a midlevel law firm associate. I do a lot of delegating to junior associates and am struggling with the best way to handle a couple who clearly do their best work for partners and slack on assignments I give them. I have had conversations with them to explain my expectations (which are admittedly high), including to explain that the work they give me eventually goes to the partners and how it is a waste of time/resources if I have to redo it. I always give very detailed instructions with assignments (often in writing), but I still find that the work product I get back is not up to par, that they have not thought through the assignment, etc. I know their work product to partners is not perfect, but it is a lot better than what I am getting. At this point, I sometimes feel like they just think, “No matter if this is terrible, Reidi will fix it!” I am definitely part of the problem – I have a tendency to let them take advantage of my willingness to answer questions (even ones they should know or know how to find) and to correct their work myself rather than sending it back to them with my notes. In part, this is because we are always working under tight deadlines and they perpetually hand in assignments late. But I would like to encourage them to be more resourceful and to take better ownership of their work.

    I would rather not elevate this to the senior team members. I view this as an opportunity to improve my managerial skills, and I will be working with these folks for the foreseeable future and would like to maintain good relationships rather than ratting them out.

    Any suggestions?

    1. BRR*

      If they give it to you and it’s subpar can you give it back to them? Tell them that it’s not up to the point where you can work with it yet and let them know why it isn’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Annndd when they ask questions, say “What have you done so far to find the answer?”

        My boss tells me to look for an answer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, if I still have no answer then I should call for help. Maybe you could insist that they try two or three resources before they come to you. Have them name the resources they tried.

        Definitely start handing their work back to them.

        If you do this for a while and do not make any progress then it is time for a chat with your boss. I think you will be okay. They seem to be able to do the work when they apply themselves.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          ** Wanted to say, I had the opposite problem where I was spending too long looking for answers and my boss needed me doing other things. We both quickly agreed on this assessment and that is when she made the cutoff point “15 minutes, not a minute longer”.

  79. in the mist*

    I’m doing an anon for this question…

    Does anyone have a health insurance policy where you have to prove your spouse is not eligible for health insurance at their own company so that they can be listed on your insurance plan?
    We are going to this system next year and I’m wondering what proof the employer must see to show your spouse doesn’t have an insurance option.

    I’m hoping it is just an affidavit that you sign. I don’t want to tell my employer that my spouse in unemployed.

    1. De Minimis*

      Never heard of that….we did have to do an affidavit once to show that we were married, but I think that might not be too unusual. I guess they might have had a problem with people trying to get non-eligible people covered for health benefits by claiming they were married. We had to send a page of our tax return to show that we filed MFJ.

      1. in the mist*

        My company is doing it to save $$. They don’t want to pay for a spouse to be on our insurance if they can get their own from their own employer.
        I can still put my spouse on my insurance, but it will cost me an extra $$$ a month above the premium.

        That is the kind of thing I’m afraid of, I don’t want to share my taxes with my employer. None of their business.

    2. fposte*

      Can you just ask them how this will work? It’s probably up to your company how they do it anyway, so other people’s experience might not tell you much.

    3. MaryMary*

      Employers generally just have employees sign an affidavit. For the 2014 tax year, however, the Affordable Care Act requires everyone document in our tax returns if we had health insurance in the previous year. Potentially an employer could ask for your tax records, but you would hardly be the only one who wouldn’t be comfortable with that.

      1. in the mist*

        I hope it is just an affidavit. We had to sign one this year about our tobacco use. I can handle that. :)

    4. Rebecca*

      Yes, we went to that a couple of years ago. My husband works for a start-up that does not offer health benefits. His boss just typed a letter on company letterhead saying “[Husband’s name] is an employee of [his company] and is not offered health benefits.”

      I turned it in to our benefits department, they just said they’d keep it on file. That was it!

    5. AVP*

      I had to “prove” that I wasn’t eligible for health insurance at my current job to qualify for the Freelancer’s Union plan. I believe it was just an affidavit that I had to sign on one line, and my manager had to sign on the other. In your husband’s case he would just either sign it himself on both lines, or sign one line and have anyone else on earth sign the second – they didn’t check up or do any referencing at all to make sure it was legit.

    6. Marcy*

      We do this at my job. It’s just a box I check when I sign up for health insurance. In essence it’s an affidavit. We’ve gone through two open enrollments and I’ve never been asked for more detailed information.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m on my spouse’s insurance, because I always have been. Now they want a copy of last year’s taxes to prove that I’m eligible to be on his insurance? I’m not quite clear on the purpose, and maybe I should use my company’s insurance instead. But I’m not hot on giving them a document with my name, address, SSN, birthdate, income, and bank routing number.

  80. Emma*

    I’ve worked at a hospital in CT as a nonclinical coordinator for the past 6 months. After describing our payroll system to some relatives over the holiday weekend I wanted to check in to see what this community thought. I am a non-exempt salaried employee who has to clock in and out daily. If I clock less than 40 hours a week my PTO is docked. If I am at 40 hours or above the hours reported on my pay stub is 80 hours.
    Additionally for those who are hourly workers they are paid on a sliding fee scale for any overtime hours which are measured daily. For instance if they work a 9 hour day they are paid half their normal hourly rate for the 1 hour of over time. If they work a 16 hour day they are paid time and half for their 8 hours of over time.
    My relatives thought all of this was highly unusual and I’m just curious about if it seems to be or not.

    1. fposte*

      Whose choice is it for you to work less than 40 hours per week if you do? If you mean “I have to use PTO whenever I want to take a partial day off” that’s probably fine, but if it means they make you use PTO for days they don’t have work for you I think they’re asking for trouble.

      While they don’t have to pay somebody OT for a 9-hour day unless they’re in a state that requires it (as opposed to the federal law, which would allow them to get by without OT if they’re working under 40 hours that week), I think paying somebody *less* for a 9th hour is also asking for trouble. I’m guessing it’s a way to control unapproved OT, but just manage the OT, people.

      1. Emma*

        I often work from offsite because I help to coordinate a program that liaisons with hospitals in other time zones and we have meetings usually in the early morning. On those days I cannot clock in those hours because I am not physically there to do so, which can lead me to have a weekly hour balance of 36 instead of 40.
        Hourly shifts are all in blocks of 8 hours so I guess the 9th hour would be overtime according to your read of the federal laws. I agree with you in that its probably a way to control OT.

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, I phrased it confusingly; federally, the 9th hour isn’t overtime; the 41st hour in the week is overtime. CT doesn’t seem to have any OT-per-day law so it’s the same there.

          They sound pretty messed up. Basically speaking, what matters to an exempt employee isn’t the clocking in or the PTO, it’s whether your pay dips lower during those 36 hour weeks or those PTO times. I’m guessing it doesn’t or you’d have mentioned it. But requiring you to do tasks out of the office and then take PTO for the time you’re doing required work offsite? That’s crazy.

        2. Reader*

          You need a supervisor to over ride the system. If you put in 40 working hours you should get paid for 40 working hours (no PTO). I worked retail where it automatically took out the lunch hour if you forget to clock out. However the only time I didn’t clock out is when I worked thru “lunch”. The manager simply over rode the system.

      2. fposte*

        Actually, now that I think about it, they might be safe on the PTO thing, since there’s no law obliging them to give any PTO at all. As long as your pay remains the same for that week.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          But a non-exempt employee whose pay stub shows 80 hours for a period in which she worked 85 hours is getting illegally screwed, right?

          1. fposte*

            Ah, crap, I was thinking the whole time that Emma was exempt, not non-exempt. Just about everything I said is wrong, Emma. AV, thanks for catching that.

            I think the PTO is a red herring here–you’re being asked to work off the clock, which is flat out illegal, and it sounds like they may be engaging in some shady stuff to deny overtime if you go over 40 as well. Up to you whether you feel you can bring it up to your workplace or to your state’s Department of Labor.

            1. fposte*

              P.S. I think they’re trying to hide behind salary, and FLSA doesn’t care how you get paid–the employer still has to abide by the law.

  81. CT*

    So someone who agreed to be my reference hasn’t gotten back to me with her contact information.

    She left the company we worked for and moved to another country (getting married/extended honeymoon and all), hence why I didn’t have her information at the outset. I emailed her a few months later, but she didn’t reply.

    She’s probably busy, I know, but I really need this reference, as I’m still early in my career and don’t have many. What’s an appropriate time/way to follow up? Can I still put her down as a reference to employers with just her email contact (although if she isn’t getting back to me, she probably won’t get back to them either…)? Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I would move to plan B. Find another reference. However, you can keep trying from time to time to see if you can get her to answer her emails.

  82. Anx*

    It’s been a tough week for me. I should be excited (I have a job offer for a new fast food restaurant opening in town, and had a job interview for another restaurant job). But I can’t help feeling really down about these prospects.

    Neither would start for at least several weeks. The one I have the offer for starts in August. There’s no signed contract, either. I keep sensing that they’ll never call back when it’s time to start or something else. I applied for SNAP yesterday and was denied. It took me a long time to apply because I have a lot of shame about it, but I eventually decided I’m just want the program is there for: someone who needs a stopgate to keep them from long term health issues over a month of two of having no money. I did not qualify (I don’t make enough).

    My boyfriend’s job should stopped paying him this week, but that should start again in August. He’s a student though, and in a weird catch-22. His tuition reimbursement doesn’t cover student fees, which are higher than my current tuition (1K). He can’t enroll until he pays that, but he can’t pay that until he gets paid. He can’t get paid until he’s a student. I would hate for him to have to walk away from 7 years of work over 1K, but I don’t know how to raise the funds in less than a month with no income, on top of regular bills.

    We are trying to find me babysitting jobs to hold us over, but I can’t find anything. I don’t think my laptop would sell for much (2008 with signs of petering out). Craigslist and care.com haven’t helped at all. Flyers haven’t worked. I don’t know many people here except for other students and underemployed people. Does anyone have any tips for snagging odd jobs?

    1. nep*

      Good luck to you and keep your chin up.
      As for snagging odd jobs — I see that in some stores around here there are bulletin boards where many people advertise their skills/availability. And I’d say put yourself out there as much as you can…go to local meetings, even city council meetings and the like where residents are there in a forum — things like that. You never know when you’re going to meet someone who knows someone who needs your skills.

      1. Anx*

        Unfortunately I haven’t seen anything except for scams on campus, but this has reminded me to make a list ToDo list to prepare for trying to set up an appt at career services of my school and take alternative routes on the nearest campus.

        And to write that cover letter for that one job that’s been posted for weeks that I wrote off as being filled because they could be doing rolling hiring.

    2. manomanon*

      There are often community boards at parks, swim clubs or even your town/city hall. They might be another place to look.
      If you have a really, really local paper or community newsletter (the kind that gets delivered to every mailbox without a subscription just as a service) people often look for short term help and babysitters there.
      Good luck!

      1. Anx*

        Such a great point. I get it in my head that I can’t be driving around looking for postings and posting my own thigns all over town because I need to save every drop of gas in the tank right now, but there is another library branch I never go to in walking distance

    3. thingy*

      There’s a website, Nextdoor, which is like a social network for your specific neighborhood. In my neighborhood, people post a lot of odd jobs there like babysitting and tutoring.

      1. Anx*

        I had never heard of that. I’ll look into that. I’m in a small ‘rural city’ as I call it, and we don’t have a lot of big city internet amenites. If that turns out empty, at least I could maybe try to make up a posting community for town. Thank you!

  83. J*

    Is it weird to e-mail the HR contact at a company I interviewed with 2 years ago? I didn’t get the job and a similar (but not the same) job was recently posted and I applied. Not sure what I would say – I had a positive experience interviewing with them, still think highly of them, and would love to be considered for this role I submitted my resume for?

    I’m reaching the “no one is going to hire me again, ever” point in my job search after being laid off 2 months ago. Since the holiday week, things have been moving slow and it is so frustrating! I wish HR people at companies I’ve interviewed with in-person would at least respond to my short e-mail asking for an update (and sent a good week after they told me I’d hear something). At this point, I’ve moved on, but a little courtesy would be nice. /endrant

    1. StudentA*

      I’ve reached that “no one is going to hire me again, ever” point too. I would say just send the email. Say you were one of the finalists (if you were) or that you made it to the second interview, or whatever. That way they know you were a desirable candidate, not just someone they interviewed with.

      You’ve got nothing to lose. Good luck :)

    2. BrianA*

      From your post, it sounds like you are hoping the HR contact could use your resume from 2 years ago for a similar position currently posted. I’d suggest reaching out, with a short note with what you’ve put here (had a positive experience, still think highly of them, were excited to see this new position posted and intend to apply)… but I think you’d be in a better position to re-submit an updated resume and cover letter.

  84. YAW*

    I’ve made it to the reference checking stage of the interview process (yay!). I reached out to my references to give them a heads up and received an out of office response for one saying he would be out until mid next week. He did get back to me and said he’d be happy to serve as a reference. Is it overkill to let the hiring manager know he’s unavailable to speak with her until next week and I’m happy to provide another reference if she wants to speak with some one sooner? Or should I let her reach out to me and ask for another reference if she’s looking to move the hiring process along? Thanks!

    1. Felicia*

      I’m having almost the same issue now! The company has already checked one of my references who told me she said positive things and thought it went well. ( I don’t know about the other one!) But then the 3rd one is out of the office and unable to speak until next Wednesday, and the 3rd one is the most directly relevant. Well she did say she’d LOVE to be a reference for me, just not until next Wednesday, so I told the company as I provided the references when she’d be available. The company didn’t respond or ask for another reference, so I hope it’s ok! I think they are really strongly considering me and this unavailable reference could make the difference so I hope they’re ok with waiting

      1. YAW*

        Whoa, identical situation! This reference is my strongest and most relevant to the position. I think I’ll go ahead and let them know and offer up another reference if they don’t want to wait…

        1. Felicia*

          I didn’t actually offer up another reference, I just told them when this reference (strongest and most relevant!) would be available. And I did speak to her, so I know she’s happy to be a reference. Now I’m doubting myself…maybe I should have proactively offered someone else? I’m sure they’d ask if t hey didn’t want to wait! Now I’m worrying that they called one and then just gave up on me, even though that reference said she was positive about me and thinks it went well, and I doubt she’d lie. It always makes me so nervous when I know for sure they’re checking my references. I just want to know already! Or I want to know what they think about my reference not being available until next Wednesday…I asked them if that was alright when sending the references, but they didn’t answer. I worry too much.

          But good luck to you!

        2. I disagree*

          I don’t think you should offer another reference. Stick with the “strongest and most relevant” reference, even if they have to wait for it!

          1. YAW*

            Thank you! I’m worrying and over thinking this too much too! Just have to be patient… :)

  85. Christina*

    I am currently working as an HR generalist and am interested in hearing other people’s thoughts regarding if an MBA with HR as an area of study to be a worthwhile investment?

    I know that in my current position we are really focusing on partnering with supervisors and managers and making sure our work adds value to the organization (versus being the “HR Police”). From what I have heard from other local companies this seems to be a common theme. With that in mind, I am trying to position myself to be a strong candidate when I am ready to start looking for a new role.

    In addition to having a solid understanding of what our company does and taking time to learn the various aspects of our product or service, I am curious to hear if other people feel an MBA would do anything to strengthen my candidacy? If it helps, my next career goal would be to move into an HR Manager role.

    Any feedback is appreciated!

    1. MaryMary*

      I don’t work in HR, but I work with a lot of HR professionals. Here’s my two cents:

      If you can get into (and afford!) a top tier MBA school, go for it. By top tier, I mean top 25 at least, and preferably top 10.

      If you weren’t a business major as an undergrad, an MBA could still be helpful even if it’s not from a top tier school. You could get more exposure to finance, marketing, operations, etc.

      In general, though, I think you’d get more bang for the buck from a professional designation like a PHR or SPHR.

      1. Anon for this*

        So, a question for you.

        I work for a company I’d like to continue working for. It’s a big company with a lot of career paths, and I’m honestly not sure which direction I’d like to go. A lot of things here interest me.

        Would it be worthwhile for me to do an evening MBA program at one of the two local programs available in the area? They’re not top tier, but they’re what’s available given my location and schedule. And a big chunk of my tuition would be reimbursed if I maintain a B average or better.

        Does a move like this make sense when I don’t have a specific career path in mind, but just want to maybe have a few more options? (And, to be honest, I’m just plain interested in the topics such a program would cover, whether they open specific doors or not.)

        1. MaryMary*

          This is all my personal opinion. I don’t have an MBA (I have a Bachelor of Business Administration), I’ve looked into programs but I’m not an expert at all.

          There are a few career paths that require an MBA, such as being a consultant at one of the big companies like McKinsey or Accenture. Some finance jobs are difficult to get without an MBA. You would need to be a graduate of one of the top tier programs to land one of those high powered consulting or finance jobs.

          I think if your educational and professional background is not in business (engineering, for example) and you want to move to more of a strategic, management position, then an MBA could be helpful to fill in the gaps so you can contribute to a business at a high level.

          Otherwise, I think hands on professional experience is more valuable. You can learn to forecast and budget and manage resources on the job. I’ve never been big on theory, and even as an undergrad I spent way too much time learning about different theories of leadership and management and decision making. It sounds like it might not be a huge financial investment for you, but it is a big time commitment. Some MBA programs are pretty regimented around which classes you take when and how many credit hours you take each semester.

          Most MBA programs have an outline of their curriculum online, you can see what classes you’d be required to take and what electives are offered. I don’t know, though, if taking an operations and logistics management class is really going to help you know if that’s where you want to spend your career.

          Any MBAs out there? What do you think?

  86. nock*

    I just need to share frustrations. A buyout offer has been made at my org, and it really strips down the number of staff. This is supposed to make room for staff who better fit new (undefined) roles. I’m a left-behind manager, and I’ll be losing some direct and indirect reports. I also expect others to leave who weren’t part of the buyout, and I’m likely going to start a search myself. I’d like to hear from others who have been through this and lived to tell the tale!

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m just a cog in the wheel, but please, whatever you do, don’t pull everyone into one room, proceed to tell them that many of the people in that room will be losing their jobs, then read down the list in alphabetical order handing out WARN letters as you go. That happened to me. I was one of the few who didn’t didn’t get left go, but to this day just thinking about that situation makes me physically sick. I’m still working here, but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had been left go at that time too.

      1. nock*

        It’s already been done. At an all staff meeting. No one knew except top management. They did not announce the names at the meeting, and gave packets out later. It still made the whole staff feel pretty crappy.

  87. noni*

    Any suggestions on preparing for an internal interview? I have two interviews coming up for an internal rotation position in my department. It’s for a three month rotation in a different role that I don’t have a lot of prior experience in. I’m not sure how to approach this as I’ve never had an internal interview so I’m not quite sure how to prepare or what questions I should ask.

    1. Malissa*

      Can you go visit the department ahead of time and talk to people? This will show you are serious and give you an idea of what to ask.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I once blew an internal interview because I treated it more casually that an external one. I’d suggest to keep it professional, and focus questions on daily tasks, responsibilities, are there peek times or slow times, and department culture. Maybe ask if the department is heading in any new directions.
      Good Luck!

    3. Befuddled Squirrel*

      Do as much research on them ahead of time as you can. Try to learn about the department’s culture and the type of work that they do. Come prepared with a lot of questions that show you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested.

  88. Malissa*

    Pardon me while I climb up on my soap box. I just dropped off a printed resume (yes, that should have been my first clue) at a place that asked for a resume for a position.
    No when it says please drop off your resume I figure they want to make sure that I am in fact not a serial killer. Okay.
    No, they wanted me to fill out 3 pieces of paper, to which they could steal my identity with. Not that I think they will do that. Then they wanted to interview me on the spot. Good thing I actually dressed up today.
    They questioned me three times about being currently employed. I get most of the people coming in are not, but still 3 times?
    Then they want to talk about the position. Did I look at the listing? Did I see the pay? Yes I did and there was no pay mentioned.
    Why did they ask? The position would be a $23K pay cut.

    Oh but they would love to keep my information on file. Okay I’m cool with that. Oh would I mind taking an online assessment for office? No problem. Oh, by the way, you can’t use mouse or keyboard shortcuts. WTF??? No seriously I do not know how to cut and paste with out shortcuts.
    Yeah, sure I’ll get right on that….
    30 minutes of my time I won’t get back.

      1. Malissa*

        I really did know better because I had a phone conversation with this same office about another job that wanted 5 years experience and I covered my 10 years of experience on the phone. The reply to that was, “Even though you don’t have that much experience, you can still apply.”

        But as I seem to be working in the twilight zone lately, anything is worth a shot.

        1. 22dncr*

          Had one of these “drop off” ones. When I went to drop it off the door was locked. This was the door that said “Must remain unlocked at all times business is open”. They knew I was coming too. So I go back to work and call then: “Oh, you should’ve come to the other (hidden) door.” OK – so why didn’t you tell me that??? I just blew the whole thing off. THEN the woman started practically stalking me – calling me all the time (she had not seen my résumé), calling my Mom and asking about me – it was one of the weirdest!

  89. Angora*

    Wanted to share. I have met twice with my EAP counselor to discuss my boss and learn some ways to help me adapt etc. I have come around to a different mind set that helps me. Still dealing with the damn if I do and damn it I don’t. But I have learned that if I do not walk into her office she comes seeking me. Did figure out that she has a territory issue. She leaves her door open to foster the image of being approachable but doesn’t want to deal with people at all. So I stay out of there, stick mail on door, do not say hello which is hard for me to be antisocial. Also . . . if I tell her no or that I do not believe it’s in policy … basically if I say she can’t do what she wants she gets quite ugly if I do it to her face. Now I’m taking the tack of saying whatsoever form of no via e-mail and send it to her right before I leave at the end of the day. The recording devise is still there … am seeing more signs of her knowing what I say to other people. She pops out with these things where it’s clear she’s heard conversations she shouldn’t have. But I am careful what’s said.

    I am taking the view that she is mentally ill and I am hear to support this individual that is handicapped. And I am job searching. Sent an e-mail out today requiring about a position that I applied for in May, but is still posted.

    Appreciate everyone’s advise. Thank you.

    1. Sadsack*

      Recording device? Huh? More info, please! Does she have a mic planted on your desk? Sounds like you have horrid working conditions even without the recording! Also sounds like you are handling it the best way possible and have a positive attitude about it, as positive as possible, anyway. Good luck in your job search!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Oh man, she sounds awful. I do hope you can find something and get out of there soon.

      I would just be as neutral as possible when dealing with her. Blank expression, neutral tone, etc. Good luck searching.

      1. Angora*

        I can do the neutral tone etc. but my face turns bright red when I am truly upset. Again I had her address an issue that she shouldn’t have heard the conversation of the other day. I shut the door so she can stand outside the door and listen. I haven’t found the device but am looking. My office has all the office supplies so it’s hidden in there somewhere. Not allowed to play music in the office, she’s made that quite clear.

  90. Pia*

    I hope this isn’t too late to ask, but I was wondering if I could get some advice from you guys on how to answer my most dreaded, anxiety-ridden interview question: “Have you ever had a conflict with a coworker/manager and how did you resolve it?”

    I don’t know why this ONE particular question makes me want to break out in hives. I have never found a way to answer this question that personally feels satisfying. I have gotten into a couple of conflicts with coworkers, but everything has pretty much worked itself out without much effort on both parts. I did have one conflict (when i was younger) where the manager had to get involved and tell me and the particular coworker to