open thread – July 18, 2014

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

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

{ 1,168 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie

    I’m really struggling with the appropriate response for a current work issue. Three months ago, my department hired a new woman. Technically, she and I are on the same level and do most of the same things, both reporting to the same boss.

    Because I have worked with the company for 4 years though, I have seniority. I work more closely with my boss, have more experience with a lot of our work details, and step into my boss’s shoes if she’s out.

    I have been out on medical leave for the last month and so the new hire stepped up and took up a lot of additional responsibilities, working very closely with our boss.

    I’ve just returned from medical leave and the new hire seems to be extremely unhappy about it. It’s been two days and I’ve gotten multiple reports from other departments that the new hire is publicly criticizing my boss’s choice to restart some of the more complicated duties with me instead of her. The new hire has also begun to publically call my boss lazy and point out to people when she thinks my boss isn’t working as hard as she should be. She even went to my boss’s boss with these comments!

    Now, my boss is aware. She’s asked me not to say anything to our new hire. There may be some discussion between my boss’s boss and the new hire. Maybe. But how am I supposed to treat this woman? I don’t want to be friendly with her anymore. And what if she directly asks me about these issues? She’s a very direct, confrontational person and based on previous conversations I could see her directly talking to me about this.

    1. Colette

      Wow. Publicly calling your boss lazy is an interesting approach.

      This really isn’t your mess to clean up, and your boss is already aware, so I agree you shouldn’t say anything to her. I’d be polite and focused on work – and if she asks why, you have a ready-made excuse of catching up after your leave.

      1. Jamie

        Interesting is the word, alright.

        I’d just be professional and keep my mouth shut and watch how this all unfolds.

      2. Ann O'Nemity

        I agree with this.

        You can be professional and civil without being all friendly. If the co-worker confronts you for being standoffish, follow Colette’s advice of using the excuse of focusing on work to catch-up. If the co-worker tries to pull you into a conversation about what’s going on with the boss or boss’s boss, excuse yourself (since it’s not your business) and tell her to talk to the boss instead.

        1. Anon Accounant

          Absolutely. Be polite and stick only to business topics with her. I cannot image calling the boss lazy!

          1. Stephanie

            Her reasoning is that our boss is sitting down in her boss’s office. Because she’s not in her own office or working with us, somehow that becomes subject for discussion! Which makes zero sense to me. They could be talking about work issues. And even if they’re not, even if they’re just chatting, well, that’s her call.

            And I highly doubt it’s taking up a higher percentage of time during a day than the new hire’s very frequent smoke breaks.

            1. Arbynka

              I think what is happening here is that when you went on a medical, leave, she assumed she would be taking over. So when you got back and start working in your capacity, restarting some more complicated duties, it showed her she was wrong. So now she is trying to make your boss look incompetent (calling her lazy) to put a doubt into her desicion about assigning you instead of her. I know it is hard but try to ignore it. As someone else said, this is not your mess.

      3. Kelly O

        What others have said. Stay as professional and calm as you possibly can. (Besides, if she’s going around the proverbial bend, that will help everyone more anyway.)

        Although I think if it were me, I would maintain a bit of space between me and her. Just to sort of keep yourself out of her fray, even while being a professional and getting things done.

    2. Sunflower

      It sounds like your boss is the one who is really having to deal with the mess. New hire sounds pretty insecure although I’m not sure what she thought was going to happen when you came back. If she says anything to you directly I would play dumb and say ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’. Keep everything else professional and tell her you’re very busy catching up so you don’t have a whole lot of time to chat. But just play dumb- it’s in your best interest all around

    3. AndersonDarling

      If your boss asked you not to say anything to the new hire, I would guess that there is something happening in the background. The new hire may be scheduled for a disciplinary discussion.

      If she asks you directly about these things, I would say that your boss said that you shouldn’t discuss it with her. That should send a pretty clear picture that she crossed a line.

        1. Stephanie

          I wish! We’re within a union and she’s past the cut-off date. It takes years of this kind of attitude to even manage a transfer.

    4. Lily in NYC

      Just be civil until whatever is going to happen happens. You don’t have to be friendly – but be polite. If she directly asks you about this issue, just say “if you have a problem you need to take it up with boss directly and I would rather not be involved”. And be careful not to gossip with other departments or coworkers about this, which does seeem to be occuring. It will just make you look petty when your goal should be to rise above it all. She is digging her own grave.

    5. Aimee

      Be polite and professional, and nothing more. If she does confront you, tell her that if she has concerns she should speak to her manager (or whoever is relevant) about it. Then turn the conversation back to an appropriate work query, or excuse yourself to get on with a task. Just don’t engage with her.

    6. Mike C.

      Just sit back and enjoy the show. She’s carrying a ton of rope and building the scaffolding right now, so I have a feeling this problem won’t last that much longer.

      If she tries to talk about your boss, tell her to back off and that you don’t do that.

      1. A Teacher

        Don’t engage, like Mike said sit back because this is a disaster waiting to happen. There’s always the good old Carolyn Hax “wow” statement said with a straight face and then change the subject. That seems to throw people off.

    7. Stephanie

      Part of the struggle on my end is that I see my boss on rare occasions outside of work. We’re not close friends, but if we both mention really liking an event and neither of us has anyone to go with, we’ll go together. I’d say, at most, this has happened 5-6 times in the last 4 years.

      The new hire has been very vocal about not having friends and wanting to be included. I think she’s under the impression, despite us trying to correct her, that my boss and I see each other much more frequently than is factual.

      At first, she was very aggressive about making plans and doing things together. Because that’s not how my boss and I normally are or something we’re really interested in doing, we’ve given very non-committal answers. “Oh, that does sound fun,” before switching back to a work discussion.

      Finally, the new hire began being more confrontational about it, saying things like, “Well, is it that you don’t want to? Are we doing this or not because it sounds like you don’t want to.” This made my boss and I feel very pressured, but we did end up making plans with her.

      We went to a movie together, once, and haven’t done anything with her since then. She hasn’t technically been excluded because I haven’t hung out with our boss alone either since I’ve been out on leave. I think the new hire’s feelings of being left out are causing anger, but honestly, at this point, I wouldn’t want to include her.

      Because she will likely directly ask me when she wants to hang out, how can I phrase that I’m not interested? I don’t want to be friends based on her behavior.

      1. 22dncr

        Just say “No, thank you.” And then don’t explain. You do not owe anyone an explaination so don’t try to make something up. This phrase should be in everyone’s arsenal – it is so useful. (; It’s the “don’t explain” that’s hard in the beginning but the more you use it the better you’ll get at it.

        1. Stephanie

          That is a good start! I can only hope that will be enough of a door close that she won’t press. I shall see soon enough, I suppose. Thank you.

          1. 22dncr

            Just smile when you say it (; You can also add a good ol’ Southern “But thank you so much for thinking of me!”

          2. MJ

            When pressed, be a broken record. No matter how she rephrases her request, use the exact same words, “No thanks, but kind of you to ask.” If you repeat it enough times, she will quit asking. If you keep giving different answers, engaging with each different way she asks, she will keep asking because there is the hope that one of those different answers will be yes.

    8. Puddin

      I have to agree with maintaining a professional, civil, demeanor. But if she does come to you with something like, “Don’t you think she is lazy?” or anything like that, I would counter that statement…something like,”No I have not found that to be case and I am concerned that you think so?” You cannot ignore her statements with benign neglect without running the risk of looking like you tolerate or even agree with her opinions/gossip. She might try to convince you to agree with her, but flatly refuse.

      1. Ruffingit

        I would leave it at No I have not found that to be the case. That’s a good line, but I wouldn’t add the I am concerned that you think so part because that just invites the woman to tell you why she thinks so. Just a “No, I haven’t found that to be the case” is good on its own.

    9. Artemesia

      The polite stranger is called for here i.e. cordial in a shallow way and keep conversation to necessary work conversation. Don’t dip into anything related to complaining about the workplace or boss of course, but also nothing personal. Bring all conversations back to a work need or excuse yourself because you have stuff to do. Polite, cordial, why bless her heart.

    10. Billy

      I’m surprised your boss is not taking any action for something like this. Maybe he will when her performance evaluation comes up.

    11. TAD

      Wow, I just wouldn’t engage with her except as necessary to get work done. If she complained about the boss I’d excuse myself as Colette suggested. I’d just sit back and watch her self-destruct.

  2. Random Reader

    Does anyone have experience with workplace mentorship programs? What worked and what didn’t?

    1. AVP

      IMHO, it’s difficult to assign people to mentor others that they may not have chosen on their own. Sometimes people just don’t get along well, or their experience doesn’t really apply to their mentee.

    2. Lily in NYC

      I think it’s important to make sure both sides are aware that they have to take it seriously. We’ve had a few mentors get annoyed because the mentee blows them off and vice versa. Maybe set minor consequences for repeatedly missing mentor meetings? I don’t know if that’s feasible.

    3. Lucy

      We have them with our interns. They’re assigned by HR and my experience has been very strange. We’re supposed to meet regularly, but my mentee pretty much wants nothing to do with me (not in the sense that he’s rude but when I offer to help him with things, he acts like he has it under control) I’ve been trying to mentor him around that, but we have absolutely nothing in common so it’s just a very strange, forced relationship. I don’t think either of us have gotten much out of it.

      1. Lynn Rainham

        Regular reader, second time commenter here. I’ve been involved in a mentorship program with a local professional association and I found two things really helped with the process:
        1) I was required to fill out my goals for the mentorship program – this allowed me to figure out what I actually wanted at that point in my career, and what I would want from a mentor (and if the program could even provide that)
        2) There was a “speed mentoring” event before we were formally assigned mentors. Extremely similar to a speed dating event – 5 minute meeting between mentees and mentors. This gave each team the chance to see if they “Clicked”
        Just my two cents.

        1. Lily in NYC

          I think the speed mentoring thing is great! Unless I did it and no one wanted me.

      2. Sunflower

        I can only speak from my experience but when I was in college, I pretty much completely ignored all of my professors advice to network and form mentor relationships. We had a mentor program and I remember hearing professors say there were lots of professionals who were interested in mentoring but the interest wasn’t there on the college kids side. I thought I could get a job based on my resume and just having the internships would be enough. It’s still something I regret a lot. So I wouldn’t take it personally if your mentee seems to have no interest in forming a connection. And don’t be surprised if the mentee comes back after graduation and wants advice

    4. WorkingAsDesigned

      When I started at my job, I had a mentor who had a great 12-week plan laid out. She gave me a copy of the plan, which included weekly goals.

      We met weekly to cover the goals, my accomplishments, which ones I needed more time to work on (and why) , etc. After the 12 weeks were up, we received permission to continue meeting on a monthly basis, which we did for a year or so. This worked really well, and I gained a lot of knowledge about both the company, and my job within it.

      Interestingly, after I’d been working here for a few years, there were some additional things that came up that I needed to learn. Unfortunately, instead of the mentor/mentee relationship reflecting my growth in the span of the few years, and moving ahead accordingly, my mentor (same person) approached it as if she were my supervisor, even though she wasn’t. Sadly, that time wasn’t as successful as the first go-around.

      1. De Minimis

        I was a mentee for one at my former employer that basically did not work out–one thing that might have helped would be to assign a mentor who is involved with projects or is from a department where the mentee can also play a role. They assigned me someone who worked in some remote department that rarely required anyone at my level, so it wasn’t really that helpful to me–it was this guy from some other department who couldn’t really help me out much when it came to work assignments and getting established.

    5. A Teacher

      Don’t force it on anyone and be open with expectations. We just hired a new person to teach a few of the courses I teach, I was asked to mentor by multiple people. When I wanted a few questions clarified, it was hard to get answers which really turned me off. They also told her that I’d be handing over the curriculum I’d written for her to use, which isn’t how it works–plus we teach different populations and our class lengths are different. Once her and I met, we figured out what works for us and will go from there.

    6. Bonnie

      We have mentees fill out a form (odd, I know) but it asks them the following questions:
      Imagine that you have completed your first year of partnering with a mentor and found the process to be very helpful in your career.

      What would have happened in that year to give you this feeling of success?
      What specific things would you have learned about?
      What new skills would your mentor have helped you develop?

      It requires them to give some real thought to want to they want and that helps us match them up better.

    7. soitgoes

      Late response, but I think it’s important to not push mentorship on people who aren’t interested in it. People have different ways of learning and might not get much value out of weekly evaluations, especially if there isn’t anything major going on at work at the moment.

      Also, and maybe this is just a “me” thing, but after so many odd experiences with thesis advisors and “unconventional” professors, I wouldn’t be comfortable having a one-on-one relationship with someone in an “educator” role become something that my job was contingent upon. That kind of dynamic just doesn’t work for a lot of people.

    1. Cruciatus

      No. I just have a gross story (to me, anyway). My coworker was chatting with me and then started cleaning his glasses…by licking his lenses! WTF!

      1. Mimmy

        I used to do that when I was much younger….not sure what the heck I was thinking…..ewww!!

      2. Artemesia

        I have always seen people breath on them to make fog and then clean them, but LICK them seriously?

    2. Elysian

      In what way are they gross? Are they not showering, is their desk dirty, are they approaching you with inappropriate propositions?

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        We recently merged buildings with some other departments and it’s clear that hygiene standards and dress codes were a lot more lax. I feel like it’s stuff that doesn’t rise to the level of full-scale HR intervention. And I’m uncomfortable with the thought of directly addressing these folks for the way they look, smell, or in one case, frequently lick their fingers with loud slurping noises.

        1. brightstar

          That last example is gross. Are you in a supervisory position to them? If so, I would think that, as uncomfortable as it may be, a private and direct conversation is the best way to go.

          1. Ann O'Nemity

            No, not in a supervisory position. In fact, these folks are in a completely different division. But due to the layout of the building and cross-departmental projects, I find myself in close proximity on a regular basis.

            1. Robin

              Then I think your options are probably 1) find a way to ignore it, or 2) bring it up with your boss, once, in a “how do you recommend I deal with it?” sort of way.

    3. AndersonDarling

      I once shared an office with a gal who ate crazy health food… like fiber sticks with honey dripped on top. She would fart all afternoon. It was so bad that people would walk into our office, turn around and walk out, then send me an email instead.
      She is still known as the “girl who ate sticks.”

      1. Biff

        Really powerful gas is usually not an indication of good health…. but that does sound unpleasant.

        1. AndersonDarling

          I think she eventually overheard some co-workers saying something about it. I don’t know what she did to curtail the gas, but the situation improved. :)

          1. Ann O'Nemity

            She had to have known that her farts were stinking up the place! You can’t fart all day and think it’s going to smell like roses.

      2. CoffeeLover

        I’m what I like to call lactose sensitive. Unfortunately sometimes it slips my mind and I enjoy a latte. Well it slipped my mind once over lunch and needless to say I was pretty gassy for the rest of the day at work :P. I had my own office and people don’t usually visit so I thought I was safe. Needless to say, after “letting one go” my boss walked in seconds later. She was curtious with a blank face…. but I knew. Not as bad as your coworker but the moment still haunts me lol.

        1. Puddin

          Had a similar issue just the other day – but it was with my trainer. Nothing worse than a smelly fat girl LOL

        2. Artemesia

          A nice scented candle can sort of improve things. I once shared an office with a guy who smelled it up; I had a candle that smelled like a Christmas tree. It helped a lot — or maybe I just got used to it. I always feared people coming in would think it was me — especially if he had just left and I was there alone in the fug.

    4. Mallory

      I have a coworker (our front-desk receptionist) who keeps doing gross things. Like, she’ll come stand at my desk to talk about something, and she’ll raise up her overshirt and scratch her belly through the undershirt that she (blessedly) has on. I always think: 1. “ewww . . .”, and 2. “We need a pitcher, not a belly-itcher . . . ”

      Then there are times when I go to speak to her about something, and she just kind of lazily sprawls back in her chair, pulls weird, ugly faces (like, she’ll grab her bottom lip and fidget with it by pulling it down; or she’ll just put on a sullen, dismissive expression).

      Recently, she dug around in her ear, looked at her finger, and then dug around some more. Then she took the plastic fork that she was eating with and started scratching her lower lip with it. Then the scratching turned into just pushing her lower lip around with the fork, and then she switched to scratching and pushing her upper lip around with the fork. The whole time, she continued carrying on a conversation with me as if there was nothing unusual about what she was doing. She wasn’t self-conscious about it at all. I, on the other hand, was embarrassed and uncomfortable and couldn’t quite figure out where to look.

      1. kd

        I have nothing constructive to add, but how did you keep a straight face?
        I would have stopped talking and stared at her, utterly fascinated….

      2. Mallory

        Y’all, I just put on what I call my “customer service face” and pretend that I don’t notice anything unusual at all. Maybe my eyebrows are a little unnaturally high, but other than that, I just carry on a conversation with her like I don’t see a damn thing that I shouldn’t be seeing. I don’t know what else to do. And I’m more embarrassed to be witnessing her behavior than she is to be doing the behavior.

      3. Kate

        It sounds like she does not really understand what she is doing and that it’s not OK for others to see. I believe it comes from her family – noone ever told her she looked weird while doing that.

        I remember myself in childhood – only when my mom said, I realized picking my nose wasn’t OK.

        If I were your co-worker, I would love to know. Do you think you can find inoffensive words to tell her?

    5. Rebecca

      Well, we have someone we call “Butt Crack Girl” but not in those exact words. Let’s just say she wears size inappropriate clothes, and I am not fat shaming here – I am a big girl too – but people my size (like 20W) should not wear low rider jeans with spaghetti string cami tops. When she sits at her desk, her pants fall down so far you can see her entire bare rear end. We don’t think she bathes regularly, as her feet are encrusted with black grime and her fingernails look like she works on greasy engines (we work in an office). Plus she smells a bit, and wears the same shirt several days in a row.

      To me, it’s sad. She’s about 23 or 24 and I’m not sure if her mother didn’t teach her good hygiene, or if she just doesn’t care. She seems to be well adjusted otherwise, she has a boyfriend, they own a trailer together, and they just got a dog.

      How do we deal with it? We did make our manager talk to her about the whole butt showing thing, and she was moved to a cubicle where her back is to a wall, so we don’t have to see it. As far as the rest of the griminess, well, let’s just say I don’t eat anything she brings in.

      1. OriginalEmma

        Re: the grimy hands. She may have a hobby (e.g., bicycling, woodworking, etc.) that can get all sorts of hard-to-remove materials on her hands. I feel self-conscious when I come in with bike grease under my fingernails, because it is difficult to remove. She might need some GoJo or Lava soap (soap with grit) to remove the stuff.

      2. Mallory

        The receptionist I refer to above (with the lip-scratching and ear-digging) has this same exact problem as well. She is a big girl and she wears pants that show her whole entire behind. She has been talked to about the butt crack showing, and she did improve for a while, but the butt crack pants have made a recent reappearance.

        1. Mallory

          Oh — and she also takes her shoes off and goes around the building barefoot.

          I’m not the person to talk to her about this if the people above her won’t. The people above her talk about her going around the office barefoot, but they don’t say anything to her.

          Here’s the bigger part of the problem: she keeps applying for promotions that she’s not going to get, and nobody who is in a position to do so will tell her why. If she were a receptive person, I might try to broach the subject with her just as a kindness. But when I’ve tried to bring things up with her before, she responds like a know-it-all who is determined to keep doing things in the way that she “knows” is right despite all evidence to the contrary.

          It is painful to see someone messing up in ways that are so obvious and fixable, but if they won’t take feedback and I’m not in a position to exercise any authority with them, there isn’t much I can do other than cringe and reduce contact time.

      3. Bea W

        How do people walk around not realing their cheeks are flapping in the breeze? Isn’t it uncomfortable? This is a big reason i hate wearing low rider pants. I feel like my pants are chronically falling down and when i sit, i can feel my exposed rear. So uncomfortable!

    6. Anx

      It really bothers me when people lick their fingers and then don’t wash their hands before going back to work or touching other stuff. I volunteer in a hospital so you think it wouldn’t be so common, but…

    7. Bea W

      No. I can only sympathize. I sit near a man who has been spoken to multiple times and moved multiple times due to complaints. He’s even been encouraged to work from home. He’s been with the company a long time, and he’s actually very intelligent and a nice guy but he has ZERO self awareness. As a result we’re kind of at a loss to escape constant loud telephone conversations, some of which are personal and get even louder as he gets worked up (in either a good or angry way), loud coversations with himself or his computer, digestive end noises, smells that make you question if someone soiled their pants, slurping, and clanging of his metal spoon against his heavy ceramic bowl. He usually works from home 2 or 3 days a week but has no consistant WFH schedule. We’ve talked amongst ourselves how helpful it would be if he’d post his WFH schedule in advance so that the rest of us can plan around it – coming in on days he’s home and working from home on days he’s in the office.

      A dome would work well, a sound proof dome with its own air filtration system.

  3. Sunflower

    I’m 25(and a woman) and recently noticed that some of my vendors, usually older people, sometimes call me ‘hun’ or ‘honey’. There is also an older lady in a different department of my office who calls me that. I feel dumb for feeling this way but it really bothers me. I understand it’s a term of affection but it makes me feel as if I’m being talked down to and am not on the same level as the person. Or like my grandma is talking to me. I’m not gonna bite off anyone’s head but I’m curious if anyone else feels this way or if I’m overreacting. FWIW- I am in the northeast in a large city, not the south where I could see this possibly being more normal.

    1. Elysian

      I definitely agree with you. At a food service establishment that I frequent, there is an employee who calls me hun or honey, even though I know he knows my name. If I’m there with a guy, he’ll call the guy by name, but I’m still “hun.” It gets my goat, every time. I’ve always debated what I would do if it were my boss or something – I feel like I would have to find a way to address it. With people I don’t have frequent contact with, I privately stem but don’t make a fuss. It annoys the bejeezus out of me, though.

    2. Stephanie

      No, I have various customers and venders say the same things to me. While I, too, strongly dislike it and live Boston, I just ignore it. I don’t think there’s really anything worth saying that wouldn’t cause friction, especially with someone I don’t see for longer periods of time every day.

    3. VisionsOfJohanna

      I’m sure they’re not singling you out or intentionally talking down to you, but I definitely understand how you feel. I’m in constant contact with an older woman (and by “older” I mean early 40s – I’m in my 20s) from another office, and she always addresses me as “dear.” It does make me feel like she’s talking to a child, but I also feel like I’d be turning a good relationship sour if I tried to say anything about it. It’s one of those things where you just have to let it go…

    4. LMW

      I’ve encountered something similar a few times. Like at my last job, a coworker called me kiddo a lot. Granted, I’m younger than her kids. But I was about 32 when I worked with this woman.
      The way I figure out how to deal with it is by asking myself: Is this impacting my ability to do my job?
      I’ve been lucky and the answer has never been yes. Even with the “kiddo” coworker — she trusted me to do my job and if anyone else heard her say it they just kind of rolled their eyes. It said more about her than me. It’s never been worth it to me to point out that it’s condescending because I know that’s never been the intent and it wasn’t harming my reputation.
      If you really do think it’s affecting the way people look at you and the work you do, then you should say something.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I had an older coworker call me kiddo. But, since I was 50, I kind of liked it. It depends on your perspective. I would not have liked than when I was younger.

        1. Puddin

          Agreed, being called Hon – or the like – in any circumstance would have bothered my in my twenties. I wanted to be taken Seriously. Now I could care less, unless there is some creepy tone/context. These days, I would more than likely call the person a similar public pet name in reply.

    5. Lily in NYC

      I love it when people call me by endearments. I don’t find it demeaning because people who do it tend to do it to everyone, not just younger people. I’m also in the NE and it doesn’t happen often. I just consider it as “oh, so and so likes me enough to call me sweetie” and leave it at that. Pick your battles, escpecially when the intent is not malicious.

      1. Tina

        Depends on who is saying it to me (doesn’t everything?) – there are certainly people that I know well enough that can say it and it won’t bother me. Other people say it to me, and it annoys me to no end. I don’t think I’ve ever actually said anything to those people though, just kept it to myself.

    6. sapphire

      This is something I need to take to heart, as I’m a serial “hun”-er myself. I don’t know if it’s middle age or just tiredness; even ten years ago, I wasn’t a “hun” person; and suddenly I’m discovering that I’m saying it to everyone, from baristas to clerks to co-workers, and that’s probably not at all appropriate.

      I’m definitely going to work on eliminating that from my vocabulary!

      1. Elysian

        I think there’s an ok way and a bad way to “hun.” Like, if you’re in a meeting and you say “Hey, Joe, could you hand me that file, hun?” That’s probably ok. If your sentence is “Hey hun – you, honey [points to Mary] – hun – could I borrow your pen?” That would not be ok [to me].

        I think the difference is that one way treats it as a term of endearment and the other way treats the person on the receiving end as less of a person who is so small they’re unworthy of a name or respectful form of address. It’s a subtle difference but I think it’s real.

      2. Mints

        I don’t mind it at all in a retail setting, or when servers do it, or my mom’s friends from church, because they don’t know my name or only heard it once. In those situations, it’s a way to be friendly to someone you don’t know well.

        However, I’d find it very very grating at work. People at work should know my name, and use it. (Or ask!)

    7. MaryMary

      I’m a term of endearment person. I know it’s not appropriate for the workplace, so I try not to do it in the office, but occasionally a honey or sweetie slips out. I don’t do it to belittle or talk down to anyone. If anything, it means I like you and I’m sympathetic to whatever’s going on. You’re likely to get an “oh, honey” from me if you spill your coffee on your keyboard ,or come in on Monday morning with your foot in a cast, or you tell me your client wants something crazy by the end of the day. And I’m equal opportunity honey-er, I’ve called women old enough to be my mother honey, men (although I try to be extra careful so no one gets the wrong idea), and even once or twice my boss (not the current one, past bosses I was pretty close to personally).

      You can use humor to correct people. “Only my honey gets to call me honey!” or “I’m not nearly sweet enough for you to keep calling me honey” is a gentle way to remind people pet names are really not work place appropriate.

      1. Stephanie

        Now those are the best correction suggestions I’ve ever seen! I would never have thought of a non-offensive phrase on my own but these are perfect.

      2. C Average

        I love these and plan to use them!

        Since you admit you are an endearment person, I want to ask: How did you become an endearment person? Were you raised by endearment people? Have you ever tried to break the habit? Does knowing that some people dislike endearments ever make you try to change this behavior?

        I was raised in a decidedly non-endearment household. My father called me a diminutive of my name (which I pretended to hate, but didn’t really mind because I adore my dad), but otherwise we all just called each other by our names or (in the case of my parents) Mom and Dad. I’ve never had significant others who used endearments, either. Basically, it’s something only strangers do to me, which is part of why I dislike it. It feels like a forced level of intimacy that would feel awkward even from someone close to me.

        Knowing these cultural differences exist makes me try really hard to grit my teeth and not get annoyed when well-meaning people I don’t know well call me “hon” or the like, but I really wish they’d just stick to my name.

        Now, my cat is a whole ‘nother story. I have lots of quite ridiculous pet names for her that I’m not at all hesitant about using!

    8. Malissa

      If these are vendors and not people you see everyday, they may be calling you hun…and every over woman they deal with that as well. Why? Because they just may not be able to remember names. So their solution is to call the women hun or darling and the guys dude or bro.

      1. Robin

        +1. I totally understand why this might rub you the wrong way, but my guess is, they don’t remember / aren’t sure of your name, and so they do this. If you’re feeling up to it, a “please, call me Octavia,” said once, could be attempted.

      2. kris

        George Burns used to joke that he called everyone “kid” because he couldn’t remember names. He was in his 90’s.

      3. ChiTown Lurker

        +1 I hear this all the time and I prefer it to being called by dome strange name that has no relation to my own.

    9. The Other Katie

      One of the directors of our organization (slightly above me, but not my boss) call me “kiddo”. I’ve never noticed him calling anyone else that, but then again, I’m the youngest in our department and one of the youngest in our building. It bothered me a little at first, because I thought he didn’t respect me. But as I’ve gotten to know him, I realized it is harmless and I’m really glad I didn’t say anything.

    10. Interested Follower

      I’ve had peers call me “honey” or “sweetie” before. It has always irritated me, as I feel that those terms of endearment are reserved for my husband. Whenever they used to call me that, I would politely but firmly reply with “Please call me (first name)”. If they continued, I would say “Please only address me by my name. It makes me uncomfortable when you call me honey”. I was able to get my point across politely, but also letting them know I was serious. I hope that helps!

    11. Colorado

      I’m 42 years old and a Director, I get called “kiddo” by one of my clients. I take it as a term of endearment and let it go.

    12. 22dncr

      Yeah, had a neighbor that used to call me Baby 22dncr – 30 years old and if I saw him in the Bank where he was President it was “Hi Baby 22dncr!” No idea why he started this but I just chose to love him for it (it was either that or I was going to have to kill him (: )! We had mulitiple Lori’s in our neighborhood at one time so used to call one Little Lori to tell them apart – don’t know if that’s what got him started.

    13. kris

      Some people just say that kind of thing. If she doesn’t treat you condescendingly, I’d say ignore it.

    14. Bonnie

      I am much, much older than you and spent the first half of my career being called honey, sweetie, girly, etc. I think it should bother you. I always felt that it was impossible to call me sweetie and then take my advice about your business seriously. However, how you feel about it and what you do about it can be different. None, of the mostly men, who were engaging in this behavior were actively trying to upset me. They just weren’t used to working with young women and did it poorly. Bringing it up would have made me feel better but it wouldn’t have helped the situation in any other way. I just always tried to be so good that they had to respect me and then chose to learn my name.

    15. Prickly Pear

      I have all kinds of endearments thrown my way, which is hilarious, because my nickname here should give you a hint of my personality. I read ‘young’ to people, and have been asked more than once when I would I be finished with school (I’ll be 35 this year). My own parents were big on nicknames, and I call my nieces several different ones, but other than that I’m kinda meh on the subject. I guess it’s one of the things I note and choose to laugh about.

    16. Professional Merchandiser

      I am a merchandiser for a well-known discount store chain and one of my Dept. Managers has started calling me “Mama.” (I didn’t say anything the first time he said it because I am old enough to be his mother.) The last time he said it I told him “I do have a name, you know.” He said, “I know, I just like to call you Mama.” I told him I guess I was just going to have to adopt him. :-)

  4. Aunt Vixen

    New-job ducks are all in a row. Gave notice at present job. Last day is identified. Even a summer head cold cannot dampen my mood.

    1. Various Assumed Names

      My last day is next Friday! Things are awkward because my bosses are taking it personally, and someone else just quit at the same time. But no matter what, it will all be over in a week!

  5. VisionsOfJohanna

    My work desk is one of those desks with a couple of built-in shelves above and below me, with drawers on either side (bottom drawers have files, top drawers have supplies, and top shelves have other miscellaneous folders/supplies). Whenever my boss needs something, instead of asking me for it, he’ll simply reach for it himself. If he needs something from the drawers, he’ll stand an inch away from me (with his hand right by my leg) and open the drawer and get the file he needs. If he needs something from the top shelves, he’ll stand an inch away from me, reach OVER me (body across my computer screen) and get it. It’s so strange and creepy!!

    I don’t think he’s intentionally trying to rub up against me – he’s just a very naïve and un-self-aware guy, and totally can’t take a hint or sense how uncomfortable he’s making me. I’ve tried to say “is there something I can help you find?” when I see him coming to search for something, but he just brushes it off and does his thing. What can I do/say in this situation? I don’t want to embarrass him, but he needs to learn to respect my personal space and boundaries!

    1. Gene

      You’ve been indirect with someone who is “very naïve and un-self-aware”. Stop that. Be direct and say, “Please don’t reach over me/open my drawers/etc.”

      So many of the letters that AAM gets can be fixed by people Just. Being. Direct. Try it, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

      1. VisionsOfJohanna

        I definitely agree that being direct is often the best way to solve problems, but because he is so naive, I’m afraid that it’ll embarrass him (since he clearly doesn’t know that he’s doing something strange). Though it seems nearly impossible, I’m trying to think of a more delicate, but clear, approach…

        1. Aunt Vixen

          Would it work to spin it as something that makes you uncomfortable – rather than something odd that he’s doing? “Hey, boss, I’m really sorry, but it wigs me out to have you in my space like that. Can you just ask me and I’ll get the file down for you?” Or “Can you let me know if you need something so I can move out of the way?” – I suppose I can see where he thinks he doesn’t want to interrupt you by asking you to fetch something for him and then standing there waiting for you to put it into his hand.

    2. fposte

      Yeah, it’s freaky when people are that close. But I think he’s trying not to bother you, and I also think that “needs to learn” is going to send you down a road you don’t want to go down, because he doesn’t need to and he might not want to learn it, so what do you want to do if that happens?

      You can certainly say, in a quiet moment, that you appreciate his trying not to bother you when he does that but it makes you jump and distracts you from work –would he be willing to ask you for supplies instead?

      1. VisionsOfJohanna

        But brushing up against a coworker, especially on my legs/thighs, is obviously very strange and uncomfortable. How could he possibly think he’s doing me a favor and not disturbing me? (I answered my own question since I said he was naive, but still). The point I’m trying to get across is that, even if he needs to grab something, do it only when you’re not going to touch me. Have some common sense and don’t reach for areas where you’ll be brushing up against my thighs, etc.

        1. Scottish Sarah

          You think do. I think so. But clearly he doesn’t get it. So just be clear and direct with him. You can’t expect him to change this behavior unless you say something.

          Being “delicate” about this is unlikely to be helpful. Yes, he may get embarrassed. That’s normal, and it’s not your fault. But at present you are the one being made uncomfortable, and that needs to stop. So say something.

        2. fposte

          It may be obvious to you, but it’s not to everybody; more importantly, it’s not to him. So he doesn’t think about this the way you want him to, and he’s not going to. Now what do you want to do? You can quietly stew over the fact that he hasn’t figured out what you’re thinking, or you can ask for what you want. (Or, as Jamie suggests, find a way for supplies to be stored elsewhere, but I think that’s a lot of work to avoid making a reasonable request of somebody.)

          1. Jamie

            For me it would depend on how often it’s happening. If it’s a couple times a week then yes, could be a lot of work. But if he’s in an out of the files throughout each day and it’s multiple times then I’d think being interrupted to hand him a file or post it pack would get old.

            But if it’s infrequent I’d agree with a direct request.

    3. Jamie

      This is stuff to which he needs access – so I’d just address it that way. Ask for a separate filing cabinet and put the files in there – away from your desk. Ditto supplies.

      It doesn’t seem like he’s seeing this as your desk as much as a communal filing/supply area (common, but not limited to front desk situations.) The problem is having communal items stored in your work space.

      Change the environment so he has access to what he needs and the problem is solved and he’s probably a lot happier, too.

    4. JMegan

      Is it possible to move the supplies somewhere more central, or to make sure the boss has some in his office?

      Failing that, I agree that the best approach is to be direct. “Boss, I’m uncomfortable having people in my personal space. I’ll be happy to get anything you need from the shelves, but I’d prefer that you not reach over me like that.”

      It might be an uncomfortable conversation, but look at it this way: that one uncomfortable conversation has the potential to save you from a year or more of repeated uncomfortable situations. Worth the tradeoff IMO. Good luck!

      1. Jamie

        This sounds silly and it’s totally passive aggressive but this used to work when I was in school in labs where people often share stuff and sit too close. Whenever someone touched me even slightly I’d flinch and say “ow.” Not yell or anything – just “ow” and rub whatever part of me they brushed up against.

        It gets people to give you wider berth if they think you’re breakable.

        It worked in highschool – but I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted in the OPs situation just because it would entertain me.

        1. LCL

          Careful with this approach. I had a friend who often did this, and it usually resulted in much more male attention. Which was what she wanted so everything was good, but not what the OP wants.

        2. L McD

          Ha! I never would have thought to do this on purpose, but I can confirm it works. I have some mysterious chronic joint/muscle pain (still working on figuring it out) and though I try to act as “normal” as I can, it’s hard to hide the fact that a slightly firm touch in the wrong spot causes a sharp pain and leaves me aching and throbbing for minutes afterwards. People do eventually give you a wider berth, even if your reactions are pretty subtle. My upper arms/shoulders are one of my worst spots, and also one of the spots where people tend to think it’s okay to touch people they don’t know very well – SUPER annoying. I really value my personal space regardless, but that just adds another dimension.

    5. Biff

      I’ve have noticed that where I work, people have much less sense of personal space and this sort of thing is normal. It is really hard to get personal space in this sort of situation without being direct about what you need.

      I like the wig out phraseing AV suggests. That’s what I’d do.

    6. LQ

      As others have said stop being indirect. Be straightforward, “Please don’t do that.” If that doesn’t work, “Stop. If you need something at my desk when I’m here I need you to ask me to get it.”

      I know this is your boss, but you’ve already said he’s not getting it, be direct. Indirectness is not a kindness. If someone is genuinely not understanding subtlety then being direct IS the kindness. If someone isn’t being genuine then you want to be crystal clear that it is not ok and you won’t tolerate it out of politeness.

      1. Mephyle

        You may need to be even more direct.
        ‘Please don’t do that.’
        ‘Do what?’
        Instead:
        ‘Please don’t lean over me to get the __________. I would rather you ask me, and I’ll hand it to you.’

      2. Windchime

        Yes, be direct.

        I have a little bit different take on this. “Creepers” often are able to violate boundaries by appearing to be naive or unaware. It’s possible that he’s just pushing the boundaries and is doing this knowingly. Either way, it’s making you uncomfortable and I would take a combination of several of the suggested practical solutions. Be direct, and also move the things that he’s reaching for to a place where he can get them without being all up in your personal space.

        I really do not like having my personal space violated. Only a very select few people are allowed to be on a “touching” basis with me, and I’d be totally creeped out if my boss was leaning over me like that.

        1. Artemesia

          This was my flare as well. I may be quick to assume, but I learned this by being naive in my youth which led eventually to people with authority over me crossing the line. I got really good at heading this off by noticing minor transgressions and acting to deflect/defuse. There are few accidents when man touching woman in the workplace is the issue.

    7. Treece

      I had a female boss do this to me. Drove me nuts so I took the binders she was constantly reaching for and moved them to a different shelf. She looked at me oddly when I showed her where I moved them to, but it worked. No more reaching over me. Of course it would have been easier if she would have let me scan all those papers and file them electronically. But that was a no-go.

    8. Sunday

      On the chance that you come back to these comments,
      First, why do you remain in your chair when he does this? I’d either roll the chair way back so you are out of his way or stand up and move away. Make it clear that you will accommodate but also that you literally won’t “sit still” for it. My experience is that getting up and moving away gets attention in ways words don’t.

      Second, moving the items he seeks away from your desk sounds like the long term solution. If they are things you also use often, that’ll be the price for stopping others from helping themselves around your person.

  6. The IT Manager

    My job is very difficult now. I am “in charge” of a project with a looming deadline. I do not how I am to meet this deadline, but I am getting pressure that I have to meet this deadline. The customer and my boss keep telling me they will get me anything I need, but of course / unfortunately the things in their power do not help because I’m at the point that I need either a time machine or a magic wand.

    It’s frustrating and while I know that the demanding customer is not personally attacking me when we have the difficult discussions it is very hard not to feel like I am somehow being accused of doing a bad job. I know that there are areas in which I can improve, but I don’t see how my weaknesses are the critical factor here. This project is already ridiculously behind schedule and has had at least four managers before me.

    Every conversation with the customer always leaves me doubting myself. He’s smart and knows more than I about the details, but he also plays something close to his vest probably just because he’s so busy but I am out of the loop on things I should probably be in the loop on.

    It’s just frustrating, and I’m just venting. I think I like my job, but I liked it better when I was the deputy and someone was responsible for dealing with the difficult customer. I don’t think my predecessor felt this way, and I think he had a better relationship with the customer than I.

    The only good thing about this looming deadline is that there’s some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how we will meet the deadline, but I do know this can’t go on forever.
    It’s just tough. I am learning things for sure. I just need to survive until this project is over.

    1. Colette

      Do you actually have a project plan – i.e. have you broken down the project into task, figured out how long each task will take, and added a bit of contingency? How does how long the project will take relate to the deadline?

      I’d create the project plan, figure out if it’s actually possible to meet the deadline and, if not, sit down with your boss to discuss what you can do. Maybe functionality needs to be cut, maybe you need to phase things in, maybe the deadline needs to move – but you won’t know which until you know what is possible.

      1. The IT Manager

        I do not not want to go into too many possibly identifying details, but there is a schedule. It has some issues, but according to the schedule we will not meet the deadline. Customer still demand that we work to meet and says that he will remove roadblocks and speed up approvals, but, yeah, I feel like I am stuck in a losing situation.

        One of my hopes is that when we are done (past deadline), the fact that we are finally done despite all the issues is actually celebrated despite missing goal.

        The deadline is not entirely arbitrary but it is not as critical as it once was.

        1. JMegan

          One option is to be specific about exactly what it would take (short of a magic wand) to meet the deadline. If you had one more FTE working on it, would that help? What if you had ten more?

          When the customer says he can speed up approvals, if they happen the same day, will that help?

          Factor all those things into the project plan. Be realistic, but don’t be afraid to put big numbers in. So if you really think that ten more people and same-day approvals are required, tell him that! And also create a plan for completing the project without the increased resources, but with an extended deadline.

          If the deadline is not physically possible with the current resources, show him why. Then you have the option of increasing the resources or increasing the time frame, and you and he can work together to figure out your plan B.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This exactly. where are the bottlenecks? Is the work just not getting done? It’s tough to get approval on something that you don’t even have.

        2. ChiTown Lurker

          Is it possible for your team to deliver partial/crucial functionality by the deadline date? Sometimes, I have been rearrange things so that we don’t completely miss the deadline. This type of flexibility can sometimes build trust and establish a foundation for future projects.

        3. Girasol

          Our best project manager offers choices. “This is the situation. We cannot meet the original plan. We can push the project date out to complete on date X . Or we can meet the current completion date by hiring contract staff at cost of $Y. Or we can reduce the scope of the project to complete deliverables A and B on time and C, if we still chose to do it, a month later. Which is more advantageous for you?” She’s very specific; not “later” or “costs more” but the exact date or cost, so managers seem less inclined to resort to a vague “You’ll have to try harder!” as a strategy.

      2. Julie

        I agree with Colette, and I wanted to add something I just learned that may be helpful in your situation. I have a new manager, and we were recently negotiating with an internal client over the cost for a custom training program. Before the meeting, my boss said that our attitude is that we’re “as friendly and helpful as possible” and that we want to make this work and will do everything we can so that it will. If they can’t pay what we’re estimating as the cost for producing the training, we’ll come up with creative ideas for the project that will cost us less. When we came at it from that vantage point, the client felt like we were on her side and that we were all on the “make it work” team (which we really were). It made a big difference in the way the conversations went, and when the client came back to us with the amount they could pay, it was a number we could work with. I think they fought for the highest amount they could get for the project because they knew we were working hard on our end. Your situation sounds very frustrating, and I hope you can use this to make things more tolerable.

    2. MaryMary

      I think it’s time to start contingency planning. Formally. If X does not happen, the project will not be done by Y, so then we will need to do A, B, C, and D to complete the project by the revised date of Z. Sometimes clients (and internal stakeholders) take this badly, like you’re giving up. But reality bites, if something isn’t going to happen it’s better to have a plan and control the landing, than to crash and burn.

      Good luck!

    3. kris

      Get a plan in place and over communicate about what you’re doing and what steps you’re taking. If they realize how hard you’re working and how much there is to do, they’re more likely to be empathetic and to let the deadline slide if possible. They’re also more likely to find ways to help.

    4. Not So NewReader

      So the project is ridiculously behind and there were at least four managers before you????

      This is a boss problem. Where is your boss in all this? It seem like she should be intervening here and moving the deadline or doing something. This problem is NOT your fault. They gave you a big mess to clean up and now you need support doing it.

      How often does this customer call you? Is your boss aware of how often? This seems like it could actually be slowing the project down.

      Why is it that the customer the one who knows so much about the work and yet seems passive-aggressive? Has your customer not given you enough information to complete the work successfully? I don’t quite understand what is being withheld here. Again going back to your boss, if your customer is doing something to make the process more encumbered then your boss needs to know this. Especially if the customer is adding in more and more work that is not part of the agreement.

      I am really curious about where the other managers went. This must be a very loooong job to have run through that many managers.

  7. Cruciatus

    I just completed my 2nd interview an hour ago. I flubbed a little bit. Not anything too bad but I couldn’t come up with what I’d dislike about the job. I wasn’t even trying to act overly enthusiastic like I wouldn’t dislike anything. My current job has some tedious stuff–copying, etc. But I made it work for me (if I have a bunch of copies, instead of just standing around I walk around the area so I can get more steps in until the copier is done) There are definitely tasks I dislike more (scheduling!) but that wouldn’t be something I’d do in the new position. So hopefully it wasn’t a make or break thing for them. I was inelegant a few other times or repeated what I had JUST FREAKIN’ SAID! But…oh well. It’s out of my hands now. (Then the interview went long so I had a parking ticket when I got back to my car.)

    And I wish I had taken the sloooow elevator instead of walking the 6 flights in my 100% polyester suit…(though in truth it was much faster…and, they actually said “good job!” when they realized I’d taken the stairs–maybe that counters the flubbing?)

    1. Brett

      Candidates always repeat things in interviews. Always, especially long interviews. As long as you were reframing to answer the new question, it is not that big of a deal.

    2. azvlr

      Think of it this way: When you repeat something, in the context of a new question, it could show you are focused and know what you want.

      Have you ever taken those online employment quizzes (often about ethics issues in the job) that ask you the same question in several different ways to see how disparate your answers are. If you are able to stick to the same answer every time, that’s a good thing, not a bad one. Good luck to you!

      1. Anx

        I had just learned this a few months or weeks ago. For years I answered them differently, because to me they are different questions. Oddly enough, some of these jobs advertised a new for ‘attention to detail.’

  8. Lillie Lane

    This is about “women’s work” stereotypes in the workplace….I work in a male-dominated field and am a young woman with an advanced degree. Yesterday, my company had an event at a client’s office for our mutual customers. During the lunch setup, I was so tempted to pitch in and help the office ladies with the food (from being so used to helping with setting up buffets at family dinners, etc). However, I forced myself to stand aside with my male colleagues that were not pitching in. I made a comment to my coworkers that I wanted to help, but didn’t want to reinforce stereotypical “women’s work”. They had NO idea what I was talking about. Does anyone else deal with this?

    1. Sadsack

      What is an office lady? Were they responsible for setting everything up, or did they just feel compelled to because no one else was doing any of it?

      1. Lillie Lane

        They were the ladies that worked at our client’s office in support roles (receptionist, etc.) I think they were asked to do it by our client. I suppose that could be part of their job descriptions.

        1. BB

          I’m thinking it was definitely part of their job descriptions so you did the right thing by not pitching in. This stereotype is very unfortunate as a man pitching in would probably have been seen as a nice gesture and it makes people have to second think about doing things that are generous

      2. Lillie Lane

        I shouldn’t have used the term “office lady” (yikes, now I’m guilty of stereotypes!) but I don’t know what their official titles were. It was the scenario that is so typical in my experience of a small office with women as support staff and men in all of the upper management roles.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Also don’t refer to it as “women’s work.” It’s not women’s work. It’s part of their job description, and they happen to be women. I’m in a similar environment, but we have a male clerk, in addition to the numerous female admins. He makes the coffee, because it’s part of his job. You don’t have to pitch in, just because you’re female. Now, no reason for you or the men to be jerks and not pick up your own trash or things like that, but as others have said, meeting set-up is part of their job.

          1. Lillie Lane

            I think this is a sore subject for me because at 2 of my previous positions, meeting setup was not part of anyone’s job description and everyone was expected to help set up/tear down. However, it was always the women who ended up doing it. The men would stand around watching all of the women run around while waiting and chatting, then were first in line for the food and also were the first ones out the door after it was over. I’m not aware if this was ever addressed at either workplace. It just seemed that it was assumed that the women would take care of the meals.

            1. AnotherAlison

              I get where you’re coming from, but. . .

              So many scenarios.

              Even if it was not part of someone’s job description formally, it’s going to fall on the executive assistants, not the executives, and no one should really get upset about this. It’s not male/female; it’s organizational hierarchy. If it’s a client meeting, people with certain jobs should probably spend that front-end time mingling with clients, not setting out food.

              If it’s a mixed group of peers who all have similar job descriptions, the women should speak up and not just assume all the set-up duties belong to the females. We shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes. (Yes, the men should automatically pitch in too in such a scenario, but when they don’t, say something.)

              I have to say, I don’t even hop up first from a group of male and female friends at dinner and start cleaning up. Everyone can clear their own damn plate. I don’t know if this is the result of 20 years in a male dominated environment, getting sick of picking up after my all-male family, or just my nature.

              1. Chinook

                “have to say, I don’t even hop up first from a group of male and female friends at dinner and start cleaning up. Everyone can clear their own damn plate. I don’t know if this is the result of 20 years in a male dominated environment, getting sick of picking up after my all-male family, or just my nature.”

                This is me – I will pitch in when everyone else is (unless it is my job, of course) and even make comments to the guys about how a vagina is not required to pick up plates.

                The one time a cousin was visiting made a comment about how nice it was to be in a house with women (he had no sisters) so they could the women’s work, my sister, mother and I all turned around from our way to the kitchen, placed the dishes in front of him and told him to have fun stacking the dishwasher. His brother just started laughing because he knew better than to make that type of comment to us.

              2. Jamie

                I agree. Years ago I went to start stacking plates after a meeting and the CEO stopped me. I wasn’t even thinking – just out of habit of being a mom and then in a previous job it was part of the job description.

                She said she appreciated the impulse, but we work with all men and I’m new so I was not to clean up after them nor do anything “stereotypically” helpful outside my job description until I had been there long enough to establish credibility.

                We work in a seriously male dominated environment.

                She then went on to clean up. Her response to my look was to laugh and say she’d been there forever so it was okay.

                She taught me a lot about the subtleties of tone with this kind of thing.

            2. Chinook

              “The men would stand around watching all of the women run around while waiting and chatting, then were first in line for the food and also were the first ones out the door after it was over.”

              It is a stereotype but it also sometimes run true. There was on meeting I did the clean up for that, when I came into the room, all the plates were neatly piled, the food generally covered and few glasses to pick up (i.e.tidied but not cleaned). I asked my (male boss, a partner) if the meeting was filled with mostly women and he said he was the only man there, now that I had mentioned it. He was also sent a nice floral arrangement as a thank you for hosting the luncheon (the first time he ever received flowers).

              Honestly, these touches strike me as making them just a very nice group and made me wish more groups were like this.

            3. Bonnie

              This is probably going to sound harsher than I intend often men don’t help because we allow them not to help.

              “John, can you help us move this table?” “Dan, can you go get some spoons from the kitchen?” “Jim, can you get the paper plates out of that bag there for me?”

              Maybe they did assume that the women would take care of the meals but it wasn’t because those were the rules it was because the women just always did it. If you asked, you might have gotten some help.

            4. Sarah

              Dishwashing in the office kitchen was like this in a previous job – not in anyone’s job description and people would not wash their own dishes. The EA claimed it wasn’t in her JD but took it upon herself to do it anyways. Fair enough. However, she started pressuring me to help her, and I figured out pretty quickly that in that company culture that sort of thing wasn’t going to be rewarded. No one was going to be impressed by how hard-working and flexible I was, they’d just wonder why I wasn’t busy doing my real work. So I refused, and it was very uncomfortable to refuse a job task because it was of no benefit to me, even though logically I saw no reason at all why I should be obligated to do it. The power of socialization I guess. It shouldn’t be my problem that the EA felt obligated to do something outside her JD, especially considering that she never pressured junior-level men to do it.

          2. Artemesia

            I agree, don’t apologize for not doing what your male colleagues are also not doing. Less said the better. Been fighting this all my life even in family situations; luckily my husband is the guy who hopes up and does ‘woman’s work’.

            In our household our motto is ‘woman’s work is never done’ – as soon as we could afford it, we hired a cleaner to come in once a week and everything else gets split up. Otherwise while we were working and raising kids we just let a lot of it go.

        2. JMegan

          I would just call them support staff. :) And I agree that helping them set up is not your job, and could be a bit detrimental to your professional image, so you did the right thing there.

          Aren’t office politics fun?

        3. Sadsack

          I agree that I would have just done what I was there for, which was not setting up lunch, but I think saying something to the coworkers about having the urge to help but not doing it because of the gender thing is just weird. I wouldn’t have said anything.

          1. Lillie Lane

            True, I shouldn’t have said anything. I have said plenty of dumb things to these two coworkers, so they probably thought I was my usual weird self. They may think I’m a moron but one of them says racist and bigoted things, which is much worse IMO.

        4. NewGirlontheBlock

          Eh. I’m an “office lady”, and it doesn’t bother me that much.

          Anyone who is doing the support work usually prefers the title Admin. It’s the PC term now.

          I don’t care, but a lot of the folks who have been doing it for decades would be extremely offended if you called them a secretary. I would stick with admin unless you know otherwise!

    2. The IT Manager

      Uggg! Obviously your co-workers are not being jerks, but it bugs me that they ae unaware of what women have to put up with.

      Worst that happened to me was when I was on a committee planning the office picnic and somehow I (childless woman) was put on the kids activity committee. I can’t remember if I pushed back or not, but I have never played with kids (except when I was a kid) or cared for them so I was a horrible choice. But somehow the childless woman rather than a male parent seemed the better choice to everyone.

      I showed them! I was so uncomfortable with my role of rounding up the kids and organizaing their activities that I did not do it because they seemed to be amusing themselves (so I told myself). Later during the after action meeting, a man mentioned that next year they should do the kids activities. ** This was not really on purpose but I procrastinated / avoided ever starting something I was uncomfortable with.

      1. NotMyRealName

        I’ll bet you the kids had more fun playing rather than being rounded up for “kids activities” which to my recollection from my dad’s company events were usually pretty lame.

      2. Shana

        I went through this this year on Take Your Kids to Work day. I’m pretty sure my statement was along the lines of, the fact I don’t have my own children is not an accident. My boss gets my sense of humor thankfully.

      3. Elizabeth West

        I was warned by my predecessor at one job not to attend the annual family night (at one of those loud pizza places with games) because the bosses would make me do all the support work. I opted not to ever attend. It was optional and I don’t have any kids anyway.

    3. fposte

      If you’re at a workplace with official “office ladies,” it’s not really surprising that men there don’t know what you’re talking about.

    4. VisionsOfJohanna

      OMG… yes! I’m the *only* woman in a small office with 7 other men, and while I generally love my coworkers, there are definitely moments where I want to claw their eyes out lol.

      Just yesterday, I was in the break room eating lunch with 3 of the guys, and I was reading a news article on my phone while they proceeded to talk about a mutual friend’s girlfriend – her boobs, whether or not they’re fake, what a bitch she is, etc. This mutual friend is really rich, and one of the guys started saying “he could have literally ANY woman he wants! ANY woman! ANY woman would fall all over him!” After about the 10th time saying this, I finally chimed in and said “is your opinion of women really that low? The only women that would throw themselves all over a guy because he’s rich are women with no self-respect.” They all started laughing at me, and saying it was a typical “opinionated” response of mine. I told them to grow up, and thankfully lunch was over by then, so I left.

      Another (slightly related/non related) thing – the bathroom. We only have one bathroom in the office, and sometimes I walk in and find pee spots all over the toilet seat. Absolutely disgusting! These guys are all adults and should know to clean up after themselves if they make a mess. I’ve been wanting to address this issue in a sensitive way, but haven’t figured out how to do that yet… Ugh :/

      1. VisionsOfJohanna

        Okay I just realized that I didn’t really address a workplace “stereotype,” but it’s definitely still along the lines of misogynistic behavior (even if it’s unintentional) towards women. Speaking about other woman as if they’re objects, and using degrading language, etc. makes me feel like it’s 1 vs. 7 sometimes.

      2. AVP

        Ah yes, the offices in which women are “opinionated!” because they share perfectly relevant opinions when confronted, and that’s a “bad thing.”

      3. Artemesia

        If you are the only woman in the office then put up the toilet seat every time you use it. Increases odds that it won’t be peed on when you need it. NOt perfect, but better than leaving it down.

    5. Trixie

      This wasn’t a workplace but similar situation after an outdoor party. It was late, the host was very pregnant, and I knew she would appreciate having it cleaned up before going to bed. A couple of us (women) started clearing while the men started to get cozy in the house. I tapped on the windows and with a smile that said you know better, “Get your behinds out here and help.”

    6. Sarah

      I definitely have dealt with that before (I worked at a software consulting firm with all women in the non-technical positions except the COO). However, I think the effects it has on how women are viewed in the workplace are more subconscious than overt so I wouldn’t expect a man to understand what I was talking about or bring it up to a man at all, really, unless we were already discussing something relevant (gender politics, perception at work, etc). Most people don’t think of themselves as sexist so they won’t think that they could ever let you doing “women’s work” affect their view of you as a professional, though it could definitely happen. There are many women that don’t even recognize the impact of this stuff.

      Which brings to mind a thought – why is information about this phenomenon only aimed at girls? I get that we have the most to gain personally from it. However, I think workplaces would benefit if males were made widely aware of this particular tendency and how not to exploit or misinterpret it (i.e. helping the secretary wash dishes with spare moments instead of looking for more work could be seen as unambitious by a man, in my experience, but women tend to think they’re showing how hard-working and team-player-ish they are by doing so).

  9. Brett

    So I had posted the last two weeks about the merit raise issue for the county I work for:
    https://www.askamanager.org/2014/07/open-thread-july-11-2014.html#comment-508346

    And mentioned there was a debate coming up for the position of the elected official who set the policy. Well, three employees showed up at the debate and anonymously submitted a question about the raises!

    I wish it got better from there. The question turned into, “if money was handled better there could be raises” versus “have you seen the economy”. Out of seven candidates, one mentioned merit raises (though he had no clue employees were not getting raises nor even knew what hours they work) and one fringe candidate proposed switching to pure merit pay. The other five did not support reinstating merit raises.

    Oh well. I was at least excited someone actually asked the question.

    1. Arjay

      Disappointing, but at least the dialogue was opened, so perhaps that’s a start in the right direction. Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, you have to raise awareness that this is an issue. Sad, but true.
      Can you write each one of the candidates giving background and asking them to give serious thought to the matter?

      1. Brett

        It would be very touchy for a county employee to get involved like that. No matter who wins, it is clear that some people will be losing their jobs after this election, depending on who wins. There is a reason those three employees submitted anonymously.

  10. Too tough?

    So, I need some perspective, if I’m judging too harshly on a job candidate. He is applying for a management (sr level) position. I emailed him to set up a phone screen and we agreed upon a day/time. The day of the call, a half hour before, he emailed to say that he had a conference call and wouldn’t be able to make our appointed time and asked if we could push it back an hour. I agreed but raised a flag as to his ability to schedule but gave him the benefit of the doubt that the conference call just came up.

    The time for our call rolls around and I call him, get voicemail. I left him a voicemail and he called back 20 minutes later. I confirmed it was a good time to talk and proceeded with the interview. Then during our call he started talking with someone else in the middle of answering a question. Ok, more red flags…

    I’m debating bringing him in for an in-person interview but have the red flags from above as well as other concerns. Those other concerns are things like – he listed on his resume that he had management experience but when asked what size teams he’d managed he mentioned he’d only done project management and never had a direct report; one of his questions didn’t sit well with me, it was “why isn’t your company as popular/well known as X competitor,” an okay question but the wording left a little to be desired; the over attitude that came across during the call was one of entitlement and like he was doing me/my company a favor by interviewing with us.

    I don’t want to judge too harshly but also don’t want to ignore warning signs and waste time. Thoughts?

    1. Gwen Soul

      Go with your gut. This sounds like plenty or reason to go move forward unless there is truly a dearth of applicants and you think he is the best you can get.

      1. StudentA

        Totally agree. I think you would be doing both of you a disservice by bringing him in for an interview.

    2. Jamie

      This guy is telling you all kinds of things about who he is an how he operates – I would heed those messages.

      If he can’t even be bothered to lie about why he pushed the meeting back – I mean a herd of stampeding penguins tore through his neighborhood and are interfering with his phone reception, okay, that we all understand? But because had to take another call?

      This guy is nothing but red flags – I wouldn’t bother with him.

      1. Arbynka

        I agree. Oh, the thing about not being bothered to lie reminded me of Peter – ” normally, I come 15 minutes late. I come in by the side door so Lumberg doesn’t see me. Then I space out at my desk for about an hour, but it looks like I am working so it’s ok…..” “It’s not that I am lazy, it’s that I don’t care”…

    3. Diet Coke Addict

      I would trash it. Rescheduling on short notice is one thing, but he then was essentially 20 minutes late for the interview, started talking with someone else, and it sounds like he is a bit full of himself.

      If you don’t want to trash his resume entirely, why not bump him to the bottom of the list and only go forward if none of your other contenders shake out?

    4. Stephanie

      Is he really the only qualified candidate you’ve found? Do you have anyone else you’ve looked at favorably? I’d dismiss him based on have of these things and go with someone else.

    5. fposte

      I think you need to judge here. This is how he will be in the job. Is that what you want for the person in this job?

      Another “hiring is like dating”–don’t assume they’ll be a better person when you commit than they are now.

    6. Aimee

      Is there some strong reason you’d want to bring him in? Because from what you wrote here, he seems like a poor candidate. Why are you still considering him?

    7. Brett

      The management experience one gets me. He knew that was a flat out lie, and a significant one, but put it on his resume anyway. I don’t think you can consider someone for senior management who tried to bluff his way through making project management look like employee management.

    8. BRR

      I’m not sure what you’re hiring for or what his qualifications are but unless you’re desperate he’s left a poor impression.

    9. Biff

      I can imagine easily how this will go for you once he’s brought on. Things will slip. Why?

      1. From a direct report:”I arranged to talk to Percival about a showstopper issue 3 times. He cancelled our first meeting, and he was so late to the second one that we didn’t have enough time to hash out the details. The third one, he was so distracted with other issue, we couldn’t get my issue resolved. It’s been two weeks now that I’ve been trying to solve this.”

      2. From another Senior Manager: “Our process is X, but every time I talk to Percival, he seems to think he should be doing Y. When I discussed this with him, he said that’s how they did it at his old company and we would be more competitive if we did it the same way they did. Everyone is confused.

      3. From his management: “Percival is more concerned about merit raises and making sure he looks good than taking care of his team. No one seems to stay on his team if they can help it because he throws people under the bus.”

      Can you tell I’ve worked for this kind of guy before?

    10. JMegan

      Yes, to giving him the benefit of the doubt on the conference call. It’s very possible that it did just come up out of the blue. And if he’s at work he can’t very well tell his boss that he’s unavailable is that he has a job interview with another company! So I would definitely give him a pass on that one, if it were the only thing.

      But it’s not the only thing. He also missed your rescheduled call, and then when you did finally connect he interrupted your conversation to talk to someone else. No, and no. You get ONE pass, but after that your behaviour needs to be pretty much perfect, and his was not. I mentally wrote him off on your behalf, even before I read your last paragraph!

      1. Dan

        I don’t think rescheduling the initial call even counts as a pass. By counting it that way, that’s implicitly saying that the people on the hiring side of the process Walk On Hallowed Ground, which they do not. I mean, if HR/HM had to reschedule, I chalk that up to “life” and not incompetence.

        Take that out of the equation, and the guy still gets a pass. Although, his first strike is actually being late to the rescheduled. I can cut him some slack for being late to the second call because if his boss pulls him aside after the meeting, he can’t exactly say “gotta run for something more important than you.” But not being able to shut a door and focus on a conversation? That’s strike two. I hate managers who can’t/won’t focus. I’ve not seen too many people do it well, and besides, it’s a respect thing for the person you’re dealing with.

    11. Waiting Patiently

      The only red flag I see is the management question. The question about your company’s popularity is kind of moot because we don’t have any background info on your company. If this is a sales driven job than to me that sounds fair.
      It sounds like he communicated in enough time about needing to push back the phone screen because of a conference call. His conference call may have ran a little longer than expected. He’s still employed and his work priorities should come before a perspective job.
      I feel like you are red flagging him unfairly.

      1. AnotherAlison

        That was my assessment, too. I do a lot of work for an SVP who will drop things in my lap unexpectedly, all which could result in last minute reschedules, time overruns, and interruptions. If he walked in my office, I would say to the person on the phone “Excuse me for just one second” and I would tell SVP I was in the middle of a call but I’d get right back to him as soon as the call was over. If it was something quick, he might choose to take 60 s and tell me right then, and I wouldn’t be in a position to interrupt him, unless I was on the phone with the president. I sure wouldn’t won’t to provoke him to ask who I was talking with!

      2. Mints

        Huh, do people normally do phone interviews in the office? I always hide outdoors where my coworkers never go. Even if you have a private office, if people come in to interrupt frequently, I’d go somewhere else.
        I see these as flags; I wouldn’t bring him in

    12. Student

      He was probably at work, and couldn’t really say no to a business conference call in order to pursue his job hunt.

      It’s somewhat bad judgement on his part to not find a way to have this not affect you. It’s possible he has a good excuse though. Why didn’t you bring it up at the time and see what he had to say about it? That probably would’ve given you a better idea. He might’ve been mortified by the interruptions and delays, or he might’ve been dismissive of your schedule and time, or something in between.

    13. Artemesia

      Your spidey sense is tingling for a reasons. If he has never had reports he had not been a manager; sometimes such a person could be a talented manager, but he would need to convince you and he sure isn’t. People who show you who they are during those interviews don’t get better on the job. One interruption — stuff happens — this kind of repeated inability to manage this call — a message from above.

  11. mason jar

    Most of the offices at my job are decently temperature-regulated. However, my office, along with the offices of a couple of my colleagues, is freezing cold. I mean, probably 60 degrees. Management consistently dismisses these issues as out of our control due to a poor ventilation system, and basically tells us to dress in layers. But this is beyond layers – I’m currently wearing a sweatshirt and wrapped in a blanket, but my fingers and nose are freezing and I’m shivering. Maintenance tried to set up a makeshift vent shield (using a garbage bag), but it basically did nothing.

    Does anyone have any tips for pushing them to act on this issue / convincing them to take stronger action? I know for a fact that if this was my boss’s office, he would find a solution.

    1. Elysian

      First step I think is to buy a thermometer and document the actual temp instead of a guess (I believe you, but its hard to argue with documented proof!). Once you can say “My office is literally 60 degress – here’s a photograph of the thermometer. Recommended temps for an office like our are 68-76°. What can be done to fix this problem?” you might get more action.

      1. Valar M.

        Yes. Definitely make note of these things. Also – is there an opportunity for higher ups to come and spend time in your office? We had a similar situation in an old office, and they constantly dismissed it until the higher ups had to suffer through it for a night. Suddenly there was money in the budget and a contractor sent out to fix it. Funny how that works.

      2. Student

        Get a digital thermometer that you can read out to USB if you’re going to do this. Let them play with it if they don’t believe you. They’re only like $15.

        Don’t put it next to electronics that give off lots of heat when you do it.

      3. Frances

        Yes, do this! I worked for a couple years in an office that was absolutely frigid in the summer (partly because of terrible design of our HVAC vents, partly because we were above a computer lab and they had to keep the floor below us ice cold). My coworker brought in a thermometer — we discovered it would sometimes drop as low as 50 degrees in our area. We noticed facilities took action a lot more proactively when we could call them up and tell them we had a thermometer and knew exactly how cold it was.

      4. Anx

        If the temperature can be helped, I don’t see why I wouldn’t be. Do you need to write or type at your job? If so, it’s silly of them not to fix it. I am much less productive when my house is in the low 60s and 50s than in warmer temps. My hands get stiff when it’s cold.

    2. The LeGal

      Two of my co-workers were recently approved to switch offices. It turns out that some people actually love frigid offices. Perhaps a person is willing to trade offices with you.

      1. BRR

        This was going to be my suggestion. I would work in walk-in freezer if I could.

        Also you could try putting a piece of cardboard up over the vent. What about a space heater? I know they’re contraband in a lot of place but sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands.

    3. littlemoose

      Would you be able to get a space heater? Make sure you get a decent one with safety features, and unplug it every night. This would be my suggestion if you can’t switch offices, which is a good idea (some people really do like it cold).

    4. AnotherAlison

      In lieu of a space heater, you might also consider a heated chair pad. It keeps you warm without the fan noise or turning your office into a sauna. (Probably not a problem for you, but people flip out when they walk into my 80 degree office.) I just googled and saw one that plugged into a USB. . .not sure if it’s any good, but it might be a way to work around fire codes.

      1. LAI

        OOh, I might have to check this out. My office is a normal temperature, but I am basically a cold-blooded creature and am always colder than everyone around me. In the past, I’ve always used a space heater but I just started a new job where I share an office, and my officemate has a normal body temperature. I’ve been trying to get by with extra jackets and sweaters (wearing one and one on my lap) but a heated chair pad sounds way better! I feel awkward and bulky wearing my overcoat indoors…

      2. Vancouver Reader

        Yes! I use a heating pad a lot, partly because I’m usually freezing, but it also doesn’t screw with the HVAC system. All these people running their personal space heaters while the people with windowed offices open their windows and let in all the cool air in their little space, it’s not wonder the HVAC people are constantly busy doing repairs.

    5. Jamie

      I just had the reverse problem – I have a server cabinet in my office and it was causing an issue with it being too warm so they did something with dampers (?) to direct more AC into my office without freezing everyone else out.

      Anyway it worked – but now I’m cold all the time.

      If you are considering a space heater make sure they allowed before bringing one in – I’ve seen fury over unauthorized space heaters.

      1. Natalie

        Servers and people sharing office space is a property management nightmare, particularly if those people are not IT folk and don’t understand why the server needs to be so cool.

        Sigh.

        1. Jamie

          Absolutely – and it was something we really thought about before moving the data center into my office (previously it had it’s own room – but really inconvenient for me.) It has worked out great because I don’t mind sweaters in the summer :).

          Collateral benefits, aside from not having to run upstairs every time I needed to physically deal with them, is when we moved the server cabinet in even though my office is rather large it did necessitate getting rid of the couch.

          Nothing says plunk down and make yourself comfy like a couch and that’s not a sentiment I am wont to encourage.

          I personally like the white noise – my office is kind of down the hall and kitty corner to the front desk and when there is a lot of chatter out there it would make me clenchy – I love the hum of the servers.

          1. Astor

            Oh, man, the white noise in mine makes me batty. My goal for October is to make the time to move the last few processes onto our servers in our data centre so that I have a few less servers running in my office.

        2. azvlr

          When I was studying Electronics as a young sailor, I could never get warm. I wore parkas in the classroom even in the middle of summer. I complained about the cold and was told, “Cold trons are happy trons.” I was furious (it didn’t take much to set me off in those days) that the instructors could be so flip about it.

          I was also have a horrible time staying awake in class. Fast forward many years and it turns out I have thyroid problem. It’s managed with medication, but I still have an aversion to cold. If your room checks out to be in the normal temperature range, it’s possible you have a similar medical issue.

    6. Rebecca

      I feel for you. The vent in my office doesn’t work, at all. My office mate and I suffer when it’s warm outside, and at least in the winter the people on both sides of us have working vents and use portable heaters, so it’s at least bearable for about 7 months out of the year. In the summer, it’s stuffy and gets up into the 80’s in the afternoon, and I just want to sleep!!

      (and yes, we told facilities, they insist it is in working order)

      1. kris

        I hate it when this happens. Why does management not realize that this is also a productivity problem? If I’m warming up my fingers, I’m not working.

    7. Sarah

      Buy space heaters for your office, and encourage coworkers to do the same! Hopefully they’ll take action when the power bill shoots up, but if not, at least you’ll stay a little warmer.

      I wouldn’t ask first because you’ll likely get a knee-jerk “no.” Just bring it in and apologize and profess your ignorance of a no-heater policy (then ask what else can be done about the temp in your office because it is intolerable) if confronted.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Anyone at your place having problems with joint pain, muscle pain, back aches? How about excessive absences?

      If I had to work in 60 degrees, I would not be able to do it. At least not for sitting work. Moving around is a bit better.

  12. Anon for This

    Need to go anonymous for this because of semi-identifying information…

    I’m feeling a bit worn out at work, and part of the reason is because my job’s social culture is starting to affect me. I work near one of my company’s offices and there are numerous remote employees. I’m close enough to travel in, but not close enough to go very often if that makes senses, so I miss out on some of these “morale events,” as they’re called. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been asked to work 2-3 times so other employees can go play flag football, go bar hopping with a departing supervisor and now go on a “booze cruise.” The flag football game was mandatory and too far away for me to make (it was for the main office, which is across the country), so because the people near that office had to play flag football, guess who got stuck working their shifts?

    In the last two weeks, one of my closest coworkers will have been permitted to leave early twice because he is attending social gatherings. The first was he got to work a half-day to go to bars with our team leader who was leaving the company (he told me the story later, so yes, it was drinking/clubbing), and now he gets to leave early this coming week to go on a “booze cruise.” My manager has of course called on me to help and when I declined, he started complaining he has no other options. We will also have two other team members on PTO the night of the cruise (it’s like a dinner cruise you can say) and my coworker asked if he could attend anyway. He basically said he knows we’re down people, but he’d like to go. My manager OK-ed this and is now moaning that he has no choice but to have me work, as there is also at least one person on my team who can never work evenings.

    I would like to add that I was not invited to the goodbye party for my ex-boss, and I didn’t find out about this coming week’s “morale event” until it was too late for me to make travel arrangements. So it’s not like I’m the past LW who was told about the event and chose not to go so I have to work.

    I’m starting to feel resentful that I’m working while others are ditching their shifts to have fun, and the constant shuffling of hours is on my nerves as it is. But I find that no matter who is in charge of scheduling, no one listens to my concerns.

    I’m job searching, but how can I manage in the meantime?

    1. Also anon for this

      Ugh, I know how you feel. I’m similarly unhappy and job searching. Just try to distance yourself from work emotionally and if you have time, take up a new hobby or volunteer job that you do enjoy. Or even find a very part-time second job so that if you have to quit without anything lined up, you won’t have a gap in your resume.

      1. Not Invited

        (Because changing my name to Anon apparently means moderation.)

        We can’t go over 40 hours a week in my current job because we’re salaried (even when we were hourly, overtime was discouraged unless absolutely necessary), so it doesn’t mean I’m working 50 hours a week or anything. The event on Wednesday does fall outside of the hours I’m supposed to work, but my manager said his hands are tied because the people attending the event have to work earlier in the day so they can go free of shift obligations, and the ones who aren’t going have to cover for them. So I get asked to come in early, work later when I have an earlier shift, etc. so these people can go to gatherings. It does make me insane because as it is, we have someone who is in the middle of a three-week vacation and another who just left for five days today, plus…someone who absolutely can’t work evenings so he can never start later. Furthermore, we are down a team member after Ex-Boss resigned, so we’re in a hiring process. No timeline as to when a new person might start.

        I might be getting a part-time job in the fall, though, so there’s that. I’m also job searching intently and have a phone interview on Tuesday.

        1. Colette

          OK, shifting your hours means it is impacting your life, so I think it’s fair to raise that – i.e. “I know that we look at these as one-off events, but I actually get asked to change my hours X times a month. Is there a way we can reduce that?”

        2. Unavailable

          Have you tried being unavailable during the times you’re asked to cover someone else’s shift? For example, if you’re asked to work late, telling them you have other plans.

          1. Not Invited

            I did, but that’s when it came in that my manager was complaining that his hands were tied, he had no other options etc. He said he has to schedule us so people who are going to events can work earlier in the day, and if I kept my shift, we wouldn’t have enough coverage for later on.

            I don’t think having two people out on PTO right now, plus dealing with the aftermath of one resignation, is helping. Although my manager tells me that he plans on giving me earlier hours on the next schedule change, so there’s that. I guess.

    2. MT

      Not being invited to the office events are some of the downsides of working remotely. If want to to join in, maybe you should see about not working remotely any more. I miss a lot of events not working at corporate, even though my group is based at corporate. There are perks that the people who dont work remotely dont get that you probably get to take advantage of.

      1. Not Invited

        I am saving money to relocate, mostly because I want better options in my career and my current city doesn’t have those. But I obviously can’t move until I have the right amount of money saved, especially since I’m not getting outside help (e.g. no relocation from company, no support from family members, etc.).

    3. Not So NewReader

      You could suggest that people be available to help more since there is a temporary problem with being short-handed. I fail to understand why you are the one who has to compensate. Everyone could take a turn filling in for someone who wants to go party.
      It’s not like people are taking care of an ill family member or something similar that is not optional or flexible.

      Or you could say “Please remember how helpful I have been. I will be taking a part time job in the near future and I will be needing similar understanding and accommodations.”

  13. a.n.o.n.

    As I said last week, the opportunity I thought I had was not meant to be. So now I’m trying to figure out just what the Hell I want to do as a next job. I guess the problem with being a former Jill-of-all Trades is that I don’t really have a clear direction to go; I can go several ways.

    I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something. I know right now I do not feel any ownership in anything I do. I’m not a decision-maker. I’m not responsible for any projects, just assignments that are given to me. I don’t head a department. No one reports to me. I’m not the one thinking, “Let’s try this. We need a system/policy/procedure/whatever like this.” I’m just a cog in the wheel. And I really miss the start-up environment.

    Another position may come up in my department and I thought about applying for it, but it’s still IN my department. It would fix some issues I mentioned above (responsibility, department head, projects), but I think the nature of the work is what is making me hesitate. And the culture here. Too formal for me. Formal meaning I can’t wear capris in the summer even though we’re not customer-facing, no option to work from home a couple times a month, and a straight 8-5 everyday.

    UGH this is so hard.

    Sorry if this sounds like a total cluster fudge.

    I’m looking around for another job, even though I’m in the midst of moving. I’m not in a big rush, just seeing what’s out there.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I am also a “jill” – a very new one. I mainly support 1 person but in amongst that I can also help support 2 other depts and do some web-based things too. I am the only “jill” – this what I’m finding hard. I guess the good thing is that there are lots of things that you’ve done and can sort of see which parts you liked doing the most/were best at? best of luck with the job hunting!

      1. a.n.o.n.

        I was the only “Jill” also. It was hard at times, but being the go-to person is what I thrived on, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

        One would think it would make things easier, but it was very hard for me to see which things I like and which I didn’t. The things I thought were a total pain in the ass turned out to be the things that kept me involved and counteracted the things I could do without. I have a somewhat clearer picture now, though.

        Good luck with your new role!

  14. Gwen Soul

    So my boss wants me to make a video of how “fun” our department is. Thing is our department is not fun. The job is great, the work rewarded and people nice; but we are not fun. This is in a large part due to his leadership. He is one of those who loves work and doesn’t understand that we all don’t get the same thrill out of presenting work to higher ups or going to networking events. He really doesn’t understand people who have lives outside of here. All of our social events feel so forced that people run as fast as possible, doesn’t help that he won’t let us do them during work hours and expects people to show up after work and pay for themselves. He is also the only manager in our organization of several hundred who doesn’t let his team leave early on holiday weekends (his thought is that we are salary so we can leave whenever, there is something nice about having your boss saying go home and relax though)

    Given all that he is still an awesome boss, I would say one of the best I have had. How do I tell him that this is not fun and a video that goes out trying to show that will come off really weird? Plus I have no experience or desire to do creative stuff like this, but will do so if needed.

    1. Sunflower

      Well what kind of ideas does he have for this video? My guess is if your department isn’t fun, I’m not sure what he thinks hes going to use in the video.

      Also, is this his attempt at making the department more fun? Especially if other departments are more like that. If he is looking for ideas, point him to other departments that do seem fun. Maybe he’ll pick up on some hints and bring them into your department.

      FWIW I am a creative person and this video seems miserable.

      1. Tina

        Who’s the target audience? Is it for recruiting purposes for potential job candidates? I’m trying to imagine what objective he’s trying to serve with a “fun” video.

      2. Cautionary tail

        I was the recipient of one of these videos and I absolutely loved it. My company had a contract with a company from another country and they made this video for us. It wasn’t to show how fun they were but was instead introduced them to us and put faces on the voices and emails that we had been working with for a few years. Perhaps that’s what your boss means even if it isn’t being said.

        The video started with an introduction from the CEO stating here is what we do and here is what we do for you. We have department X that does this…cut to each of the people in department X who said “Hi I’m Olaf and I’m in charge of warm hugs”, “Hi I’m Anna and I finish sandwiches.” Next cut back to the CEO who introduced the next department, etc. Finally the video ended with a group shot with everyone waving and saying “bye…” The whole video was only a few minutes and really helped.

    2. snapple

      Maybe instead of focusing on the “fun” aspects of this job, you should suggest the video focus on just the positive aspects of working there more generally. Personally, I don’t expect my job to be fun per se but I do expect it to be a positive environment.

      1. Gwen Soul

        This might be the best way to go. I think that we have a great workplace with interesting work, so that should be good enough.

      2. Sunflower

        I would second this. I dont know why companies are focused on making it seem like their company is fun. It seems like the majority of people want what you said- a positive, healthy environment but not ‘fun’, fun seems to be where employees get frustrated because they feel the need to participate in ‘fun’ activities that are anything but.

    3. Jess

      Why does he want to make the video? Is somebody else telling him to?

      You know what would be really fun? If people would just let forced “fun” and socializing in the workplace die.

      1. Gwen Soul

        All he told me was marketing and when I ask he says we do lots of fun stuff and I should just look around, all he names is a few pot lucks we have. Not sure what his end goal is, I expect it is to try and recruit internally, or make him look good to his boss. Every now and then he gets these ideas then drops them when work gets busy again, but I don’t want to ignore it thinking that will happen because for sure this will be the one time it doesn’t!

        1. MJH

          Can you just get some video of the potlucks, of people talking and laughing together, or anything else that might be considered fun? (Like a birthday celebration or shower for a team member)?

          Then pop it all together with transition words like “Supportive Environment”, “Hard-Working Team”, “Great Boss” etc. and find some peppy music to score the entire thing. It’s cheesy, but whatever. You did the assignment!

      2. Nikki T

        YES! I’ve noticed the BIG boss has started calling me anti-social. I’m not anti-social, socialize at home, with my friends….

      3. Dag Nabit

        To help us frame responses more clearly, is this the fun in fundamentalism or the fun in dysfunctional?

  15. BB

    I think this is work related but if not, feel free to let me know Allison! Anyone have tips for how to stay fit even though they sit at a desk all day. I always worked on my feet and started my desk job about a year ago. Just went to the doctor and I’m up 10 lbs. So I’m looking for ways to keep my metabolism going- working out during lunch is not an option. Any advice, websites/blogs would be appreciated!

    1. LMW

      Ah, the chronic problem of the desk job! I work out before or after work all the time, but I’m still facing the consequences of sitting at a desk all day. I hope someone has some good tips.

    2. Lily in NYC

      A few things: sit on a fitness ball instead of a chair if work allows it. Walk a few flights of stairs every day. Try to stand up more while working. Go into an empty office and do 50 squats twice a day. Get a pair of handweights to keep under your desk and use them if it’s not intrusive to your coworkers. Don’t eat the office candy! I sit right next to the location where everyone brings in food and it is the worst. Temptation everywhere. I’m so glad the coworker who was a semi-professional baker moved away.

    3. The Other Dawn

      My issue with the desk job is just too much sitting. It’s a killer on my back. I find I don’t get up nearly enough. And my chair sucks, but no room for something better in my cube.

      1. BB

        I would love a standing desk but my office is stuck in the old days- the company president makes men wear ties everyday(even though we are all non customer facing) because he thinks they work harder when they wear them so that’s probably not an option.

        The fitness ball would be a great option but the one thing holding me back is EVERYONE in the office would be talking about me and giving their opinions. I’m petite and I know everyone would be telling me ‘you’re crazy, you don’t need to lose weight!- I know I don’t need to lose weight but I’m a jitery person and would like to do something other than tap my foot all day. My doctor isn’t alarmed but she did say now that I am sitting at a desk all day, I need to be more watchful of my exercise- maybe I’ll get one and use doctors orders as an excuse?

        1. BRR

          Could you just tell people you wanted to counter sitting at a desk all day with some activity?

          Also Ikea had (possibly still has) a super cheaper (<$40) standing desk. It's basically a nightstand with a shelf for a keyboard.

        2. nep

          Who cares what people in the office think or say about your efforts to stay fit? Really — why would that make you hesitate to do things you want to do for your own well-being?
          The idea of a stability ball chair is a good one. A few other suggestions — There are those mini-steppers you can use while seated. Walk and stand as much as possible. Drink a lot of water throughout the day. And just doing muscle contractions while at your desk — abs, glutes, other — can be helpful.

        3. AnotherAlison

          Hadn’t really thought about this before, but my gym has some fitness disks (will post link in a follow-up comment). I wonder if it would be comfortable to sit on one of these, placed on top of your chair, as an alternative to a fitness ball? It wouldn’t be the attention-getter that a ball would be, although some people might wonder if it was for hemmoroids. Yikes!

            1. OhNo

              I recognize those from when I was in physical rehab. They are AMAZING for helping your balance and core strength (at least they were for me), even though it just looks like you’re sitting.

              Highly recommend them, if the full stability ball isn’t an option.

        4. Lily in NYC

          The first person who got one here worried about the comments as well. But what happened is that 10 other people got their own because they liked it so much after trying his out.

          1. BB

            Wow these are all really helpful options. I’m going to look into some fitness balls- it looks like they have ones that fit into a chair structure which might make me feel a little more comfortable. Thanks!

      2. Lily in NYC

        And it’s pretty easy to “make” one if your office won’t provide one. One of my coworker has his monitor and keyboard on top of a couple of stacked boxes to get them to the correct height.

        1. Mephyle

          This. My ‘standing desk’ is made of cardboard boxes, cookie tins and out-of-date reference books.
          It probably helps that I’m a freelancer working at home. If I had to make it look pretty, maybe I’d cover the boxes with some patterned sticky paper.

          1. Girasol

            +1 I started doing stand-up desk with boxes and office supplies from the scrap cabinet and later upgraded to a nice plastic bin from the office supply store. Of course, it’s easy for me since I have a laptop and not a 60 lb standard monitor, but even with heavy equipment, there must be a few stand-up tasks that could be moved to a stand-up work surface.
            I also brought in a medicine ball and invite others to play with it if they want. It gets used a lot. Nobody can laugh at me if they play with it too.

      1. 1EP

        I set my Outlook calendar every hour on the hour with the alert MOVE. There are days/times I can’t get away from what I’m doing, but quite often I can. I use this to get away even if it means making a quick loop around my general office area. I do this instead of taking 15 minute breaks in the morning and afternoon.

        1. This

          I do the same thing with Outlook. I have a few physical therapy exercises I need to do anyway, so I simply added stairs to that routine.

        2. ChiTown Lurker

          +1 I do the sane thing. I go and refresh my water bottle, stop by the printer, whatever it takes. It also gets me away from my computer screen which has basically eliminated my migraines.

    4. cuppa

      I used to do wall pushups in my office (no windows, door closed). I should start doing that again.

    5. Mallory

      Ooh! I’ve been using Flowkeeper (a free online Pomodoro app). It times 25-minute bursts of work with 5-minute breaks. During my 5-minute breaks, I get up and go out one door and walk briskly around the building to another door. We have about four ways to enter/exit from the first floor alone, and about four more ways to exit from the semi-basement level, so I sometimes incorporate an up- or down-stairs dash into the brisk walk. The goal is to be back before the 5-minute break is up.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          It’s amazing how refreshing and re-energizing just a short break can be, especially when you get away from your desk and get some sunshine and elevate the pulse a little bit.

    6. Natalie

      Walk! You don’t have to speedwalk or walk for hours and hours, just walk as much as possible as opposed to driving.

      When I got rid of my car a couple of years ago, I ended up losing all the post-college-first-office-job weight I had gained with minimal effort, and it’s been pretty easy to maintain. In fact, I go to the gym and bike less often because of unrelated schedule/lifestyle changes. I probably walk at least an hour every day, in a bunch of tiny chunks (5 blocks roundtrip to my grocery store, 3 blocks from bus stop to work, 4 blocks to my bank, etc).

      1. Rebecca

        Yes, walking is awesome! It is great to get away from your desk, clear your mind, and be outside for a bit!

    7. Laura

      I recently got a sit-stand desk as an ergonomic thing (they’re not very expensive, and the company was happy to provide) and it’s great. I can sit down when I need a break and stand up the rest of the time. I was surprised by how thrilled I am with it.

    8. Cautionary tail

      Use a headset and stand whenever you are on the phone. In addition to getting up off my behind, I find that I think more clearly when standing and when there are multiple people on the conference call all simultaneously talking I’ll take all the extra clarity I can get.

    9. LongTimeReader1124

      I ran into this problem when I started a desk job after serving for years. My solution was to get a pedometer. I try to get in 10,000 steps per day (including a pre-work gym trip). For me, being able to put a number to my activity rate really helped me move more. It turned into a competition with myself: could I beat the number of steps I took yesterday, can I reach my weekly goal, etc. I could also see if my number of steps was low and then compensate by, for example, getting up to speak with someone in person rather than talking on the phone or sending an email. It even motivates me to move more on weekends. I have lost over half of the weight I put on since I started working a desk job and the number is still going down.

      I recently upgraded to a FitBit One, which I wear clipped in my pocket or to my skirt every day. It lets you track steps, miles and more online or on your phone and I have found it to be fairly accurate. Of course, a pedometer in the $20-30 range is just as accurate and gets the job done.

    10. Elizabeth West

      I use my morning and afternoon breaks to do stair climbing. Three floors, six times, twice a day. I’ve lost some weight, but also now I can climb stairs like a boss. :)

      If you can’t work out at lunch, maybe there are some cubicle exercises you can do, or you can go on a quick walk around the building (indoors in bad weather) on your breaks. A lot of people here do that–they walk over to the nearby park and back.

      1. Mallory

        I’m on a college campus, and when the weather is mild, a few of us will go for 30-minute walks around campus. It’s pretty hot for walking at noon now, so one lunch break, I scoped out an indoor campus walking route. There are a few buildings that are end-to-end, so that a person can walk in the end of one building and then into another with only a sidewalk-crossing in between; I got in a 30-minute air-conditioned walk earlier this week with minimal outdoor time.

    11. Rebecca

      I looked for sources of calories that I didn’t really think about. One thing I identified pretty quickly was flavored coffee creamer. 35 calories per tablespoon, and I was just dumping it in, so there went an additional 200+ calories per day that I didn’t even realize I was consuming. Then there are the break room snacks – grabbing a cookie, brownie, whatever as you walk by, maybe several times per day, again, not even realizing. Add to that take out for lunch, etc. and hello weight gain!

      I hope this helps – it helped me. I’m stuck @ ~ 70 lbs lost, but I’m walking a lot more and while the scale isn’t going down very much, my clothes are looser and I feel better.

      1. OriginalEmma

        +1000 on trimming calories in drinks. I’ve started getting lattes because the coffee that dominates pretty much all the shops here is intolerable. My eyes bulged when I realized that, even without sugar, a 16oz latte made with whole milk is still north of 200 calories. So I’m switching to a 12oz with skim milk, still no sugar. I hope it helps.

        The other option, obviously, is to just make my own dang coffee at home with store-bought (Dunkin Donuts, which don’t exist up here) coffee, haha.

        1. Rebecca

          I make my own coffee @ home, and use fat free half and half, and at work we have one of those old fashioned Bunn coffee makers, and I take my own creamer or use the Mini Moos since they’re pre measured. It not only saves calories, but money too.

      2. Mallory

        Congratulations on the 70 lbs lost! I just started a program last week with the goal of losing 79 lbs. For cutting out beverage calories, I switched to soymilk (from half & half) in my coffee.

        And for the afternoons at work, when I used to rely on coffee with lots of cream and sugar as a pick-me-up/boredom-crusher, I’ve switched to drinking a cup of herbal tea. I’m trying to train myself to find that satisfying, and I think it’ll happen once I come to associate the herbal tea with my break-time.

  16. Sara

    Can I take a cake to an interview?

    lol…Now here’s the situation.
    I applied to a company and got a response on Wednesday. They offered me an interview slot for Thursday Friday or early next week.

    Thursday felt too soon to prepare properly for hte interview.
    Early next week, while I was free, I was hesitant to take that because I was afraid it may make me seem high maintenance (even though they offered it).
    Friday would have been perfect EXCEPT I’m going to a potluck dinner. My home, the interview site and the dinner site are all too far from each other for me to go back and forth. So…..for a brief moment I considered bringing the cake to the interview.

    What would you have done?

    1. Colette

      I would have taken the “early next week slot”. If Friday was the best option (and I was taking public transportation), I’d probably plan to pick something up on the way to the potluck instead of bringing it from home.

      1. Sara

        I would have except I had already bought the ingredients and I didn’t want it to go to waste

    2. Jamie

      I am assuming you don’t have a car so you’d be bringing the cake in with you? I wouldn’t.

      It totally understandable to not want to go home after, but human nature being what it is it will overshadow your professional interview and they could just remember you as the cake lady.

      1. Sara

        Well….they wouldn’t have known it was a cake unless I specified. It’d be in a box, covered up, in a shopping bag.

        Lol I’d never want to end up being the example of what NOT to do on this blog

        1. Jamie

          I was picturing a covered cake plate or a bakery box. :)

          Either way, the less cumbersome your stuff the better – you want to look totally focused on being there and not that it’s one thing on your schedule.

          And I am not saying it would be a deal breaker for me if people had stuff with them – I don’t personally care about that kind of thing – but I’m pretty oblivious – I’d err on the side of polished and minimal baggage.

          But now I want cake.

    3. Brett

      Can you drop the cake off at the potluck dinner location the day before, or drop it off with someone else going to the dinner to bring with them?

    4. Cath in Canada

      I have actually done this! I had an interview at very short notice, on the day I was bringing a cake in for the office potluck. There wasn’t time to go and drop it off at my office first and I take transit to work (well, I usually cycle, but not to an interview). What I did was get there a few minutes early and explain the situation to the receptionist, who was amused but agreed to hold onto the cake for me. I got the job, so clearly it wasn’t a deal-breaker for them, and no-one mentioned it at any point during the interview process or after I was hired.

      1. Kimmy Gibbler

        This is what I would have done. Years ago I interviewed for an “adult” job (after years of retail) and the day of the interview it snowed ridiculous amounts of snow. I was taking public transportation (busses AND trains!) which meant sloshing through snow and muck. I ended up having to wear my snowboots and carrying a bag with my dress shoes in it. My plan was to do a quick change and just carry the bag in. But boots, leggings, and the sweater I wore along with my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves made for a bulky and not quite so professional look. The receptionist took one look, said “give me those things!”, and held my belongings behind her desk for me. It was sweet. I didn’t get the job, but I think about that woman every winter when I’m dragging a wet coat off of my work outfit. :)

    5. BRR

      I wouldn’t. Can you get out of bringing something for the potluck dinner? I know it’s considered rude but you have a good excuse.

    6. JMegan

      I would have taken “early next week,” since they offered it. Why do you think it would make you seem high maintenance to accept something that they suggested? Even unemployed job seekers have lives and scheduling conflicts – I don’t think anyone at their end would have given it more thought than required to write your name in the calendar.

      (This is coming from a chronic overthinker – I know a kindred spirit when I see one!)

        1. Anx

          This is so me. I was trying to schedule an interview two weeks ago about 20 minutes before they started (I got an email the day before) and was prepared to get in the car all flustered.

          When they offered to meet a few hours later, I felt like I had done something wrong. I think it’s paranoia and being conditioned that early=good, late=bad. Plus if I feel like I’m being demanding.

      1. Mephyle

        lots of “+”
        It wouldn’t make you look high-maintenance to accept a slot that they offered unless it was a trick question, and there’s no reason to think it was. I mean if it was, then any straightforward thing could be a trick question. I don’t think so.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I would have told me that my own thinking was creating this whole problem by painting me into a corner with no options.
      Then I would have scheduled for Thursday or Monday.

      Stuff like this tends to exist no where but inside our heads, really.
      Sometimes the hardest times to be flexible is with our own notions of what we think is important and what actually is important.

      A good exercise to blow out some cobwebs in the brain- that is where it would have (eventually) landed for me.

  17. Diet Coke Addict

    What is the most unusual or offputting thing you’ve seen in a job ad?

    This week, I spotted “I do fast-paced pizza events in my backyard and need energetic Pizza Maker Artists,” which was weird, as well as a front-desk position that specified “References must be included with resume to be considered. References will be checked prior to interview,” which was also weird.

    What a treat job-searching in a rural area can be!

    1. Frustrated

      My husband is job hunting, and he saw a job described as an “entry-level internship”… that required 3 years of experience. Pay wasn’t posted in the ad but I’m sure it’s abysmal. Sigh.

      1. Felicia

        I’ve seen so many jobs that are called entry level that require 3-5 years experience. I guess there’s no such thing as a job for people with less than 3 years experience anymore.

        The worst job title I’ve ever seen said Marketing Ninja and Administrative Wizard. I mean ok, ask for a wizard or a ninja, but don’t try to find one person who is both!

        1. Lillie Lane

          Yeah, which uniform would you wear? Unless you wear the ninja suit under the robe and hat.

          1. Felicia

            Maybe it’s just a ninja who can do magic? Or a wizard who prefers throwing stars. At least they didn’t use the word rock star.

        2. Sabrina

          This is EXACTLY the problem I’m having right now. I’m trying to do a career change and can’t due to my lack of experience. And I fail to see how a 4 month unpaid internship or volunteering a couple of hours a week is going to magically give me 3+ years of experience.

          1. Felicia

            I d on’t get it either….I did 2 unpaid internships (each was 3 months, so a total of 6 months), and have been volunteering a few hours a week for over a year. Still not nearly enough. What are people with less t han 3 years experience supposed to do? When I do occasionally see jobs that require 1-2 years experience (never seen a job that requires less than a year), I’ll get an interview, but then the job ends up going to someone with 5 years experience. I think everyone is desperate and willing to take jobs that are a step down, and when you’re at the bottom there’s no where lower you can go. I also choose nothing but very competitve fields, or administrative jobs, which are also problematic. Here it’s very rare to see an admin assistant job that doesn’t require at least 3 years of experience. How do you ever be an administrative assistant then?

            1. Sabrina

              That I don’t know. I was an AA for 10 years, and didn’t need experience when I got it, but it was 1998 and times were MUCH different.

              1. Felicia

                I don’t like desperately want to be an administrative assistant, but I’ve considered that in a “hmm I might like that and be ok at it” type of way, so I’ve looked at job postings. And the vast majority of admin assistant postings say minimum 3 years experience as an admin assistant. Well I don’t have any experience as an AA specifically, though a lot of my roles have had similar roles. And it’s very competitive, the last interview I had for an AA position they said they got 200 applicants. There are unpaid internships for an AA, but I don’t want it THAT bad, and I doubt a 4 month internship would be enough. So I don’t know how anyone even becomes an AA now. I do think i’d be ok at it and somewhat like it, but the entry level job in that area has disappeared.

      2. Anx

        My favorite are the larger employers that have no postings for 0-2 years of experience.

        So apply to jobs I’m not fully qualified for because and I feel like I’m being unreasonable for trying to draw upon all of my somewhat-related experience.

        How bad is this to do? On the one hand, I think it shows a failure to read directions and an overinflated sense of importance. On the other hand, I have some other skills or experiences that aren’t listed and I haven’t seen any lower level opportunities instead.

    2. Jamie

      Ages ago someone was looking for an IT “rockstar” (red flag #1) for a “fun” environment (red flag #2) and needed various listed skills and “a love of ping pong.” (need I say it?) They detailed in the ad that they had both ping pong and pool tables in the office.

      Great for some – but I appreciated being warned off before I bothered with a cover letter.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        “Well, Ann, this candidate is super qualified, has everything we want, and they’re willing to work for this salary.”
        “But….”
        “What is it?”
        “She just doesn’t play ping pong! How can we work with a person who won’t participate in our daily ping pong tournament? I think we should go with this other candidate.”
        “What are you talking about? That candidate took one year of computer science before flunking out, has been working in a sewage treatment plant for eighteen years, and doesn’t have a single one of the skills we need, plus they want $150k a year.”
        “Yes, but he’s a rock star at ping pong!”

        1. Gene

          Nothing wrong with working at a sewage treatment plant. The science involved to make sure your s+++ doesn’t stink when it goes into your river is fairly extensive.

          Here are a couple of typical Grade 2 (just above entry level) certification questions:

          Determine the geometric mean on the following fecal coliform sample counts: 12, 640, 2300

          At an activated sludge wastewater treatment plant receiving 3.25 MGD, the final effluent suspended solids concentration averages 21.2 mg/L. What would the calculated MCRT value be when the aeration basin carries 2050 mg/L MLSS and wastes 0.0550 MGD. The waste activated sludge has a concentration of 7980 mg/L. The aeration tank has a volume of 1.00 MG and the secondary clarifier has an operational volume of 0.250 MG.

          How’d you do?

          1. Diet Coke Addict

            I am not denigrating sewage treatment workers, and I don’t think I’m above it, which I’m sure is what you’re implying, so thank you for that.

            It was exaggerated for the purposes of humour, but I apologize if I happen to have offended you.

            1. Gene

              You didn’t. :-)

              I am not now, nor have I ever been, a treatment plant operator; even though historically, it’s a fairly common way into my field. My office has always been located at a treatment plants; I’m a sewer cop. This field is why things like the Louisville sewer explosion in 1981 and the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire don’t happen anymore (mostly).

              Due to the “ick” factor, people tend to think it’s an easy field of work. Yeah, there are lots of jobs that are messy, stinky, could be done by a trained monkey, but there are also really technical parts. There are degrees in wastewater treatment and state certification of operators is pretty much universal.

              Heck, the former City Communication and Public Relations Director used to forbid any mention of sewers and treatment on any City publication other than a billing contact number because she thought it was “Nasty, and no one wants to think about it.” Her exact words at a meeting with Public Works staff.

              1. Jamie

                I am in Chicago – our sewer workers work hand in hand with the cops. There isn’t company with a sewer or construction contract that hasn’t run across the random body or parts thereof while working.

                j/k – but your job does sound really interesting. We have a department that has to test wash water for a process and every time I audit them I’m jealous that I don’t get beakers and goggles. I really am a secret wannabe scientist.

                1. Gene

                  Jamie, If you get out Seattle way LMK and I’ll take you out and show you some of the “sights”. Heck, at home contact the MWRD and ask to talk with the Lab Manager, then ask for a tour. Lab and treatment plant folks like to show off their stuff, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. Our tours are really popular with elementary students; we’ve had to suspend them because of construction.

    3. BB

      Start-ups job postings. I get what they’re doing but some of them turn me off- and I am the opposite of a stiff person. One description said they offered ‘Killer bennies’ aka benefits. I’m sure they found the type of person they’re looking for but sometimes I do a double take at some of the job descriptions

      1. Jamie

        I would have assumed free high quality pharmaceuticals were given as perks based on that ad.

      2. Biff

        I think that younger folks have figured out that job postings, either as much as or even more than interviews, can help to select candidates. They may make themselves look stupid to the wrong candidates, but the right candidate will zero in on it.

        Whatever makes it so the interview process is faster, easier and results in a better fit makes me happy.

      3. Befuddled Squirrel

        It’s code for “We want to hire white male recent college grads just like us.”

    4. Kelly L.

      When I was job searching last year, I found one ad that purported to be for an administrative assistant, which was exactly the kind of work I wanted. But as you read on, it became clear that the business owners pretty much had a cool idea and that was the extent of what they had done. The “administrative assistant” was going to do all the business planning and also all the day-to-day staffing of the shop. They didn’t want an admin, they wanted an accountant mixed with a cashier, janitor, etc. and then pay them peanuts.

      1. Sabrina

        Yeah I see this A LOT. Ten years of experience needed, fluent in 3 languages, able to read minds and talk with the dead, competitive pay at $8.50/hour!

        1. Kelly L.

          Haha! Well, at least psychic powers weren’t required for this one, though I do think rock stars were mentioned.

          1. Windchime

            Oh jeez, minimum wage is over $9/hour in Washington and even that is impossible to live on. I can’t imagine trying to get by on $7.50.

    5. evilintraining

      For an executive assistant at a high-level university here: “Must be available 24/7” basically to attend to whatever the unit’s CEO needs because he travels a lot and works in different time zones worldwide. I has applied but not gotten the job a year before that. It wasn’t in the ad when I applied, and they were looking for a replacement 11 months later. Glad I didn’t get it!

      1. Lily in NYC

        I would say more than 50% of EA ads (for the higher-level positions) say the same thing about 24/7 availability. No me gusta!

        1. Anon for this

          High level EA’s are a strange breed. I work with a few of them. They’re sort of like secret agents. They seem like very ordinary people, but a significant part of their job is to be trusted with highly sensitive, confidential information. Plus the 24/7 availability. I hope they’re well-paid.

    6. Various Assumed Names

      I can’t remember if it was an entry-level or an internship but it was at a fun-sounding startup in NYC doing something cool like viral marketing. Required: MBA from a top-tier business school. Pay: $10/hour.

    7. Leah

      I came across a real gem the other day. Nothing too funny, but they wanted an MA or 10 years experience for a PT job paying $9.50/hr. All I could think was…. seriously?!

    8. Bea W

      It was something along the lines of “Non-native English speakers need not apply.” (not exactly worded that way but you get the idea) for a position that was technical/sciency, required advanced education, and draws a lot of highly educated fluent English speaking foreign born applicants who are often either perm residents or naturalized US citizens. :-/

    9. Stephanie

      I applied for a job a couple years ago, standard assistant work. After the interview, my interviewer INSISTED on driving me back to the city. He’d made me wait an extra 15 minutes just to check if someone else was available to interview me (they weren’t).

      He spent the 45 minute drive on speaker phone with his wife, occasionally asking me to text various people for him. THEN he asked me to show up at his house the next day, a Saturday, to help his wife with some organizing in her kitchen.

      Now there’s a job that didn’t match the ad! It’s shown up an available every two months in the years since.

    10. Natalie

      Well respected anti-poverty non profit in my area… that only pays their receptionist $20K annually and $300/mo towards the cafeteria health plan. Bachelors degree required. (This was pre-ACA; no idea how the health insurance situation may have changed.) This is a high cost of living area, and $20K is the minimum for a living wage if you have no kids.

      Given their work, it was honestly offensive. I can’t imagine tossing your receptionist another five grand is going to kill the organization, but it sure as shit will make a difference to them.

    11. MT

      I read a job discription for a mining engineer intern. The candidate must be confortable sleeping in a tent. Which is how everyone slept. And must be able to grow a beard.

        1. MT

          it was there. and the pay was super super low. something like $20 a day. you got a lot of experience plus they housed and fed you and paid for you to get to camp.

        2. Anx

          I guess anyone who has hair on their face and doesn’t shave kind of has a beard.

          Mine is complete. Pretty unnoticeable unless I’m trying to put on makeup or the sun hits it at the right angle.

    12. AnotherAlison

      Haven’t seen anything “fun” like that, but I will say that I think I figured out where the Purple Unisquirrel job descriptions come from.

      I had to write a description for my replacement, only the position is being bumped up from individual contributor to manager, and even without that change, my role evolved a lot over six years.

      So, the description was a cobbled together mess of 3-4 other similar job postings I found online, plus what I think I actually do — kind of the kitchen sink of job descriptions. My boss, his boss, our HR person, and the internal recruiter all reviewed it, but no one pared it down, so that’s what got posted.

    13. Lily in NYC

      I saw one for an assistant and the guy wanted their work relationship to be like the movie “Secretary” (that was the one with the spanking).

      1. OhNo

        So… he wanted to hire a professional submissive to act as an admin assistant? I hope he was willing to pay the amount that pro subs usually make an hour, because that is some steep pricing for doing filing work.

    14. Mints

      I saw one that was a “personal assistant” and it included some regular assistant stuff like scheduling, and personal assistant stuff like pick up dry cleaning. It was for as founder of a nonprofit. But it got worse and worse
      It included traveling with her internationally, both vacations and for work, including short notice (like a day). Being available 24/7, and not just like, check email when you wake up, but “She might show up at your home at 6am for a jog.” I’m also fairly sure it included emotional support for when she felt like stress crying. (But I guess I’m glad they were honest)

      It was ridiculous. She wanted a paid best friend who couldn’t say no because she was also her employee

      The kicker? It paid peanuts. The salary was I think $1000 monthly. I remember thinking that it was less than minimum wage

      (This was like two years ago, when I was job hunting very desperately, and I don’t think I applied)

        1. Jamie

          I’ve seen people doing stuff like that for celebrities on reality shows. Now, that’s a job I could never do. The subservience some of them require. Even if my life depended on it I don’t think I’d be able to speak without dripping sarcasm.

          1. Mints

            Yeah I’ve watched a lot of trashy tv too, and I’ve seen this. I think that possibly, if one of my friends struck it rich, I could maybe do that for them, but I would still want to be paid a wage comparable to what I’d be making some where else. But I would have to really like them as a person first.

            But like, related to this posting, she was just the founder of a tiny nonprofit. She wasn’t famous by a long shot, and even if she was rich, the job didn’t pay like it. It was mind boggling

  18. the_scientist

    Found out today that I didn’t get the job I had a great interview for. Got the standard “we found someone with more experience” feedback.

    Awesome. Crying at my desk.

    1. Felicia

      That was me exactly on Monday. At least I could step outside before anyone saw me crying.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Read some of the awful boss letters here and pretend they’re about that workplace? Who knows, maybe the boss there tracks people’s bathroom breaks.

      1. the_scientist

        Ha! maybe. Unfortunately it’s a great, rapidly growing organization with excellent salary, benefits and room for growth….and by all accounts a wonderful place to work.

        1. Ali

          I’m sorry. I applied to get in with an apparently popular employer a few months ago and didn’t get the job. (It was at a local college.) I realized later maybe the job title wouldn’t have been best for me, but that I still want to work at the college. I do know someone from my yoga class who works there and she said everyone wants to get in there and people who do get jobs keep them for a long time. So even under a different job title, I might have had a problem anyway.

        2. Clinical Social Worker

          Aw. Focusing on that stuff will just prolong feeling bad. Cry it out and keep going!

          1. Carrie in Scotland

            I hope something equally amazing comes your way scientist and felicia, I’m positive that it will. And who knows, you might have made such a good impression that they’ll contact you with something that’s a good fit for you, when it pops up.

    3. Anonymous this time

      I feel your pain. I’ve been a finalist at three different places in the last three months–no offers (including from a former employer, where I spent a solid eight years and left on excellent terms). One of those was a decent, but not great, interview on my part. The other two went *swimmingly* I thought.

      My field is fairly small, and there’s nothing else out there right now that I can go after to take my mind off it, or feel like I’m moving forward.

      I’ve been attempting to throw myself into projects and new initiatives at work (I actually like many aspects of my current job; I need to move for family reasons), and that has helped some.

      I wish you better luck with the next opportunity!

      1. the_scientist

        Thank you!

        I’m in a similar boat- my field is fairly small and this would have been an incredible career boost for an early-career professional. What sucks the most is that the subtext of the rejection was that they found someone with more extensive “big data” experience than I have; that’s experience that’s hard to build when you don’t have access to data that you can practice on. And this is essentially an entry-level position despite the fact that it requires 3 years of experience. It is frustrating to be rejected due to not being the best fit while still being a good fit!

        I was also referred to as the program admin assistant by one of our project leads this week, which I am very much NOT and am still a bit upset about. It wasn’t meant to be a slight but it’s indicative of how people not at the main site view my role in the program and my abilities.

        1. Not So NewReader

          You had enough RIGHT that you got the interview. Have that good hard cry, then tell yourself “I had enough right to get in the door. I am almost there.”

          I am sorry- it so sucks.

  19. Brett

    On better news than what happened in our county exec debate…

    Code for America tabbed me to be a co-presenter for a national webinar on my industry to their government employee peer network! My volunteer work is going so much better than my job.

      1. Brett

        “Peace Corps for Geeks” and sponsored by lots of huge tech companies. Look up the Jen Pahlka TED talk for a good introduction.

  20. TC

    I quit my job because of the toxic environment and I did not have another job lined up. I know it was not the best thing but I am happier and my life has improved.

    I know not to talk about “why I quit” explicitly in interviews but do I mention quitting in my resume or cover letter? Do I wait to talk about in the interview?

    Thanks!

    1. Colette

      Leave it out of the cover letter and off the resume, but be prepared (with something other than “toxic environment”) to talk about it in the interview.

      1. Seal

        This. I did the same thing for the same reason 15 years ago and it was the best thing I’d ever done for myself. After a few months off I took a temp job and no one batted an eye about the gap on my resume. When I applied for a “real” job with my former employer but in a different department, I had a neutral but truthful answer ready when they asked why I left my former position. It WAS true that I left intending to pursue other opportunities and do some writing but ultimately I realized my future was in the profession I left, which was why I was interested in that particular job. I just left out the part where I came to that conclusion because it got me out of an extremely toxic work environment.

    2. Lisa

      I don’t think its a bad thing to say you left a toxic environment. Don’t go into details on your resume or cover letter, but if asked also don’t give too many details other than ‘it was not a place that I could continue to work in’, if others left too, mention that. ‘I was one of 4 on a 7 person team that left in a span of 2 months.’ Also, ‘everyone has one job that was that bad, this was mine and I decided it was best to leave and focus on finding a better fit’.

      1. Clinical Social Worker

        Follow up for this. I might be in a similar spot very soon. I am fine saying it was a poor fit, because that’s true. Regarding references, “I think that contacts from previous positions better reflect my work experience. I’d be happy to provide you with my written evaluation from my most recent job but I don’t think the conversation with the boss would reflect my typical experience/performance.” Is that okay?

      2. Colette

        I think if you say that, you’d want to be able to explain why it wasn’t a good fit and how you’ve changed what you’re looking for in a new job.

        1. Clinical Social Worker

          See this is where things get sticky for me. It would be hard to skirt the issue while also using specifics. How do I not air dirty laundry by saying that things like name calling, or stonewalling, are the biggest reasons the place wasn’t a good fit?

          1. Not So NewReader

            I did not feel I was the right person for that particular environment. (If they ask you to describe the environment, skirt that by talking about positives in previous jobs. “Well, I really cannot describe the nature of the environment, but I feel it is very important to get back to people when they ask me something. So, I consistently put effort into making sure I answer anyone who has requested something from me. This is an example of how I work.”

            OR

            I decided I wanted a more professional type of environment. This environment was very casual.

            OR

            I did not feel that I contributed as much as I could because processes were long and involved as numerous people held bits of necessary information.

      3. College Career Counselor

        I would still be prepared for a prospective employer to dig for specifics about your resignation. This happened to me some years ago, and I know for a fact that my statements about seeking new opportunities more in line with my professional goals and principles were NOT seen as appropriate deflections (so as not to trash a former employer), but instead were viewed as disingenuous and shady. I know this because the hiring manager called me up to tell me so (in retrospect, bullet dodged).

        I think the more matter-of-fact you can be, the better. Instead of “toxic environment” (which is a loaded term, even if it’s true) talk about the specifics of how it wasn’t a good fit. Or, “From my experience, the culture did not value XYZ (innovation, creativity, structure, whatever), which is important to me in a work environment.”

    3. TC

      Thanks everyone, good advice! I think I am going to keep it off my cover letter and resume. I will be prepared for the interview questions!

  21. Lisa

    I am feeling very isolated at work. I can go all day without talking to anyone except on IM to people that don’t work here. I only work with one other person, and do not share accounts with anyone else. Half the office works from home or is out for vacation this summer. I’ve tried talking on IM to those around me to initiate conversations, but the only person that this works on works from home 4 days of the week. I’ll send him a link, and we’ll start talking over cubes. I make sure to eat lunch with the group, but other than that I am still feeling alone after 3 months on this job. I have no real contact with anyone, but my director and he is always on calls or in meetings so it is very isolating. I love it though compared to my last job as the work is less and not as much stress, just very lonely. I feel like I am annoying people when I walk the 3 feet to their cubes as it is a very heads down company. They are all working and not socializing, but seem to have connections with each other because they share accts.

    1. snapple

      I’m sorry about this! I can relate to feeling isolated in a job but for a very different reason. I used to temp in an office with 5 other people and they all used to actively ignore me. Whenever I tried to get to know them or initiate conversation (work-related and otherwise) they would quickly shut me down. They also didn’t invite me to their holiday party which they very loudly discussed around me. So while it sucks being isolated, at least you have the benefit of knowing that it’s not because you’re working with jerks.

      Perhaps you could ask people about their jobs? Usually work-related conversations can lead to personal conversations and you can get to know them better?

      1. Lisa

        I’m trying, but I still feel left out. I’ve asked to be on accounts with other people when new clients come on, but I may be waiting a few more months.

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          I sympathize with this. My office mate and manager work together and have a good relationship but they don’t talk very much to me because I do something different to them and there isn’t much, if any overlap. Sometimes I don’t say very much more than hello and goodbye and maybe something funny that’s happened in the news….

          1. Lisa

            Exactly! Just hard cause it seems like people have known each other for years, but some have been here for only a few months more than me. It all boils down to who works together on stuff. I am slated for a new client, but it may be another one that I work on alone.

            1. Carrie in Scotland

              the thing is, is that I’d say I’m a solitary sort of person. I live with my cat in my flat (no roommate/lodger). I don’t have that many friends. I volunteer in a shop at the weekend. One of the plus points of my last job was the amount of people that were going around and be social with. I need to have some proper chat because it seems to be detrimental to my mental health otherwise (I was a solo worker at another previous job for 3 shifts a week, which was the main reason I left it).

              1. Lisa

                I joined a small gym (6 women at a time with a trainer), and it helps having people to chat with. I am too isolated at work, so I needed to up my stuff outside of work.

    2. Laura2

      I had a job like this. There were about 4 people total in the office and no one talked. It was one of the reasons I left after a little more than a year (and why I started seriously job-searching about 6 months into the job).

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I hate to say it, but start searching.

        I am more introvert than extrovert but a work place like this would drive me nuts. I’m not a machine, I am a person, jeepers. Working alone like that would make me start feeling like just another gear in the big machine.

  22. sapphire

    Fellow readers,

    Do any of you have advice on where/how to find genuine, legitimate employment working from home? I’ve been doing office work for the last 30 years, but my health is taking a rapid dive, and as the family’s major breadwinner, I can’t afford to be out of work for even a couple of weeks.

    I’ve done a bunch of research on my own, but it’s hard to tell what’s scammy and what’s not. I’m hoping a few of you have experience in this area, and can share some advice.

    I have experience in transcription, but not legal or medical, and only about six months worth. I’ve also got tons of experience editing and technical writing.

    Any and all advice welcomed. :)

    1. Lily in NYC

      I recently met someone who works from home doing hotel reservations for one of the big travel websites. I think a lot of travel-related places offer work-from-home options. I just have no clue how to find them, sorry.

    2. Sabrina

      wahjobleads.com is legit for listings, but be prepared to not make a lot of money. You might have better luck searching Indeed or something for jobs that happen to be virtual or remote rather than “work from home” jobs.

    3. Elizabeth

      At least in my area, the medical transcription places will train you on the medical terms — more important is attention to detail and experience with transcription. I know a couple people who have been very successful at it. Again for my area, the best way to find a job in medical transcription is to know someone who works there — maybe you can start asking people you know if they know anyone who is in medical transcription?

      1. nate

        Read some job boards on medical transcription- it’s not a growing field and requires training. Electronic medical records is taking over.

      2. Liane

        You might try transcription editing but you will need familiarity with the terminology of the field. The hours, like med transcription can be unusual. Before I got a FT in-office position, I worked several hours starting early in the morning 7 days/week. The friend who got me the job told me several of the other at-home editors worked late at night.

    4. Pip

      Researchers doing interview-based research, like sociologists, anthropologists and linguists, need quite a lot of transcription done. Likewise, translation/language service companies farm out a fair bit of transcription work to freelancers.
      Also, if you are a swift typist, you could look into speech-to-text interpreting over the phone for people hard of hearing.

    5. just laura

      Flex jobs dot com and mom corps dot com post WAH jobs. Also try odesk or elance for freelance gigs. What kind of expertise do you have?

    6. StudentA

      I believe QVC hires folks to take orders/calls from home. Not a bad name to have on your resume, but not sure if that’s of interest to you.

    7. WFM

      Try Rev for transcription. You have to take test but they get back to you pretty quickly. It doesn’t pay great but it does pay. I used http://www.wahm.com/ to find some valid jobs. Also take a look at the Xerox site, they offer legitimate work from home jobs.

    8. I AM ME

      You can check out flexjobs dot com – many of the jobs have telecommute options, and they’re with legit companies (IBM, Xerox, Dell, United HealthCare, ADP, etc.) Or just check out the websites of those companies themselves.

  23. Frustrated

    Just need to rant a bit.

    My husband was fired from his job last month and told it was because his performance wasn’t up to their expectations (he’d been there 5 months and had never had anything but positive feedback up until that day).

    Come to find out that one of his former co-workers, hired around the same time he was, was also fired the same day. Same scenario — was told he wasn’t meeting expectations but had never had negative feedback. My husband and the former co-worker touched based on LinkedIn and compared stories – turns out the conversations with the VP each had were pretty much verbatim.

    It’s also interesting that a new worker was hired about two weeks before they were both let go, and the new worker’s salary was much lower (a PATHETIC amount for a software engineer — less than $40k). And there were rumors that the company was in financial trouble due to losing a big contract before he was fired. So we figure he was fired because they found a guy who’d work cheaper.

    Still ticks me off that they told him that it was because he didn’t meet expectations. That’s a huge blow to his ego and he’s really struggling with self-worth now.

    1. AndersonDarling

      That is supper crummy… Although it won’t mean much now, but he may have dodged a bullet. If they treat employees like that, then he is probably better off somewhere else. I hope something else turns up!

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      I bet they were trying to avoid unemployment costs by telling him he was at fault. He should file for unemployment. If they contest, he can fight it – they’ll either back off, or a lot of this info will come to light. They will have to provide documentation that he was warned about his performance. I know that unemployment doesn’t replace all the salary, but at least its something.

      1. Frustrated

        He did file, the same day he was fired. We’re still waiting to hear if he’ll receive benefits (his application was submitted nearly a month ago).

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          Good. Also glad to hear that you got WIC. I don’t know what it’s like for you, but it’s sometimes hard for people to accept these benefits – but you’ve been paying for them all along!

          At least in some states there are new rules that require employers to respond to UE claims, or face some sort of penalty or disadvantage. In any case, if they don’t respond, that makes it even more likely that he’ll get benefits.

          I’m sure it sounds unappealing when you’ve lost an income, but it’s often not all that expensive to get a lawyer to help you at unemployment hearings if you end up needing one.

          1. Frustrated

            He just texted me to let me know that his unemployment clai m was approved. OldJob never responded. Whew. It’s not much but it’s something.

            Our WIC/food stamps application is still in limbo, though. The state workers didn’t bother to mark all of our materials as received, even though they were, so our claim was denied and apparently it takes moving heaven and earth to get it re-opened. They said they would have it fixed by Wednesday but I’m not holding my breath.

    3. Brett

      Layoffs disguised as a fake termination. My guess is they are planning to fight any unemployment claims too?

      1. Frustrated

        No, it’s not. It’s a nation-wide company but not huge and not well-known.

        We did apply for WIC now that we’re on one income, and as part of that they needed to contact my husband’s employers from the past year. Well, last January he quit his tech support company for a Giant Corporation (rhymes with “Mapple”) to take this job. And when our state’s UE dept contacted GiantCorp to get verification that he was not a current employee, they refused! Apparently they “don’t give out that information” for any reason. My husband finally persuaded them to fax something over to the UE dept, but they’ve faxed it twice already and there’s no record it was received. I hate bureaucracy.

    4. StudentA

      I am so sorry that happened to you both. I would absolutely fight for unemployment. Also, it might not be too late to negotiate a severance package, unless he signed an agreement when they let him go. Maybe consider letting on that he knows what really happened, mention how long he’s been working there and that he deserves a bit more severance, and just say that after a few days of thinking about it, he realizes he should have asked for more.

      I’d start reaching out to the company’s competition pronto. (So for example, if your husband worked at a hospital, reach out to the other major hospitals in your city). Message the company’s in-house recruiters on LinkedIn. For all you know, they may be itching for someone from your husband’s former company. Some companies like to play musical chairs with their competition’s employees. [shrugs…]

    5. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, I was thinking that he did not meet expectations because he couldn’t help save this company from going under. They expected Superman.
      I am so sorry this happened to you guys.

  24. Lucy

    I just had a great interview, but had to decline moving forward because of salary. Their highest was $20K less than what I would even consider. Disappointing, but I hope something comes up with the organization in the future! Onward…

    1. Elizabeth West

      Ugh! That happened to me when I was looking. The salary was such that once I paid all my bills, I would have had about $14 left over for the month. NOT.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      this is why I post tight salary ranges with all job postings…it just wastes everyone’s time.

  25. Cath in Canada

    I’m feeling sad because it’s my work best friend’s last day. I was in full denial about it until we went for a drink after work together last night; there’s an official goodbye lunch and then a full team outing after work tonight, and I’m sure I’m going to cry at one or both events. I also very recently found out that one of my other favourite members of my team won’t be coming back from parental leave – she got another job.

    I’ll still see the first person a lot – we worked together once before (I left first that time, so she says that she’s just getting revenge on me), and we still went for lunches and coffees and drinks and other events in the years before we started working together again. And we see each other on weekends and evenings now, as well as in the office. But I fear that the second person is going to be one of those work friends who you never see again after you stop working together – she lives quite a long way away and has two young kids. Working in a pretty specialised field, whose local network is small and tight-knit, I keep re-encountering people I worked with years ago, so hopefully our paths will cross again at some point in the future. And I do still have other colleagues I consider friends, and who I see outside of work.

    Just part of working life, I guess. But not one I’ve ever got used to, and definitely not one I like.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I deliberately contact former coworkers for lunches on a regular basis, about once a month. Sometimes they can’t make it, and that’s ok. But it’s a way to keep in touch, for people I consider friends, not just former coworkers.

      You might ask her if she’d be interested in something like that, meeting in some location that isn’t too far for either of you, perhaps where she can bring her kids.

  26. AndersonDarling

    I have a question to any HR folks. Is there discrimination against online degrees? I’m not talking about the “accredited today, not tomorrow, then accredited again next week” kind of online degrees.

    I’m in a great program now and my friends hate that I am able to get a degree online. They took years and spent $$,$$$ to get an equivalent degree, and I’m going to be done in half the time and I’ll spend a fraction of the cost. My program is accredited out the wazoo, but my peers are bent on the idea that I’m going to a “paper mill” for my degree because I’m not spending the big bucks and waiting so long. –Of course I have been working ion my field for 5 years, which is why I can get through the program so quickly.

    I’m worried that HR reps will have the same bias. Any opinions?

    1. Lily in NYC

      Yes, I think there is a bit of a bias against online degrees. Many people just don’t realize there’s a difference between Univ. of Phoenix and legit degrees. But I also think it’s changing for the better since it’s becoming more and more common.

      1. Natalie

        I think the bias is against the specific schools, not the type of degree. The University of Minnesota offers online degrees, but I don’t think there’s an asterisk on your transcript or anything – a hiring manager wouldn’t even know it was distance learning.

      2. Anx

        Do you think there’s a difference between the reputation of state schools’ online programs and entirely online programs? Or programs that are hybrid?

        1. fposte

          Yes. Not always rightly, but yes. There’s also the difference, as noted elsewhere, that people looking at your resume won’t know it was an online program if it was from a school that has a brick and mortar base, so that minimizes any reputational issues as well.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      It depends. There are definitely hiring managers/HR people who don’t view online degrees as the same. There are also hiring managers/HR people who themselves have online degrees. Overall, I’d say there is some disadvantage – but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a great job.

    3. fposte

      It’s not about the accreditation–that’s pretty easy to get–it’s about the rep in the field. Is it a for-profit or a non-profit? Have people heard of it in a good way? Does it have a brick and mortar program as well?

      1. AndersonDarling

        This one is a non-profit… which was a big selling point for me. The college is all online and has been around for a rather long time, but it is just now getting to be main stream.

        I’m not planning on changing jobs with my degree, but I was offered a promotion then had it rescinded because the offering manager didn’t realize that I didn’t have a degree. Awkward. I don’t want to be in that situation again.

        1. fposte

          While I’m still sticking to “it depends,” if we’re talking a situation where you got a degree from a decent online nonprofit to get a box ticked when you’re already established in your career, I don’t think it’s as significant than if you’re competing with recent graduates from brick and mortar schools for entry level work. Is your education still at the top of your resume or has it moved to the bottom now?

          1. AndersonDarling

            Oh yeah, education is way at the bottom.

            I have enough experience to carry me through a job search, but I know I could get hung up by the robo-screeners if I don’t have a degree.

            It’s actually kind of funny. I need a degree so I can get through the army of robots.

    4. SnowWhite

      I hope not… my HR degree will be an online degree

      To be honest, I think as long as you have it and the experience to back it up I don’t really look at which college/uni applicants

    5. Ann O'Nemity

      I’m sorry to say this but there is a bias against online degrees. I’m not speaking anecdotally; there have been several studies showing that employers view candidates with online degrees less favorably. There is a perception that online courses / degrees are less rigorous and that students who pursue online degrees are less skilled socially. That said, as online classes and online degrees become more common, they are gaining more respect from employers.

    6. Mimmy

      If it’s from a reputable brick-and-mortar school, I don’t think it’ll be an issue. At least….I sure hope it’s not! I’m about to start a Graduate Certificate program that I’ll be taking online, but also offers on-site classes.

    7. Meredith

      Do people with degrees earned online actually explicitly point it out, though? I earned my Master’s partly online through a world-class state university with an excellent. I could have done the whole thing online if I had wanted. I just say “MA in Blahblahblah, University of Whatever” and the year earned on my degree. I usually do not say “earned online.” However, I do work in online education, so I will specifically point it out sometimes if I think my online coursework experience will be viewed as an asset. My view is that if you have an online degree through a respected and accredited institution, you’re fine. If it’s through one of the more fly-by-night colleges, maybe you’d run into trouble.

    8. Artemesia

      I worked in an academic environment at one point and we would not consider people with on -line degrees. But for professional degrees which are skill oriented, you might have less of an issue especially paired with practice in those fields.

  27. Janet

    I have a question about taking notes in meetings. In the past month, this has come up a few times at work. In sitaution number one, a female co-worker with 20 years of experience was in a meeting and an older man said “Tonya can take notes” – nominating her to do it. She and the older man are pretty much at the same level in hierarchy so there’s no reason why he should be recommending that she take meeting notes.

    Then I was asked to help out with a focus group. I have 15 years of experience in my industry. I’ve led focus groups and assumed that it was because of these reasons that I was being asked to help out. I have discovered that it was not because of any of that. I’m just to take notes and type them up afterwards.

    I feel like this is that sort of gender bias semi-sexism that pops up all the time. How on earth do I get out of this? We have assistants in our office – this seems like something they’d be obligated to do.

    I have to admit for me, my pride is probably more affected than anything. People in the industry that I’ve worked with previously will be attending this focus group and I am a little embarrassed to be seen just sitting in a corner and typing up notes.

    1. Lily in NYC

      If these people are all at the same level, I don’t understand why you just don’t say something. I guess I’m mouthy because I would say “hey, how come you always expect a woman to take notes? I think it’s your turn”.

        1. Lily in NYC

          That makes sense. I am a naughty person and would just go to the drugstore and buy a finger splint and wear it on the day of the meeting.

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      I know someone who deliberately took lousy notes so she wouldn’t be asked to do it again. I’m not sure if I would recommend this approach, but I always found it funny.

      1. CoffeeLover

        Haha comes from the advice: never be good at something you don’t want to do. It’s hard to put into action when you’re in a junior role, but with 15 years of experience under your belt, I feel like you could get away with it ;).

    3. JMegan

      I would recommend a written schedule for note-taking. If you don’t have regular meetings, you could do it by month or by quarter – Jane takes notes for all the meetings this month, then Wakeen next month, and so on through the rotation and back up to Jane.

      It won’t remove the bias 100%, but at least it will be clear who is taking notes – if it’s someone other than an assistant, it’s because it’s their turn in the rotation, and nothing more.

      1. Bonnie

        I am on several committees that do notes this way. We often rotate meetings to each members office with the host of the next meeting taking the notes for the current meeting.

    4. Various Assumed Names

      I’d talk to whoever invited you to the meeting and ask if we can have one of the admins join to take notes so you can participate in the meeting next time. If he says he doesn’t want your participation, you can say that your time might be better served completing your other assignments and it would be a better use of resources to have an admin take notes. If he thinks the admin can’t handle the technical level of the notes, it sounds like they need to hire an admin who can.

      Side note: I have gone to meetings as a participant and then afterwards been asked to type up my notes to send to the group. I had no idea I was supposed to be taking notes, other than for my own purposes. Just another thing I won’t miss about this job.

    5. Student

      Just tell the VP that taking meeting minutes would be best handled by someone at a lower level than you, and make some specific suggestion about who could serve this function. You have lots of other obligations and can’t attend meetings just to take minutes, and you can’t give appropriate attention to the issues being discussed if you’re busy writing up notes the whole time.

    6. MaryMary

      We’re battling over this in my office. Traditionally, we’ve been terrible about documenting what happened at meetings. One of the new best practices I’ve created is documenting meeting notes. All of our higher level staff are men, and all of the medium to lower level staff are women, and I’ve gotten some pushback that the men assume the women will take notes.

      My response is that 1) it’s a shared responsibility, no one role is permanently responsible for taking notes, 2) have a conversation before you go out to the meeting to determine who is taking notes, and 3) in general, whoever is talking the least should take notes, because it’s difficult to talk and write at the same time.

      It’s still the women who generally end up taking notes. I’ve inwardly cringed a little bit when we have a meeting and one of the very smart, very talented women I work with spend the entire time writing notes.

    7. Artemesia

      This was one that I took seriously from the beginning of my career; I refused to be in that role and used whatever excuse worked at the time. When I was well established, I would occasionally volunteer to take notes when I thought it would be politically useful i.e. the person who takes the notes shapes what happened at the meeting.

      A peer male assigning me to the job due to my boobs — uhuh — I would have flipped that right back on him.

      1. Saucy Minx

        Back in 1976, I was visiting my sister in Germany, where she was the librarian for an Air Force base. The guys who ran the equal opportunities office tapped me to be in a workshop that was meant to encourage awareness; I had no standing on the base, but they really needed more females in these workshops & I was willing.

        At one point we broke up into groups of four to do some brainstorming, & my group included a four-star general, who seemed really irritated to be there. As we sat at our table, one of the facilitators came by w/ a pencil & pad for note-taking purposes & put it somewhat between the general & the man on his left. The general picked up the pencil & pad & handed them to the man on his right. The man on his right handed the pencil & pad to me. With a friendly smile I handed the pencil & pad on to the last fellow, who didn’t dare to hand it back to the general — & I believe he had figured out not to hand it back to me.

        I like to think that I did my small bit that day towards consciousness raising for those three men, but I am guessing the general was unmoved.

  28. Xay

    I am in the middle of the interview process (4 interviews and counting) but I also have a preplanned week long vacation coming up in a week where I will have very limited access to email and cell phone coverage. Should I contact the hiring manager and let them know I will be out of town or would that be presumptuous? I searched the archives, but I didn’t see anything that quite fit my situation.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      yes – just don’t do it in a presumptuous way. For example, if you haven’t been contacted for an interview next week, don’t send an e-mail that says, “I wanted to let you know my availability for interviews” – just let them know that you are still very interested, but will be out of cell-range for a week, wanted to let them know, and will be fully available again on x date.

  29. Nota

    Naive question alert. I just verbally accepted my first offer outside of academia last week. So what now? I have confirmed with HR my start date (I had to contact them even though I thought I had agreed on the start date with my future manager), but there still hasn’t been anything for me to sign. There will be a contract at some point before I start, right? I’ve asked the HR recruiter (did not meet her at interview) whether there will be a form for me to sign confirming that I have accepted the offer, etc.. Her response was for me to follow the instruction in the offer package (basically talk to their security department to get access) but didn’t answer my question! I don’t want to give notice to my current employer until a contract is signed. Do I need to wait some time for this to magically appear? For all my academic jobs, I’m given the contract within a couple of days of my acceptance. What’s the timeline for the private sector?

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      if you’re in at at-will employment state, it’s unlikely you will have a contract, per se – but it is normal to expect an offer in writing. Is this a small business?

      1. Nota

        No, this place employs 500-1000 people. The offer was in writing and there was verbal agreement. But I still would like some sort of written agreement signed by people. Am I too type-A over this?

        I’m also bristling at the lack of a response to my question. Now I’m afraid to send another email to ask because I don’t want to be THAT person before I even start!

        What is an at-will employment state? My current employment is also at-will, but I have a contract.

        1. AVP

          It’s no longer standard in the private sector to have contracts that people sign. I would guess she didn’t answer your question because she’s not used to it and was thrown off. As long as you have a written offer and an agreed-upon start date, I think you’re good to give notice.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

            yes – I think you’re asking for something outside of their normal process. If you have an offer in writing, then I think you’re quite safe. it might not make a good impression if they take your request to mean that you feel that their hiring process is somehow lacking. Give your notice and get ready to start your new job!

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

          In a (perhaps over-) simplified way, it means that your employer is free to end your employment at any time and for any reason (as long as it’s not for an illegal reason – like discrimination based on a protected class). It’s sort of the opposite of the way things work with (some) unions and contracts. However, there are things employers can do that can potentially undermine their right to end your employment whenever – like giving you an employment agreement with a time-period on it or spelling out that there are only certain reasons you could be fired. This is part of why “employment contracts” are not used much anymore by some companies. If the company you are going to work for is that big, they surely have a lawyer who has given them advice about not undermining the at-will status of employees (so as to avoid being sued when they let someone go), and their hiring process likely takes that advice into account. I am not a lawyer – just deal with HR stuff as part of my job.

    2. Tina

      Maybe they don’t bother with signed letters? I know people who have gotten email offers and just emailed an acceptance, or even just verbally accepted, with no signed letter.

      1. Nota

        But after the acceptance, surely there’s something indicating the agreement? Or a contract?

        1. Sabrina

          Are you in the US? Contracts are not very common except for a few fields. In 20 years of working I’ve never had a contract.

        2. Marcy

          I’ve never had an employment contract in any of my jobs. What do you think the contract will achieve that the offer letter hasn’t? If you’re trying to lock down the company…well, that’s the reason most companies do not do employment contracts except for very high level positions. They are free to terminate your employment at any time, or change your salary or the conditions of your work.

        3. Mallorie, the recruiter

          I can’t speak for everyone – but I think most public sector offers are just in writing, nothing that is physically signed. Maybe this is different from what you are used to. I work for a VERY large company, our new hires do not sign anything until the first day and its the tax paperwork.

    3. BRR

      Places typically send you a written offer after accepting a verbal offer. It is not a contract. The offer will also typically spell out benefits in addition to your compensation. A golden rule of this site, you need a written offer with a starting date. Do not give notice until you have one.

      1. Nota

        I do have a written offer with the salary and benefits, but it was given before my acceptance and does not have my start date. Is that it? Is that sufficient for me to go on to give notice? I was expecting something more formal after my verbal acceptance. My friends in the private sector (different companies and states) have all signed agreements.

        1. De Minimis

          For my last private sector job I did have a formal offer letter.

          My current job did not give me one until after I started, it was added to my file. I was given a “firm offer” over the phone after a tentative offer a month before [also done over the phone.]

        2. AVP

          But you also said above that HR and your future manager confirmed your start date…even if those confirmations are in two separate places, you do have the golden AAM rule in place.

    4. Nota

      Thanks for all the replies! This is just something out of the norm for the world I’ve known, so I’m glad there are others on AAM to provide a different perspective. Now I just need to wrap up all the work for my current job and then will let myself relax and be excited.

  30. Holly

    Not so much a question as something that happened that kind of blew my mind.

    Earlier this week, HR came up to me and asked if the purse sitting on top of my desk was mine. I said it was, and the HR Manager leaned in super close and said that I should tuck it away, because when it’s out in the open like that it “will tempt others to steal it.” I asked her if we were employing any thieves and she just walked away.

    So needless to say, either she’s very paranoid or I’m surrounded by pick-pockets.

    1. fposte

      The exchange sounds weird, but I wouldn’t leave my purse on top of my desk either. Was this just a momentary thing, or do you leave it there when you go to the bathroom, etc.?

      And yes, probably your company is employing thieves. Most are, because opportunistic theft is pretty common.

      1. Holly

        I have it there when I’m at my desk, and shuffle it under my desk when I go to the bathroom and such.

        If HR has an idea that specific people are stealing, I’d just think they’d address it with those people and possibly, if caught, terminate their employment than just vaguely warn others that they’re surrounded by people with grabby hands.

        1. Lily in NYC

          My office refused to fire someone who was taking purses into the bathroom, emptying them of cash and credit cards, and then she’d throw the purse away in the bathroom garbage can. She was caught on video entering multiple times with a different purse and then leaving without it. They wouldn’t fire her! The 6 women she stole from banded together and made a huge stink about it and said they would all quit and file a police report unless they got rid of her. They finally fired her after that; it was ridiculous.

          1. Adam V

            That’s amazing. It makes you wonder what that HR department thought their job was.

            (And honestly, I’d have filed the police report anyway.)

          2. SherryD

            That is crazy! I’ve always heard that theft is one of the easiest, no-fuss reasons to fire someone. Although, technically, the theft wasn’t from the employer. But still!

        2. fposte

          You’re always surrounded by people with grabby hands. That’s humanity. I wouldn’t feel the need to have a specific theft event to consider theft a possibility, because it’s always possible when you have humans together.

        3. Natalie

          It doesn’t necessarily have to be your co-workers. We have dozens of tenants, and at least once a year we get a report of someone’s purse or computer being stolen by a person who just walked into the office and pretended they belonged there. It’s typically low-risk/high-reward, so it’s a popular type of theft in business districts.

    2. GrumpyBoss

      I’ve had things stolen out of my desk during my career. And it is always something stupid. Most recently, someone helped themselves to a bottle of wine a client gave me for Christmas. It was a crappy bottle (< $10), and I'm a bit of a wine snob, so I had put it in my coat closet to regift. Someone went in there and took it, ignoring a very expensive Burberry coat I had left there all winter, as well as 2 extra Mac Powerbooks. If you're going to commit larceny in the workplace, wouldn't you want to make it count for something?

      Sometimes people suck.

      1. De Minimis

        We had someone steal a Nativity diorama one Christmas! Bad too because it had been borrowed from a co-worker. It’s been nearly two years since and feelings are still hurt over it….think it was an inside job.

        1. Lily in NYC

          Look on the bright side, stealing the Baby Jesus has to be really bad for one’s karma

          1. C Average

            Lily, you are killing me today. This is the second comment of yours that has made me come thisclose to spitting coffee all over my keyboard. Keep up the fine work.

    3. Jamie

      One day I noticed people kept asking if I was leaving early and I didn’t know why – until I saw I’d left my purse on top of my desk.

      But if you work in an open area I’d caution about leaving a purse out as well – people steal. Although reading AAM for a while you should lock up lunch as well.

      1. Anx

        I can’t think of any place I’ve ever worked where I could secure my belongings. Where would you put it if not a communal storage area or your work space?

    4. Lily in NYC

      That doesn’t seem weird to me at all! There was probably a theft in the office and HR tends to keep those quiet (at least ours does – someone stole my iphone off my desk and HR wouldn’t let me send out an email warning my coworkers). So I have taken to warning coworkers when I see they’ve left money out or if their purse is very noticeable. The person who stole my iphone was a coworker; you’d be surprised how often it happens.

    5. AndersonDarling

      I was pretty casual about having my stuff out… but my earbuds were stolen this week. I don’t like it, but I’m hiding everything away now.

      1. Tina

        We got an email this week reminding us to lock our doors when we’re not in there – a laptop was stolen out of someone’s bag in another office in our building. It’s a good reminder, and not the first time. I work in a University and there are many people in and out of the office suite. Several years ago, there were multiple thefts in my other office, so I make a habit of reminding my coworkers to put their purses somewhere less obvious and closing their doors.

    6. Sunflower

      Once my boss had to grab something off my desk after I left and noticed I had not logged out of my computer. He sent me a text saying to make sure to always do it because you can trust no one. I normally do log out but my office has about 10 people and it was just strange.

      Also all our company credit card numbers are written on a piece of paper on my desk that no one seems to be worried about anyone seeing….

    7. cuppa

      My old company made us go to a one-hour seminar once because someone was stealing purses at the office. These things do happen.

        1. cuppa

          Yeah. The thing was, there were e-mails, but I guess no one paid attention so the thefts kept happening. It was about ten years and four jobs ago, but IIRC, it was tied in to a whole personal safety thing with a police officer, etc. Otherwise, I have no idea what we talked about for an hour other than, “lock up your purses, don’t just hide them.”

    8. Stephanie

      Ugh, this sounds so awful! When I first started my current job, I used to tuck my purse in a drawer. All the other women in the office leave them out in the open on extra chairs in their offices.

      I bought a much larger purse over the winter which doesn’t fit in the drawer, so now it just sits on my desk. At most, people just comment on how pretty it is!

      And I honestly never blink at leaving my cell phone and ipod out when I go to the bathroom. Heck, I think I even leave them out when leaving the building for lunch!

      Clearly, when transitioning into a different work place, these will be habits I have to change.

    9. Chinook

      DH, a small town cop, says he is always amazed at how many women leave their purses wide open on their desk. He has been called in may times to offices where wallets have been stolen and often it is not by colleagues but by someone off the street who just walks like he belongs, does a circuit of the office, grabs a wallet and then leaves. Unless you are in secure building, it can happen.

      1. cuppa

        Also, please do not leave these things in your car in the wide open. And lock your car. I work with the public and it amazes me how many people leave stuff in their car.

        1. Jamie

          Yes – or phone and ipad or laptop on front seat of car so when someone smashes the windows to take it the person in accounting dealing with insurance claim for the windows and the person in IT dealing with replacements for the gear have lunch to talk about how irresponsible you are.

          Not that this has ever happened to me.

          Twice.

      1. Lore

        We don’t have drawers big enough to hold a purse in our maddeningly designed cubicles (or, to be fair, there are two half-size file drawers so a purse will take up a substantial percentage of the entire storage space). And the “coat lockers” are narrower than the width of anything but a small bag (they don’t fit winter coats). Under the desk is really the only option unless you take everything with you to every meeting…

    10. Bonnie

      We had someone get off the elevator, go to the end of the elevator lobby where the receptionist could not see her, steal a painting off the wall and get back on the elevator. She waved at the security guard on the way out of the building.

      The danger to your purse depends upon how often people are allowed into your office area. I also worked in a high rise where workmen coming from outside the building were allowed to roam the building and personal items did come up missing.

    11. Cassie

      I work at a university and one of the first things I was told as a student worker was to put my backpack in a drawer so no one would steal it. I sit in a cubicle and put my purse in a drawer but don’t usually lock the drawer unless I’m going to be away from my desk for a while. I do usually just leave my cellphone on my desk during the day and it’s basically unattended if I go to the copy room or the restroom – but there’s not a ton of foot traffic around my cubicle so I think it’s okay.

      I have one coworker who sits in an office and she leaves her purse on her desk. The other coworkers (the female ones that notice these kinds of things) think she does it so people will see her designer duds. I think it’s a little risky because it would be easy for a student to snatch it if/when she leaves her office to make copies or whatever.

    12. Not So NewReader

      I think that is just good general advice for any work place.

      I am not saying be paranoid, but nothing replaces that old “ounce of prevention”. Once that wallet is gone, it’s gone. And then you have days of calling banks, credit card companies,etc. If you carry your Social Security card that is another huge hurdle.

      HR may know something or not. Perhaps she had an incident years ago. Who knows. Still good general advice, though.

    13. Artemesia

      Of course they employ thieves; everyone does. A colleague of mine had her purse stolen by a staff person while she was working in her office. They had some excuse to go into her file cabinet and took her purse.

      Clients, students, employees from other departments, cleaning staff — there is always someone and the purse sitting out is a sitting duck.

    1. NylaW

      I wanted to comment on it that the picture looks like something you’d see in one of those long hallways leading to the CEO’s office that shows all the great company presidents and CEOs of the past.

        1. Jamie

          Seriously? That would make me significantly more flexible during negotiations – since working for someone with a sense of humor and an adorable CEO like that would ensure that the job wouldn’t be a CATastrophe.

          I know – go ahead and groan – it’s Friday!

    2. Brett

      It looks like a professional stock photo that took hours and a half dozen toys to pose. Or like a painting of the cat of some long ago noble.

    3. danr

      Of course… it comes naturally to ginger cats. Ours is very dignified when in his ‘sphinx’ position, with paws crossed.

    4. LiteralGirl

      Do you know that there is a book named Downton Tabbey? I got it for some friends of mine who have three cats and they sent me a picture of one of them reading to the cats, who were all on the bed, listening.

    5. Not So NewReader

      That is a terrific shot. I would definitely frame it and get it on a wall somewhere.

  31. NylaW

    So my husband’s boss’s new plan to boost morale in his department is to have the department team lead/supervisor, let’s call her B, schedule a “fun” activity once a month. His examples of “fun” activities are things that either involve him paying for lunch to be brought in and giving everyone an extended lunch break, or are activities for things outside of work that no one really finds fun once they are forced to do it with coworkers.

    Of course the primary reason for the low morale in this department is the boss.

    Of course he’s oblivious to this.

    1. danr

      At least he’s paying for lunch and offering an extended lunch time. He could be asking everyone to chip in and eat at their desks.

      1. NylaW

        They don’t have desks. He works in a hospital in a clinical department. They have a table in the back of their department where people sit while they are eating. Basically his boss wants everyone to take lunch together as if that will make them become friends and therefore have higher morale.

        1. Colette

          That doesn’t sound awful. I mean, he’s not duct-taping people to the chairs or refusing to let them take a lunch break if they don’t eat the food he brings, right? It’s not a bad approach if you think people getting to know each other a bit better will improve morale.

          1. fposte

            Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that one so much, but the “activities for things outside of work” is another kettle o’ fish.

              1. fposte

                Oh, that’s cunning–I like that. “It’s so wonderful that we can use time WE’RE ALREADY HERE to get to know one another better–thanks for making that happen, Annoying Boss!”

    2. C Average

      Our boss is a fan of “fun” activities and asked us for suggestions for morale-building activities we’d like to do as a group a few weeks ago.

      Our top pick was to rent a dunk tank, with our boss as the dunking target.

      There was nervous laughter. There were vague promises to look into that. There have not been subsequent discussions of morale-building activities or requests for “fun” suggestions.

      Just sayin’.

  32. Masters Degree Searcher

    I applied to more jobs, took your AskaManager advice on specifically tailoring cover letters. (I have 17 versions now). I survived a video interview for a Fortune 500 company, and the phone interview is Monday (after they previously rescheduled because the recruiter was sick). Is rescheduling a phone screen a bad sign?

    Also, 2 jobs I was referred to via fed gov–no interviews. At all. I called one, and they haven’t made a decision either way/no news even by e-mail(?) Is this normal?

    Also, I’m hearing crickets. No jobs yet. Parents pressuring me to move home. Masters, law degree, Ivy league degree. I kind of hate my life right now.

    1. Brett

      We have to reschedule phone interviews all the time. Key people get sick, other meetings pop up, etc. It is not a bad sign for your prospects. If it happens repeatedly, it says something, though, about your potential employer.

      Fed jobs can take months to get back to you with any contact. The process is brutal for both candidates and the people doing the hiring.

      1. BRR

        We are having issues scheduling during the summer in general. My director just finally made the call that not everybody will interview all of the candidates.

    2. Clinical Social Worker

      Job searches are so hard. Really, I feel for you.

      Fed jobs take forever. It is very common for you not to hear for months.

      1. De Minimis

        Yeah, I’m waiting on a fed job for an agency where I currently work, and it seems just as bad. I was supposed to hear something by the end of this week, but I don’t think it’s happening today. I’m also trying to prepare myself for what to do if it ends up not happening, because I know I’m going to be really depressed about it.

        Of course, being more on the inside I have an even better idea how slow the process can be….you have all these people often in different locations involved in bringing one person on board. Where I work now we’ve had sudden vacancies that needed to be filled ASAP that still took a couple of months even though we moved as fast as we could.

  33. Katie the Fed

    I just need to whine for a minute.

    I have a boss who only ever tells me when I’ve screwed something up, or forgotten to do something. I can get 99.99% of everything done on time and done well, and he’ll harp on the 0.01% where I couldn’t get to something or failed to read his mind and anticipate that I should have been doing something.

    It’s so demoralizing. I’m such a perfectionist at heart and I work SO hard, and I am so sick of only hearing about the problems or the stuff I’m not doing quite right.

    We just had an argument where I called him out on something he was on my case about. He said I get too defensive (I do) but I said it’s frustrating that he never acknowledges how much I go the extra mile on things.

    Sigh.

    1. GrumpyBoss

      Sorry :( I know this sucks.

      As a boss, I REALLY struggle with positive feedback. When I hear it leaving my mouth, it just sounds so insincere. I know some of my employees need it more than others, so I have to make a valiant effort to provide it. However, it just doesn’t come natural to me, and I bet your boss is the same.

      For what it is worth, I struggle with receiving positive feedback as well. I feel embarrassed by it sometimes. I wonder if there is a connection there.

      1. Katie the Fed

        It doesn’t even have to be positive. He could just ACKNOWLEDGE things.

        Argh.

        I’m tired and cranky.

        1. College Career Counselor

          A (slightly) more charitable way to look at his behavior is that he’s satisfied–or assumes–that 99.99% of everything you do is going well/smoothly/outside of his notice. He may view it as his job to discuss the .01%. How torqued up is he about the .01%? If not so much, try to let it go as best you can (hard to do, I know). If he is worked up about it, perhaps there’s a way to show that his reaction (to the .01%) is disproportionate?

          But, yeah, he should acknowledge what you do well. It is demoralizing not to get any recognition other than negative.

      2. Tomato Frog

        The thing is, positive feedback isn’t just about making people feel good — it helps people do their jobs better. I’ve had instances where I stopped doing something a certain way at work, only to later hear from my boss that I should resume doing it that way because my boss had liked it. Um, maybe you should’ve told me so when I was doing it? Positive feedback, just like criticism, is a way to make sure we’re all on the same page and I’m delivering the product you want, rather than just a product you’ll tolerate.

      3. Anx

        I struggle with accepting compliments AND I start to feel directionless in the absence of any positive feedback. One thing that really helps me, on the receiving end, is just getting an indication that I’m on the right track, or having some goals and parameters outlined.

        I also struggled with giving out positive feedback to my committee members in the past. One thing that helped was that when I’d address the .01% problem, I’d be sure to acknowledge that the work is usually good or that this one thing was out of sync with the rest.

    2. The IT Manager

      Ha! That’s one of my problems with my demanding customer. I only speak with him when things are bad. Not that I think I need coddling, but I am starting to cringe everytime I have a meeting with him because I don’t expect it to be positive.

      ^^ learned behavior.

    3. Ali

      I have the same issue with my boss! I have gotten good reviews my last two cycles, and yet as soon as I make one typo, I get an e-mail about it from one manager in which he CCs the other! Even though I’m an editor and get that I need to catch typos, it’s like…I left one extra letter somewhere and you feel the need to CC the other boss? Come on…

      I try not to get defensive at work, but I feel taken advantage of for other reasons and it’s very hard to explain this to my boss. It’s like he pretends he’s listening and understands but won’t change anything. Argh!

    4. Alex

      I hear ya. My company sets the goals to unattainable measurements, with the thought that people will try harder and do better than if they’d set the goals at an attainable level. As a result, 95% never reach our goals, which is extremely demoralizing to people like me who take their assignements at face value and feel like a failure when I can’t accomplish them. Also, my immediate boss’s style is to be the “good cop” so he is always laying on the praise, deserved or not – but then my boss’s boss is the “bad cop” and just rips into us. It’s confusing and I hate it.

    5. Various Assumed Names

      My boss is the same way. In the 3 years I’ve worked here, I think I’ve gotten under 5 “thank you”s. But God forbid she lets one mistake slide. I more often get thanks and appreciation from managers in other departments when our groups occasionally work together. It feels so foreign, I don’t even know how to react.

      I’ve come to dread every meeting with my boss and try to hide my mistakes from her (not good for the organization). She requires that I cc her on every email and occasionally she will call me immediately after I’ve sent it and say “we don’t say X. we say Y.” to correct my phrasing to make it seem like our department knows everything.

      The defensiveness thing is a balance though. I am not defensive at all. I’m very good at saying “Okay, I’ll change it.” and not explaining my thought process, making excuses, or shifting blame (even when it’s somebody else’s fault). I think this is the reason I’ve lasted so long here (this place has constant turnover) but eventually I wonder if it makes me seem stupid from her perspective, since I have so many unexplained “mistakes”. C’est la vie.

      Finally, after 2 years of job searching, I have accepted a new position and my last day is next week. Finally.

    6. Ann O'Nemity

      That sounds like my boss. Even huge successes are met with demands to do it better/faster/bigger next time.

      Two things help me. The first is having a thick skin and knowing that my boss is overly critical. That’s his problem and I try not to let it be my problem.

      The second thing that helps is finding another source of positivity. One of my co-workers and I have gotten into the habit of being each other’s “cheerleader” for lack of better word. We cheer each other on, compliment each other’s successes, and celebrate the big wins together. Because lord knows the boss does none of this.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        The other thing I’m working on is trying to be positive for the rest of the team as well. We have a couple new employees who hate my boss’s constant critiques and I really don’t want us to lose them.

    7. nep

      You know you’re going the extra mile on things. That he doesn’t acknowledge it does not take that away.
      He sounds like he’s got some issues or some kind of complex. Someone who points out a negligible bit that didn’t get done rather than act satisfied with what is done has issues. Don’t make it your problem. Perhaps easier said than done, but really you do yourself a favour to shift your perspective on this.

    8. B

      I have been in this exact situation for the last few months and just gave my notice yesterday. The rest of my team is awesome (although one left a few weeks ago and one is leaving today), but that doesn’t make everything okay when your boss acts like this. Do other people comment on it? The rest of my team has been telling me leave because I am being mistreated and other colleagues have commented on her behavior towards me. That’s when you know you need to go.

      I’d start looking into switching departments or jobs.

    9. Bonnie

      I remember working with a senior leader in a company years ago and stating that the staff would like to hear more positive feedback. He said, “You mean we have to praise them for doing their jobs correctly?” I said yes.

      Feedback on mistakes is easy because they have to get corrected. Positive feedback is not strictly necessary so is harder to get in the habit of doing.

      I tell my staff if you aren’t sure, ask. Did I do a good a job? Were you satisfied with my performance on that engagement? Fishing for compliments takes some of the fun out of it but it does help your boss remember what value you bring to the process.

    10. C Average

      I try to send a “good job” email out at least once a week. Sometimes it’s to a peer who’s gone out of the way to collaborate effectively. Sometimes it’s a member of my team who did a really great job on a presentation. Sometimes it’s someone I used to work closely with, and I just tell them I miss working with them because they were always so great at X, Y, or Z. Sometimes it’s to my manager to thank her for advocating for our team or to tell her why her leadership has made a huge difference to our work environment. I never say anything that’s not 100% sincere, and it’s never more than a line or two. People really seem to like these.

      (I stole the idea from a woman who did it for me. She sent me an email I still have. I retrieve it and re-read it when I’m feeling unappreciated.)

    11. Not So NewReader

      “Boss, do you feel that I go the extra mile? Do you see where I am contributing?”

      Of course you’re defensive. If all you ever hear is what you have done wrong, any human being would sink at this point. Just human nature.

      “Boss, is there a particular reason why we never talk about the parts I get right?”

      I had bosses that believed that saying thank you was a show of weakness. A boss should never, ever, ever say thank you for any reason, because you don’t show weakness.

      I think opening the discussion in a calm moment might be insightful for the both of you.

      Once in a while, a thank you from a boss is just enough to push me to go one more mile on a project/task. Bosses have no clue how powerful those two little words are.

      1. Not So NewReader

        * A thank you is just a simple example of how a boss can acknowledge extra effort or a good job.
        Not sure if my tie in was clear there.

  34. Paloma Pigeon

    So I’ve been the mix waiting on a manager-level position with a national nonprofit since April. I’ve had 4 interviews with people ranging from the SVP of development to the direct hiring manager (last, since they were hiring that position too) and met the current team. They have extremely high fundraising goals that frankly they have not moved the needle on at all, and they have reposted the job. I’ve moved on and I haven’t, mostly since I really like the hiring manager and I think we could work very well together, and I am very jazzed about the cause. They were hiring two managers in addition to the director, and the other hire came from a staffing agency that was working there while the search was going on.

    I guess my question is what is the thought process that goes on when companies project one message of urgency “we need someone ASAP” – “It’s crucial that we raise XX by December” – and then don’t hire the team to do the work for months! Is it an HR lag? Shifting priorities? I’m sure it’s a combination of the above, but it sure doesn’t make them look like a well oiled machine from the candidate’s perspective. First the job was going to start in May, then June, then July….

    When companies hire staff from agencies to fill in gaps, does that sometimes lead to a lull in hiring momentum? Anyone have experience with this?

    1. BRR

      I’m in development and it can mean a number of things. I’ve seen HR lag by not seeing the urgency which is terribly annoying for fundraising goals. I’ve also seen it as a toxic department. Just because of my personal experience I would proceed with caution.

      1. Paloma Pigeon

        Do you mean a toxic HR department or the department with the opening? I am being cautious, but I don’t know what else I can possibly do to probe the situation. I guess if I have an offer I’ll try to get some more clarity on why the process took so long – because it would directly relate to what the departmental objectives are and whether there has been an adjustment since staffing has taken 3x as long as anticipated.

    2. CoffeeLover

      I’ll add my vote for shifting priorities. Maybe they set goal X, but some unexpected, relatively catastrophic event requires their full attention. It can really slow down the hiring process if no one has time to hire.

  35. GrumpyBoss

    I’ve vented here before about my talented but dramatic employee who is more trouble than he is worth. I have a boss that only pays attention to the good, and has not been supportive of my attempts to place him on a PIP or separate him from the organization.

    I had a major breakthrough this week. My boss finally witnessed his bad behavior first hand and there are cracks in the veneer. The bad employee was rolling his eyes and opened up his laptop to work during my staff meeting that the boss was sitting in on. I had chosen to ignore it, because really, it’s pretty minor in the laundry list of disrespect he shows towards me and his peers on a daily basis. After fighting with him on this for a few months, I now choose not to make a scene and let him disrupt my meeting anymore than he has. But my boss saw it and was absolutely outraged. Called bad employee out, told him to sit up straight, and to close the laptop. Then the boss told me later he is beginning to question the value of this employee. YES!!!!!!

    Is it wrong that instead of feeling vindicated (which I do), I feel annoyed that it was something relatively minor that my boss finally noticed? I really want him to see the threats of quitting when things don’t go his way, his inability to accept accountability for issues, and the conflict he starts with his peers.

    Oh well. I should be happy that things look to be turning around in my favor.

    1. Lily in NYC

      I would be more annoyed that he only seems to get it now because he witnessed it himself. As if your word wasn’t enough. That’s what would bug me. But it’s pretty awesome that boss yelled at the dude in front of everyone!

    2. Clinical Social Worker

      I think you’re doing a good job reminding yourself that this will be a good thing as hopefully it means you can oust the crummy employee.

      But I would feel similarly annoyed. Like Lily pointed out, your word wasn’t enough? I’m sure you’ve described his bad behavior before, why didn’t that set off alarms?

      Do you suspect that this has anything to do with the boss thinking “I can’t believe he’d do it in front of me! The nerve!” And so it’s more about him?

      1. GrumpyBoss

        Oh, it’s totally about him. But I’m so war weary from dealing with this employee at this point that I don’t want to read too much into the situation.

        But trust me, I want to shout, “DID YOU THINK I WAS MAKING IT UP?!?!?!”

        1. Various Assumed Names

          Agree with Lily and CSW. It would annoy me more that he had to witness it himself. I guess that’s how some people are? But if he trusts you to manage people than he should trust your word when an employee is a problem.

          Also, this sounds like super obnoxious behavior and I know it seems small to you because of everything else, but if I witnessed something like that having never witnessed the worse stuff, I would be completely shocked by the outright disrespect.

          1. GrumpyBoss

            This guy’s laundry list of obnoxious behavior is long:
            – Really dismissive body language;
            – Sarcasm in all communications;
            – Openly letting people know who he feels is his equal or not, just in case you didn’t know he was disrespecting you with the eye rolling and whatnot;
            – Calls his peers his “subordinates”, because even though he doesn’t have management authority over them, he wants them all to know just how much more important he is
            – Ignoring direction if it is not a project that interests him (You asked me to do this, but I did this instead! Aren’t I great?)
            – Absolute refusal to accept any feedback. A simple adjusting comment like, “Next time, instead of saying ‘abc’, try saying ‘xyz’. This will help achieve blah blah blah” results in the most over the top hysterical reactions from him. “NO! MY WAY WORKS! IT IS YOUR FAULT!!!!!”
            – If you think the feedback reaction is ridiculous, you should see how he behaves when there is a time where you are taking a stronger corrective action. He accepts no accountability, and will instantly start blaming someone else. My favorite excuse was when I was telling him that using the “F” word in an email was offensive to his coworker, he first rationalized why the “F” word was acceptable, then blew his top and decided that it was *my* fault that he used the “F” word in an exchange with his coworker because I had been “negative towards [him]” – I was most likely giving simple feedback like above :)
            – And of course, the behavior I just cannot abide, the threats and ultimatums. “If you don’t fire X, I just don’t think I can keep working here anymore”
            – And shouldn’t shock anyone since he has no sense of ownership and accountability, but he just LOVES to be a victim. He will run and tell anyone who will listen about just how unfair he is being treated by me, the company, his peers, etc. What’s really obnoxious about this is he actually believes that he is in the right with this behavior.

            This guy is so insane. But his actual work is top notch – the best on the team by far. So people who are a layer removed from him are shocked when I share – they only see the output and not the flawed personal interactions. He’s a brilliant ass kisser and knows how to be complementary and suck up to me, my boss, etc. As long as we aren’t trying to correct any of his behaviors, that is….

            1. Colette

              “If you don’t fire X, I just don’t think I can keep working here anymore”

              This one sounds the easiest to me. “I’m sorry to hear that. When will your last day be?”

              (But he sounds like a pain.)

              1. GrumpyBoss

                Yup, I struggled with this… came here on an open Friday a few weeks ago with it. The problem is he always does it verbally, not in writing. Add in the fact that my boss has put a very high value on wanting to make sure he is retained….

                I did tell him this week that the next time he mentions wanting to leave, I will bring HR onto the phone so he can communicate his last date. We’ll see if this knocks it off.

                1. Celeste

                  I like this idea a lot. I share others’ frustration that only now is your boss seeing it. You know as well as I do that this guy is not the only person who can do this job well. I hope you are in the market for a new person very soon. Somehow.

            2. Various Assumed Names

              That sounds so crazy and frustrating. No wonder you are grumpy. It also made me think – maybe that is how my director got to be director. She is so incompetent and crazy, but she’s a great charmer and schmoozer. All the more reason to stop this guy now before he gets actual subordinates (btw wtf? how does one actually have the gall to call peers subordinates?)

            3. Elizabeth West

              He sounds like this friend I used to have who was a complete sociopath. Manipulative, nothing was ever his fault, charmed the socks off people and then took major advantage of them, etc. We got along great because he didn’t fool me for a second and he knew it. That, and he had the best dog in the world and the dog LOVED me.

            4. C Average

              He sounds like a passive-aggressive little twerp. I hope these developments will lead to him being made to understand that this kind of behavior has consequences. People who act like this make the workplace unpleasant for everyone.

        2. Clinical Social Worker

          Yeah…I’d be very frustrated/annoyed. Sounds like you’re aware of it and won’t let it affect your job, which is good. But it’s annoying nonetheless.

        3. AVP

          I had a terrible direct report once, who our owner LOVED and would not fire even though she was the worst in every way. Eventually she had to work on a project with my two bosses (including the owner) and they were floored about how frustrating it was to work with her, how little was getting done, the total obstructionism that greeted every piece of their project. Finally I asked exactly that – “Did you think I made this all up?!?!”

          The answer was actually kind of illuminating. My direct boss said no, he had believed me, but they had also asked her about our issues and she told them that I had had it in for her since before she started, so they were waiting to see how it played out. And since her tasks were relatively minor in terms of the company’s operations, they were able to let them slide until a certain point when the problems became overwhelming, waiting to see who was exaggerating.

          I have to say the lack of trust did a lot to ruin my morale that year. And she got fired when it became incredibly apparent to my boss that she was popping unprescribed painkillers and Adderall in the office all day, which explained a lot about her performance issues.

          1. GrumpyBoss

            Ugh, I’m sorry you had to go through what I’m going through now.

            I just cannot wrap my head around why a grown adult feels that it is acceptable to behave this way, and in the workplace, no less!

  36. MARK

    Age Impostering at Work.

    Not sure if this is 100% work related, but since it happens at work….

    Has anyone else ever experienced a coworker who never tells their age but insinuates they are OLDER than they are? It is getting rediculous with one of my coworkers. We are only 4 years apart but they keep acting like there is a generation gap. He once insinuated we’d be retiring at different times so the economy would be different, and he told someone who is 15 years older than him once (19 years older than me) “yeah, you know we are basically the same age”…..even though he is much closer to me than that other person.

    What gives?

    1. Anon

      Weird. So you know his actual age but no one else does? Are you sure you got the correct info? Maybe he really is older.

      1. MARK

        I have the real # from a couple of spreadsheets + from meeting a mutual colleaugue of said person who knew them since college….

        1. Anon

          Oh, interesting! I would stay out of it and just be quietly amused. Who knows what his motivations are, but age is really no one’s business.

    2. Clinical Social Worker

      Most people don’t respect younger folks. I deal with a lot of agism. He likely does this to appear superior/more intelligent/more status worthy, I assume anyway.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        This. I did it a lot when I was younger. I look much younger than I am, and I was promoted to management very early in my career. I found people just didn’t respect me when they felt I was a child. I started to pad my age by 5 years as a defense mechanism.

        Sometimes we do things in the workplace that don’t make a lot of sense.

        1. Jamie

          I knew a guy who did this – because he thought he looked so young no one took him seriously. Truth is I thought he was older than his fake age which he padded by 5 – he didn’t look that young.

          People didn’t take him seriously because he as a lousy manager.

          But I’ve also known people in your position and it sucks that some are like that. Early in my career I worked with one of the most polished and professional 22 year olds – who had crazy technical skills and commanded a ton of respect so it always surprises me when I hear about this being an issue, but it was for her with some people.

          1. MARK

            FYI we are mid-3os so this isn’t about being really really young. Even without us lying about age, people still think we have 10-15 years of experience. Well sometimes people think I only have 6 or 7 because I look young, but they still respect me, so I have no issue….

            1. Jamie

              I hate when people base treatment on that – it’s about the work and the individual.

              Worked with someone once who used to talk to someone else about how they would understand when they were older, and kept bringing up age as if this made him more qualified or knowledgeable. The person he was speaking to was less than 2 years younger and had more experience in the field.

              Some people are so obsessed with putting people into boxes based on age. Personally unless you’re buying liquor it’s not the primary thing.

              1. MARK

                This happens to me to. It is so awkward because I don’t want to remind said person of the difference in person (and here is a good point to admit that the difference is actually less than 4 years, I just wrote that for some anonymity). So the difference really isn’t big, in your mid 30s.

          2. Laura

            I would have been 23 or 24 when this happened: I was the lead technical person at our client’s go live. They had a database problem, and I was not a DBA – I was there to work on the software. Their in-house DBA was not able to solve it, and I would have had to wake up our DBA to assist (because we were on the east coast, and she was not, and it was early).

            So I stopped, thought about it, came up with a scheme that fixed it (and, it turns out, may have been one of the two most efficient ways I could have done it), and got the thing back on track.

            That evening, I was trying not to fall asleep over my food at the celebration dinner for the successful go-live when their DBA told me that he was really impressed by my handling of it, “…I thought you were maybe 18, until I saw you do that.”

            Uh. Thanks. Sort of. Only mostly not.

              1. Laura

                I’m pretty sure he did! And I responded with a thanks, if a weak one; no point in any other reaction, and anyway, most of my energy was directed toward *eating* my protein instead of *wearing* it. (Celebratory dinners are a better idea if the go live did not start around 3 am local…and I had traveled from the west coast, so I was three time zones out of phase the wrong way for that to work well. In this case, all to the good, because any clever remark that could have gotten me in trouble had to wait for way too long to bubble up into conscious thought.)

        2. Ann O'Nemity

          I’ve also seen the opposite. I once had a co-worker who looked 10-15 years older than he was. I wonder if he started padding his age to avoid comments like, “Wow, you’re only 35?! You look older.”

          1. MARK

            What I don’t get is, what happens when the person turns 50, and everyone thinks they are 60 something. How akward it is going to be to either fess up about your true age, or continue the lie and say “oh, I’ll work til I’m 80.”

            1. GrumpyBoss

              For me, padding was something I did in my 20s. I was in a job until I was 35. I was pretty sure at the time that there was no way I was going to be in that job until retirement where the padding is tough to keep up. I stopped doing this after I was 35. When I still did get comments about it (it never stops, trust me, I still get an occasional one today), I just stopped caring. Now that I’m in my 40s and am in yet another job, I do not volunteer an age, and give a firm, none of your beeswax! if I am asked.

    3. Biff

      I haven’t encountered this, but I look very young for my age and people often assume I’m a decade younger than I am, so when I was joking about being middle-aged, I got some strange reactions. There is another person at my office that looks similarly young, and gets the same treatment.

      That said, I’ve noticed that there is a tendency for people to act as though men in their late 50s and 60s are allowed to do kind of whatever they want. Inappropriate in a meeting: well, you have to realize he was raised when times were different. Rude to a coworker; well, men that age just are like that. Starts acting like a bro and buys a fanshy car; midlife crisis. I can see that as a strong incentive to lie, if those were things he wanted to get away with.

      1. MARK

        Thank you all commenters for sharing your similar encounters. I thought I was the only one!!!!

        Everything on lying about age is about people lying about being younger than they really are.

        I look young for my age too and get weird looks as well when I am like “remember xyz” and people think I couldn’t remember it. But that doesn’t mean I am going to lie about my age!!

    4. Natalie

      My boss does this all the time with me, but I think it’s accidental. She’s around 35, but she’s married (this is her second marriage, actually), has a toddler, lives in the suburbs and is very solidly “mid-career”. I think she perceives me as significantly younger than her because she thinks of my as way “behind” her on life stage (not married, no kids, rent, live in city, less advanced in career).

        1. Natalie

          I can see how it might read that way, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. She doesn’t make any sort of mean comments, it’s more of an absent-minded “oh, this is music from my day,” said to me and our 22 year old receptionist.

          She’s just a very traditional person as far as how she subconsciously views life stages. Kind of like a Sim or one of those plastic car families from the board game Life.

          1. MARK

            Oh I hate the “music from my day thing” because some people consider that their childhood, some people their teen years, some people their 20s. Like my parents consider “their day” the late 60s”, when they were around 20….but I like music from the mid 1980s when I was a kid the best. But other people will act like that can’t be the case because I was “only a kid.” Hello! When else do you have all day to hang around with a radio?!

  37. Christian

    Hello,
    I habe a question from germany:

    I have a rather long notice period of 90 days and I fear that that is way to long for most firms. Unfortunately, I am planning to leave due to family issues and I have to relocate into another part of the country.
    any idea how to handle this?

    1. SnowWhite

      Can you speak to your Line Manager about coming to an agreement to be released early?

      In your contract do you have any non-compete/non-dealing clauses?

      1. Christian

        I have no no-compete clause but I do not want to work in market research anyway…
        an early release might be possible, but we are a small firm and I am the only one who can do my job. So, I will have to stick around until a replacement is found.

        1. Cautionary tail

          My spouse and I have moved several times to different states and each time we staggered the move so she or I would go first. It was really helpful doing this because one of us could close down things in one state while the other opened them up in the second.

          As an example, at one time we moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts Registry would not allow us to give up the registration on our cars until we were able to prove the cars were registered in PA. The PA DMV would not allow us to register the cars until we could prove that the cars were no longer registered in another state. In PA I FedExed the MA license plates to my spouse in MA and she was able to bring them into the Registry the next morning. Once she did that and had the paperwork complete she faxed (in ye olde days) it to me and I was able to walk into an insurance company in PA that same day and get PA license plates. If we were both in the same state this would have been impossible.

          1. De (Germany)

            Moving states in Germany is not even close to this complicated, I have found. Not any different than moving between cities in the same state.

            1. fposte

              In the US, states really are little nation-states; it’s more like moving between countries in the EU.

    2. De (Germany)

      Since most companies have a three month notice period, at least in my line of work (IT), I just write that in the cover letter. Even with job listings that say they need someone immediately that seems to work. Chances are, your next job will also have three months, so the new company is well aware of the usual long notice periods.

  38. Anonniemouse

    My supervisor and I were hired at the same time and we both come from related fields to the one we’re in now. Neither of us were hired for our knowledge in this particular field, but rather our management skills and other qualities (I’ve been able to piece that together from a bunch of things that have been said to me).

    Consequently, I don’t feel like he knows more than I do about our field even though he pretends he does. (I personally find it supremely annoying when he corrects my writing pieces with information or wording that I don’t feel is accurate and yet he gets the last word on it.)

    I know that this is more my problem than anything he might have done – The bottom line is that he’s competent enough but I just don’t like his personality (based on this and other things he’s done). Every day I feel more and more resentful and I don’t know what to do. How have you dealt with bosses yoy didn’t like?

    1. GrumpyBoss

      We all have had bosses we don’t like. They are a fact of life. Depending on how horrible it is, I’ve used different coping mechanisms. What I usually do is make a daily challenge, something that occupies my time other than thinking about how much I dislike him. Sometimes it is a positive challenge – pay attention to one thing he does that is different than how I would’ve handled it, and see if it is an opportunity to grow. Sometimes, it is a little bit more of a venting challenge, like, “what is the dumbest thing that will come out of his mouth today?”

      Seems minor, but it helps me alot.

      1. Anonniemouse

        Oooh, this is a great idea. I’m going to try that, especially the positive challenge. He has enough good qualities that when I force myself to think about them, he’s not such a bad guy after all. Thanks for the suggestion!

  39. Anon for this

    Would you rather:

    1. Work in a position where you’re bored, not growing, not learning, making $65k while others in your industry and level make $100k, BUT – you have a ton of free time, work remotely, and are basically able to dictate how you spend your time, OR

    2. Work 45 hours a week in an office 40 minutes away in a state known for inclimate weather, having a strictly dictated daily schedule inlcuding activities blocked out hourly, but the company is well known for having great moral and low turnover, and you’d be making $100k, although the role would be lateral at best and not any sort of career stepping stone?

    1. AnotherAlison

      To me, the most important part of what you said about position #1 was “where you’re bored, not growing, not learning.”

      You didn’t say if you would learn anything new or grow in #2, but you did say it wouldn’t be any sort of career stepping stone.

      I’d do the math and figure out your real $/hr – are you getting $65k for 30 hrs(?) a week vs. $100k for 45 – and factor in the commute (gas, wear and tear, etc.). Then you can compare apples to apples.

      I’d also look for an option 3, where you can make closer to industry average and have growth opportunities.

      1. Anon for this

        Wow this is a great insight – I hadn’t thought of doing a comparison this way. When I think of it this way, there really isn’t much difference. Also, your #3 option probably is the best option.

      2. GrumpyBoss

        Agree. These both sound like equally horrible choices for me.

        If I’m not challenged, no amount of free time or salary will keep me interested for long.

    2. Clinical Social Worker

      Are we talking like Michigan or Minnesota in terms of bad weather? Because then Number 1 all the way.

      1. Alex

        Minnesota! Being remote is *almost* priceless here.. even with my snow tires and winter driving lessons I took last year.

    3. fposte

      Where am I in my life? What’s valuable to me?

      If I’m two years from retirement with a bulging retirement account, I’m on #1. If I’m trying to pay back student loans and save for a house/retirement, I take #2 , live like a monk for three years, put away cash like crazy, and then move on.

      1. Anon for this

        This is the golden question – what do I want in life right now?

        More money is always going to be appealing. But I sure do like my free time and working from my couch. I think it’s time for a weighted pros and cons calculation. Thanks for your thoughts :)

    4. A.

      Depends on the area’s cost of living, but for here in SC, making $65K a year is pretty good. I’d go for #1. Money isn’t everything!

    5. NylaW

      The second. While flexibility is important to me right now for child care and other family things, making more money would benefit us way more. I want my job to be interesting and give me a reason to use my brain, not numb me and pay me less than I could be making.

    6. littlemoose

      That is a tough choice. Not to be nosy, but I think a lot depends on your current financial situation, because that’s a big gap in salary. If you’re comfortable with the lower salary given your current financial picture, than the non-financial benefits can get more weight. But if you’ve got student loans, want to buy a house, etc then the higher salary might be a better choice in the long run. I understand the aversion to the rigid scheduling that the latter job entails, but it does soon like it’s still a good place to work, which I would find encouraging.

    7. Bea W

      I’d be unhappy in both instances, because bored, not growing, and not learning makes me pretty miserable, but #2 is a NO NO NO and HECK NO.

      I have stayed at jobs that pay less than what I would make elsewhere because of the other benefits, but I left them when I got to the bored, not growing, and not learning, and no internal opportunities exist stage, but only because I was able to find things that would give me those things without driving me to an early grave.

    8. JMegan

      I’d go for #2. My commute is already 40+ minutes on a good day, and the weather is pretty rotten in the winter where I am. And I don’t mind having a structured schedule. So basically I’m looking at $35k more a year to work for an organization with great morale and low turnover…yes please!

      *BUT…dictating your own work time seems to be important to you, as you mentioned it in both scenarios. So YMMV on my answer, but it looks like you should factor that into your thinking.

    9. Various Assumed Names

      Depends on your priorities.

      When I’m trying to make my writing career happen on the side, I’d go with #1.

      When my husband’s back in school and we need the money, #2.

      Also, you said that #2 has great morale and low turnover (plus high salaries!) so that must mean that the demands and commute are worth the trouble to most people. And jobs that are not challenging don’t last forever. If you stagnate and never grow your skills, you could find yourself laid off when you’re too old to learn a new job. Sorry, this seems to be in no particular order.

      Finally, 45 hours/week doesn’t sound like a lot and my commute is 2 hours each way, but that’s why NYC is the worst sometimes.

    10. Befuddled Squirrel

      #1 for sure. I’d use the free time to do things I enjoy and steer my career in that direction.

    11. Rebecca

      #1 – because it’s a lot more than I’m making now! Plus free time? OMG THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!

    12. JC

      I’d prefer the second. I wouldn’t always choose the more responsibility/pay option, but I would hate feeling bored and underpaid, even if the hours were somewhat less. For me personally, 45 hours/wk and a 40 minute commute aren’t that onerous, but if they were much greater I might feel differently.

      Would you have to live in different locations for these jobs? I wasn’t clear if for #2 you’d have to move to the bad-weather state. Where I live is very high on my importance list, so that could change it for me. But if I just had to commute 40 minutes from home to bad-weather place, I wouldn’t care.

    13. Mephyle

      #1, and work on professional growth on my own and/or a freelance business on the side in spare time.

    14. Steve G

      Do the second, it is definitely worth the difference in pay. And I believe you will soon start stagnating working from home.

    15. ChiTown Lurker

      I would chose #2. I get extra cash, good work environment and a decent chance of remaining employed. I could always use the extra cash for additional training outside work hours.

    16. NewGirlontheBlock

      Neither.

      I absolutely need a challenging job that involves a lot of upward movement. Neither would offer that.

  40. Golden Yeti

    I have a question about careers. I think asked it before but didn’t have much response, so I’m hoping maybe I’ll have more this time around.

    Is it still worthwhile to pursue a career in this job market, or should you just take whatever you can get–especially since many people end up falling into their careers anyway?

    For a bit of context, I have one of those “useless degrees,” and experience in a separate field. I’m trying to get into another field that is related to my degree, but not directly. Usually, I hear back from recruiters that my enthusiasm is great, but more directly experienced candidates have applied, so they will move forward with those. So even though I don’t really want to remain in my current field (the field where I have the experience), I’m wondering if I should just apply to jobs in my current field anyway since at least my odds of success are higher there.

    The whole thing really has me questioning if pursuing a career is something you can only realistically do straight out of university. I’ve read articles about changing careers, but it seems easier said than done in this job market.

    1. Jamie

      Do you mean pursue a career to the extent where you won’t take a job if it’s not in your field? Because you’re better off working even a non-optimal job and continuing to look for something else – because you’re a more attractive candidate when you’re employed.

      Sucks – but it’s true.

      There is nothing wrong with going after what you want as long as you can pay the bills in the meantime – but it’s good to keep an open mind because absolutely a lot of us have fallen half assed backwards into jobs we loved. And if you’ve never had a particular job you don’t know if it’s your ideal anyway – so might as well see what’s out there.

      I guess my advice would be if you can’t get on the entrance ramp to the road you want then find an alternate route and you’ll get there…or maybe see something cooler along the way and change the plan. The key is to hit the road because moving is usually better than staying still.

      1. Golden Yeti

        I guess in a sense I am. I was in contact with someone in the new field, and she said I should hold out for a New Field Job because if I take something in Current Field, that’s just more time and resume space devoted to something I don’t want to stay in. She does have a point, but at the same time, I’m in a bad environment, and since I’m not gaining traction toward New Field anyway, I’m afraid if I don’t keep my options open, I’ll never get out from where I am. That’s why it’s such a predicament–I don’t know if the priority should be a strategic move or just a “get out” move. Plus, I don’t know what the career ramifications could be.

        Hence, why I’m wondering if all this career thought and planning is even worth it in the current job market. :) My mom stayed at home, so I didn’t really have a close example growing up of how career stuff works. That’s why AAM is so valuable for me–and why I keep asking you guys these questions on open threads, haha.

        1. Sabrina

          Yeah I’m in a similar boat. I want to make a career change, don’t like the job I have now, can’t find anything in the field I want to be in, but would like to get out of my current job. If all that makes sense. And my parents didn’t have careers either, my dad worked in a trade and had the same job for 30 years before retiring. My mom worked in office support roles, but more to help pay bills vs having a career. I’m wondering if I should just try to make a career out of my current field.

    2. Christine

      I have an English degree, which is completely unrelated to my work. I have ten years of experience in my field. If I were trying to switch to a new field, I would look for a bridge instead of trying to just switch.
      Can you take on responsibilities or projects in your current job that lean toward the field you’re interested in?
      Can you do some volunteer work related to your newly chosen field?
      Can you take classes to update your education in the new field, or get a certification?
      Is there an industry where you might be able to find a job in your current field that ties in the new field, or a job in the new field where your current experience might be helpful? (For example, if I did supply chain work and wanted to break into marketing, I might look first at positions related to doing supply chain work for a marketing company, or marketing work for a supply chain company.)
      I would also try to find someone in my social circle who works in the new field, or find an LinkedIn group that relates to the new field, and see if they have any ideas about what a successful bridge plan might look like. Some of the groups have really good information on what’s currently going on in their field, knowledge that is helpful to display in interviews.

      1. Golden Yeti

        Haha, you nailed it Christine–I’m a fellow English major. :) I’m currently in an admin role, and trying to get into a more communications-focused role, preferably in the IT sector (e-learning, documentation, etc.).

        That’s the thing. I have been doing things in my current role that are “bridges” like you’re talking about. I’ve been using those as my selling points in cover letters. However, “bridges” don’t seem to top a degree and/or direct experience.

        Courses are out of the question, because I can’t afford them right now.

        Volunteering here is difficult because it’s a small town and my transportation is limited. I would like to go to a Meetup or something in the city, though, and meet people there. It’s just a matter of when and how to get there. I hadn’t thought about a LinkedIn group. That could be worth a look, for sure.

        My current strategy is to try for any IT related role, and hope I can move around once I get some experience under my belt. But again, many IT roles are for actual IT people–not wannabes like me. :)

        1. Windchime

          What kind of IT job would you be interested in?

          I can think of a couple of ways for an English major to break into IT. One would be as a trainer. For instance, my workplace has a handful of people who train end users on the complicated software that we use. They are not programmers in any sense of the word, but they have attended IT training (paid for by the workplace) and do some pretty technical work in addition to training end users. The type of people who succeed in these roles are people with friendly, optimistic personalities combined with a good brain (and it sounds as if you have those qualities).

          Another way would be a Help Desk type role. That might be a little tougher to break into, so I could see you starting out on a non-IT Help Desk type call center and then, later, changing to an IT one perhaps? It’s a good way to learn all kinds of ins and outs of the workplace. Some people here have transitioned out of the Help Desk into more technical roles, and others have been happy on the Help Desk and have made it their career.

          1. Golden Yeti

            The trainer thing would be right up my alley. Basically, I’ve always been good at explaining things, and I’ve always liked learning new things. So a role where I’m having to learn something new and figure out how to pass it on to others sounds like an awesome challenge. Plus, as I’ve been doing more computer related work in my current position, I’ve discovered I like problem solving on computers (I’ve performed a few minor office “miracles”). And I am of the opinion that society is going to get more technical–not less. So I want to get on board while I can. I have seen a few trainer type positions advertised, but they’re either short term contract (I’m looking for full time) or the qualifications are too steep for my experience. Help Desk has usually been similar, at least in the high qualifications required.

            I did work for a call center at my university way back when. And, earlier this year, I applied for a Help Desk position at an e-learning company (for those who remember the infamous 10 minute interview). I got in the door, but it was obvious from the first few minutes that they didn’t want me. When I asked Alison’s ace in the hole question, they basically said, “Someone who is friendly, but definitely who has the technical knowledge. *Technical Knowledge* is *really important.*” (hint hint get out haha)

            So yeah. I would go back to school if I could, but I’m already in so much debt from school it’s just not feasible with my current wage.

            I took Christine’s advice and spruced up my LinkedIn profile and joined some related groups, so maybe something will come of that.

            I just wish I knew if holding out for what I want is worth it, or if in reality it’s too late and I’m just wasting my time, ya know?

    3. Anx

      I have no answer, but I’m starting to wonder when it is I should give up on any of my chosen careers. I’ve tried breaking into healthcare, public health, and research technician positions without getting a foot in the door and it’s been over 5 years since I’ve graduated. I am back in school, again, hoping to try science one more time, but I don’t know how long I should devote to being a ‘new grad’ before people are going to think I’m way out-of-touch for pursuing it.

      1. Golden Yeti

        I empathize with you for sure. But at least you can go back to school! That’s something! :)

        I think when I was in school, I made the mistake of thinking that you should only major in something you’re already good in. I was good in English and psychology. But I heard you have to have a Master’s in psychology to get a job, and English was advertised as a very versatile degree. So I did English. It never crossed my mind to look at all the available offerings and consider trying something completely different.

        I can’t really offer much in the way of advice, because I’m in a similar boat, but I would emphasize to make sure you’ve checked all the options and you haven’t limited yourself in any way. You never know, you may stumble upon something new. :)

        1. Anx

          I’m back in school for biotech (trying to keep my lab skills current–or as current as you can in a teaching lab) and thinking of adding an online certificate in admin (if I’m paying for a full semester I can stack a couple extra credits).

          I haven’t fully gone back to school, yet. I think my GPA is too low to ever get into grad school. Almost every thing I’m interested in asks for a 3.0 or more. My high school GPA was very good, but I had some issues in undergrad. I’m currently doing very well (and have done pretty well in all my classes since graduating), but I don’t think it’s enough to undo the damage, credit wise. Still, it’s a confidence boost.

  41. Emmaloo

    Hi guys,

    Looking for career advice as a mid-level professional. I have been out of college for seven years, but having worked in different capacities (events for 1 year, grants for 4 years, communications for 2). I’m having difficulty finding jobs that are appropriate to my experience level. Postings are either coordinator jobs asking for 2-3 years of experience (and like Lucy said above, the salaries are way too low), or director jobs asking for 7-10 years of experience in one discipline. I’ve been working for seven years, but don’t have seven years of communications, so I feel both over- and under-qualified for most jobs I see listed. Anyone have any insight?

    1. MJH

      Your job arenas don’t seem that far apart, though, as they all require communications/marketing skills. Is there a way to spin your resume to show the way you used communications and marketing in every job?

      1. Emmaloo

        Good point!! I’m hoping to do that- it’s just when I see things like “5 years of successfully launching communications campaigns,” I explicitly don’t have that experience, even though I know I could if given the chance. It’s also things like online systems that make you select Y/N and ask flat out…makes it harder to spin!

    2. Hilary

      No insight, but I graduated college the same year as you and can sympathize. I struggled in my last job hunt to find positions that were in between those two levels (especially something that would use my masters degree). I still don’t consider myself a mid-level professional, but I guess I’m no longer entry-level. My only advice is to not completely ignore positions at the analyst/coordinator/associate level, because these titles can mean such different things depending on the place. Good luck on your search!

  42. A Jane

    Any suggestions for ways to end a meeting? I try the “If there’s nothing else, this meeting is ended” but it doesn’t always work.

    1. Jamie

      When we get to the end of the agenda I usually say, “okay – so if there’s nothing else we can all get back to work.” as I’m picking up my stuff.

      And then I usually say something stupid about how I want it noted we ended X minutes early because of my awesome agenda – you’re welcome. And then I laugh because I think I’m delightful.

      I am the only one who uses agendas and I’m the only one with a reputation for staring meetings on time and ending either on-time or early. I’m trying to evangelize the process but it’s not working.

      1. MaryMary

        I think anybody who has a meeting agenda AND ends their meeting early is delightful!

    2. Aunt Vixen

      If you’re in charge of the meeting, the meeting is over when you say it’s over – no need for you to stay. “If there’s nothing else, I guess we’re done,” and then get up and leave the room.

      If you have another meeting in the same space, then instead of getting up and leaving, you can add “and I’m going to need the room, thanks” after “I guess we’re done”.

    3. Bea W

      ??? Are you meeting with people who like meetings? Do they continue talking as if there is still a meeting going on? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t jump off the phone or out of their chair when someone says “If there’s nothing else, this meeting is ended”.

      1. fposte

        I was just at a meeting where nobody left! Half of the people were friends and started catching up on family stuff, and the rest of us were like, “Are we done? Can we go now?”

        1. CoffeeLover

          Oh that’s the worst. Then you feel awkward and antisocial getting up and leaving while everyone’s showing each other pictures of their kids.

    4. cuppa

      Like Jamie said, agendas are really helpful because they bring a natural end. I usually ask if anyone has anything else to add, and then I begin to pack up my things and say “thanks for coming”. “That’s all I have for today” works too.

    5. Various Assumed Names

      I’ve never had this problem or confusion about when a meeting is over. But we usually wrap up meetings with something like “Okay, so I’ll email you with XYZ and we’ll circle back tomorrow about 123.” And then maybe some personal chit chat as we walk out of the conference room.

    6. Dawn

      1 – Have an agenda and stick to it- if there’s efforts to veer off of the agenda, jump in with a “And let’s hash that out offline so we can stick with the agenda”
      2 – When you reach the end of the agenda, go over all of the next steps that were agreed upon in the meeting- “Angela, you’ll be giving Bob the Teapot Forecast by tomorrow at noon; Bob, you’ll be gathering the graphics for next week’s presentation and said you’d have those together by Thursday COB; I’m going to read the new issue of ‘Teapot Quarterly’ and send a summary to the Big Boss by COB today”
      3- After you read out the next steps, look around with a big smile on your face and say “Everyone good with that? OK awesome!” then stand up and leave. I’ve found the key to shutting down a meeting is radiate being In Charge so that when you start shutting down the meeting everyone believes it’s really shut down. Take the bull by the horns, as it were :)

  43. CollegeAdmin

    Thanks to my years of AAM-reading, I was able to (politely, of course) school my project management professor in employment law. A classmate asked a (tangential) question about firing someone for poor performance, and my professor said that it was almost impossible and all companies had to have documentation and give the employee at least 30 days notice, etc., so you were basically stuck. False.

    So I swooped in and posted (online class) all about at-will employment and firing without cause, exemptions, federal and state legislation, and even a few examples, all perfectly researched and cited. The only reason I knew that he was wrong from the start, and then what to look for to prove it, was because of this blog. So thanks, Alison (and my fellow AAM commenters) for helping me learn and spread the knowledge!

    1. M. in Austin!

      Wow, good for you! I’m actually kind of shocked. I really thought more people knew about at-will employment. I’ve had to school a few people myself!

      1. badger_doc

        I’ve had to school some coworkers at the lunch table about vacation. One of the girls said one day that it is illegal for your company to not let you take your vacation when you want to. Because of this blog I was able to say that vacation was a benefit, not a right and your company has the authority to dictate how/when you use it. Some of the assumptions people make are surprising–I wonder where they get the idea from?

      1. CoffeeLover

        Is he from a different country maybe? Canadian standard practice is basically what he explained, though it’s not actually what the law says.

        I know the OP is in the US from the things she listed (i.e., at-will and state vs. federal) but he could be from abroad.

        1. CollegeAdmin

          Nope, he’s from the US – same state as I am, even! (We did introductions at the start of class.) I had to read his post three times because I was so surprised; I was like, “Wait, what is he saying?! No. Blatantly false. Alison would not be happy – I should say something.”

          (I also then marked my calendar to remind myself to post about it in the open thread.) :)

  44. Cruciatus

    Just have to share the weirdness of this. My coworker just told me he specifically charges his cell phone at work as opposed to home to save money. But then he did the math and realized he was only saving about $.9 a year (but he’s still going to continue doing it). But he also brings rechargeable batteries and other rechargeable electronics to work. This is weird, right? Now, I did charge my phone one time when it had been kept on and drained the battery, but I don’t come to work to “steal” electricity. And it never occurred to me to do so! Oh, the people that surround me (but maybe I’m the weird one in this situation).

    1. Jamie

      Wow – that’s impressively cheap! And you’re not the weird one.

      I remember something on tv decades ago about this guy who was so cheap he wouldn’t use his stove – so he’d put a can of chili over the pilot light and go to work and it would be warm when he’d come home for dinner.

      I don’t know what horrifies me more – messing with the pilot light or eating canned chili.

      That’s funny though – and I think the company can take the hit for this level of “theft.” If he brings his washing machine in then he’s gone too far.

    2. Kelly L.

      I sometimes charge my Kindle at work (it charges through a computer) if I arrive at work and realize it’s running low, since I take it with me to lunch so I can read while I eat. Is this an ethical violation? :/ I hope not, but I can stop if I have to.

      1. Jamie

        Nope – and if anyone gives you a hard time tell them IT said it was okay.

        I’m not your IT, but am someone’s IT, and I said it was okay.

        I charge my stuff all the time – including my external phone chargers/flashlight which is my new favorite work related toy.

        I just think it’s hilarious that he’s doing to save money.

      2. Cruciatus

        I don’t want you to think I think it’s unethical! I just find it strange how much planning goes into him doing this. Not just like “oops, forgot to charge my phone last night.” Or “I’ll be using my phone at lunch so I’ll just give the battery more juice so I can be away from my desk.” But he brings it in to work for the sole purpose of charging his phone here. And other electronics. He jokingly mentioned his electric leaf blower. If he thought he could get away with charging it here, he would.

    3. AnotherAlison

      Lol. . .thanks for sharing.

      Does he also try to do most of his “business” at work to save on TP?

      1. AnotherAlison

        (Although, it has occurred to me that I’m saving $$ on water and electricity by showering at the gym several days a week, so maybe this guy isn’t so crazy.)

      2. Cruciatus

        Well, not quite. But he did run out of tissues…weeks ago. And instead of buying a new box (company doesn’t supply this type of thing) he has been using toilet paper. Actually, one day he came to his desk to find someone had left a partial toilet paper roll. I can only assume it was the cleaning person who empties his trash can, took one look at it and thought “hmm, poor chap must need some more toilet paper. I’ll just leave him this…”

        Our company often has events for people where they provide lunch or whatever. Sometimes we are allowed to have some after the event is over. Just yesterday, for instance, he went down when he found out about the free sandwiches from the day before. He brought back 3 and a few other goodies they left us. As we were leaving yesterday he stopped in the cafeteria to pick up what ever was left. He had stuffed bag when he walked out of this place. Now, I’m frugal but…this is frickin’ frugal. If it’s free, he wants it. Free donut day? Watch out!

        1. AnotherAlison

          I guess I brought that one on myself, but I’m grossed out now. Before that half-roll of TP was at his desk, it was probably in the bathroom, collecting airborne cooties. : (

          1. Cruciatus

            Yeah. He was pretty weirded out about it but not even for that reason. He just wondered who was leaving stuff on his desk. He actually asked if I did it. Do I seem like a person who leaves toilet paper rolls on people’s desks!?

        2. Jamie

          My first job I was an office manager and ordered toilet paper for the factory by the case. I was told the old office manager locked it up in the conference room when she left for the day so it wouldn’t get stolen. I thought that was asinine and also felt if someone was desperate enough to steal a roll of toilet paper it wasn’t worth lugging the box back and forth.

          Next day not only was a half opened box of about 15 rolls, but a full unopened one gone – so were several of the giant bags of Gatorade which made 30 gallons – which we made in huge coolers for the employees in the heat.

          Wtf – who steals 45 rolls of crappy (pardon the pun) toilet paper? You know, the cheap kind you’d never buy for your home? It wasn’t even Charmin or Angel Soft (which I always loved for the floral patterns – do that still make that? I’ll have to ask my husband to look, he only buys white and I am so sick of white.)

          Maybe this charging coworker used to work with me and he was set for a year of tp. Tell him I’d like an apology.

        3. Anx

          Is it possible he’s poor?

          I ask because I’ve definitely been less shy about taking the last piece of cake/cookie/sandwich at work events if it meant one less skipped meal.

      3. cuppa

        I dated someone who tried to save his “business” for work so he could do it on paid time.
        …yeah.

        1. Jamie

          I’ve also known someone who got to work early and clocked in and would spend 45 minutes in the bathroom so he was on the clock for his morning session. Not paid hourly, just wanted the credit of being an early bird.

          I still think unless he was sleeping in there he should have seen a doctor. That’s a long time.

    4. Adam V

      I charge my phone at work, but that’s because I’m usually listening to podcasts or music all day long, so it can get a bit low, and I’d rather not have to charge it immediately when I get home.

      I don’t consider it stealing, I consider it a productivity improvement (since I code better when I can put on headphones and tune out the world).

      1. Jamie

        I charge my phone at work because they didn’t have a 5S when I upgraded and I am an impatient and ridiculous person so I took the 5c and it might as well be a corded phone. I charge it at work, in my car, at home on docks, and I have 3 fully loaded supplementary chargers (flashlights) in my purse and good to go should I get stuck.

        It does not hold a charge. I know I need to get a new phone but I just got a case I like and it has this cool turtle pattern and they don’t make it for the 5S.

        I also hate going into the ATT store almost more than the dentist. Stupid phones.

        1. AVP

          I have the regular 5 and need to be near-constantly plugged in, too. My coworker had the same problem and took it to the Apple store in Palo Alto and they gave him a new battery which worked much better, but when I tried to do that in NYC they just changed some settings and told me to come back if it gets worse. Apparently you can look in your phone logs to see how many times you’ve recharged, and what percentage of “real” battery you’re getting when it says 100% – if the# of charges is over 500 and you’re getting less than 75% of charge, then they’ll fix it for you free.

          1. Jamie

            You are made of awesome – just found the setting and logs.

            Seriously this is great information.

            1. Shezza

              Ooh, where? I’m searching, but can’t find them, and google tells me I need to jailbreak.

              1. Jamie

                Yikes- don’t jailbreak it voids the warantee!

                Settings > general > usage > bottom will show time since last full charge.

                for the logs: Settings > general > Usage > About > bottom will show Diagnostics & Usage > disgnostics and usage data – the logs are in there. doesn’t seem to be a way to save or email them to myself – but i didn’t bother – just did a copy and paste into email so i could read them on a bigger screen.

                1. Shezza

                  Exactly, I wanted to avoid the jailbreaking!

                  I’d been browsing those logs, so glad I found the right pace. I’ll look through them again – I found a lot of Low Memory and crash logs, but nothing more general yet.

                  Thanks!

    5. Celeste

      I know some OCD-esque people who try to accomplish as much as they can of their own lives on the clock. This goes for pooping, putting gas in the car while on even the smallest amount of work travel, charging batteries, and even using the trash. They did actually put out an announcement here about not using the office in lieu of your regular trash disposal. Crazy!!!!

    6. MaryMary

      OldJob had a large regional office in an area that was hit by a major hurricane a couple years ago. When they reopened the office (with generators and back up systems, long before most other things were up and running again), employees and their families were encouraged to come in, enjoy the A/C, and recharge all electronic devices, even if they weren’t officially back to work yet (I think folks got a week of disaster PTO, and some people took more time depending on their circumstances)

  45. Clinical Social Worker

    How do y’all feel about stress leave? My therapist encouraged me to take it, it’s a benefit I’m allowed and I’ve accrued a lot of sick leave. I do work in an incredibly hostile work environment. I’m inclined to follow his clinical advice, as it is good. There is a lot of stigma surrounding stress leave at my work place.

    1. Jamie

      It’s a shame your workplace is hostile enough to warrant this – but if you know the stigma is there (and there would be a lot of places) then you have to weigh the benefits of leave vs the hit to your reputation and how it could impact your career.

      1. Clinical Social Worker

        My reputation at this current instituion is already dead, basically. It’s a long long story. The entire department is very dysfunctional.

        I’m waiting to hear back about a transfer, it’s the only reason I haven’t quit. So this is a way of basically keeping me employed with the state a bit longer because otherwise…I don’t think I can make it.

        So essentially, I’m not worried about protecting my reputation at this facility. I have a glowing rep pretty much everywhere else I’ve worked.

      1. Clinical Social Worker

        I’m actually waiting to hear back about a transfer within the state, and that is the only reason I haven’t quit, to be honest.

        So yes, this is the plan. Apply for jobs while waiting to hear back about the other potential state job. If I get it, great, I take it. If I don’t well, oh well, I wanted to quit months ago so it’s not like the plan would be any different.

    2. cuppa

      I think if you don’t take it, you’ll end up getting sick anyways. Might as well use it now to keep from feeling even worse later.

      1. cuppa

        Sorry, I meant you’ll get sick from the stress. Too much stress gives me migraines, and I’d much rather take a sick day to rest, relax, and recharge than spend it in bed all day with a pounding head and trying not to vomit.

        1. Clinical Social Worker

          I got what you meant! I’ve been fighting things like sweating through shirts, incredibly intense nausea and all many of other issues. It’s definitely taking it’s toll.

          The stress leave I’m talking about is more than 1 day off…it’s more like 2 weeks off.

          1. cuppa

            I once stressed myself into shingles, which messed up my productivity for about two months, so I still think you’re coming out ahead. Good luck!

    3. MaryMary

      Why would your coworkers know it was stress leave, or is that part of the issue? Officially, wouldn’t they just know you were on leave, whether it was medical, personal, vacation, etc?

      1. CoffeeLover

        Stress leave is a “thing” like maternity leave. I don’t know too much about it, but I think it similarly has guidelines.

    4. Windchime

      I’ve done it. At the time, I had a boss who thankfully kept the reason quiet. I think I took about 10 days or something like that, because we had a bully who was making everyone miserable and the stress of it was horrible.

      Come to think of it, the boss could have just managed the bully better and then there would have been no need for stress leave. Huh.

  46. Cath in Canada

    My regular boss is away on a three month leave right now, so I’ve been reporting to one of his peers while he’s away. Regular Boss (RB) is quite new to management but has been growing into his role very nicely; Temporary Boss (TB) has much more experience both as a manager and working in our field. I really like RB as a person (actually I really like both of them), but there have been times when I’ve asked RB for feedback on what I could be doing better and was told “everything’s fine”, and times when I said that I feel less confident in a certain part of my job description than others and asked for extra help, and didn’t get as much help as I’d really wanted.

    TB, on the other hand, has been going through all my projects with me with a fine-tooth comb, and identified several specific tasks within my less-confident area where I really needed to improve. I’ve implemented her suggestions and feel much more on top of those tasks now. I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to get this feedback and help, and to benefit from all of TB’s experience.

    RB has often asked me to let him know if there are areas where I think he needs to improve (I mentioned the issues described above at that point, and it helped a bit). I’m planning to tell him about the gaps that TB is helping me address, and the new processes she helped me to implement, but I’m not sure of the best way to have that conversation without being too critical of him. So basically I guess I have the same problem that he does of being “too nice”! Any suggestions?

    1. Biff

      “Hi RB, when you have some time after settling back in, can we meet about some changes TB made to how I do some work. I really like them and I want to walk you through the changes.”

      1. Cath in Canada

        A great start, thank you! I realise that I forgot to mention in my original comment that I also want to talk to him about bigger picture things such as the fact that I asked for help on this and didn’t really get it from him – he’s very open to feedback, but “you didn’t help me but TB did” is still a difficult conversation to have.

        1. Biff

          I think that’s easier than you might expect. “RB, now that I’ve walked you through these changes, I want to let you know that this is really what I was looking for when I asked for feedback in April. I feel like maybe you felt this is micromanagement or perhaps overly nitpicky and I appreciate you giving me space, but this has made a huge difference to me, and I want to implement ideas you have. You can trust me to push back if I feel it’s necessary.”

        2. NotMyRealName

          “While you were gone TB & I went through my projects and she had some specific recommendations that really helped me. I found that sort of feedback really worked for me. Can we try doing something similar in the future?”

        3. Cath in Canada

          Thank you both, this is awesome! I was really having a hard time getting past the “I have to criticise my boss” dread. Bookmarking this to refer back to when he returns.

  47. SnowWhite

    To anyone who filters through CVs as part of their job – I had to share this.

    After sifting through multiple cover letters which read as though they were written by Miss World contestants – a graduate sent through a cover letter so strong and well researched that we had a mini celebration that these cover letters do exist. She is interviewing next week.

    Faith in applicants restored.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Yey! Sometimes reading application forms (and I’ve never hired but just seen the odd few on here/passed onto me to hand it to the manager) seems quite soul destroying. I hope it works out :)

      1. cd

        I console myself with the thought that maybe the worst applications are from people under some sort of external pressure to apply to X jobs a week (to keep benefits, to make family happy, or some such) but don’t really want a job.

  48. Bartleby

    Just accepted an amazing new job for twice my salary! So excited to start, yet so nervous about the move, my new job and my first-ever resignation speech.

    1. snapple

      Congrats! What’s a resignation speech? Do you have to have a formal meeting with all of your coworkers and managers to announce your resignation?

      1. Bartleby

        Thank goodness, no. I just meant my conversation with my managers where I tell them I’m leaving. Apparently I’ve built it up to a speech in my head because I’m so nervous! Never resigned from a job before.

        1. Bartleby

          I did it! All my managers were completely kind and understanding. The C-level who hired me even congratulated me and invited me to visit him at his house near where my new job is.

  49. Ali

    In all the trouble I’m having in my current role, I did get a couple of pieces of good news.

    The first is about my social media internship. I am going on vacation in a couple of weeks, and my supervisor has been so generous as to tell me she wants me to really unplug and that I don’t nee to do anything for her while I’m gone except occasionally tweet and post on our company’s Instagram. I had been liking the work for a while, so I recently e-mailed her and told her I hoped to stay once I’m done interning. The next day I heard from the CEO (it’s a small/startup company) that she’d like to bring me on part-time because she wants people like me to work for her. Now, it wasn’t an official offer so I’m not getting overly excited, especially given it’s not a huge company, but I’m really happy I’m liked there and she wants to keep me if she can. Obviously I can’t quit my full-time role to work part-time, but getting the opportunity to have the part-time job and keep building my skills in another area would be amazing. And since my job search hasn’t been going well and things at my main job have been challenging, being liked and appreciated, as well as getting a generous amount of time off in a gig where you’d think they want you plugged in 24/7, means a ton.

    Also, I have a phone interview for a full-time social media job on Tuesday. The internship has really made me consider making that my career, and I’m so excited to get the phone interview. Again, I know it means nothing, but any glimmer of positivity helps at this point!

  50. Bobotron

    Quick question – I just started a new job one week ago. A couple days ago I got called for an interview for a dream job so I’m taking it of course. In my interview, do I talk like I’m still employed at my previous job that shows on my resume or do I bring up my new position? Not sure how to handle it.

    1. Befuddled Squirrel

      That’s really tricky. You have to be honest, so it’s a matter of finding the best way to explain your situation. In a way, it’s a good thing because it shows that you’re in demand. When it comes up, you could say, “Actually, I left and started a new position a week ago. While I’m no longer actively looking, this was my first choice and I’m really excited to get a chance to talk to you about it.” Or something along those lines.

    2. StudentA

      Tell them the truth. Then say something like:

      “Normally, I never would have accepted an interview right after taking a new job. However, I am making a major exception for this position, as it really is my dream job.”

  51. kdizzle

    Have you ever been treated unfairly by your bosses? I mean…I actually feel like I get preferential treatment (better assignments, more praise, better opportunities for growth) than some of my co-workers. Should I feel guilty? Or just enjoy the ride?

    1. LMW

      I think that depends — is it because you’ve shown yourself to be effective in a way that they haven’t? Or is it for another reason? If you’re getting preferential treatment because you are excelling, that’s not really unfair; it’s rewarding you for doing good work.
      But there are definitely cases where a boss just tends to like some people better than others, and in those cases doing guilty doesn’t do much good. Are there opportunities where you could pass on some of those benefits to coworkers who need/deserve them. Like saying “Hey, you know who would be great for this assignment? Joaquin! He does the best spout designs on the team.”

      1. kdizzle

        I’m not entirely sure if it’s based on merit or not. In general, I probably have more enthusiasm for the job and really love learning new things (I’m the newest; both by birth and by seniority in the office)…but one of the things I’ve noticed is that my co-workers are harshly criticized when they make a mistake, but I’m not criticized when I make the same mistake. I’ve told management that they can be totally candid with me; I’m someone who really appreciates constructive criticism and won’t go cry in a corner afterwards…but the treatment of negative feedback makes me think that I’m being favored in an unfair way. I do try to offer up my co-workers when an opportunity arises that I think would match their interests/strengths; that’s a great point, and I’ll try to do even more of that in the future.

        1. kris

          Could the difference be that they expect you to make mistakes because you’re new but don’t expect people who’ve been here longer to make the same mistakes?

    2. NylaW

      I feel this way sometimes because I know I’ve been allowed to do things and been given slack on things that others were not. I try to look at it as a reward for doing great work. There must be a reason my boss gives me these benefits and not them, even if sometimes it does feel unfair.

  52. Going Anon Here

    Okay, so I’ve got a situation. I’m planning on giving notice at my day job on Monday. I’ve been working two part time jobs and have decided to focus on one. Problem is that there’s a ton going right now. My boss announced that we’re switching to a new accounting system. He’s also going on vacation soon and it’s just a crazy time. I’m really torn because I don’t want him to spend money training me on a system if I’m leaving, but I also don’t want to create a ton more problems. Does anyone have suggestions on how I can make the transition as smooth as possible given the circumstances? Also looking for some wording for when I talk to him on Monday. I haven’t changed jobs very many times and giving notice always feels really awkward to me.

    1. Anon

      Just be really nice and don’t feel guilty about it. I felt guilty when I quit my last job. Then during the conversation, my boss let on that he had just been asked to reduce his headcount by one person. So I saved someone’s job. He was happy for me, and happy that he didn’t have to lay anyone off.

    2. Dawn

      You aren’t attached to that job anymore- you’re quitting. Them being in a busy time has zero to do with you quitting. You made the decision to quit independent of what was going on at that job, and you don’t owe them a THING!

      Definitely be professional about it, and about transitioning out (training a replacement, whatever else comes up) but fuggahetabout anything other than how cool it’s going to be to only have one job to focus on.

  53. Diogenes

    My coworker recently left after 2 years, and I have assumed all of her responsibilities in addition to my own. We had the same title (legal assistant), but I am now doing twice as much work. She was kind enough to spend the past two week training me on the specialized tasks that she was in charge of, but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s a very small office (now there are just three people working here, including the attorney), and I’m terrified I will make a fatal mistake at some point.

    Since I didn’t receive an actual promotion, I’m not sure if I’m eligible for a raise. I’ve only been working here for 6 months. My boss and have not discussed this, and I don’t want her to think I feel entitled to anything. I would like for her to consider me for a raise, but I’m not sure how to bring it up.

    1. fposte

      I don’t think it’s entitled. This is a major job change here. “I’m excited to dig into the new work–is there a possibility of a change in pay rate given that I’m doing a different job now?”

    2. nate

      You are now doing two jobs. Ask for a raise (big), title change and help if you need it. If you suck it up- they’ll be happy to let you.

  54. Audiophile

    Today is the annual company picnic. It’s generally the day I like least, but I’m trying to enjoy it since I’m officially out the door next week.

    Speaking of which, I can’t stop smiling and I can’t stop telling people.

    New job has been super about staying in contact since making the offer, they sent an offer letter via email and snail mail, as well as general benefits information. Then the other day they sent me enrollment forms. Manager is coming in on my first day, even though that’s generally her day off. I’m just elated.

  55. Potential minefield?

    I work for a small company where we all wear many hats. Most of us are doing tasks that we were not hired to do, just because there was no one else to do them.

    Due to some changes going on, management wants to look at everyone’s tasks and decide whether people are in roles that match both their strengths and what they like to do – and shift work around accordingly as much as possible. We’ve all been asked to rank our tasks according to how we feel about doing them.

    In general, I’ve been able to be honest with my manager without having it come back and bite me, but I’m really worried about this because there is one task that I absolutely HATE doing. I’m no good at it (for personality reasons, not skill reasons; it involves the phone and I just plain do not like talking to people on the phone). It cuts into my other responsibilities that I was hired to do. Also, the schedule involved is difficult for me to work around family and life commitments. (It is a different schedule than I was hired for.) The problem is, no one really likes doing this task, it’s important for Reasons, and we’ve been told in the past that those of us who were assigned to do it – about 1/2 of the company – all need to do our part in covering it.

    So, how do I answer when asked whether I like and want to continue doing it? This is the first time in my working life when I have been asked a preference and, while YAY for managers who do actually care, I find it a little unsettling and am worried that I’m stepping into a minefield. Usually I answer questions like this with “oh, I’m a team player, I’m happy to pitch in wherever needed.” But, there is a chance that if I’m honest, it could get reduced or taken off my plate – assuming that management really is serious about shifting around responsibilities. Which would make my job SO much better and less stressful.

    Thoughts on how I can spin this? I’m sort of leaning toward “this task does not play to my strengths and takes time away from tasks that only I do, that I am very good at.” My fear is that they’ll then give me more training – which isn’t the issue; I’m just an introvert who doesn’t like the phone and I don’t think that can be trained out of me!

    1. fposte

      As an introvert who doesn’t like phones myself, I can tell you that it can be largely trained out of you :-).

      However, unless there’s something simmering in your workplace that you didn’t mention, I don’t think there’s a trap here. If there’s narrative and not just numbers, you can say “I know it’s nobody’s favorite and I’m game to keep going with it, but the one thing I’d be delighted to swap with somebody is the phone work.”

    2. Jamie

      This kind of surveying makes sense to me – and if you trust that they are using it as they say to make sure tasks make sense than I’d be honest about it.

      If everyone hates Y then someone will end up doing it – if that’s you and you have to do it then be as professional as always – but just because someone has to doesn’t mean it has to be you, or only you, or that you should pretend to be a huge fan of it because it’s important.

      You can even say – I don’t love doing X but I know it’s crucial – yada, yada – but here’s what I do love and am great at and go into that.

      And as one introvert to another, don’t use the word. I get it, more than you know, but it’s gives some people a knee jerk negative reaction and they either think we’re secretly the unibomber or we just need more exposure to whatever to snap out of it.

      And don’t phrase it as a strength issue if you’re good at it – just sell how much better your time would be spent on X and Z.

      This is a great opportunity because a lot of companies don’t bother to really look at what makes sense when things pile on – and I work in a company where we all wear a lot of hats, too – if they are up and up this is a huge opportunity for you to be honest.

      Weird analogy – there was a cartoon called The Brady Kids when I was little and this was part of the theme song:

      Meet our sisters, they’re all quite pretty…
      First there’s Marcia, with her eyes of sparkling blue.
      Then there’s Jan the middle one who’s really groovy.
      And sister Cindy, too.

      I always felt so bad for Cindy. No compliment, no adjective. Just these two are awesome, and this one here is also.

      Let the crappy task be your theme song Cindy.

        1. Jamie

          Thanks for the link – love that!

          Yes, and the rest was rude and not even logical – they didn’t have to change the tune to make it fit. I think maybe that was Tina Louise trying to get out in front of the Ginger vs Mary-Ann thing and gain an advantage.

      1. Potential minefield?

        Thanks! This might work. The whole situation is so bizarre to me because I have literally never been asked at work what my preferences are, so I’m a bit flummoxed. Pretending I’m a fan of a task that’s hated but important is something I’ve always had to do at past jobs. Working somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of politics is a new experience for me. :)

        And, I don’t intend to use the I-word. In my experience people take that to mean one hates other people. Nope… just don’t do well in jobs where I have to talk continuously for hours and cannot recharge my batteries via blessed, blessed silence.

  56. snapple

    After job hunting in a new city for over 14 months, I finally found a job! (the job that I had upon moving to new city was a bad fit and I was fired). I’m beyond happy because this job is a great move career wise and I’m ready for some stability after having three temporary positions. However, I think I’ve discovered that I’m addicted to job searching. Even though I’ve already secured a new job, I still find myself searching Indeed or Craigslist for new openings in the morning just out of habit. The job search has become such a big part of my daily life that I don’t know what to do with my free time. Has anyone else experienced this or am I the only oddball out there?

    1. Audiophile

      Yes. I just received a job offer, that I’m truly very excited about, but now I don’t know what to do with all my free time. I guess I should enjoy it because I know new job won’t be this relaxed.

    2. Felicia

      You could help out your friends who are still searching! I know I’d love for someone to do some work for me:)

  57. Relosa

    Two questions, would love to crowdsource on them!

    1) There is a big company that has, literally, about a half-dozen positions I’m interested in, and it’s a company I’ve always admired and kept on my radar. I’ve applied to four of them so far. All cover letters and resumes are tailored, etc. However, a couple of them fall within the same department, just different ranks. Wondering how this comes across to hiring managers. For what it’s worth ALL of the jobs I’m applying to are in the same division, all have the same central focus, just different specific assignments.

    2) LinkedIn question: I’m in the gradual process of relocating. It will take a few months but I’ve officially started the transition, all the while still hunting long-distance. Currently, both my resume and LI profile indicate I’m from my town of origin, but I’m wondering if I shouldn’t update the area to the one I’m moving to? I already have local addresses I can use and I’m thinking about buying a temporary forwarding number. I know it would seem weird I’m still employed in my home state, and I make it clear on my cover letters that YES, I will be here by X date at the latest.

    Thoughts? I’m not trying to be deceptive as it is I’m trying to say YES this is where I want to concentrate my search, but I get that it can come across that way.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I think it can backfire on you, even if you have a local address (a relative you’re staying with, or even an apartment you’ve paid rent for but haven’t moved into yet), to say you currently live at the local address, because your potential new employer can say, “Hey, we’d love to have you in for an interview. Can you come in tomorrow?”

      Maybe you’re the type who can hop on a flight on a moment’s notice, but I wouldn’t risk it.

      I’ve done cross-country job searches three times (successfully, too), and I’ve never had to fudge on my actual current location. What my future employers were most concerned about were 1) Do I have a good reason to be moving to the area? and 2) Am I actually going to move?

      That said, it’s not out of line at all to have a local phone number, but you don’t have to buy one. Get a Google Voice number. It’s free.

      1. Relosa

        Thanks!

        Aaaand I didn’t know Google voice would still work, because I thought the number was randomly generated – can you get one targeted to a certain metro area? That’s my intent.

        1. Anonymous Educator

          They randomly generate a bunch of numbers for you to pick from, but you can specify an area code.

    2. Dawn

      1- I’d say it comes across as really enthusiastic, since you’ve tailored your cover letter to each position and didn’t take a shotgun approach to applying. I know that within my company we have situations like this a lot, where someone will apply for a few different open positions- usually what happens is hiring will look over the resume and figure out where within the company the person would be a good fit and send them off for review by the manager over that open position.

      1. Relosa

        Thanks! I’m always sure to mention explicitly that I really like this company and specifically want to work for them in this capacity. Two of the positions I applied for I did submit nearly identical resumes but the positions are similar enough that it paired well with the cover.

        I hope they see it that way too! They’re all about internal culture, and it’s a business that only attracts certain kinds of candidates.

  58. hildi

    Has anyone ever left a job that they enjoyed and really cared about the people you worked with? I applied for a job that really came out of nowhere. I am happy where I am, I wasn’t planning on leaving – but this opportunity opened up and it’s significantly more pay (when I am nearly maxed out at the limit my job will pay me in my classification – so I wasn’t ever going to make any more doing what I’m doing). The job is a good fit for what I’ve been doing and I’d still be within the larger organization – just not in the same deparment as I am currently. I am pretty much full steam ahead, but still get a few feelings of sadness well up at the thought of leaving my coworkers and everything I’ve worked to build the last 8 years.

    1. Jamie

      Haven’t been there but I totally get it – kind of like graduating. Exciting to see what the next chapter holds, but bittersweet ending a chapter.

      And if you’re capped and there aren’t any exciting growth opportunities you’re passing up by leaving then you are kind of graduating.

      Like I always say with relationships: something doesn’t have to last forever for it to have been important. (Why yes, I am divorced, how can you tell?)

      It’s hard but you have to make the call based on what’s best for your career and family – and it’s great to be in the position of choosing from two good options rather than having to jump from the toxic into the unknown.

      Wherever you end up will be lucky to have you. I’ve learned more from you here over the years than any trainer I’ve worked with irl – you teaching me the whole task people/relationship people thing made me a better manager, a better co-worker, and frankly a better person because I’ve applied it to some stuff outside of work.

      I pass that along to people all the time, too.

      You’re great – I’m not surprised you’re being wooed.

    2. Cruciatus

      Oh yes, this may be about to happen to me too. I keep having doubts about the job I just interviewed twice for, and I think it’s because I’m sad about leaving my coworkers, my routine, my desk… But a friend of mine was leaving her job and said she could put in a good word for me at her job–was I interested? It’s more money, better benefits, new challenges, she liked her coworkers, and it would be a good stepping stone for the future. I figured I had nothing to lose by applying but found myself feeling almost guilty when I was actually called in to interview.

      I don’t have the offer yet, but obviously I’ve thought about what it will be like to leave and it makes me sad (it will also be the first time I’ve had to put in notice and tell a boss (and one who really likes me) that I’m leaving. But I can’t let the opportunity pass. And I know this sounds weird, but hopefully (if I get the position), I’ll be sad about leaving them too at some point. Perhaps it’s better to miss people than be glad to be away from them.

      1. Ali

        I’m going through this too. I used to really like my job and the work I do, and I still like my team, but I’m starting to feel burned out and like I will go insane if I stay much longer. I’m hoping to be out by the end of this year or the middle of next year (the five-year mark at my current job). I find myself imagining what it will be like to give my two weeks and how I’ll feel at that time. I am looking into any possible opportunities to build skills, and I have a phone interview scheduled for next week. I feel bad about it in a way, especially since one of my managers promised his help with my development, but I need to know what’s best for me.

  59. Savannah

    I am only 7 months into my new job and I am having some issues with what I was told I would be doing and what my job actually is day to day.

    On paper my time was supposed to be split 50% Team A, 25% Team B and 25% Team C. I am the only coordinator for all of these teams, who are all 2-3 people in size. My official title is for Team A. The job is located in a large town in New England where I don’t know anyone. Both Team A and Team B require about 15-20% international travel, which was the biggest selling point for me on this job, and enough of a compromise to take me away from the larger city I was in where I had a great community around me.

    However, when I arrived in January, Team A was not in place. I have been working 50% with Team B and 50% with Team C, until the foreseeable future, when supposedly Team A will be put into place. I’ve been told this will not be possible until at least a year from now, if not longer. My title remains the same. Besides a few vague comments here and there, there has been no direct talk about any international travel with Team A or Team B since I arrived. There is talk of hiring a new full time coordinator for Team B, who has been budgeting for international travel, which leaves me very confused.

    Additionally my salary was tied to a grant relating to the project of Team A, which was forfeited, although have been assured this won’t affect my position. All of this has me questioning if this job is the right one for me and if my personal compromises were made in good faith.

    However, not all is bad. My two active teams have been very supportive in terms of mentoring which I know is very important and attending conferences. My salary and benefits are also pretty spectacular as I am making about $40/hr and have 5 weeks of vacation/sick time.

    I just need some perspective; I want to know if I’m crazy to think about leaving or if I’m crazy to think about staying?

    1. Dawn

      All things considered do you like your job as it is right now? Is it fulfilling? Will it get you where you want to be in your career? Can you live with it? Is the pain of living with it greater or less than the pain of finding a new job?

      The best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry :) Look at this job for what it is, right now- not what it was promised to be or what it might some day be- and base your decision off of that.

      And no it’s not crazy to think about staying OR leaving, as the reality of your situation is very different than the promised reality that you were sold on when you accepted the job!

  60. Not a Doctor

    I gave feedback to my employer about their health “incentive” program. The “incentive” is raise the health insurance premium by 100% on anyone who doesn’t “voluntarily” participate. I talked about this in the last open thread. I agree in theory, but not with the way it has been implemented. In my feedback I was constructive and stated I supported this kind of initiative but saw some issues with the way it was being implemented. I outlined those issues and suggested some alternatives for consideration (or not). I even linked to the current medically recommended health screening information so it was clear I was basing my feedback on things that didn’t just come flying out my buttocks.

    I didn’t expect a response, but I got one – a 2-liner thanking me for my feedback and reminding me that the program is voluntary.

    Um…that wasn’t my point. I acknowledged in my feedback that I knew the program is voluntary and didn’t write about it not being voluntary. There are few things more frustrating than getting a response to carefully crafted feedback that has nothing to do with what you’ve written. I suspect it was a standard reply to people who submit comments and feedback about the program, but it was hard not to respond in an attempt to clarify. I had to sit on my hands!

    I feel better having given the feedback, and it helped clarify for myself if I would pursue completing all of the steps to not see a rate hike next year. I’m really not at all comfortable with the requirements. The hike is crappy but not a budget breaker for me. So I am opting out this year. Maybe next year they will consider what kind of response they get this year and tweak it a bit.

    1. M. in Austin!

      Can you share some of the requirements? Is it more intense/time consuming than just a health screening?

      Sorry about their lack of a decent response. I hate that as well. They basically said, “If you don’t like it, don’t participate.” That’s not the way to respond to constructive feedback!

      1. Not a Doctor

        1. Health screening – but as defined by the employer. You’re routine physical is not likely to fulfill the lab test requirements unless you ask your physician specifically to order cholesterol and blood sugar tests.
        2. Whether you are seen by your doctor or schedule the screening with someplace offering them in conjunction with this program (Target, Walmart, Walgreens etc) you must submit test results to a third party.
        3. You have to speak with a “Health Advisor” who reviews your results from either the screening or your physician.

        My opinion
        1.) Fine with requiring health screenings! I see my PCP regularly. However, the requirements for testing are not in line with widely accepted annual physical exam protocols based on gender, age, and personal needs. I don’t like the idea that someone who is not a doctor and not my doctor telling me what medical tests I need. I also do not want to be subjected to unnecessary tests and procedures. For example, cholesterol tests in my age group are not recommend as a routine screening tool without some medical reason to do them, and at the age they are recommended (44 and older), it is only every 5 years, not every year. I feel like the requirements should be in line with the medically recommended and accepted screening schedule based on a person’s age, gender, and needs as decided by a physician. If my doctor recommends a test, I don’t have an issue with it. I don’t feel so comfortable about my employer doing the same. My last cholesterol screening was 2012. There’s no medical reason to repeat this in 2014.

        2 and 3). I feel if I am choosing to be seen by my own physician that I should not have to submit the details of medical tests to a third party to review and then discuss with me. I have already had this discussion with my own physician who is familiar with my medical history and needs.

        I suggested people be given the option to complete all steps with their personal physician, that there could be a choice between discussing your health screening with your personal physician OR using one of the screening services offered by the company and using the 3rd party service. In the current program, I am allowed to see my physician, but I still have to give my numbers to someone else to discuss them with me. This seems redundant and unnecessary, and a bit intrusive as well. I don’t feel comfortable discussing my health needs with a total stranger who has only seen numbers and has no inking of my medical history.

        If my MD could just sign off on a paper confirming I’ve had an annual health screening and he has discussed the results with me, I would be fine with this. It’s the extras that turn me off.

        1. nate

          Hmmmm third party reviewing your medical record….hmmm…
          I wonder why? Employers DO monitor BIG insurance users.

          1. Christine

            My company does exactly what you describe, but in addition, if enough of your measurements/test results are out of optimum range, you can choose between attending a no-cost 6 week program related to improving your health, or paying extra for your insurance.

            Between what they’ve told us about the program and what I’ve gleaned on my own, they can get a price break on insurance based on the overall health status of their employee base. Anyone who doesn’t participate is statistically assumed to be in a bad health category. They also target health problems that are common to our employee base (stress and poor eating habits are two) with programs – we had a morning fresh fruit delivery every day for a month at one time, to try to encourage people to get into the habit of eating breakfast and eating more fruit, for example. I suspect they get price breaks for offering these programs and documenting participation, as well.

            I don’t mind the programs, but I do not for a minute assume that anything they’re gathering is confidential, no matter how many times they tell me that the results are only viewed by the company in aggregate form.

            1. Not a Doctor

              That’s funny anyone claims to assume non-participants are in the bad risk category. The insurance company knows exactly who takes advantage of regular health screening and everyone’s risk because they pay for the visits.

              My last employer had a dental incentive program where you were able to roll over any unused annual benefit dollars to the new year IF you went for regular preventive check-ups. There was never any paperwork and the benefit was automatic because the insurance company knew exactly who had seen a dentist for a check up and when. No need for involving 3rd parties or documentation signed by anyone else. If you had used your dental insurance to pay for a check-up, that was good enough.

              It amuses me that insurance companies in particular discourage unnecesary tests because they cost money, but in order to keep the lower rate you have to submit to unnecesary tests. I realize diabetes and heart disease are very costly and prevention and early diagnosis is important and it is good to encourage it, but I think the most effective programs will involve encouraging people to have a good relationship with their PCP, education, and encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyles and get appropriate care for chronic conditions and risks.

        2. Not a Doctor

          I should add cholesterol and blood sugar are both requested to be done fasting. As the Cranky.Queen of Low Blood Sugar who eats immediately after getting out of bed, there better be a darned good medical reason to make me fast 8 or more hours.

        3. Anx

          It’s not mentioned specifically in your post, but a 100% premium increase pretty significant. These kinds of health incentives rub me the wrong way because they are nearly always built on unproven science and/or what’s best for the group statistically. Which makes sense for insurers and employers but not employees. And it rarely takes into account barriers to their preferred activities of eating well and getting so much activity. A large company offering great benefits like contributing toward your insurance and giving you paid time off can still pay low wages. And then charge you more if you are more concerned about where your next meal is coming from than a balanced diet.

          1. Not a Doctor

            That was one of my concerns. They are touting it as “premium pricing”, but it’s really a big fat rate hike penalty on people who opt out. People who participate keep the current rate. People who don’t will see a doubling of their premium. If your spouse us on your plan and doesn’t participate, you’re family plan rate will be higher. I don’t really consider anything to be voluntary when the cost rules out the choice to opt out.

            I can afford to take the hit. I imagine many people don’t have the luxury. I’d be curious to see how participation breaks down along the pay scale and singles vs. people who have a spouse on their plan.

            1. Anx

              I am participating in mine (it’s individual–I’ve always been self-insured) because I need the gift card (it’s $100) split two times. They don’t offer any from a grocery chain which is weird, because you’d think increasing food security would be in the interest of your health insurance company, but apparently it’s not (I know they can be regional, but so can the other companies).

              I am 5’5” and 125 lbs and really broke right now. But when I told them I wasn’t interested in weight loss or reducing my fat intake (I am skeptical that all sat fats are bad, and need to up my intake of all food) the online survey tried to get me on a weight management program. The biggest ‘threat’ to my weight maintenance is the change to my metabolism that being poor is bringing. Guess what’s not address on the wellness survey. The whole is ridiculous.

              Also, everything is so weight focused. I wouldn’t be surprised if people with high BMIs end up paying more.

  61. AnotherAlison

    Just had a quick one to share:
    My internal transfer keeps getting better. After 5 years of an interior office, I will have a window next month. Yea!

    1. hildi

      I have been dwelling in a basement for the better part of a decade so I congratulate you and am envious. Yay sunshine!!

  62. M. in Austin!

    Okay, I really need some help. I just finished grad school and have been at my new job for 3 months. The company is great; I really like the culture, environment, and the perks. I like my coworkers. I just hate my job. I don’t like the product I’m working on and I dread work everyday.

    I studied “teapot making” in school and I am now a Teapot Maker 1. I love Teapots! I just don’t like the content/product I work with. I never realized the product I work with could have such an impact on my happiness.

    I want to stay here (or in this product group) for at least 2 years (only 21 months to go!). So when the content you work with is overly complicated and bores you to death, how do you deal? How can I keep myself from being depressed all the time?

    1. AnotherAlison

      I’ve been there. It can get better!

      In my case, the entry-level teapot job was boring by design. It was meant to have a short duration, and then you would be promoted. You survived by knowing that it was a short-term gig, and by learning all you could about the minutiae of your role and the teapot indutry as a whole. Honestly, the job I started out hating wasn’t so bad once I became good at it, which was about a year in for me. At first, all I could see and do were the basics and the very boring parts, but with expertise, I had more challenges in the position and that kept me interested until I moved on. At three months in, you may have not seen everything there is to see yet, and it could get better once you’ve learned more.

    2. Biff

      Oh boy. I don’t know that this can really be rectified. If you love doing Modern, Edgy Teapots for Hipsters and you’ve been assigned to Kittens and Curlicues for Little Ol’ Cat Ladies, I don’t know that the gap can be bridged. Especially in creative pursuits. If your mind trends towards artistic angles and bold curves, it’s just not going to have the kind of creative Vision needed for little Victorian frou-frou aesthetics.

      But suppose it is not that bad. Perhaps we’re trying to bridge the gap between Modern Teapots for Hipsters and Serviceable Teapots for Ships and Hotels. Then you can do the self-administered mental fake out.

      Design a WILD teapot. Go crazy on that thing. Now, go buy a Vogue or an In-Style. (I don’t care if you are a guy. Pick it up, slap it down on the counter and tell the cashier how fabulous it is.) About 20-40 pages in is a feature about how to take Runway themes in fashion and turn them into real outfits that could be seen in public. Study this. Go back to your desk and apply the same methodology to your wild design.

      My sibling (more talented, much more attractive, richer AND a better cook because god knows the universe is not a fair place) works in creative for advertising. I recall reading an pamphlet they had written for a over-the-top, tacky-as-a-bordello-run-by-a-drag-queen 6,000 square-foot monstrosity of a hunting lodge. I mean, there was just no way to not describe this thing. But my sibling had ripped out this almost compelling description. I asked them how.

      “Oh, I just wrote how I really felt about it, and trust me, it was sarcastic. I went to bed, and then the next morning I got up and put everything I said into much more diplomatic language.”

      If it keeps you sane….

  63. LV

    What do you do when you just don’t have a lot to do at work? I have a lot of downtime at my current job. Due to the nature of the position, there aren’t really any extra projects I could take on while waiting for my regular workload to pick up.

    I’ve spoken to my manager as well as the employee I am replacing in this role (who will be back in a few months) and they’ve both said that yes, there is often a lot of downtime, especially in the summer. I still feel weird about being paid a pretty good salary to essentially fill a chair and do little of actual value to the organization. (It’s also frustrating because I start thinking of, say, all the chores I could be taking care of if only I were at home instead, etc…)

    If you’ve been in a similar situation, how did you handle it?

    1. Cruciatus

      I don’t have any good advice–but this was me before my current position. And I was alone on my shift except for the students I was babysitting in the library. Have you asked what the other person did to fill the time? If you don’t want to ask but want to keep it work related, perhaps you could do some Word/Excel tutorials and improve those skills (or whatever might be relevant for the future. If they seem cool with how you handle the downtime as long as everything is getting done, perhaps you could read, balance your checkbook, watch something online (this is what I did in the library).

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve never personally been in that situation before, but most commenters here and Alison herself seem to think it’s fine for people to blog or even run side businesses at work as long as your side projects do not interfere with your normal work.

      So, in your situation, I’d write a novel, maintain a blog, teach myself a new programming language, and catch up on the news… at least.

    3. Cath in Canada

      Are there any online courses on Coursera or similar that are relevant to your job?

      Could you create a “new hire guide” full of the type of information you’d have liked to have on hand when you first started?

    4. nate

      I did this for almost 12 years. Good pay is worth it- you could be in hell on minimum. Look for a new job and take a lot of continuing education.

    5. Celeste

      Write letters and birthday cards, plan holiday menus and shopping, clip coupons and look for deals, research travel deals, bring in an e-reader or library book, book appointments you or the family need, and so on. I know there is a lot that needs doing at home that can be accomplished in your downtime at work. Your employer pays you the wage and wants you there, but clearly doesn’t mind you keeping yourself occupied. All of the suggestions here are compatible with office life.

    6. Waiting Patiently

      Down time is the perfect time for me to organize my life–like all the ideas others have suggested.
      For me, there really isn’t much downtime but I do need decompressing time ,which luckily our supervisor understand, which is definitely not the time for me to organize my life. I just mindlessly search the internet…

    7. EduStudent

      I’m having the same problem, but am relatively new to the company and don’t feel comfortable doing these non-work related tasks, even when everyone else has confirmed they have no work for me. And you can only read the news for so long…

      My coworker says this slow period when first starting is normal, but that doesn’t make me any less bored.

  64. cd

    My company uses outside contractors as copywriters, I’m responsible for editing their work, and there’s no feedback system. They don’t use spellcheck, don’t know the difference between “its” and “it’s,” and blatantly make up information. For example, sometimes they’ll describe an item as ceramic when all they know is that it’s smooth and white and we’re still waiting for materials information from the vendor. I know that some are better than others, but information about which writer has written which copy is not available to me.

    I contact their manager sometimes with suggestions, but they don’t get implemented. I suspect the attitude is that, since they’re not employees, when we notice that one has a problem all we can do is ignore it or stop giving them work. Can anyone suggest a way to get some less dysfunctional communication in place?

    1. fposte

      I’ve never worked in that configuration, so I don’t know what level of expectations make sense. Are there metrics they need to meet? Is there competition for this contract (surely someplace has writers that differentiate it’s and its)? Do you have written guidelines and expectations for them? Certainly do guidelines if you haven’t, but it’s possible that lower quality is the consequence of lower-cost outsourcing. Can you *ask* to get information about individual contractees and request them?

      1. cd

        I’d think the issues I mentioned would be very basic expectations for anyone. I tried to make a written guideline but I believe it was never passed on. I suppose I can try again, perhaps with a much shorter guide (“If you want the computer to automatically fix your spelling, here are the buttons you need to push.”). The last time I discussed the issues with their manager, she said she’d try to help but made it sound like she would try to correct the errors herself before passing on their work and had no hope of getting the copywriters people to do it themselves. I’ve asked for individual contact information before and been refused.

        These errors don’t consume that much of my time. It just offends me that people are paid when they fail to meet basic standards, and that there seems to be no process or incentive for improvement.

        I don’t know about the competition or pay for the contract. I believe they do have to write a certain number of product descriptions per day. As I’m a (longer-term) contractor myself, I don’t think I’m in much of a position to argue for paying contractors more or relaxing metrics to improve quality. Maybe once they make me an employee (an event that’s been one month away for six months, though it’s been sounding slightly more concrete lately).

        1. fposte

          (“If you want the computer to automatically fix your spelling, here are the buttons you need to push.”).

          Oh, God, please no; that’s really horrible. I was meaning more like quality guidelines and expectations: “We expect materials to be factually accurate, which will require research in the company materials. We expect copy to be free of punctuation and style errors and require minimal editing or else it will be rejected.” But it sounds like you’re not really in a position to crack the whip at the moment, so I’d say just eyeroll and swear and plow on through.

    2. Pip

      One reason they are unwilling to give you names of the writers might be because they are worried you might bypass them and start working directly with the freelancers instead. Also, a lot of the “copy farm” companies don’t even bother with assigning specific jobs to specific freelancers, they just have a task pool where the first one to grab a job gets it.

      I would start looking into any complaints clauses in your agreement. Do you have the right to reject jobs where the quality is below a certain threshold, or get a rebate? Otherwise, it might be time to negotiate about that (or make sure it’s in the contract with the next supplier…)
      Quality assurance trackers can be set up in Excel quite easily. Usually, you would have a couple of different error categories, like Grammar/Spelling, Factual, Glossary, and Style, and a scale of severance from Minor/Preferential to Critical. The more severe, the more error points a mistake gets. And then you set up thresholds for each category, like max 3 error points allowed per 1000 words in Grammar/Spelling.

      But basically, a good service provider would work with you to get the results you want. Not so good service providers, well, you´ll have to be firm and have very clear metrics.

  65. Intrepid Intern

    Realistically, if a woman starts out in a Program Assistant role, what are her chances of moving into a Research Assistant/Analyst role later on? I’m outside the hard sciences, looking for my first “real” job. Most of these have mostly admin-type tasks with a little research. They ask for area knowledge and languages, so they have some specialized skills but I’m worried that I’ll build more admin than research skills, and get stuck or pink-collared. Is this a legitimate concern? I know the narrative used to be promoting the secretary who showed promise, but I haven’t seen/heard much of that lately.

    1. Hilary

      Not sure if this is within nonprofit/think tank/foundation work (sounds like it is but that’s my bias coming from those places), but it’s usually very particular to the company (and definitely a legitimate concern in my experience. If you know anyone who can put you in touch with the place, they can hopefully speak to it off-the-record a bit more. Some places mentioned ‘moving up’ internally as a norm in interviews while others made it very clear that they expected their admins to remain admins. I’ve seen some PA/AAs get promoted internally or move to a ‘research’ track fairly quickly while other places only ever hired externally for those roles or just do campus recruitment from graduate programs. I dealt with this last year when comparing offers and it was tough!

      1. Intrepid Intern

        Thank you for the reply!

        Yes, it’s foundations/think tanks. I don’t know nearly as many people working for these organizations as I’d like, and I’m job-hunting long distance as well, which is making it a bit difficult. I’d love to be able ask in an interview, but I’m worried that it’ll come off as “so when’ll I get promoted?!” and so the question will (justifiably) be a turnoff.

        In your search, did you have any luck asking questions along the lines of “so where do you see someone in this role progressing in 5 years?” Is there another way to handle this?

        1. Hilary

          In some of my interviews, they made it very apparent that promotions were likely (or not). I never directly asked the 5 year question, especially since so few asked it of me. I think those that do would be more open to recognizing that you might still want to be working for them in that time frame.

          In other interviews (or rather, before the interview), a little bit of digging around their website helped to make it obvious what their promotion trajectory was for current associates/analysts. And don’t forget using both GlassDoor as well as LinkedIn to see if people might have climbed the ladder/switched roles/gotten promoted after some time. Good luck in your search!

    2. Anx

      How outside the hard sciences are you? I have a degree in a semi-soft science and was never able to break into admin work.

      That said, I always was hoping that moving into research would have been possible eventually. Sounds like a tough spot to be in. It’s probably easier to train a new researcher than replace a good admin.

      Do you have a degree in science? Do you have one in admin?

      1. Intrepid Intern

        Hi! Thank you for the reply– sorry to not reply sooner, but I’m on a different timezone at the moment.

        I’m pretty outside the hard sciences–in international relations, actually. I want to be in research, and a lot of the admin jobs have skills that overlap with research positions. Research-admin hybrid jobs are also about 50-75% of the jobs I’m seeing right now, so applying to them would drastically increase my chances of finding something before graduation, but at the same time I know that I don’t want an admin-track career, long-term.

    3. Student

      I can’t say much about other fields, but in hard sciences it is impossible to be taken seriously as a researcher if you started out as an admin. I imagine it will be very hard to get taken seriously in your field, too.

      Look for something in research if you want to be a researcher.

      1. Intrepid Intern

        Don’t worry, I’m not hard sciences! I would never try to switch between a lab and a front desk, but for me I’m seeing less difference in tasks– speak X language to conduct research for a report vs. speak it to make a brief for the boss, then to book her hotel, for example. As I said above, looking at research-admin hybrid jobs, or Special Assistant to Research Director/VP jobs would more than double the pool of jobs I feel I can apply to, which would be a huge help in finding something.

        1. EduStudent

          Hybrid jobs don’t seem problematic in theory, since you’d be building both sets of skills – just make sure it’s not research 15% and admin 85% if you’re concerned.

      2. Anx

        I agree about it being difficult to transition from admin out to research.

        Do you have any thoughts about how a transitional degree could change that. Say you do admin work after your bachelors and then get a masters…do you think that would help?

  66. A Teacher

    Been waiting all week, I teach a dual credit careers course for juniors and seniors in high school. One of the revisions I’m making to my curriculum this year is to add an “Is it legal?” unit to the curriculum. I plan to go through AAM’s archive’s but do any of you have a favorite “Is it legal question?” or is there anything you think I should specifically cover with my students? I’m trying to make them better informed and hopefully better equipped to deal with the real world in a few years. Thanks for any input you give me!

    1. Sunflower

      One thing I would stress is the legality of asking about protected classes in an interview. Even my law professor in college told me that was illegal and we should refuse to answer if asked so I would clear that one up.

      I would just say that there are a lot of wrong/sucky things people do but it doesn’t make them illegal.

      I would stress that in order for something to be illegal, there has to be a law against it and for them to think of legality in those terms. Meaning if they want to know if something is illegal they should ask themselves ‘would someone make a law against this’.

    2. The IT Manager

      “Hostile work enviroment” has an actual legal definition and doesn’t just mean that people are being mean to you or making you not enjoy going to work.

      For example: As counterintuitive as it may sound, some types of harassment are considered legal. To be considered illegal under US laws, the actions must be done to someone who is in a “protected class.” This is a type of legal classification that varies from state to state, but is generally based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The statuses that make up protected classes generally include race, gender, sexual orientation, military status, pregnancy, political affiliation, disabilities, and certain health statuses, like having Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Age comes into play as a protected class if the employee is over 40 years old.

      from: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-a-hostile-work-environment.htm

      1. fposte

        Oh, and add “wrongful termination” to that. I hear a lot of complaints by people who think it means being fired for something you didn’t actually do.

      2. Natalie

        ” someone who is in a “protected class.” ”

        Argh, pet peeve – everyone is in a protected class. There’s nothing in civil rights law that says “doesn’t apply to white people/men/other dominant groups”.

    3. Anonsie

      Clear up who is actually subject to restrictions on sharing protected health information and what HIPAA actually entails, pretty please!

      And if you had a little bit in there about the rules for research participants (medical or otherwise) and how research is confidential, your health care provider can indeed share your information with researchers so they can approach you for research, etc., I would especially like that.

      1. A Teacher

        It is actually a health careers class, I’m an athletic trainer by trade and still practice part time so I have a medical license. We do cover HIPAA and ACA extensively so that is one that goes under a different section, but yes people do get confused pretty easily by what is and isn’t covered by HIPAA.

        1. Anonsie

          Is research use of medical information in there? If not, I reiterate my second suggestion!

    4. louise

      What a great course to teach! IME, the dual credit students were a *little* more engaged and excited than your average junior or senior (especially as the end of the senior year drew nearer and nearer), so I hope your students enjoy how much you put into this for them.

      I think a great way to engage with kids on this topic would be to continually remind them “It’s not illegal for people to jerks.” Kind of the teenage version of “life isn’t fair” that they’ve been hearing since toddler days. And then proceed to point out what IS illegal and let them realize how strange it is that someone could seem perfectly nice while breaking the law while someone else could be a horrific jerk while toeing the line. It’s a good life lesson to learn before they experience it firsthand.

      (And it wouldn’t hurt to help them realize how very easy it is to be both kind AND law-abiding so they’ll be more apt to choose that path for themselves.)

    5. Natalie

      I would make sure to cover pay laws, as this is one place where there actually *is* protection but many workers don’t know. When I was younger I had plenty of friends whose bosses would illegally hold or deduct from their checks.

      1. BB

        I second this. Especially thinking of jobs most high school kids have (retail, food service) and they probably are at higher risk of being taken advantage of. Many of my friends in restaurants were asked to clock out and continue working with under the table pay to avoid overtime charges and none of them knew it was illegal. It also seems like there are a lot of legal questions surrounding receiving and clocking out for breaks for work

      2. Mints

        Yeah, pay is confusing, but one of the better aspects of law. I’ve heard too many “Clock out and then ..” or “… on your way out.” But you should do the work ON the clock. And even if it doesn’t seem like much (only a dollar, after getting paid), I think of it as managing up. They should get used to the legal way

    6. Mimmy

      No advice, but it’s so awesome to see a careers course in high school! What is “dual credit”?

    7. Anx

      Perhaps stress how different industries or working classes are subjected to different laws and norms without making a distinction between ‘real world’ and service jobs or academia or government or religious org jobs.

      (I’m not trying to be snarky or anything. It just think it’s important that there are real people in those jobs and that dismissing the variations in expectations or law as being something you don’t have to worry about in a real job could put students at a disadvantage especially as at least some of them will probably work in those environments).

      It’s something I definitely could use more education on myself. I never now when my employer is being a jerk or breaking the law, but working in the service industry it can feel irrelevant and conventional wisdom doesn’t always apply.

      1. Anx

        Excellent point!

        I would love to know what the laws are about medical information that aren’t HIPAA relevent. For example, is it okay for your boss to tell your coworkers you are out of work for surgery? Especially if it’s something some may be embarrassed by (gastric bypass, breast reduction, colon related).

        1. fposte

          That’s not okay, but it’s perfectly legal. There really are no other federal laws whose focus is privacy of medical information. There are some bits in the way the ADA is applied that would require confidentiality in some situations, and some EEOC implications for the way candidates’ medical information is treated (when they’re applying for insurance, etc.) but by and large, America defaults to freedom of speech, and that includes employee boob jobs.

  67. anonintheuk

    I have somehow been dragged in as manager of Dept A to help with Dept B’s morale problem, and need help.

    Different departments where I work have different ‘peak seasons’, and it is written in our contracts that annual leave is granted at the manager’s discretion and will only be granted in your ‘peak season’ in exceptional circumstances (weddings, funerals not covered by bereavement leave, that kind of thing – not so you can take a long weekend and go to Paris). ‘Peak season’ is no more than a month for any department.

    ‘Jane’ in Department B applied for a week and a half of leave in her department’s peak period, which was refused by her manager. She took it anyway, ended up in a disciplinary process for gross misconduct, and somehow managed to avoid being sacked because her manager is rather a soft touch (Note, as my username suggests, I am in the UK. We don’t have at-will employment).

    Since it was the peak period, the rest of the staff in Department B and the manager had to do ‘Jane’s’ work as well as their own, because otherwise we would be talking about fines, losses of customers, possibly job losses. Since obviously they weren’t privy to the disciplinary actions, they are furious that ‘Jane’ appears to have got away with this. They are also not speaking to ‘Jane’ other than where strictly necessary and are leaving her out of lunchtime drinks etc, which has led ‘Jane’ (who appears remarkably lacking in self-awareness) to complain that she is being bullied.

    The only suggestion anyone senior has had has been transferring ‘Jane’ to another department, to which the general reaction has been ‘oh hell no’.

    Suggestions?

    1. fposte

      Do you have actual authority? Or are you just propping up Department B’s management? I think management should have been clear with employees that the situation is being handled, that processes between the manager and employees are private because that’s the honorable thing to do, and we expect people to be civil and professional to one another within the office.

      And then management should tell Jane that if people aren’t polite and professional that’s a problem management should be informed about, but not being liked or invited for drinks isn’t being bullied, and that if it’s important for her that her work colleagues are also her social crowd, this probably isn’t the place for her. (Fair warning: I say this with no knowledge at all of UK labor policies.)

      If you have the authority to do that, that might help.

      1. anonintheUK

        I think I might well be able to tell the staff of Department B that, thankyou.

        I will speak to HR and Superboss, but I think someone also needs to point out to Jane that she caused a lot of extra work for her colleagues by being deliberately absent in a blackout period.

    2. Biff

      This is a time when I feel that passive aggression is actually a viable solution. I would send a memo to ALL employees that due to recent events, or events in June, that peak times for Teapots LTD are May and June, and again in November and December. Outside of extraordinary circumstances NO LEAVE will be allowed during these times. Anyone that takes unauthorized leave during that team will be subject to the fullest disciplinary actions that the company is allowed by law. If these realities do not suit, then you will be happy to support people in their search for different employment.

      1. Colette

        But the issue is that she took the leave, anyway, so drawing a hard line that says it’s not allowed seems meaningless, if the perception is that she hasn’t suffered any repercussions for doing so.

        And “subject to the fullest disciplinary actions that the company is allowed by law” is far too harsh.

        1. Biff

          Wait, so being terminated without pay for the unauthorized leave is too harsh for when they WALK OFF THE JOB? It would be treated as a walk-off everywhere I’ve worked.

          1. Colette

            Well, the “fullest disciplinary actions that the company is allowed by law” could include a lot more than firing – the law allows for a lot of different kinds of discipline – and it also doesn’t allow any room for compassion depending on circumstances. (Get in a car accident on the way to work? Unauthorized leave. Have your house catch fire while you’re getting ready? Unauthorized leave.)

          2. anonintheUK

            Jane did suffer consequences – there is a bonus paid at the month after the end of peak season, and what would have been her share will now be split among the people who actually did the work. Also, there will be an internal promotion later this year for which three people including Jane were shortlisted, it’s now down to two. However, this has not been shared with her peers, though I suppose they will work it out in due course.

            I’m actually in favour of sending out a note reminding people of the blackout periods, that their manager will do their best to work with them if time off should be essential, but that absence without leave is gross misconduct and sanctions will be taken up to and including termination if appropriate.

            1. Luxe in Canada

              Splitting Jane’s bonus is a good start, but one other thing I think might show appreciation would be to write a note to the people who did Jane’s work, saying that management noticed and appreciates the sacrifice. A handwritten card saying something like, “Diana, this last month had some unexpected challenges, and you did a wonderful job of stepping up to the plate. Thank you.”

              If you can’t directly share details of Jane’s consequences, then sharing appreciation of her coworkers’ efforts might smooth some ruffled feathers until they work out the financial consequences she faced.

  68. AmyNYC

    My SO is looking to leave his current job and had two interviews for a company he’s pretty excited about (yay!). The first interview was with the supervisor and person leaving the position, and they rescheduled the day or two before the interview. The second was with the CEO and was rescheduled with half a day’s notice (he missed a flight). Is this rescheduling a red flag or just an unfortunate coincidence?

    1. B

      Speaking as a Recruitment Coordinator, rescheduling happens ALL.THE.TIME. Only a red flag if it is the same interviewer over and over – like a C-suite who clearly thinks everyone else’s time isn’t as valuable as his/her own.

  69. Befuddled Squirrel

    Wish me luck today. I’m applying for new jobs and hoping to make a career change. If everything works out, it will make my life a lot better.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Much luck from me to you. I hope it works out and that your life improves.

  70. Ms Scotland

    I’ll go and be social upthread in a minute but first I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for the following:

    I volunteer in a book and music shop for a worldwide known charity. Unlike the more general shops which sell clothes, knick-knacks and various other bits & pieces, we only sell books and music, DVDs, and related items. In my city, there is one of “us” and 2 other the more general shops. The assistant manager (my friend), with approval of the manager wants to suggest to the managers of the general shops that all DVDs, books and music come to us, are sorted through and then distributed – with the general shops getting more “lighter” books (things that pop up everywhere/chick lit/easy to read books/thrillers) and that we keep the items that we could sell for more. But how can you say that without sounding like you want to cream off the best for yourself, as it were and leave them with the not so good stuff?

    Any help gratefully received!

    1. fposte

      Can you articulate why it would be beneficial for the charity? I’m not seeing that yet.

    2. Celeste

      You suggest that they sell the items that would sell most quickly to a wider audience. They are surely interested in turnover. You on the other hand can take the risk of being a specialty store that sells at a somewhat higher price to a niche market. You are okay with slower turnover because not everyone is your customer, and it takes you longer to get your merchandise seen by the right buyers.

    3. Jamie

      Because you all have the same end game which is making the most money for the charity – and since you only sell this kind of media it makes sense for you to stock for the market first, because people looking for stuff like that will most likely go to you first and they have other things for sale that you don’t. So if the good stuff is dispersed you (collectively) will lose sales because only collectors will go everywhere and not even all the time – and your customers are only looking for this media where as their customers may be looking for other stuff and not even go into their book section – it’s the best way to move the merchandise.

    4. Biff

      As a person that shops for second-hand goods, I’d PREFER to have a specialize store that I know has ‘heavier’ goods. You could actually make a point of giving each store a particular speciality department. E.g. “Thrifty North” is where the best furniture goes because it has the biggest parking lot and easy access to main roads. Thrify South has the best small appliances because it’s near the college. Thrift East has all the wedding gowns/formal clothes because it’s near some swnaky hotels, etc.

    5. Celeste

      Honestly, specializing is shown to be great. We have Once Upon A Child for childrens’ resale, Play It Again for sporting goods, New Uses General Store for higher-end home goods, Plato’s Closet for teenage clothing resale, and countless independent stores selling womens’ used clothing on consignment. There is of course a market for a general department thrift store, but everyone expects to get the lowest price there. But I’m sure they count on high turnover, and you can’t get top dollar sales with high turnover.

      1. Jamie

        We have those, too. Also Music Go Round which my son loves for used guitars and amps.

        Is Clothes Mentor part of the same chain you mentioned? Because it’s right next to Plato’s and Once Upon a Child by us and they have some good stuff – but the prices aren’t great. Much higher than the equivalent at Plato’s. They had a pair of boots up behind the counter and I don’t know what brand – I’m not into the high end brands but they were clearly used – not beat up but obvious heel wear and they wanted $600 for them. Wow.

        If I’m going to spend $600 on a pair of boots they need to come to life at night and clean my house.

        1. Ms Scotland

          *snortle at your last sentence*
          I’m of the same opinion…

          Thanks for the good suggestions, I’ll pass them on to my assistant manager and see if he’ll take them on board.

        2. Celeste

          Yes, they are connected. The designer shoes must have been something that sells for over $1K new, to keep that value. These things tend to be limited edition, so I can how a collector might pay that. The rest of us, not so much! I forgot about Clothes Mentor, they’re the working woman branch. I think the reason there is nothing quite like that just for men is that menswear doesn’t go in and out of fashion so quickly, and suits are considered worth an investment that fashion is not.

          I found that the childrens’ resale was invaluable when my child hit a growth spurt that didn’t correspond with what season of clothing was available new. I was never willing to speculate on new clothing in larger sizes, so resale saved me. While I do agree with you that the prices can be higher than you think they should be for used, they did serve a purpose in having a lot of it in one spot for me to choose from.

          1. Jamie

            Ha – we have one at work and because I have cats at home when I see something floor level and moving I automatically baby talk to it.

            I cannot tell you how many times I’ve called our work roomba “mommy’s sweet baby” in front of people – and then I realize it’s a vacuum not a cat, and I’m not at home.

            People think I do this stuff on purpose because I’m angling for some forced time off – but I’m just that unaware.

    6. Anonsie

      I might say that best sellers and general interest should go to the general shops, and anything else goes to you?