open thread – July 25, 2014

Lucy playingIt’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.

{ 989 comments… read them below }

  1. Aunt Vixen*

    Helloooooooo open thread!

    It is my last Friday at my old job. I could dance and sing! (And nobody would mind, because the place is practically deserted. Ah, summer Fridays.)

    This time next week I’ll be in my new digs. I can’t wait. And I wanted to share my work-related happiness. Hope everyone else’s job search is also paying off.

    1. SnowWhite*

      Congratulations :):):):):)

      I’ve just been given the go-ahead to work on all of the projects that I have pitched to my bosses so feel like I am getting somewhere!

      Happy Friday dances all round! :0)

    2. Jen RO*

      I’m in my third month at my old-new job (I left and then came back), and as time goes on I realize that I made the right decision. I was worried that I would come back and regret it, but nope!

    3. AnotherAlison*


      (It’s mine too. I still have M-Th next week, and I’m just going to another division in another building, but I could also sing and dance.)

    4. PizzaSquared*

      Congrats!!! It’s my last day too! There seem to be a lot of us here. What a great day!!!!!!

      1. Angora*

        Congrats to all of you that have found new positions or new life in current situations? I have a job interview next week, wish me luck. Am hoping it goes well and that I can turn around and put in my 2 week notice.

    5. Anonyby*

      Yay! Congrats!

      I had a preliminary phone interview last night. (Ugh for it being without warning, but oh well.) That’s the furthest I’ve gotten so far!

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      Congratulations to you and all the others who are starting new jobs. Do the happy dance, even if there are cameras to tape it all, you could be a YouTube sensation. :)

  2. Audiophile*

    Dear open thread,

    It’s my last day at current job and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t feel guilty about leaving but I feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

    Monday I start my new job, whoo!!!! These two weeks flew by and I can’t believe it’s finally here!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Good for you! It’s obviously a needed change if you’re not feeling guilty.

  3. ZSD*

    Are there jobs in the US other than teaching that involve an annual extended period of time off, a la a summer vacation? (It wouldn’t have to be during the summer. I’d be very happy with a job that gave me, say, all of every October off.)
    Four years in to the working world, I’m pretty burned out and have decided that not having a summer vacation is for chumps.

    1. LBK*

      Some roles related to taxes/financials have larger breaks or reduced schedules after statement/filing season is done. Not quite the same as a full 2-3 month break but the cyclical nature of the business does lend itself to having a lot more time off at certain points in the year.

      1. Jennifer*

        My mom works for accountants. She gets to leave Friday afternoons a few months a year. It’s not very break-ish.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


      Well, a lot of jobs that are teaching-adjacent offer similar schedules (especially during the school year; non-teachers’ summer breaks are usually much shorter).

      Otherwise: Political campaigns? Unless you’re on a transition team for a senior-level elected, most folks tend to knock off for several weeks after election day. Construction and other outdoor jobs often have low workloads (and low income) during the winter months.

      1. Noelle*

        Also in politics, Congress is out of session during the month of August so if you work for a member it’s easy to take time off then.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          But not the whole month. It’s a good time to take vacation, but it’s not extra time off.

    3. ElinR*

      Fishing up in Alaska happens pretty much only in the summer.
      I also know of a seasonal firefighter whose job it is to sit in high risk remote cabins in case of fire.

    4. KitKat*

      Various carpentry-related fields sometimes do. As an example, a friend works as head set-builder for Cleveland Playhouse during their season (fall/winter) and would normally have the summer months free. He instead travels to Idaho for the Cleveland off-season and rebuilds the same sets there for Idaho’s on-season, which is summer.

      1. De Minimis*

        The IRS has a lot of seasonal positions, although I think many are the type where people have to find something else to do in the “off-season.”

      2. De Minimis*

        No word on the job I applied to back in May….bummed out. I don’t think I’m necessarily out of the running, I just think it’s the glacially slow federal hiring process.

        Still, I was told weeks ago that I was supposed to hear something by the end of last week at the latest. But I know the person who told me that was an HR person who wasn’t the one who was actually in charge of the process moving forward. I also am familiar with this agency–stuff gets put on the back burner all the time, and if someone is out for whatever reason, often things just don’t get done until they return.

        Hoping maybe I’ll find out something in August. I don’t really want to contact the HR person again, at least not for a few weeks.

    5. WorkingAsDesigned*

      If you enjoy the outdoors, consider working at a ski/summer resort. There’s a couple of them near me; one has both a winter (skiing/snowboarding) and summer (hiking, ziplining, etc.) season. There’s several weeks off in each of the spring and autumn seasons, so you’d get a couple of breaks. :-)

      Another option is working at a national park, which would also potentially in the winter/summer, depending upon the park.

    6. Elkay*

      Are you looking for paid time off? I can’t think of any jobs that provide that but seasonal work (tourist attractions that shut down for winter) might be something you could investigate. Interested to see other responses though.

    7. rek*

      Seasonal theme parks. Obviously not the mega-parks in Florida; they’re open and busy year round. However, there are a handful of large parks (mostly owned by the same corporation) that open in May and close after Fright Fest in October. Most are true seasonal jobs (you’re unemployed for the off season) but some are year round, just less intense in the winter.

    8. Lisa*

      Ski resorts and any seasonal snow related jobs tend to have 6 months off, but the pay isn’t the best for instructor jobs.

    9. Karin*

      You can just look for jobs with generous leave (or negotiate generous leave). I work at a job with 24 days off a year, plus we close between christmas and new years (that time is covered by using some of the holidays we would have gotten throughout the year.) So I could take a month off in the summer and still have a few days to play with and a week off in winter. Instead for the last few years I’ve been working 4 day weeks most of the summer.

      I have also seen companies with “unlimited” vacation – not sure how that works in practice, but if there is a slowdown period you might be able to get away with a month.

      And, of course, there is the work for yourself option.

      1. ZSD*

        Thanks, Karin! Is this 24 days off a year typical for whatever industry you’re in, or is it specific to your employer? (If it’s typical for your industry, would you be open to sharing what that is?)

    10. Loose Seal*

      River rafting guides. The ones I know travel to take advantage of the river seasons and are hired on contract. Most of them do the winter on South American rivers but some of them take off those months.

      Baseball umpires (or other sports). I actually don’t know any but I would assume that they get some time off in the off-season.

    11. Relosa*

      I work in entertainment/attractions/amusements – for full-time year round positions, there’s usually a healthy PTO allowance (3-4 weeks) and many people will take off an entire off-season month (November – February) for parks that don’t operate year-round.

      Right now I work in live entertainment, however, and if I had PTO or the ability to take time off right now, I would. Summer is very slow for us.

      1. Helen*

        there are lots of jobs in the public and private school systems that are not teaching/teachers and you would get lots of time off. You would not make as much as private sector, but that is the trade off.

        Lots of schools need math teachers and science teachers, and you might actually like it….just a thought.

    12. AmyNYC*

      Wouldn’t it be nice if EVERYONE got summer vacation? (not being sarcastic, I really do miss it)

      1. Cassie*

        I miss summer vacations… I could take time off (I get about 3 weeks a year) but it doesn’t feel the same.

    13. Sarah*

      It’s not for everyone, but if you can do your job as a contractor or consultant (independent, not for a major firm), you can build in your own off periods by not accepting jobs. I know a few software engineers that do this and travel instead of working up to six months a year. I don’t think it’s a secure option in every field, but it may be in yours.

    14. Angora*

      You can look at higher education. Many times they have 9-month administrative positions. But many times those are wage. Depends if you need benefits or not.

      1. ZSD*

        I’m in higher ed administration right now. :) We definitely work over the whole year – we’re here during the summer, during spring break, etc.

        1. Angora*

          I’m in higher education but at a small college. I’m full-time, but there are quite a few wage positions because the budget just isn’t there. More apt to find it at a small college or a community college versus a larger one.

    15. Natalie*

      In colder climates quite a few of the construction trades slow down a lot for the winter. You don’t get paid, of course, but if you can afford to take the time off they’ll usually furlough you.

      A couple of folks I know have described jobs in the nuclear industry that are 3 months on, 1 month off. There’s a lot of travel during those on months.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, forgot one other possibility – commercial pilots, if you fly international routes. I used to babysit for a family with a pilot dad and he was one an approximately 2-3 months on, 2-4 weeks off schedule. It was pretty irregular though, which was tough for the family.

    16. Graciosa*

      Instead of looking at specific jobs, you might also consider specific employers who offer sabbaticals. I’ve known a few of them who have done this at one point (McDonald’s corporation and Intel come to mind) although I don’t know if that information is current.

      Those programs offer extended time off after a set number of years – for example, 8 weeks off after 7 years which can be combined with 4 weeks vacation to allow you a quarter off – but you have to repay the company if you leave within a year of using this benefit. These applied to all positions in the company.

      Reading your post, however, it sounds to me like you’re not in a job you enjoy – whether it’s because of the fit, the hours, the culture, or whatever. The wrong job can be immensely draining. If all you can think about is how to get some time away, give serious consideration to your specific position and what needs to change about it (other than being there less often) for you to be happy. It may be that a normal annual vacation would be just fine with you if the job was an interesting one working with a team of great people and manageable regular hours.

      Just something to think about – good luck.

      1. ZSD*

        Thanks, Graciosa. An employer that offered sabbaticals would be great.
        I take your point about the fit of my job. There are actually things that I really like about my job, but it might just be time for a change. Part of the problem is that the good parts only come at certain times of the year. September and October are the best; I love coming to work during those months. But not much is happening in June and July, and it seems sooo stupid that I still have to get up in time to be in at 8 AM when I might spend three hours of the workday on internet time-wasters.
        I think what I miss is having a long break in which I don’t have to set an alarm.

    17. First Time Commenter*

      It’s not a month, but university jobs usually give you a free week at Christmas/NY and a free week at spring break, with loads of additional vacation time (my old one started at three weeks, with small bumps thereafter, I used a ton of time and still had like 23 days left over when I moved). That’s a big reason why I’m desperate to go back to work at a university (see below). Very much worth the lower pay, IMO.

      1. Kelly*

        I work at a public university and that isn’t accurate. Many people use up vacation time at Christmas that they cannot carry over into the next year, but we don’t get spring break off.

        1. First Time Commenter*

          My old (public) university job gave us workers Christmas and spring break, but looking at the employee benefits of the (public) university in my new city, this one doesn’t. Too bad, that was an awesome benefit greatly appreciated by everyone who worked at my old university.

          1. Cassie*

            Our campus shuts down for the two weeks around Christmas/New Year’s – we get 4 days as holiday pay (the days plus the eves) but we have to use our own vacation time for the other days. We also don’t get spring break or summer vacation, although we certainly could take vacation days if we wanted to.

            Our dept is pretty sparse during the summer – most of the staff are still here but the faculty level is about 1/3.

    18. Sabrina*

      Some companies shut down for two weeks, usually around Christmas. May or may not be paid. My mom worked for Baxter International and they did, though I don’t know if that’s still the case. Another is Case New Holland.

    19. ZSD*

      Thanks for all the food for thought, everybody! You’ve collectively come up with several ideas I hadn’t thought of.
      And I apologize for the belated response. I hope somebody is still around to see this thank-you!

  4. Anon Regular*

    What are some bad work habits that you have? I’m thinking about things that are the result of your work environments, teams, or managers.

    For example, my current manager thorough edits everything I write. I’m a very strong writer, and her changes are nearly always around preferences (rather than clarity or tone). It’s made me gun shy about sending out any kind of communication (even to small internal teams) without her approval.

    I’ve also spent most of my career in very small organizations with very small budgets. I’m terrible about reaching out for expertise from others in my organization (since I’ve spent most of my career with nobody else to reach out to) — and I get hung up on stupidly small amounts of money (“Oh, gosh, I can’t send that by 2-day mail – it will cost an extra $37!).

    What about you?

    1. Briefly anon*

      I have that same first flaw. I have a bad habit of sending everything in the world as a “draft” to my immediate boss before I do anything else with it. It comes from working in a situation where everything I wrote was then edited by committee (think millions of those little Microsoft Word comment bubbles everywhere) and then when I sent it back out, re-edited again by committee because people were having arguments and so on…

    2. Julianne*

      I did a lot of writing at my old job and followed AP style. My mgr only agreed with AP style when it fit it personal preferences. Drove me nuts! Especially when referring to cities and states as he used the postal code for states.

    3. SaltWater*

      I used to be a very detailed person. After 4 years at old job where all we did was run from one crisis to the next, I find I only skim things for the MUST DO and neglect the rest. It’s humbling having to relearn to dig into the details and to complete entire tasks, not just put out the fires.

      1. Harper*

        I hear you. I came out of a frantic situation into one where I have more involved projects to work on and it’s been a transition. In fact, at first, I found myself sort of lacking the ability to get started or plan out what I wanted to do, because I was so used to just RUNNING to put out whatever latest crisis had erupted. It was hard relearning how to manage my time.

      2. C Average*

        YES. Until you wrote this so succinctly here, I barely recognized this was a thing, but it IS a thing and I do it, too.

    4. The Real Ash*

      My biggest problem is not being challenged at work and then dinking around with reading or websites because I’m bored. My problem is that I don’t know what I want to do as a career, so I have no real “goal” to shoot for anywhere. :/

        1. De Minimis*

          Me too. I have ongoing stuff to do, but it’s very dull and time-consuming, and the tasks mainly exist due to our inefficient system. I am more motivated for the stuff that is deadline driven and that actually is reviewed by someone, but those are only a few tasks per month.

          I know it’s probably time to move on, but the opportunities seem pretty scarce. I’m in one recruitment process but that’s it, and haven’t heard anything for a long time about that. I don’t have anything else out there right now.

    5. super anon*

      The same thing has happened to me with my boss, except I’m not allowed to send out any emails without vetting them through my boss first. I’m not even allowed to email IT to fix my computer when they’re broke. When he checks them the things he corrects is stylistic and never content or clarity, and like you it’s made me have very little confidence in communication skills I once thought were strong. Often he’ll see an email that I have written as a response to a query that a student has sent me, and even though my answer is correct (I have checked the answers through others in the office before bring them to my boss to ensure the answer wasn’t missing anything as a way to show I can handle simple questions myself) he will tell me “nevermind, I will email this student myself” even though the email had been sent to me and not him.

      I’m the only person in the office who isn’t allowed to send communications without having them vetted, and after being here a year, it’s extremely demoralizing and depressing.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Have you asked your boss if there are specific issues with your writing he’d like you to work on or change?

        Previous positions I’ve had were forward-facing, so my interactions with students/professionals were often someone’s first insight into our office. This means that my communications had to be clear, professional, and error-free. So, even if the content was accurate, if the “tone” was off or if it didn’t meet a certain standard of professionalism, the email reflected poorly on the office as a whole.

        1. super anon*

          I have, and have gotten nothing in response. Others in the same (and even more forward facing roles, they actually interact with students in person in addition to email) forward facing role as me are able to send their emails without being vetted at all. I’ve had email training that is specific to our office, and what I write meets the standard of professionalism for the office, or I wouldn’t have passed the training at all.

        2. super anon*

          I should add that I have asked if there are problems with my tone, or my written communication in general, and he always replies with “No, we’re very happy with the work you do here”, but clearly that can’t be the case if I’m the only person in the office without the freedom to send even the simplest emails.

          I have never had this happen before in any other job. Prior to this I worked as a social media and customer relations manager for a company, and never had a problem.

          1. justvisting*

            I hear you on the demoralizing part, I’m sorry that doesn’t sound fun at all. Can you take note of what he is correcting or stylizing…and then be sure to mirror the advice or direction he is giving you? I think if you show him that you are adapting to the way he likes to do things or how he prefers to communicate he will be able to trust that what you are sending is up to snuff. You may not agree with him or his edits but it’s how he wants it done and the sooner you start to “think like him” the sooner he is off your back about simple emails. don’t beat yourself up!

            1. super anon*

              I’ve been doing that, but most often the change is simple as adding or removing a comma, an95% of the time there are no changes he wants made at all and he tells me that the emails are fine to send as I have written them. And yet, I still need to get everything approved before I send it out.

              1. Jennifer*

                There really isn’t any logic to this, other than he wants to nitpick you and treat you like a buttmonkey. It’s not really you, it’s him….but yeah, this is the price you (and only you) pay for this job.

          2. Angora*

            Sounds like he doesn’t have enough to do if he’s wanting to nikpick your e-mails to death.

            Are you more experienced than he is? Sometimes it’s not issue of another’s ability, it’s that the manager is threated by a new employee.

            If your skills match his or are better; he may feel the need to put you down a peg or two so he’s feeling better about himself.

            Have you had your annual review? If it’s an average or exceeds expetations .. you may feel free to ask him to let go of the reins. Ask him why you’re the only one he’s vetting? If you haven’t hit the 1 year mark, he may feel justified.

            To me, I would take it as being a control freak and not want to work for him any longer. Either you trust your employees to handle their daily correspondence or not.

            Another thought …. does he like you???? not the boss – employee like, but sexual attraction? If it’s the later, he could be a means to have interation with you on a regular basis. I so hope I am wrong … and so out of the ball park here.

          3. Natalie*

            YMMV whether this would work with your boss, but have you asked why you specifically have to have all of your emails vetted by him, and/or what would need to happen to not have to run all your emails through him?

            This setup would drive me 100% crazy real fast.

      2. ClaireS*

        This is horrible and I would be looking for a new job. The inefficiency would drive me batty.

      3. One of the Annes*

        Wow, super anon, your boss must be a micromanager of the first degree. I’m a writer/editor by trade and reread your post a couple times (not for comprehension of your point but to try to see if there were major grammar or punctuation errors that I’d missed the first time). If this is representative of your writing, you’re an excellent communicator, in my opinion. Don’t let your boss’s weirdness demoralize you; you are a good writer.

      4. 22dncr*

        super anon – in my experience you are being very, very, very subtly bullied. Eventually he will exculpate to another level. Right now he doesn’t feel he can get away with more for some reason – maybe someone higher up likes your work? Once that person turns their back on him or gets bored with him/you he will move on to something more. I have had this happen to me many times and it truly makes you begin to doubt yourself. Now I won’t stand for it and begin job searching right away. Especially the part where he can’t give you a reason – VERY typical. Best of Luck – I feel for you.

    6. Anon for now*

      I wasn’t confident with the specialized skills and software that we use when I started, so I developed a habit of checking my work with other people before giving it to the boss. This is fairly normal to do occasionally here, but not all work and not all the time. I should definitely move away from that because I’m wasting people’s time, but I’m nervous about making mistakes (I made a fairly serious one during my first few months).

    7. kac*

      I have a bad habit of trying to do too many things at once/getting distracted. For example, I will be half way through one project, a new email comes in, and I immediately open and start responding to it. Before long, I can have 10 different emails/project I’m supposedly working on concurrently!

      Obviously this is a bad habit, so I’ve been really focusing energy on doing one thing at a time, ever since starting my new (awesome) job two months ago. Slowly but steadily I can see my habits changing and my productivity increasing.

      1. Angora*

        You may have to block out a time period during the day where you are e-mail free. Say two hours in the afternoon or morning where you feel the most productive; and you do not answer them.

        Or do it the other way. I have had two bosses that blocked out 8 – 10 a.m. daily to do e-mail correspondence. Than they focused on everything else. They were in meeting etensive jobs … sat on lots of committees etc so they wouldn’t be checking e-mail at all.

        My current boss does correspodence and work during meetings .. she doesn’t focus on what is taking place because she’s doing her own thing. She even does that during training sessions .. so she doesn’t learn anything either.

      2. Natalie*

        I found pomodoros to be really helpful with this kind of thing. The traditional setup is 25 minutes working and a 5 minute break, but you could do longer time periods. And it’s up to you whether you need a real break (read some blogs or whatever) or if it’s just 5 minutes when you attend to other tasks (email, bathroom, make coffee).

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I’d have to say rushing through stuff to get it done fast and missing little details. I think it’s because I did the front desk for so many years that I got used to doing tasks at light speed before another interruption happened.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      My second ever real job severely eroded my ability to focus for a long time on one thing – there were constant interruptions, sudden emergencies, fires to fight, drastic shifts in priorities, deadlines being moved up with no warning, and way too much work per person. The effects lasted a few years after I left that job. I’ve been able to claw much of it back by a combination of practice and the Pomodoro Technique, which works really well for me, but I’m not where I was before I took that job.

    10. C Average*

      I have a terribly hard time staying focused and following through on complex, multi-step projects, especially if I have a long time to get them done. I get sidetracked by a fire that needs to get put out, I get interrupted by tech difficulties, something more important or interesting comes along, a squirrel appears outside my window . . .

      I also tend to spiral deeper and deeper into projects. I often wind up dealing with what I call matryoshka problems, because there’s a bigger problem with a smaller problem inside, and then there’s a smaller problem inside of THAT, and so on. For example, yesterday I was editing an article that appears on our website in English. Then I needed to get the changes localized for the Chinese equivalent, but my Chinese counterpart was out of office. So I emailed the person she’d listed as the go-to in her absence, and THAT email got bounced back. And then I had to ask around to find out if others had their emails to this person bounce back. After some digging around, I got the right email address. By that time, I’d nearly forgotten why I was emailing this person!

      Gahhhhh. Non-linear tasks just inherently make me feel like an ADHD-afflicted dingbat, even though I’m not.

      I always get them done eventually, and I don’t think anyone I work with knows what a struggle they are for me, but I’m pretty sure they take me way longer than they take other people.

    11. ChiTown Lurker*

      I stopped questioning my work load. My last manager was horrid. When he would add a task to my work load, I would say something about needing to shift priorities to complete the task. His response was always “that sounds like a personal problem to me.” If you pushed back in anyway, he would designate Saturday as a work day and make you come into the office. Over time, I just started doing tasks as they came up especially as I could do the work from home.

      After he left, I got a sane manager. Whatever tasks I was given, I just did them. The work day after I responded to an e-mail at 4am, my new manager called me into his office and asked me why I was working at that time. He assured me that I didn’t need to do that any longer. He also called a team meeting to let the team know that we no longer had to perform at that level. I wasn’t the only one. To this day, I still have difficulty stopping or ending a work day until every task is complete.

  5. LBK*

    Has anyone here ever done a Facet5 personality workshop? I did it yesterday and found it absolutely fascinating. I’m always a little wary of personality tests but the thoroughness of the information they give you after, not just about yourself but how you should be managed and how you should be motivated was extremely useful.

    (I promise I don’t work for them, I just found it really helpful and would recommend anyone that has the chance to take it do so!)

    1. ClaireS*

      I’ve never done this one but I am a sucker for a good personality test. I know some people hate them but I find the insight really valuable- especially if you do it as a team and find out your colleagues results.

      I’ve done Disc-Indra and Meyers-Briggs and find them both fascinating.

        1. LBK*

          It was very useful to me in terms of my career path – I don’t have aspirations towards a certain industry or a certain type of work, so it’s hard for me to decide what the next steps in my career are going to look like. Having my motivators distilled down to really specific points is helpful because it lets me narrow down what kinds of positions I should look for and what kinds of cultures I’ll be happiest in – because ultimately I don’t care if I’m working in tech, non-profit, financials, etc. as long as the role suits me. Now I know that that role should include setting/maintaining standards, focusing on long-term plans instead of short term cases, allow me a high level of autonomy and should feel like it has significance to me.

          None of that is really new information to me, per se, but seeing it laid out that those are the 4 main things that will make me happy in a job more than any other aspectswill really help me in deciding if a position is a good fit before I take it. It will allow me to screen out certain roles ahead of time more easily, and it will allow me to ask really direct, specific questions in interviews that will provide me useful information about the cultural fit.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I too love a good personality inventory. I’ve done DISC, Meyers Briggs, and StrengthsFinder, butmI’m not familiar with Facet5. (You know i going to go Google it later…) Strengthsfinder is my favorite; I find myself referencing it ALL the time.

      1. Chris*

        I love StrengthsFinder. Prior to StrengthsFinder, I was wary of these. Early in my career, my organization did them and I felt it basically set in stone what the organization expected I was capable of and I wasn’t really able to get out of it. I really like to stretch my capabilities and I didn’t like have a label around my personality that everyone in the office believed to be accurate. I recognize that this is somewhat about how my org used the information. Strengthfinder I found to be really empowering.

  6. Elkay*

    After getting back from vacation I have zero motivation, either in my current job or to look for a new one. I need some sort of fairy godmother of jobs to tell me what I should do with my life because everything managers give me feedback as being good at I loathe doing.

    1. Ali*

      I’m the opposite right now! I’m going on vacation next Friday and have mostly light weeks at work for the next few weeks after this one. But like you, I’m dragging and have virtually no energy left.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Let your mind wander and think a bit about what you like to do when you’re not working. If you can narrow down what you really like to do, and specificially what parts of it you really love, you might come up with a new career direction.

      Some people have hobbies or interests that I would think of as work, and some people would think of my hobbies and interests as work. I love books and reading, and I was happiest when I worked in a book store. However, I had to earn my living, so I needed a job that paid better. I like to be helpful, I like to get things organized, I like to find easier/faster/cheaper ways of doing things, and I don’t like to be in the spotlight. So I made my living for many years as a professional Administrative Assistant. (The downside was all the corporate nincompoops I had to deal with over the years.)

      If you can find an industry related to what you love to do, check it out. Find out what you need to learn to get a job in that sector and go for it! It sounds like you’re a younger person, and this is the time of your life to explore, take chances, expand your horizons, and challenge your attitude about how to work and how to live.

      1. Elkay*

        I’m young in terms of the grand scheme of working life but I’m 10 years out of school and I’ve fallen into a wage bracket which I’m resistant to falling out of. I loved working in a bookshop but that was my Saturday job fifteen years ago. Honestly, I’ve done a lot of hard thinking about what I’d like to do and never come up with an answer.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          My husband is in the same boat. We’ve elevated our lifestyle as he got better paying jobs, and he hates his current industry so he’s stuck between a mortgage, car payments, CC debt, etc until we get some of this debt paid down and he can take a lower paying job he likes better with a bit less pain (and like you, he doesn’t have any idea what that job would be. He liked working in TV but that barely paid the bills when we had no car payments, very cheap rent, next to no CC debt, and no kid, let alone now.) I’m working on getting a job but I’m still weighing the costs of daycare and what my job would pay.

        2. Natalie*

          Is there some job in your industry that would be “fine” and less loathesome, but offer similar income?

          I don’t think most people are crazy passionate about their jobs – they might like them just fine, but they get a lot of their personal satisfaction out of other junk. That’s an utterly acceptable way to be.

          1. Elkay*

            I know this is a bit late but I would totally settle for a job I liked just fine. I used to have one then I got laid off and moved sideways. I’m not tied to my industry, because I don’t have one, my job is more of a business support role so I can change industry (which is good but it’s just where the heck to start looking for jobs). Thank you for helping me see a positive though which is that I’ve got experience in two of the big industries around where I live.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Please do remember, though, that doing what you love comes with these potential problems:

        –A lot of things we love don’t pay crap.
        –Doing something you love as work makes it into work, which can make you not love it anymore.
        –Even the most fun job has less-than-perfect moments/days.

  7. Tigress*

    I was wondering if anyone of you could give me some advice on how to best execute a personal side project so that it could potentially become a nice work sample in the future? This fall, I’m starting a one-year masters program in strategic communication with a focus on new media and digital content. I also recently created a blog website that I will work on as a side project during school. I think it’ll be perfect for testing out everything new that I’ll learn! The blog’s focus is tiger conservation (which I am passionately interested in and read about every day whether I have a blog or not), providing both evergreen content and news about tiger conservation from all over the world – so it’s not just a personal this-is-what-I-did-today type of blog. I want the website to look really great and to have interesting content of substance and hopefully amass a decent following – and a fantastic bonus would be if when I am done with school a year from now, I could point to it as a sample of my skills in cover letters and/or interviews. At that point I’ll only have school projects and internships as work experience in this field, so it would be nice if this passion project somehow could be leveraged as an extra edge in my candidacy for jobs. What are your thoughts? Does this sound too far-fetched? What would you recommend I do/think about when I get this blog website up and running?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      It does sound cool, and I hope you link to it in your screen name. :)

      Why don’t you talk to one of your instructors about this? I’m sure they would have lots of good advice. Communications degrees usually have portfolio projects built into class assignments, so maybe you could levy this into one of those.

    2. Spondee*

      I supervise writers, and a fair number of entry level and career-change candidates use a personal website/blog as experience. I like to see that candidates have a consistent update schedule, that they are tracking metrics, and that they have a plan for growing their audience and interacting with other bloggers in their subject area. It’s basic stuff, but it shows me that you’re approaching your blog professionally.

      This should go without saying, but make sure that your real name is somewhere on the site. You’d be surprised how many people blog anonymously but then want to talk about their experience in an interview.

      It sounds like a great passion project. Good luck!

    3. C Average*

      No brilliant advice, but it sounds awesome. Please post the URL here when you create it!

  8. ACA*

    I have a phone interview today at 12:30 (so, in about 90 minutes)! If anyone wants to send any good wishes and/or calming thoughts my way, I’d really appreciate it. :)

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Good luck!

      I always keep some pre-scripted notes in front of me for a phone interview as a calming mechanism. I almost never need them, but it’s a nice safety net in case my mind has a frozen moment :)

    2. Felicia*

      Good luck! Just think that in less than 2 hours, it’ll be over and you’ll have done great :)

    3. Lily in NYC*

      If you have roommates, ask them not to have loud sex when you are on the phone! (that was a thread here once – it was a conference call and her coworkers thought she was watching porn while on the call).

      1. ACA*

        Hahaha, I remember that! Luckily that was not a problem for me, since the interview was during my lunch hour.

    4. ACA*

      Thanks everyone! I think it went really well, but we’ll see. They’re moving pretty fast, as she said that they’ll be scheduling second-round interviews for August 1st.

    5. C Average*

      I can feel it in my bones: As I write this, you’re saying brilliant things and wowing your interviewer. Keep up the great work!

      Let us know how it went.

  9. Mimmy*

    Quick resume question (well…the entire thing needs an overhaul, but that’s another story….)

    I’m about to start a graduate certificate program in the fall and was wondering if I should add it to my resume yet. The program is four 3-credit, graduate-level courses. Thing is, I don’t know exactly when I’ll be done as there’s no real sequential plan like with a larger program like the MSW. I could zip through this by next fall, or it could be 2016 before I finish; it all depends on when the two electives I choose will be offered.

    So I’m thinking maybe:

    Advanced Certificate in Teapot Studies, City University School of Professional Studies
    September, 2014 – December, 2015 (anticipated)

    Thanks for any help and suggestions!

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      When I was in the process of completing my Master’s, I just listed it as “Expected May 2013.” I think the same would probably be fine for a graduate certificate program.

    2. Mimmy*

      I should add that the “December, 2015” is a total guess at this point. I really won’t know until I get started and begin to get a feel for the program and any academic advisement.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        If your current plan is to finish in December 2015, I think that’s fine. You don’t need to be wedded to your plan, and it’s fine if it changes, just like it would be fine if you took a year off of college. It sounds like if all goes well, you will be done by the end of 2015, so just use that and update it if circumstances change.

        I wouldn’t put down a totally random date, but it seems fine to list the earliest realistic graduation date.

    3. The LeGal*

      It might not be a deal killer if you leave it on, but I recommend removing it unless it offers field specific training that you currently do not have. Employers may look at this program as a personal distraction that the employer will have to accommodate. Plus, since you haven’t started classes yet, you have not received the benefit of any training that would help your potential employer. Yet, a *big* congratulations to you! I’m happy you found something you’re passionate about.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I want to second that you shouldn’t include it on your resume if you haven’t actually started the program yet.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        Ah, I didn’t notice the timeline until after I posted. Yes, unless the certificate program is either extremely prestigious or really helpful for the jobs you’re applying for, I’d leave it off until you start.

        Good luck with the program!

  10. RL*

    I have a question about potentially inflated job titles. I am considering applying for a position outside my company but the job title has me freaked out. For example, my titles have been things like Chocolate Manager and Chocolate Analyst and this position is a Director of Chocolate Management. Where I work currently, not even my boss’s boss is the Director of Chocolate Management. Most of the job functions are things I did as a Chocolate Manager and I am very close to meeting the requirements. Do I assume they have different conventions on titles and apply? Will I look naive if I apply with such dramatically different titles on my resume?

    1. Felicia*

      Job titles vary so widely from company to company. My job title (when I start, in 2 weeks!) will be for example like Chocolate Teapot Administrator, but other companies list the exact same job as Chocolate Teapot Coordinator, Chocolate Teapot Assistant, Chocolate Teapot Associate or Chocolate Teapot Manager. Having seen the same job with so many different titles I pay attention to the job duties and requirements which I think are the meaningful part, and ignore the titles, which can often be meaningless

    2. BRR*

      Depending on the size of the organization job titles can vary. Also does the job description state who the position reports to?

      1. RL*

        Unfortunately it doesn’t state who it reports to. It gives the department which is the same department I am part of at my current company.

    3. The LeGal*

      It might not be a deal killer if you leave it on, but I recommend removing it unless it offers field specific training that you currently do not have. Employers may look at this program as a personal distraction that the employer will have to accommodate. Plus, since you haven’t started classes yet, you have not received the benefit of any training that would help your potential employer. Yet, a *big* congratulations to you! I’m happy you found something you’re passionate about.

    4. Mints*

      I mostly go by years of experience. I apply for lots of coordinator roles that say 1-3 minimum or preferred (ish), but some will say five years minimum or even more. So yeah, it’s much more about the other details than the title

    5. ClaireS*

      Don’t fret the title and apply. Titles vary so much from place to place that it’s hard to read too much into them. If you meet most of the requirements listed, you should apply!

      Good luck!

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      You might also see if the company website has a staff page. It might help shake out their title conventions.

    7. Chris*

      I would focus on the job description more than the title. I’m the Chocolate Teapot Director on my team and can acknowledge that at most places I’d be Chocolate Teapot Manager. I think the Director was thrown at me to make sure that the Chocolate Teapot Specialists knew that the Execs had entrusted a certain amount of decision making authority to me.

    8. KCS*

      I wouldn’t worry about different title conventions. It sounds like you’re qualified, so go for it. And I don’t think you’ll sound naive for applying.

      I just started a job as Director of Chocolate Teapots. My previous title: Senior Teapot Analyst. A huge jump in title, and I too was a little concerned when applying. But my experience matched the job description, and I “passed” my four rounds of interviews, despite my “Analyst” title.

      If this is something you want to do, go for it. Don’t worry about titles. Good luck!

  11. Bend & Snap*

    Did anyone see the story about the IBM execs who went out to lunch and spent the whole time talking about how they won’t hire women because they get pregnant? Horrifying.

    1. KitKat*

      ….. I’m sorry, wanna run that past me one more time? There’s no way I possibly read that right.


    2. Felicia*

      They talked about that the other day on the View, and it was absolutely horrifying. I hope people stop applying to or doing business with IBM because of it but I doubt it. They also said they’d only hire “mature” women, because they won’t get pregnant.

    3. Jenny*

      Rage inducing and completely believable. I have been on hiring committees where people have said “I dont’ want to hire her, we can’t have someone else leave on maternity leave.”

      I get that 12 weeks of leave can be hard for a business to deal with but man, there are so many issues that pop up in an office and this one has stigma. There’s a woman down the hall who has had two kids and missed work for maternity leave in the past 5 years but she’s so smart and so good at her job. Meanwhile, down the other hallway, there’s another guy who has missed a shit-ton of work for a variety of wacky reasons and has a number of times just plain slept through the morning and missed work. It kills me that on paper, the lazy guy would be a better selection than the other lady because she’s still in the age range where she could have kids.

    4. littlemoose*

      For once, the answer to “Is this legal?” is a resounding no! I imagine the EEOC would be very interested in any gender or pregnancy discrimination claim filed against them.

      1. littlemoose*

        Oh, I posted this before the links showing that it was in Canada. I’m not a Canadian lawyer, so I can’t say that it’s illegal (though my hunch is that Canada probably has similar laws). Still, that is terrible, whether legal or not.

        1. Felicia*

          Canada has similar laws. They would also be required to allow one year of maternity leave with the same or equivalent job waiting when the woman comes back. But in many ways that’s easier to cover, since they just offer a one year contract for maternity leave replacement, which is super common.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            That just seems so much simpler than the US system. Here you can barely get a temp trained up before a mother comes back to work (many women don’t take the full 12 weeks because it’s often not paid unless they happen to have the PTO banked.)

            1. Felicia*

              It’s also much better for people who want to have children, since taking a year off is normal and accepted, and a one year contract is a good amount of time to get real experience for the person replacing her. Both parents can’t actually take off a good chunk of time. If you didn’t take the full year here people would think something was wrong. I don’t think any other developed country in the world has maternity or parental leave worse than the US (I believe at least 1 year is fairly common globally) but then I worry that it will make attitudes like this worse, because when someone does have a baby, they’re off work for much longer then come back to the same job after 1 year.

    5. Jazzy Red*

      I am so not surprised by that. I was in the work force 40 years ago, and employers used to always ask young women if they were planning to get married within the next 2-3 years, and if they were going to start a family within the next 5 years or so.
      And they would say that they don’t want to invest time and money training people who weren’t going to stick around longterm.

      I am disgusted with IBM, though. I don’t want to wish a curse on anyone, but…it’s awfully tempting.

      1. jsutforthis*

        In the early 70’s I was denied a job at Hertz simply because “everyone knows all newlyweds get pregnant.” Said to my face! To that point, no one had ever told me I couldn’t do something because of my gender. I was stunned. To this day, I can picture that man saying that to me as if it was a good thing. Confronted many other discriminations after that before the law was passed … and even after. I will forever fight for women’s rights and against discrimination of all kinds. For my daughter and granddaughter.

        I have a personal list of companies that I will not do business with and IBM was just added. btw I have never rented anything from Hertz. :)

      2. Traveler*

        I have been asked in the last 5 years:

        Whether I was planning to get married
        If I was planning to have children since I was married
        What my husband thinks of my career decisions
        and more!

    6. Sarah*

      *Silently wills each of those execs to a parallel universe where IBM is run by a group of young women who won’t hire middle aged men because they get heart attacks and prostate cancer*

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Karma being what it is, the remarks went viral. Some poetic justice there I think.

      I wonder how many good employees, men and women, saw that and decided not to apply for a job with IBM OR decided not to renew their contract with IBM.

      We will never know.

    8. CoffeeLover*

      I was reading the article Bend & Snap posted and I had a look at the comments. There seem to be a few female commenters who had extremely successful careers at IMB. From what they say, it looks like the company culture is not sexist in the least. Many talk about the large number of female leaders in the company. Of course, you have to take everything with a grain of salt, which also means questioning the tweets as well. Considering IBM just won an award for Best Multicultural Women’s workplace, I’m going to side with the commenters. It’s possible the women tweeting misheard the conversation or the fact they’re from IBM, or the IBMers dishing out the sexism are outliers. Of course, I haven’t exactly done my research about the company myself though I do have friends that work there.

  12. Big Stupid*

    Made a blunder at work that resulted in costs that we weren’t expecting – not additional costs, just costs that we didn’t realize we would incur. We would have been hit with them anyway, I just didn’t realize it. Anyway, I feel foolish. Would appreciate any work mistake horror stories to make me feel like I am not the only one who makes mistakes! Boo!

    1. SnowWhite*

      When dealing with some high pressured negotiations, due to time constraints I was running documents from mail merge and hadn’t checked all agreements before they were sent out.

      Part of these negotiations were travel expenses and somebody else who had a boat, we agreed to pay their river tax (?) rather than transport money. Having checked the agreements several times on excel I ran the merge and distributed the letters. Having not double checked the content of the letters before sending them out I had managed to send the wrong agreement to a particularly difficult member of staff. The first I heard of it was in an email sent to all 100 members of staff with the letter attached, subject titled “boat? what boat!?”

      Luckily my boss found it slightly amusing and was just relieved that out of all of the information going through my desk at that time, that was the only mess up. But not only could it have been really bad (contract negotiations and confidential info), it was pointed out to all of my colleagues.

      Massive lesson learned though, check all documents! Not just content streaming into them

    2. SQL rebel*

      Oh god where do I start:

      I work looking after a database and managed to junk 660,000 rows of data, my making a school boy error, the intended update was meant for about 100 rows.

      I amended a fee income report and messed it up so the income was overstated by 113,000,000.00 dollars for the period.

      1. Jen RO*

        I like your username. And your mistakes are very funny, though I am sure they weren’t at the time!

        1. SQL rebel*

          Thanks the name amused me too.

          The mistakes were horrifying especially the first one as it was because I forgot the WHERE clause.

          Lucky for me my boss is really supportive and didn’t need to say much I was mortified :(

          1. Bea W*

            Ouch. That hurt to just read.

            A friend of mine managed to delete 1 TB of data in her early days as a sys admin by being too loose with the rm command. Lucky for her, her boss was also supportive.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Good bosses realize when NOT to say anything. They realize that the employee is already upset beyond belief and nothing they can say will drive the point home better. So their best bet is to just help clean it up.

          3. Windchime*

            I made the same mistake today — forgot the WHERE clause and emptied out a table. Fortunately it was just on the development environment.

            Another time, way back when, I accidentally created an infinite loop that brought the production system to a complete halt. Several hundred users got bumped off and had to wait for the Admin to stop my job and reboot the machine before they could get back on. Oooops.

          4. kris*

            I’ve always been terrified of messing up the where clause, so I start with a select clause and then if it selects the right data, I change it to a delete.

    3. ClaireS*

      I once cost my company nearly $10,000 because I failed to closely proof read a document.

      The evening I realized my mistake was the most horrible. My boss was amazing though. Her response: “this is not good. But, we can fix it and you will have to find the money in your budget.”

      She was calm and cool but didn’t downplay the fact that I messed up.

      1. Janis*

        Our client routinely sent 1-page forms in English to Spanish-speaking countries (namely, Mexico and Puerto Rico) requessting information. We never received any answers. I asked my native Spanish-speaking boyfriend if he’d take a whack at translating it. Took him about 2 hours, a dictionary and a call to his mother. When I proudly showed it to the client as part of a large process improvement project, it turned out they nearly flipped. They didn’t say anything to my face and I didn’t even pick up a vibe at the time. Evidently, their documents can *only* be in English (regardless of recipient) and apparently I signed a form that agreed to that on my first day on the job, 5 years earlier, which I’d never looked at or thought of since. The client called my boss who called me into his office, rigid with rage. I got the dressing down of my adult life, written up and the following statement said to me: “I don’t know if you can ever come back from this.” English only documents to Spanish speaking countries — who knew?

        The client — the US federal government. Yup.

          1. De (Germany)*

            I think that rule might be so that things don’t get lost in translation – they can then use an expert to translate it on the receiving end.

            Giving something work related to your boyfriend to translate when it’s for the government sounds like a really bad idea to me.

            1. Janis*

              If you only knew how totally inoffensive and unimportant the form was — and the reason was not so much I gave it to my boyfriend, although that was part of it, it was that no US government form can ever be written in anything but English. Apparently voting forms are exempt. That’s okay when we send these forms to Germany or Holland, not so much when we send them to Mexico. Then they are shocked, shocked when they are never returned!

              1. Crow T. Robot*

                “No US government form can ever be written in anything but English.”

                Hmmm, that doesn’t seem right to me. From personal experience, I receive benefits and every time I get something in the mail, it comes with a little slip of paper written in a bunch of different languages explaining how to get a translation of the original form if you need it. Maybe that is different because it’s a state government form, though.

                Also, I did some very preliminary research and found out that no “Official English Language” law has ever been enacted in the US. Some states have enacted such laws, but not the whole country.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I made a $50,000 mistake! I worked at a national news magazine and one of my duties was to make sure none of our stories conflicted with nearby ads. For example, car ads had to be 6 or more pages apart, you couldn’t have a diamond ad near a story about divorce or domestic violence, etc. It was late at night, right before we went to the printing press and I didn’t notice that a story about a plane crash was moved to a different place in that week’s issue. It was right next to an ad for an airline. Oops! We had to give the airline a free $50,000 ad to make up for it. To this day, I can’t believe I didn’t get in even a tiny bit of trouble. My boss actually felt bad because she thought she should have caught it herself. But we were a great team and it was our first mistake in 5 years, so the big boss was cool about it.

    5. Robyn*

      My boss of only about a week (he was new to the company, I was not) asked me to transfer £1.5m from one account to another, something I had done only about a million times before

      Did the paperwork, notified the banks and authorized the transfer.

      Next day he asked me when I was going to do the transfer. I said I already had! No money in the new account. But the old account did have a withdrawal! Where was the £1.5m???

      Nowhere, it turned out. I had put the sort code of one bank and the account number of another on the transfer sheet, so the money just sat in the ether…easy to fix, it turned out, after a few phone calls. And I had the following conversation with the CEO and my boss (who was the CFO):

      Me: Oh god. Am I fired?!?!
      CFO: Only if we find it in your personal account!

  13. Risa*

    received the unfortunate news that my boss and his wife (who also works at the company) lost their baby this weekend. She was due last Monday, and the baby was late in coming. Sometime over the weekend, the baby passed.

    I wanted to ask AAM readers for more advice. What, if anything, would be appropriate for us, as his team, to express our condolences for their loss? We obviously want to tread lightly, but don’t want to pretend like it didn’t happen, either. He’s planning to return to work next week.

    1. Mimmy*

      Very sorry to hear about their loss :(

      I wouldn’t make a huge thing out of it. Maybe just a card that you all can (optionally) sign to give to him when he returns. Just be mindful that he will be grieving, so the idea to “tread lightly” is a good one, but try not to act like you’re walking on eggshells either. It’s a tough balance, to be sure.

      1. KitKat*

        I agree with the “not walking on eggshells” bit. If he’s coming back to work, he probably wants to just focus on that. Acknowledge that he’s grieving, but go about business as usual. He probably wants some familiar stability right now.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I would say that response depends on how close you are with your boss. If you are very close, coordinating a couple days of meal delivery would be a great thing to do. I know it really helped me and my husband to have a couple weeks worth (my church family did this) of meals, so it was one less thing to worry about.

      Even though I didn’t read most of them, the cards I received were appreciated. That may be the better route if you aren’t as close.

      I would just caution to tread lightly. Don’t assume that helping is by taking things off his plate. Odds are he’ll appreciate the stuff he has to do at work because it helps to take his mind off of how they are feeling. Offer once if there is anything you can do and then back off.

    3. Chriama*

      I would just say you’re sorry for his loss and ask if there’s anything he can do. Nothing you say will make him feel better, so it’s more a matter of letting him know you’ll be supporting him in your professional capacity. Also let him know that he can ask you for something later if he can’t think of it now — he may not be able to articulate what he needs for awhile.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      Have one person who has a good relationship with the boss approach him and ask what everyone can do to help. A sympathy card is a nice idea, and you can ask if there will be a service for the baby. If there is, send flowers from the office team, or make a donation somewhere.

      Unless the boss says that he doesn’t want to talk about the loss at work, encourage people to express their sympathy individually to the boss–and his wife, if they know her–and not to ask prying questions. “I’m so sorry” is a good place to start, and take your cue from there; he may want to talk more, but he may well not. Sometimes people are so afraid of saying the wrong thing or of reminding the grieving person of his loss that they don’t say anything, which can be really isolating for the person.

    5. just laura*

      Something similar happened to my sister. Definitely acknowledge it. Most men tend to focus on their work after a loss (generalizing, I know) but in my experience women appreciate that people acknowledge the death. I’d send flowers or make a donation to an appropriate charity in the baby’s memory.

    6. Loose Seal*

      If you have co-workers who are fond of saying things like, “I knew this would happen if she kept eating sugar/exercising so much/never exercising” or “It’s Deity’s will,” then shut that down. You’d think people could keep their opinions to themselves but I’ve found there’s always at least one who can’t.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        +1. General rules:
        1) Refrain from religious comments unless the boss makes them first.
        2) Avoid explicitly or implicitly blaming the family.
        3) Don’t minimize the death, explain how it could have been worse, or try to find a bright side to the situation.
        4) Don’t ask when they’re going to start trying for another baby.

        Again, you’d think people would know better…

        1. nep*

          Wow — I really hope all these would be givens. But I suppose there are some who would make these mistakes. Second the no ‘Deity’s will’ talk. And a comment about exercise / sugar intake — something like that would be just…grrr, no words. But I guess not inconceivable; there are some out-of-touch ones out there.
          Agree with the idea of having someone close-ish to the boss ask whether anything co-workers might to to help.

          1. Windchime*

            Ugh on the Diety talk. Even if it’s true that “Diety must have needed another angel”, that’s hardly comforting to the grieving parents.

            The loss of a baby seems like it would be unimaginably painful. What a sad, sad thing.

            1. Windchime*

              My post makes it sound like I believe that there could ever be a situation where “diety must have needed another angel”. I don’t. It’s just a thing that people say in a misguided attempt to make people feel better.

    7. Celeste*

      Treat it like a death in the family, because it is. Find out if there will be services and do what you can for that. I don’t know if they have older kids to feed, but meals and gift cards for takeout might be very helpful anyway.

      I assume she’ll return to the office; if so, acknowledge her and her loss. I think the eggshell dance just makes it harder. You can say you are glad to see her, you can say you’ve been thinking of her.

      Beyond that, and for him too, don’t assume you know how they are feeling. Dealing with the misguided things that people say is very demanding for people who are grieving. If they want to talk about it, only listen if you can be accepting of what they say and not “go there” with anything except how sorry you are. An exception might be if you had an antenatal loss your own self and want them to know they are not alone. Really, that is about all you can do.

      It’s a little different sort of grief in that our culture doesn’t really have a ritual for it. Japan does; they have special gardens for miscarriages and recognize it as a death in the family. Americans are more tempted to look on it as not a “real” death as they feel the baby was not a person who existed (or some such) and doesn’t have the same legitimacy some how (I know, it’s awful). Reality check: they had a room for this child, and a name picked out, and he or she was very important to them.

      Good luck; you are so kind to prepare for this.

      1. the gold digger*

        Not trying to be nitpicky, but I gather from the OP that this death was a stillbirth, as the baby was due to be born last Monday. Not that all such events aren’t horrible, but I would imagine that getting to your due date and then having your baby die would be unbearably awful.

        1. Jamie*

          I missed this – you’re correct. Back when I was having kids 20 weeks was the cut off between stillbirth and miscarriage. Because I lost my baby at 20 weeks, but apparently s/he’d been ..not alive for a week or so, which is why they had to have a big discussion about whether or not it was a miscarriage or a stillbirth for the medical paperwork.

          Anyway – I can’t even imagine what she’s going through to get so close to term – it’s heartbreaking.

    8. Relosa*

      The only thing I can really offer is that keep in mind even though the baby was not born live, that the parents will grieve just the same as if it was a child they had raised. I had some friends go through something similar recently. People tend to treat it like an old dog that gets put down – “You can just get another pregnancy,” and it doesn’t work that way.

    9. Been There*

      My husband and I also lost a baby late in our pregnancy (7 months).

      Just tell him that you’re sorry for his and his wife’s loss. A condolence card signed by those of you who wish to sign it is appropriate, and will be appreciated.

      Also, give him some space and grace. Losing a child is different from every other kind of loss. Your boss may not have the same type of personality that he had before; it could be a temporary change, or a permanent one. Be patient; our loss was over 10 years ago, and we still have grieving moments.

      Regarding your boss’s wife: My husband worked in a retail store at the time of our loss. At about the 6-week mark after our loss, he mentioned that the other employees missed seeing me. I didn’t want to go out into public, but really appreciated knowing that they cared about me. When his wife returns to work, I’d recommend following the same strategy as mentioned above for your boss.

      Also, I’m sorry for you and your co-workers. When a baby is due, everyone around the expectant parents is expecting, too.

    10. Sally Forth*

      BTDT, just say. “I am so sorry to hear your news.” Nothing else. At this stage, there will probably be an obituary with direction as to memorial donations and you can follow their wishes. If not, a donation to the local children’s hospital would be appropriate.

      Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, make sure EVERYONE in your company knows. You do not want people coming off vacation asking if the baby finally arrived. Also suppliers and customers who see the boss regularly should be discreetly advised.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Yeah. BTDT. Nothing like asking me how’s my pregnancy going, when I miscarried 6 weeks ago. (About 3 years ago that happened to me.) Miracle that I didn’t break down.

      2. Camellia*

        Oh, good thought on letting everyone know. How horrible to be the one asking about the ‘happy event’.

      3. Jamie*

        This, this – 1000x. BTDT too, although I was 5 months and not almost full term and that was hard enough.

        Just say sorry for the loss and stop talking…everything people said after that just made it worse.

        I lost my baby 4 days before my mom died so at the funeral there were a lot of extended family who didn’t know. One person found out graveside and told me to take comfort in the fact that the baby was probably deformed and it was a blessing this happened now.

        Yeah, I didn’t get a lot of comfort from that and may possibly have made some sarcastic rant about being so very grateful for loss and maybe everyone else in my life who is imperfect could die now too and get it all out of the way.

        I wasn’t in a good place. But lesson learned the hard way – “I’m so sorry for your loss” and then zip it.

    11. Risa*

      Thanks for the suggestions – it’s validated a lot of what I was already thinking. I’ve never been pregnant, nor do we have a lot of kids in our extended family, so my personal experience with events like this is pretty limited. Because of their roles in the organization, the company had a baby shower a few weeks ago and there was close to 100 people present for cake, so there was a lot of awareness. HR has sent out an official notification with information about support and grieving, not only for the parents, but for others who are close to them – so the letting others know thing was pretty well covered.

      I really appreciate the sound advice – and that so many of you were willing to share your own personal experiences with loss.

  14. Sascha*

    Would it be appropriate for me and my coworkers to provide feedback to our director about our manager?

    So I don’t cross your eyes with a wall of text, it feels like my manager is dead weight. When it comes down to it, my team could function perfectly well without him, and he often gets in the way – such as, things that need his approval wallow in his inbox even after several reminders, he is reactive and defensive and will panic about problems instead of focus on resolving them, and even our director rarely assigns projects or tasks to him anymore – he just come straight to me or my team. Whenever my director comes straight to us, he lets my manager know because otherwise, Manager will throw a hissy fit if Director assigns work directly to us without Manager’s “approval” (which I think is dumb, shouldn’t the director be able to do that without needing his subordinate’s approval?).

    Anyway, it’s just very frustrating to work for Manager and I don’t see that he is needed at all. My team and I have been reluctant to provide feedback to Manager directly, because we have seen firsthand he takes criticism very badly – he’ll yell, he’ll get defensive, he’ll attack the other person. As long as we smile and nod, Manager stays in a good mood and leaves us alone to do our work.

    I’m not sure what I’m hoping to accomplish by talking to our director about this…I know they won’t fire Manager, as we work at a place were firing is very difficult. But I just want to get it off my chest…and I guess I’m hoping my director acknowledges this. And of course, there could be many other sides to this I’m not seeing, like maybe Manager has a lot of his own things he’s accomplishing, but I really don’t see it. Also, I’ve had several people over the years contact me asking if Manager still works here because he doesn’t follow up with them, or other people in the department will come to me to get something done that had been assigned to Manager.

    All thoughts/suggestions/comments appreciated!

    1. HR Manager*

      Have you talked to HR? Assuming you have a competent HR department, they might be able to help. Whether you go to HR or the Director though, I’d position the conversation as a advice on how to give feedback to your manager, rather than a suggestion to get rid of him because he adds no value. I think the latter would just be taken as a rant about a frustration. If asked, you can share that you’ve tried to give feedback in the past, but that it has not been well-received or has not been ‘heard’. That might open up a broader conversation about him as a manager, and what role he really plays on the team.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      Have you directly asked your manager to meet specific deadlines?

      It’s very common to assume your boss isn’t doing anything, but it’s not always true–I learned this the hard way when I was promoted into my boss’s shoes and found out exactly what she did all day.

      I don’t think it’s appropriate to go up the ladder and say your boss is dead weight and not needed. It is appropriate to address the behavior directly with your manager and if there’s no change, to then elevate.

    3. Colette*

      Well, it sounds like the director already knows, but I wanted to address this part:
      Whenever my director comes straight to us, he lets my manager know because otherwise, Manager will throw a hissy fit if Director assigns work directly to us without Manager’s “approval” (which I think is dumb, shouldn’t the director be able to do that without needing his subordinate’s approval?).

      The director absolutely should keep the manager in the loop. If he doesn’t, the manager will be surprised when things slip due to people working on things he knows nothing about.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        There’s a difference between keeping someone in the loop, and someone throwing a hissy fit because he feels the director should beg his approval before assigning work. A good director would speak beforehand to the manager about assigning work to the manager’s people. It’s the polite thing to do. However, the manager should never expect he is in a position to give his superior “approval”.

        For the OP, since your director knows what your manager is like and hasn’t done anything about it yet, he never will. Grouse to each other all you want, but I think you need to just accept the fact that you have an incompetent manager and keep doing what you’re doing.

    4. Barbara in Swampeast*

      What can you tell the director that he doesn’t already know?? He is coming directly to you, so he already knows your manager is not doing what he is supposed to do.

      Unless you can tell something serious that can get your manager fired, going to the director will be a waste of time and could reflect badly on you.

      If you want to talk to the director, I would phrase it as asking for suggestions on how to work with/or around your manager. Tell him what you are already doing to make sure work gets done and ask for any other suggestions.

      I don’t see any good outcome of just getting stuff off your chest.

      1. Jennifer*

        Seconded. If he can’t be fired, then he can’t be fired. And ranting to a higher-up usually does you no good.

    5. OriginalYup*

      Sounds like the problem is 50% your boss and 50% his boss. Your manager does a lousy job and people have to work around him to get things done. Instead of dealing with this problem, his boss does an end run around the manager and works directly with his staff. And honestly, it’s understandable that your boss is annoyed that his boss is going around him instead of working with and through him — if my boss repeatedly keep me out of the loop and acted like I wasn’t necessary, I’d be pretty annoyed. But your boss has obviously doubled down on his own dysfunction by being an @ss who does shoddy work.

      So I don’t think you’re going to get a lot out of going to the Director with this. Obviously he already knows that your boss is mess — that’s why he’s already working around him! It sounds like you want him to have an epiphany and take decisive action, but everything he’s done to date indicates that he’s committed to the status quo. In terms of talking to the Director, you could open it up by saying something like, “I have ongoing challenges in working with Boss that make it harder to be effective and productive. Do you have advice or guidance for how I can proceed?” If you provide him with specific scenarios in an objective way, he might have some good advice, and his answers might be illuminating about why he’s not dealing with your boss and where he sees this all going.

      1. Sascha*

        “It sounds like you want him to have an epiphany and take decisive action, but everything he’s done to date indicates that he’s committed to the status quo.”

        Yeah…that pretty much sums it up. I think asking Director for advice on working with these challenges in a good idea. I definitely don’t want to just rant to Director or whoever about this guy…that’s not productive.

        As far as the keeping Manager in the loop thing – my director does keep Manager in the loop, but Manager wanted the director to get Manager’s approval before assigning projects to his staff. So it wasn’t really about not knowing, it was about approving. Which I guess you could argue that the director should get approval in case it conflicts with other projects Manager has assigned.

        1. OriginalYup*

          Yeah, the approval thing sounds symptomatic of their problem. The Director doesn’t need the Manager’s approval to assign work, so the Manager sounds kind of officious about that. But at the same time, the Director should be working that issue out directly with the Manager — when the Director needs to assign things directly, they’ll both do X, and the rest of the time they’ll both do Y, or whatever. Meanwhile you and the rest of the staff are caught in the middle.

          Good luck on the talk with the Director. You never know, you might be lucky and he says, “I hear your concerns, and you’re not alone, and I want to assure you that we’re taking this seriously and you will see changes in the next few months.” But it’s probably best to prepare yourself for him saying that you need to continue to work around the manager. But even then, he might give you some insight into why it’s happening this way. I once had a similar convo with a CEO about a VP who just absolutely barking crazy, and I was able to pick up from the CEO that the VP was in the position because he’s best friends with the Board Chair and therefore not going anywhere.

          1. Bend & Snap*

            It’s a professional courtesy to ask before you take up someone’s resources. Depending on the culture, the director asking the manager is not weird or indicative of a problem.

            1. OriginalYup*

              Someone telling their boss that boss has to get their subordinate’s approval before doing something isn’t how that convention works, though. I can see a manager saying, “Boss, I need us to work together on assigning work because there are pieces in play that aren’t on your radar,” but it sounded more like the manager was making it more of an ultimatum, “You must do assignment through me only.” Which…kinda isn’t his call there.

              1. Bend & Snap*

                We don’t really know what happened though. I doubt the OP witnessed the conversation.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When stuff like this goes on for a long period of time, I tend to think the bigger problem is the upper management.

      Okay, it is hard to fire people. If you never start the process then it is even harder.

      So far it looks like the director’s strategy is to make the manager feel that it is pointless for him to be there, and hopefully the manager quits.

      I would start checking with my own thoughts on the situation. Is there a department that I could transfer to? Am I prepared to work in this setting indefinitely? Conversely, if the manager got fired/ran away/quit tomorrow, how do I feel about the director? Do I think this situation is a one of a kind or is it the way the director routinely handles problems?

      Since everyone is aware of the problems and nothing has happened yet, I would serious wonder how effective I would be by telling the director there is a dead elephant on the dining room table. Now, if I had thoughts on solutions to solve the problem (that don’t involve firing/demoting) then I might go forward with those ideas.

  15. Felicia*

    I got a full time permanent job that I think I’ll like after 2 years of looking! There is hope! I am so happy!

    In addition to happy , though, I’m super nervous. I know everyone gets nervous, but I tend to get more nervous than the average person when it comes to new things, and there’s also a bit of imposter syndrome going on. My junior kindergarten evaluation said I have trouble with transition, and that’s still true. Any tips to get over the nerves as soon as possible? I think i’ll actually like this job, and I want to do well, which is of course making me more nervous.

    I was also the second choice, which doesn’t help. I was actually rejected from this job on July 14th, and then on July 21st told it was available again, and do I still want it. I remember a recent thread with tons of examples about how being the second choice worked out well for people…can anyone find it? I can’t seem to find it. Or if you had any stories about how being the second choice worked out wonderfully for you, I’d love to hear them!

    1. Ali*

      I said this upthread but I’m nervous about my new part-time job too! I’ve already been there for two months as an intern, but I decided I liked the work, the company’s mission and the people and wanted to stay. Now that that’s been agreed upon, I’m nervous now that I’m getting paid and might be hired full-time if I do well as a part-timer. It’s like…my supervisor has already said repeatedly that she likes my work but I’m more nervous and like she’ll expect rockstar mode all the time and what if I make a mistake or fall behind on something?

      1. Felicia*

        That’s my exact feelings and why I’m getting myself so nervous, except I’ve never worked there before. I’m just finishing up a 2 month contract before I start that is extremely similar, but there are certain aspects that I’ve never done that sort of scare me. The only thing I’ve found that sort of helps is thinking they must have hired me for a reason. It doesn’t help enough but it sort of does.

    2. ACA*


      I don’t have any second-choice stories for myself, but the current admin in my office was the second choice, and I am honestly so glad the first person turned down the job, because I love our admin so much. She fits perfectly with the office culture and is great to work with. I can’t imagine how she wasn’t the first choice – and I can just about guarantee that someone will think the same of you. :)

    3. rek*

      Congratulations! Don’t let the second choice thing throw you. It doesn’t mean you were “second best”; it means they had more than one great candidate and only one spot to fill.

      Going back some years, when I first completed my degree, I applied to a large insurance company with a good reputation of hiring right out of school. I received a rejection letter the same day I received the “thanks for applying, you might hear from us later” letter. (Yes, letters. It was that long ago.) I was a little confused, but figured I wasn’t a candidate. The next day I got a call from HR to set up the first round of interviews. I was eventually hired, and it turned out to be one of the best work experiences I have ever had.

    4. Jen RO*

      I have a story from the other side – my department was hiring and we had two finalists for a position. We chose one of them because she had experience that would have been a plus. A couple of months later, a similar position opened, and we hired the runner up. Both are good employees, but the runner up is *better* than the person we hired first.

    5. Sarahnova*

      here’s a few things that I can’t guarantee will work, but may be worth trying:

      – Remind yourself that humans do tend to be loss-aversive and focus on the negatives in any change, overlooking what they stand to gain. Consciously focus on all the great things this means for you (new potentially-awesome colleagues! new challenges! money!).

      – Literally visualise everything going well – you meeting people on your first day, you settling into your desk, etc.

      – if you find yourself caught up in negative thoughts (“they’ll find me out”, “it’ll be a disaster”), mentally squash that thinking – literally. I imagine a great big foot coming down on repetitive thoughts (I think I played too much Jet Set Willy on my brother’s Amstrad C-Pac as a kid and that image got embedded in my brain). I once talked to someone who puts the thoughts in a big crate and mentally throws them off a cliff, Wile E. Coyote-style. Keep doing that until your thoughts move on.

      Good luck! You’ll be great.

      1. Felicia*

        I will try all of those things! I hope one of them works! I really want to be able to enjoy this awesome opportunity and don’t want to let how nervous I am get in the way.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Physically relaxing is also good – consciously breathe deep, let your shoulders drop if they’re around your ears, stand up straight. The techniques I’ve mentioned above are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-based. If you find them useful, you can find loads more input and “brain training” of this kind online.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        +10 to the positive mental pictures.
        I tend to have boundless energy when I get nervous. A few times I have used my drive time to work or quiet time at night to visualize parts of my work day.

        Of course, this only works after your first day, but I recap using pictures in my head the various things I did each day. Particularly, if something seemed to be an involved cumbersome process. I would picture myself doing each step of the process. This helped so much and the fact that I could only remember 3 out of 5 steps did not matter. When I returned to work the next day, I was able to figure out the other two steps because I was secure with the first three.

        For the first day where everything was unknown, I pictured myself greeting people confidently and quickly finding ways to remember their names.

    6. Omne*

      I was actually the third person hired for my entry level job, the other two moved within the organization fairly quickly (less than a month each). The hiring manager went off the same list for all three of us. Now I’m in management 25+ years later and they’re both long gone, and neither left under good circumstances.
      It’s worked out very well.

      Just because you are the second choice doesn’t mean you can’t be the best choice.

    7. nep*

      Might sound trite, but the fact that you were once described as someone who ‘has trouble with transition’, and the fact that you happened not to be the initial person selected — None of that comes anywhere close to defining you and how you will do in this position. Look at everything with a fresh eye. Why taint the new start with any of that baggage, which is only thoughts that have ‘power’ only if we breathe life into them.
      Congratulations on landing the job. Go for it. Go all the way — face down the nervousness. You’ve got this.

    8. Rachel*


      I have a second-choice story from college. One of my professors suggested I apply for the ASME magazine internship program. It’s really a dream internship program for any aspiring magazine journalist, so I decided to apply, even though I figured I had almost zero chance to get selected. I first had to get through an internal competition to even get submitted by my school. (My journalism school could nominate two people for spots in the program.) There were seven or so people applying, all of whom had a lot more experience in student media than I did. I was absolutely shocked when I was picked as one of the two nominees! My application was sent on to ASME, and I was chosen as an alternate. About a month later, I received a letter that all the spots were filled, thanks for applying. I was a little disappointed, but considering I’d gotten much further in the process than I’d ever expected, I couldn’t be too shocked. Life went on…and then on the Monday of finals week (three weeks before the program was to start), I received a phone call at 7:30am from the co-director of the ASME internship program. One of the interns had to drop out at the last minute, and he wanted to know if I was still interested in participating. Of course I said yes! It turned out to be one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had.

      Incidentally, I never became a magazine journalist, but the publication I worked for was a trade publication covering the field I actually ended up working in.

    9. Lily in NYC*

      I was the second choice at what ended up being my best job ever. I was young and the boss wanted someone more “mature” and hired someone else. The person was a disaster and lasted two weeks – I got a call to see if I was still interested and I jumped at the chance. I’m so glad I did because it worked out in every way.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      Congratulations Felicia! If you weren’t nervous about starting this job, we’d have to check to see if you were human or not. Everyone’s already given you great advice and I would just add/reiterate not to think about being their second choice, but just go and prove to them they made the right decision in hiring you.

      1. Felicia*

        Thanks!Haha thinking I have to prove something will probably make my nerves worse, but the temp job I’m doing now is basically the same in many areas, so I thin it will be good to think “I did this before, I can do it again.”

        I am also actually grateful that whoever the first choice was accepted and then changed their mind.

    11. Tina*

      I was a second choice at my current job. (maybe even third or lower, who knows!) I just had my first performance review and things are going fantastically. And the guy they hired right after me is an absolute joke, zero work ethic, literally on Facebook all day long. Interviewing skills don’t always correspond to on the job skills. And put it this way, there is always someone better at something than you out there somewhere and it’s just luck that they happened to apply to the same job. But you are the one that got it!! So luck ended up working out in your favor.

    12. Audiophile*

      So I somehow forgot to mention my own second choice story… oops.

      The job I just resigned from, I was their second choice. I’ve been there three years and it’s worked out so well. Yesterday, was my last day in the position and I got a very nice card from one of the higher ups, stating that I had set a “precedent” in my role as receptionist and they fully expect my replacement to continue that, once someone has been selected.

      Initially, they rejected me – I had met with the account manager and the program manager right before July 4 2011. By the following Tuesday, I was told, they picked someone else but that my employer (a security staffing agency, best way to describe it) would keep looking for a site to place me at. A few days later, I got a call back from my company asking me when I could start with the client, I explained that they’d already rejected me (you know, just in case they forgot) and they said things had changed and the client now wanted me. I was thrilled, because I needed the work. I didn’t expect to stay long, at the time I was taking graduate courses in Brooklyn and the job site is in the suburbs, grad school didn’t work out, so I stayed put. The client, eventually asked me to become the receptionist for the main lobby of their corporate headquarters, still as a contractor/employee of my company.

      Like I mentioned above, I’ve been in the role for three years. I didn’t realize how much of an impact I’ve had, until I announced I was resigning and saw the mix of disappointment/excitement. While everyone was very happy for me, many said they just couldn’t imagine what was going to happen now that I was leaving, that I spoiled them and really went out of my way to help them and make sure things ran smoothly. It’s certainly nice to hear, but I believe everything I did, was just common sense and common courtesy.
      Anyway, don’t be concerned about being second choice – I wasn’t. I went in and did the best job that I could, treated everyone with respect (even those who didn’t treat me in kind) and went on with my day. No one will remember you being second choice – except maybe you – if you go in and do your best. Trust me, as I was mentioning it over the last few weeks, I got a couple of sideways looks and no one remembered that I wasn’t their first choice.

  16. Ash (the other one!)*

    I am about to accept one of my four job offers! Thank you AAM and community for your help these last 10 months!

    Question for the hive: what is the best way to turn down the other job offers without burning bridges? I will still need to work with all of these people (small field, shared contracts), so need to make sure I do it carefully…

    1. Mimmy*

      Sorry, no advice for the question, but YAY!!! I actually just clapped for you because I know you’ve been really struggling with this.

    2. Felicia*

      That’s amazing! Good for you! I’ve never had to do that, but I’d definitely thank them for meeting with me and say how awesome the opportunity sounds (for whatever reason I think that ), but I’ve accepted a position with another company, and best of luck in the search.

      And you can think of how happy your turning the others down will make the second choice for those positions :)

    3. BRR*

      I think you should let them know as soon as possible because it could affect their hiring (after you have a written offer with a starting date of course). Just something about withdrawing your application, deciding to pursue another opportunity, and wish them the best of luck in filling that position.

    4. SnowWhite*

      Yay for you on your job offers!

      (>’-‘)> <('-'<) ^('-')^ v('-')v <('-'’-‘)> ^(^-^)>
      ^That is supposed to be a happy dance thing btw – ha!

      I would just be honest with them, that you had four offers and the one you have accepted you feel as though would be the best mutual fit

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Love the dancing!

        I echo everyone else–let them know promptly, thank them for the offer, tell them you’ve accepted a position with X organization, and you wish them well.

    5. Sarahnova*

      Well done you!

      “I wanted to let you know that I have recently accepted another offer, and will therefore be withdrawing from consideration for this position. Thank you so much for your time so far; I’ve very much enjoyed speaking to you. All the best in finding the right person for the role.”

      Edit as needed. If they push on why you accepted a different offer, feel free to be honest but vague; no-one with sense and manners will push you hard on specifics.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      If it was a tough decision to decide which offer to take say so, but don’t lie, if that is not the case.

      If you feel honored/flattered by the offer then say so, again no exaggerating or lying.

      You get the idea, find the positive and tell them that positive.

    7. Vancouver Reader*

      Congratulations! As for turning down the other offers, as long as you decline in a nice way, there’s no bridge burning. These are all business transactions and while you were their #1 candidate, you had a decision to make and you chose your first choice.

  17. Evilduck*

    After leaving a job, do you follow the hiring process for the person to “replace” you?

    My former workplace just now posted a job description for what I was doing, four months after I left. On one hand, I’m happy to see that they’ve written a job description (I didn’t have one for almost 2 years) and that they’ve placed more importance on communicating with stakeholders (it’s a FFRDC that’s behind the times and thinks that people will just give us money to do research without wanting to know what it’s all about and how it’s helpful). On the other hand, it comes with a salary and title bump and I’m trying not to be insulted by that (they always shot me down when I asked for either of these). I’m much, much happier in my new job and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I’m also nosey :)

    1. Luxe in Canada*

      The job I left a year ago, I absolutely followed it. It took longer than I’d expected to fill it, but from what I’ve heard the person in that role now is doing an excellent job. Also, she is getting paid significantly more than I was, which is good for her and she deserves the pay she’s getting, but it does get under my skin a bit because it’s like 130% of what I was being paid in the same role. I hear you on trying not to be insulted by that!

    2. Harper*

      Yeah, I can’t help but wonder … Although I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever ended up having exactly good feelings from it. :)

      One job, they knocked way down — like three levels– and hired some kid. I mean, I should not take that personally because I think it was clear that there just wasn’t enough high level work in that department, which is why I left, but still …

      But, yes, I’ve also had it happen where I was asking for a promotion or for the job to be reclassified and was continually shot down until I left, only to find out they bumped the job up before hiring someone new. Whatever, people. :)

    3. LAI*

      Yep, the person who was hired to replace me in my last job was straight out of grad school. I’d been hired into that role with 8 years of experience in the field plus a graduate degree, which made me realize just how overqualified I’d been for the position. It also made me hope that they weren’t paying her as much as they’d paid me!

    4. C Average*

      My last move was within the same department at the same company. I trained my replacement and could quickly see that she would be better than I’d ever been, so I mainly focused on making sure she had as much of my tribal knowledge as possible and felt comfortable coming to me with questions after the transition.

      The role that used to be just me (handling my company’s customer service-related social media presence) is now split between–not kidding–more than fifty people. The team has grown tremendously. Every time we hire more people for those roles, someone (usually the woman I trained) says, “Yeah, we have fifty people working our social media channels–it took that many to replace C!”

      (In all fairness, they’ve done way more than replace me. They have reporting and queuing and strategy and schedules and structure and hierarchy. When it was just me, it was one high-energy woman doing her level best in a role she loved. Not even close to the same thing, but it’s still flattering to hear it.)

  18. chewbecca*

    The fiance and I are watching Cheers on Netflix , and last night we watched the episode where Norm is up for a promotion at work. There were two interesting off shoots to this.

    1 – He found out that his competitor was sleeping with the boss’s wife and didn’t know if he should tell the boss, seeing as it would probably mean he would get the job.

    2 – He ended up not getting the job because his wife didn’t fit in with all the other “company wives”. Which I’m still having problems wrapping my head around.

    I’m interested in hearing what you would have done if you were in the place of #1. He decided not to say anything. I think Carla calling him a snitch and threatening him may have had something to do with it.

    1. Omne*

      I would never bring it up, it’s a no win situation No matter how it worked out the boss is going to associate you with the whole issue emotionally and also feel awkward because you know about it. This is one of the issues where the messenger isn’t likely to be appreciated.

      1. Harper*

        Yeah, I agree. Unless someone is going to be physically murdered, and then you should tell the police, the messenger always ends up somehow tainted by the whole thing.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Not even sure I’d want the job anymore after finding out that whole drama.
        But if I did, no I would not say anything. I want a job based on my own merit, not based on what piece of gossip I have latched on to.

        1. chewbecca*

          He actually ended up quitting at the end of the episode. It was mostly in reaction to why he didn’t get the job, though.

          I agree. If he had come out with it, there would have been a cloud over the rest of his time here.

  19. Lamington*

    Yesterday I had to talk to my boss to let him know I will start applying for jobs internally. our group security is uncertain and my other coworkers are looking as well. He looked sad :( and I feel bad. He also said he might be the one crossed in the layoffs. I hope I did the right thing. I like my job but I don’t want to be let go.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      If there are possible layoffs coming, start preparing right now in case it does happen to you. Look for job opportunities both internally and externally. If layoffs are possible, they could happen company wide. Get your personal finances in order, and start stocking up on the staples of life. Also, make sure your work is better than good – you want to be seen an asset to your company/division.

  20. Paddlebug*

    Kind of a carry over from the discussion around how to choose a major and the idea of “what you love” vs “what will get you a job”. Once out of school how important was it to you to “do what you love” vs “do what supports a lifestyle”? Did those priorities change over the years? I’m still a little surprised how differently I feel now, vs 10 years ago when I finished school!

    1. De Minimis*

      For me I felt almost immediately that I needed to focus on maintaining a certain lifestyle and it didn’t matter too much what I did or how it related to what I enjoyed or wanted to do.

    2. Felicia*

      I only graduated 2 years ago, but after a long and hard job search process that is thankfully now over, it’s a combo of both for me. It doesn’t necessary have to be something I love, more like do something I at least somewhat like that I can live off of . But my lifestyle isn’t all that expensive. This is a very expensive city that I don’t want to leave, so the cost of living is high, and I couldn’t live off minimum wage for example. But you spend a large percentage of your day at work, so I need to at least like it. I’ll never make much money on this career path, but it’s enough for me.

    3. Kai*

      Right out of school, I was just relieved and elated to get a job–one with a steady paycheck and benefits. Now that the novelty of having any work at all has worn off, I’m much more interested in finding work that fulfills me in SOME way besides just being able to survive.

      Everyone’s got to make a living, but the 9-5, M-F grind in a cubicle can be a little soul-sucking. And although I am ambitious and hard-working, I am much more interested in work that lets me have a life outside of the job, too, rather than working long hours and doing whatever it takes to get to “the top.” Just not worth it for me.

      1. Relosa*

        This. Ambition does not always mean ladder-climbing.

        That IS one of my career goals, but certainly isn’t the only one. My ambitions have more to do with the impact I want to leave on my industry…which I can do without being a VP or COO or whatever – doesn’t mean I wouldn’t shoot for it, but it’s not my only purpose.

      2. Anonsie*

        Hah, this was exactly it for me. Although I am also ok with being in a cube 9-5 as long as the projects are interesting somehow, which is basically what I’m doing now.

    4. Anoners*

      After so many years of school and living the student lifestyle, I was all for doing what will pay the bills. I think there is a good balance somewhere inbetween. Like a job that won’t make you hate your life, but will let you live comfortably.

    5. Jen RO*

      I didn’t *love* anything when I graduated, but I managed to get a job in absolutely-not-my-field-of-study which turned into a career. I don’t regret my major though (and university is free here if you have good grades). I am lucky enough to be doing a job I like and that pays well! (For reference: major in tourism, first job in copy editing, current job in technical writing.)

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I think I graduated before “do what you love” was really a thing. I was focused on doing something I was good at and would support a certain lifestyle.

      Over time, I got caught up in the whole “do what you love” craze and spent too much time looking for a way out of my career, when I should have focused on just doing my job. I didn’t do any irreversible damage, though, and have since grown to enjoy my career anyway.

      Now, I’m kind of repulsed by the “do what you love” idea. I don’t think you should stay long-term in a job you hate or is boring, or do something you find unethical, but I think a lot of people have thrown away potentially great careers in blind pursuit of something you love.

    7. Helka*

      Well, “do what supports a lifestyle” is pretty dang important, but my first office job out of college was in a call center — after an experience like that, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s pretty important not to skimp on “do what you enjoy!”

      AAM has discussed before how “do what you love” as a philosophy leads to some pretty messed-up places, but after a year in a soul-sucking grind where it was all I could do to remain a barely-functioning human being, I will say that “do what you can get a reasonable level of enjoyment and fulfillment from” is pretty important too. In a job where you can’t ever do anything right and the work never ends — and being faster and more efficient at your job just means *more* opportunities to be badgered and screamed at — even decent money doesn’t mean much.

    8. NylaW*

      For me finding a job that can support my lifestyle and pay the bills is most important, but I still want to at least like my job. My “dream jobs” or doing what I love means needing to be independently wealthy.

    9. Tinker*

      My family background and the culture of my alma mater (which is something of a strong influence for me) is very much on the side of “what will get you a job”, to the point in some cases of open contempt for pursuing non-marketable education.

      At the beginning of my career, I really did not have a strong understanding at all that one could make career decisions based on lifestyle factors — that one could live where one wanted to live, or even pick what kind of work one could do beyond “whoever is in front of me waving the most or most reliable dollar bills”. This is not a sustainable attitude, and indeed it did not sustain.

      Presently, I seem to be more adamant than the average about my desire to work in an office that I consider pleasant, in a region that fits my location preferences, and doing work that (within the domain of work) is what I want to do. Part of this is because I have the economic power, and know that I have the economic power, to enact those preferences. I tend to think that folks who are dismissive of the desire for such things are operating according to an agenda that is not concerned with my best interests.

      On the other hand, my opinion of what makes good work is different from what makes good play, and I think the “do what you love” concept can be highly misleading in that regard — I wouldn’t pick as a hobby “going in to the office and spending all day configuring a damn Mongo cluster”, but as work it has many satisfying characteristics. Such as being paid, for instance.

      My general conclusion is that probably 95% of job advice is worse than useless, and that’s making what is probably a very generous assumption about AAM’s share of that particular pie.

    10. Anonsie*

      As a kid and as a college student, I thought having something steady and a comfortable wage was the most important thing. Then I did that and I realized it is not really the most important thing, and trading a period of being broke and struggling for being able to be both comfortable and loving my work later was absolutely worth it.

      My mentor said recently, “you get older no matter what.” She said the emphasizes that to all her trainees when they’re trying to figure out what training to get or where to go, because people often reject a path they would like because of the initial period of dues paying or struggling to get into the field at all.

    11. LAI*

      Maybe I’m just lucky but doing what I love (college advising) supports the lifestyle I want. Personally, I am not a morning person and it is already difficult enough to motivate myself to get out of bed every day at 6:30am — I am not sure I would be able to do it for a job I didn’t really enjoy.

    12. Anx*

      I love eating, paying my bills on time, and taking care of any medical issues as they arise.

      I wish I had taken the steps to help ensure I met these basics foundations of happiness before pursuing a ‘fulfilling’ career.

    13. NZ Muse*

      I started out more towards the former and have moved slightly towards the latter.

      I made enough to get by in journalism but ultimately I wanted more than that, especially since my husband has struggled a lot on the work front and one of us really needs to bring in the money, steadily.

      I am lucky, I think, in that it was writing more than reporting that I loved, and that digital content has just exploded in the last couple of years. So while journalism is becoming a less tenable path, there are lots of new opportunities for people like me, ones that have much better potential in terms of security and pay.

      I feel fortunate that I have a good balance between enjoyment and income, but increasingly the money element is becoming more important. We live in an expensive city in an expensive country, and don’t want to leave.

    14. Audiophile*

      When I graduated, I still didn’t really know what I wanted. I wanted a job, any job, truthfully.

      That didn’t work out well, I wound up in a really, really low paying job. Then I just wanted any higher paying job, so I joined a security staffing agency and transitioned to reception role. That role, within a year, was cut from the client’s budget. I transitioned to a similar role in a corporate office. As these changes were occurring, I became more clear that I wanted to get into my field – communications, but I wasn’t really sure where to start. I had spent time in a variety of roles, unrelated to my degree field. And I felt pigeonholed, by holding reception positions for the last 4 years.

      It’s been 6 years since I graduated and my feelings have changed quite significantly. I wouldn’t call it “doing what I love”, I’d call it “doing something I’m passionate about”. I love a lot of things, but I’ve never loved a job. I don’t expect to. I don’t need to love it, I need to like it to some degree and not hate every single work day.

      At this point in my life, I’m all for being practical. I’m glad I picked the major I did and that I’ve been able to make it work out for me. And I’m glad my mother, badgered me every time I mentioned a possible major, with a few simple questions: “How is that going to get you a job? How does that translate to a career?” Otherwise, who knows what I would have picked for a major and I’d probably be worse off then I was.

  21. jasminek*

    I was a finalist for a job but they ended up going with the other candidate. But in their rejection email to me, they said they want to consider me for another position and that they would be emailing me soon about interviewing. Do I have a better chance at getting this job than other candidates because they already know me and are inviting me to throw my hat in the ring, or am I on the same level as everyone else?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Probably the same level as everyone else. Ultimately it will depend on the strength of the other candidates.

    2. KitKat*

      Don’t assume you have a better chance. Go in and sell yourself just as you would if it was your first time interviewing with this company. If you meet the same people, a “Nice to see you again” wouldn’t hurt, but you’ve got to convince them all over again that you’re the one they want.

    3. Relosa*

      Prepare for this just as well as you did before. It’s a new position – doesn’t mean you don’t have a slight advantage, but assume and operate as if you don’t.

    4. Chriama*

      A couple weeks ago there was a similar post. From your perspective it can feel like you have an ‘in’ with the company. From their perspective, you’re a potential candidate. You don’t know how you stack yp against their candidate pool, so don’t assume the interview is a formality.

  22. jstarr*

    So…. how bad is it to leave a job after 3 months? Is there any way not to burn bridges?

    Background: I spent 4 years trying to leave an academic facility with low pay and no prospects but good people and good benefits. I got hired into a new position with a realty company doing something COMPLETELY outside of my field. I’m actually pretty good at it, turns out, but I don’t want to be still doing this in two years. It was more a “get me out of my current position” move.

    A contact back at old job sent me a listing for a job she wants to hire me for. It’s at academic facility but a different career arc, better pay than current job, in my preferred field and benefits and people…. I’m going to apply and my chance are decent of getting it.

    So if I do get it, how can I break the news to my current bosses? It’s a small company and I’d be willing to help train whoever comes next. And yeah, I know that it’s an “if.” Just trying to get an idea from the crowd.

    TL:DR: Old job has new position they want me for with different circumstances, been in new job 3 months. Need advice

    1. Gene*

      Well, it is only 3 months, so if you stay at newldjob for any reasonable period of time, you can just leave it off future resumes.

      Depending on newjob personalities, there may be no way to avoid a burned bridge. Just be upfront if you are going to leave, “I fully intended to stay here for a reasonable period of time, but this oppportunity came along and I can’t pass it up.”

      1. Anx*

        I always here ‘you can leave it off your resume,’ but in practice I don’t understand how to do that. Applications ask you to list ALL of your employment history, and then you have to check a box saying you were honest and answered questions to the best of your ability.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Your resume is not an application. Your resume is a marketing document and you can choose what you put on it. You’re right an application which asks you to list all your previous jobs require it, but I think many jobs don’t require applications -just resumes.

          1. Audiophile*

            You’re right.

            Unless you’re applying for a state or other government job, where they truly mean list ALL of your jobs, with their real titles (not something a career counselor or HR person helped you re-title it). For your resume, you can pick and choose what you put on.

        2. AB Normal*

          “I always here ‘you can leave it off your resume,’ but in practice I don’t understand how to do that. Applications ask you to list ALL of your employment history”

          But an application =/= your resume. At least for the types of job I apply for, I just need to submit a resume and not fill out an application. Even in the ones that you do, not all of them require *all your previous jobs*. And even in the ones that do, it’s perfectly fine to add jobs to the application that you don’t have in your resume. As AAM says, the resume is a marketing tool, not an extensive description of everything you’ve ever done.

    2. M. in Austin!*

      Oy. That’s a tough spot. I’ve been at my job for 3 months, and while I don’t really like it, I can’t imagine leaving for at least 2 years. They’ve invested a lot in me, and I’d feel guilty leaving too soon :/

      BUT! Maybe since you’re in a totally different field, you can focus your reasoning on that. Something like, “I wanted to give this field a try, but I’ve discovered it’s just not a good fit for me.”

    3. EmmBee*

      I left a job after three months (to be fair, it was the same company I’d been with for years — I just switched departments/roles and realized very quickly it was not for me). I was honest with them. )I left because my dream job called me up out of the blue, no lie, and there was no way I could turn them down.) They were happy for me (so they said) and no bridges were burned.

      As long as you’re polite and professional and give notice, you should be fine! Good luck!

      1. jstarr*

        I guess part of this is just the weirdness of leaving that place only to return soon after. And the tiny twinge of guilt for leaving the new one.

    4. Janis*

      This happens here with more frequency that one might think. Obviously candidates had more than one feeler out there when job searching and took ours. Maybe they find they don’t like the work that much and when they get another offer, they decide to take it. Ir it’s less of a commute, or more money. It happens. We roll with it.

      The funny thing is that 3 employees, after leaving, called us back within a month asking if they could have their old job back. They took the first one back years ago and she was such a disaster that I’m afraid she’s ruined it for all other wannabe returners.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I did this too, because the new job was horrendous. I just told my boss I didn’t think it was working out, and she agreed and we parted ways very diplomatically. The job was never listed on my resume.

    6. C Average*

      I work in a place with a pretty distinct corporate culture, and we sometimes hire people who realize from the get-go that they don’t care for it here.

      Usually, we’ve already picked up on the fact that they’re not happy and aren’t going to last. It’s hard to put my finger on WHY, but there are people who might as well have “TEMPORARY” stamped on their foreheads, even though they’re in permanent full-time positions.

      When they do leave, we feign surprise and disappointment and then we (sincerely) wish them well. And, since we just recently hired and trained them, we don’t even have to dust off the job description and training materials. Sometimes there’s even a very viable second choice in the pipeline who’s thrilled to hear from us.

      I don’t recall anyone here ever being particularly broken up about the departure of such a person.

  23. CrazyCatLady*

    I was recruited for a job after being in my last position only 10 months. I am absolutely MISERABLE in the new job and want to start looking elsewhere. I want to list my current position on my resume – because otherwise it would look like I left my last role after only 1o months for no reason. How big of a red flag would this be to potential employers (prior to these two jobs, I do not have a history of job-hopping at all)?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      And on a related note, how bad is it to quit without something else lined up when it’s truly making you miserable? (Panic attacks, inability to sleep, chronic headaches, etc.)

      1. Cristina*

        I’ve quit a job for the same reason without having anything lined up. I spent the next four years “consulting,” which basically meant I took a combination of freelance and contracting jobs with one FTE position in the middle that only lasted a few months because the company had layoffs. At some point, I rolled it all under one consulting umbrella and listed it as one “job” with several clients. If you’re in a field where you can do the same thing and you have reason to believe you could find clients, you could buy yourself some time between full time jobs this way too.

        1. CrazyCatLady*

          I don’t think I’m in a field or position where consulting would be really feasible. Was it your choice to do that, or did you spend the next four years looking for full-time positions but unable to find one?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Just my opinion, but if the job is making you sick then get out. If you are having those symptoms, I think it is bad to stay, period. Don’t wait so long that you have a mini-PTSD at your next job.

        1. AnotherTeacher*

          I agree with this point about “mini-PTSD.” I just posted a question, and this is a good way to describe how I am feeling.

      3. First Time Commenter*

        I’ve done that. TMI, but after going through a pretty extreme breakdown I know when to listen to my body. Having a history of consistent employment isn’t worth killing yourself over, and only you know when you’ve hit your personal wall. I save like a fiend because I never know when I might have to do this again. And despite several gaps I’ve never had a problem getting a job aside from the year I spent living in suburbia with no car. Temp if you gotta. Good luck!

      4. Vancouver Reader*

        Leave! No job is worth your health. Temp if you have to, or if you have the finances, take some time off and take care of yourself.

    2. Unmitigated Gal*

      8 years ago, I left a job I really liked because I made a few mistakes there, was put on a PIP, and saw no good way out. The company I went to was unethical, and I was miserable. I quit that job after only 6 months, without having another job lined up. Fortunately, I was only out of work for 4 months (although I had been looking for a few months prior to leaving). It was definitely the right thing for me, because the job was making me sick. However, I got lucky in finding a job so quickly. Only you know what you need to do, but if the job is making you sick you should probably get out of there. Good luck!

  24. Glorified Plumber*

    My day today consists of a single 7 hour meeting (with 15 minute breaks) today. It was an 8 hour meeting until someone astutely realized, “Hey, we might want to allocate some time in the morning to get things done.”

    What is other peoples experience with all day “collaborative working sessions” and “focus” where “all the parties” are brought together? Value added? No value added?

    This will be my first session of this type… my pre-gut feeling is it could be done with 1/3rd as many people as will be there in 30 minutes.

    1. Colette*


      I find them exhausting, but they are sometimes useful.

      A couple of years ago, I went on a business trip to California in January. When I got back, the customs agent asked what the weather was like. I said it looked nice through the conference room window.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      It depends on the context and the participants — not very helpful, I know. I’ve found when I have to participate in these all-day events that the only way for it to be valuable and productive is to have an agenda laid out, and a list of things that need to be accomplished before you wrap it up. Otherwise, there’s just too much potential for things to meander off track.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Agreed. I’ve found some of these sessions helpful and productive, if whoever leads/moderates the meeting is good at recognizing when it’s time to move onto the next topic. I’ve had lots of experience where one or two individuals hijack the meeting by harping on one topic for 4 hours rather than letting the group progress to the next agenda items.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Oh yes, I’ve seen that too. So frustrating! A good moderator/facilitator knows how to keep things moving along, and the really good ones can do it in a tactful and professional way.

    3. A Jane*

      Terrible, unless you’re able to get the right mix of small group breakouts and presentations

    4. Kai*

      I think as long as someone really competent, prepared, and efficient is leading the meeting, it can be productive. But I’ve found that that is often not the case.

    5. C Average*

      If there are people you don’t normally work with, view it as an opportunity to build relationships, if nothing else. It never hurts to have new contacts.

    6. Chris*

      I’ve seen these work, but they need to be very carefully planned and facilitated. The rule of thumb I learned when I went through facilitation training was that for a a meeting like this to be effective, the planning should take roughly twice as long as the meeting. I’ve found this to be true.

      When these meetings don’t work, they are absolutely brutal!

  25. AnonymousOne*

    For everyone here, I’m just wondering – what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at work? Things are kinda slow in my office today, so I need a good laugh :P

    1. KitKat*

      One time years ago, I was working the sales floor and realized I had a seam split down the side of my pants. We’re talking whole thigh, here. I have no idea how long it was like that, and immediately tied my hoodie around my waist to cover it, but the thought of customers seeing it makes me cringe.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Once, very early in my career, I attended a staff meeting. I sat down in a chair and had one foot up under my other leg. During the meeting my foot fell asleep. At the end of the meeting my boss asked a few people (not including me) to stay to talk about something confidential. I stood up to leave, since I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to eavesdrop, and then promptly fell flat on my face.

      Another time, while working at my desk, I glanced down and discovered that the underwire of my bra had worn a hole in the fabric and had worked its way out all the way out of my top. It was hovering over my boob in a half-circle, crescent moon sort of formation. And I have no idea how long I had been walking around with it that way.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I had one of my underwires snap in two during work once. I heard this crunch and then suddenly felt…lower on one side. That was when I was slightly smaller and could still fit into some of the super cheap bras with plastic underwires. Plastic underwires are the devil.

        I can’t remember what I did–cut it open to take it all the way out? just left it? I think I may have just left it, I seem to recall it was toward the end of the day.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Ha ha!! That one underwire experience taught me that there are times when it’s worth spending the money to get something of better quality. If you’ve got a lot going on in that area like I do, bras fall into that category. Never again did I buy a bra at Target.

        2. Jamie*

          I’ve had a metal under-wire snap on me at work. It’s like two tiny little teeth biting you until you can get to the ladies room and get that thing out.

          And you have to take the other under-wire out as well so you’re not all lopsidey all day. Made me feel like a hippy at a love-in – I made that an early day.

          Why does spell check want me to hyphenate underwire?

      2. Anonsie*

        Oh wow. That’s just outstanding.

        I was stretching at my desk once when someone came by to talk to me for a while. Then someone else came by and asked something. After they left I kept stretching, went to get coffee, blah blah.

        It was much later I realized that my tucked-in shirt had not stretched with me as much as I thought it would and the neckline was sitting halfway down my patterned bra. Again, no idea how long it had been that way or who all had seen it.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          This isn’t work related, but one time at the grocery store I found a bunch of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners on sale. They were in one of those floor-type freezer compartments. They’d already been picked over pretty good, so I had to lean waaaayyyyy over to get what I wanted. As I was doing that, I noticed a guy looking at me pretty intently. Then I stood up and realized that the 2 or 3 top buttons of my sweater had come unbuttoned, so that guy got himself quite an eyeful.

      3. Mephyle*

        I just found out that some bra makers are now offering bras that are shaped just like a wired bra but with no wire!
        Also, thanks for all contributors to this thread. I am llol (literally lol).
        Once, in my brief government career, I wanted to take a shortcut via the stairs to go from one floor to another. It turned out that all the doors to the stairwell were openable from the outside, but locked from the inside. I had to slip a piece of paper under the door “help, I am locked in the stairwell, this is not a joke”.

        1. Lore*

          I got locked in a stairwell going to my first job interview ever! It was a temp agency, and they were on the second floor of the building. There were a ton of people waiting for the elevator and I thought it would be easier to take the stairs. Which didn’t open from the inside, and were monitored by security. So not only did I get stuck in an unairconditioned stairwell in August, after a few minutes, security came on the PA and asked what I was doing there! Fortunately they rescued me and I wasn’t late to the interview.

    3. De Minimis*

      At this job….won’t go into details, but it involves picking the wrong time to use the department bathroom due to an unexpected water shutoff. I pulled the handle to flush, and nothing happened.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Same thing happened to me. Water turned off and there was nothing to do. Another gal was in the stall next to me… we never spoke of it again.

    4. Queen Victoria*

      This past holiday season, when I worked as a graduate assistant at a university, I walked into a glass door at a holiday party in front of a bunch of prestigious higher ed admins (chancellors, etc). No alcohol was involved; I’m just really accident prone!

    5. BRR*

      I accidentally walked in on someone in a stall in the bathroom once. When I opened the door I swear the light turned on (they’re automatic) and so I didn’t look under the door. Since it appeared nobody was in there (or was in there in the dark) I just went and pulled the door open (not sure why he didn’t lock it).

      1. Cath in Canada*

        OMG, I did that twice in one day once. We had unisex, single-room bathrooms in that office (i.e. no stalls – 1 loo and 1 sink behind a single door that opened onto the corridor). The first time I did it there was a junior male professor in there; the second time, it was a very senior male professor. LOCK THE DOOR, PEOPLE!

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh my gosh, we have these where I work and because there are so few of them, there’s often a race to get to them before someone else does. Once a coworker beat someone else to it, so she laughed and yelled “YAHTZEE!” at them as she flung the door open. There was a guy from another department in there.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          My husband did that one time at work; he forgot he wasn’t at home and didn’t close the bathroom door while using the facilities. Fortunately for him, no one walked into the area to see him.

      2. Audiophile*

        I did something like this too! At now oldjob, I walked into the bathroom which has three stalls. I always like the stalls on the ends, because they’re seemingly wider. Anyway, I walked to the end stall and pulled open the door and was shocked to find someone sitting on the toilet. She couldn’t really pull the door closed and I monetarily was so shocked I didn’t know what to do. I think I mumbled sorry and I closed the stall door, quickly exited the bathroom and went to another floor to use one of the other bathrooms.
        I’ve seen her since, we don’t speak of it and hopefully she’s forgotten, but I sure haven’t.

    6. Bea W*

      I puked on the stairs, in front of a bunch of people and not even co-workers that I knew well, just other employees. That’s probably more gross than funny, but it certainly was embarrassing!

    7. Cath in Canada*

      I was once part of a group of colleagues checking into a hotel for a two-day off-site meeting. My boss got to the desk right ahead of me and gave his name, but I’d made his booking when I made mine. Rather than saying something sensible like “oh, I made that booking so it’ll be under my name”, to my horror I heard myself say “oh, no, you’re with me”. Never did live that one down…

      1. Luminescent Fish*

        Ha! That’s happened to me too, at least the other way around. My boss got to the counter first. I think I just answered the question he meant to ask instead.

        It was absolutely a case of thinking too hard about not saying the wrong thing … and then saying exactly that thing, because that’s what you were concentrating on NOT doing. I felt kind of bad about laughing, but it was like watching someone trip in slow motion.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I was being yelled at for something (I was new and the person yelling was a notorious curmudgeon). Before she called me back there, I was on my way to the ladies and I had to hold it while she was enumerating the things I had done wrong.

      Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer and I had to interrupt her and say, “Can we pause there? I really need to use the ladies!” I ran in, did my business, and turned on the water to wash my hands–


      The water shot out like a fire hose, ricocheted off my hands, and splattered all over the crotch of my pants. It took me fifteen minutes with paper towels to clean up. Though I did mention to someone that hey, that water sure comes out FAST, I’m convinced everyone thought I peed myself. They probably still do, to this day. >_<

    9. NotTelling*

      Someone mentioned free donuts in the breakroom at a previous job. I went to grab one and two ladies were blocking the table. I asked them to move please (and did a parting the waves hand gesture as if trying to dive between them).

      They told me that the donuts were for a birthday celebration in their department and some had already been taken in error. I turned RED and even though I actually did not take a donut I was so embarrassed for asking.

    10. C Average*

      I had just arrived in Amsterdam (I’m U.S.-based) to help train a new EU team. I went directly from the airport to the place where we were meeting, pretty much jet-lagged out of my mind. I checked in at the front desk and was told something like “go up the stairs, take a right, and go in the glass doors.”

      It turns out the area behind the glass doors was badge access only, and I didn’t have a badge, but the front desk person assumed I did.

      I got to the door, and everything was written in Dutch, and I don’t know any Dutch. I tried opening the door and nothing happened. I saw an icon that looked like a door opening and, just below it, a button. I figured that must be how I got in, so I pushed the button.

      It turns out it was an emergency exit button. Alarms began to sound and the entire building evacuated to the area outside. I had never met the people I was meeting, so it took a lot of time and asking around for me to locate them in the crowd and sheepishly admit that I’d been the one to set off the alarm.

      They still give me a hard time about it.

      1. Bea W*

        This is totally something I would do. I’m so glad my employer let me fly a day early.

      2. Luxe in Canada*

        No, no, no. If the signs were all in Dutch with no symbol indicating that the door was alarmed, then you get a free pass on this. If the signs were in Dutch *with* symbols, though… Well, jet lag is awful so I still don’t blame you.

  26. Diet Coke Addict*

    My clever boss in his infinite wisdom wants to hire another person to start Monday, having offered her double the commission I make, flex hours, and several other perks. He’s also informed me that I’m to train her, despite the fact that she will be doing a totally different job that I don’t know how to do, and he will be taking off on vacation for two weeks starting Monday. This can only end well.

    Also I wish he would learn to conduct interviews with his door closed if he’s going to say somewhat insensitive things about his current employees.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I am, actually. I have been applying for jobs (using AAM’s advice) for several weeks now, but live in a somewhat-depressed rural area. I can’t just pop right in to a new job.

      1. Biff*

        I agree. Now that I’m something other than gobsmacked, I’ll admit to wondering how on earth this is going to play out in such a way that someone doesn’t end up very upset and blowing up everywhere.

  27. littlemoose*

    I hope this question is sufficiently work-related for the Friday open thread (if I should wait and ask on Sunday, please just let me know): any tips on supporting a friend in a lousy job who is not having much success in finding a new position? I’ve referred him to this website for information and tips, and have shared a few job leads, but otherwise I just feel like there isn’t much I can do. We work in the same field, so I feel like I should be more helpful, but I’ve already asked around and made some networking suggestions (e.g. join committees in our professional organization). He is struggling in his current position and is questioning whether he even wants to continue in this field. I want to be supportive but feel like I am running out of ideas. I also kind of feel bad because my job is generally going well and is very secure, while his does not appear to be. Any input, wise commenters?

    1. Ali*

      Has he actually taken any of your advice? If you’ve given it to him and he hasn’t, then I’d say you’re not obligated to help him more, but I think it’s worth it to be a good friend and just listen when he wants to vent, etc. but not offer him anymore help.

      I could technically be your friend. My job search isn’t going well, and I’m burned out in my current job. But I feel like I can’t get a lot of support because all around me, friends are finding the new jobs they desire, my contacts are all in stable positions that they’re good at and even here I don’t find much solace because it seems the open threads always have someone jumping up and down about their new job. I admit I get envious of the AAM-ers who can’t stop talking about their new gigs and are getting showered in congratulations.

      1. Felicia*

        i had a really hard time in my job search and I think I got advice fatigue, and what I really wanted was for my friends to listen to me , and then try to distract me by doing non job related things. So maybe stop with the advice and just be there for him? Near the end of my job search there was really nothing anyone could have done and I wanted them to stop giving me advice already, because everything they suggested, I’d tried.

        I totally get the envy of people posting about their new jobs in open threads @Ali, even though I just did that myself today. I hope that didn’t make you feel bad. But during my two years of job searching while reading AAM regularly I felt the same and fantasized about the day that could be me. Well now it is me! So it can happen , even after a long time. I basically hit rock bottom in the job search in late May, I cried a lot and lost a lot of sleep and thought it would never happen. So it’s really great timing for me.

        1. Ali*

          It doesn’t necessarily make me feel bad. Just envious of others who are finding success because it makes me feel like a non-desirable candidate and like I’m not good enough for this insane job market. I’m the same way as you, though. I fantasize a lot about the day I can finally say I’ve been reading AAM for X amount of time and I got a new job using her advice! Maybe in 6-8 months if my part-time gig hires me I can finally come back here and have my moment. I’ve cried a lot too over the trials of it, the burnout at my present job, etc.

          1. Felicia*

            Well it took me 2 years to make my fantasy happen, so it could totally happen still for you! And I can’t wait until I can read you announcing your new job here :)

        2. C Average*

          “Advice fatigue” is a great description for this.

          Maybe the best thing you could do for your friend is take him out to do something with the express condition that you’re NOT going to talk about anything job-related for a change.

          1. Felicia*

            I loved my one friend who did that for me when job searching. Do that! Your friend will like it better than any advice

          2. Ruffingit*

            Totally this. That would have been very helpful to me as a job seeker and it’s something I’m about to do for a friend who is in a really tough position.

    2. The Real Ash*

      At some point your advice is going to get annoying, whether or not it’s helpful, constructive, friendly, etc. The next time your friend complains, ask him if he wants advice, or just a person to vent to. That way you don’t need to stress out about how you aren’t helping him enough, and he can decide whether or not he needs advice.

      Also stop beating yourself up over this. Your friend is an adult and it’s up to them to take care of himself. You can only do so much to help people if they won’t help themselves.

  28. Kate*

    I am having a hard time finding a job on my own so I signed up with a few temp agencies. Only one is really giving me interviews/assignments but she isn’t listening to me.

    I really only want part time and everything she is sending me is full time. She seems moody and since she is the only one being responsive I don’t want to rock the boat too much.


    1. Anoners*

      Is there any other temp agencies in your area? Where I live there are like 30, so I always had a few on the go. Not sure if that’s an option for you though, if not it looks like you may need to jsut let her know your preferences again.

      1. Kate*

        I am signed up with 4 but she is the only one working with me. I did turn down to interview for one and she got annoyed so I’m hesitant to try again. Thanks.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Call the other agencies every week to ask about part time assignments. They need reminders often.

    2. snapple*

      Could you possibly work with a different recruiter within the same temp agency? I know that most temp agencies have firm rules regarding prohibiting clients from working with multiple recruiters but if she agrees with it then it should be fine (which I realize might actually be more trouble since you state she’s moody). You could possibly frame it as you’d prefer to work with a recruiter who has more experience in a certain field you’d rather work in. I did this and it worked. The recruiter that I was initially assigned to mostly presented me with positions in financial firms but when I restated my preferences, I was allowed to work with a recruiter who had experience in higher ed.

    3. Interested Follower*

      I’ve worked in the staffing industry for a long time, so the best way to get through to her would be to call in “available” each week, specifically stating you’re ONLY looking for part-time work. Once she hears it over and over again, it will stick with her. And if she offers you another full-time position, after you politely decline, tell her that you’re still interested in part-time positions.

      And yes, keep contacting the other 3 agencies to keep your name fresh in their minds as well. The candidates that communicated the most and were the most pro-active were the ones I hired first.

  29. Jess2*

    So I have an interesting issue. I expressed interest in applying for two companies and said I would send a resume. I never did. There were very good reasons for this (health-related) but I’d rather not disclose them. I’d also be interested in applying for similar positions later. They’re of a type where people frequently work for a year or two and then move on, so there’s a high chance of them being open again.

    How should I act in this situation? What’s the best way to repair any bridges without over-disclosing?

    1. Kate*

      Maybe say after looking at some situations in your personal life it wasn’t the best time to make a job switch?

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. Unless someone specifically comes back and asks you why you didn’t apply, or it was someone you know personally, they probably forgot about the whole thing. I would just apply through normal channels when the opportunity comes up again.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. This is a normal thing. Lots of people say they will apply for this or that and then just don’t. Unless asked point blank I would say nothing, also. If asked, I would say “I had a personal matter that demanded my attention.”

  30. Ann Furthermore*

    Work related vent. For the last few years at my company, it’s been all about cost containment. Expenses scrutinized, travel receipts questioned, headcount freeze, you name it. And I get it — times are tough and the economy sucks. And I do my part: I never spend frivolously when I travel or anything like that.

    But. The higher ups spend obscene amounts of money. Truly. One of the big VP’s at the parent company retired, and did a farewell tour thing where he visited ALL the subsidiaries to talk about his illustrious career with the company and take questions. Self-absorbed much? And how much did it cost to fly this guy all over creation — in business class since he’s a VP — to talk about himself and how awesome he is? At least as much as a headcount or 2, I’ll bet.

    Earlier this week there was an all-hands meeting offsite to talk about the direction of the company and so on. It was held at a museum close to our office, and there were morning and afternoon sessions. How much did it cost to rent that place out for the day? I’m sure it wasn’t cheap.

    I know it happens everywhere. It’s just so aggravating. Grr.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      My former company threw money around like it grew on trees. A lot of it (most of it, actually) was extra fringe benefits for the employees, but once business started to go down, they didn’t stop! Even when the employees made suggestion after suggestion that they stop. They have had several layoff over the past 3 years and are in serious financial trouble now.

      I hope it never gets that severe in your company.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was at a company that had major layoffs, then they purchased dozens of flat screen TVs (back when they were still really pricey), hired a team of video gurus to make motivational videos and played them nonstop all day in every hallway.
      We could have hired back 100 employees for the cost of that fiasco.

    3. C Average*

      YES. This is totally us.

      We regularly get in conversations about how, if we held a garage sale and sold all the big-screen TVs and swag and fancy equipment we have kicking around here, we could probably scrape together a head count or two.

    4. Cassie*

      I know how that feels. We have a manager that’s always talking about saving money, nickeling and diming everyone (she brought up whether or not the dept should be providing basic office supplies to faculty), and yet she is free to redecorate her office as she pleases (which she does quite often) and plan parties and events that don’t have a real business purpose. The kicker is that due to her incompetence, she ended up costing the dept almost $100K. And even though her boss knows full well how poor her performance is, he keeps covering for her.

  31. Ali*

    My job search has (kind of) paid off. I got word from my internship supervisor on Monday that her and the company’s CEO (small company) want to keep me on part-time, and I could go full-time in about 6-8 months. I’m excited to get a little bit of extra money and keep honing my social media skills!

    The only thing I’m worried about is that this company is a startup. While they are growing (they’re moving into a new office space in the fall and have gotten a lot of business through word of mouth), I do fear they may not be able to hire me full-time. I will be pretty busy with two jobs on my plate so I won’t have a lot of leftover free time for job searching. Should I keep searching even though I may not have a ton of time for applications, or should I take a break and focus on this part-time gig plus my regular job?

    Don’t get me wrong, the people at Part-Time Job are great, seem to like me and I like the work. But since it’s a startup I’m worried that I’m taking a big risk, especially if they want to hire me full-time and want me to take a huge pay cut (but I want to cross that bridge if it comes in 6-8 months).

    1. Geegee*

      I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea to get a headstart on your job search if you don’t feel your current job is not completely stable. While you may not need to conduct an aggressive job search, it might be a good to browse the boards every so often and let people know you are open to new opportunities. The good side is that you aren’t in a position where you are desperate enough to take anything that is offered to you. The “downside” is that you may be offered a great job immediately but not yet ready to leave your PT job so that may pose an awkward dilemma.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You also have the opportunity at the start up to help drive the business upward in some manner, almost like creating more work for yourself. See what you can do to increase their business or increase efficiency.

  32. Beth Anne*

    So my temp job ended last week. Then the same company called me this week and asked if I’d temp for them for another 2 weeks for $2 more an hour than I was making as a temp (but obviously cheaper than they were paying the temp agency).

    The job isn’t really ideal answering phones (they are doing a study to see how many calls they are getting) which I really don’t like to do but it’s a job and it’s money and it’s only 10 days. Besides when the phones not ringing I’ll probably have free time to do whatever I want (maybe…I’ll find out when I get there).

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I would be surprised the temp agency would allow this. Check the paperwork you have with them. There is probably some verbiage about not working for any of their clients for x number of days or months after you worked there through the agency. Not sure what they could do to you if they found out, except NEVER hire you again.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        They could also spread the word about you with all the other agencies in the area, and you could have problems getting assignments from any of them.

        Call your agency and ask them how to handle this.

    2. Interested Follower*

      I agree with Beth Anne-the majority of contracts signed between clients and employment services include a non-compete clause. Clients won’t be able to hire the employment service’s employees for a specified amount of time (6 months, a year, etc.) if the employee is for any reason no longer working at that job. It could cause a big windstorm of issues.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      That’s not cool of the company! They are trying to get around paying the temp agency. The company probably signed something saying that they wouldn’t do something like this.

  33. Dot*

    Man, I could have used this thread about Tuesday. I’ve spent this whole week trying to figure out some job related stuff!

  34. Mike*

    So after almost 3 months at the new job I’m confident it isn’t a good fit and have started looking elsewhere. Any tips on how to explain “the people are fine, I just disagree with most of their technical decisions and find the work uninteresting and simple (and was told I’d be working on complex problems at scale)”. And, how does one tell their employer they are leaving after just a few months?

      1. Career Volunteer*

        I wasted a year at a job like that, thinking it would get better. I thought they’d let me do what they told me I would be doing when I took the job (redesigning the *horrible* website). They didn’t, despite my asking about it every couple of months. Two and a half years after I left, it’s still the same horrible website.

        I thought I’d still learn some useful things. I learned a couple of useful things, but mainly I was doing so many unnecessary but required things that I didn’t have much time to do anything useful.

        It was like taking a step backwards in my career. If I were you I would run, not walk, for the nearest exit. Tell them what you need to tell them: You like them, but you can tell that this job is not going to help you advance toward your professional goals. I so, so, SOOOOO wish I had done that after three months instead of after a year. Good luck.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “This job isn’t what I thought it would be.”
      “I don’t feel I am growing with job and it doesn’t not match the goals I have set for myself.”
      “I don’t think this job is a good fit for me.”

  35. Darcy Pennell*

    My last day is in less than a week, and I am so happy! I’ve had coworkers ask me to “say the things we can’t” in my exit interview. I definitely don’t want to do that, don’t want to paint myself as a disgruntled ex-employee. On the other hand, I have been tempted to bring up structural problems that made the job untenable for me. That would be less risky because I wouldn’t be complaining about a person, but still I don’t think it would be worth it. I tried to resolve these problems before, and if they wouldn’t listen to me when I was one of the team, loyal long-term staff, why would they listen to me on my way out the door? I’m just looking for a reality check I guess.

    (Plus: new job! Will be there a week from today! Can’t wait!)

    1. amaranth16*

      An exit interview’s purpose is to find out what’s making people leave the company! You can’t control whether they will use the information effectively, but they definitely won’t use it at all if they don’t have it. Be as honest as you can.

      1. Golden Yeti*

        Ehhh…I think part of that depends on how your feedback will be received. It *shouldn’t,* but I think realistically it does. I’ve talked to people who have left my company, and their “exit interview” (if you want to call it that) was usually being pulled into the manager’s office as soon as they said “I’m resigning,” and being peppered with both questions about why they were leaving, alongside a steaming pile of guilt *for* leaving (“people from all over the world want to work here,” etc.). People rely heavily on me in the company, so even though when the day comes, I will be happy to say I’m leaving (seriously, I’ll probably struggle to not grin), I dread the meeting that will immediately follow. Are there tons of reasons I’d give, and maybe even suggestions for the future? Absolutely. Based on what I’ve observed in all my time here, would any of that be heeded and anything change? Absolutely not. It sucks to feel like you’re just saying what someone wants to hear (maybe what someone is *capable of accepting* is more accurate), but sometimes it’s the only way to keep the exit positive.

    2. Jen RO*

      I had a mostly good relationship with my boss, so I was mostly honest in my exit interview. I am glad I kept it diplomatic though – I didn’t tell him that *his* management was one of the factors driving me out, instead I talked about the general chaos in the company – because less than a year later, I got hired back. And, surprisingly, I enjoy working with him more than before!

    3. OriginalYup*

      What kind of things are you wanting to say about the structural problems? If they’re objective observations said in a neutral constructive way, you could probably do so (unless the company is too dysfunctional to recognize simple facts).

      1. Darcy Pennell*

        Mainly that my job is a very poor fit for the department I’m in. I’m here for reasons of historical politics but what I do is very different from everyone else in the dept. It’s like having the Painting Teapot Spouts job in the Teapot Marketing dept., someone who does what I do would normally be with other teapot production workers. It’s isolating, and while I don’t think a manager has to be able to do all the jobs that report to them, they have to understand the job well enough to supervise it. I’ve told the Teapot Marketing manager why my job doesn’t belong in her department, and tried to get the position transferred into Teapot Painting or Teapot Spouts, and failed. The job has already been posted in the Teapot Marketing department, so they seem committed to keeping it where it is. I think my replacement will be unhappy for the same reasons I was.

        1. OriginalYup*

          That sounds like a totally reasonable thing to bring up. You could try frame it as Thing A that had Consequence B which affected you in Way C.

          “As you know, I’ve struggled with the Painting Spouts being part of the Teapot Marketing group. I understand why this structure was in place, but create obstacles for me to keep up with new developments in Spout technology. My Marketing colleagues were great, but their work is so differently focused that they weren’t able to help me with ABC or provide guidance on XYZ decision. Part of the reason for my move to New Job is to pursue the opportunity to work directly with Teapot Designers. It’s critical for Paint Spouters to deeply understand the latest Design requirements, otherwise our skills fall out of date, and I could feel myself falling behind the industry curve by working apart from our Design team.”

          1. Darcy Pennell*

            That is really good language, thank you! At my new job I’ll be surrounded by Teapot Designers and everyone at the old job knows that, so I can say this truthfully and I think it will be accepted. Whether they act on it is another story, but at least I’ll have said it. Thanks!

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Oh my goodness, you are me!

          I have four more days until an internal transfer, but my situation was very, very similar. I report to an SVP. There are two of us in my function, and everyone else (~20 people) is a business development manager or marketing staff. In my case, my manager agreed we weren’t a great fit, but the other options of where to put us weren’t great, either.

          As I said, I’m moving to an internal role, so I had even more incentive to not be honest about why I’m moving on, but I did speak candidly with my manager, his manager, and the recruiter handling the position. I really think something has to change or they will not 1.) hire anyone for this position, or 2.) keep the person they do hire.

          Since you’ve already spoken with the marketing manager & tried to get the position moved, why not mention it in the exit interview. Maybe I’m naive, but you were experiencing something unworkable, you told the manager and you tried to get it fixed, that failed, so you left. That’s exactly what they need to hear.

  36. amaranth16*

    A colleague is unhappy at work and has been comporting herself in a pretty unprofessional way (griping about her boss indiscriminately in the office, badmouthing a former employee, gossiping in a sowing-discord kind of way, posting rants on Facebook about work). I took her out for a drink last night to let her blow off some steam. She was pretty receptive to my suggestions about how to communicate more effectively about what she’s looking for at work (and how NOT to communicate). Here’s hoping she can pull it together a little. It’s been a rough year for her personally so I’m sympathetic, but part of me just wants to shake her and yell “PROFESSIONALISM!!! WORKPLACE NORMS!!!!!”

    1. C Average*

      Thank you for doing this for her! Sometimes people desperately need to have this kind of information conveyed to them in a kind way. You’re a good friend.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. Sometimes a compassionate ear goes farther than anything else. There are some very cool people out there that will come back later and say “I see what you are doing. I get it. And Thanks!”
        We all get caught in some kind of crap at some point. I watch how people handle it and get themselves out.

  37. Shell*

    i got an interview offer from the company I applied for at the end of may!! looking up the company’s LinkedIn, it seems like they’ve expanded the responsibilities somewhat, which makes me even more excited.

    full interview prep this weekend with Alison’s awesome tips. I actually feel good right now, instead of just nervous (but there is some nervousness too)!!

  38. Never Say No*

    I started a new job about six months ago. Thanks to much of the advice I got on this site, I made a total career change, and I am very happy in my new role. While it’s a career change, I was brought in for my expertise gained while working in my previous field, and I’m the only with anything close to my experience set. It’s a small firm (about 25) and I report directly to the president of the company and oversee a tiny team that includes one other person. So far it’s only been the normal bumps I think of starting a new job. I have been told explicitly that everyone is happy with my work product, so that has been very encouraging.

    But, you knew it was coming, here is the problem. Other higher ups in the office have discouraged me from telling the president “no” or when something can’t be done. I’m not talking about situations where it would be difficult to do something or uncomfortable or where I just might no like it. We’re talking about limitations on software platforms we don’t control or things that general physics will not allow for. The example given to me from another higher up was “If she asks you to walk on water for a client, tell her you will research ways to get that done.” The advice was to just never tell her something can’t be done. Instead to just say that you’ll look into and come back with another option. That goes doubly for anything you think shouldn’t be done, would be a waste of time and money or would be ineffective. The reasoning was that if you tell her “no,” she will then become determined to prove you wrong, will argue with you until you give up and will look negatively on your other work, even if it’s stellar, because you pushed back.

    This seems unreasonable to me. Am I being unreasonable? Brainstorming and planning meetings would get out of control if we never pushed back on bad ideas or things that are impossible. Not to mention I was hired for my expertise, not to just say yes and then try to figure out ways around what I agreed to. Is this a common perspective from higher ups that I just haven’t encountered before? Advice for dealing with this personality type?

    1. Gene*

      Seems to me that you’ve just been given some very important insight into the personality of the President. Explore it with your “other higher ups”. See if they have any actual experience with this sort of thing with her.

      If it’s true, you will probably have to adjust how you interact with her.

    2. Biff*

      She sounds like a stellar individual.

      There’s really nothing you can do other than what you’ve been advised to do. Sorry.

    3. jsutforthis*

      You’ve actually been given good career advice. Don’t just be a negative nelly and don’t use the word, “no.” Always have a solution to suggest for the problem. Always present it with a positive can-do attitude. Because the 1st question a manager will ask is, “So what should we do?” or “What do you suggest?” or “How do we solve this?” Present the answer before she asks. Be proactive. Be prepared. You may find that she is not as negative as your coworkers think she is and has been waiting for someone to present constructive ideas and solutions.

    4. Chriama*

      That actually sounds like great advice (not just now, but in the future). Instead of giving a definite no, have a conversation about why they want something (e.g. walking on water – they don’t want to get wet and they want to cut across distances that would take much longer on land) and then look up solutions (e.g. a boat). If they president is actually unreasonable you might be in trouble, but if they just tend to really love their own ideas you should be fine.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Um. If you are arguing facts that could actually be an interesting discussion.
      If she wants you to walk on water this week and next week launch a mission to Mars, this is a problem.
      However, I am almost picturing that this boss enjoys a good intelligent discussion of matters. Maybe she is one of these super brainy people.
      In this case, your cohorts advice would provide a stall so you can collect up more facts and be armed for the discussion.

      I consider myself an average thinker/problem solver. I have worked for some really sharp people. The number one thing they want is to see you considering the point they are talking about. You come out with no too quickly, yeah, they are going to launch into a whole huge discussion.
      I have found redirects helpful. “So, Boss, you are asking me to develop a way that I can walk on water. This is interesting, where does this project lead?” Then stop talking. Don’t get that defensive feeling that comes with being overwhelmed- or at least don’t let that defensive feeling show.
      Try to find intelligent questions that draw out what her over all goal is. Try to figure out why she feels that is necessary.

      I have some verrry funny stories of bosses asking for X or Y and that little voice in my head screaming NOOOO. “Well, why do you want me to devise a way to walk on water, Boss?”
      Answer: “Because I would like the whole team to go to Bermuda this summer!”
      Me: “Boss, they have these dandy things called planes and other gizmos called ships.”
      Boss: “I knew I did the right thing when I hired you!”

      Brainy people sometimes go off track and get too involved in how to do it the hard way. Both my father and my husband were extremely intelligent people and sometimes I had to just draw them back in from where ever their thinking had led them. This could be the case for you with your boss.

      Tone of voice is critical- be inquisitive, not accusing nor angry.

  39. Cruciatus*

    I just need to vent. Today we got our COLAs, and as rumored it was only 2%, not 2.5% like it had been. It’s just so frustrating. I work at a college that is one of the few not having any problems with getting students and is actually praised frequently in the local media for how much money they bring to the local economy and they give students millions of dollars worth of scholarships every year and they couldn’t even continue giving faculty or staff the 2.5% they had been in previous years. So, I now make a whopping .205 cents an hour more. Maybe I should be happy to have any raise at all, but I find I’m more irritated about getting just 2% than if we hadn’t even gotten anything at all. Another issue probably creating my irritation is that I heard earlier this week that I didn’t get the job I was interviewed twice for and so everything that’s now happening at my current job is like nails down a chalkboard. Gah!

    1. Janis*

      Since the recession, here is what we get at Cheapo Teapots Anonymous of late: 1%, 0% 9nice!), 1.5% and 1.5%. Oh, and we have the world’s worst high deductible health insurance. 2% — that’s the big leagues for us!

      I like my job — a lot — but we have dreadful benefits.

    2. Kelly*

      We also got our annual (for the time being) 1% raises from the state at the beginning of the month. My opinion is that the top 5% should not be getting these raises because they already are making over $100K per year. That’s a lot of money especially when you have staff getting paid below market value. I also think that the only people getting raises should be hourly, non-exempt employees. I don’t think that salaried, exempt employees should be getting raises, especially when they get more vacation and more flexibility in terms of coming in. If they do get raises, it should be at a smaller percentage.

  40. Treena Kravm*

    I definitely need to be proficient in French for my future career goals. So this fall I’m working on improving my French. I took 4 semesters (I think?) in college, but that was so long ago. In a year, I would be able to go to France for 2-6 weeks and do an immersion program, but that’s not a guarantee due to scheduling .

    So I’m looking to do something in the meantime. There’s an Alliance Francaise about an hour and a half away, so I could probably do a weekly class. I have Rosetta Stone, so I could do that as well, but anything else that has worked for folks?

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      Check out and – you can get really inexpensive lessons on italki and get to practice with native speakers right away.

    2. Jen RO*

      Is it possible to go to language classes? For me, there is just no comparison between a class with an actual teacher and some app. I don’t know how common language schools are in your location, though… I studied French in school, and then at the French Institute (Institut Francais), but I am guessing you are in the US, where the institute doesn’t have a presence.

    3. brightstar*

      I’ve found watching movies in French helpful, though I have to rely on subtitles for most of the dialogue.

      1. Luxe in Canada*

        Have you tried using French subtitles? If I use no subtitles at all, I’m only getting the gist. If I use French subtitles, I can understand without having to translate through English. Also helpful is to watch Disney movies in French with no subtitles, because I’ve seen the movie a zillion times so I get what’s happening even if I miss words.

        1. LAI*

          Agreed, I’m doing this too! I don’t need to know french for my job but have been sad about how much I’ve forgotten since college and would love to brush up.

        2. Karowen*

          I’ve done that, and then I’ve also read Harry Potter in French. There are some places where it’s awkward (spells, made up words like Muggles) but for the most part I know the story so well that it just made me pause for a moment.

    4. The Real Ash*

      Also check out duolingo! It’s a fun little website that you can “level up” and get tokens for doing well on language tests. It might be a fun little thing to play with regularly while doing more serious studies through more rigorous programs.

    5. Felicia*

      I was in French immersion school K-12, and took an advanced course in university, so i’m already fairly fluent , but what really helped me to maintain it was having to use it in every single one of my internships/jobs so far. Just using it day to day helps. I have no idea how you can do that – maybe some sort of volunteering? I’m in Canada, and a lot of national companies need at least some people who speak French to speak to clients in Quebec (which is different than France French which I learned in school, but not THAT different), so it was easier to volunteer to be that person. Basically what is most helpful is to talk to people who speak French as a first language on a regular basis. Seems you’re already going to do that with the immersion, but maybe you can do it more…Maybe there’s like a meetup group for French speakers, both native speakers and people learning. I think that would be helpful

    6. Helka*

      Be very, very careful with any kind of program or app — there is really nothing like learning with an actual human being who can give you precise feedback on things like grammar and idiomatic forms of expression. “Well, technically you can put those words in that order, but it sounds a little odd and unnatural” is something a program just doesn’t have the discretion to do.

      Things like duolingo can be fun, but absolutely do not use them for your primary source of instruction! Reading books or watching movies (or even just browsing the web) in your target language is frankly better, imo.

      One of the things I’ve done to keep my hand in with my second language is browse around that language’s Wikipedia site. Informative and good practice!

    7. Career Counselorette*

      I started using an app called Hello Talk that lets you choose your language and level and then live chat with other people trying to learn your native language, so you can alternate between each language and help someone with their English while you learn your French. It’s great because you can actually edit each other in the moment, so you can learn while you talk.

    8. Anonsie*

      Languages are so use-it-or-lose-it. I’ve never studied French but from my own studies, I do have two recommendations: 1) Definitely do whatever type of immersion you can even if it’s brief and 2) Use it all the time to keep it fresh. Try talking and writing to yourself in French at home, watch programs in French or with French subtitles,

      Weird thing that I’ve done, I grew up in a Spanish-speaking area and I studied Japanese in high school and college. I accidentally got a Japanese movie with Spanish subtitles once, and then I kept getting them because it was really interesting to see how they broke down colloquial Japanese into Spanish.

    9. Janis*

      Two things: Listen to the podcast “Coffee Break French.” Each lesson is about 20 minutes long — so you can listen to it on your coffee break. You can choose your level.

      Does the public school system in your area offer Adult Continuing Education classes? Fairfax County, here in Virginia, offers a wealth of classes aimed at adults, including language classes. They are typically in the evenings for adults. I’ve taken both French and Spanish classes that way.

    10. nep*

      Meetups of French speakers can be very helpful, as there is nothing like working on pushing those sounds out of your mouth, and searching your vocab for the right word (and making mistakes, which is inevitable in learning a language).
      (Depending on how the class at the Alliance Francaise is run, there could be a lot of opportunities for that there.)
      I aced it on paper in high school and college, but with little to no experience communicating in the language, when I first arrived in a francophone country it was another story. (And yes, immersion is the ticket. Hope you’ll get to do that immersion programme in France.)
      Can you get a tutor? Working one-on-one with someone who speaks the language well (native tongue, ideally) can be great. Reading French aloud can help with getting used to the pronunciation.
      Bonne chance.

  41. celli*

    Hi all,

    A job opened up at one of my company’s other branches. Someone there recommended me for it (!) and gave me the hiring manager’s email to follow up.

    I’m drafting this email, but in addition to asking my questions, should I/how should I sell myself and my fitness for the position?

    If I’ve missed this in the archives, I apologize.

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      Interested in others’ opinions on this, but I would write a cover letter for the position the same as I would as if I had no contact to the hiring manager, and then attach that with my resume to an email that looked something like this:

      “Dear HiringManagerName,
      So-and-So recommended that I reach out to you regarding the open PositionTitle position. I presently work at X branch as JobTitle and would love to be considered for the position at your branch. Please find my formal application attached, and let me know if there are is any additional information you need. Thank you for your consideration.”

      And if you have questions, include those before the “Please find..” sentence.

  42. Anon55*

    What are some examples of red flags when interviewing that didn’t seem like red flags at the time? Things you chalked up to being weird or not meaning anything at the time but after getting the job (or not getting it) turned out to be subtle warning signs of how bad things really are.

    My best example was from a lunch interview. Myself, future boss and two future coworkers. Boss was talking and the coworkers were staring out the window and eating. I assumed the coworkers were tired of interviews and had heard these stories before. While the boss was talking he got a huge piece of cheese on his face. I cannot stress how huge it was. The coworker sitting across from him didn’t say anything, the boss didn’t notice and I went back and forth on telling the boss/embarrassing them or not telling them/failing some sort of test (because how could you not feel this huge piece of cheese?!?!?!). I told the boss, was thanked, he cleaned it off and I got the job.

    Turned out the two coworkers bounced between apathy and loathing when it came to my boss. He could have been on fire and they wouldn’t have noticed or cared. The cheese wasn’t a test, my boss was a very messy eater, all around slob and he simply hadn’t noticed or felt this chunk of cheese on his face. After being there for a while I learned and agreed with why the two coworkers felt that way about this boss. The boss was terrible at managing when they actually ever did it, had no training set-up for the department so people trained themselves or bugged their coworkers, played favorites, was the bottleneck in the department, lied, gave people responsibilities with no power and when it would inevitably fail the boss was almost gleeful in pointing his finger at the coworker who was ‘responsible’.

    So… if your future coworkers are completely disinterested in even being in the room with your boss and are fine with him looking ridiculous, there may be a very good reason behind it.

    The second one I could point out is more of a yellow flag but I’ve only ever see it become a red flag. Twice I’ve started jobs where there’d been a new manager installed and before I started the manager had cleaned house of all the old employees. The new hires were then expected to figure out how to do the job with little to no training, be able to decipher what the previous employees were doing and if it was the correct thing to do. If the manager seems interested in rebuilding a department I wouldn’t have an issue with it, but in both of my situations they seemed more interested in getting bodies in and everything running at 100% asap.

    1. LillianMcGee*

      I lol’d at the cheese story. Sorry!

      I interviewed with the legal department of a government office. Red flags came up when they were reluctant/unwilling to answer questions about office culture (high-energy or laid back? expected to stay pat 5pm? etc.).

      I knew immediately it was a terrible fit and thanked the high heavens I never heard back.

      1. Anon55*

        No apologies, I would laugh at it too! He constantly had spills/food/mystery stains on his face and the front of his clothing but always wanted to have lunch meetings with clients and order the messiest foods: pasta, soups, chilli, subs with extra everything. He couldn’t even drink coffee without spilling!

        He would always leave used Kleenex out and ‘forget’ to throw them away so our poor cleaners would have to deal with it or the next person who needed the room. One person in a different department swore up and down that my ex-boss leaving snotty Kleenex around while sneezing and coughing on everyone without washing his hands when he had a massive cold caused half her department to come down with the same cold a few days later. His response? To joke about being Patient 0.

    2. Mints*

      In my interview for this job, we spent entirely too much time talking about TV, and not so much about my skills. I felt that it was weird, but I needed the job badly. It turns out there’s very little to do (hence how I’m on this site all day), and I just sit at the front desk being bored

      Also, I was asked if I could do some specific tech thing, and I said yes and explained my experience with it. One guy said, “Wow, Jane could never do that.” I assumed Jane was the old assistant, but it turns out it’s his wife (who has literally nothing at all to do with this job). I think I was partly hired because I remind him of her (subconsciously?). Which is gross and I need to quit

    3. OriginalYup*

      We were scheduling an in-person interview, and the hiring manager had almost no availability during the day for the next two weeks, so I offered to come in at 5pm on Thursday or anytime on Saturday. Instead of just saying no thanks and offering a different time, she said, “Thursday is Valentine’s Day sound I need to leave early, and I’m going on vacation this Saturday, so no.” The words themselves were fine, but her tone was very much “I can’t believe you’d suggest something so obviously inconvenient for me, you cretin.” I was puzzled but let it go, and eventually got the job.

      Guess who was a nightmare of boss who expected to read her mind, make baffling leaps of logic on the regular, and treated me like a slightly stupid servant/minion who was only kept on out of the goodness of her heart?

    4. jsutforthis*

      Job was as sysadmin for a small sign factory & sales office. Interview with the person I would report to, the CTO, and HR. Person I’d report to could only talk about the company, never asked about my skills, and nervously looked at the CTO repeatedly. (!) CTO spoke with an anger edge to his voice. (!) They all were very happy that their company was difficult to find on the web. (!) The company had recently been purchased by a Swedish conglomerate and they did not seem happy about now having to work with Swedes that at all. (!) Get the picture? Hostile atmosphere to say the least.

      But here’s the kicker. I asked what had happened with the person who had the position before. Answer, “He died of a heart attack in the parking lot.” (!!!!!!!!) End of interview for me right there. I later told the recruiter that I was not interested.

    5. LAI*

      I had an interview that mostly went well. However, when I asked a question about how a certain type of situation was handled in this office, the boss responded that it would be one of the responsibilities of my role to figure out how to handle them. This didn’t seem like a huge red flag at the time, as I just figured that this meant I would have a lot of responsibility and the flexibility to create my own processes. Yeah, no, it turns out that the boss had no idea what my job entailed on a day-to-day basis and there was no structure or guidance in anything.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      When I was interviewed, my future boss kept talking about random things when I would ask a questions instead of answering. It turned out that he defected EVERYTHING using this method. He was very corrupt and had gotten to the point where he lied or deflected every questions.

      At another job, when I was interviewed the HR rep asked if I was OK working in a very ____ (insert religion) workplace. I didn’t really get it, it wasn’t a religious institution, but I said it wasn’t a problem. Wow. They opened up meetings by having everyone pray for the owners (who were leading the prayer.) There was holy water and we needed to bless ourselves when going into conference rooms. Memos included lines thanking god for the gifts granted to the owners.
      Holy cow… I should have asked for an explanation when talking to HR rep.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That sounds like a cult-like place.

        As a praying person, I could understand some prayer and agree to that. But the focus of the prayer seems to be on the owners. I find that concerning. Ok, I find it troubling.

    7. Flagspotter*

      In an interview a boss-to-be made some comments that let me know that she and I were on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I’m accustomed to that, since I live in a state where I am distinctly in the political minority, so I try not to let conflicting politics on their own keep me from considering an employer… but what I should have questioned was her willingness to bring these things up in a job interview. It turned out that she was a person who just assumed that everyone believed exactly like she did on pretty much everything, so it didn’t even occur to her to *not* let her extremist freak flag fly. This led to some very awkward conversations.

      The next time I interviewed for a job, after working with her for a year, I took heed. Of six people I interviewed with at that company, three of them made comments or had personal items on display that made their politics clear. They did some neat work there, but I think there would have been far too many conversational minefields for my taste.

      I’m just glad I picked up on it in the interview and did *not* let my eagerness to get away from my other boss drown out my intuition.

    8. Natalie*

      Not from an interview, but during the temp part of my temp to hire gig: I brought a book because I was the receptionist, and it’s pretty typical to not have enough work to fill the receptionist’s day and thus suggest she bring a book or magazine. As it happened, this job had a substantial admin component but I was butting against the usual issue of not enough work.

      So one afternoon, having done everything that had been assigned to me, I started reading my book. The woman who was training me, who could have been the mascot for Minnesota Nice (aka softspoken passive-aggressive) pulled me into the other room and gave me a long sotto voce spiel about how I was expected to be constantly working and I should ask for projects if needed. The correction itself didn’t bother me – you want me to work, give me something to do and I’ll do it. But I did find it odd that she made such a big deal out of it and acted like it was a super-serious performance issue.

      But sure enough, it turned out no one on that team could give simple, in the moment feedback or instruction. None of them could be remotely matter of fact. I was expected to infer feedback from a series of vague statements, until my 1st performance review when my bosses went over a million tiny things that should have been brought up at the time. And I never had enough work. They were so concerned with appearances that I was given busy work lest I not be engaged 100% of the time, even if that project was utterly meaningless.

      I just recycled a bunch of those meaningless projects today. (Same company, new management.) Reams and reams of paper printed, filed, and never looked at again, all in the name of the receptionist in an office with virtually zero walk-in clients not being seen reading the paper.

    9. LibrarianJ*

      Not sure if these were red flags or more of yellow flags, but…
      This was for my first job out of college, interviewing for a position at a VERY small company (4 employees, one room office).

      Flag #1: My interviewer, the manager, talked at great length about how this was a ‘team environment’ and ‘everyone pitches in.’
      Flag #2: The manager called to offer me the job at 8:30pm on a Friday.

      Turned out that ‘everyone pitches in’ was code for ‘you’ll be expected to work through your (unpaid) lunch hour, with your phone on, eating at your desk, and we’d rather you not go out to buy food either,’ while the 8:30pm call time was code for ‘we’re kind of understaffed, we’ll tell you 2-3 days/week on hire but then demand 5, and you’ll be expected to put OT in but we can’t pay you so just figure out how to fit it into your timesheet.’

      I quit after 4 months — not my proudest moment or best decision as a recent grad, but I needed to get out. Turns out that long hours and no breaks when your job is hugely fielding angry phone calls/ emails is a good way to start making yourself sick.

      1. LibrarianJ*

        Gah, wish there were an edit function! I should clarify that this was an hourly position — no salary or benefits. I’m aware that a lot of this would be par for the course and totally acceptable in an exempt/salaried position.

    10. So Very Anonymous*

      Manager doing the interviewing was very overly flattering, almost to the point of fawning, which didn’t make a lot of sense given my lack of experience. Even though I’d said, flat out, in the interview for the first position, that I would not want to spend 40 hours a week doing X, she sweet-talked me into applying for a different position as Queen of X in the (very, very small) company. When I pointed out my lack of experience at X, she insisted that I had some je ne sais quoi (not her term, but you get the idea) that couldn’t be taught. I fell for this, and at first things seemed OK, but then suddenly things were very NOT OK, because of my lack of experience with X (surprise!). She was very angry that I didn’t just pick up X immediately, while I struggled with clients who fully expected the Queen of X to, you know, be familiar with X. It turned out that excessive flattery was pretty much her go-to tool, and when it didn’t work, she’d get angry. I learned from this experience that you shouldn’t take a job where your main qualification is je ne sais quoi and to be wary of really outsize flattery, however good it may feel. I mean, I knew I was underqualified, but my head was really turned.

      Also a red flag, different job: someone yelled at me during my interview (I know he did this in other candidates’ interviews). He was later let go, but the real red flag wasn’t the yelling — it was that everyone on that committee just sat there silently, averting their eyes, while he went off on me. I had to meet with the organization’s director after that part of the interview, and it occurred to me later that, if he were the organization’s “That Guy,” someone might have said to me, privately, afterwards, “Don’t mind him, he’s always like that.” Once I started the job I realized that the culture was unfriendly and unwelcoming in general — so it likely wouldn’t have occurred to anyone that someone new might need some contextualizing information.

    11. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yellow flag #1: the job was vacant for two months before they hired me. In some roles this wouldnt be unusual, but for a run of the mill admin position? Ask why.

      Yellow flag #2: lightning hiring speed. I emailed my resume and recieved a call for an interview within the hour. I interviewed the next day and was barely back at my desk when they called to offer me the job.

      Neither of these are red flags in and of themselves, but having seen their hiring practices from the inside, I can see that they’re symptomatic of unrealistic expectations and insufficient due diligence.

      Big fat red flag: the words “need Mr. Boss to feel absolutely supported.” Translation: you need to be a mind reader because Mr. Boss is too busy and important to give direction or feedback.

  43. Masters Degree Searcher*

    After tailoring CVs, cover letters…yesterday, a company asked me to fill out a special form to move my application forward (but is “contingent on contract award”) and I’ve been burned by those 2 times earlier (ie. got job offer, but no job in sight).

    Is that a good sign, special form to ‘move an application forward?’
    Also, why do so many companies I sign up for lose re: contract award? Seems like so many lose and I feel cursed by not being on the winning team–ever.

    Finally–I feel like I have terrible job karma right now. Federal jobs: no word on 4 I really want to get and the referrals never turned into interviews; had 2 referrals for big companies; had 2 basic interviews for top fortune 500 company; contingent offers on award falling through twice. I’ve done everything humanly possible (and prayed a ton which is not like me). And nothing concrete, and still unemployed. It’s pretty awful. How do you keep your hopes up despite such terrible job karma?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Go help someone with a problem they are having.

      Not being snarky. I watched my dad lose his house, his dog, his timber stand, his dear uncle…. His power/autonomy had been stripped away by these events happening in a very short time.

      It seemed like there was nothing left.

      Then he turned and helped some neighbors. Gradually, he pulled himself up and rebuilt his life. Why. Because when we see ourselves being effective in helping someone else, it tends to restore our belief in our ability to help ourselves.

      This is my odd advice: turn and help someone. It’s better if the type of help you are giving has nothing to do with job searching or employment. It will help your mind to have that distraction away from employment issues.

  44. Anonymous for this one*

    I recently had a job interview where everything went well and the committee contacted my references. I heard from my references that everything sounded pretty positive. Would it still make sense to follow up with the potential employer if I know that they’ve already contacted my references? I followed up with a thank you note after the in-person interview and I don’t want to pester them.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I would let it go. If they are calling your references, there isn’t anything more you can do to influence the company in a positive direction, and you would risk pestering them.
      Think of something else to get your mind off of it. Good luck!

    2. Lily in NYC*

      No, don’t! I know it’s difficult to wait, but look at it this way: your reaching out doesn’t benefit them in any way and might backfire if it annoys someone or if they decide you are pushy (people are weird and you never know how someone will react). But good luck; I hope you get an offer.

  45. Clerica*

    This might get long.

    I recently had to stop using commercial…anything, basically, and make my own bath/body and cleaning products from scratch. Also had a bunch of clothes I couldn’t wear anymore due to weight loss.

    I sent an email around work to all the women saying I had a big pile of gently used clothes, bath products, and cleaners to give away if anyone was interested. Everyone was really excited and said I should set up a table Friday (today) like a free rummage sale everyone could wander by on their breaks. (Even my manager and her manager were pushing for this).

    In the email announcing the “sale,” I had worded it that “everyone can come by and choose a few things they like” and also explicitly asked that nobody “test” the body spray except by unscrewing it because we don’t want the room smelling like a BBW until Christmas.

    So I set up the table this morning and even as I was bringing boxes in this one person was filling the boxes I’d emptied with stuff, just throwing stuff in like she was on a time-limited shopping spree. I tried to make it light by saying, “Hey, Neela, leave some for the rest of the vultures” and she was just like “I love me some [brand].”

    She took…basically almost all the stuff. She only stopped when I finally had the nerve to speak up more forcefully and say “Neela, everyone’s been looking forward to this, maybe you need to put some stuff back.” She put like two things back and left. (Also sprayed pretty much EVERY SINGLE spray in the air, so yay for reading comprehension). Now people keep showing up and seeing like two random shirts and some scrubbing bubbles and getting pissed at me like I pulled a bait and switch here. I tried to allude to what happened at first, but then it became my fault for not policing the “take a few items” part of the email.

    My boss works next to me and is ticked at the right person (Neela) but now I’m cringing every time the door opens. This was supposed to be fun, plus it was originally suggested I do it again next week so the people who aren’t here or available today can have a pick. Who do I slap here?


    1. Celeste*

      Hmmm. Well, you wanted rid of it, and now you are, I guess!

      It’s not your fault that Neela hogged it all. For the rest, I’d find a way to offer it to others that keeps her out of it. Is she going on vacation? Can you bring it in but not tell her it’s there? Otherwise, I’d make bags to give to the others on your list, and let them share amongst themselves. No more mass email.

    2. Biff*

      Wow. I think you might need to talk to Neela about this in the sense of “this is not an attitude we condone at the office.”

        1. Biff*


          Let me get this. She outranks you. This stuff was for people that she presumably also outranks.

          She stole from her employees? WOW. That takes cajones.

          1. Clerica*

            We work at a school. She’s a teacher, I’m support staff. So she didn’t technically steal from her employees. I’ve worked at different schools and while you can have great groups and bad groups, the one constant is that if a single teacher happens to be a jerk, they treat the support staff like bellhops and they can make your life hell if you call them on it.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      I say you should slap yourself.

      When your co-worker came in like a maurading Viking on speed, you should have stopped her in her tracks. After the first spritz of scent, you should have stopped her. Waiting until she had everything in her possession was a major mistake.

      You might consider taking some assertiveness training. It’s a very valuable life skill, and you could have prevented your greedy co-worker from ruining your event if you had this skill. It’s too late to save this event, but don’t let anyone do this to you again. You are worthy of respect, and sometimes you have to demand it from others.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Okay, no more slapping. you are a day older and a day wiser.

          This is your personal stuff. Therefore you get to set the rules, employee rank does not matter.

          If you do this again, tell Greedy that she has to take a pass this time because it’s important for other people to have their turn.
          If need be when you set your stuff up, stage the area by having a few of your work friends hang out with you. When she approaches just say loudly “Greedy, you made out very well last time, now it is a chance for other people. We are sharing here.”

          I had a lawn sale. I put out some old stuff. My friends watched in horror as an antique dealer really cheated me out of some bucks. I knew he was getting a heck of a deal, but I said nothing because I just wanted the stuff to move. When we were done with the transaction, he said “Will any more antiques be coming out soon?”
          I simply said “Definitely NOT.”

          My stuff, my rules. Period.

      1. LAI*

        Yeah, I kind of agree with Jazzy Red. I totally understand, I am not an assertive person myself and I’m not sure that I would actually have been able to speak up if I found myself in this situation. But removed from the situation and just thinking about what SHOULD be done, I would say that you should have stopped her after she took the third or fourth item. At that point, ideally, I think you would have said “I know other people are planning to come and look so I can only let you take 2 things for now. If you want to back after everyone’s had a chance and see what’s left, you’re welcome to take more then.”

    4. Anonsie*

      I think all the folks who are cranky because they didn’t get free stuff need to take a breather. If 20 people had come by and gradually exhausted your stash, I bet they’d still be exactly as mad.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’d just say what happened and suggest people go ask Neela if she would like to share.
      I used to work in manufacturing where we would have sample sales, It would have samples of clothes, merchandise, odds n ends. It was quite civil. But then I went to a new company and these sales were vicious free for all’s. Women would run to a table and shove everything into a box then try things on in a corner. What they didn’t want, they threw on the floor for other people to trample on. Despicable.
      Some people don’t know how to share. :(

      1. Clerica*

        Oh, you know, we had an employee outlet at one place I worked for returned merchandise or “errors” and I remember horror stories about people running in and just grabbing stuff willy-nilly to go sort through like that. And this is stuff you pay for! I guess free brings out the beast even worse.

        This makes me sad. I guess deep down I wanted to believe that in the event of a zombie apocalypse people would share.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Unfortunately, you have to set the tone for the event or people can just run amok. Nothing wrong with saying that you want as many people as possible to benefit from this unloading that you are doing.

  46. The Real Ash*

    The worst co-worker in my unit is leaving for another area in a week and I am so happy! She is so useless and has tried to get everyone in trouble by saying we are racist against her, or that we try to sabotage her work. In reality we are nothing but pleasant to her (and HR has done a few investigations of her allegations, all of which proved that this wasn’t a hostile or racist environment) and her inability to be useful in any way is what has hindered her here. I hate to be celebrating someone’s departure, but she was just such a huge drag on the unit because of her actions that even with the increased workload, we are honestly better off without her.

    And I will be job hunting out of state in a few months once we begin the moving process. I just told my manager and supervisor (not a formal resignation, just a meeting to let them know so they could get the notoriously-slow HR ball rolling ahead of time) and I am excited! This is going to be great. :)

    1. Clerica*

      We had two of my least favorite people leave at the end of last year and my boss and two closest coworkers (who couldn’t stand them either) asked me to wish two others out to the cornfield this year. XD

      Don’t feel bad. Bring in cupcakes. Don’t say what they’re for. You’ll know.

  47. Tiffany In Houston*

    I just sent an email following up on a second round interview I had last week and the HR rep responded promptly and professionally to give me an update. I don’t know if I will get this job or not, due to them still being in the early stages according to her, but at least I can move on mentally.

    So to the HR folks out there who actually treat interviewees like human beings out there, thank you!

  48. LillianMcGee*

    Currently I work as a paralegal. I also supervise the intake staff, front desk and the rest of the paralegals along with some “office managery” type responsibilities. Yesterday the big boss asked me if I was interested in moving into even more of an office managery role and less of a paralegal one and I very enthusiastically am!

    I am seeking recommendations on books, articles, resources, types of classes, etc. that I should look into to help me with this transition. I have no background in IT or a lot of general office admin stuff (I won’t have to do payroll or billing at least) but I would like to have a foundation. My college degree is in art history so no help there! It’s a smallish office of about 25 people and it’s non-profit. Thanks for any reccs!!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I’m an executive assistant. I find this difficult to answer because the Office Manager title is so broad. At one place, it might be high level admin work. At another, it might be more menial, like ordering supplies and stuff like that. Another place it would have more budget and payroll and hr functions. Some pay 25,000, some pay over 100K. I recommend checking out the website for the American Society for Administrative Professionals ( They have some resources and articles you might find helpful.

  49. Intrepid Intern*

    So, on a scale of 1 to “Set it on Fire,” how terrible/unprofessional is it to write cover letters and resumes in something other than Times New Roman? I promise I won’t touch Comic Sans, but I really like the look of Calibri (and find I can fit more on the page). FWIW, I’m not in an arts-related field.

    1. Virginian*

      I think it’s fine as long as it’s a standard font and size (e.g. Cambria, Georgia, Century.) I prefer to use serifs since I think they look more professional.

    2. Jamie*

      Fwiw I use calibri for everything and I never notice what other people do, if it’s not OTT.

    3. M. in Austin!*

      I HATE Calibri. It’s too soft and round. It’s also so overused. People just use it without putting thought into their typeface choice.

      Try Garamond. It’s classic and smaller than TNR, so you can fit a lot more on the page.

      1. Anonsie*

        Booo I love Calibri, it’s exactly the type of narrower, rounder font I used to switch to when everything defaulted to Arial or Times.

    4. LAI*

      I actually think Times New Roman looks a bit dated and out-of-fashion. Isn’t Calibri the default font in Microsoft now? I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with using Calibri or any other standard, business-looking font. Personally, I use Cambria for my resume and cover letter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Maybe I am aging…. I find TNR too hard to read when I am tired. I can zip through a sans-serif font much easier with noticeably less strain. I think it has an uncluttered look that at least gives an illusion of being streamlined and efficient.

      2. Chris*

        Yup, it is the MS default now. I’m a fan. I like how easy it is to read, but I’ve always been a fan of the sans serif fonts. I occasionally use TNR as I write a lot of grants and they sometimes have required fonts, I’m over it.

    5. Mimmy*

      I actually like Ariel; it’s a bit thicker and bigger–easier for me to see.

      But as long as it’s not Comic Sans, I think whatever you use is fine. Times New Roman is outdated, imo.

      1. Jamie*

        I think I’m the last person on earth who finds comic sans adorable.

        Not professional at all – but adorable.

    6. ChiTown Lurker*

      I love Calibri. It is my favorite font for work. It’s professional but approachable. I used to use Arial or Garamond but these days it’s Calibri.

  50. Cath in Canada*

    I had a dream last night that Alison started getting work questions from (anonymous) major Hollywood stars – things like “how to deal with personal assistants on set when you’re grouchy because you started drinking Jack Daniels at 7am”, “how to deal with being type-cast”, “I was overlooked for an Oscar”, that kind of letter. The comment section was full of people trying to guess who’d sent which letters. It was brilliant!

    (I know this isn’t strictly on-topic, but I won’t be near a computer on Sunday :) )

      1. Biff*

        You’ve gotten some ridiculous letters from bosses in the past. Maybe you could do a weekly feature of “Letters from Cloudcoocooland.”

        1. Anonsie*

          Now I want to see what type of letters Jonny Greenwood would write in about Thom Yorke.

          “We’ve talked to him about the dancing, but he just doesn’t understand.”

    1. OriginalYup*

      My brain has just amok. I’m imagining the pseudonymous emails from a frustrated Moprah Binfrey asking Alison how to finish a project when the key collaborator won’t show up to filming, a scared Vladd Fitt who has to explain to his bosses why his project went 700 bazillion dollars over budget, and a very angry Wobin Sicke who needs suggested wording for firing his longtime manager and PR firm over a branding debacle.

  51. Loose Seal*

    I’m asking a question for my husband. He’s been a math professor at a four-year-college in the U.S. for ten years. His dilemma is that he never can write an work make-up/absentee policy that covers all bases and, while we were talking over what he could do about it, I suggested throwing the question up here for all you smart people.

    His department does not care if he takes attendance and no one monitors if the students come to class or not. However, when a student misses for a valid reason on a day where an assignment was due or a day where there’s an exam, he likes to let them make it up. The problem is determining what is a valid reason and what he should require from the student to prove it.

    What he’s tried before is to limit the reasons a student could make up work to medical with a doctor’s note (covering themselves or someone they are caregiver for, like a child, spouse, or parent) or if they get an excuse from another professor or coach (which covers school trips or athletics). The problem with the medical excuse is much like what we mention here frequently: The student has to pay to go to the doctor when they might just need rest, etc. The free, on-campus student health organization does not give excuse notes. Also, many of the students think that if they go to another thing that gives excuse notes (court, for instance, a lot of students have court appearances), they should get to make up the work and my husband can’t decide if that’s a valid reason since one generally knows about court dates in advance and could arrange to do the classwork beforehand.

    He’s also tried not having a due date for the online quizzes so that if someone isn’t feeling well or has other obligations, they could just do it sometime before the end of the semester. However, he’s found that if he doesn’t have due dates that match up with the current lesson, most of the students won’t do it on time and their learning suffers.

    So his question to you folks in academia or past students is: Does anyone have (or remember) a good policy for allowing make-up work due to absence?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I’m just a former student who took a lot of college math classes.

      I have always been fine with the policy that homework is due on the due date, with the caveat that homework is a low percent of your total grade anyway and a 1-week assignment time (Monday’s assignment is due next Monday, Wednesday’s is due next Wednesday). Sometimes, you’re going over problems in class & others shouldn’t have to wait for that. You can then plan to get it done in advance if you have appointments, and emergencies won’t ding you too much.

      Now, for tests or quizzes, I think it’s reasonable to have a published policy that it must be made up within one week, but if something is keeping a student from doing it within that time and they come talk to you, let it slide. I don’t really see why the excuse matters that much. Someone might be sick, but someone else might have had four exams in one day. Sure, there is always the pattern student, but that guy is going to weed himself out of success in life anyway. Nothing you can do.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Are you saying that if someone missed an exam for whatever reason, they could make it up in a week? What if their reason was just they wanted another week to study? Maybe I’m misunderstanding you. My husband is really trying to get the students to take exams on the scheduled day because he has over 250 students each semester and he doesn’t want all of the students arranging to do it later. Also, he makes up a different exam for people that take the test late. He gets that some people have unavoidable things and tries to work with them but he’s trying to limit the extra work he has to do to accommodate every issue.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I definitely understand that he can’t be available at 20 different times to accomodate make-up exams, but I’m not sure I’m even against people saying they want an extra week to study because I do believe the point of education is to learn.

          Given the extra work he has to do, I think he could do something that would still allow a week to make up but limit his time involved, and how incentivized students are to do this. Maybe offer only one prescheduled make up session with an automatic % deduction, and the lowest test score for the semester is thrown out? If the best you could get is 90%, people wouldn’t want to do that on purpose, but if you also allow for the lowest test to be tossed, the students who had a legitimate excuse are not severely penalized because their 80% became a 70%.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      Allow all students two free missed classes that count as excused (or pick a number that makes sense for his students). Tell students that the expectation is that they will save those days for illness, emergencies, and so on. If a student has truly extenuating circumstances, like multiple deaths in the family or a prolonged hospitalization, handle it on a case-by-case basis.

      1. Loose Seal*

        He sorta likes this idea. It gives the prepared student a cushion but doesn’t let unprepared students take too much advantage.

      2. Anonsie*

        I like this idea, too. The language department at my university required attendance and gave a grade for it, but the policy was you could miss three classes per semester without a note before it affected your grade. You had to contact your professor and all still to use your freebies, but didn’t have to provide documentation. Any other absence required documentation, but it could be for anything– I got the green light to take the GRE in a slot that would make me miss class, as long as I bought something to show where I was. That allowed me to save my freebies for illness that didn’t require a doctor’s visit.

    3. Brett*

      I have due dates on everything, but use small penalties (5-10%) for missing the due dates. That way most people do the work on time, but those who have trouble can still catch up without blowing their grade just because of the due dates.

      I make it very clear that students must inform me as soon as they know they will miss class, and then base the makeup on when they inform me. e.g. I might use a proxy for a quiz or give them a different version of the test ahead of time. I have not had to have a strict policy on how much notice is enough notice; part of this is because I use a large number of small assignments and quizzes. If a student misses one quiz because of an emergency, it does not hurt their grade much.

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      I would say that if he institutes a policy that is not, at the very least, department-wide he could get into some hot water. He should talk with his department chair and figure out a policy for the department and make sure everyone uses it. Even better, the institution should have a college-wide policy.

      1. Loose Seal*

        That would be lovely but apparently the majority of the professors at the University don’t want to be told how to run their classes so there will never be a standard policy. Also, his department chair is disturbingly (to me, anyway) hands-off. The bonus of that is my husband’s policy won’t be questioned and he won’t get into any trouble. The downside is that he has to constantly re-invent the wheel.

        1. Susannah*

          In my dept., each professor had his/her own policy, sometimes a different one for each class. Copies were distributed to the students on the first day, posted on class websites, and a signed copy kept in the dept. office. That way there could be no claims of “didn’t know” or “changed during the semester”.

      2. Brett*

        I’ve never seen a department wide policy, much less college wide. It would be difficult to do that too, since the policies are so dependent on the format of the individual class.

    5. Susannah*

      (Former adjunct professor here)

      The policy doesn’t have to cover every possible scenario. Cover enough common cases to make it clear what his basic intention is. Any lateness or absence that isn’t explicitly permitted is by default NOT permitted, “but exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis”.

      I was generally accommodating for students who talked to me about it in advance. Minor penalties, if any. (Minor stuff like daily homework: up to a week late was always allowed, 15% off). For no-shows who tried to explain their way out of it afterward, I was much less merciful.

    6. Anonsie*

      No notes, and especially no doctor’s notes, for exactly the reasons you describe– but ESPECIALLY because the campus health center doesn’t give them! Which is insane, by the way, why in the world would they refuse to give notes?

      My mother’s a professor and her policy is that as long as they contact her about it and make arrangements, the reason for their absence is irrelevant. She doesn’t even ask why. She says it’s shocking how rarely people actually use this, and no one has ever obviously abused it. I don’t think you need to go that far, but saying case-by-case and giving examples of acceptable reasons (illness, family problem, court date) is just as good.

      And as someone who had a lot of crap going on as a college student (work, then-unexplained health problems, father across country very ill with unsure prognosis) I very very very much appreciated professors that treated you like an adult and trusted you to know what is important. The wads who try to exploit that trust are a minority and tend to not do well overall anyway, so I don’t think it’s worth it to spend a lot of energy blocking them. The professors who didn’t believe a 20 year old could possibly have anything else important going on in their lives drove me insane. Though I actually never rescheduled an exam or a due date, it was just attendance issues for me.

      For the online quizzes, I don’t see why having the due dates match up with the lessons is an issue, so long as that’s just also work that can be made up if there’s an issue.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Which is insane, by the way, why in the world would they refuse to give notes?

        I think it’s because they’ve been asked by too many students over the years to provide notes as excuses for hangovers or simply oversleeping. And they don’t want to have to make a judgment call over what constitutes true illness. Students can see the student health staff for whatever reason (although they may get referred on, if it’s too serious) but they won’t get excuse notes.

        1. Anonsie*

          That’s aggravating. I transferred and used the campus health centers at both schools (one tiny and one huge) quite a bit, and the rules were the same both places. If you were a walk-in and they couldn’t obviously tell there was something up, no note unless you had waited long enough that it was reasonable to say you’d have made it to class if not for being stuck there. The waits were normally short to non-existent, so it was reasonable to expect you could pop in before a class most of the time, and if you got stuck there you’d get a note but it rarely happened. Acute illness appointments could be walk-ins.

          If you had an appointment in advance (which usually had to be made days out), they’d write a note no matter what since you had to be there right then and normally had to take whatever time they gave you. Things like annual pelvic exams, vaccinations, etc that weren’t urgent all had to be made by appointment.

          I just don’t get the big sweeping policies that put a lot of reasonable people at a disadvantage to keep a small number of jerks from being able to get one little stupid thing.

    7. Jack*

      I am a math teacher at a research university, and have about 500 students per semester. Our university has official policies, but they allow the professor a lot of flexibility.

      My overarching policy is: clear expectations with no surprises for the student.

      My exam policy is: (1) any excuse a week or more prior as long as you can take on one of the scheduled makeup dates, (2) excuses before the exam but not soon enough or cannot take regularly scheduled makeup exam are subject to individual approval [ my typical policy is: if uni policy forces me to accept it, or if the accepting is less work than not, then accept, otherwise reject. ] (3) 24 hours after the regularly scheduled exam, no excuses are accepted for any reason [ with about 10000 students, never had an exception, but would be willing to make one if necessary. I give out my phone number and encourage them to text me. ].

      My exam policy is designed to (a) fit the university policy, (b) result in no appeals [ everyone affected by it realizes why they are affected by it ], (c) minimizes work. I tend to coordinate 1000 person courses, so I usually schedule around 50 to 100 makeups per exam.

      My homework policy is: (1) all homework is assigned on the first day of class, due dates do not change, (2) material to complete the homework is covered one week before the due date [ or in some courses, the homework is due the next day, but you can turn it in for 90% credit up to a week late ], (3) no absence excuses homework unless that absence is for a week or more [ and fits the university policy on excused absences, so this is a rare case: concussions, broken dominant hand, mono, etc. ].

      The homework policy is designed with the same principles in mind, except that there is very little university policy on homework makeup, and online homework systems offer some automated solutions to excuses [ such as x% penalty on late work ].

      I do not take attendance (some lecture sections have 300 students at a time), and I treat “online quizzes” the same as homework.

      My policy on policies: they do not have to cover every case, because they do not differentiate between cases. They are simple and clear. Their purpose is merely to keep the amount of work I have to do reasonable. [ I have no particular reason not to want someone to take an exam, but I can only find employees to proctor the exam so often before the budget runs dry. I have no reason not to want someone to do the homework, but its goal is to improve exam grades, which it cannot do if a student falls too far behind. Hence the schedule of the homework is maintained except in extraordinary circumstances that would result in the exam being moved as well. ]

      1. Loose Seal*

        Thanks, Jack. Your bracketed comment at the end really helped clarify things. My husband had been going about the make-up work policy from the angle of how best not to penalize students while not getting jerked around by some of them but, after reading what you said, re-defined his policy as to state what the purpose of each assignment/exam is — proving that they know the material — and once that opportunity is passed, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to keep allowing the students to go back to it.

    8. LAI*

      My university very strongly encourages faculty to NOT require/request doctors notes because the the Student Health Center is busy enough as it is without having to see every student who catches a cold or has a headache. I think the general rule in most of our classes is that a certain number of absences are excused (the number may vary depending on how much your class requires in-person participation to succeed) regardless of reason. They don’t get to make-up the missing work, but they’re not penalized for missing it either. That way, professors don’t have to get in the business of determining what is and is not a valid excuse — students are treated as adults and it’s their responsibility to determine what is worth using their 2 allowed absences for. If a student misses more than the allowed number, then there are still no make-ups and their grade goes down accordingly. Students with serious issues can also be referred to go see their academic adviser about retaking the class in a future semester, requesting a late drop, or even withdrawing from the term — then the responsibility of requesting documentation and determining whether it is valid gets transferred to the administrators.

      Missing a midterm or final exam is different – for that, I’d say there are generally no exceptions granted or late make-ups allowed except under extreme circumstances (e.g. documentation of hospitalization/incarceration at the time of the exam).

    9. Loose Seal*

      Thank you guys for your input. He’s decided that he’s going to drop the 5 lowest grades from the online homework assignments and drop the lowest grade from the in-class exams and offer no make-up work. That way, if someone has to miss something, their zero for that assignment can be their lowest grade to be dropped. If someone needs to miss more than that, he will have to discuss with them the feasibility of their remaining in the class.

      He is going to pressure the department chair to come up with a department-wide policy for making up the final exam. My suggestion for that is one scheduled giant make-up day for the whole math department that all the professors can proctor in turns.

      I think this solution is the best of both worlds. It treats the students as though they are adults who can prioritize and doesn’t saddle him with a lot of extra work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A really great solution here.

        Not a teacher, but I have supervised groups. The excuses are AMAZING. However, once I decided not to listen to excuses I had less problems. No, I did not do it in a mean way. I did it from the angle of “We keep track of your absences. It is up to you to decide if staying home Thursday is that important to you that you are willing to let it become part of your record here.” I went on to explain that I did not want to have to decide what was an actual emergency in people’s lives and what wasn’t. So I would no longer be “granting time off”.
        Yes, once in a while there were extreme problems and, of course, I wanted to help that person as best I could in regard to time off.

        Work attendance went UP after I did this. I found the same reaction when I went back to college. Students left to decide on their own, (no excuses/discussions were expected) showed up more.

    10. Pretend Scientist*

      I am glad that your husband’s school does not monitor day to day attendance…therefore they are at least attempting to treat the students as adults.

      I went to a quite expensive college that is small, but does pride itself on the opportunities afforded by size. I don’t dispute that, but I still feel (many years after undergrad) that it was High School 2.0. Nothing short of the plague/anything covered under an auto accident or other disability was an excuse for missing anything.

      I am not unhappy for attending there and my core subject education did put me on a good track, but the attendance monitoring in my required “out of major distribution” psychology class in the second semester of my senior year, when I was being charged $26k per year at age 21 seemed like a bad high school (or even middle-prior) flashback…and certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

    11. Student*

      If you know ahead of time, you have to tell me 24 hours ahead of time and you have to make up the quiz within a week.

      If you don’t know ahead of time, then you have to let me know by the start of class, and you have to do a decent job of bullshitting the reason. You have to make the quiz up within a week, barring extenuating circumstances that lead to long absences. The reason has to make me feel like a good person for letting you make up the quiz, not like I’m letting you get away with slacking off.

      In either case, your quiz will be a bit different than your classmates’ quiz, in hopes that I’ll catch you if you try to cheat by mooching off a friend.

      Strictly speaking, I don’t care what the real reason you missed the quiz was. I care about maintaining the integrity of the quiz as relates to scoring and to learning the current lesson. If you want to blow your tuition money by sleeping in, that’s your problem, not mine.

  52. Worried about background check*

    I do not have a degree but have attended some college. My resume accurately shows years attended along with a list of areas studied. I do not say that I have a degree and I have never misled anyone about this. In fact, during one of the interviews I was asked about it and explained that while u considered going back to complete a degree that my career took priority and I haven’t had much of a lull.
    I have an offer contingent upon a background check. This check will likely verify my lack of degree. I want to not be worried as I have been truthful but for some reason I am nervous.
    If they extended an offer can they retract it after a check even if I can show that the info I provided was both accurate and discussed during the interview?
    The check is done by a third party and apparently the recruiter Judy gets a pass/fail note from the vendor; I am not sure if this needs to be preempted as, again I was honest in the interview and in all my paperwork.

    1. The Real Ash*

      What kind of background check is it? If it’s a criminal background check, there’s no way they would find out about yoru lack of a degree that way.

    2. De Minimis*

      It’s natural to be nervous about a background check, but if you’ve been upfront and honest about everything, you won’t have any problem.

    3. Anx*

      I have no answers or advise, but I can commiserate with worrying about misrepresenting yourself.

      I’ve interviewed for positions I was referred to based on applications I submitted for other positions, only to be told my volunteer experience didn’t count. I hesitate to include it now, even though it’s an important piece of work history, because 2 people have misinterpreted and one of them insinuated that I was being sneaky about it.

    4. Brett*

      “If they extended an offer can they retract it after a check even if I can show that the info I provided was both accurate and discussed during the interview?”
      These third party pass/fail checks suck exactly because they have little explanation to them. Unless the position requires a degree (which is rare), you should be fine because you never stated that you have a degree. Lying and hiding is what makes people fail checks.

    5. Janis*

      All we’re interested in in background checks is that your credit rating is acceptable, no bankruptcies or felony charges, not funding terrorists. I doublechecked with a coworker and she says our background checkers don’t even contact universities or colleges — that would take too long and we want the results in a few days. (Now if you’re trying to get a security clearance for a govt job, that’s a different story entirely)

      You’re probably worrying over nothing. Experienced resume readers know exactly what college attendance dates means when no degree is listed. BTW, if something odd did show up in the check, the investigator would get back in contact with you with some follow-up questions. At that point you could simply say you had attended Teapot Dome University for X period of time, but had not yet graduated.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. It is surprising how simple these back ground checks are.
        A lot of them just check for basics like Janis is saying.

        I know if they check your driving record that can be legal basis not to hire you, if the record is not good. But generally they tell you they are checking your driving record. The job may or may not involve driving- so this might not be helpful to you.

  53. Biff*

    I’ve had two, for lack of a better word, weird interviews in the last three weeks. In the first, the guy had dramatically misread my application and resume (Getting dates dramatically wrong was my first clue, but he also didn’t seem to realize I had 7 years of experience in the Chocolate Teapot industry.) He seemed more interested in telling me how good his life than talking about Chocolate Teapots. He also didn’t seem to believe me that I was familiar with writing specifications for designing and testing Chocolate Teapots because no one had up-to-date documentation in this industry, no one! Yet, that was what they said they were hiring for…I chalked it up to Friday Whatever and moved along. I think I’ll talk to them again (probably talking to someone else.)

    The second weird interview I had was after having a good screening interview with another company. I was interviewed by a panel of three people. Two of whom NEVER spoke. The main guy also seemed to have never read my resume. It explains, in great detail, that I do not make Chocolate Teapots. I have never made Chocolate Teapots, nor do I want to make Chocolate Teapots. He was very disappointed that I was not a Chocolate Teapot Maker.

    What? I didn’t even APPLY to make Chocolate Teapots. That wasn’t even a remote possibility for the position I applied for!

    I’ve had several people in the Chocolate Teapot Association read and review my resume for clarity and completeness. They beat it within an inch of its life and gave the redesign rave reviews. One of the reviewers is my own manager, who has made really fantastic hiring decisions for my team (one wobble out of more than ten employees — pretty good!) I’m definitely getting more nibbles with this resume than I’ve ever gotten in my life. So something is working. But the nibbles I’m getting are just weird.

    Thoughts, ideas?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Keep looking.

      Barest minimum both these interviewers were not engaged in the interview. My guess it’s a way of life for them.

      1. Biff*

        Well, the trouble is, within the techie end of the Chocolate Teapot industry, it seems typical to not interview with your future manager (I think it’s a bad standard, but it’s not my call.) So I’m not sure if I should keep on these leads regardless as I may end up loving the job and the boss even if the interview process blows. I also am not sure if sucky interviews are sort of a feature in this business either. All of the interviews I’ve had can be chalked up to pretty strange.

        Yes. I sometimes wonder if I chose wisely for myself.

  54. Going Anon For This*

    “You people don’t know anything about anything, ever”.

    This was our alleged manager’s answer to our questions when she was trying to tell us about a new procedure. She called us all to her office, verbally, didn’t prepare a handout, gave no warning of what we were going to discuss, and started to tell us about a new process reading from her handwritten notes.

    We had questions (this is NEW after all), and after several questions were asked, this is what she said. Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well, and I reminded her if we didn’t know how to do something, it’s a management failure for not properly instructing us.

    She sent us away, and said she’d follow up. Still waiting. Crickets are chirping.

    I am actively looking for another job.

  55. Mouse*

    I have my performance review next week, and for some reason I am always the last to go from my team… I’m choosing to interpret this as a good sign, since last year I was last and still had a great review. Fingers crossed for this time!

    What do people do to get ready for their performance reviews? Already planning on power posing prior to the meeting. :)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I just try to relax and tell myself that it’s not an assessment of me as a person, it’s about my work and I will benefit from the feedback. :)

  56. brightstar*

    This is going back to the freelance writing post from a couple of days ago. Back at the beginning of the year, I had submitted an idea to two sites, even though one stated they didn’t accept simultaneous submissions. This is completely my fault, and I accept blame even though most of it was naivete. At the time, I was barely employed and hoping to get a freelance career going at least a little. This has since changed, but what happened still bothers me.

    The non-simultaneous submission site told me explicitly about my rough draft “these are two stories that are warring with one another”. I completely rewrote the piece from the bottom up changing not just language but tone and the focus of the piece to what they wanted. Then, the 2nd site ended up publishing the rough draft. Since I’d been told it was two different stories and had ended up writing 2 different stories, I thought this was ok.

    When the second site published, I found out it wasn’t. Not only did I receive emails about how unethical my behavior was in trying to get paid for the same story twice (I never got paid for anything and had written two different versions of similar events) but also had an article published about how awful my behavior was. The non-simultaneous submission site wrote an article mocking me and other submitters, calling me disgraceful, and that neither site would publish anything by me again and that they had sub-tweeted about me. I also received emails from their lawyer about what an awful person I was and how greedy I was. Again, I never got paid and had completely rewritten the article.

    Have I completely ruined any chances of ever getting stories published again? I know I mishandled this, but should I decide to try to get more writing out there advice would be appreciated.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Could you write an article about the experience? It sounds like the sort of thing a blog might publish–a cautionary tale for young writers. I’d read it, anyway. It would have to be extremely candid and not defensive.

      1. brightstar*

        I hadn’t considered that idea, but it’s a good one. I had thought about writing about it on my blog, when I get my laptop back.

    2. LMW*

      I don’t think you’ve completely ruined your chances. You definitely learned a lesson though, right?
      The thing about not allowing simultaneous submissions is that it drastically impacts the writer’s ability to be published. And how long does the publication get exclusivity to decide? Some of them take forever.
      Personally, I don’t have a problem with simultaneous submissions/queries — but if I contact you about publication, you’d better be upfront about where else you submitted it and contact all those other places to withdraw the submission. And you always have to go with the first place you reach an agreement with. You can’t agree to to publish with me and then call me the next day and say no because you got another offer you like better. Just like with job offers, that burns a bridge.
      The problem with some places that don’t allow simultaneous submissions is that they treat the act of submitting a piece like it’s a binding contract — by submitting it to them you give up rights to pursue other avenues of publication and that’s stated upfront in their submission guidelines and process. Personally, I don’t submit to those places. But if you do, you’ve agreed to their terms and they have the right to be pissed off if you violate them.
      You might have a problem with publications that don’t allow simultaneous submissions going forward, but with most reasonable publications that understand writers are trying to build careers and portfolios.

      1. brightstar*

        I definitely learned a lesson! And thanks for the guidance, I really appreciated it.

        In the end, had I read the terms more carefully I would never have submitted as I would have given up the rights to the story (which were real life) in any shape or form. I feel in that sense, I dodged a bullet.

  57. Famouscait*

    FMLA/maternity leave/how to deal with HR question:
    I’m due in the fall and planning for a maternity leave. My employer doesn’t offer any type of official maternity leave – I’m just covered by FMLA. I have a 60/40 reporting structure, so the HR rep on my 60% side handles the FMLA paperwork. She is always a difficult person to work with, but one of my two supervisors (the 60% one) told me immediately when I announced my pregnancy that the HR rep became “even more difficult to deal with.” (It’s important to note here that he was not offering to help me deal with her- just an FYI). The difficulty seems to arise around the idea of working from home and/or part-time while transitioning back to the office. I’m expected to set a schedule for remote or PT work, not just of 2 hours/day, but of 9am – 11am, for example. Additionally, I have to document what work I accomplish, from what location, with what computer, etc. Neither of my supervisors care about this and think it’s ridiculous, but the one is unwilling to confront her about it and the other is in a totally different department, so I think feels unable to address it. As far as I can tell these “rules” are the HR rep’s – not my employer’s (i.e. someone in a totally different area would not be asked for all these details) . I don’t know how to handle a meeting with her to inform her of my leave plans. I’ve never had a baby before and truly don’t know what I can realistically commit to at this point. All I want is the maternity leave I’ve worked out with my supervisors (which falls within the FMLA guidelines), not some HR rep asking me precisely how did I spend those 60 minutes on January 7? Thoughts or ideas on how to handle this?

    1. Unmitigated Gal*

      Would it be possible to have one or both bosses with you when you talk to HR, so they can demonstrate that they are supportive of your proposal?

    2. Darth Admin*

      Can you ask her politely to send you the policy so that you can be sure you’re obeying it to the letter? Because if there isn’t one and she can’t send it, you could revert to your plan with your supervisors. And if there is one, at least then you know what’s you’re really up against.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’m a jerky turkey- So I would ask if it would be easier for the HR rep to watch you work on your webcam between 9:00 and 11:00 each day. That would be easier than documenting the details of the work you did.

      What a ridiculous situation. Is this because you are an hourly employee and they don’t trust that you will actually be working? They must have some kind of virtual timeclock for you to clock in and out of.

  58. Anx*

    I’m currently going to school and have quite a few extra credits I could fill.

    I have a B.S. in a science related field, worked in administrative-related positions in college, but haven’t had a proper office job. Are administrative/office technology certificates worthless to employers, or could it possibly help? I know experience matters more, but maybe an internship could help a little bit? I might also consider healthcare-oriented medical office certificates.

    Also, I’m due to graduate in May with an A.S. in a related field to my B.S. I think I’m going to be giving up on my licensed profession if I can’t catch a break by the end of next summer (at that point it will be 5 years from finishing my internship). I have seen very, very few openings. If I cannot find employment in that field or general research, I will probably have to go back to school or try to commit to the food service industry (which I don’t think I’m really cut out for).

    How bad do you think it will look to have a program/internship/volunteer work that would only be partially related to future jobs look? I’m worried that they’ll think I’m either not committed and flighty or wonder what’s wrong with me that I couldn’t find a job in those fields.

    I’m also not likely to get into graduate school, so I’d probably focus on vocational training through a CC. I’ll be in my 30s by the time I finish. I worry about being judged for taking so long to ‘get there.’ I am also concerned about job hunting in a vocational field when I have a huge gap and a ‘meandering’ resume. But I don’t know what else to do. I am trying to focus on getting what I want and not worrying about how I look to others, but job searching is one arena where I really struggle to stop worrying about what other people think of me. In my heart I know that I’m just as good as someone else with the same qualifications, but I can’t help but feel as though I’m defective because I’ve failed at finding a job for so long.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think certificates pay off that well unless they’re in something really specialized and in demand, but if you’re talking about filling in credits you have to pay for anyway, they at least won’t waste your resources. I would ask somebody hiring in the relevant field in your geographical area about the specific certifications’ value to make the best use of those resources, though.

      On the resume, don’t forget that you can leave stuff off. That’s especially true when you’ve got a new qualification that’s pointing your search, like a vocational degree. But I also think that your discomfort at your life trajectory is going to make it hard for you to imagine a prospective employer being at peace with it. So anything you can do for yourself on the making peace front is probably going to give you a more realistic view of your candidacy–and also improve it.

      1. Anx*

        Thank you so much! You are so right about trying to make peace with it.

        I am not sure about how to leave it off of a resume though. My one internship was in 201o and my only regular work experience between the start of ’10 and spring ’14.

        Some applications ask you to enter all of the schools you’ve attended (or at least in the last 4 years), so I can’t leave that off.

        I think my best bet is to try to just accept that I’m an unattractive candidate to the general population and hope that I can find that one special employer who will see the advantages of my imperfect trajectory.

    2. LAI*

      I’ve helped hire for a few administrative positions and from what I’ve seen, experience matters far, far more than office technology certificates. I would not say that it’s worth your time to get an office tech certificate (unless you lack basic skills in using a computer or something like that). I know that Alison and other commenters here often suggested temping as a good way to get office experience.

      1. Anx*

        I figured that experience would matter more, I just don’t know how I can get any experience in the first place.

        My internship wasn’t really office based–it was field training. I helped manage a retail store in high school (family run) and the only administrative work I did there as manage inventory records. I worked in offices in college, but that was student employment which isn’t ‘real world’ experience.

        Every temp job at the agencies I’m enrolled at ask for 2-3 years of experience and my college jobs don’t seem to count.

        I appreciate the insight. I figured as much.

  59. Just a Rat in a Cage*

    I’m “invited” to my boss’s annual lab picnic this weekend.

    We’re to ‘bring a side dish if you want’.

    Pretty nervous about this. My work environment is standoffish, and we don’t have a lot of morale, so this is not something I’m well prepared for or all that comfortable with. It would look way worse to not attend, though, so I need to go.

    What would you bring? Wear?

    1. Just a Rat in a Cage*

      Some follow up information:

      ‘Parties’ at work are this odd thing where we bring ingredients – like a taco lunch party, and one person brings shredded cheese, one person brings a jar of salsa, etc. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.

      I’ve actually been treated weirdly when I’ve ‘gone overboard’ at previous lab functions – brought really good tamales to a taco lunch (see above), or brought a pie from the fancy pie shop. This was somehow frowned upon or seemingly considered too fancy for the mixed pay-level crowd (I’m at a bottom pay level, I just like to eat nice things occasionally).

      Wondering if things are different if I’m going to the boss’s house though. The fancy pie seems like a good thing to bring this time, for instance.

      1. LCL*

        The boyfriend has a salad he brings that is always popular.
        Pack separately romaine lettuce, chopped olives, parmesan cheese, chopped smoked salmon, and bottled caesar dressing. And croutons. Mix at the table.

    2. The Real Ash*

      I would bring something super-easy to make, as in, you take a few cans of something, dump them into a bowl and voila! I would suggest making a dip of some kind, and then bringing chips or crackers to go along with. That way you made something that seems homemade, but won’t be too expensive in terms of ingredients, and won’t take forever to make.

      I would also wear something “dressy casual”. If you’re a man, a polo shirt and a pair of khakis with some dressy-ish shoes. For a woman, capris and a nice blouse with some strappy sandals?

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      This is my go-to potluck dish:

      Chop 4 peaches & 2 avocados into 1/2 inch chunks
      Splash with apple cider vinegar (not much, just enough to get it wet)
      Dust with cayenne pepper (just a shake or two)


      1. Jamie*

        Now I wish I had a picnic to attend – but as it is I’m stealing this (minus the pepper for mine) and will make for the family this weekend. Sounds simple and yummy.

    4. Gene*

      Personally, I’d enjoy myself and bring either a great squid and rice salad I make or my Irish whiskey cake, with extra whiskey in the glaze. I have no advice for what to wear, there are far too many variables for me to offer advice. I’d just wear my go to outfit, kilt and aloha shirt. But I’m a guy who doesn’t give half a rip what others think.

        1. Gene*

          TY. The squid salad really is yummy, but some have trouble with tentacles on their plate.

          1. 22dncr*

            No prob with the Squid (after living in SF Bay Area for so long love it) but Rice? In a Salad? Rice is a main dish – no Salad or Sugar. OK, OK I eat Cream of Rice but that’s different (;

    5. Turanga Leela*

      If you have a specialty that you make, bring that. Otherwise, bring a salad (with tongs that you don’t mind losing if someone takes them) or an easily shareable dessert, e.g. cookies. It doesn’t have to be fancy or unusual.

      It’s hard to know what to wear without knowing your workplace. Corporette did a feature a while ago on what to wear to a company picnic, but that was for a corporate law office. In general, I’d wear either jeans and a nice top or a non-revealing sundress. If you want to err on the side of looking nicer, wear flats or nice sandals instead of sneakers or flip-flops.

      Go, be friendly, and plan to leave after an hour and a half if at all possible.

        1. Just a Rat in a Cage*

          That’s a useful link overall – thanks for sharing.

          My workplace is a lab where the lower level folks (that’s me) usually wear scrubs to work. Business casual at best for the higher ups.

          I am leaning towards doing a solid-color maxi dress with a drapey cardigan on top and non-flipflop sandals. Not really comfortable with showing any skin around coworkers.

    6. Jamie*

      I would bring the world’s best potato salad which I make – and I don’t even care that it will ruin them for all other potato salads for life.

      Picnic I’d assume shorts or capris and a knit top or nicer t-shirt? I wouldn’t go halter or short shorts – but something casual like you’d wear to your gramma’s birthday party if it were held outside.

    7. Rachel*

      Tortilla chips and taco dip (either store-bought or homemade) is a big favorite at potlucks at every place I’ve ever worked. Can’t go wrong with that!

  60. inigo montoya*

    A colleague and I spent all day last Friday interviewing 9 applicants for an entry level professional job. The 9 were selected by HR (I know but that is the process I have to live with) and all were absolutely terrible. It started with the guy that told us how he doesn’t report his cash payment contract work and ended with the lady that kept saying “cermunication skills” and asking if we wanted a “pacific” incident. The in between were simply awful interviewers. I felt like any minute Ashton Kutcher was coming through the door to tell me we had been punked.

    1. Biff*

      Oh wow. This sounds like the other side of the story for the two really weird interviews I’ve been on. I felt like I’d been sent into a room full of stuffy, conservative bankers wearing a chicken suit

  61. Mints*

    I had another interview that didn’t pan out, and I’m starting to wonder if my interview skills are defective. I usually don’t get responses after I ask for feedback, and the only one recently just said they went with someone more experienced. I know the job market is bad, but I’ve had four or five in person interviews this year, which I feel like is a lot. Or maybe not, and I’m just surrounded by people who interview extremely well

    Ugh I’m bummed

    1. Sarahnova*

      I had more than that before I got the offer from my current role. It might just be the market/bad luck.

      Get someone to review your interviewing who is honest but supportive, though, so they can either draw your attention to problems or reassure you.

      1. De Minimis*

        Some markets are tough….if there are a lot of people out there looking who have more experience, it can be a real uphill battle.
        I know I ran into that a lot….many employers had cut people loose, and those people were getting snapped up for entry level jobs.

      2. Mints*

        I’ve thought about this, but I really can’t think of anyone who could do a good mock interview with me. I don’t really know anyone who hires and who would do this favor.
        Thanks though, it’s helpful to hear that there’s still hope after a few unsuccessful interviews!

  62. Site Search*

    Does anyone know a better way to search the site than the pre-installed search function? I’m trying to find a post about applying for more than one job with a company when the second one is higher ranked and opens after you’ve already submitted for the first one. I know Allison provided concrete advice about it but can’t seem to dig the post out.

    1. Angela*

      You can go directly to google and have it return search examples for just a specific website. So if you wanted to know all the times Allison’s posted about teapots, you’d go to google and type in
      teapots and it will only return hits from her site.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah — that’s how I search. I have the Google page for bookmarked, and I always use that when I’m trying to find an old post.

  63. Trixie*

    I finished/passed my initial Body Flow training this last weekend, and am more excited than I was going into it. Not so much about being an instructor but about getting comfortable speaking to a large group of strangers. I think I was before but this will freshen up those skills. And looking down the road, this is a good segway to yoga certification. #FeelingGrateful

  64. Sara*

    I got the go ahead from Alison to post the question here in the open thread because an earlier similar post is quite old and I don’t think the discussion would continue there…

    So Eid is coming up early next week and I’m contemplating getting a henna design on my hands, but I’m also in the market for a job and I may be going on interviews, so I’m worried this may work against me.

    On one hand (ha!) I’ve never had a negative response to it, nor do I expect one in the course of my job search. Although a few people have advised me that the henna coupled with my tiny nosering, I’ll look too “ethnic” and unprofessional (I’m in the accounting field).

    OTOH, it’s been kind of a rough few months and doing this will perk me up a bit and get in the celebratory mood….I also figure it’s my experience or interview answers and demeanor itself that will weigh heavily on a hiring managers decision, not the appearance of a henna design. Plus I don’t feel I should put anything on hold for something or someone that may or may not happen.

    your thoughts?

    1. Lizzy Mac*

      I’d go ahead and do it. You might get a question in a job interview but most reasonable people will understand your answer. And you probably don’t want to work for the people who don’t.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      I think henna is lovely, and I say go for it. Buuuuut, I’d recommend only the palms of your hands, not the backs, and definitely nowhere near the fingernails. I find the back of my hand fades a lot slower than the palm, and also the palms are less visible during a handshake. Palms-only will be pretty but not as noticeable during an interview, I think.

      Enjoy your henna, happy Eid, and good luck on interviews!

  65. Gene*

    My summer of work hell is about to begin. The plant is going through another expanson and piledriving porbably starts next week. They are currently vibration driving sheet piling – think a Volkswagon-sized “personal massager” set to max sitting on top of a 60 foot long sheet of corrugated iron driving it into the ground.

    The soil here is alluvial, so it wobbles; and my office in in a double-wide trailer. When the piledriving starts it will be BOOM! shake BOOM! shake BOOM! shake from start time to quit time.

    1. Sarahnova*

      This doesn’t really help you, but I now have “Boom! Shake The Room” stuck in my head.

      Any chance you can cheer yourself up by humming that to yourself when things are particularly bad? (Absurd humour is one of my coping mechanisms; if something is inevitable and also kinda silly, I go with laughing.) If not, then just try not to go too crazy. Sorry!

  66. Lizzy Mac*

    I need to get my rant on for a minute. Today is my last day before a week vacation. I should be excited but mostly I’m already dreading my return to work. No arrangements have been made to cover me while I’m gone. I do all the admin work and while very little of it is urgent, the volume is impressive. I used to have a backup but she took a new job about a month ago and for cost reasons my managers did not replace her. My manager said we’d get coverage from another branch but I could out yesterday that my coverage will only be in one day next week. A few parts of my job can’t be put off for regulatory purposes (I work for a bank) but I know almost all the work will be waiting for me. If I didn’t have plans I would just cancel my vacation.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Ugggg! I feel you. I can’t vacation without coming back to a backlog of work. I can completely forget about it while on vacation, but it does stress me out before vacation and at the end knowing that I will be playing catch up the first day back.

      1. Lizzy Mac*

        Thank you. I’m officially on vacation so I’m going to try to not think about my work until next week.

  67. Anon College AA*

    Ugh. I screwed up something last week (forgot to do something that was asked of me by email) and trying to fix it has turned into a nightmare. Every step I’ve taken has been with my boss’s blessing, but it has been screwed up somewhere along the way by miscommunication between me and the company I’m dealing with. Today I found out I’m just going to have to do the difficult and more expensive option to get this done in the timeframe necessary – and it still might not get done, and is going to cost 3x as much. Ugh. I’ve been spoiled by companies like Amazon and Zappos with their amazing customer service and integrated shipping systems, so dealing with a small-to-medium sized business has been so so difficult. If you can’t ship to a certain address, tell me before I put in into your ordering system. If it takes 48 hours to put a new address in your system (why???), tell me. Not 3 days later when I needed the item YESTERDAY.

    It doesn’t help that I’ve been sick all week and am operating at 1/4 capacity. My boss has been understanding, but this is really getting old.

    1. EG*

      I completely understand this feeling lately, and it’s a blessing to have a sympathetic boss. I hope you’re feeling better soon and that the mess resolves itself quickly!

  68. Anon*

    Does anyone know how to handle an insurance gap of 1 week between my old job and my new job? I have a doctor appointment during that gap and a pre-existing condition so I don’t want to lose coverage.

    1. JML*

      COBRA is expensive (if it’s available to you), and since it’s only one week, try calling your doctor’s office. They should have some options for you, including paying a discounted rate for the visit. But since it’s only 1 week, can you reschedule until you’re covered again? Honestly, as long as your doc is covered under your new plan, that’s what I would do.

      1. Anon*

        Thanks for the ideas! Unfortunately, I can’t push back my appointment until I’m covered again since my new job is in a different state. But maybe I could try to get it moved forward to before my current job ends (although it was nearly impossible to make this appointment in the first place!). I also like the idea of checking with the doctor’s office to see what they recommend, I’ll give them a call.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Ask if you can be put on the cancellation list, if they have one. Explain your circumstances, most people making appointments would be understanding of “my insurance ends 1 week before my appointment, is there any way we can move this appointment up?”

      1. Anon*

        Thanks! Thinking I may have to do this, which will be a bummer, but probably one month of COBRA won’t kill me.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Change your doctor’s appointment to whenever your benefits kick in. If you need a script refill, call your doctor and ask if they can give you some samples for the interem.

      Cobra is ridiculously expensive. Just move your appointment if possible. I’ve gone longer than 8 months without insurance, and nothing bad happened to me (a miracle, since I’m not the kind of person who has any luck).

    3. Turanga Leela*

      I agree about moving up the appointment.

      I feel you, Anon. The last time I switched jobs, there was one day where I wasn’t covered, and I spent that day watching movies in the basement and eating delivery pizza.

      1. EmilyG*

        That might be overkill! Years ago, the HR person at a job I was leaving pointed out that you have at least a month to sign up for COBRA, so you can just go uninsured for a few days and if nothing goes wrong, don’t sign up for COBRA. If something does go wrong, do so after the fact. If you have a period of being uninsured, your new insurer can refuse to cover you for conditions… for a period equal to how long you were uninsured. (This was pre-ACA, maybe different now.)

        Anyway, based on this tip, I’ve been able to go on vacation while between insurance plans. I just left the COBRA paperwork with a family member to submit if I got run over by a car.

        I’ve only done this for a week or so, though, not longer.

        1. EmilyG*

          Sorry, I meant pre-existing conditions. But it doesn’t matter, because of course if something went wrong, you could sign up for that one month of COBRA, and you wouldn’t have been uninsured.

          To try to be clearer, what I mean is that, according to a few HR people I’ve talked to, the COBRA sign-up window is one time you can kind of fudge signing up for insurance *after* something happens. And if you prove not to need it, you save $300-500 of unnecessary security-blanket spending.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          This is good to hear. It looked to me at the time like I could have gotten COBRA retroactively, but I wasn’t positive. …and I agree that my basement day was overkill. :)

        3. littlemoose*

          I believe the ACA prohibits health insurers from refusing to cover pre-existing conditions, though I will not swear to it and this is not legal advice. Also my recollection of HIPAA is that an insurer cannot deny coverage of a pre-existing condition if the condition was previously covered by health insurance within the previous 30 to 60 days. Again, please double-check me on this before relying on it, and ensure that your new health insurance benefits kick in when you start working at the new job (ie no waiting period).
          But yeah, trying to get your doc to squeeze you in before old job’s benefits end is likely the easiest.

      2. Anon*

        Shoot, called the doctor’s office and they say he’s not seeing anyone at all next week so there’s no way to get in before my insurance ends. But they’ll give me a 40% discount on the cost of the visit if I don’t have insurance. So I guess that’s something!

        P.S. Love the username, I have been obsessively re-watching Futurama this week!

    4. Anx*

      I have never had employer-sponsored health insurance, so I don’t know how well this would apply.

      I had an appointment that took months to get, and I ended up going when I hadn’t paid my insurance (I couldn’t) I paid it after the office visit, while I was still in my grace period, and they just reprocessed the insurance claim.

  69. Anonsie for This*

    Not really a question, just venting.

    Becoming my department’s de facto error checker has had some very interesting side effects… though it’s making me a little uncomfortable. The one person in the department I have probably the prickliest relationship with is cranking out a huge majority of our errors (she’s responsible for over 25% of the mistakes I’ve caught, out of a total of 12 people in the department). This is stuff that is costing us thousands of dollars in fees and written-off refunds to our client base.

    She’s also above me both in position and seniority, and she knows I’m the one doing the error checking. I don’t know if she ever looks at the list (most people don’t seem to, but it’s accessible to anyone who cares to dig around in our shared files a bit) but I have a feeling her performance review is going to be pretty uncomfortable, as this is the first year we’ve had an effective error reporting system. And while a part of me wants to be kind of gleeful about it (she’s been very condescending and chilly to me) I’m mostly just really uncomfortable. I would like to have a good relationship with all of my colleagues — not necessarily friendly, but comfortable and professional. And while I’m not responsible for any of her mistakes, I’m the one sending her the forms for “you screwed up and now we have to refund the client out of our own pocket.” My boss has basically been no help — all of his suggestions are things that are frankly going to tick her off more, like suggesting I cc him when I send her requests so that he can make sure she’s still cooperating with me.

    I love the error checking, though. I just wish it didn’t come with drama :(

    1. EG*

      No one likes to have their mistakes pointed out. Maybe you could include suggestions on how to avoid the mistakes, especially if you see a pattern in her errors. You’re doing your job in pointing out what is incorrect, it’s her job to correct her work in the future.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am a big fan of having a good relationship with colleagues.

      I don’t know of any suggestion that would NOT tick her off. She’s doing a sloppy job and seems to have no plan on doing better. Furthermore she is condescending and chilly.

      Nope. This is not going to get better on it’s own. Do the steps your boss says to do. It is okay to ask what to do if there is backlash from following his instructions.

      I have stood on my head trying to get my work done correctly. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this woman. It seems to me that she will never have a polite relationship with you. I say just do what you gotta do. Where it lands is where it lands.

  70. MyOtherName*

    So I mentioned last week that I was doing a national level training webinar.
    Here’s the webinar if anyone is interested!
    (Much easier to watch if you have some interest in GIS/mapping)
    You can probably figure out quickly who I am if you know what name I normally post under :)

  71. Jamie*

    This will sound snarky – but I’m serious: Are there places out there where end users listen to IT? I don’t mean not complaining about policies we can enforce on our end…I mean following instructions and actually trying to retain basic things?

    1. When IT sends an email instructing people to clean up their loose files on a shared drive and everyone does it. And if they forget they refer to the email to see where IT said they would move them rather than getting all indignant about not being allowed to keep their mess on the proverbial floor.

    2. Who know how to create a new folder and right click to make a desktop shortcut. How many times does a person need to be taught how to do that before I can question their ability to learn?

    3. People capable of operating “search.” People who seem to think the search function in Windows is something you need special permission to use. Do you think I just remember in which folder each of the hundreds of thousands of files on the network are off the top of my head? Don’t you think if I were capable of doing that I’d have a better job?

    4. People who can learn how to drag a formula through rows in excel, resize a column, and capture a screen shot without needing to be instructed every day for half a decade likes it’s groundhogs day every. single. day.

    5. People who ask you to fix something, agree to stay out when you remote in, and actually stay out. Not people who keep logging in and booting you off RDP because “I forgot.”

    6. People who don’t store 100 GB of old pics on the shared drives completely screwing up backup time, then when asked to tell me what can be compressed and moved to archive remove 1.34 GB and forget it. Helpful. Leaving me to 7z the whole damn thing and move it so I can run backups in less than a zillion hours.

    7. People who would never refer to their second monitor as “their other computer.”

    8. People who don’t need instructions on setting their Out of Office for the 900th time this year – then send a dozen blank emails to all users and then get irritated that their message isn’t included. I don’t know how else to explain how out of office works other than words – maybe they need someone to convey the knowledge with interpretive dance.

    I can’t even come up with 2 more to get to an even ten.

    I’m half venting but also really wondering if there are places out there where everyone has the ability to learn and retain basic skills. Because I really need to know that those kind of places exist.

    1. inigo montoya*

      When you develop your interpretive dance for out of office instructions, could you please post it on youtube and send me the link?

      1. Jamie*

        That will have to be the person who takes over for me after my stress related death.

        I do not dance, swim, or yell “whoo hoo” at concerts. Nothing wrong with those activities – but the world is better off when I abstain.

        Due to various system things that needed to be checked throughout the night I’ve not slept for more than 3 consecutive hours since Saturday and I’ve already worked 63 hours and the week isn’t over yet.

        I am cranky and sleepy – and there is birthday cake for someone this afternoon and I’m afraid to ask what kind because it’s the only thing I have going for me and if it’s going to be horrible I don’t want to know until the last minute.

        1. Clerica*

          I’m picturing a segment of this dance with you dressed as Rita Repulsa shouting “Magic wand, make my spreadsheet….FLOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!” Except your mouth can’t sync up with any of the actual words because the whole thing was dubbed.

    2. Brett*

      When you have those people… you also get people like me who run CUDA clusters and VNC over the building AV network and drop experimental chrome box clusters into the public wifi network.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s okay – I’ll lure you into my department so you can use your powers for good.

        1. Brett*

          When I was an undergrad… the college made the mistake of putting campus kiosk computers in all the dorms using brand new Mac Quadras when our computer lab consisted of 3 Mac Pluses (yes, that long ago). So, I hacked the kiosk program and turned the kiosks back into normal Macs.
          My punishment? I had to choose between a suspension or working for campus IT for a quarter.

    3. NylaW*

      No, no there is not. But should you find this utopian paradise let me know so I can join you.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Unfortunately, I don’t think such places exist. You can find places where the percentage of people like that is smaller than at other places. Hang in there!

    5. Clerica*

      I don’t think there’s any one place. I figure there are like two (non-IT) people in any given place who can actually function day to day and only call IT for honest-to-God technical problems.

      I might have a #9 for you: People who can accidentally jam a copier and then actually follow the on-screen step-by-step directions to unjam it instead of just leaving it for the next person (ME) to fix and then coming to find me and asking where the rest of their print job is.

    6. De (Germany)*

      Well, over here in IT those complaints are pretty rare :-) Software developers are usually good at creating shortcuts, at least.

    7. OriginalYup*

      Nope. These people are found in every workplace in the world, busily saving everything on their hard drive and hitting the Return key at the end of each line in a document. Bless their hearts.

    8. Mints*

      Here I go again offering to work as “Technical Hand Holder” for Jamie

      Actually, I was explaining to my older friend (old tutor) the difference between tablets (LCD) and e-readers, and then she said “Wow that was really helpful. You should get a job explaining computers to old people.” I was like, “Yeah I’d absolutely take that job”

      I don’t think that exists though, sigh

      1. Felicia*

        There are courses here called things like”Computer skills for Seniors”… you could teach one of those I suppose :)

      2. Jamie*

        If it were in my power I’d create that job and snap you up – although I’d drop the old because I absolutely have as many problems with people younger than me than with our older employees.

        And a lot of our older employees are troublefree for me – but if you are willing to help and give dirty looks on my behalf to everyone who annoys us regardless of age I’d hire you in a second if I could.

        1. Mints*

          Haha I believe you. I’d be good with IT Assistant as a title. I think the younger people I know are just less open about it. And I’ve perfected the “wtf” look during my rebellious teenage years

    9. Meg Murry*

      Nope. No where. The closest I’ve seen is where the IT department snarls enough at these requests that the question-ers then come to ME to ask them for help. I got enough requests for most of the above (that I could help with as non-IT, like OoO procedures) that I started making how-tos, with screenshots. Then, the next year when the same person asked me how to setup their out of office I could just forward it to them. Was it my job? No. But the 30 minutes making screenshots paid back in the 45 minutes of handholding per-person I had to do otherwise.
      I know you probably don’t have a budget for it, but if you ever do, getting an intern to make screenshots of your most frequently asked questions that an end user can do themselves (like OoO or creating new folders) would be worth it.

      1. Jamie*

        Actually I always send screen shots and documentation – I pride myself on writing documentation you could follow if you were an alien dropped in from another planet and knew nothing except these pages telling you to click here > type here > with pics to show what it looks like. :)

        I am just cranky today, because I have all these in a helpfiles folder on the intranet and when I send links to it they can’t find it so I have to go pull it up and show them again.

        They are cryptically names like “Out of Office instructions for Outlook 2013” so I guess they can’t be blamed for not knowing which file tells them how to set out of office. :)

        I have one person here who has been awesome and has taken on a lot of the handholding of my most….challenging…end user but I feel like it’s such an imposition as this end user always wants to just make this stuff something others do for them. I just need a couple more people to do this.

        The big problem isn’t solvable by whining, the big problem is we’re dancing right at that edge of where 1 IT person is doable or really understaffed. When things are slow and I have more time – it’s okay – but any problem that needs my full attention and the little stuff gets on my nerves. And I have a lot of higher level responsibilities I end up doing on the weekends or after hours just to do it without interruptions.

        That’s why I can comment so much some days – s0me days I may work 9-11 hours but I’m in the office for 13-15 because the lions share of my complicated work needs to be done after everyone goes home – but i need to be here for other stuff throughout the day. That’s why less guilt commenting those days.

        I’m a 1 person IT department in house – have a network consultant on retainer for some stuff – with 100+ users and 300+ machines including production machines with niche software.

        We’re making some changes so I need to see how things shake out before I broach the topic about someone else ft – it’s not an easy thing in an industry that runs leaner than lean – but I do have a plan in place to bring someone in on an as needed basis to help me out with more project based stuff…but what I really need is someone here like a tech to deal with the help desk stuff…but it’s not enough to justify FT – and the nature of troubleshooting like this is random. Otherwise I’d schedule everyone to annoy me every Tuesday between 8:00 – 12:00. :)

        It’s one of the 2 times per year I like to say I can see myself wildly careening toward burnout. Next week will be hell week and if I get out under 90 hours I’ll be lucky.

        1. Mimmy*

          I have one person here who has been awesome and has taken on a lot of the handholding of my most….challenging…end user but I feel like it’s such an imposition as this end user always wants to just make this stuff something others do for them.

          Haven’t you heard Jamie, 20% of people take up 80% of your effort! ;) (hope I said that right, lol)

          1. Jamie*

            Yep – pareto principle. I swear it’s eerie how often that is true for such a wide range of things.

    10. Aunt Vixen*

      I do! I also try a series of basic, common-sense solutions to fix an issue before I call IT with the problem – at my last job the IT guys dug me because I always brought them interesting things to work on. :-) And I tag e-mails with answers in them that I don’t need very often, so that when I have to do a thing I last did six months ago, I don’t have to call IT to teach me how to do it again.

      I’m sorry I’m apparently a rare breed. <3

      1. Lore*

        Me too!

        I didn’t think that made me rare until our day-to-day work started involving a lot more advanced functions in Word and I seem to be the only one who can figure out shortcuts. And, not that this will make you feel better, but the IT people here are all so used to dealing with the technologically inept that they don’t believe me when I say I’ve tried the obvious stuff, repeat it themselves, then half the time they come up here and repeat it on my computer, and then walk away puzzled. I had a Word thing the other week where I knew it was some deeply buried setting that had gotten switched, and all I was hoping was that the help desk would know where that setting lived so I didn’t have to go through every menu and screen one at a time. Instead, I had to beg them not to reinstall Office (and thus delete all my macros, desktop shortcuts, and customized toolbars), and then go back to what I was doing, which was check through all the settings menus.

      2. Bea W*

        I also save copies of those emails to the team’s project drive for the benefit of others (and my own sanity).

    11. jsutforthis*

      lol poor you, get some sleep! Here’s what I found: they all listen until you stop talking. :) Supported over 165 remote sites and never once did I ever assume that they would remember what I told/showed them. Because doing those things is not the large part of their function. ;0 But then they had jobs I wouldn’t want to do either.

      The nicest lady called her monitor a TV and pushed the button on her monitor when I would ask her to turn off the computer.

    12. Bea W*

      Within my team, yes. Outside of that….well, just don’t leave the team area, so you won’t find out.

    13. TheExchequer*

      My dad worked in tech support. He once had to explain, in small words, to a customer why their electronic product would not be covered by warranty when they had put it in the microwave to “fix” the water damage. I feel your pain.

    14. Mimmy*

      Sorry to say Jamie, they’re evvvvvverrrrrryyyyywhereeeee!!! lol. I’m sure even I’ve been guilty of being a dummy. Tell ’em to write it down lest they experience the wrath of Jamie!!

      Hang in there :) :)

      1. Windchime*

        To be fair, they did probably turn the monitor off and back on, or maybe they logged out and back in.

    15. Laura2*

      I worked with someone once who did not understand copying and pasting.

      I worked with another person who didn’t know what a “browser” was and thought that Safari and Explorer accessed two different internets.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Oh, lord, don’t get me started on trying to explain the internet to someone who is tech clueless. I have stories for days, but just thinking about them raises my blood pressure.

    16. kf*

      Oh, the reasons I do NOT do IT help desk work anymore!

      No, Wakeen, the vendor would not send you an email with “I Love You” in the subject line and since you clicked on the attachement your computer is infected!

      May I suggest reading NotAlwaysRight? It helps!

    17. Anon scientist*

      Do you have people who spend $$$ on directory assistance?

      We had a distinctly irritated “there’s this wonderful invention called the internet” email go around recently.

      1. ChiTown Lurker*

        No, not even other IT people. Our network engineers sent out a note to the company, including IT, informing us of the new shared drive location and the shutdown date of the old location. Naturally, I read the note, followed the instructions and moved our stuff and sent a note letting the team know of the move. Each month, the network engineers would send a new note reminding us to move our items to the new shared drive.

        Fast forward eight months – I am no longer with the company. It is Father’s Day. I receive a hysterical call from a former coworker. “The external auditors are here. The audit starts in the morning. OMG, OMG we are all going to be fired. The network engineers blew away everything without warning. Would you happen to have copies of the major project work?” Of course not. However, in the last email I sent to the team, I included a link to the new location. Eventually, with much assistance from my coworker’s 12 year old daughter, they were able to find the files. Tragedy Averted.

        Sigh. Sometimes, I want to go and live in cave (with internet and phone) and find my true work peers.

  72. Ellie Elaine*

    I have a question!

    I manage a small team of writers. Part of their job is communicating directly with clients to get feedback on the copy they write.

    Our current client is a nightmare! They’re demanding, inconsistent, and rude. Like, OK my writer missed a comma — you don’t have to tell them to “read a style guide some time” and you shouldn’t “hope this is a humbling experience”. The client makes major last-minute changes then cuts my writers down if there’s an error (these are 5000+ page technical docs and my writers are PhDs).

    This client also brings in a truckload of money, so my higher-ups are telling me to keep the client happy and not ever tell them “no”.

    How do I keep my writers’ spirits up?

    1. Jazzy Red*

      With spirits! Or food, whichever will go over better. Seriously, anything you do to show them how much you appreciate them will help a lot. So if you can afford to take them out for pizza or something nicer, give it a try.

    2. Ellie Elaine*

      I should mention — we all work remotely. As much as I would love to bring in a batch of cookies, I really only can provide verbal and written support.

      1. Jamie*

        How big is your team? Because I think I would pledge my lifelong and undying loyalty to a boss who Fed-Exed me a cupcake.

        Not necessary and my opinion is probably colored by the fact that I really want a cupcake right now.

        But the best thing you can do it just make sure they know how pleased you are with their work so they aren’t only seeing feedback through the warped lens of the nitpicky client.

        Difficult clients require a lot more positive feedback for the team just to keep the balance from tipping. Don’t just assume they know they do a great job – tell them.

        1. Karowen*

          Actually, my friend (who also frequents this site) was a remote worker and she quit her job. Her boss sent her a cookie bouquet and it was just such a nice gesture that, while it didn’t change her circumstances enough to make her want to stay, it did make her recommend that company to her friends. It could very well still not be a feasible solution, but just a thought. Sometimes just knowing that your boss actually cares about you (isn’t just giving lip service to the idea) is all that matters.

          1. ChiTown Lurker*

            I love these bouquets. My boss sent me one for not killing a customer and maintaining civility in the face of undue pressure.

      2. Bea W*

        If you can acknowledge to your team that the client is an ass (but in professional language) and have their backs. Just because your company doesn’t care how he acts doesn’t mean you have to not care or ptetend he’s not a complete butt. I worked with a client who was an absolute horse’s rear. It would have gone a long way if my management supported their team, set limits, and acknowledged that things that cussing people out were not okay.

      3. Pontoon Pirate*

        Have something delivered to wherever they work–a cookie cake, a box of candy, a set of goofy pens or pencils. Seriously. I’m a writer, and I’ve had to deal with internal and external clients who make me incandescent sometimes. A boss who understands that it is what it is, but mitigates some of the rage-y pain, can do a lot of good.

        1. Pontoon Pirate*

          Ok, I’m a writer who doesn’t refresh the comments and has trouble letting go of commas.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If you kept track of the actual hours spent on this customer would it be cost effective to keep the customer?

      If you kept track of the number of last minute changes and the exact words the customer used on your people, do you think that would make a difference over time?

      I bet if your crew knew you were keeping written records of what is going on that would help in a small way. At least they would know that you felt it was important enough for you to document.

      Don’t promise them anything. Just say you want to document what is going on and at some point you will approach management again.

      As far as management is concerned what good is a truckload of money if you have no writers, because they decided not to take the abuse anymore?

  73. Jubilance*

    Random things:

    *My current manager got a horrible review during the company survey and so far we’ve had 2 feedback sessions for the team to discuss how we rated him and give him feedback. People were honest, but not as honest as they could have been because he’s been vindictive & retaliated in the past. He has made some improvements since the last time we gave him feedback, but on things that are actionable like “don’t say confidential things to your team member in an open cube, grab an enclave or book a conference room”. I think there will be no changing the areas that really need work, like him playing favorites, favoring the men over the women, or being very condescending to his team.

    *My favorite person on the team left a couple months ago, and my other favorite person just got a new job and is also leaving. I’m done to 1 person that I’ll be able to commiserate with :-( I’m also looking for my next role but nothing has been a go as of yet.

    *I had a phone interview last week that I thought went well, but they didn’t call me for an on-site and I know they were planning to move fast. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

    1. Sophia*

      But can you make those areas into actionables (eg not playing favorites could be, for new business, don’t always give them to Jim, but distribute evenly)? OtherWise he may not know how to change those things

  74. Golden Yeti*

    Hi everyone.

    Just for an update, I applied for a job I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for. I’ve applied there a few times and have never been able to get an interview. I’m hoping that with my revamped application, I can at least get that far.

    And, out of the blue, a company I had been in negotiations with earlier this year contacted me and wants to get back in touch. I’m more than a little wary of it because when the negotiations happened before, it was over the course of several months. I was basically strung along for a bunch of interviews and continual modifications to the proposal, only to be told at the end (once I more or less cornered them for something concrete) that they couldn’t bring me on full time after all. I figure I’ll at least hear them out and see what’s going on. Any tips on how to not get hung out to dry again?

    Also, I posted this on the LinkedIn group recently, but again, thanks to everyone for your advice and help thus far. It’s been tremendously valuable. :)

  75. Katie the Fed*

    Very important question!

    Should I invite my boss to my wedding?

    Context: Wedding is close family/friends, probably about 80 guests. There will be some coworkers of mine that I’m friends with.

    My boss is really nice – he’s also a bit of a Michael Scott in that he really wants us to like him. He’s a good guy – I have some issues with him at times, like only giving feedback when I screw things up, but I do really like him.

    Should I invite him?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      This is what Alison’s said in the past, in case you’re curious:

      Now, personally, I don’t think I’d invite coworkers or managers to your wedding if you’re not close with them, so part of me wants to tell you to reconsider it … but then I’d want the tiniest wedding imaginable if for some reason I had to have one, so my opinion may be colored by that.

      Not sure if others agree.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “I’d want the tiniest wedding imaginable if for some reason I had to have one”

        Ha. I wrote that four months before getting engaged, and I am pleased to report that I did indeed pull off close to the tiniest wedding imaginable.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I wanted to elope. Fiance said no. I should have made him plan the damned thing :)

          We seem to be at the smallest number feasible without causing huge friendship/family rifts, and I could easily squeeze in the boss and his boyfriend.

          1. AmyNYC*

            The more friends and family members I see planning “small” weddings (200-300 people) the more I want to just go to the courthouse then have champagne.

    2. Jamie*

      I would – he’s not a jerk and you’re inviting other co-workers so I think it would be a nice thing to do.

      I don’t see a downside to this.

      1. Celeste*

        Unless you think he’ll go full-metal Michael Scott and turn your wedding into a YouTube of “Tonight”, invite him and his boyfriend.

    3. Loose Seal*

      Do you have room for him and his spouse/partner (if any)? If you do have room for him and you like him, why not invite him?

      My wedding guest list was my immediate family (12 people), husband’s immediate family (4 people), and my bosses and co-workers and their partners (10 people). Husband’s co-workers weren’t on the list because it would have been too far for most to travel and he isn’t terribly close with them. So, yes, I’d say that even if you’re having a small wedding, you have room for co-workers if you like them and want them there.

      Ours was a short, outdoor wedding where no one sat down, followed by a buffet brunch at a sibling’s house. So it wasn’t that expensive or difficult to stretch it to co-workers. Mileage varies on that.

    4. Allison*

      Nope. If you were having a big wedding with lots of people you knew, I’d say go for it, but unless you and your boss go way back or he’s helped you in some huge way, I don’t think he qualifies for a close friends/family event.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        This is what I was thinking. Would you invite your boss to your birthday party? To a housewarming party? Of not, then I wouldn’t invite him to my wedding.
        I’d also be concerned with who will he be socializing with. Are there people that he will be able to relate to and have discussions with all night? Otherwise he may want to talk to you all night! Eeek!

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I invited my bosses to my medium-sized (~150 people) wedding. We were a tiny company and I had a really good rzpport with them. I don’t know that i saw them for more than 5 minutes outside of the receiving line, and they brought a really nice gift. :)

      I would not invite anyone from my current company.

  76. Anonymous Educator*

    I know the conventional wisdom is that you almost always try to negotiate for a higher salary, but am I the only one here who has not negotiated ever and never asked for a raise… and is okay with that?

    I’ve never taken a job that won’t allow me to pay my bills. When I look at my salary history and what I’m making now compared to what I was making at my first full-time job, it’s the equivalent of having gotten over a 7% raise every year.

    My partner and I can pay our rent, eat out, travel, put away savings, and give to charities. I feel as if we’re doing okay. Am I a freak?

    1. Bea W*

      Me. I feel the exact same way you do. I am making almost 4x what i started at. I make more than enough to meet my needs and have money left over for charity, savings, and frivolous things. I feel like i am paid fairly even if i am not a top earner in my field I have gotten a raise every year. I get a generous bonus. I have good benefits. It is most important to me that i can pay the bills and beyond that have a job i find challenging and fulfilling working with a good team and a manager who values me.

      I have changed jobs in my career twice. Each time the offer was substantially above my previous salary and i felt no need to negotiate. My last offer came in at well above what i expected and was a 25% raise, not counting the bonus and better benefits. There was no need to negotiate anything but my start date. That would have crossed the line into being greedy.

      I consider myself very fortunate. Not everyone gets a raise every year or gets an offer that exceeds expectations or is financially in a good place to consider not negotiating.

    2. The IT Manager*

      Me. I’ve worked for the government my whole career. Two different jobs at two agencies.

      I do not regret it – in fact I am very greateful that I never had to neogiate – and now I make more than enough money to pay my bills and all the fun things I want (I have pretty simple needs). Right out of college, I made less than my peers and had no money left in my acount at the end of the month, but with the miltary’s promotions I quickly surpassed them.

    3. Clerica*

      I’m not sure what kind of educator (based on your screen name) you work as, but could you even negotiate if you wanted to? Every school I’ve worked for had a strict step program and you couldn’t negotiate.

      As long as you don’t feel overworked for your pay and it’s comparable to others at your level, I would say you’re fine. But do you usually tend to undervalue yourself? There was a post a long time ago where someone said most women will ask for the salary they can “get by” on while most men will ask for the salary they actually want.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I started off in public, but I’ve been working in independent schools most of my career, with a small stint at a for-profit firm and in higher ed, so, yes, I could have theoretically negotiated.

        I don’t feel overworked, and I’m pretty sure my salaries have been in line with the market rate. That’s not to say I couldn’t be making more, of course, but, as I said before, my partner and I are doing more than okay financially.

    4. Jen RO*

      I was thinking about this today! I might need to be a temp team lead for a year (current team lead is pregnant) and my boyfriend is pushing me to ask for a temp raise. But I am paid pretty well and I am sure the raise conversation would be a miserable experience – not worth the money in my opinion – so I probably won’t broach the subject with my boss at all. On the other hand, I feel like a dumbass and like I’m letting my gender down – like I’m gonna be another of those women who can’t advocate for themselves and are dragging the average wage down…

      1. LAI*

        I was going to jump in to support Educator and say that I’ve never asked for a raise in my 10 year career either, and am very happy with what I make. However, I do think that in your case, you should ask for a pay increase for this year at least. You can do this politely, without expectation, but I certainly think it’s worth pointing out that you’re going to be doing extra work and have increased responsibility, so is there any way to receive extra compensation? When I was asked to fill in for our department head for a year, I received a stipend that made my salary equivalent to the minimum salary base for someone who would be normally hired in that role – I didn’t even have to ask for it.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I was going to say me, but then I remembered that at my first professional job, I was really unhappy with the raise offered at my 90-day review and successfully lobbied for an increase. But I have never negotiated just for the sake of negotiating if I felt the offer was fair.

  77. Anonymous Sad Kitty :(*

    After fighting for and getting back up to adequate resource level and finally feeling like we were making a dent in our backlog, we’re being forced to cut someone loose. Even worse is that aside from me and one other, we are a team of contractors with no benefits and no right to severence or notice.

    We had a hiring freeze last year and other cuts with the explaination that revenue was down. It indeed was down for the parent company, but my company was raking it in. Things improved for the parent company at the end of the year and are better this year but cuts continue. My group is loaded with work we can’t do and management keeps making more demands but then pulls crap like this. Seriously, i feel like they’ve just kicked us in the nuts with cutting our resources and taking away portions of our budget while keeping the same expectations for productivity and continuing to demand more.
    I guess taking away all of the plasticware, napkins, and plates 6 months ago didn’t help enough, eh?

    I love my team and my job, but bs like this is a kick in the gut to morale and i just felt the need to vent. I feel like our new parent company has just been robbing.Peter (us) to pay Paul (them). Times like this i don’t feel like our company or my division are valued in any way other than for the profit they can use to line their pockets.

  78. Margali*

    How did you learn how to interview?

    I may be moving into doing this for our company soon. It seemed to me that the best way to do it would be to sit in on some of the interviews we’re doing now. The applicant would be told that s/he is being interviewed by Jane, and Margali is observing or taking notes. However, both my supervisor and another hiring team member are both vehemently opposed to my doing this, and want me to ask some co-workers to agree to be mock-interviewed by me, and then let the hiring team know when I feel like I’m ready to join in. Any thoughts/suggestions/book or blog recommendations welcome. Of course I will be re-reading all relevant AAM posts!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m kind of shocked they’re opposed to your doing that. That’s exactly how I learned to do admission interviews, and that was with 5th and 8th graders, not adults!

      My boss would just say that I’ll be in the room taking notes, and the kid didn’t seem the least bit bothered by my presence.

      That said, is there any reason they can’t just be part of the interview process instead of observing and taking notes? I mean, you’d probably still carry the bulk of the interview process, but people generally learn best by doing than by observing, and if you’re leading the interview, they’d be “doing” in a more controlled environment.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Whoops. I think I misunderstood your question. You’re the one learning and not teaching? If they’re that opposed, I think you should just do those mock interviews. They’re not ideal, but you’ll probably be fine!

        1. Margali*

          Yes, I’m the one who needs to learn how to interview. I guess I just need to get over how weird it feels to have co-workers play “let’s pretend.” :)

    2. Perpetua*

      I asked a similar question on an open thread not too long ago and somebody reminded of an awesome fairly recent thread with loads of useful info. Not all of it is related to interviews specifically, but plenty of it is.

      I’m not sure if copying links sends the comment straight into moderation, so in order to avoid the possibility of that, I’m going to recommend that you paste this into Google. :) what do you wish you knew before you started hiring people?

      Also, not being allowed to learn by sitting in on interviews doesn’t make sense at all. The only reason I can think of at the moment might be applicable if the hiring team that you’d be joining is not the same as the current one, and they don’t want you to see their current interviewing practices, but if it IS the same team, I’m at a loss.

  79. Anon-efficiency*

    Does anyone know if a polite, respectful way to get an employee who’s senior to me (not my superior, just more experienced) to get to the point in phone meetings. When we touch base on projects, the information I need to do my job should only take 5-10 minutes to communicate – hell, he could write it in an e-mail and save us both a lot of time, which means I can hit the ground running sooner.

    It’s not that I hate phone calls and verbal interaction, I just really like doing my job efficiently and I hate having to cut through half an hour of noise to figure out what’s actually required of me. I’ve found myself saying, firmly, “that’s all really interesting, but what I need, plain and simple, is X” – especially if, in all the rambling, he hasn’t told me what X is yet!

    Part of me thinks I need to be more patient, but if these meetings really are to make sure I have the information I need, isn’t it okay to request the information I need and explain that most of what he’s saying isn’t really helpful?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Are these phone meetings scheduled or impromptu?

      If they’re unsolicited, I don’t think it’s out of line to say he’s caught you at a bad time. Could he send you an email with his request? Or could you schedule a call for another time?

      If these are scheduled phone meetings, does he have these phone meetings scheduled with others as well? How do they handle these meetings?

      If you really feel you can’t push back against this person without negative repercussions, you can also zone out a bit and do real work while you’re “on the phone” with him until he finally gets to the point.

      You have my sympathies!

      1. Anon-efficiency*

        Accidentally posted this downthread because I’m an idiot who clearly needs more sleep, but reposting it here and hoping that error won’t confuse too many people.

        They’re scheduled, and it’s just us. I work at the office, he’s remote, hence the phone used to touch base. I do zone out, check e-mail, do some work, but I feel guilty for doing it and also feel like I might miss a tidbit of actually important information if I do that.

        My position is fairly new, so maybe he’s just unclear on what exactly he needs to tell me, so he tells me everything. Or he really enjoys consulting people.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Some people are Es and need to talk to others, so he may just be like that. If that’s the case, he can’t really fault you for zoning out.

          If you can, however, occasionally get him to send you an email, I would get on that email immediately. Positive reinforcement works, even if it’s subconscious. He can quickly learn “If I call, it’ll get done in 2X hours; and if I email, it’ll get done in 1X hours.”

    2. Celeste*

      Could you just flat out say, I like to hit the ground running, is there a chance we could take care of this through email? I feel like it makes me see your point quickly so I can get on it.

      Never mind that you are asking for him to get to the point quickly by writing an email! ;o)

      Anyway, I think you can put it on you for being ready to go, instead of on him for dragging it out.

  80. GrumpyBoss*

    How many short term jobs do you think you can have before you are labeled a “job hopper”?

    My working history: 1 year (failed startup), 7.5 years, 10 years, 2 years, and 1 year (current job). I’m not really fitting in at this job and am not really challenged. But I’m afraid to allow myself to be unhappy because I don’t want to look like a job hopper.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I don’t think the 1 year stay 20 years ago affects you (I think you could leave it off the resume at this point), but if you leave two jobs in a row at less than two years without easily understood extenuating circumstance you look a bit like a job hopper. The two really long stays offset that, but I think if you do hop now, you need to plan to stay at the new job for at least 3 years.

      1. Celeste*

        Agree with IT Mgr. If you decide to stay for 2 more years, is there anything you can be doing with the time to help you find a better spot? Maybe not school per se, but learning something in your downtime at work. Of course that presumes downtime. Maybe your job keeps you really busy, doing unchallenging things.

        Could you see about taking on some extra load from above, which might be more challenging and a way to keep you engaged for the calendar’s sake?

        I’m sorry for what you’re dealing with; I prefer some challenge as well.

    2. Sarah*

      I think that you can absolutely afford to hop at this moment. You’ve shown that you can last for a decent tenure in the right position, and it’s VERY common for people to have a bit more jumpiness in their post-recession job history. Just try to hop for a job that you think you’ll stay at for a long time rather taking any job that gets you away from your current employer (which doesn’t sound like your plan to me). One 1-year job against a pattern of longer tenures makes it look like you just wound up in the wrong job and moved on, but multiple in a row can be a red flag that maybe you’ve become a job hopper.

    3. Various Assumed Names*

      If you have experience in a highly desirable area, employers are going to be willing to overlook the two short stints. It’s perfectly fair to want to find a place that works for you. Better than continuing to be unhappy – life is too short. Anyway, it can’t hurt to look.

  81. eiki*

    I interviewed for a senior clinical position with public health agency but despite a great interview I did not get it. I was told I my interview impressed but another was a better fit. A couple weeks later a more administrative position was advertised with a higher salary. I fancy my chances based on my clinical training and experience along with my bachelors business degree & clinical postgraduate diploma qualification.
    I did all the right things after the previous interview like thank you notes and left behind copies of my career portfolio. The HR managerbtold me its up to the clinical director to decide on which applicants will be shortlisted.
    Is it wise to reach out to the director who I have previously connected with via linkedin and what do I say?

  82. Jamie*

    I think it’s unethical for cities to impose additional sales taxes on items bought for a business (in certain expense categories) if they were bought outside of the city.

    It’s such a freaking pita every year – and it’s not right. When you buy locally as much as possible, but if you need something and it’s not available here what can you do?

    Oh and my favorite? When the vendor is right down the street and totally within city limits but need to include those purchases because their billing address is elsewhere. Stupid city – they get a crap load of money from that huge business…but I need to work to make sure you get an extra percentage on top of the taxes we already paid when we bought it?

    I just think it’s morally wrong, and not just because I’m tired because I was here late finishing the tax reporting.

    Do other cities do this? Or did I just get lucky?

    1. Bea W*

      WTF? Seriously? Outside of the city? Was the person who wrote that law smoking crack? Were the people who passed it smoking crack? Am I smoking crack, because I think I just read that if you purchase things for your business outside of the city, there is an additional tax on it, and that’s just stupid.

      1. Jamie*

        Yes – that it’s an additional tax on items purchased outside of the city limits. I wouldn’t know about the crack…lol

        But yeah – for example if we buy copy paper from a business within the city limits we already paid city sales tax on it – so we don’t include it in the tax reporting.

        But if we bought it from a company in the suburbs or another state we have to list it and even though we paid whatever applicable taxes there were for that location we have to pay city sales tax on the pre-tax amount.

        So if I buy an item in the applicable expense category for $100 in the city and rounding say the city’s sales tax is 10% we pay $110 for that item.

        Now if we buy it in a suburb, same county, where the sales tax is say 8% we pay $108 for that item. And an additional $10 tax to the city once a year. So that item really cost us $118. Even small business make millions of dollars in purchases per year – that adds up fast.

        The work involved in pulling all purchases for 12 months – filtering out those which aren’t included, filtering out those in the city with city billing addresses…and then sorting the taxable from nontaxable items (because we need to list in detail at the invoice level all purchases and then designate that which are nontaxable) and then give totals for total outside purchases, total nontaxable outside purchases, and total taxable outside purchases. And send a check for the 10%* of the taxable outside purchases.


        It’s a delightful task.

        And you can imagine it makes it a pita for purchasing for big ticket items which are taxable. Lets say you found a vendor in the suburbs who beat the price of the city vendor. And they were awesome and had better service, quality, the whole shebang…they don’t just have to beat the city vendors quoted price. They have to beat it by more than 10% because we’d need to add that to any quoted price to compare apples to apples.

        It aint called the machine for nothing.

        1. Jamie*

          Oh – and my favorite part of all…

          if the vendor is in the city, local, down the street….but their home office or billing is outside of the city? We pay the taxes again. Even though if we picked it up and paid in person we already paid the city taxes.

          Why the hell can’t I get away with asking for ridiculous payments for stuff? I might start taxing people for annoying me – and it’s 10% higher if you annoy me after work.

          1. Bea W*

            I think this should be federal law, the Personal Annoyance Tax, payable in cupcakes to the agrieved party.

          2. WorkingAsDesigned*

            Consider moving your operations to Montana. We don’t have sales tax, so aren’t charged any by anyone, regardless of where the vendor’s located.

            Also, we sell Hello Kitty items in Montana.

    2. Natalie*

      I have never heard of this before. I know you technically need to pay sales tax on anything you buy from another state, but practically nobody does it.

      I don’t suppose this other city happens to be across state lines?

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Eeesh. My city taxes everyone who works or lives in it 1%. It sucks, but at least it is less paperwork.

  83. Allison*

    They’re scheduled, and it’s just us. I work at the office, he’s remote, hence the phone used to touch base. I do zone out, check e-mail, do some work, but I feel guilty for doing it and also feel like I might miss a tidbit of actually important information if I do that.

    My position is fairly new, so maybe he’s just unclear on what exactly he needs to tell me, so he tells me everything. Or he really enjoys consulting people.

  84. Blergh*

    I applied for an internal position. A few days after the position closed, they re-posted the position. My status still says “Received Submission.” Should I move on at this point, safely assuming that I will not get an interview?

    1. B*

      I don’t think you should move on, but probably don’t count on it either. I think the best thing to do is to ask directly HR or the hiring manager what the position being re-posted means for your application.

  85. Vanilla*

    I had an internal interview a few weeks ago that was a bit strange and would love some feedback/thoughts on it.

    I arrived 10 minutes early to the conference room. I waited and waited until about 15 minutes into the scheduled time when the interviewers (3) showed up. They had been waiting in the hall for me.

    They asked me a few questions about my background/experience. They seemed more interested in my hobby than anything else. It’s a new position, and when I asked about the role and responsibilities, I could not get a clear answer except that everything is “awesome. ”

    When we wrapped up, one of the interviewers asked me a brain teaser question (not related to the job at all). I came up with a response and they told me to look it up for next time.

    Word around the office is that there was a recent reorg in this division. A couple of days ago, I got an email saying I was no longer being considered because the business needs of the position changed. would that mean that they could no longer be hiring for this position, or that they are reevaluating what they are looking for?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I had an internal BS interview like that. HR wasn’t supposed to post the job because they had already decided who they would give it too. Instead of just telling me that, they did a weird interview and I found out months later that it was a sham interview.

      1. Vanilla*

        I thought this might be the case as well. If it is indeed the case, that’s so aggrivating – what’s the point of wasting my time and yours? Seriously…

  86. First Time Commenter*

    Is it stupid to leave a temp job for another temp job?

    Situation: I started this temp job back in June. They didn’t give me an end date because they wanted temp-to-hire. Soon after starting I realized that I didn’t want to take the job on permanently, but was happy to remain a temp. I have told nobody this, because it’s actually a pretty well-paying temp job and I want to continue collecting that paycheck. Telling them “nah, don’t want to be hired after all” might jeopardize that.

    Meanwhile, back in May I applied for a contract position that I never got a rejection for. This week they called and want to interview me! It’s also temp, but has a definite end date “with possibility of extension.” It pays significantly less than what I’m doing now. While I was there I could apply for internal positions, which I would absolutely do. It’s at a university, which is where I spent most of my work life up until a few years ago, and I would very much like to return to that environment rather than corporate.

    But am I being dumb? Since they’re both temp gigs (even though the current job doesn’t think it’s just a temp gig, and the potential one could turn into not-a-temp-gig… seriously I really want to work for a university again), it makes sense to stick with the one that gives me the higher paycheck. Which I would do if I had an end date. I don’t want to lose out on the possibility of getting a foot in the door at the university, when I could be dismissed at any time from the current place (although they probably won’t, they really want to hire me). I’m interviewing at the university on Monday. (Believe me, I have some things to say about this new practice of interviewing temps.) Assume both jobs pay the bills, I’m just able to save more at the current one.

    1. Re: First Time Commenter*

      Take the University job. You’re too young in your career to choose the (slightly) higher paycheck. Get your foot int the door to where you actually want to be!!!

      1. First Time Commenter*

        Hah, not actually that young (early thirties), but I’m pretty unconventional and I find universities much more welcoming of that. I have a certain passion (it’s not a hobby) that is very important to me and the people at my old university jobs were always interested in it, realized it was an important part of my life, etc. At my corporate job, aside from a few people, they couldn’t care less. I felt like a zombie. I also have to admit that a potentially looser dress code would be nice, though I don’t know if this university’s culture is similar to my old one (I’m in a different state now).

        But yeah, I’m definitely gonna take it if it’s offered to me. I was riding through the campus the other day to find the interview site (it’s an urban university close to where I work now) and just felt this incredible sense of longing. Which is weird, because I didn’t even enjoy being in college! Just working there.

  87. Organization Question*

    So about two months ago, I was promoted (yay!). My problem: My old role was a job function I’d been doing pretty much since college, so all of my procedures, how to get organized, etc. have been ingrained in me for about a decade. I knew exactly how long every task took and exactly what to do.

    In this new role, not only am I learning something *completely* new (which I’m really excited about), but I’m at a loss for how to get myself organized. I’m feeling like old dog; new tricks or flying an airplane while still reading the instruction manual.

    I’m trying to figure out a system for getting organized. In my new role, things that are brand new to me: multiple meetings a week/day, some of which are scheduled last minute; scheduling and remembering to check up on new daily tasks (I’m forever fearful I’ll forget); figuring out how to balance new work when I’m not yet sure how long a certain task will take me. I feel like I’m juggling about 10 balls in the air at one time, as opposed to, at most, two. Also, this way to get organized has to be handheld, since I’m not always at my computer.

    tl;dr: how do you keep organized? Moleskine planner? iPhone app?

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      First of all realize you’ll probably go through a dozen methods before you find one that actually works for you and is sustainable so don’t be too upset if you set something up and discover you hate it.

      Personally, I prefer physically writing things down. It’s way quicker for me to pull out a small notebook and jot something down than it was for me to open an app and type something up on the tiny touch keyboard. Then at the end of the day or whenever I had a free moment I’d go through everything I’ve written and figured out what to do with it them. Usually quick to dos were crossed off as I did them (like a phone number to call back a customer with or a piece of information I had to relay but otherwise not retain.) If they were longer term projects I’d transfer them to a larger neater format, like a desk calendar or planner with due dates and stuff. Then I’d create a plan of action to get those done (and often write certain things to do certain days at the beginning of those days in my small notebook, especially if I was going to be away from my desk/master schedule.)
      Some people like software with an associated app on the phone so you just have to update one calendar/to do list and it would populate everywhere. But for me, the actual act of writing stuff down helps me remember things more clearly, and I like to compartmentalize. Having everything in front of my on one huge list is overwhelming but everything separated out, so long as I consolidate it often, works better for me.

    2. Karowen*

      Like VintageLydia said, writing things down works best for me. It’s the same as taking notes in college – it’s like my brain doesn’t process what I’m doing when I’m typing, so it’s easier to forget. I work pretty much the same way she does, making informal lists that I can cross off easily and then more formal ones for things that I need to take care of the next day. Plus, crossing things off gives you a sense of accomplishment! (Not meant to be condescending; that’s actually my experience.)

      The other thing I love that most people in my office don’t utilize at all is the task function in Outlook. You can flag emails and have it remind you at a certain day/time, you can create tasks for a one off thing or for a recurring thing – I even have a task reminding me to take my medicine at the same time every day. Plus it alerts me on my phone as well as on the computer, so it helps even when I’m not right at my desk.

      Congrats on the promotion and good luck with everything!

      1. Organization Question*

        Thanks, VintageLydia and Karowen!

        Ugh, I’m going to have to get over my perfection tendencies and realize that I’ll need to be trial-and-error with this. I appreciate the suggestions! So far, I’ve been writing things down, but I just bought a good planner/calendar so I can at least keep track of what day is what. I think I’m going to do what you both have suggested and stick to the writing long-hand lists, since that seems to stick in my brain. I might have one master list going (like every large project, plus all the minor steps, etc.), but then a shorter, daily, to-do that I can cross off.

        And don’t worry, I didn’t take your comment to be condescending at all! In college, on my busiest, craziest days, I would write “take shower” or “eat lunch” on my to-do list, just to have the feeling of accomplishment when I crossed it off!

  88. Ruffingit*

    What are some of the tasks you’re required to do at work that are ridiculous and or huge time wasters?

    1. TheExchequer*

      Responding with templates. Templates are supposed to save time! They do not because there are always 53 things in the template you have to customize to each response any way.

      1. Jamie*

        Responding to emails?

        I use templates for official QC procedures and forms (like CPARS, etc.) but uniformity serves the purpose of making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed when we’re audited.

        I would hate to have to use them internally for normal business, though.

        1. TheExchequer*

          In my case, it’s responding to customers who submitted requests and the response pretty much has to be personalized so using the template is as much work as actually writing the silly thing.

          There is some uniformity involved, and I understand the reasoning, but the double-checking involved to make sure I’m not referencing different numbers anywhere is a pain.

    2. Jamie*

      I’m lucky in that our company culture is all about efficiency – we want to know if something is creating unnecessary layers and work to eliminate busy work. Some stuff is less glamorous – but the vast majority is necessary.

      I would have to say I think it’s silly we still have a fax machine and every so often I have to remind people that it’s not an IT function and I don’t know why it’s doing whatever bad thing it is that it’s doing.

      Try stone tablets or smoke signals, perhaps carrier pigeons instead.

    3. Lore*

      We have one process that happens first on every project. About eighteen months ago, our overall workflow changed to such a degree that we now complete that process a totally different way, which is a lot more work for people in my position but has hugely positive effects over the rest of the project’s life, so, we’ve all adjusted. Except that the head of the department that handles the next stage of the project, a year or so into the new process, began insisting that we have to complete *both* the old process and the new process, because her staff can’t adjust. (No one on her staff has ever made this complaint, btw.) There is one specific, reasonable reason why she needs some of the documentation associated with the old process–but there are at least five other, less labor-intensive, equally effective ways I’ve thought of to accomplish that function. She will not hear of it. It’s maddening.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        So far it has been the back & forth with the person I work with most e.g application comes in. I put it on database, pass application to her. It comes back to me with an interview time. I format a letter with interview time. Put interview time in specific way onto database. Send letter. Offer made? Then I update the database and send an offer letter. Give printed out offer letter to person I work with most (for her to sign). Offer accepted, write it on the database.

    4. shaky bacon*

      Manually calculating sales incentive for 130+ employees every quarter. We are so behind on technology that I have to manually input everyone’s sales results into individual Excel spreadsheets (and let’s not even get started if they happen to get promoted halfway through the quarter, which changes their targets AND their incentive amounts, then having to update all the formulas, or the ones that transfer from location to location… WHY WON’T YOU JUST STAY PUT). From inputting, to getting management to vet them, to correcting them (because I’m only human and no matter how many times I double, triple, quadruple check, there will be something that goes wrong), it takes me a solid week to get the data ready to pass onto payroll for processing. Worst weeks of my life.

      But what really gets me is that I cannot think of a better way to do it now, short of convincing my boss to let me pass it onto someone else to deal with.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t think of anything specific, but I spend a lot of time waiting on people to get back to me. Which can be annoying if they’re on the road because it takes FOR. EVER.

      I’ve gotten better about proactively doing things rather than asking someone (had to ask for years and years and it’s a hard habit to break). But there are certain things I do need feedback/answers on and I just have to wait.

  89. TheExchequer*

    Invisible guitar kitty! :D

    I have a new job! WOOHOO! Just finished my first week. Having to going to bed at a certain hour makes me feel old, but just about everything else is fantastic.

  90. Anonsie*

    Sort of an FMLA question.

    My father is having a major surgery. He lives across the country near his elderly parents, who are going to help him out with the whole process and rehab/physical therapy afterward and if all goes well I don’t need to travel there at all. But due to the risks of the procedure, we are also making very explicit worst case scenario plans, and if things went very badly I would need to take over and we would have him move (or god forbid, hospital transfer) over here and live with me so I could help him out and coordinate his care. That would likely necessitate me going there immediately.

    My two questions are:
    1) Should I give my supervisors a heads-up in advance that there is a possibility of me having to make an emergency trip at the last minute and take FMLA, or is that wildly unnecessary since it’s still only a small chance? We’re being a bit disasterist in planning all this, admittedly, but the hospital also did recommend it.

    2) If my grandmother is setting up everything and listed on all paperwork involving my dad, is there any reason this may disrupt my ability to get FMLA to care for him if something bad happens? I have absolutely no idea how this works.

    1. Jen RO*

      No idea about 2, but if your boss is a normal person s/he would appreciate the heads up (option 1).

    2. OhNo*

      I also have no idea on #2. Logically, it doesn’t seem like it would be a problem, but sometimes laws aren’t that logical.

      You should definitely do #1, though, and give your boss and office as much notice as you can. Unless they are weird and unreasonable, they should be pretty glad to get advance warning of having an employee out for an extended period of FMLA.

      1. Anonsie*

        Exactly my thoughts about the documentation.

        Well that’s the thing– the overwhelming probability is that I won’t have to do a single thing. But worse case scenario, I may have to suddenly go across the country and I don’t know how long I would need to be gone or if I could get in some work still or what. So it feels weird to give notice for a small chance of something happening and I can’t tell them what it might be, either. My instinct was to say something, though, I just wanted to make sure that wasn’t strange.

    3. Reader*

      #2 Don’t know about FLMA (doubt it would be a problem) but if you end up bringing your father home you need to be on all the HIPPA paperwork. Also power of attorney maybe.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh yeah, thank you for mentioning that. I had thought before to make sure I’m a contact with access to his information but I still haven’t told my dad to do that yet. Thanks for reminding me!

    4. Graciosa*

      Regarding #1, speak to HR. Sometimes there is a process in place you should be familiar with before you have to use it – or a form to fill out or whatever – and finding out now is better than finding out too late that the process requires something you don’t have and can’t easily get from across the country. If your management hasn’t had to deal with this in detail, they may not give you all the information you need (or be aware that the process changed since the last time they had an employee use it).

      Also, some FMLA policies are more generous than the law requires – also good information to know in advance.

  91. Bhakti*

    Does anyone have any creative ways of dealing with colleagues in other departments who consistently submit sub-par work and/or make mistakes that cause problems for your team? I feel like part of the problem is that the other teams don’t ever see or have to deal with the consequences of their errors, but since I’m in finance and most things eventually funnel down to us, we end up being the quiet (but grumpy) clean-up crew. I’ve tried the occasional, polite “Hey, next time X happens, will you please try to do Y?” but with most departments, I get either no response, an offended response, or an “I’ll try to do better” but no real change happens. Yes, we have a management problem, a company culture problem, and an economic problem within our industry, but for now I’m staying put for other reasons and I want to know the best way to deal with this. Thanks, all and happy, happy Friday!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The only effective thing I know of is to pass the incorrect work back to them.
      That is not a creative answer, though. Sorry.

  92. Work Vent*

    Why does it all hit the fan when youre about to go on vacation for a couple of days?

    ooooooooooh, the stress. I have 3 more hours and its going to kick my butt

    1. D-orx Nami*

      Sod’s law lol….

      I think firms are slackers who allowing staff to work on vacation. Either they need to hire more proactive co-workers, or train or even terminate such. Vacation/holiday is an important labour right, and everybody should have one unimpeded.

  93. Sarah*

    Inspired by the post yesterday, what are the foods you hate when people eat in the office?

    I don’t mind peanut butter, though I do think it has a very strong smell, like you can walk into a room and immediately know someone has recently eaten it. I also don’t mind Indian food or garlic – they just make me hungry! Fish and tuna are tolerable too.

    My #1 most hated food to smell or see is fried chicken. Gross! I had a coworker who would eat it and it made the ENTIRE office reek (and the office was an entire floor of a tall building). Not too crazy about anything greasy in general, chicken is just the worst. Ham and sausages smell like dog food to me, ick. And it sounds weird but I don’t like the smell of those super processed frozen meals — an ex coworker would say “It smells like sodium in here” and that’s the best way I can describe it. There aren’t any foods that I particularly hate the noise of, though. Just specific people that eat everything in a way that grosses me out (luckily, cubes are an adequate buffer).

    1. Clerica*

      Honestly, there were times when I couldn’t pick what foods I ate because I had so little money that it basically boiled down to “whatever someone gave me” or “whatever was cheapest and would last the longest.” I was like that poster living on cupcakes from the break room. Now I have to eat very careful balances of protein and vegetables (no grain) due to a health condition, so it’s “whatever’s reasonably priced that falls in that category.” So from way back I don’t begrudge anyone their food because I’m not paying their grocery bills and can’t tell them they need to buy special food to bring to the office so no one is offended.

      That said, my personal pet peeve is when people bring something “healthy” and have to loudly announce how many calories it is and how it’s low in [bad thing du jour] especially when [bad thing] isn’t really bad, just overhyped.

      And oatmeal. From a packet. That shit is worthless nutritionally and basically converts to sugar in your body. Not to mention one packet couldn’t get a toddler through the morning, much less an adult on their feet. If it’s all you can afford, believe me, I sympathize and I will share food with you if you need. But so many people eat it “to stay healthy” and for some reason they always have to walk and talk while eating it. I guess I’m just sick of seeing it everywhere. :/

    2. Anonsie*

      Despite that I hate a few things and their associated smells with extreme prejudice, I don’t care when people eat them around me. Unless someone was straight up chopping a whole raw onion at an adjacent desk, I can deal.

      1. Clerica*

        I would love this. I love the smell of onion. But if I were hungry it would just make me hungrier…that kind of hunger you can’t just go grab a snack for, it has to be real hot home-cooked food.

        1. Anonsie*

          Raw and freshly chopped, really? There might be scientists that want to study you.

          Though I don’t mind it terribly when it’s situationally appropriate.

    3. Jamie*

      Peanut butter, burnt popcorn, curry (I know “curry” isn’t a single thing to some people but there is this overpowering and very specific smell whenever people say they are eating it, so whatever that spice is), some thing they order from the middle eastern restaurant that is wrapped in some kind of leaf…I don’t know what it is but it’s a very distinctive smell (it smells like strong BO), Cheerios (which smell like urine and I can smell from another room), and microwaved bacon.

      I on a positive note I don’t mind some smells that bother others. Fish isn’t a big deal for me (except those fish oil capsules that one guy broke open), eggs don’t bother me, I don’t love the smell of tuna but I can ignore it.

      Love, love the smell of anything garlicy being nuked – makes me hungry. We do a cookout several times a year and love the smell of grilled burgers wafting through the open windows, even the raw onions don’t bother me*.

      I like the smell of most cleansers and most light perfume colognes. Even heavy ones smell too strong but don’t bother me unless it’s Estee Lauder then instant migraine.

      *except the one time the person in charge just covered them with plastic wrap and not the good kind and left a GIANT bowl of chopped raw onions in the fridge and left for the weekend. Monday morning she was on vacay, but we could barely breathe.

      When it comes to noises though, I have zero tolerance. I cannot stand the sound of someone eating and I really don’t know what is worse between slurping, crunching, or swallowing. People who don’t eat properly are far more problematic, but even people who eat normally I can’t stand in a quiet room. If you eat normally I’ll be fine with soft music or any kind of background noise – if I can hear you over that you’re too gross.

      And no one alive can eat raw vegetables (celery and carrots the biggest culprits) or most fruit quietly enough for me to be in the room while they do it. Some slurpy things are okay if they cut them first (pears, peaches, nectarines) but the smacking and slurping of them by biting into them? What is this – an episode of wild and naked (worst show ever – btw)? And apples should only be eaten in public if they’ve first become applesauce – because even the most well mannered eater will cause very bad thoughts if I have to listen to that.

      But my husband learned a long time ago if the house is quiet and he’s fast forwarding or rewinding something so the TV has no sound…that is not the time to take a bite of anything. Especially those tortilla chips people eat with salsa that sound as if they are made out of concrete and glass for the noise they make shattering in someone’s mouth.

      Don’t even get me started on things I can’t smell or hear, but if I look at them I’ll gag and my aversion is so strong I won’t go in the work kitchen if I know they are in the fridge or freezer even if put away and covered.

      My list of food rules was the hardest thing my husband had to get used to about me when we first got together…and that’s saying something because I’m difficult in most areas of life.

      Now – I am aware I’m off the charts on this but from what I’ve learned in the working world most people are annoyed by crunching and slurping – and most people are pretty tolerant of smells when they are transient and not daily…so it’s best to keep the powerful stuff to a super occasional basis if you can’t avoid it altogether.

    4. shaky bacon*

      Kraft grated parmesan cheese (or any grated parmesan cheese that comes in a container). It smells like vomit to me :/

      1. Jamie*

        I commented already but the link is in moderation and since it’s almost the end of the day I want you to know you’re not crazy.

        Both vomit and Parmesan cheese contain a lot of butyric acid and that’s what you smell. Most people can’t tell the difference blindfolded – you can google the studies.

        Yet I still like Parmesan cheese even after knowing this – but normal things make me want to go all JD Salinger on society.

        No rhyme or reason to this stuff.

        1. shaky bacon*

          THANK YOU! I’ve been telling people about vomit-smelling cheese and they always give me this “lady, you are nuts” look, so I’m glad that my aversion to it is validated by science.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        When I was a kid, I always thought it smelled like feet. We called it footy cheese.

        The real stuff is much better and not stinky. I don’t use the pre-grated anymore.

  94. B*

    Next Monday marks my last week at my job before I start a new one that is 30 minutes (with traffic) as opposed to current job which is 2+ hours door to door! Needless to say I am ecstatic about the drastic improvement in my quality of life, the 4+ extra hours in my day, and the chance to start over at a new job!

    1. Sparrow*

      Congrats! Driving stresses me out, especially in rush hour. 2+ hours is a really long commute. Glad you were able to find a closer job!

    2. Perpetua*

      The length of commute impacts quality of life drastically (2+ hours sounds particularly bad), so congrats on finding a new job, I hope that the much shorter commute won’t even be the best thing about it! :)

  95. D-orx Nami*

    I have a question on cover letters and job applications.

    I haven’t fully completed a degree yet, but can I still apply for positions requiring a degree? and would R&S managers (,i.e. recruitment and selection) mark me down because of this?

    And how long should a cover letter be, in terms of words? Is a balance between overly formal and relaxed language needed?

    Thanks in advance to those who respond. :)

    1. Re: D-orx Nami*

      You can write “Expected August 2014” and apply. They should be reasonable if you’ll be granted the degree within a few months of employment.

    2. OhNo*

      If you are getting your degree soon (like, within a few months) then it seems fine, because you would probably have received it by the time you started work anyway. There are certain areas where it wouldn’t work though. I’m thinking union environments and government jobs, specifically. Sometimes they can’t hire you or put you at a certain pay grade without a degree in hand, so be aware of that.

      As for cover letters, I tend toward formal language, but I don’t know if that’s right or if I’m being weird. Mine have been about a page long (including the signature/address info I put at the end), and that seems to be working out pretty well for me.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      You absolutely can. MOST jobs these days like to put “degree required” regardless of whether it’s truly necessary for the role. Whether you’ll be considered or even if your resume will make it through the screen is another story.

    1. Dee*

      I just read that article! Some of the designs were cool, I guess, but a little overboard for a resume. Too much like you’re trying to distract from the content (or lack thereof) IMHO.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      I honestly can’t see anyone taking those resumes seriously unless it was, say, graphic design. (And even then I know nothing about graphic design–they must suck from that standpoint.) I really do not think it’s a good idea to put infographics, icons, or “not my cup of tea” on a resume for things you don’t like. But I would love to see Alison weigh in on them.

      1. Anonsie*

        From what the designers I know have told me, it’s still not a good idea. They still use regular resumes and the portfolio is separate.

    3. Student*

      Some are ok-but-frilly. Others are downright terrible and too advertisement-like. Thumb prints? Personal logos made out of initials? Banners? Oy vey.

    4. OriginalYup*

      So relieved that most of the commenters agree that no one should use these unless they’re a graphic designer, and even then it’s a very qualified maybe/sometimes/be careful.

      I’m dying laughing at the one comment that they all look like Etsy wedding invitations.

    5. Sparrow*

      Yes, I saw that article. The first thing I thought was that these would not be AAM approved! However, they may be acceptable for certain creative fields.

    6. Design manager*

      I hire designers and most of these resumes give me a headache. I find they take longer to read. Please, please, just list your experience in chronological order and ditch the multiple columns, boxes, and icons. I don’t need an infographic of your life! If you want to include a personal logo or monogram at the top, fine. If you want to (sparingly) include an accent color or unusual font, make sure it’s readable when printed in black and white. If you’re a great designer, I’ll see that in your portfolio.

    7. acmx*

      I think they might be ok for online use (in a creative or social media field). If you have your own website with your work or as your work, I could see using a creative resume and posting to your site. Definitely not to submit for a job posting.

    8. Perpetua*

      I think some of them are not that bad and could be used even for non-creative positions (depending on the assumed culture of the place you’re applying to, of course), such as 3, 27, maybe 9.

      I like seeing well-designed CVs IF the information is still presented in a clear and easily readable/understandable way.

      It might be such a small thing (without a major impact on the job search), but having an accent color (that translated well to b/w) and working on the design of my CV until I was satisfied with it made me happy, even proud of it.

  96. Anon for This*

    Thanks to this site, I recently landed an amazing job with tons of opportunity, amazing pay, and decent benefits. I was stuck in a job that didn’t have either of the first two, and I’ve been bored out of my mind for the past year and a half.

    So why do I feel so guilty? I am leaving during a busy time for my manager, and so I feel like a horrible jerk. From my perspective, I had nothing to do, even during the busy time. But I know she’s swamped and any extra task is a burden. I feel so awful about that, and in an ideal world, I would not have left during this time.

    However, I have been looking for jobs consistently for the past two years, and I’ve never seen an opportunity like the one I just got. If I gave it up due to timing, I’d likely not see anything close to that for years and years, if that. I had to be selfish to think about my future, but that choice put my current job in a really tough position.

    I’m not really looking for any advice, as what’s done is done. I just feel a bit sad about all of this, and have been unable to get excited about what’s next for me. All my friends are thrilled for me and are telling me this will be so good for my career. But I just feel like a jerk. :-\

    1. Graciosa*

      Skip the guilt.

      A manager who doesn’t understand why people don’t stick around in perpetuity to enjoy a lack of opportunity and inadequate pay does not deserve your concern.

      Look yourself in the mirror and say “I am not responsible for the poor choices of my former manager or my former employer.” Then remind yourself of all the amazing things about your new job and tell yourself you deserve it.

      Congratulations. Celebrating with great food, alcohol, chocolate, or cheering is optional. :-)

  97. Dee*

    Just wanted to say that I am a full-time freelance editor and I just signed three new contracts with clients today. Sooooo happy and excited that my career is going well!

  98. Jamie*

    In the interest of a PSA for all out there new to the work force, and others who maybe have burned an IT bridge or two here is my…

    Top 10 list of things to never say to your IT:

    1o. When the cable which powers the phones/internet is out and an entire business of several hundred people is being run off a couple of routed cell phones, “the cable for the TV in the lunchroom isn’t working.”

    9. Why do you get so many monitors?

    8. I wiped my monitor with kitchen cleanser and now it’s streaky.

    7. My computer has been making a weird clicking sound and shutting itself off for about a month, but I didn’t say anything until now because I didn’t want to bother you. It doesn’t start at all now.

    6. I’m taking a computer class and I need admin rights to my PC so I can practice editing the registry.

    5. My manager said I couldn’t have remote access, but I thought you could give it to me anyway.

    4. So and so is covering for me, but it’s okay you don’t have to tweak her access – I gave her my password.

    3. So how much of what we do online can you really see, anyway? (a lot although I don’t look without a reason…but the look on your face when you asked that just gave me a reason.)

    2. I build my own PCs at home – I’d think someone into computers wouldn’t want to buy pre-built machines. (Well, if you really build yours at home you’d know it’s a lot more expensive time consuming to do that and I don’t care that much about custom specs for a PC you’ll use to run Office, the ERP, and check Facebook.)

    1. I swear I wasn’t doing anything when HORRIBLE BAD THING happened. Not a thing – I don’t know how that caught on fire and what’s a network attack?

    1. Brett*

      All request for admin rights on a machine can be simplified to one of two requests:
      “I need admin rights on this machine because it will be less work for you.”
      “I need admin rights on this machine because it will be more work for you.”

      #6 is a classic example of the latter.

      1. Bea W*

        Having experience with #2 is the main reason I buy computers that someone else has already built for me.

    2. Dee*

      Wait…can you explain how to set up my out of office email? Still can’t figure it out ;)

      I’m sorry, Jamie. Anyone who works in IT is a saint. I think the rest of us could make the world a much better place by, you know, actually thinking through things and not asking stupid questions, which I always try to do.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Can I add one more thing that people say that burns my biscuits?

      “You need to fix this now because I have REAL work to do.”

      Yeah, OK, let me stop doing my faux work, and use my fake skills to fix your mess so you can get the real work done. Let me know when you’re done watching cat videos and get to that real work.