open thread – August 1, 2014

Olive on chairIt’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.

{ 897 comments… read them below }

  1. MB*

    What is the minimum amount of time you should be at a job before listing it on your resume? I am currently looking for full-time work and in the meantime have snagged a part-time retail position. I started in February but currently do not list it on my resume because I am worried it will be a turn off to potential employers in terms of leaving so soon after starting even though it’s a high turnover industry. I am currently also employed as adjunct faculty (the positions I am applying for are not tenure-track positions) so I at least come off as having some sort of job but I think eventually my retail job might help me by offering some additional achievements to put on my resume as well as possibly appearing more employed than I am right now (in the sense that people like to hire people who have jobs and I am not just adjuncting helps my case). So when should I add my retail job?

    1. JessA*

      If it were me, I would list it as part time, it really helps explain why you are looking for another job, without making it look like you are a job hopper such as…”Teapots – R – US (part time) – Cashier – Feb 2014 – Present”

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      What other kinds of jobs are you applying for, and what does the retail job offer in terms of accomplishments to support your candidacy? I think that’s a bigger determining factor over how long you’ve been there.

      1. snapple*

        I agree with Persephone. I might be totally off base but I’m not entirely sure if achievements in your retail position would translate over to positions in academia

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If I were hiring you, I would certainly understand your needing to take a part-time retail job just until you found something in your field. As JessA said, the fact that it is part-time is a factor, and the fact that you are probably overqualified for it, whereas the full-time jobs you’re applying for are ones you are presumably well-qualified for but not overqualified. Those two factors would belay any concern I might have that you are a job-hopper.

    4. Mints*

      When I was in that boat, once I listed it, I got better responses. I think the gap was getting worrisome, until I added it.
      However, I listed it in “other work experience” without any bullet points; it was just one line, and it was the second category. The rest I kept in “relevant work experience” with regular bullets in the first category

      1. Angora*

        I recommend listing it. It’s so true it easier to find a job if you have one; versus unemployed and are searching.

        Being unemployed or between jobs is perceived as a handicap by some employers, especially if it’s been more than 3 months.

    5. Clever Name*

      I think it’s fairly well-known within academia that adjunct positions are part-time and usually low pay, so I don’ t think having a retail job would detract from your candidacy. No one would question why you were looking for another job regardless of the amount of time you’ve worked at your retail job.

    6. RecruiterM*

      As a recruiter, I will be more worried by a job that is clearly a ‘detour’, then by a part-time positions that is in line with your other experience and with what you are looking for now.
      Your adjunct position is covering a gap in a full-time employment, so I do not recommend listing a retail job.

    7. The LeGal*

      You are currently employed as adjunct faculty? While you did not say what kind of jobs you are applying for, I would focus on my current employment as adjunct faculty. I bet the faculty work is more professional and shows that you are currently employed. I assume that the adjunct work would help you more than retail work (which I also assume is low level.) Good luck!

    8. Sarah*

      I wouldn’t list the retail position at all. In my recruiting experience, no one cares about jobs in unrelated industries, and currently working at one may even be viewed unfavorably.

      1. manager anonymous*

        I would list it. As a hiring manager, retail experience always signaled responsibility, positive customer service, the ability to keep ones cool in trying circumstances, usually some marketing/ display skills.

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    Yay, open thread!

    Hoping to get some advice, and I’m sorry this is a bit long. I have a one on one today with my boss. How do I tactfully ask her to set expectations with another co-worker who is, by and large, her favorite?

    We are working on a big ERP implementation for multiple countries. There has been some talk about naming one person per area as the lead, with the people in other locations kind of helping out. This isn’t a management role, really, just someone to stay on top of what’s going on in every location and make sure things are coordinated. It has been suggested that I be the lead for my area.

    My only issue is that my counterpart in one of the other offices is very hard to work with. This is acknowledged throughout the team. No one likes working with her and will do whatever they can to avoid it, even though our manager loves her and thinks she can do no wrong. We are both smart people with very strong personalities, and had a couple run-ins last year while working closely on another project when we had differences of opinion. She has been working on some preliminary stuff with one of the other countries, which is great – she is able to do some training, help the users learn the application, gather requirements, and so on.

    But we differ in our approaches. When users ask for something (and often it’s something minor, like how a list appears in a form), her immediate response is to agree, and then say that it’s just a “minor tweak.” Because she is a technical, programmer type, it’s very easy for her to do these things and she sees them as no big deal. My approach is different. I like to talk through things with the users and challenge them to think about different or new ways to do things. “Challenge” may not be the right word, since it sounds confrontational, and it a collaborative effort. What I’ve found is that sometimes, when we really talk something through, they’ll agree that what they originally asked for isn’t necessary. And other times, I’ll say, “OK, now I understand, and you’re right — my proposed solution won’t really work here,” and I’ll go back to the drawing board and come up with something else. It’s a give-and-take kind of thing. My problem with all these “minor tweaks” is that if you keep doing them, then pretty soon you’ve got a list “minor tweaks” as long as your arm to care for, and they can cause problems downstream when patches are applied to the ERP system.

    How can I diplomatically ask my boss to talk to her about this tendency she has to just charge ahead and put in her “minor tweaks?” I don’t want to sound like I’m being critical, as my boss will just stop listening and defend her. As the lead person on this section of the project, I strongly disagree with this way of doing things, and I want to make sure this type of stuff is kept to a minimum. Talking to my co-worker directly won’t work. I’ve tried that. She feels that she is smarter than everyone else, and therefore knows best.

    1. gold digger*

      What? No project plan with defined requirements and a process for changing the requirements? This is so wrong. (And yes you need a project manager. )

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        We are still in the requirements gathering phase, and this is her solution for all the requirements. “It’s just a minor tweak,” when often, just taking the time to talk something through, or just flat-out saying no, that’s not possible, will suffice.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              My world is Oracle; I’ve never worked with SAP. But I’ve heard it’s a bear to implement.

              1. the gold digger*

                The company abandoned the project a year after they laid off about 1,000 salaried employees (including me). Sad, because I think it could have worked. In just my division, we had 70 factories on three different operating systems. We had to coordinate with upstream mills but had no data integration, so everything was done by hand.

                A friend did his PhD thesis on why SAP projects work or don’t work. The key, he theorized, was the support of upper mgt, which we did not have. The VP of my group was convinced demand forecasting would not work (one of the SAP components) because 1. none of our customers could give us forecasts (we sold to Wal-Mart and Dell, among others) and 2. a large part of our customer base was produce growers and how on earth do they forecast? (I don’t know- perhaps by figuring out what the yield per acre was last year and multiplying that by the proposed acreage for this year?)

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I think that argument goes for any ERP system, whether it’s SAP, Oracle, or something else. Having leadership buy-in is critical. People complain about things, and in my experience they go as far up in the food chain as necessary until they find someone who agree with them. That’s when that leadership support is necessary, so when someone goes to them to complain, they’re told that the project is moving forward, business processes need to be redesigned/updated, and that they need to get on board.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      The system I support was implemented in 1997 and is dieing on its feet, there are entire sections of the set up that make no sense to me and I’m pretty sure whoever implement them was on crack at the time so I feel your pain.

      I’d focus on the bussines implications the changes cases later down the line, bespoking a system is painful and there should be some sort off change and release managment process so everyone involved knows what is going on. I would surgest you talk to your manager about Seting up a weekly meeting to talk over the proposed changes, before they are ok’d with the client / end user. Don’t mark it about your coworker but about the system itself and the best way to protect that.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Oh and lock down the back end so only a couple of people can make changes you need a good gate keeper to stop the dross creeping in

        1. spocklady*

          Agreed – I’m wondering if you can use some form of version control (programs like git or subversion)? I only use git as an individual, not as part of a team, but it’s my understanding that it can be set up to prevent people flying off in all directions. A person like your group-mate could create a “branch” to develop changes, but then has to request to merge it back in. At that point, it has to get approved by the person in charge of the project. Might that work for you?
          Apologies if I’ve misunderstood the way git works for a group, but that’s my memory. Good luck!

          1. James M*

            Yeah, git is amazingly helpful for group projects. Each team member can branch as much as they want, and the team lead holds the keys to merge finished features into the master branch.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              That sounds better than Clear Case, which is what we have now. There’s been a lot of talk about moving us on to another tool, but Clear Case is tied to some other things too, so we can’t just switch out one for the other.

    3. Jamie*

      Obviously I don’t know your specific ERP, but if you’re talking about customizing report functions or screens through GAB that shouldn’t be an issue with future versions – just refresh the hooks as needed.

      I’m kind of in the middle – I agree with you that often times people don’t always ask for what they really need and if you don’t flesh out what they need to achieve in the end you can end up making more work by tweaking multiple times instead of one or two substantive changes.

      But it’s also true that you can make all the right changes and they are so awesome and make it more useful that you change more down the road – not because it wasn’t speced properly the first time, but because the users understanding and analysis has grown and so they need more detail. That’s always a great thing.

      But while I believe in making sure you have a clear understanding of what the user needs, I’m almost never in favor of business practices or users needing to conform to the system – the system needs to conform to the business whenever possible.

      For instance, if I have a canned report that gives you all the data you need but in a format that less helpful than if it were grouped/sorted differently – or if I can spend 30 minutes once adding subtotals to groups which would save you 10 minutes a day forever – that should happen. And part of the initial implementation and go-live of an ERP is letting people take these things for a test drive and coming back with improvements.

      The first year or so of an ERP implementation should have TONS of tweaks and changes – because it will be so much more useful long term than expecting your users to use the off the rack version and only tweaking major items.

      I am really proud of my customizations, and when I write a custom which takes the data we have and puts it into the hands of users in the way most understandable and helpful to them and they use it to drive business decisions or increase efficiency…that’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

      That doesn’t mean everyone gets everything immediately – some stuff takes time and there is a lot of triage – but you absolutely should have a list of tweaks as long as your arm if your users are engaged and giving you feedback. On occasion they won’t be feasible – but IMO the default absolutely should be that you’ll customize and when you can’t/won’t should be far more infrequent.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I do agree with you. My goal is always to keep things as vanilla as possible, but there are times when you just can’t feasibly do that. But other times, users just need to get used to a different way of doing things. Like I said, it’s give and take.

        The example earlier in the week arose from the users not liking seeing such a long list of customers in a form. This is because we have many legal entities in the same instance, and many of the tables (customers, suppliers, etc) are shared across the enterprise. But it’s easy to see which customers are active for your entity on the list: if there is an address listed as well, then you can use it. And you can shrink the list quite easily by typing in the first part of the customer name. But no, they didn’t like it. The list was too long. It would take forever to go through that list of customers. And so on. And so my co-worker said she’d be able to take care of it with a “small tweak.” My approach is teaching the users how to navigate the system, and teach them tricks like wildcard searches, keyboard shortcuts, and so on. Everyone else is able to use the same form without the customization, so they should be able to accommodate it as well. In my view, it’s mostly a fear of change. And I do get it — I do these ERP implementations for a living. I get that they’re intimidating and scary for users, because you’re taking what they’ve known and worked with for a long time and replacing it with something entirely different. But it’s my job to act in a mentor/tour guide capacity and work with them to help them learn the ins and outs of the new system. Let’s first work with and understand what’s delivered, and then identify what the gaps are. Let’s not assume right off the bat that everything is a gap and we need to make custom changes all over the place.

        A form personalization by itself is not that big a deal. But we literally have hundreds of these, all over the application. And inevitably, when a patch is applied, it will cause one of them to act up — and usually in a form that logically should have absolutely nothing to do with what the patch is supposed to fix. It’s incredibly aggravating, and it happens all the time.

        1. Observer*

          A problem that you are going to have, though, is that you fail to understand something important about user interface design. You are dismissive of this particular request because they CAN learn to use the menu the way it is. What you overlook is that although they probably will, it will either slow them down or it’s going to be more error prone.

          One problem here is that you have a lot of visual clutter and similar choices. When you have a bunch of similar choices, you have to spend more time / effort to find the correct one, and you are more likely to choose the wrong one, if you are under pressure or rushed. Your users don’t know how to articulate this – they may not even understand on a conscious level what the problem is, but it’s not just “fear of change” that drives requests like this.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            I somewhat disagree. Their system is going to change. There’s no getting around it. And in my view spending a bunch of extra time writing and caring for code designed with the explicit purpose of making the new system look and feel like the old system is not a value add activity. It would be like spending an absurd amount of time trying to make an apple look and taste like an orange. And by and large, most users are on board with these implementations, but there are always a few that drag their feet or throw up roadblocks.

            It’s a give and take, like I said. Many times, when you talk through something, explain processes, and so on, the users understand and then back off on a request they might be making. But other times, it’s me that’s backing off once *I* fully understand.

            We are given strict marching orders here that ERP implementations are to use vanilla, out-of-the box fuctionality. Absolutely *no* customizations unless there truly is no other alternative. That sounds pretty clear, but then it becomes a gray area to determine the line between a “customization” and an “extension” or “enhancement.”

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I fall in the middle on all of this, in both opinions and role.

        I manage a lot of the requests for ERP changes, green lighting what gets pushed to tech or pushing back to users and saying, this, you should get used to or use “this particular workaround/trick” to have a better experience.

        I don’t like an ERP with a *ton* of customization, to the point where it gets all Frankenstein. I think changes need to be thoughtful, and they need to be more per business unit and process than per user.

        The challenge for Ann is how to make it a thoughtful process when the other person seems to greenlight per user request.

        If possible, I’d approach somewhat like this. “Hey management, love to make customizations on the ERP. Can we schedule a monthly/bi weekly/whatever meeting where pertinient parties talk through any customizations and agree on them. I don’t want people to have to live with unweldy workarounds but I want to be sure that users are aware of all existing tools to get their jobs done, before we spend more time on customizations (that might not actually be necessary).”

    4. JuniorMinion*

      Hey – I think in talking with your manager (I have had to have these sorts of conversations before) I found what works the best is keeping the focus on your desire to make sure the job gets done the best way / most efficient way possible. I would refrain from approaching it as you having a problem dealing with the coworker (unless it gets really really bad) – the way I would phrase it is something along the lines of “Manager, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to you about some project management issues with X Project and how best to tackle them going forward. When people call with changes, what do you want the process to be in terms of determining whether or not to incorporate them / make sure everyone else is on board with incorporating them? I just want to make sure we deliver the best project possible and I am concerned that if we continually make minor tweaks it will undermine our data / code / whatever” If she responds with “well why don’t you and coworker Y just hash that out as it goes” Then you can say something like “I have tried doing that in the past, especially in specific instances Z and W, and I have found that our very different working styles have made this difficult as she prefers to solve it by making all changes whereas I prefer to solicit other opinions – I thought the best way to resolve this would be to have clear protocols in place regarding when tweaks should just be made vs discussed – what do you think?”

      I think the key in the convo is to avoid coming across like you don’t like working with Coworker Y, you want to keep the focus continually on troubleshooting potential problems that could occur and getting across that you are a team player who just wants the work product to be as good as it possibly can be.

      Just my $0.02 – I find having those sorts of conversations with more senior folks to be one of the hardest parts of working….

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think those are the real questions. What are the guidelines for deciding which changes to implement? How do we decide we have gone too far with too many tweaks?

        What I like about this is it puts you in the same space as your coworkers- all of them. Everyone is on the same page.

        If you try going after the boss’ bestest friend, you probably won’t win. But if you show that you, yourself are open to changing what you are doing then your credibility will go up.

      2. Jules*

        +1
        Sometimes adding a 3rd party without any stake in the outcome could help. They would be the objective observer and could possibly facilitate/ask right questions to get ppl there. As a PM, there are times when nothing that comes from me would be the right answer. They need a 3rd party to walk them though the objective process.

    5. JD*

      I would probably pose it as an opinion question: “I was wondering how do you feel about …. because I feel that though it may solve the problem temporarily, it may cause problems down the road which may harder to maintain/fix”. Then it would be just a conversation thing as opposed to you being critical.

    6. Malissa*

      The case to your boss is, This kind of thing works better if everything is consistent. Any minor tweaks anywhere should be discussed by the project group to make sure everybody is on the same page. Having things done one way in one country and another way in a different country is defeating the purpose of bringing everybody up on the same ERP.

    7. LQ*

      I have to say the way you put this I’m kind of on your coworker’s side here. I think that you need to pitch it to your boss in a different kind of way because what I got out of this is that your coworker is dedicated to making sure that everyone is comfortable using the product and willing to go the extra mile to help them. She agrees and works for them. You tell the user they are wrong. You don’t want to change the system to help the user and you think that people should get over their problems with the system.

      The problem with this is that you have some EXTREMELY good points. Every tweak that needs to be maintained, reproduced, updated, watched for when other updates happen etc is another x amount of time, chances for problems, inconsistency and more difficulty upgrading.

      I think when you talk to your boss about it ask about how best to approach long term product stability and maintainability. (Because honestly if people need a minor tweak to get on board and it doesn’t need to be maintained then just let her tweak it.) Especially if this person (and likely their approach) is well regarded by your boss then focus on what the outcome of it will be because saying this person’s approach is a problem likely won’t work.

      “I’m really interested in making sure that this product has long term stability and that it is simple to maintain. Some of the things that I’ve identified that might hinder this process are updates to individual forms which must then be maintained separately and could potentially break at each product upgrade/browser/platform/computer change. What can I do to mitigate this issue? “

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      Thanks everyone for all your input and replies. It turned out to be a bit of a non-issue, but I really appreciate all the input and discussion from everyone.

      When I talked to my boss today, I started by saying, “I’d really like to get a handle on all the personalizations that are being proposed. Coworker X and I have disagreed in the past about whether they’re really necessary. I know they’re really easy things for her to do, but they can cause problems downstream when patches are applied, or when we start thinking about upgrades.” And my boss said, “I agree,” (!!) and then said she’d already been thinking about putting a process into place where all of these types of things are captured in a decision document. So that was good news. It’s additional busy work, but worth it, because one thing I’ve learned in this line of work is that thorough documentation can really save your bacon.

      I also asked her about what I’d been hearing about having people be leads on the project, and she said, “Well, you’re already sort of doing that, aren’t you?”

      So all is well. Nice way to wrap up the week. Thanks again everyone!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Excellent.

        I normally hate busywork of that variety but I think with an ERP it’s worth it. We don’t have a process quite that formal but informally have the same thing for both the ERP and our ecommerce system. We need a couple higher ups to agree on changes and customizations requested before they are implemented. (But we’re not obstructionist about it and do have the needs of the users and the customers as first priority.)

    9. It*

      Don’t make it about your coworker, make it about how the project needs to be managed for success.

    10. IT BA*

      Make the conversation about the success of the rollout and the ability to support a multi-site, multi-country deployment, not about your coworker. You are exactly correct, every site having its own unique customized configuration of the application will make the future support of the application difficult and expensive.

      There should be requirements management across all deployments, and standards of behavior and customer messaging across all analysts on the program. A requirement may be technically simple,but very costly to the system in the long run when considering all factors (re: above, long term support, inability to roll out upgrades due to local customizations).

      Once this is in place, and honestly, your company should insist on it just as general good practices, your coworker’s behavior is no longer about personality differences.

    11. C Average*

      I’m late to the party here, and see that you were able to resolve this, but wanted to add a quick note to this really good discussion.

      Up until recently, we had a guy in our department who was like your colleague. We LOVED him. He was brilliant. If we needed a tweak, we just went to Jeff and described what we wanted to happen in our CSR tool, and BAM–he’d automagically make it happen with a few lines of code and (for all we knew) some eye of newt and tongue of bat. The dude was AMAZING, and we really valued him for his ability to problem-solve on the fly without excessive discussion and bureaucracy. He was also generous, intelligent, and responsive. He was a huge asset to our department.

      Why am I talking about him in the past tense, you may ask? Because he’s taken a job in another department, and I feel like someone on my team pings him every damned day to ask him for help navigating a feature he customized for us, or solving a problem that emerged as a downstream effect of one of his customizations.

      My takeaway: As valuable as people like Jeff are, they can leave nightmares in their wake. We’re lucky: he still works for our company and is an IM away when we come up against something only he can untangle. We’d be lost if he’d gone to another company.

      Just something to ponder.

  3. Sharon*

    Question for managers or supervisors:

    How do you deal with someone in an external client-facing position who has terrible communication skills? I’ve come across people like this on occasion and am currently working with another one. I’m not her supervisor, just a coworker on a project. She’s only getting on my nerves, and I’m mature enough to keep my mouth shut, but I do find it puzzling that they would put someone like this into a client-facing position. Her issue is that she has great difficulty putting her thoughts into words, so she struggles with partial sentences and says “kinda like” a lot. In a requirements gathering session with a customer, she’ll say something like “So, How often do you… kinda like… when do you need to do something that… makes it so that you can pull the data or… so when do you ever need to try to, kinda like, does it help if you copy from one place and kinda like paste it into the application most efficient for your work?” In her presentation she also has a bad habit of asking if the things we’re showing “resonate with you”. She can’t frame a coherent thought but she’s all on top of the biz-speak! LOL!

    We’re doing a round of many interviews with external customers for this project and she’s supposed to be leading this interview phase of the project while I take notes and ask follow up questions. Sometimes I help her by jumping in to ask the question when she pauses, but sometimes I just let her puzzle it out. Sometimes even I have no clue what she’s trying to say. I can’t imagine what the client is thinking! I suggested she join Toastmasters and forwarded to her our next meeting invitation. I’m sort of on the fence between wanting to help her and wanting to let her swing in the breeze because I’m more and more annoyed by her bad communication skills.

    Have you ever had an employee like this, and how long did it take for you to get them some help or training? When I’ve come across people like this in the past, it seems like their manager never helps them, so I’m just curious what others experience is.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      Yes yes yes!

      In my case, I had an employee who suffered from “smartest man in the room” syndrome – meaning he’d go off on tangents and pontificate about his general awesomeness. Some customers didn’t mind. Others bought into his bullshniz and were excited that they were working with someone so great (even if it was in his own mind). And finally, others were genuinely annoyed.

      I was unable to get him to toastmasters, so I had internal presentations I started to give him. If he started to delve into one of his long, drawn out metaphors, I’d end the presentation and leave the room. It sounds harsh, but what this guy really craved was an audience. I was coaching him that an ausience wouldn’t be there all the time if he couldn’t stay on topic.

      It takes a long time, but just like any other skill you are trying to develop in an employee, it’s important to reinforce positive changes.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      I don’t have any really good advice. Your post reminds me of a classmate in my undergrad who, while giving a presentation, would say “like at”. One time we counted during a 15 minute presentation she said “like at” 50+ times! We got so distracted by it we had to keep from laughing. She was a smart girl as evidenced by getting into one of the top social work programs in the country but her speaking skills were horrible. I haven’t seen her in about 12 years, so I can only hope she’s improved.

      What would I do in your situation? The devil on my shoulder says give this person enough rope to…but the angel says that the right thing to do is to help as much as possible. It only helps your reputation. So, I’d probably do what the angel said.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like she does not even prep for each meeting and she so needs to.

      Some people can walk in cold and be awesome. She is not one of them, neither am I so it’s not that I have no sympathy.
      If she is doing some prep she needs to double the amount of prep she is doing.

      Those repetitive words- kinda like, resonate with you- are a symptom of having no other plan.
      One other thing you want to watch for is her breathing patterns. It’s normal to get tense going into a meeting. What happens next is shallow breathing which leads to all kinds of lousy speech habits. Encourage her to take a deep breath and let it go then take another deep breath and begin to speak.

  4. XT*

    Hello lovely AMA readers! Question for you all. Received an offer for an interview that I am very, very excited about. A company I really value and respect, a well-known staff that seem really similar to my personality, a job description that seems perfect for what I want to do and what I really excel at, located in the city I have been trying to relocate to for more than a year, etc. Basically, while I know not getting this job wouldn’t be the end of the world, I very, very much want this to work out. Which is probably why I’m overthinking.

    I was supposed to have a phone interview two weeks ago. They were also conducting in-person interviews, but I had to be out of town that week and they had offered the phone. About an hour before the call, I got an email from the HR rep who had been scheduling things with me about a situation that came up that was forcing the cancellation of the interview, stating someone would reschedule with me the following week.

    End of last week I still hadn’t heard anything, so I sent a follow up email, and included that I’d be available for an in-person interview now that my conference is over. I received an automated message that my point of contact was out of the country and it said to contact another member of the hr staff. I emailed him and mentioned her away message directed me to him and I was following up about an interview that was supposed to be being rescheduled. I think I kept it polite and not demanding or anything, just letting them know i was still interested and had increased availability. (I was concerned that they originally stated they wanted to do interviews through last Friday and I wanted to make sure I was available if that was the timeline they were trying to follow.)

    So now it’s been a week since that and still no response. The point of contact I had supposedly returned to her office Wednesday. So naturally I’m sure she has a lot of work to do and a lot of interviews and things to be caught up on, I’m not especially worried about that.

    But how long should I wait to follow up again? Do I follow up again? Part of me is nervous that if they did the rest of the interviews they may just skip over me now and pick from that pool. If that’s the case is there anything I can do about it to help myself, or do I just sit and wait? Still applying for other jobs in the meantime of course, but I work in a very small and competitive industry and this is only the second interview I’ve gotten since my job hunt began 15 months ago, so I realllllly don’t want to miss out o this opportunity if there’s anything at all I can do.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I would send one more follow-up to your original HR contact, and then let it go. Any more than that and you’ll come off as needy, desperate, or overly pushy (or all three).

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’d wait. I’m sure your original contact will see your “let’s reschedule” message in her inbox and, if she’s been considerate about communicating with you to date, she will follow up with you one way or another.

    3. XT*

      Oh for sure, if I follow up again I’d only want to do it once more. Not really sure what is a reasonable amount of time to wait before I did that, though?

    4. XT*

      And also thank you both very much for replying, I appreciate it! I want to make sure I’m not doing anything alienating during this time!

    5. Artemesia*

      Since you have contacted the original and an additional person, I’d wait. I think this ship has sailed. Some of the in person interviews may have impressed them and they may be past the point where they need to interview additional applicants. If not, they have the information they need about your interest and availability.

      In the jobs I interviewed people for, we would have aggressively followed up once we had selected a pool to interview. But I know several instances in other organizations where, the time frame ruled and if they had viable candidates, those who were not available just fell off the table. I would bet that is the case here. Hope not. But wait in any case.

  5. Windchime*

    Whoa, serious, am I really first on an open thread?! Probably by the time I post this, there will be others.

    We’ve had a person on our team for a couple of years and recently, it’s become apparent that he’s been in over his head. He made a mistake a few weeks ago that nearly destroyed a good chunk of the work that we’d done for several months. He was already on a PIP and I think he was seeing the handwriting on the wall, so he tendered his resignation. He’s worked at this place for decades, so it’s kind of sad in that respect (he’s a really nice person) but honestly, it will be easier to get work done now that he’s gone. We were spending a lot of time fixing things that he’d done.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That is sad but necessary, I’m afraid. It sounds like this has been going on for a while and he had plenty of opportunity to try to find ways to help himself adapt. But I have seen people get on a hamster wheel and they just cannot keep up with changes or flows going on around them. There’s lots of reasons for that. Hopefully, he will find something that is a better fit.

      1. Windchime*

        I agree. Several years ago, he shared with me his belief that “people over the age of about 45 can’t learn anything new”. I was mystified and slightly offended by his statement, because I thought he was talking about me and another co-worker who are past that age. Now I realize that he was probably talking about himself, and sharing with me his insecurities over having to learn a bunch of new things.

        I feel bad for him and I hope that his new venture works out better for him.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right on. Generalities like that are usually more about the speaker than the people surrounding the speaker.
          Yep, he created his own self-fulfilling prophecy.
          I’m sorry to say but a couple of people that I know that made such statements soon became very, very ill. Hopefully, that is not the case for this man. Sometimes the inability/unwillingness to learn new material is a early warning symptom of bigger problems.
          My point is that the problem is large and there is nothing that one or two people could have done to make a better outcome here.

  6. Holly*

    Not so much a question, just a celebration that I have a new boss (well, my old boss is still there…the new one is a middle manager) and she’s AMAZING. My “old boss” had zero Marketing experience, despite being the VP of Marketing, can’t write an email let alone anything else, delegates everything under the sun and we frequently butt heads on just about everything. My new one has already proven she knows what she’s doing, she has 10+ years under her belt, she can write, she isn’t afraid to actually take on a project herself and she asks for my feedback and then uses it! It’s such a relief because I used to have to take on basically everything in the entire Marketing department and now I have some support.

    My only worry is that she’s signed as a contractor, so the owner (who’s extremely unpredictable) might not renew her contract in three months, for who knows why. Then it’ll be back to the drawing board, only with my old boss as part time. =/

    1. Windchime*

      Even if your new awesome boss doesn’t get her contract renewed, you’ll have something important–a new contact that you really like and respect to add to your network. Sometimes these types of connections can lead to a new opportunity elsewhere, working with Awesome Person. So yay for that!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Is the company small enough that you can rave to the owner (or even to someone in the vicinity of the owner) how much easier your job is and how much more you get done now with the new boss?

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      If she was only given a short contract, it was probably to see whether the additional role was needed and if she was a fit for it. If you feel comfortable doing it, I’d pass your positive feedback as far up the chain as you can.

    4. CLM*

      I would see if you could treat part of this three-month stretch as an additional learning experience. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try work-wise, but didn’t think you’d get the right support from your old boss? Try to see if you can sit down with your current boss and have a meeting about some things you’d like to accomplish for your own professional development during the next three months, if you can.

  7. Diet Coke Addict*

    I’m in a fairly tight position and not sure how to broach it with my boss.

    My boss (chronicled elsewhere) hired a new woman to take over for my coworker on mat leave last week, without interviewing anyone else–he worked with her about 15-2o years ago and says she was “great.” I’ve been doing my best to train her all week (boss is out of the office), but we do different jobs, so I’m at sea with some of the processes just as much as she is. She seems to have a hard time catching on to some of the basics of the job (“What are you doing with your keyboard?” “Oh, control-C to cut and control-P to paste the information.” “How do I do that?” “well….control-C, to cut it, then control-P, to paste it?”) and what her role should be. I’m doing the best that I can with my limited knowledge of her position, but I’m not confident she has the skills necessary. I know in a few weeks when my boss is back he will ask me about her, but I don’t know how to say that his hand-picked hire is going to have a tough time when our busy season starts up in a couple of weeks. Should I stay out of it unless specifically asked?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Can you just suggest a basic computer training course for her, citing the processes that you don’t know? Especially if it’s something with a skill/knowledge test at the end, it takes the judgment call out of your hands.

    2. VictoriaHR*

      You’d be amazed at how many people don’t know the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+P thing. Some people are just mouse clickers rather than keyboard shortcut-ers. I’m training in a new job and the gal training me selects things with the mouse, then right clicks and goes to copy … I have to bite my tongue to not say “ya know, you can just double-click the word to select the whole thing, and then ctrl+c to copy it…”

      It’s kind of like my husband and how, once he learns a route to drive somewhere, that’s the only way he ever goes. If there’s a detour, he worries about how to get to where he’s going. Me, I like to explore and find new and better routes to get to that destination, and once I show him a new one, he’ll use it if he likes it, but he’ll never expand his view on his own. Once people learn how to do something, often that’s the way they do it until they die, even if shown a better/shorter/easier way.

      1. Felicia*

        I’ve known about the Ctrl +C and Ctrl +P thing for a long time, but I’m still more of a mouse clicker. I know the way that’s maybe seconds faster, but I prefer t he mouse clicking way. I’m glad you didn’t say that to the person training you because she may know she can do that, but prefer not to . I don’t really use keyboard shortcuts for anything even though I know a lot of them

        1. Claire*

          Me too, I use keyboard shortcuts on my laptop, but mouse-click when on a desktop with a mouse instead of a touchpad. I’m just more comfortable that way.

        2. 22dncr*

          Me too – Mousers unite! Mine comes from working at The Fruit Company in the old days and with the Fruit Company’s product for other places.

          1. Befuddled Squirrel*

            It’s definitely a matter of personal preference, but I was really appreciative when a former boss took the time to show me all the keyboard shortcuts and ways to save time. It added up and meant I could come in later, leave earlier, and take longer lunches. =)

      2. Diet Coke Addict*

        Well, it’s a number of things, really–it’s not only that she’s having a hard time with the basics of Office, it’s like that with every program and every process. And while my instructional guide is pretty thorough, it doesn’t back all the way up to “what is a cell/row/column?”, you know? I’m afraid that the lack of basic computer skills (which for all I know, may have been fine for her in 1998 when my boss worked with her last) is symptomatic of a bigger problem about workplace practices.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          You are super giving me flashbacks to training my replacement recently. We hired her in part because she had previous admin experience, but in practice, she knows almost nothing about anything. Like, in Excel, she knows OF formulas, as a concept, but has no idea what they are or how to use them.

          So, while a lot of my work there involved spreadsheets that were relatively simple (adding across rows and columns, etc), as I am by no means an Excel power user, she was just completely unequipped to even use them, let along make new ones, go into formulas to figure out where something went wrong, etc.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Also, this makes me want to start a whole different thread, “what is the most annoying (to you) computer habit of someone you work with?”

          Because my replacement also maximizes every window, so she can only use one window at a time and each one is huge. It’s a 27 inch monitor. I selected it specifically so I could have two documents side by side without overlap. She does this because the font size is too small. Which this obviously doesn’t help.

          Sigh. Ok, I’m done :)

      3. Just Visiting*

        I also prefer mouse clicking and it bothers me when people try to force me to switch to save, what, five seconds? It’s very nitpicky. Not everyone does 100% of tasks with 100% efficiency.

        1. LQ*

          I will say that I’m a pusher of keybinds (esp ctrl+c/v) because in a couple of the programs we use the right clicking doesn’t always work. It’s fine if you can take 2 extra seconds and go, oh looks like this isn’t working and then either ctrl+v or edit/paste. But most of the time what happens is I get a panicked email saying the entire system is broken.

          If it’s SharePoint just use CTRL+C/V and leave your admin alone to fight with Microsoft about it. Because if I could fix it I would :(

          (Why yes I did have this happen just this morning!)

        2. Chinook*

          I totally understand resenting people who are telling them to stop using a mouse and use these shortcuts instead, but it can affect more than saving time – my massage therapist could tell when I started using a new program that didn’t use shortcuts and had me relying on a mouse, and so could I when she started working on my one shoulder blade. My desk is set up ergonomically for my keyboarding and mouse use causes a different movement.

          I have pointed out to a few people who seem to do things the long way and the magic of keyboard shortcuts, but only asking if I can show them or if they had already approached me for tips/tricks (usually because they are field guys who have moved to work in head office. Being great at welding does not translate into great excel skills). I also know how to read my audience and have set myself up as the go-to person if they are doing some computer related and it seems like it is taking more time than it should.

      4. Speedy Mouser*

        For me it is quicker to use the mouse. I’m a clicker. I actually learned the keyboard shortcuts first and found them awkward. Everybody is different, Victoria HR – you should try to be more tolerant of people who do things differently than you do and not always assume that your way is the “better/shorter/easier” way for everybody.

    3. Magda*

      Well, I think you’ve identified two issues. One is that you don’t know how to train her on some of her job duties. To me that warrants an immediate conversation with your boss, or if your workplace allows you to do this, just directly bringing in a colleague who does know those processes. Her weaknesses aside, I think it’s not really fair to her to have a trainer who isn’t familiar with the material (which is not your fault, to be clear).

      The second one… I have a slightly dirty lens. I recently took over job duties from a departing colleague. She trained me on a Mac and wasted a good 30% of our time snickering about the fact that I habitually used PC shortcuts. Yes, I know Macs are different, but muscle memory. It’s a thing. I actually found it incredibly frustrating and distracting that she sometimes focused on “how to use a Mac” (when I was not going to be using a Mac as part of the job duties I was taking over) more than what the procedures were and what the system needed to do. I felt like, you know what? I can learn to use a Mac on my own at any time if I really need to. But I only have a limited amount of time to train on this specific work procedure. So that’s what I wanted to focus on.

      So I guess my take is, is she able to do what she needs to do on the computer, even if she isn’t as efficient as she could be? Because if she understands that Data A needs to be copied over to Slot B, to me, the computer shortcuts can come later. I tend to think that busy times, and being forced to do it quickly, is what really brings home the relevance of things like Ctrl+C….

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I really want to bring this up with my boss, but he is on vacation for another week, and there is no one else in the office who can do this job. My coworker (now on mat leave) was the only one, and while she gave me some bare bones, she obviously couldn’t show me every little thing she does.

        The second is symptomatic of a bigger problem. I used that as an example because it’s not just the procedures of the job she’s having trouble with (which she is), it’s a looooot of stuff related to Office and our own software as well. Like I said above–my instruction guide is fairly thorough, but not thorough enough to back up to “what is a cell?” Her issues with the computer are above and beyond not knowing shortcuts and fast ways of doing things–it’s that I’m prepared to do a total basics-of-Office tutorial when I want to be focusing on the parts of the job that need doing.

        1. MandyBabs*

          Unfortunately, I have recent experience with the latter. My small non profit hired several people that are what I consider computer illiterate. One of them being an Office Manager. I was in responsible for training her since she was taking off my plate finance/HR that I had been covering while we were without (the joy of Operations – you get to be the catch all).

          But yeah, same deal – I’m trying to show her how her job and she doesn’t know how to hyperlink, cells, basic Word, etc. And she’s supposed to be handling our budgets?! What I wound up doing was forging ahead and training her on the job. Then taught her a few basic things after, but really pushed she took notes (which she did) and emphasized the work load I had to go back to. Fortunately she is a pleasant person and pretty much accepted her short comings on computers. She is supposed to be part time, but I know she is working closer to full time because everything takes her that much longer to do because – well – at the end of the day, she’s not really the best fit for the job and that’s not my problem.

          She does jokingly say she has an “Ask MandyBabs” column for everything I taught her and when she needs more help . . .

        2. Magda*

          Oh boy. My sympathies – that is a tough spot to be in. The core of the problem seems to be that this employee was not properly vetted by your boss before she was brought on.

          It seems to me that all you can do is train her to the best of your ability, and when your boss returns, have a very frank (yet diplomatic) discussion of her limitations. If he’s any kind of boss worth his salt, he would want to know early rather than be caught off-guard during the busy season. That is not a conversation I’d look forward to initiating, though. Like I said, my sympathies.

          1. MandyBabs*

            I’ve read Diet Coke Addicts’ posts before – and (please correct me) her environment is not the best. So I’m honestly not sure how great talking to the boss is going to go.

            I’m in the same boat – the boss hand picked this Office Manager for the same reasons. She will not listen to her problems, which is why I elected to let her sink. Again, I advocate train her as best you can, maybe do a few computer tutorials at the end, and then walk away. The boss will see her limitations at some point and will handle them either through appropriate action, or in my office’s case – continue to load her with demanding work and expectations with the poor woman working well beyond her time.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              Thanks to all for your input–I really appreciate it.

              As mentioned, my boss is pretty awful, so I think I’m going to let him take the lead. I’ll give my opinion as diplomatically as possible, if he asks, but otherwise I’ll keep my opinions to myself and let the situation play out as it well.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                It’s an awful situation to be in. I went through it a while ago with a coworker. I was temp and so was the coworker. She could not even turn the computer on.

                I felt so bad. But I really could not help her and do my work, too. We all tried to find free classes for her. In the end the boss decided coworker was just going to learn this stuff and coworker decided that she was not going to learn this stuff.

                I decided to go about my day and my job.

                It felt so out of character for me. But I simply could not answer the same question twenty times. A friend of mine said, “Do not let this woman’s problems, ruin your efforts and in turn your reputation.”
                I thought about how I have made myself walk through fire and back in order to learn something that I needed to know. It was an awesome effort for me. I can’t help someone that won’t first help themselves.

                1. 22dncr*

                  You got that right! Sometimes you just have to let it break or no one will ever fix it or even know there’s a problem. It’s very hard – especially when I recall all the people that have helped me along the way. I so want to pay it forward but there is a limit.

              2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Sometimes you have to let the pain flow upward. People have to feel the effects of their own poor decisions.

              1. MandyBabs*

                Apologies if that came out harsh on my end. I know you were only helping – I’m just an avid reader who saw what is going through so was merely offering that understanding. Because in a normal situation what you suggest would make sense.

        3. Vancouver Reader*

          I’m also concerned that your having to hand hold this person is leading to your not being able to get your own work done. Is there some way you can have her red your guide and try and work through things before she comes to you for help? I know it’s so much easier to ask someone else who knows how to fix a problem because I do that a lot too, but right now, my boss is not around and so I’m left to muddle through and try and figure things out on my own.

          So I guess what I’m suggesting is that your co-worker try to do things on her own, pretend you’re not around to ask for help. Sometimes it’s just a matter of practice.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            This is actually going to be happening next week! I’m going on a week’s vacation, so it’ll be sink or swim. She has my guide, and she can email our boss if it’s urgent, but I think by the time I return some things will be quite clear.

  8. HeatherSW*

    I recently graduated. Am I making a resume mistake if I put my (completed) internships on my resume ahead of my part-time per diem job?

    1. BRR*

      You should list them chronologically from most recent at the top then go backwards. Since you’re still working at your part-time job list that first. It feels weird if you’re currently employed and that’s not the first thing.

    2. Alara*

      Alternatively, if your internships are more relevant, you could break your experience into Related Experience and Other Experience.

    3. EmilyG*

      I like Alara’s idea. What do you mean by per diem? The way you’re using it doesn’t make sense to me, perhaps that’s another confusion that the commenters here could head off at the pass.

      1. Anx*

        It sounds to me like it’s a part-time job where they call H in whenever they have work, without a set expectation of hours or a schedule.

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      I tell my interns to list paying jobs first and then list internships. Even though the internships are usually in the field they are applying for and jobs usually aren’t. My preference for resumes is educational experience then professional experience then internships/volunteer. YMMV.

      1. Onymouse*

        Definitely field-dependent. I think that in some fields, internship experience would be closer to the professional experience side rather than volunteer work. (“Volunteer Software Engineer” would probably be doing a (small) charity website or something fairly simple anyways…)

    5. Geegee*

      I would have the relevant If your current job is in an unrelated field, I would have the relevant internships at the top under a heading like “Relevant work/internship experience”. Then, I would have the part time job under a different section with a heading like “other work experience”. I think you want the most relevant stuff at the top whenever possible.

    1. BRR*

      He also says he thinks it’s the wrong choice when Google decided to stop asking for SAT scores. Because when hiring me you should clearly pass up my track record of successfully making chocolate teapots to see how well I was able to take a test ten years ago.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I also was bemused by his long ramble about how Google should have a pool instead of pool tables, especially because Google’s main campus does have a pool. It’s one of those little “infinity pools” for workouts, so you won’t find the Gmail team playing Marco Polo in it, but it is a pool.

    2. Artemesia*

      This is one of the stupidest things I have ever read. It shouts ‘we had a hole to fill and so dribbled out this drivel.’

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I don’t read much of the Huffington Post because so many of their article are fiffle. “Journalism” sure ain’t what it used to be.

    3. Helka*

      Well, to be fair, the actual question the interviewers are asking the candidates isn’t about what sweetener they take in their coffee — it’s about whether they take those items for home use, which is really a question about applied ethics. It’s a reasonable question — presumably if you do this with sweeteners at a coffee shop, you’re more likely to do it with pens, envelopes, or printer paper at work!

      On the other hand, the article itself is just silly.

      1. Anoners*

        I agree. It’s odd, like who is going to say “yes, I routinely steal sweetners from coffee shops!”. I just don’t get who would actually say yes.

      2. Artemesia*

        It is a stupid question as a test of character as well. ‘Oh yes, I steal’ seems an unlikely response to such a question.

    4. KerryOwl*

      I’m upset that I’ll never get the three minutes back that I spent skimming that article.

    5. Stephanie*

      I drink my coffee black, so this means I’d be a great candidate? What a load of sh*t.

      Also, not everyone wants to work at Google.

      This article screams “I needed to write something by the deadline.”

      1. CrabbyCuss*

        I could see this interview going south quickly with the right (or wrong) interviewee.
        ME: “I don’t go to Starbucks.”
        “Do you take ketchup packets from McDonald’s?”
        ME: “They don’t have packets out. They have the tub.”
        “Burger King.”
        ME: “Who eats Burger King?”
        “We’re just trying to ask would you steal our stuff!”
        ME: “You don’t have to yell, I got that the first time.”
        I mean seriously, do they think people are so dense they wouldn’t get the reason for that question?

        1. Mouse of Evil*

          I so want to sit in on that interview. :-) I remember interviewing once for a job at a convenience store near my house. I had to take a test. One of the true/false “questions” was “I have experimented with drugs in the past, but it does not affect my work performance now.” The assumption is, of course, that EVERYONE has experimented with drugs. There were several trick questions on the quiz, which I mentioned to the manager… who, I’m pretty sure, crumpled up my application and threw it in the trash before the door closed behind me.

          I recently applied for a job and had to answer yes or no to “I have work experience with Chocolate Teapot Making and Factory Budgeting.” I had experience with teapot-making, but no experience at all with budgeting, so I answered no, which was the factually correct answer. If the question had been worded differently, or if those two things had been broken out into two questions, I could have answered “yes” to the teapot-making and “no” to the factory budgeting. I suspect that by taking that “and” literally I eliminated myself from consideration, but I thought it would be pretty bad to get into an interview and be asked detailed questions about budgeting.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m so glad I was not alone in my frustration with this article (no offense to the OP for sharing it). I was so distracted by how many WORDS he was using that I couldn’t even get through it to get to the point.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, exactly. I was reading it like “Soooo, what’s the takeaway?” The Google paragraph sidetrack was pointless (and he didn’t even say why he thought SAT scores were a useful hiring metric).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The boss told the writer, “I need x number of words to fill up y space. I need it by 4pm.”

        The writer was sipping his coffee and wondering what he could write in an hour.
        Then it dawned on him.

        Good thing he wasn’t sharpening a pencil.

    7. Kelly O*

      Yeah, that’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all week, and I read articles from the “experts” on LinkedIn more often than I care to get caught in the foolishness.

      For the record, I’m a Splenda girl, however I am more guilty of grabbing extra napkins for the car. I also still use a lot of plastic bags, but they are reused for cleaning the litter box and stashing in the car for the inevitable “I have an almost four year old child” messes. And I send them to daycare so they can have “wet bags” on the regular.

      And I think my biggest interview mistake recently was, when asked about a lack of attention to detail in a personality test result, not saying “yeah, I took that at 9PM while trying to convince the aforementioned not quite four year old to go to bed and didn’t realize it was going to be an actual test, so I figure I am not lacking attention to detail but more busy and multi-tasking and not really sure what an SAT style test has to do with working.”

  9. De Minimis*

    Ha, looks like Problem Employee Friday!

    Well, found out earlier this week that I did not get the job at my agency, although it’s one of those things where I’d gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure how it would work out anyway. The good news is my wife has found a vacancy at her old employer and her former boss is really encouraging her to apply. I’m in the process of applying for jobs in that area. Think it will be way easier for me to find a good job there than it has been for my wife to find one here.

    I think this will make it easier to avoid burning bridges at my current job, since I can portray it more that I don’t really want to leave them, but need to, as opposed to just bolting for another opportunity at the same agency.

    Although I’m not sure if it would have worked out, I can’t help but be a little offended that I wasn’t even contacted for an interview, because I think my qualifications were pretty good given the restrictions my agency has for hiring [Indian Preference requirements–which generally make a lot of the higher grade jobs tough to fill.] I have to conclude that despite the offer of relocation assistance and the long open period that they may have had candidates in mind from the beginning, or else just did not want to hire from outside the area.

    I’m excited though about looking for new opportunities.

    1. Stephanie*

      Sorry you didn’t get an interview.

      [Indian Preference requirements–which generally make a lot of the higher grade jobs tough to fill.]

      Oh, interesting. Why are the higher grade jobs harder to fill? Just a lack of candidates and more emphasis placed on the Indian Preference Requirement? I’m guessing you’re at BIA or IHS or a similar agency? I could see it looking bad if an agency is led by a non-Indian.

      1. De Minimis*

        They have to hire members of federally recognized tribes, the only times they can make an exception are for medical/dental staff since it’s tougher to find a qualified Indian candidate. In a lot of areas, it’s harder to find Indian candidates that can meet the educational requirements for jobs around grade 9 or higher. Where I live it is different because we generally have a higher level of educational attainment among Indian people, so there are a ton of people with graduate degrees, etc.

        I thought I had a good chance because the tribal population there is a more traditional “rez” population, but they might have had candidates in mind that lived within their service area. I was thrown off because they had a very long vacancy period and offered relocation in the announcement, but I think in the end they might have had in mind moving someone from a nearby state. They might have also not wanted someone from a different service area–it’s my understanding that different service areas have different cultures/ways of doing things, and they might have not wanted an outsider. I thought I was a pretty strong candidate…graduate degree, CPA, and two years of experience in the same job series with the same agency, but apparently I didn’t even get an interview.

        Oh well….we were doing the math and it might not have worked, since it’s one of those unusual locations where the cost of living/housing is very high but the job market isn’t very good.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    So last week I asked about inviting my boss to my wedding, and I decided to go for it. I asked for his home address for the invitation and he knew immediately what it was for – and he’s super excited and happy about it :)

    Definitely the right call!

    1. Jen RO*

      Cultural time: is this the way it’s done in the US? Always mailing invitations? I’m asking because here it’s a “thing” to get together with the invitees, if at all possible, and hand them the invitations in person. All my coworkers gave me wedding invites at work, and my friends (who live in the same city) asked me out and gave me the invites then. I think I only got one invitation by mail, from someone who was living in another country.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’ve always gotten them by mail here in the US. I’m including mail RSVP cards but an email/text message option as well because most people younger than 50 can’t figure out how to send an RSVP card to save their lives :)

        1. Kelly O*

          They can’t RSVP by phone or email or text either.

          Sarah went to two birthday parties recently and both moms said they only got a very, very small number of RSVP responses (in one case, I was the ONLY parent to actually RSVP, which means I will be on the lanai with Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia trying to figure out how much cheesecake to have today.)

          Weddings were almost worse. A friend got married recently and said she had five RSVP responses out of fifty invitations sent, and nearly everyone showed up. The comment she got? “Don’t invite me if you don’t plan on me coming!” So yeah, there’s that.

          Although, congratulations on your wedding! Have fun with the planning!

          1. Zahra*

            She didn’t call the non-responders? Because not answering doesn’t mean people won’t come, as shown in your example. You should always, always get a clear yes or no from your wedding guests. I mean, I was pregnant and due to give birth a week after my cousin’s wedding and I still sent my positive RSVP with a note saying I wasn’t sure we would be able to make it, depending on what was happening that day with my body.

        2. Aunt Vixen*

          We got responses from all but one of the invitations we sent to our wedding – some of them contacted us by other means, but most mailed back the response card even if they had notified us in some other way. The only total radio silence was from a different cousin of mine than I’d have guessed would be the only person not to respond. (The cousin I would have guessed wouldn’t respond, did – but based on the handwriting I’m chalking that up to his wife. So I’d have lost that bet!)

      2. LPBB*

        Also in the US and I’m mailing most of my invitations but I have hand delivered a few to people who A)live in the area and B)I know that I will be seeing in the next couple of days. I don’t think I’ve ever received a hand delivered wedding invitation — even my best friend (at the time) who I was Maid of Honor for, mailed my invitation to me.

      3. danr*

        Yes, wedding invitations are mailed in US. The chances of easily getting together with everyone invited to a wedding is very small. The invitation package will also have directions to the place of the ceremony and reception. And a note to return as the RSVP.

      4. IvyGirl*

        Yes, this is traditionally how it’s done in the US – via postal service.

        Handing them to people kind of sends the message that you’re too cheap for the stamps.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yes! I agree. And yet that has been the assumption for at least 50 years that I am aware of. Some of our default assumptions are not kind, at all.
            Maybe part of the problem is how far-flung everyone is. Someone lives a 1000 miles away you have to mail it.

          2. IvyGirl*

            Sorry – I’m just stating what the convention wisdom is – I’m not saying I ascribe to it.

            Culture be weird, yo.

    2. Cb*

      I’ve invited my supervisors and they seem really excited. I work closely with them and have good relationships so I’m happy they are able to come celebrate.

  11. Calla*

    I have been waiting for this!

    How do I get over the regret of leaving a job that was okay for one that I’m not sure I want? :(

    I had an amazing job, but some changes made it go quickly down hill so I started job searching. I accepted my current position. My gut was a little uncertain, but thinking logically it was a great opportunity. And really, there’s nothing WRONG with my new job, which I’ve now been at 2 months, and I got a glowing review. But SOMETHING is off and making me feel like I did at the worst job I ever held in the past (anxious/stressed all the time). It’s impossible to pinpoint what exactly is making me feel this way, but I frequently wish I had never left my old job. My former job tried to counteroffer and told me I could come back at any time, so I’ve briefly entertained that, but the thing is I know I don’t want to stay there for years either because of what made me leave.

    Commiseration or coping advice?

    1. Elkay*

      Are you overwhelmed by no longer knowing everything? It’s really hard when you take a new role to remember that you’re not expected to know everything from day one.

      Maybe think about if it’s one area that makes you stressed or a certain person maybe.

      One thing I will say is don’t go back, you left for a reason.

      1. Calla*

        I don’t think so, or at least that’s not the primary issue. I know to give myself time to get accommodated, and I don’t feel overwhelmed–this role isn’t really all the different aside from company-specific quirks (previous job and this job are admins to VPs).

        I think knowing I shouldn’t go back is part of what’s frustrating me so much! I won’t go back, but if I could turn back the clock and stick around a bit longer, I would have, and so I’m kicking myself.

        1. Jen RO*

          Never say never! I didn’t have any regrets when I left my job last year – I was 100% sure it was the right thing to do, and I loved my new one. And yet… I am now back, and happy. I’m not saying you should go back to your old job now – but who knows, things might change.

          Good luck with whatever you decide!

          1. Calla*

            Maybe I’ll keep an eye on job postings at old job–I didn’t leave because I hate the company itself.

            I’ve always wondered how you put that kind of thing looks on a resume.

            1. Calla*

              ARGH, changed thought mid-sentence. I mean I’ve always wondered how that looks on a resume (to outsiders).

              1. Jen RO*

                I’m wondering too! I have 3 years 8 months at job A, then 8 months at job B, and now I’ve been back at job A for 2 months (planning to stay at least 2 more years). I hope it won’t look too bad!

    2. Sunflower*

      Are you sure this isn’t just the stress of a new job? Part of the reason I haven’t been as active in my job search (even though my job is miserable) is because I’ve gotten so used to doing things here and the thought of relearning how to do stuff and start a brand new place is anxiety inducing. What do you feel the anxiety is over? That you’re going to mess up, not know how to do something? Are you scared someone is going to bite your head off if you do? Or do you feel it’s more of a ‘I don’t like the way things work here and I’m nervous because it’s so not my style’? I think if you delve a little more into what is causing the anxiety (and wait it out a little longer) you might see where it’s coming from.

      Also I’m a strong proponent of always leaving your options open so there’s no harm in continuing to search for jobs outside of your current and former company- just try to pin point what is off about each

      1. Calla*

        Yeah, as I said to Elkay, don’t think it’s the first thing, or at least not primarily. We all have new job nerves, and I know to give myself time, plus this job isn’t that much different from my old job. It’s hard to really figure out what the problem is, but I think it’s more along “*this place/department* is rubbing me the wrong way.” (Honestly, if I got back to my initial gut feeling, it may be the department! It’s for Sales and I’ve never meshed with Sales people in the past, but the folks I interviewed with seemed fine.)

        Continuing to search is tempting, but my last two jobs were under 2 years each so I know I should probably stick around for a while.

        1. Elkay*

          I understand the anti-sales vibe but don’t have any advice, sorry. You can have some commiserations though.

        2. Ali*

          I am feeling this way too! My internship bosses love me and I wanted to stay, so they gave me a part-time role with a title, company e-mail, etc. I could go full-time if they’re happy with me down the road. While I would accept that, the possibility of getting a new job and leaving the place I’ve been four years is scary, even though I don’t want to be there anymore.

    3. LAI*

      I commiserate! I left a job I loved for one that I had weird hesitations about that I couldn’t fully explain. In my case, I was relocating for personal reasons and I knew I was going to miss the old job no matter what. But even the first day at the new job, I was already starting to regret it and wish that I had waited for something better. My situation was similar to yours – it was hard to say what was wrong, and I was getting good feedback. In retrospect, I think the problem was that my bosses were not good at setting or communicating priorities, so I always had this vague anxious feeling that I needed to be doing everything at once, or that I wasn’t working on the right thing at the right time. Anyway, I ended up staying for about a year before moving on to a new job that I love!

    4. Prickly Pear*

      This was me! Mine turned out to not be a good fit, but hey, it helped me realize that I don’t want to do this the rest of my working life. I wish I’d been a little more open-minded and less prone to comparison.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Take Former Job out the picture, pretend it never happened.

      Now how do you feel about New Job?

      Also consider Worst Job. What was going on there that made it the worst job? Do you see signs of similar behavior here?

      If you had a choice between this current job and brand new unknown job, what is your knee-jerk choice?

    6. Jeanne TW*

      If you’ve got an EAP program, you might consider a little counseling. Talking this out might help identify the source of the anxiety. Maybe it’s not the job… maybe it is.

      1. scared*

        Oh no, this thread has got me worried! I turned in my notice today for a job that I’m excited, but nervous, about. I’ve heard that it’s a high-stress environment and that the expectations can be a little unrealistic. When I turned in my notice, I suddenly wondered if what I did was right! I guess we will see.

        1. Calla*

          If it helps any, there have also been plenty of stories about people who felt the way you do and then their job ended up great. I hope it does for you!

      2. Calla*

        Oh, I am familiar with (non-EAP) counselors and psychiatrists! I do have some other factors going on in my life, but I am confident this part of it is 100% work (like how it only started when New Job did, and the way it mirrors Worst Job, which after leaving everything got immensely better), even if I haven’t totally nailed down what part of the job it is yet.

    7. Periodista*

      Hi! So, I am in pretty much the exact same boat. Left my old job which I had been at for 2 1/2 years – while it was a really fun office, the content of what I was writing about was extremely dry. Also, it was fun in a dysfunctional kind of way. So I interviewed for a great position, the writing was extremely varied, salary and holidays were both better…with the only caveat being that the office was very, very quiet.

      Though I was assured that it was just a busy period and everyone had their heads down, 3 months later I am definitely sure that this was a lie. I left for a reason and I don’t want to go back, as this is a step up career-wise, but I really miss my desk-mates! I am a bit of a social labrador and I feel very sorry for myself having lunch by myself every day.

      No advice other than to say, I feel you. Are you considering leaving for another job?

      1. Cucumber*

        Is there a Toastmasters, coworking or other group you could see for lunch or for a weekly morning meeting, to get some socializing into your system?

  12. Ayeaye*

    I’ve just applied for a job that I love the sound of. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I am sure I have the skills for it already. It’s really suited to my interests. My manager knows the recruiting manager very well and has promised to put in a good word for me. After the Hell that has been this year it would be incredible to get this opportunity, so any tips on how to seem confident and not feel far too young for a proper job would be great if you have them! (I am 30 but small and young looking, and only recently professionally qualified) going to buy an awesome outfit and know the person spec and job description by heart, but anything else?

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      As someone else who also looks young, I feel you!

      Definitely dark interview suit. Also, and this may seem silly (especially if you’re a man, in which case, don’t do this!) but I wear slightly darker blush, just below my cheekbones. The shadows thin my face and make it look less round and babylike. Then just channel Katharine Hepburn!

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I love your last sentence! I used to channel my Aunt, who was the most business-like and professional woman I knew. She was always calm, very smart, competent, likable, etc. I just pretended to be her whenever I had a job interview. Now it’s many years later, and I realize I *was* very much like her, so I guess I didn’t misrepresent myself too much.

    2. Calla*

      I’ve found it helps my self-confidence (which then shows through) to really know and believe what I’m good at/what value you bring. Look back at reviews and any interview feedback you’ve gotten. I had a great relationship with my last boss, so I actually asked casually once “What made you hire me over the others?” — since it sounds like you have a great relationship with your manager and they know you’re searching, maybe that’s something you could ask as well.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Spend a little bit of time each day reading on your industry/arena. Don’t kill yourself doing this- but think of it as continuing ed. It’s great for boosting the confidence levels.

  13. Anonymous for this one*

    I’m excited because I got a job offer! Now I feel like I’m fighting the final boss because of the salary negotiation bit.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      Congratulations! Don’t feel like you *have* to negotiate the salary if what they offered is fair. I didn’t negotiate my last 2 job offers and I feel I was treated fairly, it’s all good.

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        The salary was actually v. low since they wanted to start me out at the bare minimum of their salary when my experience, skills, and education suggests that I should be paid otherwise. I just hope they’re willing to increase my salary.

  14. Cruciatus*

    I think one of my coworkers is about to find out she didn’t get the job she internally applied for when security sends out the “Welcome this new person” email for the woman who did start today. Ouch. This place… Man.

    In other news, it’s so easy to be rational to other people when they don’t get the job they were hoping for. It’s a completely different thing when it’s you! Sigh. I mentioned it last week and I was pretty OK with it. But then this week I found out someone else from my company got it (a position outside the company) and I just don’t get it! Rationally I know that you never know what the other candidate had or their background, but emotionally I’m like “What!? Why her and not me?!” The person is currently working at a cafe our company owns as a barista/cashier. The job is for an administrative assistant, which is what I’ve been doing for nearly 2 years now and so now part of me is like “What’s she got that I don’t have! How much do I suck that I didn’t get the job I’m basically doing now!?” But, if this were happening to someone else I would say that maybe she has a better focus on X and that’s what they were looking for and something else will turn up eventually, and blah blah soothing thoughts… (OK, I’m better now.)

    And now I am excited to play with collapsible comments…

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      The “What?!?! Why not me?!?” is the scourge of my life. I applied for a job that was an absolute perfect fit for me two months ago, and….nothing. It’s currently listed as “vacant” and it makes me think “how much did I suck that they would rather have it empty than have me?!”

      1. De Minimis*

        I hate when I see that….it’s happened to me too.

        After two months, it gets harder to hope that maybe things are just slow on their end.

      2. Jennifer*

        I’m still smarting over the job that was perfect for me…except they already created it for someone else in my office.

        1. Erin*

          My favorite was the I was perfect for–as they said when they told me I didn’t get it. Turns out that it was a job that was transitioning from PT to FT, and as a government office they were required to do interviews for it. They ended up giving it to the person already in the position. I don’t care that they had a person in mind, I was just irritated for wasting my time.

          1. Jennifer*

            I hear ya. Plus it’s just EMBARRASSING to be the only one who doesn’t know she has no hope in hell of getting the job. Someone finally told me two days after the interview. I am grateful to her because I had four days after that to get used to the idea before I was finally told no. I was cool as a cucumber instead of bawling.

            Did I mention that for about two months afterward, the entire office literally APPLAUDED the woman who got the job at every effing meeting?!

        1. Windchime*

          “You are a cool chick! We should do this again! I’ll call you!”

          Yes, I am. Ok, sure. No, you won’t, so why are you saying that?

    2. VictoriaHR*

      Maybe she knew someone there who put in a good word. Maybe she has prior experience as an administrative assistant. Maybe she has knowledge and/or experience in a specific program that you don’t. 95% of the time, it’s not personal, it’s just business – another candidate was better qualified. I know it’s hard, I just finished a job search myself. Something will come along, I promise!

    3. Luvz_A_Laugh*

      Could be the former Barista just had some training/education that made her qualified and at the same time the lack of experience in the role was a good opportunity for the company to offer her a lower compensation than what they would have needed to give you. It’s business not personal.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I get that it’s not personal, but my point was mainly that it’s easier to say that when it’s not happening to you! Since now it is, my rationality has been thrown out the window. It shall return again…probably. It was a county job so the salary is fixed. Oh well. The search continues…

    4. Militant Intelligent*

      I know the feeling! I once applied for a job internally. . .and didn’t find out I was rejected until I noticed someone external signing into reception for an interview with the hiring manager. I had previously interviewed with this manager for another role, and wasn’t hired. Not to blow my own trumpet, but one else ever had an issue promoting me internally and HR recommended me to her, to interview for the role. I do think she had some sort of problem.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        I once found out I was rejected for an internal job when I came into work and saw the new person’s name plate up on the other end of the shared desk in my cubicle.
        (Joke was on the hiring manager – she called the day she was supposed to start and said she had decided not to take the job after all).
        I had already decided I didn’t want the job, so it wasn’t a big deal. The hiring manager did finally call me a couple weeks later – I refrained from making a snarky comment about how I already knew (he was in a different state, so he didn’t know where her desk was located).

    5. Wander*

      It’s so rough when that happens. I had something similar happen earlier this year – applied for an internal position, heard they were interviewing external candidates, and then only found out who got the position (not me) an hour or so before it was officially announced… and then only because I asked for an update. You can’t show that you’re upset because it’s work, and it’s just professional, not personal, but it does sting.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Is it possible that they have something else on the horizon that would be ideal just for you and not her?

      1. Artemesia*

        That is sort of like ‘maybe your husband is actually planning a surprise party for you with your best friend’ when they were spotted having a cozy dinner last week. Yes, it happens, but it is darn unlikely to be the case. ‘They are saving something better for you” is in the same category.

    7. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I’ve become pretty emotionally detached from the whole process. I think of job applications as a lottery. You apply because they MIGHT choose you. The odds are maybe 1/300 for each job, but if you send in great applications for jobs you really want, you’ll eventually get a good job. I don’t take it personally when I’m rejected. There are so many variables, it’s best not to over-think it.

    8. UrbanGardener*

      I once was working with a staffing agency, and this one particular, very well regarded company (at least I had never heard anyone say anything bad about them) only wanted to be given 10 resumes, and only wanted to interview 2 people for a particular position. I was beyond thrilled to be one of the 2 selected for the interview. I called my references to update them, and one tells me she knows who the other interviewee is, a woman who used to work for her, because she asked my reference to be a reference!

      This woman…everyone who ever worked with her HATED HER. With the fire of a thousand suns. No one had anything good to say. She was bossy and obnoxious, always acting like she was the boss of all her peers. Nice as pie to clients (this company I wanted the job at had been one of her clients), but a total shrew to all her co-workers and even her bosses. She had been laid off from my reference’s job with 4 other people, and as the economy improved they were able to hire everyone back – except she wasn’t invited to return. So I was sure I would get the job.

      Imagine my chagrin when the staffing people called me a day before the expected interview to tell me they just decided to give her the job since they knew her already. All I could do was shake my head and think what a mistake they were making, and that if those were regularly the types of decisions they made, the job obviously wouldn’t have suited me.

    9. Mouse of Evil*

      I totally get that. It hasn’t happened recently, but in my 20s it used to happen A LOT. In my first job after college–a temp job–I applied for a permanent job in a different department & thought I was perfect for it. It went to someone who on paper didn’t seem as qualified as I was; it turned out that her boss wanted her gone, so the other department had agreed to take her on (but interviewed me anyway). I have no idea whether she was actually qualified or not; it’s possible that it was a personal matter with her boss. So then I applied for her old job, and it went to a friend of the boss. To be fair, he was WAY more qualified than I was, and he also pointed me to his former employer and gave me a personal referral to the head of HR, which didn’t result in a job but changed my entire career path–but that’s a topic for another thread. :-)

      But then a couple of years later, I got a job that several people in my department had applied for–although at the time I applied, the only one I knew of was a friend who had interviewed and had told me she wouldn’t touch the job with a 10-foot pole. Which should have been a warning to me, since she was older and wiser than I was. :-) Anyway, it caused a HUGE rift in the weeks before I left. One person cornered me in an elevator and told me off for “stealing” a job that she thought should have gone to someone else. As it turned out, her friend hadn’t even been seriously considered for the job, and wouldn’t have been a good fit for it. A few months later she got a much better job that she was really good at, and was there for years. I ran into her once at a meeting and she told me that she was so glad she hadn’t gotten the job we both went for, because she loved the one she *did* get.

      So, yeah. I’m not usually one of those “everything happens for a reason” people, but sometimes things that suck at the time turn out okay. :-)

  15. Chuchundra*

    Yay, Problem Employee Friday!

    One of my co-workers screwed up again. The boss, who already had very little confidence in him, now has pretty much zero and so he’s re-jiggered the shifts so there’s always a qualified person on to keep an eye on him.

    I know my boss hates to fire people but…sometimes you gotta fire people. We have a two month window to hire and train a new person before we hit the busy time again. If he farts around, we’ll be hosed.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      you don’t always know when personnel decisions are being worked, so there may be stuff going on that you’re not aware of.

    2. Windchime*

      It’s so frustrating when it’s apparent to those of us in the trenches that it’s time for a coworker to leave, but the boss can’t seem to see it. In our case, there were recent layoffs and those who were laid off will not be replaced. So we are already running lean, and right now if anyone is fired then it’s 50/50 whether or not they’ll be replaced. I believe that was what was holding my boss back from letting this last guy go.

      That’s my long way of saying that maybe he’d like to fire the guy but can’t for some political reason. But honestly, it’s so frustrating sometimes to see someone continuing to collect a paycheck for doing nothing.

  16. ACA*

    1. Did not get a second-round interview from the phone interview I did last week, sadly, but the job as described on the phone differed enough from the description on the job listing that I’m not too disappointed.

    2. I checked my paycheck today and it was missing 30 minutes of overtime I worked last week, which I know I put on my time sheet. When I went back to double-check my electronic time sheet, there was a note from my boss saying that he had not approved the overtime because I had been 20 minutes late another day (he has not addressed this with me at all in person). I made sure to take a short lunch that day to make up for being late – is it worth bringing this up with him? It’s not a huge amount of money, and I’m hesitant to discuss one instance of lateness lest we end up discussing all my other instances of lateness. On the other hand, I did actually work a full workweek plus that extra 30 minutes, and it would be nice to get paid for all of it.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I would bring it up and ask how he wants you to handle it in the future if you’re late, because you did take a short lunch that day to make up for it. Did he know you were taking a short lunch? Sounds like you just need to communicate better – ask him how he wants you to do it in the future.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, just ask him what he wants you to do. Some companies will not allow you to shorten your lunch to make up for being late.
        He really should have paid you though then given you the lecture.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think so, if only to set a precedent that you CANNOT not pay someone for time worked, and you did work it. But you may want to also make a conciliatory gesture by saying something about letting the boss know when you’re making up time next time, so the “error” you’re pointing out isn’t all on him.

    3. Artemesia*

      Of course bring it up even if it doesn’t change the pay thing. He is assuming you are cheating the company on time; you need to fix that and ask how to handle it going forward. I assume you didn’t make clear to him at the time that you were making up the time. Now he sees someone who is ‘don’t dock me when I am late, but pay me extra when I work over.’ fix that perception as undefensively as possible when defending.

  17. HeyNonnyNonny*

    Open thread! Lucky me, I have a problem!

    A new coworker is having trouble adjusting to my company’s rigid culture– it’s very bureaucratic, keep your head down, don’t question, and don’t rock the boat, and she’s already rubbed a lot of people the wrong way by questioning processes and managers (she’s a contractor, so this is definitely a bad idea). Well, I told her about a slightly different job opening before I knew all this, and now she has an interview. I’m worried her line of “but I come from a university, and we’re so laid back there!” will rub people the wrong way and reflect poorly on me since I pointed her to the position. Is there a nice way of saying, “Here we don’t ask questions or make waves”?

    1. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I once had a co-worker like that. She kept doing things that made me look bad in front of our other co-workers. So I took her out for lunch, got to know her better, and gave her some pointers about the office’s culture. I think all you really can do is offer friendly advice. At the end of the day, it’s her decision whether to go with the office culture or against it.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Thanks– I think I just need to repeat to myself “not my circus, not my monkeys” until I stop stressing. I’ve tried giving her some gentle pointers and I guess that might be the most I can do!

        1. Befuddled Squirrel*

          Yeah, I would stay out of it unless it’s directly affecting you. In my case, the co-worker was loudly telling me about jobs at other companies in front of other co-workers. As in, “Hey Befuddled! I saw that Company X is looking for a teapot maker! You should apply!” It was really awkward because I had only been there a year and wasn’t looking to move on. I have no idea what motivated her, but I was able to explain over lunch that that kind of thing should be communicated discreetly, as in an email to my personal email address.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      can you offer to do a practice interview with her? Do you think there’s any chance of her changing or is this just how she is? If it’s just how she is then she’ll probably weed herself out of the interview process.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        The hiring process is so rushed I don’t think I’ll have time, but you’re right, I think it’s a lot about the way she is, and since she’s not going to change, that will probably come across to others.

    3. Frances*

      So I don’t have any advice, really, but your story just made me chuckle since I left my university job *because* it was so rigid, bureaucratic, keep your head down, etc.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Haha, what’s funny is that I worked at a university before that was even more rigid than where I am now, so I don’t know what magical, relaxing Lebowski University she’s coming from!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Her line of coming from an university and being so laid back there is a good opener for talking about how different work places have different cultures. You can really see this reading AAM. Tell her about all the different types of work place cultures you have read about here. Then land on the fact that it is so important to understand the culture of your employer.

    5. UrbanGardener*

      I have a summer intern who will be leaving in 2 weeks – THANKFULLY! My colleagues and I came to the conclusion last week that she hasn’t learned or grown in any way. She constantly thinks she knows better ways to do things, talks way too much instead of listening, and has contradicted me in front of people. I’m thinking, “Child, I am twice your age – HUSH.” Luckily I won’t have to deal with her much longer.

  18. Marcy*

    Asking this question for a friend to get some perspective. My friend has ~7 years of experience in marketing. Recently she interviewed with a large, well established company for a marketing position. They seem like a very professional organization and she went through a rigorous interviewing process that involved meeting multiple high-level people within the company and hours of interviewing time. By all accounts, she seemed like a perfect fit and the hiring manager flat out said he wanted to hire her, and they asked her for writing samples. In one of those writing samples, there was a minor typo (missing period at the end of the sentence). She was called by the hiring manager and told that although he really wanted to hire her, HR has vetoed the decision because of the typo and they can’t hire her. He mentioned that they’ve been unable to fill this position for years because HR keeps killing their choices with nitpicks like these.

    My friend is beating herself up over this, but to me, this is crazytown and she’s probably dodged a bullet. What say you all? For some perspective, she currently has a job with decent pay/benefits, a boss that loves her, and flexible work options. She just wants to work for a bigger organization with advance opportunities. I’m thinking a company that doesn’t hire qualified candidates over typos probably has other issues going on.

    1. Molly*

      It’s crazytown. The hiring manager should not be bowing to HR on this – he should go to his superior on it, on upward until they find someone with sense who can countermand HR on this. Unless the job she’s interviewing for is “proofreader”, there is no reason to veto a hire based on a single typo in one of many writing samples. If she’s a writer, and the writing is good, it’s quite likely she’ll have other eyes on the work after her specifically to catch things like that – no writer should ever be the only proofreader of her own content.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Agreed. I’d pause if it were an actual error, like its/it’s or incorrect word usage, but an obvious typo doesn’t indicate a deep flaw.

        That said, we’ve seen in threads here how crazy people can get over language (myself included), and it is a little bit of a problem if her professional writing samples (I’m assuming it’s a portfolio, not a timed writing test or prompt) have errors.

    2. OriginalYup*

      I agree with you that this place has problems. HR can override a hiring manager’s decision because of a single missing punctuation mark? (Or at least, a hiring manager will tell someone that they can’t be hired because of it.) That screams organizational dysfunction to me, no matter how good the fit is.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I shudder to think what would have happened to her if she had TWO errors.

        Harsh people, really.

    3. Windchime*

      I don’t know; maybe it’s just me, but missing punctuation in a writing sample for a marketing job seems like a pretty big deal. If this person is going to be preparing communications which represent the company, then even a missing period is a big deal.

      I’m not in marketing so maybe what I’ve said above is not accurate. But I write code, and a missing period or comma is the difference between hitting code release versus having a broken build.

      1. Anon*

        I don’t think the point here is whether the missing period constitutes a deal-breaker or not. The point is: this was not a deal-breaker to the hiring manager but that person was apparently overruled by HR, which seems crazy. HR is there to assist with the process and make sure everyone obeys the rules, but final hiring decisions are made by the hiring manager. So it seems like either this manager doesn’t know what he’s doing, or the company has a pretty flawed bureaucracy (or the manager just lied because he can’t deliver bad news) – I’m not sure which is worse.

      2. Proofin' Amy*

        If I were interviewing, I wouldn’t want to miss the punctuation in a writing sample, but yes, this is why people like me exist in marketing and advertising. Sadly, most people don’t approach writing English the same way they approach writing code–which is a comparison I’ve tried to make. But most writers don’t write clean; they simply have a blind spot when it comes to these things, which is why proofreaders are here to point out the typos and grammatical issues.

        1. Windchime*

          Fortunately for me, I have a compiler to tell me when I’ve missed punctuation. So I can’t really take credit for all my semi-colons being in place. :)

      3. Sharm*

        I am in marketing, and I found this unduly harsh. Proofreading is a huge component of the job precisely for this reason. If the candidate made it through all the hoops well AND the hiring manager wanted to hire her, this seems like a silly reason not to do so. I’m not saying this stuff doesn’t matter. It does. But we’re all human, and those typos are going to happen.

        I’m sorry for your friend, Marcy. Bullet dodged. That sounds crazy.

      4. Sharm*

        (Whoops, sorry Windchime, I didn’t mean to imply you by saying “this.” I just meant the situation. I guess this company would have fired me by now. Ha!)

    4. A. D. Kay*

      If she were in my particular field (technical editing), they would have a point, but not for a marketing position. I’ve editing some pretty dubious marketing material before, and I would have been thrilled if a missing period was all that was wrong.

  19. Manders*

    I’m in a weird living situation with a roommate who needs way less sleep than me and sometimes wakes me up at odd hours. I have a job that requires a lot of attention to detail and a cheerful attitude, and it’s much harder to do my work when I haven’t slept well. There was a thread a few months back about what to do when you’re chronically sleep deprived, which has been helpful, but I was wondering if anyone had tips on surviving the occasional day when you’re just not functioning at your usual level. I’m not falling asleep at my desk, but I’m more forgetful than usual and I get flustered easily. Coffee only does so much!

      1. Manders*

        Ooh, that’s a good idea, I take a B complex pill once in a while and I’ve noticed that it perks me up. Do you take B12 every day, or only when you’re tired?

        1. Stephanie*

          When I’m tired. My doctor said I had pernicious anemia (which makes you prone to B12 shortages) so I had been taking it daily, but I think I was overdoing and subsequently having trouble sleeping. I need to go back to get my levels rechecked and the dosage adjusted.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Walks outside do help, and also, just a walk around the office helps. Sometimes I’ll take a walk to use the restroom on the other end of the building. Just walking there and back really helps perk me up.

      1. TL*

        Yes! It might be better to have a talk with your roommmate where you just say that certain activities aren’t allowed between 10:30 and 6:00 or whatever your sleeping hours are (and for you, sticking to fairly regular sleeping hours).
        My junior year of college, my roommate would stay up later than me and used to throw pillows at me to see how deeply I was sleeping before starting something louder – if I didn’t budge, she knew she was good to go; if I twitched or rolled over she’d leave the room. On her part, she would nap during the day and I kept on waking her up when I came home, so I finally told her to pick a naptime or sleep during my classes – I couldn’t be uber-quiet all the time, just in case she was sleeping, but I was really good at going “2-4 is naptime, so I’ll stay out of the room unless I really need to go back and then I’ll be really quiet.”
        It was a weird system but it worked out really well for us.

      2. Manders*

        Unfortunately, I’ve tried to fix that already. I’ve talked to my roommate many times about this but he’s not very considerate about slamming doors and holding loud conversations with himself in the wee hours. The apartment’s oddly constructed, which doesn’t help with noise control–for instance, the kitchen cabinets are on the other side of my bedroom wall, so every time he slams a cabinet door he’s pretty much slamming it against my wall. I sleep with earplugs and a white noise machine at full blast and he still wakes me up sometimes.

        There’s only a month left on the lease, so this situation will fix itself soon.

        1. AVP*

          Ugh, I had a situation like that where my roommate moved out and replaced himself with a friend – who was a bartender / music producer. I was a 9-6 worker with an intense job. Somewhere around the 5th time he came home at 4am with a crowd of bartender friends, I woke up, went on Craigslist, found a new apartment, and moved out at the end of the month.

          1. Manders*

            Yikes, that sounds awful. I’m lucky it’s not that bad, and starting soon I’ll be living with just my quiet, considerate significant other. I wish there were more options in my area for affordable studios/one bedrooms, a lot of people end up living with roommates when they really should be living alone.

        2. Artemesia*

          Oops missed that you already have the white noise machine and ear plugs — when I responded before. Sounds like time for a new roommate because this one is a giant jerkface.

    1. BRR*

      It sounds like something that needs to be handled with your roommate. Sometimes I get very sleepy at work though. I try to save some work that doesn’t require as much attention. If I don’t have any I find that I need to get up and move. I’ll take the elevator down to the lobby and walk up the stairs to my floor.

    2. Artemesia*

      If your roommate wakes you just because there is quiet getting up noise elsewhere in the apartment then perhaps a white noise machine would help. I have used one of those when we lived in an area with a lot of morning noise outside and they worked for me. I am the sort who has trouble going back to sleep if I wake up at 4:30 am.

      If your roommate is doing loud inconsiderate things that wake you up then that is what you need to deal with including insisting on her finding a new roommate.

    3. Cruciatus*

      The only way I know to stay awake at work is to take walks. I’ll go down the hallway and hop up the stairs a bit and that usually gets me going for a little while. But for actually sleeping, at night I sleep with a white noise machine (there are now apps for that, too). I love it. I still can hear things, but at night it helps blend everything together so, unless it’s a great big sound, it doesn’t wake me up. It may not work if you’re in the same bedroom as the roommate, but hopefully you’ll come up with a solution soon. I can’t even handle a lack of sleep for 1 day, let alone chronically.

    4. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      Why is roommate waking you up? If they need less sleep, why haven’t they learned to be quiet and enjoy being alone in the dark?

      1. Windchime*

        Some people are just naturally noisy. I have one kid who is loud, loud, loud–loud voice, loud TV, bangs and slams doors (including the cupboards), forgets to turn off his ringer. The other is quiet as a church mouse; he is currently living with me as a roommate while he gets relocated and I’m often surprised to come downstairs in the morning to find that he is up and has made coffee and breakfast and is watching TV. I’m glad that’s the kid that’s living with me and not the other one!

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      If you’re worried that your sleepiness might be impacting your performance enough that your boss would notice, then depending on your relationship with your boss it might be worth it to mention it to her as a heads-up. “Hey Jane, I know I’ve been a bit more forgetful lately, and I’m sorry. I try hard to get enough sleep, but my roommate has a door-slamming habit. I’m moving in September, so this won’t last.”

    6. nep*

      As we all know nothing replaces adequate, solid sleep. Agree it’d be great to get at some of the issues disrupting your sleep. Sleep is not negotiable. It’s more important to performance and well-being than most people seem to acknowledge or realise.
      That said — coffee (particularly if quite strong) can cause one to have a quick buzz then crash, so in the end can be counterproductive. Water, water, water. I find drinking lots of water helps more than any other food or drink to give a natural energy boost. Lack of sleep + dehydration = zero energy.

    7. Marcy*

      If you only need a short term solution, have you considered trying a sleep aid? My husband is a snorer, and the Kirkland brand sleeping pills (from Costco) have pretty much saved our marriage. I don’t wake up feeling drugged like when I take Benadryl, either.

    8. Mouse of Evil*

      I know this is rarely, if ever, possible–and it might not be a problem for you anyway–but can you turn down the temperature in your office? I noticed after moving from a cold climate to a hot one that I was sleepy ALL THE TIME in the afternoons. I started cranking the AC at night (because I was tossing and turning all night from being too hot) and in the afternoon, and it helped a lot. Of course, in my last office I had no control over the temperature, and there were a lot of times that I nearly fell asleep at my desk. That was part of the reason I left–I just couldn’t stand being hot and drowsy all the time.

      I know that doesn’t help with your roommate situation, but it might at least help you stay alert at work if you’re sensitive to temperature and can do anything to control it. :-)

  20. JessA*

    Under what circumstances would you ever consider applying for a job with a company you were laid off from? And on the flip-site, on the employer side, would you ever consider hiring a former employee?

    I am thinking about applying for a position with my former company. I previously worked for them in a project management capacity and the job I am thinking about applying to is creative in nature. (I was laid off due to my position being eliminated in client contract discussions, which occurred around the beginning of the economic downturn.

    (To be completely honest, I did struggle in my previous position (and my performance review did reflect many areas that were rated as unacceptable or needed improvement – but I did take immediate corrective action and improved in these areas – my boss even acknowledged that I had improved), but in the new role, I do have some experience in this creative role and I think I could be a strong match for this junior level position.) (Many of the people that I worked with previously have moved onto other companies by this point.)

    Any suggestions or ideas?

    1. De Minimis*

      If that many people have left, I think it will be more like a brand new job/employer.

      For me, I’d only consider it if I was doing okay there when I left, and if there are either people there are like, or that everyone has since moved on to where it will be a entirely new set of people.

      If I thought they treated me poorly as far as the layoff, I’d be less hesitant to work for them again.

    2. Sunflower*

      I would apply- you were laid-off, not fired so it sounds like, even though there were some performance issues, there isn’t any ill-will. Is your former boss still there? If so, I’d reach out to her and explain why you’re interested and how you’ve improved. If you boss thinks you’re qualified, I would go for it. If the boss isn’t there, see if anyone else you know is still there and see if they can pass along your resume

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I assume they’re financially stable now? I might be hesitant to go back to a company that was likely to have more layoffs in the near future. If they’ve bounced back, or if the layoffs were about a specific department getting cut or something, I’d just approach it as a new job option.

    4. Anx*

      I’m not a ‘professional,’ but I have been laid off twice, and am hoping to work at one of those places again.

      The first place laid me off in the winter because they kept a very small staff for the ‘off-season.’ I don’t want to go back there though because I was always stressed out there.

      The second place just stopped scheduling me one day. I called and they said I’m still employed but am off the schedule for the summer. They change their hours of operation in the summer (another seasonal job). I was a new hire and I think it’s fine that I was on the cut list since I was new.

    5. JessA*

      Thanks guys! I think I will give it a shot, send in my resume and cover letter and just see what happens! Thanks everybody!

  21. Mints*

    I mentioned this earlier in the week, but I’m reposting:
    I wish English had a convention like in Spanish “Fulano de Tal,” which is used as a name, but is inherently anonymous because it’s not an actual name. It would be useful for this type of site, I think if it caught on.

    (Here’s a link http://www.spanishcentral.com/translate/fulano )

    1. Jen RO*

      I saw you mention it the first time and I really enjoyed reading about it! I know Spanish at a conversational level, and I love languages in general, so I am always interested in tidbits like this.

        1. Jen RO*

          I am not sure, actually. We don’t have anything like ‘fulano de tal’, that’s for sure. ‘Cutărescu’ or ‘Xulescu’ are used as generic names. ‘Cutare’… I don’t even know how to translate it, it means something like ‘some person’ (X is just X). ‘-escu’ is the most common suffix for Romanian last names (similar to – son un English).

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      I think the English equivalent is “John Doe” or “John/Jane Q. Public,” or Joe Bloggs, is it not? I may be misunderstanding it. In Russian it’s “Ivan Sidarov” as a sort of generic name.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah, that’s how it’s translated, but John/Jane are real names, and Fulano is not. So that’s how it’s inherently anonymous

        1. fulano*

          I think in the US it would only be about a year after “Fulano” caught on before people actually started naming their children that…

    3. Mephyle*

      Spanish speaker here: John/Jane Doe is used in the same way even though, as you say, John and Jane by themselves are real names while Fulano isn’t. The way it’s solved in English though, is that while John is a real name, everyone knows that if you say/write ‘John Doe’ it means ‘Fulano.’ So, it is functionally equivalent – the convention does exist in English even though it works a bit differently.
      What I find delightful about these ‘anonymous names’ in Spanish is ‘Fulano, Mengano, Zutano and Perengano’ – if ‘Fulano’ is already in use and you need another anonymous name, the next one is ‘Mengano’, and so on. I can’t think of an equivalent for that in English, although if you string them all together, it’s similar to ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’.

  22. Stephanie*

    Got a lead on some contract tech writing work. The proprietor said we could discuss rates. Thing is, I have no rate. How do you figure out an appropriate rate? I’ve got relevant experience, but not direct experience. He said he’d hire me as a 1099, so I’m responsible for paying SS, FICA, etc. Also, the state he’s in (Texas) has no state income tax, but my state (Arizoma) does. When I was a nonresident of the state I worked in, I paid my resident state’s taxes. Same case if I’m a contractor?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I haven’t done it, but as an employee of a government contractor I know that the rate our client pays for my time covers my salary (including taxes), all of my benefits, and a prorated portion of my company’s overhead (accounting, HR, payroll, rent, etc). Make sure you include all that and don’t undervalue yourself.

    2. De Minimis*

      State tax is really complicated. Generally you pay income tax to the state where you earn the income, so I’d assume you’d pay Arizona tax. But as I said, it’s complicated, and it can depend on the states involved.

      I’m a little surprised you would pay your resident’s state’s taxes if you performed the work in another state, but state and local tax was never my field, so my knowledge is very general. I know my wife and I worked in separate states at one point and we only paid each state the tax due on the income earned within its borders.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh. I thought you paid where you lived. I worked in VA, but lived in DC and MD, and HR always told me to pay DC or MD taxes. A friend worked in DE, but lived in MD and was told to pay DE taxes. MD came after her like 3 years later for the back taxes.

        Also, I was in for a rude awakening when I found out I had to pay state income tax on unemployment benefits. VA (where I received re benefits) exempted them, but the two states I lived in (DC and AZ) considered them taxable income. Luckily, I had enough federal and DC refund money to cover the AZ taxes.

        1. De Minimis*

          Some states have compacts, that might have come into play. I imagine that would be likely in cases like VA/DC/MD where you have a lot of people crossing state lines for work.

          My current state does not have one, so it gets complicated if you have out of state income. My parents had to deal with it too, my mom finished out her regular career working in a neighboring state.

          1. JC*

            Yes, VA/DC/MD have reciprocity agreements with each other, so if you work in one and live in another you pay income tax in the state/federal district of your residence. I work in VA and live in DC, where the “state” income tax is higher, and in my first paycheck they accidentally withheld tax for VA rather than DC. It was sad to see my paycheck again when it was fixed.

          2. Stephanie*

            Interesting. I didn’t know about the compacts, but that makes sense. Main takeaway I’m getting is that maybe I should talk to an accountant about this.

        2. BRR*

          I find taxing unemployment benefits so weird. The same happened to me but I had started working and they were withholding for a full year’s work with only 6 months worth of pay so luckily I still got a refund. I did owe state income tax from my previous state though.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, same states do. I knew about federal withholding, so I opted to have federal taxes taken out, but I didn’t know about state withholding. Not all states withhold from UI (Virginia doesn’t), but the two I lived in did.

            I get it from a principle standpoint–it’s (paltry) income, so it should be taxed. But from a practical standpoint, it’s like “Wahhhh, this check is already pathetic and my only income. You want more of it?”

            My friend had a similar rude awakening when she found out her graduate stipend was taxable (and her university wouldn’t let her withhold throughout the year).

        3. Anx*

          I vaguely remember paying taxes to both my home state and state where I went to college because of summer jobs/school year jobs,

      2. Anon*

        Your income is taxable in the state you live in. If you work out of state and pay taxes to that state, most states will allow you to claim the taxes paid to the other state against your taxes due when you file your home state return. You would file tax returns in both states. If you live and work in states with a reciprocal agreement you can just pay taxes to your home state and not deal with the work state at all.

        Since TX has no income tax, you will pay AZ taxes only on the income earned working there.

        Payroll Tax specifically is my profession :) If you ever want to really confuse yourself, look in to payroll taxes on professional athletes. They are taxed on the portion of their income earned in each state and locality they play games in. It is crazy, and the best illustration of the insanity of the US tax code.

        1. De Minimis*

          At my former employer we had a lot of crazy stuff when we’d do trainings out of state. Apparently in this particular state, training did not count as earning income, but many times the trainers and a few of the employees were also working on projects after hours, and that required them to file a income tax return. One manager had a refund check for two cents or something like that.

    3. A. D. Kay*

      I’ve struggled with the rate question also, since I will probably transition to 1099 work this year. There are two rules of thumb I keep seeing: 1) Expect to pay 30-40% in SSI and income tax, and 2) Set your hourly rate by taking your annual salary as a regular W2 employer and multiplying it by .001. For example, if you would typically expect to make $75,000 as a tech writer, charge $75/hour.

    4. Cucumber*

      Have you checked out the techwhirl.com website yet? Lots of good resources for you there.

      It might be prudent to charge by the project, rather than the hour. It depends on the project, your experience with it (as far as you judging how quickly you can get the work done), and the client.

      Good luck!

  23. Lhh*

    I had a phone interview this week and the HR woman mentioned that I was a top candidate for the position. Later on I found out the position had a GPA requirement that I do not meet so they cancelled the follow up interview. I want to send a follow up but I don’t want to make excuses for my GPA. Part of me doesn’t care because I don’t want to work for a company that values undergraduate GPA over applicable work experience then again I’m really interested in the job but not desperate.

    Any advice?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d say follow up and ask HR if there’s anything you can still do to qualify for the position. Having to pass you over for a less-qualified candidate because of their GPA from years or decades ago might be the example that they need to contest this asinine policy.

    2. Sunflower*

      Ehh I’m torn on this. How did the HR person seem when she talked to you about the GPA requirement? Did she seem like this was a dumb thing or it was important/the norm? Like you said, anywhere that values a GPA requirement that much is probably also going to have some weird requirements in place. My guess is if you were a top candidate and they weeded you out on the GPA alone and didn’t want to discuss it with you, they aren’t going to make any exceptions so unfortunately I don’t think they’re going to consider you for the job. I’d follow up and say you were sorry to hear this since you were interested but please keep you in mind for any future positions.

    3. Lhh*

      I just followed up with HR. My fingers are crossed that once they interview the other 2 candidates they’ll realize what they’re missing.

      I won’t hold my breath.

  24. Shell*

    went for a job interview Monday morning. wasn’t sure how I did, but got called at 5pm Monday afternoon for a second interview with a VP next day… I was well on my way home and couldn’t request time off.

    I asked for a conference call, or maybe a date later out so I can plan? they have to check with the VP. silence since then. they’re supposed to get back to me by today.

    except all of my bosses are out today and early next week so I’d be hard pressed to give myself time off if they call.

    logistics is hard. (and I dunno why a VP wants to talk to me, this is a huge corporation and the position isn’t that high. I had three interviewers too, sigh.) plus I’ve taken a lot of time of recently since I was sick, and I don’t feel good about faking sick.

    1. VPs*

      In some companies (banks particularly come to mind), VP is not a high-level title. People 3-4 years out of college are at the VP level.

    2. Another Reader*

      I wouldn’t feel bad. You have to do what is best for you and it looks like you are already planning to leave (job hunting). If your bosses are not around, I would request time off from the next higher up, i.e. a manager or a senior person, and state that a personal matter has just come up. That way you are not lying as this is a personal matter ;-)

      1. Shell*

        there’s no one higher, I work in a firm of 7 people so those bosses are the owners. there’s no middle management between them and me.

        I love my bosses, they’re great people. which is why I really don’t like the idea is faking sick or whatever. I just wish the corporation in question can adequately manage a schedule and not call me for an interview with 15 hours of notice and after the business day is over. I know it’s common, it just sucks.

        1. Another Reader*

          That is interesting. If I were a boss, I would at least leave someone in charge. If the owners are away and no one is in charge and something personal has come up, I do not think it is a problem that you attend to it. Good luck with the second interview!

  25. Ash (the other one!)*

    Thank you so much AAM and hive. As I mentioned last week, I ended up with four job offers after 9 months of looking. Yesterday was my last day (I resigned before I had the offers in hand, bad I know, but I was done). I start new job (which is a higher salary, title and growth potential) in two weeks, so here’s today’s question:

    How should I spend my 2 weeks free before new job starts? (Since today is specific to jobs, let’s say professional development wise…)

    1. Coelura*

      Take some online computer skills classes. If you need refreshers on Microsoft products, there are lots of free videos on the Microsoft site. Or you can search for some videos on other products. Its a great way to refresh your skills during your time off.

      Oh – and sleep a lot!! Or declutter – it will make a big difference in your attitude starting at the new job.

      Congrats on the new job!!

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I had a gap in between jobs and I spent it doing house work- reorganizing, painting…
      But I really wish I would have used the opportunity to take a little trip or gone hiking.

    3. Joce*

      Play around on Duolingo or Codecademy if you want something that will engaged your brain. Or sit down on Netflix with the entire run of That Thing You Meant to Watch and bask in knowing you have a great new job on the horizon.

    4. KerryOwl*

      I’ll have to answer you in Sunday’s thread, because there’s no way in hell I’d do anything but relax for those two weeks.

    5. Nina*

      Congratulations! Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest so you’ll have enough energy to tackle your new job. Don’t sleep late every day and throw off your routine, though.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Yeah, I’d worry less about professional development per se and focus more on getting the non-work parts of life in good order so you can focus entirely on the new job when it starts. Do the laundry. Get the oil changed in your car. Cook a lasagna or some soup and freeze it so you can have something to pull out for dinner when you’re exhausted on day 3 of the new job.

        Around work itself, I’d do sort of minimal things, like making a list of questions you want to learn the answers to in the first few weeks or doing a bit of research about aspects of the industry that are less familiar to you. You also could do a dry run of your new commute, at the time you normally would go to work, to make sure traffic doesn’t surprise you on day 1!

    6. Mouse of Evil*

      Congratulations, and good luck with your new job!!!

      Every time I’ve had time off before starting a new job I’ve gone out to spruce up my wardrobe. If I don’t have much money I keep it small–a new organizer, a cute lunch bag, some inexpensive accessories, whatever. Once it happened to be right during the end-of-season sales, and I was able to get a BUNCH of clothes that I could still wear for a couple of months on the new job at 60-75% off (I had several weeks of vacation pay that time too!). Then I spent the rest of the time organizing my closet, getting rid of stuff I wouldn’t want to wear to the new job, etc. By the time the job started, I was feeling professional and confident and organized (none of those things had been priorities in the previous job).

  26. Managing a group I've worked with?*

    I’ve been waiting for this thread! (Longtime lurker, infrequent poster, etc.)

    For the last several years, I’ve worked in a Teapot Quality role, mainly with the Chocolate Teapot Design group. (My job includes some non-supervisory leadership of the Design team, even though I’m technically a member of a different department.) I’ve applied for an internal promotion that would make me the supervisor of the Chocolate Teapot group. I’m positive that others in the Design team are applying for that position as well. While I’m confident that I’m a strong candidate, I’d like to be able to speak to concrete plans that I have for managing the transition from a peer to a supervisor. In particular, how do I manage someone that I beat out for a job?

    Any advice?

    1. Prickly Pear*

      This happens a lot in my industry. As someone that has had a lot of coworkers (and junior ones, at that) come back in positions of power, I appreciate when the managers in question acknowledge what came before. Like, we have shared experiences, and we know what the pinch points are, so we’re all on the same side here. There’s someone working with me now that I’ve known for a while as a fellow peon, but has now earned their wings. I’ve just made it a point to be as helpful as possible and realize that even though the situation isn’t new, their role is and react accordingly.

  27. Algae*

    I’m working on my self-evaluation. Give me some serious and/or silly answers to “What are your goals”!

    1. Sabrina*

      Kill or maim less than 25% of my coworkers in the next two quarters, less than 20% in the last two quarters.

    2. TheExchequer*

      – Make 30 people host a dinner party for me, including entertainment.
      – Go to Italy and England.
      – Found Skull Island.
      – Go to graduate school.
      – Take over the world.
      – Grow into a supervisory position.

      I leave you to decide which are serious and which are not.

    3. hermit crab*

      I’m doing the same thing right now! In my spare time I volunteer at the zoo and often tell my coworkers cool facts I’ve learned, and one of my managers jokingly suggested I write a goal of “Limit reptile fun facts to less than 10% of verbal communication with coworkers.”

      1. Mouse of Evil*

        Ooooh, I understand this one. I volunteer at a nature center, and I really struggle to keep myself from telling the people who actually work there about Cool Things I Saw In My Yard This Week.

    4. Frances*

      Reduce silent screams of frustration in the bathroom to once a quarter. (This is not so much an issue at my current job, but at my last one ….)

    5. kf*

      Improve department safety numbers by not engaging in the practice of running with scissors.
      I had a “safety” requirement in my review for an office job once. It required an answer and that is what I added.

  28. Get Outta My Chair*

    Yesterday I was sitting in the back during a meeting–we were supposed to be watching a demo, which I had LITERALLY watched the afternoon before. So sue me if I thought people who hadn’t seen it before might as well go in front instead.
    The manager above mine nitpicks the hell out of everyone’s behavior at meetings, but I’m the #1 hated one in the office right now by her, so I get it the worst. She ordered me to sit in the very front, and then took my chair. And I’m told by my coworkers (she was behind me) that she glared at me and my boss the entire time.
    Oh joy.
    I love how this manager shits gold or something, because she gets away with everything and can do whatever the hell she wants. She’ll probably run this place someday.

  29. Katie the Fed*

    I realize I’m turning into an old fart at the tender age of 33, but my colleagues of similar age/experience and I were talking about one of the things that drives us most crazy about the younger new hires (early-to-mid 20s). It’s this:

    “Well, I’d really prefer to do it [this other way than what you just told me]”

    Not everything is a debate or discussion, and your input is not always welcome. There are often good reasons we do things the way we do, and while we’re probably willing to revisit that, can you just please stop questioning every little thing?

    I don’t know if this is a generational or youth thing, but it’s crazy-making. And I’m finding a lot of people saying similar things about new hires, so I suspect it’s one of those.

    Just wanted to pass that along.

    1. Prickly Pear*

      I hear this a lot with our newer interns. I understand that you’re getting all that fancy booklearnin’ but that doesn’t translate into, you know, doing the job you’re here for. It makes me cringe sometimes to hear the ways they talk back. I wanna send them to their rooms!

      1. UrbanGardener*

        My intern is the same! So bossy and always questioning me, but not in a way that makes me feel she’s eager to learn the whys, but because she thinks I’m wrong. Plus the other day, she actually tried to take a box cutter out of my hand all “let me do it!” while I was trying to peel a sticky old label off of something. I was not going to try and save her from nicking herself on the blade, because I was not letting go of that knife.

    2. De Minimis*

      I’m wondering if it’s some kind of warped idea about “taking ownership of your career.”

    3. Mephyle*

      There was a long, sometimes insightful discussion here on this topic maybe 2, 3 months ago. [tries to think of keywords to find it] Oops, back in January. Look for “how to manage an employee who’s argumentative when I correct her work” published on January 14, 2014.

    4. Anonsie*

      Well. I. So I’m in the target age range here and I don’t see the problem so I guess that means I’m part of the problem. Though I actually can’t think of a time I’ve done this, since I am what I like to call a Rule Follower.

      What are the situations where this comes up?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Very specific situations relative to my work (they wouldn’t make sense to post all the details). But we’ve seen it across different departments.

        “Employee, please do x”
        “Eh, I prefer to do y” or “I think I’d actually rather do this other thing”

        ARGH.

        1. Anonsie*

          General description? I’m asking because, whenever I heard this complaint, I think of the times I’m given explicit procedural instructions and they fall into two categories: Ones that it could make sense to have ideas on, and ones where doing that would be completely insane.

          Like, if you tell someone that they need to send a requisition to a specific department to put in an official request, and they have some other ideas… That would be nuts.

          1. TotesMaGoats*

            I think the problem is that they don’t see that there are those two very distinct categories. Everything is open to having an idea or suggestion. Or, as it seems, to just do the complete opposite of whatever was asked of them.

          2. super anon*

            I fall into the age range, and I had the same thought! I have done this to my boss, but only when the suggestion is completely insane ex: having to create 5 different versions of the same report because it might be “too long” for certain people to read and we need to have different lengths – my suggestion was one report with an executive summary, or when they wanted me to not put in any data or graphs into the report because it would make it “too long”. I know I shouldn’t push back, but I’ll damned if I write a report on our success this year without numbers and examples to back up our claims.

            1. Anonsie*

              I wonder largely because I have worked with plenty of people who treat their <35 coworkers as youngins who should be in absolute line with the older coworkers regardless of who has what role in the company. Of note was someone I once worked with who brought something to me by mistake and when I told her who those requests were supposed to go to, she snapped at me that I was talking back and I should just say "yes ma'am" and fix it myself once she left. I know tone is everything, but I promise I was not being rude.

    5. TotesMaGoats*

      A)I’m so going to mention this to my newest crop of interns this semester. I’d like to think of it as paying it forward to their future bosses.

      B)We SO need to do a DC/Baltimore meet up. I have this feeling that we would just hit it off so well!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’d be up for it – we can discuss on the Sunday open thread. We have to convince Alison to come too :)

          1. De Minimis*

            I know of some people who met as Facebook friends [they both were friends of a third person, a writer.]

            I met my wife on a message board….nearly 12 years ago!

          2. Chris*

            I met my husband on a message board! We’ve been married 13 years now. It was kind of scandalous back then, but I’m a little surprised it hasn’t happened here yet.

            1. fposte*

              The alt.folklore.urban newsgroup had several different marriages out of participants–I believe even the snopeses met there.

              1. Chuchundra*

                My wife’s sister met her husband on BITNET, for you old timers who remember that.

                Which just goes to show that as soon as human beings create a new communication technology, other human beings will soon figure out a way to use it to hook up.

          3. Windchime*

            If that is to happen to me, most of the posters here will have to somehow get their dads to start posting.

          4. Sarahnova*

            I married some dude I met on the message boards of the old Mighty Big TV. So hang in there, Alison!

          5. James M*

            All along I’ve had the impression that hitting on peers would be considered gauche on a Q&A site like this.

            1. Sarahnova*

              IMO, yes, it would (although other people may differ). “Hitting on” someone is not the only way to end up married to them. Most relationships that start on message boards start with friendship/being naturally drawn to each other.

    6. Anx*

      I’m a little younger than you.

      Would it be just as obnoxious to ask why something needs to be done one way over another? I get overwhelmed in the beginning of starting new jobs/things in life and knowing WHY something is done in the way that’s counter-intuitive to me helps put everything in context.

      1. Buffet the Vampire Layer*

        I want to second this. I will happily go along with directions from above with which I disagree, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to do so when I understand why.

        1. fposte*

          You can do that now and then, but you can’t do it every time, and it’s a lot better if you ask *after* you’ve done it the way you were asked rather than before.

    7. Jules*

      “Well, I’d really prefer to do it [this other way than what you just told me]”
      “That’s great, but I need you to do it this way.”

      It’s sad but when I started I probably did the same thing too. I am about the same age as you and there are days I feel like I should put on sun shades when the shiny fresh graduate new hire comes to work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I did the same thing…. thirty years ago. sigh.

        Then I learned. Companies don’t care what I think. hahaha.
        I think it just comes from exuberance and the sincere belief that companies what to improve all the time.

        Business is a little more complex than that.

    8. Anon*

      Are they actually refusing to accomplish tasks they are told to do in favor of other ones, or just suggesting alternate methods for doing the same thing?

      I’m probably guilty of the latter, so I’ll try to watch out for the urge to do that. I’m on the older end of this generation but I think it comes partly from growing up during a time where there are dozens or hundreds of options for how to do pretty much anything. Like watching TV – to my parents, that means subscribing to cable or renting videos. Even with their smartTV, they use the capabilities the same as they used to use blockbuster, just pay $5 and rent a movie, maybe subscribe to netflix. When I moved and needed to decide how I was going to watch TV, there were a trillion choices to consider and I wound up with a system that they think is complex and strange, but it’s the easiest way for me.

      At work recently, I was given a spreadsheet and told that it’s a good way to keep track of my projects and schedule, but that it’s not mandatory. Spreadsheets are clunky and it was driving me nuts and making me lazy about recording things. Since there are literally hundreds of apps out there specifically designed for the same thing that don’t have to be wrestled with like Excel, and I’ve been using apps to keep track of all my lists and schedule things for years, I did research and found the best one for these needs and started using that instead. I hope it didn’t bug anyone :/ I would never flat-out refuse to do something I was told to do, though, and if I was told that a clunky system was mandatory I wouldn’t vocalize any ideas for improving it.

    9. Mouse of Evil*

      I’d say youth rather than generation. I’m on the upper end of Gen X, but I remember being fresh out of college and just CERTAIN that the old folks were doing everything wrong. I suspect that the Boomers were the same way. And the Greatest Generation before them, and the Silent Generation, and probably all the way back to the second-generation cavemen who thought that if their fathers would just LISTEN to them, they’d have fire in half the time with a quarter of the effort.

  30. Ann O'Nemity*

    My manager has asked that I get more involved in the local community for networking purposes (not selling). She didn’t have specific advice or recommendations and she’s not doing anything like this herself, so I’m going to throw it out to the AAM community. Any ideas how I can get started with something like this? Recommendations for best practices?

    1. Coelura*

      Pick a charity that you like and start volunteering. make sure that the type of volunteering you do allows you to chat.

      Join a professional organization.

      Teach a non-credit class at the local junior college on something you like to do.

    2. Gene*

      Sounds like permission to start going to bars and drinking on company time and calling it “networking.”

      Seriously, find something you like to do where you could, even remotely, have the chance of meeting with people involved in your industry. I’m thinking something that brings in a broad base of people, but isn’t directly related.

      Hard to type with office kitty in my lap…

    3. Mephyle*

      What kind of people would it be useful for you to network with: are they people in your industry (competitors? collaborators?), or clients/users, or suppliers/providers? Or all of these? Or others less directly related?

      1. Kelly O*

        +1 to this

        The Chamber is often a great way to meet other companies and find out where your company might make the most impact.

        If you need to pick something charitable, try to find a group with whom you share an interest or have a personal connection. I like getting involved with Relay for Life because of my family’s history with cancer and my passion for funding research.

        Or, if applicable to you, get involved at church – right now I’m doing several committee things, as well as teaching a couple of classes. I’m meeting all sorts of interesting people from all walks there.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What are the goals for you to be doing this? Get the company name out there? Make the company seem more human? Increase business?

      My husband was told to join a golf club. He said NO WAY. Okay, those were not his exact words.

      Maybe if you join the Chamber your company will pay for your membership.

      If she has no guidelines, then I would chose something that suited me. Ideally, it would be tangent to your job in some manner. Selfishly, I would lean toward a volunteer work that I would keep if I lost the job that demanded I do the volunteering. In other words, the volunteer work would be a personal commitment on my part.

    5. CLM*

      I started doing a lot of networking a few years ago, and I’m pretty introverted. Here are a few things that work for me.

      – Pick an event that actually sounds interesting to you personally, not just networking for the sake of networking
      – I went to a bunch of different things in the beginning, and I picked out the ones I liked and the ones I didn’t and now I just go to the ones I like
      – Give yourself permission to leave after 20-30 min if you are just not feeling it that night. Don’t sweat it, just go to another one a different night.
      – I try to limit myself to one event in a week and two a month.
      – Learn how to gracefully extract yourself from a conversation if you’re just not clicking after a few minutes. Wrap up what you are saying to the person, shake their hand again, and tell them “It was nice meeting you, good luck on [something you talked about].” You don’t actually have to offer an excuse to leave, but if you feel you need one, a good one is, “I just spotted someone across the room I need to make sure I catch before they leave.”

  31. Hermione*

    Not a question really, but just wanted to commiserate with others searching for jobs in this market. IT’S SO ROUGH OUT THERE. Really frustrating, especially given that it feels like I *just* did this. I’ve been in my current job two years now, but no real room for growth, so back to the pool I go…

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Ah, that sucks, that you’re “back in the pool” so to speak. All the best with the job searching!

      1. Ali*

        Don’t I know it. I could kick myself some days for majoring in a field everyone and their mother wants to do (communications/media). Sometimes coming here and seeing everyone happy about their job offers can be a bummer because I just feel like “Will it ever be my turn?”

        The market has been tight for a while but it makes me nervous over the long-term how saturated it is and how picky employers are. Hopefully it doesn’t backfire too much someday!

        1. voluptuousfire*

          ^ Fellow communications major here! Only I wanted to go into radio. LOL.

          Yes, I can certainly commiserate on how hard it is finding a job nowadays. I’ve had a streak of bad luck since the spring of 2011: two lay offs (corporate restructuring and budget issues, respectively) and one discharge (working at a start up that putting it simply was a bad fit all around). With the last job, I can’t even necessarily pinpoint what happened. I have a few theories but overall I’m still trying to figure it out.

          It’s been a tough few months.

    2. Jam Wheel*

      Oh don’t we know it. My partner and I are both looking and have been for 6 months or so. By rights he should have had two jobs by now but for companies doing… what exactly? He got rejected, despite being the last best candidate standing, for something completely arbitrary or for a skill that was not clarified for in the interview or for “not thinking outside the box” when he clearly demonstrated he does/has/can with specific examples etc. Meanwhile those roles remain open and the people who need the help continue to be stressed.

      For me its been more of a change in career path I need to address, and I had far too much of a scattered approach to applications before, but I think I know what I want now and where to look.

      All the same, its hard to get up the desire to throw your hat in the ring some more after months of rejection and silly HR/recruiter games. But the sun rises another day and you breathe another breath and have to continue to believe that today is your day.

      We are working on a few side projects after doing job search activities in the morning – keeps our hand in the game, improves skills (his: programming, mine: business development and sales), gives us control over something that maybe, just maybe, in the future can take us away for good from the dependency on the whims of others.

      Hang in there and look for the smaller pools to fish in – at least its not 2009 anymore! :D

      1. James M*

        Just wanted to say: if you’re rejected for “not thinking outside the box”, you dodged a bullet. People who use that kind of language are incapable of perceiving their box, let alone contemplating the risks/benefits of venturing beyond it.

    3. Mints*

      Ugh I feel like I’ve never actually stopped job hunting. I did for a little while technically, but I feel like I’ve been searching ever since I graduated two years ago

    4. Rebecca*

      I’ve been looking for several years while enduring a manager worthy of the Dilbert comic strip, no raises, no evaluations, no chance at advancement, and ever increasing insurance costs and work load. Dammit, Jim, I’m not a welder, nurse, or truck driver!! Channeling Bones from Star Trek a bit…

      It’s just so frustrating. I could get a part time low wage job, but I need to make at least enough money to keep the roof over my head, pay bills, taxes, etc. and those are just so scarce now. I’m 51, and I know my chances are pretty slim at this point, but I’m not giving up.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, job hunting just zaps you. I stayed at Sucky Job for over a decade because I could not face more job hunting. Uh. Don’t do this. Ever. When you know it is time to move on, above all else you owe it to yourself to move on.

    6. A.*

      This is me. I’ve been in my current job for almost three years. There’s absolutely no room for advancement, and I’m trying desperately to get out. Hang in there! We’ll find something soon, hopefully.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah, I’m probably about to start up again….long distance too. If my wife gets the job she just applied to, I’ll be looking again. Going to start applying now, hoping the timing works out.

        If she doesn’t get it, I guess we’ll continue to flounder around here.

  32. Geegee*

    My boss’s boss recently met with me and my boss and wanted to ask how I like the job, my career goals, etc. I’ve been here for just over a year and they’ve given me great feedback (but no raise due to budget constraints). Anyway, so they asked me to tell them about what I liked about my job and what I didn’t like and where I saw myself going. I said I liked the work so far, I liked that I was involved in different projects, that I wanted new challenges, opportunities for growth. For what I didn’t like I foolishly said I didn’t like the more mundane more necessary aspects of the job – things like data entry. So I’m not sure if I might have offended my boss by saying this since a lot of the things I do actually include data entry. Also, now when my boss gives me something to do, she’ll ask me if that’s challenging enough for me or if it’s too boring for me. Sometimes, it sounds like he’s being sarcastic) Is this worth going back to my boss and his boss and try to explain what I meant?

    1. Molly*

      It sounds like they really value you, and want to retain you, even though they can’t do it in the traditional way (raises) right now. So maybe they’re considering handing off the pieces of your work that you don’t like, and increasing the amount of the stuff you do like. That should net out positively for your work satisfaction, so I hope that’s the case!

      I wouldn’t bother going back to explain more fully unless it seems like they took it the wrong way. It seems to me that you responded in an appropriate way. Also, it’s not at all weird to not enjoy the more mundane aspects of your job – so you’ll probably get points for honesty. Definitely better than going on about the joys of data entry when everybody knows better… :)

  33. Sabrina*

    How does one put Freelance positions on a resume? Or should it be just collectively “Freelancing” and listing everything you’ve done?

    1. dangit*

      On my resume used for non-freelance jobs I have a freelance heading and list the types of things I do and some recognizable names that I’ve worked with. I have another document that new clients sometimes request that lists my freelance jobs in a more detailed manner with links to photographs of the work.

  34. OfficePrincess*

    I’ve been in my first management position for just shy of a year now and have only been out of college and working for three years. I’m finally past the point where I feel in over my head all the time, but I’m still struggling with the actual managing people part of the job (the other higher level work that came with the position is going great). My biggest struggle so far is figuring out how to hold people accountable. I know that the expectations that have been set are reasonable (we have a sister site that holds people to a higher standard) but my crew has been pretty inconsistent. There will be a day here and there that they blow it out of the water, but twice as many days that are abysmal. I’ve been crystal clear on what I expect but am not sure how to follow through. It’s a case of little things adding up, but everyone sees it as just little stuff. But in a primarily data entry job, it’s all little stuff. I’m not sure how to motivate people or hold them to the standards that are set. Help! Any advice you guys have would be really appreciated.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      It’s a little tricky if the culture of the team is sloppy. But remember, they’re testing you too (even if they don’t realize it). So you need to make sure you have a discussion when mistakes are made. I would do it like this:

      “Boutros, it looks like you missed this item – what happened?”
      if he blows it off, say something like “no, it’s really important that this be accurate. I need you to check your work more thoroughly in the future. Is that something you can do?”

      If it keeps happening, you need to escalate disciplinary actions:
      “Boutros, we talked last Tuesday about accuracy, but I noticed these three mistakes. You said you were going to be more thorough in checking your work. What’s going on?”
      “If this continues to happen I will need to pursue disciplinary action including and up to suspension and termination. Do you understand?”

      etc

      I would make sure you choose your battles carefully though – you dont’ want to harp on them for every little thing. And be sure to acknowledge when they do things well – many people respond far better to positive feedback than negative.

      Good luck. Management is not easy at all.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Thanks. Choosing my battles is the hardest part right now. Other than attendance, things that are done wrong fall into three main categories – things that affect our overall facility metrics, things that affect organizations we interact with on behalf of the client, and things that lead to paperwork getting separated or lost (which can lead to having to pay claims uneccesarily). I’ve tried picking different battles for different people , but that has just led to complaints about how I’m not as hard on Wakeen for doing X, when Wakeen has far bigger problems.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      On the days they blow it out of the water, play it up big time. Let them know you noticed what an awesome job they did. Show them the stats that make them awesome. If it is the truth tell them, “I am happy if you reach X level each day but Tuesday this week you all reach Y level. I am so impressed.”
      Never, ever underestimate the power of praise AND the power of letting them know you “caught” them doing awesome.
      I had a crew that knocked it out of the park four days a week. On Fridays I turned a blind eye. I just focused on wrapping up loose ends for the week and lining things up for the next week. What happened next was they cranked it up another notch. They did even better. This may or may not work in your setting- but you might be able to get an idea you can use.

      I also found that acknowledging the work was repetitive and picky helped. Then I explained that is what we are paid to do, find ways to overcome the boring repetitive, picky stuff and do the work correctly. Just putting that out in the open seemed to cause an “ah-ha” moment and in turn accuracy improved.

  35. Reality Bites*

    It’s been two months since I’ve written a comment here. Last I was here, I’d accepted a new exciting and challenging role…or so I thought. I was painted a picture of me being the “expert” (their word choice not mine) and how little the company knows about my field. I literally was told you’re here to help us build this business and structure us.

    Unfortunately the role I was hire for is not at all what this company needs at this stage. The company jumped the gun and has not established the basic foundation of their new business model – a detail they left out during the hiring process. Everything is heavily operations focused right now as it most certainly should be, but there is no team in place and it’s a mess. I have shared suggestions after suggestions of how to get a team in place and begin to iron out the operations issues, but I’m dismissed or ignored. I also try to set expectations because I can tell there is a desire I will assume responsibilities in this area of need, when it’s completely not what I agreed to come on board to do.

    I can accept that the specialized role I was brought on to do has no function until there’s actually a business history, which hasn’t happened yet because operations aren’t up and running. I have tactfully as possible explained my concerns and suggestions surrounding this with my manager, but they insist that my specialized role is needed…when it’s obvious that maybe in a year or two sure, but right now no. On one hand I have a manager refusing to accept that my current role is not needed, and on the other hand I have the executive of the area flat out stating what I was hired for is not a focus and won’t be a for a while.

    I am happy this is all becoming very clear, at least for me, within these short two months because I have an opportunity to move on somewhere I can actually be of use. The problem is I really don’t want to have to start looking for a new job all over again. I also find that my direct approach and focus on establishing stability, structure, process and organization is usually met with resistance even though that’s specifically what I was hired to do. How can I speak to my strengths in this new job search, without tarnishing what this company is trying to do with their new business model? Or should I not even mention them or this role, since I haven’t updated my resume with it or any social networks?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “I was hired to do ABC and it turned out that they actually needed a different type of assistance.”

      1. Reality Bites*

        You keep it simple. I like that, and it’s most helpful! Should I include this job on my resume? I hadn’t updated it yet nor my professional networking account since I went into it wanted to at least wait three months. No I idea why I had that feeling, but apparently my gut was right…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I would try to leave it off my resume. If someone asked me directly, I would use the one sentence explanation to say why it was not on my resume. If I was pressed for more info, I would just say I have tried discussing the particulars of the situation with them several times and in short they need someone with a different expertise.

          Every so often, I come home with shoes or a new garment that I am wowed by. After a bit I realize it’s not what I need, or the fit is not that great. It happens. Sometimes we make a choice and the choice does not work out. It’s much harder with people. The company cannot force a person into a position that does not fit or is not what the company needs. They will figure it out in a while, I hope.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Agreed completely with NSNR. If you decide to mention it, use the sentence she gave above for why you’re looking. But honestly, I don’t think I’d even bother putting it on the resume. It sounds like you’ve been stonewalled from the start so I don’t know that you could even mention it as something that would be helpful in marketing your skills. Leave it off and good luck on the job hunt!

            1. Reality Bites*

              Thank you both, NSNR and Ruffingit! I really appreciate this!

              And yes, I will be using that sentence if it comes up, but will try to make sure I’m discussing my previous role before this one since it was longer and is on my resume. My manager is out of town this upcoming week so that’s somewhat of a relief, then I’m out of town the following week. Plenty of time during both for me to really step up my applications since I hadn’t begun looking until this past week. I hope this doesn’t drag on for months, because it’d be good to depart this month onto something better.

              Hope you both had a great weekend!

  36. How to work remotely when I don't work remotely?*

    I’m in a bit of an odd situation at work. I spent 4 years working in our corporate office, in two different positions. Recently, I was recruited into another department at a higher level, which is great. However, I’m now working in one of our regional offices in another state. (This isn’t a big deal – I live exactly between the corporate office and the regional office, and the commute is actually a bit saner in my new direction.)

    So now I have a new boss and a new team, and they’re all great – but they all work in the corporate office. It’s not unusual for the regional offices – almost everyone who works in a regional office reports to someone back at the corporate office. But in my situation, I’m the only person on the team out here.

    It’s a bit lonely. I get to the corporate office about once a week, most weeks, and those are usually great, fun days. I get a lot of work done when I’m in the regional office, but I also get antsy because there’s almost no social interaction out here. I’m such an introvert that I didn’t think this would be a problem — but I’ve spent so long “faking” extroversion for work purposes that I find I may have actually turned into a bit of a work-extrovert. I miss people. Unfortunately, I can’t just start working in the other office more – my position is contractually required to be based in this regional office.

    We have phones, we have instant message, and we have email. But I always feel like I’m bothering/annoying people when I use IM or email for a non-specific reason. I don’t always have a reason when I drop by someone’s desk to say hi, so why does it feel so weird to IM to say hi or chat?

    In about 3 months, I’ll be working from home 2 days a week, and in the regional office 3 days a week, with only occasional visits to the corporate office. I’m worried I’ll feel even more isolated then. I’d really appreciate any tips people may have on staying in touch with co-workers from a remote location.

    1. Gene*

      Are you alone in the regional office? If not, get to know some of your new coworkers. If so, and you seem to be more productive in the quiet isolation, get ahead on your work so you free up some time and do something rewarding. Even something sorta job related. I’m assuming you have to be there and available, so something like Khan Academy.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I agree with Gene! Use the time productively to get things done and then do things you don’t normally have time to do like professional development or read a novel or whatever. You might also look for professional network groups in the area you’re in that have lunch meetings. You could meet some new people that way and know that at least once or twice a week you’ll have interaction at lunches.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m in a similar situation, except that I haven’t even met some of my co-workers, and there are two of us in this location. We’re split over 3 time zones, and I’ve only talked to my boss in person about 4 times in the year and a half I’ve worked here.

      It’s taken time, but there are other people here, and I’m getting to know them. I was pretty lonely for the first several months, and even now I miss having my type of people (geeks) to talk with. I’d like to have a closer relationship with my team co-workers.

      Nonetheless, find activities that your local co-workers are engaging in: a daily walk, meeting for lunch, and force yourself to join them some of the time. It can be slow, and with you working from home soon, it will be even slower. Hopefully you’ll find a few that you do click with, and can get your needed interaction from that.

    3. Colette*

      I think it’s fine to IM a quick greeting – I.e. “Just wanted to say hi, hope you had a good weekend.” Just do it all in one message.

  37. LAI*

    Any advice from fellow night owls about surviving in the professional world? I’m just not a morning person. I usually don’t get sleepy before midnight or so and when I’ve tried going to bed earlier, I just toss and turn for a couple of hours and don’t fall asleep any earlier anyway. I’ve been working for about 10 years now and you might think it’d get easier but it actually seems to be getting harder. I am a coffee drinker but I limit myself to one cup per day, first thing in the morning, and I don’t consume any other caffeine. I’ve tried shortening my morning routine so that I can get out the door more quickly but to be honest, I’d really rather just not be getting out of bed before 9am.

    1. Molly*

      I don’t have any answers, but a ton of sympathy. I’m just like you. If I go to bed at 11:00, I consider it wildly early. Left to my own rhythms, I’d probably go to bed around 1:am and sleep til 9:am every day.

      Everyone tells me to just tire myself out during the day and I’ll be able to get to sleep earlier. But my job is all desk-sitting and brain-work. By the end of the day I’m too mentally exhausted to have any exercise-motivation, and I’m barely getting in 5000 steps a day.

      One thing does seem to help – starting the getting-ready-for-bed process early. If I stay downstairs doing things or watching TV until 10, I need an hour or more upstairs to wind down enough to sleep. On the other hand… if I head upstairs at 9 or 9:30 and begin my night-routine, I’m usually ready to turn out the light by 11:30 or so.

      It still only gets me around 6.5-7 hours of sleep at night, but that’s better than my traditional 5….

    2. Jennifer*

      I have never, ever found a solution to this problem. There just plain isn’t one. The closest I have gotten to a “solution” is this: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/05/how-to-become-an-early-riser/

      However, what it boils down to is that I am still unable to fall asleep early, but now I can’t sleep in either. I have the added bonus of waking up hours before the alarm goes off, terrified that I’ll sleep through the alarm (which I have never, ever done in my life). I woke up before 5 a.m. today after going to bed around midnight, too terrified of the alarm to go back to sleep. Which is ridiculous.

      You just have to live without 8 hours of sleep until you retire. That’s it. Nothing I have ever tried has worked.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh my god, are you me? This is exactly what happened when I tried to fix my sleep schedule– I can’t fall asleep earlier, but I now wake up frantically thinking I’ve overslept, than can’t get back to sleep.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I used to be that way, but I’m slowly adjusting (over many, many years). I did find that when I got back from two weeks in a later time zone, I was waking up early and getting really tired early for many weeks. You could try getting up an hour before your normal time, do a few jumping jacks, splash some water on your face, and power through the desire to nap in the early afternoon. It’s a bit late in the summer for this, but June or July would have been the perfect time to get up that early during daylight, which would definitely help. Anyway, maybe try that for a week, see if you’re not tired as heck an hour earlier.

      And I definitely second Molly’s advice, too.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, I’m the same way. Even if I exercise after work, I just get really sleepy way too early to go to bed and then get a second wind. One thing that helps a little is if I go to bed early and read for a while. That usually makes me nod off, and I’m already in bed and can just take off my glasses and turn off the light.

      1. BRR*

        Ugh that’s me too. Last week I fell asleep three times between 6:30 and 7:30 on the couch but then when it comes time for bed around 10:30 I feel ready to go.

        1. Farmer*

          I just go to bed really early in that case. Why not? I’m exhausted at 7 pm, I’m not at work, I can go to bed and stop feeling so bad.

    5. matcha123*

      Ugh. I am the same!
      Actually, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a night owl…it’s just that society loves the early birds.
      I…don’t really have any advice. I try to aim for 1:30am bedtime on weekdays. I’m almost always tired throughout the day until I finish work (haha).

      I don’t know about you, but in my case after work, I need a ton of time to myself. And I need a lot of time to focus on things that I want to finish before going to bed. If I need to clean up and suddenly get a call from a friend to meet up, I can’t go to sleep if I haven’t done my routine when I get home later.

    6. Nina*

      The dreaded toss-and-turn. I’ve been there many times. I could comfortably go to bed between 1-2AM, but there’s no way I would be decent in the morning, so you have my sympathies. As someone who still goes through this, the best advice I can offer is to truly prepare yourself for bed in order to fall asleep at a decent hour. Say you want to be asleep by 11, which means going to bed at around 10:30. So around 9:30-9:45, if you have a bunch of lights on, turn them off, just leave a bedside lamp on, if you have one. Shut off any electronic devices; your TV, computer, phone, radio, tablet, whatever. That kind of stimuli is telling your brain to stay awake, so you want to send signals to your brain that it’s time to rest. The earlier you prepare, the more time you give your body to truly settle. Turn away the clocks or anything with a glaring light, seeing it will keep you awake, and put pressure on you to sleep, which makes sleep even LESS likely. Have your room at a cooler temperature; too warm and you’ll get hot and stay awake. The body will warm itself once you drift off.

      I’m guilty of NOT doing these things, but when I do, they work. I’m particularly guilty of checking email, twitter, gossip blogs, and yes, AAM so by the time I try to go to sleep, my brain’s too hopped up on the internet and I lie awake. It’s my bad habit that I’m trying to wean myself off of.

      Good luck!

    7. Just Visiting*

      No advice, but I commiserate. At a previous job I was able to talk them into letting me come in at nine and stay until six (it was all non-time-sensitive data entry). Still too early to get up, but not as bad as some other schedules. I guess if you’ve been there for awhile it can’t hurt to ask for an hour adjustment. It’s virtually impossible to change your chronotype.

    8. Anx*

      How severe are your night owl tendencies? If it’s really impacting your life, you might want to look into Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. In my personal opinion, it’s not a disorder of the brain so much as increased difficulty conforming to socially established sleep patterns. Night owl tendencies are also common in ADHD, introversion, anxiety, hormone imbalances, and other things.

      I’m not a professional yet, but in the last decade I can count the times that I’ve fallen asleep before midnight (barring vacations and a natural disaster situation) on my hands and toes. It’s a horrible feeling and I can certainly commiserate. I thought I’d outgrow it by now. In fact, when I as a kid, I thought grown ups were people who felt tired at night and got up without a struggle. I thought THAT was made you grown up. In fact, I never feel like a real adult because I could sleep until noon, or beyond, most days.

      One thing that helped me back when I could afford to eat what I wanted to was to have a nice breakfast planned. Getting juice or even setting up the ingredients for a smoothie. I would make breakfast cookies for the weak, preportioned pancake mix. I’d make the easy stuff myself and have my partner make me delicious breakfast other times. This doesn’t help when I need to be up early, early though. It works best for avoiding truly sleeping in.

      Setting up a ‘winding down’ and ‘getting started’ routine for the days really helps. Despite all of the problems I have with sleep, I sabotage myself frequently by not going to bed when I’m tired. I’m so used to fighting through sleepiness that I can’t even succumb when I want to. Not without ‘written permission,’ in the form a check list. If I did what’s on the checklist, everything else can wait until morning.

      Try setting an alarm to brush your teeth by a certain point. This could be my ADHD type tendencies, but having some of my bedtime routine done helps me out a lot.

      1. Jennifer*

        I had a roommate with this. She was basically nocturnal. Worked well for working her retail job, but going to school was A Problem.

        1. Anx*

          I love waitressing because I work during regular human hours but I can also sleep until 930 or 10.

      2. Zed*

        I have DSPS. When I was diagnosed, I was basically sleeping 10am-6pm. For a while in college my sleep would cycle terribly; I remember some days I would go to bed in the early afternoon and wake up for breakfast at 2 in the morning.

        1. Anx*

          Ugh, that sounds awful. I have had some 10-6 days, but that’s a lot less common than 9-3 or 7-3 for me.

          When I’m in a good groove I can go to bed at 2, fall asleep at 3, and get up when I have to or at 11

          I can’t tell whether or not I have it, because I actually do respond light somewhat predictably, but not according to convention. For example, I have an easier time getting up in the summer, IF I can keep a semi-regular schedule.

          College was the worst because there were 8 am classes some days and afternoon classes on others, and I attributed my struggles to ‘college lifestyle.’ I didn’t realize I had a problem (whatever it might be) until I got older and still wasn’t growing out of it despite putting so much effort into regulating myself.

      3. Nina*

        My mind is honestly blown. There’s a name for this? My parents would tell me I just didn’t like bedtimes.

    9. msad*

      Honestly, I gave up – My work day starts at 5pm. It is an amazing boost to my quality of life not to fight my natural rhythm.
      I don’t think I could do a normal morning job anymore.

    10. Hillary*

      I schedule my day so I don’t have to deal with people until 9:00 ( which fortunately works in my role). I get in around 7:15, late for mt employer/team, and then I go through email and go through some daily financial processes. My boss and team know I don’t like mornings and prefer not to have meetings early if there’s an alternative.

      I don’t return calls before 9 and make a joke about not finishing my coffee yet if someone calls.

    11. Anon*

      I was a major night owl for most of my life. I’ve managed to get myself used to waking up early, and here is the key – going to bed absurdly early so I can get a full night’s sleep by 6am or so. I’m in bed before 9 most nights.

      The transition is kind of rough. Take some melatonin to get to sleep early. Do all your routines and such so that it seems like bedtime, even if it’s still daylight outside. At first, it will seem like it’s not working. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night or you will just wind up sleeping a ridiculously long time, until your natural wake-up time, and this phase may take months. However, if you are super consistent (don’t go back to old habits on weekends) eventually you will start waking up earlier naturally. I still take a small dose of melatonin every night (.5mg, which is smaller than you can buy in most stores – I get mine from Trader Joe’s) and it keeps me on track. Taking a hormone every night is not ideal, but my body is on some kind of natural 25 or 26 hour cycle. When left to my own devices, I progressively keep later and later hours, so it’s necessary to keep me on a 24 hour cycle.

      Also, most night owls understandably bristle at this, but it actually helps if I get up even earlier than necessary to exercise or do chores in the morning. Part of my night owl-ness was not just wanting to sleep in, but not really being emotionally or mentally awake for several hours after waking up, no matter the hour. I really don’t want to be looked at, spoken to, or required to concentrate on anything for a good 3 hours. This way I don’t have to deal with people or work until I’m prepared.

    12. LAMM*

      No advice… but I am in the same boat. I’m a retail manager but work with a bunch of morning people… so I only have to be at work before 1pm MAYBE 2x a week. And I really struggle on those days.

      What helps me is that I (1) have breakfast and lunch planned out so I can just grab and go and (2) I set 2 alarms on my phone. The first one tells me when I should be walking out of the house. The second one tells me that if I’m not walking out of my house RIGHT NOW I’m going to be late.

      It doesn’t help with the sleepy/groggy-ness but it makes the mornings a little easier. I also use Google Maps with the traffic option checked so I can see how long it’ll take (in theory) to drive to work.

  38. The Maple Teacup*

    A few days ago a friend received an interesting email. The email contained pay check stubs of EVERYONE in the organization. Everyone from directors, managers, front line staff, HR, to the mysterious guy who waters the plants. Every employee got the pay stubs of everyone else. So here are my questions:

    1) How bad of an error is this?

    2) What would the consequences be in your company?

      1. NinaK*

        Although it is an easy mistake to make (just hitting the wrong button) it’s bad.
        I work with highly confidential information and know that if I made a mistake and sent an email to the wrong person, it would be a career-ender for me. The firm would have to fire me to make a point that they won’t tolerate that kind of screw up.
        That said, the sender should realize that this is a really easy mistake to make AND at some point, will be a great ‘oops’ story down the road.

    1. Mike C.*

      This is amazing.

      Put all that stuff into Excel and see if men and women of similar job titles are being paid similar rates. See what job titles are paying at your company, and see if there are huge discrepancies. Remember that correlation does not imply causation, but it could be interesting none the less.

      Also, how are folks taking it? What’s the general reaction around the office?

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        I’m not sure how other people at the office are taking it. My friend was very, very surprised to say the least!

        The office has since sent an email explaining that there was new a computer program and things went terribly wrong. They’re doing a bunch of double speak and trying to distract people with sparkly crinkle balls. Their advice is for people to delete the email without looking at it and pretend this never happened.

        1. Gene*

          I work for a city, so everyone knows what everyone else gets paid, but the privacy problem would be if people started looking at deductions. At least that’s the given reason we waste over a thousand envelopes every two weeks.

          If I worked in the corporate world, that would instantly go onto a thumb drive then be deleted.

        2. Mike C.*

          Pretend it never happened? Ha! A smarter company would just own it, increase pay transparency and suffer through the transition.

          I can’t speak for AaM, but it would be interesting to me at least if you wrote in a few weeks/months down the road as to what folks found out about their pay, and what the results were. Did folks leave? Were wages balanced out? Were there any crazy discrepancies found?

          That would be fascinating reading.

    2. lifes a beach*

      Wow!!! Was it an email generated by a payroll company and somehow sent to all instead of just your payroll/HR dept?? Or by someone internal? Were there social Security numbers or any other personal information listed(besides salary)? If this was internal error in our company, more than likely the person would be disciplined and possible terminated. If it was a payroll company, hmmmm – I would be we would have a new payroll company in the near future. you can bet there be a lot of talking going on, and some disgruntled employees! Not sure how easy it would be to recover from this. You can ask people to disregard and not discuss, but seriously!

      1. BRR*

        If your ssn was on the check (which probably has a lot of other personal information) I would ask the company for credit monitoring.

    3. Brett*

      1) For our specific organization, illegal and possibly criminally bad, especially considering that anything sent in email is public record (the SSNs would have to be redacted, but the rest would have to be released if requested).
      2) The consequences would be very unclear. Firing is difficult here, but since the person could be facing charges for something like this, firing would be possible and maybe the least of their worries.

  39. Fleur*

    I need some advice! My current role has been really difficult recently due to reorganisations, and maybe even at risk of lay off, so I started looking. Then a senior colleague left and his role was advertised. I applied, was interviewed several months ago and then… Nothing.

    So I recently went for an external role. The same day I went for the 1st interview, I heard back on the promotion, that I could expect to be appointed but had to complete 3 more interviews with external stakeholders. These are a formality but required by HR.

    Yesterday I was offered the external job. I still have one interview for the promotion, on Monday. The hiring manager has more or less told me it is mine.

    So, external job wants answer by Monday. It’s definitely a lateral move, but very attractive financially. I have no idea what to expect for the promotion (no scales are published) and hiring manager says he cannot give any indication. This would be a promotion to management and is my preference.

    I told the hiring manager yesterday that I had another offer, hoping to finalise matters. He told me just to get the last interview done and keep the other offer waiting and wouldn’t be drawn any further.

    So I have an attractive offer, which is second preference, needing an answer by Monday. Promotion is first preference, but salary is totally unknown, and which I may be offered next week. Or not.

    I don’t know what to do and would love some advice.

    1. Molly*

      It’s a hard situation, but I would hold out for the manager position. If you get it – even if there’s not enough money, you’ll be in a better position to move on to a new management position at your next organization. Who knows how long it might be at the external place before you can get into a management role?

      It really depends on how much you trust your HR people, I guess. If they’re solid people you think you can count on, I’d risk staying. If they’re generally shady and overly officious, I’d leap to the new place.

    2. Onymouse*

      Have you told the external company that you’re in the middle of another interview process? Perhaps you can buy a few days that way.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Which company is more stable? The reorg may or may not weigh in for consideration.

      I think the way your current company is handling things might be something to look at. If you get into a management position and it takes them months to decide on every single thing that could drive a person nuts.

      I love the “keep the other offer waiting” comment. (NOT) hmmm.

  40. applicant*

    A job I was interested in was posted on June 30, so I ended up not applying because it seemed like too long ago. A few days ago, the same job was re-posted, this time by a recruiter. The original is still up. I’d now like to apply, since it seems like it’s still open. Should I apply to the original or to the newer recruiter ad?

    1. Bea W*

      You actually would not be able to apply through the recruiter, because you have already applied directly. This occurs a lot. A company will post openings on its site, but then also send those out to agencies they work with in their search who then post them as well, but it’s all the same job and you can only apply one way, either directly or through one recruiter. Once you’ve applied directly, a recruiter is no longer eligible to earn the finders feed on your application going through them for that same position. In some cases, the fact that you applied to any job at all, means the company will not pay a recruiter a fee, because they now have your information their database. It depends on the company.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        They didn’t apply directly though, because they thought it was too long ago

  41. Mike C.*

    You know how parents love to show pictures and videos of their kids’ milestone? My turn! I’ve been busy as all heck so this video is from a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on all last year.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzr313wSY_Y

    Yes it really is that quiet and the wings are supposed to bend like that. Isn’t she pretty? :D

    1. Elizabeth West*

      WOW. That is truly lovely. 0_0

      So…if it uses 20% less fuel, can the airlines then give us back nice squishy seats in coach, with more legroom? Because now they don’t have to cram everybody in like sardines to save gas money. :P

      Better yet, business class for everybody!! :)

      1. Mike C.*

        All of that is up to the customer, but at least the windows are much larger than average! Also, they pressurize the plane at a lower altitude and have a higher internal humidity. So even if you’re squished, you’ll be way more comfortable.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Work-related, my coworkers who travel fly commercial, so they’ll get to try these before I do, but we also have corporate shuttle jets. I told my boss we have to think up an excuse for me to come to her office so I can fly on a private jet, ha ha.

          1. Bea W*

            My employer just offered a corporate shuttle service, and it actually really ticked me off because it contradicts the line of “budget cuts! budget cuts! budget cuts! We’re slashing out budgets and your human resources and even your forks and knives!” A ride on the corporate jet costs more than the round trip commercial fare. I was not amused. Now that we’re down a body, I am doubly not amused.

    2. MousyNon*

      That’s really awesome, and what a cool job!

      I’ve been binge-watching Air Disasters since I discovered it online for streaming (disaster documentaries are my kryptonite) and weirdly, watching that show has actually reduced my irrational but intense fear of flying, just because I find it so reassuring just how thoroughly well-thought out and beautifully engineered commercial jetliners are (and how very many things in a row have to go wrong for a flight to end catastrophically). So thank you, from this scaredy-cat passenger, for being a part of keeping us safe in the skies!

      1. Mike C.*

        I really need to watch more episodes of that. I think the Tenerife episode should be required watching for any organization that deals with life/death situations. It really highlights the dangers of ego and cutting corners. Also as you point out, it took a ton of different things going wrong at the same time for it to happen.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, it’s the classic Swiss cheese model example, isn’t it? It’s also kind of an interesting litmus test to identify black and white thinkers who want to single-factor it. Which may be satisfying on a blame level, but it doesn’t do a lot for prevention, does it?

          1. Mike C.*

            No, it really doesn’t. I understand that emotional need to “find the person and punish them”, but outside of criminal negligence or outright sabotage, you save way more lives focusing on harm reduction.

      2. Anonyby*

        I love that show too! Where are you streaming it from? Currently I can only find it on YT.

        Honestly? I’ve watched it waiting at the terminal to board, and even while ON the plane itself!

        …I miss flying. When I was going to university, I would fly home and back for all of the mid-school-year breaks. That ended up being 6-8 flights a year. Now I haven’t flown for years…

    3. Gene*

      I saw the static test plane in the wing-break fixture with the wings hoisted as far as could be. Impressive! Especially after hearing the 777 wings break in the fixture from across the factory and seeing the aftermath.

      Here’s my video of the first 787 takeoff:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gevr84LdRKI

    4. fposte*

      Holy cow, Mike, that is seriously cool. It sounds like a glider! And I about had a heart attack at those climbs, especially the second one. (Probably well within tolerances for most aircraft, but fortunately for me the commercial airliners stick to much gentler angles. There’s a reason I don’t go to air shows.)

      I didn’t realize that’s what you were up to. I actually was going to post about going down an internet hole this week on ATC feeds and clips, because that’s the epitome of communication’s importance in management.

      1. Mike C.*

        Fun fact – that second maneuver was banned by the airshow officials shortly after we performed it. :D

        1. fposte*

          Heh. Not just me, then. Even if the plane is fine, you don’t want the attendees to stroke out just from watching it :-).

    5. KarmaKicks*

      She really is pretty :) I admit I don’t watch many airplanes take off, but I’ve never seen one do a touch and go so gracefully.

      1. Mike C.*

        Thanks! It really takes a huge team to pull something like that together, but when you finally get to to watch a great pilot show it off, that’s a great payoff.

    6. Anonyby*

      Oh that is gorgeous and I’m so jealous!! It’s really amazing what passenger jets (especially the newer ones) can do when pushed! (For example: the FedEx Flight 705, where the plane was put through maneuvers better suited for a fighter jet!) I would love to be able to ride along in the cockpit of a flight like that… or of any flight, really. Even a mundane one. lol

      1. fposte*

        Or China Airlines 006. Hey, credit to the pilots for pulling a loaded 747 out of a vertical spin. No credit to the pilots for letting a loaded 747 get *into* a vertical spin.

  42. NinaK*

    Would love your input.

    Question: After 12 years in a professional position in a financial services firm, how much vacation time should a person have? What is the industry standard?

    My situation: I have been working for a 20 personal financial services firm in Boston 12 years. I started part time, went full time, scaled back after my children were born and never went full time as the market crashed in 2008 and the opportunity for full time pay vaporized. Despite my less than full time status, I do the same work I always have and have never scaled back my responsibilities because hours/salary have been changed. I do the same job, I just have a quite a bit of flexiblity as to when I do it. I am paid for 4 days/week, go to the office 24 hours/week and handle the rest from my home office over the course of 5 or 6 or 7 days (this is very common at my firm, everyone has flexibility.)

    I was hired with 2 weeks of vacation and that has NEVER increased. The two weeks is on the honor system, it isn’t tracked by anyone. While I don’t feel guilty for taking my two weeks, I do feel guilty asking for more vacation time. My job is so flexible I can have personal time when I need it and I think asking for more legitimate vacation time may backfire. Would one of the partners say “yes, you can have 4 weeks, but you need to be in the office more”? I don’t know.

    We have nobody in HR, just one of three managing partners who is rarely in the office.

    I dream of a year in which I can — after many years of dedicated service to this company — take two weeks at Christmas and two weeks in the summer WITHOUT checking in on voicemail and email.

    Thoughts? Thank you!

    1. Anoners*

      I live in Canada, so there’s probably some differences from what the norm is there. At 12 years most would have at least 4 weeks vacation in a professional setting. At my current company, I would have over 5 weeks if I stayed for 10 years (I work in NFP). My bf gets over 5 weeks, and he has been at his workplace (retail) for about 7 years I think. Three weeks is a pretty common place to start, even at entry level (2 weeks is law, but a lot of places offer 3 to be competitive). I’m sure this varies, that’s my experience.

      1. AVP*

        I was in Canada last week and was pleasantly surprised when the coffee guy started chatting with a patron about the paid vacation he just took. I’ve been at my job for 6 years, and that coffee retail place definitely has a much better vacation package than I do here in New York. Jealous!

    2. Sabrina*

      I work for a “financial services” company (aka insurance) which is a lot bigger, but I get 3 weeks of vacation and that’s what you get to start. It goes up after 5 years I think. At my old company (different industry) I was there for 10 years and I had about 5 weeks of vacation.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Most of my jobs have started at 2 weeks, and go up to 3 weeks at around 5 years. If someone was part-time, they would probably go up to 3 weeks when they’d worked the equivalent of 5 full time years, and you’ve certainly done that. I think it’s worth asking for an increase, especially if your company does increase the vacation for full time employees.

  43. Scared*

    I am turning in my notice today for a job that I have really liked. I am terrified. I’m already crying and am not sure if I’m making the right decision! I have heard that my new job is a high stress environment, but the offer was generous and I can’t turn down the benefits (which I’m not currently getting).

    I wish I could control my emotions!

    1. NinaK*

      You are crying because you love this job and you are sad to have to resign. I don’t think you need to control that emotion, just explain to your boss. Say “I am sorry I am crying but this has been a very difficult decision for me as I love this job.” While crying in the workplace is often frowned upon, I see the opposite side – it means you really care.

      Who knows, is it possible your boss will up your salary or benefits to keep you?

      Good luck and bring tissues. In my opinion, it’s okay to cry.

      1. scared*

        Thank you! There’s no meeting the benefits so it’s something I have to do. The crying went over okay – they totally understand and are sweet but sad about my decision.

  44. dangit*

    I need advice on dealing with a coworker.

    We are a team of four that does extensive travel together. Each of us has our own specialty, but because there are only four of us we have to rely on each other a lot to get things done. In the past even if we haven’t all liked each other as people we were able to work well together. Recently two team members were replaced. This has put a lot of stress on the other remaining member and myself because we have to train them not only in general info but also in their specialties of which we have limited knowledge. We have both been taking a lot of time out of our own work to get these two prepped for our first trip which starts very soon.

    One of the newbies is coming along swimingly, but the other just isn’t. Honestly, he’s just odd. He is obviously very smart, but he has no people skills. We can deal with weird, but he’s problematic workwise as well. He pops up with a ton of off-topic questions in meetings, reads ahead and misses what we’re talking about at the current moment, and has gotten stuck on one idea of how to solve a problem and won’t let it drop after being told that solution is not in the budget. He doesn’t help with the more physical aspects of the job (he just disappears or gets stuck doing one small thing), can’t see the forest for the trees, and wants to streamline systems that he doesn’t know enough about yet to realize that he’s wrong.

    All these things are annoying and showing us that he’s not the right fit. We all know that we’re going to be covering a lot of his stuff for this trip which is rough but doable. But then yesterday the tide turned for me. After another really bad meeting our other team member who is acting as supervisor at the moment talked to him again about questions he’s asking that have been answered and explained several times over. He stuttered around a bit but then said he knew what the problem was. She asked for explanation and he finally said ‘It’s just that I’m so much smarter than all of you and everything that you talk about it boring to me.’ He also implied that all our processes and systems are stupid.

    This offended me…a lot. I’ve been working crazy hours to make up for the time that I’ve spent trying to help him. Our jobs are not typical office jobs, and whether he believes it or not those of us who have been here before him have information to share that he would have no way of knowing. I just don’t have any desire to help him or share information any more. Neither of us are his supervisors so we don’t have any power to do anything other than try to make it work. Every single person above us in the organization has been out of vacation since the week after he was hired, so they haven’t seen any of this and won’t be able to help us before this trip. How do we pull together with a teammate who sucks at being a team and that we know thinks lowly of us and our ideas?

    1. Rin*

      Could it be as easy as saying, “Suck it up; this is your job, so do it professionally”? There are some times when I think I’m way smarter than my role, but it’s my job, and when I commit, I’m great at it.

    2. OriginalYup*

      Yowza. I would have fired right back, “If we’re so dumb, how come you’re the one making the mistakes?”

      Honestly, that’s a tough one. I’d have to treat it as character test: I need to be civil and treat this guy like any other colleague (in the shared work/get stuff done professional sense) in order to live up to my own standards of behavior. So whatever level of information sharing or training needs to happen according to reasonable standards is what I’m going to do. But yeah, I’m not bending over backwards to help this guy on an individual basis like I would with a new person who is really trying to be part of the team.

      One thing, though — people who are really abrasive like this often don’t care if you’re really direct too. If that’s the case here, then you can feel free to just tell him task-related stuff bluntly and not worry about tip toeing around it: “Steve, you need to come back here and help with Physical Task Thing. We all have to do it.”

      1. dangit*

        Ha. I only heard this conversation and wasn’t a part of it but I really really wanted to say that. You’re right. Of course I’m going to do what has to be done and make things as smooth as possible for all of us. He sucks, but I don’t have to.

        My coworker is very direct with him in that manner. It’s something that I’m working on in life, so I’ll try to look at him like good practice.

        It’s seriously like working with Sheldon Cooper without the funny story lines.

      2. Mephyle*

        Yowza. I would have fired right back, “If we’re so dumb, how come you’re the one making the mistakes?”
        Nice. Or to put it in terms he might be able to process, to explain to him that in this job, knowledge and intelligence are valuable, but they aren’t the only skills needed. People skills (‘social IQ’) are also necessary, and he has been demonstrating low scores, for example X, Y and Z incidents.

    3. Artemesia*

      Whoever is his supervisor should have him on a PIP now and gone by next month. I would as a group make it clear to whomever is in charge what is happening, what steps have been taken to bring him up to speed and quote his response. This guy needs gone. Slow is fixable sometimes; not willing to listen because he is smarter than you is not.

    4. Jules*

      Oh are we sharing co-workers? Mine has evil twin, good twin act to the boot? Never quite sure which twin I am getting any given day.

      The advice I’ve been given is split out jobs, have it documented with deadlines and send them out to everyone, cc the boss. They are less likely to duck jobs when it’s split equally in the team and when any deliverables fail, you have a document to back up that it was told and there were deadlines.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “‘It’s just that I’m so much smarter than all of you and everything that you talk about it boring to me.’ He also implied that all our processes and systems are stupid.”

      If he is bored that is really not relevant. He is being paid to do a job. It is up to him to find coping tools for the boredom. If he is so smart then he will be able to do this easily.

      As a smart person, he should be able to recognize that people skills are an absolute necessity. It’s not optional, it’s part of what he is being paid for.

      If your systems and processes are so blatantly stupid he should have twigged that on the interview and withdrew his application.

      Sigh. Congrats on not choking this guy.

      For me, gloves would be off, no more hand-holding, etc. “Bob, today we are working on ABC, we need you to do steps 1-7. We need that done because tomorrow we are doing DEF.”

      I find that most jobs boil down to how well I handle the details. I lay out a lot of work, get it in process and for some reason and totally unrelated, my phone is no longer operational. I spend half the day trying to trouble shoot the problems with my phone. Forget about my project that I was working on. Just an example, but I think a lot of people find that this is the true world work.

      It takes intelligence to bend/flex with the needs of the moment.

      Your other choice is to carve him out of the planning entirely, which might help to insure that everything gets done properly.

      Either way, there has to be someone that you can email these remarks to right now.

    6. RecruiterM*

      (Disclaimer – I am not a specialist in Spectrum disorders, just somebody who is interested and happened to learn some things about it.)
      Sounds a bit like Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s) to me. Reference to Sheldon Cooper fits.
      If this is the case, you need to treat this person very head-on. The answer to his “explanation” should be – “This is a hurtful thing to say, please never say things like that, especially in a work environment. It upsets people you have to have good relationship with in order to have a successful career” – very matter-of-factly, preferably without too much emotions.
      If you need him to do something, just ask directly, and mention this is non-negotiable. Do not rely on non-verbal clues.
      You may want to read Penelope Trunk on Asperger’s: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/11/24/aspergers-syndrome-at-the-office-6-ways-to-be-less-annoying/ – and there are more posts on this topic.

    7. CLM*

      This probably won’t work for the trip, when you all sink or swim, but in the office, I would put time limits on how much I help him.

      Him: How do I do the thing?
      You: I’m working on X right now, but when I’m done with that, I’ll show you how to do the thing.
      Him: But but but now! But but but Reasons!
      You: *broken record* I’m working on X right now, but when I’m done with that, I’ll show you how to do the thing.

      You: *help him do the thing for 10 minutes* Okay, I shown you how to do the thing, but now I need to go work on Y now. *exit, pursued by a bear*

      Helping him does not need to come before your own work. You can be a team player and still insist on getting the stuff done first that you are actually being paid to do.

  45. Interviewing Tips for a Lengthy Process?*

    I’ve recently been invited for a fourth round of interviewing with a company I really like. At this point I’ve met with HR twice as well as what would be my boss and Director once. This next meeting is with the Vice President of the department. I’m curious what I can expect in (what I hope is) the final round of interviews. Have any of you had questions you can share that threw you or your potential candidates for a loop in the final stages of interviewing? Any talking points I should be sure to throw in. Or should I just expect to go over my background again? Are there any good questions I should ask? I have a pretty good feel for the job and we’ve already discussed expectations, first projects and benefits (not salary).

    1. Treena Kravm*

      I would go over your notes/memory with a fine tooth comb and look for any gaps in stuff they haven’t heard before, or stuff you’d like to clarify/expand etc. Then just have those in the front of your mind to draw on when asked related questions.

    2. RecruiterM*

      When I was interviewing with a VP of Engineering, he has asked me to tell him a story from my career when I had problem and how I went about resolving it. So I did. He said it was a good story and that was it.
      I now work with another VP who is pre-screening all our candidates, and he uses the same technique – he asks about a project that you are proud of, and about a problem you had to overcome (not necessarily for the same project), and both had to be fairly recent (within 3 years). The answer should be no longer than 3 sentences for each.
      So you may want to think ahead about those, and practice answering with the short version. You can then ask your interviewer if he/she wants details, and proceed with the fuller version, but rehearse it as well so you do not end up rambling.
      But I am not sure this advice applies to all industries/positions.

  46. Treena Kravm*

    I’m planning on attending a conference in November that is relevant to both my current position and my future endeavors (my position is in a niche and my future endeavor is a niche within that niche all within a larger industry). I’m really there to try to network for the future, not for anything directly related to my current role, but they’re very related.

    I already have work business cards, and they have my personal cell and work email on them. The plan is to quit in 1 year (9 months after the conference) and move abroad. So even if they have my personal cell, it’ll be shut off 9 months later. And I won’t be able to access my email after I quit, obviously.

    I look really young, and I want people to know that I’m employed in a relatively good position in the field. That would obviously come up in conversation, but I don’t want them to see my card later on without my title and not easily recall who I am.

    So what’s better?
    A/ Using work cards
    B/ Personal cards with my current title/field
    C/ Personal cards with just niche field

    I realize it’s not the end of the world if I use work cards, I’ll just have to make sure I follow up and get their contact info so we won’t get cut off later on. Oh and in case it’s part of anyone’s thinking, I’m paying for everything myself. The only favor my boss would be doing for me is giving me the time off (but I’m non-exempt so not paid time off). Does your answer change if she fronts the conference fee? She’s done that before (I tell her about a professional development thing that I’m doing and she’s like OH how can I support you in doing this?)

    1. Elizabeth*

      I’d say use your work cards. They look more official, and maybe it’s just my industry, but 9 months after I swap business cards with someone at a conference, I’m probably not going to remember who they are–most of your most valuable connections are likely going to be made in the immediate aftermath of the conference, when you still have access to your phone and work e-mail. I’d also connect with anyone you’d like to stay in touch with on LinkedIn so you have that means of staying in touch should other methods fail.

  47. Sunflower*

    Has anyone gone back to school later in life? I always imagined I’d want to leave the corporate world at some point and do something a little more self-fulfilling like getting my masters in social work or counseling and becoming a therapist of some sorts. I thought right out of college I would want to do it but I kind of enjoy being in the corporate world considering I’m young and single and have no qualms about traveling a lot or working a lot. So I thought maybe after I settle down or decide to have kids I would revisit the idea. Just wondering if anyone ever made the step or if it’s easy/hard? One thing I struggle with is that I graduated 3 years ago and already the idea of going back to classes/papers is dreadful so god knows how I’ll feel then.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Well, there is a difference between getting a degree and going back to school. A while back I thought of actually “going back to school,” moving near campus and starting a new career path. I contacted the university and they didn’t even want to talk to me… I guess they just want incoming freshmen.
      Years passed, I have a different career, and now I am doing an online program that I am really enjoying. There are so many programs out there for working adults that I’m sure you could find one you find engaging and would work around your life.
      I was worried about writing essays, but I fell right back in the routine. And since I find my classes engaging, writing about the topics is enjoyable and fairly easy.

    2. HigherEd Admin*

      I went back to school after six years, and found that most of my classmates were in the same boat as me. I found it a relatively easy transition for me, especially since my program made it easy to take classes in the evening and complete the coursework on the weekends or after my 9-5 job. It was a little tough to get back into the mindset of writing papers and reading text books, but after a few weeks, it all came back to me (like riding a bicycle!).

      In my previous work life, I worked with psychology graduate students. Many of them were career changers, seeking counseling/psychology as a second career when they were in their late 30s/early 40s. You may find this website helpful: http://www.apa.org/apags/resources/index.aspx

    3. Elizabeth West*

      If you do go back later, don’t test out of general ed classes, at least not all of them. If you transfer credits and don’t have to take them, at least see if you can take an easy class to star. It will ease you back into the routine of homework, studying, etc.

      That’s what I did when I went back–took the Composition 101 class first. I could have tested out of it and it was so easy. But it helped me a lot because it had been years since I had been in school.

    4. Mimmy*

      Lots of people go back to school “later in life”. I started taking graduate-level social work classes 7 years after graduating undergrad and officially matriculated the following year as a part-time student (I had a full-time job at the time). Counseling/social work degrees are very common “second career’ options, IME. I’ll admit at first, I was like, “What the heck am I doing???” but I eventually began to really enjoy school; I think, overall, it’s more enjoyable when it’s in an area that really interests you (as opposed to general classes like in undergrad). Plus, my job just wasn’t fulfilling, so I wanted to explore a career more in line with what I was interested in and thought I could do well in.

    5. Junegemini*

      I obtained my first degree when I was 30, then obtained a Master’s degree a year later. Six years ago I decided to pursue a career change, from corporate to academia, and started working on my PhD while working full time. It is a struggle at times and there have been times I wanted to quit. Graduate school classes weren’t hard for me but there was a lot of reading and paper writing. I’ve since quit my “cushy” corporate job and I’m working at my university while I finish my dissertation. I miss the benefits and pay from corporate but I’m happy moving into my new career. I’m older than most grad students but my experience with time management, working through stressful situations, and general life maturity helped me tremendously with making the change.

    6. A Minion*

      I’ll be 40 in January and I just earned my bachelor of science in accounting. Literally – turned my capstone in this week to finish up my program. I’ll have that little piece of paper in hand very soon. :) Plus, I have several co-workers who have earned degrees later – two of them in late 40’s early 50’s and one in mid to late 30’s. So, it’s definitely doable but there’s a lot to consider.
      For me, it has been a very long and difficult process because I had my girls at home, plus worked full time, plus had other things I was involved in – several times I nearly quit because it was just too much, but I stuck it out and I’m glad I did now. So, it’s just dependent on what you’re looking for, really. I would just advise that when you have children, it becomes much more difficult if you’re juggling your family, school, work and social obligations. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe it was easy for others and I’m just a dullard. ;)

    7. Anx*

      I am torn because I have a B.S.

      I have no professional work experience so I feel like going back to school will land me in the same boat. But I also need to change fields a bit.

      I’m in sciences and allied health. Going back to school is difficult because there’s usually a 5 , 7, or 10 year window where you can transfer program prerequisites. They expire.

      It’s also difficult to go back because you have to keep retaking courses with labs, which means a lot of time spent on campus. And few night classes.

    8. A Teacher*

      I went through undergrad and got a masters right after because that’s what you do in my first field of study. I worked for a few years and went back for a second masters to transition to a different field. I worked full time for the second round of grad school and my program was a co-hort, 1 class at a time, 1 night a week for 3-5 hours depending on the course. It took me 21 months and I worked full time and student taught. It is doable, just make sure you’re going back because it will help you and/or you need to. Grad school (or undergrad) is great, but go for the right reasons.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I quit school at 21- long story. I was done, burned out. I wanted real world experience. I was sick of the stuff I was learning that appeared to have no application to the working world.

      I went back to finish my Associates when I was 26. I was worried about writing papers and taking tests. At that point, we were married and had an apartment. This part is important because apartments have a lot less upkeep than a house and yard. I LOOOVED it. I aced almost everything- this is so not me. But I had the best experience.

      I finished my bachelor’s in my early 40s and yet again a different story. There were days I drove 100 plus miles to attend my classes and do the various group activities. We had bought a house so I had more at home commitments. The only good part was that I was not working, so I had enough time to do all that driving. I took summer courses so I could finish a bit faster. The papers and tests did not bother me. It was interesting to sit through courses with a bit of work experience under my belt. Being used to the work world I had a hard time with how sllooooowly everything moves in the academic environment. Over all some of it was good and some of it was not so good. But my determination is what got me through.

      Too late for me, but in trying to learn about finances for home owners, I learned there is an order that is recommended. And the order is to get your degree done before you buy a home.
      It’s not just the money involved, it is also the time involved. Homes require huge amounts of time in comparison to apartments. If you are outside doing yard work, you are not studying for that big test. Not saying it can’t be done, but it is a bigger push and it is a bit more frustrating.

      Just food for thought. If you decide to go back later on, you will also have the determination to do it. Probably like me, you need to give it a rest for a bit. Later,you can figure out if it is even practical to go back. I learned that getting a master’s here would keep me unemployed. So I have no goals in that direction.

    10. Windchime*

      I went back to school in my mid- to late-thirties. I didn’t have a degree at all (and still don’t). My local community college was starting up a certification program for computer networking and software development, so I took that. I got a job offer before I took my final class, so I don’t even have the certification. But the classes got my foot in the door for an entry-level programming job, and it’s grown into a position on a BI team as a data architect. So it was a good path for me.

      I still wish I had a degree sometimes, but I’m not sure it’s worth the money and time I would spend at this point to try to get one.

  48. Ista*

    Any suggestions on how to handle a situation where new colleagues (and department heads) focus so hard on what they’re trying to do that they aren’t listening to the reasons why those things can’t be done now? I’m trying to explain why the part of the project that they are currently obsessed with is usually done later in the project and the only response I get to these explanations is that ‘but we need to do this now’ or ‘you’re just being negative and you need to be open to change.’ I’m want to help them achieve their goals, but it’s the rough equivalent of picking paint colors when you haven’t built the walls yet—and I really need to focus on where the pipes go right now so they can (eventually) paint the walls. I understand where they’re coming from, their roles are relatively new and what they’re doing has previously been handled by my group, but I’m feeling pulled apart between what I know needs to be done now versus what my DH wants to do now.

    1. fposte*

      Your phraseology suggests this is a matter of convention rather than necessity–is it possible that it’s not a necessity to do things in that order? What specifically is the problem caused by the way they’re wanting to do it? If it’s that it will delay the project because Step D goes really fast if you’ve done Step A but really slow if you haven’t, try quantifying the delay that will be caused. If it’s that x hours of work will have to be repeated, quantify the X. It may be that they’re okay with the delay and the redundancy and they want to see the paint now anyway, in which case I think you need to roll with it and ask for a post-mortem discussion once it’s all over.

      (I thought for a minute you worked with your husband there :-).)

      1. Ista*

        Technically, yes, what they want to do can be done now. It will need to be revised heavily next month, but it can be done now. My problem is that it relies on work I need to do either way, and if I prioritize that work over the work I need to be doing now (pipe placement), either I get to pull (more) late nights or I’ll be taken to task for either a) not being helpful to their task or b) being behind schedule on my task.

        Ultimately, the answer probably is ‘roll with it’ and delegate more but (without going into all the dirty details), it’s tough to watch years of solid plans be upended without consideration.

        Thanks!

    2. Artemesia*

      Can you meet as a team and pert out the whole process with every step. Perhaps they can be juggled in a different way; perhaps they can’t, but the only way to get people off of tomorrow’s step is so look at the whole process.

  49. Elizabeth*

    Well, I started and am ending my week on nervewracking notes.

    I put in my two weeks’ notice on Monday (hooray!) and am doing a radio interview (eek!) to promote one of our upcoming events just before I leave today. I’m officially ready for the latter to be over and the weekend to start.

  50. Chelsea*

    I work in the hospitality industry, and our event planner was fired this week. I’ve been hearing rumors that they are planning on offering me the position, and although it’s a clear promotion, I am not sure that I want to take it. A) it would involve a lot more office time, and I prefer being hands on with the customers on the floor, and B) my eventual goal is dining room and eventually restaurant manager, and I worry this would send me down a different career path of event planning. C) I also wouldn’t receive any formal training, it would be sink or swim. However, I am bored in my current role and there aren’t many opportunities for advancement; I was actually in the process of job searching due in large part to the dysfunction of the person who was fired. I’m still on the fence about what I will do if offered the position, but if I do decline, how do I do it gracefully? I’m worried it will look like I lack ambition, and I will be passed up for any future opportunities. I’ve also been very clear with my manager about wanting to grow and advance, and I’m worried he won’t think I was serious. Any advice would be welcome!

    1. HigherEd Admin*

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “While I appreciate that you thought of me for this role, I do not think that I’m the best candidate for the position and would not do well in an event planning role. I hope you’ll keep me in mind for future opportunities for advancement, particularly as it relates to the dining room management, as that’s an area I’m particularly interested in moving into.”

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I wouldn’t suggest “I would not do well in this role.” I would say “I don’t think this move is right for my career path.” This also opens the door to say where you’d like to go and maybe plant a seed about moving you in that direction.

    2. MT*

      I say think long and hard before you turn it down. You may take this job and love it, or you may the job and hate it. Any chance at something bigger and better is almost always worth the risk. What is the worse thing that could happen, if you take it and decide that you hate it after 6 months?

      1. Event Planner*

        What is the worse thing that could happen, if you take it and decide that you hate it after 6 months?

        Getting fired for not being good at a job you hate, I would think? Secondarily, hating work for six months can severely impact one’s quality of life. Chelsea, event planning is a specific skill set and not everyone is cut out for it or will enjoy it. MT is right — think long and hard, but I disagree with it almost always being worth the risk.

        1. AVP*

          There’s also so much pressure in event planning. Depending on what kind of events you end up running, it may only be a day of work for you, but it’s someone else’s party/luncheon/conference that they’ve been looking forward to, and there are a lot of details that have to be perfect (and you’ll hear about it if they aren’t).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Try researching event planning a little bit so you can have a good grasp of what they are asking for. This will also help you compose your response where you decline.

      “I am not sure that I am a good fit for this job. I lack a, b and c. I think that we need someone who can do d, e and f, also. I can do these things but they are not my strengths.”

      If you deliver this well, you are giving them some guidelines of what they should be looking for in an event planner.

  51. Steve*

    I’m updating my resume today, trying to implement as much of what I’ve learned here as possible. I’m taking out daily responsibilities and replacing them with accomplishments. But is it odd to have a job that lasted for about 18 months for which I have no accomplishments? This is a job sandwiched between 2 other jobs (all at the same company) that I DO have some nice things to add. This was kind of a transitional job during a period of insane layoffs, and I really didn’t accomplish anything, or grow, or do anything worth mentioning during this time (hated the job, hated the boss, hated everything about that 18 months!) But it would look like I wasn’t working if I left it out altogether, right?

    1. 5-min Presenter*

      What were your responsibilities and is there not a way to measure your progress of those? I typically start with a daily responsibility and then turn it into an accomplishment. Say if my responsibility is to manage the grant program, I would say “Managed grant program, including XYZ, resulting in 25% increase in grant funding 2014-15.”

      1. Steve*

        Is “succeeded in not murdering boss or his suck up mini me” an accomplishment?

        But, thanks, I get where you’re pointing me on this. :-)

    2. Sunflower*

      Try to think of the things you did better than the person before you might have done. Or things you did that made your job easier. Sometimes it’s as simple as implementing a new document or making a very small change in the way you do things. Did that small change improve any other areas of the company? Are there any small things you did that made a relatively large impact? Any projects that you may have not been in charge of but contributed to? I changed the way a document was written- it was becoming a waste of my time using it and since changing it, I’ve been able to increase my efficiency and others have taken on the document as well so we’ve increased the efficiency of the workers overall.

  52. Amanda*

    Last summer, I worked full time at a temp job in NYC. After the summer was over, I was kept on part time. At the end of the year, I was diagnosed with cancer and given that I had little family support in NYC, I moved back in with my parents in FL. I visited my old workplace when I was up in NYC in Feb and they seemed very willing to have me back once I completed treatment and moved back to NYC. They also said that I should contact them when I felt good enough to volunteer at their events down in FL and they’d get me in touch with the FL staff.

    Treatment was grueling, my mom ended up being diagnosed with cancer too and I married my previously long-distance BF who had moved to FL to be with me. With all that on my plate, I didn’t email my former job until a month ago. That email was never answered. I also put in a general “volunteer inquiry” explaining the situation and expressing desire to help at major events in the next few months but haven’t heard back from that either.

    How should I proceed? I don’t know if I simply slipped through the cracks in the hubbub of busy season or if they are blowing me off. Thoughts?

    1. Sunflower*

      So are you looking to help out in NYC or FL? Did you contact the NYC or Fl person? If you contacted FL, get in touch with the NYC person. If you contacted NYC and they didn’t get back to you, are you still in touch with anyone else who works there? Maybe just ask what the company has been up to and catch up a bit. Even if you aren’t talking to the person in charge of hiring, you can gain a lot from talking to someone who works there and see where the company stands. They could at least probably give you an idea of whether you’d be welcome or if it will no longer work out.

      PS- congrats on making it through all that hard stuff. Glad to see you are well enough to get back into things!

      1. Amanda*

        I am looking to volunteer in FL during the next few months as I finish up treatment. There are some big events coming up so it’s really prime time to pick things up again. I am planning of moving back to NYC when I’m all done with treatment and resuming my life. I would like to continue the part-time (actually more like sporadic) employment with them until I find a full-time job.

        I contacted the NYC person via email and then after receiving no response, sent a general inquiry on the organization’s website. I started receiving the volunteer newletter but no one has made personal contact.

    2. This is me*

      Do you have the direct email of a contact at the NYC office? Since you previously worked with them and they seemed open to rehiring you I think it’s appropriate to send another email. I’d mention that you’re treatment is going well and you’d love to be put in touch with their FL contacts. If they don’t respond within a week or so I think it would be reasonable to call. If they’re blowing you off you’ll probably figure that out with a phone call.

      Bets of luck and I hope you and your mom’s treatment goes well!

      1. Amanda*

        I’ll email my direct supervisor on Monday, expressing my sincere enthusiasm for volunteering and/or working with them again. Should I apologize for not being in contact for four months? I never blew off attempts to contact me, I just didn’t initiate contact myself. I don’t want them to think I’m flakey!

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d call someone, preferably the person who told you they were open to working with you later and have a conversation; it may be less a personal rejection than indifference or not prioritizing your query. If you call and get no follow up then you know.

  53. 5-min Presenter*

    Hello everyone! I wrote in last week about a 5-min presentation in a second interview, which you can read here: https://www.askamanager.org/2014/07/offensive-comments-that-you-hear-secondhand-when-performance-evaluations-ban-comments-and-more.html

    I just wanted to give a quick update. I took everyone’s advice to heart. Everyone had a lot of compelling points about speaking on something that interests you rather than something work-related. I ended up going with something that interests me in relation to my field; however, while doing so I took a lot of the concerns of doing something work-related to heart.

    I presented on 3 Ways the 21st Century is Changing the Face of Fundraising. Someone made a compelling point that if I presented on something work-related, it might open me up to nitpicking were someone to disagree. So I shied away from opinion. I discussed trends in fundraising and new tools available that were creating new opportunities, which I backed up with hard data.

    To clarify, this is for a Director of Development position. I knew walking in that the people present would be the Executive Director, members of the board, and programs/admin employees (12-14 folks all in all) so I knew that really only the ED had extensive knowledge of the ins and outs of non-profit development/fundraising. In our first interview she and I had a great rapport and a similar outlook so I wasn’t too worried about being nitpicked.

    I kept trying to think of other ideas and after about 10 topics, this was the one I kept coming back to again and again. This was the presentation I felt most comfortable with and it went well. I had people nodding along with what I was saying, making positive audible comments, etc. so I’m glad I picked something that I felt comfortable presenting over forcing myself to discuss something that interests me (say, my love affair of coffee). Because members of the board were there, it also allowed them to see my thought process “in action” so to speak rather than just looking at a flat resume. I also felt that since this is a Director of Development position, our compatibility on the philosophies of fundraising was important so better to find that out during the interview process than after starting the job.

    At any rate, I got a job offer the next day (!!) and I’m thrilled to be working for an organization whose mission I admire. Everything throughout this hiring process felt “right” and I always felt like we were a good mutual fit. Thank you very much for giving me advice. I wanted to follow up to let everyone know what I ended up doing so that if anyone else is in the same boat, they can read what I ended up doing and my thought process behind it.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Congrats! I also just accepted a position in development late last week (significantly lower than director-level, though!) and am absolutely thrilled. Best of luck in your new position!

      1. 5-min Presenter*

        Thank you very much! It’s a smaller organization so while it is certainly a step-up in my career (from an associate level position), it’s not as large as say being a director at a museum or university. I am excited for this next step in my career though and looking forward to starting the job.

        Congrats on your offer as well! I wish you much success!

    2. Amanda*

      Congratulations! That’s such a good interview test for a development person. Glad it worked out for you.

    3. Artemesia*

      Super!! I am firmly in the keep it job related camps here and think this is a great example. Who wants to hire someone, no matter how charming, who talks about flower arranging when they are hiring a fund raiser. This big picture topic communicates that not only are you knowledgeable about the field in specific but you have a professional i.e. big picture perspective that one expects in a top level person. Way to go!!

  54. KM*

    Hi everyone, I’ve been having a tough week at work. I’m on contract and a permanent position opened up that was pretty much exactly what I’m already doing. My manager was pulling for me to get the job, but they (director, hr, etc.) chose someone else. It was incredibly disheartening, my morale has been killed, I feel so resentful towards the higher-ups. My manager has expressed her regret in not choosing me and my coworkers also disagree with the decision. I have gotten nothing but praise for my work, so I don’t even know what their reasons were. Ugh. How do I deal..

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Contracting is the worst! Just remember that there are a lot of reasons a very good contractor might not get a job, and almost all of them have nothing to do with you. Deep breaths, keep doing good work, and another opportunity will come along.

    2. cuppa*

      I don’t have any advice, just sympathy. I got turned down for a promotion about six months ago, and even though I wasn’t surprised by their choice, it was still really disheartening. Just realize that, sometimes it really has nothing to do with you and your ability to do the job, and try to move on, as tough as it can be. Good luck!

    3. Artemesia*

      Remember all of the office nightmares we read about here were hired by someone in preference to other qualified applicants — and yet these doofuses got the job. The best thing to do is to convince yourself that is one of these cases of management fail or cosmic unfairness and give yourself all the pep talks you can as you search further. Because someone else was chosen doesn’t make them better and this is just a darn hard process. You will be someone’s top pick if you keep at it and keep your attitude positive. (easier said than done as most things in life are)

  55. Bend & Snap*

    I have a new boss as of today. He seems great.

    My challenge is that my former boss was super flexible–didn’t care how or where my work got done as long as it did. I have a complicated home life and need this concession to excel at my job.

    I’m a high performer and just got promoted so that shouldn’t be a worry, but how do I broach the flexibility issue with my new boss?

    1. Gene*

      Simple and straight to the point. Don’t poo poo around and couch it in lots of “I like”, “I prefer”, “would”. Say straight out that you understand your previous flexibility was unusual (if it truly is in your industry/area/company), but that’s the only way you can remain as productive as you have been. And have data to back up how productive you’ve been.

    2. La munieca*

      I made a similar transition: from a flexible boss who gave me high-level parameters and let me run with it to a boss who loves to get into the nitty gritty and has received feedback that she easily tips into micromanagement at times. The first project I executed under my new manager was incredibly uncomfortable, but we’re finding our rhythm and have taken a few steps to move that process along:
      -we blocked out a one hour conversation about our working styles and our Myerts-Briggs profiles (or whatever personality metric you want to use)
      -another call just to establish clarity on project plan format and how we wanted to use different mediums for communication (check-ins, emails, etc.)
      -I’m under promising and over-delivering more than I usually do to establish her trust
      -I’m over-communicating compared to what I usually do as well. When she has no information, she swoops in. So whenever I’m on the fence about “should I loop her into this?” I’m cc’ing or sending quick update emails

      Not sure if these will apply to your situation, but I hope there’s something helpful in there!

  56. Sam*

    I feel really burned out. There’s a really great opportunity opening up in another department at my current workplace. It’s higher level (better pay, better title), but it moves me into a different industry. I’m fairly confident that I can get the job, but I’m concerned about making such a significant change. My current department has very low morale, so even the next step on the ladder seems to make everyone miserable. This new job itself looks very interesting and I’ve heard there will probably be opportunities for growth, but I don’t know. Am I burned out because I’m sick of my current job or do I dislike my current job because I’m burned out?

    1. Manders*

      Sometimes a significant change can fix burnout. Are you feeling burned out because you’re bored with your work and ready for something new, or are you struggling to keep up? Do you think it’s a cultural problem with the company or the industry as a whole, or just your department?

      It certainly wouldn’t hurt to at least apply, and since you’re an internal candidate you’re in a good position to talk to people in the new department before you make a decision about whether you want to move.

    2. OriginalYup*

      “Am I burned out because I’m sick of my current job or do I dislike my current job because I’m burned out?”

      Both? They might be reinforcing each other.

      My trick for assessing burnout versus job hate is to imagine a long vacation, and then imagine quitting. I imagine taking a two week vacation that’s wonderful and relaxing and I’m not dealing with work at all and I feel totally refreshed. Then I picture coming back to work: if it’s burnout, just the thought of the vacation is soothing and the idea of coming back to work after isn’t terrible. If it’s job hate, the thought of post-vacation is like prison. Then I visualize quitting — not for a particular job, just quitting: giving my notice, cleaning out my files, turning in my keys. If it’s sort of a “meh” feeling, then I probably don’t hate my job. But if I feel like I just got a shot in the arm of vitamins and pure sunshine and champagne, it’s time to go.

    3. Artemesia*

      I worked in an industry where I could re-invent myself in about 5 year cycles and do new things and take on new responsibilities — some research, some writing, some management. I have always found that doing new things is energizing. It doesn’t sound like your old position has much to recommend it so if the new one is in your wheelhouse then just having to do new things, learn new things, impress new people may help with the burnout.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s time to move on.
      When you came to this job you were not certain about it, either. So it will go with the next job where ever you land. Most of your counterpoints are just the burn out doing its damage.

      Investigate it. You can stop the application process at any point. Go check it out.

  57. Anonyby*

    How do you handle it when a job ad specifies proficiency with basic programs (like the Office suite)? It just seems so basic to me, in part because I’ve been using them so long. Heck, my year was the first in my high school to require all freshman to take a computer skills class that focused on using the Office suite as well as typing. Should I just ignore that part of the ad and focus on other parts?

    I’m also struggling with a built of guilt. I do floating in my company during the week. Lately I’ve been finding myself annoyed when people ask about me covering on dates more than a couple weeks out, since that will affect when I can start at a new job. I don’t want to cancel on them last-minute and destroy the good will & reputation I’ve built up.

    1. Sam*

      I would just add something on your resume that addresses your proficiency in Microsoft Office. I have a section of Technical Skills that includes this. I usually assume that most people know how to use Office and computers, but I’ve run into a few coworkers that don’t know the basics.

    2. MT*

      You would be surprised with the number of people who are just proficient in one or two of the office suite software. Being able to stumble your way through excel/power point or one of the advance suites access/project/visio sometimes is not consider proficient.

      1. Sabrina*

        Agreed. I’ve worked with Admins who claimed to be an “expert” at Word or Excel and didn’t know how to save a file to a different folder or drive.

      2. Anonyby*

        How do you show this, though? Especially the very basic ones (like Word, Excel, Powerpoint)? And at what point would you consider someone ‘proficient’? Like I’ve said, I was actually trained on the basic programs about 14 years ago now, and I’ve been using them regularly since. (Though the only more advanced one I’ve used is Publisher, and that was mostly troubleshooting others’ problems.)

        I do admit that some of the troubleshooting I’m asked to do is for things that seem ridiculously obvious/easy to me…

        1. MT*

          I have a line item on my resume for these, and I list out which ones i feel that im at least proficient in. If you would feel comfortable using the software with someone watching you over your shoulder. If you could do basic excel functions, or slap together a basic power point without needing to google or help menu, then you are fine.

    3. Artemesia*

      I seem to recall reading here in the past that things like microsoft office, excel or even wordpress competence was so routine it didn’t belong on a resume. My experience with people starting out is that tons of people do not have these skills and so there ought to be a line about skills on the resume that quickly list these competencies. It doesn’t take much space and needn’t be elaborated on but especially when the job mentions they are needed, assuring interviewers with a line in the resume is a good idea. For many jobs one wouldn’t list this sort of thing, but for entry level jobs or jobs that directly expect these skills and mention them, include them.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      For the people who ask you to cover more than a few weeks out, tell them that there are things going on at home that you must cover. Therefore, you will only be able to give them definite answers for next week. If you feel like you have to tell them that you can pencil it in, but they should really look for someone who can give a definite answer.
      By saying one week, you don’t risk someone correlating two weeks of planning and a two week notice.

      1. Anonyby*

        Part of it is that I am pretty much the only back-up receptionist for the corporate offices, at least that is available to multiple ones. Usually those offices that have a weekend receptionist that can come in during the week will be asked before me.

        For a long time I preferred the long schedule– I liked to give at least month’s notice before a vacation so that there would be time to find someone, so it only made sense to be on the other side of it as well.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That is why I think using “stuff at home” as a reason would be a good cover to explain why you want to work in a shorter time frame.

  58. Trixie*

    Resume question. In a couple months I will start a new volunteer board position with a statewide organization which will last for three years. Its not actually confirmed by the board until October but I’d like to add to my resume now with something like “anticipated.” While I don’t think this is unusual for board positions, not sure if this will raise any eyebrows.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Nope. Leave it off at LEAST until you’ve been formally appointed. If you’re going to include it on your resume, it should be because it adds something to your candidacy. Talking about taking on a board seat three months from now would be awkward at best.

      1. Trixie*

        Agreed, and I can still include as a current volunteer activity. Sadly, it will be October before I know it!

  59. matcha123*

    Do you all reply to every request or email you get through LinkedIn?
    I’ve had a profile for a while and three years ago I put a bit more effort into making it look spiffy.

    Every once and a while I’ll get a friend request from a recruiter or an email about a job I might be interested in.
    I’m not on LinkedIn all that much, I only know of the notices because they come to my email account.

    Is there some LinkedIn etiquette that I’m breaching by not replying to all of these people?

    1. De Minimis*

      If so, I’m breaching it too…I generally don’t respond if I don’t know someone.

      The jobs they talk about are also no longer in my career path, so I feel free to ignore them.

    2. Amanda*

      I only accept LinkedIn requests if I know the individual, whether through an in person meeting or an online conversation. I’ve got probably two dozen requests from people who clearly just scrolled through and invited everyone in my field, or everyone who’s a second connection to them.

      Some people do use LinkedIn like that but I’ve never found it useful. I don’t think there’s proper etiquette either way; use it as you see fit.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m the exact same way. Good to know this is okay to do. I too have had several connection invites and have just “ignored” them all.

    3. MT*

      I do accept every request and respond to the emails. I am in a highly specialized field with a small close knit community. Every new place I go, I always meet people who work/know people that I have worked with in the past. Most recruiters I get emails from, I respond that I am not currently looking and that if new opportunities opened up in the next 6 months, feel free to contact me again.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I ignore recruiter emails unless they are clearly targeted specifically to me. The shotgun approach is no more impressive from the other side of the desk. Similarly, I rarely accept a request to connect from a total stranger. I’ll look at their profile, but if I can’t figure out in 30 second or less why you want to connect with me, forget it.

      1. Laura2*

        Same here. I’ll respond if it seems like they put a little bit of thought into their email, but I’m not responding to emails about jobs that are not in my city (which is on my profile) or are obviously not in my field.

      2. CC*

        I do the same. If I don’t recognize you, and the connection request has the default text, I ignore it.

        If I don’t know you but the connection request has a reason that makes sense (it doesn’t have to be particularly compelling, it just has to show that you’re trying to connect with me specifically instead of just connecting with everyone you can) then I’ll usually accept — or at least reply and be willing to have a conversation.

  60. jfizzle*

    Is it always a good idea to email the director of the department where you want a job if you know them? I’ve met this man at several events over the last year so he knows who I am, but not well at all – just a “hi there, we are both in this field” way. Also, he is currently my “peer” and the job I applied for in his department is a step down title wise and working under him, but working at a much larger. I’m worried that it will annoy him if I just say “hey, we’ve met, I applied online, just FYI” or that it will be awkward when I see him at professional events if I’m not interviewed. However, is it more weird to not tell someone you know that you applied? They are a very large NGO with a huge HR department. Should I just wait to get an interview & then follow up if I do?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      I would definitely shoot him an email letting him know, even better if you can roll it into something else ie Comment about last event or Looking forward to seeing you at the X Event next month, blah blah.

  61. AVP*

    Just came out of a meeting in which my boss bald-faced lied to our accountant. She didn’t believe him, and then point-blank asked me for the truth (in a slightly altered way, so it wouldn’t look like I was contradicting what he had just said) and he jumped on me for telling the truth.

    At least she didn’t believe him at all. He left the meeting and she rolled her eyes at me and said “he’s impossible. I got the right info here.”

    Arggghhh.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Wow. You did the right thing. Don’t lie to your attorney, doctor, or accountant. The accountant would find proof to back up her claim, and you would be in hot water for being part of a cover-up if you backed up your boss.

      I’d document what happened. Just in case your boss starts giving you bad reviews from now on.

      1. AVP*

        I’m always tempted to lie to my doctor when he asks me how many drinks I *really* drink per day if I average them over the week. Then I’m like, wait, this is actually not helpful to either of us…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. This is the stuff that newspaper headlines are made from. You did the absolute right thing and your boss knows it.

  62. AnonyMOOSE*

    Does anyone have any options about workplace attire for women? I am young, and I want to be taken seriously in my office. I occasionally wear dresses, but I try and stray away from them because I’m afraid appearing feminine might be viewed as a weakness. Not sure if I’m over-thinking this or not and would love some input.

    1. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Check out corporette.com– there’s tons of fashion advice for the professional world.

    2. AVP*

      Depending on your office culture and the rest of your appearance, I think you might be overthinking this. Are there any higher-up women at your company that you can compare your usual dress to?

      A female friend of mine works in a hyper-masculine investment bank environment, in a traditionally male-dominated job, and she wears a lot of skirt suits and blouses tucked into skirts, so I don’t think it’s the skirt itself that’s a potential issue. But if you’re concerned, I would pay a lot of attention to fabrics and prints, erring on the side of plainer and darker, making sure your shoes are professional, making sure you are as covered up as everyone else, and sticking to maybe one pop of a “fun” color tops per outfit.

      1. AnonyMOOSE*

        There’s one higher up woman who typically wears pants and blouses. Thanks for your tips! Those are helpful!

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I second Corporette and add Capitol Hill Style as well. In addition, I would take my cues from higher-up women.
      Good luck!

    4. TotesMaGoats*

      You are way over-thinking this, in my opinion. You can’t control for whether the people you work with think appearing feminine is a weakness or not. How can you even know that? And ultimately, if you are excelling at your job, what does it matter? I’m sure that there might be some people who wouldn’t like it if you didn’t dress femininely enough.

      Wear what’s professional for your field that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

    5. Sparrow*

      Second the reccomendations for Corporette and Cap Hill Style. I also like Wardrobe Oxygen, Outfit Posts and You Look Fab. The forums are You Look Fab are especially helpful for specific questions and you can even post your own outfit pics to get feedback.

    6. WFBP*

      I have seen things go 2 ways – both in my first career in construction, very male dominated (i am female) and in my second career in finance.

      Women in both realms either dressed in professional slacks (or even jeans), heels, and nice shirts/blazers/whatever, or they wore skirts and dresses. As long as those skirts and dresses were tastefully done – not tight or anything (some of these women had absolutely fabulous fashion sense), with appropriate heels (nothing more than 3″), they came across as collected, professional, and secure. As long as you’re not sloppy, you’ll look fine.

      Don’t try to divorce yourself from being female, that can come across as being insecure. Just wear what you feel good in, and do the best job you can possibly do. You’ll be just fine.

    7. Kelly O*

      Yeah, I second Corporette and CapHill Style. Also try The Classy Cubicle or 9-5 Chic.

      Dresses don’t necessarily equate with feminine either, and feminine is not always a weakness. I know plenty of women who projected authority and strength in dresses and heels. (It’s in the details, I really think. And naturally which dress you pick.)

    8. Artemesia*

      My daughter works in a hyper masculine field in a fairly casual office and often wears dresses, especially if she will be meeting with clients or off site; she has prospered and weathered the recent layoffs although a more recent hire than many let go. I think modeling on higher ranking women is helpful. And when wearing feminine garb, opting for conservative necklines etc is the way to go. i.e. go for feminine not sexy.

  63. stellanor*

    I’m struggling with two things this week.

    One is that several members of my team feel that meetings are an important bonding experience and we are not sufficiently cohesive enough as a team unless we meet about every. damn. thing. So we’ll schedule a 30-minute meeting to talk about something that should have been worked out via email, and at the end of the meeting we’ll schedule another 30 minute meeting for the following week to hash out fiddly details that DEFINITELY should have been worked out via email.

    The problem is that in the past when I’ve said I felt we were over-meeting and that these issues could easily be resolved without a 30-60 minute conference call, my teammates were *grievously offended*. They felt that I didn’t want to talk to them because I didn’t like them or didn’t value their input. They also responded by mostly cutting me out of the decision process for the rest of that project. So I have no idea how to resolve this.

    Which sort of brings us to my second weird thing this week: One of my coworkers is stealing one of my projects. She has a history of being weirdly jealous when I’m given more responsibility. I created and maintain a small tool for a project I was working on. A bunch of others on my team also wanted such a tool and asked if they could use it too, so I let them of course. Then this week, coworker mentions in passing that she needs to set aside time to work on the Stellanor’s Small Tool redesign.

    Which of course I had never heard of. Frankly I think it’s fine and doesn’t need a redesign. Also what she doesn’t know is that several aspects of the tool had to be approved by people many bosses up from our boss. She was planning to unilaterally change some of these things and I had to warn her off. She has no idea what went into creating the tool in the first place, and no one asked her to redesign it, she just decided to do it and told everyone she was going to do it.

    No idea how to react to that either.

    1. LQ*

      For the first part I have some people I work with that are like that, they are completely in love with meetings and input and all that. We now have 15 minute meetings every morning to talk about any issues for the day. (We do them and go for a walk around the building since it is just 3 of us.) This has significantly cut down on the number of meetings because they get to get their socializing on during those morning walks. (The theory is talking about issues for the day but the reality is social touchy feely stuff.) Because we walk around the building it limits the amount of time to do it before we get back to our desks to work.

      The second one I wish I had an answer to because I have a coworker like that too.

    2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      Oh my goodness, I have a similar coworker. Yes, on the meeting thing–she got all butthurt I was setting up a schedule for some work and making assignments without meeting about it. The reason why we moved to me doing it is that the last time we tried to have such a meeting, one coworker left to do an event and came back 2 hours later, and we were still discussing this schedule. Because of her. And now we are having a big meeting in September in part so she can feel heard and like she is contributing.

      And she is bossing me to do things that don’t need to be done but she thinks need to be done, and to do them on her timetable besides. Grrrrrrr.

  64. Dani S*

    I’m trying to get some advice for my sister. She started a new job a few months ago, which requires some driving (10 to 20 miles a week). As the last step in the hiring process, the company ran a background check on her, which revealed some speeding tickets. They required her to increase her personal auto insurance coverage, which raised her monthly premium by $100/month, and put her on probation indefinitely (any traffic violations on or off the clock could result in termination). She makes under $30,000, so the extra $1200/yr on insurance is a big deal for her.

    My first thought was, “Is that legal?” But I have read AAM long enough to know that it probably is. I encouraged her to at least try to get HR to agree to revisit the probationary period at some point (maybe her 6 month mark?) Any other ideas or suggestions?

    1. Pushy penguin*

      Is she getting reimbursed for the mileage on her car? If she is using her personal vehicle for company business she definitely should be. Otherwise, I know that each company I have worked with has had a minimum insurance coverage level on personal vehicles used for company business. I have never had to pass a speeding ticket check (and I wouldn’t so I will count my lucky starts) Reimbursement will help offset some of the costs of gas, wear and tear and insurance.

      1. Dani S*

        She is getting reimbursed for mileage at least.

        I guess it makes sense that if a company can require you to have car insurance, they can tell you how much insurance you need. She does have to have more insurance than other people in the same position because of her driving history.

        I’ve never had to pass a check, either! I just had to show proof of (any) insurance.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      This took a while to connect the logic dots. I was wondering why it mattered how much insurance she had on her own car since she would be responsible for any damages she inflicts. But, if she causes a major accident and the damages exceeds her coverage, then the injured could go after the company for the rest.

      That really does stink. $1200 is a lot to pay to have a job.

      Wait… any traffic violations, even on her own time, would cause her to be fired? That would be too much of a risk for me. I’m an excellent driver, but stuff happens and you get a parking ticket, or a speeding ticket. Eeesh, I don’t think I could handle the stress.

      1. Dani S*

        Yeah, that’s the logic. I kind of get it, but the company carries insurance for her anyway, so it’s frustrating. It really concerns me that they didn’t give her any indication of how long she’ll need to have the extra insurance and be on probation.

        Yeah, speeding tickets on her own time would count, too. I’m hoping by this point she’s proven herself enough that they wouldn’t fire her over something like that. That would stress me out, too. She moved 3,000 miles for this job, so that was a very stressful drive for her (they almost didn’t hire her once they got the traffic report back, even though they had already offered her the job. It’s a good thing they, because she had quit her old job and packed up her apartment).

      2. Artemesia*

        But if she hurts someone on company business I doubt her personal insurance would cover anyway; the company is liable when that happens and personal car insurance does not usually cover business use of the car.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think we are going to see more of this.

      Find out how long the speeding tickets will stay on her driving record. Remember to check the dates of each ticket. She should be able to access DMV online and for a small fee get access to her driving record. I would guess it stays there for 3-4 years?

      Look in to a driver’s safety course type of thing. In NY you can get two points taken off your license and get a 10% reduction on a part of your insurance for the next three years. The first year’s discount pays for the course.

      If she does get a ticket she should find out the process for getting a plea agreement to a lesser charge-like a parking violation. In an ideal world, she would just stop getting tickets but crap happens.

      To be fair, if she told the insurance company that she was using her personal vehicle for work then she probably would have had an increase in insurance anyway.

      However, onward! I would recommend that she go to a totally different insurance agency. Tell them her problem. Ask if they can do better on the insurance premium- get a few quotes.
      Yes, shop for car insurance.

      If she is driving a new vehicle she could trade it for something older which might also help to reduce the premium.

      Permanent probation? That is concerning. I would call up DMV in her state and inquire about this. Is an employer allowed to put someone on permanent probation because of their driving record. This may come under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. DMV should know if this permanent probation is allowed on the basis of driving record. (I am guessing not- but I am not an expert- at all!)

      FYI- The employer’s insurance company is pushing all this. The insurance company wants to lower risks and this is one way to accomplish that. I sincerely doubt that the law was intended for an employer to use a poor driving record against an employee FOREVER.

      Hope this helps. This is like throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks.

    4. Farmer*

      My job required a similar amount of driving, but the whole thing is governed by insurance. Two moving violations means insurance rates are much higher so the company either won’t hire you, or won’t let you drive. If you don’t drive, you are on thin ice since you’re not completing a job duty.

      Given that, I’m surprised they hired her. It may not be a good fit, and the insurance premium increase is a ton of money. I’d keep looking for another job.

  65. Militant Intelligent*

    Q1.
    When a company asks your salary expectations, then says that their offer would be a few grand less and is non-negotiable, why do they ask in the first place instead of just stating? And, is it really, really non-negotiable? I thought everything was negotiable.

    Q2. During an interview, someone asked me how long I’d been unemployed. Huh!? Any pointers on a response would be appreciated.

    1. Trixie*

      Q2. This is a question you want to absolutely prepare for so its easily answered or discussed without sounding canned or searching for the right words on the spot. If its short-term unemployed, this probably isn’t a loaded question to stress over. If its been a while, they naturally want to know when you were last employed and you can follow-up with what you’ve done since then. Volunteer work, classes, additional training, etc.

      And Q1 is pretty common. Be prepared to negotiate but sometimes the salary is it what is and often not advertised as such upfront.

        1. Trixie*

          Are you looking at a few months, or over a year? Longer term unemployment just isn’t uncommon these days and if you’ve getting interviews, I don’t think prospective employers are holding it against you.

  66. Anonymous Reader for Long Post*

    I have a situation at work where a junior employee “Karen” asked me for advice regarding what our manager “Rob” asked her to do. Our manager asked her to prepare a form that would be materially incorrect. and would be filed with a tax agency. We obtained clarification and there was zero misunderstanding on what he wanted done. We tried to talk to him about it and how it would be wrong, possible consequences, etc. and he was adamant that she was to do it and don’t question him on it.

    We escalated to a co-manager “Jane” that manages us with our boss “Rob” and Jane immediately said don’t do it and this would be addressed. Well it was and Rob said it was blown out of proportion and we misunderstood, etc. Karen was very intelligent and had notes written by Rob in his own handwriting as to what he wanted her to do. Jane said we were correct to talk to her and don’t dare do what he requested.

    After this Rob talked to each of us individually and accused us of making him look bad. He made it clear he didn’t like having staff members question him and stated he’d never do anything illegal. We have licensures that would’ve resulted in a minimum of fines by the state board if caught doing what he wanted done. Rob, Jane and 2 others own the company we work for.

    Karen and I are worried that Rob is going to blow any future or past errors of our out of proportion and fire us. If this happens how should we handle this? Do readers have any other advice?

    1. Gene*

      If the notes are in your office, immediately take them home. Any other emails/voice mails/notes should be copied and removed from the office. Should you be fired for whatever reason they can be used to cover your butt if they contest unemployement benefits. “They listed the reason for firing as XYZ, but the real reason was because I refused to do something illegal, and here’s the proof.”

      The license board might want to know about this as well.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agree 100%. An honest manager doesn’t ask you to do something illegal then say that you “misunderstood” when he is caught. It is very possible that the manager will retaliate in reviews, or by being a super jerk. I’ve seen it happen before, when a manager is caught doing something illegal, he tries to force the exposer out. You should be able to tell over the next few weeks if he is going to be a jerk.

        You would have a super strong case if there is any retaliation. Document everything!

      2. A Teacher*

        Second the licensing board needing to know. I care a medical related license and a teaching license, depending on the action the sanctioning can be drastic (loss of license, fine, suspension of right to practice, etc…) Take all documentation home and keep documenting each encounter with him.

      3. Anonymous Reader for Long Post*

        Rob has had disciplinary action taken against his license before. I think it was about 10-15 years ago and I’m unsure of specifics but he was in court because the licensing board wanted to revoke his license. He definitely did have a large fine to pay plus had additional sanctions including a probationary period for a while. You’d think he’d have learned a lesson and be wary of doing anything again that would be an issue for them but….

        As of this afternoon copies of the paper support are at my house and a scanned PDF copy saved also. Rob definitely will act like a jerk because of this. The last time we disagreed on an issue that was questionable ethically he was angry and acted like a jerk for weeks afterwards. Everything definitely will be documented especially because of the fear of retaliation and I want to be prepared if he fires me.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, because Rob won’t let the subject die and you feel that your job is in danger, you need to go back to Jane.

        Think about it this way- you don’t want to do the jail time. Some of these things do lead to jail/prison and you need to be vigilant. Karen should go with you when you talk to Jane.

        1. EG*

          Jane should have included a mention about no retaliation in her conversation with Rob. If not, she needs to do so, to clearly point out that he cannot retaliate against either of you.

  67. Prickly Pear*

    Are there resources out there to help you find a career path? Not training on one in particular, but just… options?
    I’ve pretty much fallen into my whole career. I find that I don’t want to stay in what I’m doing now (the outskirts of healthcare) but the lateral positions would be data entry/admin/reception, all things I could do but aren’t real enthusiastic about. I did find this ad for a retail merchandiser that involves lots of travel that really excited me and I applied, only to see a reposted ad with the salary clearly mentioned (the original ad had a much higher rate spread). So ugh. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      I often feel the same way. I hope someone offers something up! In my case, I do junior level marketing work but there’s so many different avenues in the field that I’m not sure where I want to end up or how to get there. It’s hard!

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        To THIS question, I say: informational interviews are your friend. I’m in exactly the same boat (my career coach got me from “I don’t want to be an admin anymore” to “I definitely want to work in marketing for a company that x,y,z”). I’m really leveraging my LinkedIn network for this: I’m straight up reaching out to people who have jobs that sound interesting and asking them for 30 minutes of their time to talk about their job with me.

        It’s also helpful, to me anyway, to look at it as a process of elimination. “Okay, words>numbers. I *know* I don’t want to do marketing reasearch/analysis.” “Ehh, I don’t think I’d want to do social media 100% of the time.” “SEO gives me a headache.” And so on.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      YMMV, but a few years ago I worked with a career coach for a few months and it was WAY more helpful on the “what do I want to be when I grow up” question than I expected (I had originally contacted her for a resume review). She had a ton of resources for researching different fields and positions within fields, and really good advice for how to best use them.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Referral from a friend. Here’s her website: http://www.tofindyourfit.com. She happened to be local to me, but she does work remotely with people all over the country. If you contact her, you can tell her Fiona referred you.

    3. You can read:*

      What Color Is Your Parachute. Awesome tips, but I didn’t actually do the tables/charts that helps you figure out who you are!

  68. Amanda*

    Ugh, here’s one, unfortunately.

    If you work in the nonprofit world, how do you handle job instability? We’re partly funded by state appropriations, and our state (like everyone it seems) is having revenue shortages, which will almost certainly translate to taking some percentage of our state appropriation away. We are already in a tricky financial spot as we continue to recover from the downturn and try to address infrastructure. So my boss is saying things about cuts that are making me incredibly nervous. Logically, I know that our staff has already been restructured for maximum efficiency, and that I am written into grants for the next two years. If staff layoffs come, I will probably not be first in line. If she keeps talking like this, I will request a sit-down with her and ask candidly whether I should worry.

    But emotionally, how do you handle dealing with the ups and downs constantly? Even large and well-run nonprofits constantly seem to be teetering back and forth every few years. I need to replace my car this fall and I am now sufficiently spooked that I’ve stopped looking and might just fix up my 237k mile beater.

    1. Graciosa*

      I will give you my nonprofit world perspective, understanding that this is probably even more important in your field. Never assume your job is safe.

      This is not a recommendation to worry – there’s no point in it. The only productive outcome of worry is when it serves as an impetus to action. The smart thing to do is skip over the worry and move on to the action with less angst. Those actions should include:

      1. Performing very well in your current role. This builds your reputation and gives you a solid track record of achievement; both of these will be invaluable if you have to (or choose to) find another job.

      2. Developing and maintaining relationships with others in the industry. This is easy to overlook when you’re busy, but it’s much easier to reach out to a previous boss or colleague for a reference or referral if you last spoke to them a couple months ago rather than six years ago (which is the last time you worked together). Sit down and make a list of your contacts and references and start working it before you need it. Commit to contacting at least X every month.

      3. Improving your skills. Make sure you are up to date and marketable in the current environment. Attending industry events or training can help you with item #2 above.

      4. Keeping your resume up to date. Put this on your calendar as a recurring appointment at some frequency (quarterly or semi-annually?) so that you always have something relatively recent if needed.

      5. Managing your finances so you don’t need to worry about this. There is a human tendency to not worry about this at all until you’re out of work (or think you’re about to be) and then to make drastic changes driven by fear or necessity. This approach only adds to the trauma of being out of work as you are constantly reminded of all the other lifestyle changes that result. If you regularly live beneath your means, and have significant assets you’ve put away (and if you build them up slowly over time, they will become significant while you’re not looking!) you’re not going to be panicked about this if it happens.

      On this point, I speak from experience. With a unique skill set in my company and after surviving many rounds of layoffs that we all thought were over, I was not expecting to lose my job – but the company decided to exit operations entirely in my state. It happens. I remember driving home from the meeting and thinking about how thankful I was that I didn’t have to worry about where I would get the money to eat or pay the mortgage.
      The layoff itself was traumatic enough without adding that particular terror. This also allowed me to look for a good position in my industry rather than settling out of desperation.

      To go back to your original question, you deal with the ups and downs by taking actions to protect yourself if the worst happens, and then mentally setting it aside. In my case, there were layoffs at my company off and on for over a decade of my time there. Fretting about it accomplishes nothing useful, and it drains your energy and attention from other things. If you spend all time discussing the latest rumors and worrying about job security, you won’t accomplish as much and you will need that track record of achievement to find your next job.

      Good luck.

      1. Graciosa*

        Sorry, I should have been my “for profit” experience – I think I mentally edited not nonprofit to eliminate the double negative – mea culpa.

        1. Graciosa*

          Grrr – I can’t type today. That should have been or I should have written. I am taking this as a sign that I need to leave the computer for a while –

      2. Traveller*

        The only productive outcome of worry is when it serves as an impetus to action. The smart thing to do is skip over the worry and move on to the action with less angst.

        This is such great advice that can be used in so many parts of life. Just wanted to repeat it. :-)

      3. Amanda*

        Thank you. This is enormously helpful as a focusing exercise, and much of it I’m doing already – I have good connections in my field and a healthy emergency fund. I guess I’m just a fretful person in general.

        I need to keep focusing on getting my emergency fund up to where I’d feel comfortable. I think that would help. I should also have a good clear picture in my head of what my next steps would be. And you’re right in that worrying about it won’t solve anything!

  69. Cruciatus*

    I just received a phone call where I could not understand the other person at all. They seemed to be able to hear me fine. But they sounded muffled and an accent may have been involved (but I’m not positive because it was so muffled sounding). I explained to them I couldn’t understand them because the connection wasn’t clear but nothing changed (for example, they didn’t start speaking directly into the phone if that might have been the problem). What is the proper etiquette when something like this happens and you don’t know what/who they are looking for? I just wanted the call to end!

    1. fposte*

      “Since you can hear me, let me give you my email address; please email me your phone number and I’ll try again to see if I have a better connection.”

      If it’s still a problem, apologize for your phones and take it to email.

      1. Cruciatus*

        OK, good. This is more or less what I went with. Just felt rude because my only choice was really to hang up after giving him my information since I couldn’t tell if he was saying “OK” or “goodbye” or anything else.

    2. Gene*

      “I’m sorry, I can’t understand you. Pleae call me back to see if we get a better connection. Bye.” Click

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is what I do. We have cheap phones at work and if someone calls on a cell chances are pretty good I will not understand them. They sound like the adults on the Peanuts cartoons. I just wait for a silence then say “I think you can hear me but I cannot hear you. Please call me back. I have to hang up now because I can’t tell if we are even connected any more.” I apologize and hang up.

        It’s amazing how fast they find a better connection.

  70. Pushy penguin*

    How do you ask for a reference from your last manager if he took it personally? At my last job my manager seemed really upset by my leaving. I gave two weeks, wrapped things up, answered questions as needed but he still seemed very angry/hurt by my leaving. I am looking for a new job and when I think of getting my references together, I am starting to dread asking him to be a reference. I did great work at that job and I know he would give me a good reference, it’s just the asking part that feels really awkward to me. Does anyone have a good script I could use in this case? Would you email or call?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I don’t have any great advice. But your last manager may have been upset at the time, but time has passed and they may have moved on. They are probably ready to give a reference now. Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Do you feel comfortable giving me a positive reference?”
      OR
      “I am not sure if it is your habit to give out references. I was wondering if you would be available to act as a positive reference for me?”

      Build an easy out into your question.

  71. RJ*

    I do end-user testing on a bunch of internal programs, and I’m becoming frustrated by the number of completely wrong items that make it through development and QA to me. It’s not little buggy things that act weird in highly specific scenarios. These are things where when I test requirement 1, it just doesn’t exist in the program the way it’s described. For example, the requirement specifies a pop-up box, but there’s no pop-up or any sort of alert at all. I believe these clear gaps should have been identified by QA and corrected before they ever get to me. Since I’m the last step before deployment, I sometimes get treated like I’m the bad guy for reporting defects “at the last minute.”
    For those with experience, how many defects should your end-user testing have to catch? For a recent project, I found problems in about 45% of the requirements I tested. That’s too many, isn’t it? (Which points to my underlying need: somebody tell me that it’s ok to be frustrated by this!)

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s OK to be frustrated by this.

      The next time someone expresses dissatisfaction with your reporting for any reason, just ask them to specify which errors or omissions they would like you to skip for this project, and ask for it in writing. If you give just one summary report per project, then the next time someone complains, tell them that for their next project they should provide you with such a list. It’s possible they really don’t need to know about some things; sometimes the requirements are adjusted and it’s not written down, everyone just agrees to it verbally. However, even though that’s easier for them, that’s creating a problem for you, so if that’s the issue they need to suck it up and either document it or just say “Thanks” to you for spotting it and ignore that report.

      tl;dr version: it’s not you, it’s them.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Yes, it’s totally okay to be frustrated by this. People aren’t doing their jobs correctly. To me, it seems like the attitudes of these teams are “Eh, I’ll kinda test this. RJ will catch anything before deployment anyways.” Do these teams have supervisors? They need to be aware of this problem. If they are and aren’t doing anything about it or don’t care, then that is not good.

      In our company, we expect zero errors at end-user testing, and we do a good job of keeping with that. But, we don’t have people who do specifically end-user testing, so we can’t have those employees waste their time on going back to development with errors because this testing is only a small part of their job.

      I think these expectations should be extremely low – I would say zero, but from what you’re describing I think anything in the single digits would improve things right now. Yes stuff will slip through the cracks occasionally because we’re all human, but 45%? Something needs to be fixed in development and QA.

      1. RJ*

        Thanks so, so much. I know that there are discussions going on above my level about this issue, based on that particular 45% failure case. Single digits would be very nice, for sure. This testing is about 1/3 of my job, so it does have a greater impact on other initiatives I’m supposed to be working on too. I really appreciate the support. :)

    3. Sparrow*

      Definitely okay to be frustrated by this.

      In my role, I’m the person that writes the requirements that are used by developers and then the QA team verifies what the developers have worked on. It concerns me that in your situation, the QA team is missing major components during their testing. Any idea why this might be happening or is there a way to mitigate this?

      I think end user testing should catch as few defects as possible – 45% is a lot. That leads to another concern about the development team – why are they turning out code that has such a high percentage of defects? Are they able to perform some basic testing in the dev environment before turning over the code to QA?

      Sorry, I have more questions than answers! But to reiterate – this is definitely not okay and I hope there is some plan to address this.

      1. RJ*

        Honestly, it feels like the primary developer looks as the requirements more like they’re just random suggestions. Both sides are involved with the requirements development and agree to them, but then what gets delivered is frequently quite different and a little odd. And sometimes I think that QA assumes that what’s delivered is correct, unless they find actual bugs. I do hope we can work towards solutions on this. For now, I’m just grateful for confirmation that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

    4. Bea W*

      Welcome to my life! (So glad I am not testing at the moment!)

      45% seems stupid high. In my job I consider 10% high. I think my last major deployment was at around 8% for the first round of testing. 45%? Seriously? That’s nearly the definition of “half-arsed”.

      The current project happening in my office, which I am not testing, I think may be running more than 10%, but the programmers are both brand new to this work, and this is their first real project. I explained that to my co-worker yesterday, and it made her feel better about the number of failures, that it probably wasn’t that our programmer team was being sloppy. She didn’t know they were *both* on their first project.

      When we did timelines I estimated 10% failure rate for the first round when we were doing the timelines. so I feel kind of bad if I was under called it. :/

    5. Windchime*

      Yeah, 45% is crazy. Your QA is missing a bunch of stuff; it doesn’t sound like they are even looking at the requirements when they are testing. But obvious things, like missing pop-ups, seem like they should have also been caught be the developer(s), unless they are only missing under conditions that weren’t outlined in the requirements.

      Custom in-house development can be difficult. When I was doing application development in another shop, we didn’t have QA at all nor did we have analysts gathering requirements up front. So the devs did all the steps. It was obviously really hard to catch subtle problems in this situation so we had a core group of “alpha users” who would periodically run through their workflows and help us catch stuff. Your team is lucky to have you.

  72. Savannah*

    Salary history question: If you know you are being overpaid in your current job how do you deal with job applications that ask about salary history or salary requirements?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I think there was a question about this recently (unless it was on another open thread). Try searching the archives!

  73. BB*

    I recently noticed I’ve been getting LinkedIn requests from fake profiles. I got an especially peculiar one from a relationship manager at a high profile investment firm. I did some digging and couldn’t find any info on her and then discovered she was using a tv writer(of a different name) as her picture. I didn’t accept but she had over 500 connections and a lot looked pretty legit (VP’s and CEO’s). Just curious what someone is doing with this?

  74. Anon Regular*

    I have a really bad problem with work anxiety. It’s pretty serious, and it definitely gets in the way of my productivity and success. Has anyone had any luck in tackling something like this?

    I am a mid-senior level person with over a decade of experience in my field. I’ve never had a negative performance review, and I’ve excelled in several roles. I’ve always struggled with feeling as though I’m not performing well enough (at work), but it has gotten worse in recent years. I am incredibly nervous before any meeting with my boss (even though I’ve literally never had a meeting with a boss go poorly, and even though every meeting with my current boss has been especially productive and interesting). I always feel as though I’m about to get in trouble. I sometimes avoid working on the specific projects that make me anxious (which of course causes me more anxiety). I go to bed many nights thinking nervously about work, and I wake up nearly every day thinking nervously about work. My field is not unusually stressful (although my organization is more demanding than most in my field).

    Yikes, this sounds bad. All of that is true but it doesn’t add up to being as awful as that paragraph sounds. I’m way more stressed out about work than I’d like to be, but I’m successful in my work and mostly able to “turn it off” in the evenings and on the weekends. But I’d love to conquer this more completely. Any ideas?

    1. RJ*

      I’ll be interested in the responses too. I sit 15 feet away from my boss, we talk all day long about what’s going on, bounce ideas off each other, etc., and it’s great. When we have a one-on-one or other meeting scheduled, I get completely anxious and freaked out about it.

    2. fposte*

      Maybe investigate a little cognitive behavioral therapy? Sounds like you’re getting a little locked into a loop there, and that can be a good way to break those kind of habits.

      1. OriginalYup*

        +1 On exploring therapy, even just the talking sort with a counselor. If your office has an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), they can be great for confidential referrals like this. Also, consider trying out yoga and similar practices that can help with deep breathing and practicing mental relaxation. And try to stay away from overloading on caffeine at work (coffee, sodas, energy drinks) — it really amps up anxiety symptoms.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Is there any reason you wouldn’t want to tell your boss you’re dealing with this? I had an employee with an anxiety disorder, and together we worked out some ways that we could work on things. Like I knew she got nervous before meetings, so I emailed her a quick overview of what we were going to talk about ahead of time. On projects, I encouraged her to come to me with specific things that were stressing her out so we could break them down into small tasks and work through it.

      This worked especially because I had previously suffered from an anxiety disorder (which I told her), so I knew where she was coming from and she trusted me.

      Not sure if that’s something you can do with your boss, but it’s an option. I’d like to know if there’s something going on with my employees that’s impacting their work.

      1. Just Visiting*

        There is absolutely no reason for an employee to reveal an anxiety disorder (or anything, ANYTHING else) in a right-to-work situation. Union jobs, different story.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I’m not sure if you misunderstood my comment.

          I’m not saying she HAS to tell her manager, but if she’s comfortable she might want to because they might be able to come up with some solutions.

        2. BRR*

          I respectfully disagree. I know there are many jobs where you shouldn’t reveal medical issues (and you should never ever be forced to) but in both of my professional positions I would feel completely comfortable revealing my anxiety and have my manager handle it in a similar way to Katie the Fed. It all depends on your environment.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            One thing to remember too is that a lot more people than you’d ever realize have dealt with anxiety or depression at some point in their life, or had a loved one dealing with it. They’re very common diseases, even if we don’t like to talk about them. When I talked to friends about what I was going through I was amazed by how many had been treated for depression or anxiety in the past.

          2. Just Visiting*

            Yes, but after being burned once I would never do so again, especially in an environment where I don’t have protections (which feels like the majority of corporate environments… why I need to get out now!). Obviously, some people are luckier. The problem with revealing any sort of health problem, but especially a mental health problem, is that there’s no way to gauge in advance whether or not an employer will be supportive or dismissive or some kind of crazy Scientologist. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle. So think long and hard before revealing anything you can’t undo and track everything.

      2. Anon Regular*

        I actually have told my boss about my anxiety, but in a more general way. We haven’t talked about ways to manage it (except I asked her to give frequent feedback). I’m hesitant to formalize it or ask for the kind of support you were giving your employee – wouldn’t it just seem not worth the bother? I mean, I’m a good employee, but I’m definitely replaceable. Why not replace me with someone she doesn’t have to jump through those hoops for?

        1. fposte*

          They’re not necessarily big hoops, and if they like your work it’s not a big deal to do; they’re not any bigger than frequent feedback, which you’ve already asked for (in fact, what Katie says is probably easier for me than frequent feedback). But it also might make sense to wait until you’ve identified just what would help (not sure if you have already), and maybe go over the possibility with a therapist first.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          It really depends on how well you know your boss, but speaking for myself – it’s not a bother and I’d rather work with someone to figure out how they work best. It’s the same thing I do for any of my employees – they’re individuals who need to be treated differently. For example – I have employees to whom I could say “you screwed up, do it again” and they’d say “ok! no problem!” and be fine. Others would have a total meltdown. So I already have to adjust my style to get the best out of everyone. This is no different. If you’re a valuable employee who needs me to moderate my communication style to succeed, that’s totally cool.

          But this obviously depends on your boss and your comfort level with her. I’ll say that in my case I’m really glad the employee told me because otherwise I would have wondered what was up with her. But we were able to make it work really well.

      3. Anx*

        Of course disclosure and trust would facilitate a better work environment and lead to better outcomes, but I would be far too scared to ever do this!

  75. Christy*

    After a year (a year!) of unemployment, I finally got a job – sort of. It’s a temporary freelance gig, but the pay is good, the company is high profile, and the temporary bit works great because we will be moving in a few months anyway. Plus, my kids will go to daycare and I can work at an office and talk to adults again for the first time in nearly four years (I’ve worked at home with one or both kids since 2010). Hooray!

  76. Betty*

    I have a job interview for a position I am likely to get but that I’m most likely going to decline. I’d like to go to the interview because it’s my first in 3 years and I’d like the experience. Is this a jerk move?

    1. Felicia*

      If you’re 100% sure you’d decline, then it is a jerk move, because you’re wasting the interviewers time, and taking a slot from someone who might actually want the job. If you will probably decline, but there’s still some chance you’ll accept, then it’s not a jerk move.

    2. Militant Intelligent*

      Yes it is. If you aren’t truly interested, then why pursue it? It’s a bit selfish and you are taking opportunity away from someone else who might really need the job, or at least, feel more passionately about it.

      1. Betty*

        Thanks for the responses! I wasn’t 100% sure I’d reject the job so I decided to go ahead with the interview. It turns out the job sounds way better than I imagined. If it’s offered to me, I’m definitely going to the take it.

        1. Felicia*

          That’s great! I’m glad you went to the interview then :) Often jobs are much better (or worse) than they appear when advertized

  77. SouthernBelle*

    I’m so frustrated!!! I’ve finally accepted that the company that I work(ed) for has tanked, although I haven’t been to the office in over 3 months (noone has really). I finally put the end date on my resume and it feel like a nail in the coffin. I’ve been actively searching since January and I’ve had a few interviews, but I feel like I’ve put off the wrong vibe. I’ve gotten so many electronic rejections that it’s starting to wear on me. I’ve had at least 4 positions that have been under “consideration” for 2-3+ months. I’ve changed my resume in tons of ways, beefed up and toned down my cover letters, applied for reach jobs and entry-level jobs (my last title was director level). I have no idea what I should do next. These are the times where I feel like I’m not specialized enough to really fit into someone’s idea of what they’re looking for; I mean I can’t even say I have an industry per se.

    On the plus side, my old boss is finally replying to my messages and it looks like he’s going to pay me the money I’m owed.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I know it sucks to be looking for a new job and getting rejected. It happens to all of us. Maybe applying for entry level jobs isn’t good because if you were a director in your last job, you’d be seen as way overqualified for entry level. Are you doing any networking?

  78. nyxalinth*

    I had my interview with Bombast Cable last Tuesday. I was told they’d be letting people know in 3-5 business days (that’s passed) and someone else said in two weeks, so it could be any time between now and Tuesday that I’ll know. The class would be starting on the 11th. I’ve already moved on in my head, but I figure I’m out of the running completely if no one gets back to me by the 9th.

    I seriously hate job hunting.

    1. Anon*

      I would keep applying, but don’t rule them out just yet. A friend of mine worked for Bombast (heh heh) and told me that they didn’t inform her that she got the job until a few days before she was supposed to start. She only had the weekend to inform her boss that she was leaving.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Anon: Hehe, I was thinking they might do that! That’s why I mentioned the 9h. I could totally see them waiting until, say, 4pm on Friday before training starts to tell me.

        Elizabeth West: LOL! I didn’t think of that, but you’re so right. They did say something about ‘real life time’ versus ‘Bombast time’ so I think you and Anon are on it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      That whole 3-5 business days to two weeks thing sounds like cable appointment scheduling: “We’ll need you to be home between 4 am and 8 pm on these three non-consecutive days, where we may or may not decide to show up.”

      Keep applying, and good luck.

  79. CanadianDot*

    I’d posted in last week’s thread that I could’ve used the thread earlier in the week. What had happened was that I’d gotten a request for an interview for the same day as the first day at a temp position that requested we be committed for the whole time. I was trying to juggle them both, and was waiting to hear back from people. Well, I was able to schedule the interview for before work, and yesterday I got a call saying that I would have an offer in my inbox within two business days. Why the wait? The department hiring me wants a permanent contract, but the public service agency (it’s a government job) wants it to be a 1 year term initially, because I was hired from a candidate pool after initially interviewing for another position, and that one was a term position.

    I’ve been looking for a job for so long, and I feel like this was DEFINITELY worth the wait. AAM helped me so much with my interview skills, and I’m definitely going to keep following as an employee because of all the terrific information and advice!

  80. voluptuousfire*

    First, a slightly off topic comment….OMG! OLIVE! SQUEE!

    Now back to my original question:

    How do you spin that you were let go from a role when you’re not entirely sure why you were fired?

    I worked for a start-up for just over 3 months in what started as a customer service role. When I started, I was the first associate hired for the team and was expected to take on the day to day operations of the role, right off the bat and the volume of work was considerable. My manager had been handling the day to day operations plus her managerial tasks. A lot of the day to day customer service stuff had fallen off her plate and I took up the slack. I handled the lion’s share of work pretty much a week into the role without much training. I had done similar work in the past so I only needed to be trained in their processes and the smaller details of the role. My first week there, our director took the binder with all the details for the role (information on locations and other info) to update it and she only brought it back when I was about 2 months in and we had brought on another person. We were trained together but by that point I had gained quite a bit of knowledge on my own but still had a lot of gaps and finally getting this info helped fill in some of it. One of the biggest parts of my role was to be an expert on all aspects of the locations but lack of access to info did not give me the confidence I needed to speak authoratively. Also the information on the website was vague and in certain areas misleading, so a lot of my day was spent on the phone telling people “no, I’m sorry…that membership on the website is a bit misleading. This is what it entails….” The website has since been cleaned up but for the first 7 weeks of my role I had to either hunt down info or ask my manager, which was a pain.

    As the team grew, the role slowly evolved into a sales role. When they were advertising for new team members, it emphasized having a sales background and having a proven track record of sales performance. The description I applied to did not mention sales, just having a customer service background. Even with the scope of the role changing, the expectations were still fairly murky.

    About two weeks before I was let go, I had a check in meeting with my manager. They had started a secret shopper-esque program to spot check our work and the report sent back on me was very surprising. I had been presented with the report and it said my emails were full of typos, spelling and grammatical errors. Also my response rate was dismal and I couldn’t be reached before 9:30 or after 5:30 (the work hours were 9-6). I was really surprised at those findings. I was often on the phone so it could be tricky to reach me (nor did I have a voicemail that was set up) and I handled a very high volume of emails so I may not have proofread as closely as I should have and made it a point to respond to emails within 24-48 hours. This report had been from when I was still the only team member and I was handling a very large volume of work by myself. It was presented roughly a month after it was submitted. I was only told to be careful with emails and the other two issues had been remedied by hiring two other associates. I also was not given any indication my job was in jeopardy.

    I ended up being let go due to performance issues but aside from that report, I’m not entirely sure what happened. I tried my best in the role but it never really appeared to make a difference. It was incredibly stressful (from the job and pressure I put on myself) and with that and also having a case of bronchitis for about a month of my time there, I did have a moment or two where I got visibly upset and had to excuse myself to regain my composure in the ladies room. I wanted to do well in this role and it was really frustrating to me that I wasn’t. I couldn’t seen to win. Although I did receive *some* praise for my initiative, it didn’t make a difference in the long run.

    Expectations were bounced around but never truly set. It somehow moved to a sales role and I have no experience with that nor were we given any coaching on it. No solid metrics were given to measure our performance. The management team was new and didn’t seem to have an idea of what they were looking for from us. The performance issues brought up were from before the change in the role. When I’ve interviewed, I’ve stuck with “it started out as customer service and as the team grew, it evolved into sales. I have no experience with sales/nor is it a natural fit for me . It was decided that it was a better idea for me to seek a position elsewhere that was a better fit for me.” If asked who made that decision, I say they made it. I’m also positive about my experience and what I learned there. Usually the response is “oh, I can understand that. It’s not a position I’d be comfortable in either.”

    I’m more than open to feedback on how to explain why I’m no longer at my FormerJob. Also my apologies for the epic saga I just wrote, detailing the entire situation. :)

    1. voluptuousfire*

      Sorry about the italics. I forgot to close the HTML tag properly.

      Also, I forgot to mention I come from a customer service/admin background and am mainly looking at admin roles.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I think you could mention that the company was a startup that did not have clearly defined roles, and when the position you were hired for changed from being an administrative position (which you wanted) to a sales position (that you had no experience in) it became clear to both you and the company that were no longer the right person for the position. You can say that you tried your best, and learned a lot while you were there, but ultimately it was in everybody’s best interest if you looked elsewhere to pursue x and y, which is what you really want to do.

      This kind of thing happens, and ESPECIALLY at startups. I think you will be ok framing it in this light.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        ^ This sounds fantastic. I was trying to frame it without trying to put FormerJob in a negative light. Thank you so much!

    3. AB Normal*

      “it started out as customer service and as the team grew, it evolved into sales. I have no experience with sales/nor is it a natural fit for me . It was decided that it was a better idea for me to seek a position elsewhere that was a better fit for me.”

      I don’t think you need to change anything here, except, perhaps, to be more explicit that you were let go due to the mismatch between your skills and interests and the new responsibilities of your role. I don’t know how others would feel about it, but “It was decided that it was a better idea for me to seek a position elsewhere” would sound disingenuous to me, if later I contacted the company to check your references and was told that you were simply fired for not performing as expected.

      The fact that they didn’t provide you proper, timely feedback to fix any performance issues indicates your old job had bad management, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were let go for performance issues. I’d react the same way the interviewer who said s/he understood because it’s not a position s/he would be comfortable with either. But I’d expect the candidate to be candid about the fact that at a certain point, the company unilaterally decided you had to go–this, to me, shows the person is comfortable enough with her/his skills to not try to “spin” the reality into something more favorable. Good luck!

  81. YaelS*

    My inquiry relates to proper etiquette for writing thank-you notes after informational interviews. I have a temporary position at a place I really enjoy and have been meeting individually with folks to learn more about the field. Is it tacky to deliver by hand or drop into the mailbox a thank-you note if one is networking/conducting informational interviews at one’s current workplace? Is it better to handwrite a note that will take several days to arrive, or write an email thank-you within 24-48 hours? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Graciosa*

      The current business standard is to use email, so I would be remiss in suggesting anything else. I know business people who hardly ever bother to check for paper mail any more unless they are expecting something.

      I say this in spite of the fact that I adore handwritten notes on good quality paper and would be thrilled to get one. However, in a serious interviewing situation, when other candidates emailed their thank-yous that evening, you may put yourself at a serious disadvantage if your note isn’t in the interviewer’s electronic inbox.

    2. BB*

      I think handwritten notes are great if something is not time sensitive- which it sounds like is the case here. However, be aware that some people don’t even check their mailboxes anymore (ie me- I just received some Christmas cards someone sent. And I only checked my mail because a coworker told me there was something in there)

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think sending an email to say “thanks for taking the time to meet with me” to someone you work down the hall from is a little awkward. I’d not deliver by hand, but I think the handwritten note in their mailbox is a nice gesture – and memorable in a good way!

  82. A Minion*

    Hi! I’ve been lurking a while, but this is my first time commenting – I’d love to get your take on this.
    I’m thinking of taking what some may consider a step backward, but I’m not sure it actually is or, if it is, should I risk it? I’ve been with my company – a smallish non-profit – for about 5 years now. I’m their bookkeeper. I’ve been working on my accounting degree and just recently finished it up. (Yay!)

    For many reasons that I won’t get into here, I have been searching for a job for the past 7 months with no luck. I’ve applied for everything I was even remotely qualified for and I’ve been on several interviews, but no offers. I’ve followed advice on here and revamped my resume and cover letter and still nothing.

    So, recently, I came across a position that sounded promising, but I’m afraid the title makes it seem like either a step back or a step in the wrong direction, even though many of the duties are exactly what I’m looking for. The advertised job title is Executive Assistant. Now, I will readily admit, I may be completely wrong about what is really expected from an EA, but I’m thinking filing, correspondence, phones – front desk type things. The job description, however, describes more of an Office Manager – someone who does HR functions, some bookkeeping, receivables/payables, IT work, some purchasing – a little of everything. And it specifies that a 4-year degree in accounting is required, so I’m actually perfect for this position and it sounds like something I’d really enjoy, but it’s the title that’s throwing me.

    So, if you saw a resume come across that listed EA as the most recent title, with Bookkeeper before that and a 4-year accounting degree does that seem strange? Would you consider that person for an Accountant or Controller job or something more senior if the last position was EA? I may be over-thinking and I’m not trying to insult anyone who is an EA – I’m certainly not too good or think I’m above being an Admin Asst. or anything like that – I’ve done that before and enjoyed it, I just really want my career to progress from here and I don’t want to take what may be perceived as a step backward. What do you all think?

    1. voluptuousfire*

      I say go for it. Lots of administrative roles overlap, especially nowadays. Many of the office manager roles I’ve seen combine EA responsibilities along with some accounting, HR/recruitment and general admin duties. It’s really just semantics. If you’ve got the experience and degree, go for it.

    2. Geegee*

      I wouldn’t let the job title throw me. If you think you meet all the qualifications, I would send in my resume. If you get an interview, you can always find out more about the job. Also, depending on what they are looking for, they might be willing to rethink the job title. For future opportunities, I think the most important thing would be your actual job duties and accomplishments, not your title because your responsibilities would vary in different companies. And if you want to be considered for higher level accounting jobs in the future, I don’t think this title would be a hindrance to you. this job sounds like an office manager type of job and I think you could progress into accounting supervisor/controller type jobs. You would probably find more opportunities in smaller companies.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I wouldn’t let the title faze me if I thought the job itself would advance my skills and future prospects. From a hiring perspective, same thing. I would look at the companies and the accomplishments and judge on that, not just on a title.

      My resume reads Office Manager 2008-2012, Assistant Office Manager 2012-2013, Project Specialist 2013-present. By titles only it looks like I’m going backwards, but I jumped from a very small company to a bigger one, and then from a general support role to a very specialized one. There is always more to the story than the title can convey – in books and careers!

  83. Carrie in Scotland*

    It is coming up for 2 months that I have been in my new job – my problem is that it has been a slow period but everyone is promising me that it will “get so busy you’ll look back at this lean time and wish you had it back”. I’m starting to wonder if it ever really will “kick in” or if this is in fact busy….it is far too slow for me. I don’t know how to be “busier” when I don’t have enough work on/know enough about things because I’m still so new to the job. Any help?

    1. Jen*

      It really depends on the place. I’ve worked two places that are like that. I’ve had periods of several months that are slow as molasses, where you’re actively looking for things to do, then bam, everything comes in at once and you’re going crazy trying to get work done (and of course they don’t want you to work overtime to get it done either!) The other thing is when you’re new, sometimes you’re not given work because you’re not familiar with things yet – that just takes time and people getting comfortable with turning work over and helping you learn.

      So maybe give it a few more months especially since you haven’t been there long, and see what happens. If you’re still not satisfied then consider looking for something else.

    2. LQ*

      A lot of jobs are seasonal, more that I would have guessed. I would give it at least one “busy” season before you decide if it is just not busy enough for you. Often people can tell you when the busy season is so ask. And now is the time to try to learn all the things! I really think that if people are telling you it will get busy that it will at least get busier than it is. (If people on the other hand were harried and rushing around and you felt like it was slow that would be different.)

      At my job after the first “busy” season people kept talking about projects for the slow season. I’ve not had a slow season since because I’ve been picking up cool fun projects all over the place that keep me more than busy enough.

    3. Sharm*

      I would try to give it a year, if you can, to scope out the annual/seasonal cycle. I just had a very recent similar experience to you, and after a year, it was clear to me things would never pick up, so I am moving on. I was also like you, in that I was frustrated that there was no amount of work I could conjure up for myself, including documenting processes, offering to help team members, etc etc. At some point, you have to accept the workplace won’t change soon, and then you can look for something more. And, if you stay a year, at least you seem a little more stable than a job-hopper who left after a couple of months.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ditto from me. I had one job that their idea of busy was no where near my idea of busy.
        What went wrong there is they all freaked out by how “busy” they were and me… well not so much.
        And their busy season seemed like it was a week or two. I had to leave. I could not cope with the long periods of standing around.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Thanks everyone! I guess I will keep plodding along for now and hope it gets better with time and go on as many training courses (when available) as I can.

  84. SD Cat*

    I hadn’t had any interviews since May, and in the last week I’ve had 3 phone interviews and 1 in person interview, and I have a second one next week! I’m keeping up everything else, I’m just really excited about it, especially since two of them I wouldn’t have been able to find without networking.

  85. Kristin*

    I have an in-person interview Monday for a web developer position at a Fortune 100. I’m a bit nervous, even though I had a fantastic phone interview last week in which they told me on the spot I would be brought back for an in-person. But I’m not really nervous about the interviews. Because of my crazy brain, I am worried about clothes.

    I’ve always worked for either small business with very lax business codes or on my own or contracting with an agency. I own a suit (which is what I’ll interview in), but I’ve never actually worn it to work because it would be overkill. I’m worried about the transition to having to wear business professional. Any advice on dressing more formally? Especially without giving up too much of my creative side?

    1. AB Normal*

      I’ve worked in IT departments in Fortune 10, 50, 500, and in all these places women (even executives) wore pants + long sleeved shirts or pants + shall blouses + cardigan.

      You should be able to let your creative side show through some colorful scarfs and interesting jewelry (this necklace, for example: https://www.etsy.com/listing/84599571/coffee-bean-necklace-industrial-unisex?ref=favs_view_3&atr_uid=12872773 is fun but discreet enough for even a conservative office).

      Good luck!

  86. Golden Yeti*

    Hi all. I just have a curiosity question. I’m still applying to positions, and I have a phone call next week (nothing formal). The problem is, my ride will be gone pretty much the entire month. If a company I have applied to requests an interview during that time, should I see if we can do a phone interview or Skype interview, and hold off on a full interview until next month? Or should I just try to find some way to make it work? I just don’t know if making the suggestion of a phone interview would be off-putting.

    1. Kristin*

      Do you have access to any sort of public transportation or even a cab?

      I would not mention that you are dependent on someone else for transportation as a reason not to interview because what if they offered you the job tomorrow, would you be able to get to work? It is a huge red flag.

      1. Golden Yeti*

        I think we have a bus that runs at certain times; I’ve just never used it.

        What makes it even trickier for the one I’m talking to now is that next week, half my office will be away, so I can’t take the day off. It’d have to be the next week, plus I’d have to find my own way. Fortunately, the company I’m talking to next week said they’re not in a rush to hire.

        Going to interviews even when my ride is here is usually tricky, because first I have to clear the day off with my manager (and they usually want a few days advance notice), then check with my ride and make sure he can take me. I think once it becomes my routine (of going directly to work in a different town), it’ll be easier. But in the meantime it kinda sucks. We have discussed that we’d probably look at me getting my own car if I get a new job. But until then I’m kind of stuck in this situation.

        1. fposte*

          If you live in the same town or reasonable driving distance, I think a phone interview request would be odd. (And it sounds like that might be difficult for you at your current job anyway.) I think you need to just find a way to the in-person interview this month if they call you.

        2. AVP*

          If it’s a matter of not being able to take the time that week off due to your current job, it’s reasonable to ask to push it to the next one (particularly if they’ve said they’re not in a rush to hire). But I wouldn’t bring up the driving part of it at all, and would try to make the bus or a cab work if at all possible.

        3. Golden Yeti*

          Yeah, I figured most companies would understand the need to cover for absent colleagues. I just had a feeling, “My ride is away this month,” probably wouldn’t fly so well.

          I do live within reasonable driving distance. Renting a car is a thought, but I think it would probably cost too much (and I don’t know if it would be cost effective since I can walk for everything else).

          I think my most reasonable options would be either riding in with a friend and just waiting around for her afterwards, or taking the bus. I mean, the phone chat hasn’t even happened yet, so I don’t want to count my chickens, but I did want to think of which plans would make sense, just in case.

          There’s a local position open that I’ve thought about applying to, but the industry doesn’t interest me in the least, and I’d have the same title. I’m still thinking about applying there (just to get out of here), and my spouse is encouraging me to apply there, but I’m really just hoping one of the ones that I’m actually excited for comes through.

          1. Jennifer*

            Well, I’ve found a few places that rent for pretty cheap–Zipcars are around 9-ish/hour and I’ve rented cars at cheap places for $20/day. Or call one of those newfangled cab companies with the mustaches I’ve heard so much about.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              Zipcars are great, but they require you to have a $75/year membership. Renting can be super inexpensive, even in NYC it’s only ~$40/day. Even if you live in a small town, you may be surprised that you do have Uber or Lyft as well.

      2. AVP*

        Agreed, you don’t want to raise any suspicions that you’ll have transportation issues on the job.

    2. JC*

      I’d think it would be best to find some way to make it work; I could see an employer worrying about your reliability when they hear that you can’t make it to an interview because your ride is out of town this month. As someone who does not own a car, though, I do feel for you!

    3. LQ*

      I strongly agree about trying to find a way. Rent a car or get a cab or take a bus. As someone who doesn’t have a car, I hate to say this, but it will raise red flags for employers if you try to delay for a ride. And a month is really forever from now for an employer (though they would easily have you wait a month). And saying transportation is a problem is also a red flag. Even if you don’t have anything formal scheduled yet I highly recommend checking out your transportation options now. Then if they ask you for a meeting you can answer confidently.

      1. LQ*

        I’d also take some time and look into if your area has a zip car or car sharing type of program, I have a local awesome program (hourcar!) which is great for times like this. There is nearly always a car I can grab really easily and when I was interviewing it was great to have. You don’t have to rent it for the day and can just use it when you need it. If you’re going to be doing a lot of interviewing this might be a good resource to have access to.

        1. Golden Yeti*

          We actually do have a program like that, and it seems awesome and like it would suit what I need (at least until I get wheels of my own)…but it’s in the city where I would *need* to go. Not in the neighboring small town where I am. :(

          1. LQ*

            That’s too bad, I really love mine. It lets me live totally without a car and no problems. I do think finding out about rentals, you might be able to just rent for a day without it being too expensive.

          2. ModernHypatia*

            Do you know any college students home for the summer? (Or high school students, if they’ve got a license?) Or know anyone who does?

            I live in a rural town with no public transit, and a lot of people who need a ride make arrangements for someone who’s got time but not much money. (How much depends on distance/cost of gas/whether the person has to wait, etc.) If you’re not sure where to start, try asking your local public library: they probably know whether there’s any kind of local jobs board for small stuff like this.

  87. Bobotron*

    I just started a new management position. It is a small department (3 permanent employees and 3-4 student workers). I discovered that the supervisor before me would buy birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for everyone on staff. She also bought gifts for other staff/departments at Christmas and took her staff out to lunch for Christmas – all out of her own money. I do not have the money to do this. I’m 99.9% certain I am getting paid MUCH less than she was and I have student loans etc. How do I approach this with my staff? My idea is to have a potluck once a month to celebrate birthdays (if we have any that month) – I’m happy to bake something and I think it’s more of a celebration than slipping someone a gift card. I’m also thinking the same for a holiday celebration. Help me not seem cheap!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t have any specific advice, but please do not institute monthly potlucks.

      1. AB Normal*

        +1 – monthly potlucks can become a burden and make your employees resentful. Just stopping the gift giving would be preferable to me than replacing it with events in which I’m supposed to come up with some food to bring (= more work). If you want to bring a cake or something you baked to celebrate birthdays, that’s great, but don’t ask your employees to contribute to a potluck. Just because you are “happy to bake something” it doesn’t mean others will be. Most people have other commitments outside work and would resent being given an extra task that required cooking and/or spending money and time outside business hours to come up with something to bring to a monthly potluck.

    2. LQ*

      Give your staff regular feedback. WAY better than potluck or gifts.

      I think if you want to occasionally bring in baked goods that’s fine. But really your management skill will not be diminished at all if you never buy anyone a gift or take them to lunch. My 2 best bosses never gave me anything like that. They were awesome in all the boss like ways.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      This sounds very similar to something that happened in my old dept! A new manager came in and the fancy lunches and gifts stopped. And you know what, I couldn’t have cared less because the new manager was better in ways that really counted. I don’t want gifts from my boss, I want good management!

    4. Amethyst*

      I would just ignore the old manager’s gift-giving habits. I would never expect someone from work to give me gifts. If one person decided to, it’s their decision – it’s not a component of the job. Like the others said, just go with good feedback and general good management. If anyone actually comes up to you to complain about you not buying them gifts… Well, you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands than not having spare cash for gifts for everyone.

      Also, please don’t institute a potluck. It’s a hassle to bring in food to share with other people. If you really want, bring in brownies from a box mix once a month or something, but don’t ask people to cook for the office.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Every year at the holidays I get or bake some treats for my employees and I write them a card and tell them how much it means to me that they’re part of the team – with some specific (positive) comments. They’ve told me how much they love it – it’s very low key and I don’t make a big deal out of it, but it’s just a little something I can do.

      And yeah, do NOT do office potlucks once a month. Ack.

    6. SherryD*

      Could you ask your higher-ups about kicking in a couple hundred bucks for a Christmas lunch/celebration? You never know.

      I’m wondering if it would ever be appropriate to clarify that OldBoss paid for the gifts out of her own pocket? I know at my job, we’re often confused about what our boss pays for, and what she charges to her corporate card (not that it’s really our business… but we’re nosy!). On the one hand, it may help with morale if they realize that this isn’t a budget cut on the part of the company. On the other hand, you’re under no obligation to explain any personal financial choices to your employees/coworkers.

      And I agree, a Christmas card where you’ve taken the time to write a few sentences about why you appreciate that particular employee will be appreciated.

  88. Angora*

    You all have heard that I am job hunting. Had an interview earlier this week. Wish me luck. Well back to why I am writing. My dept head had a screaming fit at me at the end of the day. I forwarded her an important e-mail (meaning the loss of a couple of thousands of dollars out of our budget) yesterday afternoon. I sent her a total of 3 e-mails yesterday. She seems to think that an e-mail must be answered as soon as she gets it; which is crazy. How do you get a manager to grasp that she doesn’t need to read my e-mails as soon as it pops into her e-mail box?

    I just went OK, OK … and turned red as a beet so she knows she’s got my goat. This was right at the end of the day … reason I sent the e-mail…. allow me to get out of the office before she saw it I thought. I have found most of her blow-ups do not happen if I send stuff to her at the end of the day and she reads it after I leave. I didn’t get out of the door fast enough this time. Sometimes she wants me to tell her this stuff verbally … but she gets ugly if her interrupt her by phone or by knocking on her door .. she snarls or snaps at you. No win situation.

    She is standing there screaming & blocks the door so I cannot walk away. She went on about not having time to do xxx, because she was in the process of entering xxxx, which was something I was supposed to do, but she’s a control freak and think she is the only person that can do anything. Today I saw where she has been going through my rolladex and writing notes in it (I bought it myself because she refuses to pay me one).

    Any survival tips for the screaming fits?

    1. Mephyle*

      What if you start emails with “THIS DOES NOT REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ACTION. Let’s meet to discuss it. Are you available to meet [tomorrow/next week] ?”

      1. Angora*

        Mephyte,
        I like that one. “THIS DOES NOT REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ACTION. FYI only.” In this case.

        Thanks!

    2. Gene*

      Assuming you are using Outlook, look in the Options menu, click on “Do not deliver before:” and set the time a minute after you leave, then be sure to leave on time.

      And install a lock on your Rolladex. It’s your personal property and she has no basis to complain.

  89. Jill2*

    I have a question about being new at a company, your “status” in the hierarchy, and at what point scheduling flexibility kicks in (not in terms of telecommuting, but little stuff like daytime appointments).

    As background, I will be starting a role at a new company where my title includes the word “Manager.” While I won’t have direct reports now, we’re building a team from the ground up, and I imagine I will somewhere down the line. The job is definitely a step up in terms of responsibility from what I do now.

    I am wondering at what point I don’t have to constantly tell my manager my whereabouts. In my current job, if I’m running a bit late, or have a meeting, or need to leave early, I inform my manager and my whole team. Obviously, I think this is good practice and would do it anyway, but there’s always this element of asking for permission from my manager, even when I KNOW there are no meetings or any mission-critical work that’s going on. I wouldn’t even ask if I saw a potential issue.

    If my question seems weird, it’s because I’ve noticed at every job I’ve had, when a new, more senior-level staff member comes on board, it seems that have much more flexibility with scheduling than the worker bees. They are able to have doctors appointments/leave early for their kids’ events/come in late/etc. And I know for a fact they didn’t always run everything by their manager. They’re trusted to get their work done, and they do so wisely — they’ve never put anyone in a real bind or anything. It just seems like they have more freedom because they’re higher up on the food chain. Is there any hard and fast rule about this, or is it just like everything else — depends on the culture?

    I ask all this because I have relatives visiting me the week after I start my new job, and I had originally been planning on picking up and dropping them off at the airport. But now I don’t think I can ask for that because I’ll be so new at my job. If I were a VP, maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I feel like I may not be high enough up to ask for things like that so soon. I suppose I could have mentioned it during the offer stage, but that seems really weird to me. Anyway, it got me to thinking about when I’ll be able to feel like I don’t have to ask for permission so much in my career.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I realized earlier this week that I no longer hate my job with fire of a thousand suns. It’s kind of a weird feeling.

      I’m still surrounded by managerial dysfunction and not working directly in my desired field, but I no longer measure my tenure in fax cover sheets (“I swear to God I’m going to have a new job before I use all of these up!”).

    2. Jennifer*

      Dumb question, but does this have anything to do with being exempt vs. non-exempt? My impression is that the folks who are paid hourly have to account for all of their time, but those on “paid no matter how long or short your work, no overtime” status can get away with this stuff. It’s not so much a manager perk so much as not being forced to account for the time.

      1. Jill2*

        See, that’s what I thought early in my career. But with the exception of that first job, I’ve been exempt my whole life. I still have that weird feeling I have to “check in” about everything all the time because I’m not a high level exec.

        I totally get why time-keeping needs to happen for those non-exempt roles. It just seems that it isn’t actually that different for lower-level salaried folks too.

    3. SherryD*

      To me, your second week on the job seems pretty early to leave work to pick up relatives at the airport. That’s when you’re still proving what a great hire you are, not reaping the benefits of being a great employee. They could still be giving you some training in your second week, and you’d hate to have to cancel or reschedule for a personal matter.

      In general, though, it’s a combination of culture, how long you’ve been on the job, how high you are on the totem pole, reason for missing work, and how much of your job demands being at your work station at all times. As your boss comes to value you, he or she will be more than happy to be able to do you a little favour — unless it really is a culture where “worker bees” (great term!) never, ever get any special treatment.

  90. MandyBabs*

    Finally, today is the day where I can post and say I GOT A NEW JOB! And like all the previous posters before me, I can’t say thank you enough to Allison and the AAM community. Not only did I continue to get great tips of all kinds, it was seriously the best therapy a girl can get when she’s trying not to avoid screaming out in rage every day at her office. But on to the juicy tale of said job where it becomes a combination of the top AAM posters problems, which hopefully will offer the perspective/laugh that other posters gave me during my long hunt.

    First, it took me well over a year to get this job. I am employed and work at an arts non profit since graduating college lo these 6 years ago. I was just ready to move on because we got a new ED who is just not a great fit for the organization and plus all the other classic non profit issues of “hey you! do two jobs! now three!” But anyway – I was debating to moving into development from operations and proving my skills crossed over. I looked at other ops jobs too and the bottom line of my problem was I was constantly getting asked to interviews – hell, 2nd interviews – basically being Ms Congeniality for like 5 jobs! It was exhausting.

    But here’s the thing – it really is all meant to be. A good portion of these jobs I wouldn’t have been happy with in the end. One was returning to another non profit I had an internship at that has a bad reputation of “what work/life balance?” plus it’s own financial problems. Another I didn’t get, but less than a month later it basically no longer exists and people jumped ship. If you live in DC it rhymes with shm-Orcoran. A third I was severely overqualified for and despite multiple recommendations from big donors – they didn’t hire me (probably cause they thought I’d leave and they were probably right).

    Here are my top two job “almost didn’t get it” amusing posts:
    1 – The one I was super devastated I didn’t get is like a bad dating story. I was already friends on facebook with the Executive Director who wished me “Happy Birthday” on the DAY OF MY INTERVIEW (and in person) and FREAKING coached me for the 2nd interview with the board! You would THINK that would get you a job, but you’d be wrong. Here’s the punchline, he was fired 2 weeks later and they never wound up filling the job because of major financial issues. The board had crazy ideas of how much money the position I was gunning for was supposed to bring in – basically I would have also been fired in a month since it’s not possible (unless you are a god).
    2- I interviewed for a Humane Society, which means everyone is allowed to bring in their pets to the office. Now, I like animals, but I definitely didn’t see any tips in Allison’s guide about how to keep your concentration during an interview when adorable puppies keep trying to jump into your lap and demand to be petted. Seriously – another bummer. But my OCD wasn’t a fan of all the hair that was on the furniture in the very small, very tiny offices.

    The process for NEW JOB went so smoothly compared to the endless waiting I did for the others. And since I had did it so many times before and read all the advice, I was actually able to keep my cool. I really did set it and forget it. I applied – I was then asked to complete a questionaire – and then I went in for a 3 hour interview. I dry cleaned my outfit, got my nails done, had a good breakfast, took the day off from work – I studied for this interview like it was a major test. But the major difference was finally accepting that whatever happens, happens, and I just need to do my best and that’s all I can do.

    And then when it rains – it POURS! A couple days before vacation, Humane Society reaches out to me and asks me to come in for the job they rejected me from 9 months prior! Suddenly, I have “oh god which job?” – but I new NEW JOB was the one I wanted. So I just made sure to schedule meeting Humane Society basically after the time I was supposed to hear back from NEW JOB (and read the AAM archives about this issue). It’s much easier to hear back from a job when you have another potential job offer.

    Finally, I get the phone call – like I’ve been dreaming about for so long. He asks if I’m interested – I am! Do I want it – I do (badly)! And you know what he then asks me for then? MY SALARY HISTORY! The #1 AAM don’t go there! And it was on the phone too – like how dare you sir?! He says, they only offer 15% above what you currently make. Well the other joy of non profit is being extremely underpaid and I was looking to change that. But I kept my calm. I alluded it may be confidential, but when he pressed I was honest. Which barely brought me to the minimum of the salary range they offered. But after a few more back and forth, I finally flat out said my number and he agreed. Another win thanks to copious reading of this blog while at a job I want to leave!

    Now the fun part – I got the offer letter instantly and sent it back – so all there is left to do is resign. Which I’m planning on doing Monday morning because I honestly want to finish doing some work that would be helpful to my colleagues before I’m told what I should finish before I leave. Bonus – I’m doing a little of over 2 weeks notice, only because I have three weekend trips already planned for August, then I’m resigning and taking a week off in between jobs! Really couldn’t have gotten this at a better time!

    Hope this was distracting/hopeful/neat-o read. I’ve seriously grumbled when I saw people post about getting a job and thought “why not me?” I do feel sometimes it is for a reason – as annoying as it is. I really did need to get a bit more experience this year or at least enter a more professional mindset that I can handle moving from big fish to little fish. We’ve all been there and now I am on the other side. And so will all of ye job seekers.

    1. CanadianDot*

      Congrats on your new job!! I know the frustration – I searched for a full year before I got the job I just got the offer for. And looking back, I can really clearly see that while the other jobs might have been *okay*, this one is so amazing that it’s better I didn’t get any of the others!!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Congrats! You’re right: when it rains, it certainly pours! It’s like when you start dating someone exclusively or get engaged and all sorts of people come out of the woodwork saying “wow, I had the biggest crush on you and wanted to ask you out!” and you’re like “where were you only x time ago?!”

        I’ve had no real luck lately with interviews. I had interviews for 4 different positions and I was rejected from 3 of them. The one I want I haven’t heard back about yet and was told I should hear back from them within two weeks. It will be two weeks on Tuesday, so here’s to hoping! It’s also a start-up, but one that actually runs well and treats their employees like adults! They actually trust us to do our work the way we see fit and only care as long as it’s done. I <3 that! It also has great benefits, unlimited vacation and a great location. I worked for a company two doors down from this one start-up and I sorely miss that area. Overall it's an opportunity I'm truly excited about, which is pretty rare.

        I'm also going to Florida for two days to visit friends the week after next. I need the change of scenery and I'm hoping having something on my schedule triggers the universe to bring some interviews my way. As it always turns out, something interesting pops up when you've already made plans.

  91. Peridot*

    So I love my new job – except for one growing issue regarding one of my project lead’s oversight. I was hired to be a major independent contributor to this project specifically for a skillset that have 4 years experience in (and which the company is lacking).

    I think my project lead has been great in keeping me out of the sticky politics, but I find that I have absolutely no autonomy whatsoever. I can’t send an email out to the rest of the team without asking her first. I got explicit direction yesterday that I’m to email her after any conversation with my other teammates (I’m not to call them even to ask a question). Most importantly, I am not able to propose content (well I technically can, but she’s admitted she doesn’t read what I send). I’m only to implement her direction to edit the materials for her ideas.

    She’s really great at managing the budget and office politics, but it’s very clear that me and the rest of the team aren’t really able to do our jobs effectively with this strong grip on our creativity. It’s frankly demoralizing as I’m working very independently and with significant content control over other projects but not under this manager. In fact, I’ve never worked in any environment with such oversight on every email and conversation. I’m very confused.

    I’ve asked my other managers and her about my quality of work (which all admit is great), so that doesn’t seem to be the reason why I’m getting such micromanagement. How do you approach a manager who doesn’t seem to be extending the autonomy/level at which you’re hired? I want to nip this problem now so that we can work together effectively and set some expectations for a few new projects, but I don’t know how to broach this conversation. Any ideas or experience?

    1. Gene*

      I got explicit direction yesterday that I’m to email her after any conversation with my other teammates (I’m not to call them even to ask a question).

      This is just plain ridiculous. If she’s managing everyone like this, then you, and your coworkers, and possibly her manager, need to sit down with her and ask her just why she feels the need to micromanage to this extent. Don’t approach it as “It would be really nice if…”; approach it as “We can’t effectively do what you are paying us to do and you are wating everyone’s time and the company’s money.” If it’s just you, then you have an entirely different problem and you need to talk with her to get to the root of it.

  92. Rebecca*

    Nothing constructive from me this week. My manager, and I use the term loosely, failed to manage, again, and it’s leaving us shaking our collective heads.

    We moved to a new office space a few years ago, and at that time, my office mate and I asked permission to have our own coffee pot in our office to avoid the communal coffee pot drama and the trek to the other end of the building for coffee. We were told no, not allowed, everyone has to use the communal coffee area, etc. OK, fine. We abided by the ruling.

    Fast forward to this week. Two coworkers decided they would bring in their own coffee maker because they are tired of making coffee and cleaning up the coffee pots. It’s been there for several days now. Yes, our manager saw it. Yes, they even said “hey, look what we brought in”. And, office mate and I told our manager, you know, you told us no, but now they have one…what’s the deal? *crickets* Nothing was done. Nothing will be done. She will just avoid this and hope that no one complains too much.

    I know in the scheme of things, this is a little thing. But in my mind, it comes down to 2 (or more) sets of rules for the group – and it’s really not fair. And it’s symptomatic of other issues in the office, like allowing some people to take more than 5 days vacation at a time, but not others, mandating a no overtime policy, then allowing certain people to continually work overtime while others are struggling with their workloads and being denied overtime hours.

    I have to say it’s very discouraging. The morale here is bad and getting worse every week, and those of us on the short end of the stick are actively looking for other jobs. And our manager keeps piling on the work, saying “she” is happy to take more and more on in our office.

    I’m actually wishing for jury duty to get out of working for a while. Ugh.

      1. Rebecca*

        Office mate and I have decided to take the high road, and continue to use the communal coffee pot. And, I’ve noticed the incidents of going to get coffee and finding 2 tablespoons frying fast to the bottom of the pot have stopped. It is so tempting to bring in a fancy coffee system and set it up, but I don’t want to stoop to that level.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s wrong of me- but what I got out of your story is next time don’t ask. Just do. Within reason, of course.
          I have had these bosses that explode over very simple things. Sometimes if I just went ahead and did x, it was a non-issue. If I asked first, it was the end of life on earth as we know it.

          1. voluptuousfire*

            Instead of a coffee maker, why not invest in one of those single cup coffee brewers? This way you can make your coffee as you need it without anyone bitching about having a coffee maker. I have one at home and it works well for me.

  93. Noel*

    Hello all,
    I’ve been a lurker on this site for about a year, and am finally getting up the courage to ask for advice. First, though, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Alison for providing all this free content! I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I check this site every day and try to think for a bit about the things I read on it.

    Now to the question. I am trying to change career fields. I am currently a seamstress and want to transition into doing HR. At the moment, I manage a small tailoring shop and have been doing so for nearly ten years; I’m 33 now. I say “manage” in the loosest possible sense of the word, because the working environment is extremely dysfunctional (small family-owned business with owners who are terrible at running a business). I have a useless, twelve-year-old bachelors’ degree in Theatre. I have been working for about a year on getting a second bachelor’s degree in HR Management, and am about one third of the way there. I’ve gotten decent grades, but am dogged by a fear that I’m learning stuff that is only applicable in textbooks and not in the real world. For example, I am taking a summer class called Staffing Organizations, and the professor is insisting that interviewers should ask all candidates the exact same questions, regardless of any differences between candidates, because otherwise it won’t be “fair” and the company will open themselves up to discrimination lawsuits. I picked HR not out of any particular love of it, but because I thought it was something I might be good at if I learned the skills, and at the time it made pretty good financial sense for me to start school again.

    Now things have changed on the financial front, and for various reasons it is going to be a much bigger financial burden to finish this degree. Also the environment at my current job has abruptly gotten a lot worse, and I’m feeling pretty strongly that I need to get out as fast as possible. I’m not in any physical danger and nothing illegal is going on; it’s not that. It’s just that my bosses are getting more and more unbearable and I’ve realized, partly through reading this site, how badly working in a toxic situation has affected my attitude, work ethic, ambition, and a whole host of other things, and I want to end that as soon as possible. However, because I’ve been taking as many classes as possible and working full-time to boot I have no time to job search. I’m now at the point of having to decide whether to continue with this second degree. Fall semester is starting in less than a month.

    Is it worth finishing it? Will having a B.A. in HR do any good? Do I even have a chance at breaking into the HR field, degree or no degree? I have no experience in it whatsoever. In college I worked menial jobs, the front desk of a hotel, stocking shelves in a retail company, etc., and after getting out of school the last time around I worked for about a year and a half as a manager at another retail company, and then got this job and have let myself stay stuck in it for almost a decade. I make very little money and have no advancement opportunities whatsoever. I also have nearly no computer skills; I wasn’t interested in developing them past being able to create a Word document before, and my current job doesn’t have computers. Yes, you read that right. The business has never been profitable enough to pay for them and so we write up customer invoices by hand. The bosses see nothing wrong with this state of affairs. I can do basic Word and Powerpoint and that is it. I did take an online computer class last semester, but it was pretty worthless and I didn’t learn very much.

    At any rate, what I’m trying to say is that my resume can state a lot of years of management experience, but most of it was being a manager in name only and I doubt I really have the skills for that. And I’ve no relevant experience at all if I want to work in the HR field. Would it be better to:

    A. Quit school and try like mad to get an entry-level HR job, then try to be the best I can be in it and hopefully move up in the field eventually
    B. Get a few more HR courses under my belt, try to find even a small amount of time to job-search, but not, ultimately, finish the degree
    C. Finish the degree and wait to apply for entry-level jobs till I’m almost done and can point to a specific graduation time.

    You guys always have really great things to say, and I’m hoping you’ll have some light to shed on this. I’m getting all kinds of worthless career advice from parents, friends, the university, etc. and I wanted to come somewhere where people have worthwhile things to comment. Sorry for the long post.
    Thanks in advance, all,
    Noel

    1. This is me*

      Hi there,

      I recommend finishing school since you’re almost done as long as it’s not going to be too much of a financial burden. Most (if not all) office jobs, including HR will want you to have at least satisfactory computer skills. Even if it means dropping an HR class to enroll, I’d sign up for a computer skills class. A lot of entry level HR jobs will ask for prior office experience and/or college coursework in HR or a business related area. My first real job out of college was in HR and I had only taken one HR course; my degree was in marketing.

      I think that it’s great that you’re going to school for this but I can’t emphasize enough how important computer skills will be in getting your first HR (or any office) job.

      Bets of luck!

    2. BRR*

      You say you manage, do you have duties you can use as achievements for a resume? If not can you start making some? I know you said in the loosest sense but if you can get some duties you might be able to apply to some HR positions now.

      1. Noel*

        Well, I am a “manager” insofar as I have the title and I get to deal with all upset customers. And that’s it. There are 3 tiny alterations shops in the company (used to be eighteen but the husband and wife team that bought the business about fifteen years ago have been steadily closing the non-performing stores when the employees that worked there quit or retired; they won’t fire anybody unless they absolutely have to) and each store has 2 to 3 workers. At my store there is one other person plus me. We both are hourly employees and work more or less full time. My co-worker really doesn’t defer to me about anything other than making me handle all the problem customers. She is a non-native English speaker and is quite fluent, but has a strong accent, and doesn’t like talking on the phone with or negotiating with customers. I don’t blame her a bit for that; I sure wouldn’t want to do either of those with a language that wasn’t my native one!

        I really do not feel that I can manage her, even though my title says I should be able to, because she knows how to do far more alterations than I do. I have worked there for so long, and my bosses have never trained me in on anything other than the absolute most basic techniques. The way the business is set up, every day is a crisis and so there is never time to train anybody. But they complain all the time that only a few people can do X, Y and Z. At any rate, because my co-worker’s skills so far exceed mine in this particular type of sewing–though I’m a reenactor and make my own period clothing on the side–I don’t feel right telling her what to do, or to stop doing something that’s causing a problem. She is a great person and very hard-working, but she also has a habit of grabbing a lot of the easy jobs so that I am left with not enough work to do to fill a day and she cannot get the bigger ones that only she can do, done. And so then the customers are upset because their stuff isn’t done at the time when they were told it would be. Also it’s obvious that she thinks she knows better than me how to schedule projects, etc. I can’t blame her for that either. We get paid the exact same hourly rate, though I have health insurance offered through the company and I think one more week of vacation. But I don’t feel like I can complain to the boss about this at all, because she’s so much more knowledgeable than I am. What right do I have to do so?

        With the way the business is set up, the only other responsibility I could possibly put on a resume truthfully is that I am in charge of ordering supplies. I don’t do budgets or anything financial because the bosses do all that. I don’t schedule. I don’t have a team to supervise. I don’t deal with any personnel issues. There really aren’t any because everyone just smiles and lets things go on as they have been. My coworker and I have worked together for six or seven years; we’re used to each other. The bosses are in and out during the day. If there are any real problems I usually just call one of them and have them make the decision; they will tell me that I have the authority to do so and that they trust my judgment, but after too many years of being scolded for my judgment being different from what theirs would have been I am no longer willing to do that.

        So it’s tough to see what, if any, skills I really have to offer an employer, other than years of experience at customer service. And sewing Victorian dresses, but no one wants to hire me for that! But that is why I went back to school, to gain some different skills so I could change careers. And now I’m not sure whether that was a good idea or not.

    3. CoffeeLover*

      Honestly, I don’t think you should invest in finishing your degree. I’m not sure where you are, but in Canada you can get certified in HR without actually having a degree in it (though you do have to take some tests and possibly courses, not sure). Maybe look into that. HR doesn’t have as strict of education rules as finance for example. In my area, a lot of companies want you to have ANY degree and the HR certification. At my old company, HR was full of people with “useless” degrees (I mean degrees where you struggle to find work… like your Theater one).

      Instead of the degree, focus on building your network, working on your resume, and job searching. Depending on norms, look into HR certification. HR is all about working with people, so I’m sure you have experience you can relate on your resume and in interviews. Also, HR jobs vary a lot, which means some require heavy computer skills and others don’t. Though I agree with “This is me” that building your computer skills will give you an edge when applying to office jobs, and especially as someone entering in a junior role.

      1. Aam Admi*

        ” but in Canada you can get certified in HR without actually having a degree in it (though you do have to take some tests and possibly courses, not sure)”
        Are you referring to the CHRP CoffeeLover?
        To be eligible for the CHRP certification, you must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. In addition, work experience and passing the Knowledge Exam are required too.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          She already has a bachelors degree in Theater though. Would that not count?

          Also I’m not in HR, so I’m getting all my info from previous conversations I’ve had with friends in HR.

  94. jbean*

    I interviewed for a position a couple of weeks ago that would have better hours and a significantly higher salary. They needed someone to start ASAP, and I could see that they were visibly disappointed when I told them I was committed to my project for another month. (I had anticipated a little longer hiring process, to be honest.) I heard back from the company recruiter last week and I did not get the job. He barely got that part out before he said BUT they’re looking for a role for you. My question, should I expect some further communication from them or is this a polite brush-off to keep a positive relationship since we work in the same field?

    1. Graciosa*

      No, you should not expect some further communication from them, and no, this is not a polite brush off.

      It is common and appropriate to look for opportunities to bring in great talent, and also to let them know that you’re looking for a chance to do that – but those opportunities don’t always materialize. There is no job offer – or job available – until there is one and that has not happened yet. You should not count on it happening or be disappointed if it doesn’t.

      You can be pleased and flattered that there is an employer out there who recognizes and appreciates your talents.

  95. Jake*

    I just got a company iPhone with a letter stating in part, “this will allow you to better be able to access and respond to email when you are out of the office.”

    I worked 130 hours in 13 days ending last Saturday. At what point am I allowed to actually disconnect from work?

    1. Rebecca*

      I would gladly accept it! Of course, cell service is spotty at my house, and the best reception is in my neighbor’s field and certain spots on the road down front, so…you know, I left my phone on the counter top, right in plain sight, and it never rang all weekend. Huh.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      Set boundaries and make them clear… although this depends on your industry and company. You could say something like: “I like to keep weekends as my sacred time. While I don’t mind responding to emails in emergency situations, I would like to leave the rest for Monday (or Sunday night or w/e).”

  96. LibraryKat*

    I am impatiently awaiting any sort of word about a job I applied to over a month ago. When I applied to a similar post in a different department a year ago I heard back (not selected for an interview) very quickly, so I had high hopes for this time going quickly (and hopefully better, since I’m now employed and put a lot more effort into my cover letter). I check their application website almost everyday. I’m excited about the position because it’s a good next step in my career (and I’d be going from two part-time jobs to one full-time one, with a big hike in pay and a much shorter commute).

    1. cuppa*

      Good luck. These things can sometimes take awhile, especially if it is a high period for vacations, etc.

  97. cuppa*

    How many times should you apply for an internal positions before it starts to look bad? A have an opening here that I am pretty interested in. But, I just applied for a promotion six months ago and did not get it. Other than that, I got promoted three years ago and had applied for another internal position a year prior to that. I don’t want to look like I’m dying to get out of my job. It is possible that they already have someone in mind for this position that is not me (this happened with the last promotion I went for), and I don’t want to seem like I’m not aware of that.

    1. BB*

      I would just go for it. It seems like you work in a large organization that has plenty room for employee growth. If that is the case, it doesn’t look bad at all. It’s not as if you just got a new position and are applying for something new already.

    2. Graciosa*

      What kind of feedback are you getting in this process? There are certainly people who are utterly oblivious to their lack of qualifications and apply obsessively to anything of a higher rank, regardless of suitability. You do not want to be one of those people.

      However, there are also people who are quite well qualified for other positions and end up in second place because of other fantastic candidates (or pre-selection of another candidate) or the position isn’t quite the best fit. In these cases, persistence is needed to make sure you get the job when it is the right fit and you are the best candidate.

      There are also companies who know that an individual is ready for promotion who refuse to allow someone labeled as “indispensable” move on because the company wants to avoid finding a backfill.

      If you apply for jobs and hear nothing except an automatic rejection from HR, it could be a matter of 1 or 3. If you’re being interviewed and considered for these positions (where it’s not mandatory for all internal candidates to be interviewed) then there’s reason to believe it’s more number 2.

      More importantly, ask. Ask your manager or a mentor how your track record of applications is likely being perceived and listen to the answer. Ask for post-interview feedback as well. Hearing, “We thought you were a great candidate, but needed someone with more X” can be useful if X is something you can develop.

      With respect to this particular position, it sounds like you’re not sure if they already have someone in mind or not. If you can, find out and check with a manager or mentor about applying if there is already a favored candidate. It depends a bit on company culture whether this is perceived as getting good experience interviewing and continuing to demonstrate initiative and a desire to advance, or if instead this is perceived as demonstrating poor culture awareness or insensitivity to internal politics.

      Good luck.

  98. No Longer Fighting for a Promotion!*

    Thanks to the great responses on last week’s Open Thread, I managed to interview for and get a promotion in my organization. I am now in a management position, and I was wondering if anyone had any good books, articles, Ask a Manager articles etc. that you would recommend to someone who is going into a management position for the first time.

    If it matters, I work in a non-profit and will be managing under 5 people.

    Thanks!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Alison has a great book on being a non-profit manager you should look up.

      I also really liked the book “101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees” – it helped me feel more confident and less emotional about some tough issues I’ve had to tackle.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Congrats!
        I second Katie’s recommendation for Alison’s manager book. You can find it under Books in the menu bar (Alison, why is it not linked in the sidebar anymore??)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s in the Books section linked from the top menu. Took it out of the sidebar since now that there’s one sidebar rather than two, space is at a premium there.

  99. Ellie*

    What advice does everybody have for getting into a remote role? I specifically mean getting hired for a job that is intended to be remote, not convincing your boss to let you work remotely.

    I’d like to work in elearning/education.

  100. Awopdopaloolop*

    Can anyone guide me towards resources about measuring productivity? The rest of our company does everything on the computer so theirs is measured automatically. We are a tiny little department that does everything on paper, and need to be able to justify our continuing existence. Thanks!

  101. BB*

    I am applying to a position right now. I called HR and ask who to address my cover letter to and the woman said, “Hiring Committee.” Is this strange or am I just over-thinking it? Last year I applied to a similar position at the same institution and a different HR personnel gave me the name of the director of the program.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Maybe they’ve had a problem with people looking up the phone number of the selecting official and sending chocolate or framed pictures of themselves or calling too much. I don’t think it’s strange.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Alison advises not to call. Just address the letter “Dear Hiring Manager” or as in your example “Committee”.

    3. Perpetua*

      As someone in HR, I honestly don’t care who it is addressed to, as long as it is not something too weird (e.g. name of someone who has no relation to our business). “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Hiring Committee”, “Dear (Company Name)” and similar variations, I find all of those perfectly fine.

  102. Invasive Job Application Oh No!!!*

    I have a job interview in about a week, and just received an application to fill out and bring with me. They’re asking for social security number, drivers license number, salary history and a signature agreeing to a background check. But, the thing is, this is a first interview, and I really don’t want to give out that information unless I’m actually hired.

    What should I do — suck it up and fill it out, hand in a partially-completed application, or decline to hand it in unless the process moves forward? I don’t want to appear difficult. At the same time, though, if they’re offended that I’m not interested in handing over my SSN to them before I even have an offer, this place probably isn’t the right fit for me anyway. (There are other red flags but I’ll spare the boring details!)

    To clarify, this is for a professional job at a private company, and I would be seriously, seriously shocked if they were a government contractor.

    1. Anx*

      Ugh, I feel you.

      I just complied because I have no professional experience and am desperate. I know desperation isn’t cool, but can you imagine trying to negotiate these things for an entry-level position with gobs of qualified candidates competing?

    2. Audiophile*

      I usually fill out SSN stuff last for applications, at the time of interview. As for the background check thing, I almost always forget that they’re basically standard now.

      Unless it seems highly invasive to me, i.e. a bunch of volunteer positions were asking for it before they’d even spoken to me, I usually fill it out. I said no to the volunteer orgs asking, you’re not paying me, I’m not giving you access to all that.

    3. Area51*

      Wow.
      Just say no to this type of invasive nonsense.
      Decline the interview.
      Do you really trust them to securely store your personal and financial information when you don’t even work for them?
      This is a bullying negotiation tactic–don’t give in to their games. If you do, they know they can push you around.
      Don’t ever reveal your salary history–only your salary expectations for the potential job.

  103. WorkingAsDesigned*

    A co-worker has recently been expressing her frustrations to me regarding her job, team, and lack of communication. I don’t often work with her directly, although our paths do cross, so I can’t really say whether her concerns are valid. She’s been saying to me more and more frequently that she wants out of here.

    She’s really great at what she does. Her work is primarily comprised of serving both internal and external (in person) clients, so it’s important that she’s happy.

    She told me that she’s spoken with her manager about needing some additional challenges, and that her manager is trying to find some that will fit with the demands of her current position.

    Today, I’ve her say in front of an internal group of people (but in a public area) that she wants to quit.

    Here’s the question: Do I say something to my manager, or do I stay out of it? (We have different managers.)

    1. Graciosa*

      Stay out of it.

      She has discussed her concerns with her manager, and is apparently willing to be publicly vocal about them. Her manager already knows and has made her decision about how to handle it. What exactly is the point of pulling your manager into it?

      The only thing I can think of is that you want your manager to step in to change the way her manager is handling it, and believe me when I tell you that such a discussion (even if your manager wanted to play) would Not Go Well.

      1. WorkingAsDesigned*

        Good point. I guess I’m just hoping that things will work out for my co-worker, and am feeling overly helpful.

        Thanks for the feedback – it’s helped me to look at the situation from a more objective point of view!

  104. TheExchequer*

    I’m getting ready to move soon (AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH) and I could use some commiseration as well as any helpful tips you have.

    I have to change my address everywhere! Ugh.

    1. AVP*

      Ugh! At least if you get junk mail you don’t like, you can “forget” to change your address and stick the future tenant with it instead.

      I hope I’m not the only one who does that.

      1. CC*

        You aren’t the only one, I still get junk mail (and occasional real mail) for people who moved out 8 years ago.

        1. Felicia*

          I got a wedding invitation for people that moved out 8 years ago – and one member of the couple died just before his wife and son moved out, yet the invitation had his name on it . If they didn’t know she moved out 8 years ago and he died they obviously aren’t close.

          We also get a family newsletter from a random family in New York addressed to the same couple. I find the lives of that family of strangers so fascinating :)

        2. Stephanie*

          We started getting Playboy magazines for about four or five months. It wasn’t addressed to either me or my roommate, so it was either an elaborate prank (why?) or a former tenant. My friend was visiting one weekend and I see a Playboy on the kitchen island. I initially was like “Oh my God. He’s been on my couch. Really? He brought a Playboy with him? I have to go talk to him. That is not ok.” My roommate tells me later that it just started showing up.

          We also got some overly elaborate invitation once (addressed to a former tenant). Turns out it was an invite to an exclusive party hosted by Diddy (or whatever he’s calling himself nowadays).

          Unfortunately, I learned that that roommate liked to open things not addressed to her. I moved out and accidentally sent a pair of shoes there (old address was saved in the online form). I go to pick them up and she’s like “Oh! Cute shoes, by the way!”

    2. Gene*

      Start packing now. Last time I moved (1990), we had a month overlap between our house closing and the apartment lease ending and it was only a few miles, so we just ran loads of stuff over as we could. The time before that we had about three weeks before the moving truck came for a 1300 mile move. We started packing as soon as I accepted the new job; by the time there was a week to go, we were down to a couple of cooking vessels, dishes for two, the clothes that would go into the car, the TV and my wife’s sewing machine (that went in the car with us.)

      Pack early, pack often, and label everything much more than you think you need to.

    3. BB*

      In addition to notifying your credit card companies and the bank, the USPS has a form you can fill out to change your address and have all mail forwarded to your new address (you actually give them the date when you want this done). It should be done at least two weeks before you move.

      Then of course, don’t forget to inform your employer of your new address, too.

      Also, labeling boxes or keeping record of important things and which box you put them in.

    4. Graciosa*

      I’m a big fan of color coding. For my last move, I bought colored dots and put them on every side of every box by room. When the movers arrived at my new home, one key saying Yellow=Kitchen, Red=Office, Blue=Master Bedroom etc. allowed them to get everything at least into the right room. Otherwise the movers keep asking you where the box labeled Towels or Lamps is supposed to go, which is a pain.

      Even if you do a great job of labeling and tracking the contents of every box, make it easy for your movers.

    5. Jazzy Red*

      Re: Packing

      There used to be a TV show about organizing, and every items was categorized “Keep” “Sell” and “Trash”. For weeks, every time I went into any room of my house, I asked myself which category every single thing I saw belonged. I didn’t sell much, decided to donate instead, and did trash a lot of stuff. You could start doing that now, and weed down the amount of stuff you do decide to move.

      Commenter Graciosa has the best idea for labeling things by room. You should also pack one box/bin “OPEN ME FIRST” with the essentials: toilet paper, paper towels, clorox wipes, easy high energy food, drinks, drinking cups, etc.; things that you really need the first day/night in your new place. That way, if you collapse you can still find some of your necessities.

      I keep saying that I’m going to move after my dogs die, but really, I think they’ll have to take me out of here feet first.

  105. ??*

    My coworker and I will stay, but two other coworkers and our manager are leaving at the same time. I don’t know anything about their replacements. I don’t even know if they’ve been hired yet.

    What should I expect from such a big change? What should I look out for with the new manager?

    1. Gene*

      Well, THAT didn’t go well… Let’s try again and see if I can put those thoughts together again without the attempt at pseudo-html humor.

      Rant on

      I don’t understand why so many people who read this blog and ask questions seem to be unable to be straightforward and assertive. How many times do people have to read Alison telling someone to “just talk with her about X” before the penny drops? If you have a problem with someone, and that person is not a psycho with anger issues, TALK TO THAT PERSON!

      I just don’t get it.

      Rant off

      1. LQ*

        Because there is such a heavy socialization to be nice and polite and not rock the boat and not be mean and people are afraid for their jobs and their relationships?

        (I also think that some people have had people with anger issues in their past and that makes it harder to talk to people in the future.)

        1. AVP*

          I really identify with this. My boss just told me to send a strong, demanding email and instead I ended up sending one that’s more of a question with an apology for asking it. Why? Because the last time I sent the strong, demanding email the other people were offended by it and called my boss screaming and he made me formally apologize (this was an email that he had signed off on before I sent it). I’m always curious whether being a woman in a male-dominated company makes peoples’ expectations around assertiveness different as well.

          1. LQ*

            I’m not really sure what exactly sets these expectations. I know I’ve been very direct and been called all manner of horrible things, had people calling my boss really upset. I’m still not very good at the talking around things and am often more direct than people like.

            I will also say that people who get very upset about the truth loose their right to direct honest truth in the future from me. If you turn into a rage monster I’m not going to be honest with you about stuff that will make you a rage monster.

          2. Gene*

            So why didn’t you tell him, “You told me to write it that way, you signed off on it; you apologize to them.”?

            1. AVP*

              I actually did ask that, without trying to come off as defensive. I got the expected response of “oh, we didn’t realize it was going to be taken the wrong way and now the Big Boss has changed his mind about paying for this event [it was all about some conference, he wanted the organizers to pay for his travel] and we really need to get them back on our side so pleeeeeasssee do this.” I did, but one of the people who had completely freaked out on me was a contractor at our company and I made it clear that we needed to re-evaluate her temper issues; her contract was not extended.

              1. Anonsie*

                Oh my god this has happened to me as well, only my boss had actually even drafted the email herself and told me to send it. Pretended she had no idea about the content when they complained angrily to her and made me apologize.

                For extra fun, this was not a demanding email. It was merely a description of a project that for some reason deeply offended one of our colleagues due to feeling his role was portrayed unfairly.